Wednesday, 3 July 2019 : Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast day of one of the Twelve Apostles of Our Lord Jesus Christ, that is St. Thomas the Apostle, known also by his epithet ‘the Twin’ and as St. Thomas Didymus. St. Thomas was famous and well-remembered among the Apostles as the one who doubted the Lord on a few occasions, not believing in what the Lord has taught His disciples and also when He showed Himself to them after He has risen from the dead.

St. Thomas was someone who was a skeptic, sarcastically remarking openly before the disciples when He mentioned that He was going to Judea that all of them were going to die together with Him. He doubted the Lord’s resurrection when he was absent at the time when He appeared among His disciples, and wanted a concrete proof that He has risen from the dead, even to the point of challenging that unless he can put his fingers into the Lord’s wounds and witness them for himself, he would not believe.

In what we have heard in today’s readings, we heard of the lack of faith which St. Thomas once had, when he doubted in the Lord and refused to believe in Him. And we ought to link this with our own life experiences, in how we have lived our own faith thus far. St. Thomas was actually showing the same attitude that many of us have probably often taken throughout our lives, because we do not really believe in God.

Let us ask ourselves, brothers and sisters in Christ, how many times in our lives have we doubted that God is there for us or even feel angry at God because we think that He has not helped us or even thinking that He has abandoned us? How many times is it that we have doubted God’s presence just because we perceive that He is not around, or that we cannot feel His presence or because He does not seem to respond to our pleas and desires?

If we have done all of these, then we have to take note that it is this same attitude which St. Thomas the Apostle has also done. The Lord wants us all to know that He is in fact with us at all the time, and He will never abandon us because of the great love which He actually has for each and every one of us. If we do not get what we want, it was not because God is not there for us or that He does not listen to us, but everything in this world occurs and happens according to God’s will ultimately. We cannot have our own way all the time.

That is why it is very important that we have faith in us, this genuine and strong faith that the Apostles had shown in their own examples and lives. In the case of St. Thomas himself, despite his earlier doubts and lack of faith, having witnessed and I am sure he must have been quite embarrassed by the experience as mentioned in the Gospel today, when the Lord gently rebuked him for his lack of faith, he became a firm believer and a courageous witness for his faith in God.

St. Thomas went to a few places spreading the Good News, and eventually went to the region that is now the southern parts of India where he preached to the locals and converted quite a few among them, which became the progenitors of the Christian communities there, known colloquially as ‘St. Thomas Christians’ to show the great contributions that this Apostle has given for his love and faith for God.

He was eventually martyred for his courageous defence and witness for his faith, and we can see the tremendous change from such a doubter and someone who had a shaky faith, into a firm believer and faithful servant who served God unto his death in martyrdom. Such an example should be an inspiration for each and every one of us that we may grow in faith and love for God from now onwards.

May the Lord continue to guide us and bless us, that each and every one of us may always be blessed by the light of His presence, and be empowered and strengthened just as He has strengthened His Apostles. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019 : Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 20 : 24-29

At that time, Thomas, the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with the other Eleven when Jesus came. The other disciples told Him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he replied, “Until I have seen in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in His side, I will not believe.”

Eight days later, the disciples were again inside the house and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see My hands; stretch out your hand, and put it into My side. Do not continue in your unbelief, but believe!”

Thomas said, “You are my Lord and my God.” Jesus replied, “You believe because you see Me, do you not? Happy are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

Wednesday, 3 July 2019 : Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 116 : 1, 2

Alleluia! Praise YHVH, all you nations; all you peoples, praise Him.

How great is His love for us! His faithfulness lasts forever.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019 : Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Ephesians 2 : 19-22

Now, you are no longer strangers or guests, but fellow citizens of the holy people : you are of the household of God. You are the house, whose foundations are the Apostles and prophets, and whose cornerstone is Christ Jesus.

In Him, the whole structure is joined together, and rises, to be a holy Temple, in the Lord. In Him, you, too, are being built, to become the spiritual Sanctuary of God.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture in which we listened first of all to the destruction which God brought about to the two cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, because of the great sins and wickedness committed by the people living in those cities. But God at the same time also showed His merciful love to those who were righteous and faithful to Him.

That was how He rescued Lot from the destruction of the two cities, by sending His Angels to rescue him and to tell him to get out of Sodom and Gomorrah with his whole family before it was too late for them. There was likely no one else who were righteous in that city besides Lot and his family. Earlier on, in yesterday’s first reading we heard the part from the Book of Genesis where Abraham pleaded with God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah should there be some righteous remaining there, but unfortunately, there were so few of the righteous that not even the two cities could be spared.

God would have spared the two cities as He listened to the pleas of His servant Abraham. And ultimately, we have to remember that God does not easily punish or bring destruction upon His people. We must not have that wrong impression and understanding that God is a scary and fearsome God, Who punishes His people with impunity. Instead, God is a loving, compassionate and merciful God, Who wants to love His people and forgive them, and be reconciled with them.

But at the same time, God is also all good and perfect, and no impurities and wickedness of sin can be before Him. As a result, the destruction and punishment that apparently came towards the people of Sodom and Gomorrah was caused not by God’s desire to destroy them, but rather from their own refusal to abandon their sinful ways and wickedness, their stubbornness in refusing God’s mercy and forgiveness.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in what we have heard, and then continuing to the Gospel passage, each and every one of us should realise that we must really have faith and trust in God, no matter what. God loves each and every one of us and He will not abandon us all unless it is us who have abandoned Him. He is ever loving and forgiving, full of mercy and compassion, and it is He Who will take care and provide for us all.

In our Gospel passage we heard of the Lord Jesus and His disciples as they were caught in a great storm that threatened to overcome the boat they were in, and the disciples were all frightened and despairing, thinking that they definitely would perish for sure. They went to the Lord and woke Him up, begging for His help. The Lord chided and rebuked them for their little faith and fear, and calmed the whole storm before them.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us are called to reflect on our lives and how we have been living our faith in God all these while. Have we put our trust in God all these while and believe in His love, mercy and compassion? Or have we instead lived our lives like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, continuing to disobey God and refusing to believe in Him? The choice is truly ours, and we must make the stand to either follow God or to abandon Him.

Let us all therefore renew our faith and trust in God, and devote ourselves with ever greater commitment and dedication from now on. Let us all draw ever closer to God from now on, distancing ourselves from sin and seek to be righteous and true to God’s path from now on, so that the fate of those who perish in Sodom and Gomorrah that day will not be ours, and instead, we may be worthy to enter the eternity of glory with God. Amen.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 8 : 23-27

At that time, Jesus got into the boat and His disciples followed Him. Without warning, a fierce storm burst upon the lake, with waves sweeping the boat. But Jesus was asleep.

The disciples woke Him up and cried, “Lord save us! We are lost!” But Jesus answered, “Why are you so afraid, you of little faith?” Then He stood up and rebuked the wind and sea; and it became completely calm.

The disciples were astonished. They said, “What kind of Man is He? Even the winds and the sea obey Him.”

Tuesday, 2 July 2019 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 25 : 2-3, 9-10, 11-12

Prove me, o YHVH, put me to the test; examine my soul and my heart. For Your love is ever before my eyes, and I live in truth and faithfulness.

Let me not share the fate of sinners, nor lose my life with the violent; their hands are guilty of crimes, their right hands are weighed down with bribes.

But I will walk in integrity, redeem me, o God, be gracious to me. My foot stands firm in the straight path, I will praise You, o YHVH, in Your assemblies.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Genesis 19 : 15-29

At daybreak the Angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and two daughters who are here, lest they perish because of the sin of the town.” As he hesitated, the men took him by the hand and his wife and two daughters with him, because YHVH had mercy on him. And they led him outside the town.

When they were outside, the visitors said to him, “Flee for your life and do not look back and do not stop anywhere in the plain. Flee to the mountain lest you perish.” But Lot replied, “My lords, your servant has found favour with you, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life. But I cannot flee to the mountains for fear the disaster will overtake me and I die.”

“See, there is a town near enough for me to flee to and it is a small one. Let me flee there : it is very small (that is why the town is called Zoar). So I will be safe.” And the Angel answered, “I grant you this favour as well by not destroying the town you speak of. But flee fast for I can do nothing until you arrive there.”

The sun had risen on the earth when Lot reached Zoar. Then YHVH rained on Sodom and Gomorrah burning sulfur out of the heavens from YHVH, and He completely destroyed those towns and all the valley and all the inhabitants of the towns and everything that grew there. Lot’s wife looked back and she became a pillar of salt.

Early next morning Abraham returned to the place where he had stood before YHVH. He looked towards Sodom and Gomorrah and towards all the land of the valley and he saw smoke rising from the earth like the smoke from a furnace. So when God destroyed the towns of the plain He remembered Abraham and made Lot escape from the catastrophe while He destroyed the cities where Lot had lived.

Monday, 1 July 2019 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture in which we are reminded of just how great God’s love for each and every one of us is, and how vast is His mercy to each and every one of us. In the first reading taken from the Book of Genesis we heard of the encounter and conversation between God and Abraham, His faithful servant regarding the city of Sodom and Gomorrah, while in the Gospel we heard about the matter of following Christ.

In the first reading today, Abraham was deeply concerned that God would punish the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah as the people who lived in those cities were very wicked and sinful, and his cousin Lot was living amongst those people in that place. Partly out of concern for his cousin Lot and his family, and also party for anyone else out there in those two cities who were still faithful to God’s ways, Abraham pleaded with the Lord to spare Sodom and Gomorrah should there be righteous people found in them.

And he did not do this just once, but a few times, continuing to ask the Lord and pleading with Him to show mercy and compassion. God listened to Abraham and promised him that He would not carry out the destruction that He has planned on Sodom and Gomorrah should He managed to find the number of the righteous people in accordance to what Abraham had pleaded for.

In the Gospel passage today, we heard the story of the encounter between a teacher of the Law who came up to the Lord Jesus saying that he would follow Him to wherever He goes. The Lord responded by saying that He has nowhere to lay His head, and that all those who follow Him must truly follow Him and leave everything behind to be with Him. How does this then relate to what we have heard in our first reading passage today?

The connection is that, in both cases, we heard of the matter of following God, obeying Him and being righteous in our lives, and we cannot do anything less than what our father in faith, Abraham had done with his own life, and looking upon the examples shown by Our Lord Jesus Himself in obeying the will of His Father so perfectly that He willingly took up the Cross and bear the burdens of our sins for our salvation.

Abraham heard the Lord’s call when He called him to follow Him. He left his ancestral homeland behind and followed wherever God had led him to. He was faithful and committed to his Lord and Master in everything and because of that God blessed him and made a great Covenant with him and his descendants, promising to make them to be great nations and peoples ever blessed by God.

And that is why all of us should follow the good examples set by Abraham in his life. We should heed the commitment that Abraham had shown in everything he has done, in the trust he has in the Lord, in putting himself in the Lord’s providence. That is how we become better disciples of the Lord and following Him with all of our hearts. That is how we are called to be true Christians in everything we say and do, so that we may draw ever closer to Him.

May the Lord Who is so full of love, mercy and compassion continue to love us all and shower us with His grace as He has done all these while. May He strengthen us, our courage and our resolve to follow Him with all of our hearts and to stand up for Him in faith in everything. May God bless us all and our good endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Monday, 1 July 2019 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 8 : 18-22

At that time, when Jesus saw the crowd pressing around Him, He gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. A teacher of the Law approached Him; and said, “Master, I will follow You wherever You go.”

Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Another disciple said to Him, “Lord, let me go and bury my father first.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their dead.”