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.