Saturday, 28 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Wenceslaus, Martyr, and St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Luke 9 : 43b-45

At that time, while all were amazed at everything Jesus did, He said to His disciples, “Listen, and remember what I tell you now : The Son of Man will be betrayed into the hands of men.” But the disciples did not understand this saying; something prevented them from grasping what He meant, and they were afraid to ask Him about it.

Saturday, 28 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Wenceslaus, Martyr, and St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Jeremiah 31 : 10, 11-12ab, 13

Hear the word of YHVH, o nations, proclaim it on distant coast lands : He Who scattered Israel will gather them and guard them as a shepherd guards his flock.

For YHVH has ransomed Jacob and redeemed him from the hand of his conqueror. They shall come shouting for joy, while ascending Zion; they will come streaming to YHVH’s blessings.

Maidens will make merry and dance, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness, I will give them comfort and joy for sorrow.

Saturday, 28 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Wenceslaus, Martyr, and St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Zechariah 2 : 5-9, 14-15a

Raising my eyes again, I saw a man with a measuring line in his hand. I asked, “Where are you going?” He answered, “I am going to measure Jerusalem, to find its width and its length.”

As the Angel who spoke to me came forward, another Angel met him and said, “Run and tell this to that young man : ‘Jerusalem will remain unwalled because of its multitude of people and livestock.’ For this is the word of YHVH : I, Myself, will be around her like a wall of fire, and also within her, in glory.”

“Sing and rejoice, o daughter of Zion, for I am about to come, I shall dwell among you,” says YHVH. “On that day, many nations will join YHVH and be My people.”

Friday, 27 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day the readings taken from the Scripture remind us about the sufferings and challenges that we may and indeed will encounter as those who believe in God and walk in His path. He did not mince His words when He Himself told His disciples as we have heard in our Gospel passage today, as He asked them of who did they think that He was for them.

And as St. Peter courageously declared, he stated that he believed that the Lord Jesus was indeed the Messiah of God, the One Whom the people had waited for a long time for their salvation and liberation as promised by God. And the Lord said before all of them how He would suffer and would have to go through great pains and tribulations, trials and difficulties as He did what He had to do in order to bring about the fulfilment of God’s plan of salvation.

But as He said that, He also showed them encouragement and hope, because not only that He would suffer and die in humiliation and pain, but in the end of it all, He would rise again into life, and through that glorious resurrection, He would complete once and for all what God has promised all of His faithful and beloved ones. God showed His people that in the end, He will triumph and all of us will share in His triumph and glory.

And this is also echoed in what we have heard in our first reading today from the Book of the prophet Haggai, in which God reassured Zerubbabel, the heir of David and governor of Judah, and also Joshua the then High Priest in their efforts of rebuilding the land of Israel and their cities, and in particular the Temple of God in Jerusalem. He reassured them all that despite the challenges, oppositions, pains and sufferings they had to face, God would be with them.

And all of these were in the context of how at that time, the memory of the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah were still fresh in the minds of most of the people, and it was indeed a very humiliating and painful memory for most if not all of them. The memory of suffering and exile for many years must have been terrible for them all to endure. But God wanted them all to know that no matter what, He would be with them and in the end, God will bless them always.

This is what each and every one of us must understand and realise as we carry on with our lives. Indeed, to live with faith will entail suffering, challenges, many obstacles and persecutions that will be in our journey, but we must not lose sight at the focus that we must have, at the end of our journey, where God will be with us and bless us with true happiness and joy that He has always intended for each and every one of us, His beloved ones.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of St. Vincent de Paul, one of the faithful servant of God who have dedicated his whole life to the service of God. And this was despite the challenges and difficulties that he had to endure throughout his life, and his story can be inspiration for all of us to follow as well. St. Vincent de Paul can lead us to the path towards God and it begins from his early life in which he had to endure much difficulty.

Throughout his early years and education, he had to encounter much bitterness around him and troubles, including murder and infighting among those who were within his circle. And then later on, he was abducted by pirates and was enslaved, and had to endure several years in suffering as a slave. But by the grace of God, his piety and faith led him to eventually find freedom when his last master who was a Christian repented his wayward path and returned with St. Vincent de Paul who then gained his freedom.

St. Vincent de Paul would then go on to become a priest and worked hard in ministering to the faithful, caring for them and showing great compassion especially to the poor and to the less fortunate, remembering that he himself had once suffered the same humiliation and suffering. He founded several religious congregations, and his name until today is still remembered for his great charity and outreach to the poor, inspiring many others to be charitable and show love for those who are suffering and less fortunate.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all also reflect on this and think about how each and every one of can walk in the footsteps of St. Vincent de Paul and the Lord Himself. Suffering and pain, challenges and trials are part of our faith and our lives as Christians and we cannot run away from them. But St. Vincent de Paul and ultimately, the Lord Jesus Himself endured those sufferings with love for God and for mankind. In the end, God is always ever faithful, and as long as we remain true to our faith, we will be triumphant in the end.

Let us all draw closer to God and put our trust in Him. Let us all devote ourselves wholeheartedly from now on, and seek to glorify Him with all of our every words, deeds and actions. May the Lord continue to guide us in our journey and may He continue to strengthen us in our faith from now on. May the Lord be with us always and may He bless us in everything we do. Amen.

Friday, 27 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 9 : 18-22

At that time, one day, when Jesus was praying alone, not far from His disciples, He asked them, “What do people say about Me?” And they answered, “Some say, that You are John the Baptist; others say, that You are Elijah; and still others, that You are one of the Prophets of old, risen from the dead.”

Again Jesus asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.” Then Jesus spoke to them, giving them strict orders not to tell this to anyone. And He added, “The Son of Man must suffer many things. He will be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the teachers of the Law, and be put to death. Then after three days He will be raised to life.”

Friday, 27 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 42 : 1, 2, 3, 4

Make justice, o God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people; deliver me from the wicked and deceitful.

You are my God, my Stronghold, why have You cast me out? Why should I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?

Send forth Your light and Your truth; let them be my guide, let them take me to Your holy mountain, to the place where You reside.

Then will I go to the Altar of God, to God, my gladness and delight. I will praise You with the lyre an harp, o God, my God.

Friday, 27 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Haggai 1 : 15b – Haggai 2 : 9

On the twenty-first day of the seventh month, of the second year of the reign of Darius, this word of YHVH was sent through the prophet Haggai, “Give this message to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, and to Joshua, the High Priest, and to all the people : Is there left among you one of those who saw this House long ago, in the time of its glory? What do they think, of what they see now? Is it not a very little thing?”

“But I say to you, Zerubbabel, Joshua and My people : do not be discouraged. Begin to work, for I am with you, says YHVH. Do not be afraid, for My Spirit is in your midst. Thus says YHVH of hosts, within a short while, I will shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the continents. Then I will shake all the nations; and bring in the treasures of the whole world.”

“I will fill this House with glory, says YHVH. I will have as much silver and gold as I wish. The renown of this Temple will be greater than before, and in this place I will give peace,” says YHVH of hosts.

Thursday, 26 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of God in the Scriptures reminding us about the time for us to embrace God’s love and compassion to their fullest, knowing that He has always loved us dearly and He never ceases to want to reach out to us, welcoming us back into His embrace and forgiving us from our sins. And we should not wait any longer and try our best to seek Him out at the soonest opportunity available.

In our first reading today, we heard the passage taken from the Book of the prophet Haggai in which God spoke through the prophet Haggai to the people of God represented by their leader Zerubbabel, the heir of David and the other leaders and elders of the community. God told them all to reconsider their continued delaying and refusal to rebuild the House of God in Jerusalem even after they have returned to their ancestral homeland from their exile in Babylon.

The people have rebuilt their houses and cities and they have resettled back nicely in their ancestral land, and yet, the prophet Haggai pointed out that as long as the House of their Lord, the Temple in the city of Jerusalem has not been rebuilt yet, to replace the one built by Solomon that has been destroyed by the Babylonians, the Israelites would not be able to find true and lasting happiness and peace.

And that is all because of the fact that God has not been truly at the heart and centre of their community, and the Lord had not yet dwelled again amidst His people as He had once done. And that was why the prophet Haggai insisted that the people rebuild the Temple of Jerusalem and put their priorities right, spending the effort to return the Lord’s glory back in the midst of His people.

The Temple is a very important centre of the community of the Israelites, especially for the community post-exile from Babylon, as it was a new centre of their community that had once been scattered in the faraway lands, as the focal point of all the believers in God, and where they would go on the days of the important festivals and celebrations like the Passover among many other festivals and celebrations.

And we can see all that in how at the time of the Lord Jesus, throughout the Gospels and into the time of the Apostles and the early Church, the Temple played such a very important role in the Jewish community and also among the earliest Christians who went to the Temple to gather and worship, and the Lord Himself spent a lot of time teaching at the Temple, and as we all know, He once cleared that same Temple from the corruption of merchants and cheaters with zealous anger.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, what then is the significance of today’s Scripture readings to us? It is the fact that all of us are God’s chosen people, and therefore, rightfully, God should be at the very centre of our lives and our existences. We should not tarry and wait, postpone and delay in doing this just as what the Israelites had done in rebuilding the House of God while they have rebuilt their houses and cities.

It means that just as we continue to live our lives, building our careers and families, and even our wealth and property, our worldly belongings and things that we desire, we must always remember that our obligation is to focus ourselves on God and place Him at the very centre of our lives, and in everything we say and do, we must always have God in mind, or else indeed it will be very easy for us to go astray and fall into sin.

Today let us all reflect on this, and how we can make ourselves to be better Christians more attuned to God’s will and more capable of walking down this journey of faith. And we should look for inspiration from two of His faithful saints, St. Cosmas and St. Damian, two holy martyrs of the Church and devout servants of God who had given their whole lives to the service of God, and remained faithful to the very end.

St. Cosmas and St. Damian were known as famous physicians who were also twins, and they were known to treat the poor and the needy without charging them for their services. They also remained true and faithful to God even amidst the persecution of Christians at that time under the Roman Emperor Diocletian. St. Cosmas and St. Damian were martyred, but their courageous faith and also upright life and generosity in loving others truly showed us what it truly means for us to be Christians.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to follow in their footsteps? Are we able to walk the same path that St. Cosmas and St. Damian had walked, in following God wholeheartedly and giving ourselves to Him in each and every words, actions and deeds we take? Let us all draw ever closer to God and let us be ever more faithful to Him from now on, so that we may truly come to the eternal glory He has promised us all who are faithful to Him. Amen.