Saturday, 24 October 2020 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Luke 13 : 1-9

At that time, one day, some people told Jesus what had occurred in the Temple : Pilate had had Galileans killed, and their blood mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. Jesus asked them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered this? No, I tell you. But unless you change your ways, you will all perish, as they did.”

“And those eighteen persons in Siloah, who were crushed when the tower fell, do you think they were more guilty than all the others in Jerusalem? I tell you : no. But unless you change your ways, you will perish as they did.” And Jesus continued, “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it, but found none. Then he said to the gardener, ‘Look here, for three years now I have been looking for figs on this tree, and I have found none. Cut it down, why should it continue to deplete the soil?’”

“The gardener replied, ‘Leave it one more year, so that I may dig around it and add some fertiliser; perhaps it will bear fruit from now on. But if it does not, you can cut it down.’”

Saturday, 24 October 2020 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Psalm 121 : 1-2, 3-4a, 4b-5

I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” And now we have set foot within your gates, o Jerusalem!

Jerusalem, just like a city, where everything falls into place! There the tribes go up.

The tribes of the Lord, the assembly of Israel, to give thanks to the Lord’s Name. There stand the courts of justice, the offices of the house of David.

Saturday, 24 October 2020 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Ephesians 4 : 7-16

But to each of us, divine grace is given, according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore, it is said : When He ascended to the heights, He brought captives and gave His gifts to people. He ascended, what does it mean, but, that He had also descended to the lower parts of the world? He, Himself, Who went down, then ascended far above all the heavens, to fill all things.

As for His gifts, to some, He gave to be Apostles; to others, prophets, or even evangelists; or pastors and teachers. So, He prepared those who belong to Him, for the ministry, in order to build up the Body of Christ, until we are all united, in the same faith and knowledge of the Son of God. Thus, we shall become the perfect Man, upon reaching maturity, and sharing the fullness of Christ.

Then, no longer shall we be like children, tossed about by any wave, or wind or doctrine; and deceived by the cunning of people, who drag them along into error. Rather, speaking the truth, in love, we shall grow in every way, toward Him, Who is the Head, Christ. From Him, comes the growth of the whole body, to which a network of joints give order and cohesion, taking into account, and making use of, the function of each one. So, the body builds itself, in love.

Friday, 23 October 2020 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John of Capestrano, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scripture we are reminded to live our lives as Christ-like as possible, that is heeding what St. Paul and the Lord had told us through the readings of the word of God today. In his Epistle to the Ephesians, St. Paul exhorted the faithful to live faithfully as members of the one Church of God, while the Lord in our Gospel passage today told us to be always ever ready for everything.

In our first reading today, we heard the conclusion of a relatively long series of discourses the past few weekdays from this Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians, which centred a lot of attention on the divisions within the Christian community and Church, as the many among Jewish converts disagreed with the non-Jews or Gentiles who had also become converts as well.

The Jewish converts who belonged to the Pharisees group wanted to impose the strict observance of the laws of Moses and their even stricter interpretation and impose all these on all the Christian faithful. As I mentioned earlier, many of these practices and rigours would have made it very difficult and even impossible for the Gentiles to follow the Lord as that would have made them having to adjust immensely, which was not easily done or acceptable at that time.

Hence, St. Paul came to be the peacemaker and also intermediary between these two groups, and reinforced the same decision of the Apostles made earlier that the old observances of the Law should only be done in its utmost essentials, and removing the obligation to all the unnecessary excesses of the old Law and the Pharisees’ interpretation of it.

St. Paul reminded the faithful community in Ephesus that God loved all of them equally, all of mankind without any prejudice or favouritism. And what God wanted was not the excessively harsh application of the laws of Moses, but rather for His people to love Him wholeheartedly, sincerely and genuinely, and for them to show the same love to their fellow men, no longer divided by categories like whether they were Jews or Gentiles, or whether they were servants or free.

This is what the Lord has told us all that we need to be exemplary in our Christian way of life, in how we interact with one another with actions founded upon the basic Christian principles and tenets. In the Gospel passage today, the Lord told us all to be vigilant and ready, that is to live our lives in the most Christian manner from now, and not to delay any longer.

We can see this from how He rebuked the people for recognising the signs of nature, of seasons and others, and yet implying that they could not recognise the imminent coming of the kingdom of God through Christ. And in the latter part, He said that those who had not made peace ought to settle their matter beforehand, before they reached the judge, or otherwise, they would have to account for their mistakes and wrongdoing.

Therefore, it is a kind reminder from the Lord that we must be reconciled to Him, abandon our sinful ways and adapt His truth so that we will be found worthy on the day of Judgment. And we should do our best to live up our lives to the fullest, as Christians, dedicating ourselves to walk in God’s path, in being virtuous and just. We have to be the shining beacons of our Christian faith and calling, and we cannot be ignorant or lukewarm about these.

How do we do this, brothers and sisters in Christ? We should seek inspiration from our holy predecessors, the saints, and kkwtoday, in particular we should look upon the examples of St. John of Capestrano, the Franciscan priest who was once the governor of Perugia and a diplomat, who received a calling to religious life, when he received a vision of St. Francis of Assisi which inspired him to follow his calling as a Franciscan, and devoted himself from thereafter to the mission of the Church.

St. John of Capestrano was a renowned reformer of the Church, who was involved in the purification of the Church and in the reforms of many of its practices, helping the Church and the faithful to rediscover their true faith. Many people were helped by his efforts, and in his role as a frequent papal diplomat and emissary, St. John of Capestrano also helped to reconcile the opposing and conflicting factions in the Church. In the end, he was also a soldier who was involved in the defence of Christendom, fighting against the enemies of the faithful with great courage and devotion.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all discern how each and every one of us can be more dedicated to the Lord, in each and every moments of our lives, following the examples of St. John of Capestrano and other multitudes of saints. May the Lord be with us and may He continue to guide us in our journey of life, that we may always ever walk with Him in His grace and love, at all times. Amen.

Friday, 23 October 2020 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John of Capestrano, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Luke 12 : 54-59

At that time, Jesus said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming’; and so it happens. And when the wind blows from the south, you say, ‘It will be hot’; and so it is. You superficial people! You understand the signs of the earth and the sky, but you do not understand the present times.”

“And why do you not judge for yourselves what is fit? When you go with your accuser before the court, try to settle the case on the way, lest he drag you before the judge, and the judge deliver you to the jailer, and the jail throw you into prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the very last penny.”

Friday, 23 October 2020 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John of Capestrano, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Psalm 23 : 1-2, 3-4ab, 5-6

The earth and its fullness belong to YHVH, the world and all that dwell in it. He has founded it upon the ocean and set it firmly upon the waters.

Who will ascend the mountain of YHVH? Who will stand in His holy place? Those with clean hands and pure heart, who desire not what is vain.

They will receive blessings from YHVH, a reward from God, their Saviour. Such are the people who seek Him, who seek the face of Jacob’s God.

Friday, 23 October 2020 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John of Capestrano, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Ephesians 4 : 1-6

Therefore, I, the prisoner of Christ, invite you, to live the vocation you have received. Be humble, kind, patient and bear with one another in love. Make every effort to keep among you, the unity of spirit, through bonds of peace. Let there be one body, and one Spirit, just as one hope is the goal of your calling by God. One Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God, the Father of all, Who is above all, and works through all, and is in all.

Thursday, 22 October 2020 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. John Paul II, Pope (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Popes)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are all reminded to put God at the centre of our lives, to make Him the pivot around which our whole lives revolve. The Lord has blessed us so much and so wonderfully, and yet, many of us still do not appreciate all that we have been blessed with. We ignored His love and were apathetic to Him, and all these were because of the lack of genuine faith in our hearts.

That is why we are reminded yet again today to refocus our lives on God and ask ourselves, what is truly the meaning and significance of our Christian faith? It is by following God with all of our hearts, by being virtuous and by practicing our faith with real and sincere actions, in each and every moments of our lives.

Today, through the Gospel passage we have just heard, we are told of the reality of being a Christian, that may bring us tough challenges and difficulties as we go forward faithfully in life as Christians. The Lord Himself told His disciples frankly how His coming into this world, His work and revelation of truth would bring divisions, struggles, challenges and difficulties for all of them. This means that we should not expect that becoming Christians would bring about happiness, joy and satisfaction for our lives.

This especially refers to those who claim and think that by believing with God, we will be endowed with blessings and good things, the false theology and teaching called the ‘Prosperity Gospel’. Instead, we must always be prepared to defend our faith and to be prepared in case we have to face opposition and ridicule, rejection and hardships because of our adherence to the faith and to our Christian tenets and the truth of God.

It does not mean that we will necessarily suffer and endure hardships, but neither should we expect that life will be smooth-sailing for us just because we believe in God. And ultimately, these divisions came about not because the Lord desires this deplorable state of disunity. Rather, it is our own stubbornness and constant refusal to listen to the Lord and our disobedience that led to these divisions.

It is because we as Christians standing faithfully by the Lord and His righteous path, that we face conflicts, divisions and persecutions from those who refuse to believe in the Lord. Our righteousness and faithful way of life are abomination and terror for those who have chosen the wicked path of life, without faith in God and those who disagreed with His truth.

This is where, our wonderful saint today can show us so much how to live faithfully in accordance with God’s will even amidst the greatest of challenges and difficulties. Karol Jozef Wojtyla, later known as Pope St. John Paul II, was one of the most renowned leaders of the Church as the Successor of St. Peter the Apostle, known for being the first non-Italian pope in over four centuries, as well as for his long reign of almost twenty-seven years.

Pope St. John Paul II was born in Poland in the town of Wadowice not long after the end of the First World War and the independence of Poland, after great destructions and all the horrors of war that had occurred. He lost his family and loved ones early on, and he faced challenges that were truly great as his country edged on into war, and as Poland was conquered and occupied before he even turned twenty, he did not have it easy.

Even as the young Karol Wojtyla entered the seminary and studied to be a priest, he had to do it in secret due to the difficult conditions at the time, and he spent those years amidst bitter conflicts that happened and killed multitudes, including those whom he knew personally. And when the war and NAZI Germany atrocities were over, immediately the Communists led by the Soviet Union took over.

The young Pope St. John Paul II spent his early years of priesthood amidst the increasingly difficult situation for the Church and as many were persecuted for remaining loyal to the Church and their faith in God. When he was chosen as the Auxiliary Bishop of Krakow, and then later on as the Archbishop of Krakow, only more challenges faced him and his flock. He faced opposition to his efforts to care for his flock, and when a new church was to be built in a new town called Nowa Huta, the authorities tried to prevent its building, in a city without church in the attempt by the atheist Communist government to oppress the Church and the faithful.

Yet, all these did not stop the Archbishop from eventually prevailing and had the church built after over a decade of struggle, and when Karol Wojtyla was elected as the Pope and Supreme Pontiff in the Year of Our Lord 1978, he continued to labour hard for the sake of all the faithful. And even through an assassination attempt just few years into his Pontificate, which left him injured quite badly, as well as other challenges and troubles the Church had to face, up to the personal sufferings and physical disabilities caused by Parkinson’s Disease towards the end of his Pontificate, Pope St. John Paul remained firm in his dedication to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we can see from the well-known life and examples of Pope St. John Paul II that to be Christians does not necessarily mean that we will have smooth-sailing and good life without troubles. Trials, challenges and troubles can beset us at any time, and if we are not firm enough with our faith, we may end up being dragged down the path of sin. We must instead stay strong and resolute, and follow the inspiring example of Pope St. John Paul II in his faith and devotion to God.

Let us all discern carefully our path forward in life, brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us all renew our faith and our commitment from now on, striving to be good and faithful Christians at all times and in every moments of our lives, in our every actions and interactions with one another. May God bless us all and may He guide us in our journey of faith through life. Amen.