Friday, 28 October 2022 : Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate together on this momentous day, the celebration of the Feast of Our Lord’s Holy Apostles, and not just one but two of the Twelve Apostles, namely St. Simon and St. Jude, Holy Apostles of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Both Apostles followed the Lord and dedicated their lives and works to God, and they became for us great role models, examples and inspirations to follow, in how we should live our own lives. God had called them from their respective lives and pasts, to be His servants, and to do His will. Today as we rejoice in their memory and glory, let us all discern all that they had done for the greater glory of God.

St. Simon the Apostle, also known sometimes as St. Simon the Zealot, as the name suggests, was a member of the Zealots, which was back then a highly nationalistic group of people who were determined to liberate the Jewish people in the region of Judea and Galilee from the domination and rule by the Romans or any other foreign oppressors, and to establish once again the independent rule over the people of God, in the form of the Kingdom of Israel. St. Simon was probably one of these Zealots, who then left to follow the Lord. Another tradition stated that the name of St. Simon meant more of being ‘zealous’ rather than him being a member of the Zealots. Regardless, he chose to follow the Lord and to do His will from the moment that the Lord called him.

Meanwhile, St. Jude the Apostle was also commonly known as St. Jude Thaddeus or St. Judas Thaddeus. He was often confused with Judas Iscariot, the traitor, as well as Jude, the brother of James, who was one of relatives or brothers of the Lord Jesus, as well as the writer of the Epistle of Jude, which might or might not have been written by St. Jude the Apostle himself. The association of St. Jude and his name of ‘Thaddeus’ itself was not conclusive, and biblical scholars sometimes considered them to be two separate people. Again, regardless of their origins, both St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles of the Lord, followed the Lord and faithfully embarked on the missions entrusted to them.

St. Simon and St. Jude both went on their missions after having received the commissioning and the commandment from the Lord, to go forth to all the nations and all the peoples, proclaiming the Good News and the salvation of God to them, and to baptise them all in the Name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. St. Simon and St. Jude both dedicated themselves to their ministries, as tradition stated how St. Simon the Apostle went to evangelise in the regions of Egypt, Persia, Armenia and Lebanon among other places like Ethiopia. It was often mentioned that St. Simon and St. Jude worked together as an evangelising team, and hence the reason why their feasts are celebrated together this day.

Meanwhile, St. Jude the Apostle himself preached the Gospels and the Good News of God in many places, including that of Judea and Samaria, near Jerusalem, and also the faraway places such as Libya, Mesopotamia and Syria, and to other places together with the other Apostles and missionaries, like that of with St. Simon the Apostle. Both he and St. Bartholomew, another of the Twelve Apostles were credited as the first ones to bring the Christian faith to the region of Armenia, sowing the seeds of faith there long before that realm eventually becoming the first ever Christian nation in the world.

Both St. Simon and St. Jude encountered many challenges as well as opportunities and successes throughout their missions and works, as through their efforts, many came to know of the Lord and His truth, and many chose to accept Him as their Lord and Saviour. Just like that of the other Apostles, St. Simon and St. Jude laid the groundwork and firm foundations for the Church and the Christian faith. St. Simon and St. Jude nonetheless faced intense persecutions and challenges throughout their ministry and both were martyred for their faith. While traditions sometimes differed on the details of their martyrdom, what matters is that they remained true and faithful to God to the very end.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we heard and reflect upon the lives and the works of these two Holy Apostles of the Lord, let us all ponder upon what we ourselves as Christians have been called to do with our lives like that of the Apostles St. Simon and St. Jude. Both of them had dedicated themselves to the Lord, answered His call and committed themselves to do what they had been tasked and entrusted to do. And we have to realise that there are still a lot of things that the Apostles did which were still not yet completed. In fact, as time passes on, there are more and more opportunities and areas where we as Christians and the Church can contribute for the sake of many of the people out there still in need of God’s grace and love, His salvation and eternal life.

Let us all hence be inspired and strengthened by the courage and faith shown by St. Simon and St. Jude, and ask them both for their intercessions that through their prayers and guidance, we may always be strengthened by God and empowered to remain faithful and committed to the Lord at all times. May God be with us all His Church, His beloved people, and may each and every one of us be evangelising and faithful disciples of His, in the manner of the Holy Apostles, especially that of St. Simon and St. Jude. May God bless us all in our every good deeds and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 28 October 2022 : Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 6 : 12-19

At that time, Jesus went out into the hills to pray, spending the whole night in prayer with God. When day came, He called His disciples to Him, and chose Twelve of them, whom He called ‘Apostles’ : Simon, whom He named Peter, and his brother Andrew; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James son of Alpheus and Simon called the Zealot; Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who would be the traitor.

Coming down the hill with them, Jesus stood in an open plain. Many of His disciples were there, and a large crowd of people, who had come from all parts of Judea and Jerusalem, and from the coastal cities of Tyre and Sidon. They gathered to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases. And people troubled by unclean spirits were cured.

The entire crowd tried to touch Him, because of the power that went out from Him and healed them all.

Friday, 28 October 2022 : Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 18 : 2-3, 4-5

The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament proclaims the work of His hands. Day talks it over with day; night hands on the knowledge to night.

No speech, no words, no voice is heard – but the call goes on, throughout the universe, the message is felt to the ends of the earth.

Friday, 28 October 2022 : Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles (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.

Thursday, 27 October 2022 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are reminded of the need for all of us to remain ever vigilant and prepared in the constant spiritual warfare and battlefield that is this world ever raging all around us. We have to be prepared lest the forces of the evil ones and those wicked forces arrayed against us succeed in tearing us away apart from the Lord and His path towards salvation. That is why we have to be always proactive in living our lives with faith just as our Scripture passages have reminded us today, so that we do not end up falling into the wrong paths in life.

In our first reading today, we heard of the words of the Apostle St. Paul to the faithful people of God in Ephesus, reminding all of them to put on the whole armour of God, the armour of fidelity and strength of God, allowing God to guide and protect them in their journey of faith through life. He reminded them of the spiritual warfare and struggles that are always happening all around them, which they need to be truly vigilant for, more than they should fear the persecution of the authorities of this world. That is because ultimately, there is nothing that the worldly authorities can do to them beyond harming their physical bodies and existence, but the same could not be said of those who threatened the souls of the faithful.

That is because those who seek the destruction of the souls of mankind are plenty, and unlike those of the world, there is little that we can do to resist them by ourselves, as they are always ready all around is, ready to surround us and to pounce on us whenever we falter or are unprepared against their onslaught. The Lord has warned us all against these attacks, and we should be ready to resist them, with the Lord by our side. But we need to have faith in the Lord and put our trust in Him, and give our best to live our lives in accordance to His path of truth. And it is by devoting ourselves wholeheartedly to God that we may find our path towards the eternal glory in God.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the words of the Lord speaking to His people and the disciples and some of the Pharisees who were giving Him some warning for the fact that king Herod, the tetrarch of Galilee wanted to kill Him. The Lord highlighted that despite all of that, He would still do what He has been called to do in His mission. The Lord would perform His mission, reaching out to His flock and to all the people, ministering to them, healing their sick and casting out demons from them even amidst all the challenges and trials that He and His disciples had to go through.

The Lord lamented then on the sad state of how the people those to whom the Lord had come to, rejected Him and refused to listen to Him and accept Him, just in the way their ancestors had persecuted and rejected the many messengers, prophets and servants of God sent to them earlier. Yet, He persisted on and continued to do the will of His heavenly Father, showing us the example of what we ourselves as Christians ought to be doing in our own lives, in doing God’s will, resisting and refusing the temptations to give in to the pressures of the world and give up our faith and struggle to be ever worthy of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, thus we are reminded that we must not let our guard down and continue to do our best to fulfil what God has called on all of us to do in our lives as Christians. Just as the Lord Jesus Himself has shown us, each and every one of us should strive to do our best in loving God and in doing His will, and continue to live worthily and justly, filled with Christian truths and virtues in life. We should be exemplary in our every words, deeds and actions so that in all that we do, we will always be sources of inspiration and strength for our fellow brothers and sisters, that we may encourage one another to remain faithful to God and to do God’s will at all times.

Let us all hence listen to the Lord’s call and hearken to His will, to embrace whatever missions He entrust to us to do, in making good use of our gifts, talents, abilities and opportunities that we may indeed strong in our faith, in wearing the fullness of the ‘armour of God’ just as St. Paul told the faithful members of the Church in Ephesus. Let us fully entrust ourselves and our families, our loved ones and our every actions, efforts and endeavours to the Lord, and let us fully allow Him to lead and guide us down the right path, opening our hearts and minds that He may lead us and help to guide us, and correct us whenever we falter and enter into the wrong paths in life.

May God be with us always, and may He continue to protect us from the attacks of the evil ones, of those who seek our ruin and destruction. May God empower us all with the courage and strength to persevere through the many challenges and trials we may have to face in remaining truly faithful to Him as Christians, as those whom the Lord Himself had called to be His disciples, and to be the faithful witnesses of His truth and love in our world today. May all of us be ever faithful and be good role models and beacons of Christ’s light and truth to all the people, of all the nations, now and always, forevermore. Amen.