Wednesday, 21 September 2022 : Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Universal Church and all the faithful people of God rejoice together in the great Feast of one of the Twelve Apostles of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and who is also one of the Four Evangelists. St. Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist was the author of the Gospel of St. Matthew, which is chronologically usually the first Gospel listed in the New Testament, as the first of the four Holy Gospels. He was once known as Levi, a tax collector in Judea, who was called by God and who responded to that call with faith, leaving behind his past life and work as tax collector in order to follow the Lord and serve Him wholeheartedly.

In our first reading today, we heard of how St. Paul spoke to the Church and the faithful in Ephesus regarding the many gifts and graces of God given to them, that each one of them have been called by God and granted with various gifts, abilities and opportunities to be His disciples and followers, to be His witnesses and the ones to deliver His truth and love to the people of all the nations. The Lord has reached our to us all and sent us forth with His message, His words and wisdom, and told us all to deliver them through our lives and faithful witness by our actions and deeds, our role model and examples each day in life.

Each one of us are called to be faithful disciples of the Lord like that of St. Matthew the Apostle but at the same time we are also reminded that we have been given unique opportunities and we should not be worried about our backgrounds and origins, for the Lord called His disciples from all walks of life and various origins. Many of the greatest ones among His saints, like St. Matthew himself were once sinners who were unworthy and unlikely to be saved, at least in the eyes of the world, but yet proved them all wrong because they had a change of life and direction, and dedicated themselves to the Lord, embracing Him wholeheartedly and making Him the centre and focus of their lives.

St. Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist for example was a tax collector, and back then, a tax collector was often seen with great suspicion and disdain, and sometimes even with great hostility as they were often considered the scum of the society, and they were often treated as outcasts due to the nature of their work. They were seen as traitors to the nation and the Jewish society, as they were collecting taxes on behalf of either the Romans who were overlords of the lands of Judah, Samaria and Galilee, or on behalf of the Herodian kings, whom some of the people considered as foreigners as well.

Regardless of the circumstances, the tax collectors had often been reviled simply because they did what others hated, collecting taxes and no one really liked to be taxed for their wealth, property or income, be it those who were rich or those who were poor. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law often categorised them together with those like the prostitutes, criminals, the sick and the diseased, the possessed and all others whom they often deemed and labelled as being unworthy of God and His grace. Hence, they were often hated and despised by many, ostracised and treated like outcasts.

But the Lord proved them all wrong and showed us all how even great sinners can become great saints and servants of God. That is because what matters is how each one of those sinners reject the sins and wickedness they had committed, and endeavour to free themselves from the bondage and attachment to sin. And it requires our conscious efforts and dedication, to turn away from the path of sin and evil, and embrace God’s mercy and forgiveness, as well as allowing God to lead us down the right path as St. Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist himself had shown us by his life and dedication.

St. Matthew embraced a new life after abandoning his past life as Levi, following the Lord and making that change of name as a sign of his dedication to God and to his newfound faith. He wrote his Gospel targetted on the Jewish community and spent a lot of time and effort in his writings in order to reveal the truth of God to the Jewish community. He also ministered to the faithful and others in Judea and other parts of the region according to Apostolic and Church traditions, and he went through many hardships in proclaiming the Good News of God. He was martyred in the end, and faced death with faith in God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the faith, dedication and commitment which St. Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist had shown us serve to remind us that each and every one of us, though sinners, but we are all capable of great deeds in God. What we need to do is to embrace God’s love and mercy, and answer His call as St. Matthew and many other saints turned sinners had done. We must realise that the Church is not reserved only solely for the righteous, but is in fact a hospital for sinners. Through the Church and all of our efforts, many sinners may hopefully find their way towards God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, may the good faith and examples showed by St. Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist and so many other holy men and women of God be the sources of inspiration for all of us that we may always be ever faithful and committed, and be righteous and full of virtue in our every words, actions and deeds from now on. May we all no longer live in sin, but strive to be truly good in our lives, and be worthy of God and His grace. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 21 September 2022 : Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Matthew 9 : 9-13

At that time, as Jesus moved on from the place where He cured a paralytic man, He saw a man named Matthew, at his seat in the custom house; and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And Matthew got up and followed Him.

Now it happened, while Jesus was at table in Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners joined Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is it, that your Master eats with sinners and tax collectors?”

When Jesus heard this, He said, “Healthy people do not need a doctor, but sick people do. Go, and find out what this means : What I want is mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Wednesday, 21 September 2022 : Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist (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.

Wednesday, 21 September 2022 : Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Ephesians 4 : 1-7, 11-13

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.

But to each of us, divine grace is given, according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 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.

Wednesday, 14 September 2022 : Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we mark the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, celebrating the three moments in history related to the Holy Cross of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. This day we mark the moment when the True Cross, the actual Cross on which the Lord was hung and nailed on, was discovered by St. Helena, the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. It also marked the occasion of the Dedication of the Basilicas and churches built by the same Emperor Constantine on the Mount Calvary in Jerusalem. Lastly, it also marked the moment when the True Cross reentered Jerusalem in great triumph after having been captured by the Persian Sassanians three centuries after it had been discovered.

Essentially, in terms of historical significance, today’s Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross marked the moments when the true Faith and the Cross of Christ was triumphant over the forces of the world, such as the moment when the Christian faith and Church finally triumphed against those arrayed against them, as they were officially tolerated and the persecutions against them rescinded by the same Emperor Constantine the Great through the Edict of Milan. It was a moment of triumph that roughly coincided with the rediscovery of the True Cross of Our Lord and Saviour at the site of Mount Calvary. It was also another moment of triumph when the forces of Christendom triumphed over the pagan Sassanians, and reclaimed the True Cross from the enemy.

However, this Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is much more than just all of that. The most important triumph that this Feast celebrates today is the great triumph that Our Lord and Saviour has won for all of us, as He raised His Cross and was Himself raised on it, for the salvation of all the whole world, of all mankind, of all of God’s beloved children. Through His Cross, Our Lord Jesus Christ has shown us the perfect manifestation of God’s love as well as the perfect obedience of Man, through which God reached out to us and Man reached out to Him, with Christ forming the important Bridge through His Cross, reconnecting us and God.

In our first reading today we heard the story of what happened when the Israelites rebelled against God in the desert, and we heard about the bronze serpent of Moses which was crafted to help the Israelites. At that time, the rebellious Israelites disobeyed God such that the Lord sent fiery serpents to strike at them as punishment for their sins, disobedience and wickedness. Many died from those fiery serpents and their bites, and the people begged the Lord for forgiveness and mercy. It was then that the Lord told Moses to craft that bronze serpent as a sign of God’s salvation and mercy, and all those who saw that bronze serpent after being bitten did not perish.

That occasion is mirrored in our Gospel passage today when we heard of the exchange between the Lord Jesus and Nicodemus, the Pharisee who was sympathetic to Him and His teachings. The Lord spoke of the parallel between what happened back then and what He Himself would have to undergo, as He would be raised up as the Son of Man, before all the people much as how the bronze serpent was raised up by Moses before the whole people of Israel. And just as how the bronze serpent showed the salvation, mercy, compassion and forgiveness from God for His people, sparing them from the fiery serpents, thus, the Lord has also showed the infinite love of God through His crucifixion and His Cross.

The Lord has shown us His enduring and patient love, made manifest through His Son, and this was made possible because He loved us so much that He willingly emptied Himself and took up the appearance and essence of our humanity, by being born of His mother Mary, becoming the Son of God incarnate in the flesh, and becoming the Son of Man. Through His incarnation in the flesh, God made His love visible and tangible for us, and by His voluntary sacrifice on the Cross, the show of God’s ultimate love, all of us have witnessed and received the manifestation of that undying love. By suffering and dying on the Cross, He made us all sharers in His salvation, and die to our sins, and by His glorious Resurrection, He shared with us the new life, free from sin that we shall enjoy for eternity.

Not only that, but as I mentioned earlier, Christ by His humble submission to His Father’s will has shown us all mankind how we can be truly faithful to the Lord, and breaking free from the chains of sin and wickedness that had enslaved us, and how we can gain freedom from death through Christ and His assurance of salvation and new life for us. While the first Adam faltered and failed when tested by the devil, and succumbed to the temptations of his desires, ending up with sin that corrupted us all, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ as the New Adam showed us that we should not and cannot bow down to those temptations or to the devil, and we should instead seek the Lord and commit ourselves to Him wholeheartedly.

That is why the devil, Satan, and all of his fallen allies, the evil spirits and demons despised and feared the Holy Cross, because that tool of humiliation that was once used for the worst of criminals, as means for great suffering and humiliation, has become the means by which God saved His beloved people, and through His Holy Cross, the Lord has cast a devastating blow upon the devil and all of his forces, and broke their dominion over us forever, showing us the sure path to freedom from sin and death, and into eternal life. This is why today we mark that glorious triumph of the Holy Cross over the forces of sin, evil and death.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we reflect on the significance and importance of today’s Feast, its meaning and purpose, and how it has shown us the salvation of God and the triumph of His Cross, let us all also reflect and ponder upon our own lives. Let us all look upon the Lord on His Cross, the Crucifix, and discern how each and every one of us can be better disciples of His. We cannot continue to live our lives with apathy towards our faith, ignorance or lukewarmness, in how we practice our Christian faith and beliefs. We should not be hypocrites, and should not forget the love and compassion that God has always generously shown us.

Let us all look upon He Who has been crucified for us upon the Holy and Glorious Cross. Let us all glorify and praise Him more and more each day, by our own worthy and grace-filled lives, dedicating ourselves in each and every moments to love and serve the Lord ever more with our every living moments, with all of our might and strength. May the Lord, through His triumphant Cross, continue to guide us forward to the path towards eternal life. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 14 September 2022 : Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 3 : 13-17

At that time, Jesus said to Nicodemus, “No one has ever gone up to heaven except the One Who came from heaven, the Son of Man. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.”

“Yes, God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him may not be lost, but may have eternal life. God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world; instead, through Him the world is to be saved.”

Wednesday, 14 September 2022 : Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 77 : 1-2, 34-35, 36-37, 38

Give heed, o My people, to My teaching; listen to the words of My mouth! I will speak in parables; I will talk of old mysteries.

When He slew them, they repented and sought Him earnestly. They remembered that God was their Rock, the Most High, their Redeemer.

But they flattered Him with their mouths; they lied to Him with their tongues, while their hearts were unfaithful; they were untrue to His Covenant.

Even then, in His compassion, He forgave their offences and did not destroy them. Many a time He restrained His anger, and did not fully stir up His wrath.

Wednesday, 14 September 2022 : Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Numbers 21 : 4b-9

The people were discouraged by the journey and began to complain against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is neither bread nor water here and we are disgusted with this tasteless manna.”

YHVH then sent fiery serpents against them. They bit the people and many of the Israelites died. Then the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, speaking against YHVH and against you. Plead with YHVH to take the serpents away.”

Moses pleaded for the people and YHVH said to him, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a standard; whoever has been bitten and then looks at it shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a standard. Whenever a man was bitten, he looked towards the bronze serpent and he lived.

Alternative reading

Philippians 2 : 6-11

Though He was in the form of God, He did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking on the nature of a servant, made in human likeness, and in His appearance found as a Man.

He humbled Himself by being obedient to death, death on the cross. That is why God exalted Him and gave Him the Name which outshines all names, so that at the Name of Jesus all knees should bend in heaven, on earth and among the dead, and all tongues proclaim that Christ Jesus is the Lord to the glory of God the Father.

(Usus Antiquior) Exaltation of the Holy Cross (II Classis) – Wednesday, 14 September 2022 : Offertory, Secret Prayer of the Priest, Preface, Communion and Post-Communion Prayer

Liturgical Colour : Red

Offertory

Tradition of the Faith

Protege, Domine, plebem Tuam per signum Sanctae Crucis ab omnibus insidiis inimicorum omnium : ut tibi gratam exhibeamus servitutem, et acceptabile fiat sacrificium nostrum, Alleluja.

English translation

Through the sign of the Holy Cross, protect Your people, o Lord, from the snares of all enemies, that we may pay You a pleasing service, and our sacrifice be acceptable, Alleluia.

Secret Prayer of the Priest

Jesu Christi, Domini nostri, Corpore et Sanguine saginandi, per quem Crucis est sanctificatum vexillum : quaesumus, Domine, Deus noster; ut, sicut illud adorare meruimus, ita perreniter Ejus gloriae salutaris potiamur effectu. Per eumdem Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

English translation

Being about to be fed with the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ our Lord, through Whom the banner of the Cross was sanctified, we beseech You o Lord, our God, that, as we have had the grace to adore it, so we may forever enjoy the effect of its salutary glory. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who with You lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

Preface of the Holy Cross

Vere dignum et justum est, aequum et salutare, nos Tibi semper et ubique gratias agere : Domine, Sancte Pater omnipotens, aeterne Deus : Qui salutem humani generis in ligno Crucis constituisti : ut, unde mors oriebatur, inde vita resurgeret : et, qui in ligno vincebat, in ligno quoque vinceretur : per Christum, Dominum nostrum.

Per quem majestatem Tuam laudant Angeli, adorant Dominationes, tremunt Potestates. Caeli caelorumque Virtutes ac beata Seraphim socia exsultatione concelebrant. Cum quibus et nostras voces ut admitti jubeas, deprecamur, supplici confessione dicentes :

English translation

It is truly meet and just, right and profitable for us, at all times, and in all places, to give thanks to You, o Holy Lord, Father Almighty, Eternal God, You Who had established the salvation of mankind in the wood of the Cross, that from whence death came into the world, thence a new life might spring, and that he who by a tree overcame, by a tree might be overthrown. Through Christ our Lord.

Through Whom the Angels praise, the Dominations adore, the Powers, trembling with awe, worship Your majesty, which the heavens, and the forces of heaven, together with the Blessed Seraphim joyfully do magnify, and You do command that it be permitted to our lowliness to join with them in confessing You and unceasingly to repeat :

Communion

Tradition of the Faith

Per signum Crucis de inimicis nostris libera nos, Deus noster.

English translation

Through the sign of the Cross deliver us from our enemies, o our God.

Post-Communion Prayer

Adesto nobis, Domine, Deus noster : et, quos Sanctae Crucis laetari facis honore, ejus quoque perpetuis defende subsidiis. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

English translation

May You be with us, o Lord, our God, and as You had made us rejoice in honour of the Holy Cross, defend us also by its perpetual assistance. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who with You lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

(Usus Antiquior) Exaltation of the Holy Cross (II Classis) – Wednesday, 14 September 2022 : Holy Gospel

Liturgical Colour : Red

Sequentia Sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem – Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to St. John

John 12 : 31-36

In illo tempore : Dixit Jesus turbis Judaeorum : Nunc judicium est mundi : nunc princeps hujus mundi ejiciatur foras. Et ego si exaltatum fuero a terra, omnia traham ad meipsum. (Hoc autem dicebat, significans, qua morte esset moriturus.)

Respondit ei turba; Nos audivimus ex lege, quia Christus manet in aeternum : et quomodo Tu dicis : Oportet exaltari Filium Hominis? Quis est iste Filius Hominis?

Dixit ergo eis Jesus : Adhuc modicum lumen in vobis est. Ambulate, dum lucem habetis, ut non vos tenebrae comprehendant : et qui ambulat in tenebris, nescit, quo vadat. Dum lucem habetis, credite in lucem, ut filii lucis sitis.

English translation

At that time, Jesus said to the multitude of the Jews, “Now is the judgment of the world, now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to Myself. (Now this He said, signifying what death He should die.)

The multitude answered Him, “We have heard out of the Law, that Christ abides forever, and how can You say, the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is the Son of Man?”

Jesus therefore said to them, “Yet a little while, the Light is among you. Walk while you have the light, that the darkness does not overtake you. And he who walks in darkness does not know where he goes. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of light.”