Wednesday, 23 November 2022 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Clement I, Pope and Martyr, and St. Columban, Abbot (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Abbots)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures all of us are presented with the reality of being Christians in that we may face hardships, persecutions, and even may lose our lives in the midst of us living our lives faithfully as Christians. Each one of us are reminded that while persecutions and sufferings may be in our path, and we may have to endure them for a while, there is no path for those who continue to refuse to believe in God and those who persecute His people, as those will end up being crushed and defeated by the triumphant Lord, Our God and our Saviour, Who will come again at the end of time, at the time of His choosing, to gather us all who are faithful to Him, and cast into the eternal darkness and destruction, all those who rejected Him to the very end.

In our first reading today, we heard of the story from the Book of Revelations of St. John the Apostle, continuing the account of the past two weeks as we continue to progress through the final days of the current liturgical year, as a reminder for all of us how things will turn out eventually in the end. St. John witnessed in his heavenly vision the Seven Angels of God bearing the last and final plagues that will rise against those who are wicked and all those who continue to side with Satan and the other wicked ones, and continue to rebel against Him. Those who are righteous will be remembered by God, and the moment of His coming will be close with all the manifestation of God’s wrath, as He will come as He has promised, to gather each and every one of us who remain faithful to Him, the living and the dead, to rise together with Him into a new life and existence, totally and completely free from the bondage to sin and evil.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord Jesus told His disciples of all the things that they would experience going forward, as they continued to carry on their ministries, missions and vocations, as His Apostles, disciples, servants and missionaries among the peoples of various nations. He presented to them frankly and truthfully of how the world that had rejected Him and persecuted Him would likely persecute them as well. Just as much as they would indeed enjoy rich fruits of their efforts in mission and evangelisation, causing countless souls and people to come to know the Lord and be saved, they also had to contend against the many challenges, persecutions and rejections from all those who refused and would refuse to believe in the Lord and His truth.

And all of those things indeed came true as the early Church and Christians came under intense persecution firstly from the Jewish authorities, the Sanhedrin or the Jewish High Council, and then later on from the local governors and eventually the Roman state and government itself, resulting in many years, decades and centuries of terrible persecutions against the Church and all Christians. And even three centuries later, when the Christian persecutions were ended and the faith was finally tolerated and accepted, persecutions, challenges, trials and rejections still continued to happen, from time to time, again and again throughout the past two millennia of the history of the Church and its presence and works in our world, even right to the present day.

Throughout the world, there are still various kinds of difficulties, challenges and persecutions facing the people of God all over, as they face hardships and trials just for even being believers of Christ and for showing their faith in Him. Many had to practice their faith in secret, and many were, and are still suffering daily, even in prison and torture for their continued belief and faith in the Lord, their God and their Saviour. Yet, many of them remained steady and firm in their faith, and they did not give up despite the various pressures, coercions and efforts to make them turn away from their faith and betray the Lord. And still in other places, while it is alright to practice the Christian faith, Christians are facing challenges, trials and also oppositions to their very beliefs and way of life, and many are forced to choose between their faith and the fashionable ways and thoughts of the current world.

Today, the Church celebrates the feast of two great saints whose lives ought to inspire us all in how we ought to live our lives with faith, namely that of Pope St. Clement I, one of the earliest Popes and Vicars of Christ, a holy martyr of the faith, and also St. Columban, a renowned and holy Abbot, both of whom were dedicated to God in their own unique ways, and whose lives and actions showed great deal of faith and commitment to God. Both of them can show us what it truly means to be Christians, to live our lives worthily of Him in all of our words, actions and deeds, that we may indeed come ever closer to the Lord and find our way to Him, to His grace, love, salvation and eventually, eternal life with Him in true happiness and joy.

Pope St. Clement I was the successor of St. Peter through St. Linus and St. Anacletus, as the fourth Pope, Vicar of Christ, Bishop of Rome and therefore the leader of the Universal Church. He led the Church through the difficult years of persecutions and hardships, particularly during an especially bitter era of persecution under the Roman Emperor Domitian. Christians throughout the Roman Empire were persecuted for their faith, and many perished as martyrs in refusing to obey and worship the Roman Emperor as a divinity and betraying their one true God, Jesus Christ, their Lord and Saviour. Amidst all those challenges, Pope St. Clement I led the Church, which grew gradually despite the hardships and martyrdoms, and he was well known for his many letters or Epistles, helping to strengthen the Church and keeping all the faithful together and united in Christ. Eventually, this holy man of God himself perished in the persecutions, but he remained faithful to the very end.

Meanwhile St. Columban lived at a different era when Christians were already free to practice their faith and Christianity was in fact already the dominant faith throughout the region. However, there were a lot of lapses and corrupt practices within the Church in various places, which St. Columban in his works and efforts as a missionary and then as an Abbot, tried hard to help to reform the Church and excise the excesses of worldly attachments and impurities from the Christian faith, the Church and the faithful people of God. He had to go up against powerful people, even the leaders of the Church in the region of Gaul, now France, where he worked and ministered in. Yet, despite all the opposition and hardships, St. Columban remained committed to his mission to the very end, and many were converted through his efforts.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we can see from the examples set by those two saints, let us all therefore renew our own commitment to live our lives truly worthily as Christians, in dedicating our works, efforts, our every words, actions and deeds to bring glory to God. Let us all therefore continue to work hard in doing the will of God, and being vigilant that whenever is the Lord’s second coming, we will always be ready to welcome Him into this world, and receive from Him the crown of eternal glory, and to enjoy forever the inheritance and true joy that He has always intended for us, His beloved children and people, the jewels and pinnacle of His creation. May God bless us always, and may He continue to guide us in our journey of faith through life, always and forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 23 November 2022 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Clement I, Pope and Martyr, and St. Columban, Abbot (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Abbots)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures all of us are presented with the reality of being Christians in that we may face hardships, persecutions, and even may lose our lives in the midst of us living our lives faithfully as Christians. Each one of us are reminded that while persecutions and sufferings may be in our path, and we may have to endure them for a while, there is no path for those who continue to refuse to believe in God and those who persecute His people, as those will end up being crushed and defeated by the triumphant Lord, Our God and our Saviour, Who will come again at the end of time, at the time of His choosing, to gather us all who are faithful to Him, and cast into the eternal darkness and destruction, all those who rejected Him to the very end.

In our first reading today, we heard of the story from the Book of Revelations of St. John the Apostle, continuing the account of the past two weeks as we continue to progress through the final days of the current liturgical year, as a reminder for all of us how things will turn out eventually in the end. St. John witnessed in his heavenly vision the Seven Angels of God bearing the last and final plagues that will rise against those who are wicked and all those who continue to side with Satan and the other wicked ones, and continue to rebel against Him. Those who are righteous will be remembered by God, and the moment of His coming will be close with all the manifestation of God’s wrath, as He will come as He has promised, to gather each and every one of us who remain faithful to Him, the living and the dead, to rise together with Him into a new life and existence, totally and completely free from the bondage to sin and evil.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord Jesus told His disciples of all the things that they would experience going forward, as they continued to carry on their ministries, missions and vocations, as His Apostles, disciples, servants and missionaries among the peoples of various nations. He presented to them frankly and truthfully of how the world that had rejected Him and persecuted Him would likely persecute them as well. Just as much as they would indeed enjoy rich fruits of their efforts in mission and evangelisation, causing countless souls and people to come to know the Lord and be saved, they also had to contend against the many challenges, persecutions and rejections from all those who refused and would refuse to believe in the Lord and His truth.

And all of those things indeed came true as the early Church and Christians came under intense persecution firstly from the Jewish authorities, the Sanhedrin or the Jewish High Council, and then later on from the local governors and eventually the Roman state and government itself, resulting in many years, decades and centuries of terrible persecutions against the Church and all Christians. And even three centuries later, when the Christian persecutions were ended and the faith was finally tolerated and accepted, persecutions, challenges, trials and rejections still continued to happen, from time to time, again and again throughout the past two millennia of the history of the Church and its presence and works in our world, even right to the present day.

Throughout the world, there are still various kinds of difficulties, challenges and persecutions facing the people of God all over, as they face hardships and trials just for even being believers of Christ and for showing their faith in Him. Many had to practice their faith in secret, and many were, and are still suffering daily, even in prison and torture for their continued belief and faith in the Lord, their God and their Saviour. Yet, many of them remained steady and firm in their faith, and they did not give up despite the various pressures, coercions and efforts to make them turn away from their faith and betray the Lord. And still in other places, while it is alright to practice the Christian faith, Christians are facing challenges, trials and also oppositions to their very beliefs and way of life, and many are forced to choose between their faith and the fashionable ways and thoughts of the current world.

Today, the Church celebrates the feast of two great saints whose lives ought to inspire us all in how we ought to live our lives with faith, namely that of Pope St. Clement I, one of the earliest Popes and Vicars of Christ, a holy martyr of the faith, and also St. Columban, a renowned and holy Abbot, both of whom were dedicated to God in their own unique ways, and whose lives and actions showed great deal of faith and commitment to God. Both of them can show us what it truly means to be Christians, to live our lives worthily of Him in all of our words, actions and deeds, that we may indeed come ever closer to the Lord and find our way to Him, to His grace, love, salvation and eventually, eternal life with Him in true happiness and joy.

Pope St. Clement I was the successor of St. Peter through St. Linus and St. Anacletus, as the fourth Pope, Vicar of Christ, Bishop of Rome and therefore the leader of the Universal Church. He led the Church through the difficult years of persecutions and hardships, particularly during an especially bitter era of persecution under the Roman Emperor Domitian. Christians throughout the Roman Empire were persecuted for their faith, and many perished as martyrs in refusing to obey and worship the Roman Emperor as a divinity and betraying their one true God, Jesus Christ, their Lord and Saviour. Amidst all those challenges, Pope St. Clement I led the Church, which grew gradually despite the hardships and martyrdoms, and he was well known for his many letters or Epistles, helping to strengthen the Church and keeping all the faithful together and united in Christ. Eventually, this holy man of God himself perished in the persecutions, but he remained faithful to the very end.

Meanwhile St. Columban lived at a different era when Christians were already free to practice their faith and Christianity was in fact already the dominant faith throughout the region. However, there were a lot of lapses and corrupt practices within the Church in various places, which St. Columban in his works and efforts as a missionary and then as an Abbot, tried hard to help to reform the Church and excise the excesses of worldly attachments and impurities from the Christian faith, the Church and the faithful people of God. He had to go up against powerful people, even the leaders of the Church in the region of Gaul, now France, where he worked and ministered in. Yet, despite all the opposition and hardships, St. Columban remained committed to his mission to the very end, and many were converted through his efforts.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we can see from the examples set by those two saints, let us all therefore renew our own commitment to live our lives truly worthily as Christians, in dedicating our works, efforts, our every words, actions and deeds to bring glory to God. Let us all therefore continue to work hard in doing the will of God, and being vigilant that whenever is the Lord’s second coming, we will always be ready to welcome Him into this world, and receive from Him the crown of eternal glory, and to enjoy forever the inheritance and true joy that He has always intended for us, His beloved children and people, the jewels and pinnacle of His creation. May God bless us always, and may He continue to guide us in our journey of faith through life, always and forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 23 November 2022 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Clement I, Pope and Martyr, and St. Columban, Abbot (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Abbots)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures all of us are presented with the reality of being Christians in that we may face hardships, persecutions, and even may lose our lives in the midst of us living our lives faithfully as Christians. Each one of us are reminded that while persecutions and sufferings may be in our path, and we may have to endure them for a while, there is no path for those who continue to refuse to believe in God and those who persecute His people, as those will end up being crushed and defeated by the triumphant Lord, Our God and our Saviour, Who will come again at the end of time, at the time of His choosing, to gather us all who are faithful to Him, and cast into the eternal darkness and destruction, all those who rejected Him to the very end.

In our first reading today, we heard of the story from the Book of Revelations of St. John the Apostle, continuing the account of the past two weeks as we continue to progress through the final days of the current liturgical year, as a reminder for all of us how things will turn out eventually in the end. St. John witnessed in his heavenly vision the Seven Angels of God bearing the last and final plagues that will rise against those who are wicked and all those who continue to side with Satan and the other wicked ones, and continue to rebel against Him. Those who are righteous will be remembered by God, and the moment of His coming will be close with all the manifestation of God’s wrath, as He will come as He has promised, to gather each and every one of us who remain faithful to Him, the living and the dead, to rise together with Him into a new life and existence, totally and completely free from the bondage to sin and evil.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord Jesus told His disciples of all the things that they would experience going forward, as they continued to carry on their ministries, missions and vocations, as His Apostles, disciples, servants and missionaries among the peoples of various nations. He presented to them frankly and truthfully of how the world that had rejected Him and persecuted Him would likely persecute them as well. Just as much as they would indeed enjoy rich fruits of their efforts in mission and evangelisation, causing countless souls and people to come to know the Lord and be saved, they also had to contend against the many challenges, persecutions and rejections from all those who refused and would refuse to believe in the Lord and His truth.

And all of those things indeed came true as the early Church and Christians came under intense persecution firstly from the Jewish authorities, the Sanhedrin or the Jewish High Council, and then later on from the local governors and eventually the Roman state and government itself, resulting in many years, decades and centuries of terrible persecutions against the Church and all Christians. And even three centuries later, when the Christian persecutions were ended and the faith was finally tolerated and accepted, persecutions, challenges, trials and rejections still continued to happen, from time to time, again and again throughout the past two millennia of the history of the Church and its presence and works in our world, even right to the present day.

Throughout the world, there are still various kinds of difficulties, challenges and persecutions facing the people of God all over, as they face hardships and trials just for even being believers of Christ and for showing their faith in Him. Many had to practice their faith in secret, and many were, and are still suffering daily, even in prison and torture for their continued belief and faith in the Lord, their God and their Saviour. Yet, many of them remained steady and firm in their faith, and they did not give up despite the various pressures, coercions and efforts to make them turn away from their faith and betray the Lord. And still in other places, while it is alright to practice the Christian faith, Christians are facing challenges, trials and also oppositions to their very beliefs and way of life, and many are forced to choose between their faith and the fashionable ways and thoughts of the current world.

Today, the Church celebrates the feast of two great saints whose lives ought to inspire us all in how we ought to live our lives with faith, namely that of Pope St. Clement I, one of the earliest Popes and Vicars of Christ, a holy martyr of the faith, and also St. Columban, a renowned and holy Abbot, both of whom were dedicated to God in their own unique ways, and whose lives and actions showed great deal of faith and commitment to God. Both of them can show us what it truly means to be Christians, to live our lives worthily of Him in all of our words, actions and deeds, that we may indeed come ever closer to the Lord and find our way to Him, to His grace, love, salvation and eventually, eternal life with Him in true happiness and joy.

Pope St. Clement I was the successor of St. Peter through St. Linus and St. Anacletus, as the fourth Pope, Vicar of Christ, Bishop of Rome and therefore the leader of the Universal Church. He led the Church through the difficult years of persecutions and hardships, particularly during an especially bitter era of persecution under the Roman Emperor Domitian. Christians throughout the Roman Empire were persecuted for their faith, and many perished as martyrs in refusing to obey and worship the Roman Emperor as a divinity and betraying their one true God, Jesus Christ, their Lord and Saviour. Amidst all those challenges, Pope St. Clement I led the Church, which grew gradually despite the hardships and martyrdoms, and he was well known for his many letters or Epistles, helping to strengthen the Church and keeping all the faithful together and united in Christ. Eventually, this holy man of God himself perished in the persecutions, but he remained faithful to the very end.

Meanwhile St. Columban lived at a different era when Christians were already free to practice their faith and Christianity was in fact already the dominant faith throughout the region. However, there were a lot of lapses and corrupt practices within the Church in various places, which St. Columban in his works and efforts as a missionary and then as an Abbot, tried hard to help to reform the Church and excise the excesses of worldly attachments and impurities from the Christian faith, the Church and the faithful people of God. He had to go up against powerful people, even the leaders of the Church in the region of Gaul, now France, where he worked and ministered in. Yet, despite all the opposition and hardships, St. Columban remained committed to his mission to the very end, and many were converted through his efforts.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we can see from the examples set by those two saints, let us all therefore renew our own commitment to live our lives truly worthily as Christians, in dedicating our works, efforts, our every words, actions and deeds to bring glory to God. Let us all therefore continue to work hard in doing the will of God, and being vigilant that whenever is the Lord’s second coming, we will always be ready to welcome Him into this world, and receive from Him the crown of eternal glory, and to enjoy forever the inheritance and true joy that He has always intended for us, His beloved children and people, the jewels and pinnacle of His creation. May God bless us always, and may He continue to guide us in our journey of faith through life, always and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 10 November 2022 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the Scriptures, we are all presented with the matter of the coming of the kingdom of God into this world, and how it is actually already happening to us all even as we have experienced it all these time, all these while. We must not see God’s kingdom as something that is disconnected from the present life we have today, as it is definitely very tempting for us to think of that God’s kingdom has yet to come to us, while the truth is that the kingdom of God has actually been amongst us all these times. Yes, brothers and sisters, the fact is that we are already part of this blessed kingdom of God, in the Church and our Christian communities.

In our first reading today, we heard the account from the Epistle of St. Paul to the other disciple of the Lord named Philemon. In that account, we heard St. Paul telling Philemon that he was sending him one of his godsons, Onesimus, to accompany him and the other faithful, in the ministry and mission entrusted to them all in the Church of God. At that time, St. Paul himself was likely suffering in prison after he was arrested due to the many challenges and trials that he had to undergo throughout his ministry and missionary journeys. Yet, St. Paul faced it all with faith and devotion in God, entrusting himself completely in the hands of the Lord, and not fearing the sufferings, consequences and hardships that he had to endure, because he truly cared for the needs of his fellow brethren, to whom God had sent him to as a minister of His Good News and truth.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the encounter between the Lord and some Pharisees who questioned Him regarding when the kingdom of God would come. And we must understand that at the time, the most popular idea and expectation among the people about the coming of the Messiah and God’s salvation was that they expected that the Messiah or the Saviour would be the Son and Heir of David, to restore the old glory of the kingdom of Israel, of the days of David and Solomon, the greatest kings of Israel and those moments when all the people of Israel were still united as one kingdom and one people, and before they were torn apart by internal strife and conflicts that eventually brought down the kingdom of Israel.

Hence, back then, the common interpretation and understanding of the nature of the coming of the Messiah was that this Messiah would lead the people of God in liberating their homeland from the rule by the Romans and other foreigners who had then imposed their rule, power and sovereignty over the Jewish people. Hence, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who disagreed with the Lord and saw His actions as against what they believed in, their ideals of what the Messiah would do and who this Messiah would be. To them, the Lord Jesus could not have been the Messiah because He did not fit their ideal and stereotype of the Messiah of the people of God. Yet, in their pride and ego, they had failed to realise that it was their arrogance, presumptions and mistaken ideals that had become serious obstacles preventing them from finding their way towards God’s truth.

The Lord has shown them and all of us that the kingdom of God was not what the Pharisees, the teachers of the Law and the other people often thought it would be. Instead, the kingdom of God does not equate the monarchy of the Israelites of the old days, or anything like that. Instead, the kingdom of God is the establishment of God’s reign on this world, which has actually happened when the Lord Jesus came to this world and established His Church. Through the Church, the Lord made His kingdom tangible in this world, in our own communities and societies, wherever we are. By His New Covenant, sealed through His suffering and death on the Cross, He broke the barriers separating us from God, and hence brought us much closer to His heavenly glory and joy.

The kingdom of God therefore has existed in our midst, within the Church and our own various groups and communities. What we must then realise is how we manifest this kingdom of God in our own families, in our circle of friends and relatives, loved ones and others, even in our workplaces and elsewhere. It is here then that as Christians, each one of us are charged and entrusted with the task of making the kingdom of God being fully present and tangible in our world today, wherever we are and in whatever we are doing in life. And we have to be genuine in living our lives with faith, as members of God’s Church and as parts of His living and present Kingdom here in this world, already manifested and tangible in our midst, one where all the faithful people of God are filled with love for both God and for one another.

Today, we celebrate the feast of Pope St. Leo the Great, one of the great saints of the Church, whose life, works and inspirations can be sources of good inspiration for ourselves in how we ought to live up to our faith in our daily living, to be truly worthy parts of God’s everlasting and glorious kingdom. Pope St. Leo the Great led the Church during a tumultuous time both in the secular world and also within the Church, and yet, he committed himself to lead the Church through those difficult moments, showing his leadership for his flock through the most challenging times. Pope St. Leo the Great was well-known for his stand-off with the powerful Attila the Hun, king of the rampaging Huns who were then invading the Roman Empire and was about to come to Rome. Pope St. Leo the Great stood at the gates of Rome and managed to convince the Hunnic king to turn away and return to his homeland, sparing his flock much destructions and death.

Not only that, Pope St. Leo the Great was also actively involved in missionary works throughout Christendom, sending missionaries and guides to far-off places to spread the Word of God ever further, and establish the Church communities in more and more places. He was also involved in combatting heresies that had sprung up in various places over different ideas and topics, and maintained the true teachings and the orthodoxy of the Christian faith and its deposit of faith and truth. He was an active participant in the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon and sent his representatives to take part in the proceedings of the Ecumenical Council, which strengthened the truth and the orthodoxy of the Church against the heresies, affirming what the Church has always held since the days and times of the Apostles.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we have seen from the life and works of Pope St. Leo the Great, and also the presence and lives of so many other saints, we can see that the kingdom of Heaven, the kingdom of God is already here in this world, in our midst. What we experience now is the precursor of the true Kingdom that we will be in, for all those who are worthy, for all eternity with God, after we have passed on from this world and is judged worthy at the particular and the last judgments. Let us all therefore be inspired by the examples set by our holy predecessors, Pope St. Leo the Great and the innumerable other saints and holy men and women of God, that we truly may embody God’s kingdom on Earth, showing all the people of God what the kingdom of God is like through us all and the Church.

May the Lord continue to guide us through our journey of faith in life and may He empower and strengthen each one of us with the resolve and strength, perseverance and commitment to follow Him ever more faithfully from now on. May God bless us all in our every actions and works, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 10 November 2022 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the Scriptures, we are all presented with the matter of the coming of the kingdom of God into this world, and how it is actually already happening to us all even as we have experienced it all these time, all these while. We must not see God’s kingdom as something that is disconnected from the present life we have today, as it is definitely very tempting for us to think of that God’s kingdom has yet to come to us, while the truth is that the kingdom of God has actually been amongst us all these times. Yes, brothers and sisters, the fact is that we are already part of this blessed kingdom of God, in the Church and our Christian communities.

In our first reading today, we heard the account from the Epistle of St. Paul to the other disciple of the Lord named Philemon. In that account, we heard St. Paul telling Philemon that he was sending him one of his godsons, Onesimus, to accompany him and the other faithful, in the ministry and mission entrusted to them all in the Church of God. At that time, St. Paul himself was likely suffering in prison after he was arrested due to the many challenges and trials that he had to undergo throughout his ministry and missionary journeys. Yet, St. Paul faced it all with faith and devotion in God, entrusting himself completely in the hands of the Lord, and not fearing the sufferings, consequences and hardships that he had to endure, because he truly cared for the needs of his fellow brethren, to whom God had sent him to as a minister of His Good News and truth.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the encounter between the Lord and some Pharisees who questioned Him regarding when the kingdom of God would come. And we must understand that at the time, the most popular idea and expectation among the people about the coming of the Messiah and God’s salvation was that they expected that the Messiah or the Saviour would be the Son and Heir of David, to restore the old glory of the kingdom of Israel, of the days of David and Solomon, the greatest kings of Israel and those moments when all the people of Israel were still united as one kingdom and one people, and before they were torn apart by internal strife and conflicts that eventually brought down the kingdom of Israel.

Hence, back then, the common interpretation and understanding of the nature of the coming of the Messiah was that this Messiah would lead the people of God in liberating their homeland from the rule by the Romans and other foreigners who had then imposed their rule, power and sovereignty over the Jewish people. Hence, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who disagreed with the Lord and saw His actions as against what they believed in, their ideals of what the Messiah would do and who this Messiah would be. To them, the Lord Jesus could not have been the Messiah because He did not fit their ideal and stereotype of the Messiah of the people of God. Yet, in their pride and ego, they had failed to realise that it was their arrogance, presumptions and mistaken ideals that had become serious obstacles preventing them from finding their way towards God’s truth.

The Lord has shown them and all of us that the kingdom of God was not what the Pharisees, the teachers of the Law and the other people often thought it would be. Instead, the kingdom of God does not equate the monarchy of the Israelites of the old days, or anything like that. Instead, the kingdom of God is the establishment of God’s reign on this world, which has actually happened when the Lord Jesus came to this world and established His Church. Through the Church, the Lord made His kingdom tangible in this world, in our own communities and societies, wherever we are. By His New Covenant, sealed through His suffering and death on the Cross, He broke the barriers separating us from God, and hence brought us much closer to His heavenly glory and joy.

The kingdom of God therefore has existed in our midst, within the Church and our own various groups and communities. What we must then realise is how we manifest this kingdom of God in our own families, in our circle of friends and relatives, loved ones and others, even in our workplaces and elsewhere. It is here then that as Christians, each one of us are charged and entrusted with the task of making the kingdom of God being fully present and tangible in our world today, wherever we are and in whatever we are doing in life. And we have to be genuine in living our lives with faith, as members of God’s Church and as parts of His living and present Kingdom here in this world, already manifested and tangible in our midst, one where all the faithful people of God are filled with love for both God and for one another.

Today, we celebrate the feast of Pope St. Leo the Great, one of the great saints of the Church, whose life, works and inspirations can be sources of good inspiration for ourselves in how we ought to live up to our faith in our daily living, to be truly worthy parts of God’s everlasting and glorious kingdom. Pope St. Leo the Great led the Church during a tumultuous time both in the secular world and also within the Church, and yet, he committed himself to lead the Church through those difficult moments, showing his leadership for his flock through the most challenging times. Pope St. Leo the Great was well-known for his stand-off with the powerful Attila the Hun, king of the rampaging Huns who were then invading the Roman Empire and was about to come to Rome. Pope St. Leo the Great stood at the gates of Rome and managed to convince the Hunnic king to turn away and return to his homeland, sparing his flock much destructions and death.

Not only that, Pope St. Leo the Great was also actively involved in missionary works throughout Christendom, sending missionaries and guides to far-off places to spread the Word of God ever further, and establish the Church communities in more and more places. He was also involved in combatting heresies that had sprung up in various places over different ideas and topics, and maintained the true teachings and the orthodoxy of the Christian faith and its deposit of faith and truth. He was an active participant in the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon and sent his representatives to take part in the proceedings of the Ecumenical Council, which strengthened the truth and the orthodoxy of the Church against the heresies, affirming what the Church has always held since the days and times of the Apostles.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we have seen from the life and works of Pope St. Leo the Great, and also the presence and lives of so many other saints, we can see that the kingdom of Heaven, the kingdom of God is already here in this world, in our midst. What we experience now is the precursor of the true Kingdom that we will be in, for all those who are worthy, for all eternity with God, after we have passed on from this world and is judged worthy at the particular and the last judgments. Let us all therefore be inspired by the examples set by our holy predecessors, Pope St. Leo the Great and the innumerable other saints and holy men and women of God, that we truly may embody God’s kingdom on Earth, showing all the people of God what the kingdom of God is like through us all and the Church.

May the Lord continue to guide us through our journey of faith in life and may He empower and strengthen each one of us with the resolve and strength, perseverance and commitment to follow Him ever more faithfully from now on. May God bless us all in our every actions and works, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 10 November 2022 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the Scriptures, we are all presented with the matter of the coming of the kingdom of God into this world, and how it is actually already happening to us all even as we have experienced it all these time, all these while. We must not see God’s kingdom as something that is disconnected from the present life we have today, as it is definitely very tempting for us to think of that God’s kingdom has yet to come to us, while the truth is that the kingdom of God has actually been amongst us all these times. Yes, brothers and sisters, the fact is that we are already part of this blessed kingdom of God, in the Church and our Christian communities.

In our first reading today, we heard the account from the Epistle of St. Paul to the other disciple of the Lord named Philemon. In that account, we heard St. Paul telling Philemon that he was sending him one of his godsons, Onesimus, to accompany him and the other faithful, in the ministry and mission entrusted to them all in the Church of God. At that time, St. Paul himself was likely suffering in prison after he was arrested due to the many challenges and trials that he had to undergo throughout his ministry and missionary journeys. Yet, St. Paul faced it all with faith and devotion in God, entrusting himself completely in the hands of the Lord, and not fearing the sufferings, consequences and hardships that he had to endure, because he truly cared for the needs of his fellow brethren, to whom God had sent him to as a minister of His Good News and truth.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the encounter between the Lord and some Pharisees who questioned Him regarding when the kingdom of God would come. And we must understand that at the time, the most popular idea and expectation among the people about the coming of the Messiah and God’s salvation was that they expected that the Messiah or the Saviour would be the Son and Heir of David, to restore the old glory of the kingdom of Israel, of the days of David and Solomon, the greatest kings of Israel and those moments when all the people of Israel were still united as one kingdom and one people, and before they were torn apart by internal strife and conflicts that eventually brought down the kingdom of Israel.

Hence, back then, the common interpretation and understanding of the nature of the coming of the Messiah was that this Messiah would lead the people of God in liberating their homeland from the rule by the Romans and other foreigners who had then imposed their rule, power and sovereignty over the Jewish people. Hence, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who disagreed with the Lord and saw His actions as against what they believed in, their ideals of what the Messiah would do and who this Messiah would be. To them, the Lord Jesus could not have been the Messiah because He did not fit their ideal and stereotype of the Messiah of the people of God. Yet, in their pride and ego, they had failed to realise that it was their arrogance, presumptions and mistaken ideals that had become serious obstacles preventing them from finding their way towards God’s truth.

The Lord has shown them and all of us that the kingdom of God was not what the Pharisees, the teachers of the Law and the other people often thought it would be. Instead, the kingdom of God does not equate the monarchy of the Israelites of the old days, or anything like that. Instead, the kingdom of God is the establishment of God’s reign on this world, which has actually happened when the Lord Jesus came to this world and established His Church. Through the Church, the Lord made His kingdom tangible in this world, in our own communities and societies, wherever we are. By His New Covenant, sealed through His suffering and death on the Cross, He broke the barriers separating us from God, and hence brought us much closer to His heavenly glory and joy.

The kingdom of God therefore has existed in our midst, within the Church and our own various groups and communities. What we must then realise is how we manifest this kingdom of God in our own families, in our circle of friends and relatives, loved ones and others, even in our workplaces and elsewhere. It is here then that as Christians, each one of us are charged and entrusted with the task of making the kingdom of God being fully present and tangible in our world today, wherever we are and in whatever we are doing in life. And we have to be genuine in living our lives with faith, as members of God’s Church and as parts of His living and present Kingdom here in this world, already manifested and tangible in our midst, one where all the faithful people of God are filled with love for both God and for one another.

Today, we celebrate the feast of Pope St. Leo the Great, one of the great saints of the Church, whose life, works and inspirations can be sources of good inspiration for ourselves in how we ought to live up to our faith in our daily living, to be truly worthy parts of God’s everlasting and glorious kingdom. Pope St. Leo the Great led the Church during a tumultuous time both in the secular world and also within the Church, and yet, he committed himself to lead the Church through those difficult moments, showing his leadership for his flock through the most challenging times. Pope St. Leo the Great was well-known for his stand-off with the powerful Attila the Hun, king of the rampaging Huns who were then invading the Roman Empire and was about to come to Rome. Pope St. Leo the Great stood at the gates of Rome and managed to convince the Hunnic king to turn away and return to his homeland, sparing his flock much destructions and death.

Not only that, Pope St. Leo the Great was also actively involved in missionary works throughout Christendom, sending missionaries and guides to far-off places to spread the Word of God ever further, and establish the Church communities in more and more places. He was also involved in combatting heresies that had sprung up in various places over different ideas and topics, and maintained the true teachings and the orthodoxy of the Christian faith and its deposit of faith and truth. He was an active participant in the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon and sent his representatives to take part in the proceedings of the Ecumenical Council, which strengthened the truth and the orthodoxy of the Church against the heresies, affirming what the Church has always held since the days and times of the Apostles.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we have seen from the life and works of Pope St. Leo the Great, and also the presence and lives of so many other saints, we can see that the kingdom of Heaven, the kingdom of God is already here in this world, in our midst. What we experience now is the precursor of the true Kingdom that we will be in, for all those who are worthy, for all eternity with God, after we have passed on from this world and is judged worthy at the particular and the last judgments. Let us all therefore be inspired by the examples set by our holy predecessors, Pope St. Leo the Great and the innumerable other saints and holy men and women of God, that we truly may embody God’s kingdom on Earth, showing all the people of God what the kingdom of God is like through us all and the Church.

May the Lord continue to guide us through our journey of faith in life and may He empower and strengthen each one of us with the resolve and strength, perseverance and commitment to follow Him ever more faithfully from now on. May God bless us all in our every actions and works, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 10 November 2022 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 17 : 20-25

At that time, the Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God was to come. He answered, “The kingdom of God is not like something you can observe, and say of it, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘See, there it is!’ for the kingdom of God is within you.”

And Jesus said to His disciples, “The time is at hand, when you will long to see one of the glorious days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. Then people will tell you, ‘Look there! Look here!’ Do not go with them, do not follow them. As lightning flashes from one end of the sky to the other, so will it be with the Son of Man; but first He must suffer many things, and be rejected by this generation.”

Thursday, 10 November 2022 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 145 : 6c-7, 8-9a, 9bc-10

The Lord is forever faithful; He gives justice to the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free.

The Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord straightens the bent. The Lord loves the virtuous, but He brings to ruin the way of the wicked. The Lord protects the stranger.

The Lord sustains the widow and the orphan. The Lord will reign forever, your God, o Zion, from generation to generation. Alleluia!

Thursday, 10 November 2022 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Philemon 7-20

I had great satisfaction and comfort on hearing of your charity, because the hearts of the saints have been cheered by you, brother. Because of this, although in Christ I have the freedom to command what you should do, yet I prefer to request you in love. The one talking is Paul, the old man, now prisoner for Christ. And my request is on behalf of Onesimus, whose father I have become while I was in prison.

This Onesimus has not been helpful to you, but now he will be helpful both to you and to me. In returning him to you, I am sending you my own heart. I would have liked to keep him at my side, to serve me on your behalf while I am in prison for the Gospel, but I did not want to do anything without your agreement, nor impose a good deed upon you without your free consent.

Perhaps Onesimus has been parted from you for a while so that you may have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but better than a slave. For he is very dear brother to me, and he will be even dearer to you. And so, because of our friendship, receive him as if he were I myself.

And if he has caused any harm, or owes you anything, charge it to me. I, Paul, write this and sign it with my own hand : I will pay it…. without further mention of your debt to me, which is you yourself. So, my brother, please do me this favour for the Lord’s sake. Give me this comfort in Christ.

Saturday, 22 October 2022 : 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, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, each and every one of us are meant to do what we can as Christians, having been given various talents and gifts, blessings and graces by the Lord. Each and every one of us are therefore expected to make good use of those gifts of the Lord and be fruitful in the grace of God, bearing the rich fruits of our actions and commitments in life, in accordance to what each one of us have been called to do as Christians. All of us are reminded today of this calling, and we should embrace the Lord’s calling wholeheartedly.

In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians, we heard about the matter of the gifts that God had given to His disciples, to the Apostles and the others who have given themselves to the service of God. The Lord has granted them all the gifts and the blessings, the opportunities and the abilities to do His will, and gave them each a mission to fulfil in their lives. St. Paul therefore wanted to remind the faithful in Ephesus of their calling and mission in life, on the significance of them being Christians, as followers of the Lord. The Lord has called on all of them to be the members and parts of His Church, His one united Body, made up of all the different various parts, all the different peoples of different origins and background.

The Church of God is made up of all these people and parts, each one of them with their own talents and capabilities, with their own missions and responsibilities. For example, as mentioned, the Lord called and gave the gifts and entrusted some with their responsibility as Apostles, some others as missionaries and teachers, while some others were entrusted to be evangelists and preachers, while others were called to be involved in building good and faithful Christian families, to be good fathers, mothers, children and other members of the Christian community, as parts of the same united Body of Christ, the Church.

At that time the Church and the Christian communities in the various parts of the Mediterranean and elsewhere were still in their early stages, as the Apostles and the other missionaries spread the Good News and the Christian faith to various parts of the world, proclaiming the truth of God courageously despite the many challenges that they had to face. The Lord has sent His disciples to those places, revealing His truth and salvation to all the people of all the nations. That is why, the Lord wants us all to remember how all of us have the same mission that He has entrusted to His Apostles and disciples, and thus, we have to make good use of the gifts and talents given to us. We can neither be idle or ignore our calling and mission.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord telling His disciples that all those people who had suffered due to the riot in Galilee and the collapse of the tower in Siloah had met their end, and while it was not due to any fault of theirs, but the Lord highlighted to them all, that unless they changed their ways and actions, then they would face the end in the same manner as those who had perished experienced. He used this example to highlight how all of our actions and works, our beliefs and faith truly matter as they all determine whether we are going to be worthy of the Lord, or whether our actions and lives will condemn us at the Day of Judgment. The choice and opportunities have been given to us, and now therefore it is up to us whether we will act on it or not.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all realise that as Christians, as members of the Church of God, all of us like that of the Apostles and the early Christians, are all the same disciples of the Lord, and we all share the same calling and mission which the Lord had given and entrusted to us through His same Church. Each one of us have been given the gifts and talents, and the various capabilities and opportunities, for us to reach out to more and more of our fellow men, and proclaim the truth of God through our own exemplary lives and actions. We do not have to perform amazing and wonderful things, as in truth, what really matters is for us to do whatever we can, in our own small little ways, to do the will of God, and to follow His path, at all times.

Today, the Church celebrates the feast of one of the great recent saint, whose name and memories must be familiar to so many among us both young and old, as he was the leader of the Universal Church as the Successor of St. Peter, the Pope and Bishop of Rome. Pope St. John Paul II, also known by his birth name as Karol Jozef Wojtyla, the first Polish Pope and non-Italian Pope after close to five hundred years. Karol Jozef Wojtyla was born in Poland after the First World War to a loving family, but unfortunately, he lost his family members one by one, beginning with his mother, then his elder brother and finally his father, during the harsh early years of the Second World War.

The young Karol Wojtyla suffered hardships during the war years, and during that time, he went through discreet seminary preparation as he committed himself to priesthood. He was ordained a priest, and then went through another hard period of oppression of Christians by the Communists, who were in power at that time. Christians were persecuted and oppressed, but Fr. Wojtyla cared for the needs of his flock, and this quiet obedience and commitment to the Lord eventually led to him being chosen as first the Auxiliary Bishop of Krakow, and then succeeding as the Metropolitan Archbishop of Krakow, and from there on, his participation as a leader of the Church continued to rise on.

After being made a Cardinal by the Pope, the then Cardinal Wojtyla continued to fight for the rights of the Christians in his homeland, in Krakow and elsewhere, and he was particularly remembered for his period of struggle against the Communist government, as he led the faithful in the effort to establish a church in the new town of Nowa Huta, which the Communist government had touted back then as a churchless town, in a seeming symbol of triumph of Communism over the Christian faith. Cardinal Wojtyla helped to lead the campaign which eventually led to the completion of the church and shrine at Nowa Huta of the now famous Black Madonna of Nowa Huta.

He was then elected as the successor of St. Peter as the Pope and leader of the Universal Church. As Pope St. John Paul II, he led the Church on a great campaign of renewal, in leading the Church through efforts to evangelise to many more people, to lead to the greater unity within the Church, the repair of relations between the separated brethren among the Christian Church splinters, as well as in his great and memorable role in leading to the downfall of Communism, which happened just over a decade after he took over as the Pope and leader of the Church. He travelled to many countries, more than any Popes ever before and ever since until today, and as the Apostles long before his time and ours, Pope St. John Paul II continued to carry on the mission entrusted to the Church of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore seek the intercession of Pope St. John Paul II and the many other saints who are our good role models, including that of the Apostles and the other disciples themselves, and let us ask all of them to pray for us, that God may strengthen us in our missionary journey, in whatever we do as members of the same Church of God, for our current Pope, Francis, the Cardinals and the Archbishops and Bishops all throughout the Church, all the priest and deacons, and everyone in the religious orders, brothers and sisters, and of course all those among the laity, in their various capacities and workplaces, as fathers, mothers and children, as members of the living Church of God.

Let us all do our best to obey the will of God and commit ourselves anew to the Lord from now on, resolving to follow the path that God has shown before us. May the Lord continue to guide us all and be with us always, and may He empower each and every one of us with the strength and the grace to remain faithful to Him despite the challenges and trials that we may have to face in our journey of faith through our respective lives. May God bless us all in our every good efforts and endeavours, now and always, forevermore. Amen.