Saturday, 11 June 2022 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Barnabas, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we mark the occasion of the Feast of St. Barnabas the Apostle, one of the Holy Apostles of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the companion of St. Paul the Apostle, another great Apostle and missionary of the faith. St. Barnabas has dedicated much of his life for the evangelisation of the people in all the communities and places that he has visited, both in his missionary journeys with St. Paul and in his own missionary works and other engagements. As we listened to more of his works and ministry, his dedication and commitment to God, we are reminded that we ourselves have been called to the same mission by the Lord as well.

St. Barnabas according to Apostolic traditions was a Jew who lived and hailed from Cyprus, one of the Jews living in the diaspora, who came to believe in Christ and became one of the earliest disciple and follower of Christ after His Resurrection, and who gave himself for the service of the Lord and His Church, in which he and St. Paul managed to convert many of the Gentiles during the course of his work, and his successes in Antioch and the region as mentioned in our first reading passage today led to him and St. Paul being sent to evangelise and minister to the faithful in many parts across the Mediterranean region. The Apostles prayed over them and sent them to the people in their mission areas to bring the truth of God to them.

St. Barnabas and St. Paul went through many things together, facing obstacles and challenges, having to endure persecutions and rejections just as they managed to gain a lot of success in some places as well. He helped to champion the cause of the Gentiles or the non-Jewish people who converted to the faith, that they should not need to obey and follow the entire extent of the Jewish customs and practices, contrary to what some among the Christian converts, especially from among the Pharisees, had pressured the Church to do. St. Barnabas also did many other things for the benefit of the faithful and the larger Christian community.

St. Barnabas continued to carry on the mission of evangelising to many people and establishing the Christian faith and its foothold in various places and communities. He continued to do his works even after he had parted ways with St. Paul and continued to evangelise to the people with the help of some other helpers, serving the Lord to the best of his ability. He helped many people to know God and to turn away from their sinful ways. St. Barnabas helped to establish many new Church communities and helped them all in remaining faithful to God. Eventually, he was also martyred for his faith in God.

In our Gospel reading today, we then heard of the words of the Lord Jesus to His disciples, as He sent them out, in pairs, two by two, to go before Him and to do the works that He had sent them to do. He told them to go from place to place, preaching the words of His truth and love, calling on everyone to turn back towards the Lord and to follow Him. He told them to do all the wonders and works which He would guide them all to do. He told them to live among the people they had been sent to, and God would provide for them wherever they were welcomed, accepted and successful.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, each and every one of us as Christians are also sharing in the same mission that God has entrusted to His disciples back then. The works and the mission of the Church are still far from being completed, and we have to realise that we are part of the works and efforts of the Church to continue this mission that the Lord still expects of us to complete. We have to active ministers of the Lord’s works and answer His call towards us, as He called us to be His missionaries, the witnesses of His light, truth and love, His hope and mercy in the midst of our respective communities, many of whom are still living in ignorance of God and His truth.

That is why, each and every one of us should be inspired by the examples set by St. Barnabas and the many other Apostles, disciples, all the saints and martyrs who had dedicated themselves and their lives to love and serve the Lord wholeheartedly. We are all called to live our lives to the fullest and to live them as faithful Christians, such that in our every words, actions and deeds, we will always bring glory to God and that everyone who hears us, sees us and witnesses our works, will come to know that we are truly God’s beloved people, and will come to know God and His truth through us and our lives, and not only just through our words but also through our actions as well.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore heed the Lord’s call and our mission, and be good and faithful Christians at all times. Let us follow in the footsteps of St. Barnabas and the many other saints of God, our holy predecessors, and let us seek to glorify God by our lives and by our every actions. May the Lord continue to guide us and to strengthen us in our resolve to follow Him and to serve Him at all times. May He empower each and every one of us and may He encourage us all with His power and Holy Spirit, that we may continue to be beacons of His light, truth and love at all times. May the Lord bless us all, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 11 June 2022 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Barnabas, Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Matthew 10 : 7-13

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Go, and proclaim this message : The kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, bring the dead back to life, cleanse the lepers, and drive out demons. Freely have you received, freely give. Do not carry any gold or silver or money in your purses. Do not take a travelling bag, or an extra shirt, or sandals, or a walking stick : workers deserve to be compensated.”

“When you come to a town or a village, look for a worthy person, and stay there until you leave. When you enter the house, wish it peace. If the people are worthy people, your peace will rest on them; if they are not worthy people, your blessing will come back to you.”

Saturday, 11 June 2022 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Barnabas, Apostle (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 97 : 1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4, 5-6

Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

The Lord has shown His salvation, revealing His justice to the nations. He has not forgotten His love nor His faithfulness to Israel.

The farthest ends of the earth all have seen God’s saving power. All you lands, make a joyful noise to the Lord, break into song and sing praise.

With melody of the lyre and with music of the harp. With trumpet blast and sound of the horn, rejoice before the King, the Lord!

Saturday, 11 June 2022 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Barnabas, Apostle (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Acts 11 : 21b-26 and Acts 13 : 1-3

A great number believed and turned to the Lord. News of this reached the ears of the Church in Jerusalem, so they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw the manifest signs of God’s favour, he rejoiced and urged them all to remain firmly faithful to the Lord; for he, himself, was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith. Thus large crowds came to know the Lord.

Then Barnabas went off to Tarsus, to look for Saul; and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year, they had meetings with the Church and instructed many people. It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.

There were at Antioch – in the Church which was there – prophets and teachers : Barnabas, Symeon known as Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod, and Saul. On one occasion, while they were celebrating the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said to them, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul to do the work for which I have called them.”

So, after fasting and praying, they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

Friday, 10 June 2022 : 10th 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 all reminded of the need for us all to embrace God’s calling and to seek Him wholeheartedly as Christians, living our lives well and righteously at all times, so that each and every one may remain firmly rooted in the path that God Himself has shown us and guided us through. We must always strive to avoid the corrupting power of sin and evil, the temptations that are always ever present all around us, so that we may not be swayed away from the righteous path towards God.

In our first reading today, we heard of the moment when Elijah went all the way to Mount Sinai after a long journey of forty days and forty nights from the land of Israel, during the time when he fled the intense persecution and hunt against him by the forces of his enemies. Elijah went up Mount Sinai and God showed Himself to him through a series of phenomena, preceded by the coming of earthquakes and strong winds, and eventually revealing Himself to Elijah, who therefore stood in the very Presence of God much as how Moses once did, during the time of the Exodus of the Israelites. Elijah pleaded with the Lord, stating the frustrating conditions suffered by the faithful and how wicked the people of Israel had been.

God had been guiding Elijah all throughout the way during his ministry among the Israelites, and He told him that He was sending him again to the midst of the Israelites and revealed what He would do for the people that He loved so much and yet were so stubborn in refusing to believe in Him and refusing to turn away from their sinful past. He would raise a new king over the Israelites, Jehu, who would later on destroy the house and descendants of Ahab, who had led the Israelites into great sin against God, and Hazael, the king of Aram who would punish the sinful Israelites, and finally, God had chosen Elisha to be the prophet succeeding Elijah in his work among the Israelites.

Elijah was called to go onto that great mission, and he would have to suffer more, but God would be with him, guiding him and providing for him, and He would not leave him alone in the struggle against those who refused to believe in Him. And through that revelation, God also showed how the time of reckoning for those who continued to oppose Him and His servants, those who have rejected Him and His Law, like king Ahab and all those who continued to oppose Him and His servants. God would punish those who deserve that punishment because by their sins, they had led many others into sin and damnation as well.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord Jesus spoke to His disciples regarding the matter of living their lives with faith. He told them to be righteous in their actions and deeds, to be truly faithful in all things and not to be easily swayed by the temptations of their flesh and bodies, and by any temptations of worldly desires. The Lord told them all metaphorically to remind them that each and every one of us as the children and people of God are called to holiness in each one of our lives. He wants us to remove from our hearts and minds the temptations of sin and evil, and to excise from our hearts, minds and our entire being, the despicable corruption of sin.

When the Lord told His disciples to cut off their hands and legs, and take out their eyes should those things led them to sin, He was in fact warning them of the seriousness and great dangers of sin, so much so that sin caused by the temptation of our flesh can lead us all to fall into damnation in hell, a suffering for eternity that I am sure none of us will want to suffer should we be aware of the terrible fate awaiting those who still continue to stubbornly reject the love and compassionate mercy of God. But at the same time, we also should not try to understand what the Lord said literally either, as He was using that comparison and language to highlight the importance of repentance from sin for us. We have to turn away from sin and embrace God’s righteous ways as soon as we can.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us are reminded that as Christians we have to be genuine in faith, and we will be judged based on our righteous or wicked deeds, and we will be held accountable be it whether we are obedient to God and His Law, or whether we are rebellious and disregarding His path and truth. The choice is in our hands, whether we want to follow and obey the Lord, or whether we want to go and forge our own path in life, which more likely than not will lead us down the path to ruin, for without God we are nothing, and without His guidance, it will be very easy for us to lose our path.

Let us all therefore remind ourselves and one another to be faithful to God, to listen to Him and distance ourselves from worldly temptations and other things that can lead us down the path of ruin and sin, and let us all also embrace and answer God’s call, just as He has called and sent the prophet Elijah to minister to the people of Israel and others, so that by our actions and deeds, rooted in our faith in God, we may inspire many more people to come to believe in God as well. Let us also help one another to persevere through the trials and challenges that we may face in our lives as faithful Christians, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 10 June 2022 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 5 : 27-32

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “You have heard that it was said : Do not commit adultery. But I tell you this : anyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent, has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

“So, if your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away! It is much better for you to lose a part of your body, than to have your whole body thrown into hell. If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away! It is better for you to lose a part of your body, than to have your whole body thrown into hell.”

“It was also said : Anyone who divorces his wife, must give her a written notice of divorce. But what I tell you is this : if a man divorces his wife, except in the case of unlawful union, he causes her to commit adultery. And the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

Friday, 10 June 2022 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 26 : 7-8a, 8b-9abc, 13-14

Hear my voice when I call, o Lord, have mercy on me and answer. My heart says to You, “I seek Your face, o Lord.”

Do not hide Your face from me nor turn away Your servant in anger. You are my Protector, do not reject me.

I hope, I am sure, that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Trust in the Lord, be strong and courageous. Yes, put your hope in the Lord!

Friday, 10 June 2022 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Kings 19 : 9a, 11-16

On reaching the place, Elijah came to the cave and stayed in it. Then YHVH said, “Go up and stand on the mount, waiting for YHVH.” And YHVH passed by.

There was first a windstorm, wild wind which rent the mountains and broke the rocks into pieces before YHVH, but YHVH was not in the wind. After the storm, an earthquake, but YHVH was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, a fire, but YHVH was not in the fire; after the fire, the murmur of a gentle breeze.

When Elijah perceived it, he covered his face with his cloak, went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then he heard a voice addressing him again, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “I am burning with jealous love for YHVH, the God of Hosts, because the Israelites have forsaken Your Covenant, thrown down Your altars and slain Your prophets with the sword. No one is left but myself, yet they still seek my life to take it away.”

YHVH said to him, “Take the road back through the desert and go to Damascus, for you must anoint Hazael as king of Syria. You shall also anoint Jehu, son of Nimshi, as king over Israel. And Elisha, son of Shaphat, from Abel Meholah, you shall anoint as prophet in your place.”

Thursday, 9 June 2022 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ephrem, Deacon and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Deacons)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are reminded that as Christians we have to be genuine in faith and we have to be righteous in all things, and God will provide for us in our time of need. We have to follow Him wholeheartedly and commit ourselves to His cause, that we have to live in accordance to the path that He has shown us, the path of Christian virtues, righteousness and obedience to God in all the things that we say, act and do. We have to do our best to be good inspirations to one another in faith, from now on.

In our first reading today, we heard from the First Book of Kings the conversation and encounter between Elijah and king Ahab of Israel after Elijah had triumphed against all the priests of Baal and proven that the Lord, the God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was truly the one and only true God at Mount Carmel. At that time, the whole land had suffered from three years without rain that led to great drought and famine, all because of their refusal to believe in God and their king’s efforts to promote the worship of the pagan idols and gods like Baal and Asherah, persecuting the faithful and the prophets sent by God to remind the people.

Elijah told Ahab that God would show His power before the people, and how while He has withheld the rain for a whole period of three years, then He also has the power to bring the rain back to the land. Thus, the Lord showed His people and called on them to repent from their sinful ways because even though He despised their sins and wickedness, He still loved them very much and wanted them to be reconciled with Him, not to be lost from Him forever. As if they continued on with their rebelliousness and sins, they would fall into damnation and eternity of sufferings in hell, and that is not what God intended to happen to any one of us.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord speaking to His disciples telling them all to be righteous and good, to follow the way of the Lord wholeheartedly more than what the Pharisees and the teachers of the Lord had done. For those people imposed very harsh and strict interpretation of the Law of God, of customs, rules and regulations on the people and yet, they themselves were hypocrites who often did not do what they had said, and many of them did not truly have faith and love for God as they should have. Hence, the Lord told His disciples to be truly faithful to God and not to follow the faith of those hypocrites.

That is why, today each and every one of us are reminded and challenged as Christians to be the beacons of God’s light and truth in our communities today. We have to be genuine witnesses and followers of God in all the things we say and do, or else, we will end up being no better than hypocrites and worse still, we may even discourage and turn people away from the Lord because of our actions and all that we do which kept us away from the truth of God and His love. And the temptation for us to do this is truly great, brothers and sisters in Christ, just as the people of Israel in the past had constantly fallen again and again into sin.

In our world today, there are plenty of temptations, false idols and other things that can easily mislead us in our journey of faith through life. There are plenty of distractions like the pursuit of worldly pleasures, wealth and other things that we are very often accustomed with, the desire for power and glory, for fame and human praise among other things. All these are the new idols and false gods that can keep us away from doing what we should have done as Christians, and in making us to continue to sin because of our desires, greed and ambitions that made us to bring suffering and unhappiness to others around us, just because we selfishly seek our own pleasures and happiness.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord reminded His disciples and therefore all of us as well, what Christians are called to be, that is to be filled with love both for God and for one another, for their fellow brothers and sisters. Christians are challenged to be forgiving to one another, to be peacemakers and to show love, care and concern for their fellow brethren, and to be ever mindful of the needs and sufferings of others, so that we may reach out and help one another whenever we can. It is by this love and genuine care and concern that others will come to know that we are Christians, because through our love, others will also come to experience the ever generous love of God.

Remember how I said earlier today that God still loved His people despite their sins and transgressions? It is that same attitude which each and every one of us must have as well. We have to learn to love one another more, to be more patient, understanding and forgiving, instead of fomenting hatred and vengeance, or instead of being solely focused and emphasising on our own selfish desires and needs. As Christians, we are all called and challenged to be better and to follow the Lord in all the things we do in our lives, so that our lives will shine with His light and be the beacons of His truth to all.

May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us in our resolve and conviction to live in accordance with His ways and to devote ourselves in obeying Him and doing His will, for His greater glory and for the salvation of more souls. May God bless us always, in our every good endeavours. Amen.

Thursday, 9 June 2022 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ephrem, Deacon and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Deacons)

Matthew 5 : 20-26

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “I tell you then, if you are not righteous in a much broader way than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to our people in the past : Do not commit murder; anyone who does kill will have to face trial. But now I tell you : whoever gets angry with a brother or sister will have to face trial.”

“Whoever insults a brother or sister deserves to be brought before the council. Whoever calls a brother or a sister, ‘Fool!’ deserves to be thrown into the fire of hell. So, if you are about to offer your gift at the altar, and you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, go at once and make peace with him, and then come back and offer your gift to God.”

“Do not forget this : be reconciled with your opponent quickly when you are together on the way to court. Otherwise he will turn you over to the judge, who will hand you over to the police, who will put you in jail. There you will stay, until you have paid the last penny.”