Saturday, 19 June 2021 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Philip Minh, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, the words of the Lord which reminded us of the need for us to trust in the Lord and to put our faith in Him, and not to worry about too many things, and not to be tempted by worldly temptations and desires, by all sorts of things that we are often tempted with, that we ended up losing our way and fall into the trap of sin.

In our first reading today, we heard the words of St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in the city of Corinth, in which the Apostle spoke about his own experiences in ministering to the faithful and in proclaiming the truth of God and His Good News to the people, in how he encountered wonderful things and visions, signs and omens throughout his ministry, and that if he needed to boast, then he ought to boast of all the wonders that he had seen and witnessed, and not of himself.

And St. Paul also reminded the faithful that they should not allow themselves to be swayed by their pride and their ambitions, their desires and other considerations, lest they fall into sin. He reminded the faithful that the flesh is weak, and is always full of temptations by Satan, which he mentioned in our first reading passage today as a thorn in his flesh, which St. Paul instead used as a reminder for himself not to be swayed by worldly desires and temptations.

Then in our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord speaking to His disciples first of all that they ought to make a stand and choose firmly between serving and following God or that of money, and they cannot serve both God and money, for sooner or later they will love one more than the other and despise the other one. He also reminded them all not to worry about their lives, or of any other worldly concerns and desires, for the Lord shall provide all that they need.

This is addressed to all of us, His beloved ones, who have often strayed from His path because we are too distracted by our personal ambitions and desires, our various preoccupations and all the temptations of worldly pleasures and achievements surrounding us. All these are serious obstacles that can prevent us from reaching the Lord and His salvation, and will cause us to end up falling deeper and further into the path of sin.

That is why, all of us today are called to reflect on our lives and our attitudes towards our faith, and whether we have been faithful to the Lord and trust Him with our lives and existence, or whether we have instead depended on our own strength and worldly means so far in life? We should not allow ourselves be deluded by the lies and deceptions of the devil who want to mislead us down the path of indulgence in our desires and all the concerns we have, in worldly things and matters.

Remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all called to turn towards the Lord wholeheartedly, and we should focus ourselves on Him and not on the false treasures and false leads we have in life. We should learn to resist the many temptations present all around us that we do not end up walking down the wrong path. And today therefore, we should look upon the examples of St. Philip Minh and his companions in martyrdom, the saints whose memories we venerate and celebrate today.

St. Philip Minh is one of the many martyrs of the faith in Vietnam, who went through the period of harsh persecution from the state and the government, as the Vietnamese state at that time were highly suspicious of the Christian faith and its missionaries, and all those who were suspected and found to be Christians had to endure great difficulties and trials, as they were tortured and treated with worst sufferings to induce them to give up their faith.

Despite all these, St. Philip Minh and his fellow companions in martyrdom did not give up their faith and remained faithful to the end. They chose to remain true to their faith despite the sufferings that they had to face. They would rather remain firm in their belief in God rather than to give it up for the false assurances of worldly pleasures and satisfaction, one that does not last. They chose instead the promise and assurance of eternal glory and true joy with God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we all willing to follow the examples of those holy saints and martyrs, our holy predecessors, in how they lived their lives, so that we too may be exemplary in our own way of life and that we may become inspiration to our fellow brethren? Let us all help one another to grow ever closer to God and to learn to trust Him more and more, dedicating ourselves to Him wholeheartedly, from now on. May the Lord be with us all and may He strengthen each and every one of us in faith, always. Amen.

Saturday, 19 June 2021 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Philip Minh, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Matthew 6 : 24-34

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “No one can serve two masters, for he will either hate one and love the other; or he will be loyal to the first and look down on the second. You cannot, at the same time, serve God and money.”

Therefore, I tell you, not to be worried about food and drink for yourself, or about clothes for your body. Is not life more important than food; and is not the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow, they do not harvest, and do not store food in barns; and yet, your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more worthy than they are?”

“Can any of you add a day to your life by worrying about it? Why are you so worried about your clothes? Look at how the flowers in the fields grow. They do not toil or spin. But I tell you, that not even Solomon, in all his glory, was clothed like one of these. If God so clothes the grass in the field, which blooms today and is to be burnt in an oven tomorrow, how much more will He clothe you? What little faith you have!”

“Do not worry, and say : What are we going to eat? What are we going to drink? or : What shall we wear? The pagans busy themselves with such things; but your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. Set your heart, first, on the kingdom and righteousness of God; and all these things will also be given to you. Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Saturday, 19 June 2021 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Philip Minh, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 33 : 8-9, 10-11, 12-13

YHVH’s Angel encamps and patrols, to keep safe those who fear Him. Oh, see and taste the goodness of YHVH! Blessed is the one who finds shelter in Him!

Revere YHVH, all you, His saints, for those who fear Him do not live in want. The mighty may be hungry and in need; but those who seek YHVH lack nothing.

Come, listen to Me, My children; I will show you how to fear YHVH. If you desire long life; if you want to enjoy prosperity.

Saturday, 19 June 2021 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Philip Minh, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

2 Corinthians 12 : 1-10

It is useless to boast; but if I have to, I will go on, to some visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a certain Christian : fourteen years ago he was taken up to the third heaven. Whether in the body or out of the body, I do not know, God knows. But I know that this man, whether in the body or out of the body – I do not know, God knows – was taken up to Paradise, where he heard words that cannot be told : things which humans cannot express.

Of that man I can indeed boast, but of myself I will not boast except of my weaknesses. If I wanted to boast, it would not be foolish of me, for I would speak the truth. However, I better give up, lest somebody think more of me than what is seen in me, or heard from me. Lest I become proud, after so many and extraordinary revelations; I was given a thorn in my flesh, a true messenger of Satan, to slap me in the face. Three times, I prayed to the Lord, that it leave me, but He answered, “My grace is enough for you; My great strength is revealed in weakness.”

Gladly, then, will I boast of my weakness, that the strength of Christ may be mine. So I rejoice, when I suffer infirmities, humiliations, want, persecutions : all for Christ! For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Friday, 18 June 2021 : 11th 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 Scripture, we are all called to remind ourselves just how much we ought to treasure this faith we have received, the truth that we have been granted with, and all that we have been blessed by God, all these while. We have been so fortunate to be blessed in such a way, and yet many of us are still unaware of this fact, and many of us are ignorant, and instead, we take it all for granted.

In our first reading today, we heard the words of St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in the city of Corinth, speaking about his experiences and all that he had gone through in order to proclaim the truth of God, all of his labours for the greater glory of God among other things. He shared all the trials, difficulties and challenges that he had to suffer as he went around the Mediterranean, going from places to places preaching the word of God and spreading the truth of His salvation.

He endured all the ridicule, sufferings and torment, all these because he truly loved God and knew that in the Lord alone true joy and hope can come from. St. Paul himself was a famous young Pharisee, who since his youth had firmly believed in the ways of the Pharisees up to the moment of his conversion. As Saul, the young Pharisee, he could have been famous and powerful, influential and respected, as a prospective member of the Sanhedrin no less. And yet, he abandoned all that as he listened to the Lord’s call and walked in His path instead.

This is related to what we have then heard from our Gospel passage today, as we heard the Lord speaking to His disciples with regards to the matter of the treasures that one should seek in life. The Lord told all of them not to seek the treasures of the earth, all the things that can be destroyed by earthly means, by fire and moth and others, and which is not permanent and not the true treasures and joy that we should be seeking for. He told them to seek instead the true treasure that can be found in the Lord alone, and as such, all of those who believe in Him should strive to seek this true treasure of faith.

St. Paul abandoned the false treasures of worldly pride and desires, of worldly fame and glory, of human ambition and greed, which had often misled so many men throughout history, including many of the members of the Pharisees who were swayed by their desire of worldly power and influence, and ended up opposing the Lord and His good works. St. Paul made a conscious and firm decision, entrusting himself in the Lord’s providence and care, and hence, became one of His most ardent and faithful defenders, His champion in the face of the world’s opposition.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now that we have heard all of these, each and every one of us have been called to reflect on our own way of life. Have we really been truly faithful to the Lord and have we truly entrusted ourselves to Him? Or have we instead allowed the temptations of worldly concerns and desires to dissuade us, distract us and prevent us from reaching the Lord and His salvation? The Lord has called us to follow Him, and yet, there are many obstacles in our journey towards Him, and by remembering what He and His disciple, St. Paul had said, we ought to keep in mind that we should always focus ourselves on the Lord and not be easily dissuaded by those temptations.

Let us all not be easily swayed by our desires or misled by our pride and ambitions, and we should also deepen our relationship with God, that we may be Christians who are truly in communion and united with God, and not just merely Christians in name or formality only. We should answer the Lord’s call with commitment and faith, as St. Paul and the other Apostles once did, and as so many other holy men and women, our holy saints and martyrs who had gone before us, had also done. They all had shown us the way forward as faithful Christians, as those whom God had called and chosen.

Are we all able and willing to follow the Lord wholeheartedly, brothers and sisters in Christ? Let us respond to His call with faith, and let us all seek Him with all of our might, that in all things, we may prioritise Him and seek in Him the true joy, the true treasure of our lives, and not be easily swayed or distracted by the false treasures of worldly temptations and pleasures, the temptations and lies of the devil, among many others. May the Lord be with us always, and may He strengthen each and every one of us in faith. Amen.

Friday, 18 June 2021 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 6 : 19-23

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples and to the people, “Do not store up treasures for yourself here, on earth, where moth and rust destroy it; and where thieves can steal it. Store up treasures for yourself with God, where no moth or rust can destroy it, nor thief come and steal it.

For where your treasures are, there, also, will your heart be. The lamp of the body is the eye; if your eyes are sound, your whole body will be full of light. If your eyes are diseased, your whole body will be full of darkness. If, then, the light in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

Friday, 18 June 2021 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 33 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7

I will bless the Lord all my days; His praise will be ever on my lips. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the lowly hear and rejoice.

Oh, let us magnify the Lord, together let us glorify His Name! I sought the Lord, and He answered me; from all my fears He delivered me.

They who look to Him are radiant with joy, their faces never clouded with shame. When the poor cry out, the Lord hears and saves them from distress.

Friday, 18 June 2021 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

2 Corinthians 11 : 18, 21b-30

As some people boast of human advantages, I will do the same. But if others are so bold, I shall also dare, although I may speak like a fool. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I begin to talk like a madman) I am better than they.

Better than they, with my numerous labours. Better than they, with the time spent in prison. The beatings I received are beyond comparison. How many times have I found myself in danger of death! Five times, the Jews sentenced me to thirty-nine lashes. Three times, I was beaten with a rod. Once I was stoned. Three times, I was shipwrecked; and once, I spent a night and a day, adrift on the high seas.

I have been continually in hazards of travelling; because of rivers, because of bandits, because of my fellow Jews, or because of the pagans; in danger, in the city, in the open country, at sea; in danger from false brothers. I have worked, and often laboured without sleep, I have been hungry and thirsty and starving, cold, and without shelter. Besides these, and other things, there was my daily concern for all the churches. Who is weak, that I do not feel weak as well? Whoever stumbles, am I not on hot bricks?

If it is necessary to boast, let me proclaim the occasions on which I was found weak.

Thursday, 17 June 2021 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we all listened to the words of the Scripture we are reminded of the need for all of us as Christians to be vigilant against the attempts by the devil and all those who oppose the Lord, in trying to subvert us and turn us away from Him through lies and deception. We have to remain faithful to the Lord and focus on Him, and the best way for us to do this is to deepen our relationship with God through prayer, as we heard in our Scripture passages today.

In our first reading today, we heard St. Paul the Apostle in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in the city of Corinth, reminding all of them to be focused on the truth of God and not to give in to the efforts of those who tried to bring about our downfall through falsehoods and heretical teachings, by which even that early in the history of the Church, the Church and the faithful had been badly affected by the false prophets and teachers who claimed to know the truth and yet spread false teachings and ideas against the true faith.

When St. Paul mentioned that he has the jealousy of God seeing the faithful agreeing and following the teachings of the false preachers and heretics, and ranted on regarding how while he was perhaps not as good as the other Apostles, but he still laboured among them, preached the faith in their midst and others that he had done. And he said all these because he was indeed frustrated at how easy the people had been swayed by the false truth, and how, despite all that the Lord had done for their sake, they readily abandoned Him for the falsehood of the devil.

This is because mankind is often too easily swayed by the temptations of their desires, their ambitions and pride, which often became obstacle in the path they walk towards God and His salvation. There are often too many distractions and also attempts by those who sought to lure us into paths that seemed to be easier and more profitable and enjoyable for us, and yet, which will lead us into the path of downfall and eternal regret. And all these are possible because our faith in the Lord is not strong and we do not have strong relationship with Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, how can we build up a genuine and strong relationship if we cannot even spend quality time and put the effort to build that relationship? And the first and best way that we should do is to pray and spend our time to pray sincerely and fervently, for it is through prayer that we communicate with the Lord and come to know His will. And through prayer, we can attune ourselves better to Him, and learn to trust Him better and to treat Him as our true Lord and Master, as One Whom we truly know.

That is why in our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord’s Prayer, the most ideal form of prayer, one that is not centred on ourselves and on our own selfish desires and wants, unlike what many of our prayers are like, but rather, centred and focused on God, with the emphasis on listening rather than speaking, for after all, God knows everything that is inside our hearts and minds. He is all-knowing and all-powerful, and we do not need to tell Him what we need. In fact He knows better than us what we truly need.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all turn towards the Lord now with a renewed faith and zeal, and endeavour to follow the Lord wholeheartedly and faithfully, at all times. We should spend more time and effort in prayer, reaching out to the Lord and allowing Him to speak to us in the depth of our hearts. This is why we need to do what we can to live a most prayerful life, where we spend quality time with the Lord and seek Him with all of our might and sincerely strive to walk in His path at all times.

May the Lord be with us all and may He strengthen our faith, and may through our prayers, we will get ever closer to Him, and endeavour to do His will, at all times, and following in the footsteps of the Apostles, like that of St. Paul and others who have given their all for the glory of God. Amen.

Thursday, 17 June 2021 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 6 : 7-15

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “When you pray, do not use a lot of words, as the pagans do; for they believe that, the more they say, the more chance they have of being heard. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need, even before you ask Him.”

“This, then, is how you should pray : Our Father in heaven, holy be Your Name, Your kingdom, come, Your will be done on earth, as in heaven. Give us today, our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we forgive those who are in debt to us. Do not bring us to the test, but deliver us from the evil one.”

“If you forgive others their wrongdoings, your Father in heaven will also forgive yours. If you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive you.”