Saturday, 3 July 2021 : Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast day of one of Our Lord’s Twelve Apostles, namely St. Thomas the Apostle, also known as Thomas Didymus or the Twin, and as we may have known quite well, that he was one who often doubted the Lord and even publicly questioned His decisions and actions. Yet, later on he would become one of the Lord’s most fervent evangelisers and workers of faith, dying as a martyr in a distant land and glorifying the Lord.

St. Thomas was always the most skeptical among the Lord’s disciples, as he did not appear to fully trust in the Lord, and was pessimistic when the Lord wanted to go to Jerusalem to fulfil His mission, despite the advice against doing so by His disciples. St. Thomas publicly said before all of them that, in a rather sarcastic way, they should all follow the Lord so that they could also suffer with Him and die along with Him.

When the Lord was risen from the dead, St. Thomas happened to be not among the other disciples, and did not witness the Lord appearing for the first time in His Risen glory before all the other disciples. And we heard from our Gospel passage today, how St. Thomas again refused to believe and even then publicly declared before the other disciples how he would not believe unless he could prove that the Risen Lord is truly the same One crucified, by touching His wounds and putting his hand into the Lord’s pierced side.

And the Lord then appeared again before all the disciples and St. Thomas included, and asked him directly to do as he said he would do to prove that the Lord had indeed risen from the dead. From what we have heard in the Gospel passage, we can clearly see how dumbfounded and surprised St. Thomas was, as his doubt was proven to be wrong, and the Lord Himself appeared in the flesh before him. He humbled himself utterly and proclaimed before all, ‘My Lord and my God.’

These are the same words that we utter whenever the Lord’s Most Precious Body and Blood in the Eucharist are elevated and raised in the most solemn occasion, as the celebrant uttered the words of consecration, proclaiming the presence of the Lord before all the faithful, truly present in the bread and wine which the priest, by the power and authority of the Lord, had transformed completely into the matter, essence and reality of the Lord’s own Holy Body and Blood.

Then, do we all recall the Lord’s words after St. Thomas uttered those words? He said, ‘Happy are those who believe because they have seen, but even happier and more blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believed.’ This is truly significant for us because, while we have not seen the Lord in the human form as the disciples like St. Thomas had seen, but we still believe that the Eucharist is the Lord Himself, in the flesh, the Real Presence of Our Lord.

Yet, there are also still so many of us who doubted this truth, and many of us who refused to believe in the Real Presence, especially among some of our separated brethren in faith. And within the Church, there are sadly still many of those who outwardly profess to believe in the Real Presence of God in the Eucharist, but behaved in the manner that is contradictory to that belief, in how they treated the Eucharist, by receiving the Eucharist in an unworthy state, or treating it as no more than just mere bread and wine, without proper decorum, respect and honour, less still worship and adoration.

Then in that manner, we are also no better than how St. Thomas was before he turned wholeheartedly to the Lord at the moment when he fully acknowledged Him as his Lord and Master. And now, we are called to reflect on our own attitudes in life, and also our perception and attitude towards the Lord in the Eucharist. Have we been truly faithful to the Lord? Or have we allowed our doubts and lack of faith and understanding of this faith to mislead us and make us to doubt the Lord and His truth and love for us?

Many of us often do not realise that we are doing exactly what St. Thomas had been doing in doubting the Lord earlier in his life, by our own lack of reverence and adoration for the Holy Eucharist, as well as our own sinful and wayward lifestyle, in contrast with the righteousness of God. We are often stubborn in walking down the path of sin rather than the path of righteousness. This is why, we should then be like St. Thomas, who turned away from his doubts and embraced the Lord wholeheartedly.

He would go on to preach the Christian faith in many places, most famously and significantly in what is now the southern regions of India, where he established the firm foundations of Christian communities there, which lasted till this very day, often known as the ‘St. Thomas Christians’. He brought God’s truth to all these people, and revealed Him to them so that through this, more and more people can be saved from their sins and wicked ways. St. Thomas would suffer and die a martyr’s death in the end of his missionary journey, obedient and faithful to the very end.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us also therefore cast off the shade and veil of doubt from our eyes and from our minds, and from our hearts. Let us entrust ourselves fully from now on to the Lord, and commit ourselves, each and every moments of our lives, that we may always walk in the path of His light and truth, and we may always be faithful and righteous in all things, that everyone who see us and witness our works and actions, will know that we belong to the Lord and that God lives within us.

May God bless us always and may He remain with us in our journey of faith and life. May He strengthen each one of us with courage and hope, to endure and persevere through the challenges and trials we are facing daily, for His sake, and for the greater glory of His Name. Amen.

Saturday, 3 July 2021 : Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 20 : 24-29

At that time, Thomas, the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with the other Eleven when Jesus came. The other disciples told Him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he replied, “Until I have seen in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in His side, I will not believe.”

Eight days later, the disciples were again inside the house and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see My hands; stretch out your hand, and put it into My side. Do not continue in your unbelief, but believe!”

Thomas said, “You are my Lord and my God.” Jesus replied, “You believe because you see Me, do you not? Happy are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

Saturday, 3 July 2021 : Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 116 : 1, 2

Alleluia! Praise YHVH, all you nations; all you peoples, praise Him.

How great is His love for us! His faithfulness lasts forever.

Saturday, 3 July 2021 : Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Ephesians 2 : 19-22

Now, you are no longer strangers or guests, but fellow citizens of the holy people : you are of the household of God. You are the house, whose foundations are the Apostles and prophets, and whose cornerstone is Christ Jesus. In Him, the whole structure is joined together, and rises, to be a holy Temple, in the Lord.

In Him, you, too, are being built, to become the spiritual Sanctuary of God.

Friday, 2 July 2021 : 13th 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 reminded that the Lord remembers all of us and loves each and every one of us without exception, from saints to sinners, and all whether they are rich or poor, powerful or weak, be it whether they belong to that race or having any particular backgrounds. He loves each and every one of us equally, and all of us have a share in His love and grace, provided that we first allow Him to touch our lives and love us.

In our first reading today we heard of the story of the passing of Sarah, the wife of Abraham, our father in faith. Sarah passed away in her old age and was buried in peace by Abraham, who had been blessed with a son, Isaac, the one whom God had promised to him, to be the one to bear his name and to be the father of many descendants who would thereafter call Abraham as their forefather. And God blessed Isaac in the same way that He has blessed Abraham, as we heard how Isaac managed to get a wife from among his own relatives.

We heard how God gave Rebekah to be Isaac’s own wife, to be the one to console Isaac after the loss of his own mother Sarah. Through this, we can see yet again how God had always put each and every one of us foremost in His mind and His care. He sought to console us and help us, whenever He could. He is always concerned about us and wants nothing else but our happiness. Yet, it is often we ourselves who refused Him and distanced ourselves from Him. This is what kept us away from Him and prevented us from being fully reconciled to Him.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord calling on a tax collector, who was later to be known as Matthew. Matthew would become the Lord’s follower and one of His chosen Twelve, a dramatic turn from once being a tax collector into a most faithful and devoted servant of God. Matthew abandoned everything and followed the Lord, and not just that, but as he was about to follow the Lord, he invited the Lord to have dinner with him and his other fellow tax collectors, who were very eager to meet the Lord and listen to Him.

The tax collectors back then were very hated and reviled by most of the community, especially by the elites such as the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. They were seen as traitors and sinners simply because of the nature of their work, as the ones who collected the taxes on behalf of the Roman overlords who ruled over the Jewish peoples. They were hated as a group simply because of the hate that many of the Jews had against the Romans, and their hatred on the tax imposed on them. As a result, they were often ostracised and rejected by the general community.

Yet, the Lord showed what was most unconventional and surprising to all who had witnessed His actions, by not only calling one of these tax collectors to be His own disciple, but to even have a meal in the house of the tax collectors, in the company of the other tax collectors. To the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, this was an act of ultimate defilement, as none of them would even want to come near to the tax collectors, deemed as sinners and unclean, less still to have a meal in their house and dwelling place.

Through this occasion, the Lord wants to remind us all yet again that we are all beloved and precious to Him, without exception. Not even those whom others considered to be great sinners could be far away from God and His love. On the contrary, even if we are separated from God, but if we are willing to seek God and His mercy, and are humble enough to admit our sinfulness and wicked lives, and willing to embrace His mercy and love, we shall be blessed and strengthened, and we shall be forgiven from our sins.

May the Lord continue to love each and every one of us as He has always loved us all these while, and may He awaken in us the love which we ourselves should have for Him. May He bring us all ever closer to Him, and encourage us all to live as faithful Christians, now and always, in all occasions. Let us also never be judgmental or be prejudiced against our fellow brethren, and instead, learn to love one another just as the Lord has loved us, and help each other on the path towards God’s grace and salvation. Amen.

Friday, 2 July 2021 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 9 : 9-13

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

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

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

Friday, 2 July 2021 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 105 : 1-2, 3-4a, 4b-5

Alleluia! Give thanks to YHVH, for He is good, for His love endures forever. Who can count YHVH’s mighty deeds, or declare all His praises?

Blessed are they who always do just and right. Remember me, o YHVH, when You show favour to Your people.

Rescue me when You deliver them; let me see the triumph of Your faithful; let me share the joy of Your nation; and join Your people in praising You.

Friday, 2 July 2021 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Genesis 23 : 1-4, 19 and Genesis 24 : 1-8, 62–67

Sarah lived a hundred and twenty-seven years. She died at Kiriatharba – that is Hebron – in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went in to weep and mourn for Sarah. Abraham left his dead one and spoke to the Hittites, “I am only a stranger among you; give me a burial place among you, so that I may bury my dead.”

After this Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave of Machpelah. Abraham was now old and well on in years, and YHVH had blessed him in every way. Abraham said to his senior servant, who was his steward, “Put your hand under my thigh and you will swear to me by YHVH, God of heaven and earth, that you will not choose a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites among whom we live; rather it is to my country and my kinsfolk that you will go to choose a wife for my son, Isaac.”

The servant said to him, “Perhaps the woman will not want to follow me to this country. In that case should I take your son to the country you came from?” Abraham said to him, “In no way will you take my son back. For YHVH, God of heaven and God of earth, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my birth, spoke to me and swore to me that He would give this country to my race.”

“He will send His Angel before you, that you may find a wife for my son. But if the woman is unwilling to follow you, you will be free of this oath. In any case you are not to take my son down there.”

Now Isaac had come from the well of Lahai-roi, for he was living in the Negeb. As Isaac went out in the early evening to meditate in the field, he looked up and saw camels coming. Rebekah also looked up and when she saw Isaac she alighted from her camel and said to the servant, “Who is this man in the field coming to meet us?”

He replied, “It is my master!” She then covered her face with her veil. The servant related to Isaac all that he had done, and Isaac brought Rebekah into the tent of Sarah, his mother. He made her his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

Thursday, 1 July 2021 : 13th 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 called to remember the love of God by which He has reached out to us and called us into His loving embrace. In return, all of us should also love the Lord wholeheartedly, and let us all commit ourselves to the Covenant which He has established with each and every one of us.

In our first reading today we heard of how the Lord called His servant Abraham, our father in faith and asked him to bring his beloved son Isaac, the son whom God had promised to Abraham, to Mount Moriah to be offered to the Lord as a sacrificial offering. Such a command by the Lord, especially what he was to do with Isaac, his own beloved and long awaited son must have come as a great shock to Abraham and must have saddened him greatly, considering just how long and how much he has expected the coming of Isaac.

Nonetheless, Abraham obeyed without question, and faithfully and dutifully performed everything as the Lord had commanded him to do. He brought Isaac to Mount Moriah just as the Lord asked for, and he brought him up the mountain, with full faith and entrusting everything to the Lord. We can see clearly here the great faith which Abraham had in the Lord, and how he entrusted himself so completely to the Lord. This is something that all of us as Christians should be inspired from. Many of us have not been as faithful as Abraham had been in the way he dedicated himself.

Abraham gave everything to the Lord, even his most precious one, Isaac. And the Lord blessed Abraham for his faith and obedience, as He saw how Abraham gave everything, even his most beloved one and did not spare Isaac. Of course God did not actually wish to have Isaac offered as a sacrifice, and hence, He stopped Abraham and showed him a ram that He sent as the replacement offering instead of Isaac. He reaffirmed His Covenant with Abraham and his descendants, and showed His faithfulness to all of us this way.

And then, linking to this story of Abraham and Isaac at Mount Moriah, we then come to the Lord Jesus, in our Gospel reading today, as He healed a paralysed man who was brought to Him on a stretcher. He showed the love of God expressed through none other than the same Christ, the Son of God and Saviour of the whole world, born into this world to be the Saviour of all. He forgave the sins of the paralysed man and healed him from his afflictions, allowing him to move and walk freely once again.

The Lord said that to the paralysed man, despite the protests of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who were there among the assembled people and refused to believe that the Lord Jesus could have forgiven the man from his sins. Yet, they had seen all that happened, and saw how the man was healed from all of his troubles, and became whole once again. Through this, the Lord Jesus in fact also revealed the Lord’s true intentions, that is to offer His own Son, the Lord Jesus, to be the sacrificial Victim for the salvation of the world, for the forgiveness of all sins.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, the sacrifice of Our Lord at Calvary mirrored closely the sacrifice of Mount Moriah, with Mount Moriah itself having often been identified as the site of the Crucifixion outside of Jerusalem, and just as the Lord obeyed His Father’s will so completely just as Isaac obeyed his father, Abraham and as Abraham himself obeyed his Lord and Master. The Lord Jesus willingly took up the wood of the Cross and bore it up the hill of Calvary, so that by His Passion, His suffering and death, and having shouldered upon Himself the multitudes of the burdens of our sins and transgressions, He may deliver us all from the fate of destruction due to our sins.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we still not convinced of God’s love and compassion for us? God has given us His only Begotten Son, His most beloved One to suffer and die for our sake. If He has always loved us and has always been faithful to the Covenant which He had made with us, then we should also love Him and commit ourselves to Him in the same way, following the examples of Abraham, our father in faith. Let us all turn towards the Lord and dedicate ourselves to Him, each and every moments of our lives. May God be with us all, and may He empower us all to live ever more faithfully in His presence, with each and every passing moments in life. Amen.

Thursday, 1 July 2021 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 9 : 1-8

At that time, Jesus got back into the boat, crossed the lake again, and came to His hometown. Here, they brought to Him a paralysed man, lying on a bed. Jesus saw their faith and said to the paralytic, “Courage, my son! Your sins are forgiven.”

Some teachers of the Law said within themselves, “This Man insults God.” Jesus was aware of what they were thinking; and said, “Why have you such evil thoughts? Which is easier to say : ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? But that you may know, that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins,” He said to the paralysed man, “Stand up! Take your stretcher and go home!”

The man got up, and went home. When the crowds saw this, they were filled with awe, and praised God for giving such power to human beings.