(Singapore) Monday, 14 February 2022 : 125th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Church in Singapore celebrates the anniversary of the Dedication and Consecration of the Mother Church of our Archdiocese, namely that of Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, the seat of the Archbishop of Singapore and the epicentre and heart of our Christian community here in this Lion City. Today marks the 125th Anniversary since the moment when this great House of God was dedicated and consecrated for the purpose of divine worship, in the Year of Our Lord 1897, although the Cathedral itself had been around and functioning for five decades before that.

The Church in Singapore had its humble beginnings with the coming of the now saint, St. Laurent Imbert, who was then a French missionary on his way to other mission lands. Just over two hundred years ago, St. Laurent Imbert landed in Singapore on the start of its days as a British colony and trade entrepôt. He found Singapore as a place with very few Catholics who lived in a wretched condition, without any shepherds, guides and priests to guide them. He celebrated Mass here for the first time on this island and then, in the coming years many more missionaries came to this island of Singapore, beginning the foundation of the Church in Singapore.

With the labour and hardships of the early missionaries, the Christian community in Singapore began to be established, and one of the first churches to be established was the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd itself, as no more than just a small little hut and chapel, about a hundred and ninety years ago. That small community began to grow and before long, the need for a proper and permanent church came to pass, and it came to the hands of another French missionary and priest, Fr. Jean-Marie Beurel who spearheaded the efforts to establish the first Catholic church, that was eventually built and completed in the Year of Our Lord 1846.

The church was named after the Good Shepherd, inspired by the faith and the martyrdom of the earlier mentioned St. Laurent Imbert, who as the Vicar Apostolic to Korea was martyred a few years previously, giving up himself and his life for the sake of his flock, remembering the Lord’s own words, that ‘The Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep’. Thus, the new church was named in honour of the Good Shepherd and St. Laurent Imbert’s courage and faith. However, for many years after it has been completed, the then Church of the Good Shepherd was not yet consecrated as it took many years for it to be financially viable and the costs of its construction be paid off in full.

This House of God was finally consecrated to God and dedicated a hundred and twenty-five years ago, and today we remember the memory of that great occasion and we give thanks to God for His great providence both for the Church in Singapore and for all the faithful who have since multiplied since the time when the Mother Church of the Archdiocese of Singapore was established and dedicated to God. And more importantly, we remind ourselves as well that the Church is not just that of the physical building and this great House of God, but also the people of God, the flock of the Good Shepherd, all those who have believed in Him and entrusted themselves in Him.

It is important for us to recognise that all of us are the Living Church of God, the union of all the parts of the Body of Christ that the Church is all about. With Christ at our Head, all of us are the living and breathing members of the Church, the building blocks and the parts of the great works of the Church in doing God’s will and in responding to His call. All of us are part of this Church, and as God’s dwelling place, as He has came upon us and dwelled in our midst and within us, as we partake in His own Most Precious Body and Blood, the Holy Eucharist. And that is why all of us as Christians, all of us in Singapore are called to be partakers in God’s mission, what He has entrusted to us.

In our community today, all of us as Catholics living in Singapore are called to be good and faithful witnesses of God’s truth and love, to be genuine examples and inspiration of what Christians are supposed to be like. And yet, we often see around us plenty of indifference and lukewarmness of faith, the lack of joy and desire to proclaim the Gospel with sincerity and dedication. What I mean is that many of us profess to be Christians and we call ourselves as such, and yet we cause harm to others by our actions, our gossips and our selfish attitudes. And many of us also lack awareness and the understanding of the need of the poor and the needy in our midst, not just for physical needs but also for those who long for acceptance and love.

That is why today as we celebrate this great Solemnity of the Dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, the Mother Church of the Church in Singapore, all of us are reminded to do our part and glorify God by our lives. All of us should do whatever we can, in our own respective capacities and opportunities in life, to be role models and inspiration to each other, so that we may be the faithful and courageous bearers of God’s light, truth and love, just as St. Laurent Imbert, the many other early Christian missionaries and pioneers of the Church here in Singapore. We have to follow in their footsteps and do whatever we can to contribute to the good works of the Church.

May the Lord continue to guide us and show us the path forward in life. May He empower each and every one of us to live wholeheartedly in faith, so that we may dedicate ourselves more and more, in His service. May all of us, the Church of God, especially here in Singapore, continue to do our best to live our lives as genuine and faithful Christians at all times. May God be with us all and may He remain with us, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 14 February 2022 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cyril, Monk and St. Methodius, Bishop, Patron Saints of Europe (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all called to keep our faith in the Lord and do not let ourselves be swayed by the temptations of worldliness and vices all around us that we end up falling into the path of doubt and sin just as many of our predecessors had suffered from. We have to learn from their lessons so that we will not end up suffering the same fate as well. Believing in God is something that we have to inculcate in our hearts and minds.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle of St. James in which the Apostle St. James spoke of the expectations for all of us as Christians in what each and every one of us should do in our respective lives. As Christians we have to put our faith and trust in the Lord, and not be easily swayed or frightened by trials and challenges of the world, and we have to believe in His providence and wisdom. We have to put ourselves in His hands and not depend only on our own worldly means and power.

For those who have no faith in God, they will be more easily tempted and swayed to follow the whims of their desires and worldly expectations, and they would also easily falter into the path of sin as they would end up closing their hearts and minds to the Lord and His truth as what had exactly happened to many of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, all those who worked hard to oppose the Lord and His many good works, all simply because they were too caught up in their jealousy and their fear of losing their worldly privileges and status.

That was why save for Nicodemus and some others among them like Joseph of Arimathea, many if not most of the Pharisees resisted the Lord for a long time, refusing to believe in His signs and miracles, in all of His wonderful works and the truth found in His Wisdom and words, although they were the ones supposedly most knowledgeable about the Scriptures and the Law, and knew the most about the prophets and their prophecies regarding the coming of the Lord, the Saviour of all, which had come to fruition and fulfilment in Jesus Christ, the One Whom they had seen with their own eyes.

And that was why they still doubted Him and asked Him for signs although obviously they had seen many of those signs. They were the ones who allowed their worldly desires and concerns, their desire to hold onto the power, privilege and status they had, to muddle their thoughts and faith, and ended up blinding them to the truth of God. They were the ones who were healthy in their physical vision and yet, blind in their spiritual vision as their own hearts and minds had been closed up tight against God, not allowing Him to enter even as He continued to knock on their doors.

That is why today, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us are also reminded of this so that we may be more vigilant and careful in life, reminded that we should do our very best to follow the Lord and to be faithful to Him. We must restrain ourselves and our desires, and be vigilant against the temptations to sin against God. We should not let our worldly attachments to delude us and to distract us from the need for us to be faithful to the Lord. We are called to follow Him wholeheartedly and are reminded of this today through what we have heard from the Scriptures.

Today we can also look upon the great examples set by two of our holy and faithful predecessors, namely that of St. Cyril and St. Methodius, the two great servants of God and missionaries of faith, who are also the Patron Saints and Protector of the heart of Christendom in Europe. They were remembered for their dedication and great works in bringing the Christian faith to the people in Central and Eastern parts of Europe, the areas inhabited by the Slavic peoples, which by the efforts of St. Cyril and St. Methodius became Christians, which remain so until the present day.

St. Cyril and St. Methodius dedicated themselves to the Lord and to the mission entrusted to them, and they both spent their lives to minister to the people among whom they had been sent to proclaim the truth of God, and they were also remembered for their role in translating the texts of the Sacred Scriptures into the local Slavic language and in the development of the Cyrillic alphabet which are still in use until this day. Their contributions and hard work were truly inspirational and all of us Christians can do well to follow in their footsteps and heed their examples.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we going to be idle any longer? Are we going to ignore our calling as Christians and turn a deaf ear to the Lord’s call and to the plight of our brothers and sisters who are in need of our attention and love? Are we going to continue to be idle in our lives and instead indulging in our own personal desires and ambitions? Let us all therefore seek the Lord with renewed faith and conviction, and let us do our best to glorify the Lord by our lives and follow in the footsteps of His faithful servants, St. Cyril and St. Methodius, to walk ever more courageously in proclaiming the love of God and His truth in our community today. May God be with us always and may He bless us at all times. Amen.

(Singapore) Monday, 14 February 2022 : 125th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 19 : 1-10

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man named Zaccheus lived there. He was a tax collector and a wealthy man. He wanted to see what Jesus was like, but he was a short man and could not see Him because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree. From there he would be able to see Jesus, Who was going to pass that way.

When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, come down quickly, for I must stay at your house today.” So Zaccheus climbed down and received Him joyfully. All the people who saw it began to grumble, and said, “He has gone as a guest to the house of a sinner.”

But Zaccheus spoke to Jesus, “Half of what I own, Lord, I will give to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will pay him back four times as much.” Looking at him Jesus said, “Salvation has come to this house today, for he is also a true son of Abraham. The Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”

(Singapore) Monday, 14 February 2022 : 125th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

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.

(Singapore) Monday, 14 February 2022 : 125th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 18: 8-10, 15

The Law of the Lord is perfect : it gives life to the soul. The word of YHVH is trustworthy : it gives wisdom to the simple.

The precepts of YHVH are right : they give joy to the heart. The commandments of YHVH are clear : they enlighten the eyes.

The fear of YHVH is pure, it endures forever; the judgments of YHVH are true, all of them just and right.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart find favour in Your sight, o YHVH – my Redeemer, my Rock!

(Singapore) Monday, 14 February 2022 : 125th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Nehemiah 8 : 1-4a, 5-6, 8-10

In the seventh month, all the people gathered as one man in the square before the Water Gate, and they asked Ezra to bring the book of the law of Moses, which YHVH had given to Israel. Ezra brought the law before the assembly, both men, women and all the children who could understand what was being read. It was the first day of the seventh month.

So he read it before the plaza in front of the Water Gate from dawn till noon, before the men, women and those children who could understand. All the people were eager to hear the book of the law. Ezra, the teacher of the law, stood on a wooden platform built for that occasion.

Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was in a higher place; and when he opened it, all the people stood. Ezra praised YHVH the great God; and all the people lifted up their hands and answered, “Amen! Amen!” And they bowed their heads to the ground.

They read from the book of the law of God, clarifying and interpreting the meaning, so that everyone might understand what they were hearing. Then Ezra, the teacher of the law, said to the people, “This day is dedicated to YHVH, your God, so do not be sad or weep.”

He said this because all wept when they heard the reading of the law. Then he said to them, “Go and eat rich foods, drink sweet wine and share with him who has nothing prepared. This day is dedicated to the Lord, so do not be sad. The joy of YHVH is our strength.”

Monday, 14 February 2022 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cyril, Monk and St. Methodius, Bishop, Patron Saints of Europe (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 8 : 11-13

At that time, the Pharisees came and started to argue with Jesus. Hoping to embarrass Him, they asked for some heavenly sign. Then His Spirit was moved. He gave a deep sigh and said, “Why do the people of this present time ask for a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this people.”

Then He left them, got into the boat again and went to the other side of the lake.

Monday, 14 February 2022 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cyril, Monk and St. Methodius, Bishop, Patron Saints of Europe (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 118 : 67, 68, 71, 72, 75, 76

Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey Your word.

You are good, and Your works are good; teach me Your decrees.

It is good for me to have been afflicted, for I have deeply learnt Your statutes.

Your Law is more precious to me than heaps of silver and gold.

I know, o YHVH, that Your laws are just; and there is justice in my affliction.

Comfort me then with Your unfailing love, as You promised Your servant.

Monday, 14 February 2022 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cyril, Monk and St. Methodius, Bishop, Patron Saints of Europe (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

James 1 : 1-11

James, a servant of God, and of Lord Jesus Christ, sends greetings to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations. Consider yourselves fortunate, my brothers and sisters, when you meet with every kind of trial, for you know, that the testing of your faith makes you steadfast. Let your steadfastness become perfect, with deeds, that you, yourselves, may be perfect and blameless, without any defect.

If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, Who gives to all easily and unconditionally. But ask with faith, not doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave driven and tossed on the sea by the wind. Such a person should not expect anything from the Lord, since the doubter has two minds and his conduct will always be insecure.

Let the believer who is poor, boast, in being uplifted, and let the rich one boast, in being humbled, because he will pass away like the flower of the field. The sun rises and its heat dries the grass; the flower withers and its beauty vanishes. So, too, will the rich person fade away, even in the midst of his pursuits.