Friday, 16 September 2022 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Cornelius, Pope and Martyr, and St. Cyprian, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are reminded of the hope which the Lord had brought upon us, the hope of the glorious resurrection and new life which our Lord and Saviour has brought upon us, the life that is blessed and filled with grace, with the righteousness of God. God has granted us this new hope and light through His Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, Whose own suffering and death, and then glorious Resurrection from the dead become the source of our hope and the light that illuminates our path, long darkened by the despair and the evils of the world.

In our first reading today taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in the city of Corinth, the Apostle spoke clearly regarding the belief in the Resurrection from the dead, just as the Lord Jesus Himself has been risen from the dead. The belief in the Resurrection of the Lord is one most fundamental part of the Christian faith which set it apart from other faiths and beliefs, that marked it as the one true Faith. The Christian faith is anchored in the belief in the Resurrection of the Lord, without which then our faith in Him would have had no sense or meaning, as without the Resurrection, then we are merely just believing in a dead person who had not existed anymore in this world and who cannot help us, and we are also reminded that there is no hope beyond death otherwise.

Yet, the Lord rose gloriously from dead, and in His triumphant glory, He defeated sin and death, crushing the dominion of Satan and all the forces of evil over us, showing us definitively that there is a sure and clear path to redemption and reconciliation between God and mankind. Through Christ, all of the people of God have been given the passageway towards the eternal and new life in God, as He offered Himself as the worthy Paschal Lamb of sacrifice, to atone for our many sins and to reunite us with our loving God and Creator. By His death, all of us have been sharing in the death to our past sins and wickedness, and by His Resurrection, we have been invited to anticipate our own resurrection into glory and eternal life.

And the Apostles were true witnesses of all these, and they professed their faith, preaching the Good News and the truth of God, guided by the Holy Spirit. St. Paul presented all these as the sole truth, and how if they had not been the truth, then everything that Christians had believed would have been a lie, and all those martyrs who had died defending their faith would have died in vain, and everything and everyone that had placed their faith in the Lord would have done so in folly. Yet, that was not what happened, and the Apostles, including that of St. Paul had spoken so courageously and with such conviction because they themselves had witnessed the truth of the Lord and received wisdom from the Holy Spirit.

Through His coming into this world, the Lord Jesus has shown us the love of God personified and manifested in the flesh, that God’s ever enduring and infinite love has now become tangible and approachable to us. He came in our midst through His Son, Who has willingly embraced us and helped us to overcome our troubles and predicaments, and bore upon His own shoulders, the heavy burdens of our many and innumerable sins. He bore upon Himself the punishments due for all those sins and faults, and offered on our behalf the most worthy offering of His own Precious Body and Blood, that through His loving sacrifice and offering, we may have the certainty of eternal life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to these readings and passages from the Scriptures, we are all reminded that as Christians, we are all witnesses of our Lord’s truth, death and Resurrection. We have received the same truth that the Apostles had spoken so courageously about, and for which many martyrs had laid down their lives for the sake of the glory of God and for the salvation of His people. And therefore we are called to do the same as well in our own lives, and we should do our best to carry out our mission in life in being good and faithful disciples of our Lord in all the things we do, in our every interactions and efforts to glorify Him by our lives.

Today, all of us should be inspired by the good examples set by Pope St. Cornelius and St. Cyprian, whose feast day we celebrate this day. Pope St. Cornelius was the Bishop of Rome and Pope, the leader of the Universal Church at the time when there was intense persecution against the Church and all Christians by the Roman state. At that time, both Pope St. Cornelius and St. Cyprian, the Bishop of Carthage were contemporaries who were not only facing the challenges from the persecutions by the Roman government on their flocks and themselves, but also the divisions which were caused by the Novatianists or the Novatian heresy.

Back then, there were disagreements and discords within the Church because there were those like Novatian who refused to admit those lapsed Christians and all those who had partaken in pagan sacrifices and ceremonies, and those who like Pope St. Cornelius and St. Cyprian that supported the reconciliation of those lapsed Christians. Novatian and his supporters argued that once those Christians lapsed, betrayed and abandoned the Lord, there could be no return for them, while Pope St. Cornelius and St. Cyprian championed the cause of the reconciliation of those lapsed Christians, reminding the faithful of the ever generous mercy and compassion of God for His people.

In the end, Pope St. Cornelius and St. Cyprian managed to overcome the obstacle and united the Church behind the true path that they championed, rejecting the beliefs of the Novatian party as a heresy, and excommunicated Novatian after he refused to change his views and ideas. All of the other great works that these two saints had done continued to help the Church and the people of God in various other ways, and in the end, each one of them were martyred by the intense Roman persecutions of the Church mentioned earlier, and their courage in remaining faithful to the very end were sources of great inspiration to the faithful people of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore be inspired by the examples of Pope St. Cornelius and St. Cyprian of Carthage, in their dedication to God and at the same time, in how they extended God’s love and mercy to His people, to those who have by various reasons, lapsed from the Christian faith, fell into sin or forced to participate in the pagan rituals, that they still have the opportunity to repent and turn back towards the Lord, just as how the Lord Himself had reached out to those considered as great sinners, like prostitutes and tax collectors among others, even criminals and all those who were possessed by evil spirits, and those rejected and ostracised by the society.

Let us all therefore remember to bring forth the love of God into our communities, remembering how the Lord Himself has loved all of us and brought His light and hope into our midst as He came to us, through His Son, Jesus Christ, by Whose suffering, death and resurrection, we have been made sharers in the inheritance of eternal life and glory that will be ours if we remain ever faithful to Him. May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to strengthen us in our faith in Him and help us to continue to love Him, now and in each and every moments of our lives. Amen.

Friday, 16 September 2022 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Cornelius, Pope and Martyr, and St. Cyprian, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 8 : 1-3

At that time, Jesus walked through towns and countryside, preaching and giving the Good News of the kingdom of God. The Twelve followed Him, and also some women, who had been healed of evil spirits and diseases : Mary called Magdalene, who had been freed of seven demons; Joanna, wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward; Suzanna; and others, who provided for them out of their own funds.

Friday, 16 September 2022 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Cornelius, Pope and Martyr, and St. Cyprian, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 16 : 1, 6-7, 8b and 15

Hear a just cause, o Lord, listen to my complaint. Give heed to my prayer for there is no deceit on my lips.

I call on You, You will answer me, o God; incline Your ear and hear my word. For You do wonders for Your faithful, You save those fleeing from the enemy as they seek refuge at Your right hand.

Keep me as the apple of Your eye; under the shadow of Your wings hide me. As for me, righteous in Your sight, I shall see Your face and, awakening, gaze my fill on Your likeness.

Friday, 16 September 2022 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Cornelius, Pope and Martyr, and St. Cyprian, Bishop and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

1 Corinthians 15 : 12-20

Well, then, if Christ is preached as risen from the dead, how can some of you say, that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is empty, and our belief comes to nothing. And we become false witnesses of God, attesting that He raised Christ, whereas He could not raise Him, if indeed, the dead are not raised.

If the dead are not raised, neither has Christ been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith gives you nothing, and you are still in sin. Also, those who fall asleep, in Christ, are lost. If it is only for this life, that we hope in Christ, we are the most unfortunate of all people. But no, Christ has been raised from the dead, and He comes before all those who have fallen asleep.