Wednesday, 22 June 2022 : Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 1 : 5-17

In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there lived a priest named Zechariah, belonging to the priestly clan of Abiah. Elizabeth, Zechariah’s wife also belonged to a priestly family. Both of them were upright in the eyes of God, and lived blamelessly, in accordance with all the laws and commands of the Lord, but they had no child. Elizabeth could not have any and now they were both very old.

Now, while Zechariah and those with him were fulfilling their office, it fell to him by lot, according to the custom of the priests, to enter the Sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. At the time of offering incense, all the people were praying outside; it was then, that an Angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. On seeing the Angel, Zechariah was deeply troubled and fear took hold of him.

But the Angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, be assured that your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son and you shall name him John. He will bring joy and gladness to you, and many will rejoice at his birth. This son of yours will be great in the eyes of the Lord. Listen : he shall never drink wine or strong drink; but he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb.”

“Through him, many of the people of Israel will turn to the Lord their God. He, himself, will open the way to the Lord, with the spirit and power of the prophet Elijah; he will reconcile fathers and children; and lead the disobedient to wisdom and righteousness, in order to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Wednesday, 22 June 2022 : Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Peter 1 : 8-12

You have not, yet, seen Him, and, yet, you love Him; even without seeing Him, you believe in Him, and experience a heavenly joy beyond all words, for you are reaching the goal of your faith : the salvation of your souls.

This was the salvation for which the prophets so eagerly looked when, in days past, they foretold the favour of God, with regard to you. But they could only investigate when the Spirit of Christ present within them, pointed out the time and the circumstances, of this – the sufferings of Christ, and the glories which would follow.

It was revealed to them, that they were working, not for themselves, but for you. Thus, in these days, after the Holy Spirit has been sent from heaven, the Gospel’s preachers have taught you these mysteries, which even the Angels long to see.

Wednesday, 22 June 2022 : Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 70 : 1-2, 3-4a, 5-6ab,15ab and 17

In You, o Lord, I seek refuge; let me not be disgraced. In Your justice help me and deliver me, turn Your ear to me and save me!

Be my Rock of refuge, a Stronghold to give me safety, for You are my Rock and my Fortress. Rescue me, o my God, from the hand of the wicked.

For You, o Lord, have been my Hope, my Trust, o God, from my youth. I have relied on You from birth : from my mother’s womb You brought me forth.

My lips will proclaim Your intervention and tell of Your salvation all day, little though it is what I can understand. You have taught me from my youth and until now I proclaim Your marvels.

Wednesday, 22 June 2022 : Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Jeremiah 1 : 4-10

A word of YHVH came to me, “Even before I formed you in the womb I have known you; even before you were born I had set you apart, and appointed you a prophet to the nations!”

I said, “Ah, Lord YHVH! I do not know how to speak; I am still young!” But YHVH replied, “Do not say; ‘I am still young’, for now you will go, whatever be the mission I am entrusting to you, and you will speak of whatever I command you to say. Do not be afraid of them, for I will be with you to protect you – it is YHVH Who speaks!”

Then YHVH stretched out His hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now I have put My words in your mouth. See! Today I give you authority over nations and over kingdoms to uproot and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”

Wednesday, 22 June 2022 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Paulinus of Nola, Bishop, and St. John Fisher, Bishop and Martyr, and St. Thomas More, Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops) or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are reminded to seek the Lord and renew our faith, and to avoid being hypocrites and wicked in our deeds. Each and every one of us are called to holiness in God, and we are all called to be full of the fruits of faith, to bear witness to the truth of God in our respective communities and societies today. All of us are called to be holy and to be good examples to each other in how we live our faith in life. Otherwise, we are no better than hypocrites and even false prophets, who misled many from the path of the Lord.

In our first reading today, taken from the Second Book of Kings, we heard about the rediscovery of the Book of the Law of God during the reign of king Josiah of Judah, one of the last kings of the southern kingdom. In that occasion, the Torah and its accounts of the laws and commandments of God, which had likely by then been lost or hidden, not known by the people in the kingdom of Judah. When the king asked the contents of the Law to be read to him, what he heard shocked him very much, as we must understand that by then, the people and the kingdom had been diverging from the path as set by the Law for a long time.

Many among the people had been worshipping pagan idols of their neighbours and did not obey the laws and commandments of God, with the Temple of God and its celebrations neglected for a very long time. It was presumed that ever since the days of Solomon, proper celebrations of the Passover and other festivals as prescribed by the Law had not been carried out, and this, compounded with many other wicked deeds that the people had done, caused the king to be greatly alarmed, as Josiah must have thought that God would soon enact His punishment and retribution on His people because of their many sins.

That was why he ordered a thorough campaign of purification and cleansing throughout the land and the kingdom of Judah, eliminating the vestiges of pagan idols and worship, the pagan priests and practices, and also reinstated the celebrations and the practices as ordered by the Law. He was the first king to preside over the celebration of the Passover after a very long time and also restored the Covenant between God and His people, which had repeatedly been broken and neglected by the past generations of the people of Israel and Judah. That had led to the downfall of the northern kingdom of Israel, and Josiah must have wanted to avoid the same fate for Judah.

This is echoed by what we had heard in our Gospel passage today, in which we heard how the Lord told His disciples and followers to be wary and careful of those who were false prophets and agents of evil, who would try to mislead the people with false promises and other falsehoods, in opposition to the truth of God. Then, as the Lord went on in saying with a parable of how a good tree would produce good fruits and how a bad tree would produce bad fruits, these were all allusions and reminders from the Lord that if their hearts and minds are not set on the Lord and His truth, then it is likely that they will end up doing things that are wicked, sinful and against the Lord and His path.

That is why, through the actions of king Josiah of Judah and what the Lord Himself had told His disciples, each and every one of us are reminded to turn away from the path of sin, from the temptations of disobedience against God. The Lord has called on us all to return to Him and to embrace once again His path, and He has placed many help along the way as He guides us on the path back to Him. The question is now, do we want to embrace God’s ever generous love and mercy towards us? Or do we still continue to stubbornly resist Him and refusing to listen to His call for us to turn back to Him?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we should heed the examples of our predecessors, in how they have lived their lives with faith, rejecting the path of sin, the temptations and wickedness of this world, and in dying to defend their faith in God. St. Paulinus of Nola was a renowned bishop of Nola who was remembered for his dedication to the Lord, in his work for the poor and those who were lost from God, in caring for their physical and spiritual well-being. St. Paulinus of Nola showed us all how we can be dedicated as Christians in following God’s will, proclaiming His truth and love in our world today.

Meanwhile, both St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher were the saints and martyrs of the English reformation, as they both were persecuted and martyred for their courageous defence of the one true faith and one true Church in God, against the wicked and vile actions of king Henry VIII of England, who for his unquenchable and persistent desire to have a male heir, leading him to break with the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, and establishing his own national Church, predecessor of today’s Anglican church. St. Thomas More was the king’s trusted chancellor while St. John Fisher was the influential bishop of Rochester, later made as a Cardinal by the Pope for his faith and efforts.

Both St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher refused to obey the commands of the king who demanded all of the clergy and the officials of his realm to swear allegiance to his new church. They chose to endure persecution and suffering rather than to betray their conscience and faith in God, not fearing the threats made against them. St. Thomas More also chose rather to surrender his chancellorship and his privileges, suffering and enduring the martyrdom rather than surrendering his Christian identity and faith. St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher hence showed us all the true faith and dedication that we all as Christians should have in God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, following the examples set by our courageous and holy predecessors, and remembering God’s call for us to return to Him and to enter into the path towards holiness, let us all therefore seek Him from now on with renewed faith and zeal. May the Lord continue to guide us in our path, and may He empower each and every one of us to be ever more committed and faithful disciples of His, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 22 June 2022 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Paulinus of Nola, Bishop, and St. John Fisher, Bishop and Martyr, and St. Thomas More, Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops) or Red (Martyrs)

Matthew 7 : 15-20

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Beware of false prophets : they come to you in sheep’s clothing; but inside, they are voracious wolves. You will recognise them by their fruits. Do you ever pick grapes from thorn bushes; or figs, from thistles?”

“A good tree always produces good fruit. A rotten tree produces bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit; and a rotten fruit cannot bear good fruit. Any tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruit.”

Wednesday, 22 June 2022 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Paulinus of Nola, Bishop, and St. John Fisher, Bishop and Martyr, and St. Thomas More, Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops) or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 118 : 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 40

Explain to me, o YHVH, Your commandments, and I will be ever faithful to them.

Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law with all my heart.

Guide me in obeying Your instructions, for my pleasure lies in them.

Incline my heart to follow Your will and not my own selfish desire.

Turn my eyes away from vanities and direct them to Your life-giving word.

Oh, how I long for Your precepts! Renew my life in Your righteousness.

Wednesday, 22 June 2022 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Paulinus of Nola, Bishop, and St. John Fisher, Bishop and Martyr, and St. Thomas More, Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops) or Red (Martyrs)

2 Kings 22 : 8-13 and 2 Kings 23 : 1-3

At that moment Hilkiah, the high priest, said to Shaphan, the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the House of YHVH.” And he entrusted the Book to Shaphan who read it. Then Shaphan went to the king and said, “We have gathered the money in the House, and this has been turned over to the caretakers of the House to make the repairs.”

And Shaphan added, “The priest Hilkiah has turned over a Book to me.” And Shaphan read the Book to the king. When the king heard the contents of the Book, he tore his clothes and commanded Hilkiah, Ahikam, Achbor, the secretary Shaphan, and Asaiah, his minister, to do the following, “Go and consult YHVH about the threats in this Book which you have found. Consult Him for me, for the people and for the whole of Judah, since our fathers did not listen to what this Book says nor its ordinances. This is why the anger of YHVH is ready to burn against us.”

The king summoned to his side all the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem. Then he went up to the house of YHVH, followed by all the people of Judah and Jerusalem. The priests with the prophets and all the people went with him, from the youngest to the oldest. When all were gathered, he read to them the Book of the Law found in the house of YHVH.

The king stood by the pillar; he made a Covenant in the presence of YHVH, promising to follow Him, to keep His commandments and laws, and to respect His ordinances. He promised to keep this Covenant according to what was written in the Book with all his heart and with all his soul. And all the people promised with him.