Saturday, 17 September 2022 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church and St. Hildegard of Bingen, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Holy Virgins)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures, we are reminded yet again on our faith in the Lord and our beliefs in Him, in how we should have faith in us, which He has sown in us, and we should bear rich fruits of faith, through our exemplary lives and actions. Each and every one of us should do our best to love and serve the Lord at every moments throughout life, so that we may truly live our lives as good and dedicated Christians, worthy of being the ones who have been made and created in the image of God Himself, and Whom God had called and willingly made to be His own beloved children and people.

In our first reading today taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in the city of Corinth we heard the Apostle St. Paul spoke to the people there regarding the matter of the resurrection from the dead and the resurrection of the body as there were still members of the faithful who did not understand or appreciate what the resurrection truly meant and how it would affect all of them. There were then still members of the Christian faithful, probably those who once belonged to the caste of the Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection from the dead who had doubts about the resurrection and did not understand how it works.

St. Paul highlighted how through Christ, the Saviour of the world, Who came into this world, bearing the truth and salvation from God, has shown us a new life through Him, a new existence that goes beyond our earthly life. He mentioned how the first Adam, our ancestor was given life when he was created by God, and how the New Adam, that is Christ Himself, has brought upon us true and everlasting life, that we shall transcend beyond our mortal bodies and existence, and through Him we shall be reunited and reconciled with God. That new life, which God brought upon us through His Son, shows us that our mortality and death do not mark the end of our existence, and instead there is eternity beyond that of death.

In our Christian faith and beliefs, all of us believe that there is life beyond death, and while all of us have to experience suffering and death as consequences for our sins, but the same sins and death do not have the final say over us. To those who are righteous and worthy, God has shown us through Jesus Christ, His Son, our Saviour, that we shall be reunited with Him and shall once again enjoy the fullness of His grace and blessings as He has always intended for us. The Lord has always been so reassuring towards us, and He did not just love us despite our many rebellions and disobedience against Him, but He even sent us His Son to bring His salvation and deliverance upon us.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the well-known parable of the sower by the Lord, in which the Lord Himself told His disciples of what happened to the seeds sown in four different places, by the roadside, on rocky and dry ground, amongst the thistles and brambles, and finally on rich and fertile soil. The Lord went through the meaning of each part of the parable and told them what each of them represented, and how the seeds were truly a reference to the Word of God, the Wisdom and truth which God has bestowed on all of His people. How and where the seeds landed represented how we mankind responded to the Lord, to His truth and love, to His Good News and grace in our midst.

We have to realise that as long as we continue to resist the Lord in the manner of how some among the faithful in Corinth continued to have doubts and reservations on their beliefs, and in their inability to comprehend the resurrection, then it is just like how we mankind tend to shut the Lord out of our lives as we prefer to live them in the manner that we want to live them, following the ways of the world and the paths that may not conform to the path that God has shown and taught us. More often than not we prefer to trust in our own judgments and ideals, and not listening to God speaking to us in the depth of our hearts and minds. And our preoccupation with our own desires prevent us from being able to listen to Him.

That is why today, as we also celebrate the feast of two great saints whose examples and faith can become our inspiration in how we ought to live our own lives, we should give some time to heed their examples and their actions in life. St. Robert Bellarmine and St. Hildegard of Bingen are these two great servants of God who should become our role models in life, that we may grow ever stronger in faith and ever closer to God. Both of them had served the Church and the people of God in various ways, and in their personal holiness and dedication, they have done much to bring the people of God ever closer to their Lord and Saviour.

St. Robert Bellarmine was a Jesuit Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, who was credited for his intense effort in supporting and applying the reforms of the Ecumenical Council of Trent in the midst of great changes in the Church and the community during the Counter-Reformation period. He was very much involved in the renewal of Catholic theology and education, as he was involved over many years in the teaching of theology at the Roman College, now known as the Pontifical Gregorian University, influencing many seminarians who would become future priests and leaders of the Church, impressing many people with his deep intellectual understanding of theology and the Scriptures, as well as his great wisdom.

St. Robert Bellarmine was made as the Rector of the aforementioned Roman College, and then as a Bishop and finally a Cardinal of the Church. He was entrusted by the Pope with the task to assist in the reforms of the Church, and he also wrote extensively on many works and books related to theology and Christian teachings. He also defended the true faith against the many heresies, falsehoods and the other forces arrayed against the Church at that time. Through his ceaseless efforts and commitment to God, St. Robert Bellarmine showed us what it truly means to be truly dedicated as Christians.

Meanwhile, St. Hildegard of Bingen was a German Benedictine abbess who was renowned as a great mystic and writer, and whose contributions to the Church both in her local community and the larger Universal Church were immense. St. Hildegard of Bingen was credited with many writings in various topics and aspects, both regarding Church teachings and even beyond, and devoted her life to the Lord and her community. She wrote extensively on the matters of theology, as well as botany and medicine, and was also credited with the development of monophony in the Church music of her time. For all these efforts and hard work, and for all the contributions that she had done, she was recently therefore canonised ten years ago by Pope Benedict XVI, and then elevated to the position of the Doctor of the Church by Pope Francis, our current Pope.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore be inspired by the examples shown by St. Robert Bellarmine and St. Hildegard of Bingen, that we ourselves may also be good role models and examples for others all around us, in our faith and in how we live our lives. Let us all be true witnesses of the Lord and proclaim His truth and love, His Good News and all His grace to all the nations through our own lives and actions each day. May God bless us always and may He continue to guide us in all of our actions, in our every efforts and deeds. Amen.

Saturday, 17 September 2022 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church and St. Hildegard of Bingen, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Holy Virgins)

Luke 8 : 4-15

At that time, as a great crowd gathered, and people came to Jesus from every town, He began teaching them with a story : “The sower went out to sow the seed. And as he sowed, some of the seed fell along the way, was trodden on, and the birds of the sky ate it up.”

“Some seed fell on rocky ground; and no sooner had it come up than it withered, because it had no water. Some seed fell among thorns; the thorns grew up with the seed and choked it. But some seed fell on good soil and grew, producing fruit, a hundred times as much!” And Jesus cried out, “Listen then, if you have ears to hear!”

The disciples asked Him, “What does this story mean?” And Jesus answered, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God. But to others it is given in the form of stories, or parables, so that, seeing, they may not perceive; and hearing, they may not understand.”

“Now, this is the point of the parable : The seed is the word of God. Those along the wayside are people who hear it; but immediately, the devil comes and takes the word from their minds, for he does not want them to believe and be saved. Those on the rocky ground are people who receive the word with joy; but they have no root; they believe for a while, and give way in time of trial.”

“Among the thorns are people who hear the word, but, as they go their way, they are choked by worries, riches, and the pleasures of life; they bring no fruit to maturity. The good soil, instead, are people who receive the word, and keep it, in a gentle and generous mind, and, persevering patiently, they bear fruit.”

Saturday, 17 September 2022 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church and St. Hildegard of Bingen, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Holy Virgins)

Psalm 55 : 10, 11-12, 13-14

My enemies turn back when I call on You for help; now I know, that God is for me.

In God, Whose word I praise; in God I trust, without fear. What can mortals do against me?

I am bound to You by vows, o God; I shall offer my thanksgiving. For You have rescued my soul from death and my feet from stumbling; that I might walk in God’s presence, in the light of the living.

Saturday, 17 September 2022 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church and St. Hildegard of Bingen, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Holy Virgins)

1 Corinthians 15 : 35-37, 42-49

Some of you will ask : How will the dead be raised? With what kind of body will they come? You fools! What you sow cannot sprout unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body of the future plant, but a bare grain of wheat or any other seed.

It is the same with the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in decomposition; it will be raised never more to die. It is sown in humiliation, and it will be raised for glory. It is buried in weakness, but the resurrection shall be with power. When buried, it is a natural body, but it will be raised as a spiritual body. For there shall be a spiritual body, as there is, at present, a living body. Scripture says that Adam, the first man, became a living being; but the last Adam has become a life-giving Spirit.

The Spirit does not appear first, but the natural life, and afterward comes the Spirit. The first man comes from the earth and is earthly, while the second One comes from heaven. As it was with the earthly one, so is it with the earthly people. As it is with Christ, so with the heavenly. This is why, after bearing the image of the earthly one, we shall also bear the image of the Heavenly One.

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.

Thursday, 15 September 2022 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we gather to reflect on the words of the Lord in the Scriptures we just heard, we remember that this day we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, remembering the great sorrow that Mary, the Mother of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, had experienced and suffered from, having witnessed everything that her Son had to suffer during His ministry, and then having to see her own Son being persecuted and tortured, betrayed by His own disciple, abandoned by others and condemned to die a most painful and humiliating death on the Cross for sins and faults that He Himself had not committed, and framed for crimes that He was not responsible for.

As with any mothers, seeing her own Son to suffer in such a manner must have been so difficult for Mary. Yet, she persevered through it all, and as sorrowful and painful it must have been for her, she remained true to her commitment to the mission entrusted to her, as the Mother of God, the Mother of the Saviour, to Whom she has dedicated much of her life to, in caring for Him since before He was even born into this world, and right up through most of His life, and unto the very foot of the Cross, where she witnessed her Son dying both as the Paschal Lamb of Sacrifice and the High Priest of all mankind, offering Himself for the salvation of all the whole world.

Mary had received premonition and warning for all these from Simeon the old prophet and servant of God who was awaiting the Messiah or Saviour of the world at the Temple of Jerusalem just as we heard in our Gospel passage today. Simeon told her how Mary would have to see her Son as a Sign for all the nations and how she would have to witness and experience great moments of pain, suffering and anguish, which he described as likened to a sword piercing her very own heart, the most loving and Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Mother of God. All those eventually came true and we knew the image of the grieving Mary, who grieved over the death of her Son.

That is why Mary has always been so attentive to us throughout history, as she continued to reach out to us, appearing in many occasions to different people, encouraging the people of God to be faithful to Him and to return to Him with regret and the desire to be forgiven from their many sins. That is because just as she has experienced losing her Son to suffering and death, and knowing that He had suffered and died for all of our sake, for our redemption and salvation, surely she did not want the sacrifice made by her Son to be wasted by us, as many of us still ignore Him and refuse to follow Him and His truth, and fail to recognise His love.

Not only that, but Mary herself has also been entrusted to each one of us as our own loving mother, as the Lord Himself as we heard in our Gospel passage today, entrusted Mary to St. John the Apostle, His beloved disciple to be his own mother, and he as the son entrusted to Mary. This is a symbolic act by which the Church and the Lord has extended the loving hands of Mary, her love and compassion, her motherly care and her attention to us, her beloved children, to each one of us as her own adopted and equally beloved precious children. We are all so fortunate that our mother even in her sorrow continues to show us her love, through which she has always hoped that we may find the salvation in her Son.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, what has always brought sorrow to our loving Mother’s heart is our constant disobedience and refusal to listen to the words that her Son has always spoken to us. All of us have received His truth and love, His instructions, will, Law and commandments, His teachings and ways through the Church and the Scriptures, but we often still preferred to follow our own paths in life, and those paths more often than not led us down the path of sin and ruin. Many of us have fallen on the wayside in our path towards God and His salvation, tempted and swayed by the many efforts of the devil and his allies in their works to prevent us from being reunited and reconciled with God.

That is why today, as we commemorate this Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, let us all reflect first of all on everything that the Lord, our God and Saviour had done for our sake, in His ever enduring and wonderful love, in reaching out to us with love and in sacrificing Himself for our sake so that through Him we may have life and not perish. Then we also should remember the love that His mother Mary has shown us all, and how we have been entrusted to her as her own adopted children. She has always prayed and interceded for our sake, and wanted the best for us, ever reminding us to turn towards her Son and to be righteous and good at all times.

Let us all therefore ask our beloved Mother Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, to continue to love us patiently and to not be sorrowful anymore, by our commitment and desire to repent from our sins and by our efforts to live our lives with faith from now on, making good use of all the opportunities given to us, in each and every moments to be exemplary in life and to inspire one another to follow the Lord and to be ever faithful always. May God be with us always and may His blessed Mother, Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, our Mother, pray for us always. Amen.

Thursday, 15 September 2022 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 19 : 25-27

At that time, near the cross of Jesus stood His mother, His mother’s sister Mary, who was the wife of Cleophas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw the mother, and the disciple whom He loved, He said to the mother, “Woman, this is your son.”

Then He said to the disciple, “This is your mother.” And from that moment the disciple took her to his own home.

Alternative reading

Luke 2 : 33-35

At that time, the father and mother of Jesus wondered at what was said about the Child. Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary, His mother, “Know this : your Son is a Sign; a Sign established for the falling and rising of many in Israel, a Sign of contradiction; and a sword will pierce your own soul, so that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.”