Saturday, 24 September 2022 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture we are reminded yet again of the need for each one of us as Christians to be always mindful and aware of what we all need to do in our lives, in doing the actions that are in accordance with God and His ways, obeying His will and commandments, and keeping in mind that each and every single things that we say and do, all these will be accountable to God on the Day of Judgment. And not only that, but in all the things that we are able to do and in the capacity of doing, but not doing because we neglect our responsibilities, we shall also be made accountable for them as well.

That was the gist of what we heard from the Book of Ecclesiastes or Qoheleth in our first reading today. We heard how the author reminded those who were young that they ought to keep those words in mind, reminding them that each and every one of their actions will be accountable to God. There is nothing that we do which will not be known or unveiled to God. The Lord knows everything in our hearts and minds, and He shall judge us all by everything He knows of us. We have been given the opportunities and the time to do the things that God has shown us, to be His faithful disciples and witnesses in the midst of our communities.

And we should not be ignorant of that calling to do something, to participate in the good works and efforts of the Church, in its various outreach and commissions, and not only that but also in our own individual capacities, even to the smallest and simplest things like living our lives worthily and faithfully in accordance to the Law and commandments of God. In a world where there are plenty of temptations for us to disobey God and to embrace the path of worldliness and sin, each one of us have been called to seek the Lord wholeheartedly and to follow Him, while knowing that this path that God has called us to walk in, may not be an easy or smooth one.

As we heard in our Gospel passage today, the Lord spoke to His disciples regarding Who He truly was, and what He was about to endure during the moments of His Passion, suffering and death. Back then, no one would have known or expected that the Lord would have suffered such a grievous fate. In fact, many among the followers of the Lord would have expected that He would lead them all into glory and victory against the Romans and other oppressors, and reestablish the kingdom of David, the kingdom of God’s people Israel. The coming of the Messiah was understood as a time of great glory and triumph, where the Lord would gather His people and give them the freedom and victory against their enemies.

But they had misunderstood the Lord’s intentions, and the Lord Himself told them that in truth, He, the Messiah, the Son of Man, just as the prophets themselves had predicted, particularly that of the prophet Isaiah, He would have to suffer grievously for the sake of His beloved ones. He would have to be rejected and oppressed, punished and tortured, scourged, beaten and spat upon for the sake of our salvation and liberation. And yet, knowing all that would happen to Him, and all the sufferings that He would have to endure, the Lord Jesus still obeyed His Father’s will perfectly and carried out everything to perfection, suffering and dying on His Cross at Calvary.

Through that act of supreme love and sacrifice, the ultimate selfless expression of love, God has shown us first of all that He loves us in an infinitely wonderful way, and He has always cared for us all these times despite of our frequent disobedience and refusal to believe in Him. And not only that, but through His Son, the same Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the same suffering Son of Man, God showed us the perfect obedience and the perfect role model that His Son has done for us, so that we know that it truly means for us to be Christians. The Apostles and disciples of the Lord themselves followed His examples, remembering His new commandment and mandate at the Last Supper, that they ought to do whatever that their Lord and Master had done.

This is a reminder that each one of us following in the footsteps and examples of the Apostles and the innumerable saints, holy men and women of God, we have to listen to the Lord, obey His will, His Law and commandments, and do what He has called us to do and make good use of the time and opportunities that He has presented to us. We are all given many different and unique talents, opportunities and other things that can allow us to do so many great wonders, and we should realise that each one of us have this part to play as God’s people, to be active and committed in giving ourselves and our lives for the cause of the Lord at all times. This is what we should do instead of being distracted by the many temptations all around us, the temptations of power, wealth, worldly glory and many others.

Let us all realise that all of us have been given this opportunity to serve the Lord and to do good things, and through all of that, we may be found worthy by the Lord in the end, when He comes to judge all of us. Let us appreciate the opportunities that we have been given, and do whatever we can to glorify the Lord by our lives, by our every words, actions and deeds, even in the smallest things we say and do. May the Lord continue to be with us, guiding and strengthening us in each and every possible opportunities. May God bless our every endeavours and efforts, now and always. Amen.

Saturday, 24 September 2022 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Luke 9 : 43b-45

At that time, while all were amazed at everything Jesus did, He said to His disciples, “Listen, and remember what I tell you now : The Son of Man will be betrayed into the hands of men.” But the disciples did not understand this saying; something prevented them from grasping what He meant, and they were afraid to ask Him about it.

Saturday, 24 September 2022 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Psalm 89 : 3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14 and 17

You turn humans back to dust, saying, “Return, o mortals!” A thousand years in Your sight are like a day that has passed, or like a watch in the night.

You sow them in their time, a dawn they peep out. In the morning they blossom, but the flower fades and withers in the evening.

So make us know the shortness of our life, that we may gain wisdom of heart. How long will You be angry, o YHVH? Have mercy on Your servant.

Fill us at daybreak with Your goodness, that we may be glad all our days. May the sweetness of YHVH be upon us; may He prosper the work of our hands.

Saturday, 24 September 2022 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Ecclesiastes (Qoheleth) 11 : 9 – Ecclesiastes (Qoheleth) 12 : 8

Rejoice, young man, in your youth and direct well your heart when you are young; follow your desires and achieve your ambitions but recall that God will take account of all you do.

Drive sorrow from your heart and pain from your flesh, for youth and dark hair will not last. Be mindful of your Creator when you are young, before the time of sorrow comes when you have to say, “This gives me no pleasure,” and before the sun, moon and stars withdraw their light, before the clouds gather again after the rain.

On the day when the guardians of the house tremble, when sturdy men are bowed and those at the mill stop working because they are too few, when it grows dim for those looking through the windows, and the doors are shut and the noise of the mill grows faint, the sparrow stops chirping and the bird-song is silenced, when one fears the slopes and to walk is frightening;

Yet the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper is fat and the caperberry bears fruit that serves no purpose, because man goes forward to his eternal home and mourners gather in the street, even before the silver chain is snapped or the golden globe is shattered, before the pitcher is broken at the fountain or the wheel at the mill, before the dust returns to the earth from which it came and the spirit returns to God Who gave it.

Meaningless! Meaningless! The teacher says; all is meaningless!

Friday, 23 September 2022 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded of the importance for all of us to embrace our calling as Christians, in doing what we have been called to do, and in following the will of God. Each one of us have received the mission through our Church and faith to proclaim the Lord and His truth, His Good News to all the people and all the nations. The Church of God is composed of all of us the faithful people and flock of God and each one of us have important roles to play in our respective fields and areas of responsibility, at whichever time and opportunity that God has given us in each one of our lives.

It means that just as we heard in our first reading today from the Book of Ecclesiastes or Qoheleth, we should remember that there is time for everything, for our every actions and interactions, for us to experience good things and the not-so-good things in life, time to be spent with our friends and relatives, with our loving family and others around us. However, there is also time for us to be spent with God and for us to be with Him, focusing our attention and our thoughts on Him rather than constantly being distracted and occupied by our ceaseless pursuits of worldly happiness and pleasures, and the many temptations of pride and desire present all around us.

There is a time for us all as Christians to dedicate ourselves to God, as is right and just for us to be doing His will and to proclaim His truth and love through our every words, actions and deeds. Each and every one of us are part of that same Church, the Body of Christ, of which Christ our Lord Himself is the Head, and because we ourselves are united to Him, we should obey His will and commandments, as we have been taught to do. All of us have that responsibility to bear as Christians, that we become the living beacons of God’s light to others. We have to embrace this calling, inspired by the faith which the Apostles themselves had shown.

We had a glimpse of that when we heard the Gospel passage today in which the Lord asked His disciples of Who they think He was. And they were mentioning of who the others were thinking He was, either that of the prophet Elijah, or one of the other prophets, or St. John the Baptist among others, and then when the Lord asked them on His identity, St. Peter representing all of them spoke confidently and with faith that He is the Messiah or Saviour that came from God, the Holy One and Son of God. He spoke with courage and faith, of the truth that others maybe found difficult to proclaim. Yet that was likely why the Lord chose St. Peter to be the leader of His Church and the Apostles, because of his faith and great courage.

The Apostles and the other disciples of the Lord would have to face great sufferings and challenges in the years to come, and yet, they all faced them with great faith and love for Him. They willingly suffered and faced persecution in defending what they believed in and what they themselves had witnessed. The Lord has shown His truth and wisdom to them, and they had been entrusted with the mission to spread that same truth to all the whole world. They did their best to proclaim the Lord to all those whom they encountered, and they spent a lot of time and effort to reach out to those who have yet to know the Lord, despite the challenges and persecutions against them.

As we can see, there are in fact a lot of things that each one of us as Christians can do in doing our part as a follower of Christ. Each one of us have been given distinct opportunities, talents and capabilities, that we may bring God’s truth and love closer to His people. We are all called to do what we can in doing God’s will, and it is in the end up to us how we respond to His call. And we have the saints, our holy predecessors, the holy men and women of God, as well as many others, whose lives have been exemplary and inspirational, in how they themselves had committed their lives in the service of God and His people.

Today, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, also better known as Padre Pio, a great servant of God and saintly man whose life and examples, humility, personal qualities and piety may be a great source of inspiration for each one of us as Christians. He was one of the famous recent saints in history and was noted for many things, not least his stigmata or the wounds he received mystically corresponding to the wounds of the Lord Jesus at His crucifixion, as well as his personal piety and charisma, his fervent celebration of the Eucharist and his countless efforts in ministering to the people, by spending hours in the confessionals and in his known miraculous acts.

St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio was an Italian Franciscan Capuchin friar and priest who lived a pious life from early on in his life, and who then joined the Franciscan Capuchins, becoming a friar and then a priest. It was told that Padre Pio had experienced visions and ecstatic moments since his youth, which would continue to happen throughout his life. Although he had always been beset with health issues and troubles throughout his life, but Padre Pio did not allow all that to deter him from his work and ministry, and spent a lot of time to serve the community and the faithful who came to him for help, advice and healing.

There was a period of difficult opposition against him as there were those who were skeptical of the legitimacy and the validity of what this man of God had done and experienced. He was also facing challenges from the rapidly changing political and other situations back then, as instabilities raged across his nation. He continued to do his works nonetheless, establishing houses and hospitals for the care of the weak and the poor. St. Pius of Pietrelcina faced a lot of trials and struggles for many decades, and he had to endure scrutiny, doubt and also questions and interrogations from even the highest levels of the Church.

All of that added to the struggle and burden that he had faced in enduring constant attacks from the devil and other evil spirits, as well as the physical and spiritual pains of the stigmata he had for so many decades. Yet, this holy man of God remained firm in his faith and commitment to the Lord. Padre Pio did not allow all those obstacles and hindrances to stop his efforts. He remained obedient to the Lord and to the Church and its authorities, and patiently endured all the crosses that he had to bear. Through his faith and commitment, St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio showed us what it truly means to be a Christian, a faithful disciple of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us all therefore glorify God by our lives and let us seek Him with all of our heart and strength in the same way that our holy predecessors like St. Pius of Pietrelcina and many others had done. Let us make best use of our time and every moments and opportunities to do the will of God and to proclaim His truth and love wherever we may be, in our families and in our communities, in our workplaces, schools and more. May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to bless us in our every good efforts and endeavours, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 23 September 2022 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 9 : 18-22

At that time, one day, when Jesus was praying alone, not far from His disciples, He asked them, “What do people say about Me?” And they answered, “Some say, that You are John the Baptist; others say, that You are Elijah; and still others, that You are one of the Prophets of old, risen from the dead.”

Again Jesus asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.” Then Jesus spoke to them, giving them strict orders not to tell this to anyone. And He added, “The Son of Man must suffer many things. He will be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the teachers of the Law, and be put to death. Then after three days He will be raised to life.”

Friday, 23 September 2022 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 143 : 1a and 2abc, 3-4

Blessed be YHVH, my Rock, my loving God, my Fortress; my Protector snd Deliverer, my Shield; where I take refuge.

O YHVH, what are humans that You should be mindful of them, the race of Adam, that You should care for them? They are like a breath; their days pass like a shadow on earth.

Friday, 23 September 2022 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ecclesiastes (Qoheleth) 3 : 1-11

There is a given time for everything and a time for every happening under heaven : A time for giving birth, a time for dying; a time for planting, a time for uprooting. A time for killing, a time for healing; a time for knocking down, a time for building. A time for tears, a time for laughter; a time for mourning, a time for dancing.

A time for throwing stones, a time for gathering stones; a time for embracing, a time to refrain from embracing. A time for searching, a time for losing; a time for keeping, a time for throwing away. A time for tearing, a time for sewing; a time to be silent and a time to speak. A time for loving, a time for hating; a time for war, a time for peace.

What profit is there for a man from all his toils? Finally I considered the task God gave to the humans. He made everything fitting in its time, but He also set eternity in their hearts, although they are not able to embrace the work of God from the beginning to the end.

Thursday, 22 September 2022 : 25th 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 reminded of the limitations of our worldly existence, our human glory and all that we have in this world. We are all reminded that each one of us are mortals who will suffer and go through death at the end of our life in this world. No one can live forever, and sooner or later, our earthly existence shall come to an end. But we are also then reminded that death is not the end of it all, for through what the Lord Himself has revealed to us, we know that death is merely the beginning of a new stage in life, and we have the choice whether we will end up in an eternity of joy with God or in an eternity of suffering and regret away from Him.

In our first reading today taken from the Book of Ecclesiastes or Qoheleth, we heard the author speaking about the meaninglessness and the vanity of the many things present in life, and how everything are truly impermanent and temporary in nature. There is truly nothing which is based on this world which will last forever, and even the many things in this world like the Sun, Moon, stars and others, all the nations and all the various other worldly matters will not last for all eternity. There is nothing that is permanent save for the Lord our God, His eternal kingdom and kingship, His dominion and His glory.

That means if we put our trust in the things of this world, then we will end up being disappointed, in all the time we spent in gathering them and seeking them, especially things like money, wealth, possessions, properties, fame, glory, human praise, status among many other things. There is none among those that will be ours forever, and as we should be aware of, we will not bring any of those with us to the world after our death. There is life and existence beyond death, and our immortal soul will either experience an eternity of happiness and bliss with God, or an eternity of suffering and regret in hell, but again, none of our worldly things will be carried over with us. Naked we have come from our mother’s womb, and hence, naked we shall return to the Lord of life and death.

As we heard in our Gospel passage today, king Herod of Galilee was astonished to listen to the works of the Lord Jesus, and thought that St. John the Baptist, God’s servant, had returned back into life. Contextually, St. John the Baptist had been beheaded by Herod on the instigation of his wife Herodias, and therefore Herod must have been haunted by that decision, and thought that somehow St. John the Baptist had returned to life. Actually it kind of served as a poignant and timely reminder for the king, who had lived a debauched and excessive lifestyle, of the limitations of his worldly power and glory.

It is a reminder that his earthly kingdom and power will not last forever, and he has to account for his sins and wickedness, all that he had failed to do as the leader and guide for his people, and all that he had been responsible for, in slaughtering the man of God, regardless whether it was directly because of his action or because it was actually his wife’s work. But God’s works and power will remain forever, just as the Lord Himself continued what St. John the Baptist had done, in walking down the path of righteousness and in revealing the truth of God’s love and salvation.

Today as we listened to these Scripture readings, let us all therefore spend some time to discern carefully about our own lives. Have we thought about how we should prioritise God over all of our many worldly attachments and preoccupations? Have we considered just how much time we have often spent on trying to gain for ourselves more material goods, wealth, glory, fame and more of the things of this world that we crave for? Have we thought of all the time and opportunities that we spent in selfishly trying to enrich ourselves and to gain for ourselves pleasures, satisfactions and rewards, even at the cost to others and their sufferings?

Let us all ponder on our priorities in life, and think carefully on how we ought to proceed forward in life. As Christians, each and every one of us should always remain centred and focused on God in our lives, and we should not allow the temptations of our ego, pride and desires from distracting us down the wrong path. We are all called to be more selfless and humble, more willing to reach out to those who are needy and less fortunate, and we should spend more time in seeking things that bring us true happiness rather than spending hours upon hours seeking things that do not last, like that of wealth, possessions, fame, glory and other things.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all remember that while people may not remember what our glory and greatness are, and while our money and possessions will not be ours when we pass on from this world, but our memories and our remembrance in the minds of others and those whose lives we have touched remain, and these can be either positive or negative ones. Do we want to be remembered for our good and worthy deeds, or do we prefer rather to be remembered for our evils and wickedness? The choice is ours, brothers and sisters, and we have to realise that every actions do matter and count.

Let us all therefore refocus our lives and attention back towards the Lord. Let us no longer allow the many distractions, allures and temptations of this world from preventing us in finding our way towards God and to be reconciled with Him. Let us all strive to do our best in living our lives ever more worthily so that in all things we will be good examples for one another. May our lives be filled with faith and obedience to God, and may our every actions and interactions be ever more worthy of God, so that we may be exemplary and bring inspiration to others. May God bless us always, in everything and all of our good efforts for His greater glory, and for the good of our fellow brothers and sisters, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 22 September 2022 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 9 : 7-9

At that time, king Herod heard of all that Jesus and His disciples had done, and did not know what to think, for people said, “This is John, raised from the dead.”

Others believed that Elijah, or one of the ancient prophets, had come back to life. As for Herod, he said, “I had John beheaded. Who is this Man, about Whom I hear such wonders?” And he was anxious to see Him.