Saturday, 29 September 2018 : Feast of the Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the great Feast day of the three Holy Archangels of God, St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael. They are the ones who are God’s chief Angelic servants, as mentioned by St. Raphael himself, that he is one of the seven Holy Archangels that are always in presence of God. Each one of them are tasked with particular areas in which God entrusted to their care His creations, especially us mankind.

St. Michael the Archangel is the Archangel tasked with the leadership of the heavenly host of Angels, as the Prince of the Heavenly Host, the armies of Angels, in the constant spiritual warfare that rages around us for the sake of our souls. St. Michael has always stood at the forefront of this great battle ever since the time of the War in Heaven as shown through the Revelations of St. John.

St. John saw a vision of the great War in Heaven, of the time when Satan, then known by the name Lucifer, most brilliant and mightiest among all the Angels of God, fell into his pride and greed, and rebelled against God seeking to take over the reign over Heaven and all creation. In that process, one third of all the Angels followed Satan’s lead and also rebelled against God. But one Angel rallied the other Angels in the battle, and it was told that it was St. Michael the Archangel who was the one to lead the Angels into battle against Satan and his forces.

The name Michael means, ‘Who is like God’, and this is a perfect rebuke of Satan’s prideful rebellion against God. Satan rebelled because in his pride, he thought that he could be like God, and he could take over God’s role, overcome by pride in his perfection and brilliance. But St. Michael showed Satan his proper place, by defeating him and his fellow rebel angels, and by the power of God, casting them out from heaven.

St. Michael also appeared to Joshua, the leader of the Israelites, just after he took over the leadership over the people of God and leading them into the land promised to them and their ancestors. Through St. Michael, God reassured Joshua and the Israelites, that He would be with them throughout their journey and struggle to gain the land promised to them. God Himself would fight alongside His people and they would gain what was promised to them, should they remain faithful to Him.

Meanwhile, St. Gabriel the Archangel was sent to Mary, the Most Blessed Mother of Our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, in the small village of Nazareth. He was sent to her to announce to her the Good News of God, the final fulfilment and completion of God’s long awaited plan to save His people, by the sending of His own Son, the Divine Word of God, into this world, which would be fulfilled through Mary. Mary was to become the Mother of the Messiah, and therefore, become the Mother of God.

St. Gabriel himself revealed this wonderful news to Mary, and at first while Mary was amazed at what she had just heard from the Archangel, she obeyed the will of God and allowed herself to be part of the great plan of salvation God had revealed through St. Gabriel. And it was also likely St. Gabriel who revealed a similar message of hope to the father of St. John the Baptist, Zechariah, in the Temple, about the upcoming birth of St. John the Baptist, Herald of the Messiah.

The name of Gabriel means, the Strength or Might of God. This is a reminder that with God at our side, we should not need fear anything or any foes, and hope should arise anew in our hearts, knowing that God will provide for us and that He will never abandon those who have been faithful to Him. That was why He sent St. Gabriel the Archangel to announce the Good News of His salvation, the message of hope, to renew the people’s trust in God’s strength and might, by which He will save them all.

Lastly, the third of the three great Archangels, St. Raphael was mentioned in the Book of Tobit, which was the account of the journey of Tobit, an Israelite who went into exile with his countrymen during the years after the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel. The Book recorded the account of Tobit’s suffering and anguish, when he faced rejection even from his own countrymen and then suffering from blindness.

God sent His Archangel, St. Raphael in order to heal Tobit, as well as another person, Sara, daughter of Tobit’s relative, who was also hounded by the demon Asmodeus. She was also in great distress and almost wanted to take her own life because of what the demon had done to her, killing all the men who had taken her as wife. But she prayed to the Lord, asking Him to listen to her plight, just at the same time as Tobit also prayed to God, asking for His help and mercy.

St. Raphael was sent to bring about healing and liberation to each one of them, and God showed His wonderful love and mercy through His Archangel, whose name means, the Healing of God. Sara was freed from the demon Asmodeus, and was married to Tobias, Tobit’s son, who accompanied the disguised Archangel during his journey. And Tobit was also healed from his blindness as well.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we have seen from the great blessings we have received, the inspirations we have gained from each of the three great Archangels, St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael, whose feasts we celebrate this day, let us all remind ourselves that God is always with us, and we can always trust in His healing, love and mercy, for indeed, Who is like Our God, though Mighty and All Powerful, but filled with so great love and compassion for us all, His children.

Let us ask the glorious Archangels to be our guide and intercessor, to pray for us and to protect us from the dangers of evil, from the forces of Satan and all those seeking our downfall. May they continue to watch over us and be our guardians and sources of hope, reminding us of our need to love the Lord, to be true to Him and to be ever faithful through all of our deeds and actions in life. Holy Archangels, St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael, Archangels of God Most High, pray for us all. Amen.

Saturday, 29 September 2018 : Feast of the Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 1 : 47-51

At that time, when Jesus sae Nathanael coming, He said to him, “Here comes an Israelite, a true one; there is nothing false in him.” Nathanael asked Him, “How do You know me?”

And Jesus said to him, “Before Philip called you, you were under the fig tree, and I saw you.” Nathanael answered, “Master, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” But Jesus replied, “You believe because I said, ‘I saw you under the fig tree.’ But you will see greater things than that.”

“Truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened, and the Angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

Saturday, 29 September 2018 : Feast of the Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 137 : 1-2a, 2bc-3, 4-5

I thank You, o YHVH, with all my heart, for You have heard the word of my lips. I sing Your praise in the presence of the gods. I bow down toward Your holy Temple and give thanks to Your Name.

For Your love and faithfulness, for Your word, which exceeds everything. You answered me when I called; You restored my soul and made me strong.

O YHVH, all kings on earth will give You praise, when they have heard Your words. They will celebrate the ways of YHVH, “Great is the glory of YHVH!”

Saturday, 29 September 2018 : Feast of the Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Daniel 7 : 9-10, 13-14

I looked and saw the following : Some thrones were set in place and One of Great Age took His seat. His robe was white, as snow, His hair, white as washed wool. His throne was flames of fire with wheels of blazing fire. A river of fire sprang forth and flowed before Him. Thousands upon thousands served Him and a countless multitude stood before Him.

Those in the tribunal took their seats and opened the book. I continued watching the nocturnal vision : One like a Son of Man came on the clouds of heaven. He faced the One of Great Age and was brought into His presence. Dominion, honour and kingship were given Him, and all the peoples and nations of every language served Him. His dominion is eternal and shall never pass away; His kingdom will never be destroyed.

Alternative reading

Revelations 12 : 7-12a

War broke out in heaven, with Michael and his Angels battling with the dragon. The dragon fought back with his angels, but they were defeated, and lost their place in heaven. The great dragon, the ancient serpent, known as the devil, or Satan, seducer of the whole world, was thrown out. He was hurled down to earth, together with his angels.

Then, I heard a loud voice from heaven : Now has salvation come, with the power and the kingdom of our God, and the rule of His Anointed. For our brothers’ accuser has been cast out, who accused them night and day, before God. They conquered him, by the Blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, for they gave up their lives, going to death.

Rejoice, therefore, o you heavens, and you who dwell in them.

Friday, 28 September 2018 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Wenceslas, Martyr and St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the passage from the Book of Ecclesiastes or Qoheleth, telling us one after another, about the fact that there is time for just everything and anything we do, and this is a very good reminder to each and every one of us that we live not on our own time and terms. In reality, we live in accordance to God’s plan and time, and it is His will that shall be done, and not ours.

This is also related to what we heard in the Gospel passage today, which mentioned the time when the Lord Jesus asked His disciples about the truth of His identity. He asked them who they think that He was, and they mentioned at first all sorts of identities that the people at the time would have thought Who Jesus was, be it a prophet or a servant of God brought back from the dead.

St. Peter then managed to give Him the truth, that He is indeed the Son of the Living God, God’s own Messiah and Saviour, Whom He sent into the world for the salvation of all mankind. However, in the same Gospel passage, immediately after the Lord received St. Peter’s answer, He also told them not to tell anyone about the truth just yet, and revealed to them what must have been uncomfortable truth, that He, as the Messiah, would have to suffer rejection and persecution, and die before He would rise in glory.

Yet, that was what the disciples had to know, that they were not following in the wake of the glorious conquest of the Messiah King, unlike what the Jewish people at the time widely believed, that the Messiah would be the One Who would redeem them and liberate them from the tyranny and the power of the Romans and all of their foreign oppressors, and Who would restore unto them the glory and the majesty of the kingdom of David.

The truth and reality is such that, the Messiah would be a humble and suffering Messiah, Who would be the One persecuted and killed, that by His sufferings, He might gather to Himself all the sufferings intended for us, and because of that, redeem us all from the fate of eternal damnation and destruction. This happened through the crucifixion and later on, the resurrection in glory of the Lord.

Nonetheless, the suffering was truly a great one, so much so that the Lord Himself in His humanity was seriously tempted to give up, as when He prayed at the Garden of Gethsemane in great anguish and sorrow. But Christ obeyed the Father’s will perfectly and completely, saying that ‘Not My will be done, but let it be Your will that is done’, entrusting Himself to the work of salvation of the cross, despite the pain and suffering that action would bring Him.

In this example, we saw how Jesus showed us the perfect selflessness of God’s servant, putting everything to the will of God, His Father. It was all according to His will and not His own selfish desires, affirming what we have heard in the Book of Ecclesiastes today, all according to God’s plan and not our own plan. His desires and will, and not our desires and will that will be done.

Unfortunately, many of us still lived in the manner unlike what the Lord Himself had shown us. We are so busy pursuing our many desires and worldly concerns, that we end up in the state of worry and fear, uncertainty and also unhappiness, and even anger because we have not gotten what we wanted, or that things do not go according to how we wanted it to be. We put ourselves and our wants even before our obedience and obligations to God.

We worry and we spend so much time trying to gather for ourselves many things of this world, be it glory, fame, influence, wealth, material possessions, and many others. The concerns we have for all these things often fill up our minds and cause us to lose the focus which we really should have for the Lord. And it is when we are distracted that we are most vulnerable to the works of Satan, who is always trying to bring about our downfall, through sin.

This is why, we must actively restrain ourselves, in all the matters of the world, and strive that we should not fall into temptation and sin. And we need to take proactive efforts in order to overcome the pressures, coercions and temptations to sin. Otherwise, we will easily falter in this important journey that is our own lives. And that is why we should follow the examples which our holy predecessors had shown.

Today we celebrate the feast of the holy martyrs, St. Wenceslas of Bohemia and the holy martyrs of Japan, St. Lawrence or Lorenzo Ruiz and his companions in martyrdom. St. Wenceslas was one of the earliest Christian rulers of the land known as Bohemia, the present day Czech Republic, over a thousand years ago. He was remembered for being a righteous and just ruler, who ruled the people with fairness and supported the Christian faith.

However, he encountered much opposition from the nobles and the powerful lords in his lands, who resisted the efforts that St. Wenceslas has done in reforming the governance of the country as well as resenting the popularity which St. Wenceslas enjoyed among the people. St. Wenceslas pushed on with the reforms and good works regardless, and in the end, he had to suffer the effect of rejection, when those same nobles plotted with his brother to murder him.

Meanwhile, St. Lawrence Ruiz is the first native saint of the Philippines, who was falsely accused of murder and hence, had to seek refuge away from his own homeland, and ended up in Japan at the time when Christians and missionaries were persecuted for their faith by the Tokugawa Shogunate that ruled over the country then. St. Lawrence Ruiz was among the many Christians who were arrested and tortured to force them to abandon their Christian faith.

But St. Lawrence Ruiz refused to abandon the Lord and his faith in Him, and therefore, with many others of the faithful, he was martyred and as a result, gained entry to the glory of God in heaven. His great courage and commitment to God, his righteousness and devotion, together with the justice and goodness shown by St. Wenceslas should be inspirations for us to follow, in how we as Christians live up our faith in our daily lives.

Now, are we willing and ready then to take up our cross and follow Our Lord? The Lord is calling on us to be faithful to Him, and often, this will require from us dedication and necessary sacrifices, in order for us to be able to follow Him wholeheartedly. And it often requires us to get rid of our own personal pride and human desires in order for us to be able to walk in the path of Christ. That is why we must follow the perfect obedience and humility that Our Lord Himself showed to the will of His Father.

May the Lord, through the intercession of His holy saints, St. Wenceslas, St. Lawrence Ruiz and his many companions, martyrs of the faith, awaken in us the love which we ought to have for Him, so that in everything we say and do, we will always strive to do our best to love God and to glorify Him. May God be with us all, and may He bless us all and our endeavours and good works. Amen.

Friday, 28 September 2018 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Wenceslas, Martyr and St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

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, 28 September 2018 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Wenceslas, Martyr and St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

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.