Wednesday, 29 September 2021 : 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 the Feast of the Holy Archangels, the great Archangels St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael, three of the seven Holy Archangels of God. This day marks the great Feast of these faithful servants of the Lord, His greatest champions and the leaders of the Heavenly Host, especially St. Michael as the Prince of the Heavenly Host and God’s champion in the war against Satan and his fallen angels.

The Angels are the servants of God, spiritual beings that God created to be His servants and warriors, to be the ones who maintained the order in the Universe, and also protectors and guides for us mankind, the most perfect and beloved of all of God’s creations. And the Archangels are the leaders and the greatest among the Angels of God. Today we remember the three of them whose names were written in the Sacred Scriptures, as God’s greatest messengers and champions in reassuring us of His providence and presence in our midst.

The first of the Archangels, St. Michael the Archangel is perhaps the most renowned of them all, as the leader of all of God’s Angelic hosts, the mighty general of the vast army of God in the constant struggles against the forces of Satan, the great enemy, the great deceiver and the evil one, his fellow fallen angels and the demonic forces that always prowl around seeking for the downfall of souls, for souls to be snatched with them into damnation and eternal fire.

However, St. Michael was actually not the greatest and mightiest among all of the Angels. Another one was one who was the most brilliant and mighty among the other Angels of God, and his name was Lucifer, the Morning Star. Lucifer was the greatest and the most brilliant of all of God’s Angels, but in his greatness, he was tempted by his vanity and pride, and fell into disobedience against God, and he aspired to take over the throne of God and to rule over all of creation, which was alluded by the prophet Isaiah in one of his words recorded in the Book of Isaiah.

Although he was merely a created being, just like us, but Lucifer desired to gain supreme power and to be like God, and according to some tradition, he sat upon the Throne of God when the Lord was away, claiming to be like God. The more traditional account had him convincing a third of the Angels of God to his side and launched a rebellion against God in Heaven, launching the War in Heaven that was also alluded in the vision of St. John in the Book of Revelations. The great multi-headed red dragon that St. John saw in his vision was the devil himself, the fallen Lucifer, who grasped a third of the stars of Heaven, a reference to him converting those Angels to his side, becoming the fallen angels and demons.

Regardless of what happened, it was St. Michael who stood up to the fallen angel, as his very own name is his battle cry against Satan, the former Lucifer, for Michael means ‘Who is like God’, which is a stern rebuke against the one who dared to presume equality with God. St. Michael led the forces of God against Satan, who was defeated because God was not with him, and he was thrown out of Heaven, to wander off in the world. Thereafter, St. Michael the Archangel always constantly led the forces of Heaven in striking against Satan, the fallen proud angel that had failed in his rebellion against God.

Yet, Satan and his forces still attempted one last effort to destroy those whom the Lord loved the most, that is all of us mankind, as they wanted to deny us the reunion with God. First, Satan has tempted and made our forefathers to fall into sin, and he has constantly sowed the seeds of doubt and dissent into our hearts. He tried to lead us into our downfall through pride, ego and greed just as he himself had fallen in the same manner. St. Michael the Archangel is God’s great champion in leading the Angels and other spiritual forces in fighting against these wicked forces arrayed against us.

Meanwhile, St. Gabriel the Archangel, the other great Archangel whom we celebrate today is the great messenger of God who was the one to reveal to Mary, the Mother of Our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, the news of the fulfilment of God’s long awaited plan to save His people, all of which would happen through her. St. Gabriel the Archangel came down to the village of Nazareth, to show himself to the young virgin woman whom God had pleased to choose among all of His children, to be the one to bear the Salvation of the whole world, and to become the Mother of the Divine Word Incarnate.

He is likely also the Angel associated with the announcement to Zechariah, the father of St. John the Baptist, the Herald of the Messiah. At that time, St. Gabriel also appeared to Zechariah in the Temple at the moment when he made offering before God as a priest, and told him of what he would experience and how through him a great servant of God would be born. Thus, similar as it was with Mary, St. Gabriel the Archangel brought forth God’s Good News with him, and his name, which means ‘The Strength of God’ is a reminder to those who listened to the words he borne, that God is always with His people and His strength shall never fail them.

Lastly, St. Raphael the Archangel was named in the Book of Tobit in which he came on behalf of God to assist Tobit, a faithful servant of God belonging to the tribe of Naphtali who was among the exiles in Assyria after the destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel. At that time, Tobit had been struck with a calamity as not only that he had been targeted for having protected and buried a murdered Israelite, but he also lost his eyesight and became blind. At the same time, another person, a young woman named Sara, the daughter of Ragouel, was also in trouble, tormented by a powerful demon named Asmodeus.

St. Raphael the Archangel came upon Tobias, the son of Tobit, and guided him on a long journey away from his home, which brought him to the house of Ragouel and Sara, in which by God’s grace, Sara was given to the care of Tobias and was betrothed to him, despite the demon Asmodeus having murdered all the seven of Sara’s previous husbands before they could consummate the marriage. St. Raphael protected Sara and Tobias, and defeated the demon Asmodeus, which he chased away and bound, freeing Sara from her torments and troubles.

Then later on, through the advice and works of St. Raphael, disguised as a young man accompanying Tobias, God healed the eyes of Tobit and restored his eyesight. In the end, through the Archangel St. Raphael, God had therefore showed His people the love and blessings, the protection which He gave them, and especially the healing from their ailments and troubles, just as St. Raphael’s name means, ‘The Healing of God’ as God reminds us all that He will heal us our sickness and will restore us, if only we can trust in Him and be faithful to Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, by reflecting on the three great Archangels of God, St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael, all of us are reminded that we are always beloved by God and ever precious to Him, and we shall never be left alone in the struggle against all those who desired our destruction, especially Satan and all of his fellow fallen angels. We must always put our trust and faith in the Lord, knowing that the Lord has always placed His Angels and forces to guard and protect us, with the Holy Archangels at the forefront of the ever-continuing struggle and spiritual warfare raging all around us.

May the Lord be with us all, and may the protection and the intercession of the Holy Archangels, St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael help us in our journey of faith through life. May He bless all of us our efforts and good endeavours in life, now and always, and protect us from the assaults of the forces of evil, now and forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 29 September 2021 : Feast of the Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 1 : 47-51

At that time, when Jesus saw 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.”

Wednesday, 29 September 2021 : 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!”

Wednesday, 29 September 2021 : 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.

Tuesday, 28 September 2021 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Wenceslaus, Martyr, and St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to words of the Scriptures, we are all called to reflect on the revelation that many people from many nations, from various places would come to glorify the Lord and to praise Him. They would come to listen to Him and to welcome Him, follow Him and worship Him. All these were the revelations of what was to come through Christ and His gathering of the people from all the nations to be His disciples and to be saved through Him.

Everything was to come true as the Lord Himself had come and dwelled in our midst, gathering everyone who have faith in Him so that we may come to know of His truth and salvation. Yet, as we heard in our Gospel passage today, there were still those who refused to believe in Him and refused to welcome Him to their place. This happened due to various reasons, and in this particular case, it was because the Samaritans who stayed in that village got to know that the Lord was on His way to Jerusalem, in the land of Judea.

Back then, at the time of the ministry of the Lord, there had been longstanding animosity between the Samaritans and the Jews especially those who were in Judea and Jerusalem. The background of this animosity and conflict was not truly well-understood, but it revolved around the misunderstandings between the two groups of people, as the Jews considered the Samaritans as heathens and pagans who took over the land of the former northern kingdom of Israel in Samaria and its vicinity, in the land between Judea and Galilee. Many of the Samaritans were descendants of the remnants of the Israelites left behind in that land intermingled with others who were brought to that land to settle in.

Then, for the Samaritans, they claimed themselves to be the natives of the land, as they claimed that they had been there earlier than the Jewish people had been, and even claimed Jacob, the father of the Israelites to be their own forefather. They claimed that their worship of God at Mount Gerizim and the mountains of Ephraim was superior than the Jewish claim for worship only at the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Their mixed heritage and the long distortions of history eventually led to the strive and conflict between the two peoples. This is the background with which the rejection of the Lord took place.

All these showed us the kind of attitudes that we mankind and people of God can show in the midst of us resorting to our pride and ego, and in indulging our stubborn desire for glory and power, for influence and other things and temptations that often became great stumbling blocks in our path towards God and His salvation. If only that we can trust in Him more and allow Him to lead and guide us down the right path that we may not end up in the wrong direction in life. But the question is, are we willing to listen to Him and humble ourselves before Him and others?

Today, all of us are called to reflect on our attitude in life and in how we have lived our faith thus far. Have we been truly faithful to the Lord in all the things we do and at all times throughout our lives? Or have we allowed ourselves to be lulled and swayed by our desires and greed, by our ego, pride and ambition? Today, let us all look upon the good examples set by our holy predecessors, holy martyrs who devoted themselves to the Lord faithfully and lived virtuous lives and in the end, died as martyrs in defending their faith and the integrity of their beliefs.

St. Wenceslaus of Bohemia was the renowned Duke of Bohemia whose patronage and life is still being remembered to this day, as the patron of the Czechs and many others who looked up to his virtuous examples as a Christian and as a great ruler over his people. St. Wenceslaus took over the reign over Bohemia at a time of great change and at the crossroads of the history of his people, as Christianity had just taken its roots in Bohemia back then, and many of the people including the influential ones and the nobles were still pagans.

St. Wenceslaus ruled wisely and responsibly as a just and caring ruler, managing the many challenges that he had to face, and worked hard to benefit his people and to care for them while also advancing the cause of the Lord and the Church, establishing a firm foundation of the Church and its missions throughout his dominion. However, he had a lot of opposition which festered and sought to reverse all the gains of the Christian faith, and these eventually coalesced around the brother of St. Wenceslaus, namely Boleslaus the Cruel, who orchestrated the murder of the faithful duke and servant of God.

Then, today we also commemorate the memory of the glorious Holy Martyrs of Japan in Nagasaki, St. Lawrence Ruiz and his fellow companions in martyrdom during the great and intense persecution of Christians in Japan in the early years of the Tokugawa Shogunate. St. Lawrence Ruiz, also better known as St. Lorenzo Ruiz is the first saint of the Philippines, having actually been born in the Spanish ruled Philippine islands, and led a pretty ordinary life there until one day he was falsely accused with murder. In order to protect his life and innocence, he boarded a ship bound for Japan, in which he was arrested together with the missionaries that he had taken refuge with.

St. Lorenzo Ruiz and his companions in martyrdom were tortured and made to suffer a lot, persuaded, coerced and forced to abandon their faith in God under grim threat of more sufferings and death. However, this did not dampen his spirit and those others who were with him. Eventually he was martyred in the most painful way, and to the very end, he remained faithful, declaring before all his persecutioners that ‘I am a Catholic and I wholeheartedly accepted death for God. Had I have a thousand lives, all these I shall gladly offer to Him.’

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the great examples showed by these faithful holy predecessors of ours should be inspiration to each and every one of us. Are we willing and able to commit ourselves to the Lord just in the manner that those faithful martyrs had done? Can we be virtuous in life, caring and be responsible for one another just as St. Wenceslaus had done? And can we commit ourselves wholly to the Lord even in the face of great suffering and adversity in the manner of St. Lorenzo Ruiz and his companions in martyrdom?

Let us all therefore turn towards the Lord wholeheartedly, and strive to do our best to serve Him with ever greater vigour and devotion from now on. May the Lord be with us always and may He strengthen each and every one of us, and bless us in our every great works and endeavours. Amen.

Tuesday, 28 September 2021 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Wenceslaus, Martyr, and St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Luke 9 : 51-56

At that time, as the time drew near when Jesus would be taken up to heaven, He made up His mind to go to Jerusalem. He sent ahead of Him some messengers, who entered a Samaritan village to prepare a lodging for Him. But the people would not receive Him, because He was on His way to Jerusalem.

Seeing this, James and John, His disciples, said, “Lord, do You want us to call down fire from heaven to reduce them to ashes?” Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they went on to another village.

Tuesday, 28 September 2021 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Wenceslaus, Martyr, and St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 86 : 1-3, 4-5, 6-7

He Himself has built in in His holy mountain; YHVH prefers the gates of Zion to all of Jacob’s towns. Great things have been foretold of you, o City of God.

Between friends, we speak of Egypt and Babylon; and also Philistia, Tyre, Ethiopia : “Here so-and-so was born.” But of Zion, it shall be said, “More and more are being born in her.” For the Most High Himself has founded her.

And YHVH notes in the people’s register : “All these were also born in Zion.” And all will dance and sing joyfully for You.

Tuesday, 28 September 2021 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Wenceslaus, Martyr, and St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Zechariah 8 : 20-23

YHVH, the God of hosts speaks, “Peoples will come from other nations, people from great cities. The inhabitants of one town will talk with those of another, and, say : ‘Come, let us go and implore the favour of YHVH, and I, too, will seek YHVH.’ Many great peoples and powerful nations will come, seeking YHVH, God of hosts, in Jerusalem and pray to Him.”

YHVH, the God of hosts assures you. “In those days, ten men of different languages spoken in various lands, will take hold of a Jew by the hem of his garment and say : We, too, want to go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”

Monday, 27 September 2021 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all called to follow the Lord and to obey His will, to put our trust in Him and not to be vain in our desire to recognised and honoured, and rather, we should seek the greater glory of God in all things. We should seek to be humble and strive to resist the temptations to satisfy our own ego and personal ambitions so that we may truly be faithful disciples and followers of the Lord.

In our first reading today taken from the Book of the prophet Zechariah, we have heard the words of the Lord to His people telling them and reassuring them that they were His people and He would be with them, blessing them and protecting them, as He would dwell once again in their midst in Jerusalem, the place where the Temple and House of God was. At that time, during the years following the return from the Babylonian exile, many of the Israelites were still scattered all around and Jerusalem was not yet fully rebuilt.

The Israelites had earlier on been humiliated and crushed, as their nations of both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah were destroyed by the Assyrians and the Babylonians respectively. Most of the people of Israel were conquered and brought into exile in far-off land away from their ancestral lands, and their cities destroyed, while the Holy Temple of God in Jerusalem was also utterly destroyed and ruined.

However, God never abandoned and forgot about His people, and they were always foremost in His mind. This was also the case despite their wayward behaviour and actions, and God still wanted to forgive them for their sins and desired to see them turn away from those sins and wickedness that they have committed earlier on. As He brought them back to the land of their ancestors through the emancipation of King Cyrus of Persia, He wanted to remind them once again that they were His people and that He would always be with them.

As He said through the prophet Zechariah, He would gather the scattered people from all over the world and from all the nations, to gather them back once again into His presence. God would gather His people and bless them again in His presence, all reunited as one flock, and this is what He has promised to them. He even sent them His own Son to be born into the world as their Saviour. He gave them all His promised inheritance through Christ, Who opened for us all the path to eternal life and true glory with Him.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us are called through Christ to embrace God and to do His will wholeheartedly in our lives, as we heed His words in our Gospel passage today, that all those who welcomes the Lord faithfully and sincerely, and opens themselves to the Lord shall be great in His kingdom and shall be the first to be saved. All of us are called to partake in the efforts and great works to glorify the Lord through all that we do and through our contributions.

Today, all of us ought to reflect on the good examples of St. Vincent de Paul, whose feast we are celebrating today. We are all called to emulate the great life of this great saint, whose dedication to the Lord and actions were truly exemplary in helping so many people to find their way to the Lord, either by his direct actions or through the efforts whom he had gathered and inspired to follow in his footsteps. St. Vincent de Paul was very widely remembered for his role in founding the Congregation of the Mission also known after their founder as the Vincentians, as well as the inspiration in the establishment of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul after his passing, all inspired by his generosity and humility.

St. Vincent de Paul himself had a very eventful early life during his youth, as he was ordained a priest in his early years after being educated in a seminary, only to be taken captive by Barbary pirates and enslaved. He suffered in slavery for two years passing from master to master, before finally coming to the possession of one Guillaume Gautier, a former priest who had been enslaved himself and apostatised in order to be freed from slavery. Through the acts of one of Gautier’s wives, who was intrigued by St. Vincent’s Christian faith, eventually that led to St. Vincent de Paul returning to Christendom together with his former master.

St. Vincent de Paul thereafter continued his ministry and later on founded congregations and societies of Apostolic life inspired by his previous experiences including that of his capture and enslavement. He ministered to the poor, the captives and slaves, the weak and those who were oppressed and marginalised. Through the aforementioned Congregation of the Mission, the Vincentians, St. Vincent de Paul inspired many people to reach out to the least among their brethren and made many people to become aware of the plight of their fellow brethren.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, how about us? Are we able to follow in the footsteps of this faithful servant of God, Whom the Lord had led and guided to become great inspiration for so many including that of ourselves? Shall we not learn to love the Lord and commit ourselves to Him just as He has been so kind and generous to us? Let us all be generous and charitable in giving just as St. Vincent de Paul had done, in giving his time, effort and attention to those who need them. We should love one another just in the same way that the Lord Himself has loved us.

Let us all reflect carefully on everything that we have discussed thus far today. May the Lord help us in discerning our path, that we may find our way amidst this world, amidst all the challenges and temptations that we may be facing daily in life. May God be with us always and may He strengthen us to be ever faithful to Him, at all times. Amen.

Monday, 27 September 2021 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 9 : 46-50

At that time, one day, the disciples were arguing about which of them was the most important. But Jesus knew their thoughts, so He took a little child and stood him by His side. Then He said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in My Name, welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me, welcomes the One Who sent Me. And listen : the one who is found to be the least among you all, is the one who is the greatest.”

Then John spoke up, “Master, we saw someone who drives out demons by calling upon Your Name, and we tried to forbid him, because he does not follow You with us.” But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him. He who is not against you is for you.”