Saturday, 15 October 2022 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Sacred Scriptures, all of us are reminded that as Christians, we have all believed in the Lord Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour. Each one of us have been called to embrace the Lord wholeheartedly and we have been called to follow His path and entrust ourselves to His Wisdom and truth. Otherwise how can we call ourselves as genuine Christians, as those whom the Lord had called and chosen to be His own beloved people, to be His beloved children? All of us may have to stand up and defend our faith even in the face of persecution, and are we ready for that?

In our first reading today, we heard of the reading from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Ephesus. In that passage, we heard of the Apostle speaking to the faithful there of the faith that each and every one of them shared as members of the same Church of Christ, the Body of Christ, the union of all the faithful people of God. And St. Paul reminded all of them what it truly meant to be Christians, to be good and true disciples and followers of the Lord. St. Paul encouraged them and strengthened them, reminding them that all of them were not alone in their struggle and journey of faith.

Back then, the Church everywhere including in Ephesus were struggling with challenges and difficulties, with divisions from within and challenges from external sources such as persecutions from both the Jewish authorities and the Roman state. There were many of the faithful who probably were facing hardships and persecutions, arrested and tortured, and even martyred for their faith. It was a truly difficult time to be Christians, and yet, many of the faithful remained firm in their faith and obedience to God, and they did not allow fear or uncertainty from persuading them to abandon their faith.

That was why St. Paul encouraged and affirmed the faithful in Ephesus for their faith in the Lord, for all that they had done, in sacrificing their time, effort and even well-being to remain faithful and true to God. He told then to trust in the Lord and how everything will be subjected to the dominion and power of the triumphant Christ. No matter how they might be rejected and condemned by the world, the Lord will always win in the end, and all those who remain firm in their faith will be saved in the end, and will receive the fullness of God’s promises of love and grace. None of those who have entrusted themselves to God will be lost from Him.

Then, in our Gospel passage today we heard of the words of the Lord highlighting to the people and to His disciples how that there would be persecution and hardships that they all would have to face, just as He Himself, the Son of Man, would have to suffer most grievously for the sake of all mankind. The Lord Himself took up the massive and most certainly unimaginable burden of the Cross so that by such an action of pure and most selfless love for us, He might offer on all of our behalf, the worthy offering for the atonement and forgiveness of all the multitudes of our sins.

And the Lord highlighted the fact that just as the world itself had persecuted Him, therefore the disciples and followers of the Lord might have to suffer as well. The long history of the Church itself showed us just how many and even innumerable, the saints and martyrs who had suffered and died before us. And all of that serve as a reminder to us all that we should not and cannot afford to be complacent or idle in living our faith, as there will likely be a lot of temptation, pressure, and even coercions and forces trying to lead us down the wrong path, all around us. If we are not vigilant and careful, we may likely end up in the wrong path. That is why we should be inspired by the lives and examples of all the saints.

Today, the Church celebrates the feast of one of the great saints and Doctors of the Church, namely St. Teresa of Jesus, also known as St. Teresa of Avila, whose life may indeed be good source of inspirations and hope, strength and encouragement for all of us in how each and every one of us ought to be living up our lives. All of us are reminded that we are all called to follow the good examples of the saints, like that of St. Teresa of Jesus, who was the founder of the Order of the Discalced Carmelites. Together with St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Jesus was credited with the very important reform within the Carmelite Order, seeking to lead a more committed and virtuous religious life and observance, as compared to the then increasingly lax standards of the Carmelites.

St. Teresa of Jesus sought to reform the Carmelite order, and was also involved in the arbitration of certain other issues facing both her order and the wider Christian communities around her convent. St. Teresa of Jesus together with her companion, St. John of the Cross, continued to labour hard and well for the sake of the glory of God and the salvation and well-being of God’s people. They faced a lot of opposition from both within the Carmelite Order itself and from the community, but they pressed on with the reforms, and their hard works and efforts eventually bore fruit, for the benefit of both the religious order and the general Christian community.

St. Teresa also wrote very extensively on many articles on the faith, and all those writings and publications, books and works were what eventually led to her canonisation, and also the declaration that she was to be made one of the Doctors of the Church. Her many contributions and good works should serve as source of inspiration for all of us, in how each and every one of us should behave in our lives, and in what we should do as Christians, in doing the will of God and in putting our efforts in every moments of our lives to glorify God by our actions, words and deeds. This is what we have been called to do, brothers and sisters in Christ.

Let us all therefore remain committed to the Lord and renew our faith in Him, not being shaken or worried, or tempted or coerced by whatever persecutions, hardships, difficulties or temptations that may surround any one of us. Let us all seek to serve the Lord with renewed zeal and fervour, and dedicate ourselves to the path that God has shown us and led us into, now and always. Amen.

Saturday, 15 October 2022 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 12 : 8-12

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “I tell you, whoever acknowledges Me before people, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the Angels of God. But the one who denies Me before others will be denied before the Angels of God. There will be pardon for the one who criticises the Son of Man, but there will be no pardon for the one who slanders the Holy Spirit.”

“When you are brought before the synagogues, and before governors and rulers, do not worry about how you will defend yourself, or what to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you have to say.”

Saturday, 15 October 2022 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 8 : 2-3a, 4-5, 6-7

O YHVH, our YHVH, how great is Your Name throughout the earth! And Your glory in the heavens above. Even the mouths of children and infants exalt Your glory in front of Your foes.

When I observe the heavens, the work of Your hands, the moon, and the stars You set in their place – what is man, that You be mindful of him; the Son of Man, that You should care for Him?

Yet You made Him a little less than a god; You crowned Him with glory and honour, and gave Him the works of Your hands; You have put all things under His feet.

Saturday, 15 October 2022 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ephesians 1 : 15-23

I have been told of your faith and your affection toward all the believers, so I always give thanks to God, remembering you in my prayers. May the God of Christ Jesus our Lord, the Father of glory, reveal Himself to you, and give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation, that you may know Him.

May He enlighten your inner vision, that you may appreciate the things we hope for, since we were called by God. May you know how great is the inheritance, the glory, God sets apart for His saints; may you understand, with what extraordinary power, He acts in favour of us who believe.

He revealed His Almighty power in Christ when He raised Him from the dead, and had Him sit at His right hand in heaven, far above all rule, power, authority, dominion, or any other supernatural force that could be named, not only in this world, but in the world to come as well. Thus has God put all things under the feet of Christ and set Him above all things, as Head of the Church, which is His Body, the fullness of Him, Who fills all in all.

Friday, 14 October 2022 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Callixtus I, Pope and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are reminded of the need for all of us to remain faithful to God in all things and not to be like the hypocrites who profess to believe and have faith in the Lord, and yet, act in a manner that is opposite, scandalous and unworthy of what Christians have been expected to do in their lives. All of us have to be truly faithful in God and we must put our trust in His path, genuinely believing in Him from our heart. We cannot be people who are lukewarm and apathetic about our faith, and we have to be sincere in our desire and commitment to walk the path that God has shown and taught us.

In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Church and the faithful in Ephesus, we heard how the Apostle reminded the faithful there, composed of both Jews and Gentiles alike, had been made to be the children of God, and they had all been made sharers in God’s New and eternal Covenant through their baptism, sealed by the Holy Spirit, and by the will of God Himself. That is why all of them had been called and chosen from the world, and consequently, they should all reflect that change in state in their lives, by showing that change through their own actions and examples, so that they are truly worthy of being God’s faithful and beloved children.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the words of the Lord Jesus Himself calling on all the people to distance themselves from the yeast of the Pharisees. Contextually, the Lord was referring to the worldliness with which many among the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had lived their lives and practiced their faith, which led to great scandals and their unbecoming attitudes as those who were entrusted with the guardianship of the Law and the people of God. The people of God, all of us included are all reminded of the need for us to distance ourselves from sin, and keep ourselves pure and worthy of the Lord in all things.

Why is that so, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because sin is a dangerous thing that we should not treat trivially, as it can lead us further down the path towards our doom and downfall if we allow sin to corrupt us and our nature further. That is why we should not let it to influence us or tempt us any further. If we allow worldly influences or matters to affect our decisions and choices, then we may end up doing things that will draw us ever further from God and His path of virtue and righteousness. And the Lord Himself mentioned in our Gospel passage today, that we have to be afraid of the One Who is able to throw us into hell after killing us, referring to the Judgment that the Lord will pass on us who refuse to believe in Him and who continue to live in the state of sin.

We have to realise that while God is truly loving and merciful, but at the same time, He is also a good and virtuous God, in Whose Presence sin and evil cannot exist. If we continue to sin and refuse to accept His love and mercy, and refusing to abandon our sinful and wicked ways, then there can be no path to salvation for all of us. Unless we endeavour to commit ourselves to embrace God and His truth, His love and compassion, then there can be no way out for us from this downward slide towards damnation and hell. We have to abandon the wickedness of our past and commit ourselves anew to the righteous path that the Lord has taught and shown us to do. And we can do that better by looking upon the good examples set by our holy predecessors, the saints and martyrs.

Today, the Church also commemorates the Feast of Pope St. Callixtus I, one of the successors of St. Peter the Apostle as the Vicar of Christ and a holy martyr of the Church. Pope St. Callixtus I was the leader of the Church and the shepherd of the faithful at the time of difficulty for the Church as they faced a lot of persecutions and hardships, as well as internal divisions and disagreements. Pope St. Callixtus I was among the first leaders of the Church to readmit Christians who have erred and abandoned their faith, and who afterwards desired to seek God’s mercy and be reconciled with Him and the Church.

There were then those who were opposed to this, such as St. Hippolytus who initially championed the idea that those sinners and all those who had abandoned the Lord ought to have been prevented from returning back to the Church. Despite the challenges and divisions that existed within the Church then, all these did not deter Pope St. Callixtus I from continuing to champion the extension of compassion and mercy to all those who had lapsed from the faith and then desiring to return to the Church. This holy Pope himself would then be persecuted for his faith and dedication to God, and then died as a martyr, serving as inspiration for many others throughout the centuries.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the examples set by Pope St. Callixtus I first reminds us that God is ever loving and merciful, and as long as we still have the opportunity to do so in this world, we should embrace Him and His love wholeheartedly, rejecting our sins and evil, wicked ways. We are called to turn over a new leaf in life, and resist those temptations to sin which had led us down this path towards our downfall. We have been reminded that God is and will always be ready to welcome us back, as long as we are willing to commit ourselves to Him and turn ourselves to His providence and loving care, and change our ways of life to follow that of the Lord and His truth.

Let us all therefore reject the path of sin, and be inspired by the good examples of the saints, the holy men and women of God, particularly that of Pope St. Callixtus I. Let us all seek the Lord with ever greater love and commitment from now on, and let us follow Him and do His will always, and distance ourselves from the many corruptions and wickedness of this world. May God continue to bless us and guide us in our journey of faith, and may He help us to persevere through the many challenges of our faith and life, at all times. May God be with us always, and empower us to remain ever faithful to Him, forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 14 October 2022 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Callixtus I, Pope and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Luke 12 : 1-7

At that time, such a numerous crowd had gathered that they crushed one another. Then Jesus spoke to His disciples in this way, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered that will not be uncovered; or hidden, that will not be made known. Whatever you have said in darkness will be heard in daylight, and what you have whispered in hidden places, will be proclaimed from housetops.”

“I tell you, My friends, do not fear those who put to death the body and, after that, can do no more. But I will tell you Whom to fear : Fear the One Who, after killing you, is able to throw you into hell. This One you must fear. Do you not buy five sparrows for two pennies? Yet not one of them has been forgotten by God. Even the hairs of your head have been numbered. Do not be afraid! Are you less worthy in the eyes of God than many sparrows?”

Friday, 14 October 2022 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Callixtus I, Pope and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 32 : 1-2, 4-5, 12-13

Rejoice in the Lord, you who are just, praise is fitting for the upright. Give thanks to Him on the harp and lyre, making melody and chanting praises.

For upright is the Lord’s word and worthy of trust is His work. The Lord loves justice and righteousness; the earth is full of His kindness.

Blessed is the nation whose God is YHVH – the people He has chosen for His inheritance. YHVH looks down from heaven and sees the whole race of mortals.

Friday, 14 October 2022 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Callixtus I, Pope and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Ephesians 1 : 11-14

By a decree of Him, Who disposes all things, according to His own plan and decision, we, the Jews, have been chosen and called, and we were awaiting the Messiah, for the praise of His glory.

You, on hearing the word of truth, the Gospel that saves you, have believed in Him. And, as promised, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit, the first pledge of what we shall receive, on the way to our deliverance, as a people of God, for the praise of His glory.

Thursday, 13 October 2022 : 28th 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 Lord speaking to us, we are all called to keep in mind the commandments and ways of the Lord, distancing ourselves from sinful and wicked things, and doing our best to be holy and exemplary in our lives. We should be sincere in our faith and way of loving God and our fellow brethren, and not doing so because we have ulterior motives and desires, or because we want to be praised and adored for our actions and faith, which would otherwise lead us down the wrong path in life, a path of selfishness and sin instead of towards salvation in God.

In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Ephesus, we heard of the truth of how each one of us as Christians, having been called to be God’s people, and having received the adoption from Him to be His own beloved sons and daughters, each one of us are expected to live our lives in the manner that the Lord has taught and shown us through His Church. All of us have received the great grace from God, the forgiveness for our sins, and having been shown the great and tender love from God. And yet, many of us still preferred to choose ways that are contrary to God and His path, those ways which are not aligned to the teachings of the Lord and His Church.

If we listened well to what we heard in our Gospel passage today, we heard of the rebuke which the Lord Jesus spoke and directed towards the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, as many of them had not been truly obedient to God, and they had misused and abused their authority and position, to enrich and empower themselves instead of serving the Lord and the interest of the people of God. They made it difficult for many among the people of God to come close to God, as they imposed very harsh conditions, rules, regulations and practices which essentially deterred many people from following the Lord’s ways.

Not only that, the ways and the practices of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law themselves were not truly founded upon the firm foundations of faith. In fact, as mentioned earlier on this week, the Law itself had been changed, affected and corrupted over the many centuries since it was handed down through Moses from God to His people. Over all that time, the various oral traditions and additions, modifications and changes had accumulated such that the Law in its essence and practice was no longer the same Law which the Lord had revealed and intended for His people in the first place.

The people and their elders persecuted the faithful and the many prophets and messengers who were sent into their midst in order to remind them and call them back towards the path towards righteousness. They hardened their hearts and minds against the Lord, and refused to listen to the reminders made to them in many occasions. Instead, they chose to indulge in worldly desires and in corrupt ways, that led them further and further into sin. All these were caused by their pride and ego, their ambitions and their unbridled desires which led to them falling further and ever deeper into the traps laid on them by Satan and all those seeking their destruction and downfall.

Instead of doing what the Lord had told them to do, and instead of loving one another as fellow brothers and sisters, all belonging to the same family of God, they used the Law as excuses to gain renown and fame for themselves. They preferred to satisfy their own desires for power, worldly glory, fame and more, rather than to do the will of God. They made it difficult for many of those who were in need of help from God, and who would have benefitted the most from God’s mercy and love, to come towards Him. That is why God chastised those elders and leaders who had not done and lived their lives the way that they should have done.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore today let us all heed these past examples so that in the Church, we will not follow the same wrong and mistaken paths that those elders and leaders of the faithful had done. Let us all focus ourselves not on our own ego and worldly desires, but instead allow the Lord to lead and guide us down the right path, resisting the many temptations and pressures of the world so that we may truly love the Lord our God with all of our hearts and with all of our strengths, and also to love one another, our fellow men and women, with all our might, especially those who are the least amongst us.

Let us all bear forth God’s love, truth and light to all those whom we encounter each day and at every moments in life. Let us all be the faithful and true witnesses of our Christian faith at all times, and seek to glorify God by our lives, and proclaim His truth and love by our generous and most loving outreach to those who are in most need of love, care, attention and hope. May the Lord continue to guide us down this journey of faith, now and always, and as we mark the anniversary of the Final Miracle of Fatima, the Miracle of the Sun today, let us ask the Blessed Mother of God, Our Lady of Fatima to intercede for us all as well. Amen.

Thursday, 13 October 2022 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 11 : 47-54

At that time, Jesus said to the teachers of the Law, “A curse is on you, for you build monuments to the prophets your ancestors killed. So you approve and agree with what your ancestors did. Is it not so? They got rid of the prophets, and you build monuments to them!”

“For that reason the wisdom of God also said : I will send prophets and Apostles and these people will kill and persecute some of them. But the present generation will have to answer for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was murdered between the altar and the Sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, the people of this time will have to answer for them all.”

“A curse is on you, teachers of the Law, for you have taken the key of knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you prevented others from entering.”

As Jesus left that place, the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees began to harass Him, asking Him endless questions, setting traps to catch Him in something He might say.