Saturday, 19 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the reassurance which God has given us that He is always with us, protecting us and providing for us, and for always being faithful to the Covenant which He had made with us despite our own inability to commit to that Covenant. In the Scripture passages today, we are reminded of God’s promises to us which He had made from time immemorial and renewed again and again.

In our first reading today we heard of the Lord’s promise to Abraham, the Covenant which He had sealed and made with the father of many nations and our father in faith. Abraham was then without a child although he and his wife were already old and Sarah, his wife past childbearing age, and he had relegated his hopes to have his estates and patrimony passed on to one of his own trusted servants rather than to the heir of his body.

But Abraham trusted in God just as he trusted Him and listened to Him when He called him out of the lands of his ancestors in Ur, Mesopotamia. When God first called Abraham, Abraham entrusted himself in the Lord and left behind family and land, following God to the land which He had promised to him and his descendants, a land which He has blessed Abraham with. And Abraham stayed faithful to the end, devoting himself to God and God fulfilled the promise which He has made with him.

We have seen how God made Abraham to be the father of many nations, blessing the descendants he has gained from the grace of God. What seemed to be impossible for man, God has made possible, for indeed there is nothing that is impossible or too great for God to do. And through his faith, Abraham gained what he has been promised, for God is ever faithful, and even when His people were unfaithful, God is always ever faithful, for according to St. Paul, He cannot deny Himself and the love He has for us all.

And in the Gospel today the Lord again reiterated His faithfulness to the Covenant which He had made with His people, and as long as they are faithful to Him, they will not be disappointed and they will receive what God has promised to them as Abraham had once received. But at the same time, God wants us all to know that just as Abraham did not have it easy through his many years of following and obeying Him, we too will encounter difficulties and challenges along the way.

This was a premonition of what the disciples and the Apostles would have to face as they were sent on their missions to be witnesses of Christ’s truth and salvation. They would face bitter persecutions and challenges during their ministry, being arrested, tortured and rejected by the people they ministered to, and even betrayed and abandoned by those who were close to them, their own families and friends.

But they held on fast to their faith, as Abraham once had, and spent their energy and strength to serve the Lord wholeheartedly despite all those challenges. And today, we have yet more of these holy predecessors of ours, whose lives have been exemplary and whose actions and deeds can become our inspiration as well, as we look upon the examples of the Holy Canadian Martyrs, the Jesuit missionaries of North America as well as St. Paul of the Cross.

The Jesuit missionaries of North America, St. Isaac Jogues, St. John de Brebeuf and their companions were those who braved the tough challenges of evangelisation in distant lands in the wild and untamed nature of the North American continent, in what is now part of Canada in Quebec. They preached the word of God and His salvation to the natives, many of whom were reluctant and apprehensive of the message of the Gospel they received.

They had to endure bitter cold winters, wild animals and shortages of food, attacks from hostile tribes and torture from those who were captured by those hostile to the missionaries. And yet, they refused to back down and remained strong in their faith and in their strong resolution to serve God. Many of them were martyred but their efforts and their inspiration served to strengthen the faith of many and made firm the foundations of the Church in those lands.

Meanwhile St. Paul of the Cross was a mystic and the founder of the Passionist Order, renowned for his great piety and personal austere lifestyle, through which he inspired many people to live their lives with greater faith and commitment to God. His extensive writings and works became source of strength and conviction for many of those who followed in his footsteps through the centuries since. He showed us all how one can live his life so focused and centred on God and obey His will so well.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to follow in the footsteps of our courageous and dedicated, faithful and committed predecessors in faith? Let us all make a new resolution in our lives that from now on we will be ever deeper in our commitment to God and in being ever closer to God. Let us all put our trust in God and be faithful to His Covenant and remember the great love and faithfulness He has always shown us despite our rebelliousness and stubbornness all these while. May God bless us all and be with us always. Amen.

Saturday, 19 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Gospel Reading)

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

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, 19 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Psalm)

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

Psalm 104 : 6-7, 8-9, 42-43

You descendants of His servant Abraham, you sons of Jacob, His chosen ones! He is YHVH our God; His judgments reach the whole world.

He remembers His Covenant forever, His promise to a thousand generations, the Covenant He made with Abraham, the promise He swore to Isaac.

For He remembered His promise to Abraham, His servant. So He led forth His people with joy, His chosen ones with singing.

Saturday, 19 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (First Reading)

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

Romans 4 : 13, 16-18

If God promised Abraham, or rather his descendants, that the world would belong to him, this was not because of his obeying the Law, but because he was just, and a friend of God, through faith.

For that reason, faith is the way, and all is given, by grace; and the promises of Abraham are fulfilled for all his descendants, not only for his children according to the Law, but, also, for all the others, who have believed. Abraham is the father of all of us, as it is written : I will make you the father of many nations. He is our father, in the eyes of Him, Who gives life to the dead, and calls into existence, what does not yet exist, for this is the God in Whom he believed.

Abraham believed, and hoped against all expectation, thus, becoming the father of many nations, as he had been told : See how many will be your descendants.

Friday, 18 October 2019 : Feast of St. Luke, Evangelist (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together as the Universal Church the feast of one of the four great Evangelists or the writers of the Four Holy Gospels. Today we honour the memory of St. Luke the Evangelist, the writer of the Gospel of St. Luke, notable for his meticulous method of writing and attention to details, being written many decades after the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

While St. Luke was not counted among one of the Apostles, unlike that of St. Matthew and St. John, but St. Luke was mentioned quite a few times in the Acts of the Apostles and was known to be a very important Church father for his many works of evangelisation and ministry among the people of God. St. Luke followed St. Paul during some of his missionary journeys and it was also likely that the Acts of the Apostles was authored by him.

St. Luke had contributed greatly to the Church and his role in the early establishment of the Church and the faith cannot be underestimated. He was a physician and doctor by trade, but after he had found Christ, he went on from treating the people of their physical illnesses into treating their spiritual shortcomings and sickness too. He dedicated his whole life to the service of God and did his best to deliver and proclaim the truth of God to the people.

And he also faced the difficult challenges and persecutions just as the other Apostles and disciples of the Lord had experienced. He continued to serve the Lord faithfully regardless of these difficulties and did his best to be a faithful witness of the Gospel of Christ. His numerous contributions especially in the early codification of the New Testament works helped to ensure that eventually when the Scripture Canon was assembled a few centuries later, the faithful had his immensely useful works in hand.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we ought to reflect on our own lives, on whether we have lived our lives as true Christian disciples as St. Luke had been in his own life. And in today’s Scripture readings, we are reminded of just how challenging it can be for us to be true disciples of Christ, as St. Paul clearly showed his frustration in his second Epistle to St. Timothy, how he was abandoned and left behind by his travel companions and many deserted him when they encountered difficulties in their journey.

The Apostles and disciples of the Lord even had to risk their lives and suffered greatly through all the rejections and persecutions they encountered throughout their missions, just as the Lord Jesus Himself had predicted as mentioned in our Gospel passage today, in how He was sending them like sheep among wolves. But at that same time, the Lord also reassured all of His disciples that He would be with them and the Holy Spirit He would send to them would be their strength and guide.

Then now, we need to realise that in our own lives too, we shall be subjected to similar kinds of persecutions and challenges, not necessarily in the same manner as what the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord had faced during their days, but these oppositions we face may even be mental and spiritual in nature, and also even from those who are dear and close to us, our own family members and friends among others. Throughout the history of the Church, we have had many similar examples facing our predecessors trying to dedicate themselves to holy lives in God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to follow in the footsteps of St. Luke the Evangelist, the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord? Are we able to dedicate our lives and serve God with conviction and commitment each and every moments of our lives? We must remember and heed also what the Lord had also said in our Gospel passage today, that the harvest is plentiful, but the labourers to gather the harvest of the Lord are not sufficient.

We are all called to be those labourers, to gather the harvests of the Lord, by being true disciples of His in our world today by being His faithful witnesses in the world, not just by words but also through concrete deeds and actions. And we do not have to start big or being ambitious, as in fact, in whatever little things we do in our daily lives, we should truly embody what we believe in as Christians and be true disciples of Christ in everything and at every moment.

May the Lord continue to watch over us and guide us, and may He bless us all in our works and in our endeavours from now on that more and more people may come to believe in Him through us and through our living and real examples in life. Amen.

Friday, 18 October 2019 : Feast of St. Luke, Evangelist (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 10 : 1-9

At that time, the Lord appointed seventy-two other disciples, and sent them, two by two, ahead of Him, to every town and place, where He Himself was to go. And He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. So you must ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers to His harvest. Courage! I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Set off without purse or bag or sandals; and do not stop at the homes of those you know.”

“Whatever house you enter, first bless them, saying, ‘Peace to this house!’ If a friend of peace lives there, the peace shall rest upon that person. But if not, the blessing will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking at their table, for the worker deserves to be paid. Do not move from house to house.”

“When they welcome you to any town, eat what they offer you. Heal the sick who are there, and say to them : ‘The kingdom of God has drawn near to you.'”

Friday, 18 October 2019 : Feast of St. Luke, Evangelist (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 144 : 10-11, 12-13ab, 17-18

All Your works will give You thanks; all Your saints, o YHVH, will praise You. They will tell of the glory of Your kingdom, and speak of Your power.

That all may know of Your mighty deeds, Your reign, and its glorious splendour. Your reign is from age to age; Your dominion endured, from generation to generation.

Righteous is YHVH in all His ways, His mercy shows in all His deeds. He is near those who call on Him, who call trustfully upon His Name.

Friday, 18 October 2019 : Feast of St. Luke, Evangelist (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

2 Timothy 4 : 10-17b

You must know, that Demas has deserted me, for the love of this world : he returned to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia and Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke remains with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is a useful helper in my work. I sent Tychicus to Ephesus.

Bring with you the cloak I left at Troas, in Carpos’ house, and also the scrolls, especially the parchments. Alexander, the metalworker, has caused me great harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. Distrust him, for he has been very much opposed to our preaching.

At my first hearing in court, no one supported me; all deserted me. May the Lord not hold it against them. But the Lord was at my side, giving me strength, to proclaim the word fully, and to let all the pagans hear it.

Thursday, 17 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day through the Sacred Scriptures all of us are reminded of the salvation which God has brought into this world through His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Whom He sent into the world to be its Saviour as He Himself has promised and which promises had been renewed again and again, from time to time, through the many prophets that God sent to His people.

God has loved us all from the beginning of time, even when we have gone astray and fell into sin, by the temptations of the world. God wants us all to be forgiven and healed, made whole and reconciled with Him. But it is us mankind who often refused to listen to Him and preferred to continue walking down our wrong and mistaken path which ended up in us getting ever more and more distant from Him. And one way of how this has happened is because we mankind misunderstood the Law He has given us.

God gave the Law to His people and revealing His love to them because through the Law He wanted them all to order their lives and to return to righteousness, abandoning all that are sinful and wicked, embracing only what is right and true in God’s eyes. The Law of God is a guide through which God wanted His people to be able to discover His love and to love Him wholeheartedly, and therefore, share that same love with their fellow brothers and sisters.

The essence of that love for God and for our fellow men is enshrined in the Ten Commandments, the heart and focal point of the Law which God has revealed through Moses. But the people failed to understand this and the meaning of the Law, and instead, they were preoccupied with the other matters and details of the Law, the rules and regulations and prescriptions which according to the Jewish tradition number some six hundred and thirteen.

And the Pharisees at that time took great pride in supposedly obeying and adhering strictly to all those rules and regulations, customs and practices, looking down on the rest of the people whom they thought to be less pious and less worthy than they were. And they also imposed the strict observance and practices on the rest of the people, persecuting all those who did not comply with their preferences.

But in doing so, they have in fact forgotten about the true intent and purpose of the Law, and of all things, they were the ones who were supposed to be custodians and teachers of the Law, and therefore guide the people to the truth of God. Their failure to embody the Law as it should have been was the reason why the Lord rebuked and criticised the Pharisees and their actions, which were done mostly for self-preservation and glory rather than for responsible and for the right intentions.

That is why today we are all called to reflect on our lives thus far and how we have lived them. Have we been truly faithful to God in all things and at all times? Or have we instead allowed our pride, ego and desire to corrupt us and to make us to sin as the Pharisees had done? Let us recall God’s great love for each and every one of us, and His willingness to forgive us and to be reconciled with us so that we may indeed find our way to be worthy again of God.

And let us all be inspired by the examples shown by a courageous man of God and disciple of the Lord, who was one of the early Church fathers, namely St. Ignatius of Antioch whose feast day we are celebrating today. St. Ignatius of Antioch was one of the early leaders of the Church, being the successor of St. Peter who founded the See of Antioch prior to his establishment of the See of Rome. St. Ignatius would continue the good works that St. Peter had started.

St. Ignatius dedicated his life to his ministry and spent much effort in caring for his flock even amidst terrible and brutal persecutions against the Church and the faithful, writing extensively to the larger Church community encouraging them to keep the faith. He was eventually arrested and brought to Rome, where according to Apostolic tradition, he was brought into the Colosseum with other Christians and had ravenous beasts released at them. Nonetheless he remained steadfast and welcomed his martyrdom with faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we should also devote ourselves to God, love Him and be faithful to Him just as St. Ignatius of Antioch had done. Let us ask for the intercession of St. Ignatius that God will continue to strengthen our faith so that we may draw closer to Him and grow deeper in our love and relationship with Him. May God bless us all and remain with us always. Amen.

Thursday, 17 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

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.