Saturday, 17 October 2020 : 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, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are reminded of our faith in Christ, and our calling and indeed obligation as Christians to proclaim Him as our Lord and Master, as the One and only God we have, our one True God. We are called and we call ourselves as Christians because of this fundamental belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Divine Word of God incarnate in the flesh as the Son of Man.

And we believe that He has come down into this world to be our Saviour, and we have been saved through His sacrifice on the Cross, that by dying together with Him through our baptism, and rising together with Him in His Resurrection, we have been brought into a new life and existence. The Lord has revealed all of these to us, and blessed us, and called us to this new life and existence. As Christians, therefore, we are God’s people, united to Him by our faith.

But our faith cannot be just merely a stationary and stagnant faith, that is without any actions or examples through which we stand up for that faith and be genuine witnesses to our belief in God. On the contrary, our faith must be vibrant and active, filled with genuine actions through which all who see us, hear us and witness us, interacting with us may know that God is in us, working through us and that we are His people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is what all of us are called to do with our lives, that is to be righteous and good, striving for virtue in life and obeying the laws and commandments of God. We are called to be good models and inspirations for one another, that we may help each other, fellow Christians, to remain faithful to God and to follow His path with piety and commitment.

Many of us today are no longer active in how we live up to our faith, as well as our calling as Christians. Many of us prefer to keep to ourselves and do just the very minimum. Even to do that, many among us were already often grumbled, complained and refused to participate fully. When the Church states that we have to fulfil our Sunday obligations, we grumbled and could not wait until the Mass is over.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, many of us are taking our faith and even good life for granted. Many of us may have been blessed abundantly by God, or to have the freedom to worship God and follow His path without any issues. But do we realise just how tough it was for one to be Christians, and even up to today, there are still parts of the world where to be Christians may mean certain death and great sufferings?

Christians had to endure many persecutions during much of its history, and today, our saint of the day, St. Ignatius of Antioch, was himself a victim of this brutal persecution, having also witnessed how many of the faithful were persecuted and killed. St. Ignatius was the successor of St. Peter in the See of Antioch as its bishop, and was the overseer of that Christian community, which according to the Acts of the Apostles, was the very first place where the faithful were known as Christians.

St. Ignatius, as one of the most prominent and important of all the early Church fathers, was very influential in the early Church, and helped to establish solid foundation for the Church, not just in Antioch, but also to the larger Universal Church. He wrote extensively to the other Church communities and was also instrumental in guiding the faithful and the Church in Antioch during those years when he was the shepherd of the faithful in that city.

St. Ignatius himself as mentioned was martyred at the end of his ministry as the Bishop of Antioch, and he suffered greatly like his flock, defending his faith to the very end. But he and the many other martyrs remained faithful and committed to God, despite all the challenges that they had to face. They put their complete faith and trust in the Lord, and followed Him to wherever and whatever He led them into.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all take all these into mind as we endeavour to live our lives with greater zeal and dedication to the Lord. Let us all be courageous and truthful in standing up for our faith whenever it is necessary, that we may continue to be inspiring examples for one another and that we may become shining beacons of God’s light and truth. May the Lord bless us all, in our every endeavours and good deeds, now and always. St. Ignatius, holy servant of God and holy martyr of the Church, pray for us all. Amen.

Saturday, 17 October 2020 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

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, 17 October 2020 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

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, 17 October 2020 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

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, 16 October 2020 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Holy Virgins)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Sacred Scripture, we heard how God has sealed us with His grace, which is through baptism that He has claimed us all and renewed us, liberating us all from the hold of original sin and death, and we have all been made and adopted to be children of God. God has called us all to be His disciples, His followers, and made us all to be His children.

God has loved us all so much, from the depth of His heart. His love is poured on us bountifully, and it was because of His infinite, patient and enduring love for each and every one of us that we have been saved. He has been patient in dealing with us, even when we have sinned and disobeyed Him again and again. He has always extended His mercy and the desire to forgive us at all times. Unfortunately, we often ignored and disregarded His love, because we were too busy with many things, and tempted by many distractions.

This is what the Lord also referred to in our Gospel passage today when He spoke of the ‘yeast of the Pharisees’, after a series of the past few days when we heard all the criticism and curses the Lord spoke of the Pharisees. And He plainly mentioned how the great sin of the Pharisees as being their hypocrisy and lack of genuine faith in God. Although outwardly pious, but their hearts were not fully attuned to the Lord.

God knows full well what is in our hearts, as He said in our Gospel today, that nothing hidden that will not be uncovered, nothing that is beyond God’s ability to know. He knows all of our intentions and everything about us, and therefore, if we have been faithful even in little things, we will be assured of the Lord’s favour and providence. Similarly, if we have not been faithful and wayward, then all these will be held against us too.

We must take heed of these reminders from the Lord through these readings, not to be easily tempted by worldly temptations, or by concerns and fears that we may be having. In that same passage we heard of the Lord reassuring us that we are all precious to Him, that we are all beloved by Him and will be provided and taken care of. Most often we find reasons for those who strayed from the Lord is that because they were preoccupied with securing themselves and gaining their worldly satisfactions or achievements.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore be genuinely faithful to God, and knowing that God has loved us so much, then we really should spend the same effort and time to love the Lord with equal intensity and commitment. If God has loved us so much, then why is it that we cannot even try to love Him, even in little matter and things. The Lord is always willing to reach out to us, to embrace us, and He is waiting for us to respond to Him and His love. Are we willing to embrace that love, brothers and sisters?

Today, all of us ought to look upon the examples and inspirations of the saints, our holy predecessors. St. Hedwig of Silesia and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque are those whose lives and inspirations that we need to follow and be inspired from. St. Hedwig of Silesia was the Duchess consort of Silesia who joined religious life after she was widowed, while St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was the renowned visionary of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

St. Hedwig of Silesia was born into the noble family, and was married to the Duke of Silesia, and she was renowned for her piety and dedication even during those years. She was always remembered for her commitment to God, her charity and love for the poor. But most memorably, after her husband passed away early on, having settled and taken care of her children, St. Hedwig of Silesia joined the religious life and committed herself to God. Her piety was so great that even her own son, the Duke of Silesia also led a pious life.

And as mentioned, St. Hedwig of Silesia also cared for the poor, the sick and widows as well as orphans, showing them care and concern, extending the love of God to them all. And she also definitely loved the Lord very much, as she spent a lot of quality time with Him. This is exactly the same as what the other saint, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, who was also very devout and committed in her service to God.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque had a rough early life, as misfortune befell her family, but this did not stop her from being pious in her life, even from her youth. After joining the religious life, this continues on, which St. Margaret Mary Alacoque carried on faithfully as she served the Lord through prayer and service. She experienced miraculous visions of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, from which the now popular devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus stemmed forth.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque shared what she had received in her visions, the words that the Lord, in His Most Sacred Heart spoke to her, calling for the repentance of sinners and to entrust themselves in His Most Sacred Heart. And it is a kind reminder that us of the generous love of God we discussed earlier, in how He loved us with His heart and dedicated everything to us, even to the point of the sacrifice He made on the Cross.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore follow in the footsteps of the saints, our holy predecessors, especially that of St. Hedwig of Silesia and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, to serve the Lord faithfully. May the Lord bless us all in all of our every good endeavours and efforts, all for His greater glory. Amen.

Friday, 16 October 2020 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Holy Virgins)

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, 16 October 2020 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Holy Virgins)

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, 16 October 2020 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Holy Virgins)

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, 15 October 2020 : 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, on this day as we listened to the Scriptures, we heard from our first reading the beginning of the Epistle of St. Paul to the faithful and the Church in Ephesus, in which the Apostle spoke of the great love of God and the salvation which He has lavished on all of those who believed and embraced Christ as their Saviour. Meanwhile, in the Gospel passage today, we heard the continuation of yesterday’s discourse on the Lord’s criticism and the curses He levelled on the Pharisees.

In our first reading today, St. Paul spoke to the people of Ephesus regarding the designs and all that God had willed on His people, how He has created us all out of love, and how He has blessed us all and provided for us. Essentially, the key message of St. Paul is that we are beloved by God and He wants us to be forgiven from our sins and thus be reconciled with Him.

Through sin, all of us have been separated from God, and we have fallen away from the path of grace and eternal life. Had it not been for God’s enduring and pure love for us, we would have been destroyed and annihilated. Our sins would have condemned us into an eternity of suffering, and it was only thanks to the patience and compassionate love showed by the Lord to us that we have received the way out of this certain predicament.

It was by the loving sacrifice of Christ on the Cross that the Lord had redeemed us from our fated destruction, extending forgiveness for our sins, and calling us to repent wholeheartedly and abandon our past lives of sin, our previous wicked and disobedient way of life. The Lord has generously extended His offer of love and mercy, and we shall certainly be completely forgiven if only that we embrace repentance and change our ways.

This is then linked to what we have heard in the Gospel passage today, as we heard the Lord speaking to the people on the vices and wickedness of the Pharisees in the various occasions when they did not obey the Lord as they preferred to live and act in accordance to their own way. The Lord reminded us all that this is not the right path for us to follow, and instead of doing what the Pharisees had done, we must be truly faithful.

First of all, the Pharisees refused to believe in the Lord, in His words and teachings even though He has repeatedly showed them and all others how His message and words were genuine, and that the prophets had indeed prophesied about His coming into the world. And despite all the signs and wonders they had witnessed, they still refused to have faith.

This shows just how powerful the allure of human pride and desire can be, and if we allow these to influence us much as how they had influenced the Pharisees and many of the teachers of the Law and elders of the people, then it will likely lead us down the same path towards ruin. Those groups of people I mentioned earlier, they took great pride in their own supposed superior intellect, power, influence and other things that made them to resist the Lord and His revelation of truth.

They were blinded by their desires, by their jealousy within them, and by their fears, as they were afraid to lose all the good things, all the privileges and power they had enjoyed. And in the end, instead of depending and focusing on the Lord, they ended up being self-indulgent, depending on their own power and might, their own wisdom and intellect, refusing to admit that they could have been mistaken and wrong, and thus, hardened their hearts when the Lord came bearing His truth before their own eyes.

Truly, it is sad to see how those who were blessed with many good things had fallen. But this is indeed a kind reminder from the Lord how we cannot be complacent and need to be careful lest we may be tempted by those worldly desires, concerns and all the allures by which the devil has been constantly trying to lure us away from God’s path and grace. It will indeed not be easy, as we live in a world inundated by all these temptations, but unless we make the effort, then indeed we will be easy prey for those temptations.

That is why, today, all of us should be inspired by the good examples set by our saint today, the renowned St. Teresa of Jesus, also known as St. Teresa of Avila, the renowned mystic and holy woman, declared one of the Doctors of the Church for her immense contribution to the faith and in all of her writings and efforts. Together with St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila were very important figures in the renewal and reform of the Carmelite order, establishing what would be known as the Discalced Carmelites.

At that time, after centuries of developments, the Carmelite order began to stray further and further away from the true intentions of the founders of the religious order. Members of the religious began to be corrupted by worldly desires, and found many ways to circumvent or ignore the rules of the religious living and Carmelite tenets altogether. Similar trends were also observed in other religious orders, as both members of the clergy and laity alike became lax in their discipline in life and in their observance of God’s Law and commandments.

Therefore, St. Teresa of Jesus, together with St. John of the Cross and other reformers set out to reform the Carmelites, as well as the larger Church and the faithful community in general, which sought to return the Christian faith and its followers to purer intentions, ridding it off the excesses that had grown to accumulate over those past few centuries, when corrupt influences of the world began to affect the members of the Church and led them astray, much as the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had experienced earlier.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, St. Teresa of Jesus and her fellow companions all worked hard and dedicated themselves deeply to the service of the Lord despite the challenges that she had to face throughout those difficult years in attempting to reform the Church and the faithful community, especially the Carmelites. We are all also called to follow the Lord, just as St. Teresa of Jesus and the other saints had done.

Let us all turn towards the Lord with all of our hearts, and let us commit ourselves ever more faithfully, each and every moments of our lives, to be faithful disciples and great inspirations for each other, the beacons of God’s light, His truth, hope and love. May God bless us all, now and always, forevermore. St. Teresa of Jesus, great reformer and faithful servant of God, pray for us all, always. Amen.

Thursday, 15 October 2020 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

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.