Saturday, 23 October 2021 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Capestrano, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, all of us having heard from the readings of the Sacred Scriptures, we are all called to be truly faithful to God in all things, dedicating our whole lives to He Who has shown us the path forward in life, that is the path towards righteousness and goodness. Through Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, God had made His salvation and love for each and every one of us clear and visible, making Himself real and tangible, bringing forth His truth into this world.

In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Rome, we heard him speaking to them regarding this matter, reminding all of them that they have been saved through Jesus Christ, their Lord and Saviour. St. Paul the Apostle reminded the people that as they had been saved by the Lord, called to follow Him and received the gift of His grace and the Holy Spirit that has been given to them, therefore, all of them ought to follow Him wholeheartedly and obey Him, and no longer walk in the path of the flesh, that is the path of sin and darkness.

St. Paul made it clear that those who have chosen to follow the Lord have chosen to walk in the new path shown by the Spirit, and this new path is a revolutionary path that seeks to glorify the Lord through obedience and through our virtuous life rooted in the faith. We cannot be Christians that are professing to be faithful and devoted to God, and yet, in our behaviour, actions and interactions, we act in the same way as unbelievers are doing. We must not be hypocrites in our faith, and we have to be genuine in our way of living our faith.

Then linking what St. Paul then said with what the Lord had said to His disciples in our Gospel passage today, essentially, all of us are reminded that the path of sin and darkness leads to nothing else but ultimate destruction and annihilation. Those who died through sin shall be judged by those same sins and shall be held accountable for their actions. Their disobedience against God, their refusal to listen to Him and obey His Law and commandments will be held against them on the last day, at the moment of the Final Judgment. Meanwhile, those who hold fast to their faith and remain firm in their love for Him shall be rewarded in the end.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, what we have heard from the Sacred Scriptures today are kind reminders from the Lord through His Church, how sin can lead us to destruction and how we have been freed from the tyranny of those sins, by the loving sacrifice of our Lord and Saviour on the Cross. As such, we should strive to resist the temptations to sin and to disobey the Lord. There would be many such temptations all around us, persuading us, coercing us and forcing us to change our ways to suit the way of the world and to follow the corrupting path of sin.

As Christians, all of us are called to resist those temptations and to stand by our faith in God. Such is our calling and expectation as fellow servants and disciples of Our Lord. And God has given us many examples for us to follow, those saints, holy men and women, all those who have given themselves to serve the Lord faithfully. Today, we remember one of them, namely St. John Capestrano, also known as St. John of Capistrano, was a Franciscan friar and priest, who have been remembered for his great holiness and dedication to the Lord, for his zeal in defending the faith and for courageously preaching the truth of God.

St. John Capestrano was a very passionate preacher and missionary, who went from places to places as a friar and priest, to oppose the heresies that back then were being widespread in parts of Christendom. He worked hard, writing theses and other works against the teachings of heretics, while personally reaching out to many communities, in defending the true faith and the true traditions and magisterium of the Church. He was sent by the Pope as emissary and spokesperson to various Christian courts and rulers, while continuing his efforts against those who sought to corrupt the truth of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the many efforts and the great courage with which St. John Capestrano has shown us in how he lived his life with faith should be source of inspiration for us as well. All of us should commit ourselves to the Lord and devote our time, effort and attention, in the manner that St. John Capestrano and many other saints, our holy predecessors had done, all these while. Let us all turn towards the Lord from now on with renewed zeal, faith and love for Him, and do our best to be exemplary in faith and to be inspiration for one another, that we may be beacons of God’s light and truth in this world.

May God bless us all, in our every good efforts and endeavours, and may He empower all of us to walk faithfully in His presence from now on. May God be with us all and may He strengthen us each and every moment, through His light, His truth and love for us. Amen.

Saturday, 23 October 2021 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Capestrano, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Luke 13 : 1-9

At that time, one day, some people told Jesus what had occurred in the Temple : Pilate had had Galileans killed, and their blood mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. Jesus asked them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered this? No, I tell you. But unless you change your ways, you will all perish, as they did.”

“And those eighteen persons in Siloah, who were crushed when the tower fell, do you think they were more guilty than all the others in Jerusalem? I tell you : no. But unless you change your ways, you will perish as they did.” And Jesus continued, “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it, but found none. Then he said to the gardener, ‘Look here, for three years now I have been looking for figs on this tree, and I have found none. Cut it down, why should it continue to deplete the soil?’”

“The gardener replied, ‘Leave it one more year, so that I may dig around it and add some fertiliser; perhaps it will bear fruit from now on. But if it does not, you can cut it down.’”

Saturday, 23 October 2021 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Capestrano, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Psalm 23 : 1-2, 3-4ab, 5-6

The earth and its fullness belong to the Lord, the world and all that dwell in it. He has founded it upon the ocean and set it firmly upon the waters.

Who will ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who will stand in His holy place? Those with clean hands and pure heart, who desire not what is vain.

They will receive blessings from the Lord, a reward from God, their Saviour. Such are the people who seek Him, who seek the face of Jacob’s God.

Saturday, 23 October 2021 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Capestrano, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Romans 8 : 1-11

This contradiction is no longer exists for those who are in Jesus Christ. For, in Jesus Christ, the Law of the Spirit of life has set me free from the law of sin and death. The Law was without effect, because the flesh was not responding. Then God, planning to destroy sin, sent His own Son, in the likeness of those subject to the sinful human condition; by doing this, He condemned the sin, in this human condition.

Since then, the perfection intended by the Law would be fulfilled, in those not walking in the way of the flesh, but in the way of the Spirit. Those walking according to the flesh tend toward what is flesh; those led by the Spirit, to what is Spirit. Flesh tends toward death, while Spirit aims at life and peace. What the flesh seeks is against God : it does not agree, it cannot even submit to the Law of God.

So, those walking according to the flesh cannot please God. Yet your existence is not in the flesh, but in the spirit, because the Spirit of God is within you. If you did not have the Spirit of Christ, you would not belong to Him.

But Christ is within you; though the body is branded by death as a consequence of sin, the spirit is life and holiness. And if the Spirit of Him Who raised Jesus from the dead is within you, He Who raised Jesus Christ from among the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies. Yes, He will do it through His Spirit Who dwells within you.

Friday, 22 October 2021 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. John Paul II, Pope (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Popes)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures, all of us are reminded of the need for all of us to go forth and to proclaim the truth of God in all of our communities and to be inspiration for one another in faith, just as we look upon the inspirations of our many holy predecessors, those who have gone before us and whose lives have been exemplary, righteous and good, as beacons of God’s light and truth.

Today, we focus our attention on one of these faithful and courageous servants of God, namely that of Pope St. John Paul II, whom many of us surely knew very well. Many of us have known him when he was still in this world and being our Pope. His Pontificate of almost twenty-seven years was the longest in recent memory, and one of the longest overall, and therefore many of us have spent a significant period of time under his leadership as our Pope, Supreme Pontiff and Vicar of Christ.

No doubt that many of us may know quite a lot about Pope St. John Paul II, but I want us all to spend the time today to reflect on his life and actions, his life of service to God, of commitment and the courage which he had shown in opposing injustice and persecution of the Christian faith, his upholding of fundamental Christian values and teachings amidst the pressure of conflicting worldly agenda and corruption of worldly desires and sins, and in his great leadership of the entire Universal Church.

Pope St. John Paul II was born in Wadowice in Poland in the year of Our Lord 1920, just over a century ago. He was born into a loving and devout family in Poland, a country that had just then regained independence after over a century of oppression and conquest by its neighbouring countries. He was born as Karol Jozef Wojtyla, to a father who was an army officer and a mother who was a schoolteacher. He had an elder brother whom he adored and looked up to, who was a physician.

However, he had family tragedy early on in life, as he lost his family members one by one, his mother and then elder brother, before eventually his own father just right at the start of the Second World War. Nonetheless, the young Karol Wojtyla with the guidance of his friends and relatives, and his faith in the Lord, remained strong and courageous, even during those difficult years when Poland was engulfed in the midst of the great Second World War. He joined the seminary and went through formation during those difficult period, and having even suffered a close call to death.

And as the great war came to its end, the tyranny and persecution of the NAZI German reign was replaced by an equally oppressive regime installed by the Communists from the Soviet Union, a regime that would last for more than four decades and saw great sufferings for many of the Polish people. The future Pope was ordained a priest shortly after the end of the war and began his ministry in a country that has become officially atheist and hostile against the Christian Church and faith. As a young priest, Karol Wojtyla learnt to manoeuvre around the restrictions and oppressions while staying true to his faith.

Eventually, he was chosen and ordained as bishop, first as the Auxiliary Bishop of Krakow and eventually as the Metropolitan Archbishop of Krakow, during which he was also instrumental in his role and participation during the Second Vatican Council. Then, in a public show of defiance against the Communist regime in Poland, the then Archbishop Wojtyla led the faithful in establishing the parish church in the town of Nowa Huta, which had been the proud project of the Communists as a new city in which no church would be present. He led the faithful in prayer and in putting the foundation for the church there, which after many years, was eventually completed about a decade later.

And then, by the grace of God, he was elected as the successor of St. Peter, succeeding Pope John Paul I, who had a short reign of just thirty-three days after another Pope, Pope St. Paul VI. Adopting the regnal name of his predecessor, Pope St. John Paul II then led the Church in an amazing period of twenty-seven years, in which not only that he led to the beginning of the downfall of Communism in many parts of the world, including in his own native Poland, where he led to a great rejuvenation of the faith and the Church, and inspired popular uprisings that eventually led to the downfall of the Communist regime.

In the matter of faith and Church teachings, Pope St. John Paul II was instrumental in the stabilisation of the situation following the Second Vatican Council and was remarkable in his efforts and stance against the tide of relativism and attempts to change Church teachings. He led the Church into the third millennium and through his years of suffering and perseverance, he inspired many of the people of God to remain faithful and true to God, even amidst great sufferings they experienced in life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we recall the great life and the amazing faith which Pope St. John Paul II has shown us, all of us are encouraged to follow his good examples and we are all called to walk in his footsteps, in following what he has done in being faithful, as a successor of St. Peter, to whom the Lord Jesus had entrusted His flock and people in our Gospel passage today. Pope St. John Paul II had committed himself to the mission entrusted to him, and we ourselves should live our lives fulfilling the missions that each and every one of us have as Christians.

Let us all be great and exemplary role models for one another, and let us be filled with faith and love for God. May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us in our respective journey in life, and may He bless our every good works, efforts and endeavours, all for His greater glory, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 22 October 2021 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. John Paul II, Pope (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Popes)

Luke 12 : 54-59

At that time, Jesus said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming’; and so it happens. And when the wind blows from the south, you say, ‘It will be hot’; and so it is. You superficial people! You understand the signs of the earth and the sky, but you do not understand the present times.”

“And why do you not judge for yourselves what is fit? When you go with your accuser before the court, try to settle the case on the way, lest he drag you before the judge, and the judge deliver you to the jailer, and the jail throw you into prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the very last penny.”

Alternative reading (Mass of Pope St. John Paul II)

John 21 : 15-17

At that time, after Jesus and His disciples had finished breakfast, He said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.” And Jesus said, “Feed My lambs.”

A second time Jesus said to him, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” And Peter answered, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Look after My sheep.” And a third time He said to him, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”

Peter was saddened because Jesus asked him a third time, “Do you love Me?” and he said, “Lord, You know everything; You know that I love You.” Jesus then said, “Feed My sheep!”

Friday, 22 October 2021 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. John Paul II, Pope (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Popes)

Psalm 118 : 66, 68, 76, 77, 93, 94

Give me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust in Your commands.

You are good, and Your works are good; teach me Your decrees.

Comfort me then with Your unfailing love, as You promised Your servant.

Let Your mercy come, to give me life; for Your Law is my delight.

Never will I forget Your precepts; for with them, You give me life.

Save me, for I am Yours, since I seek Your statutes.

Alternative reading (Mass of Pope St. John Paul II)

Psalm 95 : 1-2a, 2b-3, 7-8a, 10

Sing to YHVH a new song, sing to YHVH, all the earth! Sing to YHVH, praise His Name.

Proclaim His salvation, day after day. Recall His glory among the nations, tell all the peoples His wonderful deeds.

Give to YHVH, you families of nations, give to YHVH glory and strength. Give to YHVH the glory due His Name.

Say among the nations, “YHVH reigns!” He will judge the peoples with justice.

Friday, 22 October 2021 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. John Paul II, Pope (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Popes)

Romans 7 : 18-25a

I know, that what is right, does not abide in me, I mean, in my flesh. I can want to do what is right, but I am unable to do it. In fact, I do not do the good I want, but the evil I hate. Therefore, if I do what I do not want to do, I am not the one striving toward evil, but sin, which is in me.

I discover, then, this reality : though I wish to do what is right, the evil within me asserts itself first. My inmost self, agrees and rejoices with the Law of God, but I notice in my body, another law, challenging the Law of the Spirit, and delivering me, as a slave to the law of sin, written in my members.

Alas, for me! Who will free me from this being, which is only death? Let us give thanks to God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Alternative reading (Mass of Pope St. John Paul II)

Isaiah 52 : 7-10

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring Good News, who herald peace and happiness, who proclaim salvation and announce to Zion : “Your God is King!”

Together your watchmen raise their voices in praise and song; they see YHVH face to face returning to Zion. Break into shouts of joy, o ruins of Jerusalem, for YHVH consoles His people and redeems Jerusalem.

YHVH has bared His holy arm in the eyes of the nations; all the ends of the earth, in alarm, will witness God’s salvation.

Thursday, 21 October 2021 : 29th 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, we are reminded yet again by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Rome, of the dangers of sin and how sin once reigned over us before Christ redeemed and freed us from its dominion. And he also exhorted all the faithful to walk in the path of God and no longer submit themselves to the power and temptations of sin, for if they were to follow the way of sin, then they would suffer its consequences and perish.

St. Paul reminded them and therefore all of us that we who have been called and chosen to follow Christ, and have been baptised as Christians are all called to remain true to their faith and reject the temptations to sin. This is because as Christians, we have become God’s chosen people, whom He gathered from all the nations to embrace fully the truth and the light that He has brought into our midst. All of us should carry ourselves with true and genuine faith and be examples and inspiration for one another.

Contextually, St. Paul mentioned these things in his Epistle as many of the faithful people of God, especially among the recent converts who still lived in the similar way as they were before their conversion, as if their conversion meant nothing at all. Of course it was also a challenging and difficult time to be a follower of Christ, especially for the converts from among the Gentiles or the non-Jewish populations, as this often meant that those who chose Christ had to go against the wishes of their families or their communities.

This was exactly what the Lord meant in our Gospel passage today, when He presented to them the plain truth of what His coming into this world truly means. Many at that time, including Christ’s own disciples thought that the Messiah would come as a conquering King and Lord over all, Who would end all sufferings and usher in a time and era of great and everlasting peace, where everyone would rejoice and be happy, free from all sorrows and enjoying the bounty of God’s blessings, as the prophets proclaimed.

That will indeed come in due time, at the end of time as the Lord Himself has promised all of us. However, His first coming into this world brought into our midst the truth and the light of His salvation that would not have been well received by all those who reject the light and truth of God, and preferring to remain in the darkness and in the comfort of their sinful state. And that is why the Lord said that His coming into this world and His truth would lead to much suffering and divisions among His people.

That is because the world has a fundamentally different sets of values, and the devil and his allies have always ever sought to continue to distract us and trying to lead us away from God. They had done all they could to cause divisions and bitterness to exist within families and communities because some among their members chose to listen to the Lord and to obey Him rather than to obey the path of evil. Many martyrs and other saints suffered because of this, when they had to make a choice between following God and being acceptable and tolerated by their families, relatives and communities.

Yet, this is not a reason why we should not follow the Lord or to turn away from Him. On the contrary, having known this and realised this truth, it should serve as an important reminder for each one of us to keep strong our faith in God and to hold on to His truth as is expected of us. We should do our best to lead a life that is worthy of God, and commit ourselves each day and every moments, to do His will and to walk ever faithfully in His path so that our lives and examples may become sources of inspiration for so many more out there, our fellow brothers and sisters, many of whom have not even yet known the Lord.

Today, let us all renew our commitment to the Lord, and that is to be faithful in our Christian living so that we may always be righteous and virtuous as the children of our heavenly Father, so that by our every deeds and actions, our words and interactions, even the smallest and least significant among them, we may bring forth God’s light and truth to this darkened world. Challenges and sufferings will come our way, but we must never be afraid or fearful, for God will always stand by us, and He will always provide us throughout our respective journey in faith.

May the Lord continue to bless us and strengthen us, and may He give us all the courage to live our lives with faith from now on. May God bless us all and our every good works and endeavours, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 21 October 2021 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 12 : 49-53

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “I have come to bring fire upon the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and what anguish I feel until it is finished! Do you think that I have come to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on, in one house five will be divided : three against two, and two against three.”

“They will be divided, father against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”