Tuesday, 30 April 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Pius V, Pope (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the Scripture passages reminding each and every one of us of the things that all of us have to do in our respective lives as Christians, that is as members of our one Church community, the community of the Body of Christ. All of us share this same faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, Whom has revealed before Nicodemus the faithful Pharisee, what He would do for the sake of all mankind, in our Gospel passage today.

The Lord revealed the all powerful and all enduring love of God for us all mankind, that although each and every one of us have sinned and rebelled against Him, but God still ‘so loved the world’, that He sent us all a Saviour, in the form of His own Beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Himself, so that through Him all may have the new hope of eternal life and redemption via the salvation He has brought into this world.

And He also revealed how He would do this by being lifted up high like that of the moment when the bronze serpent of Moses was lifted up in the desert. In that instance, the people of Israel during their Exodus from Egypt and the journey towards the Promised Land refused to believe in God and rebelled against Him. As a result, God sent fiery serpents that bit many among them and many died because of those serpents.

When the people repented and begged God for forgiveness, God showed His love, compassion and mercy by asking Moses to make an image of the serpent in bronze and mounting it up on a tall staff, so that everyone who has been bitten by the serpents and saw the bronze serpent would not die but live. God did this as a prefigurement of what He would Himself do, for the salvation of all mankind, through Jesus, Our Lord.

For the Lord was also lifted up high on the Cross, bearing all of our sins and faults which should have been our undoing and destruction. He gathered all of them upon Himself and suffered for our sake, so that by His suffering and death, He may release us and free us from the bondage to sin and therefore from our fated death and destruction. And He has willingly borne all of these, all the agony, pain and suffering out of His love for each and every one of us.

It is exactly this love which the Apostles and the other followers of the Lord imitated in their own lives, which is also in accordance with what He Himself commanded His disciples to do, that is to love one another as they love themselves, and to love each other and to serve one another, just in the same way as the Lord has loved them and served them. That is why in our first reading today, we heard of how the very earliest Christian communities lived, loving and caring for the needs of others, and sharing the blessings that God has given them.

But unfortunately many of us Christians today do not live in this manner. In fact, we are often so busy and so distracted by the many temptations of the world, of the temptations of money, of worldly pleasures, power, ambition and desire, that we often acted selfishly towards one another, caring only about ourselves and our own selfish desires, often even causing hurt and pain, suffering and unhappiness among us in our Christian communities.

That is why, today all of us are called to take a step back and reflect on our own lives and in particular, how we have lived our lives thus far. Have we truly been faithful to God and been good Christians in our words, actions or deeds? Or are we like those hypocrites who profess to have faith in God and yet have no love for God and love for our fellow men in us? And we should also look upon the good examples shown by our holy predecessors, especially our saint today, Pope St. Pius V.

Pope St. Pius V was remembered for his piety and dedication to the Lord, especially in his great leadership of the Church that was then battered with many challenges and oppositions both from outside and from inside the Church, with the reformation heresies and falsehoods tearing the unity of the Church apart and external enemies threatening to destroy the entire Christendom. He successfully concluded the great Council of Trent, which reformed the Church practices and enforced discipline.

The holy Pope and saint devoted his life and ministry to purify the excesses and wickedness that have crept into the Church at the time, while labouring hard to overcome the many issues and challenges that the Church had to endure at the time. Pope St. Pius V dedicated himself to love the people of God just as how God Himself loved us so much, that He went through all the troubles and pains, all the sufferings and the agony just so that He can bring to us His salvation and the eternal life He promised us.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, following the examples of this holy saint and servant of God, and also imitating the good examples of the early Christian communities, let us all be more faithful and loving towards God and to our fellow men. Let us all be inspiration and examples for each other, so that many more people may come to believe through us and our examples in life. May God be with us all, and may He bless us all in our good works for His sake. Amen.

Tuesday, 30 April 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Pius V, Pope (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 3 : 7b-15

Jesus said to Nicodemus, “You must be born again from above. The wind blows where it pleases and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going. It is like that with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Nicodemus asked again, “How can this be?” And Jesus answered, “You are a teacher in Israel, and you do not know these things! Truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and we witness to the things we have seen, but you do not accept Our testimony. If you do not believe when I speak of earthly things, what then, when I speak to you of heavenly things? No one has ever gone up to heaven except the One Who came from heaven, the Son of Man.”

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.”

Tuesday, 30 April 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Pius V, Pope (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 92 : 1ab, 1c-2, 5

YHVH reigns, robed in majesty; YHVH is girded with strength.

The world now, is firm; it cannot be moved. Your throne stands from long ago, o YHVH; from all eternity You are.

Your decrees can be trusted; holiness dwells in Your House, day after day, without end, o YHVH.

Tuesday, 30 April 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Pius V, Pope (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 4 : 32-37

The whole community of believers was one in heart and mind. No one claimed private ownership of any possessions; but rather, they shared all things in common. With great power, the Apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, for all of them were living in an exceptional time of grace.

There was no needy person among them, for those who owned land or houses, sold them and brought the proceeds of the sale. And they laid it at the feet of the Apostles, who distributed it, according to each one’s need. This is what a certain Joseph did. He was a Levite from Cyprus, whom the Apostles called Barnabas, meaning : “The encouraging one.” He sold a field which he owned and handed the money to the Apostles.

Monday, 29 April 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened first of all of the frustrations as shown in the prayers uttered by the Apostles, St. Peter and St. John, who at that time had just healed the sickness of a crippled man and restored him to full health in the Name of the Lord, and yet, they were oppressed, persecuted and treated like criminals, by the Sanhedrin or the Jewish High Council who wanted to stop them from performing miracles and teaching in the Name of the Lord Jesus.

They voiced out their frustrations at the stubbornness of all those who refused to believe in God and in His truth, and constantly placed obstacles in the path of the disciples of the Lord. But they trusted in the Lord and believed that He would not abandon them to their enemies. They prayed that God would guide and protect them as they embarked on the challenging and dangerous mission that He has commanded them to do.

And God sent them all the Holy Spirit, Who descended on them and filled their hearts and minds with courage and strength, with the desire and conviction to carry out the mission which has been entrusted to them. And as compared to how they were prior to receiving the Holy Spirit, the disciples had undergone a great transformation in action and in their way of life. Where they were once fearful, doubtful and easily shaken in their faith, they became courageous defenders of the Lord from then on.

And this is what the Lord Jesus actually meant in our Gospel passage today, when He discussed with Nicodemus the Pharisee, on the matter of being born again in the Spirit. Nicodemus was initially puzzled when the Lord mentioned that for him to be able to see and witness the kingdom of God, he must be born again in God. He thought that to be born again meant that one had to literally go back into his or her mother’s womb, which was not possible.

But the Lord clarified it for him, and through the examples of the Apostles, all of us have also received the truth about what being born again truly means for each and every one of us. It means that each and every one of us must go through that profound change in our lives, that is just so profound and complete, that one must seem to be unrecognisable and transformed by the change, so as to be ‘born again’.

And this happens when we allow the Lord to enter into us, and perform His work through us, by the bestowing of His Holy Spirit and His Real Presence in each and every one of us. The Apostles as we have heard earlier, prayed, and the Holy Spirit was given to the discipled who were gathered with them, so that despite all of the challenges and difficulties that they had to endure, they endured them nonetheless with great courage and faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us have also received the same gift of the Holy Spirit, and God Himself has entered into our lives, being present in us and with us. However, many among us have not been able to make use of these gifts God has given to us, and we remain aloof and indifferent to the calling and the mission which God has called us to do. This is because of our own inability to recognise God being present in us, and how we have shut ourselves from God and His love.

Today, all of us are called to reflect on our own lives, on how we have lived our lives all these while. Are we able to be truly born again in faith, by embracing what the Lord has given to us all in our own respective lives? And this requires us all to be more faithful and to be more committed in our faith in God. And perhaps, we should learn from the experiences and the examples shown to us by our holy predecessors, especially St. Catherine of Siena, whose feast day we are celebrating today.

St. Catherine of Siena was a very renowned saint of the Church, who dedicated herself into a life of sanctity and devotion to God from early on in her life. She did these all despite the oppositions from her family and the many challenges she had to encounter throughout her life. Yet, her commitment to God, her sanctity and great wisdom, in her many writings and letters inspired many others to return to their faith in God.

She was in fact so influential that she even had a crucial role in the ending of the great Western Schism, when rival Popes came to power being elected by the opposing factions and groups in the Church. She exhorted the faithful and the Pope to put their faith and obedience to God’s will as the first and foremost focus in their choice of action. And therefore the Lord showed His wonderful works through this faithful saint, by which many were saved.

Let us all therefore follow in the footsteps of St. Catherine of Siena, holy woman and servant of God, and also the examples of the Apostles and the many other holy disciples of the Lord. Let us all renew our faith and commitment, just as the disciples and St. Catherine of Siena had done, and live up to the calling which God had called us to, to be good and devoted Christians, all those whom God has called to be His own. Amen.

Monday, 29 April 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 3 : 1-8

At that time, among the Pharisees there was a ruler of the Jews named Nicodemus. He came to Jesus by night and said, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God to teach us, for no one can perform miraculous signs like Yours unless God is with Him.”

Jesus replied, “Truly, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again from above.” Nicodemus said, “How can there be rebirth for a grown man? Who could go back to his mother’s womb and be born again?” Jesus replied, “Truly, I say to you : No one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

“Because of this, do not be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again from above.’ The wind blows where it pleases and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going. It is like that with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Monday, 29 April 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 2 : 1-3, 4-6, 7-9

Why do the nations conspire? Why do the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth brace themselves and the rulers together take their stand against the Lord and His Anointed. They say, “Let us break their bonds! Let us cast away their chains!”

The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord looks at them in derision. Then in anger He speaks to them, terrifying them in the fury of His wrath : “Behold the King I have installed, in Zion, upon My holy hill!”

I will proclaim the decree of the Lord. He said to Me : “You are My Son. This day I have begotten You. Ask of Me and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall rule them with iron sceptre and shatter them as a potter’s vase.”