Saturday, 25 April 2015 : Feast of St. Mark, Evangelist (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red (Apostles and Evangelists)

Psalm 88 : 2-3, 6-7, 16-17

I will sing forever, o Lord, of Your love and proclaim Your faithfulness from age to age. I will declare how steadfast is Your love, how firm Your faithfulness.

The heavens proclaim Your wonders, o Lord; the assembly of the holy ones recalls Your faithfulness. Who in the skies can compare with the Lord; who of the heaven born is like Him?

Blessed is the people who know Your praise. They walk in the light of Your face. They celebrate all day Your Name and Your protection lifts them up.

Saturday, 25 April 2015 : Feast of St. Mark, Evangelist (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red (Apostles and Evangelists)

1 Peter 5 : 5b-14

All of you must clothe yourself with humility in your dealings with one another, because God opposes the proud but gives His grace to the humble. Bow down, then, before the power of God so that He will raise you up at the appointed time. Place all your worries on Him since He takes care of you.

Be sober and alert because your enemy the devil prowls about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Stand your ground, firm in your faith, knowing that our brothers and sisters, scattered throughout the world, are confronting similar sufferings.

God, the giver of all grace, has called you to share in Christ’s eternal Glory and after you have suffered a little He will bring you to perfection : He will confirm, strengthen and establish you forever. Glory be to Him forever and ever. Amen.

I have had these few lines of encouragement written to you by Silvanus, our brother, whom I know to be trustworthy. For I wanted to remind you of the kindness of God really present in all this. Hold on to it. Greetings from the community in Babylon, gathered by God, and from my son, Mark. Greet one another with a friendly embrace. Peace to you all who are in Christ.

Friday, 24 April 2015 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, Priest and Martyr, Tenth Anniversary of the Inauguration of Pope Benedict XVI, Vicar of Christ and Supreme Pontiff (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard again about the giving of our Lord’s own Body and Blood, the Flesh and Blood of our Lord Himself as the spiritual nourishment and sustenance for us, as the Bread and Food that brings about life and renewal of the body and soul, as well as salvation for all of us. This is our faith and this is what we believe in, that we are all members of the one and same Body of Christ, by the sharing of this heavenly meal.

And that is the one desire of the Lord, that we repent from our sins and our waywardness, and walk from now on in the path which He had shown us all, the path to salvation and eternal life. And it is exactly what we heard in our first reading today from the Acts of the Apostles, which told us about the entire meaning of God’s love and care for us all.

The conversion of Saul, the great enemy and persecutor of the Church and all its faithful, to be later known as St. Paul the Apostle, the Apostle to the Gentiles and the brave Defender and Champion of the Faith is nothing less than extraordinary indeed. How God chose His greatest tool and champion from the worst and the most steadfast enemy of His Name, is a proof how God does things in ways often beyond our understanding, and yet, in the end, it brings about great good for us.

Saul was a young man with much zeal and energy, but unfortunately, he was grossly misled and too fanatical and unbending on his ways, to the point that he persecuted the faithful so harshly, rounding up and causing great sufferings for untold numbers of the people of God. But it is exactly the same qualities present in Saul, which God knew and which He recognised, as a great asset waiting to be used and to be awakened from the darkness, to be a servant of the Light.

In the same way therefore, God called us all out of the darkness, each of us in our own way, with our own personal background and history. He called us to be saved and to become one of His chosen, to abandon forever our sinfulness and our wickedness and instead forever to remain in God’s grace and love. This is what the Lord wants with us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, a priest and martyr of the faith. He was a faithful servant of God, a priest and monk of the Capuchin religious order, who was one of the most important figures in the Counter Reformation efforts about five hundred years ago. During that time of great upheaval and confusion caused by Satan, many have turned away from the faith to seek the false teachings of the agents of Satan and those tricked by Satan’s influence, that they fell into heresy.

St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen went around many places to preach the true faith in God and revealed to many people the errors of their ways. Eventually many of them were converted back to the faith and thus returned to the holy Mother Church. But as more and more were touched by his works and were converted back into the faith, there were increasingly more people who were set in their heresy that threatened St. Fidelis and called for his death.

St. Fidelis knew about this and accepted his death willingly at the hands of his enemies, forgiving them for their deeds, and praying for their eventual repentance and return to the Church. Many converted after his death and the faith also eventually triumphed, with many thousands after thousands more returning to the truth that is in Christ and abandoning all the falsehoods and lies of Satan.

Brethren, let us also therefore renew our faith and commitment to the Lord in the same way. If we are already faithful, then we should become even more faithful, and if we have lapsed in our faith, then we should find our way back to the Lord and obey His ways again. We have to make the effort to do this, or else we are likely to be drawn back again into the sins which we had committed and thus drift away from the salvation in God.

To be united with God through the Most Holy Eucharist, by sharing His Body and Blood should be our ultimate goal in life, that we may have life in Him as Christ is in us and dwells within us, by the giving of Himself, His own Body and Blood for us as food to eat, food that does not just satisfy our needs but also transform us into the Temple of His Holy Presence and make us worthy of Him.

May Almighty God be with us all, and may He grant us strength and courage to carry out our faith in life with great devotion. May He lead us to life everlasting, a life filled with His grace and blessings. God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 24 April 2015 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, Priest and Martyr, Tenth Anniversary of the Inauguration of Pope Benedict XVI, Vicar of Christ and Supreme Pontiff (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

John 6 : 52-59

At that time, the Jews were arguing among themselves, “How can this Man give us flesh to eat?” So Jesus replied, “Truly, I say to you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. The one who eats My flesh and drinks My blood lives eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

“My flesh is really food, and My blood is truly drink. Those who eat My flesh and drink My blood, live in Me, and I in them. Just as the Father, who is Life, sent Me, and I have life from the Father, so whoever eats Me will have life from Me. This is the Bread which came from heaven; not like that of your ancestors, who ate and later died. Those who eat this Bread will live forever.”

Jesus spoke in this way in Capernaum when He taught them in the synagogue.

Friday, 24 April 2015 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, Priest and Martyr, Tenth Anniversary of the Inauguration of Pope Benedict XVI, Vicar of Christ and Supreme Pontiff (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 116 : 1, 2

Alleluia! Praise the Lord, all you nations; all you peoples, praise Him.

How great is His love for us! His faithfulness lasts forever.

Friday, 24 April 2015 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, Priest and Martyr, Tenth Anniversary of the Inauguration of Pope Benedict XVI, Vicar of Christ and Supreme Pontiff (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Acts 9 : 1-20

Meanwhile Saul considered nothing but violence and death for the disciples of the Lord. He went to the High Priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues of Damascus that would authorise him to arrest and bring to Jerusalem anyone he might find, man or woman, belonging to the Way.

As he travelled along and was approaching Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul! Why do you persecute Me?” And he asked, “Who are You, Lord?” The voice replied, “I am Jesus whom you persecute. Now get up and go into the city; there you will be told what you are to do.”

The men who were travelling with him stood there speechless : they had heard the sound, but could see no one. Saul got up from the ground and, opening his eyes, he could not see. They took him by the hand and brought him to Damascus. He was blind and he did not eat or drink for three days.

There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias, to whom the Lord called in a vision, “Ananias!” He answered, “Here I am, Lord!” Then the Lord said to him, “Go at once to Straight Street and ask, at the house of Judas, for a man of Tarsus named Saul. You will find him praying, for he has just seen in a vision that a man named Ananias has come in and placed his hands upon him, to restore his sight.”

Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man and all the harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem, and now he is here with authority from the High Priest to arrest all who call upon Your Name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go! This man is My chosen instrument to bring My Name to the pagan nations and their kings, and the people of Israel as well. I Myself will show him how much he will have to suffer for My Name.”

So Ananias left and went to the house. He laid his hands upon Saul and said, “Saul, my brother, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me to you so that you may receive your sight and be filled with Holy Spirit.” Immediately something like scales fell from his eyes and he could see; he got up and was baptised. Then he took food and was strengthened.

For several days Saul stayed with the disciples at Damascus, and he soon began to proclaim in the synagogues that Jesus was the Son of God.

Thursday, 23 April 2015 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. George, Martyr and St. Adalbert, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today in the readings we heard about the revelation of the truth in the Lord, first, in the Acts of the Apostles where the steward to the Queen of Ethiopia met up with the Apostle St. Philip while he was reading about the prophecy on the Messiah, and was baptised after the truth was explained and revealed to him.

And in the Gospel, we heard how Jesus further elaborated on Him being the Salvation and Saviour of all, as the Living Bread from heaven, and all who share in Him will not suffer eternal death but live eternally. This is showing how God had given us so much goodness and graces, but we mankind often spurn that love, by looking at idols and other things that distract us from the Lord. We often rejected His love and even pretend that we do not know Him.

Remember brethren, just as the Ethiopian steward read about the suffering servant of God in the Book of the prophet Isaiah, God Himself had foretold about His coming into the world, not as a condescending and proud Lord who boasted of His strength to all and oppress the weak under Him, but instead He had done the exact opposite, that as the Leader, Lord and Master of all, He came as a humble Man, assuming the appearance of a mere creature, and yet, He is still God. This is the wonderful and amazing mystery of our faith, of God made Man, for the sake of our salvation.

This is our faith and this is what we believe in, and as St. Philip had done, we have to be able to go forth and announce the truth about Christ our Lord to others who had not yet received that truth. And this is what evangelisation is all about, that is bringing the Good News of God’s salvation to all of the world. For if we do not do this, then who will? And who will be responsible when the souls of those who did not hear the Word are lost forever? It will be on our hands, brothers and sisters in Christ.

For all of us who have been baptised in the Lord Jesus and welcomed into His one and only Church, have been made to be the children of God. We have therefore a mission which Christ Himself had entrusted to His Apostles, that is to preach the Good News to all the peoples of all the nations to the ends of the earth. There is much that we can do, and we truly should not ignore what God had entrusted to us.

Today, we celebrate the feast of two great and brave saints of the Church, that is of St. George and St. Adalbert. Both of them were great martyrs of the Faith. St. George, also known as St. George of Lydda was a soldier in the Roman Army. He was an officer in the army of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who was infamous for his great persecutions of the faithful.

St. George refused to renounce his faith and he remained devoted to his Lord and Master, even to the point of denouncing his own worldly and earthly lord, the Roman Emperor, who had forced many to renounce their faith and persecuted many of those who remained faithful to God. He proclaimed bravely in the public assembly and in the presence of the Emperor that he is a Christian and he will not turn away from his faith in Jesus.

Meanwhile, St. Adalbert was a Czech bishop who lived and died about a millennia ago, at the time of the great works of evangelisation to convert many people of those areas and other places throughout Central and Eastern Europe from the pagan faith to the one true faith in God. St. Adalbert worked hard to preach the faith among the masses who still practiced the false pagan practices, and even though he was often harassed and threatened, he continued his hard work.

Eventually, both St. George and St. Adalbert were martyred for their faith. They refused to change their lives and submit to the will and authority of the world made unjustly by the ignorance and by the lack of understanding of who our Lord and God is. They stood up for their faith, and for what they had done, they had earned great glory for the Lord. And rich are their inheritances on the last day.

Let us all be inspired to do more in our faithful service to God, imitating what St. George and St. Adalbert had done. Let us not be passive, complacent and ignorant in our faith life, but instead let us all have faith that is real, concrete, vibrant and true. May Almighty God bless us and guide us in life, that we may ever draw closer to Him. Amen.