Saturday, 29 October 2022 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures, we are reminded of the need for all of us as Christians to put the Lord our God at the centre and as the focus of our lives and existences. Each and every one of us are reminded that pride and ego will lead us nowhere, and we may end up falling into the wrong paths that lead us to damnation and eternity of suffering. The Lord wants us to always be vigilant against the temptations of pride and worldly desires, which can be a great bane and obstacle for us in our path towards Him and His grace and salvation.

In our first reading today we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Philippi regarding his experiences in ministering to the people of God and to many others as he carried out his mission and calling as an Apostle, in proclaiming the Word of God and His truth, and in all the good things and the challenges that he had to encounter as a disciple of the Lord. He encountered many opposition and hardships, and he had to even risk death and martyrdom in quite a few of those occasions, which we can read up more in the Acts of the Apostles. Yet, the Lord remained with St. Paul and protected him, and called him to do more of His missions and will.

The Apostle related to the faithful in Philippi how he truly desired to be with God, and to be with Him, free from the hardships and struggles that he had to endure as he stood up for his faith in Him, and free from the persecutions and all that he had to face, as a disciple of the Lord and as His champion and defender. Yet, he chose to continue to labour faithfully in this world, even knowing that he had to endure even more hardships and sufferings, all because he cared for the needs of those who were still separated from the love of God, and all those who have not yet known Him. He laboured hard and went on forward always, because he wanted that through his works, he might bring the Lord closer to many of them.

Compare this to the attitude of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law that the Lord Jesus mentioned in our Gospel passage today. In that occasion, the Lord highlighted how those people often sought the most prestigious and important places at events and banquets, just as they were highly respected and esteemed in the community. They sought for glory and fame, for status and acceptance by the world, and they vied for that influence and greatness, and perhaps not realising that they had gradually been tempted and led astray by those pride and arrogance that had blinded them and kept them away from seeing the truth and love of God.

That was why many among them were often stubborn in their refusal to believe in God, and in their many efforts to undermine the good works of the Lord Jesus and His disciples. St. Paul himself was once a young Pharisee, who was deluded and misguided in his ways, and was overwhelmed with that misdirected zeal and anger towards the followers of the Lord. He eventually came to see the errors of his ways after the Lord called him and revealed to him the truth. He was humbled and brought low, and through his blindness upon the encounter he had with the Lord on the road to Damascus, St. Paul, who was then known as Saul, received a new life and vision through the Lord’s love, mercy and forgiveness.

St. Paul through his dedication, life and work, carried out his mission dutifully and humbly, proclaiming the word of God’s truth, love and salvation to more and more people, in all of his missionary journeys and works. And his examples, along with that of the other Apostles and the many other saints and all the holy men and women of God, all of whom had lived their lives worthily of the Lord, should become our sources of strength and inspiration that we too may follow the Lord in the same manner as they had lived their lives and followed Him in all of their efforts and works. Each and every one of us should be inspired to follow their examples and practice them in our own lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we reflect upon these words of the Scriptures, let us all open our hearts and minds to welcome the Lord, His wisdom and truth into our hearts, and let us all allow Him to mould us into whatever tools and means by which He may exercise His will and judgment, His works and efforts in our world today. Let us all allow the Lord to guide us in our path and in our journey so that we may ever be inspired to commit our whole lives to His service, and to do whatever it is that is worthy of Him and the glory of His Name. We should do our best, in our respective areas and in whatever opportunities and abilities that God had blessed and endowed us with.

May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us always, and may He give us the courage and the perseverance necessary to resist the trials and challenges of this world, the opposition and oppressions that may come our way in our journey of faith. And may He also give us the gift of true humility, that we may grow ever lesser in our pride and ego, and die to them, so that as we grow ever greater in faith, so does our love for God and our desire to glorify Him, and not ourselves. May God bless us all in our every good efforts and endeavours, now and always, evermore. Amen.

Saturday, 29 October 2022 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

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

Luke 14 : 1, 7-11

At that time, one Sabbath Jesus had gone to eat a meal in the house of a leading Pharisee, and He was carefully watched.

Jesus then told a parable to the guests, for He had noticed how they tried to take the places of honour. And He said, “When you are invited to a wedding party, do not choose the best seat. It may happen that someone more important than you had been invited; and your host, who invited both of you, will come and say to you, ‘Please give this person your place.’ What shame is yours when you take the lowest seat!”

“Whenever you are invited, go rather to the lowest seat, so that your host may come and say to you, ‘Friend, you must come up higher.’ And this will be a great honour for you in the presence of all the other guests. For whoever makes himself out to be great will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be raised.”

Saturday, 29 October 2022 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

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

Psalm 41 : 2, 3, 5bcde

As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for You, o God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I go and see the face of God?

I remember all this – how I used to lead the faithful in procession to the house of God, amid shouts of joy and thanksgiving, among the feasting throng.

Saturday, 29 October 2022 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

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

Philippians 1 : 18b-26

Christ is proclaimed and because of this I rejoice and have no regrets. I know that all this will be a grace for me because of your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Christ. I am hopeful, even certain, that I shall not be ashamed. I feel as assured now, as before, that Christ will be exalted through my person, whether I live or die.

For to me, living is for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I am to go on living, I shall be able to enjoy fruitful labour. Which shall I choose? So I feel torn between the two. I desire greatly to leave this life and to be with Christ, which will be better by far, but it is necessary for you that I remain in this life. And because I am convinced of this, I know that I will stay and remain with you for your progress and happiness in the faith.

I will surely come to you again, and give you more reason for being proud of belonging to Christ Jesus.

Friday, 28 October 2022 : Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate together on this momentous day, the celebration of the Feast of Our Lord’s Holy Apostles, and not just one but two of the Twelve Apostles, namely St. Simon and St. Jude, Holy Apostles of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Both Apostles followed the Lord and dedicated their lives and works to God, and they became for us great role models, examples and inspirations to follow, in how we should live our own lives. God had called them from their respective lives and pasts, to be His servants, and to do His will. Today as we rejoice in their memory and glory, let us all discern all that they had done for the greater glory of God.

St. Simon the Apostle, also known sometimes as St. Simon the Zealot, as the name suggests, was a member of the Zealots, which was back then a highly nationalistic group of people who were determined to liberate the Jewish people in the region of Judea and Galilee from the domination and rule by the Romans or any other foreign oppressors, and to establish once again the independent rule over the people of God, in the form of the Kingdom of Israel. St. Simon was probably one of these Zealots, who then left to follow the Lord. Another tradition stated that the name of St. Simon meant more of being ‘zealous’ rather than him being a member of the Zealots. Regardless, he chose to follow the Lord and to do His will from the moment that the Lord called him.

Meanwhile, St. Jude the Apostle was also commonly known as St. Jude Thaddeus or St. Judas Thaddeus. He was often confused with Judas Iscariot, the traitor, as well as Jude, the brother of James, who was one of relatives or brothers of the Lord Jesus, as well as the writer of the Epistle of Jude, which might or might not have been written by St. Jude the Apostle himself. The association of St. Jude and his name of ‘Thaddeus’ itself was not conclusive, and biblical scholars sometimes considered them to be two separate people. Again, regardless of their origins, both St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles of the Lord, followed the Lord and faithfully embarked on the missions entrusted to them.

St. Simon and St. Jude both went on their missions after having received the commissioning and the commandment from the Lord, to go forth to all the nations and all the peoples, proclaiming the Good News and the salvation of God to them, and to baptise them all in the Name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. St. Simon and St. Jude both dedicated themselves to their ministries, as tradition stated how St. Simon the Apostle went to evangelise in the regions of Egypt, Persia, Armenia and Lebanon among other places like Ethiopia. It was often mentioned that St. Simon and St. Jude worked together as an evangelising team, and hence the reason why their feasts are celebrated together this day.

Meanwhile, St. Jude the Apostle himself preached the Gospels and the Good News of God in many places, including that of Judea and Samaria, near Jerusalem, and also the faraway places such as Libya, Mesopotamia and Syria, and to other places together with the other Apostles and missionaries, like that of with St. Simon the Apostle. Both he and St. Bartholomew, another of the Twelve Apostles were credited as the first ones to bring the Christian faith to the region of Armenia, sowing the seeds of faith there long before that realm eventually becoming the first ever Christian nation in the world.

Both St. Simon and St. Jude encountered many challenges as well as opportunities and successes throughout their missions and works, as through their efforts, many came to know of the Lord and His truth, and many chose to accept Him as their Lord and Saviour. Just like that of the other Apostles, St. Simon and St. Jude laid the groundwork and firm foundations for the Church and the Christian faith. St. Simon and St. Jude nonetheless faced intense persecutions and challenges throughout their ministry and both were martyred for their faith. While traditions sometimes differed on the details of their martyrdom, what matters is that they remained true and faithful to God to the very end.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we heard and reflect upon the lives and the works of these two Holy Apostles of the Lord, let us all ponder upon what we ourselves as Christians have been called to do with our lives like that of the Apostles St. Simon and St. Jude. Both of them had dedicated themselves to the Lord, answered His call and committed themselves to do what they had been tasked and entrusted to do. And we have to realise that there are still a lot of things that the Apostles did which were still not yet completed. In fact, as time passes on, there are more and more opportunities and areas where we as Christians and the Church can contribute for the sake of many of the people out there still in need of God’s grace and love, His salvation and eternal life.

Let us all hence be inspired and strengthened by the courage and faith shown by St. Simon and St. Jude, and ask them both for their intercessions that through their prayers and guidance, we may always be strengthened by God and empowered to remain faithful and committed to the Lord at all times. May God be with us all His Church, His beloved people, and may each and every one of us be evangelising and faithful disciples of His, in the manner of the Holy Apostles, especially that of St. Simon and St. Jude. May God bless us all in our every good deeds and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 28 October 2022 : Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 6 : 12-19

At that time, Jesus went out into the hills to pray, spending the whole night in prayer with God. When day came, He called His disciples to Him, and chose Twelve of them, whom He called ‘Apostles’ : Simon, whom He named Peter, and his brother Andrew; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James son of Alpheus and Simon called the Zealot; Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who would be the traitor.

Coming down the hill with them, Jesus stood in an open plain. Many of His disciples were there, and a large crowd of people, who had come from all parts of Judea and Jerusalem, and from the coastal cities of Tyre and Sidon. They gathered to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases. And people troubled by unclean spirits were cured.

The entire crowd tried to touch Him, because of the power that went out from Him and healed them all.

Friday, 28 October 2022 : Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 18 : 2-3, 4-5

The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament proclaims the work of His hands. Day talks it over with day; night hands on the knowledge to night.

No speech, no words, no voice is heard – but the call goes on, throughout the universe, the message is felt to the ends of the earth.

Friday, 28 October 2022 : Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Ephesians 2 : 19-22

Now, you are no longer strangers or guests, but fellow citizens of the holy people : you are of the household of God. You are the house, whose foundations are the Apostles and prophets, and whose cornerstone is Christ Jesus. In Him, the whole structure is joined together, and rises, to be a holy Temple, in the Lord.

In Him, you, too, are being built, to become the spiritual Sanctuary of God.

Thursday, 27 October 2022 : 30th 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 Scriptures, we are reminded of the need for all of us to remain ever vigilant and prepared in the constant spiritual warfare and battlefield that is this world ever raging all around us. We have to be prepared lest the forces of the evil ones and those wicked forces arrayed against us succeed in tearing us away apart from the Lord and His path towards salvation. That is why we have to be always proactive in living our lives with faith just as our Scripture passages have reminded us today, so that we do not end up falling into the wrong paths in life.

In our first reading today, we heard of the words of the Apostle St. Paul to the faithful people of God in Ephesus, reminding all of them to put on the whole armour of God, the armour of fidelity and strength of God, allowing God to guide and protect them in their journey of faith through life. He reminded them of the spiritual warfare and struggles that are always happening all around them, which they need to be truly vigilant for, more than they should fear the persecution of the authorities of this world. That is because ultimately, there is nothing that the worldly authorities can do to them beyond harming their physical bodies and existence, but the same could not be said of those who threatened the souls of the faithful.

That is because those who seek the destruction of the souls of mankind are plenty, and unlike those of the world, there is little that we can do to resist them by ourselves, as they are always ready all around is, ready to surround us and to pounce on us whenever we falter or are unprepared against their onslaught. The Lord has warned us all against these attacks, and we should be ready to resist them, with the Lord by our side. But we need to have faith in the Lord and put our trust in Him, and give our best to live our lives in accordance to His path of truth. And it is by devoting ourselves wholeheartedly to God that we may find our path towards the eternal glory in God.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the words of the Lord speaking to His people and the disciples and some of the Pharisees who were giving Him some warning for the fact that king Herod, the tetrarch of Galilee wanted to kill Him. The Lord highlighted that despite all of that, He would still do what He has been called to do in His mission. The Lord would perform His mission, reaching out to His flock and to all the people, ministering to them, healing their sick and casting out demons from them even amidst all the challenges and trials that He and His disciples had to go through.

The Lord lamented then on the sad state of how the people those to whom the Lord had come to, rejected Him and refused to listen to Him and accept Him, just in the way their ancestors had persecuted and rejected the many messengers, prophets and servants of God sent to them earlier. Yet, He persisted on and continued to do the will of His heavenly Father, showing us the example of what we ourselves as Christians ought to be doing in our own lives, in doing God’s will, resisting and refusing the temptations to give in to the pressures of the world and give up our faith and struggle to be ever worthy of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, thus we are reminded that we must not let our guard down and continue to do our best to fulfil what God has called on all of us to do in our lives as Christians. Just as the Lord Jesus Himself has shown us, each and every one of us should strive to do our best in loving God and in doing His will, and continue to live worthily and justly, filled with Christian truths and virtues in life. We should be exemplary in our every words, deeds and actions so that in all that we do, we will always be sources of inspiration and strength for our fellow brothers and sisters, that we may encourage one another to remain faithful to God and to do God’s will at all times.

Let us all hence listen to the Lord’s call and hearken to His will, to embrace whatever missions He entrust to us to do, in making good use of our gifts, talents, abilities and opportunities that we may indeed strong in our faith, in wearing the fullness of the ‘armour of God’ just as St. Paul told the faithful members of the Church in Ephesus. Let us fully entrust ourselves and our families, our loved ones and our every actions, efforts and endeavours to the Lord, and let us fully allow Him to lead and guide us down the right path, opening our hearts and minds that He may lead us and help to guide us, and correct us whenever we falter and enter into the wrong paths in life.

May God be with us always, and may He continue to protect us from the attacks of the evil ones, of those who seek our ruin and destruction. May God empower us all with the courage and strength to persevere through the many challenges and trials we may have to face in remaining truly faithful to Him as Christians, as those whom the Lord Himself had called to be His disciples, and to be the faithful witnesses of His truth and love in our world today. May all of us be ever faithful and be good role models and beacons of Christ’s light and truth to all the people, of all the nations, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 27 October 2022 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 13 : 31-35

At that time, some Pharisees came to Jesus and gave Him this warning, “Leave this place and go on Your way, for Herod wants to kill You.”

Jesus said to them, “Go and give that fox My answer : ‘I drive out demons, and I heal today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish My course!’ Nevertheless, I must go on My way today, and tomorrow, and for a little longer; for it would not be fitting for a Prophet to be killed outside Jerusalem.”

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you slay the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often have I tried to bring together your children, as a bird gathers her young under her wings, but you refused! From now on, you will be left with your Temple, and you will no longer see Me, until the time when you will say, ‘Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord.'”