Saturday, 20 May 2017 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we have heard a reminder that if we are to remain faithful and true to the Lord, in our faith to Him, we will encounter difficulties and challenges in our path, as there will definitely be those who will be opposed to us and to our faith, namely those who are clinging on to the ways of the world and would not want to see their influence challenged by us.

That means, our lives as Christians, if we truly cling onto our faith in God, and practice wholeheartedly what we believe in, will not be that smooth-going and easy. If we have found our lives to be easy and manageable, without crisis or difficulty, perhaps that is because God had indeed blessed us so, or which we hope that is not the case, that we have not been truly faithful in our ways and in our lives.

Many of us want to be accepted by the world, and to that extent, we conform to the ways and customs of the world, even if that ran contrary to the teachings of our faith. At the same time, we know that the reality in our Church is that there are many who are ‘cafetaria Christians’, which means those who pick and choose what they want to believe in our faith, and refuse to believe or that they are ignoring those tenets which they found to be too difficult to be followed or complied with.

That was what happened to the disciples of Jesus two millennia ago, as Jesus went about preaching about the coming of the kingdom of God to them and speaking about Himself, the truth of what would happen to them should they became His followers, and what they needed to believe in, even when they found the teaching to be difficult to be complied with. Indeed, many left the Lord behind because they were not willing to open their hearts and listen to Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is not we all should be like, as all of us should be true and devoted to our Lord in all things we do, and believe in Him wholeheartedly, and not conditionally. After all, the Lord had given us all His life and His love unconditionally, by His loving sacrifice on the cross. He has loved us with all of His heart, generously granting us pardon and mercy, forgiveness and grace even when we are all still great sinners and rebels.

If the Lord had not hold back His love for us, then why should we then hold back our love for Him? Why do we have to choose or to select what we want to believe in His message? Why should we set conditions for the Lord? It is not right, if He had already suffered for our sake, bearing the burden for our sins, the burdens which should have been ours, and died on the cross for us, then we should not and indeed cannot treat the Lord with ignorance or apathy.

We must devote ourselves wholeheartedly to the Lord, and learn from the examples of the holy saints, especially St. Bernardine of Siena, whose feast day we are celebrating on this day. St. Bernardine of Siena was a devout and holy priest, as a Franciscan missionary who lived during the late Medieval era. He was renowned as the ‘Apostle of Italy’ for his tireless works in bringing many people, especially throughout Italy, the heart of Christendom, back to the Lord.

For at that time, many of the people did not live in accordance with the ways of the Lord, living in debauchery and sin, in wickedness and doing what is vile and evil in the sight of God. People are more concerned with money and worldly livelihood rather than serving the Lord and obeying His will. St. Bernardine went around many places, preaching directly to the people in those places, and his words of encouragement and call to repentance have brought many people back to the loving embrace of the Lord.

His sincerity and devotion to the Lord inspired those lost souls who saw the light of God through St. Bernardine of Siena, like that of darkness being pushed back by the light. His examples and his dedication to the salvation of souls should be our inspiration, brothers and sisters in Christ, in how we ought to live our lives faithfully to the Lord. We should be exemplary in our actions and deeds, so that all those who see us will also then come to believe in God through us.

May the Lord awaken in all of us the desire to love Him, and to obey Him in all of His teachings. May we follow in the footsteps of St. Bernardine of Siena, that in all the things we say and do, we will always proclaim the glory of the Lord and remain true to His ways. Amen.

Saturday, 20 May 2017 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
John 15 : 18-21

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “If the world hates you, remember that the world hated Me before you. This would not be so if you belonged to the world, because the world loves its own. But you are not of the world, since I have chosen you from the world; because of this the world hates you.”

“Remember what I told you : the servant is not greater than his master; if they persecuted Me, they will persecute you, too. If they kept My word, they will keep yours as well. All this they will do to you for the sake of My Name, because they do not know the One Who sent Me.”

Saturday, 20 May 2017 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White
Psalm 99 : 2, 3, 5

Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.

Know that the Lord is God; He created us and we are His people, the sheep of His fold.

For the Lord is good; His love lasts forever and His faithfulness through all generations.

Saturday, 20 May 2017 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Acts 16 : 1-10

Paul travelled on to Derbe and then to Lystra. A disciple named Timothy lived there, whose mother was a believer of Jewish origin but whose father was a Greek. As the believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him, Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him. So he took him and, because of the Jews of that place who all knew that his father was a Greek, he circumcised him.

As they travelled from town to town, they delivered the decisions of the Apostles and elders in Jerusalem, for the people to obey. Meanwhile, the churches grew stronger in faith and increased in number every day.

They travelled through Phrygia and Galatia, because they had been prevented by the Holy Spirit from preaching the message in the province of Asia. When they came to Mysia, they tried to go to Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to do this. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas.

There one night Paul had a vision. A Macedonian stood before him and begged him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” When he awoke, he told us of this vision and we understood that the Lord was calling us to give the Good News to the Macedonian people.

Friday, 19 May 2017 : 5th Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us are reminded through the Scripture passages that we have listened to, of the obligations and duties we have as Christians, as those whom God had chosen to be His people. We have to remember these responsibilities, and live them out accordingly or else, we cannot call ourselves as Christians. Either that, or we are living a false Christian life.

Why is that so? That is because many of us are Christians and call themselves as one counted among the members of the Church, and yet, first of all, they do not attend the regular functions and events of the Church, most importantly of all, the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Many of us attend the Holy Mass only once or twice a year, during the time of Christmas and Easter, and once these seasons are over, we are quick to continue our busy life schedule and leave God behind.

Do we know that it was because of God’s great and undying love that all of us have received salvation and the promise of eternal life from Him? Do we all realise that had God not done so much for us out of His love for us, we would have perished and be destroyed by our sins and by our disobedience against Him? All of us have been marked for death because of our sins, and yet, God loved us so much that He was willing to forgive us and be reconciled with us, if only that we are willing to receive His mercy and forgiveness.

To that extent, He had given us the perfect gift of love, in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Lord. He has come into the world in order to deliver us from sin and death, and that He indeed had done, not only just by some extraordinary means, but truly through the most extraordinary deed of all deeds. As St. Paul mentioned in his Epistle to the Romans, very few people would give up his or her life for the sake of others, even for a very righteous man. However, the Lord Jesus gave us His life, for our sake, so that all of us, while we are still sinners, might be saved through Him.

In this, we can see just how great the love that God had shown us, and it is indeed an unconditional love. God did not require us to love Him first before He loves us, as He has always loved us all, His creations and His children, ever since the day He created us all. And since He has loved us so greatly, it is only just and right that we should love Him back with the same love and devotion.

That is the most important commandment in the law of God, and one that we have to keep in mind at all times. There can be no being or creature that we can love more than how we love the Lord, our Master and Creator, the One Who is the reason for our existence and the Giver of our lives. And after we have loved Him, we are also expected to show the same love to our fellow men, for each one of us mankind are the same children of our God.

This is why, it is imperative in our world today, that all of us Christians are truly Christian in our way of life, or else, we scandalise our own faith and besmirch the Holy Name of our Lord. For it is indeed quite common that while we Christians preach the word of God, yet in our actions, we did not act and do as what we have believed in. How can we expect that others will believe in what we preach to them if we ourselves did not do as what we had preached?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, let us all commit ourselves anew, giving our best to serve the Lord with all of our might. We should devote our time to do the will of God, by loving one another, showing mercy on those who have wronged us, and praying for those who hate us and those who persecute us. This is what the Lord had taught us to do, and we ought to practice it in our own lives.

May the Lord help us to remain firm in our faith, and may He strengthen our resolve to commit ourselves to His path and devote ourselves, our time and effort to do what He had commanded us to do, to show love in all the things we say and do, that many more people will come to believe in the Lord because of us and because of our loving works. May God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 19 May 2017 : 5th Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
John 15 : 12-17

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “This is My commandment : Love one another as I have loved you! There is no greater love than this, to give one’s life for one’s friends; and you are My friends, if you do what I command you.”

“I shall not call You servants any more, because servants do not know what their master is about. Instead I have called you friends, since I have made known to you everything I learnt from My Father.”

“You did not choose Me; it was I Who chose you and sent you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. And everything you ask the Father in My Name, He will give you. This is My command, that you love one another.”

Friday, 19 May 2017 : 5th Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White
Psalm 56 : 8-9, 10-12

My heart is steadfast, o God, my heart is steadfast. I will sing and make music. Awake, my soul, awake, o harp and lyre! I will wake the dawn.

I will give thanks to You, o Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praise to You among the nations. For Your love reaches to the heavens, and Your faithfulness, to the clouds.

Be exalted, o God, above the heavens! Let Your Glory be over all the earth!