Saturday, 2 June 2018 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the readings from the Scripture speaking to us about the forgiveness and mercy that came from God, and which has indeed appeared in our midst as the Lord Jesus, Saviour of the world, Who have come to deliver us from our certain death and destruction because of our sins.

However, many of us do not truly believe in what the Lord has done for us, and we have doubted the Lord’s good works and intentions. This is just as how the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law doubted the Lord, by questioning Him on Whose authority He has delivered all the teachings He gave to the people, and they in fact, even doubted the works and teachings of St. John the Baptist, who came before the Lord to prepare His way.

However, they could not answer Him when He asked them whether the works of St. John the Baptist came from God or from merely human invention. That is because in fact, they knew, deep in their hearts and minds, that the works of St. John the Baptist, as well as the works of the Lord Jesus were in fact divine in origin, and is the truth surpassing any human knowledge.

But why were they unable to admit that openly before the people, that what the Lord Jesus said is true? That is because they were unable to resist the temptation of their ego and pride, their arrogance and ambition. They were those who were entrusted with the guardianship of the laws and the customs of the people, but they ended up being overly possessive and jealous of any threats or challenges to their authority and power.

They were swayed by the temptations of power, by the allure of fame and glory, and therefore, they ended up falling into sin. They do not truly have faith in them, because they were so full of themselves that they did not leave a place for God in their hearts and minds. That is why God’s words and truth had no effect on them. Yet, God forgave them all that they had done, at the very end in Calvary, when He forgave all those who rejected and persecuted Him from the cross.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let this be a reminder for each and every one of us, that as Christians, our lives must be centred on God, and we must always keep in mind, everything that God has done for our sake. As long as we put the Lord at the centre of our lives, then our actions, words and everything we do will be filled with faith, and we will draw closer to Him, and we will be able to find our way to His salvation.

On this day, we celebrate the feast of the two saints, St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, who were holy martyrs of the faith. They were martyred at the time of the great persecution under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, when many of the faithful people of God were arrested, tortured, and forced to choose between abandoning their faith in God and live, or to remain faithful and die.

Yet, despite the attempts and persuasions given to them, of riches, wealth, fame, security and well-being under guarantee from the Emperor and the state, St. Marcellinus, St. Peter and many of the other martyrs and saints of their time refused to abandon and betray the Lord to serve their own selfish desires and purposes. They rather chose death in faith than to live in sin and darkness.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, how about us? Are we also going to follow the examples of the holy saints of God? Are we able to give the same commitment to the Lord as they had done before us? Or do we rather choose the path of the Pharisees, all those who place themselves and their selfish desires, ego and pride before the Lord? The choice is in our hands, and we need to make the choice.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore seek to be ever more faithful to God, and turn towards Him wholeheartedly. Let us all be ever more committed through our actions, and show just how much we love the Lord, by obeying Him and doing what He has commanded us to do, that is to love Him with all of our hearts and with all of our strength. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 2 June 2018 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

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

Mark 11 : 27-33

At that time, Jesus and His disciples were once again in Jerusalem. As Jesus was walking in the Temple, the chief priests, the teachers of the Law and the elders came to Him, and asked, “What authority do You have to act like this? Who gave You authority to do the things You do.”

Jesus said to them, “I will ask you a question, only one, and if you give me an answer, then I will tell you what authority I have to act like this. Was John’s preaching and baptism a work of God, or was it merely something human? Answer Me.”

And they kept arguing among themselves, “If we answer that it was a work of God, He will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’” But neither could they answer before the people that the baptism of John was merely something human, for everyone regarded John as a prophet. So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you what authority I have to act as I do.”

Saturday, 2 June 2018 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, Martyrs (Psalm)

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

Psalm 62 : 2abc, 2d-4, 5-6, 8-9

O God, You are my God, it is You I seek; for You my body longs and my soul thirsts.

As a dry and weary land without water. Thus have I gazed upon You in the Sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You.

I will praise You as long as I live, lift up my hands and call on Your Name. As with the richest food, my soul will feast; my mouth will praise You with joyful lips.

For You have been my help; I sing in the shadow of Your wings. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.

Saturday, 2 June 2018 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, Martyrs (First Reading)

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

Jude 17, 20b-25

But, most beloved, remember what the Apostles of Christ Jesus, Our Lord, announced to you. Build your life on the foundation of your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit. Remain firm, in the love of God, welcoming the mercy of Jesus Christ, Our Lord, which leads to eternal life.

Try to convince those who doubt; others you will save, snatching them from condemnation. Treat the others with compassion, but also with prudence, shunning even the clothes that touched their body. To the one God, Who is able to keep you from all sin, and bring you, happy and without blemish before His own glory, to the one God, Who saves us, through Jesus Christ, Our Lord, to Him be glory, honour, might and power, from past ages, now and forever. Amen.

Friday, 1 June 2018 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Justin, Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture reminding us that as Christians, all of us are called to love one another, and all of us must have a living faith that bears fruit, the fruits of our faith and the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise our faith is empty, dead and meaningless. We have to then look at the Gospel passage today in order to understand this better.

In the Gospel, we heard of how the Lord Jesus and His disciples travelled and encountered a fig tree, that was found to be without any fruits at all. The Lord cursed the barren and fruitless tree, and went on His way. Eventually, when they all returned to the same place a few days later and saw the fig tree, it had withered and died, the entire tree, showing us what will happen to us should we be found empty and fruitless in our faith.

What does it mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that if our faith is limited to just a formality or merely a religious certificate, and even if we attend the Sunday Masses but merely to fulfil the Sunday obligations without appreciating, understanding and embracing the importance of the Holy Mass, then I am afraid that our faith is still mostly empty, meaningless and dead.

St. James said in his Epistle that faith without good works is dead. This is exactly what I meant by saying that we should not have an empty, fruitless and meaningless faith. Faith that exists just by itself, and not made alive and real through concrete actions and devotions, especially love, is useless and empty. And this is an important matter that all of us as Christians must realise, or otherwise, we will end up leading an empty and fruitless Christian life.

Perhaps, we should follow the examples of St. Justin the Martyr, whose memory we commemorate today. St. Justin the Martyr was a shining example of Christian discipleship and he showed all of us what it truly means to be fruitful in our faith. He was a brilliant man who lived in the era of the pagan Roman Empire, and was a renowned and intellectual pagan philosopher, who was searching for the true meaning of life and wisdom.

However, it ended up that no matter how much knowledge and wisdom he gained, he was unable to satisfy his desire and the emptiness he felt in his mind and heart. Instead, that led him to encounter the Lord through the Christian faith, and after having discussed and debated about the faith, he ended up being persuaded of the truth and the wisdom of the Christian faith, found only in the Lord’s teachings, and became a convert.

Henceforth, St. Justin ministered to many of the faithful, through his great intellect, wisdom and knowledge, spreading the faith to many parts of the Empire. Many souls were saved because of his works and teachings, and he tirelessly spent his effort trying to bring the truth to more and more people. However, he encountered many challenges and difficulties, to the point of being arrested after one of the pagan philosophers who debated with him reported him to the authorities because of his Christian faith.

Despite all efforts spent on trying to make him to abandon his faith in the Lord, and even when his intellect impressed many of his torturers and jailers, including even the Roman Emperor, St. Justin remained strongly and firmly attached to his faith, and remained dedicated fully to the Lord, choosing martyrdom over abandoning his Lord and Master. This, brothers and sisters in Christ, is the kind of faith and dedication that each and every one of us must have, a fruitful and living faith.

Let us all therefore, devote ourselves anew to the Lord, not just through exterior observances of the faith, but also through our love and care for one another, showing true Christian charity, even to those who are suffering around us. It is through this that all of us lead a genuine Christian life, and by loving one another we also love the Lord our God. He Himself showed us a vision of the Last Judgment and said, that whatever we have done to the least of our brethren, we are doing it for the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore turn to the Lord with all of our hearts, and focus our attention on Him from now on. Let us all make the Lord as the centre and heart of our lives. May the Lord be with us all in this journey of life, and may He continue to empower us to live faithfully day after day. Amen.

Friday, 1 June 2018 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Justin, Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Mark 11 : 11-25

At that time, Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the Temple. And after He had looked all around, as it was already late, He went out to Bethany with the Twelve. The next day, when they were leaving Bethany, He felt hungry. In the distance, He noticed a fig tree covered with leaves; so He went to see if He could find anything on it.

When He reached it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. Then Jesus said to the fig tree, “May no one ever eat your fruit!” And His disciples heard these words. When they reached Jerusalem, Jesus went to the Temple, and began to drive away all the people He saw buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the stools of those who sold pigeons. And He would not let anyone carry anything through the Temple area.

Jesus then taught the people, “Does not God say in the Scriptures : My House will be called a House of Prayer for all the nations? But you have turned it into a den of thieves.”

The chief priests and the teachers of the Law heard of this, and they tried to find a way to destroy Him. They were afraid of Him, because all the people were astonished by His teaching. When evening came, Jesus left the city.

Early next morning, as they walked along the road, the disciples saw the fig tree withered to its roots. Peter then said to Him, “Master, look! The fig tree You cursed has withered.” And Jesus replied, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and have no doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will happen, it will be done for you.”

“Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it shall be done for you. And when you stand to pray, if you have anything against anyone, forgive.”

Friday, 1 June 2018 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Justin, Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 95 : 10, 11-12a, 12b-13

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

Let the heavens be glad, the earth rejoice; let the sea and all that fills it resound; let the fields exult and everything in them.

Let the forest, all the trees, sing for joy. Let them sing before YHVH Who comes to judge the earth. He will rule the world with justice, and the peoples, with fairness.