Tuesday, 2 November 2021 : Feast of All Souls (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Black or Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us come together to mark the occasion of All Souls Day, on which day we remember our brothers and sisters who have departed from this world before us. Today we remember all those who have left their worldly existence in the flesh, and who have died in the Lord, as those who are not considered as saints, whose feast we celebrate yesterday in All Saints Day, but are still probably in Purgatory, waiting to enter the glory of Heaven.

What is Purgatory, brothers and sisters in Christ? Purgatory is a place where the holy souls who have passed on from this world are in, in a time and existence between that of this world and Heaven. They are not yet able to enter Heaven, because unlike the saints whose faith and virtues had deemed them to be worthy, over their venial sins, to enter Heaven directly at the moment of their passing from this world, those holy souls in Purgatory are still burdened by the residual sins that they had not been forgiven from.

One may then think that if God is so great and merciful, then He could have forgiven all of us all of our sins at His will and whim alone, and that isn’t it because of His suffering and death on the Cross that He has liberated all of us mankind from sin and evil, and freed us from our bondage? Then, why is it that Purgatory exists? The same question then can be asked of why does hell still exist then. If God has redeemed and saved us all, then should not all mankind free to enter Heaven at the end of their lives in this world?

This is where many of us often lack the proper understanding of our faith and how the afterlife works. Many aspects of what will happen after death remains a mystery to us, but through the teachings of the Lord, the wisdom of the Holy Spirit given to us through the Apostles and many other saints, including visionaries and all those who have witnessed Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory, the Church therefore had revealed to us from what it had kept in the treasures of the faith, of what happens to us after we pass on from this world.

Essentially after we pass on from this world, a certainty for all of us due to our mortality, as no one can ever evade death, then there are three paths for us. Those as mentioned earlier who have lived their lives with great virtue and devotion to God, or even had shed their blood, suffered and died a martyr’s death, all of them are deemed worthy to enter into the glory of Heaven, to enjoy the beatific vision and the joy of being with God, as the innumerable saints that we have, and of which some have been officially recognised by the Church.

Then, for those who have died rejecting the Lord and His mercy to the very end, refusing to repent and continuing to live a life of sin and wickedness to their last moment, then they most likely end up in Hell, to suffer with the devil and all of his fellow fallen angels, the demons and evil spirits that dwell there, as a consequence of their conscious rejection of God’s love, compassion and mercy. Hell as the Church teaches us, is not as much a place as a state of existence, where the rejection of God led to a most bitter and terrible suffering.

Then, for many others, if not the vast majority of us, then we will end up in Purgatory, as our sins are not that terrible and horrendous that it merits us Hell, but at the same time, sin is still sin, no matter how small and insignificant it may be, and as long as our souls are still tainted by the residual sins that we have, then we cannot yet enter into Heaven, to where God dwells and be in His presence. And why not? That is because God is so good and perfect, that no sin can be in His presence.

That is why, in Purgatory, those holy souls are still suffering not because of the suffering that is like those who are in Hell are suffering, as they all suffer while knowing that Heaven is their ultimate destination. Their suffering came about because they have regretted still having those sins preventing them from immediately coming to be in the presence of God, and those sins have to be purified before they will be able to enter the glory of Heaven.

The Church has offered us all many opportunities to be forgiven from our sins, just as the Lord has given His Church the authority to forgive sins, the same power that He Himself has shown, as God alone can forgive sin. He has delegated that power and authority through the Church and the Apostles, and from them to our bishops and priests. The Sacrament of Reconciliation or Penance is the means by which the Church offers us this chance of forgiveness and reconciliation with God.

As such, when we confess our sins before the priest and are truly regretful of those sins that we confessed, then the Lord will forgive us through the priest, who is acting in the person of Christ, or ‘in persona Christi’, to forgive us our sins through Christ acting through him, as the triumphant Lamb of God and Saviour, Who had redeemed us from all sins and evils through His suffering and death on the Cross. Yet, not all of us have our sins confessed and some of us have carried our sins with us even to the afterlife.

That is why probably many of us will end up in Purgatory, and today, we remember those holy souls, our very own brothers and sisters, who have gone before us and are now there, suffering and waiting for the complete purification of their residual sins, such that they may finally then enter into the glory of Heaven. And those souls cannot pray for themselves to end their time there faster, but we can do that for them. We, the Church Militant still living in this world, as well as the saints, the Church Triumphant in Heaven are able to pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, our fellow brethren in the Church Suffering.

Therefore today, on this All Souls Day, let us all remember all the holy souls in Purgatory, especially those souls who have no one to pray for them, that God may have mercy on them, and remembering His great love, compassion and kindness, may be moved to allow them to enter into His glorious kingdom at the soonest opportunity, and therefore enjoy the inheritance that we ourselves will one day enjoy too, if we remain faithful to God. We should pray for them, especially on this special day and also for the rest of the month of November, now that the Church had decided again for this year to extend the indulgence for the dead for a longer period of time.

And let us all also remember that we have to lead a life that is holy and worthy of God, or else we ourselves may end up in Purgatory. Let us all strive to follow the examples of the saints, and distance ourselves from sin and evil, helping one another in this world to live good Christian lives, while also helping those in Purgatory to be closer to God and their Heavenly inheritance and promise. Let us all, members of the same Church of God, the Church Militant, Church Triumphant and Church Suffering pray together as one and help one another in our journey towards the Lord, for us in this world and for those in Purgatory.

May God, our loving God and Father, bless us all and may He have mercy and compassion on the holy souls in Purgatory, that He may lead them all to Himself, gather them in, forgive them their sins and remembering their love for Him, that all the holy souls in Purgatory, our brothers and sisters may have eternal peace and true joy in the Lord’s Presence, one that we hope to share in the future ourselves, one day as is our hope as always. Amen.

Tuesday, 2 November 2021 : Feast of All Souls (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Black or Purple/Violet

Mark 15 : 33-39 and Mark 16 : 1-6

At that time, when noon came, darkness fell over the whole land and lasted until three o’clock; and at three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lamma sabachthani?” which means, “My God, My God, why have You deserted Me?”

As soon as they heard these words, some of the bystanders said, “Listen! He is calling for Elijah.” And one of them went quickly to fill a sponge with bitter wine, and putting it on a reed, gave it to Him to drink, saying, “Now let us see whether Elijah comes to take Him down.”

But Jesus uttered a loud cry and gave up His Spirit. And immediately, the curtain that enclosed the Temple Sanctuary was torn in two, from top to bottom. The captain, who was standing in front of Him, saw how Jesus died and heard the cry He gave; and he said, “Truly, this Man was the Son of God.”

When the Sabbath was over, Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go and anoint the Body. And very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they came to the tomb. They were saying to one another, “Who will roll back the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” But, as they looked up, they noticed that the stone had already been rolled away. It was a very big stone.

As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man in a white robe seated on the right, and they were amazed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth Who was crucified; He has been raised and is not here. This is, however, the place where they laid Him.

Tuesday, 2 November 2021 : Feast of All Souls (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Black or Purple/Violet

Romans 5 : 5-11

And hope does not disappoint us, because the Holy Spirit has been given to us, pouring into our hearts the love of God. Consider, moreover, the time that Christ died for us : when we were still helpless and unable to do anything. Few would accept to die for an upright person; although, for a very good person, perhaps someone would dare to die.

But see how God manifested His love for us : while we were still sinners, Christ died for us; and we have become just, through His Blood. With much more reason now He will save us from any condemnation. Once enemies, we have been reconciled with God through the death of His Son; with much more reason, now we may be saved, through His life.

Not only that, but we even boast in God because of Christ Jesus, our Lord, through Whom we have been reconciled.

Tuesday, 2 November 2021 : Feast of All Souls (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Black or Purple/Violet

Psalm 26 : 1, 4, 7-9, 13-14

YHVH is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? YHVH is the rampart of my life; I will not be afraid.

One thing I ask of YHVH, one thing I seek – that I may dwell in His house all the days of my life, to gaze at His jewel and to visit His Sanctuary.

Hear my voice when I call, o YHVH, have mercy on me and answer. My heart says to You, “I seek Your face, o YHVH.” Do not hide Your face from me nor turn away Your servant in anger. You are my protector, do not reject me; abandon me not, o God my Saviour!

I hope, I am sure, that I will see the goodness of YHVH in the land of the living. Trust in YHVH, be strong and courageous, yes, put your hope in YHVH!

Tuesday, 2 November 2021 : Feast of All Souls (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Black or Purple/Violet

Isaiah 25 : 6-9

On this mountain YHVH Sabaoth will prepare for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, meat full of marrow, fine wine strained. On this mountain He will destroy the pall cast over all peoples, this very shroud spread over all nations, and death will be no more.

The Lord YHVH will wipe away the tears from all cheeks and eyes; He will take away the humiliation of His people all over the world : for YHVH has spoken. On that day you will say : This is our God. We have waited for Him to save us, let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation.

Monday, 1 November 2021 : Solemnity of All Saints (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the great Solemnity of All Saints, celebrating the memory of the Lord’s innumerable great saints, all those who have been found worthy and been officially canonised as saints by the Church, and therefore worthy of veneration by the entire Church and all the faithful. Today we remember the glorious deeds and the lives of those saints, our own holy predecessors, all those who have given themselves and their whole lives in the service of God, who lived worthily of God.

In our first reading today, we heard of the words from the Book of Revelation of St. John the Apostle which detailed his glorious vision of Heaven as he received it during his exile at the island of Patmos. St. John saw a great number of the descendants of Israel, as well as innumerable people of every nations and races, all gathered and brought together in the presence of God. They were all those whom according to the Angel that guided St. John, had lived their lives with faith in God, and there were still many among them who had been persecuted for the Lord.

What St. John had seen in his vision was a proof that there is life and existence beyond death, and the saints represent all those whom the Lord had deemed to be worthy to join Him in the glorious kingdom He had prepared for them in Heaven, where they would be all His people and He would be their God forevermore. Sin and death would no longer come between Him and them, and those saints, some suffering persecution before they gained the promised eternal glory, all have been faithful to God to the very end.

In our second reading today, we then heard from St. John the Apostle in his Epistle, the same St. John who had seen the heavenly vision at Patmos. Whether St. John wrote this Epistle before or after his exile at Patmos and the vision, he knew, after having journeyed with the Lord and receiving the truth through the Holy Spirit and Wisdom of God, that all of us are truly beloved children of God, and therefore as God’s own children, therefore, we are called to be more like our heavenly Father in all things.

What does that mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that since God is our Creator and our Father, and as He considered us all His own children, then naturally all of us as His children must be like Him in all things, just as children usually follow after the example of their parents, especially their fathers. It is just right and fitting that as God’s children that we walk in the path of righteousness and justice, to be good just as our Lord and God, our heavenly Father is all good and perfect.

St. John therefore exhorted all the faithful and the Church to follow the Lord faithfully and commit themselves to a new life and existence centred and focused on God, one in which we, the children of God, are living our lives with virtue and goodness, with faith and devotion to God, that we truly belong to God and everyone who sees us, hears us and our words, witnesses our actions and interactions, all shall know that we come from the Lord, and may come to believe in Him as well through us.

How do we then do this, brothers and sisters in Christ? Then remember what we have heard in our Gospel passage today, in which Our Lord spoke to the people in His Sermon on the Mount or the Beatitudes, detailing the eight ways in which we can be truly blessed living our lives with faith, and when the Lord Jesus praised all those who have lived their lives virtuously according to the Eight Beatitudes, in fact He was exhorting and telling all of us to do the same with our lives.

To be poor in spirit does not mean for us to be physically and materially poor, but rather, it refers to an attitude that we must have in life, to be humble in our disposition and way of life, to be humble and meek in seeking God’s love and fulfilment, to be poor and truly in need of help and guidance from God. We ought not be proud and haughty, ambitious and selfish in our way of living and interaction with each other. Instead, we should always seek the Lord and His love and providence at all times. This is what is meant by being poor in spirit.

Then as we seek justice and righteousness in life, just as we all seek to be merciful in our actions and deeds, in our words and interactions with one another, and in being pure in our hearts, in our conviction and path, we are all called to be exemplary in how we live and act towards our fellow brothers and sisters, our neighbours and those whom we encounter in life. We should strive to be good and righteous and caring towards those who need our love, care and attention.

And then as the Lord also mentioned, we should all seek to make peace and bring harmony in our communities, and wherever we are. We must also be prepared to be persecuted, rejected and oppressed, challenged and our lives made difficult by those who still refused to listen to the Lord and believe in Him. That is because our Christian faith and way of life are often incompatible to the ways and the norms that this world is accustomed to, and many will come to oppose us because they disagree with our faith and way of life.

We must not be afraid, brothers and sisters in Christ. Remember what St. John had seen in his vision? Those martyrs who had shed their blood in the Lord in martyrdom had been blessed and taken up to Heaven for their faith and endurance in their commitment to Him, sharing in the Blood of the Lamb of God, washed clean and purified by their faith in God, as they shed their blood and suffered for the Lord’s sake. And there were many others who suffered other forms of martyrdom as well, such as white martyrdom that does not involve death, but full of suffering.

Listening to the Beatitudes and all that the Lord had revealed to us, we may then become skeptical and doubtful if our lives can become like the saints. After all, having known the lives of many saints, do they not seem like so holy, so good and much more worthy as compared to us? Many of us may think and feel that we are unworthy unlike those saints and martyrs who had done so much for the sake of the Lord and for the sake of the Church and God’s people. Yet, we forget that they too once were sinners just like us.

Saints were not superhumans unlike what some of us often misunderstood. They had their share of troubles and downfalls, moments when they faltered and failed in faith. Some of the saints were even once great sinners and enemies of the Lord, such as St. Paul the Apostle, once a young zealous Pharisee who was number one enemy of the Lord and His Church, persecuting many Christians throughout Judea and Jerusalem before he was called by God and converted to the true faith. Some others like St. Augustine of Hippo, St. Ignatius of Loyola and many others led a sinful and worldly lives in their younger days.

What matters is that, in the end, they turned away from their sins, committed themselves to the Lord and devoted their time, effort and attention on Him, such that they sanctified their lives through God’s grace and by their fervent dedication, in each of their own ways, in how they led lives truly worthy of God, and which we ourselves can also follow as well. By looking at the examples of the saints, we are all challenged to follow the Lord and to change our lives, much like how the Lord called Levi, the tax collector, who later on became a great Apostle and Evangelist, St. Matthew, as well as St. Mary Magdalene, who according to some traditions, was a prostitute.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, God called us all to be holy, to be His beloved children and therefore, as holy as we should be. All of us have the potential in us to be holy and to end up like the saints, who are now enjoying the glorious inheritance promised to all, as their efforts and deeds were deemed worthy by God and His Church. God wants us all to realise that each and every one of us have the capability and the opportunity to be like the saints, if only we follow what our holy predecessors had done, as described in the Beatitudes.

Let us all therefore reform ourselves and change our way of life so that from now on we will live for the greater glory of God and to shine with the brilliance of God’s light and truth. Saints are indeed like the beautiful stained glass in our churches, not only because they are often depicted on them, their lives and ministry, but the fact that they do not produce light on their own, but are beautiful because of the light that shines through them. In the same manner therefore, the saints have no glory on their own save for the glory they have gained through the Lord, in their actions and deeds that are a reflection of God’s righteousness and justice, His truth and love.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us are like that stained glass, and we are all given the opportunity to shine with the light of Christ. But as long as we live in sin, sin is like a dark and thick grease that sticks onto that glass and prevents any light from passing through. As such, a dirty stained glass that is our lives will not be able to shine forth with the light of Christ. How do we then proceed? It is by following the examples of the saints, and asking them for their intercession on our behalf just as we strive to do our best to live our lives in a most Christian manner. In that way, we are making that ‘stained glass’ which is our lives, clean and able to shine with the light of God.

Just as our holy predecessors had done, we have to strive to reject sin and all of its vile influences in our lives. We have to do our best to carry out God’s will and to do His commandments, to be righteous and just in our actions and dealings, to be selfless and loving in our every interactions. Are we able to do this, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we willing to live our lives from now on as dedicated Christians, modelling ourselves after the great many saints that are our role models? Let us ourselves be role models and inspirations for others to follow, by our own dedicated faith in life.

Let us no longer be saddled by the burden of sin, and instead, let us all, as Church Militant in this world, do our very best to live virtuously in the constant struggle against sin and evil, to be as good and worthy as possible, with the help of those saints, the Church Triumphant, who have already won their struggle, and ask them sincerely for their intercession and help, as they are closer to the Lord than us, that God will grant us His strength and grace to overcome the obstacles and the challenges we may encounter in life. And let us not forget to pray for the Church Suffering as well, our departed brothers and sisters who are still now suffering in Purgatory.

May God bless us all and strengthen us, that we may imitate and follow in the good examples of His saints, all those who have lived their lives worthily in the Lord. May God help us to live our lives worthily like His saints, that we too may share in eternal glory and true joy that is our inheritance, at the end of time. O Holy Saints of God, Holy men and women, our blessed brothers and sisters, the Church Triumphant in God, pray for us sinners! Amen.

Monday, 1 November 2021 : Solemnity of All Saints (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 5 : 1-12a

At that time, when Jesus saw the crowds, He went up the mountain. He sat down and His disciples gathered around Him. Then He spoke and began to teach them :

“Fortunate are those who are poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Fortunate are those who mourn; they shall be comforted. Fortunate are the gentle; they shall possess the land.”

“Fortunate are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied. Fortunate are the merciful, for they shall find mercy. Fortunate are those with pure hearts, for they shall see God.”

“Fortunate are those who work for peace; they shall be called children of God. Fortunate are those who are persecuted for the cause of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.”

“Fortunate are you, when people insult you and persecute you and speak all kinds of evil against you because you are My followers. Be glad and joyful, for a great reward is kept for you in God.”

Monday, 1 November 2021 : Solemnity of All Saints (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 3 : 1-3

See what singular love the Father has for us : we are called children of God, and we really are. This is why the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.

Beloved, we are God’s children, and what we shall be has not, yet, been shown. Yet, when He appears in His glory, we know, that we shall be like Him, for, then, we shall see Him as He is. All who have such a hope, try to be pure, as He is pure.

Monday, 1 November 2021 : Solemnity of All Saints (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 23 : 1-2, 3-4ab, 5-6

The earth and its fullness belong to YHVH, the world and all that dwell in it. He has founded it upon the ocean and set it firmly upon the waters.

Who will ascend the mountain of YHVH? Who will stand in His holy place? Those with clean hands and pure heart, who desire not what is vain.

They will receive blessings from YHVH, a reward from God, their Saviour. Such are the people who seek Him, who seek the face of Jacob’s God.

Monday, 1 November 2021 : Solemnity of All Saints (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Revelations 7 : 2-4, 9-14

I saw another Angel, ascending from the sunrise, carrying the seal of the living God, and he cried out with a loud voice, to the four Angels empowered to harm the earth and the sea, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God upon their foreheads.”

Then, I heard the number of those marked with the seal : a hundred and forty-four thousand, from all the tribes of the people of Israel. After this, I saw a great crowd, impossible to count, from every nation, race, people and tongue, standing before the Throne, and the Lamb, clothed in white, with palm branches in their hands, and they cried out with a loud voice, “Who saves, but our God, Who sits on the Throne, and the Lamb?”

All the Angels were around the Throne, the elders and the four living creatures; they, then, bowed before the Throne, with their faces to the ground, to worship God. They said, “Amen, Praise, glory, wisdom, thanks, honour, power and strength to our God forever and ever. Amen!”

At that moment, one of the elders spoke up, and said to me, “Who are these people clothed in white, and where did they come from?” I answered, “Sir, it is you who know this.” The elder replied, “They, are those who have come out of the great persecution, they have washed, and made their clothes white, in the Blood of the Lamb.”