Saturday, 28 October 2017 : Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the feast of not just one but two of the Lord’s own Twelve Apostles, the principal and most important ones among His disciples, whom He had called and chosen from among the people and the other disciples, to be the pillars of His Church, established on earth, as mentioned in the Epistle that St. Paul wrote to the Church and to the faithful in the city of Ephesus.

Jesus our Lord is the Head and the Foundation of the Church, as He founded it Himself, establishing the Church as the Body of the faithful, composed of all the faithful people of God united to Him as the Head of the Universal Church. And the Apostles are the support structures that are crucial in maintaining the integrity of the entire Church, as without them, their works and commitments, the Church would not have been what it is today.

We may think of the Apostles as those whom God had chosen among His people and were great ones among men. However, the reality is that, while God indeed gave them the authority over the Church and the faithful, the power to forgive sins and the authority over evil spirits and to continue the good works of the Lord, but the challenges and responsibilities that they faced were enormous. There were great tribulations and difficulties that they had to endure on their journey to establish and build God’s Church.

If we read throughout the entirety of the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles written by St. Paul the Apostle, as well as through the traditions and stories of the tales of the saints of the early Church and the martyrs, especially the martyrdom of the Apostles themselves, we will realise just what a calling that God had called those Twelve Apostles into, to the point that all of them, except for St. John the Apostle, died of martyrdom defending their faith in God.

And neither were these Apostles chosen because they were mighty in their deeds or power, but instead, God chose them from among the people, from among the poor and the ordinary, from those who were once fishermen, illiterate and uneducated, or tax collectors and sinners, or like St. Simon the Apostle, who was a member of the Zealots, a group of Jewish fanatical fighters, and many more. God called them from various sources and made them to be worthy.

And God called them to a mission, that is to bring all the people of God to Him, to reconcile them with Him and to bring them to a loving reunion through forgiveness and grace. They have worked tirelessly, continuing the good works of the Lord after His Resurrection from the dead and Ascension into heaven. They went from place to place, from towns to towns, and from villages to villages as the witnesses of the Lord, proclaiming to many people the truth of God.

By their faith in God, they have become indispensable key players in the earliest days of the Church, especially amidst the challenges and difficulties that many of the earliest Christian communities had. And therefore, many of the Apostles led the way in martyrdom, because they courageously went on to preach the Gospels among the various communities and when they were arrested and persecuted, they did not give up their faith.

In particular, St. Simon, also known as the Zealot, is often depicted together with St. Jude, also known as St. Jude Thaddeus, because both of them according to the sacred tradition of the Church, went on together on a mission of evangelisation in many places, from Persia, which is in present day Iran, to Armenia and then to Lebanon and the Jordan. It was also documented that they might have travelled to other parts of the Roman Empire, preaching the faith, until they died in holy martyrdom.

Through glorious martyrdom God glorified His holy Apostles, His greatest servants, that the Church declared them to be saints, those who are worthy of praise, honour and veneration, as they are now in heaven, and they now stand in the presence of God, becoming our great intercessors, praying for our sake at all times. We know how St. Jude Thaddeus in particular is well-known as the saint to whom a great devotion is present, as the patron saint for hopeless causes.

The examples of these Apostles of our Lord, their courage and commitment to serve the Lord in doing the will of God, and obeying all of His commandments, should be inspiration for each and every one of us. We should devote ourselves, our time and effort to do what they have done, continuing their good works in the Church. If I would like to compare us all, as Christians all of us are the bricks of the Church, just as the Apostles are the foundations and the pillars supporting the Church.

Just as without the pillars a building will collapse, without good bricks and good arrangement and strong bonds between the bricks, the building will not be able to withstand the pressure and forces from the outside, and the whole edifice will also eventually collapse too. This is why, all of us as Christians, are called to do the same mission that the Lord had first entrusted to His Apostles.

We should not think that there is nothing much to do in our lives as Christians in this world. We should not think that there is no more works of evangelisation and conversion that need to be done. There are in fact still numerous opportunities and areas where we can contribute our efforts, to help the multitudes of people who are still living in the dark and in the ignorance of God’s love.

There are many out there who have also lapsed in their faith, and walking down the path towards damnation, because they have lost their way, either through temptations or coercions, and it is in our hands now, that we are able to devote ourselves, our time and effort to help these brethren of ours, by our contributions, actions and deeds, imitating the examples set by the Apostles themselves.

Let us remember that God had chosen His Apostles to be His instruments to bring His salvation to more and more souls. The same calling and mission has been given to us all as well. Let us embrace this willingly, and commit ourselves wholeheartedly to God, no longer hesitating, but we should encourage each other to walk righteously in the presence of God. May God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 28 October 2017 : 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.

Saturday, 28 October 2017 : 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.

Saturday, 28 October 2017 : 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.

Saturday, 7 October 2017 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 1 : 12-14

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the Mount called Olives, which is a fifteen minute walk away. On entering the city they went to the room upstairs where they were staying. Present there were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James, son of Alpheus; Simon the Zealot and Judas son of James.

All of these, together, gave themselves to constant prayer. With them were some women, and also Mary, the mother of Jesus, and His brothers.

Thursday, 21 September 2017 : Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of one great servant of God, one of the Twelve Apostles and one of the Four Evangelists, whom God had called from among the tax collectors, a group of people who was long reviled and hated in the Jewish community, considered as betrayers and traitors to the nation. Yet, from among this group, God had called up a great saint.

It is often that we thought of certain group of people as being sinners and wicked in their deeds. And we often look down on them, thinking that we are better than them. But, do we realise that each and every one of us are sinners too? Do we realise that no matter how great or how small the sins we have, they are still sins in the sight of God? And that those sins have made us all to be unworthy?

With great sins and wickedness, also comes great opportunity at redemption and liberation. God has granted us the new hope and opportunity of being forgiven, through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whose action, His sacrifice on the Cross, He has brought healing and redemption upon all those who have been lost to the Lord, all those who have gone wayward in their lives.

Each and every one of us are called with the same calling that Jesus made upon His Apostle St. Matthew, while he was still called Levi, the tax collector, with the words, “Follow Me!” He called Levi to leave behind his old life, his old work as a tax collector, and embrace wholeheartedly and completely his new role and calling as a disciple of the Lord, as the one through whom the Lord would exercise His will upon this world.

We often feel that we are inadequate or incapable of contributing to the causes of the Lord, through His Church. Some of us feel that we do not have any special talents or abilities to do what the Lord had done through His Apostles and the other disciples. But we forget that it is not we who decide or choose who it is that is worthy of the Lord, just as it is not ours to decide whether someone would be unworthy of the Lord, as the Pharisees had done on the tax collectors and prostitutes.

Rather, God chooses those whom He had chosen and He makes worthy all those who He wishes to be worthy. He has granted us His blessings and gifts, as what St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Corinth, our first reading today, mentioned. God has given to different people the different gifts according to what He deems to be right for each one of us. Not all of us are called to be leaders, and neither are all of us called to be teachers, or to be pastors and priests.

That is therefore how things are working out in the Church today. There are different members of the Church, with different professions and callings in life. Some are called to the married life, where man and woman are called to glorify the Lord through their commitment to one another, and by building up families that are founded upon the firm foundation of faith, raising up children devoted to God, praying together and doing the will of God as one family.

Some others are called to labour for the good of the Church, and this may indeed overlapped the calling to married life. For there are those who, while being busy with their families, but they still, in various ways, contribute to the Church, in their effort and time spent, to help the good works of the Church, volunteering their best to help realise the Lord’s work done through His Church.

And of course some heard the noble calling to surrender their lives completely to God, to heed His will and to follow wholeheartedly in His Apostles’ footsteps, to become His holy priests, to become the ones who have been entrusted with the guidance of the people of God, to forgive the sins of man by the virtue of them being the Alter Christus, representing our Lord Jesus Himself.

Regardless of what God has called us to be, what each and every one of us need to do is to discern what it is that God wants us to do with our lives, and with all that He has granted us and blessed us with. Let us heed the examples of St. Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist, who heeded the Lord’s call and went forth, trusting completely in God’s will and providence, and devoted himself completely to God.

Let us all do the same, brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us all devote ourselves anew to the Lord, with a renewed zeal, knowing that in Him alone that we will be able to find true satisfaction and joy in life. Let us embrace what God has called us to be, in our own capacities, as the lay members of the Church, as married couples and family members, and also as those who have given themselves to consecrated and religious life, as well as the holy priesthood.

May the Lord be with each and every one of us, and may He empower all of us so that we may be courageous in living our lives to the best of our abilities. Let us contribute in whatever way we can, trusting that God will show us the way forward. Let us all follow Him and love Him ever more, with each passing day. God bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 21 September 2017 : Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Matthew 9 : 9-13

At that time, as Jesus moved on from the place where He cured a paralytic man, He saw a man named Matthew, at his seat in the custom house; and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And Matthew got up and followed Him.

Now it happened, while Jesus was at table in Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners joined Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is it, that your Master eats with sinners and tax collectors?”

When Jesus heard this, He said, “Healthy people do not need a doctor, but sick people do. Go, and find out what this means : What I want is mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”