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.”

Thursday, 21 September 2017 : Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist (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 over 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.

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

Liturgical Colour : Red

Ephesians 4 : 1-7, 11-13

Therefore, I, the prisoner of Christ, invite you, to live the vocation you have received. Be humble, kind, patient, and bear with one another in love. Make every effort to keep, among you, the unity of spirit, through bonds of peace. Let there be one body, and one Spirit, just as one hope is the goal of your calling by God. One Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God, the Father of all, Who is above all, and works through all, and is in all.

But to each of us, divine grace is given, according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore, it is said : When He ascended to the heights, He brought captives and gave His gifts to people. As for His gifts, to some, He gave to be Apostles; to others, prophets, or even evangelists; or pastors and teachers.

So, He prepared those who belong to Him, for the ministry, in order to build up the Body of Christ, until we are all united, in the same faith and knowledge of the Son of God. Thus, we shall become the perfect Man, upon reaching maturity, and sharing the fullness of Christ.

Thursday, 24 August 2017 : Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast day of one of the Holy Apostles, one of the Twelve Apostles of our Lord, namely St. Bartholomew the Apostle, also known as Nathanael, which we heard in the Gospel today being called by God to follow Him and to be His Apostle. And therefore, as we celebrate the feast of one of our Lord’s principal disciple, let us all recall what the Apostles had done for the sake of the Church.

The Apostles were called from diverse backgrounds and origins. Some of them were fishermen, while others were tax collectors and sinners, even some were zealots or fighters and thieves. The Apostles were called by the Lord Jesus Who called all of them and made them to become the twelve principal members of His disciples, recalling the twelve sons and tribes of the people of Israel. And they were the ones through whom God made His works in this world evident and true.

The Apostles followed the Lord Jesus and helped Him in His ministry, going ahead of the Lord to establish His presence and to prepare the people and the community for His coming. They prepared the path for the Lord and therefore they are indeed considered the pillars of the Church of God, as the invaluable foundation and key personnel involved in the establishment of God’s Church in this world. If not for their hard work and sacrifices, there would not have been the Church as we know it today.

And after the Lord Jesus had risen from the dead and ascended into Heaven, for St. Bartholomew, as was for the other Apostles, he went to various countries and places to spread the words of the Gospel and introduce the Lord to all those who had not yet heard about His salvation. He went to India to preach the faith there and many souls were saved because of his works. And from India, he went on to evangelise in the kingdom of Armenia where he met his death in martyrdom.

It was told that he managed to convince many people to embrace the Christian faith, and in fact St. Bartholomew even managed to convert the king of Armenia by his teachings and efforts. It was then that St. Bartholomew met his martyrdom when the king’s brother led the enemies of the faith and took over the saints and put them to death. By his efforts he had established the foundations of the Church in many communities, and many had been saved.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, how are all these things relevant to us? What is it that the Apostles like St. Bartholomew are able to show us? They showed us the strong devotion and commitment to the Lord, one that is often leading to the moments when they had to choose between safeguarding their own interests and serving God’s will. And they indeed chose to obey the Lord even though they knew that by doing so they had placed themselves at great risk.

All of us are called to walk in the footsteps of the Apostles, as because each of the Apostles have dedicated their whole lives to God. And all of us are the successors of the Apostles, the ones who have been passed the baton which we ought to take up in order to continue the good works of the Apostles. We are called to follow the examples of the Apostles in all that they have done, in their faith and dedication, and in everything they have given up for the sake of the Lord.

There are still a lot of work that the Church has to do, brothers and sisters in Christ. There are still plenty of opportunities in which we can contribute as members of the Church. There are still many out there who are still living in the darkness and in ignorance of God’s truth and ways. And it is by our efforts that the Church will be able to bring these brethren of ours that they will be able to find their way to the Lord and therefore together we will be worthy of Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all today renew our commitment to the Lord through our actions, words and deeds. Let us rediscover that zeal which we ought to have for the Lord, that we will be able to devote ourselves in the giving of our time, our efforts and works for the greater glory of God and for the salvation of His people. Let us follow the footsteps of the Holy Apostles, St. Bartholomew and his fellow Apostles that we may advance the good cause of the Lord and bring ever more souls to the salvation in God.

St. Bartholomew, all the holy Apostles and saints of the Lord, all those who have lived worthily in God, pray for us all sinners, all of us who are still struggling daily in this world. May God be with us always and may He strengthen our faith in us, that we will always be close to Him, and may He bless us always. Amen.

Thursday, 24 August 2017 : Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 1 : 45-51

At that time, Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found the One Moses wrote about in the Law, and the prophets : He is Jesus, Son of Joseph, from Nazareth.”

Nathanael replied, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming, He said of him, “Here comes an Israelite, a true one; there is nothing false in him.” Nathanael asked Him, “How do You know me?” And Jesus said to him, “Before Philip called you, you were under the fig tree, and I saw you.”

Nathanael answered, “Master, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” But Jesus replied, “You believe because I said, ‘I saw you under the fig tree.’ But you will see greater things than that. Truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened, and the Angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

Thursday, 24 August 2017 : Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 144 : 10-11, 12-13ab, 17-18

All Your works will give You thanks; all Your saints, o YHVH, will praise You. They will tell of the glory of Your kingdom; and speak of Your power.

That all may know of Your mighty deeds, Your reign, and its glorious splendour. Your reign is from age to age; Your dominion endures, from generation to generation.

Righteous is YHVH in all His ways, His mercy shows in all His deeds. He is near those who call on Him, who call trustfully upon His Name.