Thursday, 21 May 2015 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Christopher Magallanes, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we continue to hear about the prayer which Jesus had made to His Father, asking Him to bless and protect those who have dedicated themselves to Him, and all those whom He had chosen out of the world and have not betrayed Him like what Judas Iscariot had done.

And He prayed that they all may be united and one in Body and Spirit, just as He and His Father are one, that as One Church, they may stand together against the darkness around them, and become the testimony of the Faith that all who saw them might believe and repent.

In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we also heard about how St. Paul stood for trial in front of the Sanhedrin, or the Council of the elders of the people of Israel, and he was condemned because of his faith in God and his courageous and ceaseless preaching and evangelisation of the peoples regarding the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world, which most of the Sanhedrin members had rejected.

And we heard how God blessed St. Paul and protected him from harm by putting discord amongst his persecutors, the party of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. And this was because of the discord of those who do not belong to the Church of God. Each of them with their own ideas and thoughts. That is indeed the way of this world, the way of selfishness where everyone gives in to their own selfish desires and wants.

But sadly, this is the same issue that also affected even the Church of God. Because of mankind’s greed and inability to resist the temptations of the world, this brought about division into the Church of God, where heresy and falsehoods were rampant amongst the people of God, misleading many souls away from salvation. And this is a great danger to all of us, for division in the Church brings about harm for the souls that became ensnared in the lies of Satan.

That is why Jesus prayed for the unity of the Church, that is the unity of all of His faithful ones, all of His beloved children. The Church is not just a building and an establishment, or an organisation, but in fact, it encompassed all of us, all the believers and all those who have placed their faith in God. All of us make up the one Body of Christ, that is His Church. For while the Church is filled with peoples of different origins from all over the world, but its human traits hide the truth that truly, the Church came from God and it, together with all of us, belongs to God alone.

If united, the Church of God will be able to face and persevere through whatever it is that Satan and his wicked allies throw against us. Remember that Jesus Himself told Peter that not even the gates of hell will prevail against it. Thus, if we remain united and devoted to our call and mission as children of God and members of His Church, then not even the greatest force and power of Satan can uproot us or harm us.

As we approach the celebration of Pentecost, let us all remember that all of us faithful ones in God all share the same Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit which we have received, in the one Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, His Church. And today we also celebrate the feast of St. Christopher Magallanes and his companions, who are martyrs of the Faith and the Church.

St. Christopher Magallanes was a faithful and devoted priest and servant of God, who ministered to the people of God with love and tenderness, sharing with them the love of God. He lived however, in a turbulent country at a turbulent time, in Mexico during a time of great hostility and opposition against the Church and the Faith in general. The people in power were adamantly and aggressively hostile against the Church.

Thus, he was martyred with many other brave and courageous defenders of the faith, and together they were elevated to their glory at the Altar as the holy saints and martyrs of the Church. They remained true to their faith and calling as servants of God, bringing the word of God despite knowing that doing so would lead to their deaths.  Their examples should serve as a reminder for all of us to lead a dedicated and committed life of faith in our Lord. There are so much more that we can do.

Let us all in all of our actions seek to bring unity to the Church, and bringing one another closer to God, and helping one another to resist the temptations of the flesh and the world. May God our Father guide us on our way and keep our hearts strongly in love for Him, and so that we may remain true to Him and keep all of His Laws and commandments faithfully. Amen.

Thursday, 21 May 2015 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Christopher Magallanes, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

John 17 : 20-26

At that time, Jesus prayed to God His Father and said, “I pray not only for these, but also for those who through their word will believe in Me. May they all be one, as You Father are in Me and I am in You. May they be one in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.”

“I have given them the glory You have given Me, that they may be one as we are one : I in them and You in Me. Thus they shall reach perfection in unity; and the world shall know that You have sent Me, and that I have loved them, just as You loved Me.”

“Father, since You have given them to Me, I want them to be with Me where I am, and see the glory You gave Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world has not known You, but I have known You, and these have known that You have sent Me. As I revealed Your Name to them, so will I continue to reveal it, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I also may be in them.”

Thursday, 21 May 2015 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Christopher Magallanes, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 15 : 1-2a and 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11

Keep me safe, o God, for in You I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “O Lord, my inheritance and my cup, my chosen portion – hold secure my lot.”

I bless the Lord who counsels me; even at night my inmost self instructs me. I keep the Lord always before me; for with Him at my right hand, I will never be shaken.

My heart, therefore, exults, my soul rejoices; my body too will rest assured. For You will not abandon my soul to the grave, nor will You suffer Your Holy One to see decay in the land of the dead.

You will show me the path of life, in Your presence the fullness of joy, at Your right hand happiness forever. 

Thursday, 21 May 2015 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Christopher Magallanes, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Acts 22 : 30 and Acts 23 : 6-11

The next day the commander wanted to know for certain the charges the Jews were making against Paul. So he released him from prison and called together the High Priest and the whole Council; and they brought Paul down and made him stand before them.

Paul knew that part of the Council were Sadducees and others Pharisees; so he spoke out in the Council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, son of a Pharisee. It is for the hope in the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial here.”

At these words, an argument broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees and the whole assembly was divided. For the Sadducees claim that there is neither resurrection, nor angels nor spirits, while the Pharisees acknowledge all these things.

Then the shouting grew louder, and some teachers of the Law of the Pharisee party protested, “We find nothing wrong with this man. Maybe a spirit or an angel has spoken to him.” With this argument became so violent that the commander feared that Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He therefore ordered the soldiers to go down and rescue him from their midst and take him back to the fortress.

That night the Lord stood by Paul and said, “Courage! As you have borne witness to Me here in Jerusalem, so must you do in Rome.”

Wednesday, 20 May 2015 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard how Jesus prayed to the Lord His Father, to keep safe all of His disciples, all that He had chosen and called out of the world. Those who keep themselves faithful in His ways will not be disappointed, and God who is ever faithful, will keep them in His love and grace. After all, He had endured none other than the cross of all the sins of all the world, just so that all who believed in Him may be saved.

God will keep all those who believe in Him and trust in Him safe. He will bless them and guide them to righteousness. But we ourselves must also put in the effort to keep ourselves true and faithful to our Lord. If we do not put in the effort, then we have to be wary that Satan and all of his allies will try to snatch us away from the salvation we have in the Lord, through the means of heresy and falsehoods that they will try to sow in our hearts.

The aim of the devil is to sunder us away from the love and grace of God, by ensnaring is with the temptations of the flesh and the world. That was why so many people even among the faithful became wayward in their faith. No longer faithful to their initial devotion to God, they began to pursue their own paths, listening to the words of their desires more than they listen to the word of God speaking in their hearts.

The concerns of the world clouded everything in their heart, covering their eyes and preventing them from seeing the truth. As a result, they began to preach falsehoods and lies just as the father of lies had done, that is Satan. The sole purpose of this is to further the cause and the aggrandisement of all those who have given in to their desires, seeking more glory and human praise, and indeed at the expense of those poor souls who have been misled and been fed all the lies of the devil.

We have so many heresies that at one point of time or another tried and almost managed to tear apart and destroy the whole Church of God and condemn all the faithful to the depredations of evil and the suffering of hell. Yet, the Church triumphed despite all the odds, just as the Lord Jesus Himself had told Peter, as He entrusted His Church to him, that not even the gates of hell would be able to withstand the power of the Church.

All those who anchor themselves securely in the power and protection of the Church will not be disappointed, and as long as they remain faithful, they shall never be shaken. Not even the devil has any power or control or dominion over us if we stick fast to God as our Protector. There will be challenges, difficulties and persecution indeed, but none of these can bring us any lasting harm. Indeed harm will only come our way if we decide to give in to the lies of the devil.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Bernardine of Siena, a faithful and courageous priest who hailed from Siena in Italy. He was a Franciscan friar and preacher, who was widely known as the Apostle of Italy, for his great and hard works, committing himself to rejuvenate the faith in the region now known as Italy, which was then fractured and divided against each other, and they were embroiled in heresies and vices of life.

He preached against the wickedness of the world and men, who had enjoyed too much of the world’s pleasures and goodness. They have given in to their greed and forgotten about their true purpose in this world, that is to bring glory to God, and bring to fullness their lives, by devoting their lives in loving service to both God and men alike. Instead, they gave in to the temptations of the world and believed in the falsehoods of the false prophets and false teachings.

Through his works, many were converted and repented their sins to follow the path of the truth of God. And this is a reminder for us as well, that as members of God’s Church, we ought to take note what St. Bernardine of Siena had done, and follow in his footsteps. We have this duty and responsibility, which we ought to fulfill. Remember, that many people still lived in the darkness of sin, and await our active response to help them to get to the Light of God.

May Almighty God guide us in this life, so that in all the things we do, we may become light for all the peoples who still dwell in the darkness, and by anchoring ourselves strongly and trusting completely in God, we will be able to help one another to find our way to the Lord, and gain the salvation and eternal life which He had promised all who remain faithful to the end. Amen.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 17 : 11b-19

At that time, Jesus prayed to God His Father, “Holy Father, keep those You have given Me in Your Name, so that they may be one, as We also are. When I was with them, I kept them safe in Your Name; and not one was lost, except the one who was already lost, and in this the Scripture was fulfilled.”

“And now I come to You; in the world I speak these things, so that those whom You gave Me, might have joy – all My joy within themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to remove them from the world, but to keep them from the evil one.”

“They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. I have sent them into the world as You sent Me into the world; and for their sake, I go to the sacrifice by which I am consecrated, so that they too may be consecrated in truth.”

Wednesday, 20 May 2015 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 67 : 29-30, 33-35a, 35bc and 36c

Summon Your power, o God, with the strength You have wielded for us. To Your Temple in Jerusalem, kings will come with gifts.

Sing to God, o kingdoms of the world; sing praises to the Lord, to Him who rides the ancient heavens and speaks in the voice of thunder. Proclaim the might of God.

He is great in Israel, powerful in heavens. Blessed be God! 

Wednesday, 20 May 2015 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 20 : 28-38

Paul said to the elders of Ephesus, “Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock the Holy Spirit has placed into your care. Shepherd the Church of the Lord that He has won at the price of His own Blood. I know that after I leave, ruthless wolves will come among you and not spare the flock.”

“And from among you, some will arise corrupting the truth and inducing the disciples to follow them. Be on the watch, therefore, remembering that for three years, night and day, I did not cease to warn everyone even with tears. Now I commend you to God and to His grace-filled word, which is able to make you grow and gain the inheritance that you shall share with all the saints.”

“I have not looked for anyone’s silver, gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have provided for both my needs and the needs of those who were with me. In every way I have shown you that by working hard one must help the weak, remembering the words that the Lord Jesus Himself said, ‘Happiness lies more in giving than in receiving.'”

After this discourse, Paul knelt down with them and prayed. Then they all began to weep and threw their arms around him and kissed him. They were deeply distressed because he had said that they would never see him again. And they went with him even to the ship.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015 : 7th Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard the farewell address by St. Paul to the elders and the faithful of the Church in the city of Ephesus. In that address, St. Paul thanked the people for their continued devotion and faith to God, and he reassured them that, although he foretold that he would no longer see them anymore, for he was going to his martyrdom in the defence of his faith.

And in the Gospel today, similarly, we heard about Jesus who was about to embark on His Passion, the very reason why He came into the world. He prayed for all of His disciples, that God His Father will continue to bless them and take good care of them as He had always done to them. He was going to meet the sufferings which were intended for us, and took them up upon Himself, to suffer and die on the cross that we may be saved.

In all these readings, the narrations and what had happened, we knew and we heard how God does not abandon all those whom He loves dearly. As long as we remain faithful to Him and cling unto Him with utmost dedication and faith, then we have nothing to be worried about, for God will continue to care for us in His own way. The saints and martyrs all went to their martyrdom and death with joy and courage, not with fear and uncertainty, because they know that God is with them.

And that was the same attitude that St. Paul showed his fellow brethren in faith in Ephesus. He was not fearful and he showed the courage he had, facing death with certainty, knowing that doing so brings about the glory of God, and it was preordained that he should die in the way so as to bring about the salvation of even more souls and the salvation of the world.

Remember that Jesus said to His disciples how those who were worried about their lives in this world will lose it, because they were likely too self-centred and egoistic to think about anything else other than themselves. And those who do not mind to lose their lives for the sake of the Lord, will gain the everlasting life and the glory of heaven. This is what the Lord had promised all those who do His will and are faithful to His cause.

And it was by their dedication and fearless preaching of the Good News, their testimony and defence of the faith by action and true devotion that they have caused so many people to be converted to the true faith, including even those who have persecuted them. The blood of martyrs indeed became the seeds of Christians. Many people had come to believe and endure the same persecution because they have seen the martyrs and their faith in God, and how true was the truth which the martyrs taught them.

Brethren in Christ, it does not mean that we have to purposefully seek martyrdom in the Name of the Lord. Rather, it means that in all things, we should learn on how to trust in the Lord in all things. Too many times in our lives that we worry about ourselves, about our lives, and about what we are to do, or what we are to gain every single days of our life. But such things do not bring us to true peace and closure in life.

Let us all learn to put our faith and trust in God, for He is ever faithful and He will give us all that we ever need. Let us grow less in our ego and in our pride, and instead grow sharper and deeper in our humility and readiness to accept the Lord in our lives, surrendering all things to Him, and trusting Him in all the things we do in life. May God guide us on this path, so that we may remain ever faithful to Him. Amen.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015 : 7th Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 17 : 1-11a

At that time, after Jesus had talked to His disciples, He lifted up His eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come! Give glory to Your Son, that the Son may give glory to You. You have given Him power over all humanity, so that He may give eternal life to all those You entrusted to Him. For this is eternal life : to know You, the only True God, and the One You sent, Jesus Christ.”

“I have glorified You on earth and finished the work that You gave Me to do. Now, Father, give Me, in Your presence, the same glory I had with You before the world began. I have made Your Name known to those You gave Me from the world. They were Yours, and You gave them to Me, and they kept Your word. And now they know that whatever You entrusted to Me, is indeed from You.”

“I have given them the teaching I received from You, and they received it, and know in truth that I came from You; and they believe that You sent Me. I pray for them. I do not pray for the world, but for those who belong to You, and whom You have given to Me. Indeed all I have is Yours, and all You have is Mine; and now they are My glory.”

“I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I come to You.”