Tuesday, 11 June 2013 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Barnabas, Apostle (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today, we celebrate a feast of a great Apostle and Church Father of the early Church of Christ, that is our One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. St. Barnabas the Apostle was a constant travel companion of St. Paul during his apostolic trips and missions across the Eastern Mediterranean region.

St. Barnabas was a devout follower of Christ, and was chosen among many, with Paul, whom the Lord Himself converted to His cause, to be the spearhead in the spread of God’s Gospel and as the champions of the faith, allowing the spread of the Good News and the propagation of God’s message of salvation to many people who long for God’s love and care.

At the time of the Apostles, the Church was still in its early days, in its youth. Jesus Christ our Lord had just died, resurrected, and then risen up to heaven. It was an enormous task that Jesus had entrusted to all of them, to make disciples of all the nations, and baptise them in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

There was bound to be opposition to their efforts, but certainly there were also warm receptions and acceptance of the teachings of Christ, and that of the faith, which eventually would become the roots for the growth of the Church in the centuries following the passing of St. Barnabas the Apostle and St. Paul his contemporary.

First, naturally, they went to their own people, to the people of Israel, to whom they preached the Good News and that the Lord Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God. But, they faced an unusually strong rejection, particularly from the chief priests and the Pharisees, whom themselves had opposed Christ and harassed Him continuously throughout His ministry.

But there were also those among the Jews who accepted God’s word and teachings, and they became the basis of the Church, which was more readily accepted by the pagan people of the Greek origins, the Gentiles. Why the difference in the acceptance of God’s message by these peoples? That is because, to the pagans, they were in darkness, and they were blind. God’s word in the Good News brought to them by the Apostles, was like a warm light of revelation of the truth to them.

The rejection of God’s message by His own people was because of jealousy and human arrogance, particularly in the chief priests and the educated Pharisees, because the people of Israel themselves had known God earlier, ever since the days of Moses and Abraham, unlike the pagan nations. This made them arrogant in their own knowledge and understanding, and they thought that any prophets or teachings not in line with their own version of the faith, would be wrong, as what they certainly thought of Christ and His followers.

Indeed there were those who accepted the message and become God’s disciples, but the time had not been easy for them, for they were persecuted, and even St. Paul was once Saul the great persecutor of the faithful. Nevertheless, with the guidance of the Lord, the Church grew and became more and more anchored in this world, until it becomes what we know today, as the Church.

Missionary work is never easy brothers and sisters, for there will always be those who close their ears from the Good News and turn their hearts away from the Lord. Yes, brethren, even among our own family members, our relatives, and our friends. Even those in the Church are not entirely free from this problem. Missionary work today is not only needed outside the Church, but in fact also inside the Church, to rejuvenate the faith in the many faithful who had been led astray by the world and the evil one.

God chose those whom He was willing to call to be His apostles and disciples, to be His hands in working the good works of God. Through the Twelve Apostles and the disciples of the Lord we receive this faith we have in God through the Church, which is today led by their successors. He sent them during His lifetime to evangelise to the people and to do good works, and themselves having no possession left on them, so that they would not be distracted by material and earthly goods, but devote their time and energy for God alone.

But be careful, brothers and sisters, for it is easy for us to misunderstand the true intent of the Lord in the Gospel today. People easily attack the Church and its ministers for their seemingly ‘material’ and worldly wealth in all the gold and glitter that we see in the churches and in the Mass. The golden chalices, the golden ciboria, and the other gold vessels and vestments used in the Mass.

These are not for our own possession, nor for the Church, for the gold vessels and vestments used in the Mass and in our churches is not for human glory, for indeed, they are for God’s own glory alone. God is so great that in our own way to glorify Him, we have given the best from ourselves, to craft vessels that would be worthy of Him, made of the most precious metals and materials. Not for our own glory, but for the glory of God. That is why we need to have a better understanding of our faith.

Let us then reflect on the words of the Scripture today, and strive to be better disciples of the Lord, and to take up the mantle of the apostles and the disciples, to be messengers of God’s word through the Church, and make disciples of all the nations. May God be with our works and bless us all the time. Amen.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Barnabas, Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Matthew 10 : 7-13

Go and proclaim this message : ‘The kingdom of heaven is near. Heal the sick, bring the dead back to life, cleanse the lepers, and drive out demons. You received this as a gift, so give it as a gift. Do not carry any gold, silver, or copper in your purses. Do not take a traveller’s bag, or an extra shirt, or sandals, or a staff : workers deserve their living.’

‘When you come to a town or a village, look for a worthy person, and stay there until you leave. When you enter the house, wish it peace. If the people in the house deserve it, your peace will be on them; if they do not deserve it, your blessing will come back to you.’

Tuesday, 11 June 2013 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Barnabas, Apostle (Psalm)

Psalm 97 : 1, 2-3ab, 3c-4, 5-6

Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

The Lord has shown His salvation, revealing His justice to the nations. He has not forgotten His love nor His faithfulness to Israel.

The farthest ends of the earth all have seen God’s saving power. All you lands, make a joyful noise to the Lord, break into song and sing praise.

With melody of the lyre and with music of the harp. With trumpet blast and sound of the horn, rejoice before the King, the Lord!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Barnabas, Apostle (First Reading)

Acts 11 : 21b-26 and Acts 13 : 1-3

A great number believed and turned to the Lord. News of this reached the ears of the Church in Jerusalem, so they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw the manifest signs of God’s favour, he rejoiced and urged them all to remain firmly faithful to the Lord; for he himself was a good man filled with Holy Spirit and faith. Thus large crowds came to know the Lord.

Then Barnabas went off to Tarsus to look for Saul and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they had meetings with the Church and instructed many people. It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.

There were at Antioch – in the Church which was there – prophets and teachers : Barnabas, Symeon known as Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod, and Saul. On one occasion while they were celebrating the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said to them, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul to do the work for which I have called them.”

So, after fasting and praying, they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013 : 6th Week of Easter (First Reading)

Acts 16 : 22-34

So they set the crowd against them and the officials tore the clothes off Paul and Silas and ordered them to be flogged. And after inflicting many blows on them, they threw them into prison, charging the jailer to guard them safely. Upon receiving these instructions, he threw them into the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

About midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, a severe earthquake shook the place, rocking the prison to its foundations. Immediately all the doors flew open and the chains of all the prisoners fell off.

The jailer woke up to see the prison gates wide open. Thinking that the prisoners had escaped, he drew his sword to kill himself, but Paul shouted to him, “Do not harm yourself! We are all still here.” The jailer asked for a light, then rushed in, and fell at the feet of Paul and Silas. After he had secured the other prisoners, he led them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you and your household will be saved.”

Then they spoke the word of God to him and to all his household. Even at that hour of the night, the jailer took care of them and washed their wounds; and he and his whole household were baptised at once. He led them to his house, spread a meal before them and joyfully celebrated with his whole household his newfound faith in God.

Monday, 6 May 2013 : 6th Week of Easter (First Reading)

Acts 16 : 11-15

So we put out to sea from Troas and sailed straight across to Samothrace Island, and the next day to Neapolis. From there we went inland to Philippi, the leading city of the district of Macedonia, and a Roman colony. We spent some days in that city.

On the sabbath we went outside the city gate to the bank of the river where we thought the Jews would gather  to pray. We sat down and began speaking to the women who were gathering there. One of them was a God-fearing woman named Lydia from Thyatira City, a dealer in purple cloth.

As she listened, the Lord opened her heart to respond to what Paul was saying. After she had been baptised together with her household, she invited us to her house, “If you think I am faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us to accept her invitation.

Sunday, 5 May 2013 : 6th Sunday of Easter (First Reading)

Acts 15 : 1-2, 22-29

Some persons who had come from Judea to Antioch were teaching the brothers in this way, “Unless you are circumcised according to the law of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Because of this there was trouble, and Paul and Barnabas had fierce arguments with them. For Paul told the people to remain as they were when they became believers.

Finally those who had come from Jerusalem suggested that Paul and Barnabas and some others go up to Jerusalem to discuss the matter with the apostles and elders. Then the apostles and elders, together with the whole Church decided to choose representatives from among them to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas.

These were Judas, known as Barsabbas, and Silas, both leading men among the brothers. They took with them the following letter : ‘Greetings from the apostles and elders, your brothers, to the believers of non-Jewish birth in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. We have heard that some persons from among us have worried you with their discussions and troubled your peace of mind. They were not appointed by us.”

“But now, it has seemed right to us in an assembly, to choose representatives and to send them to you, along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have dedicated their lives to the service of our Lord Jesus Christ. We send you then Judas and Silas who themselves will give you these instructions by word of mouth.”

“We, with the Holy Spirit, have decided not to put any other burden on you except what is necessary : You are to abstain from blood, from the meat of strangled animals, and from prohibited marriages. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”

Thursday, 2 May 2013 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor (First Reading)

Acts 15 : 7-21

As the discussions became heated, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that from the beginning God chose me among you so that non-Jews could hear the Good News from me and believe. God, who can read hearts, put Himself on their side by giving the Holy Spirit to them just as He did to us. He made no distinction between us and them and cleansed their hearts through faith.”

“So why do you want to put God to the test? Why do you lay on the disciples a burden that neither our ancestors nor we ourselves were able to carry? We believe, indeed, that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they are.”

The whole assembly kept silent as they listened to Paul and Barnabas tell of all the miraculous signs and wonders that God had done through them among the non-Jews. After they had listened, James spoke up, “Listen to me, brothers. Symeon has just explained how God first showed His care by taking a people for Himself from non-Jewish nations.”

“And the words of the prophets agree with this, for Scripture says, ‘After this I will return and rebuild the booth of David which has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins and set it up again. Then the rest of humanity will look for the Lord, and all the nations will be consecrated to My Name. So says the Lord, who does today what He decided from the beginning.'”

“Because of this, I think that we should not make difficulties for those non-Jews who are turning to God. Let us just tell them not to eat food that is unclean from having been offered to idols; to keep themselves from prohibited marriages; and not to eat the flesh of animals that have been strangled, or any blood. For from the earliest of times Moses has been taught in every place, and every Sabbath his laws are recalled.”

Wednesday, 1 May 2013 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (First Reading)

Acts 15 : 1-6

Some persons who had come from Judea to Antioch were teaching the brothers in this way, “Unless you are circumcised according to the law of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Because of this there was trouble, and Paul and Barnabas had fierce arguments with them. For Paul told the people to remain as they were when they became believers.

Finally those who had come from Jerusalem suggested that Paul and Barnabas and some others go up to Jerusalem to discuss the matter with the apostles and elders. They were sent on their way by the Church. As they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria they reported how the non-Jews had turned to God, and there was great joy among all the brothers and sisters.

On their arrival in Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the Church, the apostles and elders, to whom they told all that God had done through them. Some believers, however, who belonged to the party of the Pharisees, stood up and said that non-Jewish men must be circumcised and instructed to keep the law of Moses. So the apostles and elders met together to consider this matter.

 

Alternative Reading (Mass of St. Joseph)

Genesis 1 : 26 – Genesis 2 : 3

God said, “Let us make man in Our image, to Our likeness. Let them rule over fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, over the cattle, over the wild animals, and over all creeping things that crawl along the ground.” So God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it, rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky, over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

God said, “I have given you every seed-bearing plant which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree that bears fruit with seed. It will be for your food. To every wild animal, to every bird of the sky, to everything that creeps along the ground, to everything that has the breath of life, I give every green plant for food.” So it was.

God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. There was evening and there was morning : the sixth day.

That was the way the sky and earth were created and all their vast array. By the seventh day the work God had done was completed, and He rested on the seventh day from all the work He had done. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on that day He rested from all the work He had done in His creation.

 

Alternative Reading (Mass of St. Joseph)

Colossians 3 : 14-15, 17, 23-24

Above all, clothe yourselves with love which binds everything together in perfect harmony. May the peace of Christ overflow in your hearts; for this end you were called to be one body. And be thankful.

And whatever you do or say, do it in the Name of Jesus, the Lord, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Whatever you do, do it wholeheartedly, working for the Lord, and not for humans. You well know that the Lord will reward you with the inheritance. You are servants, but your Lord is Christ.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Pius V, Pope (First Reading)

Acts 14 : 19-28

Then some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium, and turned the people against them. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the town, leaving him for dead. But when his disciples gathered around him, he stood up and returned to the town. And the next day he left for Derbe with Barnabas.

After proclaiming the Gospel in that town, and making many disciples, they  returned to Lystra and Iconium, and on to Antioch. They were strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain firm in the faith, for they said, “We must go through many trials to enter the Kingdom of God.”

In each church they appointed elders and, after praying and fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had placed their faith. Then they travelled through Pisidia, and came to Pamphylia. They preached the Word in Perga and went down to Attalia. From there, they sailed back to Antioch, where they had first been commended to God’s grace for the task they had now completed.

On their arrival they gathered the Church together and told them all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the non-Jews. They spent a fairly long time there with the disciples.