Tuesday, 18 November 2014 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Peter and the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Dedication of the Basilicas)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate together with the whole universal Church, the feast of the dedication of two of the four greatest churches in the whole world. These four churches are the primary church buildings of the entire Christendom, and they are the Papal Basilicas, each of which was dedicated to important patron saints of the Church.

The first, head and mother of all the churches of Rome and the whole world is dedicated to our Lord Himself, the Most Holy Saviour of all, and also to St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, the Lateran Archbasilica, which feast we had just celebrated a few days ago. It is the Cathedral of the Pope, and the centre and heart of the whole Christendom.

And then after that, in importance and primacy, we have the greatest church in Christendom, the Papal Basilica of St. Peter, which is probably the most well known church in the whole world, as not only that it is the most elaborate but also because the Pope celebrates the majority of his celebrations in that great basilica. St. Peter himself was martyred at the site of the great basilica, the former Vatican hills, and his bones can be found there in its necropolis.

And then we also have the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, or also known as the Papal Basilica of St. Mary Major, dedicated to the Mother of our Lord and the Protector of the city and people of Rome. And lastly, we have the Papal Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, or San Paulo fuori le mura, named as such because it was located outside the historical walls of the city of Rome, dedicated to St. Paul the Apostle, who was beheaded in Rome in holy martyrdom.

Today we celebrate the day of the consecration and dedication of two of these four great basilicas, dedicated to none other than St. Peter the Apostle, the Prince of the Apostles, Vicar of Christ and the leader of the Universal Church, and St. Paul the Apostle, the Apostle to the Gentiles and the writer of the many holy Epistles. Both of these greatest two pillars of the Church died in martyrdom in the Holy city of Rome, made holy because of their blood shed in that city, and the two basilicas were built over their respective tombs.

Most importantly, on this day, by looking at the life and examples set by these two saints, St. Peter and St. Paul, all of us are also called to share in their experiences and to emulate them in their actions. They too were once sinners and weak human beings, but through the Lord and their own faith, they changed themselves to be truly faithful and devoted servants of God.

God did not call the perfect and those who are already awesomely good in life to be His disciples, as they are likely to be already saved and secure in their lives in the world to come. Instead, He empowers those who are weak and fragile, and also calls those who are sinners and unworthy, who by His grace and power, are transformed to be holy tools and servants of His will.

Indeed, is it not better that those who were sinners and unworthy, by the works and graces of God be made to be worthy and just? And that was exactly God had done, wit two of His principal Apostles, the two greatest pillars of the Faith and the Church. St. Peter was a simple, poor fisherman, whose faith was often weak and he often trembled in doubt, while St. Paul was an overzealous and extreme Pharisee, who was hell bent on destroying the Church and the faithful.

St. Peter was called by Jesus from the shores of the lake of Galilee, together with his brother, St. Andrew, who was the first to be called among the Twelve Apostles. St. Peter was a humble and simple fisherman who made his living by catching fishes from the lake. Jesus called him to be a fisher of men instead, and he left behind his net and boat, and followed Him.

Yet during his period of service to God, St. Peter often encountered many difficult moments. Today we heard in the Gospel, of the moment when he and the other Apostles were in the middle of the lake going through a great storm, and the Lord came to them walking on the water. St. Peter was the one who offered to test the Lord to find out if it was truly Him on the water, and when the Lord asked him to come towards Him, he went forth.

But for his lack of a solid faith without doubt, seeing the power of the storm and the waves, he began to falter and sink. Thus, the Lord rebuked him for his doubts after He helped him. And we know of how Peter denied Jesus three times during His Passion. It was also because of the same doubt and uncertainty, which led to fear of the retribution of the world and its powers, which led to Peter to do such things.

But the quality of Peter comes in that, he was courageous and brave, ready to take the initiative, as we know that out of all the Apostles, he was the only one in the boat to seek to walk towards the Lord, even proposing that if He is indeed the Lore, he, Peter would be able to walk on the water. Such an act, does require an incredible amount of courage and faith. Indeed, that faith was to be shaken, but it was there indeed.

And Peter eventually made the thrice profession of faith, after Jesus had risen from the dead, and when He asked him, whether he loved Him more than anyone else. In that profession of faith and love, Peter knew that he was forgiven for his denial of Jesus, and in that also, we can see the kind of faith and love which he had for the Lord, and that was why, he was made to be the Vicar of Christ on earth, and the leader of the entire Universal Church.

Meanwhile, St. Paul was once known as Saul, as a great enemy of the Church and the faithful, as some sort of an executioner, who belonged to the caste of the Pharisees, young and overly zealous, that he was blinded by his rage and youthful pursuits, seeking to destroy the Church and kill as many believers as possible. Thus, he brought the Church and the Lord much sorrow and sadness.

Yet, he was transformed from such a sinner and great enemy, into the greatest champion of the Faith, and into a figure so important and crucial to the growth of the Church and the spreading of the Good News in the early years of the Church. St. Paul as Saul encountered the Lord speaking directly to him and rebuking him for his actions on the way to Damascus, and ever since then, he repented and was converted to the Faith.

St. Paul thereafter became a great evangeliser, who went on many journeys to different cities and places to spread the Good News, and for his works and efforts to spread the Faith to the Gentiles, he was then appropriately titled as the Apostle to the Gentiles. And together with St. Peter, they went on to Rome, the capital city of the Empire, and there they were martyred for their faith. The locations where they were martyred and buried then became the two great Basilicas we know today.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s celebration of the dedication of the Basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul is a reminder to all of us, that God seeks our salvation, and He calls us all to return to Him, all of us sinners that we may be, like St. Peter and St. Paul before us, turn from our sinfulness and path of darkness, into the light and become holy servants following the examples of the two great saints whose memory we remember today.

May Almighty God therefore, with the intercession of St. Peter and St. Paul, be hearkened to strengthen our zeal and faith, so that we may become ever faithful and loving in our lives, that eventually, at the end of the days, when He comes again, He may congratulate us for our dedication and welcome us into His eternal kingdom. God bless us all. Amen.

 

First Reading :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/11/16/tuesday-18-november-2014-33rd-week-of-ordinary-time-memorial-of-the-dedication-of-the-basilica-of-st-peter-and-the-basilica-of-st-paul-outside-the-walls-first-reading/

 

Psalm :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/11/16/tuesday-18-november-2014-33rd-week-of-ordinary-time-memorial-of-the-dedication-of-the-basilica-of-st-peter-and-the-basilica-of-st-paul-outside-the-walls-psalm/

 

Gospel Reading :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/11/16/tuesday-18-november-2014-33rd-week-of-ordinary-time-memorial-of-the-dedication-of-the-basilica-of-st-peter-and-the-basilica-of-st-paul-outside-the-walls-gospel-reading/

Tuesday, 18 November 2014 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Peter and the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Dedication of the Basilicas)

Luke 19 : 1-10

At that time, when Jesus entered Jericho and passed through the city, a man named Zaccheus lived there. He was a tax collector and a wealthy man. He wanted to see what Jesus was like, but he was a short man and could not see Him because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree. From there he would be able to see Jesus, who was going to pass that way.

When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, come down quickly, for I must stay at your house today.” So Zaccheus climbed down and received Him joyfully.

All the people who saw it began to grumble, and said, “He has gone as a guest to the house of a sinner.” But Zaccheus spoke to Jesus, “Half of what I own, Lord, I will give to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will pay him back four times as much.”

Looking at him Jesus said, “Salvation has come to this house today, for he is also a true son of Abraham. The Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”

 

Alternative reading (Mass for the Dedication of the Basilicas)

Matthew 14 : 22-33

At that time, Jesus immediately obliged His disciples to get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowd away. And having sent the people away, He went up the mountain by Himself to pray. At nightfall, He was there alone. Meanwhile, the boat was very far from land, dangerously rocked by the waves, for the wind was against it.

At daybreak, Jesus came to them walking on the sea. When they saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, thinking that it was a ghost. And they cried out in fear. But at once Jesus said to them, “Courage! Do not be afraid. It is Me!”

Peter answered, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You walking on the water.” Jesus said to him, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water to go to Jesus. But seeing the strong wind, he was afraid and began to sink; and he cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Jesus immediately stretched out His hand and took hold of him, saying, “Man of little faith, why did you doubt?”

As they got into the boat, the wind dropped. Then those in the boat bowed down before Jesus, saying, “Truly, You are the Son of God!”

 

Homily and Reflection :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/11/17/tuesday-18-november-2014-33rd-week-of-ordinary-time-memorial-of-the-dedication-of-the-basilica-of-st-peter-and-the-basilica-of-st-paul-outside-the-walls-homily-and-scripture-reflections/

Tuesday, 18 November 2014 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Peter and the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Dedication of the Basilicas)

Psalm 14 : 2-3ab, 3cd-4ab, 5

Those who walk blamelessly and do what is right, who speak truth from their heart and control their words.

Who do no harm to their neighbours and cast no discredit on their companions, who look down on evildoers but highly esteem God’s servants.

Who do not lend money at interest and refuse a bribe against the innocent. Do this, and you will soon be shaken.

 

Alternative reading (Mass for the Dedication of the Basilicas)

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!

 

Homily and Reflection :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/11/17/tuesday-18-november-2014-33rd-week-of-ordinary-time-memorial-of-the-dedication-of-the-basilica-of-st-peter-and-the-basilica-of-st-paul-outside-the-walls-homily-and-scripture-reflections/

Tuesday, 18 November 2014 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Peter and the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Dedication of the Basilicas)

Revelations 3 : 1-6, 14-22

Write this to the angel of the Church in Sardis, “Thus says He who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars : I know your worth, you think you live but you are dead. Wake up and strengthen that which is not already dead. For I have found your works to be imperfect in the sight of My God.”

“Remember what you were taught; keep it and change your ways. If you do not repent I will come upon you like a thief at an hour you least expect. Yet, there are some left in Sardis who have not soiled their robes; these will come with Me, dressed in white, since they deserve it.”

“The victor will be dressed in white and I will never erase his name from the book of life; instead, I will acknowledge it before My Father and His Angels. Let anyone who has ears listen to what the Spirit says to the Churches.”

Write this to the angel of the Church in Laodicea, “Thus says the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation : I know your works, you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! You are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold so I will spit you out of My mouth.”

“You think you are rich and have piled up so much that you need nothing, but you do not realise that you are wretched and to be pitied, poor, blind and naked. I advise you to buy from Me gold that has been tested by fire, so that you may be rich, and white clothes to wear so that your nakedness may not shame you, and ointment for your eyes that you may see.”

“I reprimand and correct all those I love. Be earnest and change your ways. Look, I stand at the door and knock. If you hear My call and open the door, I will come in to you and have supper with you, and you with Me. I will let the victor sit with Me on My throne just as I was victorious and took My place with My Father on His throne.”

“Let anyone who has ears listen to what the Spirit says to the Churches.”

 

Alternative reading (Mass for the Dedication of the Basilicas)

Acts 28 : 11-16, 30-31

After three months, we boarded a ship that had spent the winter at the island. It belonged to an Alexandrian company and carried the figurehead of Castor and Pollux as insignia.

We sailed for Syracuse, staying there for three days and, after circling the coast, we arrived at Rhegium. On the following day, a south wind began to blow, and at the end of two days we arrived at Puteoli, where we found some of our brothers who invited us to stay with them for a week. And that was how we came to Rome.

There the brothers and sisters had been informed of our arrival and came out to meet us as far as the Appian Forum and the Three Taverns. When Paul saw them, he gave thanks to God and took courage. Upon our arrival in Rome, the captain turned the prisoners over to the military governor but permitted Paul to lodge in a private house with the soldier who guarded him.

Paul stayed for two whole years in a house he himself rented, where he received without any hindrance all those who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught the truth about Jesus Christ, the Lord, quite openly and without any hindrance.

 

Homily and Reflection :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/11/17/tuesday-18-november-2014-33rd-week-of-ordinary-time-memorial-of-the-dedication-of-the-basilica-of-st-peter-and-the-basilica-of-st-paul-outside-the-walls-homily-and-scripture-reflections/

Monday, 18 November 2013 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Peter and the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Dedication of Basilica)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we listen today to the beginnings of a great tragedy, where the people of Israel, was subjected to the attempts of acculturation and Hellenisation, which happened during the years after Alexander the Great conquered much of the known world. They suffered persecution and ridicule, subjected into attempts to corrupt them from the one and true faith in God.

In the second reading, the same happened, with St. Paul being led into custody of the Romans, brought to Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire, to be judged by the Emperor for his supposed crimes. St. Paul was charged by his Jewish opponents, who resisted his attempts to bring the Good News to them. Rather than being killed at Jerusalem, St. Paul chose to appeal to the Emperor, and in doing so, as we listened, he gained a chance to evangelise yet one last time, at the city of Rome, where the centre of our Church now lies.

Today we listened to the tale of both St. Paul and St. Peter, the earlier as mentioned, and the latter, as we listened to the story of Jesus performing the miracle of walking on the water in the middle of the storm. St. Peter took the scene, as he tried to walk on the water and as he doubted, he almost sank into the water. Jesus rescued him and chided him about his lack of faith in Him. So we heard today about both St. Paul and St. Peter, who at the end of their lives, went to Rome to be martyred there.

Yes, in that old and venerable city, the Eternal City, as many would call it. It is where the two greatest saints and pillars of the Church were welcomed into the hands of the Lord through holy martyrdom. Today we mark the commemoration of the dedication of two great basilicas, namely the Papal Basilica of St. Peter, where most of the Pope’s celebrations take place, and the Papal Basilica of St. Paul, also known as St. Paul Outside the Walls, because it was located outside the walls of the ancient city of Rome. It was also where St. Paul stayed during his two year stay in Rome, prior to his martyrdom by the Emperor Nero.

These two saints were exemplary in their actions, just as what some brave people of Israel, God’s first chosen people had done at the time of persecution under the Greek king Antiochus Epiphanes. They stood up bravely and courageously for their faith without being corrupted or tempted by the offers of worldly pleasures and temporary glories offered to them, if they just would betray the Lord and their faith.

Yet these people were also pretty much ordinary people like ourselves, and they too were much like us sinful and weak, as St. Peter himself had shown in that storm in the lake, where his lack of faith to God made him almost sink as he walked on the water towards Jesus. St. Paul was once a great enemy of the faith, and he hounded many hundreds if not thousands of the early believers of the Lord, sending them to their deaths. We too lacked the faith at times, brothers and sisters, and doubt is always in our mind.

And yet, through Christ and His love, they have been transformed into powerful tools of His presence and love. God made them to be the bearers of the Good News and they went on faithfully with their missions to the end. And through their hard and dedicated works, many people were saved. Their works of salvation continues even today, through their successors, our bishops and their priests, and primarily, the Bishop of Rome, our Pope, now Pope Francis, the leader of the entire Universal Church.

It is often that times are truly hard for our Church, especially in the recent times. The ways of the world are increasingly becoming more and more antithesis to what our Church stands up for, that is our faith in God, true and just. The corruptions of this world threaten to sink many people in the storm of this turbulent world. Remember what had happened to St. Peter in that stormy night.

The Lord picked him up by the hand and strengthened his faith. Indeed, St. Peter was to abandon his faith yet another time, when he denied knowing the Lord, not just once, but three times in total! He did so, because his faith in God is wavering, having seen Jesus, the one hope that he and the other apostles had had, captured, tortured, and mocked like a lowly criminal. He abandoned the Lord for the security of the world.

St. Paul too was a leading Jew, who was a Pharisee and very strict in his observation of the Law, and was particularly hostile to the followers of Jesus in the early days of the Church. He hunted them without mercy, and caused the death of many people of the Lord. He took part in the stoning and murder is St. Stephen, the first martyr, and was a great scourge to the faithful.

Then what differentiates them from the people of Israel, who abandoned their faith in God, for the sake of their own security and to secure the favour of the king? And how was St. Peter even different from Judas Iscariot, the traitor? Did they both not betray the Lord? One through direct betrayal and the other by abandoning Him at the time of His greatest sorrow?

That is because, St. Peter professed his true and undying faith in the Lord, and he repented from his past mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, as is common to us because of our humanity, for we are predisposed to sin ever since we were exposed to it. What is important is that, we learn from those mistakes, face them with courage and faith, and repent, that is change our ways, to conform again to that of God! That was what St. Peter, as well as St. Paul had done.

Judas Iscariot felt the guilt after he had betrayed the Lord, but instead of learning from his mistakes, and accepting the chance of repentance the Lord gave him, he chose the quick way out, that is suicide. He did not repent, and therefore was counted among the lost ones. He also stole the money of the Lord and His disciples and was unrepentant about it, even to the end.

St. Peter professed his love and dedication to the Lord, and he showed it with true sincerity, knowing fully the guilt and the faults he had done, and yet, he still professed that love he has for God, and the Lord gave him, the stewardship over this world, over all of the faithful ones in God, as His Vicar on earth. St. Paul too met a life-changing experience, after the Lord appeared to him on the road to Damascus. He received the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, and the truth about all things were revealed to him in its entirety.

Ever since, both Apostles, as well as the other apostles and disciples of Christ, tirelessly laboured for the sake of God and His kingdom, without end going from one end of the earth to the other, as witnesses to God and His saving power. They laboured hard and the fruits grew aplenty, as the faith spread among many, converting many to the cause of Christ. And despite the storm that threatened to engulf all the faithful, they stabilised the ship, and made it last to the present day.

St. Peter was crucified upside down in Rome, at the site now where the Basilica of St. Peter now stood. He chose to do so because he found himself unworthy to be crucified in the same way the Lord had done. St. Paul too was beheaded in Rome, after the burning of Rome was blamed by the reigning Emperor, Nero, on the followers of Christ. See the dedication, faith, and love that these two saints have for our Lord!

Today, therefore, as we commemorate the two great Basilicas dedicated in their honour, that of St. Peter, the Vicar of Christ, and St. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, let us take this opportunity to reflect, on whether we have taken the same choice or whether we will be ready to commit ourselves to the same choice that both saints had chosen. Remember that saints too were called from sinners. We can opt to choose the easy way, that is what Judas and the people of Israel had done, or take the difficult and challenge-ridden path that the Apostles had once taken, all the way to the end, where the glory of heaven awaits them.

May our Lord Jesus, who helped St. Peter out of the water in his doubt, also help us to overcome our doubts and empower us with love, hope, and faith, that we will be able to make a commitment towards reaching out to the Lord, choosing the right path in the end. May He continue to love us and watch over us. Amen.

Monday, 18 November 2013 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Peter and the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Dedication of Basilica)

Luke 18 : 35-43

When Jesus drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the road, begging. As he heard the crowd passing by, he inquired what was happening, and they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was going by.

Then he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” The people in front of him scolded him. “Be quiet!” they said, but he cried out all the more, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped, and ordered the blind man to be brought to Him; and when he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And the man said, “Lord, that I may see!”

Jesus said, “Receive your sight, your faith has saved you.” At once the blind man was able to see, and he followed Jesus, giving praise to God. And all the people who were there also praised God.

Alternate Reading (Mass for Dedication of the Basilicas)

 

Matthew 14 : 22-33

Immediately Jesus obliged His disciples to get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowd away. And having sent the people away, He went up the mountain by Himself to pray. At nightfall, He was there alone.

Meanwhile, the boat was very far from land, dangerously rocked by the waves, for the wind was against it. At daybreak, Jesus came to them walking on the sea. When they saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, thinking that It was a ghost. And they cried out in fear.

But at once Jesus said to them, “Courage! Do not be afraid. It is Me!”

Peter answered, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You walking on the water.” Jesus said to him, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water to go to Jesus. But seeing the strong wind, he was afraid and begtan to sink; and he cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Jesus immediately stretched out His hand and took hold of him, saying, “Man of little faith, why did you doubt?”

As they got into the boat, the wind dropped. Then those in the boat bowed down before Jesus, saying, “Truly, You are the Son of God!”

Monday, 18 November 2013 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Peter and the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Dedication of Basilica)

Psalm 118 : 53, 61, 134, 150, 155, 158

I feel indignant at the wicked who have forsaken Your law.

The wicked have me trapped in their snares, but I have not forgotten Your laws.

Rescue me from human oppression, and help me keep Your precepts.

My persecutors close in with evil intent; they are far from Your Law.

Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek Your statutes.

I look upon the faithless with loathing, because they do not obey Your ruling.

Alternate Reading (Mass for Dedication of the Basilicas)

 

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!