Friday, 7 April 2017 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. John Baptist de la Salle, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard all the insults and accusations which the Jewish people and the opponents of Jesus were hurling against Him because He has revealed Himself to be the Son of God and the Messiah for all the world. They refused to believe in Him and wanted to stone Him for what they considered to be blasphemy against God.

Even though they had seen all that Jesus had done before them, by His healing of the sick, opening the eyes of the blind, making people who were deaf to be able to hear again, and those who were mute to be able to speak again, and even raising people from the dead as what He had done with the son of the widow from Naim and also with the daughter of Jairus, the synagogue official, they still refused to believe.

Why is this so, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because they have hardened their hearts and minds against the Lord, not allowing Him to enter into their hearts and minds. They have put their trust in their own human judgment and intellect, thinking that they alone have the knowledge of truth, and when One came into the picture, challenging all that they used to believe, they refused to listen to the truth.

And therefore, it comes to the danger of our human pride and ego, which is the most harmful of all kinds of sins and temptations, as it is pride that brought many people to fall into sin, and it is our ego and pride which made us stubborn and adamant in our refusal to admit and repent from our sins, as the Israelites had themselves once done. And it is what all of us Christians must avoid and remove from ourselves, especially during this time of Lent.

It is pride that had prevented us from humbling ourselves and from realising that all of us are poor sinners. It is pride that had closed the doors of mercy before us, not so much that God had abandoned us or that He had not forgiven us, but instead, we ourselves in our pride and ego had refused God’s offer of mercy and forgiveness, and by our sins due to that pride, we have distanced ourselves away further from God and His merciful love.

Let us today reflect on the life of the saint, whose holy life we are commemorating today, the life of St. John Baptist de la Salle, the founder of the order of the Brothers of the Christian Schools or the Lasallians. St. John Baptist de la Salle was a French priest who was remembered for his dedication to the poorest, the least, the last and the lost among the community, those who have no one else to turn to, those who have been abandoned and unloved.

To that extent, St. John Baptist de la Salle left behind his prestigious post as the canon to the Cathedral of Rheims, a post with great prestige and privilege at that time, and chose to serve the people of God, calling together like minded people and assemble together what would become the Brotherhood of the Christian Schools, providing genuine Catholic education to the people who have once been uneducated and had no access at all to what had once been the privilege of the rich and the elite.

St. John Baptist de la Salle showed all of us the way to reach out to the Lord and to His mercy, by following what he had once done to the least and the poorest among his brethren. He eschewed pride and human ambitions, human glory and fame, renown and prestige, for true faith in God by doing what he could in order to help his fellow brethren, by showing them love, care and compassion.

It is what we all as Christians ought to be doing as well, that each one of us are not Christians just by name, or only on paper, but also through real deeds and works. Let us all make use of this opportunity that God has given us in order to strengthen our faith by devoting ourselves ever more to the works of mercy and love, committing ourselves to help our brethren, in the same manner as what St. John Baptist de la Salle and the other saints had done.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He bless us all in our works. May He remain with us and help us on our way, that we may find our way to Him and be saved in Him. Amen.

Friday, 7 April 2017 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. John Baptist de la Salle, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
John 10 : 31-42

At that time, the Jews then picked up stones to throw at Jesus; so He said, “I have openly done many good works among you, which the Father gave Me to do. For which of these do you stone Me?”

The Jews answered, “We are not stoning You for doing a good work, but for insulting God; You are only a Man, and You make Yourself God.” Then Jesus replied, “Is this not written in your law : I said, you are gods? So those who received this word of God were called gods, and the Scripture is always true.”

“What then should be said of the One anointed, and sent into the world, by the Father? Am I insulting God when I say, ‘I am the Son of God?’ If I am not doing the works of My Father, do not believe Me. But if I do them, even if you have no faith in Me, believe because of the works I do; and know that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.”

Again they tried to arrest Him, but Jesus escaped from their hands. He went away again to the other side of the Jordan, to the place where John had baptised, and there He stayed. Many people came to Jesus, and said, “John worked no miracles, but he spoke about You, and everything he said was true.” And many became believers in that place.

Friday, 7 April 2017 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. John Baptist de la Salle, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Psalm 17 : 2-3a, 3bc-4, 5-6, 7

I love You, o Lord, my Strength, the Lord is my Rock, my Fortress, my Deliverer and my God.

He is the Rock in Whom I take refuge. He is my Shield, my powerful Saviour, my Stronghold. I call on the Lord, Who is worthy of praise : He saves me from my enemies!

A deadly flood surrounded me, devillish torrents rushed at me; caught by the cords of the grave, I was brought to the snares of death.

But I called upon the Lord in my distress, I cried to my God for help; and from His Temple He heard my voice, my cry of grief reached His ears.

Friday, 7 April 2017 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. John Baptist de la Salle, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Jeremiah 20 : 10-13

I hear many people whispering, “Terror is all around! Denounce him! Yes, denounce him!” All my friends watch me to see if I will slip : “Perhaps he can be deceived,” they say; “then we can get the better of him and have our revenge.”

But YHVH, a mighty Warrior, is with me. My persecutors will stumble and not prevail; that failure will be their shame and their disgrace will never be forgotten. YHVH, God of hosts, You test the just and probe the heart and mind.

Let me see Your revenge on them, for to You I have entrusted my cause. Sing to YHVH! Praise YHVH and say : He has rescued the poor from the clutches of the wicked!

Tuesday, 7 April 2015 : Tuesday within Easter Octave, Memorial of St. John Baptist de La Salle, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard two stories from the Scriptures. Our first reading, the reading from the Acts of the Apostles showed us how the Church of God was born, through the testimony which Peter showed the people in Jerusalem at the time of the Pentecost, and converted three thousand people who gave themselves to be baptised.

And in the Gospel from the Gospel according to St. John, we heard about the story of how Mary Magdalene, the faithful woman who was among the chief female disciples of Jesus, who grieved because she thought someone had stolen the body of Jesus, only for Jesus Himself to show Himself to her, as a proof that His body was not lost or stolen, but instead He had risen in glory, in Body and Spirit, just as the prophets had foretold about Him.

All these showed us that while once we were unsure of what is to become of us, and while we were once sorrowful and grieving because of our sins and wickedness, but because Christ is risen from the dead, we can rejoice once again, because we now know that death does not have the final say over us. We have no need to fear death, because death is just the beginning of a new life filled with joy and happiness with God, and not the end.

Through baptism, we have died to our old selves, our sinful past and our wicked nature, and we have been brought into a new life founded upon the Law and precepts of the Lord. Through baptism we have shared in the death of our Lord Jesus, cast away all of the impurities of our old selves, and then share in the resurrection of our Lord, reborn anew in a body of grace and filled with the light of God.

But one thing we cannot forget is that, while we all have been saved and made whole, there are many others who are still left behind in the darkness, and many of them do not know the way to go in order to reach the Lord their God. Thus they remain lost in the darkness, condemned and forsaken. Many remained lost and many have not yet heard the Good News of our Lord and His truth. Many remains unloved and uncared for, even rejected by the society for their sins.

Today we celebrate the feast day of St. John Baptist de la Salle, a French priest who lived a few hundred years ago, who was the founder of the order of the Brothers of Christian Schools, missionaries and people dedicated to the service of God and His people, especially in the field of Catholic education, educating countless masses and people throughout the world.

St. John Baptist de la Salle was from a privileged background and had a wonderful career as a priest and canon of the Cathedral of Rheims, a well-respected position and assured career, but he heard a higher call and decided that there was still so many things he could do in order to help all those people who were poor, lowest and least in the society, many of whom have not been saved due to their sins and wickedness.

And by what he had started then, many people and many souls had been saved from the brink of disaster, rescued from the darkness and brought into the light. We too should follow in his footsteps and realise how much we can do in order to change the fate of so many others around us. We cannot be apathetic to their cause, for we are all brethren in the same Lord.

And did the Lord Jesus not command His disciples to spread the Good News of salvation to all of the world? Yes, this He did, and it is therefore, our duty and obligation, for us to preach the Good News of God and carry it far and wide. Thus, let us make this Easter more meaningful by using it to deepen our faith and devotion, through real action in bringing the Good News of God to those who have yet heard it, so that they too may be saved. God bless us all. Amen.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015 : Tuesday within Easter Octave, Memorial of St. John Baptist de La Salle, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 20 : 11-18

At that time, Mary stood weeping outside the tomb; and as she wept, she bent down to look inside. She saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head, and the other at the feet.

They said, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She answered, “Because they have taken my Lord and I do not know where they have put Him.” As she said this, ahe turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not recognise Him. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?”

She thought it was the gardener and answered Him, “Lord, if You have taken Him away, tell me where You have put Him, and I will go and remove Him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned, and said to Him, “Rabboni!” – which means Master. Jesus said to her, “Do not touch Me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to My brothers and say to them : ‘I am ascending to My Father, who is your Father, to My God, who is your God.'”

So Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord, and this is what He said to me.”

Tuesday, 7 April 2015 : Tuesday within Easter Octave, Memorial of St. John Baptist de La Salle, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 32 : 4-5, 18-19, 20 and 22

For upright is the Lord’s word and worthy of trust is His work. The Lord loves justice and righteousness; the earth is full of His kindness.

But the Lord’s eyes are upon those who fear Him, upon those who trust in His loving kindness to deliver them from death and preserve them from famine.

In hope we wait for the Lord, for He is our help and our shield. O Lord, let Your love rest upon us, even as our hope rests in You.