Friday, 4 November 2016 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White (Bishops)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today our Lord Jesus Christ presented to His disciples the story of the dishonest steward, whom the master fired over his dishonesty, and as we knew in this well known story, the steward began finding ways to preserve himself and ensuring his own well-being after he was fired, by using his skills and persuasion, in order to do even more dishonesty, which is the way that he was familiar with, to secure for himself a good life afterwards.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what is then the point of this story? It is in fact a reminder for us that if we treat of ourselves as those who belong in this world, we will then act in ways acceptable to the world, in all of its tenets and ways, just as the steward, who served himself and his greed for money, did all sorts of dishonesty in order to ensure his life’s well-being. But then, although he may indeed secure for himself a comfortable life after, how about the accountability of all that he had committed?

Truly, the ways of this world can indeed make us go far in this earthly life. Many people are working very hard and even trying to outdo each other in order to secure for themselves promotion, fame, and praise from their superiors and underlings alike. They gathered for themselves much money, possessions, and even power and influence. All of these would indeed ensure that they have a good life in this world. But then again, what will all these worth in the world that is to come?

In the first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the faithful and the Church in the city of Philippi in Greece, he spoke of us being transfigured, changed and transformed by Christ, as Christians who truly devote ourselves and put ourselves in the company of the Lord our God, obeying His ways and commandments. It is linked to what we have heard in the Gospel, that whoever live by the ways of the world, shall likely depend on these, but these while they are good for this world, they are not what can guarantee our salvation in the afterlife.

The ways of this world are often opposed and contradictory to the ways of our Lord. As such, what made us prosperous in this world may not bring us to prosper when the Lord calls upon us to return to Him and to give an account of our lives, of what we have done in that life. If we truly belong to the Lord, then surely we should have committed and done what the Lord had asked us to do?

Unfortunately, many of us are not even aware of what the Lord expects from us. Many of us think of our faith as something of a mere formality, and many of us do not even actively practice our faith! If our actions show that we are contradicting the teachings of the Lord, through our selfishness, through our lack of love and devotion to God, through our hatred and acts that brought about pain and sorrow, we have in fact desecrated the good and holy Name of our Lord.

We cannot be hypocrites in our faith, brethren, and neither should we be lukewarm or ignorant in it. Our faith must be real, genuine, filled with real action and commitment, that we all may then be truly be worthy of the Lord, and in accordance with what St. Paul said in his Epistle, that we should be transformed and changed by the Lord, that in all of our words, deeds and actions, we endeavour to bring glory to God.

And perhaps, in this matter, we should look at the example of St. Charles Borromeo, the famous saint whose feast we are celebrating on this day. St. Charles Borromeo, or San Carolus Borromeo was born into a very influential family of nobles, who at that time, a few centuries ago, had great influence and power in the society. As such, St. Charles Borromeo had been destined for great things from the beginning of his life.

As his relative became the successor of St. Peter and leader of the Universal Church as Pope Pius IV, St. Charles Borromeo at a young age was entrusted with great matters of the Church state and even was made as a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, a practice common at that time. And yet, despite such privileges and such great influence wielded by his family and relatives, he lived frugally, with austerity and enforced strict spiritual discipline on all who worked with him and lived with him.

St. Charles Borromeo was very influential and impactful in his works in the Council of Trent and the Counter-Reformation, together with his contemporaries, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Peter Canisius and many others, resisting and combatting the evil influences of the so-called false Protestant ‘reformation’, the great heresy which had seized millions and many more of the souls of the faithful into damnation due to its lies and false teachings.

He helped the Church to reform its practices, and helped it to impose much stricter discipline on its teachings and ways, purifying the corruptions that had troubled it for many years previously. In the same manner, after he was appointed as the Metropolitan Archbishop of Milan, one of the most influential dioceses in the world, even then as it is today, he helped to enforce the reforms to renew and rejuvenate the faith against the heresies of Protestantism and against the excesses of the Church.

St. Charles Borromeo often led by example, living as what the Lord had taught him to do, and we should do the same as well. We should walk in his footsteps and follow what he had done, practicing our faith through real commitment and actions. May the Lord help us all to do so, and may He awaken in each one of us the strong desire to be truly faithful to our God. May God bless us all, now and forever. Amen.

Friday, 4 November 2016 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White (Bishops)
Luke 16 : 1-8

At that time, Jesus told His disciples, “There was a rich man, whose steward was reported to him for fraudulent service. He summoned the steward and asked him, “What is this I hear about you? I want you to render an account of your service, for it is about to be terminated.'”

“The steward thought to himself, ‘What am I to do now? My master will surely dismiss me. I am not strong enough to do hard work, and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I will do : I must make sure that when I am dismissed, there will be people who will welcome me into their homes.'”

“So he called his master’s debtors, one by one. He asked the first debtor, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ The reply was, ‘A hundred jars of oil.’ The steward said, ‘Here is your bill. Sit down quickly and write fifty.’ To the second debtor he put the same question. ‘How much do you owe?’ The answer was, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ Then the steward said, ‘Take your bill and write eighty.'”

“The master commended the dishonest steward for his astuteness : for the people of this world are more astute, in dealing with their own kind, than are the people of light.”

Friday, 4 November 2016 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White (Bishops)
Psalm 121 : 1-2, 3-4a, 4b-5

I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” And now we have set foot within your gates, o Jerusalem!

Jerusalem, just like a city, where everything falls into place! There the tribes go up.

The tribes of the Lord, the assembly of Israel, to give thanks to the Lord’s Name. There stand the courts of justice, the offices of the house of David.

Friday, 4 November 2016 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White (Bishops)
Philippians 3 : 17 – Philippians 4 : 1

Unite in imitating me, brothers and sisters, and look at those who walk in our way of life. For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. I have said it to you many times, and now I repeat it with tears : they are heading for ruin; their belly is their god and they feel proud of what should be their shame. They only think of earthly things.

For us, our citizenship is in heaven, from where we await the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Lord. He will transfigure our lowly body, making it like His own Body, radiant in Glory, through the power which is His to submit everything to Himself.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, you my glory and crown, be steadfast in the Lord.

Saturday, 17 September 2016 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s Scripture spoke to us about the moment when Jesus mentioned the parable of the sowers and the seeds to His disciples. We are all quite familiar and aware of this parable, in which Jesus spoke about a sower of seeds who spread the seeds in a field, and while some of the seeds fell on rich and fertile soil, but others fell on the roadside, or on the rocky ground or on place with thorns and brambles.

And in this parable which we heard, those seeds spread by the sower represent our faith, our hope and our love for the Lord, the three fundamental aspects of our lives, that is faith, hope and love. The sower of the seeds is the Lord, Who spread the seeds of faith, hope and love in each of our hearts and minds. And the fates awaiting the seeds in the different places that they have landed represent what we as human beings are doing to those seeds and gifts God has given us.

Those seeds that fell on the roadside and got eaten up by the birds, as mentioned by the Lord are those who have received the word of God, but they were tempted by the seemingly better offering of the devil and his allies, and instead of following God, they walked that other path instead. As a result, not only that the gifts of the Lord remained dormant in them, but they drift further and further away from the Lord.

And those that landed on rocky ground did not manage to grow roots deep into the soil, and they perished from the heat of the sun. According to the Lord, these are those who have not internalised the gifts and the words that they received, and as a result, the word of God, His love, hope and faith has no place in their hearts. And thus, similarly, they also drifted away from the Lord into oblivion.

While those who were growing with the thistles and brambles were choked by those thistles and brambles, which took the life away from the growing plant, eventually killing them. These refer to those who worry too much about their worldly affairs that in the end those worries, fears and uncertainties swallowed them and prevented the Lord’s works from bearing fruit in them and becoming a reality.

Only those seeds that fell on the rich soil were able to grow up into healthy plants bearing many good and bountiful fruits. These bear fruits many multiplefold, and this is when each and every one of us, the people of God, are willing to receive the word of God, the gifts of the Lord of faith, hope and love, and then internalise them, understand them and do our best to do what we can to cultivate these and allow them to grow.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now the question is, have we done all that we can in order to fulfil what the Lord expects from us? In the first reading taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Corinth, he spoke of how all of us Christians, those who have chosen to believe in God, are people of the Spirit, for God Himself had sent His Holy Spirit to dwell in us.

And through Christ Who had made Himself Man for all of us, and Who had died for our sake on the cross, we have shared in that same death, that we die to our old selves, to our past sinfulness and all the evil deeds we have done, and instead now we walk on the path of grace, sharing in our Lord’s resurrection from the dead. Thus, we too have been made to rise from our death in darkness, and we entered into a new life blessed by God, that is a Christian life.

Yet we all know how many Christians still do not act and behave as how Christians should be like. Many of them preferred to walk their own paths and behaved in ways that are scandalous to the Lord, to His Church and to the people of God. And as a result, many of them brought scandal and trouble to the Church and to the faithful. They closed the doors of salvation to many others who then came not to believe in God because of what they have done.

These are those whose seeds of faith, hope and love have fallen far away from the fertile and good soil. They did not cultivate their gifts from God properly and responsibly, and as a result, they are responsible for the terrible state of affairs that led to the loss of not just themselves but even many others from the salvation in God. And that is why all of us should reflect on this and learn from it.

Perhaps we also can learn from the examples of St. Robert Bellarmine, the holy saint and servant of God whose feast we are celebrating today. St. Robert Bellarmine was a very devoted servant of God of his time, as a member of the Jesuits or the Society of Jesus, which was very active in its role in counter-fighting the effects of the terrible Protestant ‘reformation’, a great heresy that had caused many people in Christendom at that time to lose their faith and followed false teachings of the devil.

He was devoted to make the teaching of the true faith available to the people, and he performed many great works, both in preaching and writing, to bring the knowledge of the word of God to many. His writings were numerous and still influence many people and the faithful even to this very day. In that capacity, the Church recognised his works and talents, and made him to be a Prince of the Church, as a Cardinal.

But that did not make him slow down or to become lazy in his works. Instead, he devoted himself and his efforts all the more in trying to undo the damages caused by the false and heretical teachings, and spreading the truth of God via proper education and catechism. And his many works did bear great fruits as countless masses of people flocked back to the Church through his works as well as the works of his many fellow compatriots in faith, and repented their sinfulness.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us can do the same as well. We are all called to be active in our Christian life, and not just be a passive bystander. And that means in our life, we must act in the way that we have been taught to do by our Lord, which through His Church, He had revealed to us all how to live in accordance to His ways.

Let us all devote ourselves to the Lord anew. Let us give our heart’s effort and abilities to help the works of God in saving mankind, by doing what is right and just in our own lives, avoiding and shunning sins and wickedness. If we are faithful and dedicated, then others will also believe in us and follow us all as well. May the Lord bless us and help us, and may He strengthen our faith and help us to remain true to Him at all times. Amen.

Saturday, 17 September 2016 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)
Luke 8 : 4-15

At that time, as a great crowd gathered, and people came to Jesus from every town, He began teaching them with a story : “The sower went out to sow the seed. And as he sowed, some of the seed fell along the way, was trodden on, and the birds of the sky ate it up.”

“Some seed fell on rocky ground, and no sooner has it come up than it withered, because it had no water. Some seed fell among thorns; the thorns grew up with the seed and choked it. But some seed fell on good soil and grew producing fruit, a hundred times as much!” And Jesus cried out, “Listen then, if you have ears to hear!”

The disciples asked Him, “What does this story mean?” And Jesus answered, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God. But to others it is given in the form of stories, or parables, so that seeing they may not perceive, and hearing they may not understand.”

“Now, this is the point of the parable : The seed is the word of God. Those along the wayside are people who hear it, but immediately the devil comes and takes the word from their minds, for he does not want them to believe and be saved. Those on the rocky ground are people who receive the word with joy, but they have no root; they believe for a while, and give way in time of trial.”

“Among the thorns are people who hear the word, but, as they go their way, they are choked by worries, riches, and the pleasures of life; they bring no fruit to maturity. The good soil, instead, are people who receive the word, and keep it in a gentle and generous mind, and persevering patiently, they bear fruit.”

Saturday, 17 September 2016 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)
Psalm 55 : 10, 11-12, 13-14

My enemies turn back when I call on You for help; now I know that God is for me.

In God Whose word I praise, in God I trust without fear. What can mortals do against me?

I am bound to You by vows, o God; I shall offer my thanksgiving. For You have rescued my soul from death and my feet from stumbling, that I might walk in God’s presence in the light of the living.

Saturday, 17 September 2016 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)
1 Corinthians 15 : 35-37, 42-49

Some of you will ask : How will the dead be raised? With what kind of body will they come? You fools! What you sow cannot sprout unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body of the future plant but a bare grain of wheat or any other seed.

It is the same with the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in decomposition; it will be raised never more to die. It is sown in humiliation, and it will be raised for Glory. It is buried in weakness, but the resurrection shall be with power. When buried it is a natural body, but it will be raised as a spiritual body.

For there shall be a spiritual body as there is at present a living body. Scripture says that Adam, the first man, became a living being; but the last Adam has become a life-giving Spirit. The Spirit does not appear first, but the natural life, and afterwards comes the Spirit.

The first man comes from the earth and is earthly, while the second One comes from heaven. As it was with the earthly one, so is it with the earthly people. As it is with Christ, so with the heavenly. This is why, after bearing the image of the earthly one, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly One.

(College of Cardinals Update) Cardinal Karl Lehmann (Germany), Bishop Emeritus of Mainz turned 80 and becomes ineligible to participate in a future Papal Conclave

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Cardinal Karl Lehmann, Cardinal Priest of S. Leone I, Bishop Emeritus of Mainz has turned 80 on Monday, 16 May 2016. Therefore, in accordance to the Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis, he can no longer vote in a future Papal Conclave.

Lehmann

Cardinal Karl Lehmann was the longtime Bishop of Mainz from 1983 to 2016, and he retired just exactly on his 80th birthday on 16 May 2016. As the Bishop of Mainz in Germany for over 33 years, he was also the longtime President of the German Episcopal Conference from 1987 to 2008. He was made a Prince of the Church, as the Cardinal Priest of S. Leone I at the Consistory of 21 February 2001 by Pope St. John Paul II, the Vicar of Christ.

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We pray for Cardinal Lehmann, that even in his retirement years, he may continue to inspire the faithful and the Church, and keep strongly the teachings of the Church. May he have a good health and be blessed all the days of his life. Ad multos annos!

Currently, there are 114 Cardinal-electors in the College of Cardinals, which means that there are 6 vacancies for Cardinal-electors available at the moment. The next Cardinal to age out will be Cardinal William Joseph Levada, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on 15 June 2016.

(College of Cardinals Update) Passing of Cardinal Giovanni Coppa, Cardinal Deacon of S. Lino, at the age of 90

Coppa

Cardinal Giovanni Coppa, Cardinal Deacon of S. Lino and former Apostolic Nuncio to the Czech Republic has returned to the Lord on Monday, 16 May 2016 at the age 0f 90.

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Cardinal Coppa was the Assessor for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State from 1975 to 1979, working in the Roman Curia, and then was made the Apostolic Nuncio to the Czech Republic (1990-2001) and to Slovakia (1993-1994). He was made a Prince of the Church as the Cardinal Deacon of S. Lino in the Consistory of 24 November 2011 by Pope Benedict XVI, the Vicar of Christ.

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We pray for the soul of Cardinal Giovanni Coppa, that God will welcome him into the eternal glory of heaven. And we also thank God for having given us this great servant of God and His Church through his many works and dedications for the sake of the people of God. May God give him eternal rest. Amen.

As of today, with the passing of Cardinal Giovanni Coppa and the aging-out of Cardinal Karl Lehmann, the College of Cardinals stood at 214 members, consisting of 114 Cardinal-electors and 100 Cardinal non-electors.