Sunday, 9 October 2022 : Twenty-Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all called to heed the messages which the Lord through His Church wants us all to listen to and understand as we are reminded to entrust ourselves to Him and to have faith in Him, the One and only One Who is our Hope and Redemption. Through the Lord alone we can find the path to eternal life and freedom from suffering and sin, and that is what the Lord wants us all to know through our reading passages this Sunday, as we heard of the miraculous healing of people suffering from leprosy.

In our first reading today, taken from the Second Book of Kings of Israel and Judah, we heard of the story of Naaman the Syrian, the great general and champion of the King of Aram, the northern neighbour and enemy of the Israelites, who unfortunately suffered from leprosy, which was then a dreaded disease that was considered unclean and the sufferer often shunned by the community due to its hideous appearance and not only that, but the leprosy itself also gradually spread and eventually could lead to death unless it was treated. Some types of leprosy also had no cure at all, and thus its sufferer had to endure a lifetime of suffering and rejection by the community.

The King of Aram sought the help of the King of Israel back then, as he heard how the prophet Elisha in Israel was well-known for his miracles and powers, and how he had healed people who came to him, and thus, it was hoped that Naaman himself could also be healed from his leprosy condition. Naaman travelled all the way to Israel and sought for Elisha, and prior to what we heard in today’s first reading, when the prophet Elisha told him to immerse himself in the River Jordan seven times, Naaman initially refused to do so in pride, but eventually was convinced by his servant to obey the instructions of Elisha, and that brought him to be healed from his leprosy.

Naaman was very grateful for the healing, and he offered to give generously to Elisha, who refused it, saying that he only did as was asked of him by God, and instead therefore, Naaman promised to carry the soil from the land where he was healed, in order to built an Altar to God, committing himself therefore to worship the one and only true God, the God of Israel. It is here that we must take note that there is an irony there considering how the prophet Elisha himself was considered rather as a pariah in Israel, and if we read on the earlier passage before today’s part, we can see the reluctance on the side of the King of Israel and his officials in helping Naaman to find the prophet Elisha.

The prophet Elisha had been labouring for years, continuing the good works started by his predecessor Elijah, calling on the people of the northern kingdom of Israel to return to God and abandon their sinful and wicked ways, without much success, and there we ourselves heard how it was a Syrian, an Aramaean, the great general of the kingdom that was a bitter rival of the Israelites who actually submitted himself to the Lord and His prophet, and glorified the Lord, promising to honour Him and building an Altar to Him, thanking God for all that had been done to him, when the very people of God in Israel refused to do so, for such a long time.

We heard something similar in our Gospel passage this Sunday as well, when we heard of the Lord Jesus being approached by ten lepers during His journey through Samaria and Galilee, coincidentally the very same place where the prophet Elisha was ministering to, in the northern kingdom of Israel. The ten lepers asked the Lord to heal them of their leprosy, and the Lord instructed the ten men to go and show themselves to the priest, much as how Elisha instructed Naaman to immerse himself seven times in the River Jordan. The ten men went as they were commanded, and as they did so, they were healed from their leprosy, and as we heard, when they realised this, they all were exuberant and joyful, and went on their way except for one of them, a Samaritan, who went back and seek the Lord to thank Him.

Like Naaman the Syrian, the Samaritan man was also considered as a foreigner by the Jewish people, the descendants of the people of God, the Israelites. The Samaritans were often ostracised and being prejudiced against, and they were deemed as godless pagans and people who were unworthy of God, His grace and salvation. They were often shunned and rejected by the Jewish people, and it was considered taboo and unclean for someone of Jewish descent to speak to the Samaritans, as what the Gospels themselves told us in other occasions as well. Yet, as the Lord showed us, only the Samaritan man returned to give thanks to God while the other people did not make the same effort to show their gratitude to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday all of us are henceforth reminded of several important things that we need to take note of. Firstly, the leprosy itself, which was and is still a disease that can spread from person to person, and which ostracised the people who suffered from it from the community. Now, sin is sometimes referred to as the leprosy of the soul and just as leprosy, it can spread and afflict more and more parts of our being. And sin is even more dangerous than leprosy because while leprosy only afflicts our physical bodies and will not harm our souls, minds and hearts and our whole beings, sin afflicts and corrupts everything, and sin can lead us to everlasting death, from which there can be no escape.

Why is that so, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because sin leads us to disobedience against God and it can draw us further and further away from His path, and we may end up falling more and more towards eternal damnation in hell, separated and cast away from God, all because of our own conscious and deliberate rejection of God and His ways, and because the allure and the power of sin can be so great and difficult for us to free ourselves from, unless we make the conscious effort to seek the Lord out to help us, just as Naaman and the ten lepers sought for help from Elisha and the Lord Jesus respectively. And we must know that only God alone can forgive us from our sins, and He alone can heal us from this most terrible affliction.

Then this Sunday, we are also reminded to be thankful to God for all that He had done for us, just as how Naaman and the Samaritan man thanked the Lord for all that had been done to them. Often times, we do not even remember God and ignored Him all throughout and remembering Him only when we have the need for Him. That is what many of us often did, that we only remember the Lord when we want Him to do something for us, to help us and to grant us our petitions and wishes, and otherwise, in good times, we ignore Him and forget about Him. The Lord has done so many things for us, giving us life, providing for us, protecting from harm’s path and helping us when we fall astray. Yet, we often ignore all these or did not realise them because we are often too preoccupied with ourselves and our many attachments in life. And God is also often not a priority in our lives.

We have to remember all that God has so lovingly done upon us, and St. Paul in his Epistle to St. Timothy in our second reading today had made clear how through Christ, all of us have been brought to freedom, liberated from the tyranny and chains of sin and evil, and through Him and His willingness to bear the burdens of our sins upon His Cross, we have been made sharers of His death, in dying to our past life of sinfulness and evil, and thereafter, sharing in His glorious Resurrection by which He had conquered death. All of us have received this assurance of eternal life and glory through Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, Who has come upon us and bestowed on us such great joy and hope.

That is why today we are all reminded to be vigilant against sin and to come and seek the Lord with renewed vigour so that each and every one of us may draw ever closer to God. And not only that, but each one of us as members of the Church should also help one another, caring for each other without prejudice and bias, just as what the readings have reminded us earlier today. The Samaritans and Naaman were both belonging to the group of those whom the people of God in the past often looked down upon and were biased upon, and yet, ironically, it was them who gave thanks to God and remembered to show their gratitude to Him.

This is why each one of us must not have that pride and ego or self-righteous attitude in us, which can often end up in being elitists and in trying to exclude others whom we think and consider to be less worthy than we are. Brothers and sisters in Christ, each one of us are sinners, and it is by the grace of God that we have been made worthy, and we should not make any judgment on others, especially when we do so with the intention to glorify ourselves and to discredit others whom we disagree or dislike, because of our preexisting biases or prejudices. Instead, we should help one another and inspire each other in our way of life, so that we may help to bring ourselves ever closer to God in all the things we say and do.

Let us all as members of God’s Church, as fellow Christians, do our very best to do God’s will and to seek His forgiveness and mercy for our many sins. Let us all draw ever closer to Him, by spending more time with Him through prayer, and by dedicating our efforts and attention to Him. May the Lord continue to guide us and bless us in all things so that we may always ever be close to Him and so that our entire existence may be filled with God’s grace and blessings, and we too may be inspiration and hope for one another in our journey together towards God. Amen.

Saturday, 8 October 2022 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, each one of us are reminded of the need for all of us as Christians to obey the Lord and to follow His Law and commandments, and to entrust ourselves to His love, care and mercy. God has shown and taught us the way to reach His salvation and grace, and as Christians, it is our obligation and duty to follow Him and to do our best so that we may live our lives worthily and inspire many others all around us to live their lives worthily of the Lord as well. We are called to adapt the path of Christ and abandon our past, sinful and unworthy way of life.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Galatia, the exhortation from the Apostle to the people of God there for them to believe in the truth of Christ and embrace the fullness of His ways, His revelation and the renewal of the Law of God that He had brought. This was certainly and very likely addressed to the members of the Jewish community in the diaspora in Galatia, who had embraced the Christian faith, and became members of the Church. Some of those Jewish Christians still upheld their old Law and customs, the traditions of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law.

That was the Law which St. Paul mentioned in that first reading passage we have today. This Law was a reference to the Jewish customs and traditions, practices and rites that the Jewish elders and communities had received from their ancestors, the Law of God as revealed through Moses, modified and added upon, accumulating over many centuries, which in the end resulted in the Law being further and further away from the true original intention and purpose. And in the manner how the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law practiced and enforced them, the Law became even more oppressive and further away from their true purpose and meaning.

That is why St. Paul told the faithful in Galatia, especially those who hailed from the Jewish community converts, to abandon their past mistaken ways of obeying and practicing the Law, as those ways were no longer relevant and correct for them as Christians. The Lord had revealed to them through Christ Himself, and through the gifts of the Wisdom and the Holy Spirit, the fullness of truth which He preserved and passed to us through His Church and His Apostles. St. Paul, having received this same deposit of faith therefore shared it and reminded all the people of God, including those in Galatia, not to remain in their past mistaken and prejudiced ways.

St. Paul also exhorted on all the faithful in Galatia to be united as Christians and as members of God’s Church. They should no longer be divided by their groups or origins, whether they were Jews or Greeks, or other Gentiles or non-Jewish people, or whether they were free or slaves, or whether they were rich or poor. St. Paul told them all that through Baptism they all have been made the children of God, and everyone are equal before the Lord. What matters is for all of us to obey the Lord and His commandments, His Law and will in the manner that He has taught and shown us to do, just as St. Paul had exhorted the Galatians.

That is what we heard in our Gospel passage today, when the Lord told His disciples and the people gathered before Him, that those who obeyed the Lord, walked in His ways, listened to Him and did His will are the ones who will be truly blessed by God. God will be with them and He will provide them all that they need, and they shall not falter and fail, for the Lord Himself will be with them and will strengthen them in the hour of their greatest need. The Lord will guide them and guard them against all harm, and He will lead them all to the ultimate triumph, and that, brothers and sisters in Christ, is what awaits us in the end if we are faithful to God and remain firm in our commitment to Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all therefore reminded as Christians and members of God’s Church that each and every one of us have the obligation and duty to follow the Lord and His teachings, to do His will and to obey His commandments. Each one of us must love the Lord our God with all of our strength and all of our might, and we have to put Him as the focus and the centre of our whole lives. We are nothing without God, and everything we do, our whole lives should be centred on Him. And at the same time, we must also love one another without distinctions, prejudices or bias, just as St. Paul exhorted the Galatians to do. That is in essence, is what we are called to do as Christians, obeying God’s Law and commandments in its true intention and purpose.

May the Lord our God continue to be with us and guide us, and may He empower and strengthen us all in all things. May He bless all of our efforts, good works and endeavours, all for the greater glory of His Name. May He continue to love us all and keep us always in His loving presence. Amen.

Friday, 7 October 2022 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Church celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, reminding all of us that this month of October is the Month of the Holy Rosary when the Church encouraged all the faithful to pray the rosary daily, as an offering of prayer to God made through His blessed Mother Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary. The rosary as we know is the long chain of beads used by Christians in prayers, most commonly for the rosary in offering of the set of fifty Hail Mary or Ave Maria interspersed with the Lord’s Prayer and Gloria Patri or ‘Glory Be’ prayer, as well as some other prayers and devotions such as the Devotion to the Divine Mercy which also uses the rosary.

The history of this Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary dated from the introduction of the rosary itself as a means of prayer to help Christians to get closer to God. Among the traditions of the Church and the saints, it was to St. Dominic, the famous founder of the Dominicans or the Order of Preacher that the Blessed Mother of God appeared, asking for all Christians to pray the rosary with the prayers I mentioned earlier, the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be prayers. In its earliest origins, the rosary had fifteen decades or a hundred and fifty beads in relation to how it was meant to replace the praying of the entire Book of Psalms by Christians, a practice that is still done through the Divine Office today.

The Blessed Mother of God granted the rosary to us all in order to help us all to find our way to the Lord through prayer, and by focusing ourselves on the Lord and to the good examples that Mary herself had done in her life, as one who is truly full of grace and blessed, fully faithful and committed to the Lord, to her Son, by her perfect obedience and virtues. Through the repetitive prayers of the rosary, we are in fact brought into that state of prayer and silence that can break us out from our attachments and distractions in life which had often prevented us from finding our way to God. And unlike the Psalms which are difficult to remember, the prayers making up the rosary are extremely simple to remember.

Through that, Mary, our Lady of the Rosary wanted more and more people to spend more time in prayer and in communication with God, and also with her that she may help to bring us all and direct us towards her Son, our Lord and Saviour. And today, on this Feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary we are yet reminded again of the need for all of us to adopt this prayer of the rosary to help us to come ever closer to God, through His mother Mary, our mother and our role model in faith. Have we prayed the rosary yet thus far, especially during this month of October, brothers and sisters in Christ? If we have not done so, then we really should start doing so now.

Then, this Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary itself was instituted close to five centuries ago, under its original name of Our Lady of Victories. This date of the seventh day of October is the anniversary of the great and triumphant victory of the forces of Christendom against the forces of the wicked infidels of the Ottoman Turks who at that time sought to subjugate more and more of Christendom and the people of God to their flawed ideology and false teachings. At that time, the Church and Christendom themselves both were also beset by internal divisions and disagreements, as both were still reeling and suffering the effects of the Protestant Reformation, which led so many of the faithful astray into heretical paths.

Beset with internal divisions and the great external threat presented by the Ottoman Turks, the Pope therefore organised and raised up a great force from various parts of Christendom, gathering a Holy League led by one Don Juan of Austria, which went to face the Ottoman fleet at Lepanto in what is today the western part of Greece. The Pope also asked Christians everywhere to pray for the sake of the triumph of the Christian forces, encouraging them all to pray the rosary, asking for the intercession of the Blessed Mother of God and the saints, that the forces of the evil enemy might be crushed and defeated.

And thus, it was told that during the Battle of Lepanto, many saw the vision of the Blessed Virgin, Our Lady of Victories and Our Lady of the Rosary, with innumerable saints and Angels leading forth the forces of Christendom against the enemy. The enemy fleet and forces were defeated and crushed, and the forces of Christendom triumphant, liberating many of the Christian slaves, tens of thousands of them who had been forced and enslaved to work on the enemy ships and galleys. The news of the glorious and triumphant victory came to the Pope who then dedicated this day to be the Feast of Our Lady of Victories, which then later on rededicated as the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, reminding us all of the power of the rosary.

Why so, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because all of us must realise that we are always ever involved in a constant and daily spiritual battle all raging around us, waged by the evil spirits, Satan and all the forces of his fellow fallen angels, demons and wicked spirits, arrayed against our Guardian Angels and other Angels and good spirits of the Lord, supported by the saints and our Blessed Mother Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary herself. Those who sought our downfall and destruction are never at rest, always ever trying to strike us down and to grab us down with them, into the slippery slope towards eternal damnation. But we are not alone in this fight and struggle, brothers and sisters.

That is why, we must not underestimate the danger of those who seek our destruction and downfall, and we should always be ever vigilant, resisting the temptations to disobey God and sin. We should make good use of whatever means that the Lord has given us to help us, with the rosary itself being one of these. That is why we should spend some time each day especially in this month of the Holy Rosary to pray the rosary. And when we pray the rosary, we should pray it with genuine understanding and intention, and not just uttering the words of prayer without meaning and understanding them. Let us pray the rosary in offering a most beautiful spiritual bouquet of prayer to our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of the Rosary, who will then offer them on our behalf before her Son.

May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us in our journey of faith through life, and may all of us grow ever closer to God through the guidance of Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary, and our loving mother. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 6 October 2022 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bruno, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all called to heed the Lord’s truth and His teachings, and ask Him for help whenever we are needing any assistance and help. We cannot struggle alone in this journey of faith, or else we will quickly realise that we will falter and be easily tempted, falling deeper and deeper into the path of sin, from which we may realise that there is no path out from. Unless we conscientiously follow the path of the Lord and remain firmly faithful to this path, striving to walk as good and devoted Christians, we may realise that we will be drawn into the ways of the world, and be tempted by sin.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Galatia, the words of the Apostle chiding and the rebuking the people of God there for their erroneous ways and wicked living, for having followed the ways and the teachings proposed and preached to them by the false prophets and by all those who did not adhere to the true deposit of the faith and the truth as preserved by the Apostles. Back then, there existed many variations of the teachings of Christ, with some people likely making use of those teachings as excuses to establish their own school of thought and ideologies, or by syncretising them with the pagan beliefs and customs.

As such, St. Paul reminded the people of God not to be easily swayed by those worldly temptations, and to adhere closely to what they have received, the pure truth as what St. Paul and the other authentic witnesses and missionaries had proclaimed to them. St. Paul reminded the faithful not to allow their desires and the weakness of their flesh to sway them to the wrong paths. Otherwise, they would end up losing their way and might even fell off away from the path towards God and His salvation. That is why, St. Paul told them not to listen to those who proclaimed different messages from what he and the other faithful servants of God had preached.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord speaking to His disciples about the matter of someone who asked a friend for a favour, and how a father would care for his children in the same way that a friend would have cared for his or her friend’s requests or pleas for assistance. The Lord used that as an example to highlight to His disciples and therefore to all of us that, often times we do not realise that we have such a great opportunity to ask the Lord for help at any moment in time, but for various reasons, we chose not to seek for His help, and preferred to do things our own way, which in the end led to us doing the wrong things and choosing the wrong paths.

And why is it that we did not seek God’s help? First of all, the most often reason was that we allow our pride and ego to get in the way. We let ourselves be swayed by our ego that we refused to allow the Lord to speak to us, and we refused to listen to Him and we chose rather to do things our own way rather than to admit that we can be wrong or mistaken in our ways, or that we want to preserve that semblance of face and strength, and we chose to press on in our erroneous ways of life rather than to submit to God’s will or to look for help from Him. That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, our human pride and ego are such dangerous things that we must be ever vigilant against.

Then, another reason is that we are reluctant to ask, because we are afraid that God will punish us if we ask, and that He will chide and refuse to listen to us for our pleas and prayers. That, brothers and sisters in Christ is yet another reason why so many ended up getting further and further away from God. They rather chose to hide rather than to face the Lord, their loving God and Father. They did not have enough faith in God and in His mercy, that they chose to rather run away from Him and avoid Him, instead of entrusting themselves to His love and care. And this is what we must remind ourselves, that our Lord is our Father, and like all fathers, they will indeed chastise their children when they err, but they do so with love, and not hatred.

Which one should we rather choose, brethren? To be chastised by God and to be reminded to atone for our many sins and wickedness, for an eternity of joy and true happiness, filled with God’s love and grace because we have been reconciled to Him, or to run and hide away, to keep our pride and ego and then suffer an eternity of suffering and regret, because we keep on rejecting God’s ever generous mercy and love? Let us all not forget that all those countless souls in hell, all suffer because they have consciously rejected God’s offer of mercy and love, and chose to remain in the path of sin.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all reflect on all these and discern carefully our paths going forward. Today, we have one saint whose feast we are celebrating, namely that of St. Bruno, whose life and devotion to God hopefully can inspire us to lead a better, more holy and committed life to God. St. Bruno, also known as St. Bruno of Cologne, was the founder of the Carthusian religious order. He was a devout priest and servant of God, whose tenure as the Chancellor of the Diocese of Reims in what is today France was well-known for his upright attitude and holiness, and despite facing challenges and trials from those who opposed him.

Not only that, but St. Bruno was also remembered for his conscious rejection of fame and public office, at the time when everyone would have wanted them. When he was offered and had a very likely chance to become a bishop, St. Bruno instead renounced all of that and all forms of worldly glory, and withdrew from the world, preferring to dedicate himself to the Lord, inspiring some others to follow his examples, which eventually led to the foundation of the Carthusians. Despite repeated efforts to make him an Archbishop afterwards, St. Bruno deferred to other candidates and those whom he recommended instead of himself. He remained committed to God, living simply and humbly to the end of his earthly life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we see in St. Bruno a genuine Christian faith and dedication, a great humility and passion to serve the Lord. At a time when many people, and even those within the Church, were tempted with worldly glory and power, St. Bruno showed them all, as well as all of us today, what it truly means to be a disciple of Christ, to be committed fully to God and to serve Him wholeheartedly, and not to be swayed and distracted by the temptations of worldly glory, power, fame, ambition, desire and especially by our pride and ego. We have discussed about it earlier, how our own ego and pride can easily lead to our downfall.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore commit ourselves anew to God, and strive to be ever better and more committed disciples and followers of Christ. Let us all draw ever closer to God and to His love and mercy, entrusting ourselves ever more to Him, and learning to humble ourselves and to be more willing to listen to Him, and ridding ourselves of the excesses of our desires, ego and pride. May the Lord be our guide and with the intercession of St. Bruno, may all of us remain firmly faithful to our Hope and salvation in God, now and always. Amen.

Wednesday, 5 October 2022 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Faustina Kowalska, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Holy Virgins)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded of our Christian obligations to seek the Lord and to remain faithful to Him, and to follow the good examples of faith set by the Lord Himself and His many saints. Each and every one of us are called to devote our time and attention to God, and we are all encouraged to proclaim the word of God in our lives courageously, through our words and actions, and to be genuine in our interactions with one another, so that our lives may become good examples for many others who witness our works and interact with us.

In our first reading today, as we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and faithful in Galatia, we heard the Apostle recounting his past experiences, as he grew in the faith and followed what the Lord asked him to do. We heard of the deeds of the Apostles, of St. Paul himself and his companions like St. Barnabas the Apostle and others, as well as with Cephas, that is St. Peter the Apostle, the leader of the Church and all the Apostles. St. Paul recounted his works and his interactions with the other Apostles, and how the Lord worked through their interactions, as they helped and assisted each other, and St. Paul himself reminded St. Peter in the spirit of fraternal correction, that he should not give in to those who advocated for the imposition of un-Christian rules and regulations on the Gentiles.

Back then, we have to understand that during the time of the early Church, there existed great tensions and divisions among the members of the faithful as they were still maintaining their past distinctions in terms of their race and origin, their prior identities and beliefs, their status and ideologies, among others. The Jews and the Gentiles or the non-Jewish people, in particular, were often divided in their opinion and ways in the early Church, with some among the Jewish Christian converts advocating the imposition of Jewish laws and customs in their entirety on the entire body of the Christian faithful.

The Jewish people made up a significant proportion of the early Christians as the disciples of the Lord preached first to the Jews and the people in Judea and Galilee before they began their outreach to the Gentiles both in the lands of Judea and Galilee and in distant lands. The Apostles and many other disciples of the Lord were themselves Jewish, and that naturally made many of the early Christians to hold certain ideas and viewpoints, with some among them desiring to impose their will on others. The non-Jewish people however would find adopting such practices and customs to be very difficult, as many of them were difficult to enforce even among the Jews themselves, and some of those customs were also seen as abhorrent by the non-Jewish communities.

As such, St. Paul, who had often reached out to the Gentiles and worked among them, spending many years in ministering to the Gentile converts to Christianity and more, he stood by the Christian Gentiles, that the Church ought to understand their position and difficulties, and also understand better the true wishes of the Lord, Who called on everyone to follow Him, Jews and Gentiles alike. There should be no prejudice or bias in the path of following God, and all the faithful people of God should have been treated equally without certain preferences to a particular race, culture, customs and ways of living.

What is important is for all Christians to embrace the true core of our faith and belief in the Lord, that all of us ought to love the Lord our God, with all of our hearts and minds, with all of our strength and abilities, and then to love one another, our fellow brothers and sisters in the same way that we have loved the Lord and ourselves. What some of the Jewish converts back then tried to impose on the whole Church especially on the Gentile Christians were excessive and unnecessary, and could have even turned many people away from the Lord, and worsen the instances of elitism and self-righteousness among the Christian people, just as what had happened among the Pharisees and the Jewish elites.

Then, in our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord teaching His disciples how to pray, through the prayer that I am sure all of us know very well, that is the Lord’s Prayer or Pater Noster. As we listened to the words of this prayer that I am sure we have often prayed for, we are once again reminded of our purpose and obligation as Christians, that is as those whom God had called and chosen, and having responded to His call, each one of us have been made the children of God. And because of this, each and every one of us should do our best to live our lives in the way that the Lord had taught and shown us to do. All of us should not behave in ways that will bring disgrace and dishonour to the Name of the Lord and to His Church.

We should also deepen our relationship with the Lord through prayer, just as the Lord Himself had taught us. And praying is one of these ways, as we are reminded to keep in contact with the Lord our God. As in any relationships we have in this world, we have to maintain them through constant contact and interactions, and we cannot be close to the Lord unless we really make the conscious efforts to do so, and to bring ourselves nearer to Him, through prayers and by following His will, obeying His Law and commandments. The Lord has called us all to follow Him, and it is really up to us to renew our relationship with Him and commit ourselves to Him, through our efforts at each and every moments.

Then, we should also be inspired by the examples and good things done by our holy predecessors, just as on this day we celebrate the feast of St. Faustina Kowalska, the Polish religious sister who was the visionary and the inspiration for the very popular Devotion to the Divine Mercy of God. St. Faustina Kowalska joined religious life at an early age and began receiving visions of the Lord, especially that of the suffering Jesus, calling upon the people of God to return to Him and to embrace His mercy and love. St. Faustina Kowalska recorded her experiences and mystical visions, especially when the Lord appeared to her in the now famous Divine Mercy form, with rays of red and white light emanating from His Most Sacred Heart.

St. Faustina Kowalska spent a lot of time in prayer and devoted herself in humble submission to the will of God. She also related her visions and told them to her superiors and others, as per instructed by the Lord Himself in her visions. Despite the challenges and oppositions that she encountered throughout her life, and in her work of spreading the message and truth of the Devotion to the Divine Mercy of God, St. Faustina continued to persevere nonetheless, and eventually, this Devotion gained tract and popularity among Christians worldwide, especially after her passing not long after she received those visions of the Divine Mercy. This Devotion is now among the most popular among Christians all over the world. St. Faustina Kowalska might have lived just a short life, and yet, in that short moment, she had touched the life of so many people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all emulate the good faith and examples as shown by St. Faustina Kowalska and many other saints, our holy predecessors, holy men and women of God. Let us all live up to our faith and do whatever we can to fulfil our obligation and calling as Christians, living our lives to the fullest as role models and the good examples of Christian discipleship, loving God and loving one another with all of our strength and might. Let us all inspire one another and be the good examples to help more and more people to find their way to God, to embrace the Divine Mercy and His love for us, that we may be forgiven from our multitudes of sins.

May God be with us always and may He continue to empower us all, that we may always persevere with faith. May God be glorified through our lives, our actions and deeds, and may our every interactions help to proclaim His truth and love to others, and bring more souls ever closer to God and His loving embrace. In the words of the prayers to the Divine Mercy, ‘Eternal Father, I offer You, the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.’ Amen.

Tuesday, 4 October 2022 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all presented with the reminder that each one of us are called to change our ways of life, and to embrace God and His path once again if we have once erred and not adhering to the way of the Lord. Each one of us are reminded that God has kindly reached out to us, calling on us all to embrace His love and mercy, and for us to walk once again in His path. As long as we are willing to listen to the Lord calling on us, then we are likely to be on the right path, and as long as we are willing to open our hearts and minds to welcome Him, we are likely going to find the Lord in the end, waiting for us to return to Him.

In our first reading today we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Church and the faithful in Galatia in which the Apostle spoke about his experiences and conversion from being one of the greatest enemies of the Lord, His Church and the faithful people of God, the great scourge of Christians, to be one of the Lord’s and His Church’s greatest champions and defenders, in his amazing conversion experience and in being called and chosen by God. God Himself had called St. Paul on his way to Damascus, supposedly to crush the Church and persecute the Christians there, but he himself emerged as a Christian in the aftermath, and from then henceforth, this renewed man of God embarked on a faithful mission in obedience to God’s will.

What we have heard in our first reading today through the experiences which St. Paul shared with all of us, we are all reminded that God is calling on us all to follow Him, and He is the One Who is making us worthy and changed us, led us and guided us to the right path. We are reminded that there is hope for everyone, even for the worst sinners and the greatest offenders as long as they are willing to allow God to lead them once again down the right path. Just as St. Paul has shown us, that he listened to the Lord’s call and embraced Him wholeheartedly, learning about the errors of his past ways, and then henceforth, labouring for the glory of God ever after.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the exchanges between the Lord Jesus and His friends, the sisters Mary and Martha, both of whom welcomed Him as He came to visit their house. Martha was busy preparing for the welcome, presumably preparing the meals and other things to properly and hospitably welcome Him. Meanwhile Mary was focused wholly on listening to the Lord as He spoke and taught her of His truth. We know of this story surely where Martha told the Lord to ask her sister to help her out, as she was busy preparing everything by herself, only for the Lord to remind her that what her sister was doing, was right, because she welcomed Him into her heart, and did what she could to welcome Him by focusing her attention on Him and not otherwise.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we heard of the story of Martha and Mary, we are all reminded of the need for all of us to return our focus onto the Lord our God, and for us to refocus our lives upon Him. Each one of us are reminded that we should not end up being so preoccupied and even distracted by our many attachments and by the many temptations all around us that we fail to focus our attention on the Lord, and instead, we may end up intentionally or unintentionally getting further and further, and more distant from the Lord and His path. Martha for example had good intentions, but unfortunately in her desire to satisfy her own desire in serving the Lord, she got lost into it so much that she forgot to welcome the Lord into her own heart.

Today all of us Christians are reminded to change our ways and our hearts and minds, in the manner of St. Paul and how he had a life-changing encounter with the Lord. And there is yet another example that we can follow, in the person of the great and renowned saint, St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscans and the one who inspired the name of our current reigning Pope, Pope Francis. St. Francis is well known and remembered for his dedication to the Lord, his unique commitment to the service of God and in living humbly in poverty, poor in the eyes of the world and yet rich in the sight of God. His examples and life can very well serve as good inspirations for each one of us.

St. Francis of Assisi was born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone as the son of a rich textile merchant in what is today’s Italy, and as the heir of the rich merchant, he was prepared since his early youth with education and the expectation that he would be carrying on his father’s business and legacy. But God had a different plan for the young St. Francis, as He called him to follow Him much as how He had called St. Paul the Apostle. This rich merchant’s son might have been an unlikely candidate for a servant of God living in poverty and in the barest of conditions, and yet that was what St. Francis of Assisi eventually chose to do, abandoning all material and worldly wealth, his status and inheritance.

It was told that the young St. Francis heard God’s call as he passed by a dilapidated chapel, which is today well known as the San Damiano chapel with its distinctive crucifix. St. Francis heard the Lord’s call to restore his Church, and he interpreted it back then that he should help to restore the chapel which was already torn down in condition back then. St. Francis resolved to take part of his father’s precious textile stock to fund the reconstruction and repair of the chapel, which then earned his father’s wrath. It was told then that the young St. Francis fled to a local priest, who then helped him to seek shelter with the bishop. When St. Francis’ father sought to reclaim the property and wealth he lost, and wanted to sue his own son for that, it was told that St. Francis stripped everything he had and renounced both his father, inheritance and everything before everyone assembled.

St. Francis of Assisi henceforth dedicated himself to a life of dedication and ministry for the glory of God, gathering like-minded people over time, and laid the foundation of the Franciscan order, which by today has encompassed countless thousands and more religious, priests and many holy men and women dedicated to the service of the Lord and to the various ministries entrusted to them throughout history, in bringing God’s truth and love ever closer to His people. St. Francis of Assisi has inspired all of these people to seek the Lord with all their heart, refocusing their lives on Him and also to live humbly and simply, and not be swayed or burdened by worldly temptations and attachments.

And to all of us living in this world today, St. Francis of Assisi and his examples remind us not to be easily swayed by those same worldly temptations, and not to have excessive attachments and entanglements with worldly matters and desires. Money, wealth, material possessions and other worldly things themselves are not evil per se, as those can very well be used for good and worthy purposes as well. It is rather our unhealthy attachments and obsessions with them that we must avoid at all costs. That is why we need to reexamine our conscience and our focus in life so that we do not end up walking down the wrong path like so many others had done before us.

Let us all renew our faith and commitment to God, by reorienting ourselves towards the Lord, and refocusing our attention towards Him. Let us all ask St. Francis of Assisi, St. Paul and all the other holy saints of God to intercede for us at all times. May God be with us always and may He empower us all to live ever more faithfully in His presence always, like those faithful saints who have shown us the true Christian virtues and values, putting God as the centre and focus of our lives, and distancing ourselves from wickedness and evil. Amen.

Monday, 3 October 2022 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today each and every one of us as Christians are reminded to be full of love for the Lord and for our fellow brothers and sisters, as we are called to obey the word of God and His commandments, and are reminded to do what He has taught us to do, and even what He Himself had done for our sake. We are reminded of what it truly means for us to be Christians, not just in name only, but also in real deeds and actions. Otherwise, if we do not do as we are supposed to, then we are no better than hypocrites, and our empty and dead faith will avail us not on the day of Judgment.

In our first reading today we heard from the words of the Apostle St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful people of God in Galatia. The Apostle was reminding the people of God that there was the need for them to adhere closely to the truth and the message of the Gospels and whatever that he and the other missionaries of the Lord had delivered to them. At that time, the people were easily swayed by the teachings of the false prophets and messengers, all those who came up with their own interpretations and ideas not inspired by the truth of God and the Holy Spirit, by those who sought to subvert the truth and the message of the Gospels for their own selfish desires and purposes.

That is exactly what would happen to the various communities of the Lord’s faithful across the many centuries afterwards, as the history of the Church can testify to us, how there were various false teachings and heretical thoughts and ideas that sprung forth and not founded upon the truth and the traditions handed down through the Church from the Lord and His Apostles. Those false teachers and preachers spoke of values and teachings contrary to the way of the Lord, and instead following their own worldly and mistaken ways. And thus we heard one of the Lord’s true teachings being highlighted in our Gospel passage today, in the story of the parable of the Good Samaritan, which I am sure many of us are well aware of.

In that parable of the Good Samaritan, we heard of how a man from Jericho, a Jew was beset by bandits and was left to die. A priest and a Levite passed by and ignored the man’s plight while a Samaritan was eventually the one who took care of the man but not only that, as the Samaritan went the extra mile in trying to help the man, and helped the man in his hour of greatest need, caring for him and told the innkeeper to provide extra care as much as needed, and that he would return for him no matter what. This is what I meant by the true Christian values and teachings that each one of us have been called to uphold and proclaim, and to practice and do in our respective lives.

At that time, the priests and the Levites were the elites and the most well-respected within the Jewish community, while on the other hand the Samaritans were greatly despised and hated, and no Jew of good standing at that time would want anything to do with a Samaritan. All of these happened because of the historical enmity and misunderstandings between both the Jewish people and the Samaritans, as each one of them claimed to be the authentic and true heirs of the people of God of old, of the old kingdoms of Israel and Judah in the past. The Jews of course claimed that they were the rightful descendants of Israel, having been descended from the exiles of Israel and Judah, while the Samaritans claimed that they had lived in their lands since the days of the Israelites of old.

These struggles and misunderstandings meant that the Samaritans were deeply mistrusted, prejudiced against and despised as mentioned. And yet, it was the Samaritan man who actually went out of his way to help the Jewish man, in loving and caring for him even when he was not obliged to do so. He went beyond and cared for the man anyway. That is what Christian charity and love is all about, brothers and sisters in Christ, and what we are all called and expected to do as followers and disciples of Christ, our Lord and Saviour. For the Lord Himself did that as well, extending His love to us when He was not obliged to, and cared for us deeply.

He shouldered the burdens of our sins willingly, the punishments and humiliations, the scourges and tortures, and all of that and more, so that through all of them, we may receive the sure guarantee of eternal life and salvation through Him. Christ bore the punishment of sins for us, was beaten, humiliated and scourged for us, so that by His suffering and death, we who believe in Him and put our faith in Him will be freed from our fated eternal damnation because of our sins and disobedience against God. We should have perished as the Jewish man from Jericho should have perished, and yet, our Lord, like the Good Samaritan, came to us, brought us back to new life through Him, and gave us hope and strength.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore today as we listened to these readings from the Scriptures and remembering the great love by which God cared for us and loved us, let us all hence strive to be ever better and more committed disciples and followers of our Lord in all things. Let us all strive to love Him all the more, distancing ourselves from wicked and sinful ways. And most importantly, let us all heed His own examples in loving us, and the story of the Good Samaritan, for us to love one another in the same way, to love without boundaries and prejudices, and to love generously and sincerely without considerations for our backgrounds, origins, status or other things that often shaped our way of interacting with each other.

Let us all be genuine Christians in all things, so that in everything we say and do, we will always proclaim the glory of God through our lives and examples. May all of us remain faithful to our mission and calling in life, and to be ever dedicated and faithful to God and His ways. May God bless us always, in all things, now and forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 2 October 2022 : Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday we are reminded to be ever faithful and committed to God, in our daily living, even if we are beset by various troubles and trials, challenges and obstacles. We should not be afraid or be deterred by the opposition and the hardships which we may encounter in our journey of faith through life. We must remain resolute in our faith and dedication to God, believing wholeheartedly in His path and not be easily swayed and tempted by all the traps and the other things that the devil and his wicked allies and forces had placed before us all. We must hold on to that faith which we should have in God.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Habakkuk in which the Lord spoke and interacted with Habakkuk, a prophet who was active in the land of Judah during its final years, and whose life and ministry revolved around the sufferings and oppressions endured by the followers of the Lord at the land where the people refused to believe in God, where the prophets were persecuted. And not only that, Habakkuk was also referring to the sufferings of the people themselves, who at that time were brought under the dominion of the Babylonians and their king, Nebuchadnezzar.

The prophet Habakkuk pleaded before God for His intervention and help, saying that he and the people have suffered, and were in need of God and His help. But God reassured Habakkuk and also the people, by saying that, whatever He would reveal through Habakkuk himself, everything would come in due time, just as whatever He had spoken through His earlier prophets like Amos and Isaiah, among others. Everything will happen as God wills it, and eventually, all those who remain faithful in God will be redeemed and will enjoy the fullness of His grace and love. God will not forget or abandon those who seek Him, even if they themselves had abandoned or forgotten about Him before.

In our Psalm today, we heard the exhortation for us all, God’s beloved people to rejoice in Him, in His faithfulness and love. We are all reminded to focus our attention to Him, to serve and glorify Him, and to praise and worship Him at all times. We are also reminded not to be like those who rebelled against God as at Massah and Meribah. At Massah and Meribah, the very ungrateful Israelites rebelled against God and complained against Him, because they refused to obey Him and follow Him, and complaining that they were deprived of what they wanted to have, when God had taken care of them day after day, month after month, and year after year, feeding them all and guiding them to the Promised Land.

We are all reminded through these that often times, we are ourselves our own greatest opponent and obstacle, especially in our pride, ego and desires. It is our pride and ego which prevented us from seeing how faulty our lives can be, and led us to stubbornness and rebellious attitudes, as we often did not want to admit that we could have been wrong in our ways. We ended up refusing God’s ever generous offer of love and mercy, hardening our hearts against Him as what the Israelites had done in the past, at Massah and Meribah and during the time of the prophets like Habakkuk. Their refusal to abandon their pride and ego led to their downfall.

While their attachments to their desires, to the many pleasures and allures of this world misled them down the wrong path, as they preoccupied themselves with the pursuit of power, knowledge, glory, wealth, affluence and fame, status and many others. They gave themselves to the worship of false idols and false gods to satisfy their own desires and wants, and refused to follow the Law and precepts that God had set before all of them. This is what has happened to us as well, and will continue to happen to us if we are not vigilant in living our lives in our present day world. If we allow ourselves to be swayed by the many concerns and attachments, ambitions and desires we have, we will likely end up being lost from God.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord speaking to His disciples when they asked of Him to increase their faith. The Lord reminded them all that if they truly had genuine faith, even no matter how small it may seem to be, everything will be possible. Again, the Lord was actually reminding all of His disciples that they should not treat faith as a tool for their own self-benefit and ambition. For at that time, the disciples had followed the Lord for various reasons, and likely many of them were also spurred by the desires they had for power, influence and glory, as is common for any groups and movements, just as the history of the world and our Church have shown us.

As the Lord told His disciples that after everything that the servants had done, they were after all just servants of the Master. Any glory they have done and any great things they had performed, all these were due to the Master and not themselves. The Lord reminded His disciples and all of us through this parable, that all of us as the servants and followers of God ultimately live our lives at the command and charge of the Lord, and everything we say and do, all of our achievements and greatness are ultimately not due to ourselves, but due to God, attributed to Him and should have been offered to Him, rather than to make ourselves bloated with pride and ego.

Again, as I mentioned earlier, pride and ego are often obstacles and barriers that kept us away from God. Due to those, we often enclose ourselves in our own cocoon, in our own comfort zones, seeking to attain our own personal comfort and satisfaction rather than to do the will of God. The Lord reminded His disciples to be wary of these temptations that they do not seek for glory and acclaim in life, and whenever they do His will, they should do it because they want to do it for the glory of God and for the good of their fellow brothers and sisters, and not for their own selfish desires and ambitions instead. St. Paul his Epistle to St. Timothy, in our second reading today, also echoed the same thought, that we ought to follow the Lord and His ways, and not to give in to worldly ways and desires.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, having heard all of these, we are now then called to reflect on our lives and discern carefully how each and every one of us should proceed forward in our respective lives. The Lord has called on all of us to follow Him and we should answer His call with faith and commitment. We should do whatever we can in life, even in the smallest and seemingly least significant things so that our lives, our every actions, our words and interactions with one another bear within them the light and truth of God, His hope, His love and His way. Through us, the Lord can touch so many more other people in this world, and this is our calling as Christians, to do God’s will and to live our lives faithfully in the way that He has shown and taught us to do.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in the Church and in our respective involvements, in our Church ministries and organisations, there should be no quarrel, infighting and power-playing that unfortunately often happen because we as fellow Christians, instead of dedicating our works and efforts to serve the Lord and focusing our attention on Him, we focus our attention on ourselves instead, and seeking to satisfy our own personal ambitions and desires. That is why we end up having so many issues and conflicts, factionalism and infighting even among the members of the Church and its various communities and bodies.

Not only that, but even outside the Church, and within our own respective circles of friends and families, we should be the ones to bear forth the goodness of God’s love and truth rather than being the source of division or suffering for others. Too often we have heard how people were being scandalised and turned off by the actions of Christians who did not live their lives as how Christians should, and instead they lived their lives in the manner of the world, and often even worse than how non-Christians behave themselves. This is why, each and every one of us, whenever and wherever we are, we have to do our best to live our lives righteously and worthily in the manner that God has shown us.

May the Lord our most loving God and Master continue to watch over each and every one of us, and may He strengthen us all with the courage and resolve to follow Him and to walk ever always in His path and presence, resisting the many temptations present all around us that we do not end up falling into the traps that the evil ones had intentionally set before us to bring about our downfall. Let us all seek the Lord ever more fervently and spend more of our time and effort to do His will, and to glorify Him by our lives, now and always. May God bless our every good works and endeavours, for His greater glory. Amen.

Saturday, 1 October 2022 : Feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of Missions (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us gather together to listen to the words of the Lord and to celebrate together as one whole Church, the Feast of the great saint and Patroness of Missions, the Feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, also known as St. Therese of Lisieux. On this day we heard of the words from the Scriptures reminding us all to entrust ourselves to the Lord and to follow Him faithfully, to follow Him with all of our hearts and might, and to be like little children in our faith, pure and sincere, and genuine in our desire to love God and to walk in His path, unfettered by the many temptations of the world often present all around us.

In our first reading today, we heard of the words of the Lord spoken through the prophet Isaiah, as He told them to have faith in Him and trust in Him, as He would restore peace, glory and happiness to Jerusalem, to His people and nation, and that they would no longer have to suffer or be in agony, as the Lord would be by their side and they would be His people. This was made in the context of how difficult the situation of the people of God at the time of the mission of the prophet Isaiah, and God wanted His people to remain firmly faithful to Him and to entrust themselves to Him, calling on them to turn away from their past, sinful ways.

For back then, many of the people of God had ended up being cast out and exiled from their own lands because of their own sins and disobedience as they allowed themselves to be swayed by their desires and attachments to the world. Those who lived in the northern kingdom of Israel, composed on much of the ten tribes that rose in rebellion against the House of David, had been brought into exile by the Assyrians, the mighty empire that came and conquered the lands of Israel and destroyed the cities and towns of Israel, humiliating and crushing them. And all these happened because the Israelites there had not listened to God and His frequent reminders and calls on all of them to repent from their sinful ways. God had sent His many prophets, servants and messengers to call on them to repent, but they refused to pay attention and even persecuted those prophets.

In the southern kingdom of Judah, where the prophet Isaiah ministered in, the people of God had also not always been faithful to God and had from time to time falling again and again into sinful paths. They had not always listened to the words of the Lord, and rebelled against Him. They too have suffered at the hands of their neighbours and enemies, and back then, they were also under threat from the growing might of the Assyrians. But the Lord reassured them and told them that if they were to put their faith in Him, they truly had nothing to fear. God would restore the glory of Jerusalem and His kingdom to the people who were faithful to Him, and they would once again rejoice in His presence.

The main reason why the people had not been faithful and continued to fall into sin, again and again was because they were too attached to the worldly matters and concerns, desires and other things that kept them chained to the path of sin and disobedience against God. They were all too busy with their many attachments to worldly matters to attend to God and they ignored His calls because they were all too busy and preoccupied in seeking more worldly things, of wealth and glory, of fame and status, of many other satisfactions and pleasures in life. Due to all these, they kept on growing further and further away from God and His righteous path.

And that is exactly why we should heed what the Lord Jesus Himself had told His disciples in our Gospel passage today, that unless we follow the Lord in the manner that the little children were following Him, then we all can have no place in God’s kingdom. At that time, as mentioned, the disciples were then arguing amongst themselves about who among them was the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven, and they were competing and arguing that each one of them had better merits and worth to be the ones trusted by the Lord, to be part of His inner circle. But in doing that, they essentially opened themselves to the temptations of Satan and the other evil spirits, who always tried to seek our downfall.

That was how we mankind often fell into sin, because we allowed ourselves to be swayed by the temptations and allures of worldly pleasures, happiness and satisfactions, the desire for money and material wealth, for pleasures of the flesh and the comfort of the world, in various forms, and in indulging upon our many desires and wants in this world. Through these things, the devil and all of his wicked allies were trying hard always to snatch us from the path towards God and His salvation and grace. And unless we make the conscious efforts to resist the temptations to sin, then we may likely fall deeper and deeper into the path of sin.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why we should heed the life and examples set by one of our holy predecessors whose feast we celebrate today as just mentioned earlier at the start of today’s discourse, namely St. Therese of the Child Jesus, also known as St. Therese of Lisieux. This holy servant of God was also often known as the ‘Little Flower of Carmel’ and was remembered for her intense devotion to God and for her faith and holy life, as well as for her propagation of her ‘Little Way’ which were what she was mostly remembered and commemorated for. Even up to this day, the impact from her life and contributions are still enormous and can still be easily felt.

St. Therese of Lisieux was a Discalced Carmelite nun who had strong devotion to the Lord since her early youth, and who was inspired to join the religious convent at the very young age of fifteen. She grew up in a very devout and religious family, and her parents, who later on became saints themselves. St. Louis Martin and St. Marie-Azelie Guerin, the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux, inspired their children to live a life of virtue and dedication to God, and all of their children became religious and dedicated their lives to God, including that of St. Therese of Lisieux herself. And when her mother passed away in her life, St. Therese was drawn closer to God, finding her refuge in Him.

Despite suffering from ill health throughout her life, St. Therese of Lisieux remained firm in her commitment to God and in her desire to be a religious devoted completely to God. St. Therese also began to experience visions and other mystical experiences from early in in her life. St. Therese was well-known for her night of ‘complete conversion’ experience, in which she experienced a great mystical vision and the liberating and comforting presence of God, solidifying her desire to commit herself to the Lord. Eventually, after a period of discernment and after some arrangements, St. Therese joined the Discalced Carmelite monastery.

She was remembered for her constant care for others, and for her prayers for sinners, such as for one convicted murderer, Henri Pranzini, whom she prayed for daily for his conversion before he was due to be executed for his crimes. She was also remembered for her great sanctity and her adherence to what is now known as St. Therese’s ‘Little Way’. This ‘Little Way’ constitutes the need for all of us as Christians to commit ourselves to God even in the smallest and the littlest things we can do on each days and in every moments of our lives. St. Therese said that it is in these small, seemingly insignificant moments that we gradually build up our approach towards the eternal kingdom of God.

The faith and dedication which was shown by St. Therese of Lisieux should remind all of us that as Christians, we have the calling and responsibility to reach out to our fellow men and to be the genuine witnesses of our Christian faith and truth. We are all called and in fact, challenged to do whatever we can to glorify God and to proclaim His Holy Name, His truth and love to the world, by the simplest things we do in life. We do not have to think of great and ambitious things, as in fact, many of those who seek for great things to do, end up disappointed, and not just that, but many ended up doing so for the wrong reasons, such as to serve their own pride and vainglory, their own desires and ambitions rather than to fulfil their role as servants and followers of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all remember that each one of us as Christians have that important responsibility, for all of us to contribute in whichever ways we can, in our respective areas and missions entrusted to us, in our own daily living and activities. All of us are indeed missionaries, and we have to realise that mission entails even things as simple as us proclaiming the Lord through our own exemplary and virtuous lives. That is why St. Therese of Lisieux is the Patroness of Missions, reminding us not to have the misconception that missions can only take place in faraway and distant lands, or in great missionary efforts, but in fact, mission happens in each and every moments of our lives.

Let us all therefore do our best to proclaim the Lord as His missionaries of faith, hope and charity, and do our best, inspired by the good examples of St. Therese of Lisieux and the innumerable other saints, holy men and women of God, that we may always be virtuous and worthy in our actions, words and deeds, even in the smallest things. Let us all strive to be holy and inspirational to others, leading a most Christian living in our daily lives to the best of our abilities. May the Lord continue to bless us and strengthen us in our efforts and endeavours, and may St. Therese of Lisieux, of the Child Jesus continue to pray for us and intercede for us sinners, always. Amen.

Friday, 30 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord contained within the Scriptures, let us all be reminded of the need for each and every one of us to believe in the Lord and His words, and entrust ourselves to Him, with ever greater fidelity and commitment each day. All of us are reminded through what we have heard today, of the limitations of our human selves and existences, and how we have to open ourselves and listen to the Lord speaking to us and revealing His truth to us. We have to believe in Him and entrust ourselves in His hands.

In our first reading today we heard from the Book of Job of what God spoke to Job towards the end of his tale, after he had gone through great sufferings and troubles, humiliations and attacks against him by even those who were close to him, because he was attacked by Satan, who took away all of his possessions, material wealth and even those who were dear to him like his own children. In the end, Job himself had to suffer from painful and itchy boils when Satan continued to strike against him in trying to make him to betray and abandon God. Yet, Job remained faithful to God and did not leave the Lord. Not even his sufferings and trials could dissuade him or tempt him away from the path towards God.

Job believed in God wholeheartedly even as he despaired. He trusted in Him even when he languished in the terrible state of health, and also derided and abandoned by even those closest to him, cursed and attacked because they thought that Job must have committed a great sin and disobeyed God to have suffered such a great calamity to himself and his family and possessions. Thus, Job and his so-called friends and companions ended up in great debate in which Job himself despaired and blamed himself for what had happened to him, and saying that God should just end his life there and then because of his unworthiness and lack of virtue.

It was there then we heard the Lord kindly rebuking His own servant Job as we listened to our first reading passage today. The Lord told Job that he should not have despaired and thought that he could comprehend the greatness of God, His thought and ways. Whatever happened to Job, God said that everything happened according to His will, and that it was by God’s will that everything came to be a reality, including what God Himself would do for Job at the end of all of his great misery and suffering. God granted Job double and more of all the things that he had lost earlier due to the calamities caused by Satan, and he regained all the joy and wonders of the world because of his unwavering faith in Him.

Then in our Gospel passage today we heard of the Lord Jesus cursing several of the cities of Galilee such as Capernaum, Bethsaida and Chorazin, all of these because those cities and their people had not believed in the Lord despite everything that He had done before them all. Unlike Job who had believed and trusted in the Lord, remaining faithful to Him even when he was surrounded by the various calamities and not able to see the Lord and His great deeds, the people of Capernaum, Bethsaida and Chorazin all had seen the many miracles and wonders of the Lord, and yet they had not believed in Him.

Instead, some among them doubted Him and questioned His authority and the veracity of His works and wonders. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law among them in particularly kept on hounding Him and His disciples in trying to find way to discredit Him and putting many obstacles in His path. That is part of the reason why the Lord, in His righteous anger, rebuked those cities and all those within them who had hardened their hearts and minds against Him, and refused to listen to Him and His truth, despite all the things and wonderful signs which He had performed before their own eyes, and which they had witnessed on their own.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we recall these words of the Scriptures, we are also reminded therefore of our calling as Christians to trust in the Lord despite our trials and challenges, because the Lord alone is the source of all our hopes and salvation. And today, we should be inspired by the examples shown by our holy predecessor in faith, one great saint and servant of God, namely St. Jerome, who was remembered most for his great contribution in the translation of the Bible from its Greek Septuagint and Hebrew origins to the Latin Vulgate version, which allowed the faithful people of God in many places to have greater access to the truth contained within the Word of God in the Scriptures.

St. Jerome translated the Scriptures as part of his many other works and writings, which he carried out for the good of the Church and the people of God. And in his role in assisting the Pope, the Vicar of Christ, who entrusted to him many matters including the translation of the Scriptures itself, and the reforms of the Church, many considered St. Jerome as a precursor of the Cardinals in the Church, as one of the closest confidants and collaborators of the Roman Pontiff. St. Jerome also encouraged greater holiness and sanctity among the people he was working and interacting with, encouraging them to be ever closer to God in their ways of life. He had to face many challenges and trials, oppositions and troubles, and yet, St. Jerome remained firm in his faith and trusted God in all things.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore be inspired by the good examples set by our holy predecessors, particularly that of St. Jerome whose memory we venerate today, as well as Job, the holy, devout and committed man of God. Let us all glorify God by our lives and let us entrust ourselves ever more to the Lord so that in all things, we may always be great and faithful witnesses of His truth, glory and resurrection. May God be with us always and may He bless us in our every endeavours and good works, now and always. Amen.