Saturday, 20 September 2014 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Laurent Imbert, Bishop and Martyr; St. Jacques Chastan, Priest and Martyr; St. Andrew Kim Taegon and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 8 : 4-15

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 had 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 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.”

Thursday, 4 September 2014 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we come and listen to the words of the Scriptures, as we heard how Jesus our Lord met and recruited the disciples to His cause, calling them from their former worldly professions into their new work and vocation for the sake of mankind and for the greater glory of God. They left behind their possessions so that they gained a greater reward in God, that is a possession that lasts forever.

Today we heard about how those humble fishermen of the lake of Galilee, Peter and Andrew his brother, and the sons of Zebedee, James and John, were called, from their boats and nets, that they would no longer just catch fishes in the lake to be sold in the market and to feed themselves, but instead they would become the fishers of men, to bring mankind back to the Lord their God.

And we have to take note how the Lord did not call the great and powerful, nor the righteous and holy ones to be His disciples, as He could easily have done so, and His works would have been so much easier. No, the Lord did not do that. Instead, He called on the sinners and the weak, those who have low standing in the society, such as fishermen, a simple and menial job, as well as others, including tax collectors such as Levi, later known as Matthew.

The idea here is clearly stated in the first reading, where St. Paul in his letter to the faithful in Corinth rebuked those who assumed that they were wise and great, and he therefore those who immersed themselves in their pride, thinking only about themselves and their achievements, and thinking that because of their wisdom, influence or other abilities and deeds, they were rightful in gloating over others’ supposed inferiority. This, as St. Paul said, would bring about their doom.

Yes, indeed, the Lord called sinners and simple people to be His disciples, not only because He truly came into this world to save the sinners and those whose souls were sick, but He also knew that those who were not burdened with the many concerns of the world and the taint of power and glory, would have been much better disciples and servants of the will of God, as they are likely to have less ego and pride than those who are powerful and great in the world.

God desires not our death and destruction, but in fact He seeks for our redemption from sin. And this is by delivering His Good News and the truth about Himself to mankind, and this is akin to the net being cast out from the ship to catch the various fishes in the sea. And like the net, those who listen to the word of God will be ensnared in that net, and thus, they would be able to continue to listen to the word of God and hence be saved.

The ship itself represents the Church of God, which God had established Himself in this world, to bring His people to safety and towards His kingdom which is to come. And the Apostles whom Jesus had called from among the people are indeed like the fishermen, who steered the ship that is the Church of God, in order to ensure that the Church can sail safely amidst any storms in the sea. Those storms represent the challenges and the oppositions which Satan and his allies, the forces of sin and darkness, which often bar our path and prevent us from truly seeking God.

Yet, with the guidance of the Apostles and the disciples, whose successors continue to do the good works of steering the Church of God, namely through the successor of St. Peter, the fisherman, who is our Pope now, the Church remains a great destination for many of the people lost in the darkness, and it becomes a beacon of light for them to find their way to God. And the fishermen, the successors of the Apostles and disciples of Christ, our priests and bishops worked to bring the people of God back to Him, as the fishers of men.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, however we cannot be idle ourselves, as our priests and bishops cannot possibly do everything on their own without our help and support. If they are the fishers of men, the ones on the ship who handle the net and the fish, then we are like those helpers and workers who keep the ship steady and strong even when it is battered by a strong wind and gale, as well as strong waves of the sea.

And God also challenged us all to do more, by saying to His disciples, ‘Duc in Altum’, which is the phrase translated to Latin, and then to our language today as ‘To go into the deep’. And this highlighted to us all the very fact that fishes mostly lie far into the sea and deep within the ocean waters, and many live far from the surface. Therefore, in order to get more fish, the fishers have to go to deeper waters and cast their nets to deeper waters.

This means that, we cannot just lie in our comfort zone and wait for the people of God to come to us in repentance. The many tricks and ways of the devil to confound mankind are simply able to prevent many souls from ever reaching the Lord through the Church, because the lies and the machinations of Satan would be able to close their hearts and their senses from ever being opened to receive the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore let us all think about what had happened in our own lives. Have we done our part as the disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ? Have we been proactive in our faith, taking the initiative to seek our lost brothers and sisters who are still engulfed in the darkness of the world and languished under the tyranny and power of Satan?

Therefore, let us all ‘go into the deep’, and work hard to help one another, especially those who truly need it, so that more and more souls, the ‘fishes’ of the Lord may be saved and that mankind may all come to the Lord and praise Him together as one people lifted up from sin and darkness into the light. May Almighty God guide us in our works and in our endeavours, and protect us so that we may continue to do our best to help each other in seeking the Lord. God bless us all. Amen.

Sunday, 10 August 2014 : 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 14 : 22-33

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

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

But at once Jesus said to them, “Courage! Do not be afraid. It is Me!” Peter answered, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You walking on the water.”

Jesus said to him, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water to go to Jesus. But seeing the strong wind, he was afraid and began to sink, and he cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Jesus immediately stretched out His hand and took hold of him, saying, “Man of little faith, why did you doubt?” As they got into the boat, the wind dropped. Then those in the boat bowed down before Jesus, saying, “Truly, You are the Son of God!”

Monday, 14 July 2014 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Camillus de Lellis, Priest (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it is easy to misunderstand what Jesus meant when He said that, He did not come to bring peace into the world, but conflict and discord. It is easy to misinterpret what Jesus meant and find contradiction with it, if we do not understand what He truly meant in His words. In fact, Jesus mentioned the apparent contradiction that exists always between Him and His ways, with the ways of this world.

The contradiction and all the opposition is the cause behind the discord and disunity that will exist between those who follow Christ and those who follow the ways of the world, which is really the ways of Satan, rebelliousness and disobedient behaviour against the Lord and His gracious order and kindness. This contradiction arises because the Lord cannot possibly tolerate the ways of those who are openly in rebellion against His will.

This is the meaning of why the Lord came not to establish an everlasting peace, but to unearth the discord and opposition of the world against Himself. It is not to be until the end of days, when the Lord will judge all creations and cast away all things wicked and evil away from His presence for eternity, then there will be a true, genuine and everlasting peace.

Therefore, we have to be vigilant and be careful in our life, for we need to know that this world did not welcome Jesus with peace and honour, and thus they will neither treat us in a different way. Discord and hatred will enter into the hearts of men when they are confronted with the truth of Christ among them, and families therefore can even be split, when there are some in the family who decide to abandon the wicked ways of the world and follow the Lord.

These had happened in the past with many families of martyrs in the early days of the Church. Many saints, especially holy women, who lived in a family who still worshipped the pagan gods in the Roman Empire, were asked to choose between God and their life, and they chose to die rather than abandoning their faith in God. They suffered grievous torture and persecution, and yet they did not give up.

Many in this world, especially as we know in our world today, do not welcome Christ and His teachings. More and more people move further away from the teachings of the Lord and fall deeper into the traps of Satan. It may not be obvious at first, but this world today is increasingly hostile to us, where the teachings of the Church and the central moral tenets of our faith are constantly under attack.

It is sad that many of the faithful are either unaware of this truth, and how many of them do not stand with God and His Church on various issues, and rather stand by the world and its ways, for various reasons. Some did so out of ignorance, while others purposefully did so in order to be accepted into the world, so that they will not be ostracised or rejected.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, shall we make a difference? Shall we be the new light in this darkened world? Let us no longer fear but be strong and be courageous to defend our faith. It may not have to end like what happened to the martyrs of the early Church, but it is doubtless that our lives will not be easy if we choose to walk in the way of the Lord. Yet, it is the path to righteousness and is rich in rewards.

Today we also celebrate the feast of St. Camillus de Lellis, an Italian priest of the late Renaissance period, who was an army member and fought in the wars that engulfed Italy at the time. Having seen great human sufferings and sickness throughout conflicts and many other unfortunate occurrences, he was truly touched by God, and repented from his ways of war and violence, and from then on sought to help mankind as best as he could.

Although it was not easy, but St. Camillus de Lellis tried his best to help those who suffer both physically from sickness, as well as spiritually and mentally from sin and other impurities of the world. He did not live long and always suffered from various afflictions, and yet he was truly a champion of peace, of love, and ultimately of the faith in the Lord. He truly practiced his faith with zeal and dedication.

Therefore, let us stand with our God, and let us stand with one another welcoming our Lord through our welcome for Jesus. Let us follow Him and vow to no longer following the path of evil. Following St. Camillus de Lellis, may we also become true bearers of peace and champion love for one another.

May God Almighty help us to keep us away from the evil one, and so that we may be ever faithful. May He make us wonderful testimony bearers of the faith, that more and more people will come to believe in the Lord, and bring true peace into this world. Amen.

Monday, 7 July 2014 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through Jesus, we have been granted healing and renewal, just as He had once brought the daughter of the synagogue official from death and healed the afflictions of the woman with haemorrhage. The same healing and renewal He also therefore offers us if we are to put our trust and faith in Him, just in the same way as the woman had done.

Our world today lacks the faith that the woman had, and many of us had lost faith in the Lord and chose to walk on their own path, and more often than not, this led them to be lost forever into eternal damnation. We prefer to trust in ourselves and in the desires and wants of our hearts rather than trusting in the wisdom and love of our God, which He offered to us freely to help us on our way to Himself.

Our attitude is often like those mourners who mourned the departure of the daughter of the official, thinking that we have absolutely no hope, and therefore that all is lost, hence we submit ourselves into doing things evil in the eyes of God. Or our attitude is like those who refuse to seek the Lord and prefer to keep things to ourselves, fearing His wrath and retribution for our sinfulness.

We cannot remain like this, brothers and sisters in Christ, for it is imperative that we seek the Lord with the faith like the woman with the bleeding problem. She had so much faith that she said to herself, that if only that she touched the fringe of the cloak of our Lord, she would be healed, and indeed, because of her faith, she was healed. If only that this world and all the people living in it has such a faith! Yes, this world would have been a much better place.

Faith is what is often lacking in this world today, and it is more urgently so, because we live today in a time when there is an ever greater need for true piety and faith in the Lord. Our world is growing deeper and deeper in darkness and evil, and the ways of this world is increasingly more and more wayward and distanced from the Lord and His ways. And many increasingly lose their way in the dark tangles of the devil’s works.

Many resigned themselves to a seemingly dark and hopeless despair, not knowing that there is indeed hope, and one indeed that we cannot lose sight in. And there are also those who willingly gave themselves up to the allures of the pleasures of the world, giving in to the demands of their hearts’ desires and greed. And the devil rightly uses that opportunity to snare these people deeper and deeper into his hands.

We often conveniently forget that we have hope, and that hope will not fail us if we do not give in first to despair and hopelessness. Yes, and we have that hope in Jesus Christ, the hope of all creations, whom God had sent into the world in order to bring hope and healing to all of us, who had been under the poison of sin and the slavery of death ever since the days of Adam and Eve, our ancestors.

Death, sickness and despair had been our staple ever since the beginning of mankind’s days. We cannot really separate the realities of life from all these occurrences. That was what happened to the daughter of the official, who was sick and then died, and many despaired in sorrow for her seemingly unfortunate fate. But Jesus came to show that death does not have the final say over things.

Mankind are often too preoccupied with their own self-preservation, always thinking of ways to prolong their lives and make their lives better with various treatments and other things, which all are really born of one thing, that is our fear of death and our despair over the lack of hope for our future after that death. And all these are again because we have little to no faith in Jesus our Lord and our only Hope.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, is it too difficult for us all to put our hope in Jesus our Lord? Is it too difficult for us to trust Him with all our concerns and desires? If history and experience had justified all things past, then we know that trusting ourselves with all these unnecessary desires did not work well for us, and we ended up ruining ourselves more often than not.

Our Lord knows all that we need, and He will provide for us in His own way. In that way we need not worry any longer. Indeed, as He said, that worrying over our future or having more concerns, desires and wants do not increase the length and happiness of our lives a single bit. In fact, those things will likely speed up our descent into damnation and eternal despair.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us from now on change our perspectives in life. Let us begin to put our hope and trust in Christ, and cast away all worries and all unnecessary desires, greed and wants from our lives, so that gradually we may become more and more like the children of God, whom we are supposed to be.

Let us also help one another to grow in faith, hope and love, that in all the things we do, we always do it in the loving embrace of God, and keep ourselves close to Him and to His most loving heart. May Almighty God continue to keep us close to Him and bless us and our works in this world, bringing more and more souls back to Him. Amen.

Thursday, 26 June 2014 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Today, brothers and sisters in Christ, we continue further on the catechesis related to the end of the kingdom period in Israel and Judah, as God punished them for having disobeyed Him and gave them to the hands of their enemies. The king of Babylon, the famous Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem, the Holy City, and exiled many people including the king into the land of Babylon.

And in today’s Gospel, Jesus talked about the wisdom and the folly that happened in the building of a house. We all know very well what Jesus said, how those who built their house on sand will not be able go persevere and be swept away by the tides of water and waves, as well as by winds. Those who built their houses on firm ground will be able to resist and stand up strong against all the challenges mentioned earlier.

Jesus mentioned that those who built their houses on firm ground are those who listen to the Lord and His will, and not just that, but they also carry on to do the will of God and implement His teachings in their own lives. And those who ignore the word of God or fail to implement the way of the Lord in their lives, and instead depending on their own strengths and wisdom, are those who built their houses on sand.

It is very easy for us today to be tempted to follow our own heart’s desire, and be distracted to the point that we end up falling into the trap of the devil and weaken the very foundation of our faith. Our human wisdom and abilities, as well as experiences are extensive, but they are fallible and weak. And that is exactly why we are like those who build their houses on weak foundations if we rely on ourselves and on our strengths.

If we rely on the Lord and on His will for us, then our foundations will be firm and solid, and we will not easily be toppled by the forces that assail us. In our lives, we often encounter many different challenges and oppositions that seek to disrupt and destabilise our lives for the worse. If we do not have a firm hold on a strong anchor, we will be easily swept aside by the torrent and the storm, and we will fall into destruction.

Today, our society and even those within our Church are infected with this disease, also known as modernism and relativism, where those who are its proponents champion the modern development of human morality and human-established ideas and rules, at the expense of the truth that the Lord had conveyed to us through His Church and His faithful servants, the saints and the Apostles.

Many of us end up following what the world thinks is right, and we adopt the ideas and the morality as our own. This is the essence of relativism and modernism, where we do not challenge and question the developments of morality in this world that are independent of the truth in the Lord. Indeed, without the Lord, it is truly questionable if the morality of this world is a morality at all.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, today we are asked to reflect, on whether we truly believe what we believe in. Do we truly have our faith in the Lord, and practice it faithfully and completely? Or do we prefer to follow the ways of the world? Let us all pray for the grace to be able to stand our ground strong in the faith, that we will not end up falling into the trap of Satan in the world.

May the Lord strengthen us, empower us, and guide us to Himself, and be with us through our journey in this life. God bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 19 June 2014 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Sts. Philip Minh, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listen to how our Lord taught us Himself, how we should pray, and in the first Reading, we also learn how we should become, or what are the things expected from us as the children of God and as His disciples. The two prophets, Elijah and Elisha are the ones mentioned, and they and their actions ought to be our model of the faith.

And in relation to all of that, I would like to bring your attention to the saints whom we are celebrating today, the Saints of the Vietnamese persecution of the faithful, also known as the Vietnamese martyrs, led by the Vietnamese priest, St. Philip Minh. They consisted of the laity and the religious, all thoroughly dedicated to the cause of the faith.

They all faced persecution for their faith and for their work in testifying and proclaiming that faith to others around them. As we know, Elijah and Elisha the prophets faced many difficulties in their mission, as we can read from the two Book of Kings in the Bible, how they had to go from town to town, and even having to exile themselves in foreign lands at times, when their lives were in considerable danger through being opposed to the king and the people’s wickedness.

St. Philip Minh and his companions, the Vietnamese martyrs lived through different periods of time spanning several hundred years, but they all faced similar opposition and persecution against their faith, when many were asked to choose between recanting their faith in Christ and live or to abandon and forsake Christ in exchange for their lives.

The Vietnamese monarchy and the government, ran by strongly Confucian-influenced officials and nobles viewed the faith in Christ as an aberration in the society and as a great and terrible threat to the unity of the nation and to the authority of the Confucian-run government. Hence, the officials and the Vietnamese Emperor officially went on a great persecution and opposition against the faith and the faithful.

Yet, the faith made great progress in Vietnam, and even it still does until this very day. Persecution against the faith and the faithful still continues even to this day, under the atheist and anti-faith Communist government in power, and yet the faithful continued to go on in their daily struggle and remain true to their faith in the Lord.

The Vietnamese martyrs showed us a great example of how we should treasure and live our faith meaningfully, for they had been tortured and forced to recant their faith, and yet they persevered on, and they did not give in to the demands and the offers of their executors and torturers. They chose to remain faithful and continued with their evangelisation of the faith, be it through their work or through their death, that they bring more and more souls into salvation and into knowing God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it does not mean that we should seek martyrdom or be confrontational about the faith, but instead it means that we should not take our faith for granted, and we have to be active and genuine in living our faith. We have to realise that in having and in keeping this faith, we will find ourselves often standing in opposition to the values and ways of the world, because we belong to the Lord. Remember, as Jesus Himself said, that this world hated Him and therefore it would hate us too.

Our faith life will inevitably meet challenges and difficulties along the way, some of which had happened to the prophets Elijah and Elisha, as well as to St. Philip Minh and his companions, the Vietnamese martyrs. The question now is, are we able to follow in their footsteps and remain faithful to the Lord and walking in His ways at all times, despite the challenges and difficulties?

Let us from now on reflect on this, and on the lives and actions of the prophets and the martyrs, that we may reflect on our own lives and actions. Let us hope that we may change for the better, and grow stronger in our faith, that our faith may be genuine and filled with love, both for God and for our fellow men. God bless us all. Amen.

Monday, 26 May 2014 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Philip Neri, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 15 : 26 – John 16 : 4a

From the Father, I will send you the Spirit of truth. When this Helper has come from the Father, He will be My witness, and you, too, will be My witnesses, for you have been with Me from the beginning.

I tell you all this to keep you from stumbling and falling away. They will put you out of the synagogue. Still more, the hour is coming, when anyone who kills you will claim to be serving God; they will do this, because they have not known the Father or Me.

I tell you all these now so that, when the time comes, you may remember that I told you.

Thursday, 17 April 2014 : Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Easter Triduum (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the first Mass ever celebrated, that is when Jesus gave Himself in the form of His own Precious Body and Blood in the bread and wine to His disciples during the last supper He had with them before His Passion and death.

Today we celebrate that moment when Christ laid bare the love He has for all of us, and gave Himself completely for us through the gift of Himself. This gift He made freely to all of us providing we accept this gift and therefore accept the Lord as our God and Saviour. This Holy or Maundy Thursday is the birth of the Mass and the Church, because it is at this moment we celebrate that Jesus instituted the centre of our faith, the Real Presence in the Eucharist.

Today’s celebration centres on the loving nature of our God, in how great is His love and dedication for us, that He is willing to come down and stoop to be our servant, giving His all to liberate us from the snare of death and return us to the embrace of the Father. That was why He also showed His loving nature, by showing it through real action and service.

He lowered Himself to take the role of a servant, and even like that of a slave, by washing the feet of His own disciples and dry them with a towel wrapped about His waist. This is a job only done by servants and slaves, the lowest and the meanest job in the society, and one that is looked down upon by the people. He did this to show that, while He is the all-powerful Lord and Master of all, but He also cared for all of us so much, that He showed the love not by mere words, but also through action.

And how is the action of the washing of the feet significant in this? That is because, mankind had long been swallowed by their sins and lived in great darkness. Mankind had forgotten what is meant by love, not just any love, but the great love of God. That is why men end up being individualistic and grew to care only about themselves and whatever it is that benefits them.

And as you all know, brethren, the greatest of sins is pride, the same that had brought down Lucifer, now known as the devil into sin and rebellion against God. Mankind had grow to love themselves and care only for their well-being, that the self, the ego is growing greater and greater. As a result, mankind also grew less and less capable to love and care for one another and this results in mankind progressing deeper and deeper in their sinfulness.

The Lord Jesus showed by example, that power and greatness do not have to come together with greed, self-centredness and ego. Indeed, He showed that the greater a person is, the more humble he or she should become. And that the essence of leadership is service, that service is when someone uses His abilities and powers to help others to achieve the same thing as that someone could achieve on his own.

On this moment that we commemorate, the Last Supper, Jesus showed His disciples how they should treat one another, by sharing with each other the love God had given them, and hence by doing so, they themselves will grow greater and greater in love and in the grace of God, while being examples for others to follow.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, today is truly a great day for all of us, because not only just that the Lord gave concrete proofs of His love for us by giving us none other than His own Precious Body and Blood to have, so that we may have life in Him, but He also showed us through His disciples, how to live our lives that it will be meaningful and filled with grace.

As Christians we have to live up to the examples of Christ, and indeed listen to what Jesus told His disciples, that they ought to do what He had done to one another. We cannot be apathetic as Christians, for the moment that we fail to show care and love for one another, we should indeed no longer be referred to as Christians or as the followers of Christ.

On this day, Jesus gave Himself completely to us, and He surrendered even His life so that we may live. This is the essence and the heart of Christian love and Christian life. Therefore, as we keep vigil tonight with the Lord, let us be reminded of God’s gift to us and also His call for us that we may be true Christians, putting into practice our faith and what Christ had taught us.

May the Lord continue to bless us, and through the Real Presence in the Most Holy Eucharist, may the Lord continue to nourish us with His own flesh and blood that we may always be strong, always be faithful and always be true to our Lord and His words. God be with us all and His blessing be with us all. Amen.

Friday, 7 March 2014 : Friday after Ash Wednesday, Memorial of Sts. Perpetua and Felicity, Martyrs (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we continue our progress through this holy season of Lent, and as we follow our faith’s instruction on fasting and abstinence, let us all keep in mind that we all have to do them with full and complete understanding of why we fast on certain days, and why we abstain from certain activities throughout this season of Lent.

Yes, brethren, our fasting and abstinence cannot be merely an observance of fhe customs or the laws of God or of the Church. Our fasting and abstinence cannot be done, especially if it is just for show, that we boast in our piety or greatness when we fast. And when we fast and abstain, we should do them with full understanding, and perfect grace, truly abstaining ourselves from doing anything that is evil in the sight of God.

Recall indeed what the first reading today had told us. That passage from the Scripture told us much about what we ought to do and not to do in fasting, and indeed in any kind of observations of the law of God. When we do something, we have to be genuine, and when we do it, we must have purpose in our hearts. And yes, our purpose is to do penance for our sinfulness, asking God to forgive us from our faults and purify us in His light.

Fasting is our way to kill and dampen our own human ego. Remember what Jesus said that in order to be truly His disciples we have to die to ourselves? This is what He meant, that we all destroy our own human ego, pride and arrogance, and lower ourselves as sinful, unworthy man before the presence of God. Through fasting, we train ourselves to shun excesses in the world, and we train ourselves to reject the temptations of Satan, which are designed to make us fall into damnation.

Abstinence is even more appropriate, because while fasting deals with the limiting of food intake in a day, abstinence is broader in scope, which includes anything that basically cause us to sin or bring us towards disobedience, such as worldly pleasures of the flesh, gambling, computer games, and many other examples. It is important that we understand the reason behind doing such practices that we can do it meaningfully.

And remember always, brethren, that fasting is not meant to be like mourning, nor should it be like self-punishment and self-condemnation. The purpose of fasting and abstinence, as well as the other Lenten practices are not to be a burden to us or to crush us, but to bring us closer to the love of God. Their purpose is to bring us to greater understanding about how we stand in the sight of God.

Today, brethren, we celebrate the feast of two great martyrs, that is St. Felicity and St. Perpetua, both of whom were the converts to the faith. They were arrested and put on trial for their following the faith in the Lord, in contrast to the pagan ways that the Roman Empire adopted at the time. St. Felicity and St. Perpetua were persuaded and forced to abandon their faith and recant their obedience to the Lord, but they refused to do so.

St. Felicity and St. Perpetua persevered through various sufferings and torture, and yet they did not give up. This is the cross they carried with them, as they went along with the Lord towards their martyrdom and death. They accepted death willingly, knowing that their death will serve to be inspiration for countless other faithfuls.

The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians, and indeed, St. Felicity and St. Perpetua persevered till the end, and through their exemplary faith, they inspired countless others including us, to also follow in their example of the faith, in the example of their devotion. They shirked not their obedience nor duty just in order to gain happiness and avoid troubles in this world.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we also able to follow the examples of St. Felicity and St. Perpetua? Are we able to be like them in our faith? Let this Lenten season be the perfect opportunity for us all to be more like them, and to change our ways if we have gone wayward. Let us all go and find the Lord, and when we find Him, let us seek forgiveness and may we be in His love forever. Amen.