Saturday, 9 April 2016 : Second Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 6 : 1-7

In those days, as the number of disciples grew, the so-called Hellenists complained against the so-called Hebrews, because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.

So the Twelve summoned the whole body of disciples together and said, “It is not right that we should neglect the word of God to serve at tables. So, friends, choose from among yourselves seven respected men full of Spirit and wisdom, that we may appoint them to this task. As for us, we shall give ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.”

The whole community agreed and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and Holy Spirit; Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenus and Nicolaus of Antioch who was a proselyte. They presented these men to the Apostles who first prayed over them and then laid hands upon them.

The Word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly and even many priests accepted the faith.

Monday, 10 August 2015 : Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about God who has given us all so many good things, so many wonderful things that He had planted in us, as seeds that will germinate in due time, if we cultivate them and they will prosper. He has sowed many things in us, and He has given us the seeds of faith, the seeds of hope and the seeds of love.

All these are within us, inside our hearts, and await our action and work to awaken them. As Jesus said in the Gospel today, that the seed, that is the grain of wheat, if it does not die, then it remains alone and meaningless. Only when the grain of wheat falls onto the ground, then life can spring out from it and a new plant can grow from the seed.

This means that, by using the life of Christ as a comparison, we must take action and live our lives with faith and real action based on that faith in order that we may have the seeds inside us to bear much good fruits. If we do not do anything or do things that are contrary to what our Lord had taught us, then the seeds of faith, hope and love in us will not germinate and grow.

Jesus was faithful to the mission which He was entrusted with by His Father, that is to bring about salvation to all mankind, by teaching them the truth about the Lord and how to live their lives in accordance with the Law of God. And He was faithful to the very end, as He needed to endure all the sufferings and the punishments intended for our sins and wickedness, so that all of us may have a new hope of life.

He took up all of our iniquities and all the sufferings which should have been ours upon Himself, and bearing that great and heavy cross, He walked on and ascended patiently towards Calvary, faithful to the mission for which He came into this world and ultimately because of the great and boundless love which He has for all of us, and the pity and mercy which He has shown us, because He pitied our state, lost in the darkness of this world and not knowing which way to go to.

And He showed us all an example, on how to live our lives so that we too may share in the promises which He had given us and our ancestors, by leading an example Himself, showing that unless we take up our crosses and join Him, then we would have no part in the life and salvation which He will give all of His faithful. And just as He had died on the cross and rose again on the third day from the dead, we too must do the same.

This means that we should die to ourselves, to the temptations and desires of the flesh which have caused us to sin, and to throw far away all forms of worldliness and all sorts of selfish attitudes which remain in us. We should die to our desires, to the allures of the flesh and worldly pleasures, so that by sharing the death of Christ, we mah also share in His glorious resurrection, and be found worthy to receive the gift of eternal life He had promised all of us.

On this day, we celebrate together the feast of St. Lawrence the Deacon, who was also a great martyr of the Church and defender of the Faith. St. Lawrence was a deacon of the Church of Rome, appointed as such by Pope St. Sixtus II, whose feast we had just celebrated a few days ago. St. Lawrence was a hardworking servant of God, who gave his all in service to God and to His people.

St. Lawrence continued to remain faithful and committed to the tasks placed before Him. He ministered to the people of God, especially to the faithful ones during the persecution of the faithful and the Church by the Emperor Valerian. He ministered to the people of God, caring for them and kept a great and well-ordered system of distribution of goods to the faithful people of God.

And when he was arrested together with many other members of the Church, he remained true to his faith in God, and remained resolute and strong in his devotion to God until the end. He embraced the challenges and sufferings he was to face openly, and without fear, for he knows that, it is only by dying to his fears and placing his complete and full trust in the Lord that he will be saved and brought to the eternal glory promised by the Lord.

We can learn from his examples, in how we live our lives. We should follow his example in showing love to one another, caring for the poor and the less fortunate, and by loving those who are unloved and rejected, and then by also having a complete and full trust in the Lord, placing our trust in Him alone, and knowing that all who remain faithful to the Lord will not be disappointed.

May Almighty God be with us all always, and may St. Lawrence intercede for our sake always, that we may be helped on our path towards redemption and eternal life, that we may be righteous and just, and be found worthy at the end of our days. God bless us all. Amen.

Monday, 10 August 2015 : Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 12 : 24-26

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Those who love their life destroy it, and those who despise their life in this world keep it for everlasting life.”

“Whoever wants to serve Me, let him follow Me; and wherever I am, there shall My servant be also. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honour him.”

Monday, 10 August 2015 : Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 111 : 1-2, 5-6, 7-8, 9

Alleluia! Blessed is the one who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commands. His children will be powerful on earth; the upright’s offspring will be blessed.

It will be well with him who lends freely, who leads a life of justice and honesty. For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered and loved forever.

He has no fear of evil news, for his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. His heart is confident, he needs not fear, he shall prevail over his foes at the end.

He gives generously to the poor, his merits will last forever and his head will be raised in honour.

Monday, 10 August 2015 : Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

2 Corinthians 9 : 6-10

Remember : the one who sows meagrely will reap meagrely, and there shall be generous harvests for the one who sows generously. Each of you should give as you decided personally, and not reluctantly as if obliged. God loves a cheerful giver.

And God is able to fill you with every good thing, so that you have enough of everything at all times, and may give abundantly for any good work. Scripture says : He distributed, he gave to the poor, his good works last forever.

God who provides the sower with seed will also provide him with the bread he eats. He will multiply the seed for you and also increase the interests of your good works.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ephrem, Deacon and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Doctors of the Church)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the two phrases that we surely are familiar with, namely the salt of the earth and the light of the world. These two are the qualities that our Lord Jesus Christ described as those that are part of the virtues of the faithful ones.

All of us have been given our respective skills and talents, which differ from one to another person. Each of us were given unique abilities so that we may be able to use them to complement each other and help each other. Each of us have our own strengths and weaknesses. This is important to take note because many of us do not realise the gifts which had been given to us, or on the other hand, we just use them to satisfy our own needs and wants.

What is the meaning of salt of the earth and light of the world? Just as Jesus Himself had explained it to His disciples, it means that we have a duty and indeed responsibility, to use the gifts which had been given to us, for the sake of the Lord, in serving our community and helping each other in the larger community of the faithful in the Church and in the world at large.

And on top of that, we who have been baptised and received into the Church of God, and having been confirmed in faith gave received the Holy Spirit from God Himself, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit itself are plenty in form, and abundant in nature. If we who have received the Holy Spirit in us do not make use of the gifts in us, then indeed, we are like salt that has lost its saltiness and light that had been hidden under the table.

For salt and light have their uses, and each of them are used to add flavours and goodness to whatever they are used in. When there is blandness in the food, the salt gives it good taste and flavours, while when there is darkness, the light reveals things in the darkness otherwise not visible to our eyes. If salt is no longer salty then it is useless and it adds no flavour to the food, and if light is hidden, it does not help anyone who need it in the darkness, and thus they become useless.

Remember, brethren, that one commonly forgotten and overlooked form of sin, is the sin of ignorance, of omission and of the lack of action. We do not sin just because we do something wicked and obviously in direct opposition to God’s ways, but also when we see an opportunity to do something good, and when we are in position to help and contribute when there is someone who needs us and fail to do so.

Jesus said that at the Last Judgment, the righteous will be separated from the wicked and the condemned. Do we remember what Jesus rebuked the wicked ones with? He rebuked them for having ignored the plight of others around them, particularly that of the least and weakest in the society, the ones most hated and unloved. They had not shown love and compassion, and neither have they lifted up their hands to help. And thus they receive their just reward.

Today, we commemorate the memory of St. Ephrem, Deacon and Doctor of the Church. If we examine his life and work, we can see how this faithful servant of God had done so much good things for the benefit of many of the faithful, through his numerous writings and works that discussed and explained many tenets and teachings of the Church.

St. Ephrem used his writings and his other works to combat heresies in the Church and among the faithful. Through them, he explained the true faith in great clarity and depth, to bring the people who had fallen into darkness into realisation of their sins and mistakes, that they may repent and be saved. St. Ephrem had therefore done what God had asked us to do, and he was truly a genuine salt of the earth and light of the world.

Let us all be inspired by his examples and commit ourselves to an ever stronger faith to our God. May we all be more active in our faith and commit it through real actions, showing love for each other, so that we may truly become salt of the earth and light of the world. God bless us all. Amen.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ephrem, Deacon and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Doctors of the Church)

Matthew 5 : 13-16

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt has lost its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It has become useless. It can only be thrown away and people will trample on it.”

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a mountain cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and covers it; instead it is put on a lampstand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine before others, so that they may see the good you do and praise your Father in heaven.”