Wednesday, 20 September 2017 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Laurent Imbert, Bishop and Martyr, St. Jacques Chastan, Priest and Martyr, St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon, Priest and Martyr, St. Paul Chong Ha-sang and Companions, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

1 Timothy 3 : 14-16

I give you these instructions, although I hope I will see you soon. If I delay, you will know how you ought to conduct yourself in the household of God, that is, the Church of the living God, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth. How great, indeed, is the mystery of divine blessing!

He was shown in the flesh and sanctified by the Spirit; presented to the Angels and proclaimed to all nations. The world believed in Him : He was taken up in glory!

Tuesday, 19 September 2017 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Januarius, Bishop and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

1 Timothy 3 : 1-13

If someone aspires to the overseer’s ministry, he is, without a doubt, looking for a noble task. It is necessary, that the overseer (or bishop) be beyond reproach, the husband of one wife, responsible, judicious, of good manners, hospitable and skilful in teaching.

He must not be addicted to wine, or quarrelsome, but be gentle and peaceful, and not a lover of money, but a man whose household is well-managed, with obedient and well-mannered children. If he cannot govern his own house, how can he lead the assembly of God? He must not be a recent convert, lest he become conceited, and fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover, he must enjoy a good reputation among the outsiders, lest people speak evil about him, and he fall into the snare of the devil.

Deacons, likewise, must be serious and sincere, and moderate in drinking wine, not greedy for money; they must keep the mystery of faith with a clear conscience. Let them be first tried and, if found blameless, be accepted as deacons. In the same way, the women must be conscientious, not given to gossip, but reserved and trustworthy.

A deacon must be husband of one wife, and must know how to guide his children and manage his household. Those who serve well as deacons will win honourable rank, with authority to speak of Christian faith.

Sunday, 18 May 2014 : Fifth Sunday of Easter (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters in Christ, trust in the Lord and do not turn against Him, even when we are in difficulties, doubt or uncertainties. Our Lord and God is faithful and loving to us, and He desired that all of us be reunited to Him in all perfection. At the centre of our faith lies our dedication and commitment to the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, through whose sacrifice on the cross, we had been made whole and worthy of the Lord once again.

Today we continue to celebrate the joy of Easter, that joy of new life brought by Jesus and His resurrection from the dead, the joy that overcomes all despair and distress, and a new light that all of us who lived in darkness may see and believe. Ever since Christ died and was risen from the dead, He had brought forth a new era for the world, that is where His Church is present in this world and continuing to do the good works and missions that Christ had initiated.

In today’s first reading we read how the Apostles and the other disciples of Christ faced a problem with the distribution of goods among the faithful, for we have to be mindful that the earliest Christian communities lived in perfect harmony with one another, and as the Scriptures mentioned, they shared their goods and happiness with one another in the community.

The Apostles were the extensions of the Lord’s power and authority in this world, and there were twelve of them in number. If a parallel is to be made to the status of the Church in today’s time, they are the most senior ranking prelates and officials of the Holy Mother Church, with Peter as their leader and the head of the entire Christian communities, as Christ’s vicar in the world.

And just as today’s leaders of the Church, and the Pope, the Apostles had many responsibilities, and arguably even more responsibilities and works than what the Church leaders today have, in addition to the persecution and open opposition against the faith by the Jewish leaders and the Roman authorities, which made things even more difficult for the Church at the time of the Apostles.

Therefore, what we witness today in the readings, is God loving us so much, that He inspired His Apostles to take a course of action that will expand greatly the works and acts of charity and love among His people, by appointing a new class of leaders that were meant for service to the people of God and a service that is based on the foundations of faith and love. They are the deacons, not much different from the deacons that we have today.

The deacons were meant to help with the distribution of goods to the faithful and to serve them with love, as mentioned earlier on, and originally there were seven of them. They were men filled with the Holy Spirit, and we know well of one of them, St. Stephen, the first martyr of the faith, who defended the Lord so eloquently and passionately, that all those who had not hardened their hearts would have listened and believed.

They together with the Apostles, showed to the world the love of God, which was made manifest through Jesus Christ, and it is He whom the Apostles and the disciples were proclaiming about, spreading His Good News to many peoples of many nations, saving many souls in the process, and passing down that Good News through the generations, that more souls might be saved, and indeed their good works are still continuing today, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ.

Nevertheless, it is indeed sad today, how vocations to the priesthood had declined precipituously, not least because of the moral and spiritual decline in the world, and in a world increasingly beset with materialism and ego-centric mentalities. It is increasingly difficult to find those with the heart and dedication to serve the Lord as the Apostles and the deacons had done. Less and less young men are joining the seminaries simply because this world offers us too much goodness for us to ignore.

Hence, brethren, let us today pray, for more vocations among the faithful, that we may see a resurgence in the number of those who accept the calling of the Lord, that more will join the holy works of grace the Apostles and the deacons had done. May the Lord bless His people and strengthen the faith in them. God bless us all. Amen.

Sunday, 18 May 2014 : Fifth Sunday 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.

Saturday, 13 April 2013 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Martin I, Pope and Martyr (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Acts of the Apostles, in the first ever creation of the office of deacons in the Church, which became the primary servants of the apostles and the Church, in providing for the community of the faithful in Christ.

It was because the task of leading worship and ministering to God’s people in spirit, and at the same time, having to provide and minister over distribution of food amongst the disciples was too tough for the apostles to do on their own, due to the rapidly growing number of the believers. Therefore, they would require helpers who would aid them in their ministry, and in this, the office of deacons was created.

Deacons then were men chosen by the apostles, and then filled with the Holy Spirit and commissioned by the apostles through the laying of hands. This laying of hands is the method through which the authority that Christ had given to the apostles is passed down to our present day priests and bishops, who received their laying of hands from their consecrators, in an unbroken chain from the apostles themselves.

Deacons today are also ordained ministers just like priest, with a prime difference that they are not allowed to celebrate the Mass and the Eucharist, as they do not have the full faculties of priesthood. Deacons are indeed helpers of priests, who were then represented by the apostles, who needed help in their ever growing ministry and service to the growing number of the people of God.

Deacons today proclaim the Word of God in the Gospel, and also assisted the priests in the Mass. They also help the priests in ministering to the people, presenting an outreach to many people whom the priests alone cannot reach effectively. They complement the priests and make the Church ministry ever greater for the praise and glory of God.

Today, we also commemorate another holy man of God raised to the holy priesthood, that is Pope St. Martin I, elected as the Successor of St. Peter as the Bishop of Rome in the seventh century. Pope St. Martin I was a holy man, and a man of strong faith and principles, standing his ground against the Emperor of the Roman Empire at the time, who was technically his superior, but espousing heretical ideologies, which the Pope refused to give assent to.

Pope St. Martin I stood his ground and remained steadfast to the faith, even if that meant going against the Emperor, who was the most powerful secular leader of Christendom at the time. He condemned the Emperor and his beliefs, which deviated from the orthodox Christian faith of the Apostolic Fathers. He suffered abduction, incarceration, and persecution for his opposition to the Emperor, and until his death in exile, he remained faithful to God without fear.

Deacon St. Stephen, the first martyr too faced death with joy, testifying his faith in Christ in front of all the Sanhedrin and the Jewish priesthood, even though in doing that he faced certain death. He chose death rather than betraying Christ and his faith in Him. This was the quality of men chosen to be deacons by the apostles, to assist them. Holy men indeed, men of principles, which was again shown in Pope St. Martin I in his steadfast faith. Men who placed their faith and fear in God ahead of the fear and praise of man.

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters in Christ. Today, let us pray and indeed pray hard for our deacons, priests, bishops, all the ordained and chosen ministers of Christ, who worked hard for the sake of the Gospel, for God, and for our sake, that we too can be saved in Christ, and share in His love through their hard labour and their shining faith. Let us pray that their faith in God will remain firm, and that they will ever be courageous in defending their faith against attacks just like St. Stephen and Pope St. Martin I had done.

St. Stephen and the holy deacons of God, pray for us. Pope St. Martin I, pray for us. Pray that we too can follow in your footsteps and defend our faith to the best of our abilities. Amen.

Saturday, 13 April 2013 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Martin I, Pope and Martyr (First Reading)

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.