(Singapore) Monday, 14 February 2022 : 125th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Church in Singapore celebrates the anniversary of the Dedication and Consecration of the Mother Church of our Archdiocese, namely that of Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, the seat of the Archbishop of Singapore and the epicentre and heart of our Christian community here in this Lion City. Today marks the 125th Anniversary since the moment when this great House of God was dedicated and consecrated for the purpose of divine worship, in the Year of Our Lord 1897, although the Cathedral itself had been around and functioning for five decades before that.

The Church in Singapore had its humble beginnings with the coming of the now saint, St. Laurent Imbert, who was then a French missionary on his way to other mission lands. Just over two hundred years ago, St. Laurent Imbert landed in Singapore on the start of its days as a British colony and trade entrepôt. He found Singapore as a place with very few Catholics who lived in a wretched condition, without any shepherds, guides and priests to guide them. He celebrated Mass here for the first time on this island and then, in the coming years many more missionaries came to this island of Singapore, beginning the foundation of the Church in Singapore.

With the labour and hardships of the early missionaries, the Christian community in Singapore began to be established, and one of the first churches to be established was the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd itself, as no more than just a small little hut and chapel, about a hundred and ninety years ago. That small community began to grow and before long, the need for a proper and permanent church came to pass, and it came to the hands of another French missionary and priest, Fr. Jean-Marie Beurel who spearheaded the efforts to establish the first Catholic church, that was eventually built and completed in the Year of Our Lord 1846.

The church was named after the Good Shepherd, inspired by the faith and the martyrdom of the earlier mentioned St. Laurent Imbert, who as the Vicar Apostolic to Korea was martyred a few years previously, giving up himself and his life for the sake of his flock, remembering the Lord’s own words, that ‘The Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep’. Thus, the new church was named in honour of the Good Shepherd and St. Laurent Imbert’s courage and faith. However, for many years after it has been completed, the then Church of the Good Shepherd was not yet consecrated as it took many years for it to be financially viable and the costs of its construction be paid off in full.

This House of God was finally consecrated to God and dedicated a hundred and twenty-five years ago, and today we remember the memory of that great occasion and we give thanks to God for His great providence both for the Church in Singapore and for all the faithful who have since multiplied since the time when the Mother Church of the Archdiocese of Singapore was established and dedicated to God. And more importantly, we remind ourselves as well that the Church is not just that of the physical building and this great House of God, but also the people of God, the flock of the Good Shepherd, all those who have believed in Him and entrusted themselves in Him.

It is important for us to recognise that all of us are the Living Church of God, the union of all the parts of the Body of Christ that the Church is all about. With Christ at our Head, all of us are the living and breathing members of the Church, the building blocks and the parts of the great works of the Church in doing God’s will and in responding to His call. All of us are part of this Church, and as God’s dwelling place, as He has came upon us and dwelled in our midst and within us, as we partake in His own Most Precious Body and Blood, the Holy Eucharist. And that is why all of us as Christians, all of us in Singapore are called to be partakers in God’s mission, what He has entrusted to us.

In our community today, all of us as Catholics living in Singapore are called to be good and faithful witnesses of God’s truth and love, to be genuine examples and inspiration of what Christians are supposed to be like. And yet, we often see around us plenty of indifference and lukewarmness of faith, the lack of joy and desire to proclaim the Gospel with sincerity and dedication. What I mean is that many of us profess to be Christians and we call ourselves as such, and yet we cause harm to others by our actions, our gossips and our selfish attitudes. And many of us also lack awareness and the understanding of the need of the poor and the needy in our midst, not just for physical needs but also for those who long for acceptance and love.

That is why today as we celebrate this great Solemnity of the Dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, the Mother Church of the Church in Singapore, all of us are reminded to do our part and glorify God by our lives. All of us should do whatever we can, in our own respective capacities and opportunities in life, to be role models and inspiration to each other, so that we may be the faithful and courageous bearers of God’s light, truth and love, just as St. Laurent Imbert, the many other early Christian missionaries and pioneers of the Church here in Singapore. We have to follow in their footsteps and do whatever we can to contribute to the good works of the Church.

May the Lord continue to guide us and show us the path forward in life. May He empower each and every one of us to live wholeheartedly in faith, so that we may dedicate ourselves more and more, in His service. May all of us, the Church of God, especially here in Singapore, continue to do our best to live our lives as genuine and faithful Christians at all times. May God be with us all and may He remain with us, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

(Singapore) Monday, 14 February 2022 : 125th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 19 : 1-10

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man named Zaccheus lived there. He was a tax collector and a wealthy man. He wanted to see what Jesus was like, but he was a short man and could not see Him because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree. From there he would be able to see Jesus, Who was going to pass that way.

When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, come down quickly, for I must stay at your house today.” So Zaccheus climbed down and received Him joyfully. All the people who saw it began to grumble, and said, “He has gone as a guest to the house of a sinner.”

But Zaccheus spoke to Jesus, “Half of what I own, Lord, I will give to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will pay him back four times as much.” Looking at him Jesus said, “Salvation has come to this house today, for he is also a true son of Abraham. The Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”

(Singapore) Monday, 14 February 2022 : 125th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ephesians 2 : 19-22

Now, you are no longer strangers or guests, but fellow citizens of the holy people : you are of the household of God. You are the house, whose foundations are the Apostles and prophets, and whose cornerstone is Christ Jesus.

In Him, the whole structure is joined together, and rises, to be a holy temple, in the Lord. In Him, you, too, are being built, to become the spiritual Sanctuary of God.

(Singapore) Monday, 14 February 2022 : 125th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 18: 8-10, 15

The Law of the Lord is perfect : it gives life to the soul. The word of YHVH is trustworthy : it gives wisdom to the simple.

The precepts of YHVH are right : they give joy to the heart. The commandments of YHVH are clear : they enlighten the eyes.

The fear of YHVH is pure, it endures forever; the judgments of YHVH are true, all of them just and right.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart find favour in Your sight, o YHVH – my Redeemer, my Rock!

(Singapore) Monday, 14 February 2022 : 125th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Nehemiah 8 : 1-4a, 5-6, 8-10

In the seventh month, all the people gathered as one man in the square before the Water Gate, and they asked Ezra to bring the book of the law of Moses, which YHVH had given to Israel. Ezra brought the law before the assembly, both men, women and all the children who could understand what was being read. It was the first day of the seventh month.

So he read it before the plaza in front of the Water Gate from dawn till noon, before the men, women and those children who could understand. All the people were eager to hear the book of the law. Ezra, the teacher of the law, stood on a wooden platform built for that occasion.

Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was in a higher place; and when he opened it, all the people stood. Ezra praised YHVH the great God; and all the people lifted up their hands and answered, “Amen! Amen!” And they bowed their heads to the ground.

They read from the book of the law of God, clarifying and interpreting the meaning, so that everyone might understand what they were hearing. Then Ezra, the teacher of the law, said to the people, “This day is dedicated to YHVH, your God, so do not be sad or weep.”

He said this because all wept when they heard the reading of the law. Then he said to them, “Go and eat rich foods, drink sweet wine and share with him who has nothing prepared. This day is dedicated to the Lord, so do not be sad. The joy of YHVH is our strength.”

(Singapore – Solemn Pontifical High Mass) Tuesday, 14 February 2017 : 120th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd (14 February 1897), Solemnity of the Dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd after 2013-2016 Major Restoration (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 19 : 1-10

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man named Zaccheus lived there. He was a tax collector and a wealthy man. He wanted to see what Jesus was like, but he was a short man and could not see Him because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree. From there he would be able to see Jesus, Who was going to pass that way.

When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, come down quickly, for I must stay at your house today.” So Zaccheus climbed down and received Him joyfully. All the people who saw it began to grumble, and said, “He has gone as a guest to the house of a sinner.”

But Zaccheus spoke to Jesus, “Half of what I own, Lord, I will give to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will pay him back four times as much.” Looking at him Jesus said, “Salvation has come to this house today, for he is also a true son of Abraham. The Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”

(Singapore – Solemn Pontifical High Mass) Tuesday, 14 February 2017 : 120th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd (14 February 1897), Solemnity of the Dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd after 2013-2016 Major Restoration (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Ephesians 2 : 19-22

Now, you are no longer strangers or guests, but fellow citizens of the holy people : you are of the household of God. You are the house, whose foundations are the Apostles and prophets, and whose cornerstone is Christ Jesus.

In Him, the whole structure is joined together, and rises, to be a holy temple, in the Lord. In Him, you, too, are being built, to become the spiritual Sanctuary of God.

(Singapore – Solemn Pontifical High Mass) Tuesday, 14 February 2017 : 120th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd (14 February 1897), Solemnity of the Dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd after 2013-2016 Major Restoration (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 18: 8-10, 15

The Law of the Lord is perfect : it gives life to the soul. The word of YHVH is trustworthy : it gives wisdom to the simple.

The precepts of YHVH are right : they give joy to the heart. The commandments of YHVH are clear : they enlighten the eyes.

The fear of YHVH is pure, it endures forever; the judgments of YHVH are true, all of them just and right.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart find favour in Your sight, o YHVH – my Redeemer, my Rock!

(Singapore – Solemn Pontifical High Mass) Tuesday, 14 February 2017 : 120th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd (14 February 1897), Solemnity of the Dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd after 2013-2016 Major Restoration (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Nehemiah 8 : 1-4a, 5-6, 8-10

In the seventh month, all the people gathered as one man in the square before the Water Gate, and they asked Ezra to bring the book of the law of Moses, which YHVH had given to Israel. Ezra brought the law before the assembly, both men, women and all the children who could understand what was being read. It was the first day of the seventh month.

So he read it before the plaza in front of the Water Gate from dawn till noon, before the men, women and those children who could understand. All the people were eager to hear the book of the law. Ezra, the teacher of the law, stood on a wooden platform built for that occasion.

Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was in a higher place; and when he opened it, all the people stood. Ezra praised YHVH the great God; and all the people lifted up their hands and answered, “Amen! Amen!” And they bowed their heads to the ground.

They read from the book of the law of God, clarifying and interpreting the meaning, so that everyone might understand what they were hearing. Then Ezra, the teacher of the law, said to the people, “This day is dedicated to YHVH, your God, so do not be sad or weep.”

He said this because all wept when they heard the reading of the law. Then he said to them, “Go and eat rich foods, drink sweet wine and share with him who has nothing prepared. This day is dedicated to the Lord, so do not be sad. The joy of YHVH is our strength.”

(Special – Singapore) Saturday, 14 February 2015 : Solemnity of the Anniversary of the Dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, my brethren in faith throughout the Archdiocese of Singapore, today we celebrate this special occasion on Mass on the fourteenth day of February of this year, as the celebration of the Anniversary of that day when the mother church of this See, that is the direct heir of the See of Malacca and the progenitor of the Church in much of Asia and beyond, was consecrated and blessed more than a hundred years ago.

In the year of our Lord, 1897, then Bishop of Malacca, Bishop Edouard Gasnier, M.E.P., consecrated the Cathedral building, which had been built and completed just over half a century earlier in 1846. This great building and house of the Lord has been built as the heart and the beginning of the great missionary work in the small island of Singapore, which had just been founded by the British after hundreds of years of isolation and being a backwater and relatively forgotten island.

In this Cathedral, we have the proof of God’s continuing guidance to the works of His faithful servants in the Church, spreading His Good News to all the corners of the earth. The salvation of God is offered to all who wants to listen to His word, and all those who receive the word and believe, they are all saved. And the work of God continues even to this day, with many of His servants, all of us included, continuing to give praise to God and carry out His works daily amongst our brethren in this world.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, do you know why the Cathedral of this Archdiocese of Singapore was named the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd? That was because when it was first built, one of those who had great role in the establishment of that church was St. Laurent Imbert, a missionary priest who went on to become the Apostolic Vicar to Korea, supervising the missionary work in that fertile land where many people still lived in ignorance of the Lord.

St. Laurent Imbert faithfully carried out his mission, and despite the fierce and harsh opposition from the pagan Korean government, he did not fear and continued to do his best to minister to the people of God. And when the persecution by the government reached a new high, and the government offered the liberation of those they have counted for death, if the bishop was to surrender himself, St. Laurent Imbert voluntarily surrendered himself and was martyred for his faith.

In one of his last letters before his martyrdom, he explained the reason behind his decision, that is of the Good Shepherd, imitating what our Lord had done Himself. The Good Shepherd lay down His life for His sheep. And indeed our Lord and God had laid down His life for our sake, that all of us, His sheep may be freed from the certainty of death caused by our sinfulness.

In the memory of St. Laurent Imbert and our Lord’s own sacrifice as our Good Shepherd therefore we dedicate today’s celebration, just as this Cathedral was dedicated to the Lord over a hundred years ago. And what is the relevance of this celebration to all of us? That is because the readings today on the feast of dedication of a Cathedral also reminds us all that we are the Temple of God, the place where God Himself resides.

Many of us seem to forget that all of us who believe in the Lord and who keep faith in Him, having received His Most Precious Body and Blood in the Eucharist, have essentially the Lord Himself dwelling in us, in body and flesh, and in spirit and love. Thus, we have to remember always that we belong to God and He is in us. We must shun all forms of sin and wickedness and walk only in His path, as St. Laurent Imbert and all the other faithful saints and martyrs of God had.

May this joyous occasion and celebration be a time for us to reawaken the love and dedication we have for the Lord, and may all of us be able to shun evil and sin, and gain into ourselves the justification and grace which God had promised all those who are faithful to Him, our loving God and our Good Shepherd. God bless us all. Amen.