Thursday, 18 November 2021 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Peter and the Basilica of St. Paul (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Dedication of the Basilica of St. Peter and the Basilica of St. Paul)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Feast of the Dedication of not just one but two of the four great Major Papal Basilicas in Rome, namely the Papal Basilica of St. Peter in Vatican as well as the Papal Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. These two great Basilica are among the most prominent churches in Christendom, just below in prestige and honour to the Papal Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, the Cathedral of the Diocese of Rome and the Pope, which Dedication we just celebrated earlier this month.

These two great Papal Basilicas were also appropriately named and consecrated in the name of the two great Apostles of the Lord, the patrons and protectors of the city of Rome and the Universal Church, for St. Peter the Apostle, the Prince of the Apostles and the first Vicar of Christ, and St. Paul the Apostle, the Apostle to the Gentiles, were both martyred in Rome after many long years of ministering to the Church of God and the faithful.

The Papal Basilica of St. Peter, probably the most famous of all the churches in the world is where the Pope currently celebrates most of his liturgical celebrations, as the largest church in all Christendom and also as it is adjacent to his residence in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican City. It also stands atop the site where St. Peter was likely martyred during the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero in the first great persecution of Christians, with the tomb of St. Peter located just below the great Altar of the Basilica.

Meanwhile, the Papal Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls as its name suggests, was located outside the old boundaries of the ancient city of Rome, at the exact site mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles as the place in which St. Paul resided during his time in Rome. He had relatively a lot of freedom in Rome and went about quite freely among the people, both the Jewish diaspora in Rome and among the Gentiles alike, ministering to the faithful and proclaiming the truth and the Good News of God.

As we recall today the moment when these two great Houses of God, the worthy places and Temples of His Holy Presence, were consecrated to God and dedicated to Him, we are therefore called and reminded that we are all also God’s Holy Temples, the Temples of His Holy Presence, the Temples of the Holy Spirit. St. Paul himself in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Corinth spoke of this, comparing each and every one of us to the Temple of the Holy Spirit, exactly because God Himself has dwelled in us, by the Holy Spirit He has sent down to us, as well as through our partaking of the Eucharist, Our Lord’s own Most Precious Body and Blood.

As such, we are all reminded through the examples set by the two great Apostles, St. Peter and St. Paul, whose names adorn those two great Basilicas, that we all have to be faithful to the Lord in the same manner as St. Peter and St. Paul had been faithful and committed to God in all things. And if we think that we are unworthy or that it is impossible for us to be faithful to God as they had been faithful, then we have to remember that those two great Apostles were themselves once also ordinary, sinful men.

St. Peter was an uneducated and illiterate fisherman, whom the Lord called to follow Him at the shore of Lake Galilee. This same St. Peter was the one who denied knowing the Lord three times at the moment of His arrest and suffering during His Passion, and denied Him publicly before all, even after he declared that he would die for the sake of the Lord just earlier on the same night. It is the same St. Peter whose faith was wavering as we heard in our Gospel passage today, when the Lord asked him to come towards Him in the middle of the storm, walking on the water.

Then for St. Paul the Apostle, he was once a great enemy of the Church and all the faithful, being a young zealot among the Pharisees named Saul who was dead set on destroying the Church and persecuting all the faithful, all who proclaimed the Name of Jesus and His teachings. St. Paul as Saul persecuted thousands across Judea and beyond, and was feared by many of the faithful, who went into hiding in fear of the retribution and the actions of that young zealot and others who persecuted them.

As you can see, both Apostles were once great sinners and flawed, that many would not have imagined how these two could have become great Apostles, as the greatest of the Lord’s champions and defenders in the end. Yet, that was what had exactly happened. God did not choose the holy and worthy, the powerful, intelligent or mighty to be His disciples, but rather, He empower those whom He had called and chosen, who responded to His call and committed themselves to Him, to be holy and worthy, as St. Peter and St. Paul had done.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, how about us then? Are we willing to respond to God’s call as well? Through baptism, all of us have responded to God’s call, but many of us are still not yet truly committed to Him. Many of us still keep on holding to our past, sinful practices and way of life, and many still have placed the Lord as secondary in importance in their lives. Are we then able and willing to embrace the Lord and His calling for us, to accept the mission entrusted to us and to live our lives worthily as holy and devout Christians from now on?

Let us discern these carefully today as we remember our great rejoicing on this Feast of the Dedication of the Papal Basilicas of St. Peter in Vatican and St. Paul Outside the Walls. May all of us, God’s living Holy Temples, the Temples of His Holy Presence continue to strive to keep ourselves holy and worthy, that in our every words, actions and deeds, we will always be exemplary in our Christian living and conduct, and do our best to proclaim the truth of God in all things, following the courageous examples of St. Peter and St. Paul, Holy Apostles of God. Amen.

Thursday, 18 November 2021 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Peter and the Basilica of St. Paul (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Dedication of the Basilica of St. Peter and the Basilica of St. Paul)

Luke 19 : 41-44

At that time, when Jesus had come in sight of the city, He wept over it, and said, “If only today you knew the ways of peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Yet days will come upon you, when your enemies will surround you with barricades, and shut you in, and press on you from every side.”

“And they will dash you to the ground and your children with you, and not leave stone upon stone within you, for you did not recognise the time and the visitation of your God.”

Alternative reading (Mass for the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Peter and the Basilica of St. Paul)

Matthew 14 : 22-33

At that time, 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 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!”

Thursday, 18 November 2021 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Peter and the Basilica of St. Paul (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Dedication of the Basilica of St. Peter and the Basilica of St. Paul)

Psalm 49 : 1-2, 5-6, 14-15

The God of gods, YHVH has spoken; He summons the earth, from the rising of the sun to its setting. God has shone from Zion, perfect in beauty.

Gather before Me, My faithful ones, who made a Covenant with Me by sacrifice. The heavens will proclaim His sentence, for God Himself is the Judge.

Yet, offer to God a sacrifice of thanks, and fulfil your vows to the Most High. Call on Me in time of calamity; I will deliver you, and you will glorify Me.

Alternative reading (Mass for the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Peter and the Basilica of St. Paul)

Psalm 97 : 1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4, 5-6

Sing to YHVH a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

YHVH has shown His salvation, revealing His justice to the nations. He has not forgotten His love, nor His faithfulness to Israel.

The farthest ends of the earth all have seen God’s saving power. All you, lands, make a joyful noise to YHVH, break into song and sing praise.

With melody of the lyre and with music of the harp. With trumpet blast and sound of the horn, rejoice before the King, YHVH!

Thursday, 18 November 2021 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Peter and the Basilica of St. Paul (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Dedication of the Basilica of St. Peter and the Basilica of St. Paul)

1 Maccabees 2 : 15-29

In the meantime, the king’s representatives, who were forcing the Jews to give up their religion came to Modein to organise a sacred gathering. While many Israelites went to them, Mattathias and his sons drew apart.

The representatives of the king addressed Mattathias, and said to him : “You are one of the leaders of this city, an important and well-known man, and your many children and relatives follow you. Come now, and be the first to fulfil the king’s order, as the men of Judah have already done, and the survivors in Jerusalem as well. You and your sons will be named friends of the king and the king will send you gold, silver and many other gifts.”

But Mattathias answered in a loud voice : “Even if all the nations included in the kingdom should abandon the religion of their ancestors and submit to the order of king Antiochus, I, my sons and my family will remain faithful to the Covenant of our ancestors. May God preserve us from abandoning the Law and its precepts. We will not obey the orders of the king nor turn aside from our religion either to the right or to the left.”

When he finished speaking these words, a Jew came forward, in the sight of everyone, to offer incense on the altar that was built in Modein, according to the king’s decree. When Mattathias saw him, he was fired with zeal. His heart was stirred; and giving vent to his righteous anger, he threw himself on the Jew and cut the man’s throat on the altar. At the same time, he killed the king’s representative who was forcing the people to offer sacrifice; and then tore down the altar. In doing this, he showed his zeal for the Law, as Phinehas had done with Zimri, son of Salu.

Mattathias then began to proclaim loudly in the city : “Everyone who is zealous for the Law and supports the Covenant, come out and follow me!” Immediately, he and his sons fled to the mountains and left behind all they had in the city. Many Jews who looked for justice and wanted to be faithful to the Law went into the desert.

Alternative reading (Mass for the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Peter and the Basilica of St. Paul)

Acts 28 : 11-16, 30-31

After three months, we boarded a ship that had spent the winter at the island. It belonged to an Alexandrian company, and carried the figurehead of Castor and Pollux as insignia. We sailed for Syracuse, staying there for three days; and, after circling the coast, we arrived at Rhegium.

On the following day, a south wind began to blow, and, at the end of two days, we arrived at Puteoli, where we found some of our brothers, who invited us to stay with them for a week. And that was how we came to Rome. There, the brothers and sisters had been informed of our arrival, and came out to meet us as far as the Appian Forum and the Three Taverns.

When Paul saw them, he gave thanks to God and took courage. Upon our arrival in Rome, the captain turned the prisoners over to the military governor, but permitted Paul to lodge in a private house, with the soldier who guarded him.

Paul stayed for two whole years, in a house he, himself, rented, where he received, without any hindrance, all those who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God, and taught the truth about Jesus Christ, the Lord, quite openly and without any hindrance.

Saturday, 18 November 2017 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Dedication of the Papal Basilica of St. Peter and Papal Basilica of St. Paul-Outside-the-Walls (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Dedication of a Basilica)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Church commemorates the feast of the dedication of the two Basilicas, of St. Peter and St. Paul, which together with the Cathedral of Rome, the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, and the Papal Basilica of St. Mary Major (Santa Maria Maggiore) form the four Major Papal Basilicas in Rome, the most important churches in Christendom.

And the Papal Basilicas of St. Peter in Vatican and St. Paul Outside the Wall are in particular to the city and the Church in Rome, because both St. Peter and St. Paul were the ones who helped to establish the Church in Rome, the heart of the Roman Empire at that time, and became the important pillars of the early Church. As we know, St. Peter is the Prince of the Apostles, the leader of all of Christ’s disciples and Apostles, and the first Pope and Bishop of Rome. Meanwhile, St. Paul is the Apostle to the Gentiles, the one who helped the Church to propagate the message of the Gospels to the non-Jewish people.

Thus, these two great Basilicas are tributes and monuments built for the memory of these two most faithful servants of God, who gave their all to serve the Lord, devoting their whole lives to the end, defending their faith and proclaiming Christ the Lord to all men. The sites chosen for the Basilicas were significant places, as where the Papal Basilica of St. Peter was built, was where St. Peter the Apostle most likely encountered his martyrdom, by being crucified upside down, and the site of the Papal Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls was where St. Paul stayed during his time in Rome, as mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles.

St. Peter as the first Bishop of Rome worked among the faithful, preaching the Gospels and the messages of Christ, which brought about the conversion of many to the faith, together with St. Paul the Apostle, who came to Rome after being persecuted in Jerusalem and throughout his journeys. Both of them led the Christians in Rome, amidst a difficult and turbulent time, culminating in the great persecution under the Emperor Nero.

The Christian population of Rome was accused and scapegoated by the Emperor, blamed for causing the fire that burnt much of the great city. As such, many Christians were tortured and arrested, pursued and had their lives made very difficult. St. Paul himself was martyred in this condition, beheaded for his faith during this great tribulation, and yet he gladly laid down his life for the Lord.

St. Peter was also martyred a few years after this, as the persecution of Christians continued. He was crucified by the Roman authorities at the Vatican hills, as mentioned, where now stands the Basilica of St. Peter in Vatican. But St. Peter felt that he was not worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and therefore, asked to be crucified upside-down instead. That was how St. Peter glorified God by his faith and steadfastness to the very end.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we rejoice in the celebration of the anniversary of the dedication of these great Houses of God dedicated to His beloved two saints, the main pillars and foundations of His Church in this world, St. Peter and St. Paul, let us remember that their works and missions are still far from over. There are still many things that are not yet done, and there are still many more areas that require our attention.

We are the modern day successors of the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord, and the same commands which Our Lord had given to His Apostles to reach out to all the peoples of all the nations, preaching the Good News of God’s salvation and calling them to Him have therefore been passed on to us. Now, what matters is, for us to do what the Lord expects from us to do, that we walk in the path of the Apostles, particularly the glorious and faithful St. Peter and St. Paul. Pray for us, o Holy Apostles! Amen.

Saturday, 18 November 2017 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Dedication of the Papal Basilica of St. Peter and Papal Basilica of St. Paul-Outside-the-Walls (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Dedication of a Basilica)

Luke 18 : 1-8

At that time, Jesus told them a parable, to show them that they should pray continually, and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain town there was a judge, who neither feared God nor people. In the same town there was a widow, who kept coming to him, saying, ‘Defend my rights against my adversary!'”

“For a time he refused, but finally he thought, ‘Even though I neither fear God nor care about people, this widow bothers me so much, I will see that she gets justice; then she will stop coming and wearing me out.'”

And Jesus said, “Listen to what the evil judge says. Will God not do justice for His chosen ones, who cry to Him day and night, even if He delays in answering them? I tell you, He will speedily do them justice. But, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”

Alternative reading (Mass for Dedication of the Basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul)

Matthew 14 : 22-33

At that time, 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 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!”

Saturday, 18 November 2017 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Dedication of the Papal Basilica of St. Peter and Papal Basilica of St. Paul-Outside-the-Walls (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Dedication of a Basilica)

Psalm 104 : 2-3, 36-37, 42-43

Sing to YHVH, sing His praise, proclaim all His wondrous deeds. Glory in His holy Name; let those who seek YHVH rejoice.

Then He smote all the firstborn, the first fruits of their manhood. He led Israel out of the alien land, laden with silver and gold, and none were left behind.

For He remembered His promise to Abraham, His servant. So He led forth His people with joy, His chosen ones with singing.

Alternative reading (Mass for Dedication of the Basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul)

Psalm 97 : 1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4, 5-6

Sing to YHVH a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

YHVH has shown His salvation, revealing His justice to the nations. He has not forgotten His love, nor His faithfulness to Israel.

The farthest ends of the earth all have seen God’s saving power. All you, lands, make a joyful noise to YHVH, break into song and sing praise.

With melody of the lyre and with music of the harp. With trumpet blast and sound of the horn, rejoice before the King, YHVH!

Saturday, 18 November 2017 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Dedication of the Papal Basilica of St. Peter and Papal Basilica of St. Paul-Outside-the-Walls (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Dedication of a Basilica)

Wisdom 18 : 14-16 and Wisdom 19 : 6-9

While all was in quiet silence and the night was in the middle of its course, Your Almighty Word leapt down from the royal throne – a stern Warrior to a doomed world. Carrying Your fearful command like a sharpened sword and stretching from heaven to earth, He filled the universe with death.

All creation in its different forms was fashioned anew at Your command, in order to protect Your people. The cloud covered the camp with its shadow, dry land emerged where water had been. A safe passage was opened through the Red Sea, the tempestuous flood became a green plain where the whole nation of those protected by Your hand passed across, witnessing Your astounding deeds.

They were like horses led to pasture, or like frolicking lambs, praising You, their Lord, Who had delivered them.

Alternative reading (Mass for Dedication of the Basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul)

Acts 28 : 11-16, 30-31

After three months, we boarded a ship that had spent the winter at the island. It belonged to an Alexandrian company, and carried the figurehead of Castor and Pollux as insignia. We sailed for Syracuse, staying there for three days; and, after circling the coast, we arrived at Rhegium.

On the following day, a south wind began to blow, and, at the end of two days, we arrived at Puteoli, where we found some of our brothers, who invited us to stay with them for a week. And that was how we came to Rome. There, the brothers and sisters had been informed of our arrival, and came out to meet us as far as the Appian Forum and the Three Taverns.

When Paul saw them, he gave thanks to God and took courage. Upon our arrival in Rome, the captain turned the prisoners over to the military governor, but permitted Paul to lodge in a private house, with the soldier who guarded him.

Paul stayed for two whole years, in a house he, himself, rented, where he received, without any hindrance, all those who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God, and taught the truth about Jesus Christ, the Lord, quite openly and without any hindrance.

Thursday, 9 November 2017 : Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate with the whole Universal Church the feast of the Dedication and Consecration of the most important church in all of Christendom, and it is indeed fitting to say that this church is the heart of the entire Christian world. Why is that so? That is because on this day, about seventeen centuries ago, the great Basilica of St. John Lateran was dedicated to our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the World, as well as to St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist.

This Basilica, and not the Papal Basilica of St. Peter in Vatican, is the place where the Pope, as the Bishop of Rome and the Leader of the Universal Church, has his Cathedra, or the seat of the Bishop. And where the Cathedra is, therefore lies the Cathedral. And indeed, the Papal Basilica of St. John Lateran is the Cathedral of the Pope and the Diocese of Rome, and as such, just as the Cathedrals throughout the world are the mother churches of their own respective dioceses and archdioceses, this particular Cathedral is the Mother Church of the entire world.

Thus, on the feast day of this illustrious church, known in full as the Archbasilica of the Most Holy Saviour and Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist at the Lateran, we rejoice together with the entire Universal Church as one united Church, for the grace of God which He had poured down onto the Church for all these years. The Cathedra of Rome in the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran is the seat of the Pope’s authority, which he inherited through unbroken series of succession right from St. Peter the Apostle, the first Pope and Bishop of Rome.

And as we all know, the Lord Jesus Himself established His Church in this world and entrusted it to St. Peter the Apostle, as the leader of all the Apostles and as the Vicar entrusted by God to be His chief representative on earth, and therefore, this edifice which was established seventeen centuries ago is a representation of the foundation of the entire Church in this world, which God first established on the faith of St. Peter, the Rock of the Church.

But today’s celebration is much more than just a happy celebration of the dedication and consecration of this great Archbasilica, as the Scripture passages today pointed out the true meaning of God’s churches and the houses in which He dwell in this world. The churches of God are not just the physical buildings, the beautiful chapels, or churches, or grand Basilicas or Cathedrals of the dioceses. These are indeed part of the Church, as the Houses of God, where God Himself dwells in each of them, in the Eucharist, in the Tabernacle.

For we all believe that the Lord Himself is truly present in our churches, housed in the Tabernacle, where the bread consecrated by the priests, whose authority eventually came from Christ through St. Peter and the Apostles, had become the Most Precious Body and the Real Presence of our Lord. As such, God Himself dwells in the churches, as the new Temples of God, no longer just like the Temple of Jerusalem of old.

In the past, the Lord dwelled in Jerusalem, in the Temple that king Solomon built for Him, which was destroyed by the Babylonians and then rebuilt after many years, as the Temple which existed at the time of Jesus. He was in the Holy of Holies, the innermost sanctum of the Temple in Jerusalem. Yet, what we have today is far greater than that, for God Himself has come upon us in Jesus Christ, His Son, revealing Himself to the whole world, to all those who believe in Him and accept Him as Lord and Saviour.

And we believe this because, the Lord Himself is fully present in our churches and places of sacred worship, be it from the grandest and largest churches, Basilicas and Cathedrals, to the smallest, least and simplest of chapels which have been dedicated for the purpose of sacred worship. The dedication of a church signify the official marking and recognition given to the edifice and place, that it is now worthy of the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass, and dedicated to either Our Lord Himself, or to His mother Mary, or to one or more of His many saints.

For on the altar of the church, the same sacrifice which Our Lord Jesus Christ lovingly offered for the sake of our redemption is enacted, not a recollection, nor it is a repeat, and neither a mere remembrance or memory, but instead the one and very same actual Sacrifice which occurred two millennia ago at Calvary, when Our Lord willingly accept death on the cross, condemned as a criminal, so that through that death, He might redeem many, those who believed and accepted Him, from their sins.

And in that Sacrifice, God Himself has given His own Most Precious Body and Blood, which through the priestly authority given to our priests today, have transformed the mere bread and wine into the very Real Presence of Our God. Thus that is why we consecrate and dedicate the churches to the Lord, for these must be truly holy places, of special sanctity in order for they to be worthy of being the place where God Himself dwells, His Real Presence in the new Temples, our churches.

And today, as we rejoice together remembering the day when the greatest of these physical Temples, the churches, that is the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, is dedicated to God, all of us should also use this time to reflect on two very important matters that all of us will need to pay close attention to. First of all, it is regarding how we ought to behave and participate in the churches, and secondly, with regards to our alternative first reading today from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, for all of us baptised Christians that we are all the Temples of God as well.

Thus, first of all, let us all reflect on how we have behaved thus far in the church during the Holy Mass, during Adoration and Benediction sessions, and during any other liturgical functions, or even during any other times when we are just present in the church for prayers or silent contemplation. How many of us chatted unnecessarily during the Holy Mass, or during times when we ought to be silent, or to be participated during singing of hymns and prayers?

How many of us are distracting ourselves with the use of mobile phones, apps and all the other things that we should not be doing in the Mass? Yet, even though we know that God is truly present in the Eucharist, and stored in the Tabernacle that He is still always present even after the Mass and throughout the day, we did all sorts of things that we should not have done in the presence of God, in His House. And that is how we relate to what we have just heard in our Gospel passage today.

Jesus cast out the merchants and money changers from the Temple of God in Jerusalem, chasing them all out with a whip, turning over their tables and scattering off all their coins and transactions, cattle and animals they were selling for the sacrifices at the Temple. Why did Jesus do that? That is because, He was rightful to be very angry at what those merchants and money changers had done, and to a certain extent, the priests of the Temple as well.

Those people were cheating the people from their money, by charging them extra expensive for the services and for the purchase of animal sacrifices and other things, gaining profits in the process. And the priests and the Temple allowed such heinous acts to continue in the hallowed House of God. No wonder Jesus was angry at them all, having made the House of God, His Father, to be a den of robbers and wicked men, committing sins right before God’s presence.

In the same manner therefore, when we are in the presence of God in the church, from the grandest Basilicas and Cathedrals to the smallest and simplest of chapels, do we truly realise that He is there, and because He is truly present in all of those places, then we ought to keep the place holy through genuine reverence and prayerful silence? Sadly, there are many Christians who did not do this, and it scandalises our faith because there are many who had said that they do not believe in God, because they themselves witnessed that Christians had not done what they should.

Imagine, brothers and sisters in Christ, how are we to persuade others to believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist, if they see many of us disrespecting the Lord in the Eucharist, either by receiving Him unworthily, or without due respect, or receiving Him half-heartedly as if we are no different from queueing to get our fast food meal from the many fast food chains out there. Is this how we should behave? If we do not do what we must, then not only that we have neglected our responsibilities, but we may have also turned many others from God’s salvation as well.

And secondly, and more importantly, what I want each and every one of us to realise and internalise is the fact that, each and every one of us who have validly received the Sacrament of Baptism and Initiation, have been made God’s Temple, as the Lord Himself in the completeness of His Holy Trinity has been received in us, dwelling in our very own bodies, hearts, minds, and our entire beings.

If I have mentioned how we must keep the great sanctity in the churches, chapels, Cathedrals and Basilicas and the grave consequences should we fail to do that, then we have to remember that all these, which are physical human products of building and construction, pale in comparison in the physical term, as compared to each and every one of us, mankind, who have been crafted and constructed by none other than God Himself, and we have also been made in the very image of God no less.

We are the perfect Sanctuaries and Temples of God’s Holy Presence, which have once been defiled by sin, by all the immoralities and all the wickedness we have committed. But through the waters of baptism, we have been cleansed and the Lord has entered into ourselves, dwelling in our very own being. Thus, each and every one of us, in accordance with what St. Paul also reminded us in the Epistle, ‘Do you not know that all of you are God’s Temple?’, must live a life that is righteous and free from all forms of sins.

Otherwise, God will severely punish those who desecrate the sanctity of this Holy Temple, and every sin is a corruption that desecrates the sanctity of this Holy Temple that is our body, our mind, our heart, and our whole being. In reality, it is indeed difficult for us to sustain a pure life, free from sin, as we are always tempted all the time, to sin and to disobey God. Yet, the free will and choice have been given to us by God. We are free to choose to continue to sin and do what is wicked in the sight of God, or to do what is right, and repent wholeheartedly from the sins we have committed.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, I cannot stress any less, that it is important for us all Christians to recognise that each and every one of us are sinners, and as we have sinned, we must strive to do what is right and just in the sight of God. And we are called to go to confession regularly and receive the Sacrament of Penance as often as we can, so that the taints of sin and its corruption will not continue to defile the sanctity of the Temple of God in our body, heart, mind and our whole being.

Let us all then, from now on, strive to live a true Christian life, by devoting ourselves to God, deepening our relationship with Him through prayer and charity, by loving others, our brothers and sisters who are in need, giving our time, attention, love, care, compassion and help wherever it is needed. May the Lord help each and every one of us, to keep the sanctity of the Temples of His Holy Presence, that all of us as Christians will be worthy Houses of God, where He dwells, just as He dwells in all of our chapels, churches, Basilicas and Cathedrals. Amen.

Thursday, 9 November 2017 : Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 2 : 13-22

At that time, as the Passover of the Jews was at hand, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the Temple court He found merchants selling oxen, sheep and doves, and money-changers seated at their tables.

Making a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the Temple court, together with the oxen and sheep. He knocked over the tables of the money-changers, scattering the coins, and ordered the people selling doves, “Take all this away, and stop making a marketplace of My Father’s house!” His disciples recalled the words of Scripture : Zeal for Your house devours me like fire.

The Jews then questioned Jesus, “Where are the miraculous signs which give You the right to do this?” And Jesus said, “Destroy this Temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then replied, “The building of this Temple has already taken forty-six years, and will You raise it up in three days?”

Actually, Jesus was referring to the Temple of His Body. Only when He had risen from the dead did His disciples remember these words; then they believed both the Scripture and the words Jesus had spoken.