Friday, 16 October 2020 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Holy Virgins)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Sacred Scripture, we heard how God has sealed us with His grace, which is through baptism that He has claimed us all and renewed us, liberating us all from the hold of original sin and death, and we have all been made and adopted to be children of God. God has called us all to be His disciples, His followers, and made us all to be His children.

God has loved us all so much, from the depth of His heart. His love is poured on us bountifully, and it was because of His infinite, patient and enduring love for each and every one of us that we have been saved. He has been patient in dealing with us, even when we have sinned and disobeyed Him again and again. He has always extended His mercy and the desire to forgive us at all times. Unfortunately, we often ignored and disregarded His love, because we were too busy with many things, and tempted by many distractions.

This is what the Lord also referred to in our Gospel passage today when He spoke of the ‘yeast of the Pharisees’, after a series of the past few days when we heard all the criticism and curses the Lord spoke of the Pharisees. And He plainly mentioned how the great sin of the Pharisees as being their hypocrisy and lack of genuine faith in God. Although outwardly pious, but their hearts were not fully attuned to the Lord.

God knows full well what is in our hearts, as He said in our Gospel today, that nothing hidden that will not be uncovered, nothing that is beyond God’s ability to know. He knows all of our intentions and everything about us, and therefore, if we have been faithful even in little things, we will be assured of the Lord’s favour and providence. Similarly, if we have not been faithful and wayward, then all these will be held against us too.

We must take heed of these reminders from the Lord through these readings, not to be easily tempted by worldly temptations, or by concerns and fears that we may be having. In that same passage we heard of the Lord reassuring us that we are all precious to Him, that we are all beloved by Him and will be provided and taken care of. Most often we find reasons for those who strayed from the Lord is that because they were preoccupied with securing themselves and gaining their worldly satisfactions or achievements.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore be genuinely faithful to God, and knowing that God has loved us so much, then we really should spend the same effort and time to love the Lord with equal intensity and commitment. If God has loved us so much, then why is it that we cannot even try to love Him, even in little matter and things. The Lord is always willing to reach out to us, to embrace us, and He is waiting for us to respond to Him and His love. Are we willing to embrace that love, brothers and sisters?

Today, all of us ought to look upon the examples and inspirations of the saints, our holy predecessors. St. Hedwig of Silesia and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque are those whose lives and inspirations that we need to follow and be inspired from. St. Hedwig of Silesia was the Duchess consort of Silesia who joined religious life after she was widowed, while St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was the renowned visionary of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

St. Hedwig of Silesia was born into the noble family, and was married to the Duke of Silesia, and she was renowned for her piety and dedication even during those years. She was always remembered for her commitment to God, her charity and love for the poor. But most memorably, after her husband passed away early on, having settled and taken care of her children, St. Hedwig of Silesia joined the religious life and committed herself to God. Her piety was so great that even her own son, the Duke of Silesia also led a pious life.

And as mentioned, St. Hedwig of Silesia also cared for the poor, the sick and widows as well as orphans, showing them care and concern, extending the love of God to them all. And she also definitely loved the Lord very much, as she spent a lot of quality time with Him. This is exactly the same as what the other saint, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, who was also very devout and committed in her service to God.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque had a rough early life, as misfortune befell her family, but this did not stop her from being pious in her life, even from her youth. After joining the religious life, this continues on, which St. Margaret Mary Alacoque carried on faithfully as she served the Lord through prayer and service. She experienced miraculous visions of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, from which the now popular devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus stemmed forth.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque shared what she had received in her visions, the words that the Lord, in His Most Sacred Heart spoke to her, calling for the repentance of sinners and to entrust themselves in His Most Sacred Heart. And it is a kind reminder that us of the generous love of God we discussed earlier, in how He loved us with His heart and dedicated everything to us, even to the point of the sacrifice He made on the Cross.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore follow in the footsteps of the saints, our holy predecessors, especially that of St. Hedwig of Silesia and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, to serve the Lord faithfully. May the Lord bless us all in all of our every good endeavours and efforts, all for His greater glory. Amen.

Friday, 16 October 2020 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Holy Virgins)

Luke 12 : 1-7

At that time, such a numerous crowd had gathered that they crushed one another. Then Jesus spoke to His disciples in this way, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered that will not be uncovered; or hidden, that will not be made known. Whatever you have said in darkness will be heard in daylight, and what you have whispered in hidden places, will be proclaimed from housetops.”

“I tell you, My friends, do not fear those who put to death the body and, after that, can do no more. But I will tell you Whom to fear : Fear the One Who, after killing you, is able to throw you into hell. This One you must fear. Do you not buy five sparrows for two pennies? Yet not one of them has been forgotten by God. Even the hairs of your head have been numbered. Do not be afraid! Are you less worthy in the eyes of God than many sparrows?”

Friday, 16 October 2020 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Holy Virgins)

Psalm 32 : 1-2, 4-5, 12-13

Rejoice in the Lord, you who are just, praise is fitting for the upright. Give thanks to Him on the harp and lyre, making melody and chanting praises.

For upright is the Lord’s word and worthy of trust is His work. The Lord loves justice and righteousness; the earth is full of His kindness.

Blessed is the nation whose God is YHVH – the people He has chosen for His inheritance. YHVH looks down from heaven and sees the whole race of mortals.

Friday, 16 October 2020 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Holy Virgins)

Ephesians 1 : 11-14

By a decree of Him, Who disposes all things, according to His own plan and decision, we, the Jews, have been chosen and called, and we were awaiting the Messiah, for the praise of His glory.

You, on hearing the word of truth, the Gospel that saves you, have believed in Him. And, as promised, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit, the first pledge of what we shall receive, on the way to our deliverance, as a people of God, for the praise of His glory.

Friday, 19 June 2020 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the great Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, celebrating the love of God pouring forth out from His most loving Heart, as He has revealed to His servants, namely St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, and earlier on through influences on mystic saints such as St. Gertrude the Great. Ultimately, the long development of the revelations led to the Devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus as we are familiar with today.

The Lord appeared in visions to early visionaries such as St. Gertrude the Great, St. Lutgarde and St. Mechtilde, speaking of the love from His loving Heart for mankind, and calling on all to love Him more and to dedicate themselves to His loving Heart, which He dedicated to all peoples as a show of His love, the Heart filled with great love for each and every one of us, a Heart that is so loving and gentle towards us, as a symbol of His eternal and enduring love for us all.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque received the most significant series of visions of the Lord and His Most Sacred Heart, as He told the devout servant about the Devotion to His Most Sacred Heart, by the dedication of the first Fridays of every month to the reception of the Holy Eucharist and devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, and then also Eucharistic Adoration and Holy Hours dedicated to the Sacred Heart. Through these visions, gradually, the devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus which had begun earlier in the past centuries rapidly gained popularity and adoption by many in the Church.

The Lord in His appearances to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque also showed His heart and the anguish and sorrow which He had for the sins and disobedience which we had shown to Him despite the vastness of love, compassion and mercy that He has lavished upon us. The Lord said that, “Behold the Heart that has loved so many men, and yet, instead of gratitude, all I received were ingratitude…” and asking in particular that the Friday after the week in which the Solemnity of Corpus Christi is celebrated be dedicated to Him as the Feast of Reparation to the Most Sacred Heart.

That is why today we celebrate this great Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, continuing a long standing tradition and practice of the Church celebrating the mystery of the Sacred Heart since the fourteenth century. And as the devotion spread rapidly, eventually, the Blessed Pope Pius IX extended and placed this great Feast and Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in its current form and honour. And the Lord also promised to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque that all those who devoted themselves to His Most Sacred Heart with faith will be protected and receive the graces of God.

Now then, as we dedicate ourselves anew to the Lord in His Most Sacred Heart today, let us all then spend some time to reflect on just how fortunate we have been to be beloved by God, and just how wonderful is His love for each and every one of us, keeping in mind what He Himself had said when He appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, that though He has loved us all so dearly, yet what He received was not gratitude, but rather immense ingratitude and lack of faith from so many of us.

This is what we all need to focus on today, and look through our lives, our actions in life thus far and see where we may have fallen short of what we ought to have done, that is to love the same God Who has loved us so much with the same love, with the same energy and enthusiasm, with the same strength and commitment. In our first reading today taken from the Book of Deuteronomy, all of us heard of the Covenant that God had established with His people after He brought them out by mighty deeds from the land of Egypt, and how He has cared for them and provided for them, as a people consecrated to Him in holiness.

And yet, those people who have been so blessed to be chosen by God did not appreciate or be grateful at how fortunate they had been to have been such blessed by God. Instead, they chose to disobey Him, committing all sorts of evil, even right from the moment when He had just established His Covenant with them, as they erected a golden calf and made it god over them in opposition to God. And there were many other occasions throughout the history of the Israelites that they had certainly brought the Lord to much sorrow, grief and anger at their disobedience and stubbornness.

And yet, the Lord still chose to love them and to give them opportunities, one after another, sending many prophets again and again to them to help them and to lead them to Himself, that they might repent from their sins and turn away from their disobedience. Last of all, as the fulfilment of what He has revealed through His prophets, He sent His very own Begotten Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, to be the Saviour of all His people. How did He do that? By offering Himself as the perfect sacrificial offering on the Cross, that by sharing in His own shed Body and outpoured Blood, all of us who shared in Him, we have the promise of everlasting life with us.

That is why we celebrate this great Solemnity just within the week after the Solemnity of the Corpus Christi, the Most Holy Body and Blood of Our Lord, as instructed by the Lord Himself, clearly as an important reminder that we have the loving Heart of our Lord, filled with His love that is so great and wonderful, so great a love that He has willingly offered Himself and sacrificed His own life, Body and shed His own Blood, suffering the most bitter of sufferings and persecutions for our sake.

It was for the great love of God that we have been blessed to know this love through Christ, as highlighted by St. John in his Epistle which is our second reading today. God has manifested His love for us through His Son, and by His actions and most loving and perfectly selfless sacrifice, He has showed us that He is Love Himself, and that all of us who are His people and adopted children, must also therefore be filled with the same love. We are all called to look at the Lord and remember His love, and be loving just as He has loved us.

Are we capable of doing that, brothers and sisters in Christ? Certainly we are capable of showing love just as the Lord has shown His love towards us. In each and every one of us, God has shown the potential to love, and sown the seeds of love within us, by the Holy Spirit Whom all of us have received through baptism, and which has been strengthened through the Sacrament of Confirmation. All of us are creatures of love, and the question is not whether we are capable of showing love, but rather if we want to show this love, to God and to our fellow brethren.

Today we also mark the occasion of the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life, keeping in mind all those who have been called to model themselves after the Lord’s examples, especially His love for each and every one of us. To those who have given themselves to the ministry of the ordained priesthood, we pray for them all, that they truly may model themselves and their own hearts after that of the Lord’s own Most Sacred Heart, filled with love for all mankind.

We need to recognise that to be priests is a very difficult undertaking for those who have chosen to answer the Lord’s call and dedicate their lives. They are also humans just like us, with their flaws and imperfections, but they are at the same time held up to a much higher expectation and standard, being those who have been entrusted with the care and guardianship over the people of God. But then they also faced a lot of difficulties and challenges, as well as daily temptations and pressures from various origins.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why all of us need to support our priests and all those who have dedicated themselves to this holy and sacred calling in life. And we can do that by living with faith ourselves and devoting ourselves to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, showing the same love that He has shown us, in our actions and interactions with one another. Let us all model ourselves after the Lord’s heart, that our own heart be filled with love, and love graciously and tenderly as the Lord Himself has shown us.

May the Lord continue to be our guide, strengthen us in faith and love us all the time, that we may draw ever closer to the love of God made evident to us through His Most Sacred Heart. O Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we entrust ourselves to You, and we beseech You to show Your ever enduring love and compassion, mercifully forgiving us our sins and reconciling us to Yourself, that we may indeed have our rest in You, we who are weary and heavily burdened, that through You, we may truly be free. Amen.

Friday, 19 June 2020 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 11 : 25-30

On that occasion, Jesus said, “Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I praise You; because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to simple people. Yes, Father, this was Your gracious will.”

“Everything has been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father; and no one knows the Father except the Son, and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.”

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest. For My yoke is easy; and My burden is light.”

Friday, 19 June 2020 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 4 : 7-16

My dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves, is born of God and knows God. Those who do not love have not known God, for God is Love. How did the love of God appear among us? God sent His only Son into this world, that we might have life, through Him.

This is love : not that we loved God, but that, He first loved us and sent His Son, as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, if such has been the love of God, we, too, must love one another. No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us, and His love comes to its perfection in us.

How may we know that we live in God and He in us? Because God has given us His Spirit. We ourselves have seen, and declare, that the Father sent His Son to save the world. Those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in them, and they in God.

We have known the love of God and have believed in it. God is Love. The one who lives in love, and God in him.

Friday, 19 June 2020 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 102 : 1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8 and 10

Praise YHVH, my soul; all my being, praise His holy Name! Praise YHVH, my soul, and do not forget all His kindness.

He forgives all your sins and heals all your sickness; He redeems your life from destruction and crowns you with love and compassion.

YHVH restores justice and secures the rights of the oppressed. He has made known His ways to Moses; and His deeds, to the people of Israel.

YHVH is gracious and merciful, abounding in love and slow to anger; He does not treat us according to our sins, nor does He punish us as we deserve.

Friday, 19 June 2020 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Deuteronomy 7 : 6-11

You are a people consecrated to YHVH, your God. YHVH has chosen you from among all the peoples on the face of the earth, that you may be His own people. YHVH has bound Himself to you and has chosen you, not because you are the most numerous among all the peoples (on the contrary, you are the least). Rather, He has chosen you because of His love for you and to fulfil the oath He made to your fathers.

Therefore, with a firm hand YHVH brought you out from slavery in Egypt, from the power of Pharaoh. So know that YHVH, your God, is the true and faithful God. He keeps His covenant, and His love reaches to the thousandth generation for those who love Him and fulfil His commandments, but He punishes in their own persons those who hate Him and He repays them without delay.

So keep the commandments, the norms and the laws that today I command you to practice.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Virgins)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the matter of having genuine faith in God and to give judgment with the right intention in mind, so that as Christians we are truly filled with love, first of course for God and then secondly for our fellow brothers and sisters, and not to love ourselves above these as what many of us have often done.

It is our nature that we are selfish and self-loving, as the desires in our hearts and the ego and pride within us made us to seek our own satisfaction and the sense of fulfilment. And that is why we seek for all these worldly pleasures and comfort, desiring to be pleased and filled with all sorts of joy for our own benefits. And this often led us into causing, either intentionally or unintentionally, the sufferings of others.

That was what St. Paul spoke of as he wrote in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in the city of Rome. He spoke of those who put their own interests ahead of their obligation to serve God faithfully and justly, in their responsibility to be just and righteous in all of their actions. And this is related to what we have heard in our Gospel passage today as well, as we heard of the Lord rebuking the Pharisees for their inappropriate actions especially considering their very important position as the custodians of the Law and as teachers of the faith.

Many of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law took great pride in their privileged and highly respected status in the community, and they often looked down on those whom they deemed to be less worthy and more sinful than they were, such as the tax collectors and prostitutes, disabled and people with evil spirits and diseases in particular, seeing those people as being cursed by God and therefore were unworthy.

They judged others because they saw themselves as superior and in doing so they wanted to prove just how good they were in comparison to those whom they despised and had judged against. And this was why the Lord was unhappy with them because they failed to realise just how they themselves were sinners too. They should not act as if they were superior or better for in reality, they actually were equally sinful and unworthy.

The Lord wants us all to know that all of us are equally beloved by Him, and we should not be prejudiced or be biased in our attitudes and opinions towards others, but instead treat one another with love and genuine compassion from our hearts. For if God Himself has loved us so wonderfully and blessed us so greatly with His mercy and love no matter how great our sins had been, then how can we not love one another in the same way?

Today all of us are called to be humble and to get rid of our pride and ego, all the obstacles that often come in our way, in our faith journey and life. Unless we get rid off ourselves all these obstacles and wickedness in us, it may be difficult for us to be true disciples of Our Lord, as in the end, we will end up loving ourselves and being concerned about ourselves more than we love God and our fellow brethren as we should have.

That is why, on this day perhaps we should spend some time to reflect on the life of two saints whose lives can be inspiration for us how we should carry on living our lives from now on with genuine faith, love and devotion towards God. They are St. Hedwig of Silesia and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. St. Hedwig of Silesia was the Duchess of Silesia and later of Poland who was known for her great piety and devotion to God, her charitable acts and faithful life, while St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was renowned as the one who helped to make the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus to be as popular as it is today.

St. Hedwig of Silesia was a pious and dedicated wife, who had to endure many struggles in the noble courts and numerous plots against her family, both from external and internal sources. She was remembered for her many charitable actions and generosity to the poor and those who were suffering throughout the realm of her husband. Her personal piety and great humility in life were well known. She remained faithful and true to her faith, and after she was widowed, she entered into a monastery and devoted the rest of her life as a religious dedicated entirely to God.

Meanwhile, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was known for her visions of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, through which she received the revelation about the Lord and His love through His Most Sacred Heart, by which eventually the ever popular Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus came to be. St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was also known for her great piety and dedication to God throughout her life, despite of the many difficulties and challenges she herself had to face.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have here the example of two pious and holy women of God who devoted their lives to the Lord and have become inspiration for many others to follow. Are we then able to follow their examples as well and dedicate ourselves to God from now on with renewed zeal, faith and love? Let us all turn away from our sinful ways in our past and embrace from now on a renewed holiness in God, living our lives filled with love for God and for our fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord.

May the Lord continue to bless us all and guide us in our journey, and may He continue to be with us through our journeys in life, that through the intercessions of St. Hedwig of Silesia and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, we may be brought closer to God’s ever present love and compassionate mercy. Amen.