Saturday, 25 May 2019 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor of the Church, Pope St. Gregory VII, Pope and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture reminding all of us that as God’s people and as His followers, we are called to serve Him and to do His will, and sometimes, throughout our journey and ministry we will encounter challenges and difficulties that may cause us to lose hope or even lose faith, as persecution, oppression and all sorts of difficulties may come in our path.

But regardless of the hardships and the persecutions that the faithful had to encounter throughout their lives, all of those did not prevent them from continuing to love God and to dedicate themselves to Him. Throughout the history of the Church there had been many occasions when the persecution of the Church and the faithful only led to the faith of the people of God to become even stronger.

And that is because the faithful people of God supported each other and comforted each other in times of sorrow and distress, in times of challenges and persecutions, amidst trials and all the obstacles that the world has arrayed against them. The examples and courage of the Apostles and disciples of the Lord in standing up for their faith and for their tireless dedication in service became a great motivation and inspiration for all the faithful.

The courage and steadfastness of the holy martyrs and saints became great inspiration and strength to all those who were suffering because of persecutions and trials of the world, and the fire and zeal the disciples and martyrs had shown inflamed the hearts and minds of all the faithful and became a beacon of hope and guiding light in times of distress and despair.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are also celebrating the feast of several holy saints of God whose lives have been truly exemplary and influential in inspiring the faithful throughout the centuries past, namely that of St. Bede the Venerable, Pope St. Gregory VII and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi. These saints have shown us all how we ought to act and believe as God’s people through their wonderful and loving actions.

St. Bede the Venerable was remembered for his dedication to the field of Christian teaching and contemplative life, having taught many of the renowned Christian authors and preachers of his time, and having dedicated much of his time to the study of the faith, as well as of philosophy and theology. Through his many works and contributions, his tireless dedication and commitment, many people received the goodness of God’s salvation.

Meanwhile Pope St. Gregory VII was meanwhile remembered for the struggle that he encountered in what was known as the ‘Investiture Controversy’ regarding the nature of secular and religious power. At that time, the secular powers of the world tried to gain advantage and influence over the Church and the Holy Roman Emperor then tried to impose his will on the broader Church, by implying that he had greater authority even that of the Pope, who is the leader of the Church.

Despite the challenges and difficulties, Pope St. Gregory VII persevered through the challenging times, resisting the many efforts of the secular rulers who tried to undermine the power and the influence of the Church, putting the interests of the Lord and His Church above that of the interests of the corrupt leaders of the world, both that of the secular powers and also those within the Church who succumbed to the temptations of power and money.

Then, St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi was a renowned religious and mystic who lived her life in total commitment to God, devoting her time, effort and attention to serve the Lord, and so attuned she had been to the Lord, that she experienced series of visions which she related and shared that others might also come to believe in God and in His truth and salvation. Ultimately, all these saints have shown us what it means for us to be true Christians, not just in words but also in actions.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore be inspired by the examples shown by these three saints, as well as the innumerable examples of the many other saints, holy men and women of God who had shown us how to be true disciples of the Lord in all the things we say and do in our lives. May the Lord be with us always and may He continue to strengthen us all as we continue walking down our lives with a renewed faith and desire to serve Him wholeheartedly. Amen.

Saturday, 25 May 2019 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor of the Church, Pope St. Gregory VII, Pope and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 15 : 18-21

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “If the world hates you, remember that the world hated Me before you. This would not be so if you belonged to the world, because the world loves its own. But you are not of the world, since I have chosen you from the world; because of this the world hates you.”

“Remember what I told you : the servant is not greater than his master; if they persecuted Me, they will persecute you, too. If they kept My word, they will keep yours as well. All this they will do to you for the sake of My Name, because they do not know the One Who sent Me.”

Saturday, 25 May 2019 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor of the Church, Pope St. Gregory VII, Pope and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 99 : 2, 3, 5

Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.

Know that the Lord is God; He created us and we are His people, the sheep of His fold.

For the Lord is good; His love lasts forever and His faithfulness through all generations.

Saturday, 25 May 2019 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor of the Church, Pope St. Gregory VII, Pope and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 16 : 1-10

Paul travelled on to Derbe and then to Lystra. A disciple named Timothy lived there, whose mother was a believer of Jewish origin but whose father was a Greek. As the believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him, Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him. So he took him and, because of the Jews of that place who all knew that his father was a Greek, he circumcised him.

As they travelled from town to town, they delivered the decisions of the Apostles and elders in Jerusalem, for the people to obey. Meanwhile, the churches grew stronger in faith and increased in number every day.

They travelled through Phrygia and Galatia, because they had been prevented by the Holy Spirit from preaching the message in the province of Asia. When they came to Mysia, they tried to go to Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to do this. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas.

There one night Paul had a vision. A Macedonian stood before him and begged him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” When he awoke, he told us of this vision and we understood that the Lord was calling us to give the Good News to the Macedonian people.

Monday, 28 January 2019 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the Scripture passages reminding us about the wonderful things that the Lord has done for our sake, in how He has brought us out from the predicament and our fated destruction because of our sins. He has come into this world to be the Mediator of the New Covenant between God and mankind as mentioned in the Epistle to the Hebrews. He is the High Priest Who is also the Mediator of the New Covenant.

In order to understand this better, we must understand the context and historical importance of the role of the priest, and especially the High Priest in the community of Israel, the people of God. The priest is the one who has been chosen by God from among the tribe of Levi, to be the servant at His Temple, and earlier on also at the Tent of Meeting built by Moses, whose role is to offer sacrifices presented by the people to God.

Therefore, the priest had a very important role as the mediator of the Covenant between God and man, for the relationship between God and man had been damaged and man has been sundered away from God’s grace because of their sins. Sin is born out of disobedience, our refusal to follow and obey the way of the Lord, all of the wicked words we have uttered and the wicked deeds and actions we have taken in life. All these have separated us from God.

But God still loves each and every one of us despite of our rebelliousness and waywardness. He created us because of His love for us, and He will not abandon that love just because of our sins and our disobedience. That is why God established His Covenant with us, and renewed it again and again, as we mankind continuously failed to uphold our end of the Covenant, breaking them through our sinful disobedience. God still tried to save us, and through His priests, He brought a temporary solution, by their sacrificial offerings.

God promised that the time would come for His Saviour to come into the world and resolve this matter once and for all, a promise that is fulfilled in the Lord Jesus, Who came into this world, performed His works obeying the will of His Father, and by becoming Man and assuming our human existence like us, became for us our Eternal and True High Priest, offering for us, just for one time, once and for all, the perfect offering through which all of us have been saved.

Christ has become the source of our salvation because He obediently and willingly followed the will of God His Father, in laying down His life on the cross, which became His Altar, the Altar on which He laid down the offering of His own Most Precious Body and Blood, the Lamb of God, the Divine Lamb of sacrifice that far and infinitely surpassed the offering of lambs and other animals as prescribed by the Law.

Unfortunately as shown in the Gospel passage today, there were still those who refused to believe in the Lord and in fact, even made nasty and wicked accusations against Him. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law accused the Lord of using the power of the prince of demons, Beelzebul to cast out other demons when they saw Him exorcising evil spirits from people, and they thought that as He often did it on the Sabbath day in violation of the strict Sabbath law, then He could not have done it with God’s grace.

But this is where the pride and the stubbornness of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law worked against them, as these prevented them to see reason, which the Lord wisely and justly presented before them, showing them the foolishness of their argument. Had the evil spirits and demons were divided against each other as they stipulated, there would have been endless conflicts between the fallen angels, and Satan would have been too busy to be able to strike at us mankind.

Instead, they did not realise that Satan himself was planting these seeds of discord and stubbornness in their hearts and minds to prevent them from being able to understand and appreciate the works of God unfolding and happening before their own eyes. Satan did not want the success of the works of God, and that was why, all the more his entire forces were united in the effort to divide the people of God, and to block them from attaining salvation through the Lord Jesus’ efforts.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now let us all reflect on our own lives. Have we allowed ourselves to be seduced by the temptations of Satan, that we hardened our hearts and minds against the love of God? We have to realise just how great God’s love for us is, to the point that He was willing to endure all the sufferings and pains in order for us to be saved. He willingly took up the cross and bore it up to Calvary for us.

If God has not loved us, we would have perished long ago, and our existence would have been meaningless. But God did not let all these happen, and He brought us out of the depth of our sins and from the darkness into the light, through His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Our God and Our Saviour. And for the love that He has shown us all, it is only then right that we also love Him in the same manner, as what is only right and just after all that He has done for us.

If we are not sure how we ought to do so, then perhaps it is good for us to take note of the examples shown by St. Thomas Aquinas, the saint whose feast we celebrate on this day. St. Thomas Aquinas is a truly famous saint and also Doctor of the Church, renowned for his extensive theological and philosophical writings, his brilliant mind and wisdom, and his love and commitment for God. St. Thomas Aquinas inspired many generations of people who also dedicated their lives to God.

But St. Thomas Aquinas did not have it easy, as oppositions and challenges were aplenty, even from his youth. His family opposed his desire to join religious life and priesthood, using whatever means to try to dissuade him from his conviction, but St. Thomas Aquinas persevered through prayer and steadfast dedication, and he managed to overcome those challenges eventually. He became a devout and committed Dominican, and went about many places teaching and completing his now famous writings and works including the Summa Theologiae, Summa Contra Gentiles among many others.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, St. Thomas Aquinas has shown us that it is possible for us to love God and to dedicate ourselves wholeheartedly to Him, directing ourselves to Him so completely that we become attuned to Him much as St. Thomas Aquinas had been, growing deeper in faith and in our dedication to Him each and every single days of our life. Let us all dedicate ourselves anew and renew the faith we have in our God from now on, turning ourselves to Him and loving Him with all of our hearts and strength. Amen.

Monday, 28 January 2019 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 3 : 22-30

At that time, the teachers of the Law, who had come from Jerusalem, said, “He is in the power of Beelzebul : the chief of the demons helps Him to drive out demons.”

Jesus called them to Him, and began teaching them by means of histories, or parables. “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a nation is divided by civil war, that nation cannot stand. If a family divides itself into groups, that family will not survive.”

“In the same way, if Satan has risen against himself and is divided, he will not stand, he is finished. No one can break into the house of a strong man in order to plunder his goods, unless he first ties up the strong man. Then indeed, he can plunder his house.”

“Truly, I say to you, every sin will be forgiven humankind, even insults to God, however numerous. But whoever slanders the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven : he carries the guilt of his sin forever.” This was their sin when they said, “He has an unclean spirit in Him.”

Monday, 28 January 2019 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

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

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

The Lord 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 the Lord, 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, the Lord!