Sunday, 20 May 2018 : Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this great occasion we celebrate together as one united and one Universal Church, the Solemnity of the Pentecost, marking the moment when the Church was born and began to make its mark in this world, through the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples and the Apostles of the Lord. The Holy Spirit was promised by the Lord Jesus, as the Advocate and Guide, that would be with His disciples, and would empower them for the missions they had been entrusted with.

The coming of the Holy Spirit transformed all the disciples who received this great gift from God, for they were initially afraid and in fact, paranoid over the threats from the Pharisees and the chief priests who sternly warned all those who believe and preach in the Lord’s Name. They locked themselves up in the room, just as we heard from the accounts of the Lord’s appearances to them after His resurrection. They were plagued with fear and lack of faith.

But God reassured them that He would not leave them or abandon them. Not only that He would always with be them, at their side, all the time, but He would also send the Holy Spirit Who would reveal to them the entirety of the truth which He had taught and delivered unto this world. And indeed, that was what happened. The tongues of flame that descended upon the disciples gave them the truth, as well as the courage needed to speak up that truth and deliver the truth to others around them.

That was how they went out to speak courageously among the people who were gathered in Jerusalem for the festival, each hearing the disciples spoke in his or her own language. This is truly significant in symbolism, as the first reading from the Vigil Mass spoke about the Tower of Babel in the Book of Genesis. The Tower of Babel represented mankind’s failed attempt to claim greatness and glory, as they attempted to surpass God by building up a tower reaching up to the heavens itself.

God scattered them all by confusing their languages, and no one could understand what the others were talking about. As such, the division prevented the great Tower of Babel from being completed. Then, in the end, God countered this, by sending His Holy Spirit, that granted those who believe in Him, the spirit of true comprehension and understanding of the truth, and the gift of tongues, of speaking in various languages, the exact opposite of what had happened at the Tower of Babel.

Mankind have detached themselves from God, by their disobedience that led to sin. Sin, just as the wickedness shown by the people who were building the Tower of Babel showed that by doing what is haughty, arrogant and unbecoming of God’s people, we have deserved the consequence of division and separation, and as a result, that is why there are still so many souls out there, because God’s light and truth have not materialised in these people, and many of them have not yet received or accepted that truth.

This means that the Holy Spirit is not just the bearer of truth, but also unity. For it was through the Holy Spirit that the fullness of truth had been revealed to us, and those who put their faith and commit themselves to this fullness of truth, belong to the one and only Church of God, that is, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, the one and united Body of Christ, under the leadership of Christ’s Vicar, the Pope, successor of St. Peter the Apostle.

And today, as I mentioned at the very start of today’s discourse, we celebrate the anniversary of the birthday of the Church, for the Church which Christ established on this world, became tangible and real at the Pentecost, as the disciples went forth from their hiding place, and courageously spoke in front of the multitudes of people, and converted not less than three thousand among them, and those together with the disciples and the Apostles, formed the first foundation and beginning of the Church.

It was this event, which highlighted to us the most important and fundamental mission of the Church, that is the missionary and evangelistic calling to all Christians, as members of God’s Church, to proclaim the truth we have received and kept, to all the peoples, of all the nations, just as He commanded the disciples at the moment just before He ascended to heaven, the Great Commission that He gave to all of us, and which He entrusted all of us to do.

Unfortunately, many of us have not realised this fact, and this obligation which we have as Christians. Instead, the sad reality is that, many of us are still lukewarm about our faith, and we do not truly understand what our faith is about. And that is how many of us ended up falling back into our old ways, into wickedness and sin, and we end up like the people building the Tower of Babel once again, sundered and separated, this time from the unity with God in His Church.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, I am speaking to you about the real crisis facing many of us Christians living in today’s world. There are many among us, who leave the Church and become Christians on paper and in formality only, after we completed our faith formation and catechism, the turning point often quoted being the Sacrament of Confirmation. It is at the reception of this holy Sacrament of Confirmation that we are confirmed in our faith by the Holy Spirit.

Unfortunately, many of us considered that, both the confirmands and the family members, as a mere rite of passage, that is once done, is done and nothing else need to be done. That is simply not true, brothers and sisters in Christ. The Holy Spirit that God has given us, has given us the principal gifts of love, hope and faith, as well as the well-known seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, that is Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety and Fear of the Lord.

But all these will remain dormant and will be meaningless unless we truly practice our faith and live our lives in accordance with our faith. And this is where I want to remind us all about a parable that Christ had shared with His disciples, that is the parable of the sower. In that parable, which I am sure many of us are quite familiar with, the Lord Jesus shared with us about the seeds that the sower planted, which fell on different types of soil, and how only in the rich and fertile soil, that the seeds grew into crop-bearing plants with much produce.

In that parable, we heard how the Lord spoke of those whose seeds fell into barren soil, or place where brambles and thorns grew, or on the roadside and picked up by birds, which all spoke of the obstacles and challenges, and all the temptations and hurdles awaiting all of us as Christians in our attempt and journey to live a faithful life accentuated by living and genuine Christian faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us spend some time to reflect on our own individual lives, and in how we have lived our lives thus far, and how we have interacted with one another, as well as in our relationship with God. How many times has it been that we are jealous at one another, or become angry at one another, just because we refuse to back down from our pride and ego?

And how many of us truly reflect a genuine and authentic Christian faith in our respective lives? How many of us have instead been so preoccupied with our busy schedules and worldly pursuits, of power, of wealth, of fame and affluence, of pleasures of the body and the flesh, and many other tempting things, that we forgot to act as good and committed Christians? I am sure that many of us have fallen into these traps of the devil before.

Therefore, now, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all seek a thorough and complete transformation of ourselves, in our whole being, that while once we were separated from God and living in ignorance and darkness, now through the Holy Spirit, we have received the fullness of truth and faith, and we ought to make use of those wonderful gifts God had given us, or else, our faith is shallow, dead and empty.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us ask the Holy Spirit to guide us in our respective lives, and let us pray to God, that through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we may be transformed completely, and changed profoundly, to be true disciples and beloved children of God, who are worthy partakers of God’s everlasting Covenant. May the Lord be with us always, and may the Holy Spirit guide our path always. Come, Holy Spirit and fill our hearts with God truth and love. Amen.

Saturday, 19 May 2018 : 7th Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we enter into the conclusion of the Season of Easter, we also end the readings and discourses from the Acts of the Apostles. We have heard of the many works of the Apostles in ministering to the people of God and in testifying for their faith, saving many souls through their actions and dedication.

In today’s first reading, we heard about the story of St. Paul in Rome, at the last legs of his earthly ministry. St. Paul continued to work and dedicate himself to the faithful in the city of Rome, and spoke to the Jewish community living there. He has done many good works for the Lord’s sake, and even at that time, he still performed one last great work for God, in helping to establish the foundation of the Church at the heart of the Empire in Rome.

In today’s Gospel passage, we heard the Lord’s words to His Apostles, at the time after He had risen from the dead. What we have heard was basically normal human emotions and reaction, for the Apostles themselves were still humans as well. It was the jealousy and rivalry that still existed in their hearts at that time, stemming from the fact that St. John, the youngest one among the Twelve, was the Lord’s favourite.

In fact, St. John, together with St. James, his brother and St. Peter himself, was counted among the three of the closest confidants of the Lord, whom He always brought with Him to the important events of His life, such as the Transfiguration and the moment just before His Passion at the night after the Last Supper. But sometimes, as humans, we may be tempted by power, and by the seduction of glory and praise.

St. John and St. James had their mother to come to the Lord together, asking Him whether they could be granted special position among the Apostles, by conferring on them positions on His left and right when He entered into His kingdom. But the Lord chastised and rebuked them, saying to them, that true discipleship is not about worldly glory and prestige, and not about honour and position, but rather, about dedication and even sacrifice.

Later on, the Apostles themselves would realise this truth, and they no longer sought for worldly glory and honour as they had before. In truth, just as St. Paul had shown us, they were willing to give it all for their service to God. It is what they had to endure for their faith in the Lord Jesus, and they persevered through all those challenges and difficulties with commitment, zeal and love for God and for their fellow men alike.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now, all of us are called to follow the examples of these holy Apostles and servants of the Lord. We are called to be faithful and to be devoted to Him, in all of our ways and actions. However, as what we may have realised and seen, many of us Christians are not doing what we should have done as expected of us as disciples and followers of the Lord.

Instead, we often bicker among ourselves and are bitterly divided and we are jealous of each other’s achievements and possessions. Why is this so? This is because we are unable to resist the temptation of worldly pleasures, glory, honour, wealth and all sorts of things that Satan and his allies are using in order to distract us and to pull us away from God’s path, and into our downfall.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us resist the temptation for all these transient and impermanent glories, for all those pleasures that do not last forever. Let us all instead seek the true joy and happiness, the satisfaction and eternal glory that we can gain in God alone. And as Christians, we do not need to worry about all of them, as God Who is always with us, will reward us for our faith and commitment to Him.

Let us all therefore, as we come to celebrate the Solemnity of the Pentecost tomorrow, remember that each and every one of us have received the Holy Spirit and His many gifts. Let us remember that all of us ought to make use of these gifts for the greater glory of God, and for the good of our fellow men. May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to guide us in our path. May God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 18 May 2018 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. John I, Pope and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the Scriptures through which we are reminded that as Christians all of us are ultimately bound to live by the will of God, and we will be led in our lives to where God wants us to be, and it is often that life will not go according to how we want it to be, no matter what we have done and are going to do in order to secure our desire.

In the first reading today, we listened to how St. Paul defended himself before the king of Judea, Agrippa, as well as the Roman governor of Judea, Festus. He spoke with such a wisdom and eloquence that he even almost persuaded them to be Christians. He has appealed to the Emperor, and would go on to Rome, in order to face the judgment as meted by the most powerful man in the world at that time.

In his earlier years, St. Paul was known as Saul, a fanatical and influential young Pharisee, who was renowned and glorified for his intense persecution of all Christians and all those who profess faith in the Lord Jesus. He seemed to be destined for a life of greatness and influence among the people of God, to be among the elites of the society as member of the Pharisees.

However, God did not wish it to end that way, that Saul remained a great enemy of Christ and His faithful ones. God instead called Saul and gave him an entirely new purpose and calling in life. And Saul chose to accept that role given to him, a role through which he would save countless souls, through his direct teaching and efforts, as well as through the many disciples and students he had led through those years of his service.

Then, in the Gospel today, we also heard about another Apostle, St. Peter, the head and appointed leader of the Apostles. The Lord Jesus entrusted His Church to his care, just as He had said before, that He would build His Church upon the foundation of Peter, the Rock. And the Lord Jesus said to St. Peter about the same expectation as I have just mentioned, that at the end of it all, it was God’s will that will prevail.

God said to St. Peter that he would have to suffer for being a disciple of His, and he would be led to places that he would not want to go. That was a foretelling of what he had to encounter, to be brought to Rome, where he would meet his martyrdom just as St. Paul would. He was crucified upside down in the place where the Basilica of St. Peter now stands, while St. Paul was beheaded at around the same place.

Today we also remember the memory of another good servant of God, one of the early successors of St. Peter the Apostle, as the Vicar of Christ and Bishop of Rome. Pope St. John I was a devout servant of God, humble and faithful, elected to become the successor of St. Peter and lead the Church. At that time, the Church in Rome was under the rule of those who followed the false Arian heresy, and Pope St. John I was caught in the great dilemma of having to accommodate between the two sides in argument.

King Theoderic the Great of the Ostrogoths, who was an Arian, demanded that the Pope present his argument before the Roman Emperor in the city of Constantinople, that toleration and concessions must be given to those who believe in the Arian heresy. However, Pope St. John I resolutely supported the position of the Orthodox and true teachings of the faith as espoused in the Ecumenical Councils of the Church, and in the end, he was imprisoned by the king.

Pope St. John I would eventually die a prisoner of the faith, refusing to bend to the demands of the king. He and the Apostles of the Lord had shown us that, even many in the world will oppose us and persecute us, just because we believe in God and walk in His ways. They entrusted themselves to the Lord, and remained true and faithful to Him. And despite having suffered and died in pain, they now enjoy forever the glory of heaven.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now, as Christians, all of us are also expected to have that same faith and commitment to the Lord, just as shown by our holy and devout predecessors. Let us all henceforth renew our commitment to our faith, and spend more time and effort in our relationship with God. May the Lord be with us all, and may He continue to be with us and bless us, all the days of our lives. Holy Apostles, St. Peter and St. Paul, and Pope St. John I, holy martyr, pray for us all. Amen.

Thursday, 17 May 2018 : 7th Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in today’s Scripture readings, through what we have heard from the first reading taken from the Acts of the Apostles, in which we heard the great squabble between the Pharisees and the Sadducees during the hearing scheduled in the Jewish High Council regarding the Apostle, St. Paul, who was accused of sedition against the Jewish laws.

St. Paul was alone, facing the opposition from all those who were against him and all that he had preached and taught among the people. The Sadducees were against him and the teachings of the Lord Jesus, as they feared that their esteemed and special position in the society would be seriously threatened, and they were also against the beliefs in the Christian faith, such as the resurrection from the dead among many others.

They had been fiercely against the Lord Jesus, and harassed Him with questions and challenges throughout His ministry. Therefore, the same challenge and difficulty also faced all those who spoke and taught in His Name, as St. Paul had experienced. And in addition to this trouble, St. Paul, just as the Lord had experienced, also faced the opposition from the Pharisees, the other major group holding power in the society, also fiercely against Jesus and His teaching authority.

The Pharisees include many of those who were experts and teachers of the Mosaic law, that is all those who were supposed to safeguard the tenets and the rules found within the law that governed the Jewish people, based on the Law which God had first given His people through Moses, His servant. However, they ended up being too fanatically attached to their interpretation of the Mosaic law, and became too rigid in their enforcement to the point of ignoring and forgetting the true purpose of the Law of God.

Thus, these influential elders and people were also bitterly against the Lord and His Apostles, as they feared that they would lose their influence should the teachings of Jesus spread throughout the people and the towns of Israel. They were afraid that they would lose their esteemed position, just as the Sadducees were afraid of the same thing, and that their authority would no longer be accepted.

But they did not consider and place God in all of their judgments at all. They were instead driven by their greed, pride and desires, which therefore, as we have probably noticed, was why they were divided among themselves, bickering between themselves, when St. Paul put a contentious matter among them. They fought and bickered so greatly that the Roman governor had to rescue St. Paul from their midst lest he was torn apart by the feuding parties.

In this, we see how, even though St. Paul seemed to be alone, but in truth, he was not alone. God was always with him, and all the whole Church was united with him in prayer. And that is what the Lord Jesus had also prayed to His Father, in our Gospel passage today, asking that all those who believe in Him remain as one people, as one united Church, just as He and His Father were one and indivisible.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, all of us are reminded of the fact that we do not exist for ourselves, but rather, first of all, for God. And then, secondly, we exist for each other, for our fellow brethren and for the Church of God. As Christians, we should not be tempted to satisfy our personal desires and ego, over that of our obligations to God and to our need to love and care for one another.

And it is important that we place God at the centre of our lives, just as we can see clearly, how those who did not place God at the centre or as the focus of their lives, like the Sadducees and Pharisees, are prone to division and conflict. And whenever conflict and division arise, it is actually a perfect opportunity for the devil to come in and manipulate us even further, to divide us and therefore, hopefully to snatch us away from God and His salvation.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore be role models in faith, devoting ourselves wholeheartedly to God, and committing ourselves to faith in Him, putting our complete trust, knowing that He will be with us along the way, and He will never abandon us in our time of need. May the Lord be with us all, and may He continue to watch over us all, that each and every one of us may always be united in Him, as one Church, and as one people of God. Amen.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018 : 7th Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture telling us again of the moment when St. Paul said his farewell to the elders of the Church in Ephesus, during his journey towards Jerusalem, which would see him embarking on his last mission in his life. He would later on travel to the city of Rome to be judged by the Emperor, and as part of the persecution of Christians in that city, he was martyred by beheading in the year 64 AD.

But despite this fate awaiting him, St. Paul remained positive in his outlook on life, and rather than getting himself scared or worried, he reassured not just himself but also those who were with him, with words of consolation and hope, telling them that God would always be with them and protecting them, as long as they place their trust in Him. However, they must also beware of the challengers and difficulties they would face because they were faithful.

St. Paul reminded the elders to be watchful over their flock, entrusted to them the work and the guardianship over the people of God. They were warned of the challenges and dangers facing the faithful, which included that of false shepherds and guides who would seek to subvert the truth and turn the faithful against God and His truth. Indeed, in times to come, there were many false teachers and heretics attempting to snatch the faithful away from God and His Church.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord Jesus also gave His disciples the same warning, that the world would hate them all just as they had hated Him first. That was what the Lord Jesus mentioned in His prayer to His Father, our Gospel passage today. But the Lord reassured us that He would always be with us, and He will never abandon all those who have placed their trust in Him.

Now, what each and every one of us as Christians need to understand is that, all of us are called to a life of holiness, dedicated and committed to God. But carrying out such a life and living such a faith is not going to be an easy task for us. There will be plenty of challenges along the way, and often we will also be tempted to give in to the temptations of this world. There will be pressure and persuasions, even from those who are close and dear to us, to give in to the demands of this world.

This is where we all need to remember St. Paul and all that he had done throughout his ministry among the people of mostly non-Jewish origin, calling them all to repentance and to be converted to the one and only true faith in God. He encountered many opposition and troubles along the way, and even those who were close and dear to him abandoned him at times. But St. Paul remained strong in his faith and dedication to the Lord.

Now, what many of us lack, is faith, faith that is genuine and strong in us. We are often unable to resist temptation and pressure, and as a result, we tend to conform to the desires and ways of this world, rather than to stand up for our faith and rather than obeying God’s will. We often find ourselves giving in to these temptations and pressures because we easily fall prey to fear, worrying and being afraid of this and that. As such, we end up falling away from the path that God had set before us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now, our challenge is for us to learn to put our trust in God, and to live our lives more worthily of our God. How do we do this? It is through our commitment to charity in all of our actions and deeds. We ought to follow the example of the saints and the holy servants of God who have preceded us, that we may live our lives with ever more faith, with ever more trust in God, day after day.

Let us all draw ever closer to God, with each and every action we take. May the Lord continue to bless us and guide us. May He bless us all and our every endeavours, that through what we have done, we will bring ever more souls closer towards God. Amen.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018 : 7th Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we heard about the story of two people who were saying their farewells to those who were with them, at the end of their respective ministries. The first one, from the Acts of the Apostles, related to us about the moment when St. Peter said his farewell to the elders and the faithful in the city of Ephesus in present day Turkey.

In that occasion, St. Paul through the wisdom and foresight given to him by the Holy Spirit, had known that the time was coming for him to meet his end, as he was about to face persecution from the Jewish authorities, and would have his last Apostolic journey, to the centre of the Empire, the city of Rome, where he would perform his last mission and would encounter martyrdom there.

However, despite knowing what would happen to him, and how he would suffer and be persecuted, St. Paul did not fear or become worrisome. Instead, he entrusted himself in the Lord, and spoke encouragingly to the elders of the faithful in Ephesus, by which he reminded them of the need to be faithful to the Lord, and to put their hope and trust in God Who will not abandon His faithful ones in their time of need.

St. Paul imitated the example of the Lord Jesus Himself, Who in the Gospel passage we heard today, prayed to God His Father, asking Him to be with His disciples, that is with all those whom He had called and gathered from the world. He prayed over them, that they would receive the fullness of truth which would bring them to eternal life. He entrusted all of them to God, and therefore, they belong to God, through Jesus.

Jesus showed all of His disciples, that the Lord will always be with them, and He will never abandon them, no matter how challenging the troubles and opposition that would be facing them. And the ultimate proof of that assurance, is Christ Himself, Whom the Father sent into this world, because of His love for each and every one of us. He is always ever faithful, and His words reliable.

Why is that so? Let us remember that in order to save us, God did not spare anything less than giving His own self, His own Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Saviour. And He loved us so much, and is so faithful to the Covenant that He had established with us, that He was obedient unto death, the most painful and sorrowful death on the cross. That is just how much God loved each and every one of us.

How can we, as Christians, then not be in love with God? How can we not trust in Him? But the reality says otherwise, brothers and sisters in Christ. Many of us are so worried about this life and all the things we covet and desire, for wealth, for prestige, for honour, for worldly glory and human praise, for pleasures of the flesh and body, and for many other things of worldly nature, that we do not trust in God, Who truly knows what we really need.

Instead, we ended up putting our trust in many things that distract us from our true focus, that is God. We idolise many things that become distraction for us, as some of us idolise money, and put it as more important than everything else in our life, including even God. Some of us will do everything in order to gain fame and prestige, regardless of the futility of such pursuits.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us as Christians are called to remember the memory of St. Paul, his faith and dedication to the good works which he performed for the Lord and for His Church. And we recall the great trust and faith which he had in the Lord, without which he could not have done all the things he had done, all the missionary works he had undertaken and more.

And we remember the great trust and love which Our Lord Jesus Himself had shown us, in His close relationship with His Father. All of us are called to imitate these good examples, and indeed, we should begin from ourselves, at this very moment, if we have not done so. Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all devote ourselves anew to the Lord, and let us all seek to be ever more committed and faithful to God, each and every days of our life. May God be with us all, now and always. Amen.

Monday, 14 May 2018 : Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast of one of the Twelve holy Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is St. Matthias the Apostle, the one who was chosen out of the original disciples of the Lord Jesus who followed Him from the beginning, in order to replace Judas Iscariot, the traitor. St. Matthias was chosen after the Apostles prayed to the Lord asking for His guidance in the decision-making.

Judas Iscariot was called to be an Apostle, but he failed in the process of doing so, as he was unable to resist the temptation of worldly riches and wealth, that he ended up selling off his Lord for just a mere thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave at that time. And not just that, but as mentioned in the Gospels, Judas Iscariot also frequently helped himself to the money which he held, supposedly for the expenses of the Apostles, meaning that he was corrupt in action and mind.

And therefore, as he was unworthy, and refused to be forgiven, by his despair and suicide after having betrayed the Lord, his place among the Twelve Apostles was vacated, and replaced with someone else more deserving and worthy, and God chose St. Matthias to be this replacement. And hence, St. Matthias from then on became a member of the Twelve Apostles, the principal disciples of Christ.

However, we may think that such a position and appointment brought about great honour and glory for the Apostles. Indeed, that was what the Apostles themselves thought, when they were first called by the Lord. They bickered among themselves, wondering who among them was the greatest, and indeed, asking the Lord who would be the one greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

And in one occasion, the mother of two of the Twelve, St. James and St. John, came to the Lord Jesus and asked Him to grant her children special favour and position before the Lord. However, the Lord rebuked her and the two Apostles, as well as the other Apostles who were angered by the actions of the two and their mother, because of their pursuit for power, influence and worldly glory.

This then highlights the truth and reality of being Christ’s followers, and foremost of all, His Twelve Apostles, whom He had chosen from among His many disciples to be His closest confidants. They might have come from various backgrounds, from backgrounds some at the time, and even in our present day may consider to be unworthy, as many of them were uneducated and unintelligent, but God chose those whom He deemed to be deserving and worthy.

He empowered them and gave them the strength and courage, through the Holy Spirit He sent to them. He made them to be His great servants, through which many souls have been saved from certain damnation. Many had been called by the Lord through His Apostles, led by the Twelve, including St. Matthias. However, they also encountered great challenges and tribulations. They suffered for the sake of God and His Church, and yet they remained true to their mission.

And the mission which God had given to them has been laid out in today’s Gospel passage, where the Lord spoke to them about the commandment of love. They are told to reflect and imitate the same love that He has with His Father, and this is what He truly wants all of His followers to do, the two important commandments of love, that is loving God and then loving one another, and doing it with all of our ability and strength.

And all of us therefore, as Christians, are called to show the same love in our actions and in how we live our lives. We must first of all, love the Lord our God, and devote ourselves wholeheartedly to Him, regardless of whether things are good or bad for, whether in happy times or difficult and sad times. This may be easier said than done, as many of us can say that we love God, and yet, in our actions, we are always tempted to serve our own desires and wants first, and we relegate God to a secondary importance in our lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, St. Matthias and the other Apostles showed great dedication and love for God. They had such great such faith and love for God, that when the situation called for it, they did not hesitate to lay down their lives for Him, when they were persuaded, then coerced, forced and tortured in order to give up their faith and save themselves. They rather chose death instead of life, but betraying their Lord.

And they showed this same love to one another, to each and every members of the Church of God. They showed God’s love through their own loving actions, being genuinely caring and compassionate, towards those who are in need, exhibiting the true meaning behind Christian love and fellowship. Through them many people came to believe in the Lord, as they saw what these faithful servants of God had done in their midst.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to do the same with our own lives? Are we able to love the Lord our God, and our fellow brethren in the same way? This is what each and every one of us are challenged as Christians, that we should emulate the examples shown to us by the Apostles. Let us all therefore devote ourselves, wholeheartedly and commit ourselves anew to the Lord. May the Lord be with us all, and through the intercession of St. Matthias and the Apostles, may we draw ever closer to God, each and every day of our lives. Amen.