Monday, 13 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the passages of the Sacred Scriptures, we are all reminded of God’s call for us to repent from our sinful ways, to turn away from our wickedness, all the selfish attitudes we have shown all these while we embraced the ways of worldliness and sin. Through His prophets and messengers, His saints and the Church, God has called us and reminded us yet again and again to be faithful to Him.

In our first reading today, we heard from the prophet Isaiah’s words, speaking God’s intentions and will to His people, which can be summarised as such that He sought not the sacrifices and offerings, festivals and customary celebrations from His people, but rather, real love and genuine faith. He essentially wanted His people to be truthful in their faith and dedication to Him, and not be hypocrites who claimed to believe in Him and yet, acted in ways totally contrary to His teachings and ways.

The Lord has told them that what He wanted from them was real love, dedication and commitment, and not merely just empty show of faith, for it is indeed possible for one to obey the precepts of the Law but without the right intentions, or because it was merely done out of obligation and fulfilling what we considered as a mere formality. These are not what the Lord wanted, and He made it clear to His people through His prophet Isaiah, and this was because many among the people still committed sin against God and lived in state of sin despite outwardly obeying the Law.

This is similar to what the Lord Jesus also saw and encountered among the people when He came into the world, bearing the truth and Good News of salvation. Many among the people paid just lip service for God, and some among them like many among the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law became distracted with their role, misunderstanding the intention of God’s will and Law, and they made a show of their faith for praise and respect from the other people, and not because they genuinely and wholly loved God from their hearts.

And the disagreement that rose out of these led to friction and difficulties, challenges and trials facing the followers of God, that had begun even since the time of the ancient prophets, as they faced stubborn people who refused to change their ways, and ended up with them being persecuted and troubled by those who refused to accept them and listen to their truth. The same treatment would be faced and endured by the Lord and His Apostles, His disciples and followers, even as the Lord Jesus performed His ministry, and afterwards as the early Christians continued the Lord’s works.

And the Lord in today’s Gospel passage also told His disciples a kind of jarring message as He told them that whoever loved father, mother, brothers or sisters, or their loved ones and spouses more than they loved God, were not fit to become His followers. Actually what the Lord wanted to tell them and all of us was really that, not that He wanted us to abandon our family and loved ones or to hate them. On the contrary, He definitely wants us all to love our parents, our brethren, our loved ones and family members, our friends and other people. But, what is important that, beyond all these, we must love God even a lot more.

And through what He had explained and revealed, and what we have discussed today, through the readings of the Scripture we can see that being followers of Christ is not necessarily easy for us to do. There will be plenty of challenges and trials ahead, and often we may have to make choices that will put us in quandary of having to choose between God and those whom we know. But if our faith in God is genuine and strong, our commitment to Him and dedication are pure, then we will surely have the right focus and attention, that is on God and not on other things.

Today, all of us celebrate the feast of St. Henry, a great leader and a humble man before God, whom as Emperor Henry II, the Holy Roman Emperor, was the secular leader of Christendom ordained by God, and by influence, power and prestige, were probably second throughout Christendom just after the Pope, the Vicar of Christ himself. He was a great leader who was dedicated to his people and kingdom, and responsibly carried out the duties of Christian leadership placed in his hands.

He generously gave to the poor and strengthened the foundations of his realm, while at the same time, supporting the Church and its works, spreading the Christian faith far and wide, sending missionaries to pagan areas and converting many to the true faith, while consolidating the areas already under Christian rule. He established a strong relationship with the Pope and the Church, and in the meantime remaining humble and virtuous, with strong personal piety and dedication to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, St. Henry the pious and God-loving Holy Roman Emperor is our great inspiration on how we ourselves can also be righteous and just, dedicated and committed to God. Are we willing and able to follow in his footsteps and be dedicated to God through our daily actions and interactions with one another? Let us all reflect on these, and let us be truly faithful from now on, not just merely paying lip service and empty formality, striving to be good and genuine Christians moving on with our lives.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He strengthen us all with our faith, and may He grant us His providence and with much courage to carry on living as good and faithful Christians from now on. May God bless us all and all of our good works and endeavours, inspired by the examples of our holy predecessors, the holy saints of God, especially St. Henry, our role model in faith. Amen.

Monday, 13 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Matthew 10 : 34 – Matthew 11 : 1

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Do not think that I have come to establish peace on earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Each one will have as enemies, those of one’s own family.”

“Whoever loves father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me. And whoever loves son or daughter more than Me, is not worthy of Me. And whoever does not take up his cross and follow Me, is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life, for My sake, will find it.”

“Whoever welcomes you, welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me, welcomes Him Who sent Me. The one who welcomes a prophet, as a prophet, will receive the reward of a prophet; the one who welcomes a just man, because he is a just man, will receive the reward of a just man.”

“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones, because he is My disciple, I assure you, he will not go unrewarded.”

When Jesus had finished giving His twelve disciples these instructions, He went on from there to teach and proclaim His message in their towns.

Monday, 13 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Psalm 49 : 8-9, 16bc-17, 21 and 23

Not for your sacrifices do I reprove you, for your burnt offerings are ever before Me. I need no bull from your stalls, nor he-goat from your pens.

What right have you to mouth My laws, or to talk about My covenant? You hate My commands and cast My words behind you.

Because I was silent while you did these things, you thought I was like you. But now I rebuke you and make this charge against you. Those who give with thanks offerings honour Me, but the one who walks blamelessly, I will show him the salvation of God.

Monday, 13 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Isaiah 1 : 10-17

Hear the warning of YHVH, rulers of Sodom. Listen to the word of God, people of Gomorrah. “What do I care,” says YHVH, “for your endless sacrifices? I am fed up with your burnt offerings, and the fat of your bulls. The blood of fatlings, and lambs and he-goats I abhor, when you come before Me and trample on My courts. Who asked you to visit Me? I am fed up with your oblations. I grow sick with your incense.

Your New Moons, Sabbaths and meetings, evil with holy assemblies, I can no longer bear. I hate your New Moons and appointed feasts. They burden Me. When you stretch out your hands I will close My eyes; the more you pray, the more I refuse to listen, for your hands are bloody.

Wash and make yourselves clean. Remove from My sight the evil of your deeds. Put an end to your wickedness and learn to do good. Seek justice and keep in line the abusers; give the fatherless their rights and defend the widow.

Thursday, 13 July 2017 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard how Joseph, the son of Jacob, then the Regent of all Egypt, was reunited with his brothers, who came to Egypt in order to buy grains and food for their family. They have once plotted against Joseph due to their jealousy and anger, and threw him into a well, before selling him off to the slavers who brought him to Egypt.

However, Joseph did not feel angry or resentful towards his brothers. Neither did he seek vengeance against them for what they had done. Instead, he returned their actions with love, revealing himself to them as their long lost brother, to their utter disbelief and shock. Thus was God’s will done, and the whole family of Jacob, the people of Israel were brought to Egypt and lived there in prosperity for a while, while Joseph was Regent over Egypt.

How is this related and relevant to what we heard in the Gospel passage today? We heard about how Jesus our Lord commissioned His disciples, sending them all to many places ahead of Him, to preach the Good News and to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord. They were reminded not to bring anything in excess of what they actually needed, which was truly basic needs such as clothing and sandals.

The disciples of the Lord were called to serve the Lord wholeheartedly, fulfilling what He had promised His people, their redemption, liberation and forgiveness from all the faults and mistakes which they have committed in the past, beginning with the first mankind, Adam and Eve, right down through the ages, through their descendants to all of us living in this world today.

This is what we have heard, which was in common between our Gospel and first reading passages today. The forgiveness and mercy which was shown to those who have committed mistakes and faults. Joseph showed his mercy, forgiveness, love and compassion on those who have wronged him, and similarly, our Lord has also shown His mercy and forgiveness to all of us who have disobeyed Him and desire to be reconciled with Him.

This is the message which He has sent His disciples out there for, sending them from towns to towns and from villages to villages in order to preach the Good News of God’s salvation, to invoke His mercy and compassion among His people. He called them all to be His representatives and workers, to bring many more souls to be saved in God. This is what the Lord has endeavoured to do, and what we all need to take note of.

Why is that so? That is because all of us are called to walk in the footsteps of the Apostles, to be the ones who continue the good works begun by the Apostles and disciples of the Lord, who have toiled and laboured to bring the Gospel to the people and calling them to repentance. And in our world today, there are still many souls who are in need of salvation.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, perhaps we should be inspired by the good examples of the holy saint, St. Henry, also known as Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor and a mighty ruler of Christendom who was however also known for his great magnanimity, compassion and care for the poor, the weak and the sick throughout his realms and domains.

St. Henry worked hard as a just and upright ruler, who placed his duties to his people ahead of his own personal desires and needs. And he was also a very active contributor to the Church by his many contributions to strengthening the Church throughout his realms. St. Henry established many churches and parishes, helping to build up a stable and strong foundation of the Church.

Now, let us ask ourselves, brothers and sisters in Christ. If someone like Henry II, holy Emperor and Saint can do such good deeds with what God had blessed them with, despite what must have been tempting for him to use the power and glory for his own personal purposes, but he instead used them to glorify God and for the benefit of his fellow men, those who have been placed under his care.

Are we able to make the same commitment? Are we able to walk in the footsteps of our holy predecessors? This we can do for the good of ourselves and our fellow brethren, all those who are still wandering in the darkness and separated from God’s love and mercy. This is the time for us to ask ourselves, what it is that we can do as Christians to be part of God’s plan for our salvation.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore commit ourselves anew to the Lord, focusing our efforts to help out in God’s mission of love and mercy, calling mankind to a new life, blessed by God and worthy of Him. May the Lord bless us all and our endeavours, and may He remain with us always. Amen.

Thursday, 13 July 2017 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)
Matthew 10 : 7-15

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Go, and proclaim this message : The kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, bring the dead back to life, cleanse the lepers, and drive out demons. Freely have you received, freely give. Do not carry any gold or silver or money in your purses. Do not take a travelling bag, or an extra shirt, or sandals, or a walking stick : workers deserve to be compensated.”

“When you come to a town or a village, look for a worthy person, and stay there until you leave. When you enter the house, wish it peace. If the people are worthy people, your peace will rest on them; if they are not worthy people, your blessing will come back to you.”

“And if you are not welcomed, and your words are not listened to, leave that house or that town, and shake the dust off your feet. I assure you, it will go easier for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment, than it will for the people of that town.”

Thursday, 13 July 2017 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)
Psalm 104 : 16-17, 18-19, 20-21

Then YHVH sent a famine and ruined the crop that sustained the land; He sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave.

His feet in shackles, his neck in irons; till what he foretold came to pass, and YHVH’s word proved him true.

The king sent for him; set him free; the ruler of the peoples released him. He put him in charge of his household and made him ruler of all his possessions.

Thursday, 13 July 2017 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)
Genesis 44 : 18-21, 23b-29 and Genesis 45 : 1-5

Judah then went forward and said, “My lord, allow your servant to speak. Do not be angry with your servant, although you are equal to Pharaoh himself. The last time you questioned your servants saying : ‘Have you a father or a brother?’ We said to my lord : ‘We have an aged father who had a child in his old age. His brother is dead and he is the only one left of his mother’s children. And his father loves him.'”

“Then you said to us : ‘Bring him down so that I can see him for myself, if your youngest brother did not come with you, you would not be admitted to my presence.’ All this we said to our father on returning there. So when he told us to come back and buy a little food, we said : ‘We cannot go down again unless our youngest brother is with us. We shall not be admitted to the lord’s presence unless our brother is with us.'”

“Then my father said : ‘You know that my wife had two children. One went away from me and has surely been torn to pieces since I have not seen him anymore. If you take this one from me and something happens to him you will bring my gray hair in sorrow to the grave.'”

Now Joseph could no longer control his feelings in the presence of all those standing by and he called out, “Leave my presence, everyone!” And only his brothers were with him when Joseph made himself known to them. He wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard and the news spread through Pharaoh’s house.

Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” And his brothers could not answer because they were terrified at seeing him. Joseph said, “Come closer,” and they drew nearer. “I am Joseph your brother, yes, it is me, the one you sold to the Egyptians. Now do not grieve or reproach yourselves for selling me, because God has sent me before you to save your lives.”

Saturday, 13 July 2013 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (Scripture Reflection)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we should indeed not fear evil nor sin, and neither should we be afraid of Satan and his forces of deception in this world, for all of us are the children of God, the children of the true Light. The Lord Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour is always on our side, if we remain in His love and remain faithful to Him. Satan has no hold over us, because our soul that is the Spirit of the Lord is eternal. He can only touch our bodies, through the corruptions that he tried to impose on us through the world, but in no way that he can harm our soul.

Our Lord and God is the only One who can harm our soul, because He is the Great Judge of all things, that on the day of the Last Judgment, He would judge all beings living and dead, and separating the upright and righteous ones from those who are wicked. To those whom He shows His favour and love, He will reward with heaps of glory and happiness, to be in eternity in perfect union with Him, our Lord, our Creator, never to be separated again, in perfect love, unity, and harmony.

But to those whom He shows His wrath because of their wickedness and apathy towards love, He would condemn for eternity in hell. No, not hell of fire, but an eternal separation from God, and therefore, the soul is condemned for eternity, a dead soul, since the Spirit will no longer remain with them. That is why only the Lord can harm us bodily and also our souls, because He has all the authority in the universe to praise the righteous and condemn the evil and wicked ones. The same fate awaits the devil too, in the manner of the wicked.

The Lord who is loving had shown us His care, protection, provision, and compassion throughout time, ever since creation. He showed His love for Israel, who is Jacob, blessing him with twelve sons and other children, just as He had shown His love for Abraham, His servant, and made an everlasting covenant with him. He showed His love for Joseph, whom He brought away from slavery and made the Governor of Egypt, in charge of all the preparations for the years of famine.

Yet He is also forgiving for those who had wronged Him, for us sinners who had repeatedly disobeyed Him and betrayed Him to the devil, the way that Judas Iscariot had done. Just as Joseph forgave his brothers for having sold him to slavery and their hatred and jealousy for him, so the Lord also forgave those who had wronged Him through sin and evil, ever since the time of Adam and Eve, the first ones that He created amongst mankind.

He showed His mercy to the people of Israel repeated times, when they continuously rebelled against His will, and even abandoned Him to the pagan gods of the people of Canaan. He led them to the land of ever-flowing milk and honey, and continued to watch over them, even as they rebelled against Him. And when the people of Israel came under great suffering under the tyranny of the Babylonians, He sent them deliverance through Cyrus, the first Persian Emperor, who liberated them and allowed them to return to their own lands.

But none of this can be compared to the Lord’s greatest act of love and mercy, that is, in His great love, sending His own Son, the very part of Himself, the Holy Trinity, into the world, that the Word of God became flesh and walked on this world, that the world that has been tainted with evil and sin, may have hope of new life through Jesus Christ, the world’s Saviour.

The Lord sent Jesus to be our Redeemer, to save us from our fate that is death, and to reconcile us to Himself. Christ had become the great bridge, that crosses the infinite chasm of sin separating us from God, ever since Adam and Eve first disobeyed the Lord. Only in Christ lie our salvation, and only in Him that we have hope of new and eternal life. The Lord had shown His love and mercy for us in no lesser way, none other than by suffering insults and rejection, lashes and blows, and ultimately the death on the cross for us.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Henry, also known as Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor, the great divine ordained of the successor of Rome in the West, as the secular Vicar of Christ, under the jurisdiction of the Pope, as the Bishop of Rome and the true Vicar of Christ. St. Henry made great efforts to strengthen the Church and pried power away from the hands of the secular nobles into the Emperor’s hand and the jurisdiction of the Church.

In doing so, St. Henry had laid a stable foundation for the growth of the faith, and the cultivation of the faith amongst many throughout the world. He greatly strengthened the cause of the Lord, and built the work of salvation over the power of the power-hungry and wealth-hungry secular nobles, who constantly warred amongst themselves for wealth, reputation, and land.

St. Henry acted as the champion of the faith, as the champion of the Church, and indeed, as the champion of the Lord, who brought the Lord closer to many ordinary people, and his works enabled more to be in contact with the Lord who loves us and who wants to save us through Christ, His Son. St. Henry never gave up the struggle despite opposition from the nobles, and his efforts rewarded him with the glory of heaven, as the only Holy Roman Emperor and German monarch ever named saint.

We too, brothers and sisters in Christ, can follow in the footsteps of St. Henry, and also many other inspiring saints, to bring the Word of God closer to many who have yet to receive it, and to bring the Lord’s salvation and love ever closer to those who seek it. Let us also defend our faith, our faith in the Lord who loves us, and who redeemed us through His death and bring us new life through His Resurrection from the dead. Let us be zealous and devoted to our faith in God, through the Church, and obey the teachings of the Church, that is none other than the teachings of the Apostles, and therefore, the teachings of the Lord Himself.

May the Lord, accompanied by His faithful servant, St. Henry, and multitudes of holy men and women of the Lord and the angels, bless all of us with love, hope, and faith, and give us the Spirit to love, the Spirit to be compassionate, the Spirit of forgiveness and mercy, that all of us will be worthy of our Lord, who is Love and mercy. God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 13 July 2013 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (Gospel Reading)

Matthew 10 : 24-33

A student is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. A student should be glad to become  like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If the head of the family has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of the family! So, do not be afraid of them.

There is nothing covered that will not be uncovered, and nothing hidden that will not be made known. What I am telling you in the dark, you must speak in the light. What you hear in private, proclaim from the housetops.

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but have no power to kill the soul. Rather be afraid of Him who can destroy both body and soul in hell. For only a few cents you can buy two sparrows, yet not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Father knowing. As for you, every hair of your head has been counted. Do not be afraid : you are no less worthy than many sparrows!

Whoever acknowledges Me before others I will acknowledge before My Father in heaven. Whoever rejects Me before others I will reject before My Father in heaven.