Friday, 27 May 2022 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded of the joy that will come to us as disciples and followers of our Lord, even if we may have to encounter hardships, trials and challenges along the way. We must realise that as we walk along this path shown to us by God, we are never alone, and God will always be with us, guiding us and strengthening us on our way, helping to get through whatever persecutions and oppositions that we may have to endure as we continue to be faithful and dedicated Christians, in each and every days of our lives.

In our first reading today, as we heard from the Acts of the Apostles, the story of St. Paul and his continued ministry and journey is recounted to us, as he went on to the region of Achaia in what is now modern day Greece. Back then, he had encountered significant persecutions and hardships, had been plotted on and arrested on several occasions, attacked by his opponents and enemies, and was left almost dead in some of those instances. But God was with St. Paul and his companions, and we heard in our reading today that the Lord continued to encourage and strengthen St. Paul as he continued his missionary work.

In Achaia, St. Paul would encounter even more opposition and challenges to his mission, as the local Jewish community, likely siding with the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin against St. Paul and the Christian missionaries, plotted to have him arrested and punished. They made all sorts of false accusations against him, much like how the Lord himself was treated when He was rejected, persecuted, arrested and eventually condemned to death. St. Paul suffered similar persecution, but fortunately the Roman governor was not convinced by the Jewish community and did not arrest St. Paul. St. Paul was free then to continue with his mission there and elsewhere.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord Jesus encouraging His disciples as He told them that while they would have to face persecutions, sufferings and challenges but there would be time when they would enjoy a reprieve and time of gladness in the end, when their sufferings will end and everything will be good once again, and the Lord will never abandon His faithful ones, as they will always be precious to Him, no matter what. Hence, the disciples should continue to put their trust in the Lord and allow Him to guide them wherever He would send them to, just as how St. Paul followed the Lord and continued his missions regardless of the challenges that he faced.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what we have heard in our Scripture passages today should remind us all as Christians that we have been called to follow the Lord and to do His will, to carry out the mission of evangelising to the people. We often have doubts and reservations in doing so, or are ignorant of the calling and the vocations that we have been called to by the Lord. Many of us as Christians have been idle and passive, not living our faith in the way that we should live them. Hence, that is why we should herd these callings and also the examples as shown by St. Paul and the other faithful servants of God.

Today, we also mark the occasion of the Feast of St. Augustine of Canterbury, a dedicated servant of God, a courageous missionary and bishop who has spent many years as missionary in England to establish the Church and its structure and foundation there. His examples and good works should and can inspire us all to follow the Lord in the same sense. St. Augustine of Canterbury was sent from mainland Europe by Pope St. Gregory the Great, another great saint of the Church, to reestablish the Church in England after over two centuries that it was ravaged by the Anglo-Saxon invasions, and the Church there was isolated from the rest of Christendom.

St. Augustine of Canterbury laboured for many years in England, establishing a firm foothold for Christianity in southern and eastern parts of England, becoming the first bishop of the See of Canterbury. He converted many of the pagans and even their kings to the Christian faith. St. Augustine spent all those years ministering to the faithful and many others, despite the hardships and challenges that he had to face from those who refused to believe in the Lord. His good works and all that he had done for the sake of God and His Church should inspire each one of us to do the same as well.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we remember the glorious memory of St. Augustine of Canterbury, his actions and works, and St. Paul and the other servants of God, let us all continue to commit ourselves to the Lord in our own ways, and endeavour to live actively our Christian faith from now on. We should no longer be just idle onlookers or to be on standby mode anymore. As Christians we are all expected to follow the Lord faithfully and to spend our effort and time to glorify Him more and more each days, now and always. May God bless us all and strengthen us that we too may do great things like what the saints had done, for the glory of God and the salvation of all people. Amen.

Friday, 27 May 2022 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 16 : 20-23a

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly, I say to you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn to joy. A woman in childbirth is in distress because her time is at hand. But after the child is born, she no longer remembers her suffering because of such great joy : a human being is born into the world.”

“You feel sorrowful now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice; and no one will take your joy from you. When that day comes you will not ask Me anything.”

Friday, 27 May 2022 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 46 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7

Clap your hands, all you peoples; acclaim God with shouts of joy. For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared; He is a great King all over the earth.

He brings peoples under our dominion and puts nations under our feet. He chose our inheritance for us – the pride of Jacob whom He loves!

God ascends amid joyful shouts, the Lord amid trumpet blasts. Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!

Friday, 27 May 2022 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 18 : 9-18

One night, in a vision, the Lord said to Paul, “Do not be afraid, but continue speaking and do not be silent, for many people in this city are Mine. I am with you, so no one will harm you.” So Paul stayed a year and a half in that place, teaching the word of God among them.

When Gallio was governor of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the court. And they accused him, “This man tries to persuade us to worship God in ways that are against the Law.”

Paul was about to speak in his own defence when Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of misdeed or vicious crime, I would have to consider your complaint. But since this is a quarrel about teachings and divine names that are proper to your own law, see to it yourselves : I refuse to judge such matters.”

Then the people seized Sosthenes, a leading man of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal; but Gallio paid no attention to it. Paul stayed on with the disciples in Corinth for many days; he then left them and sailed off with Priscilla and Aquila for Syria. And as he was no longer under a vow he had taken, he shaved his head before sailing from Cenchreae.

Wednesday, 29 December 2021 : Fifth Day within Octave of Christmas, Memorial of St. Thomas Becket, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, all of us are called to reflect on the Law and commandments of God, on what each and every one of us have received through Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, all the truth and love that He has shown us. We have to live our lives virtuously and commit ourselves wholeheartedly as a holy people that God had called and chosen, and to whom God had sent His own beloved Son, that all of us may be saved through Him.

In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. John, we heard the the Apostle exhorting the faithful to be genuine in their faith, in how they ought to be following Christ, in all that He had done throughout His life. We are all called to be genuine and authentic witnesses of Christ’s truth and love in our respective communities and societies. Otherwise, we are no better than hypocrites and those who profess to be faithful and yet had no love or true faith in the Lord. This is why all of us are reminded by St. John to practice what we believe in our lives.

St. John especially exhorted all of us to be loving just as the Lord Himself has shown His love to us. We ought to follow Him with all of our strength and might, and do whatever we can to live our lives in accordance to the path that He has shown us. We should be truly genuine in our desire to follow Him and to commit ourselves to His path. We must not only show lip service but instead, obey the Lord’s commandments wholeheartedly, resist the temptations to sin and be ready to lead a good Christian life and be exemplary in that life and faith to our fellow brothers and sisters.

In our Gospel passage today we heard the account of the time when the Lord Jesus was presented at the Temple of God in Jerusalem in accordance to the Law by Mary and St. Joseph. At that time, they were met with the devout man of God named Simeon who was already very old and had been waiting and expecting the coming of the Lord and His salvation for a long time. He has been told that he would live to see the Saviour of the world with his very own eyes, and he did finally see Him as he beheld Jesus that day at the Temple of God.

It was there too that he proclaimed God’s words on the Child Jesus, speaking of the Sign that He has shown the world by His coming and all the wonders that He would do in fulfilling the many prophecies that had been made regarding Him. Simeon also spoke of what Mary herself would experience in the days to come, a premonition of her sorrow at the time of the Crucifixion, when she herself would witness her Son’s agony, suffering and death, and thus having her heart pierced with the greatest of sorrows.

What we have heard in our Gospel passage today is again another example of obedience to God, as the Presentation of the Lord was done in accordance with the Law of God, and marked the moment that the Lord was revealed and committed to the ministry that He had been sent to this world for. He was consecrated to God and marked as the One through Whom all that God had planned for the salvation of mankind would be fulfilled perfectly. It was the dedication of Christ as the future High Priest of all, preceding his role as the One to offer the worthy sacrifice for the atonement of our many sins.

Today, all of us as Christians should remind ourselves to be faithful to God and to dedicate ourselves to Him. And we should also emulate the good examples and inspiration given to us by the great saint whose life and works we celebrate today. St. Thomas Becket, also known as St. Thomas of Canterbury was the renowned Archbishop of Canterbury during the High Medieval era England, in his great passion serving the people of God and in his ministry, in his refusal to let the English king from having his ways in manipulating and controlling the Church, and finally his well-known martyrdom.

St. Thomas Becket was born into a merchant family who rose to become an efficient administrator and later on gained the trust and respect of King Henry II, the King of England. The king made St. Thomas Becket his Chancellor, and entrusted to him the governance of his kingdom. He became a close confidant of the king, and this was one of the main reasons why he was nominated by the king to become the new Archbishop of Canterbury, the most important position in the Church in England and also the leader of the Church and the other bishops in that kingdom.

The king most likely had wanted to bring the Church and its administration, as well as its income and wealth closer to the royal control. However, if he thought that by appointing his close friend, St. Thomas Becket, that he could achieve this, he was totally wrong. For St. Thomas Becket, after he had been formally appointed, ordained and enthroned as the Archbishop of Canterbury, he began to fiercely defend the independence of the Church from the secular control, especially from the king and his nobles. He strongly resisted the king’s efforts to interfere in the affairs of the Church.

The conflict between the king and Archbishop continued to grow such that there had been multiple tensions in which St. Thomas Becket stood his ground firmly against the king and his corrupt nobles’ actions and efforts. St. Thomas Becket even had to endure more than one exile for his dedication, having to flee to mainland Europe due to the threats against him. In the end, the Archbishop remained firmly faithful to the very end, and when the frustrated king spoke in his drunken rambles, some nobles went to St. Thomas Becket to murder him in cold blood, which enraged all of Christendom.

The faith and dedication showed by St. Thomas Becket should be a great inspiration for us to follow, in obeying the Lord and His laws and commandments, and not to fall into the temptations of this world. We have to follow in the footsteps of St. Thomas Becket in remaining virtuous and true to his calling despite the corrupt attitudes of his contemporaries and all those who pressured him and others to disobey the Lord by their own selfish and sinful actions. His courage and devotion to God should be our source of great strength and inspiration.

Let us all turn towards the Lord with renewed faith, vigour and zeal, and may the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us, so that we may always be courageous in living our faith despite the challenges we may encounter in this world. May God bless us all and our every good endeavours for His greater glory. Amen.

Wednesday, 29 December 2021 : Fifth Day within Octave of Christmas, Memorial of St. Thomas Becket, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 2 : 22-35

When the day came for the purification according to the law of Moses, they brought the Baby up to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord, as it is written in the law of the Lord : Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to God. And they offered a sacrifice, as ordered in the law of the Lord : a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

There lived in Jerusalem at this time a very upright and devout man named Simeon; the Holy Spirit was in him. He looked forward to the time when the Lord would comfort Israel, and he had been assured, by the Holy Spirit, that he would not die before seeing the Messiah of the Lord. So he was led into the Temple by the Holy Spirit at the time the parents brought the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the Law.

Simeon took the Child in his arms, and blessed God, saying, “Now, o Lord, You can dismiss Your servant in peace, for You have fulfilled Your word and my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You display for all the people to see. Here is the Light You will reveal to the nations, and the glory of Your people Israel.”

His father and mother wondered at what was said about the Child. Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary, His mother, “Know this : your Son is a Sign, a Sign established for the falling and rising of many in Israel, a Sign of contradiction; and a sword will pierce your own soul, so that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.”

Wednesday, 29 December 2021 : Fifth Day within Octave of Christmas, Memorial of St. Thomas Becket, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 95 : 1-2a, 2b-3, 5b-6

Sing to the Lord a new song, sing to the Lord, all the earth! Sing to the Lord, bless His Name.

Proclaim His salvation day after day. Recall His glory among the nations, tell all the peoples His wonderful deeds.

YHVH is the One Who made the heavens. Splendour and majesty go before Him; power and glory fill His sanctuary.

Wednesday, 29 December 2021 : Fifth Day within Octave of Christmas, Memorial of St. Thomas Becket, Bishop and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 2 : 3-11

How can we know that we know Him? If we fulfil His commands. If you say, “I know Him,” but do not fulfil His commands, you are a liar and the truth is not in you. But if you keep His word, God’s love is made complete in you. This is how we know that we are in Him : he who claims to live in Him must live as He lived.

My dear friends, I am not writing you a new commandment, but reminding you of an old one, one you had from the beginning. This old commandment is the word you have heard. But, in a way, I give it as a new commandment that is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and true light already shines.

If you claim to be in the light but hate your brother, you are still in darkness. If you love your brothers and sisters, you remain in the light and nothing in you will make you fall. But if you hate your brother you are in the dark and walk in darkness without knowing where you go, for the darkness has blinded you.

Thursday, 27 May 2021 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are reminded of the most wonderful works of God in our midst, that exist all around us and which He has done for our sake, providing for us and blessing us with many wonderful things, which unfortunately often ignored by many of us. Many among us have not realised just how much God has done for us, and just how wonderfully beloved we have been. We have not opened our eyes and our hearts to recognise God’s love for us.

That is why then in the Gospel reading today we heard about the Lord healing the blind beggar, Bartimaeus, who begged Him to heal him and restore his sight. And despite the ridicule and the efforts of the crowd to silence him, Bartimaeus continued to ask for the Lord, shouting out for Him and calling on Him to show mercy towards Him because he truly believed that the Lord could heal him and make him whole again. And that was how Bartimaeus, the blind beggar was healed and restored his sight, by his great faith in the Lord.

Bartimaeus was blind, and he was unable to see any light, as his eyes had failed him. The Lord opened his eyes again and restored his ability to see the light and all things surrounding him. He sought the Lord for healing, and the Lord healed him. And through what we have heard about Bartimaeus and his healing by the Lord, we are actually reminded to seek God’s healing for our own predicament and illness, that we too may be healed and may be made whole again just as Bartimaeus had been made whole.

Why do we need healing, brothers and sisters in Christ? Some of us may wonder why we need healing or why we have the need to seek the Lord. That is in fact because we are all, even though we may be perfectly good in health and in our physical selves, but we are suffering from sin, afflicted by this disease that is affecting us and will end up destroying us unless we have them resolved by none other than the Lord. The Lord alone has the power to heal us from our sins, as unlike any other ailments of this world, no one can forgive sin but God alone.

Hence, we need to seek the Lord and ask Him for His healing and forgiveness for our sins, so that we may be freed from bondage to those sins and be brought to a new life filled with grace, in the presence of God. We should also realise that we are really fortunate that God Himself always wants us to be reconciled to Him and to be freed from our sins, just as He wanted to heal Bartimaeus and how He recognised the faith that the blind beggar had in Him. Hence, we too need to have that faith in the Lord as well.

Today we are all called as Christians to have genuine faith in the Lord and to devote ourselves, our efforts and attention, our time and our energy to serve the Lord, to walk on His path and to remain true to Him, even when we may encounter trials and challenges, ridicule and sufferings along the way. Just as Bartimaeus was insistent despite being ridiculed and opposed by all those who were around him, we also have to be insistent and committed in our faith, as best as we are able to.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Augustine of Canterbury, a great missionary and servant of God, the first Bishop of Canterbury in England, as he went to that land, reestablishing the Church hierarchy and presence in England after barbarian invasions in the preceding centuries destroyed much of the Church infrastructures and presence established earlier during the Roman times. Pope St. Gregory the Great sent St. Augustine of Canterbury to England with the mission for the conversion of souls, and St. Augustine of Canterbury dedicated himself to his mission.

Through his tireless works, St. Augustine of Canterbury did not just manage to establish a firm foundation of the Church in England, but he also managed to convince even some of the local rulers and kings to convert to the Christian faith. St. Augustine of Canterbury spent a lot of time in patiently reaching out to the pagans and the believers alike, and beginning many other missions that would end up in converting the entirety of England to the faith within a century or so. St. Augustine of Canterbury is therefore remembered for his great contributions and faith, which should become source of inspiration for all of us.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we willing and able to follow the Lord wholeheartedly from now on? Are we able to commit ourselves like St. Augustine of Canterbury and so many other saints and our holy predecessors had done? Let us all seek the Lord with all of our hearts from now on, and be like Bartimaeus in his faith and belief in the Lord’s love and providence. May the Lord be with us all and may He strengthen all of us with faith. Amen.

Thursday, 27 May 2021 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Mark 10 : 46-52

At that time, Jesus and His disciples came to Jericho. As Jesus was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar, Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth passing by, he began to call out, “Son of David, Jesus, have mercy on me!”

Many people scolded him and told him to keep quiet, but he shouted all the louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called the blind man, saying, “Take heart! Get up, He is calling you!” He immediately threw aside his cloak, jumped up and went to Jesus.

Then Jesus asked him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” The blind man said, “Master, let me see again!” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way, your faith has made you well.” And, immediately, he could see, and he followed Jesus along the road.