Friday, 1 July 2022 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 9 : 9-13

At that time, as Jesus moved on from the place where He cured a paralytic man, He saw a man named Matthew, at his seat in the custom house; and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And Matthew got up and followed Him.

Now it happened, while Jesus was at table in Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners joined Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is it, that your Master eats with sinners and tax collectors?”

When Jesus heard this, He said, “Healthy people do not need a doctor, but sick people do. Go, and find out what this means : What I want is mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Friday, 1 July 2022 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 118 : 2, 10, 20, 30, 40, 131

Blessed are they who treasure His word and seek Him with all their heart.

I seek You with my whole heart; let me not stray from Your commands.

My soul is consumed with desire for Your ordinances at all times.

I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart upon Your laws.

Oh, how I long for Your precepts! Renew my life in Your righteousness.

I gasp in ardent yearning, for Your commandments that I love.

Friday, 1 July 2022 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Amos 8 : 4-6, 9-12

Hear this, you, who trample on the needy, to do away with the weak of the land. You who say, “When will the new moon or the Sabbath feast be over that we may open the store and sell our grain? Let us lower the measure and raise the price; let us cheat and tamper with the scales, and even sell the refuse with the whole grain. We will buy up the poor for money and the needy for a pair of sandals.”

YHVH says, “On that day, I will make the sun go down at noon; and darken the earth in broad daylight. I will turn your festivals into mourning and all your singing into wailing. Everyone will mourn, covered with sackcloth; and every head will be shaved. I will make them mourn, as for an only son, and bring their day to a bitter end.”

YHVH says, “Days are coming when I will send famine upon the land; not hunger for bread or thirst for water, but for hearing the word of YHVH. Men will stagger from sea to sea, wander to and fro, from north to east, searching for the word of YHVH; but they will not find it.”

Thursday, 30 June 2022 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Scriptures reminding us of the works of God among us, which we often refused to heed or believe in, resulting in many of us choosing down the path of rebellion and disobedience against God, not trusting in God but instead in our own ways and choices, which we often made in contrary to His will, and not following God and His path. As a result, this led to some of us falling deeper and deeper into the path of sin, and we have to avoid that.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Amos detailing the conversation between Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, of the northern kingdom of Israel, and Amos, the prophet of God. At that time, the northern kingdom of Israel had long rebelled against God and the House of David, following their own path and way of worship, ever since the first king of that northern kingdom, Jeroboam, but not the Jeroboam mentioned in today’s passage, led the people into sin by establishing a parallel centre of worship in Bethel, in opposition to the one and true God Who ought to be worshipped at that time in Jerusalem.

Amaziah complained to this other king Jeroboam, the second Jeroboam to rule over the northern kingdom just a few decades before its ultimate destruction by the Assyrians. Amaziah as the priest of Bethel, likely representing the same pagan worship as instituted by the first king Jeroboam, found Amos, his works and prophecies to be a great annoyance and interference in his domain, and Amaziah complained to the king himself for what the prophet Amos had prophesied against the king and the northern kingdom itself.

Amaziah himself tried to push Amos away and told him off by telling him to go back to his native land of Judah. Yet, to this Amos immediately countered by saying that his mission and calling, and everything he had done come from the Lord and how God called him to do His will. Amos was to be the one to proclaim a warning and judgment of the Lord on the Israelites in the northern kingdom for all of their continued rebellion against God and refusal to obey His Law and their unwillingness to listen to the words of the many prophets that had been sent to their midst.

In our Gospel passage today, similarly we heard the case of when the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, some of whom criticised the Lord harshly for His words in proclaiming forgiveness of sins in the midst of Him healing a man who had been paralysed. The Lord had pity on the man and helped him, healing him from his troubles, and through that occasion, He also highlighted that as the Holy One of God, the Son, the Divine Word Incarnate, He has the authority to forgive sins and to deliver us from those sins, and to heal us from our afflictions, be it physical or spiritual in nature.

We heard how the Lord encountered tough opposition not only in what we encountered in the Gospel passage today but also in other occasions, where He and His disciples had to go up against the forces of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law arrayed against them. It was just like how at the time of the prophet Amos who had to go against the wickedness and stubbornness of the people of Israel, whose pride and arrogance in refusing to listen to God became their undoing. Their downfall was because they were not humble enough to admit that they were wrong and mistaken in their path, and unfortunately many among the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law fell into that same path.

Hence, brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s Scripture readings ought to highlight to us how as Christians each and every one of us are challenged to embrace God’s calling for us all to be great missionaries and witnesses of our faith in the midst of our various communities, within our families and circles of friends and acquaintances among others. Each one of us are called to be like the prophet Amos, and to be like the Lord Himself in standing up courageously for our faith in the midst of opposition and challenges that we may face in our journey of faith. However, it is not just that, as we are also called to be ever vigilant and on guard against the threat from our pride, ego, greed and desire, all of which could lead us down the wrong path to ruin.

Today, we all should follow the good examples of the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church, those who have defended their faith and committed themselves to the Lord in the face of suffering and persecutions. They were the ones who suffered with St. Peter and St. Paul, whose great Solemnity we have just celebrated yesterday. These First Martyrs of the Roman Church were those who were persecuted, arrested and killed during the years of the first Great Persecution of Christians done by the Roman Emperor Nero, during which many were afflicted and even martyred for their faith, and for their refusal to abandon the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all hence renew our faith and commitment in God, following the examples of our holy predecessors and that of the Lord Himself, and while also being vigilant and heeding the warning of what we should not be doing based on what we have heard in our Scripture passages today. Let us all strive to be good examples and inspiration to one another through our life and actions, all throughout this life, now and always, evermore. Amen.

Thursday, 30 June 2022 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Matthew 9 : 1-8

At that time, Jesus got back into the boat, crossed the lake again, and came to His hometown. Here, they brought to Him a paralysed man, lying on a bed. Jesus saw their faith and said to the paralytic, “Courage, My son! Your sins are forgiven.”

Some teachers of the Law said within themselves, “This Man insults God.” Jesus was aware of what they were thinking; and said, “Why have you such evil thoughts? Which is easier to say : ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? But that you may know, that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins,” He said to the paralysed man, “Stand up! Take your stretcher and go home!”

The man got up, and went home. When the crowds saw this, they were filled with awe, and praised God for giving such power to human beings.

Thursday, 30 June 2022 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 18 : 8, 9, 10, 11

The Law of the Lord is perfect : it gives life to the soul. The word of the Lord is trustworthy : it gives wisdom to the simple.

The precepts of the Lord are right : they give joy to the heart. The commandments of the Lord are clear : they enlighten the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is pure, it endures forever; the judgments of the Lord are true, all of them just and right.

They are more precious than gold – pure gold of a jeweller; they are much sweeter than honey which drops from the honeycomb.

Thursday, 30 June 2022 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Amos 7 : 10-17

Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, then sent word to king Jeroboam of Israel, “Amos is conspiring against you in the very centre of Israel; what he says goes too far. These are his very words : Jeroboam shall die by the sword and Israel shall be exiled from its land.”

Amaziah then said to Amos, “Off with you, seer, go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there by prophesying. But never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is a king’s sanctuary and a national shrine.”

Amos replied to Amaziah, “I am not a prophet or one of the fellow prophets. I am a breeder of sheep and a dresser of sycamore trees. But YHVH took me from shepherding the flock and said to me : Go, prophesy to My people Israel. Now hear the word of YHVH, you who say : No more prophesy against Israel, no more insults against the family of Isaac!”

“This is what YHVH says : Your wife shall be made a harlot in the city, your sons and daughters shall fall by the sword, your land shall be divided up and given to others, and you, yourself, shall die in a foreign land, for Israel shall be driven far from its land.”

Wednesday, 29 June 2022 : Solemnity of St. Peter and St. Paul, Apostles (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Church celebrates the occasion of the Solemnity of St. Peter and St. Paul, two of the great Apostles of the Lord, courageous and most faithful servant of God, who have dedicated their whole lives to the glory of God, fulfilling the calling and mission which the Lord had entrusted to both of them, as most important pillar, support and foundation of the whole Church in this world. St. Peter and St. Paul are honoured together as the Apostles of Rome, the heart and centre of all Christendom, the seat of the Pope as the Vicar of Christ and successor of St. Peter as the leader of the entire Universal Church and all the faithful.

St. Peter was the leader of all the Apostles as the Prince of the Apostles; and leader over all the faithful, appointed by God Himself to be the Rock and foundation of the Church and as His Vicar on earth. In that capacity, St. Peter is the one representing the one true Head of the Church, the Chief Shepherd of all, none other than Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, our Lord and Saviour. St. Peter became the Vicar of Christ, the one entrusted with the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and with the leadership over all the whole entire Universal Church. He has been entrusted with the leadership and maintenance of the Church, and his role as Vicar is truly a very important one.

Through him and his leadership, and by the succession of all those who was chosen to be his successor, St. Peter became the visible symbol of unity and the one upon whom all the faithful throughout Christendom orientate themselves towards, in following his examples and that of his successors, that through them they may come towards God and find their way towards Him through the Church. As the first Pope and Bishop of Rome, St. Peter in his many other works and capacities helped to maintain the unity of the Church and to resolve the issues arising among the faithful communities at that time, as shown in his leadership during the First Council of Jerusalem as listed in the Acts of the Apostles, resolving with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the other Apostles, the matter of whether the Gentiles ought to be bound by the Jewish laws and customs or not.

Meanwhile, St. Paul the Apostle was the great evangeliser and labourer of faith, known as the Apostle to the Gentiles, establishing the roots and the foundation of the Church in numerous places throughout the known world at that time, in conjunction with the efforts of many other Apostles and disciples of the Lord, working together with many missionaries and people of God, in courageously proclaiming His truth and love to the whole world, letting everyone know of the salvation in Jesus Christ and all that had been revealed through His Church and His Apostles. He travelled on many missionary journeys to various parts of the Mediterranean world with various companions, intent on bringing God closer to the people who had not yet known Him.

St. Paul also wrote extensively in many Epistles or letters to the various congregations and communities of the faithful, many of which were included in the New Testament as part of the Sacred Scriptures, in which the Apostle inspired many of the faithful and exhorted them to avoid the path of sin, entrusting themselves to God and to turn towards God with faith. He helped to resolve issues and divisions among the faithful communities, and endured many trials and challenges in the midst of his efforts, some of which we can read in the Acts of the Apostles.

As we can see from the great many list of things that these two Apostles had done, we certainly must have thought that these two men were extraordinary people that were truly special and mighty, unlike that of us. But this is where we cannot be more wrong, brothers and sisters in Christ. The two Apostles, like many other Apostles, saints and other great and holy men and women of God, all of them were just like us, they were ordinary people and sinners, just like us. They were no more special and worthy before God just like us all. However, they all entrusted themselves to the Lord and allowed Him to guide them and help them to walk down the path of grace.

St. Peter was a mere poor and illiterate fisherman of the lake of Galilee, who was uneducated, brash and can be violent at times. He did not have the eloquence, skill or intelligence to become the so-called ideal leader of all the faithful. He gave in to the temptation of Satan and tried to persuade the Lord to stay away from His mission only for the Lord to rebuke him and Satan who was misleading him then. He denied knowing the Lord publicly not just once but three times, just not long after proclaiming that he would give his own life in exchange for the Lord, and he fled in shame and wept bitterly for that weakness.

Meanwhile, St. Paul was once known as Saul, a young and overzealous Pharisee born in Tarsus, who became a very ardent and violent opponent of the Lord and His followers from early on, as he embarked on a campaign of extermination of Christians and all those who profess faith in Jesus Christ, or believing in His teachings or propagating them, as a great enemy of all the faithful. This was a person who was although intelligent and capable, but in his actions and identity was the most unlikely person to be chosen as one of the followers of Christ, less still to become one of the Apostles and considered as one of the Lord’s greatest champions.

All these showed us today that God did not choose the perfect to be His disciples or to do His will. We are all flawed after all, sinners and unworthy of God’s great goodness and perfection. Yet, God called and empowered those whom He had called and chosen to be His followers and disciples. He gave them Wisdom, guidance and strength, through the Holy Spirit Whom He had bestowed upon them. He led them down the path that He has pointed out to them, and provided them help and assistance along the way. In that way, St. Peter and St. Paul had did many wonderful deeds for the greater glory of God, in caring for the needs of the flock, in their establishment of a stable and growing, vibrant Church which they patiently guided and nurtured.

And they followed the Lord faithfully and wholeheartedly, devoting their time and effort to serve the Lord and His people, and even having to endure many persecutions and trials, for the sake of doing their best to bring God’s salvation to more and more people around the world. Through their perseverance and efforts, God’s words and truth are brought to the knowledge and attention of many people, and many more souls have been brought from the precipice of destruction into salvation in God and eternal life. All of that were thanks to the efforts of the Apostles like St. Peter and St. Paul, who gave their all to the Lord, even their lives.

St. Peter was persecuted and was eventually martyred during the great Roman persecution, in which Christians especially all around Rome were persecuted for their faith, beginning with the persecution by the Emperor Nero. St. Peter was crucified, and while he was to be crucified, as the sign of his great humility, he asked not to be crucified in the same way as his Lord and Saviour. St. Peter asked to be crucified upside-down and it was in that way that he glorified God by his martyrdom in faith. St. Paul was also persecuted in similar persecution, and according to tradition, he was martyred by beheading during the height of the Neronian persecution.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having heard of the great examples and faith of these two great Apostles, the Patron Saint of Rome and the whole Universal Church, let us then ask ourselves, have we responded to God’s call and commit ourselves to the missions which He has entrusted to each and every one of us? Or are we still ignorant and reluctant to follow the Lord or to entrust ourselves to Him? The choice is ours, brothers and sisters in Christ, and unless we commit ourselves more fully to the Lord, then we are not yet doing what we should as Christians in our daily living. What are we then going to do about that?

Let us all hence seek the Lord with renewed faith and commit ourselves in the spirit of St. Peter and St. Paul, inspired by the examples and the lives that they had led. May God be with us always and empower us all to follow in the footsteps of the faithful Apostles, at all times and in all opportunities we have in life. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 29 June 2022 : Solemnity of St. Peter and St. Paul, Apostles (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Matthew 16 : 13-19

At that time, Jesus came to Caesarea Philippi. He asked His disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They said, “For some of them, You are John the Baptist; for others Elijah, or Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”

Jesus asked them, “But you, who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “It is well for you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for it is not flesh or blood that has revealed this to you, but My Father in heaven.”

“And now I say to you : You are Peter; and on this Rock I will build My Church; and never will the powers of death overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven : whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you unbind on earth shall be unbound in heaven.”

Wednesday, 29 June 2022 : Solemnity of St. Peter and St. Paul, Apostles (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

2 Timothy 4 : 6-8, 17-18

As for me, I am already poured out as a libation, and the moment of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. Now, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, with which the Lord, the just Judge, will reward me, on that day, and not only me, but all those who have longed for His glorious coming.

But the Lord was at my side, giving me strength, to proclaim the Word fully, and let all the pagans hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will save me from all evil, bringing me to His heavenly kingdom. Glory to Him forever and ever. Amen!