Friday, 3 May 2019 : Feast of St. Philip and St. James, Apostles (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast of not just one Apostles of Our Lord Jesus, but two of the Twelve Apostles, namely that of St. Philip and St. James the Greater. It is the same St. Philip and St. James mentioned in the Scripture passages today, which reminded us of the calling to which those Apostles have been called to do, that is to become the bearers of God’s truth and salvation to the people.

St. Philip and St. James were among those whom God first called to be His followers and His disciples, to be the witnesses of all the things that He has done before them, and the truth which He has taught and revealed to all the people of God. They were called to be the pillars of His Church, which He founded on the Apostles, as the rock of faith of Peter and his fellow Apostles, who became important pillars of support of the then young and growing Church.

St. Philip was remembered for his missionary activity in Samaria, the lands north of Judea, where he preached to the Samaritans to whom the Lord has also taught, and it was recorded in the Acts of the Apostles that he encountered the official of the queen of the Ethiopians, and he convinced the official so well that the official asked to be baptised and brought the faith with him back to his homeland, thus marking the beginning of the Church in the then distant land of Ethiopia.

St. Philip also went to various other places, spreading the faith, performing miracles and calling on the people to become believers of God. He went to many parts of Syria, Asia Minor and also Greece, before he suffered martyrdom in the Greco-Roman city of Hierapolis, where his tomb supposedly was today. St. Philip according to Apostolic tradition preached so well that he converted even the governor’s wife, enraging the governor, who ordered the saint and his fellow companions, including St. Bartholomew, another Apostle, to be tortured and crucified upside down.

Even then, St. Philip did not stop to testify the faith and preach from the cross, converting many of those who have heard him preaching even at the door of death. And although they wanted to release him, St. Philip insisted that he remained on the cross, and thus, he entered into heavenly glory as a martyr, and by whose dedication and commitment, many had been saved, and many more were inspired by his faith and examples.

Meanwhile, St. James went to various places, preaching the faith, and it was told that he went even as far as Hispania, in what is presently Spain and Portugal, preaching the faith and the truth of God, sowing the seeds of Christianity in those faraway lands, and when he returned to Jerusalem, he was among the first of the Apostles to be martyred, as recorded also in the Acts of the Apostles, how king Herod imprisoned St. James and beheaded him in order to please the Sanhedrin and the Jewish opponents of the Lord.

Both St. Philip and St. James had dedicated their whole lives in commitment to God, giving their whole lives in service to the Lord, fulfilling the mission which God has entrusted to them. But their works were not yet completed, and they merely laid the foundation and the beginning from which many Christians throughout the centuries have been called to follow in their footsteps, in serving God and in committing themselves faithfully to God’s commandments.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us as Christians today are called to be followers of Christ in the model established by the Apostles, and we remember especially the memory of St. Philip and St. James, whose dedication and faith have become inspiration to many of us, to follow the Lord and to serve Him as they have once done, in their courageous and tireless efforts to bring God’s truth and salvation to His people.

Let us all therefore do the same in our own respective lives, brothers and sisters in Christ that each and every one of us will continue to serve the Lord faithfully, and commit ourselves wholeheartedly from now on, loving God and loving our fellow men, and becoming the beacons of God’s light and truth among the people of this world, so that all of us who are Christians may lead even many more of others to the Lord, to His truth and salvation.

Holy Apostles, St. Philip and St. James, pray for us all, that each and every one of us may be courageous and may be moved by your examples, that we may make good use of the talents and abilities God has given us in being bearers of His truth, that many more will come to believe in God and in His salvation, with the same conviction and courage, love and dedication as both of you had once shown. Amen.

Friday, 3 May 2019 : Feast of St. Philip and St. James, Apostles (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 14 : 6-14

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you know Me, you will know the Father also; indeed you know Him, and you have seen Him.”

Philip asked Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and that is enough.” Jesus said to him, “What! I have been with you so long and you still do not know Me, Philip? Whoever sees Me sees the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me?”

“All that I say to you, I do not say of Myself. The Father Who dwells in Me is doing His own work. Believe Me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; at least believe it on the evidence of these works that I do. Truly, I say to you, the one who believes in Me will do the same works that I do; and he will even do greater than these, for I am going to the Father.”

“Everything you ask in My Name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. Indeed, anything you ask, calling upon My Name, I will do.”

Friday, 3 May 2019 : Feast of St. Philip and St. James, Apostles (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 18 : 2-3, 4-5

The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament proclaims the work of His hands. Day talks it over with day; night hands on the knowledge to night.

No speech, no words, no voice is heard – but the call goes on throughout the universe, the message is felt to the ends of the earth.

Friday, 3 May 2019 : Feast of St. Philip and St. James, Apostles (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

1 Corinthians 15 : 1-8

Let me remind you, brothers and sisters, of the Good News that I preached to you and which you received and on which you stand firm. By that Gospel you are saved, provided that you hold to it as I preached it. Otherwise, you will have believed in vain.

In the first place, I have passed on to you what I myself received that Christ died for our sins, as Scripture says; that He was buried; that He was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures; that He appeared to Cephas and then to the Twelve. Afterwards He appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters together; most of them are still alive, although some have already gone to rest.

Then He appeared to James and after that to all the Apostles. And last of all, He appeared to the most despicable of them, this is to me.

Thursday, 25 January 2018 : Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, Apostle, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate a great occasion in the history of our faith. In the history of the Church, as recording in the Scripture passages, we heard of the moment when a great enemy of God and His faithful ones, Saul, was converted to the faith, renouncing his former life and sinful past, and embracing the Lord as his Master, he eventually became a great defender and champion of the faith, St. Paul the Apostle.

Today we remember the moment of the conversion of St. Paul, when he was called by God from the depth of the darkness and into the new path in the light as the Lord had shown him. This is the pivotal moment in the history of the Church and our faith, as St. Paul would go on to perform many good works for the sake of the Church, ministering to many of the faithful in many cities throughout his journeys and travels across the Mediterranean, and in his many letters and writings to the faithful.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the calling and conversion of St. Paul is a reminder for each and every one of us as Christians, that all of us at one point in our own lives have also been called by the Lord in the same manner. We might not have experienced such a miraculous occasion as what St. Paul experienced, but surely God has also called all of us to follow Him, and by being Christians, it means that we have responded to His call.

Yet, many of us do not know what being a Christian truly mean. Some of us even went to the point of ridiculing and looking down on others just because they have not become Christians like ourselves. However, we did nothing in order to bring the Lord closer to the people mentioned. In fact, by our actions, our haughtiness and our indifference, we ended up distancing more and more people from God by our own actions.

First of all, we have to realise that God is calling everyone to Himself, to reconcile all those who have been sundered and separated from His love. We are all sinners and unworthy, and we are just like St. Paul who was once a great persecutor of the faithful, and sinned greatly against the Lord. Many other saints were also once great sinners, like St. Augustine, who once fell into a life of debauchery and sin during his youth days, even to the point of fathering a child out of wedlock.

But God called all of them, and they responded to God’s call in various ways. But what distinguished persistent sinners from saints, is the very fact that they allowed God to work His wonders in them, and they turned away from their sinful way of life, embracing a new way as shown to them by the Lord. They were deemed worthy because of their newfound commitment to God and to His people, and that was how they were made saints of the Church.

St. Paul was just one amongst the many other people who have experienced similar experience of conversion, but his is often highlighted simply because of his impact to the Church in its early years, and therefore, his critical importance and significance to the Church and the faithful as a whole. Certainly, no one who have lived during those years and times when St. Paul was still known as Saul, could have imagined that the fanatical and overzealous Pharisee could have become a great champion of God’s people.

Yet, that was what actually happened. And this is therefore an appropriate time for us to reflect on our own respective lives, based on what we know and from what we have heard with regards to the conversion of the great Apostle, St. Paul. It is a reminder that each one of us have also been called to a renewed life, turning away from our waywardness and from our sins.

What does this mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that all of us, while sinners, can become saints as well, if we are to follow the Lord and put our trust completely in His guidance. It is through our actions and deeds, by which we show our genuine faith in God, that we can draw ever closer to Him, and that we can follow in the footsteps of our forefathers in faith, all those deemed worthy by the Church to be saints and blesseds.

All of us are called to continue the mission entrusted by the Lord to His Apostles and disciples, which is the propagation of the Good News of His salvation, and by calling all to the same repentance and forgiveness, through baptism in the Holy Name of the Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. This mission is still ongoing, and there are still many people out there, who have yet to receive the Good News, and worse still, many more who have fallen away from the faith.

Let us all therefore do what we can, to follow in the footsteps of St. Paul the Apostle, in his courage and determination to live faithfully, by preaching the Good News of salvation, not only through words alone, but also through deeds, filled with love and genuine care for all of our fellow men. Let us all show love in our actions, by showing our care and concern for all those who are in need, especially those who are in most need of God’s love and mercy.

May the Lord continue to guide us and protect us on our way, that we will always walk faithfully in His path, and that day after day, we will draw ever closer to Him, so that by the end of it all, we may be worthy of sharing the glory of His saints, all those who were once sinners like us, and yet, by their determination and commitment, having received the crown of glory from the Lord, Who blessed them for their wonderful dedication and life consecrated to Him. St. Paul the Apostle, pray for us all sinners, that we may be strengthened by God to be ever faithful to Him. Amen.

Thursday, 25 January 2018 : Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, Apostle, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 16 : 15-18

At that time, Jesus told His disciples, “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all creation. The one who believes and is baptised will be saved; the one who refuses to believe will be condemned.”

“Signs like these will accompany those who have believed : in My Name they will cast out demons and speak new languages; they will pick up snakes, and if they drink anything poisonous, they will be unharmed; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”

Thursday, 25 January 2018 : Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, Apostle, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 116 : 1, 2

Alleluia! Praise YHVH, all you nations; all you peoples, praise Him.

How great is His love for us! His faithfulness lasts forever.