Tuesday, 3 May 2022 : Feast of St. Philip and St. James, Apostles (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Church celebrates the glorious Feast of not just one but two of the Lord’s glorious Apostles, two of the Twelve Apostles, namely that of St. Philip and St. James, the two faithful servants of God who had dedicated their lives in the service of God, and who had persevered despite the challenges and trials they had to endure as part of their ministry. Both of them laboured hard to spread the words of the Gospels and the Good News to the far corners of the world, enduring many sufferings and joy during their ministries, and eventually martyrdom for the sake of the Lord and His Church. They are celebrated together because historically, their relics were translated to Rome on the same day.

St. Philip was one of the Lord’s closest disciples who was mentioned in several occasions in the Gospels, especially in the Gospel of St. John, one of which accounts was part of our Gospel passage today. St. Philip was mentioned in today’s Gospel when he asked the Lord Jesus to show him and the other disciples the Father, God the heavenly Father Whom Jesus had been speaking about. This was met with the incredulous words from the Lord as He told St. Philip and the other disciples that they had seen the Father just as they had seen Him, all because He and the Father are One, and seeing Him means that one has seen the Father manifested in the flesh, as the Lord Jesus was indeed the Divine Word of God Incarnate.

St. Philip was also mentioned when the Lord miraculously fed five thousand men and many others with just five loaves of bread and two fishes, which was our Gospel passage just a few days ago. He was the one to present the food offered by a child to the Lord, and was also the one who introduced Nathanael, also known as St. Bartholomew the Apostle, to the Lord. He was also the one who proclaimed the Lord to the Ethiopian official as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles early in the Church history. And later on, he was also involved in many works of evangelisation, preaching the Gospels and the Good News to the people in far off places, in Greece, parts of Syria and Asia Minor in Phrygia.

Meanwhile, St. James, also known as St. James the Less, to distinguish him from St. James the Greater, the brother of St. John the Apostle, was identified as either St. James, son of Alphaeus or as St. James, one of the brothers or more accurately, relatives of the Lord Jesus. He was called ‘Less’ because of his relatively shorter stature as compared to St. James the Greater, and he was a relative of one other follower of Jesus, identified as Mary, wife of Cleopas. He was often widely credited with the authorship of the Epistle of St. James, and he was also involved in many evangelising missions in various places, although the details were less than that was available for St. Philip and the other more renowned Apostles.

Regardless of the details of their exact activities and involvements in the Church and its missions, what we all ought to know is the fact that each and every one of them and the other Apostles had dedicated their whole lives in the service of God, and having been encouraged and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, they had proclaimed the Lord with joy and fervour, seeking to glorify Him by their lives, by their every words and actions. And those Apostles did not fear even persecutions, trials, sufferings and challenges in life, and they bore their crosses with true dedication and love for God and His people.

As we come together today to celebrate and mark the great memories of these two wonderful saints, the Holy Apostles of Our Lord, St. Philip and St. James, we are all called to reflect on ourselves and on our own calling in life. Each one of us as Christians are disciples and followers of the Lord, and we are all called to the same mission that the Lord has entrusted to His Apostles. The Lord has given to us the mission to reach out to more people among the nations, that we may be the genuine witnesses of His truth, love and resurrection among all the people of God. We are the ones to be the beacons of God’s light in our respective communities today.

The question is, are we all ready and willing to embark on this journey of faith, together with God and following in the footsteps of the Apostles like St. Philip and St. James? Are we also willing to make sacrifices of time and effort, offering our best to serve the Lord and to be the examples and inspirations for one another, that we may ever be more courageous in living our lives with faith? Each and every one of us have been given and entrusted with the mission to call more and more people to the light and truth of God. We have to make that conscious effort to live our lives worthily and devote ourselves thoroughly to His cause from now on.

Let us all therefore do our best to serve the Lord by our every contributions, even to the smallest and seemingly least significant actions we do. For it is by our combined works and efforts that God will extend His reach and works ever more gloriously among His people. Let us all spend more time in building up our relationship with God and in deepening our understanding of our faith, so that we may be truly inspirational to all those who witness our lives and works. Let us walk in the path of the Apostles and do whatever we can to proclaim the Lord in each and every moments of our lives. May God bless us always in our every efforts and good works, now and forevermore. St. Philip and St. James, Holy Apostles of the Lord, pray for us sinners. Amen.

Tuesday, 3 May 2022 : 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.”

Tuesday, 3 May 2022 : 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.

Tuesday, 3 May 2022 : 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.

Tuesday, 22 February 2022 : Feast of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Church celebrates together the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle, a great celebration marking the unity of the Church through the leadership of the great Prince and leader of all the Apostles and his many successors throughout history up to this day. Today we remind ourselves of this unity we share as God’s one united people, in one flock of all the faithful, gathered together in His Presence and embrace.

We may find it strange that we are celebrating this Feast over a chair. What is so special about this chair that we are celebrating it in the first place? What is the significance of this Feast? As mentioned just earlier on, this Feast is a reminder of the unity that we as God’s people, from all the whole world share in the one Church, one leadership, with Christ as the Head of the Church, and with St. Peter and his successors as the Vicar of the one true Head of the Church, the Vicar of Christ, our Popes.

The celebration of the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter is not just a celebration over any random chairs or seats. Instead, we have to understand that in the context of the Church, the Chair here is the real and physical representation of the authority of the bishops as the seat of their authority. This seat is known as the Cathedra, from which the Cathedrals got their name from. It refers to the church where the Cathedra of the bishop is located at, as the physical and real symbol of his authority as the shepherd of the faithful in his diocese.

And for St. Peter the Apostle, who is the first Bishop of Rome and Pope, it is all the more special to all of us, for all of Christendom because he is not just like any other bishops, but he has been entrusted with the special role as the Vicar of Christ, as the one to lead the entire Universal Church. He and all of his successors have this special obligation and responsibility as the Vicar of the true Head of the Church, Jesus Christ, that the Chair of St. Peter is therefore that very powerful symbol of the universal authority and primacy that St. Peter and his successors, the Popes have on the entire Church.

Thus, while there is indeed an actual, physical chair used by St. Peter as a treasured relic that is placed at the Altar of the Chair of the Papal Basilica of St. Peter, but this is not just what we are celebrating today. Rather, through this great Feast of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle, we remember and celebrate the continued unity of the Church, all the flock of the Lord’s faithful under the guidance and the leadership of the Successor of St. Peter, our Pope Francis, the Vicar of Christ, remembering how he and his predecessors from St. Peter have dedicated themselves to lead the people of God in this often turbulent world.

Today we remember the words of the Lord Himself, establishing and entrusting the Church to St. Peter, whose name means the ‘Rock’ so that the Church He has established may be built upon the firm foundation of the Rock of faith that is St. Peter, and assisted with the strength of the pillars of the faith of the Apostles. Because of this, the Church is united to the Lord, the Chief Shepherd of all, the Good Shepherd, through the many shepherds whom He had called and appointed to lead and guide His people, His flock, that is the Apostles and their successors.

Now, therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as God’s people and His Church, let us do our best in whatever we can do to remain strongly united as one people and one Church, obeying God’s truth, Law and commandments which He had revealed and passed to us through His Church, through our shepherds, the Apostles and their successors, our Pope and the many bishops and priests that had faithfully served Him through all the ages. Let us entrust ourselves in the Lord ever more and strive to work more for the unity of the Church and pray for our Pope in particular and for the other bishops as well.

Like what St. Peter exhorted to the faithful and the elders of the Church in our first reading today, in one of his Epistles, we hope that our bishops will continue to serve the Lord faithfully, for the greater glory of God, giving themselves humbly to bear witness to their faith and to show good examples to all the faithful on how they ought to be faithful to the Lord. Today, we all ought to help them in their governance of the Church by our continued support, prayer and companionship, to remind them that we are one community of God’s faithful people, and they are our shepherds.

Let us give them our fullest support and do whatever we can in our own capacity, making use of whatever opportunities that God has given to us, so that we may continue to grow ever closer to the Lord under the leadership of Francis, our Pope, the Successor of St. Peter the Apostle. May the Lord continue to bless him and all the other bishops, our shepherds, that they may continue to faithfully serve the Lord and be faithful and committed in their courageous efforts to proclaim the Gospel and the salvation in God, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 22 February 2022 : Feast of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

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-Jona, 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.”

Tuesday, 22 February 2022 : Feast of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 22 : 1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.

He guides me through the right paths for His Name’s sake. Although I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are beside me : Your rod and Your staff comfort me.

You spread a table before me in the presence of my foes. You anoint my head with oil; my cup is overflowing.

Goodness and kindness will follow me all the days of my life. I shall dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.

Tuesday, 22 February 2022 : Feast of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Peter 5 : 1-4

I now address myself to those elders among you; I, too, am an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ, hoping to share the Glory that is to be revealed.

Shepherd the flock which God has entrusted to you, guarding it not out of obligation but willingly for God’s sake; not as one looking for a reward but with a generous heart; do not lord it over those in your care, rather be an example to your flock.

Then, when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will be given a crown of unfading glory.

Tuesday, 24 August 2021 : Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we mark the feast of St. Bartholomew the Apostle, one of the Twelve great Apostles of the Lord, and therefore we remember the memory of his great dedication and life, the time he has spent in following the Lord and carrying out His will, in the evangelisation of the world and the spreading of the truth and the Good News of the Gospels.

St. Bartholomew was, according to the Apostolic tradition, also known as Nathanael, whose story we heard in our Gospel passage today. We heard how Nathanael was called by the Lord to follow Him and become His disciples, and how he was initially skeptical of the Lord, when he heard that the Lord had come from the land of Galilee. He was one of the most qualified and educated among the disciples, an intellectual and knew the Law of God and the prophets well, and thus he knew that no prophet or Saviour would come from Galilee.

Yet, his doubts and hesitation were immediately dispelled when the Lord miraculously told him about himself and how He knew about him, where he was and the things that He would show him. Nathanael put behind his doubts and hesitation, embracing the Lord Jesus wholeheartedly as his Lord and Master, following Him for His ministry from then henceforth, being chosen as one of the Twelve, and becoming an Apostle later on, at the forefront of the early Church’s ministry and evangelisation.

It was told that St. Bartholomew went to various parts of the world, including India, Parthia and Mesopotamia, and parts of Asia Minor and Armenia, focusing on the eastern parts of the known world at the time, spending much time in spreading the word of God to the many people who have not yet heard or known about Him. He helped the other disciples and Apostles to establish firm foundations of Christian communities in various places, and instilled the truth of God among many others, leading to many embracing the call to God’s grace and salvation.

His mission brought him to Armenia where together with St. Jude Thaddeus, the other one of the Twelve Apostles, he helped to establish the Christian faith in Armenia, which would eventually become the first nation in the world to officially adapt Christianity as their state faith. It was there that St. Bartholomew was martyred, in the city of Albanopolis, due to him having successfully converted the local king into the Christian faith, which was then opposed by the king’s brother and the other nobles, who then arrested, tortured and executed St. Bartholomew by flaying.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we recall the great passion and dedication by which St. Bartholomew had given his life in dedication to the Lord, and as we seek to emulate his examples and be inspired by his deeds, we are all called to discern carefully on our own path in life. Are we capable of devoting ourselves to the Lord in the same manner, brothers and sisters in Christ? And are we willing to commit our time, effort, resources and attention to glorify the Lord daily and at all times, in our own words, actions and every deeds?

Today as we remember the courage and the faith of St. Bartholomew the Apostle, we are reminded that for all the great deeds he had done, it was all possible because the faithful Apostle entrusted himself completely to the Lord and gave himself completely to His cause, and allowed Him to lead him down the path of great virtue and succour for many others. We may be ordinary ourselves, but God called on the ordinary ones to follow Him, and made them worthy, and bestowed on them the strength and courage, the wisdom and intellect, and the power required for them to fulfil their calling.

Now it is really up to us all, brothers and sisters in Christ, whether we are willing to embrace the Lord wholeheartedly as St. Bartholomew and the other Apostles and disciples of the Lord had done. The Lord has called us all to follow Him and to walk in the path that He has shown us. It is up to us now to follow Him and to remain true to our faith, not by mere formality alone, but rather also through genuine actions and efforts, through our every contributions, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem to be.

Let us all therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, be the bearers of the truth of God, His faithful witnesses in our world today. Let us all be faithful to the Lord and walk in His path always, and be inspiration to one another, helping and supporting each other in our efforts and endeavours. May the Lord be with us all, and may He bless us in our every efforts and endeavours, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 24 August 2021 : Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 1 : 45-51

At that time, Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found the One Moses wrote about in the Law, and the prophets : He is Jesus, Son of Joseph, from Nazareth.”

Nathanael replied, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming, He said of him, “Here comes an Israelite, a true one; there is nothing false in him.” Nathanael asked Him, “How do You know me?” And Jesus said to him, “Before Philip called you, you were under the fig tree, and I saw you.”

Nathanael answered, “Master, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” But Jesus replied, “You believe because I said, ‘I saw you under the fig tree.’ But you will see greater things than that. Truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened, and the Angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”