Monday, 14 May 2018 : Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast of one of the Twelve holy Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is St. Matthias the Apostle, the one who was chosen out of the original disciples of the Lord Jesus who followed Him from the beginning, in order to replace Judas Iscariot, the traitor. St. Matthias was chosen after the Apostles prayed to the Lord asking for His guidance in the decision-making.

Judas Iscariot was called to be an Apostle, but he failed in the process of doing so, as he was unable to resist the temptation of worldly riches and wealth, that he ended up selling off his Lord for just a mere thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave at that time. And not just that, but as mentioned in the Gospels, Judas Iscariot also frequently helped himself to the money which he held, supposedly for the expenses of the Apostles, meaning that he was corrupt in action and mind.

And therefore, as he was unworthy, and refused to be forgiven, by his despair and suicide after having betrayed the Lord, his place among the Twelve Apostles was vacated, and replaced with someone else more deserving and worthy, and God chose St. Matthias to be this replacement. And hence, St. Matthias from then on became a member of the Twelve Apostles, the principal disciples of Christ.

However, we may think that such a position and appointment brought about great honour and glory for the Apostles. Indeed, that was what the Apostles themselves thought, when they were first called by the Lord. They bickered among themselves, wondering who among them was the greatest, and indeed, asking the Lord who would be the one greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

And in one occasion, the mother of two of the Twelve, St. James and St. John, came to the Lord Jesus and asked Him to grant her children special favour and position before the Lord. However, the Lord rebuked her and the two Apostles, as well as the other Apostles who were angered by the actions of the two and their mother, because of their pursuit for power, influence and worldly glory.

This then highlights the truth and reality of being Christ’s followers, and foremost of all, His Twelve Apostles, whom He had chosen from among His many disciples to be His closest confidants. They might have come from various backgrounds, from backgrounds some at the time, and even in our present day may consider to be unworthy, as many of them were uneducated and unintelligent, but God chose those whom He deemed to be deserving and worthy.

He empowered them and gave them the strength and courage, through the Holy Spirit He sent to them. He made them to be His great servants, through which many souls have been saved from certain damnation. Many had been called by the Lord through His Apostles, led by the Twelve, including St. Matthias. However, they also encountered great challenges and tribulations. They suffered for the sake of God and His Church, and yet they remained true to their mission.

And the mission which God had given to them has been laid out in today’s Gospel passage, where the Lord spoke to them about the commandment of love. They are told to reflect and imitate the same love that He has with His Father, and this is what He truly wants all of His followers to do, the two important commandments of love, that is loving God and then loving one another, and doing it with all of our ability and strength.

And all of us therefore, as Christians, are called to show the same love in our actions and in how we live our lives. We must first of all, love the Lord our God, and devote ourselves wholeheartedly to Him, regardless of whether things are good or bad for, whether in happy times or difficult and sad times. This may be easier said than done, as many of us can say that we love God, and yet, in our actions, we are always tempted to serve our own desires and wants first, and we relegate God to a secondary importance in our lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, St. Matthias and the other Apostles showed great dedication and love for God. They had such great such faith and love for God, that when the situation called for it, they did not hesitate to lay down their lives for Him, when they were persuaded, then coerced, forced and tortured in order to give up their faith and save themselves. They rather chose death instead of life, but betraying their Lord.

And they showed this same love to one another, to each and every members of the Church of God. They showed God’s love through their own loving actions, being genuinely caring and compassionate, towards those who are in need, exhibiting the true meaning behind Christian love and fellowship. Through them many people came to believe in the Lord, as they saw what these faithful servants of God had done in their midst.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to do the same with our own lives? Are we able to love the Lord our God, and our fellow brethren in the same way? This is what each and every one of us are challenged as Christians, that we should emulate the examples shown to us by the Apostles. Let us all therefore devote ourselves, wholeheartedly and commit ourselves anew to the Lord. May the Lord be with us all, and through the intercession of St. Matthias and the Apostles, may we draw ever closer to God, each and every day of our lives. Amen.

Monday, 14 May 2018 : Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 15 : 9-17

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “As the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you. Remain in My love! You will remain in My love if you keep My commandments, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love.”

“I have told you all this, that My own joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete. This is My commandment : Love one another as I have loved you! There is no greater love than this, to give one’s life for one’s friends; and you are My friends, if you do what I command you.”

“I shall not call you servants any more, because servants do not know what their master is about. Instead, I have called you friends, since I have made known to you everything I learnt from My Father. You did not choose Me; it was I Who chose you and sent you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. And everything you ask the Father in My Name, He will give you.”

“This is My command, that you love one another.”

Monday, 14 May 2018 : Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 112 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8

Alleluia! Praise, o servants of YHVH, praise the Name of YHVH! Blessed be the Name of YHVH now and forever!

From eastern lands to the western islands, may the Name of YHVH be praised! YHVH is exalted over the nations; His glory above the heavens.

Who is like YHVH our God, Who sits enthroned on high, but also bends down to see on earth as in heaven?

He lifts up the poor from the dust and the needy from the ash heap. He makes them sit with princes, with rulers of His people.

Monday, 14 May 2018 : Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Acts 1 : 15-17, 20-26

It was during this time that Peter stood up in the midst of the community – about one hundred and twenty in all – and he said, “Brothers, it was necessary that the Scriptures referring to Judas be fulfilled. The Holy Spirit had spoken through David about the one who would lead the crowd coming to arrest Jesus. He was one of our number and had been called to share our common ministry.”

“In the Book of Psalms it is written : ‘Let his house become deserted and may no one live in it.’ But it is also written : ‘May another take his office.’ Therefore, we must choose someone from among those who were with us during all the time that the Lord Jesus moved about with us, beginning with John’s baptism until the day when Jesus was taken away from us. One of these has to become, with us, a witness to His resurrection.”

Then they proposed two : Joseph, called Barsabbas, also known as Justus, and Matthias. They prayed : “You know, Lord, what is in the hearts of all. Show us, therefore, which of the two You have chosen to replace Judas in this Apostolic ministry which he deserted to go to the place he deserved.”

Then they drew lots between the two and the choice fell on Matthias who was added to the eleven Apostles.

Thursday, 3 May 2018 : 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 day of two of Christ’s great Apostles, counted among the Twelve. St. Philip was the Apostle renowned for his great intellect and wisdom even prior to being called by the Lord, and he was the one credited in the Acts of the Apostles for the baptism of the Ethiopian official. Meanwhile, St. James the Apostle, the one known as St. James the Lesser or St. James son of Alpheus, was relatively little mentioned in the Scriptures, but was credited with many evangelisation work in various places.

In today’s first reading, St. Paul, another Apostle spoke a testimony of his faith in the Lord, telling the faithful in the city of Corinth about how the Apostles were the beginning and the foundation of the Church, as they witnessed the events surrounding the life of Jesus, His ministry, His marvellous works and miracles, His suffering and Passion, His crucifixion and death, and then, His glorious resurrection and ascension into heaven.

In the Gospel today, the Lord also spoke to His disciples and the Twelve Apostles, about Himself, and the truth about Himself, as the Messiah and the Son of God, the One promised to all of mankind by God ever since the beginning of time. But at that time, as St. Philip uttered to the Lord, “Show us the Father”, the disciples were still unable to comprehend all the things that the Lord had shown them, despite all the deeds and miracles He had done before them.

The Lord taught them and opened their eyes, and later on, after His resurrection, He sent them the Holy Spirit, Who descended on them and dwelled in them, giving them the strength and the courage to go on with their appointed mission, preaching the Good News of the Gospel to the people all over the world. They carried on God’s truth upon the people living in ignorance and darkness, and despite the challenges they faced, they remained strong and faithful.

But as we have seen, the Apostles were not strong people at the start, and neither were they very firm in their faith. They were once also ignorant, and many of them were called by the Lord from the most undesirable of origins, at least according to the standards of the time. Some of them were uneducated fishermen of the lake of Galilee, while others were murderers and rebels, and one was a tax collector.

Yet, it was not mankind who decided what one would become, as man often looked only at the superficial matters and not at the heart and the mind. But God looked inside the heart and the mind, and He saw in the Apostles, a heart with the capacity for faith, for hope and for love. It was all these qualities which eventually allowed them to be open to God working His power and wonders through them.

Now, all of us have to realise that each and every one of us as Christians must also walk in the same path as those Apostles had walked. They dedicated their whole lives to the Lord, caring for the needs of the Church and all the faithful. All of us are also called to this same mission, as the works of the Apostles are still ongoing and not yet completed. There are still more people out there who have not yet heard of the Word of God and the Good News of His salvation.

And how do we carry on our lives from now on then? It is not by going to the streets and preach openly about God. Rather, we must be thoroughly transformed in our lives, just as the Apostles had been, in all of our words, actions and deeds, so that, others may see us and believe in God through us. We are all called to be active disciples of the Lord, living out our faith through our daily actions.

Let us all draw ever closer to the Lord, and be ever more faithful, day after day, inspired by the courage and the faith of the Apostles. Let us all seek to love the Lord ever more devoutly, and find our way to bring greater glory of God through all we do in our lives. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 3 May 2018 : 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.”

Thursday, 3 May 2018 : 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.