Wednesday, 27 December 2017 : Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast of the holy Apostle St. John, the brother of St. James the Apostle, and who happens to be also one of the four writers of the Book of the Gospels, and thus he is also known as St. John the Evangelist. He was the disciple whom the Lord Jesus loved and was always at His side, because of his great faith and devotion.

St. John was the only one among the Twelve Apostles who did not die from martyrdom, but died a peaceful death last among all of them, around a century after the birth of Our Lord Jesus, many decades after the events surrounding His crucifixion, death and resurrection. St. John died after having received the vision of the end of time, which he wrote in the Book of the Apocalypse or the Revelations according to St. John, the last book in our Bible.

He was the one to whom the Lord entrusted His mother Mary, and she lived with him from the moment when Jesus entrusted her to him from the cross. At the same time, He also entrusted him to her, to be her adopted son. St. John was also featured prominently in the other parts of the Gospels, as the one who was often present during important events in the life of Jesus, with St. Peter the Apostle, the leader of the Twelve, and with St. James, the brother of St. John.

Why was that St. John featured so prominently throughout the Gospels? That is because, while St. John was the youngest among all the Twelve Apostles, yet, despite of his youth, he was very faithful and devoted to the Lord. He was always listening to the Lord and was loyal to Him, even to the very end, when He was betrayed by Judas Iscariot. In the Gospel of St. John, he stayed behind and fled only when he was chased by the Temple guards.

And as mentioned in the Gospel passage today, St. John was among the first to witness the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, along with St. Peter the Apostle, and of course the women who went to the tomb earlier on that Easter Sunday. And he believed in all that he saw, the stone that was rolled off the tomb entrance, the missing Body of the Lord Jesus, and His promise that He would rise from the dead.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, St. John the Apostle and Evangelist showed all of us the way to follow the Lord, through faith, dedication and obedience. He had a pure faith and a committed heart, dedicated to serve and worship the Lord, and until the end of his earthly life, enduring one persecution after another, and one exile after another, including the one to the island of Patmos where he received the visions of the end times, St. John continued to be faithful, and helped many of the early Christians to continue persevering in the faith.

Let us all imitate his examples, and as Christians let us all have that strong and genuine faith in the Lord. Are we able to dedicate ourselves, our whole lives, and commit them to the Lord? This is what we need to do, if we are to become true disciples of the Lord, like that of St. John, and through our faith, just like his, we will inspire many others to do the same, and more people will be saved by our good works of faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, as we continue to rejoice in this wonderful and blessed Christmas season, let us all remember always of the reason of our joy, that is Christ, and with Christ as the focus and the centre of our lives, let us all always strive to live in accordance with His ways, and walk always in His grace. May the Lord bless all of us, and be with us always, all the days of our life. St. John the Apostle and Evangelist, pray for all of us sinners, that the Lord may eventually bring us to His eternal glory. Amen.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017 : Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 20 : 2-8

At that time, Mary of Magdala ran to Peter, and the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and she said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

Peter then set out with the other disciple to go out to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down and saw the linen cloths lying flat, but he did not enter. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and entered the tomb; he, too, saw the linen cloths lying flat.

The napkin, which had been around His head, was not lying flat like the other linen cloths, but lay rolled up in its place. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in; he saw and believed.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017 : Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 96 : 1-2, 5-6, 11-12

The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the distant islands be glad. Clouds and darkness surround Him; justice and right are His throne.

The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim His justice, all peoples see His glory.

He sheds light upon the upright, and gladness upon the just. Rejoice in the Lord, you who are blameless, and give praise to His holy Name.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017 : Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 1 : 1-4

This is what has been from the beginning, and what we have heard and have seen with our own eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, I mean the Word Who is Life…

The Life made Itself known, we have seen Eternal Life and we bear witness, and we are telling you of it. It was with the Father and made Himself known to us. So we tell you what we have seen and heard, that you may be in fellowship with us, and us, with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.

And we write this that our joy may be complete.

Thursday, 30 November 2017 : Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast day of one of the great Apostles, among the Twelve chosen by the Lord Jesus Christ, and this Apostle was also known to be the first among all of them to be called, as the first disciple of Jesus, right after He was baptised at the Jordan River by St. John the Baptist. St. Andrew the Apostle and the First Called was once a disciple of St. John the Baptist, but having heard from St. John himself that Jesus is the Lamb of God, the Messiah Who comes, he went on to become the disciple of Jesus.

And St. Andrew was the younger brother of St. Peter the Apostle, another very prominent Apostle, who is the first Vicar of Christ, the predecessor of our current Pope and Bishop of Rome. The Lord Jesus has established His Church in this world, founded upon the strong foundation of faith of the Apostles, and indeed the Apostles are the pillars of the Church, its support and strength. If not for all the good works and commitment of the Apostles, the Church as we know it today would not have existed.

The first Apostles were called by Jesus as He walked along the lake, and those were fishermen, as St. Peter and St. Andrew were, as well as St. James and St. John the Evangelist. They were plying their trade at the lakeside, catching fishes to be sold to the market as their livelihood, but the Lord called them to a greater purpose in life, that is to follow Him, to become His disciple, and therefore to commit and dedicate their whole lives to Him, to be His messengers of the Good News.

He called them to become the fishers of men, meaning that they would be the instruments through which God would call His people to Himself, to gather them in and to embrace them with reconciliation, love and compassion. They were the ones who would go on to preach the Good News of the Gospel in various areas and places, empowered and guided by the Holy Spirit, that they bore courageous witness to the Lord’s life, death and resurrection.

And thus St. Andrew also went on to preach the Gospel in various areas after the Lord ascended to heaven and the Apostles received the Holy Spirit. It was told that St. Andrew went through the area of what is now the Black Sea coasts, from the present day Turkey to Russia and the northern regions, and also to what was then Roman Greece, preaching the Gospel of Christ, and many were converted through his works.

In the end, the Roman authorities persecuted Christians throughout its realm, and St. Andrew was among those who were arrested and persecuted, and was put to death by crucifixion. Just like his brother, St. Peter the Apostle in Rome, who refused to die in the same way as the Lord had died on the cross, and thus was crucified upside down instead, St. Andrew was crucified on an X-shaped cross, which is now famously known as the cross of St. Andrew.

The life and work of St. Andrew the Apostle should become an inspiration to all of us as Christians, because we cannot think that the works of the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord are done or completed. There are still many things to be done, and the works of the Church are always ever present in our world, past, present and future to come. There are still many people out there who have not heard the Good News of the Lord, and even more importantly, there are many within the Church itself who have lapsed away from our faith.

All of us are the continuation of the Apostles, who have been called to the same mission that the Lord gave the Apostles and the other disciples just before He was about to be lifted up from us, ascending in His glory to heaven. He commanded all of the Church to go forth, and spread the Good News of God’s salvation to all parts of the world, that every people from every nations may come to God and receive holy baptism, and marked therefore as the Lord’s own people.

There are still many things which each and every one of us as Christians can do, to be part of the Church’s effort of evangelisation and missionary works. We do not have to follow the way of the Apostles strictly in a sense that we should go forth to many places and preach in the streets, or even encounter persecution and martyrdom. There are indeed those among us whom God has called for such a purpose, and then for others, we should begin with ourselves, in our own families and communities, and among those whom we know.

What does this mean? That means each and every one of us as Christians must preach the Gospel of Christ, not by mere words alone, but also through real and concrete actions based on our faith, listening to what the Lord had commanded us all to do, to love one another tenderly just as He has loved us, by showing love, mercy, care and compassion for the poor and for those who are less fortunate. Let us all do all these, that through us, many more will come to believe in the Lord and be saved.

May the Lord help us all Christians, that we too may also become the fishers of men as the Apostles had been, by living the faith we have with genuine commitment and sincerity, so that all those who see our faith will come to believe in God as well, and therefore together as one people we may receive eternal glory from Our Lord and rejoice with the Apostles forevermore. St. Andrew the Apostle, pray for us. Amen.

Thursday, 30 November 2017 : Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Matthew 4 : 18-22

At that time, as Jesus walked by the lake of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come, follow Me; and I will make you fish for people.”

At once they left their nets and followed Him. He went on from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John, in a boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. Jesus called them.

At once, they left the boat, and their father, and followed Him.

Thursday, 30 November 2017 : Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (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.