Saturday, 30 November 2019 : Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the great feast of the Holy Apostle St. Andrew, the brother of St. Peter the Apostle, once a fisherman at the Lake of Galilee together with his brother and with the sons of Zebedee, St. James and St. John, and he was also known to be the one who was first called among the other Apostles, being the one who introduced the Lord to his brother and fellow fishermen.

That was why St. Andrew was also known as St. Andrew the First-Called, as according to the Gospel of St. John, he was one of the followers of St. John the Baptist, who introduced the Lord to his own disciples, some of whom, including St. Andrew, came to the Lord and St. Andrew would then introduce Him to St. Peter, St. James and St. John. He was mentioned again in the Gospel during the miraculous feeding of the five thousand men, as the Lord asked His disciples how much food they had, and St. Andrew responded.

Later on, after the Lord’s suffering, Passion, death and resurrection, St. Andrew with the other Apostles led by his brother, St. Peter began their evangelising missions and established the Church of God in various places and communities, and St. Andrew according to the tradition of the Church went to evangelise in the region around the Aegean Sea and the Black Sea, in what is now Greece, parts of Eastern Europe and southern Russia, parts of Cyprus and Georgia among many others.

St. Andrew laboured for a long time, enduring many challenges and difficulties throughout his ministry as he had to face opposition and rejections from those who refused to believe in the truth of Christ. He also founded a few Church dioceses and sees, of which the most important one dating to the present day was the See of Byzantium at the crossroads of Asia and Europe, where eventually a great new city and capital of the Roman Empire was built by the Emperor Constantine the Great, the city of Constantinople.

That is why St. Andrew is revered as the Apostolic origin and founder of the Patriarchal See of Constantinople, where his successors as the Archbishop of Constantinople and titled as the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople reigns. To this day, St. Andrew is revered for his role as a great Apostle of Christ, in his dedication to God’s works and in his tireless efforts to spread the Good News among many of the people and the communities that he had visited throughout his ministries.

Eventually, St. Andrew was also martyred like most of his brother Apostles, being crucified on an X-shaped cross, which is afterwards ever known as the Cross of St. Andrew. St. Andrew the Apostle gave his life and devoted his service to God, in defending his faith and in bringing forth God’s truth and salvation into this world. St. Andrew lived up to his calling as an Apostle, giving everything foe the sake of God and to glorify His Name by all of his works.

But if we think that St. Andrew the Apostle was truly an exceptional man that is beyond us or our means, then we are mistaken. Let us all remember that he was just a mere fisherman, a poor, humble and illiterate man who was probably unexceptional and ordinary in all things, except for one thing. St. Andrew had deep faith in God, the love and trust which he had placed in the Lord Jesus, in following Him with all of his heart and with all of his strength.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it was not St. Andrew who justified himself by his own talents, abilities, strengths or capabilities. On the other hand, it was God Who justified him, blessed him and the other Apostles and disciples with the strength, courage and wisdom to carry out the missions that God has called them to do, and which He has entrusted in their hands. God called St. Andrew and his fellow Apostles from humble backgrounds, that they might glorify Him through their works and actions.

Now, what matters is for us to realise that each and every one of us still have many things to do in our lives as Christians, as those whom God has also blessed with faith and called to be His servants and followers. We have been entrusted with the missions and works that the Lord Himself had entrusted to the Apostles, as we are supposed to continue their work and labour as part of God’s same Church. There are still many areas out there that are not yet touched by the love and grace of God, and have not yet heard or known His truth and salvation.

All of us have been blessed by God with unique talents, capabilities, strengths and resources to carry out whatever we need to do for the sake of the Lord and the mission which He has entrusted to us. The question now is, are we willing to accept this mission and do our best to serve the Lord in evangelisation and missionary works following the examples of the Apostles? Many of us have not dedicated ourselves and our lives in a Christian manner unlike what our holy predecessors had done.

And we do not have to think or aim big, brothers and sisters in Christ. Often what we need to do is just to do our best in our daily living, through small and simple acts in our lives, in how we live our lives virtuously in accordance to the teachings of the Church and in remaining true to our Christian faith in our interactions, works, and every small efforts we put in life. That is what we need to do, and not being worried or being too ambitious, but just trusting our lives in the hands of God, and let Him guide us in doing the rest.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all pray that the Lord may strengthen us all in faith through the inspiration of His Apostle, St. Andrew, and through his intercessions for our sake, and that we may be courageous and be committed in living our lives with faith and in embracing our missions as God has entrusted us all, to be the workers and servants of His many wonderful works, and to be the bearers and witnesses of His truth and salvation to all the peoples. May God bless us all, always. Amen.

Saturday, 30 November 2019 : Feast of St. Andrew, 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.

Saturday, 30 November 2019 : Feast of St. Andrew, 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.

Saturday, 30 November 2019 : Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Romans 10 : 9-18

You are saved, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord, and, in your heart, you believe that God raised Him from the dead. By believing from the heart, you obtain true righteousness; by confessing the faith with your lips, you are saved.

For Scripture says : No one who believes in Him will be ashamed. Here, there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; all have the same Lord, Who is very generous with whoever calls on Him. Truly, all who call upon the Name of the Lord will be saved.

But how can they call upon the Name of the Lord without having believed in Him? And how can they believe in Him, without having first heard about Him? And how will they hear about Him, if no one preaches about Him? And how will they preach about Him, if no one sends them?

As Scripture says : How beautiful are the feet of the messenger of Good News. Although, not everyone obeyed the Good News, as Isaiah said : Lord, who has believed in our preaching? So, faith comes from preaching, and preaching is rooted in the word of Christ.

I ask : Have the Jews not heard? But, of course, they have. Because the voice of those preaching resounded all over the earth, and their voice was heard, to the ends of the world.

Monday, 28 October 2019 : Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, 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 but two great Apostles of the Lord, two of the Twelve Apostles, namely St. Simon the Apostle and St. Jude the Apostle. St. Simon the Apostle was also known as Simon the Zealot as he was a zealot before he joined the Lord as one of His disciples. Meanwhile, St. Jude the Apostle was known as Jude Thaddeus, to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot, the traitor.

Both of these Apostles were known for their great dedication in serving the Lord and being faithful witnesses of the Gospel and the truth of God just as the other Apostles had done. St. Simon was often associated and celebrated together with St. Jude and they share the same feast day today because according to tradition, they often travelled together in their missionary journeys and activities.

St. Simon and St. Jude evangelised in the regions of Lebanon, Persia and Armenia, going from places to places to spread the Word of God and calling the people to repentance from sin and salvation through Christ. Many people became believers because of their efforts and they were remembered for their crucial role in sowing the seeds of faith and building the foundations of the Church in the many places they had ministered in.

They also visited and evangelised in many more places across the Mediterranean world, from Libya to Mesopotamia, to parts of Judea, Samaria and others on their own. Eventually, they were martyred in Lebanon, where according to some tradition both were arrested and suffered because of their tireless efforts in building the Church of God, and gave up their lives willingly for their faith in God.

These two Apostles did not have it easy throughout their ministries, as although they reaped many good fruits of their work, but there were equally many if not more occurrences when they had to suffer and face rejection from those who opposed their works and refused to believe in the truth of God. And they had to endure all of these throughout their many years of service to God, but they remained faithful nonetheless.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having heard of the great and inspiring examples of these two faithful Apostles of the Lord, surely we can also walk in their footsteps and follow their examples through our own faithful and purpose filled lives in serving God. And if we think that are not capable of walking down that path or that we are nothing compared to the Apostles who seemed to be greater than life, then we must remember that God called His Apostles from among the ordinary people just like us.

God has called His Apostles like St. Simon and St. Jude from among the ordinary ones, sinners and unworthy, people from various backgrounds and origins, but with the ultimate result of them being empowered and strengthened by God to do His will. All except for Judas Iscariot followed the Lord to the very end, with all of them except for St. John were eventually martyred for their faith and dedication to God.

The Lord has then also called us all to follow Him and become His disciples. He has called us to be His witnesses in our world today, within our communities and among those whom we know. He is calling us to be the bearers of His truth and His love to the world as the reality is such that the works of the Apostles are still work in progress and there are still many opportunities through which we can serve God.

Are we willing to take up the challenge and the cross which God has once given to His Apostles? Are we able to dedicate ourselves to Him and do our very best to be shining examples of faith among our fellow men? Let us reflect well on this and spend some time to discern our path in life. We do not need to worry that we are not capable or that the task ahead may be too difficult or challenging for us.

Instead, let us all have that courage and trust in God, doing our best in our own small ways, through our regular, daily living, by doing our best in everything we say and do in life that everyone who sees us know that truly we belong to God and then hopefully they too may come to believe in God through us. May God be our guide and our strength, and may His holy Apostles, particularly St. Simon and St. Jude intercede for our sake always. Amen.

Monday, 28 October 2019 : Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 6 : 12-19

At that time, Jesus went out into the hills to pray, spending the whole night in prayer with God. When day came, He called His disciples to Him, and chose Twelve of them, whom He called ‘Apostles’ : Simon, whom He named Peter, and his brother Andrew; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James son of Alpheus and Simon called the Zealot; Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who would be the traitor.

Coming down the hill with them, Jesus stood in an open plain. Many of His disciples were there, and a large crowd of people, who had come from all parts of Judea and Jerusalem, and from the coastal cities of Tyre and Sidon. They gathered to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases. And people troubled by unclean spirits were cured.

The entire crowd tried to touch Him, because of the power that went out from Him and healed them all.

Monday, 28 October 2019 : Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, 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.