Friday, 10 August 2018 : Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture telling us that we need to do good in our lives and be generous in our giving towards one another, especially to those who are less fortunate and less privileged. And He said this pointing out at His own examples, in how He has loved us all generously with constancy even when we mankind have not been consistent in our faith and love towards Him.

In the first reading today, that is the gist of what St. Paul wrote in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in the city of Corinth. He reminded them of the Lord Who gives each and every one of us good blessings and graces, that all of us have enough for ourselves, and are able to fend for ourselves. Now, then, surely we will come to wonder, why is it that in this world there are still sufferings and people who had not enough to survive and live, while there are others who are enjoying in great excess of wealth and all?

It is not because the Lord is unfair in His treatment to us, or that He is biased in His love for each one of us. Each and every one of us, regardless of our origins, our background, our cultural, linguistic, national differences and our appearances, physical and mental talents and abilities, and even those with disabilities, all are equally beloved by the Lord without bias and prejudice. Suffering comes about because of the abuse of freedom by God’s people, who chose to act unjustly towards one another.

And in the Gospel today, the Lord Jesus used a parable to explain this matter to the people, by comparing it with the grain of wheat that falls on the ground and die, and by that action, creating many more new life that came about from that death. This is a parable that foreshadows the moment of the Lord’s own Passion, suffering, death and resurrection, when He died on the cross in order to save all of us mankind.

That is the method by which wheat germinates into new wheat plant, such that even a single wheat grain is able to grow into a large new wheat plant that can generate many more wheat grains in turn. This signifies Christ’s willingness to die, so that by the breaking and the sharing of His Body, all of us who share in His Body and Blood may receive a share in the eternity of glory and life with God.

Today, these Scripture readings also have an additional significance as today we celebrate the Feast of St. Lawrence, holy deacon and martyr of the Church. St. Lawrence was one of the pious and dedicated deacons of the Church of Rome, a position of honour and yet filled with great challenges and dangers during the time of great persecutions of the Church by the Roman Emperors, at that time the Emperor Valerian.

St. Lawrence ministered to the Church and to the faithful in the city of Rome and he had to endure harsh persecution and avoiding detection by the authorities while serving the needs of the faithful and the poor among them. Eventually, he was arrested along with several other leading members of the Church, tortured and condemned to death when he refused to recant his faith and abandon his God.

Through the blood of his martyrdom, St. Lawrence and his companions showed all of us great inspirations of faith, which inspired many other faithful to be courageous in their own faith. In fact, many more came to believe in the Lord, having been inspired by the great example of the holy martyrs. Thus the saying, “the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians.”

Surely they would have also be tempted to give up their faith by the enticement of worldly guarantees and security of power, glory, wealth, possessions and material goods. Many of the martyrs were offered positions of power and worldly riches if only they would abandon their Lord and their faith, and worship the pagan gods of the Romans. Similar instances have also been recorded for many other occasions of martyrdom.

But they remained true to their faith and devoted themselves to God to the very end. God blessed them and kept them in His grace, and gave them the crown of glory promised to all those who have kept the faith and persevered to the very end. Now, all of us are called to follow their examples and strive to do our best to live our lives as good Christians, who obey the will of God and walk in the truth of God.

May the Lord continue to bless us and all of our endeavours, and may He strengthen us and empower us to live ever more faithfully, amidst the challenges and trials we may face, inspiring us to live by the examples of the holy saints and martyrs, particularly that of St. Lawrence, holy deacon and martyr. May the Lord be with us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 10 August 2018 : Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 12 : 24-26

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Those who love their life destroy it, and those who despise their life in this world save it even to everlasting life.”

“Whoever wants to serve Me, let him follow Me; and wherever I am, there shall My servant be also. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honour him.”

Friday, 10 August 2018 : Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 111 : 1-2, 5-6, 7-8, 9

Alleluia! Blessed is the one who fears YHVH, who greatly delights in His commands. His children will be powerful on earth; the upright’s offspring will be blessed.

It will be well with him who lends freely, who leads a life of justice and honesty. For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered and loved forever.

He has no fear of evil news, for his heart is firm, trusting in YHVH. His heart is confident; he need not fear; he shall prevail over his foes at the end.

He gives generously to the poor; his merits will last forever; and his head will be raised in honour.

Friday, 10 August 2018 : Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

2 Corinthians 9 : 6-10

Remember : the one who sows meagerly will reap meagerly, and there shall be generous harvests for the one who sows generously. Each of you should give as you decided personally, and not reluctantly, as if obliged. God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to fill you with every good thing, so that you have enough of everything, at all times, and may give abundantly for any good work.

Scripture says : He distributed, He gave to the poor, His good works last forever. God, Who provides the sower with seed, will also provide him with the bread he eats. He will multiply the seed for you and also increase the interest on your good works.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the Gospel speaking to us about doing the will of God in our lives, and that those who obey the Lord and do His will shall be considered as the brothers and sisters of our Lord, meaning as those whom God had chosen to be His own people. And consequently, we are expected, as Christians, to do God’s will in our lives.

In the first reading today, we continue with the discourse from the Book of the prophet Ezra which began yesterday, speaking of the time when the people of Israel were freed from their Babylonian exile and slavery, and they were allowed to return to the land of their ancestors. They were also allowed to rebuild the Temple of God in Jerusalem, and today we heard of the preparations which were in place to reestablish fully the worship of God.

The priests and the relevant people were appointed just as the Temple of God was rebuilt in Jerusalem. The sacrifices and celebrations which had not been celebrated anymore ever since the days of the kingdom of Israel and Judah were celebrated once again, and the worship of God therefore continued once again in its proper order, and the people flocked to return to God.

The people of Israel and Judah had once been sinful and wicked in their actions, and they have not been faithful to God, and instead they worshipped the pagan gods and idols, which resulted in their estrangement from the Lord and their exile, the destruction of their kingdoms and livelihoods, until the time when they have repented from their sins, and therefore were allowed to return to the promised land, as we have heard in the passages from the Book of Ezra.

What God wanted from all of them was their dedication, love and commitment, not their empty gestures and sacrifices. He wanted them to love Him with all of their hearts and not merely just paying lip service in faith. That is why He constantly reminded us His people, that our faith in Him can neither be lukewarm or superficial. We should have genuine love for God, the strong desire in our hearts to be with God and to commit ourselves to His ways.

Today we should learn from the examples of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, the holy and dedicated servants of God, whose commitments to God have been exemplary, and whose faith in the Lord are truly inspirations for all of us. St. Cosmas and St. Damian were told to be twin brothers who were renowned physicians in the Roman province of Syria, who were martyred during the time of the great persecution under the Roman Emperor Diocletian.

They were very renowned physicians who were remembered fondly by many because of their sincere and generous devotion to the people, by not charging a single cent for their services. They did their services out of pure love for God and men alike. Their selflessness turned many towards the Christian faith, who were stirred by the faith which the twin saints practiced in their lives and in how they healed many from their afflictions.

Yet, the two saints were arrested during the great persecution of Christians, and were put to death in martyrdom, defending their faith to the very end. Nonetheless, the memory of their great faith, and the great love and compassion they have shown to their brethren were not forgotten, and still inspired many people to this very day. This is what all of us Christians should aspire to achieve in our lives.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all, inspired by the holy lives of the saints, particularly that of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, be true disciples of our Lord in deeds and actions, that in our every works, and in our every actions, we will always show forth that we truly belong to the Lord, by loving one another, and by caring for the least fortunate among us, practicing our faith in our every deeds in life. May God be with us all, and may He bless all of our good works. Amen.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Luke 8 : 19-21

At that time, the mother of Jesus and His relatives came to Him; but they could not get to Him because of the crowd. Someone told Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside and wish to meet You.”

Then Jesus answered, “My mother and My brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”

Tuesday, 26 September 2017 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 121 : 1-2, 3-4a, 4b-5

I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the House of YHVH!” And now we have set foot within your gates, o Jerusalem!

Jerusalem, just like a city, where everything falls into place! There, the tribes go up, the tribes of YHVH, the assembly of Israel.

To give thanks to YHVH’s Name. There stand the courts of justice, the offices of the house of David.