Tuesday, 20 September 2016 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Laurent Imbert, Bishop, St. Jacques Chastan, Priest, and St. Andrew Kim Taegon and Companions, Martyrs, Martyr Saints of Korea (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the words of the Gospel and the Scriptures, urging us all to obey the Law and the commandments of God, as how He had given all these to us as the instruments and helpers for us all as we walk on this path towards salvation and eternal life. He has given all of them to us so that these may guide as we encounter challenges and difficulties on our way.

And yet, as we heard from the Book of Proverbs, our first reading of today, we saw how many people persisted in their wicked ways and refused to follow what the Lord had instructed and shown them. And that is because in their hearts, they do not have the Lord in their hearts. They were so full of themselves and their ego that they did not see how much God had done for them and blessed them in their lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us as Christians are expected to live in accordance with the ways of the Lord, devoting ourselves to God and all the things that He had taught us to do. And just as Jesus said, those who have done the will of God, He will consider as His brothers and sisters. Why is this so? That is because He Who is God has made Himself to be a Man like ourselves, so that all those who have obeyed the Lord as He had obeyed His Father may be like Him in all things, and be worthy to be considered as His brethren.

And perhaps, the best example for that obedience is our Lord Himself, Who have obeyed the will of the Father to the very end. He was willing to shoulder the burden of the cross, so that by bearing that cross, on which has been laid the burdens of our sins, we may be saved from certain death and destruction due to those sins. He is our Good Shepherd, Who truly loves us and cares for us, showing us the love and concern with which He guides us to the right path.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, perhaps we should also heed the examples of St. Laurent Imbert, St. Jacques Chastan, St. Andrew Kim Taegon and all the many other holy saints and martyrs, who have suffered and died defending the faith in the land of Korea. These saints were missionaries and local Christians who have endured difficulties, tribulations, oppressions and persecutions in their faith and in their belief in God.

At that time, the government of Korea was very hostile to the Christian faith, openly opposing the evangelisation of the faith in its territory, and were very staunch in their stance against the missionaries of the faith. And many of those who have accepted the Lord Jesus as their Lord and Saviour were arrested, tortured, and forced to choose between great suffering and pain or to recant their faith and return to their old beliefs.

But amidst this very difficult and turbulent time, many brave and courageous members of the faithful, together with the missionaries stood up against the tide of persecution, and became living examples of how faith should be like in us Christians. They refused to abandon the Lord and their faith in Him, and even while knowing that such a stance would lead to great difficulties and persecution, they pressed on nonetheless.

And in particular St. Laurent Imbert, a French missionary appointed as the first Bishop of Korea, as the Vicar Apostolic there, was exemplary in his actions, which showed many the same example as Christ Himself had shown the world. At that time, as the persecution of the faithful and the Church intensified, the authorities were trying to destroy the Church by striking at its leadership. St. Laurent Imbert, the Bishop of Korea and his priests were then hiding from the authorities.

An offer went out from the authorities, that if the bishop and the leading priests were to surrender themselves, then they would spare the rest of the faithful from further persecution. While this was most likely a trap, and no guarantee could be ensured from trusting the words of the authorities, St. Laurent Imbert nonetheless decided to surrender himself, while encouraging his fellow priests to do the same.

In doing so, as was explained in his writings, St. Laurent Imbert had followed the example of the Lord, the Good Shepherd. Jesus said that the Good Shepherd laid down His life for His sheep, and there, St. Laurent Imbert laid down his life for the good and the benefit of the flock entrusted to him by God. He showed us all by action, true Christian love, devotion and commitment, both to God and to His people, his fellow men.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we too should follow in the footsteps of St. Laurent Imbert, St. Jacques Chastan, St. Andrew Kim Taegon and all the saints and martyrs of Korea, all of whom bravely and courageously defended their faith even with their life. They have lived truly as Christians, and showed the meaning of commitment, faith, and true love for God and for their fellow men, by their unfailing faith and devotion.

Let us all imitate them in their examples, and be brave and courageous in our faith as well. Let us all not be intimidated by the challenges of this world, but instead put our full trust in the Lord, knowing that God will always be with all those who are faithful to Him, for He will always love us all, and will never abandon His beloved ones to the darkness. May God bless us all, always. Amen.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Laurent Imbert, Bishop, St. Jacques Chastan, Priest, and St. Andrew Kim Taegon and Companions, Martyrs, Martyr Saints of Korea (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red
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, 20 September 2016 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Laurent Imbert, Bishop, St. Jacques Chastan, Priest, and St. Andrew Kim Taegon and Companions, Martyrs, Martyr Saints of Korea (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Psalm 118 : 1, 27, 30, 34, 35, 44

Blessed are they whose ways are upright, who follow the Law of the Lord.

Explain to me all Your ordinances, and I will meditate on Your wondrous deeds.

I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart upon Your laws.

Give me understanding, that I may observe Your Law with all my heart.

Guide me in obeying Your instructions, for my pleasure lies in them.

May I always keep Your word forever and ever.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Laurent Imbert, Bishop, St. Jacques Chastan, Priest, and St. Andrew Kim Taegon and Companions, Martyrs, Martyr Saints of Korea (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Proverbs 21 : 1-6, 10-13

In the hands of YHVH, the heart of the king is like running water; he directs it wherever he wishes. To the eyes of man all His ways are honest but it is YHVH Who weighs the heart. To do what is upright and just pleases YHVH more than sacrifice.

Haughty looks, proud heart, the light of the wicked is sin. The plans of a hardworking man result in earnings; poverty is for those who act too hastily. To make a fortune by means of deceit is like running after the wind; the end is death.

The soul of the wicked desires nothing but evil; not even his friend is treated with compassion. When the mocker is punished the ignorant man grows wise; when the wise man is instructed he grows in knowledge. The Just One watches the house of the evildoer and hurls the wicked into misfortune.

He who is deaf to the poor man’s cry will not be heard when he himself calls out.

Friday, 16 September 2016 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Cornelius, Pope and St. Cyprian, Bishop, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we become witnesses of the Lord’s Word spoken to us through His Scriptures, where He spoke of how He had brought healing and salvation upon the world, and He did that through His wonderful works, the primary of which is the death of Himself on the cross, and then how He wondrously rose up from the dead, and was risen in glory, defeating and conquering death.

And we are His witnesses of His resurrection from the dead, as those who have been entrusted with the knowledge and the faith in the One through Whom God had justified the whole world, the whole race of mankind. And that is the essence and the core of our faith, that we believe in our loving God, through Whom we have all been saved by His actions, descending upon this world to be one like us, that by sharing our humanity, He may share with all of us as well, the glory of His death and resurrection.

That is the key message which the Scripture passages we heard today are trying to tell us. We as Christians are people of the Gospel, the Good News of the Lord’s salvation. And we all know that Christ had willingly agreed to shoulder the burden of our sins and wickedness, all the consequences and punishments that come with them, so that we may be saved and not perish in the darkness.

But the offer of Christ’s mercy, forgiveness and love will only be fully realised within us if we all accept Him as our Lord and Saviour, and agree to fully walk in His path, that is to become a real and genuine Christian. And what is the relevance of these all to us, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because, we who follow the Lord as the Apostles and the holy women mentioned in the Gospel today, we are the workers of Christ, those through whose good works, we bring upon many the salvation of the Lord.

That is the mission entrusted by the Lord Himself to His Apostles and disciples before He left them to ascend to His heavenly glory. But He did not leave them behind, for He was indeed still with them, and He sent them the great Helper, the Holy Spirit to guide them and to help them in their missions and works. And we are their successors, the ones to continue the good works of the Apostles of the Lord.

What does this mean to us? It means that all of us as Christians should really value our faith and truly commit ourselves to living as Christians and as how Christians are supposed to be. And that is how we can best preach about the Lord to others around us. If we show how we live as an example to them, then surely through our works and actions, many will come to believe in the Lord and be converted to His cause.

Now the challenge for us is that we are called to do all these, which many of us certainly have not done thus far. We as members of the Church of God and as Christians ought to devote ourselves to the way of our Lord, that many more people would come to believe in Him, and therefore we may together gain the salvation in God and liberation from our sufferings and sins.

Pope St. Cornelius and St. Cyprian, the holy saints whom the Church celebrates today, were also devoted and committed in their actions, serving the Lord and His Church to the best of his abilities. Both Pope St. Cornelius and St. Cyprian served the Lord with great zeal, and although they often did not agree on certain matters, as evident in how once they came into a bitter conflict over the matter of the forgiveness and acceptance of those who have abandoned the faith and then later returned, but they were able to come together and resolved their differences for the good of the faithful.

Persecution of the faithful was particularly vicious at that time under the Roman Emperor Decius and his successors. Many of the faithful were under attack and under great trouble because of their faith. And both of these faithful saints were also part of the persecution, exiled to hard labour and to great tribulations. Yet, they never ceased to do great works, writing commendations and encouragements to their flock even from exile, to strengthen them amidst the difficult moments.

May God help us all in these endeavours in following the examples of these great saints. May the Lord help us in our works and commitments to bring our fellow brethren to Him, that all of us may be together saved in Him. May God with His holy saints show us the way to lead many to Him, that eventually all may receive grace and righteousness in God. Amen.

Friday, 16 September 2016 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Cornelius, Pope and St. Cyprian, Bishop, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Luke 8 : 1-3

At that time, Jesus walked through towns and countryside, preaching and giving the Good News of the kingdom of God. The Twelve followed Him, and also some women, who had been healed of evil spirits and diseases : Mary called Magdalene, who had been freed of seven demons; Joanna, wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward; Suzanna, and others who provided for them out of their own funds.

Friday, 16 September 2016 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Cornelius, Pope and St. Cyprian, Bishop, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Psalm 16 : 1, 6-7, 8b and 15

Hear a just cause, o Lord, listen to my complaint. Give heed to my prayer for there is no deceit on my lips.

I call on You, You will answer me, o God; incline Your ear and hear my word. For You do wonders for Your faithful, You save those fleeing from the enemy as they seek refuge at Your right hand.

Under the shadow of Your wings hide me. As for me, righteous in Your sight, I shall see Your face and, awakening, gaze my fill on Your likeness.

Friday, 16 September 2016 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Cornelius, Pope and St. Cyprian, Bishop, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red
1 Corinthians 15 : 12-20

Well, then, if Christ is preached as risen from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is empty and our belief comes to nothing.

And we become false witnesses of God, attesting that He raised Christ, whereas He could not raise Him if indeed the dead are not raised. If the dead are not raised, neither has Christ been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith gives you nothing, and you are still in sin. Also those who fall asleep in Christ are lost.

If it is only for this life that we hope in Christ, we are the most unfortunate of all people. But no, Christ has been raised from the dead and He comes before all those who have fallen asleep.

Thursday, 2 June 2016 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyr)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about the exchanges between Jesus and a teacher of the Law who asked Him about the most important commandment in the Law. And Jesus gave him the perfect answer, a summary of what the commandments and Law of God is truly about, that is love. For the Law of God is about love, and the love of God has been given to us.

The teachers of the Law, the Pharisees and the scribes at the time of Jesus were renowned for their very strict interpretation and imposition of the Law and the commandments of God, where they punished those who did not obey the laws and ostracised them from the society. They harshly ensured that the people obeyed the laws and ensured that they observed the strict sabbath law.

But Jesus pointed out to them a reality and a fact, how in this pursuit to fulfil the needs of the Law, they have ended up forgetting the true purpose of the Law. They ended up making the laws as mere formality and procedure, and less of understanding its true intent, that is love, and love which is ought to be present in our relationship with one another, and ultimately between us and our God.

God gave us the Law, the commandments and His precepts so that we may learn to love one another, and to love Him with all of our heart, mind and soul. He did not give us the laws and the commandments to unnecessarily burden us with the yoke of laws and rules. Yet, we mankind have often misused and misrepresented God’s good laws and rules to serve our own purposes.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law enforced those rules and laws, because they liked themselves to be seen doing all those rules and obeying the set of laws they have set for themselves, for the purpose of being praised and adored for their deeds. They were serving not God or the people of God, but instead only themselves.

Thus, Jesus often rebuked them and showed His anger on them. It is because not only that they had placed such a burden on the people who had been entrusted under their care, but they also misled the people into believing that God is a fearsome and angry God Who will punish all those who did not fulfil the obligations which had been placed on them. In the end, they followed God not because they loved Him, but because they feared Him.

Therefore, all of us are reminded by St. Paul in his letter to St. Timothy, that we as Christians who believe in God should get rid of all things that have been keeping us away from God and His ways. All of us should find ways to devote ourselves to God through understanding more of the measures which He has taken in order to bring us closer to Him and to save us from certain destruction.

Let us all also keep in mind the examples of the two holy servants of God, St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, whose feast we are commemorating on this day, that we may imitate their examples and follow them in their footsteps to become better disciples of our Lord. They were faithful and committed to God, and they endured suffering and martyrdom for the sake of their faith in God.

St. Marcellinus and St. Peter lived during the early years of the fourth century after the birth of Christ our Lord. They were told to be a priest and an exorcist living during the rule of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who was renowned for his particularly intense persecution of Christians throughout the Empire. They were martyred for their faith, as they refused to stop preaching the faith in God, and they also refused to abandon their faith for the comfort of the pagan gods.

They served the people of God with devotion and zeal, and they cared for the poor and the sick among the faithful, and casting out demons and evil spirits. They loved the people of God in the manner which God had taught us all to do, and they loved others and especially God, their Lord and Master, with all of their hearts, minds and soul, even unto death, refusing to let go of their Lord.

In all these, we should all learn from the examples of these holy saints and servants of God who have given their all to love the Lord their God and to love their fellow men. Let us all devote ourselves anew to God, and renew the faith which all of us have for Him, and do our best in order to serve Him and obey Him with love, and not with just mere formality or for the sake of doing it, as the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had done.

May God see the love which we have for Him, and may our ways, actions and deeds be found to be worthy and good for our salvation. May God bless us all and strengthen our resolve to be ever more faithful to Him day after day. Amen.

Thursday, 2 June 2016 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyr)

Mark 12 : 28b-34

At that time, a teacher of the Law came up and asked Jesus, “Which commandment is the first of all?”

Jesus answered, “The first is : Hear, Israel! The Lord, our God, is One Lord; and you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. And after this comes a second commandment : You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these two.”

The teacher of the Law said to Him, “Well spoken, Master; You are right when You say that He is one, and there is no other besides Him. To love Him with all our heart, with all our understanding and with all our strength, and to love our neighbour as ourselves is more important than any burnt offering or sacrifice.”

Jesus approved this answer and said, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that, no one dared to ask Him any more questions.