Saturday, 14 October 2017 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Callixtus I, Pope and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are given the messages of encouragement through the Scriptures, that as the followers and disciples of Christ, all of us will not be forgotten or be abandoned, but instead will receive the fullness of the fruits of everlasting joy and grace that will be the lot of those who have kept their faith in God.

In the first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Joel, we heard the words of God through His prophet giving strength and encouragement to the people of the kingdom of Judah, as it was possible that the prophet lived during the time of the exile, when the people of God were exiled from their homeland in distant Babylonia after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.

At that time, it was a time of great humiliation, as the people of God had to endure scorn and shame as a conquered people, having their kingdom, their city and the holy Temple destroyed by the Babylonians under king Nebuchadnezzar. God had allowed their enemies to have power over them because the people of God had not been faithful, and they had been wayward in their lives, worshipping pagan idols and performing all sorts of acts that are wicked in the sight of God.

Therefore, God spoke through the prophet Joel, giving encouragement to His downtrodden and demoralised people, that if they would turn back to Him and to abandon their sinful ways, showing genuine regret and sorrow over their mistakes, then He would succour them and protect them, and He would bless them once again, He would be their God and they would be His people.

God is always faithful to His promises, to the Covenant which He had established with each and every one of us. To that extent, He gave us His own Son, Jesus Christ, to be the Mediator of the New Covenant, which He sealed by His sacrifice on the cross, through the outpouring of His Most Precious Blood and the offering of His own Most Precious Body as the perfect sacrifice for our reconciliation and as the atonement for our sins.

Yet, many of us failed to recognise this love which God has for us, and we ignored the care and love He has shown for us. We chose to walk on our own path, and disobeyed His laws and commandments, just as much as how the Israelites of the past had done. They had abandoned God and sinned before Him, and therefore, because of their sins and refusal to repent, they have been rejected and condemned.

In the Gospel today, Our Lord Jesus made it very clear to us, that all those who listened to the Word of God, will be blessed by God, and God will be with them. If only that we obey the Lord wholeheartedly, God will grant us all that we need, and provide for us every single moment of our lives. But it is indeed not easy to become a faithful disciple and follower of the Lord, for at every juncture in our lives, there will be temptations, challenges, and even persecution and oppression.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that was what Pope St. Callixtus I, the saint whose feast we celebrate today, have experienced in his life. Pope St. Callixtus I lived during the time of the early Church, and became the Pope and leader of the Universal Church at a time when there were great persecutions against Christians and the Church, and when becoming a Christian or being known as Christians would equate a fate of great suffering and even martyrdom.

Pope St. Callixtus I encountered these difficulties throughout his life, having to endure exile, prison and torture from time to time, and as he led the Church as the Pope, he encountered even more troubles and challenges. Yet, he did not give up the fight, and continued to remain faithful to God despite the odds and challenges. He was faithful to God, and obeyed Him in all of His laws and commandments, showing a great example to the people of God entrusted under his care.

Although eventually Pope St. Callixtus I was martyred for his faith, yet, his examples, his courage and bravery, the devotion and faith which he had in the Lord continued to inspire many throughout the ages, who saw his examples and became believers in God. Therefore, all of us should also follow in their footsteps, walking faithfully just as our holy predecessors had done, living righteously and devoutly in God’s presence.

May the Lord through His holy saints and martyrs, their lives and dedications continue to inspire each and every one of us as Christians to live in accordance with God’s ways, and be obedient to Him in everything, despite the challenges and difficulties we are likely to face as part of our faith. May He empower us to live ever more closely related to Him in all the things we say and do. Amen.

Saturday, 14 October 2017 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Callixtus I, Pope and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Luke 11 : 27-28

At that time, as Jesus was speaking, a woman spoke from the crowd and said to Him, “Blessed is the one who gave You birth and nursed You!”

Jesus replied, “Truly blessed are those who hear the word of God, and keep it as well.”

Saturday, 14 October 2017 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Callixtus I, Pope and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

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

YHVH 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 YHVH, 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 YHVH, you, who are blameless; and give praise to His holy Name.

Saturday, 14 October 2017 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Callixtus I, Pope and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Joel 4 : 12-21

Rise up, o people, and come to the Valley of Jehoshaphat, nations. Bring a sickle for the harvest is ripe; come and tread, for the wine press is full, and the vats overflow; so great is their wickedness! Multitudes and more multitudes in the Valley of Verdict! The day of YHVH is near in the Valley of Verdict! The sun and the moon become dark, the stars lose their radiance.

YHVH roars from Zion and raises His voice from Jerusalem; heaven and earth are shaken. Indeed, YHVH is a refuge for His people, a stronghold for the Israelites. You will know that I am YHVH, your God, dwelling on Zion, My holy mountain. Jerusalem will be a holy place; and foreigners will never pass through there again.

On that day, the mountains shall drip wine and the hills flow with milk; all the streams of Judah will run with water; and a fountain will spring from the house of YHVH, and water the valley of Shittim. On the other hand, Egypt will be devastated; and Edom will become a deserted wasteland, because they committed violence against Judah and shed innocent blood in their country.

But Judah will be inhabited forever, and Jerusalem through all generations. And I shall avenge their blood and not leave it unpunished, for YHVH dwells in Zion.

Friday, 14 October 2016 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Callixtus I, Pope and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s Scripture readings reminded us all that God is our loving Father, our loving Lord Who created each and every one of us out of His boundless and never-ending love. He has promised to each and every one of us the promise of everlasting life and eternal glory with Him, which was what He intended for us and for our ancestors, if not for their sins, and ours as well.

For we were all destined to be loved by God, and to live forever in the grace and in the light of God’s presence, all the more that we are the most special among all of God’s creations, the ones whom He loves the most. He does not want us all to perish, even the smallest and the worst among us, for we are all equal before God, equally loved and equally cherished by our Lord and Creator. And yet, because of our sins, we have drifted away from the Lord and from His salvation.

And we are often not aware of that love which the Lord had for us, because our eyes, our senses, our minds and our hearts are veiled and blocked by that darkness that had been in us, which corrupted us and twisted us into creatures of sin and darkness. And sin is that veil that had corrupted us and prevented us from being able to realise and understand just how much love God has for us.

And that sin is the same that Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law for, the yeast of the Pharisees. It is the accumulated sin of greed, of jealousy, hatred and all things that these people have gathered in themselves, and which they unleashed against the Lord that had made the works of Jesus to be very difficult. Their sins were many, and they refused to admit these and repent from those sins, and as a result, they led even more of the people of God into the wrong path.

They thought that whatever they had done could be hidden from the knowledge and awareness of the people, but God saw all that they had done, and He would count all these against them on the day of judgment. Jesus Himself said that, nothing that has been hidden will remain hidden forever, at any one time, these may come to light, all scandals and inappropriate acts even those which were most well-hidden of all.

It is a reminder to all of us Christians, that each and every one of us ought to live righteously in God’s presence, following and obeying His will, His laws and commandments, and these are as we all know it, love. His will for us is love, that we all love one another, care for one another, for each other and be concerned about the salvation of one another, that each and every one of us may find our way to God.

We should not follow the examples of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who were very proud of their status in their society, and they were haughty and proud, looking down on others who did not belong to their caste and class. As Christians, each and every one of us should be humble, caring, loving and merciful. And perhaps we should also be inspired to follow the example of Pope St. Callixtus I, Pope of the Church and holy martyr of the Faith, whose feast we celebrate today.

Pope St. Callixtus I lived and reigned as Pope at a time of great difficulty for the Church and the faithful. During that time, at the height of the pagan Roman Empire and in the early days of the Church, many persecutions faced the faithful and many were in hiding because they were members of the Church. Discrimination, oppression, resentment and hatred against these faithful people of God were rampant.

Yet Pope St. Callixtus led the Church and the faithful with courage and vigour, often not fearing the dangers and the risks he had to face as he went on to minister to the faithful, caring and serving them with love. He faced many difficulties and sufferings throughout his life, having been punished, incarcerated, exiled and forced to do tough labour in many occasions, and yet he continued to persevere hard in his life and in his vocation as a servant of God.

He helped to establish the Church and made it stronger by resisting the works of heretics and rebels against the authority of the Church, while encouraging many sinners to repent their sins and to return to the Church of God. There were those who refused to follow this path of mercy and forgiveness, but through Pope St. Callixtus I and his deep commitment to the salvation of sinners, many souls were saved from certain eternal damnation.

Through these examples which Pope St. Callixtus I had shown us, we too should learn from his examples on how to become an ever better Christian, and how to practice our faith ever more devoutly in our respective lives. Let us all do the same, devoting ourselves, heart and mind, to show mercy to our brethren in need, whether it is for material or spiritual sustenance.

Let us all as Christians be beacons of light for one another, that by working together, inspired by the examples of our Lord and His holy saints, we may help each other to draw ever closer to God and to His salvation and eternal life. May God bless us all and keep us always in His grace. Amen.

Friday, 14 October 2016 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Callixtus I, Pope and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)
Luke 12 : 1-7

At that time, such a numerous crowd had gathered that they crushed one another. Then Jesus spoke to His disciples in this way, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered that will not be uncovered, or hidden that will not be made known. Whatever you have said in darkness will be heard in daylight, and what you have whispered in hidden places, will be proclaimed from housetops.”

“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who put to death the body and, after that, can do no more. But I will tell you whom to fear : Fear the One Who after killing you is able to throw you into hell. This One you must fear. Do you not buy five sparrows for two pennies? Yet not one of them has been forgotten by God. Even the hairs of your head have been numbered. Do not be afraid! Are you less worthy in the eyes of God than many sparrows?”

Friday, 14 October 2016 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Callixtus I, Pope and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)
Psalm 32 : 1-2, 4-5, 12-13

Rejoice in the Lord, you who are just, praise is fitting for the upright. Give thanks to Him on the harp and lyre, making melody and chanting praises.

For upright is the Lord’s word and worthy of trust is His work. The Lord loves justice and righteousness; the earth is full of His kindness.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord – the people He has chosen for His inheritance. The Lord looks down from heaven and sees the whole race of mortals.

Friday, 14 October 2016 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Callixtus I, Pope and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)
Ephesians 1 : 11-14

By a decree of Him Who disposes all things according to His own plan and decision we, the Jews, have been chosen and called and we were awaiting the Messiah, for the praise of His glory. You, on hearing the word of truth, the Gospel that saves you, have believed in Him.

And, as promised, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit, the first pledge of what we shall receive, on the way to our deliverance as a people of God, for the praise of His glory.