Monday, 25 May 2020 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor of the Church, Pope St. Gregory VII, Pope, and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scripture through which we are told of the revelations of God’s love and truth to us all, to remind us during this season of Easter how we are always blessed to have God Who dearly loves each and every one of us without exception. God has blessed us with such a great love for each and every moments of our lives, and even more importantly, He has saved us and gave us the reassurance of eternal life and glory through Him.

In our first reading today, we heard of the baptism of the Holy Spirit that was given by St. Paul to some of the people who have believed in the Lord and yet they had not yet received the baptism into the faith according to the teachings of the Church. In that occasion, the people who have believed in God and accepted Him as their Lord and Saviour received the Holy Spirit by the laying of the hands by the Apostle, completing their journey of initiation into the faith.

This was a time at the very early days and beginnings of the Church, when there had not been much of an established framework and structure of the Church and Christian hierarchy yet. That was a time when the faith rapidly spread all across the Mediterranean world and beyond, brought by the Apostles and their fellow missionaries, those who have been sent out and empowered by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the truth of God to the many people of many nations.

But there were those like Apollos, although courageous and very charismatic, yet he had not had full and proper understanding of the Christian faith. It was likely Apollos who had revealed his then partial understanding of the Christian faith to the people in Ephesus earlier on. Apollos would later on receive help from some among the faithful who taught him more about the Christian faith, and Apollos went on with ever greater commitment to his ministry than before.

Thanks to the combined efforts of all these faithful servants of God, many became believers and came to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour and God. They trusted in the Lord and despite the trials and challenges they had to encounter, they placed their hope with God, as per what we have heard in our Gospel passage today, entrusting themselves to the One Who had overcome the world and has shown them the path to eternal life and glory through Him.

All of us have therefore received our faith through them, passed down to us through countless generations of brave and courageous predecessors, missionaries and all those who have heard and known of the Lord’s love, and show that same love in their own actions, words and deeds, convincing one another to remain faithful in this loving and compassionate God. And today, we have even more of these good examples and inspirations of our faith to follow.

St. Bede the Venerable, a renowned early English saint, was one of the most famous saints of the Middle Ages, and he was known for his extensive works and dedication to Christian learning, history and knowledge. He wrote many great works and wonderful tomes that were revolutionary for his time and were widely read many years afterwards. His piety and devotion to God was also well-known, and his works inspired many generations of Christian intellectuals and saints in the years after his life.

Meanwhile, Pope St. Gregory VII was one of the great Popes of the Middle Ages, who was a great reformer of the Church and the faith, well-known especially for his crucial role in the Investiture Controversy or the conflict between the Church and the secular authority of the Holy Roman Empire and its Emperor. At that time, the tension and conflict between the Pope and the supreme secular authority in Christendom, that is the Holy Roman Emperor was peaking, and the Emperor claimed the rights to appoint the bishops and leaders of the Church in his realm.

But Pope St. Gregory VII stood up against the Emperor and his many supporters, and he opposed the efforts of those who wanted to put the Church under their authority and power. He also was instrumental in reforming the Church and the corrupt and immoral practices of the Church at the time, purifying the institution of priesthood and restoring the discipline of the clergy among many other reforms he made. He encountered various opposition and difficulties, but that did not stop him from doing his best and dedicating himself to serve God.

And lastly, St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi was a Carmelite nun and mystic, who had devoted herself to God from a very young age, and was renowned for her great faith and commitment, joining the religious life and received from God visions that what made her well-known as a pious and devoted servant of God. She dedicated herself to God to the very last moments of her life, and her dedication inspired many others to be faithful.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having heard from the wonderful story and testimonies of these faithful saints, now, are we all more convinced to lead a life more attuned to God? Are we more willing to commit ourselves to God from now on? God has given us all these wonderful people throughout the ages who dedicated themselves to Him and therefore brought so many people including we ourselves to Him and to salvation in Him. It is now our turn to commit ourselves for the good of the Church and all people.

May the Lord help us and give us the strength and courage to live faithfully, with ever more devotion, with each and every passing moments, that we may dedicate ourselves much as the Apostles had, and as St. Bede the Venerable, Pope St. Gregory VII and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, and innumerable other saints had done with theirs. May the Lord bless us all, now and always in our every good works. Amen.

Monday, 25 May 2020 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor of the Church, Pope St. Gregory VII, Pope, and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 16 : 29-33

At that time, the disciples said to Jesus, “Now You are speaking plainly and not in veiled language! Now we see that You know all things, even before we question You. Because of this we believe that You came from God.”

Jesus answered them, “You say that you believe? The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave Me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with Me. I have told you all this, so that in Me you may have peace. You will have trouble in the world; but courage! I have overcome the world.”

Monday, 25 May 2020 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor of the Church, Pope St. Gregory VII, Pope, and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 67 : 2-3, 4-5ac, 6-7ab

Arise, o God, scatter Your enemies; let Your foes flee before You. As smoke is blown by the wind, so blow them away; as wax melts before the fire, so let the wicked perish before You.

But let the righteous be glad and exult before God; let them sing to God and shout for joy. Sing to God, sing praises to His Name; the Lord is His Name. Rejoice in His presence.

Father of orphans and Protector of widows – such is our God is His holy dwelling. He gives shelter to the homeless, sets the prisoners free.

Monday, 25 May 2020 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor of the Church, Pope St. Gregory VII, Pope, and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 19 : 1-8

While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul travelled through the interior of the country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples whom he asked, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” They answered, “We have not even heard that anyone may receive the Holy Spirit.” Paul then asked, “What kind of baptism have you received?” And they answered, “The baptism of John.”

Paul then explained, “John’s baptism was for conversion, but he himself said they should believe in the One Who was to come, and that One is Jesus.” Upon hearing this, they were baptised in the Name of the Lord Jesus. Then Paul laid his hands on them and the Holy Spirit came down upon them; and they began to speak in tongues and to prophesy. There were about twelve of them in all.

Paul went into the synagogue and for three months he preached and discussed there boldly, trying to convince them about the Kingdom of God.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor of the Church, and Pope St. Gregory VII, Pope, and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests, Popes and Virgins)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all called to be humble and to be committed to God, in the same way that our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, had been humble, loving and obedient to His Father even until the very end. The examples which Christ showed us is certainly what we too can follow in our own lives, especially considering the ways that this world have shown us.

Jesus spoke to His disciples regarding how in this world, it is common to see people oppressing each other, especially those in the positions of power and influence, using their power and authority to oppress those who are weaker than them, and those who are less powerful or influential than they are. This is the norms and the customs of this world, a world where the strongest lived on, survived and the weak perished.

And that was what James and John had done, in following the norms of the world. It was just like in our societies, where servants asked for favours from their masters, subordinates asking for more glory, wealth and power from their superiors. That is the way that men thought, and that is how we often lived our lives. It is all about getting more things for ourselves, garnering more praise and attention for our deeds.

But the Lord taught us all that His way is not the way acceptable to the world, for it is indeed different. Where the world championed and glorified those who glorify themselves and seek more power for their own, the way of our Lord is simplicity, humility and selflessness. In order to follow the Lord our God and love Him with all our heart, we must learn to let go of those corrupting desires that kept us away from being able to achieve salvation in God.

Jesus Himself showed by example, as even though He is Almighty, King of all the universe and Lord and Master of all creation, but He came into our world not as a King to be served and to be feared, and instead as a servant and a humble Man, through whose humility and work, the salvation would be brought into the world. And as He has shown us the way, we too should follow Him in His actions.

And today, we celebrate not just one but three holy saints of God, whose own lives have been exemplary, and can indeed be inspirations for us to follow their lifestyle, so that we ourselves may draw ever closer to God. St. Bede the Venerable was a holy servant of God, who was renowned for his many works with regards to the Scriptures and to the teachings of the early disciples and Church fathers.

St. Bede the Venerable was an English monk renowned for his devotion to his work, in bringing the truth of God to greater discovery and understanding by those who have read and viewed his works. He translated many Latin and Greek manuscripts of the faith into English language, and through his many dedications and works, people had therefore discovered the teachings of the Church passed down to them.

Meanwhile, Pope St. Gregory VII was a great leader of the Church, a courageous and committed defender of the Church and the faith against the forces of the world trying to undermine its authority. Pope St. Gregory VII led the Church through a turbulent time in the history of the Church, where conflict peaked between the Church and the secular authority in the person of the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry.

The conflict was precisely because of the conflicting interest between the Emperor and the Church of God, led by Pope St. Gregory VII. The Emperor claimed the power and authority over the Church, and at least in the territories he controlled, the Emperor claimed the authority to appoint bishops and the other leaders of the Church.

But the Church and its leader, Pope St. Gregory VII refused to bow down to the demands of the Emperor. The faithful resisted the influences and the coercion by the Emperor and his party of supporters. As a result, the clashes and the conflicts between the Church and the Emperor became ever more violent and resulted in great difficulties and challenges for the faithful servants of God.

Even Pope St. Gregory VII himself was suffering from the tribulations and challenges, and he suffered even from exile and incarceration. He died a lonely and broken man in body, but his spirit was never daunted by the challenges and the difficulties which he had encountered. And in the end, the Church triumphed and the world did not have its way.

And last of all, St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi was a holy and devoted woman who lived in the region now known as Tuscany in Italy a few hundred years ago. She was a mystic and a Carmelite nun, who has devoted almost her entire life to the Lord. Ever since a very young age, she has practiced meditation as shown by a tutor she engaged, and she received many visions from the Lord, telling her about many things on the matter of faith and about God’s will for the world.

And by her many accounts and works, she helped to rejuvenate the faith in the hearts of many people, and many believed because of her accounts of the Lord, all of her visions and her own piety. And even though she died early in her life, but her inspirational life continues to influence many even unto this very day. Many miracles also accompanied her tomb and her relics, showing the glory which God gives to all of His faithful ones.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, after we have witnessed and heard the examples of these holy saints, let us all commit ourselves anew to the Lord our God following the footsteps of the holy saints. Let us all not be discouraged and be afraid to lead a faithful life filled with true commitment and love for God and His ways. Let us all be the beacons of light for this world, so that through humility and service, we may be like Jesus our Lord, in bringing righteousness upon one another and the whole world.

May God bless us all and keep us, and may He strengthen us our faith, that we may continue to persevere despite the challenges in this life. May He guard us and protect us from harm, and may He keep us in His love forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor of the Church, and Pope St. Gregory VII, Pope, and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests, Popes and Virgins)

Mark 10 : 32-45

At that time, Jesus and His disciples were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and He was walking ahead. The Twelve were anxious, and those who followed were afraid. Once more Jesus took the Twelve aside to tell them what was to happen to Him.

“You see we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be given over to the chief priests and the teachers of the Law. They will condemn Him to death, and hand Him over to the foreigners, who will make fun of Him, spit on Him, scourge Him, and finally kill Him; but three days later He will rise.”

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to Him, “Master, we want You to grant us what we are going to ask of You.” And He said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They answered, “Grant us to sit, one at Your right hand and one at Your left, when You come in Your glory.”

But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I drink, or be baptised in the way I am baptised?” They answered, “We can.” And Jesus told them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and you will be baptised in the way that I am baptised; but to sit at My right hand or at My left is not Mine to grant. It has been prepared for others.”

On hearing this, the other ten were angry with James and John. Jesus then called them to Him and said, “As you know, the so-called rulers of the nations act as tyrants, and their great ones oppress them. But it shall not be so among you; whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you shall make himself slave of all.”

“Think of the Son of Man, Who has not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life to redeem many.”

Wednesday, 25 May 2016 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor of the Church, and Pope St. Gregory VII, Pope, and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests, Popes and Virgins)

Psalm 147 : 12-13, 14-15, 19-20

Exalt the Lord, o Jerusalem; praise your God, o Zion! For He strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your children within you.

He grants peace on your borders and feeds you with the finest grain. He sends His command to the earth and swiftly runs His word.

It is He Who tells Jacob His words, His laws and decrees to Israel. This He has not done for other nations, so His laws remain unknown to them. Alleluia!