Thursday, 22 October 2020 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. John Paul II, Pope (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Popes)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are all reminded to put God at the centre of our lives, to make Him the pivot around which our whole lives revolve. The Lord has blessed us so much and so wonderfully, and yet, many of us still do not appreciate all that we have been blessed with. We ignored His love and were apathetic to Him, and all these were because of the lack of genuine faith in our hearts.

That is why we are reminded yet again today to refocus our lives on God and ask ourselves, what is truly the meaning and significance of our Christian faith? It is by following God with all of our hearts, by being virtuous and by practicing our faith with real and sincere actions, in each and every moments of our lives.

Today, through the Gospel passage we have just heard, we are told of the reality of being a Christian, that may bring us tough challenges and difficulties as we go forward faithfully in life as Christians. The Lord Himself told His disciples frankly how His coming into this world, His work and revelation of truth would bring divisions, struggles, challenges and difficulties for all of them. This means that we should not expect that becoming Christians would bring about happiness, joy and satisfaction for our lives.

This especially refers to those who claim and think that by believing with God, we will be endowed with blessings and good things, the false theology and teaching called the ‘Prosperity Gospel’. Instead, we must always be prepared to defend our faith and to be prepared in case we have to face opposition and ridicule, rejection and hardships because of our adherence to the faith and to our Christian tenets and the truth of God.

It does not mean that we will necessarily suffer and endure hardships, but neither should we expect that life will be smooth-sailing for us just because we believe in God. And ultimately, these divisions came about not because the Lord desires this deplorable state of disunity. Rather, it is our own stubbornness and constant refusal to listen to the Lord and our disobedience that led to these divisions.

It is because we as Christians standing faithfully by the Lord and His righteous path, that we face conflicts, divisions and persecutions from those who refuse to believe in the Lord. Our righteousness and faithful way of life are abomination and terror for those who have chosen the wicked path of life, without faith in God and those who disagreed with His truth.

This is where, our wonderful saint today can show us so much how to live faithfully in accordance with God’s will even amidst the greatest of challenges and difficulties. Karol Jozef Wojtyla, later known as Pope St. John Paul II, was one of the most renowned leaders of the Church as the Successor of St. Peter the Apostle, known for being the first non-Italian pope in over four centuries, as well as for his long reign of almost twenty-seven years.

Pope St. John Paul II was born in Poland in the town of Wadowice not long after the end of the First World War and the independence of Poland, after great destructions and all the horrors of war that had occurred. He lost his family and loved ones early on, and he faced challenges that were truly great as his country edged on into war, and as Poland was conquered and occupied before he even turned twenty, he did not have it easy.

Even as the young Karol Wojtyla entered the seminary and studied to be a priest, he had to do it in secret due to the difficult conditions at the time, and he spent those years amidst bitter conflicts that happened and killed multitudes, including those whom he knew personally. And when the war and NAZI Germany atrocities were over, immediately the Communists led by the Soviet Union took over.

The young Pope St. John Paul II spent his early years of priesthood amidst the increasingly difficult situation for the Church and as many were persecuted for remaining loyal to the Church and their faith in God. When he was chosen as the Auxiliary Bishop of Krakow, and then later on as the Archbishop of Krakow, only more challenges faced him and his flock. He faced opposition to his efforts to care for his flock, and when a new church was to be built in a new town called Nowa Huta, the authorities tried to prevent its building, in a city without church in the attempt by the atheist Communist government to oppress the Church and the faithful.

Yet, all these did not stop the Archbishop from eventually prevailing and had the church built after over a decade of struggle, and when Karol Wojtyla was elected as the Pope and Supreme Pontiff in the Year of Our Lord 1978, he continued to labour hard for the sake of all the faithful. And even through an assassination attempt just few years into his Pontificate, which left him injured quite badly, as well as other challenges and troubles the Church had to face, up to the personal sufferings and physical disabilities caused by Parkinson’s Disease towards the end of his Pontificate, Pope St. John Paul remained firm in his dedication to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we can see from the well-known life and examples of Pope St. John Paul II that to be Christians does not necessarily mean that we will have smooth-sailing and good life without troubles. Trials, challenges and troubles can beset us at any time, and if we are not firm enough with our faith, we may end up being dragged down the path of sin. We must instead stay strong and resolute, and follow the inspiring example of Pope St. John Paul II in his faith and devotion to God.

Let us all discern carefully our path forward in life, brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us all renew our faith and our commitment from now on, striving to be good and faithful Christians at all times and in every moments of our lives, in our every actions and interactions with one another. May God bless us all and may He guide us in our journey of faith through life. Amen.

Thursday, 22 October 2020 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. John Paul II, Pope (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Popes)

Luke 12 : 49-53

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “I have come to bring fire upon the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and what anguish I feel until it is finished! Do you think that I have come to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on, in one house five will be divided : three against two, and two against three.”

“They will be divided, father against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

Thursday, 22 October 2020 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. John Paul II, Pope (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Popes)

Psalm 32 : 1-2, 4-5, 11-12, 18-19

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.

But His plan stands forever, and His heart’s design, through all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is YHVH – the people He has chosen for His inheritance.

But the Lord’s eyes are upon those who fear Him, upon those who trust in His loving-kindness to deliver them from death and preserve them from famine.

Thursday, 22 October 2020 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. John Paul II, Pope (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Popes)

Ephesians 3 : 14-21

And, now, I kneel in the presence of the Father, from Whom, every family in heaven and on earth has received its name. May He strengthen in you, the inner self, through His Spirit, according to the riches of His glory; may Christ dwell in your hearts, through faith; may you be rooted and founded in love.

All of this, so that you may understand, with all the holy ones, the width, the length, the height and the depth – in a word, that you may know the love of Christ, that surpasses all knowledge, that you may be filled, and reach the fullness of God.

Glory to God, Who shows His power in us, and can do much more than we could ask or imagine; glory to Him, in the Church, and in Christ Jesus, through all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, 22 October 2019 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. John Paul II, Pope (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Popes)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the Scriptures in which we are reminded of the frailty and the weakness of our flesh and our human existence because of sin, the cause of our downfall and our troubles. Through sin as St. Paul mentioned in our first reading today within his Epistle to the Romans, we have been made unclean and unworthy before God, and because of this we have been sundered from God’s loving grace.

As a result, we had to suffer the consequence of sin, which is death, and death leads into separation from God. Unless we get rid of these sins from ourselves, we will face eternal separation from God which is hell for us. Hell is the state of rejection of God’s love and grace in which there can be no recourse or way out, because even though God had generously offered His loving and tender mercy, but we consciously rejected Him and His mercy.

But what St. Paul also mentioned in the same reading passage today, is that no matter how terrible and powerful sin may seem to be, and how difficult it may seem to be for us to overcome sin, but God’s grace is even all the more powerful and bountiful. We must not lose hope or despair just because we think that our sins are too great to be forgiven, for this is exactly what the devil wants, that we feel so unworthy that we reject God even involuntarily.

God has made available for us His salvation and loving grace through none other than Jesus Christ, His begotten Son, Who entered into this world as the New Adam in contrary to the old Adam in a figurative way. While the old Adam sinned by disobeying God and by listening to the temptations of evil and his own desires instead of listening to God, Christ as the New Adam became the archetype and progenitor of a new existence of humankind in faith.

By His commitment and dedication to the mission that His Father has entrusted to Him, and by the total obedience to the will of God His Father, the Lord Jesus showed us all what it means to be a true disciple and follower of God, being faithful and obedient in all things. It is through obedience and adherence to the will of God that we show our love for God and our faith in Him, as opposed to the sins which we have committed against Him.

But we must also realise that such a path would not be easy because there will be plenty of challenges, opposition and difficulty in our journey. Yet, if we choose to delay and wait, it will not turn out good for us, because the longer we delay and wait, thinking that we still have the time, the even more difficult it will be for us to turn away from sin, because sin is powerful and addictive, and it will make us to want to sin and disobey even more.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord warned His disciples to be ever prepared, for no one but He alone knows when the exact moment of reckoning for all of us will be. None of us know when exactly our earthly existence will end and when we will be called back to the Lord to give an account of our respective lives, on all the actions we have taken in our lives and even what we have failed to do in those same lives.

God has called us all to be faithful to Him, to do what He has taught us to do, to follow His will and to be righteous, good and just in everything that we say, act and do. And today, all of us can be inspired by the examples shown by one of His holy ones, and in particular because many of us are familiar with this figure, who is none other than one of our recent Popes, Pope St. John Paul II, who was the Bishop of Rome and Leader of the Church for over twenty-seven years.

Pope St. John Paul II, born Karol Jozef Wojtyla in Krakow, Poland was a holy man in piety and action, having also suffered greatly in his early years, losing all of his closest family members by the time he reached his twenties due to sickness and other occurrences, and also suffering directly the terrible effects of the Second World War when he had to face the bitterness of the world and the terrible realities of war and human greed.

And through the many years of the Communism in Poland that followed, Pope St. John Paul II had a difficult ministry as a young priest at first, and then as the Auxiliary Bishop and then Metropolitan Archbishop of Krakow. He had to deal with the difficult opposition and even persecution of the faithful and the Church from the government authorities. Yet, the then Archbishop Wojtyla remained committed to serving the people of God, his flock, devoting his time, effort and attention on them.

As Pope, during the long twenty-seven years of reign and pontificate, Pope St. John Paul II contributed greatly to the Church and the faith, in the field of evangelisation and in maintaining the orthodoxy and relevance of the Catholic faith in the midst of the ever changing world. He was also instrumental in bringing down the Communist regimes throughout Central and Eastern Europe and was also known for his peacemaking efforts.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we know and are well aware of, Pope St. John Paul II is truly a great role model for all of us on how we should live our lives faithfully in God from now on. Let us follow his good examples and therefore becoming good and faithful disciples of Christ from now on. May God continue to bless us and guide us in our journey of faith. Amen.

Tuesday, 22 October 2019 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. John Paul II, Pope (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Popes)

Luke 12 : 35-38

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “Be ready, dressed for service, and keep your lamps lit, like people waiting for their master to return from the wedding. As soon as he comes and knocks, they will open the door to him. Happy are those servants whom the master finds wide-awake when he comes.”

“Truly, I tell you, he will put an apron, and have them sit at table, and he will wait on them. Happy are those servants, if he finds them awake when he comes at midnight or daybreak!”

Tuesday, 22 October 2019 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. John Paul II, Pope (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Popes)

Psalm 39 : 7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 17

Sacrifice and oblation You did not desire; this, You had me understand. Burnt offering and sin offering You do not require. Then I said, “Here I come!”

As the scroll says of me. To do Your will is my delight, o God, for Your law is within my heart.

In the great assembly I have proclaimed Your saving help. My lips, o YHVH, I did not seal – You know that very well.

But may all those who seek You, rejoice, and be glad in You; and may all who love Your saving grace continually say, “YHVH is great.”

Tuesday, 22 October 2019 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. John Paul II, Pope (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Popes)

Romans 5 : 12, 15b, 17-19, 20b-21

Therefore, sin entered the world through one man; and through sin, death; and later on, death spread to all humankind, because all sinned. All died, because of the fault of one man, but how much more does the grace of God spread, when the gift He granted, reaches all, from this unique Man, Jesus Christ.

If death reigned through the disobedience of one and only one person, how much more, will there be a reign of life, for those who receive the grace, and the gift of true righteousness, through the one Person, Jesus Christ. Just as one transgression brought sentence of death to all, so, too, one Man’s good act has brought justification and light to all; and, as the disobedience of only one, made all sinners, so the obedience of one Person, allowed all to be made just and holy.

But where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, and, as sin caused death to reign, so grace will reign, in its own time, and, after making us just, and friends of God, will bring us to eternal life, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Monday, 22 October 2018 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. John Paul II, Pope (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Popes)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the Word of God in the Scriptures reminding each and every one of us to be centred on God and to be faithful to Him, and not be distracted by the many temptations and allures of worldly pleasures, wealth, money, happiness, all sorts of conveniences, possessions, fame, influence, and all sorts of other things that are indeed, obstacles in the way of our faith.

In the Gospel passage today, we heard of the parable told by the Lord Jesus, referring to a rich man who had plenty of possessions and goods, who was not satisfied with what he had received and wanted to gain even more. He had big plans for himself and his riches, wanting to tear down the barns that he had, so that he could build even bigger barns to store even more of the possessions he had.

This means that the man had the desire in his heart for even more, and not being satisfied by what he already possessed. And this is natural to us man, to have this greed inside our hearts and minds, and if we indulge in allowing our greed to overtake us, then eventually we will end up like that rich man, who thought of nothing else either than to gain more for his own desires and wants, for earthly riches and pleasures.

And in doing so, like the rich man, we will end up forgetting that all of these worldly things, items, objects and possessions are merely temporary, illusory and fleeing in nature. None of these, our money, our wealth, our material possessions, branded goods, cars, vehicles, and all things will be retained with us when we are called to give the account of our life before Our Lord and Master.

In what St. Paul mentioned in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Ephesus, God has given us a far greater and more tremendous gift, that is the gift of His eternal and infinite love. His mercy and love has been given to us freely, and made it evident and tangible to us through Christ, His Son, Our Saviour. There is no greater gift than this, and there is no greater love than what Our Lord and Saviour has shown us, not by mere action, but through what He had borne upon Himself, the suffering of the Cross.

We must realise that our greed and our inability to resist the temptations of the devil have become the source of our failures and our downfall, from the very moment that he caused our ancestors to sin by disobeying God. The devil knows exactly where to strike, and how to strike at us, especially by taking advantage of our predisposition and vulnerability to pride and greed. And by these, he had lured many souls who did not know that they had fallen into the trap of the evil one.

But the Lord did not remain silent and neither did He show any apathy to our fallen state. And that was exactly how He gave us the source of our new life and deliverance through the giving of His Son, by Whose death on the Cross, the Precious Blood that flows down from that Cross, then our faults and sins are washed away and we are cleansed and made anew. This is in truth, the selfless and perfect love that God desired to shoe us.

The Lord Himself was also tempted by the devil as shown in the three temptations Satan made to the Lord in the desert right after He was baptised by St. John the Baptist. We can see here just how persistent the devil is, in trying to prevent us mankind from being saved, and the method by which he did all these, was mentioned clearly in the Gospels, that he played along with our human desires, for power, for glory, for wealth, for satisfaction of the body and the flesh, which includes that of gluttony and many more.

But the Lord Jesus showed us how we should live our lives as Christians, that is the total surrender and giving of oneself to the will of God, Our Lord and loving Father. The Lord Jesus did not allow Himself to be tempted or swayed from His mission, and remained true to the calling which the Lord, His heavenly Father has given Him. He resisted the devil’s efforts to undermine His works and mission.

Indeed, He was tempted, to the very end, and in His humanity, He agonised over the upcoming suffering and pain, at the time when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, but He persisted on, and by His love and generous will to forgive us our sins, He willingly took up our sins and faults, and bore it upon Himself, as He went on to His crucifixion, suffering and death.

As Christians therefore, we are called to follow the Lord’s example, in how He gave everything for the sake of His love for us, even to the point of laying down His own life for us. His surrender to the will of the Father was so complete and total, that indeed, all of us ought to learn from Him, in how we should also surrender ourselves to the will of God, Our Lord and loving Father.

Today, we all celebrate the feast of a great saint and servant of God, Pope St. John Paul II, whom many of us must have been quite familiar with. He was a very renowned figure in the Church, having reigned as the Supreme Pontiff and Successor of St. Peter the Apostle for twenty-seven years, achieving many significant milestones and important breakthroughs in the history of the Church and the salvation of God’s people.

And Pope St. John Paul II devoted himself totally to the work and the mission which the Lord had called him to, as shown in his motto, “Totus Tuus”, which means, “All is Yours”. This motto embodies exactly what Pope St. John Paul II believed in his life, in how he carried on performing his mission as a devout servant of God. He who has experienced bitter losses of family, friends and others he knew early on in his life due to sickness and war, gave everything he had to God, and entrusted himself completely to the Lord and to the guidance of His Blessed Mother Mary.

Many of us are aware of the many achievements and good works that Pope St. John Paul II had done throughout his life and throughout his reign as the Pope, as leader of the Universal Church. But this is an important lesson and reminder for all of us that each and every one of us can also do the same, if only that we learn to remove from ourselves all the attachments to worldly desires and pleasures, which have become obstacles and chains that kept us away from being able to give our very best effort.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, let us all renew our effort to love the Lord and to commit ourselves wholeheartedly again towards the Lord. Let us all give ourselves and love the Lord with a renewed spirit and zeal, from now on, that we may truly be able to receive the fullness of God’s mercy and love, and be worthy of the eternal life and glory He has promised to all those who are faithful to Him. May the Lord bless us all and our works, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 22 October 2018 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. John Paul II, Pope (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Popes)

Luke 12 : 13-21

At that time, someone in the crowd spoke to Jesus, “Master, tell my brother to share with me the family inheritance.” He replied, “My friend, who has appointed Me as your Judge or your Attorney?” Then Jesus said to the people, “Be on your guard and avoid every kind of greed, for even though you have many possessions, it is not that which gives you life.”

And Jesus continued, “There was a rich man, and his land had produced a good harvest. He thought, ‘What shall I do, for I am short of room to store my harvest? Alright, I know what I shall do : I will pull down my barns and I will build bigger ones, to store all this grain, which is my wealth. Then I will say to myself : My friend, you have a lot of good things put by for many years. Rest, eat, drink and enjoy yourself.'”

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be taken from you. Tell Me, who shall get all you have put aside?’ This is the lot of the one who stores up riches for himself and is not wealthy in the eyes of God.”