Monday, 11 June 2018 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Barnabas, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast of one of the Apostles of the Lord, namely St. Barnabas, the companion of the famed St. Paul the Apostle, during several of his missionary trips around the Eastern Mediterranean region. St. Barnabas accompanied St. Paul from cities to cities, preaching the Christian faith to the people in those places.

St. Barnabas and St. Paul were not among the Twelve Apostles, who were Christ’s chief confidants and followers. However, as an Apostle, St. Barnabas was a key component and part in the foundation of the early Christian Church. Together with St. Paul and the other Apostles, they worked tirelessly to establish the foundations of the Church and spread the faith to many places throughout the Eastern Mediterranean.

We heard about their exploits in the first reading passage today, and if we continued reading the entire Acts of the Apostles and the letters that St. Paul wrote to the various communities of the faithful, we can see how the works of St. Barnabas and the Apostles were crucial in the establishment of the faith in numerous places, despite the hardships and challenges that they had to endure.

Without their hard work and perseverance, we would not have the Church as it is today, and many souls would have been lost to damnation, as without the truth being brought forth to the masses by these faithful servants of God, they would have remained in the darkness and ignorance, and remaining in the state of sin, they would have been lost.

However, as we should have realised, that with the hard work that the Apostles had given, also came great perseverance and suffering that they had to endure. The Lord Jesus commissioned His disciples to go forth in their assigned works in our Gospel passage today, and then, He even told them of what to expect in their work, that there would be those who would refuse to believe them, and would reject them.

To the Apostles, this would mean suffering and persecution, and just as St. Paul had experienced many times, they had to go through suffering in prison, and died a painful martyr’s death. Some were crucified on crosses, while others were beheaded, shot with arrows, or thrown to the lions and wild animals in the gladiator arena, and many more were tortured to death.

Yet, they remained true to their faith and refused to give it up to secure their own lives. They would rather suffer and perish in faith rather than to betray and abandon their Lord. Their example should be our inspiration on how we should live faithfully in accordance to God’s ways, and stand up for our faith in Him, as all true Christians should. We should no longer be lukewarm in our faith, and begin from now on, to practice our faith in our lives.

That is how we can also take part in the work of evangelisation that the Apostles had begun, as preaching by word alone is just one way of evangelising the faith to others. In fact, if we do not act in the same manner as we have preached and spoken, no one will believe in us. The Apostles lived as they have believed, and they practiced the love that they had been shown in their daily lives and interactions, caring for the need of one another, and loving God with all of their might.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the works of the Apostles, as I have mentioned, are not yet complete. There are still many areas in which the faith can reach out to many more souls who are still lost from the Lord. Even within our Church there are still many of those who have lost their faith, or become lukewarm and apathetic in the living of their faith. This is where we can play our part, to be examples and inspirations to each other in faith.

May the Lord be with us all, and may through the intercession of St. Barnabas, all of us will draw ever closer to God, and be more faithful in our respective lives, day after day. May God bless us all and our endeavours. Amen.

Monday, 11 June 2018 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Barnabas, Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Matthew 10 : 7-13

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Go, and proclaim this message : The kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, bring the dead back to life, cleanse the lepers, and drive out demons. Freely have you received, freely give. Do not carry any gold or silver or money in your purses. Do not take a travelling bag, or an extra shirt, or sandals, or a walking stick : workers deserve to be compensated.”

“When you come to a town or a village, look for a worthy person, and stay there until you leave. When you enter the house, wish it peace. If the people are worthy people, your peace will rest on them; if they are not worthy people, your blessing will come back to you.”

Monday, 11 June 2018 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Barnabas, Apostle (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 97 : 1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4, 5-6

Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

The Lord has shown His salvation, revealing His justice to the nations. He has not forgotten His love nor His faithfulness to Israel.

The farthest ends of the earth all have seen God’s saving power. All you lands, make a joyful noise to the Lord, break into song and sing praise.

With melody of the lyre and with music of the harp. With trumpet blast and sound of the horn, rejoice before the King, the Lord!

Monday, 11 June 2018 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Barnabas, Apostle (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Acts 11 : 21b-26 and Acts 13 : 1-3

A great number believed and turned to the Lord. News of this reached the ears of the Church in Jerusalem, so they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw the manifest signs of God’s favour, he rejoiced and urged them all to remain firmly faithful to the Lord; for he, himself, was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith. Thus large crowds came to know the Lord.

Then Barnabas went off to Tarsus, to look for Saul; and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year, they had meetings with the Church and instructed many people. It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.

There were at Antioch – in the Church which was there – prophets and teachers : Barnabas, Symeon known as Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod, and Saul. On one occasion, while they were celebrating the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said to them, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul to do the work for which I have called them.”

So, after fasting and praying, they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

Sunday, 11 June 2017 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday and Feast of St. Barnabas, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday we celebrate the great occasion of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, one of the centrepiece of our faith, and yet one which is also often misunderstood by many people, both by those who are outside the Church, and even among Christians like us. How many of us truly know what is the Holy Trinity and how important it is for us Christians?

Imagine, brothers and sisters in Christ, if someone is to come to us and ask us, questions such as what kind of God do we believe in, or what is the Holy Trinity which Christians believe in, are we able to give them an accurate and reliable answer based on our knowledge of the Holy Trinity? It is often that, we realise that not only that in many occasions, Christians are taken aback by such questions, as we often take for granted what we believe in, and we do not take the effort needed to understand better what is the mystery and truth of our God.

What if someone is to ask us why we believe in three Gods or three separate divine Beings, or if someone else indeed accuse us of being false to our supposedly monotheistic faith because we believe in three Gods? It is truly a reality that there are quite a few people who do not truly understand our Christian faith, who thought that we worship three distinct Gods, in the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, and therefore, we do not believe in the One and only God, Creator and Master of all the universe.

But all of them were born out of misinformation, misunderstanding and the lack of true knowledge of what our Christian faith is. We have received the fullness of truth, and therefore, the ultimate truth of God, and the One Who had revealed it was none other than God Himself, through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. And Jesus Himself had made known to His disciples on more than one occasion, that only He alone knows the truth about God, for no one who did not come from the Lord would know the truth. Because Jesus Himself is God, certainly He has the full knowledge of truth.

And what is this truth, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is what all of us Christians need to know, for it lies at the very centre of our faith, at the very heart of all that we believe in Christ. First of all, we all believe in the One and only One True God, Who is beyond compare and Almighty, and there is no other god besides Him. All the other gods and deities are pagans and of false origins, for it is the Lord our God Who is the Creator of everything in the universe, and therefore He is the Master of all.

Then, secondly, we believe that while there is only One and only One God, but that same God has in existence three distinct Divine Persons, namely the Father, the Son and then the Holy Spirit. The Father is not the Son and not the Holy Spirit, and vice versa, the Son is not the Father or the Holy Spirit, and thus, the Holy Spirit is also not the Son, or the Father. Each of the three Divine Persons are distinct, and yet at the same time, they are indivisible and inseparable from each other.

For all the three Divine Persons of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit all form the indivisible unity of the One and only God, the Creator, Lord and Master of all the universe. Without any one of the three Divine Persons, the whole unity of Divinity will be imperfect, and truly, we cannot separate one from the other without disrupting and distorting completely the truth about the Lord our God, in Whom we believe.

If you find this explanation to be difficult, it is perfectly understandable, for all these things have been revealed to us by the Lord, as matters that are beyond our normal human and worldly understanding. These are supernatural and spiritual matter which our senses cannot identify and distinguish directly, and therefore, our faith in what the Lord had told us is important.

And how did we know about all of these? How did we receive all of these truths? It is because all of these truths, the teachings of our faith and all that the Lord Jesus has revealed to us mankind through His disciples have been preserved through the Holy Mother Church, to which we belong to. It was through the Church that we have received our faith, for it had preserved the truth via its sacred traditions, and through the compilation of the sacred texts and Gospels into what we now know as the Holy Bible.

And the saints who have preceded us have also taught us in various ways on how to understand the concept of the Holy Trinity, most famous of which was done by St. Patrick, the well known patron saint of Ireland, who was a great missionary that laid the foundation of the faith in Ireland, formerly a deeply pagan country, worshipping pagan idols and gods, but ever since St. Patrick brought them the truth of God, many and eventually all of them converted to the true faith.

St. Patrick used the example of a three-leaf clover, which is a common plant easily found in Ireland. The three-leaf clover is a unique leaf, which leaf blade does not consist of just one singular leaf, or many leaves joined together by their leaf stalks. Instead, the three-leaf clover has its leaves consisting of three leaf blades that are at the same time conjoined together into a singular leaf. Thus, just like the Holy Trinity, each of the three leaf blades are distinct from each other, and one can see that there are indeed three leaves, and yet, at the same time, there is as a whole, only one leaf.

We cannot detach any one part of the three-leaf clover and still call it a three-leaf clover. A three-leaf clover is only so when all the three leaf parts are attached and intact. In the similar way, we cannot separate any parts of the Most Holy Trinity, the Father from the Son or from the Holy Spirit, and vice versa. They are three Divine Persons, distinct from each other, and yet part of a perfect and indivisible unity as part of a singular and One Godhood.

Using another example, which Jesus had used in His parables, we can also liken the Holy Trinity to salt and light of a candle. How do we know that a certain substance is salt, and not some other substances? That is because, first of all, when we touch salt, it has its crystalline structure, which is clearly different from for example sugar, and even other crystalline sugars like rock sugars and crystal sugars.

And then, when we look at salt, its appearance can be distinguished from that of other substances. We will know if something is not salt by the appearance, and also by the shape and the feel of the crystalline structure as mentioned. And finally, we can taste the salt. Salt has that saltiness taste that makes it to be so useful and favourable by many cultures. Without that saltiness, salt is useless.

Similarly, with regards to flame and candles, the flame provides light to all who sees it, as well as heat. In the past, people do not have electricity as we have nowadays. Therefore, at nighttime, people always live in darkness, and they use the lighted candles to give them light, in order to allow them to do their night activities. And there is no source of heat beside flame, for which reason in winter time or in cold night, people warm themselves around fireplaces and bonfires.

A flame consists of its light, its heat and finally its shape. If a flame has lost its heat, or somehow is devoid of heat, can we still call it as a flame? Surely not. Similarly, if a flame no longer emits light, and therefore cannot be seen, is it still a flame? Certainly it is not either. Therefore, it is the same with the Holy Trinity, for our Lord and God consists of the three Divine Persons that are distinct as much as the heat, light and the shape of the flame is different from each other, and inseparable from each other forming a perfect and indivisible union.

And how is our belief in the Most Holy Trinity important to us as Christians? That is because the whole history of our salvation and creation has been made possible by the works of God, Who is in everything and has been present in everything. The Father willed all things into creation, while the Word of God, the Son, is what the Father used to will all things into being, for example, as He said the words, “Let there be light.”

And the Holy Spirit is in everything, the source of all creation, of all life, through which God made all things into being and possible. The three Divine Persons are at work throughout our creation and our salvation. The Father loves each and every one of us whom He had created, and as the Gospel mentioned today, that because of that love, He sent to us His only begotten Son, the Word of God, Who took up the flesh and nature of Man, and became Man for us, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Through our Lord Jesus, His loving sacrifice on the cross, and by His giving of His own Precious Body and Blood for all of us, He has united all of us, those who believe in Him, to Him, and He is present in all of us, which He affirmed to us, by sending us all, the same Holy Spirit which is part of Him, Who is in us now, giving us the strength and courage to go on living our lives with faith.

All of us have therefore been sealed with the seal of the Most Holy Trinity, of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, beginning with our baptism, be it as babies or as adults, when we were baptised in Their Name. And the Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of Confirmation, see the Lord Himself dwelling in each and every one of us, who have become the Temple of His Most Holy Presence.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, now that we know what the Holy Trinity of our Lord is truly about, and how we ought to explain it to others who are misinformed or are curious about it, and how they have worked together in creation and our salvation, as Christians, all of us are tasked to fulfil what the Lord had commanded us all, that is to call all peoples and all the nations, and baptise them in the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

As such, all of us need to be exemplary in our faith, to do what He has taught us to do, to love Him with all of our heart, and by showing genuine devotion, spending our time with the Lord Who has loved us so much, that He gave us His only Son. And by following in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus, by being humble and obedient, let us all show all the others, especially those who have yet to know about the Lord, that they too, hopefully will also be touched in their hearts, and come to believe in Him.

It is too often that Christians are divided against each other, and we are easily affected by our ego and conflicting human desires, that we bring even suffering and difficulties to our fellow men, even to fellow Christians. If our Lord and God is perfectly united in love, Three Divine Persons as One, then how can we call ourselves as Christians if we do not love one another and are divided against each other?

Let us all thus put our complete trust in the Most Holy Trinity, and as Christians, strive to do our best to glorify Their great and glorious Name. Let us be united with one another and not be divided, and remain as one people, just as They are One. Let us all be exemplary in all of our actions and deeds, and let us all renew our commitment to live faithfully, beginning from ourselves, and then to our families and communities, that more and more people will believe in the Most Holy Trinity, and receive salvation through that faith. May God, the Most Holy Trinity, bless us all. Amen.

Sunday, 11 June 2017 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday and Feast of St. Barnabas, Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
John 3 : 16-18

At that time, Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Yes, God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him may not be lost, but may have eternal life. God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world; instead, through Him the world is to be saved.”

“Whoever believes in Him will not be condemned. He who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the Name of the only Son of God.”

Sunday, 11 June 2017 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday and Feast of St. Barnabas, Apostle (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
2 Corinthians 13 : 11-13

Finally, brothers and sisters, be happy, strive to be perfect, have courage, be of one mind and live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.

The grace of Christ Jesus the Lord, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.