Monday, 26 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all presented with the reminders for us to remain faithful to God and obedient to Him. Each one of us are expected to commit ourselves to His cause and to follow Him wholeheartedly, giving our whole lives and attention, focusing our hearts and minds on Him, and dedicating our time and efforts to His cause. All of us should be genuine in our faith and way of life so that we may be truly exemplary and worthy of the Lord, despite the many challenges and trials that we may have to face amidst that path of following the Lord.

In our first reading today, all of us heard from the Book of Job the beginning of a series of discourse from this servant of God named Job, who was well-known for being one struck down by Satan and afflicted with all sorts of maladies and unfortunate occurrences and events, and yet remained faithful to the Lord despite all of that. We heard how God and Satan had a conversation in which the latter made a bet that should he strike down at Job and his belongings, and eventually even at his own body and physical being, then Job would abandon the Lord and defy Him. But God knew Job well and He knew that Job would always be faithful.

Historically, there was little evidence that Job ever actually existed, and consensus amongst Biblical scholars and archaeologists are that Job was actually a figurative person probably based on some real stories and experiences, who was highlighted and told in order to show us the importance of perseverance in faith, and how God would not abandon His faithful ones even amidst the greatest of challenges and trials. God will always remember all of His people, and all the more so for those who have shown their faith to Him. It may be that we have to suffer for a time and for some moments, but in the end, we shall be triumphant together with God.

Regardless whether Job was actually historical, existent or not, we should heed the message of what we have heard from the Book of Job and based on what more we knew about Job and his story. God always loves all of His people, and He has always shown His love and care in ways that we may often even not be aware of. The Lord wants us to know that we always have Him by our side and despite the challenges that we have to face, we can always depend on Him and trust in Him. Unfortunately, often time it is we who abandon Him and ignore Him, and put our trust in everything else but the Lord.

That is why in our Gospel passage today, we heard the words of the Lord Jesus speaking to His disciples, which serve as a reminder that all of us ought to seek the Lord with genuine faith, like that of little children coming towards the Lord. Those little children came to the Lord with true and genuine faith, unadulterated and unaffected by worldly ambitions, desires and other things that often distracted us from our path towards God. We must not allow ourselves to be swayed by those who seek our downfall and destruction, and we have to heed the Lord’s words, His calling and all that He had done for our sake.

The Lord called on all of us to be humble and to free ourselves from all sorts of worldly temptations and delusions, all the false treasures and corruptions often present all around us, and remaining faithful to God. Job was able to remain faithful to God despite the many calamities he had encountered, in the numerous material and personal losses that he had to endure, all because he trusted in the Lord much more than he trusted in the powers, wealth and might of the world. He trusted that God Who had given him everything, had the right to take everything back from him, and that God would take care of him and all that he needed. That is, brothers and sisters, the faith that all of us should have as well.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, holy martyrs of the Church, who were persecuted and tortured for their faith in God during the great persecution of the Church and Christians by the Roman Emperor Diocletian. According to Church tradition and martyrology, St. Cosmas and St. Damian were twin brothers who were also physicians, and were renowned for their loving care for the poor and the sick, as they were known not to take any payment for those who were sick and yet were unable to pay for the medical fees and services. They were popular because of their skill as healers, and this eventually led them to be arrested by the authorities.

Despite their many efforts to try to persuade, coerce and force St. Cosmas and St. Damian from abandoning their faith in God, even with temptations and riches, the authorities were not able to sway the two physician brothers and they could not force them to recant their faith and reject God. And hence, after a period of torture and suffering, eventually each one of them were subjected to capital punishments and were martyred for their faith. The examples and inspiration shown by St. Cosmas and St. Damian truly still inspired many all around the world even to this day, for their faith and dedication to the Lord. We too should be inspired by their examples.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore commit ourselves ever more to the Lord from now on, dedicating our lives to serve Him and to walk in His path, becoming great beacons of His light and truth in our world today. Let us all not be swayed by the temptations of the world, but instead do our best to strive and glorify God by our every actions, words and deeds, to be faithful to Him like what St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Job the faithful man of God, and many others of our holy predecessors. May more and more people come to know the Lord through us, and may more and more souls come to the salvation and eternal glory in God through our faithful witness and actions. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 26 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Luke 9 : 46-50

At that time, one day, the disciples were arguing about which of them was the most important. But Jesus knew their thoughts, so He took a little child and stood him by His side. Then He said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in My Name, welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me, welcomes the One Who sent Me. And listen : the one who is found to be the least among you all, is the one who is the greatest.”

Then John spoke up, “Master, we saw someone who drives out demons by calling upon Your Name, and we tried to forbid him, because he does not follow You with us.” But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him. He who is not against you is for you.”

Monday, 26 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 16 : 1, 2-3, 6-7

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

Let my defence come forth from You; Your eyes see what is right. You have probed my heart, searched me at night, tested me by fire, and You have seen no wickedness in me.

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.

Monday, 26 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Job 1 : 6-22

One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before YHVH, and Satan came with them. YHVH asked Satan, “Where have you been?” Satan answered, “Going up and down the earth, roaming about.”

YHVH asked again, “Have you noticed My servant Job? No one on earth is as blameless and upright as he, a man who fears God and avoids evil.” But Satan returned the question, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not built a protective wall around him and his family and all his possessions? You have blessed and prospered him, with his livestock all over the land. But stretch out Your hand and strike where his riches are, and I bet he will curse You to Your face.”

YHVH said to Satan, “Very well, all that he has is in your power. But do not lay a finger upon the man himself.” So Satan left the presence of YHVH. One day, while his sons and daughters were feasting in the house of their eldest brother, a messenger came to Job and said, “Your oxen were plowing, and your donkeys were grazing nearby when the Sabaeans came and carried them off. They killed the herdsmen. I alone escaped to tell you.”

While he was still speaking, another messenger came, “God’s fire fell from the sky and burnt all your sheep and the shepherds as well. I alone have escaped to tell you.” He had hardly finished speaking when another messenger arrived, “Three raiding teams of Chaldeans have killed your servants and carried off your camels. I alone have escaped to tell you.”

He was still speaking when another messenger came and said to Job, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking in the house of their eldest brother when suddenly a great wind blew across the desert and struck the house. It collapsed on the young people and they all died. I alone have escaped to tell you.”

In grief Job tore his clothes and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground and worshipped, saying, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, naked shall I return. YHVH gave, YHVH has taken away. Blessed be His Name!”

In spite of this calamity, Job did not sin by blaspheming God.

Thursday, 26 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of God in the Scriptures reminding us about the time for us to embrace God’s love and compassion to their fullest, knowing that He has always loved us dearly and He never ceases to want to reach out to us, welcoming us back into His embrace and forgiving us from our sins. And we should not wait any longer and try our best to seek Him out at the soonest opportunity available.

In our first reading today, we heard the passage taken from the Book of the prophet Haggai in which God spoke through the prophet Haggai to the people of God represented by their leader Zerubbabel, the heir of David and the other leaders and elders of the community. God told them all to reconsider their continued delaying and refusal to rebuild the House of God in Jerusalem even after they have returned to their ancestral homeland from their exile in Babylon.

The people have rebuilt their houses and cities and they have resettled back nicely in their ancestral land, and yet, the prophet Haggai pointed out that as long as the House of their Lord, the Temple in the city of Jerusalem has not been rebuilt yet, to replace the one built by Solomon that has been destroyed by the Babylonians, the Israelites would not be able to find true and lasting happiness and peace.

And that is all because of the fact that God has not been truly at the heart and centre of their community, and the Lord had not yet dwelled again amidst His people as He had once done. And that was why the prophet Haggai insisted that the people rebuild the Temple of Jerusalem and put their priorities right, spending the effort to return the Lord’s glory back in the midst of His people.

The Temple is a very important centre of the community of the Israelites, especially for the community post-exile from Babylon, as it was a new centre of their community that had once been scattered in the faraway lands, as the focal point of all the believers in God, and where they would go on the days of the important festivals and celebrations like the Passover among many other festivals and celebrations.

And we can see all that in how at the time of the Lord Jesus, throughout the Gospels and into the time of the Apostles and the early Church, the Temple played such a very important role in the Jewish community and also among the earliest Christians who went to the Temple to gather and worship, and the Lord Himself spent a lot of time teaching at the Temple, and as we all know, He once cleared that same Temple from the corruption of merchants and cheaters with zealous anger.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, what then is the significance of today’s Scripture readings to us? It is the fact that all of us are God’s chosen people, and therefore, rightfully, God should be at the very centre of our lives and our existences. We should not tarry and wait, postpone and delay in doing this just as what the Israelites had done in rebuilding the House of God while they have rebuilt their houses and cities.

It means that just as we continue to live our lives, building our careers and families, and even our wealth and property, our worldly belongings and things that we desire, we must always remember that our obligation is to focus ourselves on God and place Him at the very centre of our lives, and in everything we say and do, we must always have God in mind, or else indeed it will be very easy for us to go astray and fall into sin.

Today let us all reflect on this, and how we can make ourselves to be better Christians more attuned to God’s will and more capable of walking down this journey of faith. And we should look for inspiration from two of His faithful saints, St. Cosmas and St. Damian, two holy martyrs of the Church and devout servants of God who had given their whole lives to the service of God, and remained faithful to the very end.

St. Cosmas and St. Damian were known as famous physicians who were also twins, and they were known to treat the poor and the needy without charging them for their services. They also remained true and faithful to God even amidst the persecution of Christians at that time under the Roman Emperor Diocletian. St. Cosmas and St. Damian were martyred, but their courageous faith and also upright life and generosity in loving others truly showed us what it truly means for us to be Christians.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to follow in their footsteps? Are we able to walk the same path that St. Cosmas and St. Damian had walked, in following God wholeheartedly and giving ourselves to Him in each and every words, actions and deeds we take? Let us all draw ever closer to God and let us be ever more faithful to Him from now on, so that we may truly come to the eternal glory He has promised us all who are faithful to Him. Amen.

Thursday, 26 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Luke 9 : 7-9

At that time, king Herod heard of all that Jesus and His disciples had done, and did not know what to think, for people said, “This is John, raised from the dead.”

Others believed that Elijah, or one of the ancient prophets, had come back to life. As for Herod, he said, “I had John beheaded. Who is this Man, about Whom I hear such wonders?” And he was anxious to see Him.

Thursday, 26 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 149 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6a and 9b

Alleluia! Sing to YHVH a new song, sing His praise in the assembly of His saints. Let Israel rejoice in his Maker; let the people of Zion glory in their King!

Let them dance in praise of His Name; and make music for music for Him with harp and timbrel. For YHVH delights in His people; He crowns the lowly with victory.

The saints will exult in triumph; even at night, on their couches, let the praise of God be on their lips. This is the glory of all His saints. Alleluia!

Thursday, 26 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Haggai 1 : 1-8

In the second year of the reign of Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, a word of YHVH was directed to the prophet Haggai, for the benefit of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest.

So says YHVH of hosts : This people claim that the time to rebuild the House of YHVH has not yet come. Well now, hear what I have to say through the prophet Haggai : Is this the time for you to live in your well-built houses while this House is a heap of ruins? Think about your ways : you have sown much but harvested little; you eat and drink, but are not satisfied; you clothe yourselves, but still feel cold; and the labourer puts the money he earned in a tattered purse.

Now think about what you must do : go to the mountain and look for wood to rebuild the House. This will make me happy; and I will feel deeply honoured, says YHVH.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the word of God from the Scriptures, in which we heard from our Gospel passage today, of the moment when the Lord Jesus sent out His disciples to go before Him to the many towns and villages He Himself was about to go, in order to prepare His way before His coming, by preaching to the people about the truth of His salvation.

He told them all not to bring with them any spare money, provisions, or even tunic and clothings. Literally He told them to go forth into their missionary journey with the bare minimum of what they had on them, their own bodies and the least of all conveniences available to them. And why did He do so? That is because He wanted them all not to depend on all of their earthly goods and assistances.

The disciples should not put their trust in their own strength, or in their worldly resources and abilities. Instead, they should trust wholeheartedly in God, putting themselves and entrusting themselves in His care and love. They must draw upon the strength and the grace of God, which He has given to each and every one of us in our own way. In that manner then, they will truly be able to do their work and calling with the right intention in mind.

Otherwise, if they depended on their own strength and abilities, their own resources and their own efforts, then they will have vested interests in the conduct of their daily missionary works. They will then be biased in their works, depending on whether what they invested in the work give positive returns in the end. That means, our human instinct of desiring reward and affirmation will kick in, and should what we have given does not give us the return we want, then we will not be willing to give more.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why the Lord sent them out with the barest minimum in everything so that they may put their complete trust in God in everything, from everything good or bad that might have happened to them, in everything they encountered in life, and throughout their mission, that God alone is the centre, the focus, the purpose and the destination of their whole effort, their works and their ministry.

And thus, God has laid for us the expectation which He made for all of us as parts and members of His Church, to be God-centric and full of faith in Him as we go about doing our works and contributions as His servants and witnesses in faith. Unfortunately, the reality is that many of us have not been true to this expectation which the Lord has given us, especially because of our attachments to the world and all of its temptations.

That is why, all of us in the Church, especially in the different Church ministries and segments ended up being embroiled in politicking and internal rivalries, because we have forgotten what it means for us to serve the Lord through His Church and as members of His Church. We make use of the Church and its ministries as springboard to our own success and self-serving goals, to be more affluent and gain more influence in the community.

But that is not what we should be doing as servants and followers of God. Instead, we should resist the temptations of our pride and human desires, for all sorts of worldly satisfaction of power, of wealth, of glory and fame. We should realise that our sole and main objective is not our personal satisfaction or achievement, but rather, the glorification of God and the advancement of His work of salvation among us.

And in doing so, we must realise that the journey will not be all smooth and good for us, as there is bound to be rejection and challenges we will encounter along the way. What the Lord said to His disciples at that time was a premonition of what they would encounter, in the various persecutions that they would endure for the sake of the Lord and His people. Many martyrs of the faith were made when the world struck back against the good and faithful workers of the Lord.

Today, we celebrate the feast of two holy martyrs, St. Cosmas and St. Damian. St. Cosmas and St. Damian were renowned physicians who took care of the maladies and sicknesses of both the flesh and the spirit, through their expertise in medicine and in the matter of the faith. Many people came to them seeking for help, and many of these were cured when the two saints touched them and worked on them.

But they had to endure horrible persecution of the faithful and the Church by the Roman Emperor Diocletian. They were arrested and tortured, and yet they remained faithful despite the offers to free and reward them should they willingly want to abandon their faith. St. Cosmas and St. Damian remained faithful unto death in martyrdom, and by their examples in faith and charity, they have become our inspiration in faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all commit ourselves to the Lord as St. Cosmas and St. Damian, as well as the many other holy men and women had done before us. May the Lord guide us in our journey of life, that we will be ever more faithful to Him, and draw ever closer to Him, each and every days of our life, enduring whatever persecution and challenges that may come our way. Amen.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Luke 9 : 1-6

At that time, Jesus called His Twelve disciples and gave them power and authority to drive out all evil spirits and to heal diseases. And He sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He instructed them, “Do not take anything for the journey, neither staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not even take a spare tunic.”

“Whatever house you enter, remain there until you leave that place. And wherever they do not welcome you, leave the town and shake the dust from your feet : it will be as a testimony against them.”

So they set out, and went through the villages, proclaiming the Good News and healing people everywhere.