Tuesday, 16 November 2021 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Margaret of Scotland, and St. Gertrude, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints or Holy Virgins)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures all of us are called to reflect on what it means for us to have faith in the Lord and how we should live our lives so that they may be truly reflective of who we are as Christians, as those who believe in the Lord, and as those who are loving Him and seeking Him in our lives, and always ever striving to walk in His presence worthily.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the Maccabees of the continuation of the great persecution of the faithful Jewish people under the reign of King Antiochus IV Epiphanes, King of the Seleucid Empire that at that time had dominion over the land of Judea and Galilee where most of the Jews were living in. As I mentioned yesterday, this king was renowned in history for his great ambition and megalomania, and in how he tried to suppress local customs and way of life in favour of his own Greek culture.

Today we heard how in his persecution, the king persecuted a holy and devout old man, a revered elder of the Jewish community named Eleazar. As per the king’s orders, everyone had to abandon their Jewish customs and practices, the teachings of their faith and embraced Greek traditions, which included the things and actions that were considered as against the Law of God as passed down through Moses and preserved by the Jewish people.

Eleazar’s friends and the king’s men, not wishing to see the old man suffer and die from refusing to obey the king’s commands, tried very hard to persuade him to at least make a show of compliance and obedience, so that he could be spared and then still practiced his faith and beliefs in private. However, Eleazar firmly refused to do that, and he reasoned well saying that as an elder of the people, all the more that he should show example to others, in his faith in God. To publicly show that he was abandoning his faith would cause scandal so great that would have lead many others to abandon their faith too. Thus, Eleazar chose to remain faithful and die for his faith.

In our Gospel passage today we then heard from the story of the Lord Jesus and Zaccheus, a short man and an infamous tax collector. I am sure many of us know of this story, in which Zaccheus was curious about the Lord and wanted to see Him, but because of his height, he actually had to climb a tree just in order to be able to see Him. The Lord then responded to Zaccheus’ vigour and desire to see Him, and told him that He would want to go to his house and stay there.

The Lord did this even though many people there witnessing the events grumbled and gossiped about the Lord spending time in the house of a sinner, as tax collectors back then were very much hated and even treated not just as terrible sinners but also the traitors to the nation. All the more, Zaccheus was a notorious and particularly wealthy tax collector at that. For the Lord Jesus to associate Himself with such a person must have been truly puzzling and scandalous to the people, and yet the Lord still pushed on, telling all of them that there was a sinner who desired to seek the Lord and for His forgiveness.

What this means to all of us is that all of us are called to seek the Lord with all of our heart and strength, and we should have the same faith as our holy predecessors, like that of Eleazar and Zaccheus, to be meek and humble before the Lord, recognising that we are sinners while at the same time striving to do our best to live our lives with holiness and virtues. We should not be discouraged to live our lives with commitment and devotion to God.

Today, all of us can also be inspired by the examples showed by another two saints, namely St. Margaret of Scotland and St. Gertrude the Great. St. Margaret of Scotland was the Queen of Scotland during the Medieval era who was remembered well for her great piety and personal holiness and devotion to God. She was exemplary in fulfilling her duties as queen of the realm, while positively influencing her husband, the king of Scotland, in the management of the realm, and was very much involved in charity outreach to the poor and those who suffer.

St. Margaret of Scotland cared for the poor throughout her kingdom and spent a lot of effort in providing for them, while also helping the kingdom to grow spiritually in faith, through her works and reforms. She also inspired many others through her great personal piety, spirituality and devotion, which she showed not just publicly, but also in her intense personal devotion, her prayerful life before God. She dedicated her life to God and to her kingdom, a truly great role model for us all.

Meanwhile, St. Gertrude was a great and renowned German mystic, religious nun and theologian, who was also a member of the Benedictines. She devoted her whole life to God in prayer, as part of her religious community, while writing extensively on the matters of the faith, so much so that her writings and works still influence many theologians and other great saint theologians to this very day. She also had a great piety and dedication to God, receiving many visions that she also recorded in her works.

Today, having heard the courageous examples from so many of our dedicated and holy predecessors, all of us are therefore reminded of what we ourselves as Christians should be doing with our lives. Are we able and willing to commit ourselves to the Lord with all of our might and strength, that we may always persevere against even trials and persecutions for the sake of the Lord? All of us are reminded to walk always ever in the path that the Lord has set before us. Can we commit ourselves to God from now on, with all of our strength?

May the Lord be with us all and may He strengthen each and every one of us to have the faith required to persevere through the trials and challenges present in our path in this world. May God bless us all in our every efforts and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 16 November 2021 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Margaret of Scotland, and St. Gertrude, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints or Holy Virgins)

Luke 19 : 1-10

At that time, when Jesus entered Jericho and passed through the city, a man named Zaccheus lived there. He was a tax collector and a wealthy man. He wanted to see what Jesus was like, but he was a short man and could not see Him because of the crowd.

So he ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree. From there he would be able to see Jesus, Who was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, Zaccheus, come down quickly, for I must stay at your house today.” So Zaccheus climbed down and received Him joyfully.

All the people who saw it began to grumble, and said, “He has gone as a guest to the house of a sinner.” But Zaccheus spoke to Jesus, “Half of what I own, Lord, I will give to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will pay him back four times as much.”

Looking at him Jesus said, “Salvation has come to this house today, for he is also a true son of Abraham. The Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”

Tuesday, 16 November 2021 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Margaret of Scotland, and St. Gertrude, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints or Holy Virgins)

Psalm 3 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7

O YHVH, how great in number are my foes! How numerous are they who rise against me! How many are they who say of my soul : “There is no help for him in God!”

But You are my Shield, o YHVH, my Glory; You lift up my head. Aloud I cry to YHVH, and from His holy hill He answers me.

If I lie down to sleep, again I awake, for YHVH supports me; no fear of the thousands standing against me.

Tuesday, 16 November 2021 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Margaret of Scotland, and St. Gertrude, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints or Holy Virgins)

2 Maccabees 6 : 18-31

Eleazar, one of the prominent teachers of the Law, already old and of noble appearance, was forced to open his mouth to eat the flesh of a pig. But he preferred to die honourably than to live in disgrace, and voluntarily came to the place where they beat him to death. He spat out bravely the piece of meat, as should be done by those who do not want to do things prohibited by the Law, even to save their life.

Those in charge of this impious banquet took him aside, since they had known him for a long time, and tried to convince him to pretend to be eating the meat, but in reality, to eat something allowed by the Law and prepared by himself. In this way, he could escape death, and be treated with humanity for the sake of their long-time friendship.

But he preferred to make a noble decision worthy of his age, of his noble years, of his shining white hair, and of the irreproachable life he had led from childhood. Above all, showing respect for the holy laws established by God, he answered that he would rather be sent to the place of the dead. And he added, “It would be unworthy to pretend at our age, and to lead many young people to suppose that I, at ninety years, have gone over to the pagan customs. If I led them astray for the sake of this short life I would bring disgrace to my old age.”

“Even if I could now be saved from mortals, I cannot – whether living or dead – escape from the hands of the Almighty. I prefer to bravely sacrifice my life now, as befits my old age. So I shall leave an excellent example to the young, dying voluntarily and valiantly for the sacred and holy laws.” Having said this, he gave himself over to death.

Those who escorted him considered his words foolishness, so their previous gentleness turned into harshness. When he was almost at the point of death, he said groaning, “The Holy Lord, Who sees all, knows that though I could have saved myself from death, I now endure terrible sufferings in my body. But in my soul, I suffer gladly because of the respect I have for Him.”

In his death, he left a noble example and a memorial of virtue and strength, not only to the young but to the whole nation.

Monday, 16 November 2020 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Margaret of Scotland, and St. Gertrude, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints and Holy Virgins)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us are reminded of just fortunate we all are for having been beloved by God, as He showed us His love again and again throughout time. God has revealed His love to us constantly through His servants, but it is often us who pushed God away and refused to listen to Him or acknowledge His love for us.

The Lord has revealed to St. John, his Apostle, as recorded in the Book of Revelations, of the message and truth He has passed onto His seven Churches in Asia, representing the seven main Christian communities and centres at that time through His Angels. He revealed that despite the struggles and challenges that they were facing, they would not face those alone.

The revelation showed how the Church and the faithful would endure long periods of persecution throughout its history, but God would be with His people guiding them and protecting them regardless. The Lord helped them from their misery and guided them through those challenging years. In the end, many saints and martyrs came about from those communities, that while they might have suffered but they gained glory through God.

This is what we have also heard in our Gospel passage today, of God’s wonderful mercy and love. We heard how the Lord Jesus moved with pity and love, and responded to the one who had been seeking fervently His mercy and healing. When the blind man was helpless and was without hope, in the darkness of despair and suffering, God reached out to him and showed him that even in his darkness there is still hope and light, as long as one keeps faith in God.

The key there is the willingness of that blind man to humble himself and to reach out to the Lord, seeking His mercy wholeheartedly when he called out to Him, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” a few times, even when the people tried to silence and hush him. He revealed his vulnerability and his weakness to all, but in doing so, bared his faith in God fully, and it was by this faith that God was moved to save him and heal him from all of his troubles.

In the same manner therefore, God will always be with us and will help us through life, through our troubles and challenges if only we can have faith in Him like that of the blind man. The problem is that, unfortunately, more often than not, we allow our pride and ego to stand in the way of this salvation, as we often do not want to reveal our weakness and the fact that we actually are in need of help and assistance from God. We preferred rather to remain in our state of sin and in being despicable due to our pride, rather than seeking God for healing.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in order for us to move forward in this life with faith, we have to get rid from ourselves this wicked mentality and the attachments and the allures of our pride and ego. Indeed, we have to die to our pride and remove all these from our hearts and minds as best as we are able to. Otherwise, we may end up rejecting God’s love and mercy again and again, until it is too late for us to seek His healing, mercy and forgiveness.

Today, let us all reflect on all these, and discern carefully on what each and every one of us as Christians can do to serve the Lord and to follow Him ever more faithfully. And perhaps we should look up to the examples set by the saints, especially the two saints whose feast we are celebrating today, namely St. Margaret of Scotland, as well as St. Gertrude the Great, both being holy women who had dedicated their lives to the Lord.

St. Margaret of Scotland was an English princess who later became the Queen of Scotland. And although she was born a high noble and royalty, and a queen no less, but she has always been very pious and humble throughout her whole life, putting God above all else, and was ever dedicated in her work as queen in taking care of the needs of her people, especially to the less fortunate and the poor. She has also dedicated much effort to expand the Church and various other institutions for the benefit of her people.

St. Margaret and St. Gertrude were both very pious and dedicated themselves much to follow the Lord faithfully and led a very pious and virtuous way of life. While St. Margaret was a pious queen, St. Gertrude was a renowned Benedictine religious nun remembered for her many intellectual writings about the faith that are still influential to this very day. Many people had been inspired through their piety and their efforts.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us are called to reflect on the lives of these saints, and be inspired to seek the Lord with renewed faith and zeal, to be humble in reaching out for Him to ask for His forgiveness and grace. Let us all seek the Lord’s mercy, love and forgiveness, and let us all be thoroughly reconciled and regain God’s grace and favour. May the Lord be with us always, and may He bless us all now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 16 November 2020 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Margaret of Scotland, and St. Gertrude, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints and Holy Virgins)

Luke 18 : 35-43

At that time, when Jesus drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the road, begging. As he heard the crowd passing by, he inquired what was happening, and they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was going by.

Then he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” The people in front of him scolded him. “Be quiet!” they said, but he cried out all the more, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped, and ordered the blind man to be brought to Him; and when he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And the man said, “Lord, that I may see!” Jesus said, “Receive your sight, your faith has saved you.”

At once the blind man was able to see, and he followed Jesus, giving praise to God. And all the people who were there also praised God.

Monday, 16 November 2020 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Margaret of Scotland, and St. Gertrude, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints and Holy Virgins)

Psalm 1 : 1-2, 3, 4 and 6

Blessed is the one who does not go where the wicked gather, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit where the scoffers sit! Instead, he finds delight in the law of the Lord and meditates day and night on His commandments.

He is like a tree beside a brook producing its fruit in due season, its leaves never withering. Everything he does is a success.

But it is different with the wicked. They are like chaff driven away by the wind. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous but cuts off the way of the wicked.

Monday, 16 November 2020 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Margaret of Scotland, and St. Gertrude, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints and Holy Virgins)

Revelations 1 : 1-4 and Revelations 2 : 1-5a

The Revelation of Jesus Christ. God gave it to Him to let His servants know what is soon to take place. He sent His Angel to make it known to His servant, John, who reports everything he saw, for this is the word of God and the declaration of Jesus Christ.

Happy is the one who reads aloud these prophetic words, and happy those who hear them and treasure everything written here, for the time is near. From John to the seven Churches of Asia : receive grace and peace from Him Who is, Who was and Who is to come, and from the seven Spirits of God which are before His throne.

Write this to the Angel of the Church in Ephesus, “Thus says the One Who holds the seven stars in His right hand and Who walks among the seven golden lampstands : ‘I know your works, your difficulties and your patient suffering. I know you cannot tolerate evildoers but have tested those who call themselves Apostles and have proved them to be liars. You have persevered and have suffered for My Name without losing heart.”

“Nevertheless, I have this complaint against you : you have lost your first love. Remember from where you have fallen and repent.”

Saturday, 16 November 2019 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Margaret of Scotland, and St. Gertrude, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints and Virgins)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are told through the Scriptures of the many wonders of God, His many works and all that He has done for our sake all these while because of His great and unending love for each and every one of us. He has blessed us all His people at all times despite of our frequent and constant disobedience and sinfulness.

As we heard from our Gospel passage today, through the parable of the evil judge that the Lord Jesus used to explain on this matter, we can see how even an evil, wicked and selfish judge could still bend to the desires of an old woman who went to him constantly and nagged at him incessantly in trying to get him to help her to get her case settled and to fight for her case. The evil judge eventually acceded to her requests and listened to her.

By comparing the behaviour and attitude of the evil and wicked judge, with that of the Lord, our God, we can then see just how if an evil person knew how to do something that is right even for a less than righteous and noble reason, then all the more that God, Who loves us all very dearly and treats us as very precious in His sight, will bless us and take care of us, especially when we ask of Him for a specific grace and help.

Yet, many of us chose to turn away from Him and ignore all the love, care and compassion which He has shown us all these while. And this is mainly caused by our own preoccupation in life, in our relentless pursuits for worldly satisfactions and joys, for the pleasures of the body and for the fulfilment of our desires, be it for money, for fame, for glory and prestige in the society among many others.

We often put trust in our own abilities and strengths, and we do not remember God and His love even in times of difficulties. And when we encounter challenges and difficulties, we then often blame God and became angry at Him for having allowed us all to endure through those difficult challenges and trials. It is then that we need to remember again what we have heard from the Book of Wisdom in our first reading today.

Through that passage from the Book of Wisdom, we are reminded of how God has provided for all of His faithful ones throughout the ages, as how He wished it to be and how He has fashioned all things in accordance with His will. God has been with His people Israel regardless of how they have treated Him, freed them from their slavery in Egypt and provided for them throughout all the many years of their Exodus, even when they rebelled against Him and chose to worship the pagan gods instead of Him.

How have we ourselves lived our lives so far, brothers and sisters in Christ? Have we been ungrateful, unappreciative and ignorant of how great God’s love and kindness towards us have been? Have we allowed pride and our desires to get in our way of being able to love God and to be faithful to Him? Perhaps then it is right that today we should look upon the examples of two of our holy predecessors in faith who have dedicated themselves to the Lord, to be our own inspirations.

St. Margaret of Scotland was the queen of Scotland who was renowned for her upright and virtuous life, her just and loving attitudes towards us, her compassion for the poor and the needy throughout the kingdom. She was very charitable and devoted, performing many charitable works and also instilled great love for God among her family members and her sons, who would become the kings of Scotland.

Despite her privileged status and birth, St. Margaret of Scotland did not let all of those to prevent or stop her from being filled with God’s love, sharing the love of God with her brethren just as the Lord has loved and blessed her first. Through her, we can indeed see just how God performed His wonderful works of love in this world, through St. Margaret of Scotland herself, and also therefore, through us all, by our own actions, words and deeds.

Meanwhile, St. Gertrude was a Benedictine religious sister and mystic who was renowned for her visions as well as for her great spiritual life and connections to God. St. Gertrude spent much of her time in prayers and contemplations, loving God to the best of her abilities and devoting her time and effort to glorify Him at all times. She also wrote extensively, some of which still survived to this day. Through her writings, many others became inspired by the great faith and love that she had for God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having heard of the inspiring life of these two saints, let us all be inspired and be strengthened in our own lives, that we may also dedicate ourselves to God, and love Him with all of our hearts and with all of our strength because ultimately, He has loved us all first so wonderfully and dearly, that He took up the Cross, suffered, was crucified and died, out of love for us and for the sake of our salvation.

May the Lord enkindle in each and every one of us a strong love for Him, love that imitates and matches the same love which He Himself had shown us. May He bless us all and continue to guide us all through our lives and in all of our good endeavours. Amen.

Saturday, 16 November 2019 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Margaret of Scotland, and St. Gertrude, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints and Virgins)

Luke 18 : 1-8

At that time, Jesus told them a parable, to show them that they should pray continually, and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain town there was a judge, who neither feared God nor people. In the same town there was a widow, who kept coming to him, saying, ‘Defend my rights against my adversary!'”

“For a time he refused, but finally he thought, ‘Even though I neither fear God nor care about people, this widow bothers me so much, I will see that she gets justice; then she will stop coming and wearing me out.'”

And Jesus said, “Listen to what the evil judge says. Will God not do justice for His chosen ones, who cry to Him day and night, even if He delays in answering them? I tell you, He will speedily do them justice. But, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”