Wednesday, 1 June 2022 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Justin, Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures, we are reminded of both the sufferings and joys we will likely experience as part of the Church, as the disciples and followers of Christ. There will always be both successes and challenges that are part of our lives as Christians, as those who profess the faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ, as Our Saviour and King. But that should not dampen our spirit or desire to serve Him wholeheartedly, as each and every one of us have to trust in Him and not be afraid because He will always be by our side.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Acts of the Apostles the farewell that St. Paul spoke to the assembled faithful in Ephesus, before he was to embark on his final journey, his final mission by heading willingly to Jerusalem. St. Paul knew, by the wisdom and knowledge given to him from the Holy Spirit, that this trip to Jerusalem would be the beginning of his final mission, as he would be arrested and tried by the forces of the Sanhedrin, or the Jewish High Council, and set off the chain of events that would lead to his martyrdom in Rome.

St. Paul was not deterred by the challenges, trials and sufferings that he might have to face. He has suffered quite a few times earlier on as he faced rejection and opposition by quite a few of those who refused to believe in God, the Jewish authorities and their supporters as one of the many examples. Of course he also encountered a lot of successes as well, that due to his tireless works and ministry, he had managed to spread the word of God, His Good News and truth, to more and more people, establishing firm foundations of the Church and faith in numerous places, including that of Ephesus, which we heard of today.

As we heard in our Gospel passage today, the Lord Jesus as He prayed to His heavenly Father asked that all those who believed in Him ought to be protected and taken care of, that none of those whom He had gathered, those who have listened to the truth of God and received His grace and love, will be lost again from Him. Those same people to whom St. Paul and the other Apostles and missionaries had evangelised to, were these same flock and people that Christ had gathered to Himself, through His Church.

To all of the faithful, the Lord had entrusted the mission to reach out and to evangelise to more and more people, those who have not yet known Him and His truth. He has given His guidance and strength to us all, through His Holy Spirit, that He has sent and bestowed to His Apostles and disciples, and through them, through the Church, to each and every one of us, we have received this same Holy Spirit that strengthens us and gives us the courage to do what is necessary to accomplish the missions that He has given us.

We must not be afraid of the challenges and trials that we may have to face, and instead we have to be inspired by the dedication showed by St. Paul the Apostle, and many other saints who have given their all in order to make the Lord better known by those who have not yet received His truth and love. We have been given the same blessings and courage, the same gifts of the Holy Spirit as what the faithful servants of God had received, but the question is, are we willing to follow their examples?

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Justin the Martyr, a renowned early Church Father and philosopher who was once a pagan but then after a fateful encounter with a wise old Christian man, came to know of the Lord and His infinite wonders, and then he chose to become a Christian afterwards. He established a well-known school of philosophy in Rome, gaining quite a few followers, many among whom also decided to become Christians. Through his writings, it was told that he managed to get the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, another famous philosopher, to end the persecution of Christians by the Roman state.

While later on St. Justin would be arrested and martyred together with some of his followers, after a dispute with another philosopher who then incited the authorities to arrest him, St. Justin showed us through his works and interactions, with pagan philosophers and even with the Emperor himself, that it was indeed possible to be fully faithful and committed to God and yet also live in harmony as a law-abiding member of the community and the state. In fact, it was this harmonious coexistence that often gave rise to various opportunities at evangelisation of the faith.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, having heard the passages of the Scriptures today and the examples set by St. Justin the Martyr, by St. Paul and all the other saints, whose life and dedication we know of, let us all therefore commit ourselves and strive to do whatever we can, in whatever capacity and opportunities presented to us, that even in the smallest things we do, we may glorify the Lord by our lives, and show to everyone the truth of His love and grace, and bring more and more of our fellow brethren to share in the same salvation and grace that we enjoy in Christ. May God be with us always and bless us in our every good endeavours, now and forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 1 June 2022 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Justin, Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 17 : 11b-19

At that time, Jesus prayed to God His Father, “Holy Father, keep those You have given Me in Your Name, so that they may be one, as we also are. When I was with them, I kept them safe in Your Name; and not one was lost, except the one who was already lost, and in this, the Scripture was fulfilled. And now I come to You; in the world I speak these things, so that those whom You gave Me, might have joy – all My joy within themselves.”

“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world, I do not ask You to remove them from the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth.”

“I have sent them into the world as You sent Me into the world; and for their sake, I go to the sacrifice by which I am consecrated, so that they too may be consecrated in truth.”

Wednesday, 1 June 2022 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Justin, Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 67 : 29-30, 33-35a, 35bc and 36c

Summon Your power, o God, with the strength You have wielded for us. To Your Temple in Jerusalem, kings will come with gifts.

Sing to God, o kingdoms of the world; sing praises to the Lord, to Him Who rides the ancient heavens, and speaks in the voice of thunder. Proclaim the might of God.

He is great in Israel, powerful in heavens. Blessed be God!

Wednesday, 1 June 2022 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Justin, Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Acts 20 : 28-38

Keep watch over yourselves, and over the whole flock the Holy Spirit has placed into your care. Shepherd the Church of the Lord that He has won, at the price of His own Blood. I know that, after I leave, ruthless wolves will come among you and not spare the flock. And, from among you, some will arise, corrupting the truth, and inducing the disciples to follow them.

Be on the watch, therefore, remembering that, for three years, night and day, I did not cease to warn everyone, even with tears. Now, I commend you to God, and to His grace-filled word, which is able to make you grow and gain the inheritance that you shall share with all the saints.

I have not looked for anyone’s silver, gold or clothing. You, yourselves, know, that these hands of mine have provided for both my needs and the needs of those who were with me. In every way, I have shown you that by working hard one must help the weak, remembering the words that the Lord Jesus Himself said, “Happiness lies more in giving than in receiving.”

After this discourse, Paul knelt down with them and prayed. Then, they all began to weep and threw their arms around him and kissed him. They were deeply distressed because he had said that they would never see him again. And they went with him even to the ship.

Tuesday, 1 June 2021 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Justin, Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are called to dedicate ourselves to the Lord while doing what is right and required according to the laws and requirements of the nations and the states of this world that each one of us belong to. As good Christians of course first and foremost we must obey the Lord and devote ourselves to Him in all things, but at the same time, as far as possible and so long as it does not contradict our faith in God, then we must also obey the laws of the land.

In our Gospel passage this was summarised well as we heard the Lord speaking to the chief priests and the Pharisees who wanted to trap Him with His own words and responses to their queries, with regards to the matter of paying the taxes due to the Romans. At that time, the Romans were the rulers and the overlords of the land, including that of the Jewish state and territories throughout Judea and Galilee, and taxes is an important sign of control as well as submission to the Roman rule.

Naturally, many among the Jews resented the imposition of taxes as they did not want to be ruled by the Romans, regardless of what benefits that had brought them. They wanted to be free and this led to efforts to free the land from Roman rule, even through the use of force and struggle as done by the Zealots and other extremist freedom fighters at the time. If the Lord had told the chief priests to pay the taxes to the Romans, then the latter could have undermined the Lord’s authority and credibility by portraying Him as a traitor to the people and country.

On the other hand, had the Lord told the chief priests that the people should not pay any taxes, then immediately the latter could have then handed Him to the Romans for inducing a sedition and treasonous action among the people by refusing to pay the obligatory Roman taxes. The Romans took any attempt at betrayal and treason very seriously, and throughout its earlier history, they had treated treason as very grave threat and crime against the state punishable by death. This is what the Lord eventually suffered as the chief priests later on would hand Him over to the Romans with the false accusation that Jesus wanted to proclaim Himself King of the Jews.

Hence, the Lord then wisely answered the queries of the chief priests by saying that one ought to give to God what belongs to God and then give to man and country what belongs to those. And this is the truth that cannot be refuted by any of those who tried to accuse the Lord wrongly, as when one paid their taxes, they did so with the coins issued by the Romans, stamped with the image of the Emperor. As such, those coins did belong to the state and the Emperor, just as our own modern day currency also belong to the state, and in fact in a lot of places, it is illegal to deface or damage a piece of currency be it a paper money or coinage.

Meanwhile, what does it mean by giving to God what belongs to God? It means that we ought to give of ourselves, dedicating our own time, effort and attention to the Lord. Why is that so? That is because we are all God’s own people, His own beloved ones, and we all belong to Him. Hence, it is only right that we give ourselves to God wholeheartedly and commit ourselves to Him thoroughly, as best as we are able to, in every moment and at all times.

This is therefore what we are all challenged to do as Christians, to be faithful and obedient to God while trying our best to be law-abiding citizens of this world as much as we are able to do. And while this is not something that is easy to be done, we should gain the courage and strength to do what we can to remain faithful to the Lord while managing the expectations of the world. Of course, first and foremost we have to obey the divine Law first, but as long as the local and human laws do not contradict the divine Law, we can obey those as well.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Justin the Martyr, a renowned early Church Father and philosopher who was once a pagan but then after a fateful encounter with a wise old Christian man, came to know of the Lord and His infinite wonders, and then he chose to become a Christian afterwards. He established a well-known school of philosophy in Rome, gaining quite a few followers, many among whom also decided to become Christians. Through his writings, it was told that he managed to get the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, another famous philosopher, to end the persecution of Christians by the Roman state.

While later on St. Justin would be arrested and martyred together with some of his followers, after a dispute with another philosopher who then incited the authorities to arrest him, St. Justin showed us through his works and interactions, with pagan philosophers and even with the Emperor himself, that it was indeed possible to be fully faithful and committed to God and yet also live in harmony as a law-abiding member of the community and the state. In fact, it was this harmonious coexistence that often gave rise to various opportunities at evangelisation of the faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we reflect on this matter, let us all seek to follow the examples set by St. Justin the Martyr and our many other holy predecessors that we may also be first and foremost be wholeheartedly committed to the Lord and love Him with all of our heart, but at the same time also doing our best to live harmoniously with the world, and do our best to reach out to our fellow brothers and sisters in our community. Through our exemplary faith and actions, our sincerity in loving one another, may God’s Name ever be glorified, and may He bless us all in our every efforts and good works, always. Amen.

Tuesday, 1 June 2021 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Justin, Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Mark 12 : 13-17

At that time, the chief priests, the teachers of the Law and the elders sent to Jesus some Pharisees with members of Herod’s party, with the purpose of trapping him by his own words. They came and said to Jesus, “Master, we know that You are truthful; You are not influenced by anyone, and Your answers do not vary according to who is listening to You, but You truly teach God’s way. Tell us, is it against the Law to pay taxes to Caesar? Should we pay them or not?”

But Jesus saw through their trick and answered, “Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a silver coin and let Me see it.” They brought Him one and Jesus asked, “Whose image is this, and whose name?” They answered, “Caesar’s.” Then Jesus said, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” And they were greatly astonished.

Tuesday, 1 June 2021 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Justin, Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 111 : 1-2, 7-8, 9

Alleluia! Blessed is the one who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commands. His children will be powerful on earth; the upright’s offspring will be blessed.

For his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. His heart is confident, he needs not fear, he shall prevail over his foes at the end.

He gives generously to the poor, his merits will last forever and his head will be raised in honour.

Tuesday, 1 June 2021 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Justin, Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Tobit 2 : 9-14

That same night, after I had buried the body, I returned home. I washed myself and went out into the courtyard to sleep against the wall; my face was uncovered because of the heat. I did not see that there were sparrows on the wall of the courtyard and, as my eyes were open, the hot droppings from the sparrows fell into my eyes and formed a white film on my eyes.

I went to find doctors to attend to me for medical treatment but the more ointments they smeared on my eyes, the more blind I became because of the film. Finally I became totally blind. I suffered from blindness for four years. All my brothers were burdened because of me. Ahikar kept me for two years before he departed for Elymiade.

My wife Anna worked hard at a woman’s task, weaving. On the seventh day of the month of March she cut the cloth and delivered it to her employers. They paid her wages and gave her, over and above, a young goat for food. When she returned home the kid began to cry. I said to her, “Where does the little kid come from? Did you steal it? Return it to its owners for we are not allowed to eat anything that is stolen.”

But she said, “It is a gift which has been given to me in addition to my wages.” “I do not believe it. I tell you to return it to its owners.” I was ashamed of her. She replied, “What about your own almsgiving and your good deeds? I have to put up with all this from you.”

Thursday, 1 June 2017 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Justin, Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard first of all the tale of St. Paul the Apostle, who was arrested by the Jewish authorities, and was therefore put to face the court as a suspect against the allegations and false witnesses placed against him by the Pharisees and the Sadducees, the two leading power holders in the Jewish community at that time.

The Pharisees were those Jews who adhered very closely to the Jewish laws and customs as passed down through many generations from the time of Moses. They were the ones who were always trying to make the works of Jesus and His Apostles difficult by challenging them and harassing them at every available opportunity, as they saw Jesus as a threat to their power and influence in the community through His revelations and truths that undermined their own authority.

Meanwhile, the Sadducees were those who were commonly the nobles and the powerful lords in the society, who enjoyed the trust and prestige of the king Herod and his courtiers. They were the ones who enjoyed worldly power and influence, and refused to believe in anything that were supernatural or angelic in nature. That was why they were also stubbornly against Jesus and His teachings, because He taught them about the resurrection and life after death.

The Pharisees and the Sadducees were usually rivals for influence and they detested each other because of their stark differences in ideologies and beliefs. Yet, they came together because of their common hatred and opposition against the Lord’s teachings and truths, which St. Paul was preaching to the people of God. And thus, the enemies of the Lord put aside their differences and worked to destroy St. Paul.

Yet, they were not truly united in their purpose, and intense differences and conflicts still raged between them. That was why, the moment St. Paul noticed this weakness and used it to his advantage, as his time had not yet come, as he announced himself as belonging to the faction of the Pharisees, the entire audience exploded in fury, with the Pharisees and the Sadducees violently going at each other.

Why did I bring this up, and why did I go in depth into this fact? That is because in our Gospel today, our Lord Jesus was praying to His Father in heaven, at the time when He was about to go into His Passion and death. In this supposedly last prayer, He prayed for the sake of all of His disciples and all those who believe in Him, that they all may be brought into perfect unity through the Holy Spirit, so that they may be one just as the Lord Himself is one, perfectly united in the Holy Trinity, inseparable and indivisible.

That means, all of us as Christians must not be like the Pharisees and the Sadducees, who first of all, rejected the Lord and His teachings because they trusted in their own human power, intellect, influence and all the things that they thought made them great. Those in fact had become the source of their downfall, as they became proud and divided among themselves, each with their own ego and pride.

But that is not what we as Christians should do. For our ways is not the ways of this world, and we should follow what the Lord had commanded all of us to do. And what is it that He has commanded us to do, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is for us to remain united to one another, by our connection through the Church, as all of us are members of His Church, and all of us are believing in the same God and Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, as Christians, all of us ought to put our complete trust in the Lord, and keep up the faith which we have in God. There had been many people who had suffered because they kept their faith, including that of St. Paul the Apostle. Many other holy saints had suffered martyrdom because they refused to let go of their faith, or to deny their Lord and Saviour before others.

St. Justin the Martyr was one of such holy saint, whose feast we commemorate today in his honour. He was a renowned philosopher and teacher of the faith, who converted from the Roman paganism to the Christian faith because the traditional beliefs of paganism and polytheism, as well as all the philosophical thoughts at that time failed to truly satisfy his desire to seek for that emptiness inside his heart to be filled, which he eventually found in the Lord, Who filled it with His love and truth.

It was told that he contributed a lot to the establishment of the early Church, as he travelled around the Empire preaching about the Lord Jesus and His salvation to many people. Eventually he was arrested by the Roman authorities upon the report from a philosopher he debated against, who was a particularly hostile opponent of Christianity.

And despite being threatened to give sacrificial offerings to the Emperor and to the Roman pagan gods, under the threat of pain, suffering and death, St. Justin stood by his faith, and declared before all that he remained true to his faith in Jesus Christ, the Lord and Saviour of all, and if he had to die, he then died in the Name of the Lord, glorifying Him by remaining faithful to Him to the very end.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, St. Justin the Martyr has shown us all that as long as we remain united to the Lord through His Church and by the faith which we have in Him, we shall not be shaken, for the Lord Himself will safeguard us, and He will guide us along the path of justice and righteousness. And we will remain united and one, amidst all the challenges and the temptations the devil is throwing at us.

Let us all not be divided among ourselves, as what the Pharisees and the Sadducees had experienced, but instead, let us all strive to remain united to the Lord through His Church, and pray for the eventual unity and conversion of all Christians to the truth, that the bitter truth of the divisions in our Church may be healed, and all of our separated and misled brethren may seek reconciliation, and return to the Holy Mother Church. May the Lord bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 1 June 2017 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Justin, Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red
John 17 : 20-26

At that time, Jesus prayed to God His Father, “I pray not only for these, but also for those who through their word will believe in Me. May they all be one, as You Father are in Me and I am in You. May they be one in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.”

“I have given them the glory You have given Me, that they may be one as We are One : I in them and You in Me. Thus they shall reach perfection in unity; and the world shall know that You have sent Me, and that I have loved them, just as You loved Me.”

“Father, since You have given them to Me, I want them to be with Me where I am, and see the glory You gave Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world has not known You, but I have known You, and these have known that You have sent Me.”

“As I revealed Your Name to them, so will I continue to reveal it, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and also may be in them.”