Saturday, 28 April 2018 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr and St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the truth as revealed by the Lord, and which we have heard through the Church, having been passed down through the Apostles, and from the Apostles to their successors. And we call ourselves as Christians, because we believe in the message of truth which Christ, Our Lord Jesus Christ, delivered into this world.

Unfortunately, as we can see in both the Acts of the Apostles and in the Gospel today, there were many of those who were skeptical and who refused to believe in the truth that Christ had brought into this world, and this included initially even the Apostles themselves. They failed to believe at first, how He is truly the Son of God and the Saviour of the world.

They failed to see this truth at first, even though the Lord Jesus had stated it plainly from the beginning to them, and even though they have directly experienced and witnessed God’s miraculous works through Jesus, as no one else had ever done before. They saw how He had turned water into wine, healed and opened the eyes of the blind, loosened the tongues of the mute and opening the ears of the deaf, feeding five thousand and four thousand men and more with just a few loaves of bread and fishes.

And then, they saw how He even raised people who have been dead back into life. He raised Lazarus from the dead after four days, and all who saw these miracles were astonished. Yet, equally many of those who had seen these miracles, were also the ones who would later on condemn the Lord Jesus to death, death on the cross when they were instigated by the Pharisees and the elders of the people.

In the Acts of the Apostles, as St. Paul and St. Barnabas went around many cities and towns in the Eastern Mediterranean area, they preached about the Lord, the Saviour of this world. Many of the Gentiles, or the non-Jewish people, mostly Greek and some Romans, believed in their teachings and came to convert to the Christian faith. Some of the Jews also believed in them, and they enthusiastically welcomed them and asked them to preach to them.

However, there were many of those who refused to believe, some among the Gentiles because they saw the efforts of the Apostles as an affront to their traditional pagan gods and way of life. While there were quite a few among the Jews who believed in the lies spread by the elders about the disciples having stolen the body of Jesus and therefore spoke lies about the resurrection of the Lord.

Thus, they persecuted the Apostles and rejected their message, chasing them out of their town. Why is that so, brothers and sisters in Christ? Why with all the challenges and difficulties that the Lord and His disciples had faced throughout their work? These were all caused by our stubbornness, mankind’s pride and hardened hearts. The enemies of the Lord had many reasons to oppose Him.

They wanted to preserve their earthly influence, status and authority, and they saw the Lord as a great threat to all that they have accumulated for their own benefit. Now, these were the same things which faced the followers of the Lord, whose memory we remember today. St. Peter Chanel, missionary to the Oceanian islands of Wallis and Futuna, and St. Louis Marie de Montfort, founder of the Montfortians.

St. Peter Chanel was a missionary who went to the islands to evangelise to the people living there, who have not yet heard of the Lord and His truth, much like St. Paul and St. Barnabas who went to faraway places in the past. Many came to believe in the Lord through St. Peter Chanel’s works, and even the son of the king of the island came to believe, and asked to be baptised as a Christian.

The king was furious and did whatever he could to prevent that from happening. When that failed, he sent his son-in-law to murder St. Peter Chanel, and thus, eventually this courageous servant of God was martyred. Yet, his martyrdom proved to be fruitful in the end, as eventually, most of the people embraced the Christian faith, and even his murderer converted to the faith as well and repented his sin.

Meanwhile, St. Louis Marie de Montfort was renowned for his effort at preaching and evangelisation, as well as commitment to the Catholic education of youths. Yet, he did not have it all easy during his ministry, as he had his share of opponents, who disagreed with him and refused to listen to him. He was assaulted and even poisoned before, all for his hard work in preaching the truth of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what each one of us must realise is that God will always His enemies and all those who disagree with Him. And definitely, these will also be against us if we are faithful to the Lord and His ways. But are we going to side with those who oppose the Lord? Or are we going to stand up for our faith as St. Paul had done? The choice is ours to make.

Let us all pray therefore, asking the Lord for faith, that we may truly be able to believe in Him wholeheartedly, and not be swayed by the falsehoods of this world, or by the sweet lies of Satan and his tempters. Let us all pray also for strength and courage, and guidance of the Holy Spirit, that we may follow faithfully in the footsteps of the Holy Apostles, in their courage and outspokenness, in preaching the truth and standing up for their faith.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to guide us in our journey of faith, that we may always draw closer to Him, day after day, and receive from Him the gift of eternal life. May God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 28 April 2018 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr and St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

John 14 : 7-14

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “If you know Me, you will know the Father also; indeed you know Him, and you have seen Him.”

Philip asked Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and that is enough.” Jesus said to him, “What! I have been with you so long and you still do not know Me, Philip? Whoever sees Me sees the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me?”

“All that I say to you, I do not say of Myself. The Father Who dwells in Me is doing His own work. Believe Me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; at least believe it on the evidence of these works that I do. Truly, I say to you, the one who believes in Me will do the same works that I do; and he will even do greater than these, for I am going to the Father.”

“Everything you ask in My Name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. Indeed, anything you ask, calling upon My Name, I will do it.”

Saturday, 28 April 2018 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr and St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

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

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

YHVH 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 YHVH, break into song and sing praise.

Saturday, 28 April 2018 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr and St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Acts 13 : 44-52

The following Sabbath almost the entire city gathered to listen to Paul, who spoke a fairly long time about the Lord. But the presence of such a crowd made the Jews jealous. So they began to oppose, with insults, whatever Paul said.

Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out firmly, saying, “It was necessary, that God’s word be first proclaimed to you, but since you now reject it, and judge yourselves to be unworthy of eternal life, we turn to non-Jewish people. For thus we were commanded by the Lord : I have set you as a light to the pagan nations, so that you may bring My salvation to the ends of the earth.”

Those who were not Jews rejoiced, when they heard this, and praised the message of the Lord; and all those, destined for everlasting life, believed in it. Thus the word spread, throughout the whole region. Some of the Jews, however, incited God-fearing women of the upper class, and the leading men of the city, as well, and stirred up an intense persecution against Paul and Barnabas.

Finally, they had them expelled from their region. The Apostles shook the dust from their feet, in protest against this people, and went to Iconium, leaving; the disciples, filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

Friday, 28 April 2017 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr, and St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard in the Scriptures from the first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, of how the Pharisees, the chief priests and the elders of the people argued on how they should deal with the Apostles and their work in spreading the Good News about Jesus Christ the Messiah and Lord. They wanted to persecute them and silence them, and many of them wanted in fact to put them to death.

But the respected elder, Gamaliel spoke up in their midst, calling them to restrain themselves and let God decide what is right and wrong. He mentioned how the previous false prophets and Messiahs, who had declared themselves as the chosen ones, failed in whatever they had done. Their movement and efforts disappeared as soon as they perished or were defeated in their rebellions against the Romans and the authorities.

Gamaliel told all those who were assembled, that if the teachings of Jesus and His Apostles came from man as previous false prophets had done, then they would meet downfall on their own accord, but if the truth of Christ came indeed from God, then nothing that they do would be able to stop or hinder the progress of the good works God had begun in this world.

The wise Gamaliel had indeed spoken with wisdom, and understanding that what comes from God, indeed belongs to God, and what God has planned for us mankind, He shall do without fail. If we go against God, we shall fail. But if we remain true and faithful to His will, then He will do all that He can to make sure that we go forward in life, and through to the salvation which He had promised us all.

And in the Gospel today, we all heard about the famous event when Jesus fed a multitudes of five thousand men, not counting women and children who were also fed, with merely just five loaves of bread and two fishes, which Jesus miraculously broke into pieces enough to feed all the people who were gathered there. Many subsequently wanted to follow Him and liked to make Him as a King over them, after witnessing what He had done for them. But Jesus withdrew and hid Himself to avoid being forced into such a fate.

In this account of the feeding of the five thousand men and more, we saw how the Lord provided for His people, giving them food when they were hungry and had nothing to sustain themselves with. He loved each and every one of them, and showed them His compassion and love. He gave them all food to fill their stomachs, so that the people who were once hungry then became satisfied.

Yet, that was not all that the Lord had done, for He did not just give them food to eat. He had done that before, at the time when the Israelites went out of Egypt and travelled through the desert for forty years. He fed them with manna, the bread from heaven itself, sustaining them for all of those times. But, He did not just give physical and earthly food to the people, rather, He gave them true satisfaction and sustenance.

How so? It is by the giving of Himself, the offering of His own Most Precious Body and Blood, which gave us all sustenance, and true fulfilment. Jesus Himself mentioned that, unless we eat of His Body and drink of His Blood, we shall have no part in Him, and we shall be excluded from the promise of salvation and eternal glory, which He had promised to all those who are faithful to Him.

And all those who have faithfully shared in the gift of His own Body and Blood, shall never perish, for the Lord Himself has become our anchor, and He has become our support and strength. That was just as what Gamaliel mentioned to the gathering of the chief priests and elders. Those who put their trust in the world shall perish, but all those who place their trust in the Lord shall prosper and not be disappointed.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, there are many people who have preceded us and have lived their lives in accordance to the will of God, even sometimes having to endure bitter persecutions. For example, St. Peter Chanel, the holy saint whose feast we celebrate today, was a devout priest and missionary who went to the region of Oceania to preach the Good News of the Lord there.

He endured bitter persecution by the king and his followers who resisted the effort to convert them to the faith. He was martyred in the midst of his evangelising work, but not before gaining many converts to the faith. Even eventually those who murdered him were converted as well and atoned for their sins. This was among many other examples of just how the Lord was always with His faithful ones and provided for them when they are in need.

St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort was another saint whose feast we are celebrating today. He was the founder of the Montfortian congregation, who was renowned for his deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. He was a very hardworking person, committing his whole life to the service of God and the Gospels. 

He also placed his trust in the Lord and did his best to serve Him, and many good deeds and results had come about because of his devotion. Many were inspired by his actions to follow the Lord more faithfully, and many of them had a conversion of the heart. After we listen to the examples of these two saints of God and also that of the Apostles and disciples of the Lord, should we not do the same too, brothers and sisters in Christ?

May the Lord help us to remain strong in our faith in Him, so that in everything and at all times, we will always be ever faithful to Him, and that we can give our complete and full trust to Him, our Lord, God and Saviour. May the Lord bless us all, now and forever. Amen.

Friday, 28 April 2017 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr, and St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)
John 6 : 1-15

At that time, Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, near Tiberias, and large crowds followed Him, because of the miraculous signs they saw, when He healed the sick. So He went up into the hills and sat down there with His disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand.

Then lifting up His eyes, Jesus saw the crowds that were coming to Him, and said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread so that these people may eat?” He said this to test Philip, for He Himself knew what He was going to do. Philip answered Him, “Two hundred silver coins would not buy enough bread for each of them to have a piece.”

Then one of Jesus’ disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass there, so the people, about five thousand men, sat down. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were seated. He did the same with the fish, and gave them as much as they wanted.

And when they had eaten enough, He told His disciples, “Gather up the pieces left over, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with bread, that is, with pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

When the people saw the miracle which Jesus had performed, they said, “This is really the Prophet, the One Who is to come into the world.” Jesus realised that they would come and take Him by force to make Him King; so He fled to the hills by Himself.

Friday, 28 April 2017 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr, and St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)
Psalm 26 : 1, 4, 13-14

The Lord is my Light and my Salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the Rampart of my life; I will not be afraid.

One thing I ask of the Lord, one thing I seek – that I may dwell in His house all the days of my life, to gaze at His jewel and to visit His sanctuary.

I hope, I am sure, that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Trust in the Lord, be strong and courageous. Yes, put your hope in the Lord!