Wednesday, 16 November 2022 : 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, we are all reminded that all of us are called to be faithful and dedicated to the Lord at all times, knowing what it is that will be our eventual lot if we remain faithful and obedient to Him. We are reminded through the Scriptures today that we serve the One and only true God, the Creator of the whole entire Universe and its Master, as we are looking forward to the end of this current liturgical year and the celebration of the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King, King of the Universe this coming Sunday. Each and every one of us should remember our calling, mission and obligations as those who have committed themselves to the Lord.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of Revelations of St. John the Apostle, we heard of the details of the visions received by St. John himself when he was exiled at the island of Patmos, many decades after the Lord’s Resurrection, when many other among the Apostles and disciples of the Lord had passed on from this world, either through martyrdom or otherwise. St. John told us all about the Lord seated on His glorious Throne in Heaven, surrounded by the innumerable Angels and saints, all the servants of God surrounding and constantly praising God and His Holy Name. He saw all the glory and majesty of God, and how the Angels and the Holy Elders adored and worshipped Him. St. John highlighted the glory and power of God to all the faithful, to all of us so that we know Who it is that we worship, the One Lord and true God, Master of all the whole Universe.

We saw the greatness and the majesty of God before Whom all the mighty Angels and spirits, all those mighty saints prostrate themselves upon, all those who have seen the fullness of God’s glory and power. We are therefore reminded that this is the One Whom we serve and worship, and how important it is that we as Christians, we carry out our calling, missions and duties as entrusted to us by the Lord Himself. The Lord has called on us all to do His will, to follow His Law, His commandments and His ways, and each and every one of us have been entrusted with various abilities, talents, opportunities and other things as the Lord deemed fit, as we ourselves heard in our Gospel passage today in the parable of the talents.

Through that parable, we heard the Lord speaking to His disciples and followers and all the people about what it means to become His followers and as members of the Christian faithful. In that parable, we heard about a master who entrusted his servants with his wealth as he was going on a journey, a silver pound or talent for each of the three servants. Two of the three servants invested in the money and did work with that silver pound, and gained ten and five pounds of silver respectively. The last servant did nothing with the silver talent, hid it and did not gain anything from the silver pound he had been entrusted with. The master was very happy with the two servants who gave him his silver pound back with extra returns, entrusting them with dominion and care over his cities, while rebuking and being angry with the one who failed to do as he had commanded him to do.

Obviously, we can tell that the master in the parable represents the Lord Himself, our Lord and God, our Master Who commands us what we are to do with our lives. The servants represent all of us, God’s people, His servants and followers. The pound of silver represents the abilities, talents, gifts, blessings, opportunities and all that God had presented to us all, for us to use so that we may impact the lives of others for the better, and do what He wants us to do, in loving one another with sincere and genuine love, care and attention. And that love which we show others can indeed multiply the way the silver pound gained multiple returns. Why is that so? That is because love is infectious and can spread quickly and easily, as the one we have shown genuine and warm love to, will likely also show the same love to others.

However, the same thing applies for hatred and evil as well. If we show hatred instead of love to others, then this cycle of hatred and hurt will continue to spiral out of control, as the hatred will carry on from person to person, as each one of us are bound to try to get back at the other person, and make others hurt for what they had done to hurt us. If we have done something like this, brothers and sisters in Christ, then let us reflect and ponder, that is it not better for us to actually show love instead of hatred, to seek peace and harmony instead of mutual destruction and hurt? Is it not better for us then to follow God’s will and to carry out what He has always wanted us to do, in loving our fellow brothers and sisters, and not causing hurt, pain or suffering to others just so that we can satisfy our selfish desires, greed or ego?

Today, we celebrate the feast of two holy women, whose lives and works, inspirations and actions may be able to inspire us all to live our lives more worthily of the Lord, and to do as He has commanded us to do, and to make good use of whatever it is that He has given us and blessed us with. St. Margaret of Scotland and St. Gertrude the Great are great examples of those who have faithfully obeyed the Lord and did His will in their respective lives, making good use of whatever gifts, blessings, abilities and opportunities that they had been granted with. St. Margaret of Scotland was the Queen of Scotland during the Middle Ages, remembered for her great piety, faith and love for God, and also love and care for the less fortunate in her kingdom. Meanwhile, St. Gertrude the Great was a German benedictine nun and mystic who was also renowned for her dedication to God.

St. Margaret of Scotland was a very devout Christian and a noble Queen, who supported her husband in his reigning over his kingdom. She devoted herself to the care of the people of Scotland, for both their material and spiritual well-being, launching a program of reform for the Church in Scotland to conform the practices and beliefs, the ways of worship of the Church in Scotland with the wider Universal Church, which by then had somewhat diverged due to the relative distance and isolation of Scotland to the rest of Christendom. She helped to launch a reform to right the wrongs and the worldly excesses within the Church, and ensure the discipline of the clergy and the other members of the Church, in following the Lord in the right manner, and she also spent a lot of time in prayers and works of charity, becoming truly beloved by her people, and also a beacon of the Christian faith throughout her realm and even beyond.

Meanwhile, St. Gertrude the Great was renowned for her great piety and devotion to God, her mystical experiences and visions which she received periodically, and which she recorded and wrote about in her many works and writings. Her extensive writings serve to inspire many people throughout her time and afterwards. She was also one of the earliest devotees to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which she did from her experiences in her numerous visions, seeing the love of God manifested to her from His loving heart, from which stemmed her love and devotion for the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Through her many pious works and writings, her exemplary lifestyle and examples, St. Gertrude the Great, like St. Margaret of Scotland, had inspired countless people to be more faithful to the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us therefore be inspired by the examples showed by St. Margaret of Scotland and St. Gertrude the Great. Let us all follow the Lord faithfully, making good use of the gifts, blessings, talents, abilities and the opportunities that He had provided us with, just as those two holy women of God had done. May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us in our faith, and that we may always draw ever closer to Him, and be ever more committed to walk down the path that He has shown us. May God bless us all and our every good works and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Wednesday, 16 November 2022 : 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 : 11-28

At that time, Jesus was then near Jerusalem, and the people with Him thought that God’s reign was about to appear. So as they were listening to Him, Jesus went on to tell them a parable. He said, “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to assume regal authority, after which he planned to return home.”

“Before he left, he summoned ten od his servants and gave them ten pounds of silver. He said, ‘Put this money to work until I get back.’ But his compatriots, who disliked him, sent a delegation after him with this message, ‘We do not want this man to be our king.'”

“He returned, however, appointed as king. At once he sent for the servants, to whom he had given the money, to find out what profit each had made. The first came in, and reported, ‘Sir, your pound of silver has earned ten more pounds of silver.’ The master replied, ‘Well done, my good servant! Since you have proved yourself faithful in a small matter, I can trust you to take charge of ten cities.'”

“The second reported, ‘Sir, your pound of silver earned five more pounds of silver.’ The master replied, ‘And you, take charge of five cities!’ The third came in, and said, ‘Sir, here is your money, which I hid for safekeeping. I was afraid of you, for you are an exacting person : you take up what you did not lay down, and you reap what you did not sow.'”

“The master replied, ‘You worthless servant, I will judge you by your own words! So you knew I was an exacting person, taking up what I did not lay down, and reaping what I did not sow? Why, then, did you not put my money on loan, so that, when I got back, I could have collected it with interest?'”

“Then the master said to those standing by, ‘Take from him that pound, and give it to the one with ten pounds.’ But they objected, ‘Sir, he already has ten pounds!’ The master replied, ‘I tell you, everyone who has will be given more; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for my enemies who did not want me to be their king, bring them in, and execute them right here in front me.'”

So Jesus spoke, and then He passed on ahead of them, on His way to Jerusalem.

Wednesday, 16 November 2022 : 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 150 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6

Alleluia! Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in the vault of heaven. Praise Him for His mighty deeds; praise Him for His own greatness.

Praise Him with trumpet blast; praise Him with lyre and harp. Praise Him with dance and tambourines; praise Him with pipe and strings.

Praise Him with clashing cymbals; praise Him with clanging cymbals. Let everything that breathes sing praise to the Lord. Alleluia!

Wednesday, 16 November 2022 : 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)

Revelations 4 : 1-11

After this, I looked up to the wall of the sky and saw an open door. The voice which I had first speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here and I will show you what will come in the future.”

Immediately I was seized by the Spirit. There, in heaven, was a throne and One sitting on it. He Who sat there looked like jasper and carnelian and round the throne was a rainbow resembling an emerald. In a circle around the throne are twenty-four thrones and seated on these are twenty-four elders, dressed in white clothes, with golden crowns on their heads.

Flashes of lightning come forth from the throne, with voices and thunderclaps. Seven flaming torches burn before the throne; these are the seven Spirits of God. Before the throne there is a platform, transparent like crystal. Around and beside the throne stand four living creatures, full of eyes, both in front and behind.

The first living creature is like a lion, the second like a bull, the third has the face of a man and the fourth looks like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures has six wings full of eyes, all around as well as within; day and night they sing without ceasing, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, Master of the universe, Who was, and is and is to come.”

Whenever the living creatures give glory, honour and thanks to the One on the throne, He Who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him and worship the One Who lives forever and ever. They lay their crowns in front of the throne and say, “Our Lord and God, worthy are You to receive glory, honour and power! For You have created all things; by Your will they came to be and were made.”

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.