Wednesday, 28 October 2020 : Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the great Feast of the Apostles of Our Lord Jesus Christ, two of the Twelve Apostles, namely St. Simon and St. Jude. St. Simon was also known as Simon the Zealot, likely referring to his past as a member of the Zealots, the extremists who fought against the Romans at the time of Jesus. Meanwhile, St. Jude refers to St. Jude Thaddeus, who was sometimes connected with Jude, of the extended family of the Lord.

Both of these Apostles had been with the other Apostles of the Lord, faithfully following the Lord and serving Him throughout His ministry. St. Simon abandoned his previous life as a freedom fighter and member of a extremist group seeking to bring about the freedom of the Israelites through force from their Roman overlords. St. Jude Thaddeus was known in some Church traditions as one of the relatives or brothers of Jesus, probably from St. Joseph’s earlier family, and he was also the probable author of the Epistle of St. Jude.

Both of them would go on to serve the Lord and reach out to the peoples of various nations, answering to the call of the Lord to evangelise to the nations. St. Simon the Apostle went to many places, often together with St. Jude the Apostle, which is why both of them are celebrated together today, for their missionary zeal and commitment to God to the very end. St. Simon visited places like Persia and Armenia, Egypt and Ethiopia, and according to some traditions even went as far as Britain.

Meanwhile, according to tradition, St. Jude the Apostle evangelised throughout Judea and Samaria, and with St. Simon the Apostle, evangelised in Persia, Armenia and other places, and eventually, they were martyred in the region now known as Lebanon, many decades after they began their missions for the Lord. Both of them had committed themselves to the Lord and converted many, establishing firm foundations of the Church in many places, and gave everything to the Lord, even their lives, for His sake.

We can see how as we rejoice in the memory of these two glorious Apostles of the Lord, that the Lord has showed His love so wonderfully towards us by giving us His love and salvation through all those whom He had called and chosen to be the bearers of His Good News. He has established His Church to gather all of those who believe in Him, and called all of us to come to Him, by His servants, the Apostles who have built the foundations of the Church, and their successors, the bishops and priests who passed on this faith to us.

However, we also have to recognise that just as we have been gathered together in the Church, brought into the salvation in God, we have the duty and responsibility to continue the good works of the Apostles and their successors, for just as they had dedicated themselves to God and passed on their faith to all those to whom they had ministered, we too have the same responsibility to be faithful witnesses of our Christian faith and proclaim the Lord’s Good News to all.

How do we do this, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is is not by shouting out the word of God or preaching before the masses of people unlike what many of us may think of. That is one form of evangelisation, indeed, but the even more powerful form of evangelisation comes about if we live out our faith with sincerity and do what we truly believe in. If we do not act and do things in the manner that we have professed our faith, then our faith is no better than empty and meaningless.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us are called to follow the Lord in our lives and actions, to live virtuously as faithful and dedicated Christians, to be faithful in even the little things we do, so that all those who see us and come in touch with us, may see our faith in the Lord and come to believe in Him as well. The Apostles and the disciples of the Lord had also practiced their faith and dedicated themselves with love, caring for one another and showing genuine Christian love, and through their martyrdom, showed their undying love for God.

It was by all these dedications that they had called so many others to the faith, many of those who also became courageous and faithful evangelisers themselves. Many of them suffered for remaining faithful as well, and many died as martyrs in the various places, glorifying God by their faith even to the very end. All of us should be inspired by their actions and their faith, their good examples and dedication to the Lord, that we ourselves take up our crosses and commit ourselves to be good Christians at all times.

The Lord has called us all to follow in His footsteps to do what His Apostles had done, and to look upon St. Simon and St. Jude in particular for their hard work and devotion. Are we able to follow them faithfully and dedicate ourselves in the same way as they have done? Let us do whatever we can and commit ourselves to God with a renewed zeal and commitment from now on. May the Lord be with us and may He bless us all and guide us in our journey of faith, now and always. St. Simon and St. Jude Thaddeus, Holy Apostles of the Lord, pray for us all! Amen.

Wednesday, 28 October 2020 : Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 6 : 12-19

At that time, Jesus went out into the hills to pray, spending the whole night in prayer with God. When day came, He called His disciples to Him, and chose Twelve of them, whom He called ‘Apostles’ : Simon, whom He named Peter, and his brother Andrew; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James son of Alpheus and Simon called the Zealot; Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who would be the traitor.

Coming down the hill with them, Jesus stood in an open plain. Many of His disciples were there, and a large crowd of people, who had come from all parts of Judea and Jerusalem, and from the coastal cities of Tyre and Sidon. They gathered to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases. And people troubled by unclean spirits were cured.

The entire crowd tried to touch Him, because of the power that went out from Him and healed them all.

Wednesday, 28 October 2020 : Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 18 : 2-3, 4-5

The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament proclaims the work of His hands. Day talks it over with day; night hands on the knowledge to night.

No speech, no words, no voice is heard – but the call goes on, throughout the universe, the message is felt to the ends of the earth.

Wednesday, 28 October 2020 : Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Ephesians 2 : 19-22

Now, you are no longer strangers or guests, but fellow citizens of the holy people : you are of the household of God. You are the house, whose foundations are the Apostles and prophets, and whose cornerstone is Christ Jesus. In Him, the whole structure is joined together, and rises, to be a holy Temple, in the Lord.

In Him, you, too, are being built, to become the spiritual Sanctuary of God.

Saturday, 28 October 2017 : Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the feast of not just one but two of the Lord’s own Twelve Apostles, the principal and most important ones among His disciples, whom He had called and chosen from among the people and the other disciples, to be the pillars of His Church, established on earth, as mentioned in the Epistle that St. Paul wrote to the Church and to the faithful in the city of Ephesus.

Jesus our Lord is the Head and the Foundation of the Church, as He founded it Himself, establishing the Church as the Body of the faithful, composed of all the faithful people of God united to Him as the Head of the Universal Church. And the Apostles are the support structures that are crucial in maintaining the integrity of the entire Church, as without them, their works and commitments, the Church would not have been what it is today.

We may think of the Apostles as those whom God had chosen among His people and were great ones among men. However, the reality is that, while God indeed gave them the authority over the Church and the faithful, the power to forgive sins and the authority over evil spirits and to continue the good works of the Lord, but the challenges and responsibilities that they faced were enormous. There were great tribulations and difficulties that they had to endure on their journey to establish and build God’s Church.

If we read throughout the entirety of the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles written by St. Paul the Apostle, as well as through the traditions and stories of the tales of the saints of the early Church and the martyrs, especially the martyrdom of the Apostles themselves, we will realise just what a calling that God had called those Twelve Apostles into, to the point that all of them, except for St. John the Apostle, died of martyrdom defending their faith in God.

And neither were these Apostles chosen because they were mighty in their deeds or power, but instead, God chose them from among the people, from among the poor and the ordinary, from those who were once fishermen, illiterate and uneducated, or tax collectors and sinners, or like St. Simon the Apostle, who was a member of the Zealots, a group of Jewish fanatical fighters, and many more. God called them from various sources and made them to be worthy.

And God called them to a mission, that is to bring all the people of God to Him, to reconcile them with Him and to bring them to a loving reunion through forgiveness and grace. They have worked tirelessly, continuing the good works of the Lord after His Resurrection from the dead and Ascension into heaven. They went from place to place, from towns to towns, and from villages to villages as the witnesses of the Lord, proclaiming to many people the truth of God.

By their faith in God, they have become indispensable key players in the earliest days of the Church, especially amidst the challenges and difficulties that many of the earliest Christian communities had. And therefore, many of the Apostles led the way in martyrdom, because they courageously went on to preach the Gospels among the various communities and when they were arrested and persecuted, they did not give up their faith.

In particular, St. Simon, also known as the Zealot, is often depicted together with St. Jude, also known as St. Jude Thaddeus, because both of them according to the sacred tradition of the Church, went on together on a mission of evangelisation in many places, from Persia, which is in present day Iran, to Armenia and then to Lebanon and the Jordan. It was also documented that they might have travelled to other parts of the Roman Empire, preaching the faith, until they died in holy martyrdom.

Through glorious martyrdom God glorified His holy Apostles, His greatest servants, that the Church declared them to be saints, those who are worthy of praise, honour and veneration, as they are now in heaven, and they now stand in the presence of God, becoming our great intercessors, praying for our sake at all times. We know how St. Jude Thaddeus in particular is well-known as the saint to whom a great devotion is present, as the patron saint for hopeless causes.

The examples of these Apostles of our Lord, their courage and commitment to serve the Lord in doing the will of God, and obeying all of His commandments, should be inspiration for each and every one of us. We should devote ourselves, our time and effort to do what they have done, continuing their good works in the Church. If I would like to compare us all, as Christians all of us are the bricks of the Church, just as the Apostles are the foundations and the pillars supporting the Church.

Just as without the pillars a building will collapse, without good bricks and good arrangement and strong bonds between the bricks, the building will not be able to withstand the pressure and forces from the outside, and the whole edifice will also eventually collapse too. This is why, all of us as Christians, are called to do the same mission that the Lord had first entrusted to His Apostles.

We should not think that there is nothing much to do in our lives as Christians in this world. We should not think that there is no more works of evangelisation and conversion that need to be done. There are in fact still numerous opportunities and areas where we can contribute our efforts, to help the multitudes of people who are still living in the dark and in the ignorance of God’s love.

There are many out there who have also lapsed in their faith, and walking down the path towards damnation, because they have lost their way, either through temptations or coercions, and it is in our hands now, that we are able to devote ourselves, our time and effort to help these brethren of ours, by our contributions, actions and deeds, imitating the examples set by the Apostles themselves.

Let us remember that God had chosen His Apostles to be His instruments to bring His salvation to more and more souls. The same calling and mission has been given to us all as well. Let us embrace this willingly, and commit ourselves wholeheartedly to God, no longer hesitating, but we should encourage each other to walk righteously in the presence of God. May God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 28 October 2017 : Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 6 : 12-19

At that time, Jesus went out into the hills to pray, spending the whole night in prayer with God. When day came, He called His disciples to Him, and chose Twelve of them, whom He called ‘Apostles’ : Simon, whom He named Peter, and his brother Andrew; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James son of Alpheus and Simon called the Zealot; Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who would be the traitor.

Coming down the hill with them, Jesus stood in an open plain. Many of His disciples were there, and a large crowd of people, who had come from all parts of Judea and Jerusalem, and from the coastal cities of Tyre and Sidon. They gathered to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases. And people troubled by unclean spirits were cured.

The entire crowd tried to touch Him, because of the power that went out from Him and healed them all.

Saturday, 28 October 2017 : Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 18 : 2-3, 4-5

The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament proclaims the work of His hands. Day talks it over with day; night hands on the knowledge to night.

No speech, no words, no voice is heard – but the call goes on, throughout the universe, the message is felt to the ends of the earth.

Saturday, 28 October 2017 : Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Ephesians 2 : 19-22

Now, you are no longer strangers or guests, but fellow citizens of the holy people : you are of the household of God. You are the house, whose foundations are the Apostles and prophets, and whose cornerstone is Christ Jesus. In Him, the whole structure is joined together, and rises, to be a holy Temple, in the Lord.

In Him, you, too, are being built, to become the spiritual Sanctuary of God.

Friday, 28 October 2016 : Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate with great joy the feast of not just one, but two of the Lord’s very own Twelve Apostles, St. Simon and St. Jude. St. Simon the Apostle was once known as Simon the Zealot, likely from his former work and contributions to the Zealots, a community of people who led an active and passive resistance against the Romans. Meanwhile, St. Jude Thaddeus was a disciple often confused with Judas Iscariot, the traitor, and yet, he had done many wonderful deeds for the Lord and for His people.

In the Scripture readings today, we heard how God called His Apostles from among the people, chose them and charged them to assist Him in His works and missions to help the people of God, to whom Christ had laboured for in His earthly ministry in order to bring them towards salvation. He sent them to help Him in spreading the good works He has intended for His people, and to call them to repentance and to change their ways that they may be saved.

But it was not an easy task, and Jesus our Lord Himself reminded His disciples and Apostles in particular, that challenges facing them would be plenty. They would be tempted to abandon their efforts, just as what the Passion of our Lord showed us. When Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot, who was none other than one among His Twelve Apostles, tempted by money, all the other Apostles and disciples abandoned Him and went into hiding, fearing repercussions from the enemies of their Lord.

And when the Pharisees, the elders and the chief priests commenced persecution of all the faithful, spearheaded by Saul, the future St. Paul the Apostle, some among the faithful faltered in their faith and devotion to the Lord, and faced with the choice between suffering and staying faithful to their God, or to enjoy reprieve and safety in the world and abandoning their God, there were those who chose to do the latter.

These are the challenges facing us Christians, not only just during that time, when the Church was still growing and blooming in its early days, but also throughout the history of Christendom right up to now, to this very day, and also in the foreseeable future that we have and which we will experience. It is the challenge for us to remain faithful to the Lord despite the persecutions and challenges, ridicule and rejection that the world has inflicted upon us.

Are we up to the task? And do we indeed realise that as our Lord’s disciples and followers in this modern era and times, there are still a lot of things left to be done in this world? We are the successors of the works of the Apostles and the Church fathers, who had established the Church on the firm foundation of their faith and courageous devotion. We have to follow in their footsteps and be faithful in all of our ways.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it was told that St. Simon and St. Jude Thaddeus went to many different places, serving the people in various locations and relating to them the revelation of truth which came from God. Through their works and assistance, many had come to believe in God, and many more have repented from their sins and received the salvation from God.

They were not always welcomed, and there were those who were opposed to their works, both among their own people and among the pagan nations. But they never gave up, and through their persistence, the foundations of the Church in many places had been made strong and firm. They have led by example in their faith, encouraging many to remain strong in the faith.

And eventually, even though they met their ends in the faraway lands, St. Simon in Armenia or Persia, where he might have been crucified or sawn in half, and St. Jude Thaddeus in Syria, where it was told that he was beheaded with an axe, and some accounts had his martyrdom together with St. Simon, which was why their feast days are celebrated together.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, shall we then follow the examples of these holy and venerable saints? Shall we follow in their footsteps as well? There are many things that we can learn from them, and perhaps we really should do so. We are called to continue the good works of the Apostles, and be courageous in spreading the message of the Good News of the Gospel, not worrying and fearing challenges that will come our way.

May the Lord help us in our endeavours and good works in serving Him, and may He ever bless us all always with abundant blessings, and bring us all ever closer to His everlasting love and mercy. Amen.

Friday, 28 October 2016 : Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Luke 6 : 12-19

At that time, Jesus went out into the hills to pray, spending the whole night in prayer with God. When day came, He called His disciples to Him, and chose twelve of them, whom He called ‘Apostles’ : Simon, whom He named Peter, and his brother Andrew, James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James son of Alpheus and Simon called the Zealot; Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who would be the traitor.

Coming down the hill with them, Jesus stood in an open plain. Many of His disciples were there and a large crowd of people, who had come from all parts of Judea and Jerusalem, and from the coastal cities of Tyre and Sidon. They gathered to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases. And people troubled by unclean spirits were cured.

The entire crowd tried to touch Him, because of the power that went out from Him and healed them all.