Friday, 27 December 2019 : Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast of one of the great Apostles of the Church, one of the most prominent among the Twelve Apostles as he was also a writer of the Holy Gospels, counted both among the Apostles and the Evangelists. St. John the Apostle and Evangelist was known to be the youngest among the Apostles and also as the one beloved by the Lord.

St. John was also the younger brother of St. James the Greater, another one of the Apostles, and was one of the fishermen called by the Lord at the Lake of Galilee, to be one of the earliest of His Apostles and followers. St. John was present through many of the Lord’s most important moments in His ministry, often together with St. Peter and St. James, his brother. He was present at the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor as well as at the Agony of the Lord in the Gardens of Gethsemane.

It was also to St. John that the Lord entrusted Mary, His mother from the Cross as He was about to die for the salvation of all mankind. St. John took care of Mary from then on until the time when she was assumed into heavenly glory. And St. John, like the other Apostles, were also heavily involved in the formation of the Church, preaching the truth and salvation of God in many places, enduring challenges and trials in the process.

St. John eventually was arrested and exiled to the island of Patmos, where he received a series of heavenly visions of the world that is to come, as compiled in the Book of Apocalypse or the Book of Revelations of St. John, as the Apostle saw the vision of the future, of the time of the end, when the forces of the enemies of the Lord and the Antichrist persecuted the faithful people of God, and how God would then come again in glory to win the war and triumph over all evil once and forevermore.

St. John was the last of the Apostles to pass on from this world, and unique among all of them, he was the only one who did not die in martyrdom, but instead passing on from this earthly life in old age. Because of this, partly, the Gospel that was written by St. John was the latest of the four Holy Gospels and contained significantly different contents as compared to the Gospels according to St. Matthew, St. Mark and St. Luke.

It was fitting that the feast of St. John the Apostle is celebrated every year within the Christmas Octave within just two days from Christmas day, as this Apostle as mentioned, was indeed very close to the Lord and had a lot of knowledge of the Lord and His many works, as he recorded in his Gospel and the short Epistles he wrote, and also the aforementioned Book of Revelations that detailed the outlook of the future of the Church and the faithful.

And just as yesterday we commemorate the martyrdom of St. Stephen, the first martyr of the Church, and now today we celebrate the feast of St. John the Apostle, the Church wants all of us to know that as Christians, our celebrations of Christmas cannot be separated from Christ, that is Our Lord and Saviour, the very One for Whom St. Stephen and St. John the Apostle had laboured in faith, which is the same for all the other saints and martyrs as well.

They are reminding all of us that our celebration of Christmas must be centred and focused on the Lord, our Saviour, the very One for Whom we ought to rejoice because without Him, and without the love which He has shown us, there would have been no hope for us, and absolutely no reason for us to rejoice at all. We rejoice because knowing the love of God through the very courageous and brave examples of His servants like St. John the Apostle, other Apostles and disciples of the Lord, we know that all He had done for us is truly worth celebrating.

St. John the Apostle lived a very long and fruitful life, filled with both happiness and sorrows, sufferings and pains, all the trials and challenges he had to endure as a faithful servant of God and more. And yet, surely, St. John was satisfied at the end of it all, having served the Lord to the best of his ability and did everything he could to fulfil the mission entrusted to him and the other Apostles and disciples.

How about us, brothers and sisters in Christ? Have we been celebrating in this Christmas season with the right reason and intention, knowing that in everything we say and do, in all of our celebrations, Christ is always at the most prominent place. Are we able to follow in the footsteps of the Apostles and saints, especially that of St. John the Apostle who gave all of his life for the service and the greater glory of God?

Let all that we do from now on, particularly as we celebrate in this Christmas season, proclaim the Lord and His glorious wonders, His love for each and every one of us, as the reason for all of our joy and happiness. May the Lord be with us all, and may He strengthen our faith and love for Him so that we may be inspired to live in the manner that St. John had lived his life. Amen.

Friday, 27 December 2019 : Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 20 : 2-8

At that time, Mary of Magdala ran to Peter, and the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and she said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

Peter then set out with the other disciple to go out to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down and saw the linen cloths lying flat, but he did not enter. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and entered the tomb; he, too, saw the linen cloths lying flat.

The napkin, which had been around His head, was not lying flat like the other linen cloths, but lay rolled up in its place. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in; he saw and believed.

Friday, 27 December 2019 : Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 96 : 1-2, 5-6, 11-12

The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the distant islands be glad. Clouds and darkness surround Him; justice and right are His throne.

The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim His justice, all peoples see His glory.

He sheds light upon the upright, and gladness upon the just. Rejoice in the Lord, you who are blameless, and give praise to His holy Name.

Friday, 27 December 2019 : Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 1 : 1-4

This is what has been from the beginning, and what we have heard and have seen with our own eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, I mean the Word Who is Life…

The Life made Itself known, we have seen Eternal Life and we bear witness, and we are telling you of it. It was with the Father and made Himself known to us. So we tell you what we have seen and heard, that you may be in fellowship with us, and us, with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.

And we write this that our joy may be complete.

Friday, 18 October 2019 : Feast of St. Luke, Evangelist (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together as the Universal Church the feast of one of the four great Evangelists or the writers of the Four Holy Gospels. Today we honour the memory of St. Luke the Evangelist, the writer of the Gospel of St. Luke, notable for his meticulous method of writing and attention to details, being written many decades after the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

While St. Luke was not counted among one of the Apostles, unlike that of St. Matthew and St. John, but St. Luke was mentioned quite a few times in the Acts of the Apostles and was known to be a very important Church father for his many works of evangelisation and ministry among the people of God. St. Luke followed St. Paul during some of his missionary journeys and it was also likely that the Acts of the Apostles was authored by him.

St. Luke had contributed greatly to the Church and his role in the early establishment of the Church and the faith cannot be underestimated. He was a physician and doctor by trade, but after he had found Christ, he went on from treating the people of their physical illnesses into treating their spiritual shortcomings and sickness too. He dedicated his whole life to the service of God and did his best to deliver and proclaim the truth of God to the people.

And he also faced the difficult challenges and persecutions just as the other Apostles and disciples of the Lord had experienced. He continued to serve the Lord faithfully regardless of these difficulties and did his best to be a faithful witness of the Gospel of Christ. His numerous contributions especially in the early codification of the New Testament works helped to ensure that eventually when the Scripture Canon was assembled a few centuries later, the faithful had his immensely useful works in hand.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we ought to reflect on our own lives, on whether we have lived our lives as true Christian disciples as St. Luke had been in his own life. And in today’s Scripture readings, we are reminded of just how challenging it can be for us to be true disciples of Christ, as St. Paul clearly showed his frustration in his second Epistle to St. Timothy, how he was abandoned and left behind by his travel companions and many deserted him when they encountered difficulties in their journey.

The Apostles and disciples of the Lord even had to risk their lives and suffered greatly through all the rejections and persecutions they encountered throughout their missions, just as the Lord Jesus Himself had predicted as mentioned in our Gospel passage today, in how He was sending them like sheep among wolves. But at that same time, the Lord also reassured all of His disciples that He would be with them and the Holy Spirit He would send to them would be their strength and guide.

Then now, we need to realise that in our own lives too, we shall be subjected to similar kinds of persecutions and challenges, not necessarily in the same manner as what the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord had faced during their days, but these oppositions we face may even be mental and spiritual in nature, and also even from those who are dear and close to us, our own family members and friends among others. Throughout the history of the Church, we have had many similar examples facing our predecessors trying to dedicate themselves to holy lives in God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to follow in the footsteps of St. Luke the Evangelist, the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord? Are we able to dedicate our lives and serve God with conviction and commitment each and every moments of our lives? We must remember and heed also what the Lord had also said in our Gospel passage today, that the harvest is plentiful, but the labourers to gather the harvest of the Lord are not sufficient.

We are all called to be those labourers, to gather the harvests of the Lord, by being true disciples of His in our world today by being His faithful witnesses in the world, not just by words but also through concrete deeds and actions. And we do not have to start big or being ambitious, as in fact, in whatever little things we do in our daily lives, we should truly embody what we believe in as Christians and be true disciples of Christ in everything and at every moment.

May the Lord continue to watch over us and guide us, and may He bless us all in our works and in our endeavours from now on that more and more people may come to believe in Him through us and through our living and real examples in life. Amen.

Friday, 18 October 2019 : Feast of St. Luke, Evangelist (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 10 : 1-9

At that time, the Lord appointed seventy-two other disciples, and sent them, two by two, ahead of Him, to every town and place, where He Himself was to go. And He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. So you must ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers to His harvest. Courage! I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Set off without purse or bag or sandals; and do not stop at the homes of those you know.”

“Whatever house you enter, first bless them, saying, ‘Peace to this house!’ If a friend of peace lives there, the peace shall rest upon that person. But if not, the blessing will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking at their table, for the worker deserves to be paid. Do not move from house to house.”

“When they welcome you to any town, eat what they offer you. Heal the sick who are there, and say to them : ‘The kingdom of God has drawn near to you.'”

Friday, 18 October 2019 : Feast of St. Luke, Evangelist (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 144 : 10-11, 12-13ab, 17-18

All Your works will give You thanks; all Your saints, o YHVH, will praise You. They will tell of the glory of Your kingdom, and speak of Your power.

That all may know of Your mighty deeds, Your reign, and its glorious splendour. Your reign is from age to age; Your dominion endured, from generation to generation.

Righteous is YHVH in all His ways, His mercy shows in all His deeds. He is near those who call on Him, who call trustfully upon His Name.