Monday, 18 October 2021 : Feast of St. Luke, Evangelist (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist, one of the four great Evangelists who wrote the Holy Gospels together with St. Matthew, St. Mark and St. John. According to Apostolic tradition, St. Luke was a physician and a follower and disciple of St. Paul the Apostle, who accompanied him for quite a few of his missionary journeys, and who wrote the accounts of those travels and also other actions of the Apostles in the Acts of the Apostles that he also authored. It was even told in some traditions that he was also the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews.

St. Luke according to different traditions was either a Hellenised Jew or a Greek who embraced the Christian faith as one of the earliest converts and as among the earliest of Christ’s disciples and missionaries. He was a physician and therefore likely highly educated and intelligent, which was also probably why God gave him the gift of wisdom and talent for writing, through which St. Luke recorded the very important events that he heard about the Lord’s life and ministry, and also as inspired by the Holy Spirit, to evangelise to those who have not yet known Him.

St. Luke through his efforts converted many to the Christian faith, turning many people towards the Lord and called them to embrace His truth and love. In his travels with St. Paul, he had assisted the great Apostle in preaching the truth of God, and through his Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, he had reached out even far beyond mere words and interactions, as by his courageous efforts in writing the words of God, he has, just like St. Paul and his many Epistles, kept the faith alive and the truth to remain firmly found in the Sacred Scriptures.

St. Luke continued his ministry among the people of God, ministering to the many people whom he encountered throughout his life and work, and he spread the word of God faithfully according to the tradition of the Church, until he died at an old age in the region of Boeotia in Roman Greece, after a very long life of service to God, and after having bestowed on us the wonders of his work in the Scriptures, which enriched our knowledge of God and His truth. Through his works, all of us ought to have known more about God and His works.

Today, as we celebrate this great feast in honour of St. Luke the Evangelist, all of us are called to be inspired by the faith and the commitment which he has shown in his life and work, and in all that he has done for the greater glory of God. We are called to follow in his examples and to do whatever we can in order to emulate his examples in our own daily lives. We may think that it is impossible for us to be like St. Luke or like any other great saints, but this is not true.

God has called His Apostles and many other disciples from various backgrounds and origins, some rich, some poor, some educated, some illiterate, some privileged and powerful, while others were weak and not noteworthy, and there had been countless of these whom God had called, all sinners, who came to the Lord’s side and listened to His call. They answered Him and His call, and He led them down the path of mission and commitment, as St. Luke and so many other innumerable saints had shown us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us are called to heed the Lord’s call, to be His faithful and committed disciples, in doing His will and in walking down His glorious path. We do not have to do great and wonderful things. Rather, in our own daily living and in every single thing we do, even in the smallest, we should strive to do our best, to show our faith in God and to be inspiration to one another. We are all called to walk down this path of discipleship, with our respective gifts and talents, with all that God has given to us.

Let us all discern carefully our path in life, and let us consider what each and every one of us can do to contribute to the works of the Lord, to the mission which He has entrusted to His Church and to all of us as Christians. We can no longer be idle in our lives as Christians and we should dedicate ourselves from now on to be ever truly faithful to God. Let us be inspired and walk in the path which St. Luke has shown us, that we too may bear rich fruits in faith from now on.

May God bless us all and may He strengthen each and every one of us to live our Christian lives genuinely and be the beacons of God’s light and truth to all who have seen us, witnessed our actions and interacted with us. May our lives bring hope and light of God’s truth, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 18 October 2021 : 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.'”

Monday, 18 October 2021 : 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.

Monday, 18 October 2021 : Feast of St. Luke, Evangelist (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

2 Timothy 4 : 10-17b

You must know, that Demas has deserted me, for the love of this world : he returned to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia and Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke remains with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is a useful helper in my work. I sent Tychicus to Ephesus.

Bring with you the cloak I left at Troas, in Carpos’ house, and also the scrolls, especially the parchments. Alexander, the metalworker, has caused me great harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. Distrust him, for he has been very much opposed to our preaching.

At my first hearing in court, no one supported me; all deserted me. May the Lord not hold it against them. But the Lord was at my side, giving me strength, to proclaim the word fully, and to let all the pagans hear it.

Tuesday, 21 September 2021 : Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the Feast of one of great Apostles of Our Lord, one of the Twelve and also one of the four writers of the Holy Gospels, also known as the Evangelists. He was once a tax collector whose task was likely to gather taxes on behalf of the local rulers and the Roman overlords of the then region of Judea, Galilee and the other territories where the Jewish people lived in. He was known as Levi, and heeded the Lord’s call when He came over His place, left everything behind and followed Him, becoming known as Matthew from that moment onwards.

He was one of the several Apostles who have had a change of name upon their calling by the Lord, adopting a new identity upon his conversion, just like St. Peter and St. Paul, who were previously known as Simon and Saul respectively. The Lord called on Levi to follow Him, and he listened, and not only that but he even gathered his fellow tax collectors, who also wanted to know the Lord and speak with Him, and had a dinner in his place, before he was to follow Him fully. While not written or recorded in the Gospel account, it is probable that even there might have been even more among the tax collectors who later on chose to follow the Lord.

Back then, tax collectors were often prejudiced against, hated and reviled by the general society, and especially so by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who saw them in the same light as the prostitutes and those others deemed as great sinners, like those who were possessed by demons and those suffering from debilitating diseases, seen as being cursed and punished by God for their sins. For the tax collectors were often seen as traitors to the country and the people for their collaboration with the Romans who were hated by most of the people.

To that extent, the tax collectors were often ridiculed and dismissed as sinners and unworthy by the Pharisees, who did not even hesitate to mention it bluntly before the Lord’s disciples, when they asked them why their Lord and Master would spend the time in the company and have a meal with sinners. Yet, they all failed to realise one thing, which is that they themselves, were sinners as well. By looking down on the sins of others, they had become blind to their own shortcomings and faults.

And by embracing the Lord and answering His call, Levi who chose the Lord over the glory and wealth, the power and the satisfaction of the world has shown us that, even great sinners can be sanctified and turned into great saints, and that there is no one truly beyond redemption and salvation in God, unless the person himself or herself had rejected the Lord’s most generous offer of mercy and forgiveness. As long as one is willing to listen to the Lord and to repent from their sins, the path to Heaven and everlasting life will be open to them.

St. Matthew for example was credited with his efforts among the Jewish people themselves in Judea and Galilee, and his Gospel in particular was noted for its use of contexts and explanations familiar to the Jews, which served to explain the truth of God to his audience, which were mainly the Jewish people in the region. St. Matthew also went to other places and countries to spread the word of God, before eventually was martyred just like most of the other Apostles in the midst of his missionary works.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what we heard today from the examples shown by St. Matthew, the story of his conversion and later on his contributions and efforts, his works as an Apostle and Evangelist, served as an important reminder to each and every one of us, God’s beloved children and disciples whom He Himself had called and gathered from the world to be His own. We have to ask ourselves this question, whether we have genuinely loved the Lord and had faith in Him, or whether our faith is still being superficial in nature.

We are also called to turn away from the path of sin, and to embrace God’s ever generous offering of mercy and forgiveness. God has always sought sinners and all those who need His help, as He Himself made it clear in our Gospel passage today. Like Levi, who welcomed the Lord and answered His call, we too should follow in his footsteps, and allow the Lord to transform us from the sinners we are, to be great disciples and even perhaps to be future saints, just as Levi the tax collector has been transformed in his life into St. Matthew, a great Apostle and Evangelist.

Let us all therefore discern carefully how we can be ever more dedicated as Christians, in doing the will of God and in committing ourselves to His cause. Let us all seek the Lord and His love, His compassion and kindness, and strive to do our best to glorify Him by our lives and actions. Let us also never be prejudiced anymore against any of our fellow brothers and sisters, and rather than being jealous against the achievements of others or in being proud over own achievements and efforts, while looking down on others, instead let us reflect on how fortunate we have been that God has chosen to forgive us our many sins, and how He has called on us all to be His followers and disciples.

Let us all realise that in each and every one of us there is that potential for greatness and holiness, as we are all called to holiness and to be like the saints. Even great saints were once also great sinners. What matters is that all of them have experienced a change in their hearts and embraced the Lord’s mercy and compassion, turning over a new leaf in their lives, becoming great role models and sources of inspiration themselves for the others who witnessed their works and lives. St. Matthew is one of these great inspiration and role model which we can also aspire to achieve.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore renew our faith in the Lord, and put our trust in Him, devoting our time, effort and attention to Him, and seeking Him with a contrite heart, with a new spirit of faith and obedience, and doing whatever we can to glorify the Lord by our lives. May all of us be true and dedicated disciples of the Lord from now on, doing whatever we can to lead more and more souls towards salvation and eternal life in God. May God bless us all and our efforts and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 21 September 2021 : Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Matthew 9 : 9-13

At that time, as Jesus moved on from the place where He cured a paralytic man, He saw a man named Matthew, at his seat in the custom house; and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And Matthew got up and followed Him.

Now it happened, while Jesus was at table in Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners joined Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is it, that your Master eats with sinners and tax collectors?”

When Jesus heard this, He said, “Healthy people do not need a doctor, but sick people do. Go, and find out what this means : What I want is mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Tuesday, 21 September 2021 : Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist (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.

Tuesday, 21 September 2021 : Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Ephesians 4 : 1-7, 11-13

Therefore, I, the prisoner of Christ, invite you, to live the vocation you have received. Be humble, kind, patient and bear with one another in love. Make every effort to keep among you, the unity of spirit, through bonds of peace. Let there be one body, and one Spirit, just as one hope is the goal of your calling by God. One Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God, the Father of all, Who is above all, and works through all, and is in all.

But to each of us, divine grace is given, according to the measure of Christ’s gift. As for His gifts, to some, He gave to be Apostles; to others, prophets, or even evangelists; or pastors and teachers. So, He prepared those who belong to Him, for the ministry, in order to build up the Body of Christ, until we are all united, in the same faith and knowledge of the Son of God. Thus, we shall become the perfect Man, upon reaching maturity, and sharing the fullness of Christ.

Sunday, 18 October 2020 : Twenty-Ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Feast of St. Luke, Evangelist (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday, as we reflect on the Word of God in the Scriptures, we are all reminded to do our part as Christians, as those who believe in God and follow the Lord. As Christians, all of us are God’s beloved people, and we have received His truth through the Church. If we truly believe in the Lord, then we must act and do things in ways that are in accordance to His teachings. Otherwise, if we do not do so, then we are hypocrites.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, we heard the Lord proclaiming His salvation of His people through Cyrus, the then future king of the Persians. At the time of the prophet Isaiah, it was still two centuries or so before the time of king Cyrus. Yet, the Lord had proclaimed the coming of His salvation even at that time, in advance, that when His people who by then had become wayward and fallen into sin, and humiliated and humbled when their city, country and the Temple were destroyed, they were ultimately still beloved by God in the end.

When the Babylonians came and destroyed Jerusalem and Judah, looted and destroyed its Temple, the House of God, and brought most of the people off into exile in Babylon and far-off lands, it must have been very despicable and terrible for the descendants of the Israelites then, who had to endure such shame and humiliation, suffering and persecutions, as aliens and foreigners without any homeland. But God showed all of them that He still cared for them and loved them, and sent them a deliverer through Cyrus.

Cyrus, the ruler of Persia rose to power and eventually came to destroy the reign of the Babylonians and their tyranny, overthrowing them and their king, and brought about a new reign and era. King Cyrus was remembered for his upright and just rule, and for his revolutionary advancement of the rights of peoples and nations. He respected the rights of the various peoples and nationalities that existed in the vast Persian Empire he created, and his successors respected this same custom and practice.

It was this same Cyrus, whom God had revealed beforehand through prophecy, that freed the descendants of Israel from their bondage and exile, after many, many decades. They were allowed to return to their homeland, to regain the lands and places they had lost, and they were allowed to freely practice their faith once again. This is unusual as at that time, usually the ruler of the kingdoms got to decide what the people believed in, and usually persecuted foreign beliefs and practices.

Thus, Cyrus was considered a righteous among the nations, even though he did not belong to the Israelite nation, and even though he did not worship God the way that the Israelites worshipped Him. Cyrus obeyed God’s will and did everything that God had entrusted him with, as a just ruler and as the liberator of God’s oppressed people. Cyrus became a paragon and example among the Israelites henceforth, and he therefore is a good example for us all as well.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord Jesus as He spoke with the Pharisees, who at that time wanted to trap the Lord with cunning trickery, as they asked Him with sweet but insincere words, seemingly praising Him for being honest and upright, and then attempting to trap Him by asking if it was lawful and fine for the people to pay the taxes to Caesar, that is to the Roman government.

This was truly a very cunning and tricky attempt in trying to discredit and even harm the Lord. The Lord was in fact would end up in deep trouble had He answered either that the people must not pay the taxes or that they should obey and pay their taxes. This was because, the matter of Roman taxes was a very divisive and dangerous one at the time, with most of the people resenting the taxation, the money that they had to pay to their Roman overlords.

That was why the people resented the tax collectors very much and reviled them as one of the lowest in the community, treated with contempt and branded even as traitors to the nation. They were seen as collaborators who got rich and had good life due to their connections with the Roman government and its apparatus, and the people came to resent this very deeply. Thus, had the Lord answered that the people ought to pay taxes to the Romans, then the Pharisees would have severely discredited Him and made Him hated by the people.

On the other hand, had the Lord said that the people must not pay taxes, then the Pharisees would have used the opportunity to strike at Him by reporting Him to the Romans, just as they would eventually do together with the Sanhedrin when they handed the Lord to the Romans for the crucifixion. Not paying taxes was one of the most severe faults that the Romans would definitely punish very harshly. After all, the Romans had treated traitors and treasonous activities with the great harshness throughout its history.

Instead, the Lord wisely manouevred His way out of the predicament by first rebuking the Pharisees for their wicked attempt in trying to trap and discredit HIm, and then saying that on that matter, then everyone ought to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and in the same way, give to God, what belongs to God. In this way, the Lord neither said that the people must submit to the Romans for their taxes, or that they should not pay taxes. On the contrary, they give whatever is due to each.

We can see here that the Lord wants to remind us that all of earthly possessions, all these things all belong to the world, and just as we have been blessed and given these possessions, some of us having more while others having less, we have to let them go and give them back whenever it is necessary. And then, all of us must remember that all of us ourselves, belong to God and to Him alone, and because of this, we ought to give to God what is due to Him, that is to love Him and dedicate ourselves to Him wholeheartedly.

The example of king Cyrus of Persia in our first reading today is a reminder that God has empowered in this world, governments and states, nations and rulers with the authority from Him, to govern and rule, to lead and guide, in tandem with the Church which He has established in this world. To those rulers, God had entrusted us His people who are still living in this world. This is why, as good and committed Christians, we cannot be disobedient or rebellious against those governments and rulers God had placed over us.

We have our part to play as obedient and dutiful citizens and peoples of the countries we are in. Of course this does not mean that we follow the rules blindly, as we have to obey the laws and teachings of the Church as well. But it means that as long as the rules of the land do not contradict the essence of Christian teachings and are in line with the virtues and values of our Christian faith, we should obey and follow them.

That is why, all of us as Christians, we must be good and virtuous in all of our actions and deeds. We have to be good Christians and followers of the Lord, just as we have to be good and law-abiding citizens as well. We must not be like the Pharisees and all those hypocrites, who outwardly showed piety and faith, and yet, they had no real and genuine love and dedication to God. In this way, they had not given to God, what belongs to God, that is their love and their obedience.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we see in king Cyrus, who was not even counted among the Israelites, and yet, highly regarded and praised for his actions, his righteousness and justice as a just ruler and liberator for many people including the people of Israel, all of us are called to follow in his examples, to follow the path of God, all the more that since we know of His truth and teachings, then we are expected to obey Him and to show our faith through our actions, at each and every moments of our lives.

This is the challenge that we have been presented with, brethren. Are we willing and able to commit ourselves to walk down this path of faith? God has called us all to follow Him, and to do what He has taught and shown us to do. We are all called to bear His truth and love, to be His faithful witnesses in our respective communities. And especially, during these difficult and challenging times, have we been good neighbours and friends to all those who are in need around us? Or have we been more interested in settling our own matters and desires?

We have seen how many people selfishly took care of themselves, or being disobedient for the sake of their personal freedom. And there had been occasions when we as Christians complained that we have been restricted in our freedom to worship especially in the last few months, and we disobeyed the government and regulations all amidst the terrible few months of this pandemic. This is the perfect example of why, as Christians, we must not forget that while we obey the Lord first and foremost above all else, but we also have a duty to be good and responsible citizens too.

Let us think of this, brothers and sisters in Christ, if by our actions then by refusing to wear mask, or by refusing to follow community gathering and restrictions currently in place, we cause harm to others, and make others to suffer more, and by prolonging this pandemic, we unnecessarily extend this pandemic’s impact, aren’t we being hypocrites and unfaithful, and worse still, being selfish and sinful? This is why, we must not lose ourselves to our own pride and desires, and be disobedient for the sake of being convenient for ourselves.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore from now on, especially during these difficult times, be exemplary in our actions and deeds, in being responsible in our daily actions, and in showing care towards others in need. Let us all help one another and play our part, doing the best we can to be first and foremost, dutiful and loving Christians, and also as contributing and law-abiding citizens of our respective states and realms.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He guide us with His wisdom that we may discern carefully our choice of actions, avoiding actions that bring about harm to others just that we feed our own ego and selfishness. Let us be guided by God and our Christian faith in our actions and way of life. May God bless us all and help us in our efforts and endeavours. Amen.

Sunday, 18 October 2020 : Twenty-Ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Feast of St. Luke, Evangelist (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 22 : 15-21

At that time, the Pharisees went away, considering how they could trap Jesus by His own words. They sent to Him their disciples, along with members of Herod’s party, saying, “Master, we know that You are an honest Man; and truly teach God’s way. You are not influenced by others, nor are You afraid of anyone. So tell us what You think : is it against the Law to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

But Jesus understood their evil intentions, and said to them, “Hypocrites, why are you trying to trap Me? Show me the coin with which you pay taxes.” They showed Him a silver coin, and Jesus said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose name?” They answered, “Caesar’s.” Then Jesus replied, “So give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s.”