Friday, 21 September 2018 : 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 great feast day of one of the faithful followers of Christ, one of the Twelve Apostles and one of the Four Evangelists, that is St. Matthew, the writer of today’s Gospel passage. He was once a tax collector at the employ of the Roman authorities, tasked to collect the regular taxes from the people of Judea, as Levi, the tax collector.

But the Lord called Levi to a better and higher purpose in life, leaving behind his work as a tax collector, and followed Him for the rest of his life. He was thus called to the life of a disciple and servant of God, leaving behind his past profession. And in the Gospel passage today we can see clearly the kind of prejudice which the society at that time placed on people like tax collectors, especially that which was shown by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law.

The tax collectors at that time were seen as traitors to the nation and the people of Israel, as they were seen as collaborators to the Romans who ruled over Judea. The imposition and payment of taxes were the concrete symbols of Roman authority and dominance over the people, which was resented by the Jewish people and their authorities, many of whom desiring for the freedom and independence from the Romans.

But the Lord looked beyond these biases and prejudices, and called one of His closest assistants and followers from among the ranks of the tax collectors. In fact, if we scrutinise the event more closely, we should see just how the tax collectors, as well as prostitutes, another group often reviled by the society at that time, were actually willing to listen to the Lord and turn themselves over a new leaf, welcoming the Lord into their midst and listening to Him.

This is what the Lord has given to all those who were willing to listen to Him and to turn themselves to Him and trust in His providence and love. He gave them the gift of faith, the encouragement of hope and the wonders of love. He gave them the strength and courage to become His disciples and witnesses among the nations, which they ought to accept by willingly allowing the Lord to perform His works through them.

And by God’s grace and the wisdom which He imparted to St. Matthew, we now have the Gospel of St. Matthew, as one of the four Holy Gospels through which all of us Christians, many years after the actual events surrounding the life and works of Our Lord during His years walking on earth, can have an accurate and true account of what actually happened all those years ago, revealing to us God’s truth through His own words.

St. Matthew himself was also extensively involved in the field of evangelisation beyond his writing of the Holy Gospels, helping to spread the faith and establish the Church in various places, and it was told that according to the tradition of the Church, he died as a martyr like most of the other Apostles of Christ. His examples and dedication remains tangible to this day, in the flourishing and survival of the faith.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, we are called to follow in the footsteps of St. Matthew the Apostle, in his acceptance of what the Lord has called him to do, in his commitment to the calling of Apostleship and service. Are we able to respond positively and with commitment, when the Lord calls us, “Follow Me!”? Or are we going to find excuses and reasons for us not to answer to His call?

To each and every one of us, as St. Paul mentioned in his Epistle today, has been given various gifts and talents, as given by God. But are we making use of these gifts and talents as the Lord has taught us to do? St. Paul mentioned that we are called to different callings in life, to be Apostles, to be teachers, to be evangelisers, pastors, servants of God, and many more, but ultimately, all of us are called to work for the greater glory of God.

Therefore, in our various vocations in life, in our different capacities and areas of responsibility, be it as priests, ordained persons, or as the laity, as married couples and families, as those who have contributed to the Church in one way or another, let us continue to devote ourselves, our time, effort and attention, that we may do ever greater works, for the greater glory of God, and for the advancements of the good works of the Church, for the salvation of mankind.

May God be with us all, and may He continue to guide us in our way, that as we continue living in this world today, we may embrace the Lord’s call with confidence when He calls on us, just as St. Matthew had done with faith. Let us all turn towards Him with courage and hope, with zeal and determination, every single days of our life. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 21 September 2018 : 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.”

Friday, 21 September 2018 : 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.

Friday, 21 September 2018 : 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.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017 : 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 the holy Apostle St. John, the brother of St. James the Apostle, and who happens to be also one of the four writers of the Book of the Gospels, and thus he is also known as St. John the Evangelist. He was the disciple whom the Lord Jesus loved and was always at His side, because of his great faith and devotion.

St. John was the only one among the Twelve Apostles who did not die from martyrdom, but died a peaceful death last among all of them, around a century after the birth of Our Lord Jesus, many decades after the events surrounding His crucifixion, death and resurrection. St. John died after having received the vision of the end of time, which he wrote in the Book of the Apocalypse or the Revelations according to St. John, the last book in our Bible.

He was the one to whom the Lord entrusted His mother Mary, and she lived with him from the moment when Jesus entrusted her to him from the cross. At the same time, He also entrusted him to her, to be her adopted son. St. John was also featured prominently in the other parts of the Gospels, as the one who was often present during important events in the life of Jesus, with St. Peter the Apostle, the leader of the Twelve, and with St. James, the brother of St. John.

Why was that St. John featured so prominently throughout the Gospels? That is because, while St. John was the youngest among all the Twelve Apostles, yet, despite of his youth, he was very faithful and devoted to the Lord. He was always listening to the Lord and was loyal to Him, even to the very end, when He was betrayed by Judas Iscariot. In the Gospel of St. John, he stayed behind and fled only when he was chased by the Temple guards.

And as mentioned in the Gospel passage today, St. John was among the first to witness the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, along with St. Peter the Apostle, and of course the women who went to the tomb earlier on that Easter Sunday. And he believed in all that he saw, the stone that was rolled off the tomb entrance, the missing Body of the Lord Jesus, and His promise that He would rise from the dead.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, St. John the Apostle and Evangelist showed all of us the way to follow the Lord, through faith, dedication and obedience. He had a pure faith and a committed heart, dedicated to serve and worship the Lord, and until the end of his earthly life, enduring one persecution after another, and one exile after another, including the one to the island of Patmos where he received the visions of the end times, St. John continued to be faithful, and helped many of the early Christians to continue persevering in the faith.

Let us all imitate his examples, and as Christians let us all have that strong and genuine faith in the Lord. Are we able to dedicate ourselves, our whole lives, and commit them to the Lord? This is what we need to do, if we are to become true disciples of the Lord, like that of St. John, and through our faith, just like his, we will inspire many others to do the same, and more people will be saved by our good works of faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, as we continue to rejoice in this wonderful and blessed Christmas season, let us all remember always of the reason of our joy, that is Christ, and with Christ as the focus and the centre of our lives, let us all always strive to live in accordance with His ways, and walk always in His grace. May the Lord bless all of us, and be with us always, all the days of our life. St. John the Apostle and Evangelist, pray for all of us sinners, that the Lord may eventually bring us to His eternal glory. Amen.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017 : 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.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017 : 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.