Saturday, 16 September 2017 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Cornelius, Pope and Martyr, and St. Cyprian, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the message from the Scriptures telling us all as Christians to be true disciples of the Lord, that in all things we do, we must be truly faithful to the Lord, and not just having superficial faith. That is the essence of what we have just heard in our Gospel passage today, as the Lord told the people His parables.

He began with the parable of the good tree producing good fruits, and vice versa, the bad trees producing bad fruits. What the Lord said was that if the trees were healthy and in good condition, they would not have produced poor quality or rotten fruits. Similarly, if the trees are bad and rotten, it is unlikely for them to produce good quality fruits. And all these trees in fact represent all of us mankind, God’s people.

Jesus our Lord then also elaborated on another parable, the parable of the foundations, where He mentioned two types of foundation, firstly the strong and solid rock foundation where a house would remain sturdy and strong even when battered by strong winds, rains or waves. And then, He mentioned about the house built on the weak foundation of sand, were although it was quickly and easily built, but when strong winds and rains batter it, it quickly fell down and collapse.

In these two narratives that Jesus had taught His people, He wanted to show them, and therefore to all of us that as Christians we cannot resolve to cut corners and take it the easy way out, or to make compromises if we are to truly become good disciples of the Lord. Much effort and hard work will be required from each one of us, and from time to time, there will be challenges and difficulties that will come to assail us, just like the winds and waves that assailed the houses in the parable.

It also takes a long time and a lot of effort to grow a healthy and productive plant such as a fruit tree. It requires a lot of hard work to produce a good tree, which we can know that it is good because it produces good fruits. If the tree is not properly taken care of, then it is highly likely that it will end up bad and rotten, and the fruits it produces will be of bad quality and rotten too.

In the same manner, therefore if our faith is not strong, and if we do not put the necessary effort required for us to remain faithful to the Lord, then we may end up losing our faith when the troubles and challenges of life come upon our path. We may end up like the house built upon the foundation of sand, shaky and weak, because we have chosen not to strengthen the foundation of our faith, and when challenges come our way, everything end up collapsing.

Instead, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us must be strong and courageous in our faith, that we may remain true to our faith despite all the difficult times and moments we may encounter, and despite the opposition and troubles that may come from even those who are dearest and closest to us. Remember that Satan and his allies have many things in their power and ability in order to try to bring about our downfall, and we must be ever vigilant.

Let us all look up to the examples of the holy saints whose memory we remember today, Pope St. Cornelius and St. Cyprian, holy martyrs who have stood faithfully by their faith despite the difficult and challenging times of the early days of the Church, when being Christians was considered as equivalent to having a death wish upon oneself. Christians and the Church were persecuted and many were arrested and put to death for remaining true to their faith and refusing to abandon the Lord.

Pope St. Cornelius was the Bishop of Rome and leader of the entire Church throughout the years of difficult persecution under the Roman Emperors, while St. Cyprian was the Bishop of Carthage, the contemporary of the Pope, who was one of the leaders of the Church. There were great divisions within the Church at the time, as there were those who under the famous Novatian, who refused to allow the re-baptism of those who have lapsed from their faith, disagreeing with Pope St. Cornelius, St. Cyprian and many other of those who remained to the true faith.

As such, it was truly a difficult time for the Church and for the faithful, and yet Pope St. Cornelius and St. Cyprian remained strong in their faith and commitment to God. They showed their faith and commitment through their never ending dedication that inspired many others to remain strong in their faith to God, despite all the challenges and persecutions. And to the very end, unto their martyrdom, they did not give up their faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all heed the examples of these holy saints and devoted servants of God. Let us all commit ourselves wholeheartedly to the Lord following their footsteps. Let us walk faithfully through the journey of our lives, and let us all draw ever closer to God’s love and mercy. May He bless us and guide us all as we continue to struggle daily in our respective lives, trying our best to remain true to our faith in Him. Amen.

Saturday, 16 September 2017 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Cornelius, Pope and Martyr, and St. Cyprian, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 6 : 43-49

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “No healthy tree bears bad fruit, no poor tree bears good fruit. And each tree is known by the fruit it bears : you do not gather figs from thorns, or grapes from brambles. Similarly, the good person draws good things from the good stored in his heart, and an evil person draws evil things from the evil stored in his heart. For the mouth speaks from the fullness of the heart.”

“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ and do not do what I say? I will show you what the one is like, who comes to Me, and listens to My words, and acts accordingly. That person is like the builder who dug deep, and laid the foundations of his house on rock. The river overflowed, and the stream dashed against the house, but could not carry it off because the house had been well built.”

“But the one who listens and does not act, is like a man who built his house on the ground without a foundation. The flood burst against it, and the house fell at once : and what a terrible disaster that was!”

Saturday, 16 September 2017 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Cornelius, Pope and Martyr, and St. Cyprian, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 112 : 1-2, 3-4, 5a and 6-7

Alleluia! Praise, o servants of YHVH, praise the Name of YHVH! Blessed be the Name of YHVH now and forever!

From eastern lands to the western islands, may the Name of YHVH be praised! YHVH is exalted over the nations; His glory above the heavens.

Who is like YHVH our God, Who also bends down to see on earth as in heaven? He lifts up the poor from the dust and the needy from the ash heap.

Saturday, 16 September 2017 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Cornelius, Pope and Martyr, and St. Cyprian, Bishop and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

1 Timothy 1 : 15-17

This saying is true and worthy of belief : Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first. Because of that, I was forgiven; Christ Jesus wanted to display His utmost patience, so that I might be an example for all who are to believe, and obtain eternal life.

To the King of ages, the only God, Who lives beyond every perishable and visible creation – to Him, be honour and glory forever. Amen!

Friday, 15 September 2017 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, which is related to the Feast which we have just celebrated the day before, that is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. And while yesterday we rejoice in the glory of the Holy Cross and the triumphant victory which our Lord Jesus Christ had won because of His sacrifice on the Cross, today we remember that behind the Cross, precisely at the foot of the Cross, was Mary, the mother of our Lord.

For Mary was ever faithful and devoted to her Son, Whom she followed throughout His life and ministry in this world, ever loving Him and caring for Him at all times, even to the point of following Him to the Cross at Calvary. It must have been painful and unbearably excruciating for a mother to have to witness her Son being made to suffer, tortured and rejected by the people whom He had loved, and the pain which Mary had felt upon seeing the nails piercing the hands and the feet of her Son must have been tremendous.

This was what the prophet Simeon had foretold to Mary and Joseph, at the time when they brought the Baby Jesus to the Temple to be presented to the Lord. He foretold that a sword would pierce the heart of Mary, the mother of our Lord, but through that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed. It is the thought which Mary always had for her Son, ever placing Him at the forefront of her mind, and the care and love He had for her, which she now shows us from her wounded heart.

Therefore, today, all of us look upon Mary, the Mother of our Lord and God, whom her Son had entrusted to us as our Mother, and vice versa, that we have also been entrusted to her as her adopted children. And in her we see the sorrowful eyes which have gazed on the suffering of her Son, as He took up His cross, walking the long path from Jerusalem to Calvary, seeing her Son rejected and trampled upon, loathed and made to suffer, bearing the burdens of our sins, the entirety of mankind’s unimaginably huge burden of sin.

Therefore, that is why the sorrow of Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows is clear, even unto this very day, because even though God had loved us and He even willingly laid down His life for our sake, sacrificing Himself on the cross for us, but we continue to sin and commit what is evil in the sight of God, refusing to obey God and His laws, and continuing to do what is against the Law of God.

Every single sin that we commit, every single one of our failure in doing what we could have done to obey God’s will, are every wounds that have been inflicted on our Lord Jesus Christ, the wounds and the whiplashes that tore at His Body, which made Him to suffer and to bleed. And all of these brought more sorrow to our loving mother, who loves each and every one of us just as she loves her Son.

Yet, we mankind continue to walk down our path towards destruction, by our ignorance of the Lord’s ways and teachings, by our refusal to repent and to turn away from all of our sinful ways. That is also why Mary made so many appearances in various times and places, including at Fatima, which centenary of her Apparition we celebrate this year.

Every time Mary, our mother made her appearance, she called upon her children to repent from their sins and to turn away from their wicked ways. She showed them the horrors of hell and what awaits those who are not faithful to God. That is because each and every one of us are precious to her, for she is our mother, and she loves us just as she loves and tenderly cares for her Son Jesus. She does not want even a single soul to end up in the damnation of hell.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we reflect on the great sorrows of Mary, our loving mother and the mother of our Lord, who have witnessed just how great the love God had for us, that for our sake, He was willing to die for us, that each and every one of us may have life in us, let us all therefore spend some time to think about what we have done in our lives thus far, and what we have not done in accordance with God’s ways and teachings.

Let us from now on turn ourselves wholeheartedly and completely towards the Lord, our God, and through the guidance shown upon us by His mother Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, may all of us be able to find our way to the salvation and eternal life found in Him alone. Let the sorrowful heart of our loving mother Mary remind us of the need for us to reject all forms of sin, and live with faith, zeal and devotion from now on.

May all of us draw our attention to the Blessed Mother Mary, and through her may all of us find our most direct path to her Son. May the Lord continue to bless us and be with us all the days of our life. Amen.

Friday, 15 September 2017 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 19 : 25-27

At that time, near the cross of Jesus stood His mother, His mother’s sister Mary, who was the wife of Cleophas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw the mother, and the disciple whom He loved, He said to the mother, “Woman, this is your son.”

Then He said to the disciple, “This is your mother.” And from that moment the disciple took her to his own home.

Alternative reading

Luke 2 : 33-35

At that time, the father and mother of Jesus wondered at what was said about the Child. Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary, His mother, “Know this : your Son is a Sign; a Sign established for the falling and rising of many in Israel, a Sign of contradiction; and a sword will pierce your own soul, so that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.”

Friday, 15 September 2017 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 30 : 2-3a, 3bc-4, 5-6, 15-16, 20

In You, o YHVH, I take refuge, may I never be disgraced; deliver me in Your justice. Give heed to my plea, and make haste to rescue me.

Be a Rock of refuge for me, a Fortress for my safety. For You are my Rock and my Stronghold, lead me for Your Name’s sake.

Free me from the snare that they have set for me. Indeed You are my Protector. Into Your hands I commend my spirit; You have redeemed me, o YHVH, faithful God.

But I put my trust in You, o YHVH, I said : “You are my God.” My days are in Your hand. Deliver me from the hand of my enemies, from those after my skin.

How great is the goodness which You have stored for those who fear You, which You show, for all to see, to those who take refuge in You!