Saturday, 14 May 2022 : Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the great Feast of St. Matthias the Apostle, one of the Twelve Apostles of Our Lord, one of those great servants whom God had called and chosen to be His followers and to be the chief ones among His disciples. St. Matthias and his examples, his dedication to the Lord together with that of the other Apostles and disciples of the Lord, should be our source of inspiration in how we live our lives with faith, and in inspiring us all to proclaim the truth of God in the same manner to our fellow brothers and sisters.

St. Matthias was not originally one of the Twelve Apostles, but he was chosen by all the assembled Apostles and disciples to replace the betrayer Judas Iscariot, who had betrayed the Lord and sold Him off to the chief priests, which led to His Passion, suffering and death. Judas Iscariot was one of the chosen twelve disciples of the Lord, and his death as he decided to take his own life marked an empty spot among the Twelve. As mentioned in our first reading today, the Apostles and the other disciples led by St. Peter the Apostle decided to choose from among those who had been with the Lord since the beginning, to be the one to replace Judas Iscariot.

St. Matthias was chosen after prayer and deliberation by the disciples, and he became one of the Twelve Apostles. According to Apostolic traditions, St. Matthias was indeed among the first disciples of the Lord, who had followed Him right from the beginning of His ministry that began with the Lord’s baptism and followed Him through to the end and beyond. And just like the other Apostles, St. Matthias went to many distant places proclaiming the Good News of God, the Gospel of salvation to all whom he encountered. According to traditions, St. Matthias went to the region of Cappadocia in Asia Minor, region of Colchis in Georgia in the Caucasus, and as far as Ethiopia.

St. Matthias dedicated himself for many years to serve the people of God and in calling more and more people to believe in God. St. Matthias gave himself like the other Apostles and disciples of the Lord, spending a lot of time and effort to reach out to those who have not yet known the Lord. He endured persecutions and challenges, trials and sufferings in the midst of his ministry, and yet he remained firmly faithful to the end. Entrusting himself to the Lord and empowered by the Holy Spirit, St. Matthias persevered on in his ministry until he was finally martyred for his faith, which some traditions placed as happening at Sebastopolis in the Caucasus.

As we listened to the Scripture readings today and recalling the courage and faith showed by St. Matthias, all of us are reminded that each and every one of us are also called to the same mission that we share with the Apostles like St. Matthias, with the saints and martyrs, all those who had gone before us and performed many great deeds for the sake of the Lord. The story of St. Matthias should serve as an inspiration to us on how each one of us ought to be faithful in how we all live our lives that we may truly glorify God by our actions and deeds, by our words and interactions with one another.

In today’s Gospel we are reminded of how we can be truly good disciples of the Lord, by following the Lord’s commandment which He has entrusted to us all. He told us to love one another just as He has loved us. The Lord has told His disciples and followers to be His witnesses as He has shown them His love and truth, all that love that He has presented to us. By His love, we are all as His disciples, called to show the same love to our fellow brothers and sisters. We are all called to love one another, and not just loving ourselves only. This is not something easily done, as we tend to be selfish more than selfless, but this is exactly why we need to challenge our ego and selfishness.

That is also why, brothers and sisters in Christ, we have this obligation and calling to be exemplary in how we conduct ourselves as Christians, and we cannot believe in God in one hand, and yet not showing love to our fellow men, our fellow brothers and sisters. If we do so, then we are no better than hypocrites who claim to believe in God and yet, in us, there is no real faith and real commitment to the path that the Lord has shown us. If we truly call ourselves as Christians, as God’s people, then we ought to begin doing what God has called us to do.

Brothers and sisters, let us all hence walk in the footsteps of the Apostles, inspired by the examples of St. Matthias and all the other holy men and women of God, that we too may become the bearers and beacons of God’s light to the people still living in the darkness of this world, in ignorance of God and His truth. May all of us be able to do our best and strive to be courageous and good Christians in all of our actions and works, so that through us and our works, we may endeavour to bring many more souls to the salvation and eternal life in God. St. Matthias, Holy Apostle of Our Lord, pray for us all sinners. Amen.

Saturday, 14 May 2022 : Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 15 : 9-17

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “As the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you. Remain in My love! You will remain in My love if you keep My commandments, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love.”

“I have told you all this, that My own joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete. This is My commandment : Love one another as I have loved you! There is no greater love than this, to give one’s life for one’s friends; and you are My friends, if you do what I command you.”

“I shall not call you servants any more, because servants do not know what their master is about. Instead, I have called you friends, since I have made known to you everything I learnt from My Father. You did not choose Me; it was I Who chose you and sent you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. And everything you ask the Father in My Name, He will give you.”

“This is My command, that you love one another.”

Saturday, 14 May 2022 : Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 112 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8

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 sits enthroned on high, but 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. He makes them sit with princes, with rulers of His people.

Saturday, 14 May 2022 : Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Acts 1 : 15-17, 20-26

It was during this time that Peter stood up in the midst of the community – about one hundred and twenty in all – and he said, “Brothers, it was necessary that the Scriptures referring to Judas be fulfilled. The Holy Spirit had spoken through David about the one who would lead the crowd coming to arrest Jesus. He was one of our number and had been called to share our common ministry.”

“In the Book of Psalms it is written : ‘Let his house become deserted and may no one live in it.’ But it is also written : ‘May another take his office.’ Therefore, we must choose someone from among those who were with us during all the time that the Lord Jesus moved about with us, beginning with John’s baptism until the day when Jesus was taken away from us. One of these has to become, with us, a witness to His resurrection.”

Then they proposed two : Joseph, called Barsabbas, also known as Justus, and Matthias. They prayed : “You know, Lord, what is in the hearts of all. Show us, therefore, which of the two You have chosen to replace Judas in this Apostolic ministry which he deserted to go to the place he deserved.”

Then they drew lots between the two and the choice fell on Matthias who was added to the eleven Apostles.

Friday, 13 May 2022 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are yet constantly being reminded of the salvation which has come to us through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, Who has come into our midst bearing the truth and love of God. We are reminded of this fact as we continue to progress through the season of Easter because as Christians we cannot just remain idle in our faith. Instead, all of us are called to evangelise in our own ways and within the opportunities and capacities presented to us. All of us have to embrace this calling to be faithful witnesses of the Lord’s truth and love in our respective communities, in today’s world.

As we heard from our first reading today, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, we heard of how St. Paul proclaimed all the works of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of all, Who had come amidst the Jewish people and as one of their own, in proclaiming the Good News of salvation. St. Paul spoke of all the wonders and works the Lord had done, and how although many of the people had rejected Him and condemned Him to death, but the Lord had risen from the dead, and how the Apostles including St. Paul himself had been preaching of all these truth and witnesses they had to all the people, calling on them to have faith in the Lord and to believe in Him.

St. Paul and the many other disciples of the Lord faced all the dangers and challenges faithfully and with dedication, knowing that God is with them, and that they were not labouring in vain, as the Lord Who knew all of their actions, would bless them and remember them, and though they might suffer and perish, but they would not face defeat as the Lord would lead them into the ultimate victory in the end. The sufferings of the Apostles and the many other disciples, the saints and many of the martyrs all remind us of just how difficult it is to follow the Lord, and how complicated it may be for us to commit ourselves as Christians, even in our own day as well. And yet, we must not lose heart because the Lord has reassured us of His providence and love.

As we heard in our Gospel passage today, the Lord Himself spoke to His disciples, reassuring them of the bounty and true joy that each one of them would enjoy in the end, despite the challenges and trials that they might have to endure for the sake of the Lord. The Lord told all of them that He would go before them to a place where they could and would not yet be able to go, a revelation of what would happen to Him afterwards, when He would be arrested, accused of wrongdoing, and punished to die a most humiliating death, dying and eventually rose from the dead as how everything had happened back then. And then the Lord would ascend to Heaven, to prepare everything for His disciples and beloved ones, preparing the places for all of them.

The disciples who had listened to the Lord and then witnessed everything coming to fruition and having seen what had happened, the Lord’s death and resurrection, and His ascension into glory, they all believed in Him and His truth. And with the strength and courage bestowed on them through the Holy Spirit, the disciples and followers of the Lord like St. Paul committed their whole efforts and lives to serve the Lord and to proclaim this same truth and love to more and more people. They went up against all those who refused to believe in the Lord and all those who persecuted the Lord and His followers, the Jewish authorities and the Roman government among many others.

The Lord’s disciples did not fear those persecution, trials and challenges, because they trusted in the Lord, and they knew that in the end, as I mentioned, they would be triumphant with God. The Lord would lead them all to the ultimate victory, and this same assurance had been given to us all as well. We have to put our faith in God and devote ourselves to the Lord in our lives and in our every opportunities. All of us must follow in the footsteps of the Apostles and continue to follow the Lord, and to devote ourselves to the many works and efforts of the Church, which had been done for the salvation of many more souls.

Today, we also celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, commemorating the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, at Fatima in Portugal, where Mary appeared to the three little shepherd children, Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia. Over a hundred years ago, during the height of the First World War in Europe, and during a time of intense persecution against the Church in Portugal, and just before the ascent of Communism throughout Russia and Eastern Europe, the three young shepherd children saw Mary, Our Lady of Fatima, appearing to them and asking them to spread her messages, a reminder to the world and all of the children of God, that they ought to return to the Lord and offend the Lord no more by their sins.

That is why, she, Our Lady of Fatima made appearances to the three shepherd children, through whom her messages were made clear to all of us through the Church. Her call for us is a reminder that all of us have been called to follow the Lord faithfully and to do His will. We are reminded not to veer away from the path that God has shown us, and to repent from our many sins that had led us astray from God. As the Mother of God and our own mother, as we have been entrusted to her by the Lord Himself, naturally she would be concerned with us and our fate, and having seen how her Son, Our same Lord Jesus Christ, had suffered for our sake, for our salvation, she would not want any of us to suffer eternal damnation due to our actions.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures and are reminded of what Our Lady of Fatima had said to the three shepherd children of Fatima that day and in her various apparitions afterwards, each one of us are called and reminded to turn towards the Lord anew with faith, and to face the many challenges and trials with confidence and trust in God. We must not let our fears to overcome us or to hinder us in any way in our path towards serving the Lord and in fulfilling the mission entrusted to us. Let us do our best to commit ourselves to the Lord’s mission, and may all of us be encouraged and strengthened at all times, and may God bless each one of us in our every endeavours and good works, now and always. Blessed Mary, Mother of God, Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us all sinners too. Amen.

Friday, 13 May 2022 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 14 : 1-6

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Do not be troubled! Trust in God and trust in Me! In My Father’s house there are many rooms; otherwise, I would not have told you that I go to prepare a place for you. After I have gone and prepared a place for you, I shall come again and take you to Me, so that where I am, you also may be. Yet you know the way where I am going.”

Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

Alternative reading (Mass of Our Lady of Fatima)

Luke 11 : 27-28

At that time, as Jesus was speaking, a woman spoke from the crowd and said to Him, “Blessed is the one who gave You birth and nursed You!”

Jesus replied, “Truly blessed are those who hear the word of God, and keep it as well.”

Friday, 13 May 2022 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 2 : 6-7, 8-9, 10-11

“Behold the King I have installed, in Zion, upon My holy hill!” I will proclaim the decree of the Lord. He said to Me : “You are My Son. This day I have begotten You.”

“Ask of Me and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall rule them with iron sceptre and shatter them as a potter’s vase.”

Now therefore, learn wisdom, o kings; be warned, o rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and fall at His feet; lest He be angry and you perish when His anger suddenly flares. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him!

Alternative reading (Mass of Our Lady of Fatima)

Psalm 44 : 11-12, 14-15, 16-17

Listen, o daughter, pay attention; forget your father’s house and your nation, and your beauty will charm the King, for He is your Lord.

All glorious as she enters is the princess in her gold-woven robes. She is led in royal attire to the King, following behind is her train of virgins.

Amid cheers and general rejoicing, they enter the palace of the King. Forget your fathers and think of your sons, you will make them princes throughout the land.

Friday, 13 May 2022 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 13 : 26-33

Paul said to the Jews in the synagogue of Antioch in Pisidia, “Brothers, children and descendants of Abraham, and you also who fear God, it is to you that this message of salvation has been sent. It is a fact that the inhabitants of Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognise Jesus.”

“Yet in condemning Him, they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath but not understood. Even though they found no charge against Him that deserved death, they asked Pilate to have Him executed. And after they have carried out all that had been written concerning Him, they took Him down from the cross and laid Him in a tomb.”

But God raised Him from the dead, and for many days thereafter He showed Himself to those who had come up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They have now become His witnesses before the people. We ourselves announce to you this Good News : All that God promised our ancestors, He has fulfilled for us, their descendants, by raising Jesus, according to what is written in the second psalm : You are My Son, this day I have begotten You.”

Alternative reading (Mass of Our Lady of Fatima)

Isaiah 61 : 9-11

Their descendants shall be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a race YHVH has blessed.

I rejoice greatly in YHVH, my soul exults for joy in my God, for He has clothed me in the garments of His salvation, He has covered me with the robe of His righteousness, like a bridegroom wearing a garland, like a bride adorned with jewels.

For as the earth brings forth its growth, and as a garden makes seeds spring up, so will the Lord YHVH make justice and praise spring up in the sight of all nations.

Thursday, 12 May 2022 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Nereus and St. Achilleus, Martyrs, and St. Pancras, Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are shown again of more of the works of the Apostles who had gone to proclaim the truth of God in more and more places in their long years and periods of ministry, reaching out to the people who have not yet known the Lord and speaking of the history of God’s salvation among His people, which He had fulfilled and made whole through Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, Whose coming into this world heralded the coming of the time of grace, the time when the Lord came to gather His beloved people and reconciling all of us to Himself.

In our first reading today, we heard of the account of the works of St. Paul in evangelising amongst the Jewish people in Antioch in Pisidia in Asia Minor, where he went among the local Jewish diaspora community and spoke up about the Lord in the synagogue. He spoke courageously and at length about the works of God’s salvation among His people, on how He had led them out of Egypt, guiding them and protecting them all the way, appointing judges and kings, and also prophets to help them to remain on the right path, and sending them reminders and help whenever they faltered and fell into the wrong paths.

St. Paul also then spoke of the more recent events back then, regarding the works of St. John the Baptist that was quite well-known and popular among the Jewish people, even in the diaspora, and how he was the precursor and the one to prepare the path for the coming of the one true Messiah or Saviour for all the people, namely Christ Himself, the Son of God and the Holy One, Who has called and sent St. Paul and the other Apostles and disciples to become His witnesses and missionaries among the people. St. Paul courageously spoke up about God’s truth and emphatically encouraging the people to come to believe in Christ and His teachings, and to accept Him as their Lord and Saviour.

However, this calling and mission was truly a difficult one, and there were plenty of obstacles and trials that the Apostles like St. Paul would have to endure, as they strive to minister to the people and proclaim the Good News of God, recalling what the Lord Himself had suffered and experienced at the hands of His enemies and even from one of His own closest collaborators, as highlighted in our Gospel passage today. The Lord was betrayed even by one of His own members of the Twelve, namely by Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him and handed Him over to the chief priests for a meagre sum of thirty pieces of silver.

That reality was why the followers of Christ will likely go through the same challenges, trials and sufferings as the Lord Himself had experienced, as after all, if they had rejected their Master’s teachings, and the Gospel today spoke of how the servants are not greater than their master, then all those who follow the Lord and work to proclaim His truth would therefore likely suffer similar kind of rejection, persecution and suffering. But they must not be afraid because God Himself will be with them and will be by their side, no matter what. This is the same truth that all of us have to believe in just as we also continue to carry out the works of evangelisation in the Name of the Lord.

We should be inspired by the examples set by some of our holy predecessors, the holy martyrs, St. Nereus and St. Achilleus, as well as St. Pancras. All of them had devoted their lives and works to the Lord and for His glory, and in their own ways, they had endured many sufferings and tribulations, and were eventually martyred for the sake of their faith, and they faced those sufferings and ultimately their martyrdom, full of faith and trust in the Lord, believing that what they had done for the Lord’s sake, will be justified and worthy of God in the end, and they will be by the Lord’s side in triumph. They did not give up their struggles for their faith, to the very end.

St. Nereus and St. Achilleus were chamberlains or servants of the niece of the Roman Emperor Domitian according to the Christian tradition, whose name was Flavia Domitilla. According to tradition, they were martyred together with Flavia Domitilla, as they were Christians and the niece of the Emperor had also converted to the Christian faith, during the persecution of Christians by Emperor Domitian himself, which was one of the more vicious ones in the series of persecutions against the Church, and it was told that both St. Nereus and St. Achilleus joyfully welcomed their suffering and martyrdom, in defending their faith.

Meanwhile, St. Pancras, also known as St. Pancratius of Rome, was a young man who lived through during yet another vicious moment of persecution against Christians, this time under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who was infamous for his particularly harsh persecution of all Christians. It was told that he was forced to offer sacrifices to the traditional Roman pagan gods, and he refused. The Emperor, impressed by St. Pancras’ bravery and courage, tried to persuade and coerce him through wealth and other means, to abandon his faith, but he would not be moved or persuaded. He remained faithful to the end and accepted his martyrdom with grace.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all follow the great examples of our predecessors in faith, and do whatever we can to proclaim the Lord and His truth by our faithful lives, at every moments and opportunities. Let us all be great inspiration and examples for one another in faith, and endeavour to bring even more people to the Lord and His salvation through our exemplary life. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 12 May 2022 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Nereus and St. Achilleus, Martyrs, and St. Pancras, Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

John 13 : 16-20

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly, I say to you, the servant is not greater than his master, nor is the messenger greater than he who sent him. Understand this, and blessed are you, if you put it into practice.”

“I am not speaking of you all, because I know the ones I have chosen, and the Scripture has to be fulfilled that says : The one who shared My table has risen against Me. I tell you this now before it happens, so that when it does happen, you may know that I am He.”

“Truly, I say to you, whoever welcomes the one I send, welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me, welcomes the One Who sent Me.”