Saturday, 13 January 2018 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hilary, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the Scriptures which detailed to us about the moment when Samuel the judge and prophet encountered the king chosen by God for His people Israel, namely King Saul, who came from the tribe of Benjamin. God chose Saul to lead His people, to become the guiding star of His people, leading them towards Him, and turning them from the wrong paths.

Unfortunately, later on, if we continue to read the Book of Samuel, we will realise that Saul fell from God’s grace because he did not obey God and preferred to follow his own judgment, resulting in the people committing sin against God. Saul thereafter was known for his lack of faith, and eventually replacement by David, the king whom God appointed to be king in Saul’s place.

In the Gospel passage today, we see another King, Who was appointed by God and anointed by Him, to be the leader of His people Israel. Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus Christ Our Lord is the King of kings, Lord of lords, and the true King of Israel, Who came down into the world, to lead the people of God to Him, as the faithful King Who fulfils perfectly the obligations and duties imposed on the office of kingship.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus Christ is a King Who loves His people and He is truly concerned about their well-being. Instead of being tyrannical and overbearing in the exercise of His power and authority, and instead of expecting to be served and obeyed, He showed us all by example, coming as a Leader Who serves others, Who loves genuinely and cares for the needs of those who are truly in need. He shows mercy to those who are downtrodden, and those who have no one else to care for them.

When people looked down on the tax collectors at the time of Jesus, they did so because of prejudices and biases they had, as they resented the imposition of the Roman rule on their territories. They considered the tax collectors as traitors to the nation and the people, as they collected the taxes on behalf of the Roman rulers. As such, the tax collectors were often ridiculed and ostracised, rejected by the general society.

Yet, the tax collectors are just like us all. They are no different from all the others at the time, no less righteous or wicked than the other groups of people, even comparing it to the Pharisees and the chief priests. They were all sinners, and they were all in need of God’s mercy and forgiveness. Sin is a disease of the soul, and it corrupts every part of the being. And God came into this world in order to heal us from this terrible sickness.

And as mentioned by the Lord Jesus Himself, the tax collectors and others like prostitutes who have been dismissed and ridiculed because of their vices, were actually much closer to the kingdom of God as compared to all those who pretended to be self-righteous, but in reality, inside their hearts and minds, they were more wicked than the tax collectors and the prostitutes, as if these two groups of people sincerely recognised their sins and wanted to be forgiven, but the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law proudly refused to give in.

This is an important lesson for all of us, brothers and sisters in Christ. We must not let our pride and our human ambitions, our stubbornness to come in between us and God’s salvation. It has happened in many occasions, when mankind refused to receive God’s forgiveness, and this resulted in so many being lost to the Lord, falling into damnation in hell.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Hilary of Poitiers, a holy bishop and saint, whose dedication to the Lord should be an inspiration to all of us. He was a great defender of the faith, who refused to give in to the demands and the pressures exerted by the heretics, especially those who followed the false teachings of Arius, who rejected the notion that the Son of God, Jesus Christ, is equal to the Father.

St. Hilary of Poitiers worked hard among the people, exhorting them to return to the truth found in the Church alone, and to reject all the falsehoods spread by those who have wrongfully believed in it. He had to endure opposition and rejection, and ultimately, he was even exiled due to the machinations of his enemies, all those who in their pride refused to be forgiven, just like the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law of the time of Jesus.

The exemplary actions of this devout saint and servant of God should inspire each and every one of us as Christians, that we should do our very best and give our all, in trying to reach out to the Lord, Our King and ruler, and follow His examples in all the things we do. We should be concerned about our brothers and sisters, especially those who have been lost to God, just as Jesus calling all the sinners to Him, and just as how St. Hilary worked hard to convert back all those who have fallen into the sway of heretics.

Let us all therefore do our part as Christians, to be role models for each other in faith, so that through our actions, we will be able to do the great works of God’s attempt to save us mankind from our downfall due to sin. May the Lord be with us all, and through the intercession of St. Hilary of Poitiers, may we all draw ever closer to God, and walk forever always in His path. Amen.

Saturday, 13 January 2018 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hilary, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Mark 2 : 13-17

At that time, when Jesus went out again, beside the lake, a crowd came to Him, and He taught them. As He walked along, He saw a tax collector sitting in his office. This was Levi, the son of Alpheus. Jesus said to him, “Follow Me!” And Levi got up and followed Him.

And it so happened that, when Jesus was eating in Levi’s house, tax collectors and sinners sat with Him and His disciples; there were a lot of them, and they used to follow Jesus. But Pharisees, men educated in the Law, when they saw Jesus eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to His disciples, “Why does your Master eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

Jesus heard them, and answered, “Healthy people do not need a doctor, but sick people do. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Saturday, 13 January 2018 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hilary, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Psalm 20 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7

The king rejoices in Your strength, o YHVH, and exults in Your saving help. You have granted him his desire; You have not rejected his request.

You have come to him with rich blessings; You have placed a golden crown upon his head. When he asked, You gave him life – length of days forever and ever.

He glories in the victory You gave him; You shall bestow on him splendour and majesty. You have given him eternal blessings, and gladdened him with the joy of Your presence.

Saturday, 13 January 2018 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hilary, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

1 Samuel 9 : 1-4, 17-19 and 1 Samuel 10 : 1a

There was a man from the tribe of Benjamin whose name was Kish. He was the son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, a valiant Benjaminite. Kish had a son named Saul, a handsome young man who had no equal among the Israelites, for he was a head taller than any of them.

It happened that the asses of Kish were lost. So he said to his son Saul, “Take one of the boys with you and go look for the asses.” They went all over the hill country of Ephraim and the land of Shalishah but did not find them. They passed through the land of Shaalim and the land of Benjamin, but the asses were nowhere to be found.

So, when Samuel saw Saul, YHVH told him, “Here is the man I spoke to you about! He shall rule over My people.” Saul approached Samuel in the gateway and said, “Tell me, where is the house of the seer?” Samuel answered Saul, “I am the seer. Go up ahead of me to the high place, for today you shall eat with me. In the morning, before you leave, I will tell you all that is in your heart.”

Then Samuel took a vial of oil and poured it on Saul’s head.

Friday, 4 August 2017 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Vianney, Priest, Patron of All Priests (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard first of all the reading from the Book of Leviticus, in which God dictated to His people the important dates and feast throughout the entire year, a constant reminder that God is always with His people, and we who have been loved by God and blessed by His graces, must also love Him and dedicate ourselves, our efforts and indeed, our entire beings to Him.

Yet, many of us tend to forget these obligations that we have to Him. We do not recognise the work of God among us, and His presence among us. In the Gospel today, all of us have heard how the people of Nazareth, the hometown of Jesus rejected Him, just because they thought that He was a fraud and a trickster, Who because of His humble family origin as the Son of a carpenter, Joseph, His foster father, then He could not have done all the wondrous things which He had done.

That was despite all the miracles and wonders He had performed among them in the neighbouring areas of Capernaum and Bethsaida. But the people of Nazareth preferred to give in to their human pride and ego, to their human intellect and wisdom, and to their limited understanding of the divine truth. They refused to accept the fact that One Who have walked among them and One Whom they had seen growing up from a mere Child, could be the Messiah and Saviour of the whole world, and less still, God Himself, Divine Incarnate.

They have hardened their hearts against God and forgot their obligation to Him. Yet, He still wanted to absolve them their sins, and therefore, He showed forth His mercy and love through Christ, by His merciful and loving works among us, and by His ultimate loving sacrifice on the cross, through which He opened wide for us all, the path to eternal life and glory, if we are to be reconciled with Him and be faithful in Him, walking in His path.

That is why, He, as our Good Shepherd, wants us all His sheep to be reunited with Him, and He therefore awakened in many of His followers, the desire and the calling to follow in His footsteps as shepherds to His flock, to help and guide those sheep on their way to their one and only True Master, Jesus Christ our Lord. They are the successors of the first shepherds, the Apostles and disciples of the Lord, whom God had appointed to be His holy priests.

Today, all of us celebrate together the feast day of the patron of all the holy priests of God. He is St. John Maria Vianney, also known by his nickname, the Cure of Ars. St. John Vianney was known far and wide, even until today, as a holy and devoted priest, who was pious in all of his deeds, and utterly dedicated to the Lord and to His people, among whom he had performed many wonders and miracles, tending to the poor and the sick, both those who are physically and spiritually afflicted.

It was told that thousands upon thousands came to see St. John Vianney, to confess their multitudes of sins, to confide themselves to his care and love, and to seek to be forgiven from their trespasses and wickedness. Many were healed of their afflictions and even had the evil spirits cast out from them. He encountered many difficulties throughout his mission in the parish church of Ars, where he was assigned to, and from which he gained his fame as the Cure of Ars, the caretaker and guide of the people entrusted to him.

Many people came to him seeking God's love and mercy, and St. John Vianney faithfully and patiently fulfilled his duties and obligations, as part of his vocation of priesthood. He showed all of us the exemplary role of a priest, whom God had called and chosen from among His followers and disciples, to be His representatives in this world, as our priests have been ordained and given the same power that God had given to His disciples, to forgive sins and to bring His blessings upon the people.

And they are the links that God had established between Himself and us. The holy and devout priests are those who have shown the concrete love and presence of God among us, through their tireless dedication, commitment and piety, by which they imitated the High Priest of all, Jesus Christ. For Christ Himself had served His people, loving them and caring for them even when those same people rejected Him, ridiculed Him and refused to allow Him to love them.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all reflect on this, on the life and commitment of St. John Vianney as I have just mentioned, and the love of Christ our Lord for us. Let us then strive to be ever more committed and faithful Christians, no longer lukewarm in our faith, or acting as the people of Nazareth had done, in turning away from the Lord and trusting more in their own human wisdom and power. Let us all walk ever more faithfully in God's path, following the footsteps of the holy saints and guided by our holy priests.

And for those of us whom God had called to be His priests, let us all discern well and carefully in our hearts, that we may be able to make a carefully thought and planned choice, that there will be many among us who will walk in the footsteps of St. John Vianney, holy priest and Patron saint of all priests. Let us all learn from his examples, and make ourselves ever more devoted and committed servants and followers of our God. St. John Vianney, pray for us all, God's beloved people. Amen.

Friday, 4 August 2017 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Vianney, Priest, Patron of All Priests (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 13 : 54-58

At that time, Jesus went to His hometown and taught the people in their synagogue. They were amazed and said, "Where did He get this wisdom and these special powers? Is He not the carpenter's Son? Is Mary not His mother and are James, Joseph, Simon and Judas not His brothers? Are not all His sisters living here? Where did He get all these things?" And so they took offence at Him.

Jesus said to them, "The only place where prophets are not welcome is his hometown and in his own family." And He did not perform many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

Friday, 4 August 2017 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Vianney, Priest, Patron of All Priests (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 80 : 3-4, 5-6ab, 10-11ab

Start the music, strike the timbrel, play melodies on the harp and lyre. Sound the trumpet at the new moon, on our feast day, when the new moon is full.

This is a decree for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob, a statute He wrote for Joseph when he went out of Egypt.

There shall be no strange god among you, you shall not worship any alien god, for I, YHVH, am your God.