Friday, 7 October 2022 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Church celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, reminding all of us that this month of October is the Month of the Holy Rosary when the Church encouraged all the faithful to pray the rosary daily, as an offering of prayer to God made through His blessed Mother Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary. The rosary as we know is the long chain of beads used by Christians in prayers, most commonly for the rosary in offering of the set of fifty Hail Mary or Ave Maria interspersed with the Lord’s Prayer and Gloria Patri or ‘Glory Be’ prayer, as well as some other prayers and devotions such as the Devotion to the Divine Mercy which also uses the rosary.

The history of this Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary dated from the introduction of the rosary itself as a means of prayer to help Christians to get closer to God. Among the traditions of the Church and the saints, it was to St. Dominic, the famous founder of the Dominicans or the Order of Preacher that the Blessed Mother of God appeared, asking for all Christians to pray the rosary with the prayers I mentioned earlier, the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be prayers. In its earliest origins, the rosary had fifteen decades or a hundred and fifty beads in relation to how it was meant to replace the praying of the entire Book of Psalms by Christians, a practice that is still done through the Divine Office today.

The Blessed Mother of God granted the rosary to us all in order to help us all to find our way to the Lord through prayer, and by focusing ourselves on the Lord and to the good examples that Mary herself had done in her life, as one who is truly full of grace and blessed, fully faithful and committed to the Lord, to her Son, by her perfect obedience and virtues. Through the repetitive prayers of the rosary, we are in fact brought into that state of prayer and silence that can break us out from our attachments and distractions in life which had often prevented us from finding our way to God. And unlike the Psalms which are difficult to remember, the prayers making up the rosary are extremely simple to remember.

Through that, Mary, our Lady of the Rosary wanted more and more people to spend more time in prayer and in communication with God, and also with her that she may help to bring us all and direct us towards her Son, our Lord and Saviour. And today, on this Feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary we are yet reminded again of the need for all of us to adopt this prayer of the rosary to help us to come ever closer to God, through His mother Mary, our mother and our role model in faith. Have we prayed the rosary yet thus far, especially during this month of October, brothers and sisters in Christ? If we have not done so, then we really should start doing so now.

Then, this Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary itself was instituted close to five centuries ago, under its original name of Our Lady of Victories. This date of the seventh day of October is the anniversary of the great and triumphant victory of the forces of Christendom against the forces of the wicked infidels of the Ottoman Turks who at that time sought to subjugate more and more of Christendom and the people of God to their flawed ideology and false teachings. At that time, the Church and Christendom themselves both were also beset by internal divisions and disagreements, as both were still reeling and suffering the effects of the Protestant Reformation, which led so many of the faithful astray into heretical paths.

Beset with internal divisions and the great external threat presented by the Ottoman Turks, the Pope therefore organised and raised up a great force from various parts of Christendom, gathering a Holy League led by one Don Juan of Austria, which went to face the Ottoman fleet at Lepanto in what is today the western part of Greece. The Pope also asked Christians everywhere to pray for the sake of the triumph of the Christian forces, encouraging them all to pray the rosary, asking for the intercession of the Blessed Mother of God and the saints, that the forces of the evil enemy might be crushed and defeated.

And thus, it was told that during the Battle of Lepanto, many saw the vision of the Blessed Virgin, Our Lady of Victories and Our Lady of the Rosary, with innumerable saints and Angels leading forth the forces of Christendom against the enemy. The enemy fleet and forces were defeated and crushed, and the forces of Christendom triumphant, liberating many of the Christian slaves, tens of thousands of them who had been forced and enslaved to work on the enemy ships and galleys. The news of the glorious and triumphant victory came to the Pope who then dedicated this day to be the Feast of Our Lady of Victories, which then later on rededicated as the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, reminding us all of the power of the rosary.

Why so, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because all of us must realise that we are always ever involved in a constant and daily spiritual battle all raging around us, waged by the evil spirits, Satan and all the forces of his fellow fallen angels, demons and wicked spirits, arrayed against our Guardian Angels and other Angels and good spirits of the Lord, supported by the saints and our Blessed Mother Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary herself. Those who sought our downfall and destruction are never at rest, always ever trying to strike us down and to grab us down with them, into the slippery slope towards eternal damnation. But we are not alone in this fight and struggle, brothers and sisters.

That is why, we must not underestimate the danger of those who seek our destruction and downfall, and we should always be ever vigilant, resisting the temptations to disobey God and sin. We should make good use of whatever means that the Lord has given us to help us, with the rosary itself being one of these. That is why we should spend some time each day especially in this month of the Holy Rosary to pray the rosary. And when we pray the rosary, we should pray it with genuine understanding and intention, and not just uttering the words of prayer without meaning and understanding them. Let us pray the rosary in offering a most beautiful spiritual bouquet of prayer to our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of the Rosary, who will then offer them on our behalf before her Son.

May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us in our journey of faith through life, and may all of us grow ever closer to God through the guidance of Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary, and our loving mother. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 7 October 2022 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 1 : 26-38

In the sixth month, the Angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth. He was sent to a young virgin, who was betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the family of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

The Angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” Mary was troubled at these words, wondering what this greeting could mean. But the Angel said, “Do not fear, Mary, for God has looked kindly on you. You shall conceive and bear a Son, and you shall call Him Jesus. He will be great, and shall rightly be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the kingdom of David, His ancestor; He will rule over the people of Jacob forever, and His reign shall have no end.”

Then Mary said to the Angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” And the Angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the Holy Child to be born of you shall be called Son of God. Even your relative Elizabeth is expecting a son in her old age, although she was unable to have a child; and she is now in her sixth month. With God nothing is impossible.”

Then Mary said, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said.” And the Angel left her.

Friday, 7 October 2022 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 1 : 46-47, 48-49, 50-51, 52-53, 54-55

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit exults in God, my Saviour!

He has looked upon His servant, in her lowliness, and people, forever, will call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, Holy is His Name!

From age to age, His mercy extends to those who live in His presence. He has acted with power and done wonders, and scattered the proud with their plans.

He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and lifted up those who are downtrodden. He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty.

He held out His hand to Israel, His servant, for He remembered His mercy, even as He promised to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever.

Friday, 7 October 2022 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 1 : 12-14

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the Mount called Olives, which is a fifteen minute walk away. On entering the city they went to the room upstairs where they were staying. Present there were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James, son of Alpheus; Simon the Zealot and Judas son of James.

All of these, together, gave themselves to constant prayer. With them were some women, and also Mary, the mother of Jesus, and His brothers.

Friday, 30 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord contained within the Scriptures, let us all be reminded of the need for each and every one of us to believe in the Lord and His words, and entrust ourselves to Him, with ever greater fidelity and commitment each day. All of us are reminded through what we have heard today, of the limitations of our human selves and existences, and how we have to open ourselves and listen to the Lord speaking to us and revealing His truth to us. We have to believe in Him and entrust ourselves in His hands.

In our first reading today we heard from the Book of Job of what God spoke to Job towards the end of his tale, after he had gone through great sufferings and troubles, humiliations and attacks against him by even those who were close to him, because he was attacked by Satan, who took away all of his possessions, material wealth and even those who were dear to him like his own children. In the end, Job himself had to suffer from painful and itchy boils when Satan continued to strike against him in trying to make him to betray and abandon God. Yet, Job remained faithful to God and did not leave the Lord. Not even his sufferings and trials could dissuade him or tempt him away from the path towards God.

Job believed in God wholeheartedly even as he despaired. He trusted in Him even when he languished in the terrible state of health, and also derided and abandoned by even those closest to him, cursed and attacked because they thought that Job must have committed a great sin and disobeyed God to have suffered such a great calamity to himself and his family and possessions. Thus, Job and his so-called friends and companions ended up in great debate in which Job himself despaired and blamed himself for what had happened to him, and saying that God should just end his life there and then because of his unworthiness and lack of virtue.

It was there then we heard the Lord kindly rebuking His own servant Job as we listened to our first reading passage today. The Lord told Job that he should not have despaired and thought that he could comprehend the greatness of God, His thought and ways. Whatever happened to Job, God said that everything happened according to His will, and that it was by God’s will that everything came to be a reality, including what God Himself would do for Job at the end of all of his great misery and suffering. God granted Job double and more of all the things that he had lost earlier due to the calamities caused by Satan, and he regained all the joy and wonders of the world because of his unwavering faith in Him.

Then in our Gospel passage today we heard of the Lord Jesus cursing several of the cities of Galilee such as Capernaum, Bethsaida and Chorazin, all of these because those cities and their people had not believed in the Lord despite everything that He had done before them all. Unlike Job who had believed and trusted in the Lord, remaining faithful to Him even when he was surrounded by the various calamities and not able to see the Lord and His great deeds, the people of Capernaum, Bethsaida and Chorazin all had seen the many miracles and wonders of the Lord, and yet they had not believed in Him.

Instead, some among them doubted Him and questioned His authority and the veracity of His works and wonders. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law among them in particularly kept on hounding Him and His disciples in trying to find way to discredit Him and putting many obstacles in His path. That is part of the reason why the Lord, in His righteous anger, rebuked those cities and all those within them who had hardened their hearts and minds against Him, and refused to listen to Him and His truth, despite all the things and wonderful signs which He had performed before their own eyes, and which they had witnessed on their own.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we recall these words of the Scriptures, we are also reminded therefore of our calling as Christians to trust in the Lord despite our trials and challenges, because the Lord alone is the source of all our hopes and salvation. And today, we should be inspired by the examples shown by our holy predecessor in faith, one great saint and servant of God, namely St. Jerome, who was remembered most for his great contribution in the translation of the Bible from its Greek Septuagint and Hebrew origins to the Latin Vulgate version, which allowed the faithful people of God in many places to have greater access to the truth contained within the Word of God in the Scriptures.

St. Jerome translated the Scriptures as part of his many other works and writings, which he carried out for the good of the Church and the people of God. And in his role in assisting the Pope, the Vicar of Christ, who entrusted to him many matters including the translation of the Scriptures itself, and the reforms of the Church, many considered St. Jerome as a precursor of the Cardinals in the Church, as one of the closest confidants and collaborators of the Roman Pontiff. St. Jerome also encouraged greater holiness and sanctity among the people he was working and interacting with, encouraging them to be ever closer to God in their ways of life. He had to face many challenges and trials, oppositions and troubles, and yet, St. Jerome remained firm in his faith and trusted God in all things.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore be inspired by the good examples set by our holy predecessors, particularly that of St. Jerome whose memory we venerate today, as well as Job, the holy, devout and committed man of God. Let us all glorify God by our lives and let us entrust ourselves ever more to the Lord so that in all things, we may always be great and faithful witnesses of His truth, glory and resurrection. May God be with us always and may He bless us in our every endeavours and good works, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 30 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 10 : 13-16

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Alas for you, Chorazin! Alas for you, Bethsaida! So many miracles have been worked in you! If the same miracles had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would already be sitting in ashes and wearing the sackcloth of repentance.”

“Surely for Tyre and Sidon it will be better on the Day of Judgment than for you. And what of you, city of Capernaum? Will you be lifted up to heaven? You will be thrown down to the place of the dead. Whoever listens to you listens to Me, and whoever rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me, rejects the One Who sent Me.”

Friday, 30 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 138 : 1-3, 7-8, 9-10, 13, 14ab

O YHVH, You know me : You have scrutinised me. You know when I sit and when I rise; beforehand, You discern my thoughts. You observe my activities and times of rest; You are familiar with all my ways.

Where else could I go from Your Spirit? Where could I flee from Your presence? You are there, if I ascend the heavens; You are there, if I descend to the depths.

If I ride on the wings of the dawn, and settle on the far side of the sea, even there, Your hand shall guide me, and Your right hand shall hold me safely.

It was You Who formed my inmost part and knit me together in my mother’s womb. I thank You for these wonders You have done, and my heart praises You.

Friday, 30 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Job 38 : 1, 12-21 and Job 40 : 3-5

Then YHVH answered Job out of the storm : “Have you ever commanded the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might grasp the earth by its edges and shake the wicked out of it, when it takes a clay colour and changes its tint like a garment; when the wicked are denied their own light, and their proud arm is shattered?”

“Have you journeyed to where the sea begins or walked in its deepest recesses? Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of Shadow? Have you an idea of the breadth of the earth? Tell Me, if you know all this. Where is the way to the home of light, and where does darkness dwell? Can you take them to their own regions, and set them on their homeward paths? You know, for you were born before them, and great is the number of your years!”

Job said : “How can I reply, unworthy as I am! All I can do is put my hand over my mouth. I have spoken once, now I will not answer; oh, yes, twice, but I will do no further.”

Friday, 23 September 2022 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio, Priest (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 all reminded of the importance for all of us to embrace our calling as Christians, in doing what we have been called to do, and in following the will of God. Each one of us have received the mission through our Church and faith to proclaim the Lord and His truth, His Good News to all the people and all the nations. The Church of God is composed of all of us the faithful people and flock of God and each one of us have important roles to play in our respective fields and areas of responsibility, at whichever time and opportunity that God has given us in each one of our lives.

It means that just as we heard in our first reading today from the Book of Ecclesiastes or Qoheleth, we should remember that there is time for everything, for our every actions and interactions, for us to experience good things and the not-so-good things in life, time to be spent with our friends and relatives, with our loving family and others around us. However, there is also time for us to be spent with God and for us to be with Him, focusing our attention and our thoughts on Him rather than constantly being distracted and occupied by our ceaseless pursuits of worldly happiness and pleasures, and the many temptations of pride and desire present all around us.

There is a time for us all as Christians to dedicate ourselves to God, as is right and just for us to be doing His will and to proclaim His truth and love through our every words, actions and deeds. Each and every one of us are part of that same Church, the Body of Christ, of which Christ our Lord Himself is the Head, and because we ourselves are united to Him, we should obey His will and commandments, as we have been taught to do. All of us have that responsibility to bear as Christians, that we become the living beacons of God’s light to others. We have to embrace this calling, inspired by the faith which the Apostles themselves had shown.

We had a glimpse of that when we heard the Gospel passage today in which the Lord asked His disciples of Who they think He was. And they were mentioning of who the others were thinking He was, either that of the prophet Elijah, or one of the other prophets, or St. John the Baptist among others, and then when the Lord asked them on His identity, St. Peter representing all of them spoke confidently and with faith that He is the Messiah or Saviour that came from God, the Holy One and Son of God. He spoke with courage and faith, of the truth that others maybe found difficult to proclaim. Yet that was likely why the Lord chose St. Peter to be the leader of His Church and the Apostles, because of his faith and great courage.

The Apostles and the other disciples of the Lord would have to face great sufferings and challenges in the years to come, and yet, they all faced them with great faith and love for Him. They willingly suffered and faced persecution in defending what they believed in and what they themselves had witnessed. The Lord has shown His truth and wisdom to them, and they had been entrusted with the mission to spread that same truth to all the whole world. They did their best to proclaim the Lord to all those whom they encountered, and they spent a lot of time and effort to reach out to those who have yet to know the Lord, despite the challenges and persecutions against them.

As we can see, there are in fact a lot of things that each one of us as Christians can do in doing our part as a follower of Christ. Each one of us have been given distinct opportunities, talents and capabilities, that we may bring God’s truth and love closer to His people. We are all called to do what we can in doing God’s will, and it is in the end up to us how we respond to His call. And we have the saints, our holy predecessors, the holy men and women of God, as well as many others, whose lives have been exemplary and inspirational, in how they themselves had committed their lives in the service of God and His people.

Today, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, also better known as Padre Pio, a great servant of God and saintly man whose life and examples, humility, personal qualities and piety may be a great source of inspiration for each one of us as Christians. He was one of the famous recent saints in history and was noted for many things, not least his stigmata or the wounds he received mystically corresponding to the wounds of the Lord Jesus at His crucifixion, as well as his personal piety and charisma, his fervent celebration of the Eucharist and his countless efforts in ministering to the people, by spending hours in the confessionals and in his known miraculous acts.

St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio was an Italian Franciscan Capuchin friar and priest who lived a pious life from early on in his life, and who then joined the Franciscan Capuchins, becoming a friar and then a priest. It was told that Padre Pio had experienced visions and ecstatic moments since his youth, which would continue to happen throughout his life. Although he had always been beset with health issues and troubles throughout his life, but Padre Pio did not allow all that to deter him from his work and ministry, and spent a lot of time to serve the community and the faithful who came to him for help, advice and healing.

There was a period of difficult opposition against him as there were those who were skeptical of the legitimacy and the validity of what this man of God had done and experienced. He was also facing challenges from the rapidly changing political and other situations back then, as instabilities raged across his nation. He continued to do his works nonetheless, establishing houses and hospitals for the care of the weak and the poor. St. Pius of Pietrelcina faced a lot of trials and struggles for many decades, and he had to endure scrutiny, doubt and also questions and interrogations from even the highest levels of the Church.

All of that added to the struggle and burden that he had faced in enduring constant attacks from the devil and other evil spirits, as well as the physical and spiritual pains of the stigmata he had for so many decades. Yet, this holy man of God remained firm in his faith and commitment to the Lord. Padre Pio did not allow all those obstacles and hindrances to stop his efforts. He remained obedient to the Lord and to the Church and its authorities, and patiently endured all the crosses that he had to bear. Through his faith and commitment, St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio showed us what it truly means to be a Christian, a faithful disciple of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us all therefore glorify God by our lives and let us seek Him with all of our heart and strength in the same way that our holy predecessors like St. Pius of Pietrelcina and many others had done. Let us make best use of our time and every moments and opportunities to do the will of God and to proclaim His truth and love wherever we may be, in our families and in our communities, in our workplaces, schools and more. May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to bless us in our every good efforts and endeavours, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 23 September 2022 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 9 : 18-22

At that time, one day, when Jesus was praying alone, not far from His disciples, He asked them, “What do people say about Me?” And they answered, “Some say, that You are John the Baptist; others say, that You are Elijah; and still others, that You are one of the Prophets of old, risen from the dead.”

Again Jesus asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.” Then Jesus spoke to them, giving them strict orders not to tell this to anyone. And He added, “The Son of Man must suffer many things. He will be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the teachers of the Law, and be put to death. Then after three days He will be raised to life.”