Saturday, 6 October 2018 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bruno, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard of the end and conclusion of the story of Job, the suffering servant of God. Modern Biblical scholars contended that Job did not necessarily represent a historical figure, but rather, a figurative representation of us as God’s people and followers, who live in this world, and are therefore, exposed to all sorts of temptations and from the attacks by the evil one, Satan.

Satan tried to tempt Job and to strike at him, making bets with the Lord, that if he struck at Job, surely Job would fall into temptation and in his anger, he would abandon his faith in God and curse Him. But Job remained faithful and true to his faith, and he did not allow all the sufferings he encountered to be obstacles and hindrances in the way of his faith. He remained firmly faithful and believed that all of what he had to endure, was part of God’s will and plan.

And in the end, God executed His plan and saved His people from the darkness of their sufferings and despair, as He showed clearly in the example of Job, as mentioned in our first reading passage today. We heard how Job was healed from all of his afflictions, and even had his possessions and blessings returned to him, not just what he once had, but in fact double of what he had before.

Through this, God wanted His people to know, that in Him alone there is hope and true salvation, liberation and freedom from all of our troubles, from all the challenges, difficulties and all sorts of obstacles that we may encounter in one way or another in our respective lives. Indeed, the path will be a challenging and difficult one, just as Job’s multitudes of sufferings and pains showed us, but in the end, if we remain faithful to God, our rewards will be great and everlasting.

In the Gospel passage today, the Lord also spoke to us the same message of hope, with the bold proclamation of the defeat of Satan as foretold by the Lord Jesus Himself before His disciples. It was a premonition of what would happen, at the time of Jesus, when the Lord finally put His plan to save His people into its fulfilment and perfect completion, by the crucifixion in which, He gathered all of His people and took up all of their sins and faults, and died for their sake, in an act of perfect love and self-sacrifice that became the source of our salvation.

By the loving sacrifice of Christ on the cross, we have been made free and saved from our fated destruction at the hand of death and sin. And that marks the ultimate defeat of Satan and all of his diabolical plans to bring about our downfall through sin. Through His loving sacrifice, He destroyed forever the dominion of sin over us mankind, and opened for us the path to eternal life and salvation in Him.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us are called to have faith in God just as Job and all the faithful servants of God, those who went before us have done. Indeed, there will be plenty of obstacles and challenges facing us, just as faced by those who have shown their courage and commitment, piety and dedication, but as long as we anchor ourselves strongly in our faith, and in our willingness and desire to love God, God will protect us and guide us on our journey.

Today, we celebrate together the feast day of St. Bruno of Cologne, a holy and devout priest, servant of God, who founded the religious order of the Carthusians. St. Bruno was a great teacher of the faith, inspiring many with his deep love for God and great piety, in all of his actions, words and dealings. His great and deep humility also touched many people who had the opportunity to know him.

St. Bruno dedicated himself to a life of service to God, in poverty and simplicity, in how he declined appointment to the office of bishop and in his commitment to serve the greater cause of the Lord. St. Bruno entrusted himself completely to the love of God, and gave himself fully to Him in love, inspiring many others who followed in his footsteps and thus marking the foundation and growth of the early Carthusians.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to trust the Lord and to give ourselves so completely as Job, St. Bruno and the many other holy men and women of God had done? We are all challenged in this manner, reminding us that as Christians, we ought to give our best to the Lord, in all of our whole being. May the Lord help us, and with the intercession of St. Bruno, guide us in our journey of faith towards Him. Amen.

Saturday, 6 October 2018 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bruno, Priest (Gospel Reading)

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

Luke 10 : 17-24

At that time, the seventy-two disciples returned full of joy. They said, “Lord, even the demons obeyed us when we called on Your Name.” Then Jesus replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. You see, I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the Enemy, so that nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the evil spirits submit to you; rejoice, rather, than your names are written in heaven.”

At that time, Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and made them known to little ones. Yes, Father, such has been Your gracious will. I have been given all things by My Father, so that no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son, and he to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.”

Then Jesus turned to His disciples and said to them privately, “Fortunate are you to see what you see, for I tell you, that many prophets and kings would have liked to see what you see, but did not see it; and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”

Saturday, 6 October 2018 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bruno, Priest (Psalm)

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

Psalm 118 : 66, 71, 75, 91, 125, 130

Give me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust in Your commands.

It is good for me to have been afflicted, for I have deeply learnt Your statutes.

I know, o YHVH, that Your laws are just; and there is justice in my affliction.

Your ordinances last to this day, for all things are made to serve You.

Give me knowledge; I am Your servant, who desires to understand Your statutes.

As Your words unfold, light is shed, and the simple-hearted understand.

Saturday, 6 October 2018 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bruno, Priest (First Reading)

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

Job 42 : 1-3, 5-6, 12-16

This was the answer Job gave to YHVH : “I know that You are all powerful; no plan of Yours can be thwarted. I spoke of things I did not understand, too wonderful for me to know. My ears had heard of You, but now my eyes have seen You. Therefore I retract all I have said, and in dust and ashes I repent.”

YHVH blessed Job’s latter days much more than his earlier ones. He came to own fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she-donkeys. He was also blessed with seven sons and three daughters. The first daughter he named Dove, the second Cinnamon, and the third Bottle of Perfume. Nowhere in the land was there found any woman who could compare in beauty with Job’s daughters. Their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.

Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Norbert, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishop)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture, telling us about the need for us to stand up for our faith in God, against any opposition that may come our way. In the first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to St. Timothy, we heard how St. Paul reminded St. Timothy of the need for the faithful to testify for their faith before others, even though it may lead them to persecution and troubles.

St. Paul made this comment based on his own real experience, as he encountered many oppositions throughout his journey, and having both Jewish leaders and the Gentile pagans struggling against him and his works, all the time. St. Paul had to endure incarcerations in prison many times, and he had to endure humiliation and persecution in public, suffering even physical injuries and pains for his dedication to God.

Yet, St. Paul did not give up the struggle, and on the contrary, he gave everything for the sake of the Lord, and dedicated himself completely, knowing that all the sufferings he experienced, all the struggles and oppositions he encountered, it was because of his faith in God, and not only that, but he was experiencing what the Lord Himself has experienced. St. Paul knew that for all the pains he had suffered and endured, all of them were nothing compared to the suffering that the Lord Jesus had endured.

In the Gospel passage today, we heard how the Lord encountered opposition from the group called the Sadducees, a very influential and powerful group in the society, who opposed the Lord because of His teachings and the truth He brought, which were against their ideas. The Sadducees were those intellectuals and academics who were pragmatists and progressives in the society.

Just in yesterday’s Gospel passage, we heard how the Lord Jesus encountered difficulties with the Pharisees, another powerful group of priests and intellectuals whose ideas were almost diametrically opposite to that of the Sadducees, with whom they often bickered with. However, both the Sadducees and the Pharisees were united in their opposition against the Lord Jesus and His disciples, because they were great threats against their influence and power.

As mentioned, the Sadducees opposed the Lord because they refused to follow the more mystical and supernatural aspects of the faith, just as they refused to believe in the presence of Angels and spirits, and the concept of resurrection and life after death. They lived for the world and in the world, and they saw the Lord’s promise of a life of eternity after death, as a threat to their authority and beliefs.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, throughout the entire Gospels, and the New Testament, we can see just how there were plenty of opposition against the Lord and His disciples, because of mankind’s refusal to believe in the truth and their refusal to accept what He had taught them. As a result, there were so much difficulty and suffering facing all those who are faithful to God.

Today, we celebrate the feast of one of those faithful servants of God, St. Norbert of Xanten, a renowned German bishop, who was remembered for his great intellect and devotion to the Lord. He devoted himself so thoroughly to the Lord, as an ascetic and holy man, by whose work, many of the people turned towards the Lord.of course, he did not have it easy, and he had to encounter difficulties and troubles, especially from the powerful and influential.

Nonetheless, his dedication, which is similar to the dedication shown by the other Apostles and saints, St. Paul and all those who did the good works of God, is an example for all of us. Now, are we able to dedicate ourselves in the same manner? Are we able to devote our time and attention to God as best as it is within our capabilities? Let us all learn to be ever more faithful, and seek to be ever closer to God, with each and every passing day.

May God be with us, as we walk along this journey of faith, and devote ourselves wholeheartedly, seeking to love Him and our fellow brothers and sisters, following the examples of our holy predecessors. Amen.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Norbert, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishop)

Mark 12 : 18-27

At that time, the Sadducees also came to Jesus. Since they claim that there is no resurrection, they questioned Him in this way, “Master, in the Scriptures Moses gave us this law : if anyone dies and leaves a wife but no children, his brother must take the woman, and with her have a baby, who will be considered the child of his deceased brother.”

“Now, there were seven brothers. The first married a wife, but he died without leaving any children. The second took the wife, and he also died leaving no children. The same thing happened to the third. In fact, all seven brothers died, leaving no children. Last of all the women died. Now, in the resurrection, to which of them will she be wife? For all seven brothers had her as wife.”

Jesus replied, “Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God? When they rise from the dead, men and women do not marry, but are like the Angels in heaven. Now, about the resurrection of the dead, have you never had thoughts about the burning bush in the book of Moses?”

“God said to Moses : I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. He is the God not of the dead but of the living. You are totally wrong.”

Wednesday, 6 June 2018 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Norbert, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishop)

Psalm 122 : 1-2a, 2bcd

To You, I lift up my eyes; to You, Whose throne is in heaven. As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master.

As the eyes of maids look to the hand of their mistress, so our eyes look to YHVH our God, till He shows us His mercy.