Wednesday, 21 April 2021 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Anselm, Bishop 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 Scripture we are called to reflect on them and think of our calling as Christians in proclaiming the truth of God in the midst of our respective communities, and we are reminded that we are God’s beloved ones, God’s chosen ones, that He has called to be His witnesses towards those who have not yet known Him, to bring forth all those whom God had called to Him.

As Christians, it is our responsibility, our duty and obligation to reach out to our fellow brethren, to those who have not yet known the truth about God. We are all called to reach out to those who are still living in ignorance or in exclusion from God. And we are all called to be God’s faithful witnesses through our lives, by our every words, actions and deeds that we may indeed show what our Christian faith is truly all about. It means that we ourselves have to be genuine in our Christian living and must have true love for God in order to do so.

We are preaching about Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, the Bread of Life, Whom we heard in our Gospel passage today in the continuation of the Bread of Life discourse, revealing more and more about Himself to the people, that He is the Holy One of God, sent into the world to save us all. By the offering, breaking and shedding of His own Most Precious Body and Blood, He would bring the salvation of God to all, and gather everyone to Himself. The Lord loved us so much that He did all this, through His most loving sacrifice on the Cross.

All of us as His followers, as those who believe in Him are those who are charged with the continuation of His works, His most loving ministry, reaching out to everyone in need of His light and truth. All of us God’s followers are called to follow His examples in showing the light of His love to all the peoples, to be walking in the footsteps of the Apostles, like St. Philip who went about in Samaria and other places, speaking the truth of God and who eventually later on, would encounter an official from Ethiopia, whom he evangelised to and managed to convince to be baptised.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we gather together celebrating the continued joy of Easter, let us all remind ourselves of our Christian calling and obligation, to be part of the efforts of the Church to be witnesses of our Lord and His Resurrection, to all the peoples of all the nations. We have been called to be these witnesses, through our own lives and actions, that everyone who sees us, hears us, and witnesses our actions may also come to believe in the Lord through us, and be inspired to follow Him and walk in His path following our own examples.

That is why, today all of us should be inspired by the good examples set by St. Anselm, whose feast day we are celebrating this day. St. Anselm was the Archbishop of Canterbury during the Middle Ages renowned and remembered for his piety, faith and dedication to the mission entrusted to him, in which he helped to steer the Church through difficult and turbulent times, having to endure challenges and even opposition from the kings of England, who wanted to bring the Church under their control. St. Anselm resisted those efforts and helped to keep the Church faithful and true to its missions.

He was remembered for his great piety and faith throughout his as a monk and later on as abbot for many years, before he was chosen to be the Archbishop of Canterbury, the principal Archbishop in England and the leader of the English Church. The king desired control over the Church lands and influences, and therefore came into conflict with St. Anselm and the other prelates. While initially reluctant to take up the position as Archbishop of Canterbury, St. Anselm dedicated himself later on to pursue the reforms of the Church, the works of evangelisation and the freedom of the Church from secular control and influences.

All these brought him many sufferings and trials, having to endure not once but twice exile from England, while he continued to faithfully serve the Lord and His people over all those years of his service as Archbishop and leader of the faithful. He remained firm to his convictions to the end, and his faith and dedication inspired many people in the following centuries right up to this very day. Are we ourselves inspired by the examples and the faith of St. Anselm, brothers and sisters in Christ?

Let us all seek the Lord therefore with a renewed conviction and desire to love Him with all our heart and with all of our strength just as showed by the Apostles, the holy saints and martyrs, especially St. Anselm, whose memory we recall today. Let us all glorify the Lord by our lives and let us be great witnesses of Our Lord in the midst of our families, our communities and among all those whom we encounter each day in life. Amen.

Wednesday, 21 April 2021 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Anselm, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 6 : 35-40

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “I am the Bread of Life; whoever comes to Me shall never be hungry, and whoever believes in Me shall never be thirsty. Nevertheless, as I said, you refuse to believe, even when you have seen. Yet all those whom the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me, I shall not turn away. For I have come from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of the One Who sent Me.”

“And the will of Him Who sent Me is that I lose nothing of what He has given Me, but instead that I raise it up on the last day. This is the will of the Father, that whoever sees the Son and believes in Him shall live eternal life; and I will raise him up on the last day.”

Wednesday, 21 April 2021 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Anselm, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 65 : 1-3a, 4-5, 6-7a

Shout with joy to God, all you on earth; sing to the glory of His Name; proclaim His glorious praise. Say to God, “How great are Your deeds!”

All the earth bows down to You, making music, in praise of You, singing in honour of Your Name. Come, and see God’s wonders; His deeds, awesome for humans.

He has turned the sea into dry land, and the river was crossed on foot. Let us, therefore, rejoice in Him. He rules by His might forever.

Wednesday, 21 April 2021 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Anselm, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 8 : 1b-8

This was the beginning of a great persecution against the Church in Jerusalem. All, except the Apostles, were scattered throughout the region of Judea and Samaria. Devout men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. Saul, meanwhile, was trying to destroy the Church. He entered house after house and dragged off men and women, and had them put in jail.

At the same time, those who were scattered went about, preaching the word. Philip went down to a town of Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there. All the people paid close attention to what Philip said as they listened to him, and saw the miraculous signs that he did. For, in cases of possession, the unclean spirits came out shrieking loudly. Many people who were paralysed or crippled, were healed. So there was great joy in the town.

Tuesday, 6 October 2020 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bruno, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are reminded of the call to holiness and to be converted to God’s truth. We are called to follow in the footsteps of St. Paul in his conversion to the Christian faith and how he dedicated himself to serve the Lord with all of his heart after early on he was a fanatical opponent of the Christian faith. And in the Gospel passage today, we heard of the interaction between the Lord and the sisters Mary and Martha, and how God reminded us to choose the ‘better part’.

Beginning with our first reading today, we heard St. Paul recounting his own conversion experience, and how he abandoned his past disobedience against God, his misguided fanatic zeal in hunting down the early Christian converts especially among the Jewish people. That was how this great enemy of Christians and the Church became almost overnight, the greatest defender and champion of the faithful. St. Paul had a choice when God called him on the way to Damascus, on whether he wanted to continue in his past way of life, or if he wanted instead to embrace God’s call and transform himself.

Had St. Paul remained in his past life, as a prominent young Pharisee and also a Roman citizen, he was bound to have a very good life and could have possibly been a very influential member of the Sanhedrin and the ruling elite of the Jewish people, and would also likely be quite influential among the Romans and the Gentiles. Certainly for sure, his life would not have been so difficult and challenging as how he had suffered and laboured so much for the Lord’s sake. Yet, this was the path that St. Paul had chosen in the end, and he committed himself to it wholeheartedly.

St. Paul chose the ‘better path’, entrusting himself to God despite having to let go of his comfortable and influential old life, a life that would have guaranteed worldly safety and satisfaction, a life without much difficulty and hassles. But he chose to leave these comforts and assurances behind, for the better assurance in God. Although he endured a lot of trials and sufferings for the many decades after, but in the end, as he has faithfully committed himself to the very end, he was sure of the Lord’s promise and the eternal glory he would receive with many other faithful ones.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard about the two sisters, Mary and Martha, who were close friends of the Lord with their brother, Lazarus, whom the Lord raised from the dead. And when the Lord Jesus came by their house, we saw the difference between the reaction of Mary and Martha in welcoming the Lord to their place. While Martha was very busy doing all she could to prepare the place well for the Lord’s coming, Mary was sitting by the side of the Lord, spending time with Him and listening to Him.

Martha certainly had good intentions, and she did what she thought was the best to welcome the Lord and be hospitable to Him. However, in her excessive preoccupation and desire to serve the Lord in the way she thought best, she had forgotten about what was most important, just like St. Paul earlier, when as Saul, he persecuted the Christians out of misplaced zeal in trying to protect the interpretation of the faith according to the Pharisees, which was then threatened by the Lord and His revelations and teachings.

Both Martha and Saul were trying to do what they could in their own way to serve God, but when they tried to do so on their own, and becoming swallowed by the intensity, by their emotions and desires, they ended up losing sight and focus on what they really ought to focus their attention on. As they pursued their intentions, they were distracted by the temptations of pride and the desire in their hearts, the pride of their achievements and the desire to be acclaimed and praised for their efforts. For Martha, it was likely to be praised for her hospitality, while Saul wanted attention and achievement in destroying the Christians.

But as we have heard, these were the wrong paths, which Martha was reminded by the Lord, and Saul was called from, and in the end, Martha realised that what was important, was not how meticulous her preparations and plans were, but spending time with God Who has come to her place to spend His time with her. Similarly, Saul came to realise that his path had been wrong, and from the moment of his conversion, he chose to follow the Lord wholeheartedly and devote all of his energy and efforts to glorify God from then on.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all reminded today to reflect on the path which we should take in life, in serving God wholeheartedly as we should, and in keeping to the Lord’s path faithfully even when we may encounter difficulties, trials and challenges along the journey. We must realise that while the path that God has showed us may seem to be less promising, more challenging and difficult, but in truth, it is the ‘better part’ and the path that we all should choose, for in the Lord alone lies our hope and true joy.

Today, all of us also celebrate the feast of St. Bruno, a dedicated servant of God, who was remembered as a great priest and intellectual, who committed his efforts to lead more and more among the faithful towards God. And St. Bruno was also known for rejecting the position of bishop, which could have easily been his, if he had chosen to do so. However, St. Bruno chose to walk down this more tedious path, living a holy existence and life, gathering some others to live in a prayerful community, away from the distractions of the world.

St. Bruno chose to walk down this path in responding to the call that the Lord has made to him, calling him to a life of holiness, to be a great witness and example to all the faithful, on what it truly means to be a follower of Christ. St. Bruno is a humble person, who spent his days and moments in doing everything to glorify God through prayer and virtue, and which is something that we can be inspired from and follow as well. Through all that we have heard today, we are presented with the choice, do we want to follow the Lord and take His ‘better part’ or do we want to indulge in worldly desires and pleasures, and seek for worldly satisfaction instead?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us are called to live our lives virtuously as Christians from now on. And we are called to be holy and virtuous in all things, and most importantly, centre our focus and attention on the Lord, as the centre and heart of our very existence. Are we willing and able to reject the allures of pride and greed, the temptations of worldly pleasures and corruptions, and rediscover our true and genuine faith? Let us all discern this carefully as we commit ourselves ever more faithfully to the path that the Lord has shown us and guided us through.

May the Lord continue to bless us and guide us in our journey, that all of us may draw ever closer to Him, and inspire one another to stay together and remain true to our Christian calling in our respective lives and in our various communities, devoting ourselves wholeheartedly to God, from now on, in all things, in all of our words, actions and deeds. Amen.

Tuesday, 6 October 2020 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bruno, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Luke 10 : 38-42

At that time, as Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He entered a village, and a woman called Martha welcomed Him to her house. She had a sister named Mary, who sat down at the Lord’s feet to listen to His words. Martha, meanwhile, was busy with all the serving, and finally she said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the work? Tell her to help me!”

But the Lord answered, “Martha, Martha, you worry and are troubled about many things, whereas only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Tuesday, 6 October 2020 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bruno, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Psalm 138 : 1-3, 13-14, 15

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.

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, for Your marvellous deeds.

Even my bones were known to You when I was being formed in secret, fashioned in the depths of the earth.

Tuesday, 6 October 2020 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bruno, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Galatians 1 : 13-24

You have heard of my previous activity in the Jewish community; I furiously persecuted the Church of God and tried to destroy it. For I was more devoted to the Jewish religion than many fellow Jews of my age, and I defended the traditions of my ancestors more fanatically.

But one day, God called me, out of His great love, He, Who had chosen me from my mother’s womb; and He was pleased to reveal, in me, His son, that I might make Him known among the pagan nations. Then, I did not seek human advice nor did I go up to Jerusalem, to those who were Apostles before me. I immediately went to Arabia, and from there, I returned, again, to Damascus.

Later, after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to meet Cephas, and I stayed with him for fifteen days. But I did not see any other Apostle except James, the Lord’s brother. On writing this to you, I affirm before God that I am not lying. After that, I went to Syria and Cilicia. The churches of Christ in Judea did not know me personally; they had only heard of me : “He, who once persecuted us, is now preaching the faith he tried to uproot.” And they praised God because of me.

Saturday, 6 June 2020 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Norbert, Bishop (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 heard that as Christians, for us to love God and to devote ourselves to God, we do not need to seek to do ambitious things and achievements, and we do not need to think of the many things we desire and want, as serving the Lord does not mean that we focus the attention to ourselves. On the contrary, to be Christians mean that we ought to give our whole selves to God and to dedicate ourselves wholeheartedly and live our lives with the focus on God in everything that we say and do.

As Christians we ought to reflect carefully on what we have heard in our Gospel passage today as we heard of the account of the Lord Who spoke with regards to the people who came to the Temple of Jerusalem, there were the rich people making lots of offerings probably showing off what they were offering to each other and also to the other people around, while there was a poor, old woman who came by quietly and placed in two small coins to the Temple treasury.

And the Lord also mentioned of the excesses of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, warning His disciples against their behaviour and how they exercised and practiced their faith. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law often prided themselves in their privileged and highly respected position in the community, and showed off their faith, seeking important and privileged positions, basking in the praise and respect from the other people who saw them and their actions.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, essentially what the Lord had told us all is to be careful and vigilant against the temptations of ego and pride in our lives. We must focus our attention on God and put Him first and foremost in our lives, or else we will be easily swayed and tempted just as many of our ancestors had done in the past. Ever since the time of Adam and Eve in the Gardens of Eden, Satan has tempted us mankind with the temptation of pride, desires of our flesh and with the temptation of knowledge, and our great enemy definitely knows very well our vulnerabilities and weaknesses.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, we also have to understand that God was not against the rich and neither does He have any bias or prejudice against the rich and those who are wealthy, powerful and the elites of the society, and unlike what some would have argued otherwise, the Lord was not only concerned about the poor, the marginalised and the needy. For the truth is that, every single sons and daughters of mankind are precious to Him, and all of us, regardless of our background and origins, are equal before Him, and are equally beloved by Him.

What the Lord is warning us is rather the fact that we mankind are easily distracted and tempted, and the more attachments we have to worldly things and the more concerns we have, the more vulnerable we become. Instead, he wanted us all to develop more trust and faith in Him. He wants us to be like the old woman who entrusted herself to the Lord and gave from her heart, even if she had only very little to live on with. At this, all of us are called to believe in God in this manner.

We heard in our first reading today on the great courage shown by St. Paul, who recounted to St. Timothy, his protege, of the great sufferings he had endured for the sake of the Lord, all the things he had to go through as many opposed his good works and efforts, rejecting him and his message of God’s truth. St. Paul stood by his faith in the Lord and his famous words, ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.’ are reminders to us just how dedicated St. Paul had been throughout his missionary works and efforts to bring the Good News to many peoples, even to all those who have rejected these truths.

Today we also celebrate the feast of St. Norbert, a renowned German bishop and saint, who was once a nobleman and member of the elite of the then society, but an experience of the faith changed his life forever as he was saved from a near death experience, and he eventually joined the priesthood and led an ascetic, holy and simple lifestyle. He travelled around Christendom and saw the troubles and the lack of discipline as well as the need for reform in the Church.

St. Norbert founded the religious order known as the Canons Regular of Prémontré. Through his efforts and dedicated works, his piety and great, genuine love for God, St. Norbert rapidly expanded the religious order, and when he was appointed by the Pope as the Archbishop of Magdeburg in Germany, he continued the efforts he started in reforms and practiced the same practices he did among the Canons Regular to his diocese and the faithful in that diocese.

Through what the Lord’s followers had done, St. Paul and the other Apostles, the many saints and martyrs, like St. Norbert among many others, all of us have seen how the Lord’s followers have dedicated their lives to God, giving their all to the Lord with their lives and services, many of them giving even their lives in martyrdom in the defence of their faith. Are we able to follow in their footsteps, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we able to follow their examples and courage, and inspire one another to follow the Lord in the same way?

Let us all devote ourselves anew, each and every days of our lives from now on. Let us give our very best to the Lord from the depths of our heart. May the Lord help us all and give us the strength to follow Him with all of our hearts from now on. St. Norbert, holy saint of God, pray for us all. Amen.

Saturday, 6 June 2020 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Norbert, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

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

Mark 12 : 38-44

At that time, as Jesus was teaching, He also said to His disciples, “Beware of those teachers of the Law, who enjoy walking around in long robes and being greeted in the marketplace, and who like to occupy reserved seats in the synagogues, and the first places at feasts. They even devour the widow’s and the orphan’s goods while making a show of long prayers. How severe a sentence they will receive!”

Jesus sat down opposite the Temple treasury, and watched the people dropping money into the treasury box; and many rich people put in large offerings. But a poor widow also cane and dropped in two small coins. Then Jesus called His disciples and said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all those who gave offerings. For all of them gave from their plenty, but she gave from her poverty, and put in everything she had, her very living.”