Tuesday, 2 August 2022 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop, and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops and Priests)

Matthew 14 : 22-36

At that time, immediately, Jesus obliged His disciples to get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowd away. And having sent the people away, He went up the mountain by Himself, to pray. At nightfall, He was there alone.

Meanwhile, the boat was very far from land, dangerously rocked by the waves, for the wind was against it. At daybreak, Jesus came to them, walking on the sea. When they saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, thinking that it was a ghost. And they cried out in fear. But at once, Jesus said to them, “Courage! Do not be afraid. It is Me!”

Peter answered, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” Jesus said to him, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water to go to Jesus. But seeing the strong wind, he was afraid, and began to sink; and he cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Jesus immediately stretched out His hand and took hold of him, saying, “Man of little faith, why did you doubt?” As they got into the boat, the wind dropped. Then those in the boat bowed down before Jesus, saying, “Truly, You are the Son of God!”

They came ashore at Gennesaret. The local people recognised Jesus and spread the news throughout the region. So they brought to Him all the sick people, begging Him to let them touch just the hem of His cloak. All who touched it became perfectly well.

Monday, 25 July 2022 : Feast of St. James, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Feast of St. James the Apostle, one of the great Apostles of the Lord and member of the Twelve Apostles. He is also known as St. James the Greater to distinguish him from the other St. James, such as St. James the Just, a relative of the Lord and first Bishop of Jerusalem, or St. James the Lesser, also known as St. James, son of Alpheus. St. James was also the elder brother of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist, as one of the two sons of Zebedee, as was a fisherman at the lake of Galilee together with St. Peter, St. Andrew and his brother, St. John.

St. James was one of the first disciples and followers of the Lord, who committed himself to Him and followed Him through many important occurrences throughout the Lord’s ministry. He was often chosen together with St. Peter and his brother St. John as the three disciples who accompanied Him during important moments of His ministry, such as the resurrection of the dead young daughter of the synagogue official, during the moment of the Transfiguration of the Lord at Mount Tabor, where he, St. Peter and St. John all witnessed the Lord glorified and transfigured before their own eyes, and lastly during the time of the Agony in the Gardens of Gethsemane just before the Lord was to be betrayed and arrested.

As such, St. James was one of the Lord’s innermost circle members and closest confidants. After the Lord’s Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven, together with the other Apostles, St. James went on extensive evangelising missions and ministry, where it was told by Apostolic tradition and evidences that he went all the way to Hispania, the region now known as Spain and Portugal, where he preached the Gospels and the Lord there, and it was also there that he saw one of the first apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, who at that time was still living in Jerusalem. She miraculously appeared to St. James in Hispania, in what is known as the apparition of Our Lady of the Pillar.

It was told that St. James was facing a lot of challenges and trials in his ministry, and faced opposition and hardships on his missionary journey which left him exhausted and discouraged by what he encountered. It was then that as St. James was praying, that the Blessed Virgin appeared to him, surrounded by multitudes of thousands of Angels of God, strengthening and encouraging him. This apparition gave St. James the courage and strength to finish his mission, and made him more fervent in his efforts to reach out to the people of the region and establishing the foundations of the Church there.

Later on, St. James would return to Jerusalem, and according to the records of the Acts of the Apostles, was the first among the Twelve Apostles to be martyred, when king Herod, in trying to appease the Jewish authorities and leaders, persecuted the early Christian communities and killed St. James, who therefore died a martyr for his faith. It was later told that his remains and relics were miraculously translated to where he performed his ministry in Hispania, where now stands the great Basilica of Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain, the site of his tomb and shrine today.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the examples of the faith of St. James the Apostle, his hard work and contributions, to the Church and to the glorification of God should serve to inspire us to do the same. And if we are not confident that we are able to do it, then we need to again examine who St. James was, a poor, illiterate fisherman from Galilee, a mere fisherman living in the periphery of the Jewish world at the time, not at all destined for greatness. He did not have the pedigree, the connections and the necessary education and background for greatness and status at that time. And yet, through him God had done so many wonderful works, that the impact is still felt even to this day.

St. James allowed God to lead him on his way, empowering and strengthening him on his journey, that by God’s providence and grace, he managed to do all the great things that he had done, in the many miracles he performed, in the communities of the faithful he had established, and the many souls that he had saved, that although his early martyrdom did not give him a long time to perform his missions, but it is undeniable that he had done so many great things, all for the greater glory of God, and it was for all these that we venerate and thank St. James the Apostle for, and why we are all inspired by his great courage and examples.

Now, are we all able to follow and commit ourselves in the same way that St. James had committed his life to the Lord? Are we willing to devote more of our time and effort in following the Lord and being His good disciples? Each and every one of us have been called and God has bestowed each one of us with variety of gifts and blessings, opportunities and chances for us all to reach out and to do His will. What matters is for us to respond to God’s call and our commitment to walk faithfully in His path. Are we willing to drink the cup that Christ and His servants had drunk, the cup of suffering? And if we suffer with Christ, we too shall be glorified with Him in triumph.

Let the examples of St. James the Apostles and all the other great holy men and women of God inspire us to do more for the greater glory of God, in fulfilling our Christian calling and our obligation to live our lives most worthily for the Lord. May God be with us always and may He strengthen us always in faith. Amen.

Monday, 25 July 2022 : Feast of St. James, Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Matthew 20 : 20-28

At that time, the mother of James and John came to Jesus with her sons, and she knelt down, to ask a favour. Jesus said to her, “What do you want?” And she answered, “Here, You have my two sons. Grant, that they may sit, one at Your right hand and one at Your left, in Your kingdom.”

Jesus said to the brothers, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They answered, “We can.” Jesus replied, “You will indeed drink My cup; but to sit at My right or at My left is not for Me to grant. That will be for those, for whom My Father has prepared it.”

The other then heard all this, and were angry with the two brothers. Then Jesus called them to Him and said, “You know, that the rulers of nations behave like tyrants, and the powerful oppress them. It shall not be so among you : whoever wants to be great in your community, let him minister to the community. And if you want to be the first of all, make yourself the servant of all. Be like the Son of Man, Who came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life to redeem many.”

Monday, 25 July 2022 : Feast of St. James, Apostle (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 125 : 1-2ab, 2cd-3, 4-5, 6

When YHVH brought the exiles back to Zion, we were like those moving in a dream. Then, our mouths were filled with laughter, and our tongues with songs of joy.

Among the nations it was said, “YHVH has done great things for them.” YHVH had done great things for us, and we were glad indeed.

Bring back our exiles, o YHVH, like fresh streams in the desert. Those who sow in tears will reap with songs and shouts of joy.

They went forth weeping, bearing the seeds for sowing, they will come home with joyful shouts, bringing their harvested sheaves.

Monday, 25 July 2022 : Feast of St. James, Apostle (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

2 Corinthians 4 : 7-15

However, we carry this treasure in vessels of clay, so that this all-surpassing power may not be seen as ours, but as God’s. Trials of every sort come to us, but we are not discouraged. We are left without answer, but do not despair; persecuted but not abandoned, knocked down but not crushed.

At any moment, we carry, in our person, the death of Jesus, so, that, the life of Jesus may also be manifested in us. For we, the living, are given up continually to death, for the sake of Jesus, so, that, the life of Jesus may appear in our mortal existence. And as death is at work in us, life comes to you.

We have received the same Spirit of faith referred to in Scripture, that says : I believed and so I spoke. We also believed, and so we speak. We know that He, Who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us, with Jesus, and bring us, with you, into His presence. Finally, everything is for your good, so that grace will come more abundantly upon you, and great will be the thanksgiving for the glory of God.

Friday, 22 July 2022 : Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, Apostle of the Apostles (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, a prominent disciple of the Lord who was described throughout the Gospels as one of the closest woman collaborators of the Lord, who travelled together with the other disciples and who was present during the important moments especially surrounding the Lord’s Passion, His suffering, death and resurrection. St. Mary Magdalene was also known to be the one to have seen the Lord the first among the disciples after He was risen from the dead. In that way therefore, she was the one to deliver the truth of this Good News to the disciples.

Hence, that is why the Church has always treated St. Mary Magdalene as an equal to the Apostles or Isapostolos, counted among the great saints whose prominence and honour in the Church are considered equivalent to those given to the Twelve Apostles and the other Apostles. Pope Francis, our current Pope raised the celebration of St. Mary Magdalene from a Memorial rank to that of a Feast a few years ago, in order to reflect this nature, and he also referred to her by her well-known title of Apostola Apostolorum, or the ‘Apostle to the Apostles’. This is a reference to what I just mentioned earlier, that St. Mary Magdalene was the one to bring the Good News of the Resurrection to the Apostles.

Just as the other Apostles were sent forth by the Lord to spread the Good News, the Gospels of truth and love of God to all the peoples of the whole world, hence St. Mary Magdalene prefigured all of that, by her role in bringing the same revelation of truth to the disciples, to the Apostles and all those assembled and waiting in uncertainty and fear after the Lord had been condemned to death and crucified. St. Mary Magdalene was the one to whom the Lord appeared first, to bring this Good News of hope and encouragement to the Apostles, and to remind them that He was truly risen from the dead just as He Himself had predicted and revealed earlier on.

St. Mary Magdalene was indeed a truly great saint and servant of God, but if we look upon her origin and background, according to various traditions and Scriptural evidences, we can see that she was far from the ideal disciple that we may think that she must have been. St. Mary Magdalene was often conflated with another woman who had been caught in the act of adultery, or that of a prostitute and sinner, and in one of the Gospels, it was explicitly mentioned that she had seven demons or evil spirits driven out from her by the Lord, which strengthened the link between her and her less than ideal origin.

Regardless whether she was an immoral woman or prostitute in her earlier life, or whether she was just another ordinary woman out of many at the time, that was not important. What matters was that, St. Mary Magdalene chose to leave behind her past life, flawed and terrible as it might have been, and instead followed the Lord wholeheartedly as a disciple. She followed the Lord faithfully, even when the other disciples fled after He was arrested at the time of His Passion and suffering and death. She was among the ones who waited on the Lord, together with His mother Mary, as He laid dying on the Cross.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the examples of St. Mary Magdalene, her faith and dedication to God, all that she had done and the commitment she had made to the Lord should be good inspiration for all of us to follow. Her conversion and then commitment as a faithful servant of God is an inspiration and hope for each one of us, that God has called all to be His disciples, and not even the greatest sinners are excluded from the path to salvation and eternal life. What matters is for each one of us to recognise our sinful ways and to return to the Lord with contrite hearts and with the openness to embrace His way and truth.

Like St. Mary Magdalene, even many of the other greatest saints of the Church were once sinners, and some of them committed great sins previously in their respective lives. Yet, what made them to be respected and venerated greatly later on were their commitment to change their lives and in embracing the path that the Lord had shown them. They responded to God’s call and were converted to the true path of God. The Lord was with them and He brought them to the right path, and through them He did many wonderful and great deeds, because those saints allowed Him to lead them on in their lives that they became His greatest disciples and servants.

All of us have also received the same calling, and all that remains is for us to respond to God’s call. It is completely up to us how we shall respond to Him and how we are to follow the path that God has shown us. Each one of us have been given various opportunities and chances to do God’s will, and even the smallest and seemingly less significant things that we do actually have a great impact way beyond our imagination. We are all called to do our part as Christians, to be the examples and inspirations to all our brothers and sisters, that by our good examples, as St. Mary Magdalene herself had done with hers, we may bring the truth and Good News of God to more and more people out there.

May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us, and may He bless us in our every good works and endeavours. St. Mary Magdalene, holy disciple and follower of the Lord, the Apostle to the Apostles, pray for us all! Amen.

Friday, 22 July 2022 : Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, Apostle of the Apostles (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 20 : 1-2, 11-18

Now, on the first day after the Sabbath, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning while it was still dark, and she saw that the stone blocking the tomb had been moved away. She ran to Peter, and the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and she said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

Mary stood weeping outside the tomb; and as she wept, she bent down to look inside. She saw two Angels in white, sitting where the Body of Jesus had been, one at the head, and the other at the feet. They said, “Woman, why are you weeping?”

She answered, “Because they have taken my Lord and I do not know where they have put Him.” As she said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not recognise Him. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?”

She thought it was the gardener and answered Him, “Lord, if You have taken Him away, tell me where You have put Him, and I will go and remove Him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned, and said to Him, “Rabboni!” – which means Master. Jesus said to her, “Do not touch Me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to My brothers and say to them : I am ascending to My Father, Who is your Father, to My God, Who is your God.”

So Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord, and this is what He said to me.”

Friday, 22 July 2022 : Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, Apostle of the Apostles (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 62 : 2abc, 2d-4, 5-6, 8-9

O God, You are my God, it is You I seek; for You, my body longs and my soul thirsts.

As a dry and weary land without water. Thus have I gazed upon You in the Sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You.

I will praise You as long as I live, lift up my hands and call on Your Name. As with the richest food, my soul will feast; my mouth will praise You with joyful lips.

For You have been my help; I sing in the shadow of Your wings. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.

Friday, 22 July 2022 : Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, Apostle of the Apostles (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Song of Songs 3 : 1-4a

On my bed at night I looked for the one I love, I sought him without finding him; I called him and he did not answer. I will rise and go about the city, through the streets and the squares; I will seek the love of my heart…

I sought him without finding him; the watchmen came upon me, those who patrol the city. “Have you seen the love of my heart?” As soon as I left them, I found the love of my heart.

Alternative reading

2 Corinthians 5 : 14-17

Indeed, the love of Christ holds us, and we realise, that, if He died for all, all have died. He died for all, so, that, those who live, may live no longer for themselves, but for Him, Who died, and rose again for them. And so, from now on, we do not regard anyone from a human point of view; and even if we once knew Christ personally, we should now regard Him in another way.

For that same reason, the one who is in Christ is a new creature. For him, the old things have passed away; a new world has come.

Wednesday, 6 July 2022 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Matthew 10 : 1-7

At that time, Jesus called His Twelve disciples to Him, and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to drive them out, and to heal every disease and sickness.

These are the names of the Twelve Apostles : first Simon, called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew, the tax collector; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon, the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, the man who would betray Him.

Jesus sent these Twelve on mission, with the instruction : “Do not visit pagan territory and do not enter a Samaritan town. Go, instead, to the lost sheep of the people of Israel. Go, and proclaim this message : The kingdom of Heaven is near.”