Tuesday, 20 September 2022 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Kim Taegon, Martyr, St. Laurent Imbert, Bishop and Martyr, St. Jacques Chastan, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all presented with the words of the Lord reminding us to do the will of God and not to fall into the path of sin and wickedness. Again and again we have constantly been reminded of the dangers of sin and the temptations to sin. Unless we are vigilant and put our conscious effort to reject sin and evil, more often than not we may find ourselves stumbling and falling yet again because we are unable to resist the strong pull and allure of sin which can drag us down the path towards damnation and downfall.

In our first reading today taken from the Book of Proverbs, we are all reminded that the Lord values our actions and obedience to His Law, commandments and will more than our sacrifices and offerings. The Lord honours and blesses the just and the righteous ones, all those who have obeyed His will, followed His ways and dedicated themselves to His cause by their real actions and works, instead of just merely paying lip service or making profession of faith. And yet in our way of life and actions, we are often full of actions that are contrary to God’s teachings and truth, as we often follow the whim of our desires, our pride and ego, the norms and ways of this world among others.

The Lord said that those who were haughty and wicked, who oppressed the poor and the weak, all those who were selfish and proud, and thinking only of fulfilling their own selfish and wicked desires, all of these will not flourish with Him, and will not have part in any of His inheritance and graces. The Lord made it clear that all of us as Christians are called to distance ourselves from wicked ways, and embrace wholeheartedly instead the path of righteousness and justice, of all the good things that the Lord Himself had taught us to do. God had taught us His ways, and showed us all how to live our lives in the right manner, and it is in the end, up to us whether we want to follow Him or to follow our own path.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the words of the Lord when the people told Him that His family members, His mother and other relatives were waiting for Him. The Lord then told them all that His brothers and sisters, His mother are all those who listen to the Lord and do His will. While at a glance it might seem that the Lord had been rude to His mother and family, but in truth, the intention behind those words uttered by the Lord Jesus is that, each and every one of us are equally beloved by God, and all of us who do His will, who are righteous and just, virtuous and good, upright and faithful, all of us will share the fullness of God’s love, grace and compassion. And we should look upon our glorious and holy predecessors how we ought to be just doing exactly that.

Today the Church celebrates the memory of the great martyrs and all those who had given their lives for their faith in the region of Korea, as part of the Feast of the Holy Martyrs of Korea, namely St. Andreas Kim Taegon, St. Paul Chong Hasang among the many other local Christians of Korea who were persecuted for their faith, as well as foreign missionaries such as St. Laurent Imbert, the first Apostolic Vicar to Korea, St. Jacques Chastan and many others who had travelled far and wide, to come to the far peripheries of the world and spread the Good News of God to all those who have yet to hear of Him, and who suffered for His sake.

At that time, the state and the government of Korea was highly hostile and suspicious of Christian missionaries and the Christian faith, considering them all as unwanted foreign influences that could potentially bring harm to the state. To that extent, the state carried out intense official persecution much alike what happened during the time of the Roman Empire in the early Church. The Christian missionaries had to operate in secret, in fear of repercussions from the officials and the authorities, and many of the Christian faithful, both the missionaries and converts alike suffered because of their persistence and perseverance in remaining true to their faith in God despite the oppressions.

St. Andrew Kim Taegon was the first local convert Catholic priest in Korea, whose parents were themselves converts, and his father was martyred for his faith. St. Andrew Kim Taegon eventually chose priesthood as his path and finally returned to Korea after years of ministry and studies, during which time then he ministered and preached to his native Koreans about the Lord, having to deal with the intensifying persecution from the government authorities. He was martyred together with thousands of the other Christians who refused to abandon their faith, as he was tortured and beheaded, enduring glorious martyr’s death for the Lord.

Then, I would also like to share the story of St. Laurent Imbert, who was the first Apostolic Vicar to Korea, as the first bishop to establish the nascent hierarchy of the Church in that land. St. Laurent Imbert was a member of the Paris Foreign Missions society or the M.E.P., who together with the other missionary priests clandestinely ministered to the faithful and grew the Church during those difficult years. And it was told that when the officials demanded that he and the other priests surrendered themselves in exchange for the safety of his faithful flock, he willingly surrendered himself and asked his fellow two other priests to do the same as well, saying that ‘The Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep’, remembering what the Lord Himself, our Good Shepherd, had done for our sake.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the numerous stories of great wisdom and courage from the martyr saints of Korea should inspire us all to live our lives worthily and to do our best to glorify the Lord by our lives, actions and works. Each and every one of us should follow God’s will and obey His Law and commandments. Let us all no longer distance ourselves from Him or be ignorant of Him calling on us to follow Him in our hearts and minds. May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to strengthen us all each day, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 20 September 2022 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Kim Taegon, Martyr, St. Laurent Imbert, Bishop and Martyr, St. Jacques Chastan, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 8 : 19-21

At that time, the mother of Jesus and His relatives came to Him; but they could not get to Him because of the crowd. Someone told Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside and wish to meet You.”

Then Jesus answered, “My mother and My brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”

Tuesday, 20 September 2022 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Kim Taegon, Martyr, St. Laurent Imbert, Bishop and Martyr, St. Jacques Chastan, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 118 : 1, 27, 30, 34, 35, 44

Blessed are they whose ways are upright, who follow the Law of YHVH.

Explain to me all Your ordinances, and I will meditate on Your wondrous deeds.

I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart upon Your laws.

Give me understanding, that I may observe Your Law with all my heart.

Guide me in obeying Your instructions, for my pleasure lies in them.

May I always keep Your word, forever and ever.

Tuesday, 20 September 2022 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Kim Taegon, Martyr, St. Laurent Imbert, Bishop and Martyr, St. Jacques Chastan, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Proverbs 21 : 1-6, 10-13

In the hands of YHVH, the heart of the king is like running water; He directs it wherever He wishes. To the eyes of man all His ways are honest but it is YHVH Who weighs the heart. To do what is upright and just pleases YHVH more than sacrifice.

Haughty looks, proud heart, the light of the wicked is sin. The plans of a hardworking man result in earnings; poverty is for those who act too hastily. To make a fortune by means of deceit is like running after the wind; the end is death.

The soul of the wicked desires nothing but evil; not even his friend is treated with compassion. When the mocker is punished the ignorant man grows wise; when the wise man is instructed he grows in knowledge. The Just One watches the house of the evildoer and hurls the wicked into misfortune.

He who is deaf to the poor man’s cry will not be heard when he himself calls out.

Monday, 19 September 2022 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Januarius, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded that as Christians we must distance ourselves from all sorts of wickedness and unworthy behaviour that kept us away from the Lord and which can become a scandal for our faith, the Church and to the Holy Name of the Lord Himself. The Lord has told us all to follow His path, and He has taught us all how we should live our lives, in accordance to His Law and precepts. And that is how as Christians we are expected to be the beacons of God’s truth and love, distancing ourselves from the darkness that often corrupted us and prevented us from seeking His light.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of Proverbs, we heard of how God reminded His people that they should not do what is wicked and evil in the sight of God and man alike, and they are called to act fairly and justly towards one another. Each one of them are called to be honest in their actions and dealings, and not to cheat or do bad things on others for our own selfish desires and for our own benefits. Each one of us are called to be caring and compassionate, to be concerned and committed to one another, to our fellow brothers and sisters, all those who have shared with us the same gift of God’s graces and blessings.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord reminded us all through His parable to His disciples, in which He used the metaphor of a lighted lamp to show how nothing that is hidden that shall not be uncovered, and how one’s true intentions will come to be known by God and men alike. This is a reminder how each one of us are called to be genuine in our actions, and not be hypocrites, who pretended to care for others and be faithful, but in truth had no place for God in our hearts and minds. As the Lord Himself said, that there is no place by His Presence, for all those who have not been genuine in their faith and love for Him. That is why unless we are genuine in our desire and efforts to follow the Lord, then we can easily end up falling into the wrong paths of damnation and ruin.

Each one of us are therefore called to abandon our wicked ways and our sinful nature, all the attachments we had on the worldly matters and desires, all of which often became great obstacles in our path towards God and His salvation. We are reminded to reject the temptations of worldly things, and to refuse the advances of Satan and his allies, all of whom are always hard at work in trying to subvert us and turn us away from God and His salvation. We have to embrace the Lord wholeheartedly and do what He had commanded us to do, and not merely paying lip service and doing things from appearances. We have to commit ourselves to the Lord and dedicate our actions to Him.

How should we do it, then brothers and sisters? All of us should follow the good examples set by our predecessors, all those who have lived their lives worthily in the path of the Lord. We should not follow the wrong guidance and we should not heed the sweet lies and falsehoods of the evil ones. We have to reject their path that will lead us down to ruin. We have to raise up and remain faithful to the Lord in all of His teachings and truths. We have to be exemplary and inspirational in all of our actions and dealings so that we may be the beacons of God’s light to the people whom we encounter in this world, our fellow brothers and sisters and all those who seek the Lord and His truth.

Today, the Church and all the faithful celebrate the Feast of St. Januarius, one of the most renowned early Church fathers and saints, whose blood’s miraculous liquefaction has always been the subject of great devotion from many especially from the faithful from around the region of Naples and southern regions of Italy, where St. Januarius was once the bishop of. St. Januarius himself was the Bishop of Benevento in southern Italy as mentioned, and he was remembered for his great dedication to his flock, to the faithful people of God, serving the people faithfully when he and his people faced intense persecutions for their faith.

It was told that St. Januarius and his flock suffered during the reign of the infamous Roman Emperor Diocletian who instituted the last of the great persecutions against the Church. He hid some of his fellow Christians and protected them from harm, at the cost of his own safety. He was arrested, persecuted and tortured, and eventually was charged and condemned to death, being beheaded for his faith and dedication to God, remaining faithful to the very end. The miraculous relic of his blood that still performs its miracles every year to this day serve to remind us of the great courage of this great man of God whose life should become our source of inspiration and strength.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore seek the Lord with our renewed faith and courage, inspired by the examples and faith showed by St. Januarius, holy man and servant of God, who dedicated his whole life to bring glory to God and salvation to his fellow brothers and sisters. Are we willing and able to do this, just as the Lord wants it from us? Are we willing to live our lives worthily so that our every words, actions and deeds become testament and witnesses of our Lord’s truth and Good News, of His love and kindness, His compassion and mercy? Let us all do our best to serve the Lord from now on with faith.

May the Lord continue to strengthen and guide us all, and may He empower us and encourage us to walk ever in His path, and bless our every good works, efforts and endeavours. May God be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 19 September 2022 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Januarius, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Luke 8 : 16-18

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “No one, after lighting a lamp, covers it with a bowl or puts it under the bed; rather, he puts it on a lamp stand, so that people coming in may see the light.”

“In the same way, there is nothing hidden that shall not be uncovered; nothing kept secret, that shall not be known clearly. Now, pay attention and listen well, for whoever produces, will be given more; but from those who do not produce, even what they seem to have will be taken away from them.”

Monday, 19 September 2022 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Januarius, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 14 : 2-3ab, 3cd-4ab, 5

Those who walk blamelessly and do what is right, who speak truth from their heart and control their words.

Those who do no harm to their neighbours and cast no discredit on their companions, who look down on evildoers but highly esteem God’s servants.

Those who do not lend money at interest and refuse a bribe against the innocent. Do this, and you will soon be shaken.

Monday, 19 September 2022 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Januarius, Bishop and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Proverbs 3 : 27-35

Do not hold back from those who ask your help, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbour, “Go away! Come another time; tomorrow I will give it to you!” when you can help him now.

Do not plot evil against your neighbour who lives trustingly beside you, nor fight a man without cause when he has done you no wrong. Do not envy the man of violence or follow his example. For YHVH hates the wicked but guides the honest. He curses the house of the evildoer but blesses the home of the upright.

If there are mockers, He mocks them in turn but He shows His favour to the humble. The wise will possess His glory while the foolish will inherit disgrace.

Saturday, 17 September 2022 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church and St. Hildegard of Bingen, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Holy Virgins)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures, we are reminded yet again on our faith in the Lord and our beliefs in Him, in how we should have faith in us, which He has sown in us, and we should bear rich fruits of faith, through our exemplary lives and actions. Each and every one of us should do our best to love and serve the Lord at every moments throughout life, so that we may truly live our lives as good and dedicated Christians, worthy of being the ones who have been made and created in the image of God Himself, and Whom God had called and willingly made to be His own beloved children and people.

In our first reading today taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in the city of Corinth we heard the Apostle St. Paul spoke to the people there regarding the matter of the resurrection from the dead and the resurrection of the body as there were still members of the faithful who did not understand or appreciate what the resurrection truly meant and how it would affect all of them. There were then still members of the Christian faithful, probably those who once belonged to the caste of the Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection from the dead who had doubts about the resurrection and did not understand how it works.

St. Paul highlighted how through Christ, the Saviour of the world, Who came into this world, bearing the truth and salvation from God, has shown us a new life through Him, a new existence that goes beyond our earthly life. He mentioned how the first Adam, our ancestor was given life when he was created by God, and how the New Adam, that is Christ Himself, has brought upon us true and everlasting life, that we shall transcend beyond our mortal bodies and existence, and through Him we shall be reunited and reconciled with God. That new life, which God brought upon us through His Son, shows us that our mortality and death do not mark the end of our existence, and instead there is eternity beyond that of death.

In our Christian faith and beliefs, all of us believe that there is life beyond death, and while all of us have to experience suffering and death as consequences for our sins, but the same sins and death do not have the final say over us. To those who are righteous and worthy, God has shown us through Jesus Christ, His Son, our Saviour, that we shall be reunited with Him and shall once again enjoy the fullness of His grace and blessings as He has always intended for us. The Lord has always been so reassuring towards us, and He did not just love us despite our many rebellions and disobedience against Him, but He even sent us His Son to bring His salvation and deliverance upon us.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the well-known parable of the sower by the Lord, in which the Lord Himself told His disciples of what happened to the seeds sown in four different places, by the roadside, on rocky and dry ground, amongst the thistles and brambles, and finally on rich and fertile soil. The Lord went through the meaning of each part of the parable and told them what each of them represented, and how the seeds were truly a reference to the Word of God, the Wisdom and truth which God has bestowed on all of His people. How and where the seeds landed represented how we mankind responded to the Lord, to His truth and love, to His Good News and grace in our midst.

We have to realise that as long as we continue to resist the Lord in the manner of how some among the faithful in Corinth continued to have doubts and reservations on their beliefs, and in their inability to comprehend the resurrection, then it is just like how we mankind tend to shut the Lord out of our lives as we prefer to live them in the manner that we want to live them, following the ways of the world and the paths that may not conform to the path that God has shown and taught us. More often than not we prefer to trust in our own judgments and ideals, and not listening to God speaking to us in the depth of our hearts and minds. And our preoccupation with our own desires prevent us from being able to listen to Him.

That is why today, as we also celebrate the feast of two great saints whose examples and faith can become our inspiration in how we ought to live our own lives, we should give some time to heed their examples and their actions in life. St. Robert Bellarmine and St. Hildegard of Bingen are these two great servants of God who should become our role models in life, that we may grow ever stronger in faith and ever closer to God. Both of them had served the Church and the people of God in various ways, and in their personal holiness and dedication, they have done much to bring the people of God ever closer to their Lord and Saviour.

St. Robert Bellarmine was a Jesuit Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, who was credited for his intense effort in supporting and applying the reforms of the Ecumenical Council of Trent in the midst of great changes in the Church and the community during the Counter-Reformation period. He was very much involved in the renewal of Catholic theology and education, as he was involved over many years in the teaching of theology at the Roman College, now known as the Pontifical Gregorian University, influencing many seminarians who would become future priests and leaders of the Church, impressing many people with his deep intellectual understanding of theology and the Scriptures, as well as his great wisdom.

St. Robert Bellarmine was made as the Rector of the aforementioned Roman College, and then as a Bishop and finally a Cardinal of the Church. He was entrusted by the Pope with the task to assist in the reforms of the Church, and he also wrote extensively on many works and books related to theology and Christian teachings. He also defended the true faith against the many heresies, falsehoods and the other forces arrayed against the Church at that time. Through his ceaseless efforts and commitment to God, St. Robert Bellarmine showed us what it truly means to be truly dedicated as Christians.

Meanwhile, St. Hildegard of Bingen was a German Benedictine abbess who was renowned as a great mystic and writer, and whose contributions to the Church both in her local community and the larger Universal Church were immense. St. Hildegard of Bingen was credited with many writings in various topics and aspects, both regarding Church teachings and even beyond, and devoted her life to the Lord and her community. She wrote extensively on the matters of theology, as well as botany and medicine, and was also credited with the development of monophony in the Church music of her time. For all these efforts and hard work, and for all the contributions that she had done, she was recently therefore canonised ten years ago by Pope Benedict XVI, and then elevated to the position of the Doctor of the Church by Pope Francis, our current Pope.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore be inspired by the examples shown by St. Robert Bellarmine and St. Hildegard of Bingen, that we ourselves may also be good role models and examples for others all around us, in our faith and in how we live our lives. Let us all be true witnesses of the Lord and proclaim His truth and love, His Good News and all His grace to all the nations through our own lives and actions each day. May God bless us always and may He continue to guide us in all of our actions, in our every efforts and deeds. Amen.

Saturday, 17 September 2022 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church and St. Hildegard of Bingen, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Holy Virgins)

Luke 8 : 4-15

At that time, as a great crowd gathered, and people came to Jesus from every town, He began teaching them with a story : “The sower went out to sow the seed. And as he sowed, some of the seed fell along the way, was trodden on, and the birds of the sky ate it up.”

“Some seed fell on rocky ground; and no sooner had it come up than it withered, because it had no water. Some seed fell among thorns; the thorns grew up with the seed and choked it. But some seed fell on good soil and grew, producing fruit, a hundred times as much!” And Jesus cried out, “Listen then, if you have ears to hear!”

The disciples asked Him, “What does this story mean?” And Jesus answered, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God. But to others it is given in the form of stories, or parables, so that, seeing, they may not perceive; and hearing, they may not understand.”

“Now, this is the point of the parable : The seed is the word of God. Those along the wayside are people who hear it; but immediately, the devil comes and takes the word from their minds, for he does not want them to believe and be saved. Those on the rocky ground are people who receive the word with joy; but they have no root; they believe for a while, and give way in time of trial.”

“Among the thorns are people who hear the word, but, as they go their way, they are choked by worries, riches, and the pleasures of life; they bring no fruit to maturity. The good soil, instead, are people who receive the word, and keep it, in a gentle and generous mind, and, persevering patiently, they bear fruit.”