Monday, 3 May 2021 : Feast of St. Philip and St. James, Apostles (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we all celebrate the feast of two of the great Apostles of Our Lord, namely St. Philip as well as St. James, son of Alpheus, also known as St. James the Lesser, to distinguish him from the brother of St. John, St. James the Greater. Both Apostles laboured and worked hard to serve the Lord and brought His Good News to the far corners of the world. Today as we celebrate their memory, we remember these faithful men who had given their all and their whole lives in service to God.

St. Philip was one of the close followers of Christ, remembered for being the one who consulted with the Lord regarding the feeding of the five thousand men on how to feed all the people with just five loaves of bread and two fishes. He witnessed everything that the Lord has been doing, all the miracles and wonders He has shown before all the people, His truth and wisdom. Then, after the resurrection, St. Philip was instrumental in revealing the faith and truth to an Ethiopian official on his way back from Jerusalem to his homeland, and managed to persuade the official to ask for baptism.

Afterwards, St. Philip also ministered to the people of God in various places, and according to Apostolic tradition, he evangelised and preached about the Lord in places like Greece, Asia Minor and Syria. It was during one of those ministry, according to tradition, that he was martyred when he worked with another Apostle, St. Bartholomew, when he managed to convince the wife of the local ruler to convert to the Christian faith and the furious ruler ordered St. Philip and St. Bartholomew to be both crucified upside-down. According to the story, St. Philip asked his persecutors to release St. Bartholomew, which they did, but insisted that he himself should remain on the cross, and thus he died a martyr’s death.

Then, St. James the Lesser, known as such because he was likely younger than St. James the Greater, the brother of St. John the Apostle, was also a devoted disciple of the Lord, credited through Apostolic tradition with the evangelisation and conversion of many peoples just as St. Philip and the other Apostles had done. He was martyred in Egypt, at where he worked in spreading the Good News of the Gospel, defending the faith and remaining firmly faithful to the Lord to the very end.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through what we have heard in the story of the lives of the two Apostles, and also in our Scripture passages today, we are all reminded that we are the witnesses of the Lord’s truth, the same truth that the Apostles and the other disciples of the Lord had seen, and for which many of them, including St. Philip and St. James, were willing to suffer and even die in martyrdom defending that very truth. If they had not seen the truth or known that the Lord and the Christian faith is a lie, as what the Pharisees and the chief priests were trying to convince the people otherwise, then they would not have been willing to give themselves to suffering and die.

The Lord Himself has revealed the whole truth to His disciples, and He has also affirmed, strengthened and guided them through the Holy Spirit, Whom He sent to all the disciples that they might be strengthened in faith, gained wisdom and courage to preach the Good News and the truth to all. And the same truth and the same Holy Spirit have been passed on to us as well, brothers and sisters in Christ, through the Church that we are all member of and which we are part of as the living Body of Christ, composed of all those who believe in Him.

That is why, today as we rejoice and celebrate together the Feast of the great Apostles, St. Philip and St. James, all of us are reminded that we are all also part of the same evangelising mission that the Lord has entrusted to His Apostles and disciples, and we should be aware that we need to be part of this mission, and walk faithfully in the Lord’s path following the examples of those who have gone before us. They have seen the truth of the Lord, and they have laboured and persevered through sufferings and trials so that they might pass on the truth to others, and so that is also how we have received the same truth, through the Church.

Let us all therefore discern carefully our path in life going forward from now. Let us consider how each and every one of us can be part of this mission that the Lord has entrusted to all of us, so that we may also pass on the same truth and the same light of Christ to more and more people, to all those whom we encounter in life. And we have to be good role models and exemplary in the way of life therefore, or else, we will end up scandalising our faith and causing people to turn away from the Lord instead, and the blame will be on us for causing that to happen.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in this era and time, when the world is facing so much darkness and so many people are lost in the temptations of sin and evil, in the pressure and coercion to follow the path of selfishness, of worldly desires and of all things that are against the Lord’s truth, let us all be the beacons of light and hope, that each and every one of us, in our own little ways, may do whatever we can to lead others to the right path, inspiring more and more to seek the Lord and to find their way to the true grace and happiness found in God alone.

That is why, we are all challenged to redirect our focus in life and to reorganise our lives that if now we have been living mostly for ourselves, then we should follow the examples of St. Philip and St. James, both of whom have made themselves all things to all mankind, giving their very best to be the source of hope and inspiration to others, and to show the right path to those who are lost, not just through mere words alone, but also through genuine actions and faith. Are we willing and able to commit in this manner, brothers and sisters?

May the Lord be with us all, and may He strengthen each and every one of us with faith, and that we may draw courage and inspiration from those who went before us, that we may not easily give up in the face of trials and challenges, difficulties and persecutions. May God bless us and our every good endeavours and efforts, always. Amen.

Monday, 3 May 2021 : Feast of St. Philip and St. James, Apostles (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 14 : 6-14

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you know Me, you will know the Father also; indeed you know Him, and you have seen Him.”

Philip asked Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and that is enough.” Jesus said to him, “What! I have been with you so long and you still do not know Me, Philip? Whoever sees Me sees the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me?”

“All that I say to you, I do not say of Myself. The Father Who dwells in Me is doing His own work. Believe Me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; at least believe it on the evidence of these works that I do. Truly, I say to you, the one who believes in Me will do the same works that I do; and he will even do greater than these, for I am going to the Father.”

“Everything you ask in My Name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. Indeed, anything you ask, calling upon My Name, I will do.”

Monday, 3 May 2021 : Feast of St. Philip and St. James, Apostles (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 18 : 2-3, 4-5

The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament proclaims the work of His hands. Day talks it over with day; night hands on the knowledge to night.

No speech, no words, no voice is heard – but the call goes on throughout the universe, the message is felt to the ends of the earth.

Monday, 3 May 2021 : Feast of St. Philip and St. James, Apostles (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

1 Corinthians 15 : 1-8

Let me remind you, brothers and sisters, of the Good News that I preached to you and which you received and on which you stand firm. By that Gospel you are saved, provided that you hold to it as I preached it. Otherwise, you will have believed in vain.

In the first place, I have passed on to you what I myself received that Christ died for our sins, as Scripture says; that He was buried; that He was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures; that He appeared to Cephas and then to the Twelve. Afterwards He appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters together; most of them are still alive, although some have already gone to rest.

Then He appeared to James and after that to all the Apostles. And last of all, He appeared to the most despicable of them, this is to me.

Friday, 30 April 2021 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Pius V, Pope (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we continue to hear the testimony of faith that St. Paul spoke of before the assembled Jews in the synagogue of Antioch in Pisidia. St. Paul spoke bravely and courageously about the Lord and all that He had done throughout history for His beloved ones, and today we focused on all that He had done for the sake of all through Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, Who had been crucified and rejected, so that through His suffering and death, all may have eternal life.

St. Paul trusted in the Lord and allowed Him to lead him wherever he was to go, and he became His instrument in revealing His truth to the people, even when he might be rejected and opposed, made to suffer or endure humiliation. He spoke courageously of what his faith had led him to, the faith in the one and same Messiah, Who had willingly surrendered His life, suffered and died so that all who believed in Him may gain the assurance of life and eternal glory, life everlasting with Him in heaven.

St. Paul certainly did not have it easy, as in this case and many others, his words and truth made some among the Jewish people to be uneasy, and feared his charisma and efforts, and made trouble for him, rejecting and expelling him from their places and cities. The same also happened to him as he ventured from places to places preaching the Good News of God. He had successes in many places, and many were turned to God and followed Him, but there were even more occasions when the people, Jews and Gentiles alike, refused to listen to him and rejected him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, how about us? As Christians, have we been living our lives in the most Christian manner, so that in everything we say and do, in all of our actions, we may inspire others to do the same and to follow God wholeheartedly as well. And this is our Christian calling and mission which God has entrusted to each and every one of us from the moment that we accepted Him as Our Lord and Saviour at baptism. We must not forget that He has sent forth all of His disciples to the nations, to deliver to them the Good News and to make disciples of all the peoples of all the nations.

Hence, how can we then persuade and convince others to believe in God, Our Lord and Saviour, if we ourselves have not been sincere in our own faith and in how we ourselves lived our life? We have to show our faith by our good examples, and this does not have to be great or major, but rather, we begin from small and little things, the little things we do in life, beginning from our own lives, from our own families and within our own groups and communities, that our every words, actions and deeds are truly filled with genuine faith in God.

That is why today, we should look up to the saint whose feast we are celebrating, namely Pope St. Pius V, as the great and inspirational role model who can help us to discern our own way of living our faith, and hopefully that we will be ever more courageous and willing to embrace fully our Christian calling and vocation in life. Pope St. Pius V was the great leader of the Universal Church at a very crucial moment in the history of the Church, when both the Church and the faithful were under great threat both from the outside and from within.

At that time, the whole Christendom was greatly threatened by the might and the power of the expansionist Ottoman Empire, which subjugated many nations and peoples under their rule, and they had proven their desire and willingness to expand it even further. And at the same time, the Church and the Christian community had been bitterly divided, not only from the divisions between the Western and Eastern halves of Christendom, but also the great divisions brought by the Protestant reformation.

As such, the Church had convened the Ecumenical Council of Trent that resolved to address the many underlying issues facing the Church at the time, and resolved to purify the Church as well as to rejuvenate the Christian faith, as best as possible. The Church leaders pressed on for crucial reforms, which were eventually finalised and implemented, by none other than Pope St. Pius V, whose reign as the Vicar of Christ and successor of St. Peter came not long after the conclusion of the Council of Trent.

Pope St. Pius V was vigorous in implementing the reforms of the Council of Trent, in his efforts to purify the faith and Christendom, in trying to call more and more of those who had turned their back and lapsed from the true faith to return to the embrace of the Holy Mother Church, and he also helped to organise the great Crusade in defence of Christendom, against the expansion efforts of the Ottoman Empire. And for this he was renowned for two great contributions.

First was his promulgation of the venerable Mass of Pope St. Pius V, which is still used to this day as the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, the standardisation of the celebration of the Holy Mass that removed the excesses and aberrations found in the earlier history of the Church, while at the same time also rejuvenated the Church and the faithful. Then, he was also remembered as the chief architect in the great alliance assembled in the great victory of the forces of Christendom against the Ottoman navy in the Battle of Lepanto, marking the turning point in the fate of Christendom.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, Pope St. Pius V dedicated his life and effort to serve the Church and all the faithful people of God, and therefore, we should be inspired to follow in his footsteps, in loving God and in dedicating ourselves to serve Him and to glorify Him through our lives. Are we willing and able to commit ourselves to the Lord in a renewed conviction and desire to serve Him ever more faithfully with each and every passing moments?

Let us all discern carefully our actions and path in life, so that moving forward, we may be ever inspired by the examples of the faithful servants of God, St. Paul the Apostle and Pope St. Pius V. Let us all give ourselves to the Lord and let us devote our time, effort and attention to Him from now on, that we may be His faithful witnesses through which more and more may come to know and believe in the Lord just like us, and therefore be assured of eternal life as well. May God be our guide and may He strengthen us all with the resolve to love and serve Him well. Amen.

Friday, 30 April 2021 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Pius V, Pope (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 14 : 1-6

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Do not be troubled! Trust in God and trust in Me! In My Father’s house there are many rooms; otherwise, I would not have told you that I go to prepare a place for you. After I have gone and prepared a place for you, I shall come again and take you to Me, so that where I am, you also may be. Yet you know the way where I am going.”

Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

Friday, 30 April 2021 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Pius V, Pope (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 2 : 6-7, 8-9, 10-11

“Behold the King I have installed, in Zion, upon My holy hill!” I will proclaim the decree of the Lord. He said to Me : “You are My Son. This day I have begotten You.”

“Ask of Me and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall rule them with iron sceptre and shatter them as a potter’s vase.”

Now therefore, learn wisdom, o kings; be warned, o rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and fall at His feet; lest He be angry and you perish when His anger suddenly flares. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him!

Friday, 30 April 2021 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Pius V, Pope (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 13 : 26-33

Paul said to the Jews in the synagogue of Antioch in Pisidia, “Brothers, children and descendants of Abraham, and you also who fear God, it is to you that this message of salvation has been sent. It is a fact that the inhabitants of Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognise Jesus.”

“Yet in condemning Him, they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath but not understood. Even though they found no charge against Him that deserved death, they asked Pilate to have Him executed. And after they have carried out all that had been written concerning Him, they took Him down from the cross and laid Him in a tomb.”

But God raised Him from the dead, and for many days thereafter He showed Himself to those who had come up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They have now become His witnesses before the people. We ourselves announce to you this Good News : All that God promised our ancestors, He has fulfilled for us, their descendants, by raising Jesus, according to what is written in the second psalm : You are My Son, this day I have begotten You.”

Friday, 23 April 2021 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. George, Martyr and St. Adalbert, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we all listen to the words of the Lord speaking to us about the conversion of St. Paul the Apostle, as he was called by God on the way to Damascus, when as Saul he wanted to bring destruction and death to all the Christians living there with the express permission and authority from the High Priests and the Sanhedrin. Saul was struck by a great light and saw the Lord in a vision, and it was there that he received the truth from God, of the mistakes he had done in pursuing his path.

Saul was touched by God and through His disciple, Ananias, Saul received baptism, the wisdom and truth of God through the Holy Spirit, by which his eyes were opened to the truth and he received the courage to preach the truth, the truth that he had been denying and tried to snuff out by striking against the followers of the Lord. And he spoke therefore of the Lord, the same Crucified Messiah rejected by many among the Jews and by most of the Jewish authorities. He preached the Lord Jesus Christ, Risen from the dead, Who has given His own Body and Blood for us, for our salvation.

The Jewish people refused to accept that the Lord could have given them His own Body and Blood for them to eat and share among them, and many of them left after this occasion, unable to accept the hard truth from the Lord. They all refused to believe in the reality of the Body and Blood of Christ being shed and given to all. Even the disciples were shaken by what they heard at that time, and found it hard to believe too. But after the Lord had indeed shed His Blood and broken His Body on the Cross, for the salvation of all, the disciples finally understood what the Lord meant.

Thus, as they had witnessed all the important events surrounding the moments of the Lord’s Passion, suffering and death, and His glorious Resurrection, the disciples of the Lord went forth strengthened and encouraged by the Holy Spirit to speak about the truth and the salvation of God, through Whom all has received the assurance of new life by partaking in the same Precious Body and Blood, given through the Church in the Holy Eucharist.

It is this same mission then that St. Paul was also called into, as he shed his old life and existence as an ardent enemy of the faithful, leaving behind his old name of Saul and taking up the new name of Paul to indicate his conversion and change. While once he had enjoyed the favour of the Jewish population and the authorities, he willingly left all that behind for the Lord and His truth, labouring hard for many years in various places, having to encounter many challenges and persecutions, almost being killed in some of those occasions.

Yet, it was due to their great courage and dedication that the Church grew and flourished even under the most difficult of circumstances. These disciples of the Lord and their successors and all those whom had been called to be His servants are inspirations to us. And we remember in particular two of them, whose feasts we are celebrating today. St. George, who was a soldier and a renowned martyr remembered all around the world for his exploits and dedication, as well as St. Adalbert, a courageous bishop and missionary who also suffered martyrdom for his actions.

St. George was a member of the Roman military, and a high ranking one at that, as he was a member of the Praetorian Guards, the personal protectors of the Roman Emperors. At that time, the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who was infamous for his harsh and particularly brutal oppression of Christians, was the ruling Emperor, and he decreed that all the Christians throughout the Empire has to abandon their God and offer obedience and worship to the pagan gods and to the Roman Emperor, or else suffer terrible consequences.

And in particular, Emperor Diocletian enforced this on the members of the military and also his Praetorian Guards, of which St. George belonged to. The faithful follower of God refused to do as commanded by the Emperor, and when confronted over his Christian faith and dedication, he chose to suffer and die rather than to abandon his Christian faith or to apostasise and scandalise the faith by offering sacrifices to the Roman gods and to the Emperor. As such, he was executed by decapitation, died a martyr, and yet, his courage in faith inspired countless others throughout time.

Meanwhile, St. Adalbert, also known as St. Adalbert of Prague was the Bishop of Prague and was remembered for his ministry and evangelisation to the pagans, particularly to the Hungarians and to the Prussians, both of whom were still mostly pagan back then. He was also an ardent missionary and dedicated bishop to the Bohemians in Prague and the rest of his diocese that back then was only partly Christianised. St. Adalbert had to face difficulties and challenges from the secular rulers and once had to endure exile as he opposed the actions of the nobles and lords, standing up for the Christian faith in doing so.

Later on, he would go on to more missionary works in Hungary and in the lands of Prussia, in present day northern parts of Poland, where he managed to gain quite a bit of success in converting many to the true faith. Yet, he also encountered challenges from the pagans who refused to believe in him, and with the plotting of some of the pagan priests, St. Adalbert was murdered and died a martyr in the midst of his works of evangelisation. To the very end, he remained firm in his commitment and dedication to the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore follow in the examples of these faithful servants of God, all those who have responded to the Lord’s call and embraced Him wholeheartedly as their Lord and Saviour. Let us all ourselves also be inspired to follow in their footsteps and dedicate ourselves from now on to be faithful disciples of the Lord. Let us all do our best in our respective fields and capacity, to be true disciples of the Lord in all of our daily actions throughout life. May God be with us and may He strengthen us all that we may always serve Him, each day, with dedication and faith. Amen.

Friday, 23 April 2021 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. George, Martyr and St. Adalbert, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

John 6 : 52-59

At that time, the Jews were arguing among themselves, “How can this Man give us flesh to eat?” So Jesus replied, “Truly, I say to you, if you do not eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, you have no life in you. The one who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood lives eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

“My Flesh is really food, and My Blood is truly drink. Those who eat My Flesh and drink My Blood, lives in Me, and I in them. Just as the Father, Who is life, sent Me, and I have life from the Father, so whoever eats Me will have life from Me. This is the Bread which came from heaven; not like that of your ancestors, who ate and later died. Those who eat this Bread will live forever.”

Jesus spoke in this way in Capernaum when He taught them in the synagogue.