Wednesday, 10 August 2022 : Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we gather together as the Church of God, we celebrate together the glorious memory of St. Lawrence, also known as St. Lawrence of Rome, one of the great saints of the Church. St. Lawrence was one of the seven deacons appointed for the Diocese of Rome in assisting the Pope in the governance and management of the Church. He was a truly courageous and faithful servant of God, and he dedicated himself to God even amidst the hardships and persecutions that he and the Church had to face back then.

St. Lawrence was born in Valencia, the province of Hispania in the Roman Empire, in what is the present day Spain. He encountered another saint of the Church, Pope St. Sixtus II, who happened to be in Hispania, and developed a good relationship that eventually went on to Rome, where Pope St. Sixtus II was eventually elected as Pope and successor of St. Peter, while the trusted St. Lawrence was appointed by the new Pope as the first of the seven deacons of the Diocese of Rome, that made him well known as the Archdeacon of Rome as one of his titles. He was entrusted with the treasuries of the Church and the care of the poor and the needy in Rome.

At that time, the Church especially in Rome was under great persecution and threat from the Roman government and state apparatus, as the Emperor Valerian declared the immediate persecution and execution of all Christian bishops, priests and deacons, who were arrested in great numbers, persecuted and martyred. Pope St. Sixtus II was among those who had been put to arrest and was eventually martyred, and soon enough, the state began to seek the riches and treasures of the Church, which was under the management of St. Lawrence as the Archdeacon of Rome.

Knowing that the authorities would soon look for him, arrest him and gain the treasury of the Church which had been meant for the poor and the needy, St. Lawrence quickly distributed the wealth and property of the Church to the poor and the needy in Rome to prevent the authorities from seizing those for their own selfish use. Hence, when the authorities came to force St. Lawrence to show them the treasures of the Church, he brought forth all the poor and the needy under the care of the Church, presenting them to the Roman prefect that those were the true treasures of the Church.

St. Lawrence was arrested and because the Roman prefect was also greatly angered by the snub which St. Lawrence delivered with the trick that he used to save the treasures of the Church from appropriation, the saint was made to suffer greatly from torture and was put on a hot gridiron, heated with a blazing furnace, on which he was martyred, defending his faith in the Lord with dedication right to the very end, showing us all what it truly means to be faithful to God and to love Him with all our heart and strength. The examples showed by St. Lawrence should serve to strengthen us in our own faith so that we may strive to live our lives ever more in tune with God and His will.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the examples shown and set by St. Lawrence should inspire us all to do more for the sake of our fellow brothers and sisters, as how the saint and martyr chose to suffer and to endure trials rather than to betray the works and responsibilities entrusted to him. St. Lawrence showed us that as Christians, each and every one of us have the calling and the mission to reach out to our brethren and to the world, to stand up for our faith and to be courageous in living our faith through our lives. Unless we do so, we cannot be truly considered as Christians.

Today, as we listened to these words from the Scriptures telling us to be generous in giving and committing our lives to God’s will, and reminded by the examples shown by St. Lawrence, holy martyr and deacon, let us all therefore discern how we can be better disciples of the Lord, in being more proactive in living our faith and in being more committed to the works of charity and the many other efforts and outreach of the Church to our community and to all around us who are in need and in which we are in the perfect position to help them. Let us all not ignore their plight and need, and let us be moved to action, and be committed to walk in the same path that the saints, particularly that of St. Lawrence, has shown us.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He continue to guide us on our journey of life. May God bless our every good works and endeavours so that we may always glorify Him by our every actions and that we may be inspiration for one another just as the saints like St. Lawrence had done for us. St. Lawrence, holy servant of God and courageous martyr of the Faith, pray for us all! Amen.

Wednesday, 10 August 2022 : Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 12 : 24-26

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Those who love their life destroy it, and those who despise their life in this world save it even to everlasting life.”

“Whoever wants to serve Me, let him follow Me; and wherever I am, there shall My servant be also. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honour him.”

Wednesday, 10 August 2022 : Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 111 : 1-2, 5-6, 7-8, 9

Alleluia! Blessed is the one who fears YHVH, who greatly delights in His commands. His children will be powerful on earth; the upright’s offspring will be blessed.

It will be well with him who lends freely, who leads a life of justice and honesty. For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered and loved forever.

He has no fear of evil news, for his heart is firm, trusting in YHVH. His heart is confident; he need not fear; he shall prevail over his foes at the end.

He gives generously to the poor; his merits will last forever; and his head will be raised in honour.

Wednesday, 10 August 2022 : Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

2 Corinthians 9 : 6-10

Remember : the one who sows meagerly will reap meagerly, and there shall be generous harvests for the one who sows generously. Each of you should give as you decided personally, and not reluctantly, as if obliged. God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to fill you with every good thing, so that you have enough of everything, at all times, and may give abundantly for any good work.

Scripture says : He distributed, He gave to the poor, His good works last forever. God, Who provides the sower with seed, will also provide him with the bread he eats. He will multiply the seed for you and also increase the interest on your good works.

Thursday, 9 June 2022 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ephrem, Deacon and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Deacons)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are reminded that as Christians we have to be genuine in faith and we have to be righteous in all things, and God will provide for us in our time of need. We have to follow Him wholeheartedly and commit ourselves to His cause, that we have to live in accordance to the path that He has shown us, the path of Christian virtues, righteousness and obedience to God in all the things that we say, act and do. We have to do our best to be good inspirations to one another in faith, from now on.

In our first reading today, we heard from the First Book of Kings the conversation and encounter between Elijah and king Ahab of Israel after Elijah had triumphed against all the priests of Baal and proven that the Lord, the God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was truly the one and only true God at Mount Carmel. At that time, the whole land had suffered from three years without rain that led to great drought and famine, all because of their refusal to believe in God and their king’s efforts to promote the worship of the pagan idols and gods like Baal and Asherah, persecuting the faithful and the prophets sent by God to remind the people.

Elijah told Ahab that God would show His power before the people, and how while He has withheld the rain for a whole period of three years, then He also has the power to bring the rain back to the land. Thus, the Lord showed His people and called on them to repent from their sinful ways because even though He despised their sins and wickedness, He still loved them very much and wanted them to be reconciled with Him, not to be lost from Him forever. As if they continued on with their rebelliousness and sins, they would fall into damnation and eternity of sufferings in hell, and that is not what God intended to happen to any one of us.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord speaking to His disciples telling them all to be righteous and good, to follow the way of the Lord wholeheartedly more than what the Pharisees and the teachers of the Lord had done. For those people imposed very harsh and strict interpretation of the Law of God, of customs, rules and regulations on the people and yet, they themselves were hypocrites who often did not do what they had said, and many of them did not truly have faith and love for God as they should have. Hence, the Lord told His disciples to be truly faithful to God and not to follow the faith of those hypocrites.

That is why, today each and every one of us are reminded and challenged as Christians to be the beacons of God’s light and truth in our communities today. We have to be genuine witnesses and followers of God in all the things we say and do, or else, we will end up being no better than hypocrites and worse still, we may even discourage and turn people away from the Lord because of our actions and all that we do which kept us away from the truth of God and His love. And the temptation for us to do this is truly great, brothers and sisters in Christ, just as the people of Israel in the past had constantly fallen again and again into sin.

In our world today, there are plenty of temptations, false idols and other things that can easily mislead us in our journey of faith through life. There are plenty of distractions like the pursuit of worldly pleasures, wealth and other things that we are very often accustomed with, the desire for power and glory, for fame and human praise among other things. All these are the new idols and false gods that can keep us away from doing what we should have done as Christians, and in making us to continue to sin because of our desires, greed and ambitions that made us to bring suffering and unhappiness to others around us, just because we selfishly seek our own pleasures and happiness.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord reminded His disciples and therefore all of us as well, what Christians are called to be, that is to be filled with love both for God and for one another, for their fellow brothers and sisters. Christians are challenged to be forgiving to one another, to be peacemakers and to show love, care and concern for their fellow brethren, and to be ever mindful of the needs and sufferings of others, so that we may reach out and help one another whenever we can. It is by this love and genuine care and concern that others will come to know that we are Christians, because through our love, others will also come to experience the ever generous love of God.

Remember how I said earlier today that God still loved His people despite their sins and transgressions? It is that same attitude which each and every one of us must have as well. We have to learn to love one another more, to be more patient, understanding and forgiving, instead of fomenting hatred and vengeance, or instead of being solely focused and emphasising on our own selfish desires and needs. As Christians, we are all called and challenged to be better and to follow the Lord in all the things we do in our lives, so that our lives will shine with His light and be the beacons of His truth to all.

May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us in our resolve and conviction to live in accordance with His ways and to devote ourselves in obeying Him and doing His will, for His greater glory and for the salvation of more souls. May God bless us always, in our every good endeavours. Amen.

Thursday, 9 June 2022 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ephrem, Deacon and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Deacons)

Matthew 5 : 20-26

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “I tell you then, if you are not righteous in a much broader way than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to our people in the past : Do not commit murder; anyone who does kill will have to face trial. But now I tell you : whoever gets angry with a brother or sister will have to face trial.”

“Whoever insults a brother or sister deserves to be brought before the council. Whoever calls a brother or a sister, ‘Fool!’ deserves to be thrown into the fire of hell. So, if you are about to offer your gift at the altar, and you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, go at once and make peace with him, and then come back and offer your gift to God.”

“Do not forget this : be reconciled with your opponent quickly when you are together on the way to court. Otherwise he will turn you over to the judge, who will hand you over to the police, who will put you in jail. There you will stay, until you have paid the last penny.”

Thursday, 9 June 2022 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ephrem, Deacon and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Deacons)

Psalm 64 : 10abcd, 10e-11, 12-13

You water the land and care for it, enriching it with natural resources. God’s stream is filled with water.

So You prepare the earth to give us its fruits. You drench the furrows in the land and level the ridges; You soften the soil with showers and bless its crops.

You crown the year with Your goodness; abundance flows everywhere. The deserts have become pasture land, the hills are clothed with gladness.

Thursday, 9 June 2022 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ephrem, Deacon and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Deacons)

1 Kings 18 : 41-46

Elijah then said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink, for the sound of rain is rushing in.” So Ahab went up to eat and drink. Elijah, in the meantime, went to the top of Carmel, bowed to the ground and put his face between his knees.

Then he said to his servant, “Go up and look in the direction of the sea.” The man went up, looked, and said, “There is nothing.” Then Elijah said, “Go again;” and seven times he went. At the seventh time, he perceived a little cloud, the size of a man’s hand, rising out of the sea. Elijah told him, “Go, tell Ahab : Prepare your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.”

A little later the sky grew dark with clouds and wind, and a strong rain fell. Ahab was riding on his way to Jezreel. As for Elijah, the hand of YHVH was on him, and tucking his cloak in his belt, he ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.

Tuesday, 10 August 2021 : Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the great feast of one of the Church’s most renowned saints, namely St. Lawrence the Deacon, also known as St. Lawrence of Rome. He was a most courageous servant of God and His Church, as he dedicated his life and efforts to serve the Lord in everything, even to the very end. He died a martyr in defending his faith and his Church, in showing the world and even those who oppressed the Church, what being Christians is all about.

St. Lawrence was one of the seven deacons of the Diocese of Rome, which means that he served directly under the Pope, the Vicar of Christ and the Bishop of Rome, the leader of the Universal Church. And as a deacon, he assisted in the important matters of the Church, which is made even more important due to the position of Rome as the Apostolic See and the Heart of the entire Christendom. St. Lawrence was in charge of works and efforts that are done by the Cardinals and the heads of the Roman Curia today, in managing the affairs of the Church, both in Rome and in relations to the wider, Universal Church.

St. Lawrence was the assistant of Pope St. Sixtus II, another great saint of the Church whose feast day we have celebrated just a few days ago, as their martyrdom happened just within moments of each other, with both persecuted and martyred under the rule of the Roman Emperor Valerian. St. Lawrence was the first among the seven deacons of the Church of Rome, and therefore sometimes is known as the Archdeacon of Rome. He was in charge of the Church treasury and the distribution of those goods to the Christian communities, especially to the poor.

At that time, persecution against the Church, Christians and their leaders were being ramped up and intensified, as the Emperor ordered the Church leaders and members of the faithful to be arrested and their properties and wealth seized for the state. And the Emperor also then released an order stating that all the leaders of the Church, the bishops, priests and deacons to be killed immediately even without trial. Pope St. Sixtus II was one of those who fell victim to this intensified persecution, as he was seized during the liturgical celebrations and then immediately executed.

The Roman prefect of the city demanded St. Lawrence, who was in charge of the Church treasury to surrender all the properties and wealth of the Church to the Roman state as per the law decreed by the Emperor. In order to avoid this, St. Lawrence quickly arranged to distribute all the wealth and properties of the Church under his care to the poor and destitute in particular while requesting for three days time so that he would be able to complete the distribution of all the goods and the properties.

When the prefect demanded to get the Church properties, St. Lawrence famously brought the poor and the destitute, the least and last among the society and showed them before the prefect, and said that those were the treasures of the Church. This angered the prefect so much that he ordered the execution of St. Lawrence, who was martyred by burning with gridirons. He defended his faith to the very end, and showed Christian charity and love to those who need them the most, even in the midst of bitter sufferings and persecutions.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is in essence what we have also heard in our first reading today from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Corinth, as the Apostle reminded them that all those who have done good deeds and obeyed the Lord’s Law and commandments will be blessed by the Lord and will be righteous and worthy, of the Lord’s grace and blessings. We are all called to do our best, in giving ourselves for the cause of the Lord, and to give ourselves to care for our fellow brethren, to show love, empathy and compassion for each other.

Today we are all also called to remember the Lord’s words in our Gospel passage today, as we heard Him speaking to His disciples reminding them that those who follow Him, they ought to serve Him and commit themselves to Him, and dedicate their hearts and minds wholly to Him. They should also die to themselves, which means that they ought to let go of their pride and ego, their desires and wishes, and their attachments to worldly pleasures and corruptions. And they should be selfless rather than selfish, to empty themselves from the excesses of the world.

That was exactly what St. Lawrence had done in his life and ministry, brothers and sisters in Christ, as he gave himself totally and completely to the Lord and to His people, finding joy and comfort in the true treasures of the Church, that is the people of God, of every races and nations, even the poor, the destitute, the last and the least in the community, all have a place in God’s kingdom. And all of us should indeed aspire to follow in the footsteps of this great servant of God, our holy predecessor, by emulating his life and examples in our own lives.

May the Lord continue to guide us through life and give us the strength and courage to live our lives with faith, with each and every moments, so that we may draw ever closer to Him, and that we may be ever more faithful and committed to Him. May God bless us all in our every good endeavours and efforts, and may St. Lawrence intercede for us all, sinners in need of God’s mercy and forgiveness. Amen.

Tuesday, 10 August 2021 : Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 12 : 24-26

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Those who love their life destroy it, and those who despise their life in this world save it even to everlasting life.”

“Whoever wants to serve Me, let him follow Me; and wherever I am, there shall My servant be also. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honour him.”