Monday, 19 October 2020 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Martyrs, and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are all reminded of the Lord’s generous love and providence, all that He had done for our sake, in caring for us and giving us our freedom and for bringing us out from our fated destruction. The Lord has called on all of us to have faith in Him, to put our trust and also be humble, as much as we can.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Ephesus on the Lord and how His love for us has rescued us from the depth of darkness and destruction, liberating us from the fate that we ought to have suffered because of our sins and disobedience against Him. God has given us this wonderful gift thanks to His enduring love for each and every one of us.

And therefore, we are reminded that we have been saved by God’s grace and love, and not by our own might and achievements. But for those who argue then that we are saved by faith alone then they must realise also that faith without any actions and deeds done in accordance to that faith is truly an empty, meaningless and dead faith.

And we shall also then be judged by our inaction, which is tantamount to committing sins of omission. Whatever it is, we have to follow the path that the Lord has set before us and have genuine faith in Him, living our lives virtuously and being centred on God. This is not something that can be easily done as there would definitely be plenty of temptations and challenges in our path and journey.

One of the most common temptations is that of pride and desire, as we heard the warning from St. Paul in our first reading today and also in our Gospel passage today through the parable the Lord used to teach His disciples and the people on the futility of worldly desires and pursuits, and the foolishness of human desires and greed, as well as pride and ego. In that reading, we heard about a rich and powerful man who owned a vast holding and earned plenty of harvests from his vast farmlands.

We heard how the man worried and wondered how he were to store all the things he had gained, and planned to build even larger barns and storehouses to gather more worldly wealth and possessions, thinking that he had secured his future completely and that he had nothing to fear from. This was the fault of his pride and ego, as well as his greed that he was oblivious and unable to recognise his own limitations and mortality.

And the Lord through that parable showed clearly all these, by showing how the life and death of man are completely in the hands of God. And no one could ever know the exact time and moment of the ending of one’s earthly life and existence. For all the wealth, glory and power that man had gathered as according to the parable, all of those would have amounted to nothing and are meaningless, as none of them would end up following the man to the afterlife.

This is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all reminded this day that as Christians we must lead a life that is filled with faith and devotion to God, free from the corruption of ego, pride, greed and earthly desires in our hearts and minds. And we can look upon the good examples set by our saints whose feast day we celebrate today, the Holy Canadian Martyrs or the North American Martyrs, the martyrs St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, holy Jesuit missionaries of North America, as well as their companions in martyrdom.

St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues were the members of the Jesuits or the Society of Jesus that had been instrumental in Counter-Reformation and were also involved in missionary works. In that particular area, St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues ministered among the native populations and tribes of North America, spending much time and a lot of effort in reaching out to the pagan tribes and preaching the Good News of Christ to them.

As those tribes lived in some of the least hospitable and difficult conditions known to men, St. John de Brebeuf, St. Isaac Jogues and other missionaries had difficult time trying to adjust and to minister to the people, which was further compounded and made difficult by the reluctance and opposition by some of the native tribes against the efforts to evangelise among them by the Christian missionaries. There were misunderstandings and even conflicts, and also disagreements between the tribes that converted to the Christian faith with the other tribes.

Yet, despite all of these, the missionaries dedicated themselves wholeheartedly, and devoted their time and effort to minister to the people, both caring for them and providing for them, especially spiritually. In the end, amidst all the hardships they encountered, they were attacked by those who misunderstood the intentions of the missionaries, and they were tortured, made to suffer and eventually killed. Nonetheless, the seeds of faith they had spread and nurtured by their efforts remained strong and became the source of the Christian faith among many of the people for generations onwards.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, those missionaries laboured in terrible conditions, had nothing on themselves, and had nothing else but God’s providence and guidance. They entrusted themselves completely to the Lord and allowed Him to lead them through the path that He has led them through. Are we as Christians, able to follow in their footsteps, and be inspired by their faith and courage to live their lives with genuine faith?

Let us all carefully discern this, and see in which way each and every one of us are able to commit ourselves to the Lord, in our every moments and actions. Let us all dedicate ourselves anew to the Lord, strengthen ourselves with faith, and walk faithfully and virtuously in the Lord’s presence, that our every efforts and works will be for the greater glory of God. St. John de Brebeuf, St. Isaac Jogues and all the martyrs of North America, holy servants of God and courageous defenders of the Faith, pray for us all. Amen.

Monday, 19 October 2020 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Martyrs, and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)

Luke 12 : 13-21

At that time, someone in the crowd spoke to Jesus, “Master, tell my brother to share with me the family inheritance.” He replied, “My friend, who has appointed Me as your Judge or your Attorney?” Then Jesus said to the people, “Be on your guard and avoid every kind of greed, for even though you have many possessions, it is not that which gives you life.”

And Jesus continued, “There was a rich man, and his land had produced a good harvest. He thought, ‘What shall I do, for I am short of room to store my harvest? Alright, I know what I shall do : I will pull down my barns and I will build bigger ones, to store all this grain, which is my wealth. Then I will say to myself : My friend, you have a lot of good things put by for many years. Rest, eat, drink and enjoy yourself.'”

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be taken from you. Tell Me, who shall get all you have put aside?’ This is the lot of the one who stores up riches for himself and is not wealthy in the eyes of God.”

Monday, 19 October 2020 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Martyrs, and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)

Psalm 99 : 2, 3, 4, 5

Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.

Know that the Lord is God; He created us and we are His people, the sheep of His fold.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving, His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and bless His Name.

For the Lord is good; His love lasts forever and His faithfulness through all generations.

Monday, 19 October 2020 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Martyrs, and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)

Ephesians 2 : 1-10

You were dead, through the faults and sins. Once, you lived through them, according to this world, and followed the Sovereign Ruler Who reigns between heaven and earth, and Who goes on working, in those who resist the faith.

All of us belonged to them, at one time, and we followed human greed; we obeyed the urges of our human nature and consented to its desires. By ourselves, we went straight to the judgment, like the rest of humankind.

But God, Who is rich in mercy, revealed His immense love. As we were dead through our sins, He gave us life, with Christ. By grace, you have been saved! And He raised us to life, with Christ, giving us a place with Him in heaven.

In showing us such kindness, in Christ Jesus, God willed to reveal, and unfold in the coming ages, the extraordinary riches of His grace. By the grace of God, you have been saved, through faith.

This has not come from you : it is God’s gift. This was not the result of your works, so you are not to feel proud. What we are, is God’s work. He has created us, in Christ Jesus, for the good works He has prepared, that we should devote ourselves to them.

Thursday, 1 October 2020 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Therese of Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of all Missionaries and the Missions (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the promises of God’s salvation which He made to His servant Isaiah, in our first reading passage today, with the comforting words that God will once again cherish and bless His people, which by the time of Isaiah had faced much difficulty and many trials, and how God will bless them all and make them whole again.

And the fulfilment of these prophecies had been made through Christ, the Saviour of the world, of whom Isaiah spoke extensively about. And God has called on all of us to come to Him and to gather in His presence and receive from Him grace and peace forever. But unfortunately, many of us rejected Him, ignored His call and turned a deaf ear to His pleas to seek our reconciliation with Him.

That is why, in our Gospel today, we heard the Lord gathering little children to Himself and told all of His disciples that unless they were to be like those little children in their faith and in their lives, they would have no place in the kingdom of Heaven. And this came right after the disciples were arguing and debating among themselves on who was the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven and amongst Christ’s disciples and followers.

The Lord therefore reminds them all that to be His followers we must be humble, make ourselves small and insignificant, for it was our hubris and ego that had led us to our downfall. It was our desire for power, influence, worldly glory, fame, wealth that led us to a path of disobedience and wickedness, and thus these made us to commit sin against God.

And it is not easy for us to be faithful as the Lord had called us to be, to be like little children in our faith, whose faith are pure and without strings attached to worldly desires and temptations. Often, we have too much in mind to be able to focus our attention on God, unlike those little children, whose attention can be wholly centred on Him, as they have not yet been affected by all sorts of worldly matters and concerns.

This is where perhaps we should look upon the examples set by our famous saint of the day, whose life and philosophy embody exactly this call for us to be ‘childlike’ in our faith. St. Therese of Lisieux, also known as St. Therese of Child Jesus and as the ‘Little Flower of Carmel’, was a Discalced Carmelite nun who has been very popular during her life and especially more so after her passing. She inspired many people by her virtuous life and was renowned for her ‘Little Way’.

St. Therese certainly did not have an easy life or vocation as a religious, as she was often sickly in her youth, although she was indeed brought up in a loving and devout family. Family tragedy struck early as her mother passed away when she was still a very young child. And St. Therese was also bullied and often suffered in school. She endured all these patiently and with faith.

When one of her elder sister joined the Carmelite nuns, St. Therese was devastated but this in itself led her to desire to join the Carmelites as well. She was often told that she was still too young and her poor health also made it difficult. St. Therese also began to experience spiritual visions which would be more frequent later in her life. It was then on the Christmas Eve of the Year of Our Lord 1886 that she experienced a complete conversion of her soul.

From that point onwards, St. Therese began a new journey of faith, overcoming her sensitivities and self desires, a victory over the desires of the flesh and body, and dedicating herself ever more to God. As she eventually entered the Carmelite monastery after several more years of trials and struggles, and throughout her later time as a postulant and novice religious sister, being devoted and dedicated to the Lord.

And the hallmark of her faith and idea is known as the ‘Little Way’ in which St. Therese put forward the view that in order for us to follow God, what we really ought to do is to be faithful to Him in all things, even in the simplest and smallest of actions. We are called to be faithful through simple and little actions in life. This is what we all need to do, in order to be faithful as Christians.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, from what we have just heard about St. Therese of Lisieux today, and from the reflections of the Scriptures, all of us are reminded to be faithful to God at all times, and to do this through our lives, each and every day of them. Often we have ignored these as we are too busy pursuing worldly ambitions and desires, and by temptations we faced, we have been lured away by desire to walk down the wrong path in life.

This is why we are called to be like little children in our faith, to be genuine in our faith and dedication in God, be more humble and reject all the temptations of ego, pride, ambition, greed and desire among others. This is not something easily done as we are often surrounded by all these every moment of our lives, and unless we make a concerted effort to resist those temptations we will falter and fall into sin.

And in addition to that, we often remain passive and inactive in our Christian life because we thought that we cannot do anything significant in the matter of our faith. And this is where we are wrong, as even little actions and commitments are part of that journey of faith, and all of our little actions and contributions combined together, will become a great effort indeed. That is why we really have to embrace God’s call to be witnesses of our faith and as missionaries to spread the Good News of God by our dedication and actions in life.

Let us all therefore strive to be faithful to God at all times, in every little actions we do in our lives, that by following the examples of St. Therese of Child Jesus, the Little Flower of Carmel, we may indeed become truly committed to God and no longer ensnared by the temptations in life. May God help and guide us in this journey, and bless us in our every good endeavours for His greater glory, now and always. St. Therese of Lisieux, pray for us all! Amen.

Thursday, 1 October 2020 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Therese of Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of all Missionaries and the Missions (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 18 : 1-5

At that time, the disciples came to Jesus and asked Him, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Then Jesus called a little child, set the child in the midst of the disciples, and said, “I assure you, that, unless you change, and become like little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble, like this child, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and whoever receives such a child, in My Name, receives Me.”

Thursday, 1 October 2020 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Therese of Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of all Missionaries and the Missions (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 131 : 1-3

O YHVH, my heart is not proud nor do I have arrogant eyes. I am not engrossed in ambitious matters, nor in things too great for me.

I have quieted and stilled my soul, like a weaned child, on its mother’s lap; like a contented child is my soul.

Hope in YHVH, o Israel, now and forever.

Thursday, 1 October 2020 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Therese of Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of all Missionaries and the Missions (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 66 : 10-14

Rejoice for Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her. Be glad with her, rejoice with her, all you who were in grief over her, that you may suck of the milk from her comforting breasts, that you may drink deeply from the abundance of her glory.

For this is what YHVH says : I will send her peace, overflowing like a river; and the nations’ wealth, rushing like a torrent towards her. And you will be nursed and carried in her arms and fondled upon her lap. As a son comforted by his mother, so will I comfort you. At the sight of this, your heart will rejoice; like grass, your bones will flourish.

For it shall be known that YHVH’s hand is with His servant, but His fury is upon His enemy.

Monday, 3 December 2018 : Feast of St. Francis Xavier, Priest and Patron of Missions (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast of St. Francis Xavier, Patron saint of missions, as he was remembered by his extensive and tireless labours in evangelisation and missionary activities in Asia and the Far East for many years. St. Francis Xavier was remembered for his important role in establishing and consolidating the scattered Christian communities in places ranging from India, to Southeast Asia, and to China and Japan.

St. Francis Xavier was one of the founding members of the Jesuit religious order, also known as the Society of Jesus. At that time, during the tumultuous and difficult years of the internal and external threats to the Church and Christendom, St. Ignatius of Loyola gathered like-minded men and the faithful who wanted to serve God and advance His cause, and therefore, the foundation of the Society of Jesus was made. St. Francis Xavier was one of those whom St. Ignatius of Loyola called.

St. Francis Xavier met St. Ignatius of Loyola and the other founding members of the Jesuits as he was pursuing his studies, and initially, St. Francis Xavier resisted the call to be a priest and to serve the Lord, as St. Ignatius suggested. But through the patience and hard work of St. Ignatius, eventually St. Francis Xavier was convinced to accept God’s call and he eventually founded the Jesuits with St. Ignatius of Loyola and became a priest.

And when the Jesuits were busy dealing with the troubles of the period of the ‘Reformation’ in Europe, there was also a great need for missionaries to go to the many areas which Christian explorers and traders had gone to, in India, in Southeast Asia, China, Japan and many other parts of the world, where the Lord was still unknown, the Gospels unproclaimed and the prospects for the salvation of souls were great.

And thus, by chance, St. Francis Xavier was tasked with some of his fellow Jesuits, to be the missionaries in charge of those regions, and this task was carried out with great obedience and humility by St. Francis Xavier, who dedicated the rest of his life to great missionary works in various places across Asia. He visited India a few times, and went to various parts of Southeast Asia including Malacca and the Moluccas islands, to Macau and also to Japan.

Through all of his hard work, there were indeed many challenges, as sea travel at that time was hazardous, and took many months to reach a particular destination. There were also oppositions to the works of the missionaries, and the lives of the missionaries, including that of St. Francis Xavier, were always in constant danger and uncertainty. But regardless, St. Francis Xavier continued to push on with his mission.

Through his effort and hard work, many Christian communities across Asia today can be traced to the foundational works that he and his fellow missionaries had done. They all persevered through years of hardships and troubles, enduring harsh livelihood and oppositions, for the sake of the people of God and for the salvation of souls. Not few of them were martyred for their faith. St. Francis Xavier himself died on an island while waiting for the opportunity to enter China and evangelise there.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us are called to reflect on the lives and the courage with the missionaries of the Lord, particularly that of St. Francis Xavier, in how they have modelled for us the way for us to live as a Christian, to be true and devout witnesses of our faith by our constant living of a Christian way of life, that in our every words, actions and deeds, we always proclaim the greater glory of God, and others who see us, may come to believe in God as well.

Let us all today be inspired by the efforts shown by those missionaries who have given their all in serving the Lord, and also ask ourselves, what each and every one of us can also do in our own lives in order to serve the Lord to the best of our abilities. May we find in us the strength and the courage to live ever more faithfully and ever more committed to God, each and every days of our life. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 3 December 2018 : Feast of St. Francis Xavier, Priest and Patron of Missions (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 16 : 15-20

At that time, Jesus told His disciples, “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all creation. The one who believes and is baptised will be saved; the one who refuses to believe will be condemned.”

“Signs like these will accompany those who have believed : in My Name they will cast out demons and speak new languages; they will pick up snakes, and if they drink anything poisonous, they will be unharmed; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”

So then, after speaking to them, the Lord Jesus was taken up into heaven and took His place at the right hand of God. The Eleven went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it.