Tuesday, 23 November 2021 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Clement I, Pope and Martyr, and St. Columban, Abbot (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the word of God in the Scriptures we are all reminded of just how small we are before God, and everything happens by God’s grace and will. Although we may not know it yet, but all things will happen as God willed and ordained it to be. And through what we have heard today, we are free to choose our course of action, in living our lives and whether we want to follow the Lord or not.

In our first reading today from the Book of the prophet Daniel we heard of the dream that king Nebuchadnezzar received from God. He saw in that dream a great statue made from different parts and materials, and then a very large boulder, a massive stone that came down upon the great statue and crushed it all to rubble. The king was anxious to find out the meaning of his dream, and eventually asked Daniel, the exiled Israelite for the explanation of his dream.

In Daniel’s detailed explanation that we heard in our first reading today, essentially he told Nebuchadnezzar, the great king of the Babylonian Empire and the conqueror of many nations that his kingdom, dynasty and dominion would not last very long and would soon fall and replaced by other kingdoms and rulers. And this was not just a mere false illusion or dream, as it would soon become a reality.

King Nebuchadnezzar was a very proud and vain ruler, as well as highly ambitious in his actions, desiring to subjugate more and more people and nations. He once built a great golden statue in his own image and demanded all of his numerous subjects to bow down, kneel and worship that golden statue, as if he made himself divine and like that of a god. Although this was not uncommon at that time, but the manner with which Nebuchadnezzar carried it out stood out from the others.

Hence, that vision was a clear reminder from the Lord to the proud Nebuchadnezzar, the very same one who destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple of God built by King Solomon there, that his power and authority were not without bounds and limits. As haughty, prideful, arrogant and great he was, in the end, he was just a mortal man like any other. His time and his kingdom, no matter how glorious it was, would eventually be eclipsed by others.

In the end then there was that great boulder, a giant rock that destroyed everything. What was that? It was in fact reminiscent of what the Lord Himself told His disciples in our Gospel passage today. In that occasion, the Lord foretold the coming destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem. That Temple was built by the returning exiles of Babylon, that returned after the destruction of the same Babylonian Empire that was established by King Nebuchadnezzar. It was enlarged and expanded by King Herod the Great, which building still happened during the ministry of the Lord, after many decades of construction.

And it would come to pass, all that the Lord had predicted. That Temple had become a symbol of pride for the Jewish leaders and in the end, became significant source of oppression and persecution for the true believers of Christ. The Temple authorities often made it very difficult for the disciples and the early Christian missionaries to do their work. However, their dominion and power did not last, and in the end, the Lord’s will and works prevailed.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is therefore a reminder for us that in the end, God has control over everything in this world and He has dominion over all things. We must not be haughty and prideful, thinking that we can do whatever we want without any need for concern and discernment. All that we say and do, we must understand that God is always around us, guiding us and leading us to do His will. But mankind often tried to do their own way, and many if not most of them eventually ended up being disappointed and failed.

Today, we should reflect on the lives of today’s saints, namely Pope St. Clement I and St. Columban the Abbot whose lives can be inspiration for us to live a worthy and God-centric Christian lives. We should be inspired by their faith and dedication, and do not allow our wicked and selfish desires to drive us to selfish and immoral actions that are against the will and teachings of God. Let us discern carefully our actions based on their examples.

Pope St. Clement I was one of the early successors of St. Peter the Apostle as the Pope and Vicar of Christ, as the Bishop of Rome and leader of the entire Universal Church. He was remembered for his great role in advancing the cause of the Church and in establishing solid foundations for the Church in various communities, by his numerous works and letters to the various Church communities all over Christendom. And he also died as a great martyr defending his faith under persecution from the Roman Emperors and government.

Meanwhile, St. Columban the Abbot was a renowned saint who was an Irish missionary credited with the foundation of several monasteries in mainland Europe among the Germanic successor kingdoms of the Western Roman Empire during the chaotic early years of the so-called Dark Ages. He worked hard among the people preaching about the Lord and building religious communities that quickly became popular and many joined those communities he established to seek God and His peace, and dedicating themselves and their lives to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, these two saints in their own way have shown us how we ought to be living our lives as Christians, filled with love for the Lord and focus on Him, and not on our own selfish desires and ambitions. Let us all therefore discern carefully how we are going to proceed in our lives from now on, and seek to glorify the Lord by our lives to the best of our abilities. May God be with us all and may He strengthen each and every one of us, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 23 November 2021 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Clement I, Pope and Martyr, and St. Columban, Abbot (Gospel Reading)

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

Luke 21 : 5-11

At that time, while some people were talking about the Temple, remarking that it was adorned with fine stonework and rich gifts, Jesus said to them, “The days will come when there shall not be left one stone upon another of all that you now admire; all will be torn down.” And they asked Him, “Master, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?”

Jesus said, “Take care not to be deceived, for many will come in My Name, saying, ‘I am He; the time is near at hand!’ Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and troubled times, do not be frightened; for all these things must happen first, even though the end is not so soon.”

And Jesus said, “Nations will fight each other and kingdom will oppose kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and plagues; in many places strange and terrifying signs from heaven will be seen.”

Tuesday, 23 November 2021 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Clement I, Pope and Martyr, and St. Columban, Abbot (Psalm)

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

Daniel 3 : 57, 58, 59, 60, 61

All the works of the Lord, bless Him, praise Him, exalt Him forever.

Angels of the Lord, bless Him, praise and glorify Him forever.

Heavens, bless the Lord; praise and exalt Him forever.

All the waters above the heavens, bless the Lord; praise and exalt Him forever.

All the powers of the Lord, bless the Lord; praise and exalt Him forever.

Tuesday, 23 November 2021 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Clement I, Pope and Martyr, and St. Columban, Abbot (First Reading)

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

Daniel 2 : 31-45

Daniel said to king Nebuchadnezzar, “In your vision you saw a statue – very large, very bright; terrible to look at. Its head was of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. As you watched, a rock cut from a mountain, but not by human hands, struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay; smashing them.”

“All at once the iron, clay, bronze, silver and gold crumbled into pieces, as fine as chaff on the threshing floor in summer. The wind swept them off and not a trace was left. But the rock that struck the statue became a great mountain that filled the whole earth.”

“That was the dream. Now the interpretation. You, o king, are king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given dominion, strength, power and glory, and into whose hand He has placed humankind, the beasts of the field and the birds of the air, making you ruler over them. You are that head of gold.”

“After you, another kingdom, inferior to yours, will rise. Then a third kingdom, of bronze, will rule the whole world. Last shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron; and just as iron breaks and crushes everything else, so will it break and smash all the others.”

“The partly-clay and partly-iron feet and toes mean that it will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of the iron, just as you saw iron mixed with clay. And as the toes were partly iron and partly clay, the kingdom will be partly strong and partly weak. Just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, the people will be a mixture but will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.”

“In the time of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom, never to be destroyed or delivered up to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and put an end to them; and it will endure forever. This is the meaning of your vision of a rock cut from a mountain not by human hands; the rock, which struck the statue and broke into pieces the iron, bronze, clay, silver and gold. The great God has shown the king what will happen in the future. The dream is true and its interpretation reliable.”

Wednesday, 10 November 2021 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of God, we are all reminded of the great power of God and His most loving compassion and mercy, through the works which He has shown to us, by which He has manifested Himself before all of us, His people, that we all may know the existence of our most Almighty God and Saviour, the One Whom we ought to love and show our dedication and commitment to.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of Wisdom the words of the Lord spoken and directed towards the kings and rulers of the world. The Lord spoke through the author of the Book of Wisdom, which traditionally was attributed to King Solomon, or one of the prophets or some others who compiled the sayings of the Lord, in which He chastised the attitudes of the kings and the rulers who were often corrupt and wicked, who abused their power and authority for their own benefits and causing sufferings to others.

The Lord reminded all of them that all of their power and authority ultimately came from Him, and that they would themselves be held accountable for all of their actions and choices. For all of their good and evil deeds they shall be judged and measured, and those who committed bad and wicked deeds shall be punished for their actions while those who are good and righteous, dutiful and just in being a ruler and governor over the people will be judged in a favourable way in the end.

At that time, many of those rulers and other powerful lords did things without much regard or concern for the poor and the needy in their domain, or anyone else, save for their own desires and wishes for power, for glory and more of the wealth and possessions that many of them already had plenty of. It was these excesses that the Lord condemned and criticised, and through what we have heard today from the Book of Wisdom, all of us are therefore also reminded not to do the same in our own lives. The greater the position we have in the community, the more responsibilities are expected of us.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard about the Lord Who healed the ten lepers who came to Him as outcasts from the community in the wilderness. Ar that time, according to the Law, those who contracted leprosy had to be excluded from the community and had to wander off in the wilderness and away from others until they were cleansed and healed from their leprosy. As long as they were still suffering from the leprosy, they would not be allowed to return back to the community.

The Lord then told them that they would be healed while telling them to go and show themselves to the priests. On the way, as mentioned, they were all healed, but only one of them, a Samaritan actually went back to the Lord Jesus and thanked Him, while the other nine all were too happy and joyful that they just went on their way and not even showing any gratitude to the Lord for having healed them. The fact that it was a Samaritan who had the faith made it even more ironic, as Samaritans then were considered by the Jews as being pagans and worthy of condemnation.

What the Lord wants us to know from that episode is that all of us have to remember that everything and every blessings have come to us from God, and we must not be prideful in thinking that everything happened for us because of our own success and power. It is not that the Lord expects us to show Him gratitude and thanksgiving. On the contrary, it is by right and justice that all of us must show Him proper reverence and gratitude for all that He had done for us, even for us wicked sinners.

The Lord Himself showed a good example for us to follow, in how He did not even show off His power and glory, as He healed those ten lepers. He could have performed magnificent miracles before them and then told them all to proclaim His works before all the people. No, that was not what He did. What He did was to simply tell them to show themselves to the priests to prove that they had been cured, while the miracles happened quietly and without fanfare. The Lord, the One true authority and font of all power in the Universe, humbly hid Himself and His glory.

That is how all of us as Christians ought to act, with humility and prudence, with true faith and love for God, and not greed and love for ourselves. And today, we all should follow the faithful examples set by one of our holy predecessors, namely that of Pope St. Leo the Great, whose feast we celebrate this very day. Pope St. Leo the Great can show us what it means for us to be faithful Christians and to obey God and His will in our lives, in remaining humble before Him and in staying true to our faith.

Pope St. Leo the Great was the first Pope to be called the Great, and he was the Pope and Leader of the entire Universal Church during crucial moments in the history of the world and Christendom. At that time, the Western Roman Empire and the city of Rome itself had been beset by barbarian invasions, and there were much devastation caused in those difficult years of conflicts and wars. At the same time, the Church had also faced a lot of problems with heretical and unorthodox teachings, most prominently the heresies of Nestorianism and Monophysitism, which both were at the extremes of the Christian theology, threatening to break the Church apart.

Pope St. Leo the Great was a powerful figure, a humble yet very respected leader throughout Christendom, who devoted his time and efforts to care for the needs of his flock, to prevent the Church from falling into heretical ways and to support the Church and the community of the faithful by his great leadership. He also wrote extensively to the bishops and other leaders of Christendom, adhering and affirming to the tradition of the faith of the Apostles, keeping the Church united in the midst of divisions and disagreements. He stopped the barbarian hordes of Attila the Hun, which until then was mostly unstoppable, and prevented Rome itself from being sacked and destroyed by those Huns.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, Pope St. Leo the Great through his actions, leadership and great personal qualities and humility showed us how each and every one of us can become faithful Christians in our own way of life. Are we all willing to follow his good examples and practice our faith courageously and devotedly the way that he had done? Let us all discern these carefully, and pray to the Lord, asking Him to guide us in our journey, that we may make the right decisions and choices, to walk in the path that God has set before us.

May the Lord continue to guide us and remain with us, and may He empower us all to live faithfully as true and genuine Christians, in all things and not just in formality and name only. May all of us who are entrusted with power and authority also use them with prudence and with genuine care and concern for those who are placed under their care and for others. May God bless us and all of our efforts and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Wednesday, 10 November 2021 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 17 : 11-19

At that time, on the way to Jerusalem, Jesus passed through Samaria and Galilee, and as He entered a village, ten lepers came to meet Him. Keeping their distance, they called to Him, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

Jesus said to them, “Go, and show yourselves to the priests.” Then, as they went on their way, they found they were cured. One of them, as soon as he saw that he was cleansed, turned back, praising God in a loud voice; and throwing himself on his face before Jesus, he gave Him thanks. This man was a Samaritan.

Then Jesus asked him, “Were not all ten healed? Where are the other nine? Did none of them decide to return and give praise to God, but this foreigner?” And Jesus said to him, “Stand up and go your way; your faith has saved you.”

Wednesday, 10 November 2021 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 81 : 3-4, 6-7

Give justice to the weak and the orphan; defend the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the helpless and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

“You are gods,” I said, “You are all sons of the Most High.” But now, you will die like the others; you will all fall, like any mortal.

Wednesday, 10 November 2021 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Wisdom 6 : 1-11

Listen, o kings, and understand; rulers of the most distant lands, take warning. Pay attention, you who rule multitudes and boast of the numerous subjects in your pagan nations!

For authority was given you by the Lord, your kingship is from the Most High Who will examine your works and scrutinise your intentions. If, as officials of His kingdom, you have not judged justly or observed His law or walked the way God pointed our, He will oppose you swiftly and terribly; His sentence strikes the mighty suddenly.

For the lowly there may be excuses and pardon, but the great will be severely punished. For the Lord of all makes no distinction, nor does He take account of greatness. Both great and lowly are His work and He watches over all, but the powerful are to be judged more strictly.

It is to you then, sovereigns, that I speak, that you may learn Wisdom and not stumble. For those who keep the holy laws in a holy way will be acknowledged holy, and those who accept the teaching will find in it their defence. Welcome my words, desire them and they will instruct you.

Friday, 22 October 2021 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. John Paul II, Pope (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Popes)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures, all of us are reminded of the need for all of us to go forth and to proclaim the truth of God in all of our communities and to be inspiration for one another in faith, just as we look upon the inspirations of our many holy predecessors, those who have gone before us and whose lives have been exemplary, righteous and good, as beacons of God’s light and truth.

Today, we focus our attention on one of these faithful and courageous servants of God, namely that of Pope St. John Paul II, whom many of us surely knew very well. Many of us have known him when he was still in this world and being our Pope. His Pontificate of almost twenty-seven years was the longest in recent memory, and one of the longest overall, and therefore many of us have spent a significant period of time under his leadership as our Pope, Supreme Pontiff and Vicar of Christ.

No doubt that many of us may know quite a lot about Pope St. John Paul II, but I want us all to spend the time today to reflect on his life and actions, his life of service to God, of commitment and the courage which he had shown in opposing injustice and persecution of the Christian faith, his upholding of fundamental Christian values and teachings amidst the pressure of conflicting worldly agenda and corruption of worldly desires and sins, and in his great leadership of the entire Universal Church.

Pope St. John Paul II was born in Wadowice in Poland in the year of Our Lord 1920, just over a century ago. He was born into a loving and devout family in Poland, a country that had just then regained independence after over a century of oppression and conquest by its neighbouring countries. He was born as Karol Jozef Wojtyla, to a father who was an army officer and a mother who was a schoolteacher. He had an elder brother whom he adored and looked up to, who was a physician.

However, he had family tragedy early on in life, as he lost his family members one by one, his mother and then elder brother, before eventually his own father just right at the start of the Second World War. Nonetheless, the young Karol Wojtyla with the guidance of his friends and relatives, and his faith in the Lord, remained strong and courageous, even during those difficult years when Poland was engulfed in the midst of the great Second World War. He joined the seminary and went through formation during those difficult period, and having even suffered a close call to death.

And as the great war came to its end, the tyranny and persecution of the NAZI German reign was replaced by an equally oppressive regime installed by the Communists from the Soviet Union, a regime that would last for more than four decades and saw great sufferings for many of the Polish people. The future Pope was ordained a priest shortly after the end of the war and began his ministry in a country that has become officially atheist and hostile against the Christian Church and faith. As a young priest, Karol Wojtyla learnt to manoeuvre around the restrictions and oppressions while staying true to his faith.

Eventually, he was chosen and ordained as bishop, first as the Auxiliary Bishop of Krakow and eventually as the Metropolitan Archbishop of Krakow, during which he was also instrumental in his role and participation during the Second Vatican Council. Then, in a public show of defiance against the Communist regime in Poland, the then Archbishop Wojtyla led the faithful in establishing the parish church in the town of Nowa Huta, which had been the proud project of the Communists as a new city in which no church would be present. He led the faithful in prayer and in putting the foundation for the church there, which after many years, was eventually completed about a decade later.

And then, by the grace of God, he was elected as the successor of St. Peter, succeeding Pope John Paul I, who had a short reign of just thirty-three days after another Pope, Pope St. Paul VI. Adopting the regnal name of his predecessor, Pope St. John Paul II then led the Church in an amazing period of twenty-seven years, in which not only that he led to the beginning of the downfall of Communism in many parts of the world, including in his own native Poland, where he led to a great rejuvenation of the faith and the Church, and inspired popular uprisings that eventually led to the downfall of the Communist regime.

In the matter of faith and Church teachings, Pope St. John Paul II was instrumental in the stabilisation of the situation following the Second Vatican Council and was remarkable in his efforts and stance against the tide of relativism and attempts to change Church teachings. He led the Church into the third millennium and through his years of suffering and perseverance, he inspired many of the people of God to remain faithful and true to God, even amidst great sufferings they experienced in life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we recall the great life and the amazing faith which Pope St. John Paul II has shown us, all of us are encouraged to follow his good examples and we are all called to walk in his footsteps, in following what he has done in being faithful, as a successor of St. Peter, to whom the Lord Jesus had entrusted His flock and people in our Gospel passage today. Pope St. John Paul II had committed himself to the mission entrusted to him, and we ourselves should live our lives fulfilling the missions that each and every one of us have as Christians.

Let us all be great and exemplary role models for one another, and let us be filled with faith and love for God. May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us in our respective journey in life, and may He bless our every good works, efforts and endeavours, all for His greater glory, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 22 October 2021 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. John Paul II, Pope (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Popes)

Luke 12 : 54-59

At that time, Jesus said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming’; and so it happens. And when the wind blows from the south, you say, ‘It will be hot’; and so it is. You superficial people! You understand the signs of the earth and the sky, but you do not understand the present times.”

“And why do you not judge for yourselves what is fit? When you go with your accuser before the court, try to settle the case on the way, lest he drag you before the judge, and the judge deliver you to the jailer, and the jail throw you into prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the very last penny.”

Alternative reading (Mass of Pope St. John Paul II)

John 21 : 15-17

At that time, after Jesus and His disciples had finished breakfast, He said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.” And Jesus said, “Feed My lambs.”

A second time Jesus said to him, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” And Peter answered, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Look after My sheep.” And a third time He said to him, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”

Peter was saddened because Jesus asked him a third time, “Do you love Me?” and he said, “Lord, You know everything; You know that I love You.” Jesus then said, “Feed My sheep!”