Friday, 25 May 2018 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor of the Church, and Pope St. Gregory VII, Pope and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests or Popes or Virgins)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture telling us to be true to our promises and words, and not to show that our words cannot be trusted or upheld. If our words cannot be trusted, then all the more the Lord Who knows what is in our hearts, will not show us His favour. For the Lord does not want in His presence, all those who lie and are untrustworthy.

For the Lord Himself is an ever-faithful God, Who upholds every single promises He made and truly means whatever He said and is faithful to every words that came out from His mouth. When He promised all of us, that He would save us from certain destruction because of our sins, and give us the Saviour and Deliverer, He did that perfectly, and faithfully, even unto the giving of Himself as the perfect Sacrifice on the Altar of the Cross.

He gave Himself to us so completely, that He was willing to bear the weight of the cross for our sake, and not just the physical weight of the wooden cross, but the true weight of the cross, which is the combined weight of the sins of man, which the Lord bore willingly upon Himself, that we do not have to bear the consequences for those sins which we have committed. That is just how much commitment the Lord has for all of us.

Unfortunately, it is us man, who often break our promises, which we made to God, and which we also made to one another. In the Gospel passage today, we heard of the exchange between the Lord Jesus and the Pharisees, on the matter of marriage and its importance, as the latter argued that divorce should be allowed as in the laws of God passed on through Moses, the Lord allowed for a person to divorce his or her spouse, providing a certain settlement had been made.

However, the Lord Jesus revealed the truth about His true intention, and the truth behind God’s laws. He said that the Lord only allowed His people to do as the Pharisees contended, that is the matter of divorce, because they were so stubborn and were so wicked with their adulterous behaviour, that He granted them that permission, so that they would not commit even more sin of adultery than what they had done.

God never intended to allow the practice of divorce, and in fact, reiterated the importance of the vow of marriage and its sanctity. A marriage is a sacrament in the eyes of the Church, where a man and a woman made solemn promises to each other, to remain with each other, in times of good and in times of hardships, and through whatever life may throw at them. A marriage is a contract between a man and a woman, blessed and confirmed by God, and as the Lord Jesus made it clear, that what God had united, no one, no man, should ever dissolve.

Now, let us see the sorry state and reality in our world today, where the institution of marriage and the family is under constant attack. There are increasingly more and more occasions of divorces and broken families, due to various reasons, but primarily, infidelity and adultery between each of the married couples. And increasingly, people become more and more accustomed to see such practices and even allow them to flourish.

In the present world, we take our marriage vows and promises lightly, and are easily tempted by the pleasures of the flesh, and the temptation of materialism and greed. That is why so many marriages ended up being broken, and many children are left abandoned or troubled as a result. But the Lord reminded all of us through the Scripture passages we heard today, that we as Christians, must be faithful to each other, and ultimately to God Himself, just as He had been faithful to the promises He made to all of us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now, let us all reflect on our own respective lives, in all of our dealings and actions, in how we have interacted with each other. How many of us have that tendency to go back on our words and promises, or tell lies in order to gain advantage for ourselves? How many of us do not keep our promises even to our closest ones? I am sure many of us would remember the times when we have faltered in this regard.

The main reason for this is that we cannot overcome our pride, our ego and desire. We want satisfaction and good things to come to us, and it may happen that others suffer because of our pride, ego and desire, and our inability to resist those pressures and temptations. Now, it is important that each and every one of us learn to resist and do our best to overcome these temptations to be unfaithful.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we remember the memory of a few holy saints of God, namely St. Bede the Venerable, an English monk who devoted himself to his faith in God, and completely entrusted his life to Him, spending his time writing his many works about the faith, many of which still survived through the centuries to this very day. And then, we also remember Pope St. Gregory VII, the Successor of St. Peter and Vicar of Christ, remembered especially for the bitter struggle he had with the secular ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, the Emperor, who wished to impose his power and will over the Church.

This holy Pope refused to give in to the demands of the Emperor, who demanded sovereignty over the bishops in his domains, and defended the rights of the Church, and stayed true to the faith and the commitment, despite the challenges from the Emperor and his nobles. Finally, St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi was an Italian Carmelite nun who was remembered for her intense dedication to the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, spending hours after hours in devout prayer.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we should follow the examples of these holy predecessors of ours. We should be more faithful in all of our deeds, and do our best to follow the Lord our God, in all that He has taught us to do. Let us deepen our relationship with Him, and spend more time in prayer. May God be with us always, ever faithful to His Covenant, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 25 May 2018 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor of the Church, and Pope St. Gregory VII, Pope and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests or Popes or Virgins)

Mark 10 : 1-12

At that time, Jesus then left that place and went to the province of Judea, beyond the Jordan River. Once more crowds gathered around Him and once more He taught them as He always did. Some (Pharisees came and) put Him to the test with this question, “Is it right for a husband to divorce his wife?”

He replied, “What law did Moses give you?” They answered, “Moses allowed us to write a certificate of dismissal in order to divorce.” Then Jesus said to them, “Moses wrote this law for you, because you are stubborn. But in the beginning of creation God made them male and female, and because of this, man has to leave father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one body. So they are no longer two but one body. Therefore let no one separate what God has joined.”

When they were indoors at home, the disciples again asked Him about this, and He told them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against his wife, and the woman who divorces her husband and marries another also commits adultery.”

Friday, 25 May 2018 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor of the Church, and Pope St. Gregory VII, Pope and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests or Popes or Virgins)

Psalm 102 : 1-2, 3-4, 8-9, 11-12

Praise YHVH, my soul; all my being, praise His holy Name! Praise YHVH, my soul, and do not forget all His kindness.

He forgives all your sins and heals all your sickness; He redeems your life from destruction and crowns you with love and compassion.

YHVH is gracious and merciful, abounding in love and slow to anger; He will not always scold nor will He be angry forever.

As the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His love for those fearing Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove from us our sins.

Friday, 25 May 2018 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor of the Church, and Pope St. Gregory VII, Pope and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests or Popes or Virgins)

James 5 : 9-12

Beloved, do not fight among yourselves and you will not be judged. See, the Judge is already at the door. Take for yourselves, as an example of patience, the suffering of the prophets, who spoke in the Lord’s Name. See how those who were patient are called blessed. You have heard of the patience of Job and know how the Lord dealt with him in the end. For the Lord is merciful and shows compassion.

Above all, my beloved, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth, or make a habit of swearing. Let your yes be yes and your no be no, lest you become liable for judgment.

Friday, 18 May 2018 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. John I, Pope and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the Scriptures through which we are reminded that as Christians all of us are ultimately bound to live by the will of God, and we will be led in our lives to where God wants us to be, and it is often that life will not go according to how we want it to be, no matter what we have done and are going to do in order to secure our desire.

In the first reading today, we listened to how St. Paul defended himself before the king of Judea, Agrippa, as well as the Roman governor of Judea, Festus. He spoke with such a wisdom and eloquence that he even almost persuaded them to be Christians. He has appealed to the Emperor, and would go on to Rome, in order to face the judgment as meted by the most powerful man in the world at that time.

In his earlier years, St. Paul was known as Saul, a fanatical and influential young Pharisee, who was renowned and glorified for his intense persecution of all Christians and all those who profess faith in the Lord Jesus. He seemed to be destined for a life of greatness and influence among the people of God, to be among the elites of the society as member of the Pharisees.

However, God did not wish it to end that way, that Saul remained a great enemy of Christ and His faithful ones. God instead called Saul and gave him an entirely new purpose and calling in life. And Saul chose to accept that role given to him, a role through which he would save countless souls, through his direct teaching and efforts, as well as through the many disciples and students he had led through those years of his service.

Then, in the Gospel today, we also heard about another Apostle, St. Peter, the head and appointed leader of the Apostles. The Lord Jesus entrusted His Church to his care, just as He had said before, that He would build His Church upon the foundation of Peter, the Rock. And the Lord Jesus said to St. Peter about the same expectation as I have just mentioned, that at the end of it all, it was God’s will that will prevail.

God said to St. Peter that he would have to suffer for being a disciple of His, and he would be led to places that he would not want to go. That was a foretelling of what he had to encounter, to be brought to Rome, where he would meet his martyrdom just as St. Paul would. He was crucified upside down in the place where the Basilica of St. Peter now stands, while St. Paul was beheaded at around the same place.

Today we also remember the memory of another good servant of God, one of the early successors of St. Peter the Apostle, as the Vicar of Christ and Bishop of Rome. Pope St. John I was a devout servant of God, humble and faithful, elected to become the successor of St. Peter and lead the Church. At that time, the Church in Rome was under the rule of those who followed the false Arian heresy, and Pope St. John I was caught in the great dilemma of having to accommodate between the two sides in argument.

King Theoderic the Great of the Ostrogoths, who was an Arian, demanded that the Pope present his argument before the Roman Emperor in the city of Constantinople, that toleration and concessions must be given to those who believe in the Arian heresy. However, Pope St. John I resolutely supported the position of the Orthodox and true teachings of the faith as espoused in the Ecumenical Councils of the Church, and in the end, he was imprisoned by the king.

Pope St. John I would eventually die a prisoner of the faith, refusing to bend to the demands of the king. He and the Apostles of the Lord had shown us that, even many in the world will oppose us and persecute us, just because we believe in God and walk in His ways. They entrusted themselves to the Lord, and remained true and faithful to Him. And despite having suffered and died in pain, they now enjoy forever the glory of heaven.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now, as Christians, all of us are also expected to have that same faith and commitment to the Lord, just as shown by our holy and devout predecessors. Let us all henceforth renew our commitment to our faith, and spend more time and effort in our relationship with God. May the Lord be with us all, and may He continue to be with us and bless us, all the days of our lives. Holy Apostles, St. Peter and St. Paul, and Pope St. John I, holy martyr, pray for us all. Amen.

Friday, 18 May 2018 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. John I, Pope and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

John 21 : 15-19

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! Truly, I say to you, when you were young, you put on your belt and walked where you liked. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will put a belt around you, and lead you where you do not wish to go.”

Jesus said this to make known the kind of death by which Peter was to glorify God. And He added, “Follow Me.”

Friday, 18 May 2018 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. John I, Pope and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 102 : 1-2, 11-12, 19-20ab

Bless the Lord, my soul; all my being, bless His holy Name! Bless the Lord, my soul, and do not forget all His kindness.

As the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His love for those fearing Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove from us our sins.

The Lord has set His throne in heaven; He rules, He has power everywhere. Praise the Lord, all you His Angels.