Saturday, 25 May 2019 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor of the Church, Pope St. Gregory VII, Pope and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture reminding all of us that as God’s people and as His followers, we are called to serve Him and to do His will, and sometimes, throughout our journey and ministry we will encounter challenges and difficulties that may cause us to lose hope or even lose faith, as persecution, oppression and all sorts of difficulties may come in our path.

But regardless of the hardships and the persecutions that the faithful had to encounter throughout their lives, all of those did not prevent them from continuing to love God and to dedicate themselves to Him. Throughout the history of the Church there had been many occasions when the persecution of the Church and the faithful only led to the faith of the people of God to become even stronger.

And that is because the faithful people of God supported each other and comforted each other in times of sorrow and distress, in times of challenges and persecutions, amidst trials and all the obstacles that the world has arrayed against them. The examples and courage of the Apostles and disciples of the Lord in standing up for their faith and for their tireless dedication in service became a great motivation and inspiration for all the faithful.

The courage and steadfastness of the holy martyrs and saints became great inspiration and strength to all those who were suffering because of persecutions and trials of the world, and the fire and zeal the disciples and martyrs had shown inflamed the hearts and minds of all the faithful and became a beacon of hope and guiding light in times of distress and despair.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are also celebrating the feast of several holy saints of God whose lives have been truly exemplary and influential in inspiring the faithful throughout the centuries past, namely that of St. Bede the Venerable, Pope St. Gregory VII and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi. These saints have shown us all how we ought to act and believe as God’s people through their wonderful and loving actions.

St. Bede the Venerable was remembered for his dedication to the field of Christian teaching and contemplative life, having taught many of the renowned Christian authors and preachers of his time, and having dedicated much of his time to the study of the faith, as well as of philosophy and theology. Through his many works and contributions, his tireless dedication and commitment, many people received the goodness of God’s salvation.

Meanwhile Pope St. Gregory VII was meanwhile remembered for the struggle that he encountered in what was known as the ‘Investiture Controversy’ regarding the nature of secular and religious power. At that time, the secular powers of the world tried to gain advantage and influence over the Church and the Holy Roman Emperor then tried to impose his will on the broader Church, by implying that he had greater authority even that of the Pope, who is the leader of the Church.

Despite the challenges and difficulties, Pope St. Gregory VII persevered through the challenging times, resisting the many efforts of the secular rulers who tried to undermine the power and the influence of the Church, putting the interests of the Lord and His Church above that of the interests of the corrupt leaders of the world, both that of the secular powers and also those within the Church who succumbed to the temptations of power and money.

Then, St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi was a renowned religious and mystic who lived her life in total commitment to God, devoting her time, effort and attention to serve the Lord, and so attuned she had been to the Lord, that she experienced series of visions which she related and shared that others might also come to believe in God and in His truth and salvation. Ultimately, all these saints have shown us what it means for us to be true Christians, not just in words but also in actions.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore be inspired by the examples shown by these three saints, as well as the innumerable examples of the many other saints, holy men and women of God who had shown us how to be true disciples of the Lord in all the things we say and do in our lives. May the Lord be with us always and may He continue to strengthen us all as we continue walking down our lives with a renewed faith and desire to serve Him wholeheartedly. Amen.

Saturday, 25 May 2019 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor of the Church, Pope St. Gregory VII, Pope and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 15 : 18-21

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “If the world hates you, remember that the world hated Me before you. This would not be so if you belonged to the world, because the world loves its own. But you are not of the world, since I have chosen you from the world; because of this the world hates you.”

“Remember what I told you : the servant is not greater than his master; if they persecuted Me, they will persecute you, too. If they kept My word, they will keep yours as well. All this they will do to you for the sake of My Name, because they do not know the One Who sent Me.”

Saturday, 25 May 2019 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor of the Church, Pope St. Gregory VII, Pope and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 99 : 2, 3, 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.

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

Saturday, 25 May 2019 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor of the Church, Pope St. Gregory VII, Pope and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 16 : 1-10

Paul travelled on to Derbe and then to Lystra. A disciple named Timothy lived there, whose mother was a believer of Jewish origin but whose father was a Greek. As the believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him, Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him. So he took him and, because of the Jews of that place who all knew that his father was a Greek, he circumcised him.

As they travelled from town to town, they delivered the decisions of the Apostles and elders in Jerusalem, for the people to obey. Meanwhile, the churches grew stronger in faith and increased in number every day.

They travelled through Phrygia and Galatia, because they had been prevented by the Holy Spirit from preaching the message in the province of Asia. When they came to Mysia, they tried to go to Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to do this. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas.

There one night Paul had a vision. A Macedonian stood before him and begged him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” When he awoke, he told us of this vision and we understood that the Lord was calling us to give the Good News to the Macedonian people.

Saturday, 18 May 2019 : 4th 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, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the love that God has for each and every one of us and yet also reminding us of the unfortunate truth of those who refuse to embrace that generous and compassionate love that God has given to us, as shown in our first reading today in what happened between St. Paul and St. Barnabas and many of the Jews who lived in the places they visited.

St. Paul and St. Barnabas preached the truth of God, His love and all that He had done for the sake of His beloved people, His providence and companionship for them all throughout their lives and history. God has done everything to care for them and to protect them, to guide them to the right path, sending prophets after prophets, messengers and servants one after another, to call on them to follow Him and not to fall into the path of sin.

Yet, just as what many of the Jews who refused to listen to St. Paul and St. Barnabas had done, their predecessors persecuted and rejected the message of the prophets, preferring to believe in their own ways and their own pride, and therefore, closing their hearts and minds to God’s truth. And the Lord was not able to have much progress with them, just as the Apostles themselves have experienced.

We heard how the two Apostles were forced to leave the place and abandon their mission, by the way their enemies incited the people to reject them out. And this is a reminder for us all that we should not be blinded with ego and pride, with haughtiness and arrogance, with all sorts of things that prevents us from being able to welcome God’s love and presence into ourselves.

Instead, all of us should take heed of the Lord’s very own examples, as we heard in our Gospel passage today, where the Lord Jesus proclaimed before His disciples how He obeyed His Father’s will completely and came not of His own motive and will, but all united to the Father’s will and desire, to love and to save all of us, His beloved ones. It was through Christ’s perfect obedience that we have all been saved.

After all, had the Lord Jesus not been so obedient to the will of His Father, and had He not loved His Father and all of us so perfectly and compassionately, we would not have been saved, as it was exactly that obedience and love which allowed Him to endure the bitter suffering and torture, the pain of the nails and the whip, the burden of the Cross and the death He endured on Calvary.

The Apostles and the prophets of the past followed this same example that the Lord Himself set, in the enduring love and commitment to serve God’s greater glory and for the love of us mankind, all of God’s own people, that they have given themselves wholeheartedly, humbly and with lots of dedication to make sure that all of us may come to believe in the Lord and therefore may also be saved.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all reflect then on our own lives. Have we been truly faithful and obedient to God, and have we loved Him as we should have? Or have we been selfish and prideful all these while, like many of the Jews in Antioch in Pisidia who rejected the message of the Apostles and persecuted them? Today, we also mark the feast of one of the Holy Popes, Pope St. John I, who died a martyr defending his faith and the faith of his flock against heavy oppression. And through his faith and dedication, many have been inspired to do the same, and we too, should do the same.

Let us all throw away all pride from our hearts and minds, and grow stronger instead in our humility and love for God and for our fellow men. May the Lord be with us always, and may He strengthen us all to be able to live courageously with faith, and to love Him all the days of our lives. Amen.

Saturday, 18 May 2019 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. John I, Pope and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

John 14 : 7-14

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “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 it.”

Saturday, 18 May 2019 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. John I, Pope and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 97 : 1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4

Sing to YHVH a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

YHVH has shown His salvation, revealing His justice to the nations. He has not forgotten His love, nor His faithfulness to Israel.

The farthest ends of the earth all have seen God’s saving power. All you, lands, make a joyful noise to YHVH, break into song and sing praise.