Tuesday, 22 October 2019 : 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, on this day we listened to the Scriptures in which we are reminded of the frailty and the weakness of our flesh and our human existence because of sin, the cause of our downfall and our troubles. Through sin as St. Paul mentioned in our first reading today within his Epistle to the Romans, we have been made unclean and unworthy before God, and because of this we have been sundered from God’s loving grace.

As a result, we had to suffer the consequence of sin, which is death, and death leads into separation from God. Unless we get rid of these sins from ourselves, we will face eternal separation from God which is hell for us. Hell is the state of rejection of God’s love and grace in which there can be no recourse or way out, because even though God had generously offered His loving and tender mercy, but we consciously rejected Him and His mercy.

But what St. Paul also mentioned in the same reading passage today, is that no matter how terrible and powerful sin may seem to be, and how difficult it may seem to be for us to overcome sin, but God’s grace is even all the more powerful and bountiful. We must not lose hope or despair just because we think that our sins are too great to be forgiven, for this is exactly what the devil wants, that we feel so unworthy that we reject God even involuntarily.

God has made available for us His salvation and loving grace through none other than Jesus Christ, His begotten Son, Who entered into this world as the New Adam in contrary to the old Adam in a figurative way. While the old Adam sinned by disobeying God and by listening to the temptations of evil and his own desires instead of listening to God, Christ as the New Adam became the archetype and progenitor of a new existence of humankind in faith.

By His commitment and dedication to the mission that His Father has entrusted to Him, and by the total obedience to the will of God His Father, the Lord Jesus showed us all what it means to be a true disciple and follower of God, being faithful and obedient in all things. It is through obedience and adherence to the will of God that we show our love for God and our faith in Him, as opposed to the sins which we have committed against Him.

But we must also realise that such a path would not be easy because there will be plenty of challenges, opposition and difficulty in our journey. Yet, if we choose to delay and wait, it will not turn out good for us, because the longer we delay and wait, thinking that we still have the time, the even more difficult it will be for us to turn away from sin, because sin is powerful and addictive, and it will make us to want to sin and disobey even more.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord warned His disciples to be ever prepared, for no one but He alone knows when the exact moment of reckoning for all of us will be. None of us know when exactly our earthly existence will end and when we will be called back to the Lord to give an account of our respective lives, on all the actions we have taken in our lives and even what we have failed to do in those same lives.

God has called us all to be faithful to Him, to do what He has taught us to do, to follow His will and to be righteous, good and just in everything that we say, act and do. And today, all of us can be inspired by the examples shown by one of His holy ones, and in particular because many of us are familiar with this figure, who is none other than one of our recent Popes, Pope St. John Paul II, who was the Bishop of Rome and Leader of the Church for over twenty-seven years.

Pope St. John Paul II, born Karol Jozef Wojtyla in Krakow, Poland was a holy man in piety and action, having also suffered greatly in his early years, losing all of his closest family members by the time he reached his twenties due to sickness and other occurrences, and also suffering directly the terrible effects of the Second World War when he had to face the bitterness of the world and the terrible realities of war and human greed.

And through the many years of the Communism in Poland that followed, Pope St. John Paul II had a difficult ministry as a young priest at first, and then as the Auxiliary Bishop and then Metropolitan Archbishop of Krakow. He had to deal with the difficult opposition and even persecution of the faithful and the Church from the government authorities. Yet, the then Archbishop Wojtyla remained committed to serving the people of God, his flock, devoting his time, effort and attention on them.

As Pope, during the long twenty-seven years of reign and pontificate, Pope St. John Paul II contributed greatly to the Church and the faith, in the field of evangelisation and in maintaining the orthodoxy and relevance of the Catholic faith in the midst of the ever changing world. He was also instrumental in bringing down the Communist regimes throughout Central and Eastern Europe and was also known for his peacemaking efforts.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we know and are well aware of, Pope St. John Paul II is truly a great role model for all of us on how we should live our lives faithfully in God from now on. Let us follow his good examples and therefore becoming good and faithful disciples of Christ from now on. May God continue to bless us and guide us in our journey of faith. Amen.

Tuesday, 22 October 2019 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. John Paul II, Pope (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Popes)

Luke 12 : 35-38

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “Be ready, dressed for service, and keep your lamps lit, like people waiting for their master to return from the wedding. As soon as he comes and knocks, they will open the door to him. Happy are those servants whom the master finds wide-awake when he comes.”

“Truly, I tell you, he will put an apron, and have them sit at table, and he will wait on them. Happy are those servants, if he finds them awake when he comes at midnight or daybreak!”

Tuesday, 22 October 2019 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. John Paul II, Pope (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Popes)

Psalm 39 : 7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 17

Sacrifice and oblation You did not desire; this, You had me understand. Burnt offering and sin offering You do not require. Then I said, “Here I come!”

As the scroll says of me. To do Your will is my delight, o God, for Your law is within my heart.

In the great assembly I have proclaimed Your saving help. My lips, o YHVH, I did not seal – You know that very well.

But may all those who seek You, rejoice, and be glad in You; and may all who love Your saving grace continually say, “YHVH is great.”

Tuesday, 22 October 2019 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. John Paul II, Pope (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Popes)

Romans 5 : 12, 15b, 17-19, 20b-21

Therefore, sin entered the world through one man; and through sin, death; and later on, death spread to all humankind, because all sinned. All died, because of the fault of one man, but how much more does the grace of God spread, when the gift He granted, reaches all, from this unique Man, Jesus Christ.

If death reigned through the disobedience of one and only one person, how much more, will there be a reign of life, for those who receive the grace, and the gift of true righteousness, through the one Person, Jesus Christ. Just as one transgression brought sentence of death to all, so, too, one Man’s good act has brought justification and light to all; and, as the disobedience of only one, made all sinners, so the obedience of one Person, allowed all to be made just and holy.

But where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, and, as sin caused death to reign, so grace will reign, in its own time, and, after making us just, and friends of God, will bring us to eternal life, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Monday, 14 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Callixtus I, Pope and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green 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 faith that we must have in God and we must not doubt Him any longer, no matter what. We must trust in Him and we must not allow temptations to distract us and to pull us away from Him as what happened to the Israelites of the time of the Lord Jesus as mentioned in our Gospel passage today.

In that occasion, the Lord spoke before the people making references to both the Queen of the South as well as the prophet Jonah. And the context of this occasion was that the people especially the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law asked the Lord to perform miracles and signs before them that they might believe in Him and follow Him. Yet, the fact is that the Lord had done numerous miracles before their eyes before they asked Him, and they refused to believe.

In fact, plenty of times when they asked the Lord to show them something miraculous was meant to test Him and to find evidences against Him, as they continued to refuse to listen to Him and closed their hearts and minds against Him. They did not have faith in the Lord and they allowed pride and worldly greed and desires to overcome their rationale and wisdom, and as a result, they refused to believe even though they have seen and witnessed the wonders of God many times.

St. Paul in our first reading passage today, at the beginning of his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in the city of Rome spoke firmly and courageously of the Lord Jesus Christ, the one Whom he was serving as an Apostle, and laid before the faithful in simple and straightforward terms, who the Lord Jesus truly is, the One Whom God had promised to His people as the Saviour of the whole world and by Whose hands, mankind were to be saved.

As a significant proportion of the earliest Christians were members of the Jewish communities scattered throughout the Mediterranean including in Rome, St. Paul alluded to the Lord Jesus being the One Who fulfilled the many prophecies of the prophets of God, the One promised to bring mankind into eternal life and salvation, and by the supreme act of love on the Cross of His sacrifice, Christ brought salvation into the world.

And that was the sign of Jonah as alluded by the Lord Himself in the Gospel passage today. The Lord would descend into the depths of hell until the third day of His resurrection, just as Jonah spent three days in the belly of the great whale. And just as Jonah was sent to the city of Nineveh to remind them of their wickedness that led them to repent from their sins, the Lord Jesus came into this world to call us to repent from our sins.

Through all of these, and what we have heard in the Scripture passages today, we really need to reflect deeply on our own lives and actions thus far. Have we been truly faithful to God all these while or were our faith more of the superficial kind, or just of a formality and paying lip service to God and the Church? We need to discern what we have to do from now on in our lives as faithful Christians, that is as those who truly believe in God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today perhaps we should also look at the inspiring examples shown by this day’s saint, namely Pope St. Callixtus I, one of the early leaders of the Church who endured much difficulties and challenges from even his youth, as it was told that he lived formerly as a slave during his early years. When he was eventually elected as the Successor of St. Peter and leader of the Church, he lived through a difficult time of persecution of the Christian faithful.

There were challenges from both outside and from within the Church at the time, as disagreements in the Church leadership actually caused bitter division and election of a rival Pope, St. Hippolytus of Rome. And during those years, persecution of Christians would end up causing the arrest and eventual suffering and martyrdom of Pope St. Callixtus I and many other Christians of his time. Nonetheless, they lived their lives with great faith and dedicated themselves wholeheartedly to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore from now on renew our conviction and commitment to live as better Christians, to be more faithful in all things and to love God as well as our fellow brothers and sisters around us with ever greater love and faith. May God through the intercession of His faithful saints, especially Pope St. Callixtus I, continue to bless us in our daily lives. Amen.

Monday, 14 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Callixtus I, Pope and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Luke 11 : 29-32

At that time, as the crowd increased, Jesus spoke the following words : “People of the present time are troubled people. They ask for a sign, but no sign will be given to them except the sign of Jonah. As Jonah became a sign for the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be a sign for this generation.”

“The Queen of the South will rise up on Judgment Day with the people of these times and accuse them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and here, there is greater than Solomon. The people of Nineveh will rise up on Judgment Day with the people of these times and accuse them, for Jonah’s preaching made them turn from their sins, and here, there is greater than Jonah.”

Monday, 14 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Callixtus I, Pope and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green 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.