Monday, 23 November 2020 : Last 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 all of us heard the word of God through the Scriptures by which we are all reminded of our obligation as Christians to follow the Lord and to dedicate ourselves to Him through love, to be wholehearted in our faith and devotion at all times. In our first reading we heard from the Book of Revelations on a great multitude of saints in Heaven, glorifying God and worshipping Him while in our Gospel we heard of the offering of the poor widow at the Temple of Jerusalem.

Let us then begin with that account of the poor widow’s offering. The Lord and His disciples were at the Temple when the widow came to worship and offer her small offerings to the Temple treasury, a small gift of two coins, a very small sum, and yet, considering her poverty, it was likely a relatively very big sum of money for her. As she was already widowed as well, it was likely that she had difficulties making ends meet too.

Nonetheless, she still gave out of her poverty because of her faith in God, her genuine faith and belief in Him, as well as her sincere desire to love the Lord and her fellow brothers and sisters alike. Therefore, the Lord praised the poor widow’s actions before all of His disciples, showing that her faith and offering were greater than all the rich people who offered much more than her.

What matters here is the widow’s determination and love for God which is so great that she willingly gave even from her poverty and lack of things. Her love for God was greater than her love for herself and her possessions. Correspondingly, God Who knows everything inside our hearts and minds rejoice at her great faith, and her rewards in Heaven shall indeed be great.

In our first reading today as we heard from the Book of the Revelations of St. John, of the vision of the great multitude of saints in Heaven, numbering a hundred and forty-four thousand with many other innumerable holy ones who have been chosen and called, and answered to that call. Those saints and many among them being martyrs, had given their lives in the service of God, committing themselves to the Lord wholeheartedly, and suffered persecutions and trials for their steadfastness in faith.

They had also given their offerings to God, a pure offering of love and dedication, which the Lord desired more than sacrifices and other offerings of worldly nature. And hence, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us are called to follow in the examples of the poor widow and in the footsteps of the saints and martyrs, in how they dedicated themselves to God and loved Him with all their heart.

Today we also recall the memory of two great saints, namely Pope St. Clement I and St. Columban the Abbot. Both of them can truly inspire us on how to be faithful to God in all things, as we follow their good examples and experiences. Pope St. Clement I was one of the earliest successors of St. Peter the Apostle who was renowned for his great hard work and efforts to establish and strengthen the Church, and steer the faithful through difficult and challenging times. Meanwhile St. Columban was an Irish missionary who established many monasteries and communities in what is today France and Northern Italy.

Pope St. Clement I was essential in his role in continuing the expansion of the Church that had begun from the time of the Apostles, as he also wrote extensively to the various communities throughout the Church, helping to enforce the orthodox and true faith against false heresies and other corruptions of the faith. He helped to steer the Church through intermittent persecutions of the Church particularly the harsh persecutions under the Roman Emperor Domitian. Eventually he was also martyred for his faith, and gave his life willingly for the glory of God.

St. Columban the Abbot was remembered for his establishment of numerous monasteries and monastic communities in Western Europe, and many flocked to join those communities. He also helped to maintain a rigorous discipline of the faith, known later as the Rule of St. Columban. He did not have it easy though, as he met oppositions and challenges from rulers and those who were wary and suspicious of his efforts. He also had his share of enemies, but all these did not stop him from his efforts.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all reflect on the lives of these two saints and discern how we can move forward in life with ever greater devotion and be more willing and able to dedicate ourselves wholeheartedly to the Lord. May God help us all in this journey of faith, and may He bless us all in our every good endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Monday, 23 November 2020 : Last Week in 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 : 1-4

At that time, Jesus looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury of the Temple. He also saw a poor widow, who dropped in two small coins. And He said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow put in more than all of them. For all of them gave an offering from their plenty; but she, out of her poverty, gave all she had to live on.”

Monday, 23 November 2020 : Last Week in 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)

Psalm 23 : 1-2, 3-4ab, 5-6

The earth and its fullness belong to the Lord, the world and all that dwell in it. He has founded it upon the ocean and set it firmly upon the waters.

Who will ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who will stand in His holy place? Those with clean hands and pure heart, who desire not what is vain.

They will receive blessings from the Lord, a reward from God, their Saviour. Such are the people who seek Him, who seek the face of Jacob’s God.

Monday, 23 November 2020 : Last Week in 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)

Revelations 14 : 1-3, 4b-5

I was given another vision : The Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, surrounded by one hundred and forty-four thousand people, who had His Name, and His Father’s Name, written on their foreheads. A sound reverberated in heaven, like the sound of the roaring of waves, or deafening thunder; it was like a chorus of singers, accompanied by their harps.

They sing a new song before the Throne, in the presence of the four living creatures and the elders, a song, which no one can learn, except the hundred and forty-four thousand, who have been taken from the earth.

These are given, to follow the Lamb wherever He goes. They are the first taken from humankind, who are already of God and the Lamb. No deceit has been found in them; they are faultless.

Tuesday, 10 November 2020 : 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, on this day as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures, we are reminded of our duties as Christians, to listen to the Lord and to obey His will at each and every moments of our lives, through our actions and our dealings, our interactions and efforts within our respective communities. All of us have been called to serve God to the best of our abilities.

In our first reading today from the Epistle of St. Paul to St. Titus, the Apostle wrote to his brother bishop and also protege, St. Titus with regards to the faithful people of God, and how each and every one of them ought to act and behave in their respective positions and parts of the community at large. Each and every one of them had important roles to play as members of the Church of God, to be righteous and just according to the teachings and ways He had shown us.

As the members of the clergy, the bishops, priests and the deacons, each of them had important roles to play, in serving the greater community of God’s people, to minister to them and lead everyone towards the Lord, guiding the faithful down the right path and caring for them spiritually. And the laity also had their own respective roles to play as Christians, as family members, as fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters, as children, as grandparents and grandchildren, to form faithful Christian families.

Not only that, but in whatever each and every one of them are doing, in their respective commitments and works, all of them are called to be exemplary in carrying out their Christian virtues and actions. This is what each and every one of us have been called to do, to be virtuous examples of our Christian faith in our every day workplaces, in our schools and in everywhere we are, reaching out to our fellow brothers and sisters through our good examples.

But we must then also must heed the Lord’s words in our Gospel passage today to guide us down the right path. In that Gospel passage, we heard the Lord using a parable to teach His disciples and the people, the parable of the dutiful servant in which the Lord compared our relationship with God in a way with the relationship between a master and his servant. The servant had a duty to serve his master well and to do what he had been told to do. But the master is under no obligation to congratulate or please the servant as mentioned.

What does this mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that each and every one of us must not treat our faith as merely an achievement or as a means to satisfy our own desires and wants. Surely there are those of us who want to be praised for our actions and dedications to God, but our faith truly is not about ourselves. It is not about how much we have done, or that if we have done more then we deserve more praise and rewards. Whatever we have done and are going to do, we have to do it for the greater glory of God.

Today therefore all of us are called to follow the Lord more faithfully as Christians, to be committed to loving Him and our fellow brethren with sincerity and generosity, in each and every actions we take and at every moments of our lives. And we should be inspired further by the examples of the saints such as Pope St. Leo the Great whose feast day we celebrate today. There is a lot that we can learn from his examples and inspirations.

Pope St. Leo the Great led the Church as the Pope and Successor of St. Peter the Apostle at a very important time and juncture for the Church and the world, as the Roman Empire began to fall apart in its western regions, falling apart to the invasions from the barbarians that came and conquered many of its territories, wrecking a lot of havoc and confusion. Despite all these, Pope St. Leo the Great led the Church and the faithful through this most difficult moment, and was instrumental in strengthening the Church in standing up against the various heresies that also came up at that time.

Pope St. Leo the Great was firmly against the Arian heresy and its followers, as well as to other heresies like monophysitism and others, sending delegates to Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon to affirm the teachings of the faith as preserved through the Church, also writing extensively in defence of the true faith. Pope St. Leo the Great also dedicated himself wholeheartedly to the well-being of his flock, and in one well-remembered occasion, stood before the much dreaded king of the Huns, Attila at the gates of Rome, and managed to persuade him to turn away and not destroy the city.

Pope St. Leo the Great had showed us what it means to be a true and dedicated disciple of the Lord, as did many other great saints, holy men and women of God. Are we willing and able to follow their good examples, brothers and sisters in Christ? Each and every one of us are called and have been challenged to follow the Lord in each and every one of our own ways, to serve Him and glorify Him with all of our efforts and strength. May God be with us always, and may He guide us in our journey of faith, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 10 November 2020 : 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 : 7-10

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Who among you would say to your servant, coming in from the fields after plowing or tending sheep, ‘Go ahead and have your dinner?’ No, you tell him, ‘Prepare my dinner. Put on your apron, and wait on me while I eat and drink. You can eat and drink afterwards.'”

“Do you thank this servant for doing what you told him to do? I do not think so. And therefore, when you have done all that you have been told to do, you should say, ‘We are no more than servants; we have only done our duty.'”

Tuesday, 10 November 2020 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 36 : 3-4, 18 and 23, 27 and 29

For they will fade as any green herb and soon be gone like withered grass.

The Lord watches over the lives of the upright; forever will their inheritance abide. The Lord is the One Who makes people stand, He gives firmness to those He likes.

Do good and shun evil, so that you will live secure forever. The righteous will possess the land; they will make it their home forever.

Tuesday, 10 November 2020 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Titus 2 : 1-8, 11-14

Let your words strengthen sound doctrine. Tell the older men to be sober, serious, wise, sound in faith, love and perseverance. The older women in like manner must behave as befits holy women, not given to gossiping or drinking wine, but as good counsellors, able to teach younger women to love their husbands and children, to be judicious and chaste, to take care of their households, to be kind and submissive to their husbands, lest our faith be attacked.

Encourage the young men to be self-controlled. Set them an example by your own way of doing. Let your teaching be earnest and sincere, and your preaching beyond reproach. Then your opponents will feel ashamed and will have nothing to criticise.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, teaching us to reject an irreligious way of life and worldly greed, and to live in this world as responsible persons, upright and serving God, while we await our blessed hope – the glorious manifestation of our great God and Saviour Christ Jesus. He gave Himself for us, to redeem us from every evil and to purify a people He wanted to be His own and dedicated to what is good.

Thursday, 22 October 2020 : 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 are all reminded to put God at the centre of our lives, to make Him the pivot around which our whole lives revolve. The Lord has blessed us so much and so wonderfully, and yet, many of us still do not appreciate all that we have been blessed with. We ignored His love and were apathetic to Him, and all these were because of the lack of genuine faith in our hearts.

That is why we are reminded yet again today to refocus our lives on God and ask ourselves, what is truly the meaning and significance of our Christian faith? It is by following God with all of our hearts, by being virtuous and by practicing our faith with real and sincere actions, in each and every moments of our lives.

Today, through the Gospel passage we have just heard, we are told of the reality of being a Christian, that may bring us tough challenges and difficulties as we go forward faithfully in life as Christians. The Lord Himself told His disciples frankly how His coming into this world, His work and revelation of truth would bring divisions, struggles, challenges and difficulties for all of them. This means that we should not expect that becoming Christians would bring about happiness, joy and satisfaction for our lives.

This especially refers to those who claim and think that by believing with God, we will be endowed with blessings and good things, the false theology and teaching called the ‘Prosperity Gospel’. Instead, we must always be prepared to defend our faith and to be prepared in case we have to face opposition and ridicule, rejection and hardships because of our adherence to the faith and to our Christian tenets and the truth of God.

It does not mean that we will necessarily suffer and endure hardships, but neither should we expect that life will be smooth-sailing for us just because we believe in God. And ultimately, these divisions came about not because the Lord desires this deplorable state of disunity. Rather, it is our own stubbornness and constant refusal to listen to the Lord and our disobedience that led to these divisions.

It is because we as Christians standing faithfully by the Lord and His righteous path, that we face conflicts, divisions and persecutions from those who refuse to believe in the Lord. Our righteousness and faithful way of life are abomination and terror for those who have chosen the wicked path of life, without faith in God and those who disagreed with His truth.

This is where, our wonderful saint today can show us so much how to live faithfully in accordance with God’s will even amidst the greatest of challenges and difficulties. Karol Jozef Wojtyla, later known as Pope St. John Paul II, was one of the most renowned leaders of the Church as the Successor of St. Peter the Apostle, known for being the first non-Italian pope in over four centuries, as well as for his long reign of almost twenty-seven years.

Pope St. John Paul II was born in Poland in the town of Wadowice not long after the end of the First World War and the independence of Poland, after great destructions and all the horrors of war that had occurred. He lost his family and loved ones early on, and he faced challenges that were truly great as his country edged on into war, and as Poland was conquered and occupied before he even turned twenty, he did not have it easy.

Even as the young Karol Wojtyla entered the seminary and studied to be a priest, he had to do it in secret due to the difficult conditions at the time, and he spent those years amidst bitter conflicts that happened and killed multitudes, including those whom he knew personally. And when the war and NAZI Germany atrocities were over, immediately the Communists led by the Soviet Union took over.

The young Pope St. John Paul II spent his early years of priesthood amidst the increasingly difficult situation for the Church and as many were persecuted for remaining loyal to the Church and their faith in God. When he was chosen as the Auxiliary Bishop of Krakow, and then later on as the Archbishop of Krakow, only more challenges faced him and his flock. He faced opposition to his efforts to care for his flock, and when a new church was to be built in a new town called Nowa Huta, the authorities tried to prevent its building, in a city without church in the attempt by the atheist Communist government to oppress the Church and the faithful.

Yet, all these did not stop the Archbishop from eventually prevailing and had the church built after over a decade of struggle, and when Karol Wojtyla was elected as the Pope and Supreme Pontiff in the Year of Our Lord 1978, he continued to labour hard for the sake of all the faithful. And even through an assassination attempt just few years into his Pontificate, which left him injured quite badly, as well as other challenges and troubles the Church had to face, up to the personal sufferings and physical disabilities caused by Parkinson’s Disease towards the end of his Pontificate, Pope St. John Paul remained firm in his dedication to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we can see from the well-known life and examples of Pope St. John Paul II that to be Christians does not necessarily mean that we will have smooth-sailing and good life without troubles. Trials, challenges and troubles can beset us at any time, and if we are not firm enough with our faith, we may end up being dragged down the path of sin. We must instead stay strong and resolute, and follow the inspiring example of Pope St. John Paul II in his faith and devotion to God.

Let us all discern carefully our path forward in life, brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us all renew our faith and our commitment from now on, striving to be good and faithful Christians at all times and in every moments of our lives, in our every actions and interactions with one another. May God bless us all and may He guide us in our journey of faith through life. Amen.

Thursday, 22 October 2020 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. John Paul II, Pope (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Popes)

Luke 12 : 49-53

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “I have come to bring fire upon the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and what anguish I feel until it is finished! Do you think that I have come to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on, in one house five will be divided : three against two, and two against three.”

“They will be divided, father against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”