Monday, 23 October 2017 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John of Capestrano, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in today’s Scripture readings we are presented with two very interesting contrasts in the passages we heard, both involving very rich men, who had plenty in worldly terms, blessed by God in all that they do, bountiful with all sorts of wealth and possessions, yet with very different outcomes.

In the Old Testament, we heard how Abraham, the patriarch of the Israelites and father of many nations was mentioned. Then in the Gospel, we heard the Lord Jesus telling us in a parable about a rich man who had plenty of grains stored in numerous granaries, earning him great amount of riches and wealth.

But the contrast lie in the fact that while Abraham put his trust and faith in God, as he was ready to leave behind everything in the land of his ancestors to travel into an uncharted territory solely based on God’s call, the rich man mentioned in the Gospel had trust only in himself and in his riches. The rich man mentioned in the Gospel was happy with his many riches, but not satisfied, because he wanted to have more.

Abraham placed his trust and faith in God, believing that in all he has received, all of them were due to the grace and blessings from God. He was satisfied in what he had received and was willing to give back to God what He deserved, that is his love and commitment. That was why God blessed him and chose him among many others, to be the father of many nations and as the progenitor of the race of the first chosen people of God.

The rich man in the Gospel put his trust in his wealth and possessions, and loved them more than his love for God. He was thinking about them all the time, worrying that he would not have enough barns to store all of his grains and not enough storehouses to contain all of his wealth. But God rebuked him, saying that all that he had gained would be for nothing, as if his life was to be taken away that very night, all the wealth and possessions he had would not save him.

It is therefore an important reminder for each and every one of us, that we should realise that the true treasure of our life lies in God alone, and in God we have that inheritance and promise of eternal glory that last forever, and not temporary in nature. Meanwhile, all kinds of worldly assurances and matters can be easily destroyed and perish, and if we put our trust in these, we will only be disappointed in the end.

Let us all therefore spend some time to reflect on our lives. Let us all think on how we have led our lives thus far, on whether we have spent too much time trying to assemble for ourselves worldly glories, fame, wealth and renown, to the point that we have forgotten what it is that we really should be doing with our lives. We should devote ourselves, our effort, our time and attention to the Lord, so that in all the things we do, we do not do them for our own selfish gains, but for the greater glory of God.

Today, we celebrate the feast day of St. John of Capestrano, a renowned holy man and priest, who was a Franciscan friar and preacher, giving himself wholeheartedly to the Lord, abandoning behind all forms of worldly glory, as he was once an influential ruler and governor of the province of Perugia in Italy. He left everything behind and joined the Franciscan order to serve the greater purpose of God, trusting everything to Him.

St. John of Capestrano travelled through many cities and villages throughout Europe, preaching against heresies and excesses of human nature. He called many people to repent from their sins and to turn once again towards God. He was also involved in many embassies sent by the Pope to the rulers of Christendom, going from place to place to combat heresies as well as to settle matters of state, or broker peace between kingdoms and rulers.

The examples shown by St. John of Capestrano should inspire us all as Christians, that we should put God ahead of everything else in our lives. There will indeed be plenty of temptations urging us to do otherwise, but we will do well in obeying God and putting our trust in Him, as Abraham our father in faith, St. John of Capestrano and the many other holy saints had done in their lives.

Let us all therefore renew our commitment to God, by learning to be faithful in all the things we do in life, by trusting God in each and every moment of our lives, and by learning to let go of the temptations of material goods, wealth and all other things that do bring us temporary pleasure and happiness, but in the end, bring us only to disappointment and become obstacles in our journey to reach out to true happiness found in God alone.

May the Lord bless us always, and may He continue to guide us in our path, that in our journey towards Him, we shall be able to draw closer to Him and find justification through our faith and commitment in Him. Amen.

Monday, 23 October 2017 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John of Capestrano, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Luke 12 : 13-21

At that time, someone in the crowd spoke to Jesus, “Master, tell my brother to share with me the family inheritance.” He replied, “My friend, who has appointed Me as your Judge or your Attorney?” Then Jesus said to the people, “Be on your guard and avoid every kind of greed, for even though you have many possessions, it is not that which gives you life.”

And Jesus continued, “There was a rich man, and his land had produced a good harvest. He thought, ‘What shall I do, for I am short of room to store my harvest? Alright, I know what I shall do : I will pull down my barns and I will build bigger ones, to store all this grain, which is my wealth. Then I will say to myself : My friend, you have a lot of good things put by for many years. Rest, eat, drink and enjoy yourself.'”

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be taken from you. Tell Me, who shall get all you have put aside?’ This is the lot of the one who stores up riches for himself and is not wealthy in the eyes of God.”

Monday, 23 October 2017 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John of Capestrano, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Luke 1 : 69-70, 71-72, 73-75

In the house of David His servant, He has raised up for us a victorious Saviour; as He promised through His prophets of old.

Salvation from our enemies and from the hand of our foes. He has shown mercy to our fathers; and remembered His holy Covenant.

The oath He swore to Abraham, our father, to deliver us from the enemy, that we might serve Him fearlessly, as a holy and righteous people, all the days of our lives.

Monday, 23 October 2017 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John of Capestrano, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Romans 4 : 20-25

Abraham did not doubt, nor did he distrust the promise of God, and, by being strong in faith, he gave glory to God : He was convinced, that, He Who had given the promise, had power to fulfil it.

This was taken into account, for him to attain righteousness. This was taken into account : these words of Scripture are not only for him, but for us, too, because we believe in Him, Who raised Jesus, our Lord, from among the dead, He, Who was delivered for our sins, and raised to life, for us to receive true righteousness.

Thursday, 19 October 2017 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day through the Sacred Scriptures all of us are reminded of the love which God has shown us mankind, by wanting to forgive us from our sins and trespasses. All have sinned and fell from the grace of God, and should have merited them all destruction and damnation, according to St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Rome.

Yet, the Lord still loves each and every one of us, for if He has not loved us, He would not have created us in the first place. He created us so that all of us, each and every one of us may experience His love and compassion, and share in that love. God Who is all perfect and filled with perfect love has no need for us or for our love, and yet because He wants to share that love with us, that is why He created us.

And because He has created us out of love, despite of our downfall and sinfulness, He still wants us to be freed from our bondage to sin, because He hates and despises our sins, but not us as human beings personally. As long as we are still capable of being forgiven, God will forgive us many times. But this also require from each one of us the commitment to repent from our sins and leave behind our sinful past way of life.

Yet, this is definitely easier said than done, as there are many who are adamant and stubborn in their refusal to leave behind their way of sin. The Lord Jesus used the example of the people of Israel who in the past refused to repent and to listen to the message and the words of the prophets sent to them by God. They hardened their hearts and became angry at the prophets, seizing them, torturing them and ended up killing many of them.

In the same manner, as Jesus compared it with, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were adamant in their refusal to believe in Jesus. They continued to walk in their path of sin, of pride and haughtiness, of human greed and desire. There were lots of temptations, of power, of worldly glory and the pleasures of the flesh that prevented many from being able to commit themselves to the cause of the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is an important lesson for each and every one of us, reminding us that we must not be complacent in how we live our lives in faith. And we must be aware of just how much suffering that sin can cause us, because sin makes us to be separated from the fullness of God’s love and grace. And it is easy for us to lose our way and to be tempted as the Pharisees, the teachers of the Law and their ancestors had been tempted.

To be a true Christian, many of us must truly live in accordance with our faith, and believe in God wholeheartedly, often through our very actions and deeds in life. We often make compromises with the world and its ways, so that we can live comfortably without worry, but by doing so, we allow ourselves to be swayed away from God’s righteousness and into the path of our downfall through sin.

Today, let us all reflect on the lives of the holy saints and martyrs whose feast we celebrate this very day, first of all the Holy Canadian Martyrs and then St. Paul of the Cross, a holy priest of God. The Holy Canadian Martyrs were brave and courageous missionaries, all of them were Jesuits, belonging to the Society of Jesus, who went to the uncharted and new lands of what is now known as Canada in the New World.

The Jesuit missionaries travelled through very difficult terrains and went from villages to villages, enduring difficulties through various weather conditions in the wilderness to proclaim the Good News of Christ to the people who were still pagans and unbelievers at that time. Some of the people were willing to listen to them, and gradually many of them gave themselves to be baptised and were converted.

Yet, there were many others who refused to believe in God, and they made life very difficult for the courageous Jesuit missionaries. Eventually, they arrested and tortured the missionaries, and made martyrs out of them, much in the same way as what we have heard happening to the prophets sent to the people of Israel in the old times. The sins of mankind and their stubbornness made them to refuse to listen to the truth.

But does this stop the Church and God’s servants from trying to bring those who were stubborn towards the truth and salvation in God? No, in fact, it only spurs them all the more, trying to save the souls of as many as possible, many of whom were misguided by their lack of understanding about our faith and about the Lord our God. That was what St. Paul of the Cross was doing in his life, working for the greater good of the people of God.

St. Paul of the Cross was remembered for his work in founding the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ, or also known as the Passionists. Through his works and dedications, he called many people to be thoroughly converted to the Lord, to turn away from their mistaken and misguided way of life, and be penitent throughout their days of life. He was also committed to a life of charity and work among the people of God, and their works had inspired many more people to join in his efforts and be converted to God’s cause.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as Christians, all of us should follow the footsteps of our holy predecessors, and not those who refused to listen to God and repent from their sins. There will indeed be difficulties and challenges, as those who went before us would have known and understood. But we must persevere, and we must realise that it is not just us who need to have a change of heart and conversion, but even more so, those around us also need the same conversion.

It is through our works and participation that we will be able to help our brethren on their way towards the Lord, following the examples of the Holy Canadian Martyrs and St. Paul of the Cross. Let us all renew our commitment to God, and to serve Him through our actions all the days of our lives. May God be with us always and may He empower us to be true Christians always. Amen.

Thursday, 19 October 2017 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Gospel Reading)

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

Luke 11 : 47-54

At that time, Jesus said to the teachers of the Law, “A curse is on you, for you build monuments to the prophets your ancestors killed. So you approve and agree with what your ancestors did. Is it not so? They got rid of the prophets, and you build monuments to them!”

“For that reason the wisdom of God also said : I will send prophets and Apostles and these people will kill and persecute some of them. But the present generation will have to answer for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was murdered between the altar and the Sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, the people of this time will have to answer for them all.”

“A curse is on you, teachers of the Law, for you have taken the key of knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you prevented others from entering.”

As Jesus left that place, the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees began to harass Him, asking Him endless questions, setting traps to catch Him in something He might say.

Thursday, 19 October 2017 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Psalm)

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

Psalm 129 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-7a

Out of the depths I cry to You, o YHVH, o YHVH, hear my voice! Let Your ears pay attention to the voice of my supplication.

If You should mark our evil, o YHVH, who could stand? But with You, is forgiveness, and for that You are revered.

I waited for YHVH, my soul waits; and I put my hope in His word. My soul expects YHVH more than watchmen, the dawn. O Israel, hope in YHVH.