Monday, 10 May 2021 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. John of Avila, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are called to be evangelising disciples and missionaries of the faith to more and more people, to reach out to others around us who have not yet known the Lord or have lapsed from the faith that through us we may bear forth God’s truth and love and touch the lives of many people, and lead ever more souls to the salvation in God. This is our calling as Christians, and which we all need to embrace and which we need to respond to in our lives.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord Jesus speaking to His disciples reassuring them and promising to them that He would send them the great Helper, the Advocate, namely the Holy Spirit. This promise would later on then be fulfilled on the day of the Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came down on the Apostles and the other disciples assembled in Jerusalem after the Lord ascended into Heaven. The Holy Spirit strengthened the Apostles and the other disciples, giving them all the courage and the wisdom to reach out to all the peoples to whom the Lord was sending them to, in preaching the truth of the Good News of the Gospels.

The Lord then also be told His disciples fo be fruitful and productive in how we live our lives and faith. He called on all of them to be genuine in the way we carry out ourselves so that we may inspire one another to be willing to take action to spread the Good News of God, His truth and love in our respective communities, within our own families, circle of friends and acquaintances, among others whom we encounter in life. He sent them out to bear witness to this truth and call on more and more people to come to the salvation through Him.

This is what we then heard in our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, telling us about what St. Paul and the other disciples had been doing, in their missionary work and outreach, as St. Paul visited the communities of the faithful all throughout the Mediterranean region. He went from place to place, preaching the Good News and strengthening the faith among the people who were in those places, and many were converted because they believed in St. Paul and in all that he has spoken about.

These are the efforts of those who have witnessed and seen the truth of God, and having received the truth, they passed it on from one to another, that more and more people might come to know about the truth, and find out about the salvation in God. Through the Holy Spirit, they had been encouraged and strengthened, that despite the challenges and trials, the difficulties and obstacles they encountered, all these never prevented them from remaining firmly committed to the same mission that God has entrusted to them.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us have also been called to live our lives with faith, loving the Lord wholeheartedly and to commit ourselves to the Lord and His cause, with the same mission as that which had been entrusted to the Apostles and their successors. In our present day today, the works of the Church are still far from done, and there are still many areas where there are still many opportunities for us to take part in the works of evangelisation and outreach, in order to reach out more and more people.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. John of Avila, a great saint whose life may become a source of inspiration in how we ought to live our lives in obedience to God and His will. He was a Spanish priest and missionary, who was always aspiring in his early years and priesthood to go forth as a missionary in distant lands. However, the great piety of St. John of Avila was noted by another local priest who then recommended him to the Archbishop of Seville, who then encouraged him to stay on in Spain and minister to the people there.

St. John of Avila since then ministered to the faithful in the region of Andalusia in southern Spain, ministering to the needs of the faithful and to many diverse groups of people, calling for the faithful to turn away from their sins and to renounce their sinful ways. He established various faith communities and inspired many to follow in his examples and to continue the works that he had started. Through his writings and many works, St. John of Avila inspired many people throughout many regions, and not few were converted to the true faith.

St. John of Avila showed great piety and devotion to God in all of his actions, and he served the Lord unconditionally, with total devotion and this inspired so many others to follow the Lord and to change their ways of life for the better as well as in the reforming of the Church, and therefore countless souls have been saved, as those whom St. John of Avila had influenced and touched, they themselves would reach out and inspire many more people to return to the Lord and embrace their faith.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all follow in the footsteps of St. John of Avila, that all of us may be inspired to be good role models and inspirations in faith for one another, and through our lives, through our commitment and love for God, we may inspire others to follow in our footsteps, and enter into the kingdom of God and be saved as well. Let us all be inspired as Christians, to live our lives most virtuously and in accordance to the way that the Lord has shown us.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He guide us through His Holy Spirit, that we can be exemplary in life, and be missionary in spirit, that we may glorify His Name through our every actions in life. May God bless us all and our every good efforts and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Monday, 10 May 2021 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. John of Avila, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 15 : 26 – John 16 : 4a

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “From now on the Helper, the Holy Spirit Whom the Father will send in My Name, will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I have told you.”

“Peace be with you! I give you My peace; not as the world gives peace do I give it to you. Do not be troubled; do not be afraid. You heard Me say, ‘I am going away, but I am coming to you.’ If you loved Me, you would be glad that I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”

“I have told you this now before it takes place, so that when it does happen you may believe. It is very little what I may still tell you, for the prince of this world is at hand, although there is nothing in Me that he can claim. But see, the world must know that I love the Father, and that I do what the Father has taught Me to do. Come now, let us go.”

“I am the True Vine and My Father is the Vinegrower. If any of My branches does not bear fruit, He breaks it off; and He prunes every branch that does bear fruit, that it may bear even more fruit. You are already made clean by the word I have spoken to you. Live in Me as I live in you.”

Monday, 10 May 2021 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. John of Avila, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 149 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6a and 9b

Alleluia! Sing to the Lord a new song, sing His praise in the assembly of His saints! Let Israel rejoice in his Maker, let the people of Zion glory in their King!

Let them dance to praise of His Name and make music for Him with harp and timbrel. For the Lord delights in His people; He crowns the lowly with victory.

The saints will exult in triumph; even at night on their couches. Let the praise of God be on their lips; this is the glory of all His saints. Alleluia!

Monday, 10 May 2021 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. John of Avila, Priest and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 16 : 11-15

So we put out to sea from Troas and sailed straight across to Samothrace Island, and the next day to Neapolis. From there we went inland to Philippi, the leading city of the district of Macedonia, and a Roman colony. We spent some days in that city.

On the sabbath we went outside the city gate to the bank of the river where we thought the Jews would gather to pray. We sat down and began speaking to the women who were gathering there. One of them was a God-fearing woman named Lydia from Thyatira City, a dealer in purple cloth.

As she listened, the Lord opened her heart to respond to what Paul was saying. After she had been baptised together with her household, she invited us to her house, “If you think I am faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us to accept her invitation.

Wednesday, 28 April 2021 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr and St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture we are presented with the story of the works of the Apostles and the followers of the Lord who went about from places to places, speaking about God and His truth, and calling on many to embrace the Christian faith. And the Lord reminded all of us through today’s Gospel passage that He will always be with us, and He will never abandon us, and that we are all proclaiming the same truth which He Himself has brought into this world, into our midst.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Acts of the Apostles on the ministry of the Apostles and the disciples who went to many parts of the regions of the Eastern Mediterranean while preaching the Good News and establishing the foundation of the Church and the Christian communities in those locations. And the Lord told His Apostles and disciples to send St. Paul and St. Barnabas to the Gentiles and minister to them, which marked the beginning of their ministry among the Gentiles and especially for St. Paul, his many decades of work in reaching out to them.

The Apostles prayed over the two and asked the Lord to guide them in their journey and in their efforts, and they were sent with much encouragement, to bring hope and light to those who have not yet known the Lord and are still living in the darkness. The Lord has sent His disciples to reveal more of His truth to all those who still have not heard of Him yet, and through these faithful disciples He is calling on all of them to follow Him.

He calls on everyone to follow Him, and He has done everything that we may find our way to Him. Yet, there were still many who refused to believe in Him and persecuted His disciples and followers. Yet, He still sent more and more people to turn even these stubborn and hard-hearted people, persuading them and asking them to listen to reason and to open their hearts and minds, listening to the truth that He has brought to them. His love for each and every one of us is the reason why He kept on doing that, again and again.

And therefore we are all called today to reflect firstly on ourselves and our own lives. Have we been stubborn in refusing to follow the Lord wholeheartedly, in continuing to act in ways that are contrary to the way of the Lord, in disobeying Him and being stubborn in following our own desires and the path of worldliness and sin? There are many who are just Christians in name only, and in their hearts and minds, God is not truly present, and He is also not the centre and focus.

Today all of us are therefore reminded to be truly faithful to God, and we are all called to give our whole heart and mind to Him, just as the Apostles and the countless disciples and followers of the Lord had done. In all that they had done, they are our wonderful sources of inspiration, in living up to their faith and in following what the Lord had called them to do, dedicating themselves wholeheartedly to the missions entrusted to them. The Lord called them and they heard Him, and they responded to that call with great dedication and faith.

Today, we are called to follow the examples of St. Peter Chanel and St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, whose feast day we are celebrating today. St. Peter Chanel was a renowned French priest and missionary, who always had great zeal for missionary work and outreach, and as he joined the congregation dedicated for missionary work in both local and far flung foreign areas. In this regard, St. Peter Chanel was eventually sent to French Polynesia, where he ministered to the people there and to all the others that he visited on his way to the place of his ministry.

In Futuna, where he ministered to the locals, he was initially welcomed by the local king and tribe, but in time, as more and more of the locals were converted, the king and his nobles began to fear that Christianity and Christian missionaries would become great threat to their own influence and power, especially the king as the high priest and the leader of the pagan faith of the locals. Hence, eventually, when St. Peter Chanel managed to persuade even the king’s son to be baptised, the king arranged for his champion to kill St. Peter Chanel, who died a martyr defending his faith.

Meanwhile, St. Louis Marie de Montfort was a renowned priest who is remembered well for his intense Marian devotion and also great contributions to the field of Mariology. He is remembered for his courageous efforts in evangelisation and preaching in various places where he helped many people to discover the Lord and renew their faith in Him, while encouraging the devotion to His Blessed Mother Mary, and calling on many people to repent and turn away from their sins. Thanks to his dedication, many people, even after his passing, have been inspired by him and chose to follow the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore commit ourselves to the Lord following the good examples of these two saints, and that of the Apostles, especially St. Paul and St. Barnabas, that each and every one of us, in our own ways, and in each and every of our own capacities and abilities, we may glorify the Lord by our lives, and may show great and wonderful testimony of our faith through our actions, words and deeds in life. May all of us be blessed and strengthened by the Lord in all of our efforts and good works, now and always. Amen.

Wednesday, 28 April 2021 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr and St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

John 12 : 44-50

At that time, yet Jesus had said, and even cried out, “Whoever believes in Me, believes not in Me, but in Him Who sent Me. And whoever sees Me, sees Him Who sent Me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in Me may not remain in darkness.”

“If anyone hears My words and does not keep them, I am not the One to condemn him; for I have come, not to condemn the world, but to save the world. The one who rejects Me, and does not receive My word, already has a judge : the very word I have spoken will condemn him on the last day.”

“For I have not spoken on My own authority; the Father, Who sent Me, has instructed Me in what to say and how to speak. I know that His commandment is eternal life, and that is why the message I give, I give as the Father instructed Me.”

Wednesday, 28 April 2021 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr and St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 66 : 2-3, 5, 6 and 8

May God be gracious and bless us, may He let His face shine upon us, that Your way be known on earth and Your salvation among the nations.

May the countries be glad and sing for joy, for You rule the peoples with justice and guide the nations of the world.

May the people praise You, o God, may all the peoples praise You! May God bless us and be revered, to the very ends of the earth.

Wednesday, 28 April 2021 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr and St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Acts 12 : 24 – Acts 13 : 5

Meanwhile the word of God was increasing and spreading. Barnabas and Saul carried out their mission and then came back to Jerusalem, taking with them John also called Mark.

There were at Antioch – in the Church which was there – prophets and teachers : Barnabas, Symeon known as Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod, and Saul.

On one occasion while they were celebrating the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said to them, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul to do the work for which I have called them.” So, after fasting and praying, they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

These then, sent by the Holy Spirit, went down the port of Seleucia and from there sailed to Cyprus. Upon their arrival in Salamis they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogue.

Saturday, 24 April 2021 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, Priest and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, all of us are reminded that we must always stay firm in the Lord and in our Christian faith, and we should not allow ourselves to be swayed or to be deceived by falsehoods, lest the devil is trying as he has always been, in order to turn us away from God and in trying to persuade and coerce us to embrace the ways of the world, and distance ourselves from the true path.

All of us must realise that being Christians often mean that we have to make the most unconventional of choices and tread the most unlikely of paths, as we follow the Lord and speak faithfully of His truth, and the path going forward is not necessarily going to be easy or smooth for us. This is what the devil will try to capitalise as he will definitely try to persuade and coerce us to follow the easier, more logical and more profitable and fruitful way forward, luring us the path of God’s truth.

In our first reading today, we heard of the works of St. Peter the Apostle as he preached the truth of God in various places like Lydda and Joppa all around the land, strengthening the faith of those who have come to believe in the Lord and calling on many others to embrace the Lord. And it was during that visit to Lydda and Joppa that St. Peter showed just how unconventional and different our Christian faith can be, as he healed the paralytic man Aeneas in Lydda, and brought the faithful woman Tabitha back to life in Joppa.

Such things that happened truly are beyond ordinary comprehension and norms, and could not be explained by any human means or standards. The Lord has given His followers the authority and power to heal the sick and even to raise people from the dead through faith. And this is what we are all called to remember, that we must indeed have faith and trust in the Lord, in His providence and love, in His care and compassion to each and every one of us. We must believe in Him and all that He has done for us.

In our Gospel today, the Lord was abandoned by many of those who followed Him because He spoke to them the reality that He is the One Who would give them all His own Body and Blood, to be broken and shared among them, as the Bread of Life and the Salvation of all, through Whom all would receive the assurance of life eternal. But many would not open their minds to the Lord and few were willing to accept the hard truth, as they refused to accept that One like the Lord could have given them His own Flesh and Blood.

Yet, as we heard from our Gospel today and from those in the previous days, on this discourse of the Bread of Life, the Lord did not mince His words or soften it by euphemisms. Instead, He spoke plainly and clearly, highlighting that it is indeed through Him that God’s salvation would come, and by revealing Himself as the Bread of Life, He was giving them all advance premonition of what He would do at His Passion and death, when He chose willingly to accept suffering and death for the sake of our salvation and liberation from the bondage to the same sin and death.

And that is what the disciples of the Lord were preaching on, and what they were willing to suffer and die for in the mission which God has entrusted to them, following in the footsteps of the Apostles themselves, in the same Lord through which St. Peter had performed wondrous miracles as highlighted in our first reading today. Many saints and martyrs showed us all what it means to be true disciples of the Lord, in their exemplary lives, dedication and faith, in how they generously give of themselves for the glory of the Lord.

Today we celebrate the memory of one of those faithful saints, namely St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen. St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen was a priest who ministered to the faithful in many parts of Switzerland as a Capuchin friar, at the forefront of the Counter-Reformation efforts. St. Fidelis courageously and patiently spoke of the truth of the Lord against the Calvinists who rejected the truth of God, particularly in what the Lord Himself had stated it clearly today, of the Doctrine of Transubstantiation, the Real Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist.

St. Fidelis ministered to the people faithfully and managed to gain a great number of converts, which angered the Calvinists who saw him as a great threat to their community and their misguided faith. As such they plotted against him and tried to find ways to destroy him. St. Fidelis himself according to tradition had known of what would happen to him, and surrendered himself to the Lord, entrusting himself completely into His hands, as Calvinist soldiers struck at him and murdered him when he refused to abandon his true faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through what we have heard in St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, his faith and dedication to the Lord, and how he and many other saints and martyrs, from the days of the Apostles to this very day, we are all reminded that as members and parts of the Church each and every one of us also have the same share in the calling and mission entrusted to us by God. But are we willing to commit ourselves in the manner that the Apostles, the saints and martyrs, like how St. Fidelis had committed himself and his own life?

Let us all discern carefully therefore how we are to proceed on in this life, going forward knowing that we are all parts of the same Church and have upon us the same mission entrusted to us by God Himself, to be His faithful and courageous witnesses, through our own actions and deeds, by everything we do, even to the smallest things, within our own communities. May all of us be exemplary in our faith and life, that we may inspire more and more to come and to follow the Lord wholeheartedly. Amen.

Saturday, 24 April 2021 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, Priest and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

John 6 : 60-69

At that time, after the Jews heard Jesus, many of His followers said, “This language is very hard! Who can accept it?”

Jesus was aware that His disciples were murmuring about this, and so He said to them, “Does this offend you? Then how will you react when you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? It is the Spirit that gives life, not the flesh. The words that I have spoken to you are Spirit and they are life. But among you there are some who do not believe.”

From the beginning, Jesus knew who would betray Him. So He added, “As I have told you, no one can come to Me unless it is granted by the Father.” After this many disciples withdrew and no longer followed Him. Jesus asked the Twelve, “Will you also go away?

Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We now believe and know that You are the Holy One of God.”