Thursday, 6 October 2022 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bruno, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all called to heed the Lord’s truth and His teachings, and ask Him for help whenever we are needing any assistance and help. We cannot struggle alone in this journey of faith, or else we will quickly realise that we will falter and be easily tempted, falling deeper and deeper into the path of sin, from which we may realise that there is no path out from. Unless we conscientiously follow the path of the Lord and remain firmly faithful to this path, striving to walk as good and devoted Christians, we may realise that we will be drawn into the ways of the world, and be tempted by sin.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Galatia, the words of the Apostle chiding and the rebuking the people of God there for their erroneous ways and wicked living, for having followed the ways and the teachings proposed and preached to them by the false prophets and by all those who did not adhere to the true deposit of the faith and the truth as preserved by the Apostles. Back then, there existed many variations of the teachings of Christ, with some people likely making use of those teachings as excuses to establish their own school of thought and ideologies, or by syncretising them with the pagan beliefs and customs.

As such, St. Paul reminded the people of God not to be easily swayed by those worldly temptations, and to adhere closely to what they have received, the pure truth as what St. Paul and the other authentic witnesses and missionaries had proclaimed to them. St. Paul reminded the faithful not to allow their desires and the weakness of their flesh to sway them to the wrong paths. Otherwise, they would end up losing their way and might even fell off away from the path towards God and His salvation. That is why, St. Paul told them not to listen to those who proclaimed different messages from what he and the other faithful servants of God had preached.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord speaking to His disciples about the matter of someone who asked a friend for a favour, and how a father would care for his children in the same way that a friend would have cared for his or her friend’s requests or pleas for assistance. The Lord used that as an example to highlight to His disciples and therefore to all of us that, often times we do not realise that we have such a great opportunity to ask the Lord for help at any moment in time, but for various reasons, we chose not to seek for His help, and preferred to do things our own way, which in the end led to us doing the wrong things and choosing the wrong paths.

And why is it that we did not seek God’s help? First of all, the most often reason was that we allow our pride and ego to get in the way. We let ourselves be swayed by our ego that we refused to allow the Lord to speak to us, and we refused to listen to Him and we chose rather to do things our own way rather than to admit that we can be wrong or mistaken in our ways, or that we want to preserve that semblance of face and strength, and we chose to press on in our erroneous ways of life rather than to submit to God’s will or to look for help from Him. That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, our human pride and ego are such dangerous things that we must be ever vigilant against.

Then, another reason is that we are reluctant to ask, because we are afraid that God will punish us if we ask, and that He will chide and refuse to listen to us for our pleas and prayers. That, brothers and sisters in Christ is yet another reason why so many ended up getting further and further away from God. They rather chose to hide rather than to face the Lord, their loving God and Father. They did not have enough faith in God and in His mercy, that they chose to rather run away from Him and avoid Him, instead of entrusting themselves to His love and care. And this is what we must remind ourselves, that our Lord is our Father, and like all fathers, they will indeed chastise their children when they err, but they do so with love, and not hatred.

Which one should we rather choose, brethren? To be chastised by God and to be reminded to atone for our many sins and wickedness, for an eternity of joy and true happiness, filled with God’s love and grace because we have been reconciled to Him, or to run and hide away, to keep our pride and ego and then suffer an eternity of suffering and regret, because we keep on rejecting God’s ever generous mercy and love? Let us all not forget that all those countless souls in hell, all suffer because they have consciously rejected God’s offer of mercy and love, and chose to remain in the path of sin.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all reflect on all these and discern carefully our paths going forward. Today, we have one saint whose feast we are celebrating, namely that of St. Bruno, whose life and devotion to God hopefully can inspire us to lead a better, more holy and committed life to God. St. Bruno, also known as St. Bruno of Cologne, was the founder of the Carthusian religious order. He was a devout priest and servant of God, whose tenure as the Chancellor of the Diocese of Reims in what is today France was well-known for his upright attitude and holiness, and despite facing challenges and trials from those who opposed him.

Not only that, but St. Bruno was also remembered for his conscious rejection of fame and public office, at the time when everyone would have wanted them. When he was offered and had a very likely chance to become a bishop, St. Bruno instead renounced all of that and all forms of worldly glory, and withdrew from the world, preferring to dedicate himself to the Lord, inspiring some others to follow his examples, which eventually led to the foundation of the Carthusians. Despite repeated efforts to make him an Archbishop afterwards, St. Bruno deferred to other candidates and those whom he recommended instead of himself. He remained committed to God, living simply and humbly to the end of his earthly life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we see in St. Bruno a genuine Christian faith and dedication, a great humility and passion to serve the Lord. At a time when many people, and even those within the Church, were tempted with worldly glory and power, St. Bruno showed them all, as well as all of us today, what it truly means to be a disciple of Christ, to be committed fully to God and to serve Him wholeheartedly, and not to be swayed and distracted by the temptations of worldly glory, power, fame, ambition, desire and especially by our pride and ego. We have discussed about it earlier, how our own ego and pride can easily lead to our downfall.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore commit ourselves anew to God, and strive to be ever better and more committed disciples and followers of Christ. Let us all draw ever closer to God and to His love and mercy, entrusting ourselves ever more to Him, and learning to humble ourselves and to be more willing to listen to Him, and ridding ourselves of the excesses of our desires, ego and pride. May the Lord be our guide and with the intercession of St. Bruno, may all of us remain firmly faithful to our Hope and salvation in God, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 6 October 2022 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bruno, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Luke 11 : 5-13

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to his house in the middle of the night and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine who is travelling has just arrived, and I have nothing to offer him.’ Maybe your friend will answer from inside, ‘Do not bother me now; the door is locked, and my children and I are in bed, so I cannot get up and give you anything.'”

“But I tell you, even though he will not get up and attend to you because you are a friend, yet he will get up because you are a bother to him, and he will give you all you need. And so I say to you, ‘Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For the one who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to him who knocks the door will be opened.”

“If your child asks for a fish, will you give him a snake instead? And if your child asks for an egg, will you give him a scorpion? If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.”

Thursday, 6 October 2022 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bruno, 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.

Thursday, 6 October 2022 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bruno, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Galatians 3 : 1-5

How foolish you are, Galatians! How could they bewitch you after Jesus Christ has been presented to you as crucified? I shall ask you only this : Did you receive the Spirit by the practice of the Law, or by believing the message? How can you be such fools : you begin with the Spirit and end up with the flesh!

So, you have experienced all this in vain! Would that, it were not so! Did God give you the Spirit, and work miracles among you because of your observance of the Law, or because you believed in His message?

Friday, 30 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome, 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 Lord contained within the Scriptures, let us all be reminded of the need for each and every one of us to believe in the Lord and His words, and entrust ourselves to Him, with ever greater fidelity and commitment each day. All of us are reminded through what we have heard today, of the limitations of our human selves and existences, and how we have to open ourselves and listen to the Lord speaking to us and revealing His truth to us. We have to believe in Him and entrust ourselves in His hands.

In our first reading today we heard from the Book of Job of what God spoke to Job towards the end of his tale, after he had gone through great sufferings and troubles, humiliations and attacks against him by even those who were close to him, because he was attacked by Satan, who took away all of his possessions, material wealth and even those who were dear to him like his own children. In the end, Job himself had to suffer from painful and itchy boils when Satan continued to strike against him in trying to make him to betray and abandon God. Yet, Job remained faithful to God and did not leave the Lord. Not even his sufferings and trials could dissuade him or tempt him away from the path towards God.

Job believed in God wholeheartedly even as he despaired. He trusted in Him even when he languished in the terrible state of health, and also derided and abandoned by even those closest to him, cursed and attacked because they thought that Job must have committed a great sin and disobeyed God to have suffered such a great calamity to himself and his family and possessions. Thus, Job and his so-called friends and companions ended up in great debate in which Job himself despaired and blamed himself for what had happened to him, and saying that God should just end his life there and then because of his unworthiness and lack of virtue.

It was there then we heard the Lord kindly rebuking His own servant Job as we listened to our first reading passage today. The Lord told Job that he should not have despaired and thought that he could comprehend the greatness of God, His thought and ways. Whatever happened to Job, God said that everything happened according to His will, and that it was by God’s will that everything came to be a reality, including what God Himself would do for Job at the end of all of his great misery and suffering. God granted Job double and more of all the things that he had lost earlier due to the calamities caused by Satan, and he regained all the joy and wonders of the world because of his unwavering faith in Him.

Then in our Gospel passage today we heard of the Lord Jesus cursing several of the cities of Galilee such as Capernaum, Bethsaida and Chorazin, all of these because those cities and their people had not believed in the Lord despite everything that He had done before them all. Unlike Job who had believed and trusted in the Lord, remaining faithful to Him even when he was surrounded by the various calamities and not able to see the Lord and His great deeds, the people of Capernaum, Bethsaida and Chorazin all had seen the many miracles and wonders of the Lord, and yet they had not believed in Him.

Instead, some among them doubted Him and questioned His authority and the veracity of His works and wonders. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law among them in particularly kept on hounding Him and His disciples in trying to find way to discredit Him and putting many obstacles in His path. That is part of the reason why the Lord, in His righteous anger, rebuked those cities and all those within them who had hardened their hearts and minds against Him, and refused to listen to Him and His truth, despite all the things and wonderful signs which He had performed before their own eyes, and which they had witnessed on their own.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we recall these words of the Scriptures, we are also reminded therefore of our calling as Christians to trust in the Lord despite our trials and challenges, because the Lord alone is the source of all our hopes and salvation. And today, we should be inspired by the examples shown by our holy predecessor in faith, one great saint and servant of God, namely St. Jerome, who was remembered most for his great contribution in the translation of the Bible from its Greek Septuagint and Hebrew origins to the Latin Vulgate version, which allowed the faithful people of God in many places to have greater access to the truth contained within the Word of God in the Scriptures.

St. Jerome translated the Scriptures as part of his many other works and writings, which he carried out for the good of the Church and the people of God. And in his role in assisting the Pope, the Vicar of Christ, who entrusted to him many matters including the translation of the Scriptures itself, and the reforms of the Church, many considered St. Jerome as a precursor of the Cardinals in the Church, as one of the closest confidants and collaborators of the Roman Pontiff. St. Jerome also encouraged greater holiness and sanctity among the people he was working and interacting with, encouraging them to be ever closer to God in their ways of life. He had to face many challenges and trials, oppositions and troubles, and yet, St. Jerome remained firm in his faith and trusted God in all things.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore be inspired by the good examples set by our holy predecessors, particularly that of St. Jerome whose memory we venerate today, as well as Job, the holy, devout and committed man of God. Let us all glorify God by our lives and let us entrust ourselves ever more to the Lord so that in all things, we may always be great and faithful witnesses of His truth, glory and resurrection. May God be with us always and may He bless us in our every endeavours and good works, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 30 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 10 : 13-16

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Alas for you, Chorazin! Alas for you, Bethsaida! So many miracles have been worked in you! If the same miracles had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would already be sitting in ashes and wearing the sackcloth of repentance.”

“Surely for Tyre and Sidon it will be better on the Day of Judgment than for you. And what of you, city of Capernaum? Will you be lifted up to heaven? You will be thrown down to the place of the dead. Whoever listens to you listens to Me, and whoever rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me, rejects the One Who sent Me.”

Friday, 30 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 138 : 1-3, 7-8, 9-10, 13, 14ab

O YHVH, You know me : You have scrutinised me. You know when I sit and when I rise; beforehand, You discern my thoughts. You observe my activities and times of rest; You are familiar with all my ways.

Where else could I go from Your Spirit? Where could I flee from Your presence? You are there, if I ascend the heavens; You are there, if I descend to the depths.

If I ride on the wings of the dawn, and settle on the far side of the sea, even there, Your hand shall guide me, and Your right hand shall hold me safely.

It was You Who formed my inmost part and knit me together in my mother’s womb. I thank You for these wonders You have done, and my heart praises You.

Friday, 30 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Job 38 : 1, 12-21 and Job 40 : 3-5

Then YHVH answered Job out of the storm : “Have you ever commanded the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might grasp the earth by its edges and shake the wicked out of it, when it takes a clay colour and changes its tint like a garment; when the wicked are denied their own light, and their proud arm is shattered?”

“Have you journeyed to where the sea begins or walked in its deepest recesses? Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of Shadow? Have you an idea of the breadth of the earth? Tell Me, if you know all this. Where is the way to the home of light, and where does darkness dwell? Can you take them to their own regions, and set them on their homeward paths? You know, for you were born before them, and great is the number of your years!”

Job said : “How can I reply, unworthy as I am! All I can do is put my hand over my mouth. I have spoken once, now I will not answer; oh, yes, twice, but I will do no further.”

Tuesday, 27 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we listened to the words of the Lord contained in the Scripture passages we heard today, we are all reminded that we must always have that faith in God, and not allow ourselves to be swayed by worldly sentiments and temptations. Unless we put our effort to resist the temptations against us, then we may find ourselves easily swayed and falling into those same temptations again and again, and therefore fall into the trap of sin. We must always be persistent in living our lives to the best of our abilities, in serving God with all of our hearts and might, at all times.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of Job we heard of the lamentations of Job who suffered greatly after having been struck by Satan, who was testing him if Job would abandon his faith in God when he faced such adversities and losses. Job lost most if not all of his vast worldly possessions, his many properties and vast herds of animals and livestock, and he also lost his beloved children to the calamities put forth by the devil. Not only that, but Satan himself even struck at Job’s own body, making him covered with terrible and painful boils and lesions which must have been so unbearable.

Yet, Job remained firm in his faith in God, and he did not allow all those things to deter him or distract him from his obedience to God. Job lamented as we heard in our first reading today, but he did not blame his predicaments on God. Rather, he blamed it on himself and his unworthiness. And in his despair that we heard, he wished that he would rather perish and die, rather than to exist anymore in this world. Certainly we can feel the anguish and the sufferings which Job encountered back then, all that he had lost and all that he was suffering from, the pain and the indignity, the troubles and trials that he faced.

Then in our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord Who was travelling on His way to Jerusalem, and was rejected entry into a Samaritan village because the people in that village came to know that the Lord was on His way to Jerusalem in Judea. Back then, the ethnic and religious tensions between the Jewish people in Judea and Galilee, and the Samaritans in the region of Samaria had been happening for many years. Both sides accused each other of having been unfaithful to the teachings of the Lord and they treated each other with disdain and contempt.

That was why, because they knew that the Lord was on His way to Jerusalem, they closed their doors and gates against Him. They hardened their hearts and minds, and allowed their worldly desires, considerations, sentiments and attachments to guide their way instead of being able to listen to God. That was exactly why they wandered and become lost from God. But yet God did not punish or strike them down as we heard in that Gospel passage story we heard today, and that is because God’s love and compassionate mercy towards us is so great that He wants us to be reconciled with Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it means that we are truly fortunate to have God Who has always looked after us and protect us, providing for us and guiding us all the time with great patience and love. Unfortunately, we did not have strong love for Him and faith in Him, and when the time of trials and troubles come, it was just a matter of time before we give up and abandon the Lord, for comfort in worldly things and desires. In this regard, we should heed the faith and dedication which Job had, in remaining steadfastly faithful to God despite his many sufferings and struggles.

Today, the Church also celebrates the feast of a great and renowned saint whose exemplary life and dedication to God and to his fellow brothers and sisters may become our great source of inspiration and a worthy role model in living our lives as good and committed Christians. St. Vincent de Paul was renowned for his great dedication for the poor and for all those who were suffering. He likely drew his passion and strength from his own experiences, which was also hard and bitter, especially when he had to experience being a slave during his younger years. Back then, he was a young man studying to be a priest when he was abducted and enslaved by the infamous Barbary pirates, who sold him to several masters before finally he managed to convince his last master to return to the Church and to Christendom.

Those early experiences and the own zeal and passion which St. Vincent de Paul had in serving the Lord and his fellow men likely encouraged him to become a priest and then involve himself in missionary work, and also in many outreach particularly towards the sick and the less privileged in the community. He founded and inspired the foundation of several religious congregations and organisations, like the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and many others. He worked with the Daughters of Charity in the provision of care for the poor families and those who were suffering. He was also involved in the ministry to those who were forced to work in the galleys and ships as slaves, remembering his own not-so-good experiences as slaves during his younger days.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we have heard from the lives of St. Vincent de Paul, and also from many other saints and holy men and women of God, we have to remain steadfast in faith at all times, and we should not allow the sufferings, struggles, trials, temptations and other things present in our world from distracting us in our path towards God and His salvation. We have to be inspired by the perseverance and passion showed by those holy predecessors of ours, particularly that of St. Vincent de Paul whose memory and great life we recall today. May God be with us all in our good efforts and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 27 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 9 : 51-56

At that time, as the time drew near when Jesus would be taken up to heaven, He made up His mind to go to Jerusalem. He sent ahead of Him some messengers, who entered a Samaritan village to prepare a lodging for Him. But the people would not receive Him, because He was on His way to Jerusalem.

Seeing this, James and John, His disciples, said, “Lord, do You want us to call down fire from heaven to reduce them to ashes?” Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they went on to another village.