Tuesday, 9 October 2018 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Denis, Bishop and Companions, Martyrs, and St. John Leonardi, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day first of all we heard about the persecution of Christians as mentioned by St. Paul the Apostle, who recounted what he had done when he was still know as Saul, when he hunted down all Christians, all those who believed in God and followed the teachings and the truth as revealed by the Lord Jesus Christ, Saviour of the world and Son of God.

Saul was once thought to have the potential to be a very influential and powerful Pharisee, as he was born into privilege, an educated and bright young Jewish man from Tarsus, having many close connections to the other Pharisees and the influential members of the Jewish Sanhedrin and High Priesthood. Saul seemingly was destined for a life of glory and greatness, of power and privilege among the Jewish people, being an elite among the elites of the society.

But God had a very different plan for Saul, and He called him to be His disciple, through the dramatic encounter on the road to Damascus, where He revealed Himself and the truth to Saul, calling him to turn away from evil and from his misguided past ways, and embrace the truth of God, and follow Him just as the other disciples of His had done. Saul eventually became a believer, was baptised, and from then on, became a great champion of the Christian faith.

Yet, in accepting the role into which God had called him to, Saul, who take up the new name of Paul to mark his conversion and acceptance of the Lord, he had to abandon all the worldly glory and power, influence and privileges he once enjoyed, and instead, having to endure all sorts of insults and difficulties, challenges and rejections. He had to endure torture in prison, and even almost being killed on many occasions.

Nonetheless, to the very end, as St. Paul showed throughout his travels as recorded in the Book of Acts of the Apostles, he endured all of those challenges and sufferings with patience, hope and faith, because he trusted in God wholeheartedly, and placed himself completely under His care. He went to wherever God called him to go, and did what the Lord had asked him to do. He endured it all, until he met his martyrdom in Rome.

St. Paul showed us that to be a disciple of Christ we must be thoroughly focused on Him, if we are to resist the temptations to do otherwise. This is shown in the Gospel passage today, in what we heard about the encounter between the Lord Jesus, and His friends, Mary and Martha. When the Lord came into their house, both of the sisters were so happy to welcome Him, and while Mary listened attentively on what the Lord told her, Martha instead was busy preparing all the food and all the hospitality work.

Martha became too engrossed in her works, and seeing her sister attending by the Lord’s side without helping her, she became annoyed and asked the Lord to tell her sister to give her a hand to help. But the Lord Jesus then reminded Martha, that Mary had in fact done what is right, that is, to focus her attention to the Lord, and not to all the hectic and busy matters of the world. Martha wanted to please the Lord by her actions, but in her choice of action, she ended up losing her focus on Him and instead on all of her chores.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, many of us mankind, even among us as Christians, we have not been truly living our faith as how we should have, as we are too busy and preoccupied by our worldly concerns and desires, for wealth, for glory, for human praise and for all sorts of pleasures of the body and joy of the world. That is why we end up drifting further and further away from the Lord, because of the pull of these temptations.

Today we mark the feast of two holy servants of God, whose lives should become inspiration for us on how we should live out our own lives. First St. Denis, bishop of Paris, was a holy martyr of the faith, during the years of persecution of Christians by the Romans. St. Denis was a great missionary and evangeliser, who together with some other bishops and priests managed to gain so many followers and converts, that they earned the anger of the pagans.

Thus, St. Denis and his companions were arrested and tortured for their Christian faith. But they refused to let go of their faith or to betray their Lord for the pagan gods and the worship of the Emperor. He was beheaded with a sword, but miraculously, even after the beheading, the head of St. Denis continued to preach about the truth of God, and his hand carried his own head up, and walking down on a few miles from the place of his execution, he continued to preach, until he eventually stopped and passed on, a place marked with what is now the Basilica of St. Denis in Paris.

The examples and the miraculous occasion which accompanied St. Denis’ martyrdom inspired many of the Christians then suffering from persecution, and many others who witnessed his courage and faith, and the astounding spectacle of the miraculous talking head became believers in the faith and converted to the true faith. Many of them would also eventually became martyrs themselves.

Then, today, we also celebrate the feast of St. John Leonardi, a holy and devout priest who lived in the late era Renaissance Italy, remembered for his great piety and encouragement of many others to live a more devout and holy life, especially in the devotion he fostered for the Blessed Sacrament and to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. His work inspired many others to follow his example, and eventually they began a religious order together.

St. John Leonardi dedicated himself to the Lord thoroughly and spent his efforts trying to be more and more committed to serve the Lord, in each and every days of his life. His examples should also therefore, inspire us to live a more dedicated and pious life, just as St. Denis and his companions have inspired us to remain faithful and courageous in living our faith, even despite the challenges we encounter in life, one day after another.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us therefore turn towards God with a renewed heart and with a new commitment. Let us spend more quality time with Him, to know what is His will for us, and what we can do more, in order to live our lives with faith, imitating what St. Paul the Apostle had done in his life. May the Lord bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Denis, Bishop and Companions, Martyrs, and St. John Leonardi, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 10 : 38-42

At that time, as Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He entered a village, and a woman called Martha welcomed Him to her house. She had a sister named Mary, who sat down at the Lord’s feet to listen to His words. Martha, meanwhile, was busy with all the serving, and finally she said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the work? Tell her to help me!”

But the Lord answered, “Martha, Martha, you worry and are troubled about many things, whereas only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Tuesday, 9 October 2018 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Denis, Bishop and Companions, Martyrs, and St. John Leonardi, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 138 : 1-3, 13-14, 15

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.

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, for Your marvellous deeds.

Even my bones were known to You when I was being formed in secret, fashioned in the depths of the earth.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Denis, Bishop and Companions, Martyrs, and St. John Leonardi, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Galatians 1 : 13-24

You have heard of my previous activity in the Jewish community; I furiously persecuted the Church of God and tried to destroy it. For I was more devoted to the Jewish religion than many fellow Jews of my age, and I defended the traditions of my ancestors more fanatically.

But one day, God called me, out of His great love, He, Who had chosen me from my mother’s womb; and He was pleased to reveal, in me, His son, that I might make Him known among the pagan nations. Then, I did not seek human advice nor did I go up to Jerusalem, to those who were Apostles before me. I immediately went to Arabia, and from there, I returned, again, to Damascus.

Later, after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to meet Cephas, and I stayed with him for fifteen days. But I did not see any other Apostle except James, the Lord’s brother. On writing this to you, I affirm before God that I am not lying. After that, I went to Syria and Cilicia. The churches of Christ in Judea did not know me personally; they had only heard of me : “He, who once persecuted us, is now preaching the faith he tried to uproot.” And they praised God because of me.

Saturday, 6 October 2018 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bruno, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard of the end and conclusion of the story of Job, the suffering servant of God. Modern Biblical scholars contended that Job did not necessarily represent a historical figure, but rather, a figurative representation of us as God’s people and followers, who live in this world, and are therefore, exposed to all sorts of temptations and from the attacks by the evil one, Satan.

Satan tried to tempt Job and to strike at him, making bets with the Lord, that if he struck at Job, surely Job would fall into temptation and in his anger, he would abandon his faith in God and curse Him. But Job remained faithful and true to his faith, and he did not allow all the sufferings he encountered to be obstacles and hindrances in the way of his faith. He remained firmly faithful and believed that all of what he had to endure, was part of God’s will and plan.

And in the end, God executed His plan and saved His people from the darkness of their sufferings and despair, as He showed clearly in the example of Job, as mentioned in our first reading passage today. We heard how Job was healed from all of his afflictions, and even had his possessions and blessings returned to him, not just what he once had, but in fact double of what he had before.

Through this, God wanted His people to know, that in Him alone there is hope and true salvation, liberation and freedom from all of our troubles, from all the challenges, difficulties and all sorts of obstacles that we may encounter in one way or another in our respective lives. Indeed, the path will be a challenging and difficult one, just as Job’s multitudes of sufferings and pains showed us, but in the end, if we remain faithful to God, our rewards will be great and everlasting.

In the Gospel passage today, the Lord also spoke to us the same message of hope, with the bold proclamation of the defeat of Satan as foretold by the Lord Jesus Himself before His disciples. It was a premonition of what would happen, at the time of Jesus, when the Lord finally put His plan to save His people into its fulfilment and perfect completion, by the crucifixion in which, He gathered all of His people and took up all of their sins and faults, and died for their sake, in an act of perfect love and self-sacrifice that became the source of our salvation.

By the loving sacrifice of Christ on the cross, we have been made free and saved from our fated destruction at the hand of death and sin. And that marks the ultimate defeat of Satan and all of his diabolical plans to bring about our downfall through sin. Through His loving sacrifice, He destroyed forever the dominion of sin over us mankind, and opened for us the path to eternal life and salvation in Him.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us are called to have faith in God just as Job and all the faithful servants of God, those who went before us have done. Indeed, there will be plenty of obstacles and challenges facing us, just as faced by those who have shown their courage and commitment, piety and dedication, but as long as we anchor ourselves strongly in our faith, and in our willingness and desire to love God, God will protect us and guide us on our journey.

Today, we celebrate together the feast day of St. Bruno of Cologne, a holy and devout priest, servant of God, who founded the religious order of the Carthusians. St. Bruno was a great teacher of the faith, inspiring many with his deep love for God and great piety, in all of his actions, words and dealings. His great and deep humility also touched many people who had the opportunity to know him.

St. Bruno dedicated himself to a life of service to God, in poverty and simplicity, in how he declined appointment to the office of bishop and in his commitment to serve the greater cause of the Lord. St. Bruno entrusted himself completely to the love of God, and gave himself fully to Him in love, inspiring many others who followed in his footsteps and thus marking the foundation and growth of the early Carthusians.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to trust the Lord and to give ourselves so completely as Job, St. Bruno and the many other holy men and women of God had done? We are all challenged in this manner, reminding us that as Christians, we ought to give our best to the Lord, in all of our whole being. May the Lord help us, and with the intercession of St. Bruno, guide us in our journey of faith towards Him. Amen.

Saturday, 6 October 2018 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bruno, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Luke 10 : 17-24

At that time, the seventy-two disciples returned full of joy. They said, “Lord, even the demons obeyed us when we called on Your Name.” Then Jesus replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. You see, I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the Enemy, so that nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the evil spirits submit to you; rejoice, rather, than your names are written in heaven.”

At that time, Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and made them known to little ones. Yes, Father, such has been Your gracious will. I have been given all things by My Father, so that no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son, and he to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.”

Then Jesus turned to His disciples and said to them privately, “Fortunate are you to see what you see, for I tell you, that many prophets and kings would have liked to see what you see, but did not see it; and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”

Saturday, 6 October 2018 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bruno, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Psalm 118 : 66, 71, 75, 91, 125, 130

Give me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust in Your commands.

It is good for me to have been afflicted, for I have deeply learnt Your statutes.

I know, o YHVH, that Your laws are just; and there is justice in my affliction.

Your ordinances last to this day, for all things are made to serve You.

Give me knowledge; I am Your servant, who desires to understand Your statutes.

As Your words unfold, light is shed, and the simple-hearted understand.