Wednesday, 23 October 2019 : 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, on this day we listened to the Sacred Scriptures in which we are reminded of the importance for us to stay vigilant and resist the temptation to sin. Sin is a very dangerous threat to us and if we allow sin to have its way with us, we will end up being dragged deeper and deeper into the darkness and in the end, we have nothing left but eternal regret and despair.

And St. Paul reminded us all in his Epistle to the Romans in our first reading today that all of us truly belong to God, and as Christians, we who believe in God and take Him as our Lord and Master should only obey and listen to Him alone, and not to any other things. It is when we allow ourselves to be tempted and swayed that we end up falling into sin, and from sin into eventually damnation.

We are all called to resist the temptation and urge to sin, restraining the desires of our body and mind. As these temptations can easily lead us astray and make us to forget what it is that we, God’s people ought to be doing with our lives, just as the Gospel passage today elaborated further to us. In that passage we heard the Lord Jesus teaching His disciples using a parable describing the actions of the stewards of a master.

In that parable, the actions of a lazy steward was described, as that steward delayed in doing the will of his master when the master was away on a journey. The lazy steward indulged in all sorts of things, in drunkenness and gluttony, and also abused the other male servants and maids. He thought that he could get away with all that because of his position and thinking that the master would not return so soon.

That was when he was truly very wrong, as the master returned and caught that lazy steward in all of his wickedness and he got his well-deserved punishment. This is something that all of us must keep in mind as we go on living our own lives, as the Lord’s way to remind us to be truly faithful to Him. The stewards represent all of us, God’s people and His servants, just as the master is a representation of the Lord, our God.

And sin leads us to fall astray just as the lazy steward fell into those temptations, disobeying his master and failed to do as he has been told and instructed to do. In the end, the lazy steward met a terrible reckoning as he delayed on and assumed that the master would not have come in time for him to rectify everything and sort things out first. He was wrong, and we can be wrong too, if we choose to follow the example of the lazy steward.

What does this mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that we must not delay any longer in rejecting sin and in turning away from the path of sin and wickedness we have been walking along all these while. We must embrace God and obey Him from now on, for we do not know when the end of our mortal existence in this world will come to us. If we keep on delaying and dragging our feet, it will come eventually to the point when we will regret for not having done something much earlier.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we must realise just how much God loves each and every one of us and how He is always willing to welcome us back to His presence and how He wants to embrace us all with love, forgiving us our sins. But are we willing to be forgiven and to take the necessary steps needed to embrace His love fully by being repentant of all of our sins and by leading a holy life from now on.

Today perhaps we can imitate the good examples of St. John of Capestrano, a holy priest and dedicated servant of God who can show us what it truly means to be a good, dedicated and faithful steward and servant of God. St. John of Capestrano was a member of the Franciscan Order dedicated to the service of God, ministering to the people of God, calling them to a renewed faith and a holy life in God.

He was also remembered for his dedication to God, that he zealously opposed the falsehoods of the many heresies that sprung up during the years of his ministry in the fifteenth century, a few hundred years ago. He went about spreading the truth of God and wrote extensively against the heresies. On top of this, he was remembered for his courageous participation in the Crusade against the enemies of the faithful.

St. John of Capestrano showed us all what it means to be a true disciple and servant of God, and we are all therefore called to follow in his footsteps. Are we able to dedicate ourselves in the same manner as this faithful and holy servant of God? Let us all discern our lives carefully and think of what we can do from now on to serve the Lord ever more courageously and faithfully, delaying no more and embracing fully His ways. May God bless us all in our journey of faith and remain with us always. Amen.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John of Capestrano, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Luke 12 : 39-48

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Pay attention to this : If the master of the house had known at what time the thief would come, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man will come at an hour you do not expect.”

Peter said, “Lord, did You tell this parable only for us, or for everyone?” And the Lord replied, “Imagine, then, the wise and faithful steward, whom the master sets over his other servants, to give them wheat at the proper time. Fortunate is this servant if his master, on coming home, finds him doing his work. Truly, I say to you, the master will put him in charge of all his property.”

“But it may be that the steward thinks, ‘My lord delays in coming,’ and he begins to abuse the male servants and the servant girls, eating and drinking and getting drunk. Then the master will come on a day he does not expect, and at an hour he does not know. He will cut him off, and send him to the same fate as the unfaithful.”

“The servant who knew his master’s will, but did not prepare and do what his master wanted, will be soundly beaten; but the one who does unconsciously what deserves punishment, shall receive fewer blows. Much will be required of the one who has been given much, and more will be asked of the one who has been entrusted with more.”

Wednesday, 23 October 2019 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John of Capestrano, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Psalm 123 : 1-3, 4-6, 7-8

Had not YHVH been on our side – let Israel say – had not YHVH been on our side, when people rose up against us, then, they would have swallowed us alive; such was their anger against us.

A bit more, and the flood would have engulfed us; the torrent would have swept over us; the raging waters would have swept us away. Blessed be YHVH, Who did not let us be devoured.

Like a bird, our soul escaped from the snare of the fowler; the snare was broken and we were freed. Our help is in the Name of YHVH, Who made heaven and earth.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John of Capestrano, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Romans 6 : 12-18

Do not allow sin any control over your mortal bodies; do not submit yourselves to its evil inclinations, and do not give your members over to sin, as instruments to do evil. On the contrary, offer yourselves, as persons returned from death to life, and let the members of your body be as holy instruments, at the service of God. Sin will not lord it over you again, for you are not under the Law, but under grace.

I ask again : are we to sin because we are not under the Law, but under grace? Certainly not. If you have given yourselves up to someone as his slave, you are to obey the one who commands you, are you not? Now, with sin, you go to death, and by accepting faith, you go the right way.

Let us give thanks to God, for, after having sin as your master, you have been given to another, that is, to the doctrine of faith, to which you listen willingly. And being free from sin, you began to serve true righteousness.

Saturday, 19 October 2019 : 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 or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the reassurance which God has given us that He is always with us, protecting us and providing for us, and for always being faithful to the Covenant which He had made with us despite our own inability to commit to that Covenant. In the Scripture passages today, we are reminded of God’s promises to us which He had made from time immemorial and renewed again and again.

In our first reading today we heard of the Lord’s promise to Abraham, the Covenant which He had sealed and made with the father of many nations and our father in faith. Abraham was then without a child although he and his wife were already old and Sarah, his wife past childbearing age, and he had relegated his hopes to have his estates and patrimony passed on to one of his own trusted servants rather than to the heir of his body.

But Abraham trusted in God just as he trusted Him and listened to Him when He called him out of the lands of his ancestors in Ur, Mesopotamia. When God first called Abraham, Abraham entrusted himself in the Lord and left behind family and land, following God to the land which He had promised to him and his descendants, a land which He has blessed Abraham with. And Abraham stayed faithful to the end, devoting himself to God and God fulfilled the promise which He has made with him.

We have seen how God made Abraham to be the father of many nations, blessing the descendants he has gained from the grace of God. What seemed to be impossible for man, God has made possible, for indeed there is nothing that is impossible or too great for God to do. And through his faith, Abraham gained what he has been promised, for God is ever faithful, and even when His people were unfaithful, God is always ever faithful, for according to St. Paul, He cannot deny Himself and the love He has for us all.

And in the Gospel today the Lord again reiterated His faithfulness to the Covenant which He had made with His people, and as long as they are faithful to Him, they will not be disappointed and they will receive what God has promised to them as Abraham had once received. But at the same time, God wants us all to know that just as Abraham did not have it easy through his many years of following and obeying Him, we too will encounter difficulties and challenges along the way.

This was a premonition of what the disciples and the Apostles would have to face as they were sent on their missions to be witnesses of Christ’s truth and salvation. They would face bitter persecutions and challenges during their ministry, being arrested, tortured and rejected by the people they ministered to, and even betrayed and abandoned by those who were close to them, their own families and friends.

But they held on fast to their faith, as Abraham once had, and spent their energy and strength to serve the Lord wholeheartedly despite all those challenges. And today, we have yet more of these holy predecessors of ours, whose lives have been exemplary and whose actions and deeds can become our inspiration as well, as we look upon the examples of the Holy Canadian Martyrs, the Jesuit missionaries of North America as well as St. Paul of the Cross.

The Jesuit missionaries of North America, St. Isaac Jogues, St. John de Brebeuf and their companions were those who braved the tough challenges of evangelisation in distant lands in the wild and untamed nature of the North American continent, in what is now part of Canada in Quebec. They preached the word of God and His salvation to the natives, many of whom were reluctant and apprehensive of the message of the Gospel they received.

They had to endure bitter cold winters, wild animals and shortages of food, attacks from hostile tribes and torture from those who were captured by those hostile to the missionaries. And yet, they refused to back down and remained strong in their faith and in their strong resolution to serve God. Many of them were martyred but their efforts and their inspiration served to strengthen the faith of many and made firm the foundations of the Church in those lands.

Meanwhile St. Paul of the Cross was a mystic and the founder of the Passionist Order, renowned for his great piety and personal austere lifestyle, through which he inspired many people to live their lives with greater faith and commitment to God. His extensive writings and works became source of strength and conviction for many of those who followed in his footsteps through the centuries since. He showed us all how one can live his life so focused and centred on God and obey His will so well.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to follow in the footsteps of our courageous and dedicated, faithful and committed predecessors in faith? Let us all make a new resolution in our lives that from now on we will be ever deeper in our commitment to God and in being ever closer to God. Let us all put our trust in God and be faithful to His Covenant and remember the great love and faithfulness He has always shown us despite our rebelliousness and stubbornness all these while. May God bless us all and be with us always. Amen.

Saturday, 19 October 2019 : 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 or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Luke 12 : 8-12

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “I tell you, whoever acknowledges Me before people, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the Angels of God. But the one who denies Me before others will be denied before the Angels of God. There will be pardon for the one who criticises the Son of Man, but there will be no pardon for the one who slanders the Holy Spirit.”

“When you are brought before the synagogues, and before governors and rulers, do not worry about how you will defend yourself, or what to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you have to say.”

Saturday, 19 October 2019 : 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 or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Psalm 104 : 6-7, 8-9, 42-43

You descendants of His servant Abraham, you sons of Jacob, His chosen ones! He is YHVH our God; His judgments reach the whole world.

He remembers His Covenant forever, His promise to a thousand generations, the Covenant He made with Abraham, the promise He swore to Isaac.

For He remembered His promise to Abraham, His servant. So He led forth His people with joy, His chosen ones with singing.