Thursday, 11 October 2018 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. John XXIII, Pope (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Popes)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the loving nature of God, and how we mankind, as God’s beloved children should put our trust in our God, and place ourselves in the caring hands of our loving Father. We heard how the Lord Jesus in today’s Gospel describing the loving nature of God as like of that of fathers, who loved their children.

And because God loves each and every one of us, then He will surely listen to us, should we ask Him to look upon us and to take care of us. He will not purposefully harm us or do something that ends up making us to suffer. When we suffer, in truth, we are actually acting in the manner that we misuse the freedom that God has given to us, which therefore end up causing us to make others suffer in order to satisfy our own personal desires and greed.

That was why, St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in the city of Galatia chided and rebuked the faithful living in that city because of their lack of faith and ability to live faithfully in accordance to that faith. They have succumbed to the temptations of their flesh, and instead of putting their trust in God, they fell into sin through their wicked and unfaithful attitudes and behaviours.

God reminded us that He is always there for us, ready to welcome us back, even when we have erred, disobeyed and failed to listen to Him. He will not turn a deaf ear to us, should we call upon Him, and crying out for His mercy. But first of all, we must also be willing to commit ourselves to the path of reconciliation, to be ready to be forgiven, and ultimately, ready to make the commitment to change our way of life.

However, the issue for many of us is that, we are often too preoccupied, too busy and too distracted in our lives, that we failed to notice this, and we failed to realise just how much God loves each and every one of us. We have been blinded and made deaf by the distractions, temptations and all the noise present in this world. We have been pulled away by the allure of human desire, of worldly glory and many other things that have been keeping us away from God.

Are we then able to overcome these temptations in life, and rediscover this love which we should have for God, our loving Father? For many of us, we have been wayward in our faith, and we have not been truly faithful, as we spent more time trying to gain for ourselves worldly acceptance and glories of this world. But this is exactly where we end up forgetting about God, His love and His caring nature for us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we should reflect on what we have just discussed and look deeply into our lives and how we have acted in our lives thus far. Have we been living in this world filled with the desires of worldliness and human greed, in trying to satisfy our own selfish desires and wants? Or have we been truly devoted to the Lord, in all of our actions and deeds?

Today, we celebrate the feast of Pope St. John XXIII, also known by his nickname of the ‘Good Pope’. He was the Pope who initiated the Second Vatican Council, in bringing about reform and renewal to the Church, almost six decades ago. He was remembered as a holy and devout servant of God, who spent his whole life, trying to bring the people of God closer to their loving Father.

Pope St. John XXIII was born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, in a poor farmer family in northern Italy. He was born into poverty and hard life, and yet, he was raised well and heard the call to priesthood and holiness early in his life. He became a priest and was involved in the social works in the Church among his local community early on, inspired by the examples set by his local bishop, who devoted himself to the care and the well-being of the poor, especially the workers who were oppressed by the then horrible conditions at work.

Later on, he became the Apostolic Delegate to Bulgaria, and then later still, the Apostolic Delegate to Greece and Turkey. In his role as the representative of the Pope to those countries, he fostered many good relationships both with the state as well as with the Christians belonging to the Eastern Orthodox traditions, who have always treated Catholics with much suspicion and animosity. But Pope St. John XXIII’s persistence in love and kindness have softened many hearts and won much adoration and praise.

In his many other roles and capacities, he was also remembered for his role in saving many Jewish refugees from Europe during the time of the Second World War when millions of Jews were massacred by the NAZI regime in Germany. He also helped to reconcile the relations between the Church and the state in France after the war, and many other good deeds, as the Pope of the Church, when he led the entire Church in the journey of discovering their faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we too, should follow in the footsteps of this holy Pope in our own life, in how we live our lives, in our actions and deeds. Let us all turn towards God with all of our hearts, and turn ourselves towards God. And if we want to be one with God, then our actions must also show this faith and love which we ought to have for God. May the Lord be our guide and be our help, and bless us always in our every deeds and works. Amen.

Thursday, 11 October 2018 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. John XXIII, Pope (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Popes)

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, 11 October 2018 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. John XXIII, Pope (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Popes)

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, 11 October 2018 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. John XXIII, Pope (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Popes)

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?

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.