Thursday, 6 June 2019 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Norbert, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are reminded through the Scriptures on the importance of unity among us Christians, in our Church and in our faithful communities, all those who profess the faith in God, and all of us who believe that Christ is truly our Lord and Saviour. If there is no unity in us, then division and conflict will quickly come into our midst, and as we have seen throughout the history of man, we ended up raising up against one another.

In the first reading today we heard of the moment when St. Paul was tried by the Sanhedrin as he was being brought to answer for the charges levied against him by the Jewish authorities. This was to be St. Paul’s last journey, just before he embarked on his last trip to Rome where he would be martyred. The Sanhedrin were divided among themselves, between the faction of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

Both of these factions were very influential and powerful among the Jewish people, as the Pharisees represented the priestly and spiritual caste who preserved the traditions, laws and customs of the people while the Sadducees represented the intellectuals and all those with secular power, and both of them were diametrically opposite to each other in the way they think and argue.

As a result, the moment St. Paul made use of the opportunity to expose the bitter division among the two groups, the Pharisees and the Sadducees immediately ended up in a very vicious and brutal conflict with each other. They were so divided amongst each other that they were unable to overcome their differences even against a common enemy, St. Paul himself. We see how the two groups bickered and fought, ultimately because of their own ego and pride.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, division is something that did not come from God, for in God lies nothing less than the perfect Unity, the Unity and Harmony between Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, God in the Three Divine Persons but One Godhood. This is what all of us firmly believe in, the believe in the Most Holy Trinity of God, the Unity that He reflects on His own Church and therefore, all of His beloved ones, all of us.

Therefore, that is why the Lord Jesus prayed that there would be unity in the Church and among His disciples and followers, just as He and His heavenly Father are One. Unity comes from God but divisions come from the devil. And ever since mankind first sinned and disobeyed God, and preferred to follow the temptations of evil, they have lost that perfect unity with God and became divided among themselves and divided away from the harmony and unity of God.

All these divisions came about because of our pride and ego, our selfishness and greed within us, which prevented us from being able to appreciate God’s harmony and unity in our midst. Instead of God being at the centre of our lives, we put ourselves and our own selfish desires as the focus of our lives, as the aim and the ambition of our lives. That is how we become divided among ourselves, as our ambitions, ego and pride clash with one another and we refuse to give in.

That is why, today all of us are called to break away from the lure of these temptations to ambition, ego and pride that cause divisions among us, and re-centre ourselves to God, focusing ourselves on Him and His love from now on. That is how we regain the unity among ourselves, bitterly divided and conflicted among ourselves as Christians, in what we have seen in the many splinters and breakaways in the Body of Christ, the Church all these while.

Today we also celebrate the feast of St. Norbert, a great bishop and a renowned preacher and servant of God who devoted his whole life to God, in the love he showed to the poor and the needy. St. Norbert worked tirelessly among the people of God, devoting all his effort, time and attention to serve the good of the Lord’s people. St. Norbert gathered like-minded men who wanted to serve the Lord in what was to become the Canons Regular of Prémontré. He was also instrumental in the ending of some bitter divisions and troubles in the Church at his time.

In what St. Norbert has shown, by focusing ourselves on God and by putting Him ahead of everything else, and by our dedication and commitment, we can bring true unity, harmony and peace to ourselves, and to get rid from ourselves the divisions and troubles that come with our selfishness, ego and pride. Let us all turn to God from now on, and commit ourselves to serve Him from now on, each and every day. Amen.

Thursday, 6 June 2019 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Norbert, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 17 : 20-26

At that time, Jesus prayed to God His Father, “I pray not only for these, but also for those who through their word will believe in Me. May they all be one, as You Father are in Me and I am in You. May they be one in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.”

“I have given them the glory You have given Me, that they may be one as We are One : I in them and You in Me. Thus they shall reach perfection in unity; and the world shall know that You have sent Me, and that I have loved them, just as You loved Me.”

“Father, since You have given them to Me, I want them to be with Me where I am, and see the glory You gave Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world has not known You, but I have known You, and these have known that You have sent Me.”

“As I revealed Your Name to them, so will I continue to reveal it, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and also may be in them.”

Thursday, 6 June 2019 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Norbert, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 15 : 1-2a and 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11

Keep me safe, o God, for in You I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “O Lord, my inheritance and my cup, my chosen portion – hold secure my lot.”

I bless the Lord Who counsels me; even at night my inmost self instructs me. I keep the Lord always before me; for with Him at my right hand, I will never be shaken.

My heart, therefore, exults, my soul rejoices; my body too will rest assured. For You will not abandon my soul to the grave, nor will You suffer Your Holy One to see decay in the land of the dead.

You will show me the path of life, in Your presence the fullness of joy, at Your right hand happiness forever.

Thursday, 6 June 2019 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Norbert, Bishop (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 22 : 30 and Acts 23 : 6-11

The next day the commander wanted to know for certain the charges the Jews were making against Paul. So he released him from prison and called together the High Priest and the whole Council; and they brought Paul down and made him stand before them.

Paul knew that part of the Council were Sadducees and others Pharisees; so he spoke out in the Council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, son of a Pharisee. It is for the hope of the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial here.”

At these words, an argument broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees and the whole assembly was divided. For the Sadducees claim that there is neither resurrection, nor Angels nor spirits, while the Pharisees acknowledge all these things.

Then the shouting grew louder, and some teachers of the Law of the Pharisee party protested, “We find nothing wrong with this man. Maybe a spirit or an Angel has spoken to him.” With this the argument became so violent that the commander feared that Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He therefore ordered the soldiers to go down and rescue him from their midst and take him back to the fortress.

That night the Lord stood by Paul and said, “Courage! As you have borne witness to Me here in Jerusalem, so must you do in Rome.”

Monday, 27 May 2019 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture in which we are reminded that each and every one of us must be connected and attuned to God all of our lives, as the one and only True Vine from Whom all life and all peace and glory comes. This was the parable of the True Vine which the Lord used to reveal all of these to the people, so that they might understand the truth of God.

A vine of grapes is a plant which is connected to each other and to the roots via the vines, which deliver the important nutrients, water and all the things that the plant need in order to live and survive. If the fruit or any of the parts of the plant were to be separated from the main vine and the roots, those parts of the plant cannot possibly survive and grow, and eventually they will die. It is only by remaining attached to the vine that the whole body of the plant will remain alive and well.

The True Vine is Christ, the centre and source of all life. The parts of the plant are all of us, each and every one of us as members of the Church. The Church is the vine, united in its roots to Christ, as the Head of the entire Church. And unless we remain in good standing in faith within our Church, and remain firmly united with Christ through the Church, by our good and faithful lives, we are in fact separated from the True Vine of Christ.

In the same way therefore, if we remain separated from the Vine, there can be no life in us. And as the Gospel passage mentioned today, that the Lord pruned the vine from time to time to keep it growing and producing fruits well, unless we bear good fruits in our lives, eventually we shall be sundered and separated from that vine. These fruits are the fruits of our good labour in faith, of our loving commitment and dedication in serving God and in loving our fellow men.

In truth, God has given us all the skills, the abilities, the resources and all that is necessary for us to bear good fruits of faith. He has planted in us the good seeds of faith, of hope and of love, since the moment when He created us and reaffirmed through our baptism, by the Sacraments of the Church that we received. But whether these seeds will grow well and healthily and produce good fruits depend on whether we allow the Lord to enter into our lives, and by being connected to Christ, the True Vine.

Today, we celebrate the feast of one of our holy predecessors whose life and examples may become a source of inspiration for us in how we ought to live our own lives. St. Augustine of Canterbury was a great missionary who was sent by Pope St. Gregory the Great to begin the effort of the re-Christianisation of the land later on known as England, after decades of pagan invasions that destroyed much of the earlier Christian communities there.

St. Augustine of Canterbury worked tirelessly among the people, the nobles and their kings, preaching to them the word of God and showing them the truth of the Gospel, while caring for the need of his flock and reestablishing the foundations of the Church in England. Through his efforts and much time spent at working among the people and caring for the needs of his flock, many converted to the Christian faith and the mission flourished quickly.

The fruits of the works and labours of St. Augustine of Canterbury can be seen from the reestablishment of the Christian faith in England, although it would take many more decades after the time of St. Augustine of Canterbury before the whole England could be converted back to the Christian faith. His dedication and commitment to the Lord is an example to all of us, in how we ourselves should act in ways that follow the Lord’s path.

Let us all therefore be fruitful as Christians, devoting our time, effort and attention to be as loving, committed and be as Christ-like as we can in our every words and actions, in all the things we do, so that our lives will truly be filled with the fruits of God’s love and grace. May God bless us all and may He continue to guide us in our path. Amen.

Monday, 27 May 2019 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (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, 27 May 2019 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (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!