Tuesday, 13 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture we are all reminded of the salvation which God had brought upon His people, as He sent to them deliverers to bring His beloved ones out of their troubles and gather them back into His loving presence and grace. And yet, many did not believe in Him and His servants, and still did not acknowledge Him.

In our first reading today, we heard the story from the Book of Exodus on the coming of the Lord’s promised deliverance to His people through Moses, the one ‘born and raised from the water’ as per his name, as he was rescued from the fated destruction of all the male children of the Israelites. At that time, the Pharaoh or king of Egypt declared that all the male newborn infants of the Israelites were to be killed to prevent the continued growth and spread of the Israelites in the land of Egypt.

The Israelites had been living in Egypt for a few centuries since the days of Jacob and Joseph, and under the reign of the new Pharaoh, they were enslaved and treated horribly, used as forced labour intended to eradicate and subjugate them to the will and desire of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh. But the Lord never forgot about His people and did not abandon them. He remained with them and journeyed with them, and promised them deliverance which He fulfilled through Moses, whose birth and early life was mentioned today.

The Lord sent Moses to His people, and saved him from the waters of the River Nile so that he might be the one to shepherd all of Israel out of the land of their misery and enslavement, into the land of prosperity and true joy as promised by the Lord. God has done this so that He can bring the people all into the fulfilment of the long awaited promise He had made, to their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And yet, they would not welcome him at first, and refused to listen to him. Moses himself also fled to the land of Midian after he killed an Egyptian while protecting one of the Israelites.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard about the Lord speaking up against the cities of the region of Galilee, the cities of Capernaum, Chorazin and Bethsaida. These were the places where the Lord performed many of His works, miracles and wonders, and where He taught in their synagogues and places of gathering. Why did the Lord speak out with such anger against those cities as we heard in our Gospel passage today? That is because they have all seen so many of God’s miracles and wonders, heard His truth and been shown His love and compassion, and yet, still refused to believe and obey Him.

Instead, many among those people living in those cities still doubted and questioned Him, together with members of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who followed Him everywhere and raised doubts against Him among the people. All these amounted to mankind’s stubborn refusal to listen to the truth of the Lord despite the very obvious truth and the love which He has shown before them through Christ. God’s love has been manifested so clearly in the flesh before all of us, and yet, many of us still refused to believe in Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all reminded therefore to listen to the Lord and put our trust in Him. We should be faithful to Him and wholeheartedly commit ourselves to His cause. We can also follow the inspiring examples set by our holy predecessors, the saints and martyrs of the Church. Today in particular we celebrate the memory of St. Henry, a faithful servant of the Lord, also known as Henry II, the Holy Roman Emperor. He was a righteous and just ruler, concerned most with the well-being of his subjects and people, and was committed to the expansion and development of the Church throughout Christendom.

St. Henry spent a lot of time managing his realm with great wisdom and care, and cultivating good relationship between the Church and the state, and he spent a lot of effort improving both the physical and spiritual well-being of his people. For all of these wise and faithful rule as the most powerful ruler of Christendom, and for his faithful dedication and great personal piety, he was the only Holy Roman Emperor to be declared a saint of the Church.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we should also be inspired by the good examples set by St. Henry, his faithfulness and commitment to the Lord, that in all things, we shall always endeavour to be good and faithful to the Lord. Let us all not be easily swayed by worldly temptations and pressures, and instead, strive to walk ever more faithfully in the Lord’s path and serve Him with all of our might and strength, at all times. May the Lord be with us all, and may He strengthen us with the courage and faith to be His good disciples, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 13 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Matthew 11 : 20-24

At that time, Jesus began to denounce the cities in which He had performed most of His miracles, because the people there did not change their ways.

“Alas for you Chorazin and Bethsaida! If the miracles worked in you had taken place in Tyre and Sidon, the people there would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I assure you, for Tyre and Sidon; it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.”

“And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to heaven? You will be thrown down to the place of the dead! For if the miracles which were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would still be there today! But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

Tuesday, 13 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Psalm 68 : 3, 14, 30-31, 33-34

I am sunk in the miry depths, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, swept and engulfed by the flood.

But I pray to You, o YHVH. At a time most favourable to You, in Your great love, o God, answer me, with Your unfailing help.

But I myself, am humbled and wounded; Your salvation, o God, will lift me up. I will praise the Name of God in song; I will glorify Him with thanksgiving.

Let the lowly witness this, and be glad. You who seek God, may your hearts be revived. For YHVH hears the needy; and does not despise those in captivity.

Tuesday, 13 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Exodus 2 : 1-15a

Now a man belonging to the clan of Levi married a woman of his own tribe. She gave birth to a boy and, seeing that he was a beautiful child, she kept him hidden for three months. As she could not conceal him any longer, she made a basket out of papyrus leaves and coated it with tar and pitch. She then laid the child in the basket and placed it among the reeds near the bank of the Nile; but the sister of the child kept at a distance to see what would happen to him.

Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe in the Nile; her attendants meanwhile walked along the bank. When she saw the basket among the reeds, she sent her maidservant to fetch it. She opened the basket and saw the child – a boy, and he was crying! She felt sorry for him, for she thought : “This is one of the Hebrew children.”

Then the sister of the child said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?” Pharaoh’s daughter agreed, and the girl went to call the mother of the child. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take the child and nurse him for me and I will pay you.”

So the woman took the child and nursed him and, when the child had grown, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter who adopted him as her son. And she named him Moses to recall that she had drawn him out of the water. After a fairly long time, Moses, by now a grown man, wanted to meet his fellow Hebrews. He noticed how heavily they were burdened and he saw an Egyptian striking a Hebrew, one of his own people.

He looked around and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. When he went out the next day he saw two Hebrews quarrelling. Moses said to the man in the wrong, “Why are you striking a fellow countryman?” But he answered, “Who has set you prince and judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?”

Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must be known.” When Pharaoh heard about it he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in the land of Midian.

Tuesday, 25 May 2021 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor of the Church, Pope St. Gregory VII, Pope, and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests, Popes and Holy Virgins)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture we are called to remember the commandments and the Law of the Lord, which we should follow and obey wholeheartedly, with all of our hearts and with all of our might. God has given us all His Law to help and guide us in our journey, that we may find our way amidst the numerous temptations and obstacles in our path. We are reminded to keep the commandments of the Lord and to commit ourselves sincerely through real and genuine actions.

In our first reading today we heard from the Book of the prophet Sirach, the exhortation from the Lord with regards to His commandments, as He told the people through the prophet Sirach to give generously to the Lord, offering themselves, whatever they can offer and dedicate to Him. This is because all those who trust in the Lord and all who walk in His path will never be disappointed for He is always ever faithful, and He will always be by the side of those who kept themselves faithful and committed to Him.

In the Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord speaking to His disciples, reassuring them that all those who have given themselves, committed their time and effort, and made sacrifices for the sake of the Lord, they would not be disappointed and left without providence and help. Their reward in the end will be truly great, as God remembers those who love Him and who give themselves for His cause. The Lord will guide them and remain with them throughout their journey no matter how tough it may be.

That is why through what we have heard in our Scripture readings today, as Christians we are all called to put our trust in the Lord and commit ourselves to Him, just as the disciples had done, and how the early Church Christians, so many saints and martyrs had done. And today in particular, we do not just have one, but three great saints, our holy predecessors whom we celebrate their feast day, whose life and devotion to the Lord are indeed great inspiration for us to live as true Christians following the will of God.

First of all, St. Bede the Venerable is a renowned English saint and a famous Benedictine monk remembered well for his many literary works in various areas and fields, and in particular, his writings for the Christian faith and theology were spectacular and influenced many people and remained well read and referenced on for long after his time. St. Bede the Venerable also lived a life of humble simplicity and prayer, dedicating his whole time and efforts completely to the Lord. Through his writings, he inspired many more people to come to know the Lord, revealing His truth to them.

And then, Pope St. Gregory VII was the leader of the Universal Church and Supreme Pontiff at a time of great change and transformation in the Church and the secular community, remembered especially for his confrontation against the powerful Holy Roman Emperor during the Investiture Controversy. The Pope has always been the Vicar of Christ on earth, as the one appointed in the shoes of St. Peter to be the sole representative of the Lord, and therefore has supreme authority over all matters pertaining to the Church and faith, over all the spiritual matters of all Christians.

But the Holy Roman Emperor as the successor of the Roman Emperors claimed authority and control over the appointment and management of bishops and other spiritual matters of his own subjects. Emperor Henry IV at that time refused to budge to the Pope’s authority to appoint bishops and over other spiritual matters of the Church. This resulted in drawn out struggle, and although the Emperor used all of his means to claim over the Pope’s authority, Pope St. Gregory VII did not give in to those demands and efforts. He remained firm in devoting his efforts for the good of the Church despite all the obstacles.

Lastly, St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi was a renowned religious Carmelite nun and mystic who was devoted to the Lord, filled with prayer and commitment to God, devoting her whole time and effort in prayer and in contemplation, and she received visions of the Lord that became inspiration for others, including due to her piety and commitment through prayer. Many people venerate her for her deep devotion and piety, and great humility, as she was known to wear a crown of thorns regularly as self-mortification and as a sign of her faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having heard the story of the faith of these saints, and reminded of the Lord’s promises and reassurance in our Scripture readings today, are we all willing and able to commit ourselves to the Lord in the same manner? We are all called to spend our time and efforts to serve the Lord, and to follow Him wholeheartedly. Let us all therefore serve the Lord and follow Him from now on with all of our heart and with all of our might. Let us all walk in the path of the Lord courageously and confidently from now on.

May the Lord be with us all and may He give us the strength and courage to walk in His path, at all times. May God bless us and our every good efforts and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 25 May 2021 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor of the Church, Pope St. Gregory VII, Pope, and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests, Popes and Holy Virgins)

Mark 10 : 28-31

At that time, Peter spoke up and said, “We have given up everything to follow You.” Jesus answered, “Truly, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters, or father or mother, or children, or lands, for My sake and for the Gospel, who will not receive his reward.”

“I say to you : even in the midst of persecution, he will receive a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and lands in the present time, and in the world to come eternal life. Do pay attention : many who are now first will be last, and the last, first.”

Tuesday, 25 May 2021 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor of the Church, Pope St. Gregory VII, Pope, and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests, Popes and Holy Virgins)

Psalm 49 : 5-6, 7-8, 14 and 23

Gather before Me My faithful ones, who made a covenant with Me by sacrifice. The heavens will proclaim His sentence, for God Himself is the Judge.

Hear, o My people, for I am speaking. I will accuse You, o Israel, I am God, your God! Not for your sacrifices do I reprove you, for your burnt offerings are ever before Me.

Yet offer to God a sacrifice of thanks, and fulfil your vows to the Most High. Those who give with thanks offerings honour Me, but the one who walks blamelessly, I will show him the salvation of God.

Tuesday, 25 May 2021 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor of the Church, Pope St. Gregory VII, Pope, and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests, Popes and Holy Virgins)

Sirach 35 : 1-15

Keeping the Law is worthy many offerings. Being faithful to the commandments is like a peace offering. Returning kindness is an offering of fine flour; giving alms is a sacrifice of praise. Renouncing sin pleases the Lord, and shunning injustice is a sacrifice of atonement.

Do not appear before the Lord with empty hands. The commandment requires that you bring an offering. When the offering of the righteous is burnt on the altar, the fat drips down and a fragrant aroma rises to the Most High. The sacrifice of the just man pleases God and will not be forgotten. Honour the Lord with a generous heart and do not be stingy with the first fruits of your harvest.

Offer your gifts with a smiling face and when you pay your tithes do it gladly. Give to the Most High as He has given to you; give generously to the Lord according to what you have; the Lord will repay, He will reward you sevenfold. If you attempt to bribe Him with gifts He will not accept them; do not rely on offerings from dishonest gain.

The Lord is Judge and shows no partiality. He will not disadvantage the poor, He Who hears the prayer of the oppressed. He does not disdain the plea of the orphan, nor the complaint of the widow. When tears flow down her cheeks, is she not crying out against the one who caused her to weep?

Thursday, 4 March 2021 : 2nd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Casimir (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture we are called to put our trust in the Lord and be faithful to Him, be righteous and good in all of our ways, that as Christians we may indeed be true to our faith. We should not allow ourselves be tempted by the temptations of worldly power, wealth and other desires that are often great obstacles preventing us from truly being faithful to the Lord.

In our first reading today we heard the book of the prophet Jeremiah, in which the prophet spoke of God’s words on how those who put their trust in Him would not be disappointed, as He Who is always ever faithful to His promises and to the Covenant He had made with us will be faithful to us and will not forget what He has promised to us. We shall receive the fullness of His blessings and graces.

However, those who reject the Lord and refuse to follow Him, those who chose to trust in their own power and in the backing of the world, all of them would regret their choice as they would not be able to find true joy and assurance, as whatever that they had gathered and depended on, could be taken away just at any moment, and none of those would be lasting in any case.

In our Gospel passage today we then heard of a related story, that of the parable of Lazarus and the rich man as told by the Lord to His disciples. The rich man was truly living a good and comfortable life, revelling in his wealth and glory, his good and fortunate life, while Lazarus the poor beggar was waiting by his doorstep daily, hoping to get even scraps of food from the table, and yet nobody gave anything to him.

When both Lazarus and the rich man died not long one after the other, the former went to heaven by the side of Abraham, the father of the Israelites and many nations, while the rich man was condemned to hellfire. By then, it was too late for the rich man who constantly suffer for eternity the consequences of his sins and his lack of compassion for Lazarus, even when he was perfectly in the position to have helped.

This is a reminder to all of us that in this life all of us are called to be filled with love and compassion to one another, to be genuine Christians in deed and action, and not just merely formality and in words alone. We must not forget that to be faithful we must not only do what is good for ourselves, but also for others, in being charitable and generous in giving towards others who are in need.

Sin is not only just sins of action, but also including those sins due to our failure to act, namely the sins of omission. The rich man was in the perfect position to help Lazarus, to show him compassion, mercy and love, and even the slightest act could have made Lazarus’ life and condition in his life to be so much better. But he did not do so, and as a result, suffer the eternal damnation in hell for his lack of compassion and action.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore be reminded of these and endeavour to take action during the time and opportunity given to us in this season of Lent, to be more Christ-like in our actions, to be more generous in giving and to be more faithful and dedicated to the Lord. We are all called to make good use of the time God has given us, the talents and blessings He has given us, for the benefit of one another.

Today we also celebrate the feast of St. Casimir, a great saint whose actions in life can also be inspiration to each and every one of us. St. Casimir was the royal prince of Poland, who was renowned for his great piety, compassion for the poor and those who were suffering. And although he was born into the great nobility, among the highest ranked ones in that class as a royal prince, but that did not make him to be proud or to boast of himself.

On the other hand, he humbled himself and dedicated himself to the care of his people, to those whom he encountered, serving the sick and the poor, showing love and compassion for those who needed them most before dying at a relatively young age from tuberculosis. His great work and contributions, love and generosity still inspire many people even to this very day, calling on more and more Christians to be more like our Lord Jesus in His love.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us therefore do our very best to offer our lives for the greater glory of God. May the Lord guide us in our journey of faith and with our actions through life, so that we may draw ever closer to Him and be found worthy to be His disciples and as those who share in His glorious inheritance. Amen.

Thursday, 4 March 2021 : 2nd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Casimir (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 16 : 19-31

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Once there was a rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen and feasted every day. At his gate lay Lazarus, a poor man covered with sores, who longed to eat just the scraps falling from the rich man’s table. Even dogs used to come and lick his sores.”

“It happened that the poor man died, and Angels carried him to take his place with Abraham. The rich man also died, and was buried. From hell where he was in torment, the rich man looked up and saw Abraham afar off, and with him Lazarus at rest. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me, and send Lazarus, with the tip of his finger dipped in water, to cool my tongue, for I suffer so much in this fire.'”

“Abraham replied, ‘My son, remember that in your lifetime you were well-off, while the lot of Lazarus was misfortune. Now he is in comfort, and you are in agony. But that is not all. Between your place and ours a great chasm has been fixed, so that no one can cross over from here to you, or from your side to us.'”

“The rich man implored once more, ‘Then I beg you, Father Abraham, to send Lazarus to my father’s house, where my five brothers live, let him warn them, so that they may not end up in this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.'”

“But the rich man said, ‘No, Father Abraham; but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced, even if someone rises from the dead.'”