Friday, 1 November 2019 : Solemnity of All Saints (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Revelations 7 : 2-4, 9-14

I saw another Angel, ascending from the sunrise, carrying the seal of the living God, and he cried out with a loud voice, to the four Angels empowered to harm the earth and the sea, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God upon their foreheads.”

Then, I heard the number of those marked with the seal : a hundred and forty-four thousand, from all the tribes of the people of Israel. After this, I saw a great crowd, impossible to count, from every nation, race, people and tongue, standing before the Throne, and the Lamb, clothed in white, with palm branches in their hands, and they cried out with a loud voice, “Who saves, but our God, Who sits on the Throne, and the Lamb?”

All the Angels were around the Throne, the elders and the four living creatures; they, then, bowed before the Throne, with their faces to the ground, to worship God. They said, “Amen, Praise, glory, wisdom, thanks, honour, power and strength to our God forever and ever. Amen!”

At that moment, one of the elders spoke up, and said to me, “Who are these people clothed in white, and where did they come from?” I answered, “Sir, it is you who know this.” The elder replied, “They, are those who have come out of the great persecution, they have washed, and made their clothes white, in the Blood of the Lamb.”

Friday, 21 June 2019 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about seeking the true treasures of our life. Are we able to discover this true treasure or are we going to be distracted by the other false treasures of this world that do not lead to true happiness and joy? That is what the Scripture passages today hope to remind us all as Christians in how we live our lives in this world today.

In our first reading passage taken from the Epistle written by St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in the city of Corinth, the Apostle recounted the many difficulties and challenges that he had had to experience throughout his missionary journeys to the many places and cities throughout the Eastern Mediterranean region. He had to endure the rejection from many people, the suffering of imprisonment and torture, almost losing his life on several occasions and others.

And given a choice, he could have a very different life altogether. For the context, St. Paul himself is of a privileged background at a time when people throughout the Roman Empire were classified into many different social status and groupings, from the lowest of all, the slaves, all the way to the wealthiest and the most privileged among the Roman citizens. St. Paul was not just a highly educated and intelligent person, but he was also a Roman citizen, a rare feat accomplished by one of the Jewish people at that time.

In his early life, as a member of the Pharisees, he had wielded great influence and power as a young zealot going about hunting the early Christians and persecuting all those who believed in the Lord Jesus, and he could have enjoyed such a prestigious life, respected and honoured by the people around him, and enjoying the support and respect of those who were in power at that time to have a good and enjoyable life then.

He could have avoided all the sufferings, pains and difficulties that he had mentioned and instead enjoyed all the good things that the world had to offer, in wealth, in fame, in human glory and praise, in prestige and power, all sorts of things that we mankind often seek in the pursuit of happiness and satisfaction in this world. But this was not the path that St. Paul chose to take.

St. Paul instead sought the true treasure that is far more precious and far better than those treasures of the world. For none of the treasures mentioned earlier could last forever, and they were illusory and temporary in nature at best. None of the wealth, fame, glory and praise can bring us true and everlasting happiness, and in fact, if we look throughout our history, we can see so many occasions when all these things brought more sorrow than joy.

Why is that so? That is because we mankind are hard to satisfy, and we are often never satisfied by whatever we already have. We crave for even more of those things we desire, and when our desires collide with that of another, we can cause suffering, pain and unhappiness to others, all because we want to satisfy our own selfish desires for pleasure, joy and happiness in this world.

St. Paul instead sought the true treasure of his life, that is the Lord Himself, the One Who alone can give us true happiness in life. For it is in the Lord alone that we can be made whole again, in our whole existence, the One Who will reward us with true treasures of joy and happiness by our faith in Him. And this promise of true and everlasting joy, of total freedom from the suffering caused by our sins, is what had empowered St. Paul to endure through all the difficult challenges and sufferings he had to endure for so many years.

Today, we also celebrate the feast of another saint, whose life can also be an inspiration and example for us to follow, in how he has dedicated himself to the Lord, in seeking Him as the treasure of his life. St. Aloysius Gonzaga was born into the noble Italian Gonzaga family and therefore was rightfully going to inherit his family’s position and fortune, title and power, only for him to shun them all by choosing the path of commitment and dedication to God.

St. Aloysius Gonzaga’s family tried to dissuade him from his chosen path, trying to persuade him to take a better path, or at least a path that would preserve his status and privileges as a noble. However, none of these could dissuade St. Aloysius Gonzaga, who remained firm in his decision to dedicate himself completely to God as a Jesuit. And in the midst of that pursuit, he died as a dedicated and holy servant of God due to a serious epidemic at that time.

The courage and bravery of St. Aloysius Gonzaga in rejecting the privileges and norms of his time for the sake of glorifying God is something that each and every one of us as Christians should be inspired by, in how we ourselves can live our lives faithfully, dedicating ourselves each and every day with ever more commitment and faith from now on. May the Lord bless us all and may He continue to guide us in our journey, that we too may have the courage of the saints, St. Paul the Apostle, St. Aloysius Gonzaga amongst many others. May God be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 21 June 2019 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 6 : 19-23

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples and to the people, “Do not store up treasures for yourself here, on earth, where moth and rust destroy it; and where thieves can steal it. Store up treasures for yourself with God, where no moth or rust can destroy it, nor thief come and steal it.

For where your treasures are, there, also, will your heart be. The lamp of the body is the eye; if your eyes are sound, your whole body will be full of light. If your eyes are diseased, your whole body will be full of darkness. If, then, the light in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

Friday, 21 June 2019 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 33 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7

I will bless the Lord all my days; His praise will be ever on my lips. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the lowly hear and rejoice.

Oh, let us magnify the Lord, together let us glorify His Name! I sought the Lord, and He answered me; from all my fears He delivered me.

They who look to Him are radiant with joy, their faces never clouded with shame. When the poor cry out, the Lord hears and saves them from distress.

Friday, 21 June 2019 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

2 Corinthians 11 : 18, 21b-30

As some people boast of human advantages, I will do the same. But if others are so bold, I shall also dare, although I may speak like a fool. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I begin to talk like a madman) I am better than they.

Better than they, with my numerous labours. Better than they, with the time spent in prison. The beatings I received are beyond comparison. How many times have I found myself in danger of death! Five times, the Jews sentenced me to thirty-nine lashes. Three times, I was beaten with a rod. Once I was stoned. Three times, I was shipwrecked; and once, I spent a night and a day, adrift on the high seas.

I have been continually in hazards of travelling; because of rivers, because of bandits, because of my fellow Jews, or because of the pagans; in danger, in the city, in the open country, at sea; in danger from false brothers. I have worked, and often laboured without sleep, I have been hungry and thirsty and starving, cold, and without shelter. Besides these, and other things, there was my daily concern for all the churches. Who is weak, that I do not feel weak as well? Whoever stumbles, am I not on hot bricks?

If it is necessary to boast, let me proclaim the occasions on which I was found weak.

Thursday, 1 November 2018 : Solemnity of All Saints (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Revelations 7 : 2-4, 9-14

I saw another Angel, ascending from the sunrise, carrying the seal of the living God, and he cried out with a loud voice, to the four Angels empowered to harm the earth and the sea, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God upon their foreheads.”

Then, I heard the number of those marked with the seal : a hundred and forty-four thousand, from all the tribes of the people of Israel. After this, I saw a great crowd, impossible to count, from every nation, race, people and tongue, standing before the Throne, and the Lamb, clothed in white, with palm branches in their hands, and they cried out with a loud voice, “Who saves, but our God, Who sits on the Throne, and the Lamb?”

All the Angels were around the Throne, the elders and the four living creatures; they, then, bowed before the Throne, with their faces to the ground, to worship God. They said, “Amen, Praise, glory, wisdom, thanks, honour, power and strength to our God forever and ever. Amen!”

At that moment, one of the elders spoke up, and said to me, “Who are these people clothed in white, and where did they come from?” I answered, “Sir, it is you who know this.” The elder replied, “They, are those who have come out of the great persecution, they have washed, and made their clothes white, in the Blood of the Lamb.”

Monday, 30 April 2018 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Pius V, Pope (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we continue to hear the discourse of the works of the Apostles from our first reading, which for the duration of Easter is taken from the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. In that, we heard how St. Paul and St. Barnabas went to the mostly Greek population of the Eastern Mediterranean cities, preaching about the Lord and His salvation.

But the people misunderstood their teachings and the miracles they performed before the people of the city. Many of them thought that the Greek gods such as Zeus and Hercules themselves have descended down to earth and graced them with their presence. This was how the gods in the Greek mythology often behaved, and the people thought that St. Paul and St. Barnabas were indeed, gods.

That was why they brought sacrifices and offerings before them, as if they were gods, and worshipped them. The two Apostles were enraged at what they had seen, and they indignantly stood up for their faith before those who misunderstood their intentions. They rebuked the people by saying that they were man and mortals just as they were, and not gods as they thought those two were.

Nonetheless, the people still misunderstood the intentions of the Apostles, and later on, upon the instigation of some of the enemies of the Lord, the people would rise up against them and struck at the two Apostles, leaving them almost dead. But God was with His faithful servants, and they continued on their mission work, travelling from place to place to preach about the one and true God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, if we look more closely upon what the two Apostles had done, they truly remained faithful to their Lord and Master, despite what must have been a great temptation to be adored and praised, more so as a living god who came amongst the people. Who would not be tempted by such a situation? Surely everyone would be tempted. However, the two faithful servants resisted the temptations.

Many of the people refused to believe in the teachings of the Apostles because they were stubborn, thinking that their way of life and their intellect are superior to whatever the Lord has brought them through His Apostles and disciples. That was why many of the pagans stubbornly refused to listen to St. Paul and St. Barnabas, because they refused to let them to show them the way to the truth, and they preferred to remain as they were, living in ignorance and sin.

That was why many of the Jewish people and their leaders were also stubborn in their opposition against the Lord and His disciples. That was because of their pride and stubborn minds and hearts, which refused to let the Lord’s truth to enter and make its works among them. They shut the doors of their hearts and minds tight against the teachings of the Lord and against the words of the disciples, persecuting the Church in the process.

Yet, the Lord never ceases His efforts to reconcile these people, by sending them one after another, messengers and disciples to call them to repentance, from the time of the Apostles to our present day. Such was His great love for us sinners, that He wants each one of us to be reconciled to Him. One of such great servants was Pope St. Pius V, one of the great and holy successors of St. Peter, who presided over a period of great reform in the Church, completing the Council of Trent, which removed sinful practices and excesses from the Church.

Pope St. Pius V reigned as the Supreme Pontiff and the Vicar of Christ for the entire Church at a particularly difficult time when the Church was assaulted from both the inside and from outside. From inside, corruptions and wickedness have pervaded among the clergy for many years and decades prior to the reform, and these were stamped out by the reforms of the Council of Trent, which Pope St. Pius V courageously enforced strongly.

From the outside, the Church was assaulted by the forces of the protestant heresy, which threatened the souls of many of the faithful, as well as by the forces of the pagan Turks, attacking the Church and Christendom from the east. But Pope St. Pius V worked hard to coordinate an effort to counter all these threats, sending out many missionaries especially the Jesuits to counter the heresy of the so-called ‘reformation’, and assembling a great alliance to fight the forces of the Turks, that eventually triumphed.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the examples of the saints and the Apostles, and also the courage and faith of Pope St. Pius V should have also inspired each and every one of us as Christians to be fully devoted to God. Let us all do whatever we can in our actions, and do our best to preach the Good News and the truth of God to our fellow brothers and sisters. Indeed, there will be challenges as we have seen what happened to the Apostles, but remember, if we do nothing, then they will fall into damnation.

May the Lord be with us all, that we may be more courageous and faithful as true and living Christians, filled with the Holy Spirit in all of our actions and deeds. May the Lord bless us all, and all of our endeavours, now and always. Amen.