Tuesday, 1 October 2019 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of all Missionaries and the Missions (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we mark the beginning of the Extraordinary Mission Month as promulgated by Pope Francis earlier last year and it is fitting that this month of October begins with the feast of the Patroness of all Missionaries and Missions, namely St. Therese of Lisieux, also known as St. Therese of the Child Jesus, a great visionary and saint, and through her many excellent writings, a great Doctor of the Church and inspiration to all of us.

St. Therese of Lisieux was a Discalced Carmelite nun who was renowned for her ‘Little Way’ or the ‘Little Way of St. Therese of Lisieux’, which is why she was also known as the ‘Little Flower of Jesus’. St. Therese of Lisieux faced a lot of difficulties during the early years of her life and in embracing her calling into religious life as even though she was raised in a pious and virtuous family, her parents being just recently canonised as saints as well, St. Louis Martin and St. Marie-Azelie Guerin, but she had a frail condition and health.

Nonetheless, this did not stop St. Therese of Lisieux from listening to God’s call and embracing her calling, which in a way inspired her own family to also embrace their calling, as eventually the siblings of St. Therese of Lisieux also embraced and committed themselves to religious life like St. Therese had been. She received many visions throughout her life, from the Lord and His blessed Mother Mary, both before and after she joined the religious life.

That was how she began to journal her experiences and wrote extensively about those spiritual experiences and her thoughts, which made her own incredible piety and devotion to God even more amazing. She spent a lot of time praying for priests and many of the people whose faith were weak and lukewarm, hoping that through her prayers those people would be fortified further in their own faith and devotion to God.

And despite the tough circumstances and conditions she had to bear as a member of the strict Carmelite order, and the bullying and challenges she actually experienced during her years in the service of God, St. Therese continued to devote herself to God ever more strongly through prayer and through her love for her community, and by her examples and inspiring faith, eventually many would be strengthened in their own faith and others became converts through her many works and writings.

Truly, this is the essence of what missionary work is all about, and the Lord in our Gospel passage today wants to remind us of both our obligation as Christians as well as how we should approach this responsibility we now have in being witnesses of our faith and as missionaries of the Gospels of Christ. We must not be afraid to embrace God with all of our strength and love Him with all of our abilities as St. Therese of Lisieux had done.

And we should not think that it is impossible for us to devote ourselves just because we think that we are unworthy or incapable of doing what our holy predecessors had done. To be a good missionary does not need us to do great and wonderful deeds, or to perform miracles and doing seemingly superhuman feats. We tend to think too much, worry too much and have too many things in our minds and in the end, our fears, worries and uncertainties will become our undoing.

In today’s Gospel and also through the life and philosophy of St. Therese of Lisieux, we are all called to change our mindset and perspective of life, in how we should devote ourselves to the Lord. We are called to reflect on what it means for us to welcome the Lord like that of little children and how to love Him like those children had loved Him. A children’s love and faith are pure, and they are pure because they have not yet been corrupted by worldly desires and thoughts.

Therefore, our love for God must also be pure and unconditional just as how He Himself has loved us first. God has not reserved or held back His love towards us at all, and He gave us everything through Christ, His Son, Who suffered grievously and died on the Cross for the sake of our salvation. And as St. Therese of Lisieux famously put in her ‘Little Way’ as I mentioned earlier, that is for us to be faithful to God, it does not need us to be great or to do superhuman feats.

Rather, what we need to do, according to St. Therese of Lisieux, is to become small and humble, recognising our faults and shortcomings that we may empty ourselves of ego, pride and desires so that we may truly be able to love God and give ourselves to Him wholeheartedly, and doing this in a manner that we take a small, little step one at a time, and not a giant leap. Ultimately, all those small little steps will add up together and become a great progress for us in our journey of faith.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all called today to be missionaries of our faith, to become the witnesses of Christ, in every little and small things we do in our lives, in everything that we say and we do, in all of our interactions with our fellow brethren, that we should commit ourselves to the path of righteousness and do only what pleases God from now on. Let us all be inspirations for one another and encourage one another to live more faithfully from now on.

May the Lord continue to bless us all and guide us in our journey of faith, and may He empower us all to live more courageously in His presence. May God be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 1 October 2019 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of all Missionaries and the Missions (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 18 : 1-5

At that time, the disciples came to Jesus and asked Him, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Then Jesus called a little child, set the child in the midst of the disciples, and said, “I assure you, that, unless you change, and become like little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble, like this child, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and whoever receives such a child, in My Name, receives Me.”

Tuesday, 1 October 2019 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of all Missionaries and the Missions (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 131 : 1-3

O YHVH, my heart is not proud nor do I have arrogant eyes. I am not engrossed in ambitious matters, nor in things too great for me.

I have quieted and stilled my soul, like a weaned child, on its mother’s lap; like a contented child is my soul.

Hope in YHVH, o Israel, now and forever.

Tuesday, 1 October 2019 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of all Missionaries and the Missions (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 66 : 10-14

Rejoice for Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her. Be glad with her, rejoice with her, all you who were in grief over her, that you may suck of the milk from her comforting breasts, that you may drink deeply from the abundance of her glory.

For this is what YHVH says : I will send her peace, overflowing like a river; and the nations’ wealth, rushing like a torrent towards her. And you will be nursed and carried in her arms and fondled upon her lap. As a son comforted by his mother, so will I comfort you. At the sight of this, your heart will rejoice; like grass, your bones will flourish.

For it shall be known that YHVH’s hand is with His servant, but His fury is upon His enemy.

Monday, 29 April 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened first of all of the frustrations as shown in the prayers uttered by the Apostles, St. Peter and St. John, who at that time had just healed the sickness of a crippled man and restored him to full health in the Name of the Lord, and yet, they were oppressed, persecuted and treated like criminals, by the Sanhedrin or the Jewish High Council who wanted to stop them from performing miracles and teaching in the Name of the Lord Jesus.

They voiced out their frustrations at the stubbornness of all those who refused to believe in God and in His truth, and constantly placed obstacles in the path of the disciples of the Lord. But they trusted in the Lord and believed that He would not abandon them to their enemies. They prayed that God would guide and protect them as they embarked on the challenging and dangerous mission that He has commanded them to do.

And God sent them all the Holy Spirit, Who descended on them and filled their hearts and minds with courage and strength, with the desire and conviction to carry out the mission which has been entrusted to them. And as compared to how they were prior to receiving the Holy Spirit, the disciples had undergone a great transformation in action and in their way of life. Where they were once fearful, doubtful and easily shaken in their faith, they became courageous defenders of the Lord from then on.

And this is what the Lord Jesus actually meant in our Gospel passage today, when He discussed with Nicodemus the Pharisee, on the matter of being born again in the Spirit. Nicodemus was initially puzzled when the Lord mentioned that for him to be able to see and witness the kingdom of God, he must be born again in God. He thought that to be born again meant that one had to literally go back into his or her mother’s womb, which was not possible.

But the Lord clarified it for him, and through the examples of the Apostles, all of us have also received the truth about what being born again truly means for each and every one of us. It means that each and every one of us must go through that profound change in our lives, that is just so profound and complete, that one must seem to be unrecognisable and transformed by the change, so as to be ‘born again’.

And this happens when we allow the Lord to enter into us, and perform His work through us, by the bestowing of His Holy Spirit and His Real Presence in each and every one of us. The Apostles as we have heard earlier, prayed, and the Holy Spirit was given to the discipled who were gathered with them, so that despite all of the challenges and difficulties that they had to endure, they endured them nonetheless with great courage and faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us have also received the same gift of the Holy Spirit, and God Himself has entered into our lives, being present in us and with us. However, many among us have not been able to make use of these gifts God has given to us, and we remain aloof and indifferent to the calling and the mission which God has called us to do. This is because of our own inability to recognise God being present in us, and how we have shut ourselves from God and His love.

Today, all of us are called to reflect on our own lives, on how we have lived our lives all these while. Are we able to be truly born again in faith, by embracing what the Lord has given to us all in our own respective lives? And this requires us all to be more faithful and to be more committed in our faith in God. And perhaps, we should learn from the experiences and the examples shown to us by our holy predecessors, especially St. Catherine of Siena, whose feast day we are celebrating today.

St. Catherine of Siena was a very renowned saint of the Church, who dedicated herself into a life of sanctity and devotion to God from early on in her life. She did these all despite the oppositions from her family and the many challenges she had to encounter throughout her life. Yet, her commitment to God, her sanctity and great wisdom, in her many writings and letters inspired many others to return to their faith in God.

She was in fact so influential that she even had a crucial role in the ending of the great Western Schism, when rival Popes came to power being elected by the opposing factions and groups in the Church. She exhorted the faithful and the Pope to put their faith and obedience to God’s will as the first and foremost focus in their choice of action. And therefore the Lord showed His wonderful works through this faithful saint, by which many were saved.

Let us all therefore follow in the footsteps of St. Catherine of Siena, holy woman and servant of God, and also the examples of the Apostles and the many other holy disciples of the Lord. Let us all renew our faith and commitment, just as the disciples and St. Catherine of Siena had done, and live up to the calling which God had called us to, to be good and devoted Christians, all those whom God has called to be His own. Amen.

Monday, 29 April 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 3 : 1-8

At that time, among the Pharisees there was a ruler of the Jews named Nicodemus. He came to Jesus by night and said, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God to teach us, for no one can perform miraculous signs like Yours unless God is with Him.”

Jesus replied, “Truly, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again from above.” Nicodemus said, “How can there be rebirth for a grown man? Who could go back to his mother’s womb and be born again?” Jesus replied, “Truly, I say to you : No one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

“Because of this, do not be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again from above.’ The wind blows where it pleases and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going. It is like that with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Monday, 29 April 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 2 : 1-3, 4-6, 7-9

Why do the nations conspire? Why do the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth brace themselves and the rulers together take their stand against the Lord and His Anointed. They say, “Let us break their bonds! Let us cast away their chains!”

The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord looks at them in derision. Then in anger He speaks to them, terrifying them in the fury of His wrath : “Behold the King I have installed, in Zion, upon My holy hill!”

I will proclaim the decree of the Lord. He said to Me : “You are My Son. This day I have begotten You. Ask of Me and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall rule them with iron sceptre and shatter them as a potter’s vase.”