Monday, 16 November 2020 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Margaret of Scotland, and St. Gertrude, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints and Holy Virgins)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us are reminded of just fortunate we all are for having been beloved by God, as He showed us His love again and again throughout time. God has revealed His love to us constantly through His servants, but it is often us who pushed God away and refused to listen to Him or acknowledge His love for us.

The Lord has revealed to St. John, his Apostle, as recorded in the Book of Revelations, of the message and truth He has passed onto His seven Churches in Asia, representing the seven main Christian communities and centres at that time through His Angels. He revealed that despite the struggles and challenges that they were facing, they would not face those alone.

The revelation showed how the Church and the faithful would endure long periods of persecution throughout its history, but God would be with His people guiding them and protecting them regardless. The Lord helped them from their misery and guided them through those challenging years. In the end, many saints and martyrs came about from those communities, that while they might have suffered but they gained glory through God.

This is what we have also heard in our Gospel passage today, of God’s wonderful mercy and love. We heard how the Lord Jesus moved with pity and love, and responded to the one who had been seeking fervently His mercy and healing. When the blind man was helpless and was without hope, in the darkness of despair and suffering, God reached out to him and showed him that even in his darkness there is still hope and light, as long as one keeps faith in God.

The key there is the willingness of that blind man to humble himself and to reach out to the Lord, seeking His mercy wholeheartedly when he called out to Him, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” a few times, even when the people tried to silence and hush him. He revealed his vulnerability and his weakness to all, but in doing so, bared his faith in God fully, and it was by this faith that God was moved to save him and heal him from all of his troubles.

In the same manner therefore, God will always be with us and will help us through life, through our troubles and challenges if only we can have faith in Him like that of the blind man. The problem is that, unfortunately, more often than not, we allow our pride and ego to stand in the way of this salvation, as we often do not want to reveal our weakness and the fact that we actually are in need of help and assistance from God. We preferred rather to remain in our state of sin and in being despicable due to our pride, rather than seeking God for healing.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in order for us to move forward in this life with faith, we have to get rid from ourselves this wicked mentality and the attachments and the allures of our pride and ego. Indeed, we have to die to our pride and remove all these from our hearts and minds as best as we are able to. Otherwise, we may end up rejecting God’s love and mercy again and again, until it is too late for us to seek His healing, mercy and forgiveness.

Today, let us all reflect on all these, and discern carefully on what each and every one of us as Christians can do to serve the Lord and to follow Him ever more faithfully. And perhaps we should look up to the examples set by the saints, especially the two saints whose feast we are celebrating today, namely St. Margaret of Scotland, as well as St. Gertrude the Great, both being holy women who had dedicated their lives to the Lord.

St. Margaret of Scotland was an English princess who later became the Queen of Scotland. And although she was born a high noble and royalty, and a queen no less, but she has always been very pious and humble throughout her whole life, putting God above all else, and was ever dedicated in her work as queen in taking care of the needs of her people, especially to the less fortunate and the poor. She has also dedicated much effort to expand the Church and various other institutions for the benefit of her people.

St. Margaret and St. Gertrude were both very pious and dedicated themselves much to follow the Lord faithfully and led a very pious and virtuous way of life. While St. Margaret was a pious queen, St. Gertrude was a renowned Benedictine religious nun remembered for her many intellectual writings about the faith that are still influential to this very day. Many people had been inspired through their piety and their efforts.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us are called to reflect on the lives of these saints, and be inspired to seek the Lord with renewed faith and zeal, to be humble in reaching out for Him to ask for His forgiveness and grace. Let us all seek the Lord’s mercy, love and forgiveness, and let us all be thoroughly reconciled and regain God’s grace and favour. May the Lord be with us always, and may He bless us all now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 16 November 2020 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Margaret of Scotland, and St. Gertrude, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints and Holy Virgins)

Luke 18 : 35-43

At that time, when Jesus drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the road, begging. As he heard the crowd passing by, he inquired what was happening, and they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was going by.

Then he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” The people in front of him scolded him. “Be quiet!” they said, but he cried out all the more, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped, and ordered the blind man to be brought to Him; and when he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And the man said, “Lord, that I may see!” Jesus said, “Receive your sight, your faith has saved you.”

At once the blind man was able to see, and he followed Jesus, giving praise to God. And all the people who were there also praised God.

Monday, 16 November 2020 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Margaret of Scotland, and St. Gertrude, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints and Holy Virgins)

Psalm 1 : 1-2, 3, 4 and 6

Blessed is the one who does not go where the wicked gather, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit where the scoffers sit! Instead, he finds delight in the law of the Lord and meditates day and night on His commandments.

He is like a tree beside a brook producing its fruit in due season, its leaves never withering. Everything he does is a success.

But it is different with the wicked. They are like chaff driven away by the wind. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous but cuts off the way of the wicked.

Monday, 16 November 2020 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Margaret of Scotland, and St. Gertrude, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints and Holy Virgins)

Revelations 1 : 1-4 and Revelations 2 : 1-5a

The Revelation of Jesus Christ. God gave it to Him to let His servants know what is soon to take place. He sent His Angel to make it known to His servant, John, who reports everything he saw, for this is the word of God and the declaration of Jesus Christ.

Happy is the one who reads aloud these prophetic words, and happy those who hear them and treasure everything written here, for the time is near. From John to the seven Churches of Asia : receive grace and peace from Him Who is, Who was and Who is to come, and from the seven Spirits of God which are before His throne.

Write this to the Angel of the Church in Ephesus, “Thus says the One Who holds the seven stars in His right hand and Who walks among the seven golden lampstands : ‘I know your works, your difficulties and your patient suffering. I know you cannot tolerate evildoers but have tested those who call themselves Apostles and have proved them to be liars. You have persevered and have suffered for My Name without losing heart.”

“Nevertheless, I have this complaint against you : you have lost your first love. Remember from where you have fallen and repent.”

Friday, 16 October 2020 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Holy Virgins)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Sacred Scripture, we heard how God has sealed us with His grace, which is through baptism that He has claimed us all and renewed us, liberating us all from the hold of original sin and death, and we have all been made and adopted to be children of God. God has called us all to be His disciples, His followers, and made us all to be His children.

God has loved us all so much, from the depth of His heart. His love is poured on us bountifully, and it was because of His infinite, patient and enduring love for each and every one of us that we have been saved. He has been patient in dealing with us, even when we have sinned and disobeyed Him again and again. He has always extended His mercy and the desire to forgive us at all times. Unfortunately, we often ignored and disregarded His love, because we were too busy with many things, and tempted by many distractions.

This is what the Lord also referred to in our Gospel passage today when He spoke of the ‘yeast of the Pharisees’, after a series of the past few days when we heard all the criticism and curses the Lord spoke of the Pharisees. And He plainly mentioned how the great sin of the Pharisees as being their hypocrisy and lack of genuine faith in God. Although outwardly pious, but their hearts were not fully attuned to the Lord.

God knows full well what is in our hearts, as He said in our Gospel today, that nothing hidden that will not be uncovered, nothing that is beyond God’s ability to know. He knows all of our intentions and everything about us, and therefore, if we have been faithful even in little things, we will be assured of the Lord’s favour and providence. Similarly, if we have not been faithful and wayward, then all these will be held against us too.

We must take heed of these reminders from the Lord through these readings, not to be easily tempted by worldly temptations, or by concerns and fears that we may be having. In that same passage we heard of the Lord reassuring us that we are all precious to Him, that we are all beloved by Him and will be provided and taken care of. Most often we find reasons for those who strayed from the Lord is that because they were preoccupied with securing themselves and gaining their worldly satisfactions or achievements.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore be genuinely faithful to God, and knowing that God has loved us so much, then we really should spend the same effort and time to love the Lord with equal intensity and commitment. If God has loved us so much, then why is it that we cannot even try to love Him, even in little matter and things. The Lord is always willing to reach out to us, to embrace us, and He is waiting for us to respond to Him and His love. Are we willing to embrace that love, brothers and sisters?

Today, all of us ought to look upon the examples and inspirations of the saints, our holy predecessors. St. Hedwig of Silesia and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque are those whose lives and inspirations that we need to follow and be inspired from. St. Hedwig of Silesia was the Duchess consort of Silesia who joined religious life after she was widowed, while St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was the renowned visionary of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

St. Hedwig of Silesia was born into the noble family, and was married to the Duke of Silesia, and she was renowned for her piety and dedication even during those years. She was always remembered for her commitment to God, her charity and love for the poor. But most memorably, after her husband passed away early on, having settled and taken care of her children, St. Hedwig of Silesia joined the religious life and committed herself to God. Her piety was so great that even her own son, the Duke of Silesia also led a pious life.

And as mentioned, St. Hedwig of Silesia also cared for the poor, the sick and widows as well as orphans, showing them care and concern, extending the love of God to them all. And she also definitely loved the Lord very much, as she spent a lot of quality time with Him. This is exactly the same as what the other saint, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, who was also very devout and committed in her service to God.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque had a rough early life, as misfortune befell her family, but this did not stop her from being pious in her life, even from her youth. After joining the religious life, this continues on, which St. Margaret Mary Alacoque carried on faithfully as she served the Lord through prayer and service. She experienced miraculous visions of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, from which the now popular devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus stemmed forth.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque shared what she had received in her visions, the words that the Lord, in His Most Sacred Heart spoke to her, calling for the repentance of sinners and to entrust themselves in His Most Sacred Heart. And it is a kind reminder that us of the generous love of God we discussed earlier, in how He loved us with His heart and dedicated everything to us, even to the point of the sacrifice He made on the Cross.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore follow in the footsteps of the saints, our holy predecessors, especially that of St. Hedwig of Silesia and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, to serve the Lord faithfully. May the Lord bless us all in all of our every good endeavours and efforts, all for His greater glory. Amen.

Friday, 16 October 2020 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Holy Virgins)

Luke 12 : 1-7

At that time, such a numerous crowd had gathered that they crushed one another. Then Jesus spoke to His disciples in this way, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered that will not be uncovered; or hidden, that will not be made known. Whatever you have said in darkness will be heard in daylight, and what you have whispered in hidden places, will be proclaimed from housetops.”

“I tell you, My friends, do not fear those who put to death the body and, after that, can do no more. But I will tell you Whom to fear : Fear the One Who, after killing you, is able to throw you into hell. This One you must fear. Do you not buy five sparrows for two pennies? Yet not one of them has been forgotten by God. Even the hairs of your head have been numbered. Do not be afraid! Are you less worthy in the eyes of God than many sparrows?”

Friday, 16 October 2020 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Holy Virgins)

Psalm 32 : 1-2, 4-5, 12-13

Rejoice in the Lord, you who are just, praise is fitting for the upright. Give thanks to Him on the harp and lyre, making melody and chanting praises.

For upright is the Lord’s word and worthy of trust is His work. The Lord loves justice and righteousness; the earth is full of His kindness.

Blessed is the nation whose God is YHVH – the people He has chosen for His inheritance. YHVH looks down from heaven and sees the whole race of mortals.

Friday, 16 October 2020 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Holy Virgins)

Ephesians 1 : 11-14

By a decree of Him, Who disposes all things, according to His own plan and decision, we, the Jews, have been chosen and called, and we were awaiting the Messiah, for the praise of His glory.

You, on hearing the word of truth, the Gospel that saves you, have believed in Him. And, as promised, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit, the first pledge of what we shall receive, on the way to our deliverance, as a people of God, for the praise of His glory.

Thursday, 15 October 2020 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the Scriptures, we heard from our first reading the beginning of the Epistle of St. Paul to the faithful and the Church in Ephesus, in which the Apostle spoke of the great love of God and the salvation which He has lavished on all of those who believed and embraced Christ as their Saviour. Meanwhile, in the Gospel passage today, we heard the continuation of yesterday’s discourse on the Lord’s criticism and the curses He levelled on the Pharisees.

In our first reading today, St. Paul spoke to the people of Ephesus regarding the designs and all that God had willed on His people, how He has created us all out of love, and how He has blessed us all and provided for us. Essentially, the key message of St. Paul is that we are beloved by God and He wants us to be forgiven from our sins and thus be reconciled with Him.

Through sin, all of us have been separated from God, and we have fallen away from the path of grace and eternal life. Had it not been for God’s enduring and pure love for us, we would have been destroyed and annihilated. Our sins would have condemned us into an eternity of suffering, and it was only thanks to the patience and compassionate love showed by the Lord to us that we have received the way out of this certain predicament.

It was by the loving sacrifice of Christ on the Cross that the Lord had redeemed us from our fated destruction, extending forgiveness for our sins, and calling us to repent wholeheartedly and abandon our past lives of sin, our previous wicked and disobedient way of life. The Lord has generously extended His offer of love and mercy, and we shall certainly be completely forgiven if only that we embrace repentance and change our ways.

This is then linked to what we have heard in the Gospel passage today, as we heard the Lord speaking to the people on the vices and wickedness of the Pharisees in the various occasions when they did not obey the Lord as they preferred to live and act in accordance to their own way. The Lord reminded us all that this is not the right path for us to follow, and instead of doing what the Pharisees had done, we must be truly faithful.

First of all, the Pharisees refused to believe in the Lord, in His words and teachings even though He has repeatedly showed them and all others how His message and words were genuine, and that the prophets had indeed prophesied about His coming into the world. And despite all the signs and wonders they had witnessed, they still refused to have faith.

This shows just how powerful the allure of human pride and desire can be, and if we allow these to influence us much as how they had influenced the Pharisees and many of the teachers of the Law and elders of the people, then it will likely lead us down the same path towards ruin. Those groups of people I mentioned earlier, they took great pride in their own supposed superior intellect, power, influence and other things that made them to resist the Lord and His revelation of truth.

They were blinded by their desires, by their jealousy within them, and by their fears, as they were afraid to lose all the good things, all the privileges and power they had enjoyed. And in the end, instead of depending and focusing on the Lord, they ended up being self-indulgent, depending on their own power and might, their own wisdom and intellect, refusing to admit that they could have been mistaken and wrong, and thus, hardened their hearts when the Lord came bearing His truth before their own eyes.

Truly, it is sad to see how those who were blessed with many good things had fallen. But this is indeed a kind reminder from the Lord how we cannot be complacent and need to be careful lest we may be tempted by those worldly desires, concerns and all the allures by which the devil has been constantly trying to lure us away from God’s path and grace. It will indeed not be easy, as we live in a world inundated by all these temptations, but unless we make the effort, then indeed we will be easy prey for those temptations.

That is why, today, all of us should be inspired by the good examples set by our saint today, the renowned St. Teresa of Jesus, also known as St. Teresa of Avila, the renowned mystic and holy woman, declared one of the Doctors of the Church for her immense contribution to the faith and in all of her writings and efforts. Together with St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila were very important figures in the renewal and reform of the Carmelite order, establishing what would be known as the Discalced Carmelites.

At that time, after centuries of developments, the Carmelite order began to stray further and further away from the true intentions of the founders of the religious order. Members of the religious began to be corrupted by worldly desires, and found many ways to circumvent or ignore the rules of the religious living and Carmelite tenets altogether. Similar trends were also observed in other religious orders, as both members of the clergy and laity alike became lax in their discipline in life and in their observance of God’s Law and commandments.

Therefore, St. Teresa of Jesus, together with St. John of the Cross and other reformers set out to reform the Carmelites, as well as the larger Church and the faithful community in general, which sought to return the Christian faith and its followers to purer intentions, ridding it off the excesses that had grown to accumulate over those past few centuries, when corrupt influences of the world began to affect the members of the Church and led them astray, much as the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had experienced earlier.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, St. Teresa of Jesus and her fellow companions all worked hard and dedicated themselves deeply to the service of the Lord despite the challenges that she had to face throughout those difficult years in attempting to reform the Church and the faithful community, especially the Carmelites. We are all also called to follow the Lord, just as St. Teresa of Jesus and the other saints had done.

Let us all turn towards the Lord with all of our hearts, and let us commit ourselves ever more faithfully, each and every moments of our lives, to be faithful disciples and great inspirations for each other, the beacons of God’s light, His truth, hope and love. May God bless us all, now and always, forevermore. St. Teresa of Jesus, great reformer and faithful servant of God, pray for us all, always. Amen.

Thursday, 15 October 2020 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 11 : 47-54

At that time, Jesus said to the teachers of the Law, “A curse is on you, for you build monuments to the prophets your ancestors killed. So you approve and agree with what your ancestors did. Is it not so? They got rid of the prophets, and you build monuments to them!”

“For that reason the wisdom of God also said : I will send prophets and Apostles and these people will kill and persecute some of them. But the present generation will have to answer for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was murdered between the altar and the Sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, the people of this time will have to answer for them all.”

“A curse is on you, teachers of the Law, for you have taken the key of knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you prevented others from entering.”

As Jesus left that place, the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees began to harass Him, asking Him endless questions, setting traps to catch Him in something He might say.