Tuesday, 5 October 2021 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Faustina Kowalska, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Holy Virgins)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us heard the readings from the Sacred Scriptures in which all of us are reminded of the great love and mercy of God, the compassionate and merciful love which He had for each and every one of us that He is willing to forgive us from our sins if we are willing to listen to Him and repent, turning away from those wicked and sinful ways. Unfortunately, more often than not, we are too preoccupied and busy to listen to the Lord’s words and urging in our hearts.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Jonah on the words that Jonah brought on behalf of the Lord to the people of Nineveh, the capital of the great Assyrian Kingdom, which at that time was the Hegemon of that part of the world. Assyria was rising in power and they conquered many other smaller states and cities, committing atrocities and acts of wanton destruction during their conquests as attested by historical records and evidences. They grew rich and mighty over the sufferings and pains of others and this was their great sin.

As such, God sent Jonah to them to warn them of their upcoming destruction and annihilation, and yet, while God desired destruction upon the wicked that is justified because of their sins, the fact that He actually sent His prophet Jonah to proclaim this to them was truly a clear sign how the Lord still loved and cared for His people, even after they had sinned greatly against Him, disobeyed Him and betrayed Him. That is why, one of the reason why He sent Jonah to them was actually to make them to realise the errors of their ways, repent and turn back to righteousness.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the truth is that God never intended for any of us to be destroyed or crushed because of our sins. Otherwise, He could have destroyed us right from the beginning when our ancestors first disobeyed and betrayed Him for the temptations of Satan. He created all of us out of His love for each one of us, and it is by His love and enduring attention to us that we all live by His grace. He wants all sinners to return to Him and to find salvation through Him, be freed from the bondage of sin and death.

However, as we have also heard in our Gospel passage today, the main hindrance to this is our own preoccupation in life, as we are often distracted by the many desires, temptations and other things in life, as well as the lies and the falsehoods that the devil has planted in our hearts and minds, which we heeded to instead of the truth and love of God. In our Gospel passage today we heard of the Lord Jesus visiting to the house of Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, who were good friends of the Lord, and while Mary was listening to the Lord and His teachings, Martha was very busy tending to the preparations and possibly cooking.

When Martha scolded Mary and told the Lord that Mary should have helped her in her work and efforts, the Lord lightly rebuked Martha and told her that what Mary had done was right. Martha was not wrong in her desire to serve and provide for the Lord, but in her preoccupation with her chores and work, it distracted her from truly welcoming the Lord and allowing His words of truth and love to enter her heart as her sister Mary had done. She has essentially placed her work and actions above her love for God.

This is why we should not allow all those distractions from keeping us away from God, and we must realise and be grateful that the Lord has been so loving and merciful towards us, all these while. He has given us His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, to be the One Who would deliver us from the destruction due to our sins and evils, and redeemed us by the most loving sacrifice He had made on the Cross, as He offered Himself in atonement for our many and innumerable sins. Here we have ourselves seen God’s most wonderful mercy and love bared to us.

Today, we celebrate the feast of the great saint and mystic who had revealed to us this loving and merciful aspect of the Lord, the Divine Mercy of God, namely St. Faustina Kowalska, the original visionary of the Divine Mercy. St. Faustina Kowalska was a Polish nun who entered the convent at a young age and received for much of her life, visions of the Lord, the Divine Mercy, calling on her to propagate the devotion to the Divine Mercy of God, reminding the people of God about their sins, and how they ought to turn away from their sins and embrace God’s most generous mercy.

St. Faustina Kowalska saw the vision of the Divine Mercy, with rays of red and white light emanating from the Most Sacred Heart of the Lord, which is symbolic of the blood and water that had come out forth from the wound that the centurion lanced to check that the Lord had died on the Cross. By that Most Precious Blood, the Lord had redeemed and brought us to freedom from the tyranny of sin and death, and by His Divinity and Humanity mingled together in the person of Jesus Christ, He has become the Salvation of the whole entire world.

The devotion to the Divine Mercy gradually grew in popularity and now it has become one of the most popular devotions in the world. But what we must truly realise is that we must not leave it as merely a devotion alone, but it must be accompanied with a genuine conversion of the heart and soul, of our entire beings, that we reject sin and evil, Satan and all of his wicked lies and falsehoods that have kept us away from the Lord and His salvation for so long.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all entrust ourselves to the Lord and listen to Him, His calling for us to embrace His love and mercy, much like how the people of Nineveh, wicked as they were, decided to humble themselves before God and all men, abashing themselves for their wickedness and sorrowful over their sins. This is the same attitude that we should have as well, brothers and sisters, and we should turn ourselves towards our Lord, the Divine Mercy, and seek His mercy and forgiveness, that we may be healed, made whole and reconciled once again.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He strengthen each and every one of us to live ever more courageously in faith from now on, and walk virtuously in His path from now on. May God bless us always, and may He guide us in our journey of faith through life, with the intercession of the saints, especially St. Faustina Kowalska, our role model in faith. Amen.

Tuesday, 5 October 2021 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Faustina Kowalska, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Holy Virgins)

Luke 10 : 38-42

At that time, as Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He entered a village, and a woman called Martha welcomed Him to her house. She had a sister named Mary, who sat down at the Lord’s feet to listen to His words. Martha, meanwhile, was busy with all the serving, and finally she said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the work? Tell her to help me!”

But the Lord answered, “Martha, Martha, you worry and are troubled about many things, whereas only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Tuesday, 5 October 2021 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Faustina Kowalska, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Holy Virgins)

Psalm 129 : 1-2, 3-4, 7bc-8

Out of the depths I cry to You, o YHVH, o YHVH, hear my voice! Let Your ears pay attention to the voice of my supplication.

If You should mark our evil, o YHVH, who could stand? But with You, is forgiveness, and for that, You are revered.

For with Him, is unfailing love and with Him full deliverance. He will deliver Israel from all its sins.

Tuesday, 5 October 2021 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Faustina Kowalska, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Holy Virgins)

Jonah 3 : 1-10

The word of YHVH came to Jonah a second time : “Go to Nineveh, the great city, and announce to them the message I give you.”

In obedience to the word of YHVH, Jonah went to Nineveh. It was a very large city, and it took three days just to cross it. So Jonah walked a single day’s journey and began proclaiming, “Forty days more and Nineveh will be destroyed.”

The people of the city believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. Upon hearing the news, the king of Nineveh got up from his throne, took off his royal robe, put on sackcloth and sat down in ashes. He issued a proclamation throughout Nineveh :

“By the decree of the king and his nobles, no people or beasts, herd or flock, will taste anything; neither will they eat nor drink. But let people and beasts be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call aloud to God, turn from his evil ways and violence. Who knows? God may yet relent, turn from His fierce anger and spare us.”

When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He had compassion and did not carry out the destruction He had threatened upon them.

Friday, 1 October 2021 : Feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of Missions (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Feast of the great Patroness of Missions, St. Therese of Lisieux, also known as St. Therese of the Child Jesus. St. Therese was a Carmelite nun who was remembered for her great piety and faith, her commitment to the Lord and her great writings and contributions to the Church. As such, she was greatly revered by many people who were touched and inspired by her examples and holy life, even though she had a relatively short life when she died at the very young age of twenty-four.

St. Therese of Lisieux was born as the daughter of the now Saints, St. Louis Martin and St. Marie-Azelie Guerin. The family of St. Therese of Lisieux was a very devout Catholic family, and her parents were truly great role models as Christians and as dedicated and loving parents to their children. Although they were not rich, but they led a happy and pious life together as a family, which eventually saw not just St. Therese joining the religious life as a nun, but in fact all of the five daughters of St. Louis Martin and St. Marie-Azelie Guerin who survived to adulthood all joined the religious life.

St. Therese had always been frail and weak since when she was born, and as she grew up, she was brought up in a very pious and devoted environment as her family observed the daily attendance at the Holy Mass every morning, the regular practice of fasting and abstinence as well as the daily and regular recitation of the Divine Office and other prayers, which her family always never failed to do, as well as numerous charitable efforts and works, which influenced the young St. Therese greatly. This would become one of the main inspiration for her to join consecrated life.

St. Therese then expressed her desire to join the religious life since a very young age. After she has lost her mother at the age of just four and a half years old, his father took care of her and her other sisters, and sent her to be educated by Benedictine nuns. Her desire to dedicate herself to the Lord became only stronger and as her own sisters also joined a Carmelite convent, especially one who was particularly close to her, this led to St. Therese expressing even greater desire to follow the Lord.

All the challenges that she had to face did not deter St. Therese from doing her best to seek entry to the religious life, and it was told that in one occasion on one Christmas Midnight Mass, she experienced a great spiritual experience that she later on described as a complete conversion experience. It was a moment of great significance as she overcame her previous troubles and spiritual troubles of having lost her mother at a very young age as well as other troubles and the sickness she had.

That also further deepened her spirituality and commitment to God as she continued to persevere in her desire to be a consecrated nun, which was eventually led her to Rome, as the Pope, then Pope Leo XIII met her in a personal audience in which she uttered her great desire to join the Carmelites. The Pope told her to obey the will of the Carmelite superiors and to entrust herself to the will of God, that if it is indeed God’s will, then she would be able to enter the Carmelite Order. Eventually, she did manage to enter the convent, by the arrangements authorised by the local bishop.

St. Therese spent her life afterwards in great piety and commitment to God, while still enduring both physical and spiritual trials and difficulties. Yet, all these did not dampen her spirit and enthusiasm as she continued to persevere through prayer and strict discipline throughout her life as a Carmelite and she wrote down her experiences of receiving visions and other spiritual experiences that she lived through. She was also then known for her famous ‘Little Way’ which also earned her the name of the ‘Little Flower of Carmel’.

What is this Little Way that St. Therese of Lisieux proposed, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is that we do not have to do great things in order to attain the glory of Heaven. Rather, our good works and our living by our faith is measured by the small little actions we do each day and every moments of our lives. Little by little, small effort bit by bit, we will eventually get there, and we will find our way to the Lord if we continue to persevere in our faith and remain faithful to God. This is what we have been called to do through the examples of St. Therese of Lisieux, her faith and exemplary life.

To the very end of her life, St. Therese of Lisieux dedicated herself to a life of prayer, and her many writings and works inspired many who had read them and come to know about her life and her devotion to God. Her immense popularity among the faithful, even long after her passing is credited with numerous conversions among the people and one of the reason why she was named as the Patroness of Missions. And we should be inspired to follow in her examples and her virtues and dedication to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we have heard the great detail of the life of this most wonderful and renowned saint, we are all then called to reflect on our own way of life. Are we all willing to follow in her good examples and are we all capable of committing ourselves to a life of total giving and service to God as St. Therese of Lisieux had done? And we have to realise that we often do not have to do many amazing and wonderful things in life. What we have to do is to reach out to others around us even through very small actions and gestures in life, that by our exemplary life we may lead more and more of our fellow brethren to the salvation in God.

As Christians we are all called to action, to dedicate ourselves to the Lord and to His cause and works in our world today. We are all called to be the beacons of His light and truth in our darkened world, and as we see how the shining faith of St. Therese of Lisieux had been an immense source of hope and light to all who witnessed and seen her life examples, we too should do the same in our own lives. Can we contribute our efforts even in the smallest way we can, to glorify the Lord by our lives?

May the Lord continue to help and strengthen us, and may He guide us in our journey throughout life so that we may always ever draw closer to Him in each and every moments of our lives. May God bless us in our every good works and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 1 October 2021 : Feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of 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.”

Friday, 1 October 2021 : Feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of 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.

Friday, 1 October 2021 : Feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of 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.

Wednesday, 11 August 2021 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all called to remember our duties as Christians, to be wholeheartedly faithful to the Lord in all things. We are all called to be genuine in our faith and devotion to God, and to seek harmony and peace among us all, as members of the same Body of Christ, the Church of God.

In our first reading today we heard the account of the passing of Moses, God’s most faithful servant who was sent to the people of Israel in order to lead them out from the land of Egypt and into the land of their ancestors, the lands promised to them as the descendants of Jacob, or Israel. Moses had faithfully led the people of Israel for the entire forty years of their Exodus through the desert, enduring much sorrow and sufferings from all the stubbornness and rebelliousness of the Israelites, who repeatedly disobeyed the Lord again and again.

It was Moses who repeatedly brought peace and reconciliation to the people of God, calling on them to turn away from their sins and wickedness, to abandon their rebelliousness and stubborn attitude, and be reconciled with God, their loving Lord and Master. Moses pleaded before God not just once, but many times, to spare the Israelites when their waywardness led them to abandon the Lord and committed sins and evil deeds in God’s sight.

Moses made peace between God and His people, and exhorted the people to remain faithful to the Lord, and to be committed to the Law and the commandments of God. He reminded the people, both young and old, of the need to obey and trust in the Lord, and this is the same reminder that the Lord then told to all the people as we heard it in our Gospel passage today, when the Lord told all of them to seek peace with one another and then with God, to be reconciled in love and peace, to be forgiven their sins and trespasses.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord, we are all called to contemplate on our lives and our attitudes, on whether we have truly been faithful to Him all these while. Have we lived our lives in disobedience against God by our refusal to follow His Law and commandments? Have we allowed the temptations of our desires and the allures of worldly pleasures to misguide and mislead us down the wrong path in life, as they had done to the Israelites?

That is why today we are all called to reflect on all these, and think of how we can better live our lives that we may truly be faithful to the Lord in all things and at all times as we should. And perhaps we should also model ourselves on the inspiration and examples of the saints, one of whom whose feast day we celebrate today is a great example to follow. St. Clare of Assisi was a renowned saint and devout servant of God, who committed herself and her life thoroughly to a life dedicated to God.

At that time, St. Clare was one of the first followers of St. Francis of Assisi, as a member of the associates of the Franciscans, as she founded the Order of Poor Ladies, the female counterpart of the Franciscan order established by St. Francis of Assisi, committed to the same principles and ideals of St. Francis, and dedicating themselves to the Lord and leading a holy and virtuous life. St. Clare has been pious since early in her life, and when she gave herself fully to the Lord, she had no hesitation, embracing together with other women, a life of poverty and charity, and dedication to God.

St. Clare then became the Abbess of the monastery of San Damiano, in charge of the other religious sisters who have committed themselves to the life and the way of St. Francis. She showed exemplary leadership and faith, and inspired her fellow sisters and others by her dedication to God. And in a miraculous event often remembered about her, St. Clare defended her monastery through the Blessed Sacrament when a rogue army of the Holy Roman Emperor attacked the town of Assisi and the convent where St. Clare lived in. She prayed before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, and as the soldiers came in, she lifted the Blessed Sacrament up, and it was told that great light came forth, blinding and making the soldiers to flee in fear.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having listened to the story of St. Clare, all of us should learn to commit ourselves to the Lord in the same manner as well. We are all called to follow the Lord wholeheartedly, and we should turn towards Him with genuine faith and dedication, from now on. Let us all seek the Lord with ever greater zeal and desire to love Him and to serve Him to the best of our abilities. And may the Lord bless us all and keep us in His love, and may He guide us through the challenges and persevere through this journey of our faith in life. Amen.

Wednesday, 11 August 2021 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 18 : 15-20

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “If your brother has sinned against you, go and point out the fault to him, when the two of you are alone; and if he listens to you, you have won back your brother. If he does not listen to you, take with you one or two others, so that the case may be decided by the evidence of two or three witnesses.”

“And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the assembled Church. But if he does not listen to the Church, then regard him as a pagan, or a tax collector. I say to you : whatever you bind on earth, heaven will keep bound; and whatever you unbind on earth, heaven will keep unbound.”

“In like manner, I say to you, if, on earth, two of you agree in asking for anything, it will be granted to you by My heavenly Father; for where two or there are gathered in My Name, I am there, among them.”