Thursday, 29 April 2021 : 4th 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, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are reminded yet again as we have constantly been reminded throughout this season of Easter of how fortunate we are to be beloved by God each and every moments of our lives. He has graciously given us all so many blessings and wonders throughout all these time that we are always beloved and taken care of by Him Who loves us dearly. All of us belong to God and God treats us as His own children.

In our first reading today, we heard the testimony of St. Paul as he preached to the Jewish people in diaspora in Antioch in Pisidia, as he was asked by the synagogue officials to give words of encouragement to the people assembled there on the Sabbath. He spoke of how God had saved His people from harm and destruction when He rescued them from their slavery in the land of Egypt. He reminded all of the people of the generous love by which God took their ancestors out of the land of their slavery and led them into the land promised.

And St. Paul also continued on speaking of how God sent His Saviour into the world, born of the House of David as predicted and prophesied by the prophets, and how St. John the Baptist came not long before Him, to prepare His way and call the people all to repentance and to embrace once again the truth of God and be forgiven from their sins through His Saviour, Jesus Christ, of Whom St. Paul was preaching about in all those occasions with great zeal and courage.

The Lord has sent St. Paul and the other Apostles and disciples to all the people, the children of God, to be the bearers of His Good News and truth as He said in our Gospel today, and all those who listens to the ones whom He has sent, listens to Him, and they receive the truth and should they all remain in faith, then they shall be blessed and be saved. He has called on all to be His followers, and He has also called more and more to be like St. Paul, as those to whom He entrusts the mission of the conversion of sinners.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we listened to all these from the Scriptures, we are then reminded that we ourselves as part of the Church have the same calling and obligation to be witnesses for the truth of Our Lord, to be His exemplary disciples and followers that by our lives and actions, by our words and dedication, our good role model and deeds, we may inspire many others like what St. Paul and the other Apostles, the saints and many holy martyrs had done with their own lives and throughout their respective ministries.

Today, we are all called to look upon the great example showed by one great woman and saint, whose life and dedication inspired so many of her time and beyond, and even Popes were listening to her advice and words. St. Catherine of Siena was renowned for her great piety and dedication to the Lord, that since her youth she has committed herself to the Lord, opposing the efforts made to marry her to a widower. And later on, after constant struggle and determination, through prayer and faith eventually St. Catherine of Siena managed to enter into life consecrated to God.

Throughout her life, St. Catherine of Siena had become great source of inspiration for so many others as she lived her life most virtuously and dedicated herself to a holy life of service to the people of God as she ministered to the poor and the sick in her community and beyond. She helped to rejuvenate the faith in many segments of the community and gained a lot of influence and trust from various members of the Church, including from the Popes, the Cardinals and the bishops in various places. Many sought her for advice and guidance.

St. Catherine of Siena was instrumental in helping the Church, then bitterly divided by factional tension and by various disagreements, by divisions that existed between rival claimants to the Papacy and the divided support from the Christendom which led to a fracturing of Christian unity. She helped to give advice to the Church leaders and elders, and encouraged the Pope to return to Rome and address all the problems and things that had led to the troubles in the Church at that time.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through the courage and the faith showed by St. Catherine of Siena, all of us are called and encouraged to follow the Lord in the same manner too. Are we willing to do so, brethren? Are we able to commit ourselves wholeheartedly to Him, doing our very best to glorify Him through our lives, and inspiring one another and so many others who have not yet known the Lord. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 29 April 2021 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 13 : 16-20

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly, I say to you, the servant is not greater than his master, nor is the messenger greater than he who sent him. Understand this, and blessed are you, if you put it into practice.”

“I am not speaking of you all, because I know the ones I have chosen, and the Scripture has to be fulfilled that says : The one who shared My table has risen against Me. I tell you this now before it happens, so that when it does happen, you may know that I am He.”

“Truly, I say to you, whoever welcomes the one I send, welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me, welcomes the One Who sent Me.”

Thursday, 29 April 2021 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 88 : 2-3, 21-22, 25 and 27

I will sing forever, o Lord, of Your love and proclaim Your faithfulness from age to age. I will declare how steadfast is Your love, how firm Your faithfulness.

I have found David My servant, and with My holy oil I have anointed him. My hand will be ever with him and My arm will sustain.

My faithfulness and love will be with him, and by My help he will be strong. He will call on Me, ‘You are my Father, my God, my Rock, my Saviour.’

Thursday, 29 April 2021 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 13 : 13-25

From Paphos, Paul and his companions set sail and came to Perga in Pamphylia. There John left them and returned to Jerusalem, while they went on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia. On the Sabbath day they entered the synagogue and sat down. After the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the officials of the synagogue sent this message to them, “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the assembly, please speak up.”

So Paul arose, motioned to them for silence and began, “Fellow Israelites and also all you who fear God, listen. The God of our people Israel chose our ancestors, and after He had made them increase during their stay in Egypt, He led them out by powerful deeds.”

“For forty years He fed them in the desert, and after He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He gave them their land as an inheritance. All this took four hundred and fifty years. After that, he gave them Judges until Samuel the prophet. Then they asked for a king and God gave them Saul, son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, and he was king for forty years.”

“After that time, God removed him and raised up David as king, to whom He bore witness saying : ‘I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all I want him to do.’ It is from the descendants of David that God has now raised up the promised Saviour of Israel, Jesus.”

“Before He appeared, John proclaimed a baptism of repentance for all the people of Israel. As John was ending his life’s work, he said : ‘I am not what you think I am, for after me another One is coming Whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.'”

Wednesday, 10 February 2021 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Scholastica, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in our Scripture readings today all of us heard of the creation of man at the pinnacle of the creation of the world and how God formed us and gave us the breath of life, blessing us mankind and granting us dominion and stewardship over creation. Everything had been made good and wonderful by the Lord, all the celestial things and all the lifeforms in this world, on the land, in the sea and air.

Therefore, when we heard of the Lord’s confrontation with the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, as the latter argued that the way they enforced the Law was the only right one, the Lord Jesus revealed the truth about the Law and commandments of God, and said how all things were inherently good and wonderful, just as God had created them to be, and that also includes us mankind as well. However, because of sin, we have been defiled and corrupted, not because of the things that entered into our bodies, but because of the things that came from within our hearts.

Take for example, the tree of knowledge of good and evil mentioned in the first reading today, the tree that was forbidden for mankind to touch or eat by God. That tree by itself was not evil or good in nature, but it was mankind’s mistaken way and misguided intention that led our first ancestors to sin against the Lord. It was not the fruit of the tree of knowledge entering their bodies that condemned Adam and Eve, but rather, their willingness in cooperating with the devil and listening to him that led them to their downfall.

In the same manner therefore, the notion that any food could have made a person unclean had no true and spiritual basis, as the Lord Himself debunked the falsehoods of such an idea. This was however the prevailing view for the many centuries of the traditions and practices of the people of Israel, for all those years that they lived under the Law of God revealed through Moses. However, we have to understand the context of such laws if we are to appreciate the true nature of the Law and the real intention of God for His people.

The Law of God revealed to Moses was given as sets of guidance and instructions that were meant to help to keep the people of God in line, especially considering how stubborn and disobedient they had been at that time, in refusing to listen to the Lord and His commandments and laws. Thus, the rules and tenets were revealed at the time to make sure that the people did not lose their way and remain faithful to the Lord despite the temptations and other obstacles in their path, trying to pull them away from the path towards God.

Some of those laws including the dietary restrictions were also enforced to ensure that the people of God remained healthy amidst the long journey throughout the desert, as well as considering the prevailing conditions at the time. In the end, when the reason for such laws were no longer in place, the people themselves had forgotten the reason and purpose of such laws and regulations. In the end, like the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, they obeyed for the sake of obeying, and worse still, doing what was asked by the Law for appearances and to be praised for it.

That is why the Lord wanted all of the people to realise the folly of such thoughts and way of life, and thus, revealed how the true meaning of the Law of God was far from what the laws and traditions of the people had prescribed, having veered off far from the original, intended purpose and meaning. He wanted to show us all that what is important is the purity and the sincerity of our inner, spiritual orientation of life rather than merely just focusing on outward gestures and appearances alone.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all called to reexamine our way of life, and consider how we can be better disciples of the Lord in everything we do, in each and every moments of our lives. We are all called to a greater existence in holiness in God, to be genuinely devoted to Him with faith, and to follow His path wholeheartedly by appreciating all that He had taught us and revealed to us.

Today, we also celebrate the feast of St. Scholastica, a holy saint of God and a faithful servant whose life can be a great example for us to follow, as she dedicated her whole life in a holy life of prayer. As the paternal twin sister of the great St. Benedict of Nursia, St. Scholastica also lived her life virtuously and committed herself to a life consecrated to God, traditionally considered as the foundation of the society of Benedictine nuns just as St. Benedict inspired the foundation of the Benedictine monastic order.

The faith of these saints were truly great, and they inspired many others to follow their examples. All of us should also follow in their footsteps and commit ourselves to the cause of the Lord. Are we able to do so, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we willing to live our lives from now on with true and genuine faith, that each and every one of us may become true followers of Christ in all things?

May the Lord be our Guide and Strength, and may He empower us all to become faithful and dedicated Christians, living our lives wholeheartedly according to the way of the Lord and to our faith. May God bless all of our good efforts and commitments, and may He enlighten our path forward in life. Amen.

Wednesday, 10 February 2021 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Scholastica, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 7 : 14-23

At that time, Jesus then called the people to Him again and said to them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and try to understand. Nothing that enters a person from the outside can make that person unclean. It is what comes from within that makes a person unclean. Let everyone who has ears listen.”

When Jesus got home and was away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him about this saying, and He replied, “So even you are dull? Do you not see that whatever comes from outside cannot make a person unclean, since it enters not the heart but the stomach, and is finally passed out?” Thus Jesus declared that all foods are clean.

And He went on, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him, for evil designs come out of the heart : theft, murder, adultery, jealousy, greed, maliciousness, deceit, indecency, slander, pride and folly. All these evil things come from within and make a person unclean.”

Wednesday, 10 February 2021 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Scholastica, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 103 : 1-2a, 27-28, 29bc-30

Bless the Lord my soul! Clothed in majesty and splendour; o Lord, my God, how great You are! You are wrapped in light as with a garment.

They all look to You for their food in due time. You give it to them, and they gather it up; You open Your hand, they are filled with good things.

You take away their breath, they expire and return to dust. When You send forth Your Spirit, they are created, and the face of the earth is renewed.

Wednesday, 10 February 2021 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Scholastica, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Genesis 2 : 4b-9, 15-17

On the day that YHVH God made the earth and the heavens, there was not yet on earth any shrub on the fields, nor had any plant yet sprung up, for YHVH God had not made it rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the earth, but a mist went up from the earth and watered the surface of the earth.

Then YHVH God formed Man, dust drawn from the clay, and breathed into his nostrils a breath of life and Man became alive with breath. God planted a garden in Eden in the east and there He placed Man whom He had created. YHVH God caused to grow from the ground every kind of tree that is pleasing to see and good to eat, also the tree of life on the middle of the garden and the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

YHVH God took Man and placed him in the garden of Eden to till it and to take care of it. Then YHVH God gave an order to Man saying, “You may eat of every tree in the garden, but of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, you will not eat, for on the day you eat of it, you will die.”

Monday, 8 February 2021 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome Emiliani, and St. Josephine Bakhita, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in our Scripture readings today, after four weeks of discourse from the Epistle to the Hebrews, we begin the series of readings from the Old Testament in our first reading with the account of the creation of the universe as represented in the Book of Genesis, the very first chapter of the entire Bible.

We heard how the Lord created the whole creation, the entire universe and all the things and our world as we know it, and the Lord made everything good as He had created it, willing them into being by His Word, the Word that made everything to be and created everything according to God’s will. This very same Word had become Incarnate in the flesh, as the Son of Man and Son of God, in Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

In our Gospel passage today we heard how the Lord Jesus went about doing His ministry, going from places to places, and many people came to see Him and listen to Him, hearing the words of truth that He has brought into their midst. They also brought their sick with them, and many people with various conditions and sicknesses came to seek the Lord and wanted Him to heal them.

The Lord touched them and healed them, and by His power and the will of God, all of them were made whole again and were cured from their troubles. The significance of this act in relation to the first reading today is such that God Who created this world to be good and perfect, has again done everything in order to restore order and goodness to this world.

Christ has showed us the love of God manifested in Himself and His actions, in showing mercy and compassion to the needy, those rejected and abandoned, ostracised and persecuted. And truly we are all fortunate because of the love that God has lavished upon us, His great patience and the attention He has for us. He has willingly embraced us and called us all to return to Him and to accept His forgiveness so that we may not perish because of our sins, but instead may receive from Him the assurance of eternal life.

Are we grateful and appreciative of all that God has shown us, brothers and sisters in Christ? The Lord has already shown us so much love and kindness, and therefore all of us should appreciate what He has done for us, that He still loved us despite our constant refusal to listen to Him and to love Him wholeheartedly. Today, we should be inspired by the faith and examples showed by two saints, whose lives indeed shine through as great inspiration for us all, namely St. Jerome Emiliani and St. Josephine Bakhita.

St. Jerome Emiliani was remembered for his great charity and efforts, in caring for the needy, the poor and the sick, all those whom he had encountered, selflessly caring for them and inspiring many others to follow in his footsteps and examples. He built many orphanages and other places where those who need help could be taken care of and loved, just like the Lord Himself has reached out to His people and sought to help us. St. Jerome Emiliani showed us all what it means for us to be Christians, that is to be like Christ in His love.

Then, St. Josephine Bakhita was a former slave who hailed from the area now known as Sudan. As a child, she had already suffered much, captured by slavers and treated horribly as a slave passed on from master to master, one after another. When she had the fortunate chance to escape slavery through her former master, who was touched and converted by her virtuous life, St. Josephine Bakhita eventually found her way to freedom and eventually joined the religious community in which she spent the rest of her life in.

St. Josephine Bakhita never held grudges for her past slavers and masters, all those who had made her life very difficult and painful. In embracing the Christian faith and in dedicating herself completely to the Lord, St. Josephine Bakhita showed many people including us all what it means to be true disciples and followers of Christ. We are all called to love one another just as the Lord has loved us all so generously. Therefore, let us all discern what we all can do, even in little things and ways, to serve the Lord and glorify His Name by our worthy lives and actions.

May the Lord be with us always and may He guide us in this journey of life, that with the same love He has shown us, we too may love Him wholeheartedly and love our fellow brothers and sisters, especially those who are in need of love, care and attention. May God bless us all and our every good and worthy endeavours, now and always. Amen.ignored by the world, those who are in need of healing and consolation. He was making everything good and new again, and through Him, God fulfilled the promises that He had made to us mankind, that He will restore us once again and deliver us from the evil one.

Monday, 8 February 2021 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome Emiliani, and St. Josephine Bakhita, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

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

Mark 6 : 53-56

At that time, having crossed the lake, Jesus and His disciples came ashore at Gennesaret, where they tied up the boat. As soon as they landed, people recognised Jesus, and ran to spread the news throughout the countryside.

Wherever He was, they brought to Him the sick lying on their mats; and wherever He went, to villages, towns or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplace, and begged Him to let them touch just the fringe of His cloak. And all who touched Him were cured.