Wednesday, 25 May 2022 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor of the Church, and Pope St. Gregory VII, Pope, and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of God in the Scriptures, we are presented with the story of how St. Paul evangelise to the pagan people of Athens, proclaiming the truth of the One and only True God to all of them, seeing how the Athenians were all worshipping the pagan gods of the Olympian pantheon, and was even worshipping an unknown God. St. Paul revealed to all of them that what they served and worshipped were merely creations of human hands and minds, and were not the true divinity, which is in fact, the Lord and Creator, Whom St. Paul introduced to them.

St. Paul spoke courageously about the Lord amidst the people of Athens who were renowned for their philosophical thoughts and ideas, and many of whom also held strong devotion to the pagan gods and idols. Hence, his introduction of the totally foreign concept of the one and only God Who created the whole world and the universe, which was very radically different from what the Athenians were used to, is something that is totally courageous and significant for St. Paul to do, and while he did end up having many of the Athenians ridiculing him and rejecting his beliefs and words, there were some among the Athenians who were intrigued by the Christian faith that St. Paul brought unto them.

That was how the seeds of the faith and the foundation of the Church was built in Athens, even in the heart of the Greek paganism and philosophical ideals, which later on would be rivals against the influences of the Christian faith and Church in the later centuries. St. Paul and his hard works and efforts helped to make the Lord known to all those people, and that was thanks to the guidance and strength that God had given to them which allowed them to carry on persevering for the sake of the Lord and His people, for their fellow brethren. Through them, the Church would very soon grow into a large organisation with strong foundations and many believers.

In our Gospel passage today, as we are now getting closer to the celebration of the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord and the Solemnity of the Pentecost Sunday, we are presented with the Lord’s promise for His disciples and followers, that while He would not be with them physically much longer, but He would always be by their side, caring for them and being with them. He would send them the Helper, the Advocate, that is the Holy Spirit, coming down from God the Father Himself, to be with us, to strengthen and encourage us, and inflame us all with hope and power. The Holy Spirit helped and encouraged St. Paul and the other Apostles and disciples to go forth fearlessly and proclaim the truth of God to the many people of the many nations they had ministered to.

Today, we celebrate the feast of a few saints whose life, calling and ministries can also be sources of inspiration for each one of us, to see how they had been strengthened and inspired by the Holy Spirit, in doing the will of God. St. Bede the Venerable, Pope St. Gregory VII and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi all had dedicated their lives in their own ways to serve the Lord and to glorify Him, and each one of us can take note of what they had done so that we may know how we can also act in our lives to glorify the Lord and to proclaim Him to all those whom we encounter in life, in each and every moments of our lives.

St. Bede the Venerable is a renowned monk and prolific writer from the Dark Age England, where he ministered to the people of God and inspired many through his writings and treatises, as he wrote extensively on many matters. St. Bede the Venerable helped to drive the foundation of Christian education in England and beyond, inspiring others to delve deeper into the wisdom of Christian teachings and truths. The Holy Spirit clearly inspired St. Bede the Venerable in his writings and works, through which he himself inspired and strengthened the faith in many of those whose lives he had touched, and all those who have read his works, all the way to our present day and time.

Meanwhile, Pope St. Gregory VII is a great reformer Pope and leader of the Church, who was remembered for his dedication and contributions in reforming the Church very vigorously, implementing many important reforms that rooted out corruptions and wickedness in the Church, driving out worldly matters and corruptions from the Church, from the monasteries and from among the clergy, many of whom had been gradually influenced by worldly practices and concerns, which slowly caused the Church to lose its focus and direction. Pope St. Gregory VII continued to work hard to champion those important reforms, even against powerful secular rulers who sought to make use of the Church and its institutions for their own benefits.

Hence, Pope St. Gregory VII was also well-known for his role in the so-called ‘Investiture Controversy’, as the secular leaders particularly that of the powerful Holy Roman Emperor defended and championed their rights to appoint and invest the bishops in their own land, and the Holy Roman Emperor being the supreme secular leader of Christendom, collided with the Pope, who contended that all spiritual matters, the appointment and ultimately the allegiance of bishops came under the full authority of the Church and the leadership of the Pope alone, and the Emperor had no right to intervene in it. The Holy Spirit strengthened and guided Pope St. Gregory VII in his zeal and dedication to reform the Church and oppose those who sought to corrupt it.

Lastly, St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi was a Carmelite nun and a renowned Church mystic who came from one of the wealthiest noble Italian families during the late Renaissance, who from early on in her life had learnt to dedicate herself to the Lord, practicing self-mortification and meditation which later on would inspire her to join the religious life, initially against the wishes of his father, who eventually relented and allowed her to be part of the Carmelite religious order. St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi became a nun and received a series of visions and revelations through which others came to know more about Christ, an experience that must have indeed be inspired by the Lord and His wisdom, passed on through the Holy Spirit.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having heard all these great examples of the three saints, St. Paul and many others whose lives we know and are aware of, we can see how the Holy Spirit has inspired many to do the will and work of God in our world. Can we do the same as well with our lives? Can we allow the Lord to guide us through His Holy Spirit, that His wisdom and strength may lead us to walk in this path of faith, and inspire others to come to the Lord as well. May the Lord be with us all and may His Holy Spirit inflame us with His Passion and love, at all times, that we may always glorify Him by our lives. Amen.

Wednesday, 25 May 2022 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor of the Church, and Pope St. Gregory VII, Pope, and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 16 : 12-15

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “I still have many things to tell you, but you cannot bear them now. When He, the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into the whole truth. He has nothing to say of Himself, but He will speak of what He hears, and He will tell you of the things to come.”

“He will take what is Mine and make it known to you; in doing this, He will glorify Me. All that the Father has is Mine; because of this, I have just told you that the Spirit will take what is Mine, and make it known to you.”

Wednesday, 25 May 2022 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor of the Church, and Pope St. Gregory VII, Pope, and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 148 : 1-2, 11-12, 13, 14

Alleluia! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise Him in the heavenly heights. Praise Him, all His Angels; praise Him, all His heavenly hosts.

Kings of the earth and nations, princes and all rulers of the world, young men and maidens, old and young together.

Let them praise the Name of the Lord. For His Name alone is exalted; His majesty is above earth and heaven.

He has given His people glory; He has a praise to His faithful, to Israel, the people close to Him. Alleluia.

Wednesday, 25 May 2022 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor of the Church, and Pope St. Gregory VII, Pope, and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 17 : 15, 22 – Acts 18 : 1

Paul was taken as far as Athens by his escort, who then returned to Beroea with instructions for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible. Then Paul stood up in the Areopagus hall and said, “Athenian citizens, I note that in every way you are very religious. As I walked around looking at your shrines, I even discovered an altar with this inscription : To an unknown God. Now, what you worship as unknown, I intend to make known to you.”

“God, Who made the world and all that is in it, does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands, being as He is Lord of heaven and earth. Nor does His worship depend on anything made by human hands, as if He were in need. Rather it is He Who gives life and breath and everything else to everyone.”

“From one stock He created the whole human race to live throughout all the earth, and He fixed the time and the boundaries of each nation. He wanted them to seek Him by themselves, even if it were only by groping for Him, succeed in finding Him. Yet He is not far from any one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being, as some of your poets have said : for we too are His offspring.”

“If we are indeed God’s offspring, we ought not to think of divinity as something like a statue of gold or silver or stone, a product of human art and imagination. But now God prefers to overlook this time of ignorance and He calls on all people to change their ways. He has already set a day on which He will judge the world with justice through a Man He has appointed. And, so that all may believe it, He has just given a sign by raising this Man from the dead.”

When they heard Paul speak of a resurrection from death, some made fun of him, while others said, “We must hear you on this topic some other time.” At that point Paul left. But a few did join him, and believed. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus court, a woman named Damaris, and some others. After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth.

Friday, 13 May 2022 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima (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 yet constantly being reminded of the salvation which has come to us through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, Who has come into our midst bearing the truth and love of God. We are reminded of this fact as we continue to progress through the season of Easter because as Christians we cannot just remain idle in our faith. Instead, all of us are called to evangelise in our own ways and within the opportunities and capacities presented to us. All of us have to embrace this calling to be faithful witnesses of the Lord’s truth and love in our respective communities, in today’s world.

As we heard from our first reading today, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, we heard of how St. Paul proclaimed all the works of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of all, Who had come amidst the Jewish people and as one of their own, in proclaiming the Good News of salvation. St. Paul spoke of all the wonders and works the Lord had done, and how although many of the people had rejected Him and condemned Him to death, but the Lord had risen from the dead, and how the Apostles including St. Paul himself had been preaching of all these truth and witnesses they had to all the people, calling on them to have faith in the Lord and to believe in Him.

St. Paul and the many other disciples of the Lord faced all the dangers and challenges faithfully and with dedication, knowing that God is with them, and that they were not labouring in vain, as the Lord Who knew all of their actions, would bless them and remember them, and though they might suffer and perish, but they would not face defeat as the Lord would lead them into the ultimate victory in the end. The sufferings of the Apostles and the many other disciples, the saints and many of the martyrs all remind us of just how difficult it is to follow the Lord, and how complicated it may be for us to commit ourselves as Christians, even in our own day as well. And yet, we must not lose heart because the Lord has reassured us of His providence and love.

As we heard in our Gospel passage today, the Lord Himself spoke to His disciples, reassuring them of the bounty and true joy that each one of them would enjoy in the end, despite the challenges and trials that they might have to endure for the sake of the Lord. The Lord told all of them that He would go before them to a place where they could and would not yet be able to go, a revelation of what would happen to Him afterwards, when He would be arrested, accused of wrongdoing, and punished to die a most humiliating death, dying and eventually rose from the dead as how everything had happened back then. And then the Lord would ascend to Heaven, to prepare everything for His disciples and beloved ones, preparing the places for all of them.

The disciples who had listened to the Lord and then witnessed everything coming to fruition and having seen what had happened, the Lord’s death and resurrection, and His ascension into glory, they all believed in Him and His truth. And with the strength and courage bestowed on them through the Holy Spirit, the disciples and followers of the Lord like St. Paul committed their whole efforts and lives to serve the Lord and to proclaim this same truth and love to more and more people. They went up against all those who refused to believe in the Lord and all those who persecuted the Lord and His followers, the Jewish authorities and the Roman government among many others.

The Lord’s disciples did not fear those persecution, trials and challenges, because they trusted in the Lord, and they knew that in the end, as I mentioned, they would be triumphant with God. The Lord would lead them all to the ultimate victory, and this same assurance had been given to us all as well. We have to put our faith in God and devote ourselves to the Lord in our lives and in our every opportunities. All of us must follow in the footsteps of the Apostles and continue to follow the Lord, and to devote ourselves to the many works and efforts of the Church, which had been done for the salvation of many more souls.

Today, we also celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, commemorating the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, at Fatima in Portugal, where Mary appeared to the three little shepherd children, Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia. Over a hundred years ago, during the height of the First World War in Europe, and during a time of intense persecution against the Church in Portugal, and just before the ascent of Communism throughout Russia and Eastern Europe, the three young shepherd children saw Mary, Our Lady of Fatima, appearing to them and asking them to spread her messages, a reminder to the world and all of the children of God, that they ought to return to the Lord and offend the Lord no more by their sins.

That is why, she, Our Lady of Fatima made appearances to the three shepherd children, through whom her messages were made clear to all of us through the Church. Her call for us is a reminder that all of us have been called to follow the Lord faithfully and to do His will. We are reminded not to veer away from the path that God has shown us, and to repent from our many sins that had led us astray from God. As the Mother of God and our own mother, as we have been entrusted to her by the Lord Himself, naturally she would be concerned with us and our fate, and having seen how her Son, Our same Lord Jesus Christ, had suffered for our sake, for our salvation, she would not want any of us to suffer eternal damnation due to our actions.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures and are reminded of what Our Lady of Fatima had said to the three shepherd children of Fatima that day and in her various apparitions afterwards, each one of us are called and reminded to turn towards the Lord anew with faith, and to face the many challenges and trials with confidence and trust in God. We must not let our fears to overcome us or to hinder us in any way in our path towards serving the Lord and in fulfilling the mission entrusted to us. Let us do our best to commit ourselves to the Lord’s mission, and may all of us be encouraged and strengthened at all times, and may God bless each one of us in our every endeavours and good works, now and always. Blessed Mary, Mother of God, Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us all sinners too. Amen.

Friday, 13 May 2022 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 14 : 1-6

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Do not be troubled! Trust in God and trust in Me! In My Father’s house there are many rooms; otherwise, I would not have told you that I go to prepare a place for you. After I have gone and prepared a place for you, I shall come again and take you to Me, so that where I am, you also may be. Yet you know the way where I am going.”

Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

Alternative reading (Mass of Our Lady of Fatima)

Luke 11 : 27-28

At that time, as Jesus was speaking, a woman spoke from the crowd and said to Him, “Blessed is the one who gave You birth and nursed You!”

Jesus replied, “Truly blessed are those who hear the word of God, and keep it as well.”

Friday, 13 May 2022 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 2 : 6-7, 8-9, 10-11

“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.”

Now therefore, learn wisdom, o kings; be warned, o rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and fall at His feet; lest He be angry and you perish when His anger suddenly flares. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him!

Alternative reading (Mass of Our Lady of Fatima)

Psalm 44 : 11-12, 14-15, 16-17

Listen, o daughter, pay attention; forget your father’s house and your nation, and your beauty will charm the King, for He is your Lord.

All glorious as she enters is the princess in her gold-woven robes. She is led in royal attire to the King, following behind is her train of virgins.

Amid cheers and general rejoicing, they enter the palace of the King. Forget your fathers and think of your sons, you will make them princes throughout the land.

Friday, 13 May 2022 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 13 : 26-33

Paul said to the Jews in the synagogue of Antioch in Pisidia, “Brothers, children and descendants of Abraham, and you also who fear God, it is to you that this message of salvation has been sent. It is a fact that the inhabitants of Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognise Jesus.”

“Yet in condemning Him, they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath but not understood. Even though they found no charge against Him that deserved death, they asked Pilate to have Him executed. And after they have carried out all that had been written concerning Him, they took Him down from the cross and laid Him in a tomb.”

But God raised Him from the dead, and for many days thereafter He showed Himself to those who had come up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They have now become His witnesses before the people. We ourselves announce to you this Good News : All that God promised our ancestors, He has fulfilled for us, their descendants, by raising Jesus, according to what is written in the second psalm : You are My Son, this day I have begotten You.”

Alternative reading (Mass of Our Lady of Fatima)

Isaiah 61 : 9-11

Their descendants shall be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a race YHVH has blessed.

I rejoice greatly in YHVH, my soul exults for joy in my God, for He has clothed me in the garments of His salvation, He has covered me with the robe of His righteousness, like a bridegroom wearing a garland, like a bride adorned with jewels.

For as the earth brings forth its growth, and as a garden makes seeds spring up, so will the Lord YHVH make justice and praise spring up in the sight of all nations.

Friday, 29 April 2022 : 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, today as we listened to the words of the Lord through the Scriptures, we are all presented with the calling for us all as Christians in proclaiming the Risen Lord as the Saviour of the whole world, He Who has given His own life for our sake, in breaking His own Precious Body and shedding His own Precious Blood for our sake. Our Lord and Saviour has extended His love and compassion in coming down into our midst, to gather us all and to provide for us the path towards salvation and eternal life. He, the Bread of Life and the Lamb of God, is the sure and only path towards eternal life.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the account from the Gospel of St. John on the Lord Jesus Who miraculously fed the great multitude of five thousand men and many more women and children with just five loaves of bread and two fishes. The Lord showed pity and love for all the people who were gathered there for days, following Him and listening to His teachings, and had become hungry because there was no place nearby for them to buy any food. But the Lord told His disciples for the need of the people, and with just five loaves of bread and two fishes which He blessed and prayed over, He multiplied them all miraculously and fed everyone with enough food and even with plenty of spare.

As the Lord fed the people with all the food, some among them wanted to make Him as their King, and would have had their way if the Lord did not quietly slip away amidst all the multitudes of people and everything that happened. But through that feeding of the people, the Lord reminded all of us that He came into this world to nourish us, and to restore us to new life, not just physically, but also spiritually as well, wholesomely transforming us from those who hunger for the truth and justice, for the light and hope in our life, to those who have been strengthened and empowered by the light and hope of Christ.

This is why, as compared to the false idols and all other distractions in life, there is nothing comparable to the Lord in fulfilling our needs and in revealing to us our true path in life. And as the Scriptures pointed out to us, that unless we anchor ourselves in the Lord’s truth and grace, in His light and hope, then we will likely end up falling into the wrong path, falling into the path of sin and evil, and from which we may find it difficult or even impossible to get out from. And that is why the Lord constantly reminds us that in Him and through Him alone there is hope and sure path out of the darkness and the despair surrounding us, and if we put our trust in Him, we shall surely not be disappointed.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Acts of the Apostles of the time when the disciples of the Lord were arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin or the Jewish High Council, with many of its members wanting to persecute and oppress the followers of Jesus, banning His teachings and truths. The Lord has always been seen as a great rival and threat by many among the members of the Sanhedrin back then, and many of them refused to believe in Him despite all the miraculous deeds that the Lord had done before all of them and before the people. They hardened their hearts and minds against Him.

However, as we heard in that same reading, a wise member of the High Council named Gamaliel spoke to the whole Sanhedrin regarding leaving everything to God and His providence, giving the evidence based on the past several false prophets and Messiahs who had claimed to be the Messiah and yet, failed in their efforts and attempts, as they proved to be no more than just mere men who were misguided, selfish and even wicked, in their desire for worldly power and glory, and their works and followers quickly dissipated and disappeared after their failure. Hence, Gamaliel stated that if the Lord Jesus was truly genuine and His works true, and His truth and teachings authentic, then the Sanhedrin would soon find themselves going against God Himself.

With this, the Sanhedrin as represented by Gamaliel himself acknowledged that the truth came from God alone, and indeed, as history had proven that until this very day, this very moment now we are breathing and living in, the Church is still very much alive and vibrant, and even flourished beyond what the Apostles might have been able to imagine, and therefore, is the proof that our Christian faith, the Church and the truth, and everything that the Lord had done, is the truth and the one and only truth of God. And it is this faith that each and every one of us ought to hold very closely onto, as we live our lives in this world today.

We must also remember that we are given the task and mission to spread the truth of God, His Good News and the words of His love and salvation to all the peoples, and we should do our best in life, and become great inspiration for many others to follow, that our way of life may inspire them to come to believe in God as well. Today we can find inspiration from one of our holy predecessors, namely that of St. Catherine of Siena, the well-known saint and patron of Italy and one of the Church’s great Doctors of the Church. St. Catherine of Siena was truly a dedicated servant of God, whose commitment to God and her holiness in life should be source of inspiration for each one of us as Christians in how we should lead our own lives with faith.

St. Catherine of Siena was a very devout woman who dedicated much of her life for the betterment of the Church and Christian communities of her time. She spent a lot of time and effort in restoring purity and holiness, sanctity to the Church, its various organisations and the religious orders and groups, especially against the creeping corruptions caused by the influences of worldly temptations and vices which caused scandal and disturbances within the Church and the various Christian communities. She was also credited with her effort in helping to broker peace among the various conflicting parties and in the ending of the schisms within the Church. Her great dedication and piety inspired many to follow in her examples.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, inspired by the great examples set by St. Catherine of Siena and many other holy men and women of God, let us all dedicate ourselves anew to God, striving to do our best to glorify Him by our lives. Let us put our faith in Him and do whatever we can to serve the Lord ever more faithfully from now on. May all of us be faithful witnesses of Our Lord’s truth and Resurrection, and bear the Good News of His love, that more and more may come to entrust themselves to the Lord, the Bread of Life, our Hope and Saviour, through us. May God bless us all in our every good works and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 29 April 2022 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 6 : 1-15

At that time, Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, near Tiberias, and large crowds followed Him, because of the miraculous signs they saw, when He healed the sick. So He went up into the hills and sat down there with His disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand.

Then lifting up His eyes, Jesus saw the crowds that were coming to Him, and said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread so that these people may eat?” He said this to test Philip, for He Himself knew what He was going to do. Philip answered Him, “Two hundred silver coins would not buy enough bread for each of them to have a piece.”

Then one of Jesus’ disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass there, so the people, about five thousand men, sat down. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were seated. He did the same with the fish, and gave them as much as they wanted.

And when they had eaten enough, He told His disciples, “Gather up the pieces left over, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with bread, that is, with pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

When the people saw the miracle which Jesus had performed, they said, “This is really the Prophet, the One Who is to come into the world.” Jesus realised that they would come and take Him by force to make Him King; so He fled to the hills by Himself.