Tuesday, 17 July 2018 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day the Scriptures mentioned to us first of all, God’s assurance to His people in the kingdom of Judah, led by king Ahaz that He would be with them regardless of the opposition and troubles that they were facing at the time. At that time there were many enemies rising up against Judah, composed of the kingdom of Aram and the northern kingdom of Israel. The two kingdoms have allied themselves in a plot to destroy Judah.

The people had no faith in God, as they have often disobeyed Him and worshipped pagan idols and gods instead of worshipping Him. All of these they have done, despite the fact that God had performed so many good deeds and miracles among the people. He had delivered them from the hands of their former Egyptian masters who enslaved the Israelites for many years, and the enemies of Israel, such as the Amalekites, Philistines and many others were defeated by God’s might.

They did not have a faith that lasted a long time, and their lukewarm attitude and preoccupation in worldly matters ended up tempting them to walk away from the path which the Lord had shown them. That is because their hearts were filled not with love and desire to love God, but instead with pride, with selfishness and all sorts of wickedness that prevented them from being truly faithful.

In the Gospel passage today, the same problems were faced by the Lord Jesus, Our God and Saviour, Who went to His people in various parts of Galilee, performing miracles and many good works before the people. He healed the sick, including the mother of St. Peter among them, opened the eyes of the blind, loosened the tongues of the mute and opened the ears of the deaf. He even raised people back from the dead, as He had done with the daughter of Jairus, the son of the widow of Naim and many more.

Despite all of these obvious signs, many of the people still refused to listen to the Lord or to believe in Him. They doubted Him and presumed to know Him, especially those who have known Him in Nazareth and having seen Him growing up in their midst, and therefore, assuming that He could not have performed all those miraculous deeds on His own, and doubting Him.

They failed to believe in Him, because they were too focused on the things of this world, and view everything from the perspective of the world. They allowed themselves to be swayed by the falsehoods and all the lies which Satan placed in their hearts to make them doubt and to harden their hearts and minds against the Lord Who tried to speak to them and to show them the truth.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, having heard of the accounts from the Scriptures telling us both of what happened during the years of the Old Testament, and during the time when the Lord Jesus performed His earthly ministry, all of us are called to reflect on our own attitude in life and how we have lived our lives thus far. Have we been faithful to the Lord, or have we instead lived our lives in our own way?

We are often too preoccupied in our respective, busy lives, filled with many concerns and desired of worldly nature, which prevent us from listening to the Lord calling us to Him, and which distract us from the path which we ought to take in our journey towards Him. That is why so many of us failed to respond to God’s call, and walked the same path as those who have disobeyed the Lord in the past.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we going to continue this attitude in life? Are we going to continue to live in sin and refuse to follow the Lord just because we think that we know what is better for us? Let us all today learn to be humble, that first and foremost, we must place God at the centre of our lives, as our focus and priority, and know that not everything in this world is about us.

And we have to learn to quieten ourselves, in our minds and in our hearts, so that we can find out better what it is that the Lord wants us to do in our own respective lives. This is why it is so important that all of us as Christians must know how to pray, and pray with the correct intention and faith. By having an active and vibrant prayer life, we can then better resist the temptations to sin and know better God’s will and love for us.

May the Lord be with us and be our Guide, that throughout our struggles and journey in life, and despite the challenges and tribulations that come our way, we will always remain strong and resolute in our faith and dedication to God. Let us all strive with a renewed faith, day after day, to be ever more faithful to the Lord in our lives. Amen.

Monday, 16 July 2018 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate together the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the apparition of Mary, the Blessed Mother of God, who appeared to St. Simon Stock, one of the member of the Carmelite order which at that time had a chapter at the Mount Carmel area of the Holy Land. Our Lady of Mount Carmel appeared to St. Simon Stock in a vision, and told him to propagate the use of the now famous brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

The brown scapular eventually become a regular part of the habit of the Carmelites themselves, and through that, the devotion of the brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel gradually spread throughout Christendom to this very day. The brown scapular is a sacramental, meaning that it is an object signifying sanctification and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, in her aspect as the Lady of Mount Carmel.

The Carmelites were devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, whom they held as the patron and protector of the Carmelite order itself, as she is the perfect role model for all of them in living their faith and in carrying out their Carmelite charism and commitment. She is a great model in prayer and piety, as a faithful servant of God and the one closest to her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

And therefore, she should be a great role model for each and every one of us Christians as well. She is the best and most faithful of all the children of God, devoting her whole life to His service and surrendering herself completely to the plan which He had entrusted and revealed to her through the Archangel Gabriel, that is to be the Mother of the Messiah and God, Jesus Christ.

She placed herself in God’s hands, and even when she was unsure and afraid, she would trust it all in God. She gave her all to love her Son, Jesus, Our Lord, and brought Him up all the way from the time when He was conceived in her womb, through His birth and young age, and then throughout His adult ministry among the people, and finally, to the cross itself, at Calvary.

Having seen her own Son, her own flesh and blood suffering in such a terrible way because of our sins, which He willingly took up upon Himself, so that we would not have to suffer the punishment and suffering for our own sins, that is why she has appeared so many times before us, in various places, including to St. Simon Stock, by offering the sacramental devotion of the brown scapular, so that we may be saved through her.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, Mary is like our loving mother, and indeed, she is our mother. The Lord Himself has entrusted her to us as our mother, when He symbolically entrusted her to His disciple, St. John the Evangelist, and then, vice versa, by entrusting him to Mary, His mother, He has also entrusted all of us to the loving care of our mother, Mary.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, many of us have not lived our lives according to the way that the Lord has taught us and which He had commanded us to do. We have been swayed by the many temptations of pride, of worldly greed and desires, of the pleasures of the flesh, of accumulation of money and properties, all for our own selfish benefits and desires, often without consideration of our brethren’s well-being.

And God is not at the centre of our lives, as we sidelined Him during our continuous and unceasing efforts to gain for ourselves more and more of worldly properties, belongings and goods, fame and glory, and all things that we deem to be more precious than anything else. But ultimately, all these things are just illusory and temporary, and our unbridled desire for them led us into sin.

Mary, our loving mother does not want us to remain in this state of sin, and in this despicable state of life, and that is why, she has tried her best, and interceded for us before her Son at every possible opportunity. After all, which mother would want to see her son or daughter suffer and be lost to her? And because Mary is our mother, she cares for us and always thinks of us, just as she has done for her Son Jesus, Our Lord.

Let us today therefore reflect on the word of God in the Scriptures, that hopefully had stirred the faith within our hearts, that we will find the courage and resolution to be faithful to God and to turn towards Him with a repentant and loving heart, desiring to seek Him and to love Him from now on, with all of our hearts, every day of our lives. May Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St. Simon Stock continue to intercede for us sinners, now and always. Amen.

Sunday, 15 July 2018 : Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday, we listened to what happened to the prophet Amos, whom God sent to His people in the breakaway northern kingdom of Israel, to be His spokesperson and to deliver to them what God wanted them to know, that they must repent from their sinful ways and turn away from their rebelliousness. But the prophet Amos received a cold shoulder treatment, and was contemptuously treated by Amaziah, the king’s priest in today’s first reading passage.

In order to understand the context of what happened better, we should understand the background of the events that led to that conversation between the prophet Amos and Amaziah. At that time, the northern kingdom of the ten tribes of Israel broke free from the rest of the kingdom of Israel of kings David and Solomon, because of Solomon’s sins and disobedience against God. As a result, God raised Jeroboam to be king over the northern tribes of Israel.

But Jeroboam did not remain faithful to God, and instead, he committed the same sins that Solomon had committed, by commissioning two golden calves in his kingdom, because he was afraid that as the people still went regularly to Jerusalem to worship God, then eventually the people’s heart would turn away from him and back to the family of David and Solomon, the House of David. Essentially, he was afraid of losing the power and glory that God has given him.

Therefore, in order to preserve himself and retain all worldly glory and goodness he has possessed, Jeroboam led the people into sin, and caused many more people to fall into great danger for their souls. And they hardened their hearts and minds against God’s words, spoken through His prophets, including the prophet Amos. Essentially, what we heard in today’s first reading was how they were unreceptive to the message of God, that they made the prophet Amos felt so unwelcome in their land.

Many more prophets would be sent to the land of Israel, including the famous prophets Elijah and Elisha, the prophet Hosea and many others. Yet, the people treated them with the same contempt and with the same prejudice that Amaziah and the other wicked ones have shown to the prophet Amos. They would not want to listen to reason and they closed their hearts and minds all the more, persecuting the good servants of God.

This is what the Lord Jesus told His disciples in today’s Gospel reading, showing them the truth and the reality of what it means to be His disciples and followers. They cannot hope to escape difficulties, challenges, rejection and persecution, just as the prophets of the Old Testament had faced many times during their missions. That is why He said to them, that whoever wants to be His disciples must take up their crosses and follow Him.

When the people of God disobeyed and rebelled against Him, they had rejected Him and chose other false idols and gods as their master instead. They had rejected His prophets and messengers, and therefore, whatever they have treated these servants, they would also do to others who follow God. Well, that was exactly how the Lord Himself had been treated. He was rejected by His own people, was doubted and betrayed, and ridiculed by the priests and the Pharisees.

And yet, despite all of that, He continued to love His people, even all those who have despised Him and rejected Him, by not stopping to send, one after another, prophets and messengers to call His wayward people back to Him. The reason for this is in our second reading passage, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians. From the very beginning, God has destined for us to become His beloved children.

To that extent, He sent us His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, to be the One through Whom He made us to be His adopted sons and daughters. It was by His assumption of our humanity and human existence, that by being truly Man and truly God at the same time, He fulfilled God’s purpose and plan for us. As He is Man, He is our Brother and a fellow Man to us, and because He is God and Son, we too share in His Sonship to God, Our Father.

God, Our Lord and Father is always ever patient with us, despite our constant disobedience, whining and lack of faith. He is patient and faithful just as a good father will always be patient and committed in the upbringing and in the care of his children. And for all of this, He showed us the perfect example of His ultimate love for us through His Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, by His suffering and death on the cross.

If He had endured such great pain, suffering, humiliation and rejection by His own loved ones as the price and burden of His Cross, then why can’t His disciples and followers do the same? Suffering and persecution has been part of our Christian faith for many eras and generations. But if not for the faith and perseverance of many faithful and devoted servants of God, like the prophets and the Apostles, the messengers and disciples of God, then I am afraid many would have been condemned to eternal damnation.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, we have been called by God to do the same work which He has entrusted and commanded His Apostles and disciples to do, that is to go forth proclaiming the Good News of God’s salvation, and calling all the people to repent from their sins and accept the Lord Jesus as their Lord, Master and Saviour. We have to continue the work of the Apostles and the prophets, as there are still yet many more people and many more souls in this world that are still lost to the Lord.

Ultimately, as the Lord had said, there will always be those who refuse to listen to Him and His words, spoken through us. This is just as how the prophets and the Apostles had been rejected before, many, many times. Those who continued to reject the Lord and refuse to repent, will then be judged and be condemned by their own refusal and stubbornness of heart. But we cannot give up, as just as there are many of those who rejected the Lord, there are also many who heard the Lord’s call, and turned towards Him.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we all able to show this through our lives, our dedication and desire to love and serve God all of our days? It is by our words, deeds and actions that we preach about the Lord, Our God, through our love and compassion for those who have sinned, and have walked in the darkness, our pity and mercy for those who have wronged us and persecuted us, and our care for those who are weak, poor, and unloved.

Are we able to live out an exemplary Christian life, as best as we are able to, so that through us, many more people can see God’s truth and love, and thus, be called to repentance and to the faith? Let us all therefore do our best, from now on, to give it all to God, in everything we do in our lives.

May God be with us all, and may He continue to guide us in our path. May He strengthen us with faith, resolve and courage to carry on our lives with devotion and love for Him, despite all the challenges and difficulties we may encounter along this journey. May the inspiration of the Apostles and the courageous prophets be in our minds and our hearts at all times, that we too may strive to be like them, each and every day of our lives. Amen.

Saturday, 14 July 2018 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Camillus de Lellis, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the word of God in the Scriptures, beginning with the account of the vision of the prophet Isaiah from the Old Testament. In that account, we heard about the great glory and majesty of God, in His true and eternal splendour in heaven, in His might and power, with the Angels by His side, praising His glory.

The prophet Isaiah, seeing this vision, was called by God to be His servant and messenger to His people, to spread the word of the Lord to His people and call them to be faithful and to remain united with God and follow His ways. The prophet was afraid, after seeing the great majesty of God and thought that he was doomed, as no one who is a sinner can see the face of God and live.

But the Angel of God, a Seraph, came and reassured Isaiah that God had chosen him from among His people to be His instrument and the means through which He would bring about many of His good works and intentions to fruition. And this is related to what we have heard in our Gospel passage today, in which the Lord Jesus told His disciples about what they must expect as His followers and His disciples.

The Lord essentially told them not to be worried or to be hesitant when His disciples follow Him and do His works. First of all, He mentioned about the need to remain strong and fearless amidst the opposition rallied against them by the forces of Satan. Indeed, the opposition against them might be fearsome and seemingly insurmountable or undefeatable, but God was with them. And that, is more than enough.

This can then, explain, why there were so many holy men and women, who chose to defend their faith and die a martyr during the early days of the Church, when the Church and the faithful were subjected to particularly vicious rounds of persecution, torture, arrest, rejection and suffering. Amidst the difficulties they faced, they still kept the faith and even inspired many more to follow their examples.

What we need to realise, brothers and sisters in Christ, is the fact that we may often feel inadequate, unworthy or even felt the reluctance to live truly in a Christian way, because of various reasons. We are therefore reluctant to live out our full Christian life, and in the end, many of us end up becoming lukewarm in our faith life. This is not what the Lord wants from us.

Do we remember how the Lord called His disciples? He said, “Take up your cross and follow Me.” This sentence alone summed up everything that the Lord wanted us to know, that being His disciples means we must be willing and be ready to embrace and to endure the sufferings and trials which will come our way, that is our crosses in life. Are we willing and ready to take up such a challenge of faith?

Today, we commemorate together the feast of St. Camillus de Lellis, a holy priest whose life was remembered for his great care and compassion for the poor and the sick. He himself had not been cared by his family and was neglected, and endured many hardships, including sickness and troubles that came by him every now and then. But, this holy saint of God persevered nonetheless to carry out the good works of God.

His zeal and love for God is shown in his love and care for those who are least fortunate and weakest in the society. He devoted himself to that cause and inspired many others to follow in his examples. He continued to suffer throughout his life from illnesses and other difficulties, but he entrusted himself to the Lord, and continued to do whatever good work God entrusted him, to the very end of his life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, shall we not follow the example of this holy saint, as well as our numerous and countless predecessors, the holy saints and martyrs of the Church? Let us all begin our lives anew by redirecting our effort and attention to the Lord, so that we no longer live selfishly for ourselves, and seek our personal gratification and happiness over the suffering of others, but endeavour to do what we can, to love the Lord our God, and our fellow brethren, all the more from now on. May God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 13 July 2018 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture beginning with the book of the prophet Hosea, in which the Lord spoke to His people through the prophet, calling in them to repent from their sinful ways and from their wicked paths. They have abandoned the Lord and His ways, and they have not been faithful, as they chose the pagan idols and the wicked false gods instead of God, Who has loved them and cared for them.

God was indeed angry at His people, and because they abandoned Him and placed their trust in things that did not come from God, they also encountered great sufferings in life, having to endure humiliation and persecution, exile and slavery in foreign lands. But God did not forget about His people, and in truth, He continued to love them regardless of their infidelity and rebelliousness.

That is why, through the prophet Hosea, God wanted to let His people to know that He loved them, and He cared for them very much, so much so that, should they repent from their sins, turn towards Him and embrace Him once again as their Lord and Master, He will bless them again, provide for them again, and return to them all that they had lost, their dignity and their livelihood.

Yet, if we read throughout the entirety of the Old Testament, as well as the New Testament, we can see, just how the people of God have repeatedly disobeyed God, they fell back into their sinful ways many times, again and again. They fell because of their inability to resist the temptations of the flesh and the many allures of worldliness present before them. They were overcome by their unbridled desire and pride.

It is to these people that the Lord Jesus sent His disciples, to do His works among them and to establish the foundations of the good work of salvation, which is now in the Church. He told them that He was sending them like sheep sent to be amidst the wolves. It was an analogy and metaphor for the kind of persecution, rejection and hostility that the Apostles would have to encounter during their mission and work.

But without these courageous people, who served the Lord wholeheartedly and with passion, there would not have been salvation for those many souls who have been lost and misguided into opposing God’s works. Those souls would have been condemned to eternity in hell, and many more would have been lost forever to the Lord. It was thanks to the hard work and perseverance of these faithful Apostles and disciples of the Lord, that this did not happen.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are called to realise that the works of the Apostles have not yet been completed. Instead, it is an ongoing process, as there are always more souls out there waiting to be saved, by receiving the truth and the Good News. And we are the successors of the good works of the Apostles, that by our contributions and works, we may continue to propagate the truth of God and His salvation to many more people.

And as mentioned, just as the Apostles had encountered obstacles, difficulties and opposition throughout their ministry, therefore, we will also likely encounter the same kind of trials and difficulties in our own. But this should not dissuade us from continuing to live our lives with faith, and from caring for those who have been lost and are sundered from God. Rather, it should in fact be an inspiration for us to do even more for the sake of our fellow brethren in need of our help.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today, we celebrate together the feast of St. Henry, Holy Roman Emperor as Henry II, the pinnacle and most supreme ruler of the Christendom aside from the Pope, the Vicar of Christ on earth. St. Henry, although a powerful ruler, but he was also remembered for his great piety and dedication to the Lord, and through his rulership, he helped to introduce important reforms that had far-reaching effects throughout the whole Christendom.

St. Henry lived with great piety, carrying out a celibate lifestyle, and devoted his whole life to the service of God. He supported the good works of the Church and helped in the process of the reform of the Church, particularly in the imposition of clerical celibacy and the enforcement of piety and good conduct among the clergy. He was also instrumental in encouraging missionary activities, leading to the conversion of many to the faith.

St. Henry is truly an inspiration to each and every one of us, showing us how to live honourably in faith, and filled with commitment and devotion to the Lord, even amidst difficulties and challenges, and all the obstacles that we will encounter in life. Even as a mighty Emperor, St. Henry also had to face many opposition, and he did so, with great piety and humility, devoting himself wholeheartedly to God.

Therefore, let us all devote ourselves anew to the Lord, and let us all seek to be ever closer to God and ever more committed every day of our lives, in serving Him through our every words, actions and deeds. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 12 July 2018 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are all yet again reminded of the great love and kindness which God has shown each and every one of us, His beloved ones. This He has done despite our constant disobedience and rebellion, which we have done regardless of the love God has shown us in so many situations and circumstances.

In the Old Testament, we can see how the people of Israel, having received so great a bounty and grace from God, having been rescued from slavery in Egypt, being protected and provided by God throughout their long journey in the desert, and having God as their Guide and Lord for so many years, and yet, they still betrayed Him and abandoned Him for other, false gods and idols.

But God never gave up on His people. Instead, He constantly and persistently sent to His people, prophets after prophets, and messengers after messengers, all with the same message, that is, repent and turn away from sin, and turn your attention to the Lord, your God, and follow Him with all of your hearts.

To that end, as St. John wrote in his Gospel, the famous quote, ‘For God so loved the world, that He sent us all His only Begotten Son, that through Him, all may be saved and have life in them’, that is why He sent us all Jesus Christ, His Son, into our midst, to reconcile us all with Him and to gather us all, His people, who have been scattered and lost due to our sins.

Yet as we have seen from what the Lord told His disciples in today’s Gospel passage and based on what we have known from the life and experiences of Our Lord, we see the same opposition which the Lord and His disciples had to face, in the midst of their good and dedicated work for the sake of the salvation of the very people who have rejected Him.

But that said, although there were those who rejected Him, there were also many more who listened to the Lord and accepted Him as their Lord and Saviour. That is the hope which the Lord wanted to bring to the world, that more and more will come to believe in His truth, and through reconciliation with God, find a new existence in Him and be worthy to receive the eternal grace and life from God.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, what each and every one of us as Christians must realise is that we are called by God to be the instruments through which He will perform His good works among His people, just as He had once called and sent out His disciples, especially the Twelve Apostles in their mission to bring the Good News to all the people of all nations.

Have we been living as ambassadors and messengers of the Lord as we are called to be? Have we lived our lives in accordance with God’s ways and followed the examples that He had shown us? Or have we instead scandalised our faith by our lack of action and genuine faith, and by our double standards in life, professing to believe in God on one hand, but then doing what is against God’s ways and abhorrent in His sight on the other?

Let us all today reflect on our way of life thus far, and discern in what manner we can be ever more faithful and committed to the Lord, by our every actions in life. May the Lord be with us, and may He strengthen each and every one of us in our faith, so that we may be able to find our way to Him, and that we can dedicate ourselves ever more to His cause, day after day. Amen.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Benedict, Abbot (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard from the first reading taken from the book of the prophet Hosea first of all about the sins which Israel and their kings have committed with their wickedness and pagan worship, the abandonment of the laws and commandments which have been given to them through the prophets of God.

And we also heard how the Israelites and their country were humbled and thrown to the worst of situations, as their cities were razed and destroyed, and their populace carried off into slavery and became a stigma and outcast among the nations. That was what happened to them, when the Assyrians destroyed Israel and carried off most of the population to exile in faraway lands.

And after such a terrible state, the Lord was calling on His people to return to Him, and to worship Him once again, as in the end, He did not despise them for who they were, but rather, for the sins and wickedness that they had committed. God did not create us mankind in order to see us destroyed and humiliated, but instead, our own failures to resist the worldly temptations of pride, greed and desire have led us to utter humiliation of our noble soul and existence.

But God never gave up on us, and He gave us chance after chance, opportunity after opportunity to repair our relationship with Him. He sent prophets after prophets, messengers one after another to Israel, His beloved and chosen people. And even though they rejected and persecuted many of His faithful servants, but God continued to open the doors of His mercy and love, in case His people came to Him repenting from their sins.

And He sent us His own Son, to be the messenger of the Good News of His salvation. He freely offered pardon and forgiveness to all those who have sinned against Him and disobeyed Him. All that He asked them, is for a change of heart, and for an openness of the mind and our being, so that He may be able to enter our existence and being, and inside us, transform us from people of darkness into children of the Light.

Then, in today’s Gospel passage, we heard how the Lord Jesus selected twelve among His followers and disciples, whom He made to be His Twelve Apostles, those to whom He entrusted the growth of the mission and the good works that He had begun in this world, in the saving of souls and calling of sinners to repentance. He sent them all out to go before Him, and proclaim the message of the coming of the kingdom of God.

It was through the courage of the Apostles and disciples of the Lord, and the hardships they encountered which had brought so many souls away from the brink of destruction and eternal damnation, because they preached the Good News of God and called many to turn away from their sins before it was too late for them. And although many refused to listen to them and rejected them, but there were also quite a few who were stirred in their hearts and accepted the Lord.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, we are called to follow in the footsteps of the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord. There are still much work to be done, and there are in fact still many souls out there, who are in great danger of eternal damnation, as they continue to live in sin, either through ignorance of the truth or through deliberate intention to disobey God.

I am sure that many of us would feel unworthy of such a monumental task. After all, we are talking about the state of someone’s soul here. Yet, should we fail to do anything or to continue the good works that the Apostles have started, then many more souls will fall into hell forever. Now we should perhaps reflect on the life and the work of the famous St. Benedict the Abbot, whose feast day we celebrate today.

St. Benedict the Abbot, also known as St. Benedict of Nursia, was the inspiration for the foundation of the Benedictines, one of the largest religious and monastic order present today. St. Benedict was remembered for his great dedication to God, his exemplary faith and his reform of the livelihood and way of life of many Christians, by turning away from the sins of the world, and rejecting the temptations of worldly pleasures and the wickedness of human greed.

He lived at a time where decadence was rampant among the middle and rich classes of the people, into which St. Benedict was born. He was born a noble and was destined into a life of greatness, going through extensive education and preparation for life. Yet, he was dissuaded from all the wickedness he experienced and encountered in life, and instead, sought to deepen his relationship with God by becoming a hermit.

The rules for ascetic and hermitic Christian life written by St. Benedict, later known as the Rule of St. Benedict, would eventually be followed by many later monastic orders and congregations, with thousands and many more following the examples of St. Benedict, deepening their spiritual relationship with God, and resisting the worldly temptations that had led so many people to sin.

The examples shown by St. Benedict and the inspiration he had given to so many others, who in turn, inspire even more people and might have turned countless souls from the edge of damnation, show us that for us to do what the Apostles had done, does not require incredible feats of faith. Indeed, we must in fact remember that the Lord had called the Apostles from humble and the most unlikely of origins.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, what matters is our willingness to listen to God’s calling, for us to be His disciples, and to act and work like one of those whom He had called. And this requires us to practice our faith through real action, by showing love in all of our actions and deeds, and by deepening our relationship with God, just as St. Benedict has shown us.

It is often times that we do not need to utter grandiose words in order to convince others to be faithful, but rather through our concrete actions and sincerity of heart. That is how true holiness came about, and how we can convince many others to follow us, just as we followed the Apostles, on our way together to the Lord, to be worthy of the salvation and eternal life He has promised all those who are faithful to Him.

May the Lord be with us always, and may through the intercession of St. Benedict of Nursia, many more will be able to discover the Lord and His love through us. May each and every one of us be holy instruments of God, in all the things and actions we do in our daily lives. May God bless us all. Amen.