Wednesday, 2 November 2016 : Feast of All Souls, Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, All Souls’ Day (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Black
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, the All Souls’ Day, we remember all of our brethren who have departed before us, all those whom we have known and have left us behind, and even all others, strangers whom we have not met, but indeed have also left this earthly life behind. Today we remember all the souls of the faithful departed, just as yesterday we rejoice together in the glory of the saints, those whom God and His Church had deemed worthy to receive directly the glory of heaven.

And today, we pray for those who have left this earthly life and yet we are not sure of their state after their earthly death, whether they would be worthy enough to merit to enter the kingdom of heaven, or whether they have to suffer in purgatory before they can enter into the kingdom of God, or whether their wickedness or sins had overcome them and made them judged to be worthy of hell instead. It is not us to decide, but God.

For many of us, our instinctive reaction upon thinking of death is fear, that is we are afraid of death, because of this uncertainty of our fate, and ultimately, of course, many of us find it difficult to part with whatever we have attained and possessed in this world, resulting in many of us trying to preserve whatever we have, our life and our youth, with many emphasis placed on trying to prolong our lives and maintaining our youthful appearances.

Many of us grieve very badly upon losing our loved ones to death, mostly because we think that we are not going to see them again, and we cannot bear to be separated from them. It is part of our natural instinct as human beings to grieve and be sad, because after all, when we are no longer able to physically interact with someone we love and care for, we should indeed feel disturbed by that new reality.

But we should not lose hope or despair, for the Lord Himself had made it clear to us in many occasions, that He has come into the world that all of us may have hope, because of His death and resurrection, which showed us all that there is a path out of that darkness and despair, the path to our salvation in our God. And that is the hope which all of us ought to remember today, even as we are saddened by the loss of our beloved.

Remember, brethren, that Christ’s death is followed by His resurrection, and He has promised us all through His disciples, that He will raise all those who are faithful to Him on the last day, and we all will be reunited with one another, with our beloved ones, with our brothers and sisters with whom we may have been temporarily separated. If we believe in this, then truly, we should absolutely have no need to fear death, be it for our own or for others around us, as it is not an end, but rather the transition and the beginning to a new life filled with new joy with our God.

Therefore, today, as we celebrate the Feast of All Souls’ Day, first of all, let us all realise that as I have mentioned yesterday during the Solemnity of All Saints, there are three parts of the Church, the Church Triumphant, consisting of the saints of God, who have been deemed worthy to enjoy immediately the joy of the kingdom of God, the Church Militant, all of us living in this world at the moment, who are living the daily struggles of our lives, and finally the Church Suffering, for whom we are praying for today.

For the Church Suffering consists of all the faithful ones who have lived in the grace of God, died in a state of grace, but which venial or minor sins have not been completely cleared and absolved from them. They are not yet able to be with God, for they cannot bring sin before God, as sin has no place before Him. Nevertheless, they have also been found worthy enough so as to escape the eternal damnation in hell, which is reserved only for those whose evil and wicked deeds truly outweighed their good ones.

So today, firstly, we have to pray for those souls in purgatory, who are suffering the pain of the holy flames of purification, enduring the consequences of their sufferings. We pray that God will lessen their sufferings and ordeal, and be willing to completely absolve our brethren in purgatory of their sins, that they may finally enter into the heavenly kingdom and partake in the glorious inheritance reserved for them.

And secondly, we should also reflect on how we ourselves live our lives in this world. The souls in purgatory knew well what they have committed in life, all the things they have done that landed them in the purgatorial flames instead of immediately enjoying the glorious heaven. And they definitely would not want us to end up where they are as well. In fact, just as we have prayed for them, they too are constantly praying for us.

Knowing just how much we all are related to each other, even beyond the realm of this world, we should all the more be more inspired to live a good and devout Christian life. We should not take chances, brothers and sisters in Christ, for what is at stake is none other than our own souls, the state of our own salvation or whether it would instead be damnation.

Let us all not wait until it is too late for us, but instead, work together and helping each other to find our way to the Lord, by doing what is right in the sight of God, by our unfailing obedience and commitment, by loving our brethren in need, be generous and be charitable in all things. And let us also not forget about our loving brethren, our beloved relatives and even strangers who are also our brothers and sisters, children of the same God, that we should offer them our prayers and for the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass to be offered for their sake.

Let us pray for one another, that all of us will eventually be able to persevere through all the difficult challenges in this world, and give our best in order to do the will of our God, be no longer lukewarm and hesitant in our faith, but instead be true disciples of our Lord, doing His will in all that we say, act and do. May God bless us all, and may all the souls of our brethren, those who are faithful and have departed, find the rest they need in the Lord. Requiescat in Pace. Amen.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016 : Feast of All Souls, Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, All Souls’ Day (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Black
Luke 7 : 11-17

At that time, a little later after Jesus healed the servant of a captain in Capernaum, He went to a town called Naim. He was accompanied by His disciples and a great number of people. As He reached the gate of the town, a dead man was being carried out. He was the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; there followed a large crowd of townspeople.

On seeing her, the Lord had pity on her and said, “Do not cry.” Then He came up and touched the stretcher, and the men who carried it stopped. Jesus then said, “Young man, I say to you, wake up!” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.

A holy fear came over them all, and they praised God saying, “A great Prophet has appeared among us; God, has visited His people.” The news spread throughout Judea and the surrounding places.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016 : Feast of All Souls, Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, All Souls’ Day (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Black
Romans 5 : 5-11

And hope does not disappoint us because the Holy Spirit has been given to us, pouring into our hearts the love of God. Consider, moreover, the time that Christ died for us : when we were still helpless and unable to do anything. Few would accept to die for an upright person; although, for a very good person, perhaps someone would dare to die.

But see how God manifested His love for us : while we were still sinners, Christ died for us and we have become just through His Blood. With much more reason now He will save us from any condemnation. Once enemies, we have been reconciled with God through the death of His Son; with much more reason now we may be saved through His life.

Not only that; we even boast in God because of Christ Jesus, our Lord, through Whom we have been reconciled.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016 : Feast of All Souls, Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, All Souls’ Day (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Black
Psalm 26 : 1, 4, 7-9, 13-14

The Lord is my Light and my Salvation – Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the Rampart of my life; I will not be afraid.

One thing I ask of the Lord, one thing I seek – that I may dwell in His house all the days of my life, to gaze at His jewel and to visit His sanctuary.

Hear my voice when I call, o Lord, have mercy on me and answer. My heart says to You, “I seek Your face, o Lord.” Do not hide Your face from me nor turn away Your servant in anger.

I hope, I am sure, that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Trust in the Lord, be strong and courageous. Yes, put your hope in the Lord!

Wednesday, 2 November 2016 : Feast of All Souls, Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, All Souls’ Day (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Black
Isaiah 25 : 6-9

On this mountain YHVH Sabaoth will prepare for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, meat full of marrow, fine wine strained. On this mountain He will destroy the pall cast over all peoples, this very shroud spread over all nations, and death will be no more.

The Lord YHVH will wipe away the tears from all cheeks and eyes; He will take away the humiliation of His people all over the world : For YHVH has spoken. On that day you will say : This is our God. We have waited for Him to save us, let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016 : Solemnity of All Saints, All Saints’ Day (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the great Feast and Solemnity of All Saints, when we celebrate together with the whole Church the holy men and women, all those who have been deemed righteous by the Church, worthy of the eternal glory of heaven which God had prepared for them, and which He has also prepared for all of us who remain true to Him in faith.

Brothers and sisters, the celebrations of today, the All Saints’ Day, and tomorrow, the All Souls’ Day, are designed to remind us of the existence of three parts of the Church, both in this world and beyond. And they are the Church Triumphant, the Church Militant and the Church Suffering, each of which are helping each other, particularly that of the Church Militant and Church Suffering in the goal of reaching out to the Lord and to His salvation.

The Church Militant refers to us all who belong to the Church and still living in this world, carrying out our daily activities and works, and that is why we are called the Church Militant, for we should know that every single moment of our earthly life, we are always locked in that constant struggle between the Lord and those He had sent to our aid, our guardian Angels, against those seeking our downfall, chief of which is the devil, Satan, the evil one, whose designs for us are intended to drag us with him into eternal damnation in hell.

Meanwhile those in the Church Suffering are those who have left this earthly life before us, those who have died and yet deemed to be worthy enough to escape eternal damnation in hell, but because of their sins in life, small and venial, not mortal sins, they were deemed to be still unworthy to directly enter the kingdom of God, for sin has no place in the sight of God.

And thus they are suffering now the consequences of their sins, being purified in the holy flames of purgatory, as the Church taught us about the fate of those who were deemed worthy and yet still bearing the remnants of their venial and unrepented sins, which became a barrier in their path to the Lord. They are suffering because they are so close to God, and yet they are not yet able to be with Him until the time comes when their sins are completely absolved.

So, brethren, what about the Church Triumphant? This is the focus of our celebrations today, as the Church Triumphant refers to the holy men and women which by the virtues of their lives, have been deemed to be worthy enough and good enough to merit directly the glory of heaven upon the end of their earthly lives. And therefore, these are the saints we have today, those whom God had raised into heavenly glory to be our role model, and indeed as our helpers.

What does this mean, brethren? First of all, perhaps we should understand first what it means by the term saints. The saints are not deities or gods, as some of us may have misunderstood who they really are. It is not like those in other false faiths and pagans, who prayed to dead people and asked them to do miracles for them, or to grant them something good based on these dead people’s own powers.

Instead, the saints are just like us, brothers and sisters in Christ, and they used to live on this earth as we now do. It is not that like in some mythologies where some men or women became superman or superwoman because they gained some magical or supernatural powers and then used these to bring good or bad things on others. In fact, saints were sinners like us too, and some of the saints were once great and unrepentant sinners, until one moment in their respective lives when they decided to change their lives.

St. Augustine of Hippo for example, was a delinquent young man who caused his mother, St. Monica, plenty of worries and troubles. He lived through all sorts of debauchery and wickedness, and he wandered through one woman to another, fathering even a child with one of them. It seemed that he would go down that path to his ruin, as one after another, he experienced all the vile deeds of the world.

And yet, through the continuous prayers and never-ending support from his mother, and through his own gradual understanding and discovery that his ways had been wrong, eventually he turned around in his life and dedicated his life from then on in righteousness and obedience to God. Through his many works, writings and efforts, he had done so many good things to those whom he had met and touched, and therefore became a source of inspiration for many others.

That is one example of who saints were, and what they had eventually become. St. Francis of Assisi, the renowned holy man and founder of the Franciscan order was once the son and heir of a rich textile merchant, while St. Ignatius of Loyola was the heir and son of another powerful family in Spain, both of whom were brought up to enjoy earthly life in wealth and revelry, but eventually they also realised that what they were doing were not what satisfied them, and therefore they repented and changed their ways, and thereafter became the sources of inspiration for many others, many of whom also eventually became saints themselves.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we rejoice in the glory of the holy saints of God, first of all we have to understand that each and every one of us has the potential to become a saint ourselves, as if we have done what the Lord had asked us to do, and even more, going forward to show love, mercy, care and compassion to those who need these, and inspire many others to do the same, then we will also be found faithful, worthy and just to enter into the glory of heaven, sharing together the joy of the saints we celebrate today.

Then secondly, we should know what the saints can do to help us all still living in this world. They are our intercessors, those who pray for us on our behalf, asking God to show His mercy and guidance to us, and through our request for their intercession, they helped us in guiding our prayers to God, for after all, they are in heaven, at the sides of the Lord.

And indeed, the greatest of all saints is Mary, the Mother of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, and thus that is why in the Church we also have a very strong devotion to Mary, for through her and her prayers, as she once did in the wedding at Cana, she helped us all in the same manner as her petitions and requests for her Son to help the struggling wedding couple was heard and fulfilled.

The saints are praying for us all the time, and they all are aware of our sufferings and our current state, particularly that many of us who are still heading down the path towards eternal damnation and downfall. They are always working together with our guardian Angels, those whom God had sent to us to help us, so that we will be able to prevail through the difficulties and challenges found in this world, and eventually be able to find our way to God’s salvation and grace.

And last of all, let us all be inspired by the examples of the saints themselves, that we may find our way to God’s salvation by doing what the saints and the Church had shown and taught us to do. For the saints are like stained glass in the churches that we see and often adore because of their beauty. An untempered and undecorated stained is not beautiful, but once it has been decorated and completed, it becomes a sign of beauty, when light passes through it and illuminate the entire church building.

Therefore, in the same manner, we ourselves are empty vessels without meaning if we have no God living truly inside of us. It is God’s light in the saints that made them to have such amazing lives filled with righteousness and good deeds, and through them, God’s works are made evident in this world, inspiring many others to follow them, and we can do the same as well.

As we rejoice today, let us thus not forget what each of us Christians can do and can become, that is as the reflections of the saints, which in turn are the reflections of God and His light. Let us all be beacons of light for the world, and be not afraid to do what we can in order to evangelise and spread the Good News, lighting up the way to our brethren, particularly those who are still not aware of God and His ways, and those who have lost their way amidst the persuasions and temptations of this world.

May the Lord help us on our journey, and may the inspirations of the holy saints become our sustenance and strength, that we too may share in their glory at the end of our own earthly lives, as we have done what the Lord asked us to do, and even more, helping one another to draw ever closer to the Lord our God. Amen.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016 : Solemnity of All Saints, All Saints’ Day (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Matthew 5 : 1-12a

At that time, when Jesus saw the crowds, He went up the mountain. He sat down and His disciples gathered around Him. Then He spoke and began to teach them :

“Fortunate are those who are poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Fortunate are those who mourn, they shall be comforted. Fortunate are the gentle, they shall possess the land.”

“Fortunate are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied. Fortunate are the merciful, for they shall find mercy. Fortunate are those with a pure heart, for they shall see God.”

“Fortunate are those who work for peace, they shall be called children of God. Fortunate are those who are persecuted for the cause of justice, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

“Fortunate are you, when people insult you and persecute you and speak all kinds of evil against you because you are My followers. Be glad and joyful, for a great reward is kept for you in God.”

Tuesday, 1 November 2016 : Solemnity of All Saints, All Saints’ Day (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
1 John 3 : 1-3

See what singular love the Father has for us : we are called children of God, and we really are. This is why the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.

Beloved, we are God’s children and what we shall be has not yet been shown. Yet when He appears in His glory, we know that we shall be like Him, for then we shall see Him as He is. All who have such a hope try to be pure as He is pure.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016 : Solemnity of All Saints, All Saints’ Day (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White
Psalm 23 : 1-2, 3-4ab, 5-6

The earth and its fullness belong to the Lord, the world and all that dwell in it. He has founded it upon the ocean and set it firmly upon the waters.

Who will ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who will stand in His holy place? Those with clean hands and pure heart, who desire not what is vain.

They will receive blessings from the Lord, a reward from God, their Saviour. Such are the people who seek Him, who seek the face of Jacob’s God.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016 : Solemnity of All Saints, All Saints’ Day (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Revelations 7 : 2-4, 9-14

I saw another Angel ascending from the sunrise, carrying the seal of the living God, and he cried out with a loud voice to the four Angels empowered to harm the earth and the sea, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the servants of our God upon their foreheads.”

Then I heard the number of those marked with the seal : a hundred and forty-four thousand from all the tribes of the people of Israel. After this I saw a great crowd, impossible to count, from every nation, race, people and tongue, standing before the throne and the Lamb, clothed in white, with palm branches in their hands, and they cried out with a loud voice, “Who saves but our God Who sits on the throne and the Lamb?”

All the Angels were around the throne, the elders and the four living creatures; they then bowed before the throne with their faces to the ground to worship God. They said, “Amen. Praise, glory, wisdom, thanks, honour, power and strength to our God forever and ever. Amen!”

At that moment, one of the elders spoke up and said to me, “Who are these people clothed in white, and where did they come from?” I answered, “Sir, it is you who know this.” The elder replied, “They are those who have come out of the great persecution; they have washed and made their clothes white in the Blood of the Lamb.”