Monday, 22 May 2017 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Rita of Cascia, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
John 15 : 26 – John 16 : 4a

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “From now on the Helper, the Holy Spirit Whom the Father will send in My Name, will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I have told you.”

“Peace be with you! I give you My peace; not as the world gives peace do I give it to you. Do not be troubled; do not be afraid. You heard Me say, ‘I am going away, but I am coming to you.’ If you loved Me, you would be glad that I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”

“I have told you this now before it takes place, so that when it does happen you may believe. It is very little what I may still tell you, for the prince of this world is at hand, although there is nothing in Me that he can claim. But see, the world must know that I love the Father, and that I do what the Father has taught Me to do. Come now, let us go.”

“I am the True Vine and My Father is the Vinegrower. If any of My branches does not bear fruit, He breaks it off; and He prunes every branch that does bear fruit, that it may bear even more fruit. You are already made clean by the word I have spoken to you. Live in Me as I live in you.”

Saturday, 20 May 2017 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we have heard a reminder that if we are to remain faithful and true to the Lord, in our faith to Him, we will encounter difficulties and challenges in our path, as there will definitely be those who will be opposed to us and to our faith, namely those who are clinging on to the ways of the world and would not want to see their influence challenged by us.

That means, our lives as Christians, if we truly cling onto our faith in God, and practice wholeheartedly what we believe in, will not be that smooth-going and easy. If we have found our lives to be easy and manageable, without crisis or difficulty, perhaps that is because God had indeed blessed us so, or which we hope that is not the case, that we have not been truly faithful in our ways and in our lives.

Many of us want to be accepted by the world, and to that extent, we conform to the ways and customs of the world, even if that ran contrary to the teachings of our faith. At the same time, we know that the reality in our Church is that there are many who are ‘cafetaria Christians’, which means those who pick and choose what they want to believe in our faith, and refuse to believe or that they are ignoring those tenets which they found to be too difficult to be followed or complied with.

That was what happened to the disciples of Jesus two millennia ago, as Jesus went about preaching about the coming of the kingdom of God to them and speaking about Himself, the truth of what would happen to them should they became His followers, and what they needed to believe in, even when they found the teaching to be difficult to be complied with. Indeed, many left the Lord behind because they were not willing to open their hearts and listen to Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is not we all should be like, as all of us should be true and devoted to our Lord in all things we do, and believe in Him wholeheartedly, and not conditionally. After all, the Lord had given us all His life and His love unconditionally, by His loving sacrifice on the cross. He has loved us with all of His heart, generously granting us pardon and mercy, forgiveness and grace even when we are all still great sinners and rebels.

If the Lord had not hold back His love for us, then why should we then hold back our love for Him? Why do we have to choose or to select what we want to believe in His message? Why should we set conditions for the Lord? It is not right, if He had already suffered for our sake, bearing the burden for our sins, the burdens which should have been ours, and died on the cross for us, then we should not and indeed cannot treat the Lord with ignorance or apathy.

We must devote ourselves wholeheartedly to the Lord, and learn from the examples of the holy saints, especially St. Bernardine of Siena, whose feast day we are celebrating on this day. St. Bernardine of Siena was a devout and holy priest, as a Franciscan missionary who lived during the late Medieval era. He was renowned as the ‘Apostle of Italy’ for his tireless works in bringing many people, especially throughout Italy, the heart of Christendom, back to the Lord.

For at that time, many of the people did not live in accordance with the ways of the Lord, living in debauchery and sin, in wickedness and doing what is vile and evil in the sight of God. People are more concerned with money and worldly livelihood rather than serving the Lord and obeying His will. St. Bernardine went around many places, preaching directly to the people in those places, and his words of encouragement and call to repentance have brought many people back to the loving embrace of the Lord.

His sincerity and devotion to the Lord inspired those lost souls who saw the light of God through St. Bernardine of Siena, like that of darkness being pushed back by the light. His examples and his dedication to the salvation of souls should be our inspiration, brothers and sisters in Christ, in how we ought to live our lives faithfully to the Lord. We should be exemplary in our actions and deeds, so that all those who see us will also then come to believe in God through us.

May the Lord awaken in all of us the desire to love Him, and to obey Him in all of His teachings. May we follow in the footsteps of St. Bernardine of Siena, that in all the things we say and do, we will always proclaim the glory of the Lord and remain true to His ways. Amen.

Saturday, 20 May 2017 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
John 15 : 18-21

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “If the world hates you, remember that the world hated Me before you. This would not be so if you belonged to the world, because the world loves its own. But you are not of the world, since I have chosen you from the world; because of this the world hates you.”

“Remember what I told you : the servant is not greater than his master; if they persecuted Me, they will persecute you, too. If they kept My word, they will keep yours as well. All this they will do to you for the sake of My Name, because they do not know the One Who sent Me.”

Saturday, 20 May 2017 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White
Psalm 99 : 2, 3, 5

Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.

Know that the Lord is God; He created us and we are His people, the sheep of His fold.

For the Lord is good; His love lasts forever and His faithfulness through all generations.

Saturday, 20 May 2017 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Acts 16 : 1-10

Paul travelled on to Derbe and then to Lystra. A disciple named Timothy lived there, whose mother was a believer of Jewish origin but whose father was a Greek. As the believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him, Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him. So he took him and, because of the Jews of that place who all knew that his father was a Greek, he circumcised him.

As they travelled from town to town, they delivered the decisions of the Apostles and elders in Jerusalem, for the people to obey. Meanwhile, the churches grew stronger in faith and increased in number every day.

They travelled through Phrygia and Galatia, because they had been prevented by the Holy Spirit from preaching the message in the province of Asia. When they came to Mysia, they tried to go to Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to do this. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas.

There one night Paul had a vision. A Macedonian stood before him and begged him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” When he awoke, he told us of this vision and we understood that the Lord was calling us to give the Good News to the Macedonian people.

Saturday, 29 April 2017 : 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, in today’s Scripture readings, we heard first of all, the institution of the office of the deacons in the Church, when in the days of the early Church, there was a great difficulty in ensuring that all the Christian families and the faithful received the distribution of goods equally, as manpower was needed to do the works. And therefore, the Apostles decided to ordain seven men filled with the Holy Spirit, and charge them with the responsibility over those works.

In the Gospel today, meanwhile, we heard about the disciples of the Lord who were crossing the Lake of Galilee when they encountered a vicious storm and saw Jesus walking on the lake towards them. The disciples were frightened because they thought that they were seeing a ghost, and they did not have faith in Him. But Jesus revealed Himself to them, and told them not to be afraid, for it was indeed Him Whom they saw.

In what we heard in these readings from the Scriptures, we saw how God is always with His people, with all of those who have given themselves to Him and committed themselves to His cause. And the seven deacons which had been appointed was filled with the Holy Spirit and full of the faith they themselves showed before the Lord and His people, by their pious actions and commitment, and foremost of all, through their readiness to even lay down their lives for the Lord.

That was what happened to St. Stephen, one of the seven deacons, and one of the first martyrs of the Faith and the Church. We surely are aware of what had happened to him, as recorded in the other parts of the Acts of the Apostles, when the opponents of the faithful contrived against him and plotted to bring about his downfall through the means of false accusations and trials.

But St. Stephen stood up against all the lies and the false accusations levelled on him, and he spoke up about the truth of God, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, revealing to all those who had wanted to arrest him, how God had loved His people and wanted to save all of them, telling them of His exploits throughout history, and how He had ever been faithful, even though His people had not been faithful. And St. Stephen spoke of Jesus our Lord, Whom they rejected, but Who had come to be the Saviour of the world.

In the end, St. Stephen met his end in martyrdom, but he died knowing that God was by his side, and he even forgave all of his enemies, asking that God should not punish them for all that they had done against this faithful servant of God. This is the faith which he had shown through not just his beliefs, but also through his own actions. And all of us should emulate him and the other holy saints of the Lord, all of whom should become our inspiration in living out a genuine, Christian life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we also celebrate the feast of the famous holy woman, the saint of the city of Siena, namely St. Catherine of Siena, one of the great Doctors of the Church, and a truly inspiring persona during her time, and even for long after her passing until this very day. St. Catherine of Siena was a very pious philosopher and theologian, who was known for a very great devotion to the Lord. She experienced visions from the Lord, which she related to others through her numerous writings.

Through her piety and faith in the Lord, she inspired many others to follow in her footsteps and walk in the way of the faith. She had even reconciled many factions and groups in conflict in the society and the community around her, by being intermediary and negotiator for both sides of the groups in dispute. She also took part in the resolution of conflicts and troubles in the community, as well as in the Church, which at that time was filled with conflict and human ambitions.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as Christians all of us are called to devote ourselves completely to the Lord, and to commit ourselves to the good works He had started among us. And many of us have different talents and abilities, which we can give for the sake of God and His people. Let us all devote ourselves and our time, our effort and everything that we can do, for the betterment of one another, and for the greater glory of God, following in the footsteps of the holy deacons and Apostles, and also of St. Catherine of Siena, our role models in faith. Amen.

Saturday, 29 April 2017 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
John 6 : 16-21

At that time, when evening came, the disciples went down to the shore. After a while they got into a boat to make for Capernaum on the other side of the sea, for it was now dark and Jesus had not yet come to them. But the sea was getting rough because a strong wind was blowing.

They had rowed about three or four miles, when they saw Jesus walking on the sea, and He was drawing near to the boat. They were frightened, but He said to them, “It is I! Do not be afraid!” They wanted to take Him into the boat, but immediately the boat was at the shore to which they were going.