Monday, 19 October 2020 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Martyrs, and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are all reminded of the Lord’s generous love and providence, all that He had done for our sake, in caring for us and giving us our freedom and for bringing us out from our fated destruction. The Lord has called on all of us to have faith in Him, to put our trust and also be humble, as much as we can.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Ephesus on the Lord and how His love for us has rescued us from the depth of darkness and destruction, liberating us from the fate that we ought to have suffered because of our sins and disobedience against Him. God has given us this wonderful gift thanks to His enduring love for each and every one of us.

And therefore, we are reminded that we have been saved by God’s grace and love, and not by our own might and achievements. But for those who argue then that we are saved by faith alone then they must realise also that faith without any actions and deeds done in accordance to that faith is truly an empty, meaningless and dead faith.

And we shall also then be judged by our inaction, which is tantamount to committing sins of omission. Whatever it is, we have to follow the path that the Lord has set before us and have genuine faith in Him, living our lives virtuously and being centred on God. This is not something that can be easily done as there would definitely be plenty of temptations and challenges in our path and journey.

One of the most common temptations is that of pride and desire, as we heard the warning from St. Paul in our first reading today and also in our Gospel passage today through the parable the Lord used to teach His disciples and the people on the futility of worldly desires and pursuits, and the foolishness of human desires and greed, as well as pride and ego. In that reading, we heard about a rich and powerful man who owned a vast holding and earned plenty of harvests from his vast farmlands.

We heard how the man worried and wondered how he were to store all the things he had gained, and planned to build even larger barns and storehouses to gather more worldly wealth and possessions, thinking that he had secured his future completely and that he had nothing to fear from. This was the fault of his pride and ego, as well as his greed that he was oblivious and unable to recognise his own limitations and mortality.

And the Lord through that parable showed clearly all these, by showing how the life and death of man are completely in the hands of God. And no one could ever know the exact time and moment of the ending of one’s earthly life and existence. For all the wealth, glory and power that man had gathered as according to the parable, all of those would have amounted to nothing and are meaningless, as none of them would end up following the man to the afterlife.

This is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all reminded this day that as Christians we must lead a life that is filled with faith and devotion to God, free from the corruption of ego, pride, greed and earthly desires in our hearts and minds. And we can look upon the good examples set by our saints whose feast day we celebrate today, the Holy Canadian Martyrs or the North American Martyrs, the martyrs St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, holy Jesuit missionaries of North America, as well as their companions in martyrdom.

St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues were the members of the Jesuits or the Society of Jesus that had been instrumental in Counter-Reformation and were also involved in missionary works. In that particular area, St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues ministered among the native populations and tribes of North America, spending much time and a lot of effort in reaching out to the pagan tribes and preaching the Good News of Christ to them.

As those tribes lived in some of the least hospitable and difficult conditions known to men, St. John de Brebeuf, St. Isaac Jogues and other missionaries had difficult time trying to adjust and to minister to the people, which was further compounded and made difficult by the reluctance and opposition by some of the native tribes against the efforts to evangelise among them by the Christian missionaries. There were misunderstandings and even conflicts, and also disagreements between the tribes that converted to the Christian faith with the other tribes.

Yet, despite all of these, the missionaries dedicated themselves wholeheartedly, and devoted their time and effort to minister to the people, both caring for them and providing for them, especially spiritually. In the end, amidst all the hardships they encountered, they were attacked by those who misunderstood the intentions of the missionaries, and they were tortured, made to suffer and eventually killed. Nonetheless, the seeds of faith they had spread and nurtured by their efforts remained strong and became the source of the Christian faith among many of the people for generations onwards.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, those missionaries laboured in terrible conditions, had nothing on themselves, and had nothing else but God’s providence and guidance. They entrusted themselves completely to the Lord and allowed Him to lead them through the path that He has led them through. Are we as Christians, able to follow in their footsteps, and be inspired by their faith and courage to live their lives with genuine faith?

Let us all carefully discern this, and see in which way each and every one of us are able to commit ourselves to the Lord, in our every moments and actions. Let us all dedicate ourselves anew to the Lord, strengthen ourselves with faith, and walk faithfully and virtuously in the Lord’s presence, that our every efforts and works will be for the greater glory of God. St. John de Brebeuf, St. Isaac Jogues and all the martyrs of North America, holy servants of God and courageous defenders of the Faith, pray for us all. Amen.

Monday, 19 October 2020 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Martyrs, and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)

Luke 12 : 13-21

At that time, someone in the crowd spoke to Jesus, “Master, tell my brother to share with me the family inheritance.” He replied, “My friend, who has appointed Me as your Judge or your Attorney?” Then Jesus said to the people, “Be on your guard and avoid every kind of greed, for even though you have many possessions, it is not that which gives you life.”

And Jesus continued, “There was a rich man, and his land had produced a good harvest. He thought, ‘What shall I do, for I am short of room to store my harvest? Alright, I know what I shall do : I will pull down my barns and I will build bigger ones, to store all this grain, which is my wealth. Then I will say to myself : My friend, you have a lot of good things put by for many years. Rest, eat, drink and enjoy yourself.'”

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be taken from you. Tell Me, who shall get all you have put aside?’ This is the lot of the one who stores up riches for himself and is not wealthy in the eyes of God.”

Monday, 19 October 2020 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Martyrs, and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)

Psalm 99 : 2, 3, 4, 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.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving, His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and bless His Name.

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

Monday, 19 October 2020 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Martyrs, and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)

Ephesians 2 : 1-10

You were dead, through the faults and sins. Once, you lived through them, according to this world, and followed the Sovereign Ruler Who reigns between heaven and earth, and Who goes on working, in those who resist the faith.

All of us belonged to them, at one time, and we followed human greed; we obeyed the urges of our human nature and consented to its desires. By ourselves, we went straight to the judgment, like the rest of humankind.

But God, Who is rich in mercy, revealed His immense love. As we were dead through our sins, He gave us life, with Christ. By grace, you have been saved! And He raised us to life, with Christ, giving us a place with Him in heaven.

In showing us such kindness, in Christ Jesus, God willed to reveal, and unfold in the coming ages, the extraordinary riches of His grace. By the grace of God, you have been saved, through faith.

This has not come from you : it is God’s gift. This was not the result of your works, so you are not to feel proud. What we are, is God’s work. He has created us, in Christ Jesus, for the good works He has prepared, that we should devote ourselves to them.

Friday, 19 October 2018 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to God’s reassurance and promise to His people, through His Apostle St. Paul, who in our first reading today, taken from the Epistle to the Church and the faithful in the city of Ephesus, mentioned how those who have accepted the truth of Christ, have been chosen from among the nations and all the people, to be God’s own people.

And because they have been chosen, God would be with them, despite the challenges and difficulties they might face in their lives, and despite the pains and sufferings that they had to endure. This was reiterated by the Lord when He told them what is on our Gospel passage today. He told them that they should not fear or worry about the one who could only harm them in the body but has no power over the soul.

What the Lord meant was that, even though the difficulties and challenges might be great and seemingly insurmountable, but in the end, despite the challenges and pain, the hardships that the world was piling up upon them, but they must not stumble on the way or fall into the trap of temptation of the devil. The evil one does not desire the salvation of us mankind, and therefore, he is always trying his best to lure us away from God’s path by all means.

Many of the disciples and followers of Christ during the years of the early Church, during the time of the persecution by the Jewish and Roman authorities chose to give up their faith in place of safety and good treatment by the world. They chose to leave behind the sufferings that they endured when they adhered to the Christian faith, because of various reasons, either because they could not leave their family behind, or because of the same family that pressured them to abandon their faith, or the community which ostracised and persecuted all those who believed in God.

It was truly not an easy time to be a Christian, unlike many of us in the present day who are taking our faith for granted, living in the comfort and security of our own, often flourishing Christian communities. Thus, we have to understand the circumstances in which those Christians in the early Church, and in fact, even in our present day, where there are still our fellow brothers and sisters who are suffering persecution and difficulties just because they believe in the Lord.

But we must not give up our faith, for to give up in order to gain the temporary respite of the world, the pleasures of life and the comfort of the lack of persecution, oppression and rejection, and worldly acceptance, is for us to abandon for eternity the salvation and eternal life that God offers only to those who remain true to Him and keep their faith in Him alive even in the midst of the darkest times and moments.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today, let us all look upon the examples of some of our holy predecessors, first of all, the Holy Canadian Martyrs, the Jesuit priests and missionaries who strove through the harsh conditions of the then wild lands of Canada, where winters were very cold, the wildlife vicious and living conditions harsh, on top of the opposition from the pagan tribesmen especially those who refused to accept the truth of the Scriptures.

There were those of the natives who were willing to listen to the Lord’s words and truth. They converted to the faith and became among the first Christians in that wild and harsh land. They established parishes and mission stations among the native peoples, and more and more came to believe in God despite the challenging times and circumstances. But they were attacked by those natives who opposed the missionaries’ efforts to evangelise to them.

That was where the Holy Canadian Martyrs, St. John Brebeuf, St. Isaac Jogues and their companions suffered martyrdom for their faith. They suffered greatly before they died, and they defended their faith to the end, even protecting those natives who have believed in the Lord and became the followers of Christ. They refused to abandon those sheep whom the Lord had entrusted to be their flock, to be under their care.

Meanwhile, today we also mark the feast of St. Paul of the Cross, who was a holy priest of God, who was the founder of the Passionists, a religious order of those who would want to dedicate themselves in a life of prayer and love towards God, by means of prayer and by charitable works among the community. St. Paul of the Cross emulated the good example for his brethren, in his generous works of mercy, his tireless efforts at evangelisation and in delivering the truth to the people.

St. Paul of the Cross showed us all how we ought to live our lives, filled with love for God and His people, just as the Holy Canadian Martyrs had also done, in their selfless and courage love for their flock, for those whom the Lord had called through them. These holy men of God have shown us what it truly means for us to be Christians, to be men for God and men for others. And we should put our trust in God in all things, that as long as we are faithful, God will always bless us and protect us in our journey of faith.

Let us ask the Lord for His guidance, and for strength and courage, that we may continue to live in faith, devoting ourselves from now on for the sake of God’s greater glory. Let us draw ever closer to the Lord and seek to love Him with ever greater devotion, day after day from now on. And may God continue to bless us all in our deeds and in all that we do. Amen.

Friday, 19 October 2018 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)

Luke 12 : 1-7

At that time, such a numerous crowd had gathered that they crushed one another. Then Jesus spoke to His disciples in this way, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered that will not be uncovered; or hidden, that will not be made known. Whatever you have said in darkness will be heard in daylight, and what you have whispered in hidden places, will be proclaimed from housetops.”

“I tell you, My friends, do not fear those who put to death the body and, after that, can do no more. But I will tell you Whom to fear : Fear the One Who, after killing you, is able to throw you into hell. This One you must fear. Do you not buy five sparrows for two pennies? Yet not one of them has been forgotten by God. Even the hairs of your head have been numbered. Do not be afraid! Are you less worthy in the eyes of God than many sparrows?”

Friday, 19 October 2018 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)

Psalm 32 : 1-2, 4-5, 12-13

Rejoice in the Lord, you who are just, praise is fitting for the upright. Give thanks to Him on the harp and lyre, making melody and chanting praises.

For upright is the Lord’s word and worthy of trust is His work. The Lord loves justice and righteousness; the earth is full of His kindness.

Blessed is the nation whose God is YHVH – the people He has chosen for His inheritance. YHVH looks down from heaven and sees the whole race of mortals.

Friday, 19 October 2018 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)

Ephesians 1 : 11-14

By a decree of Him, Who disposes all things, according to His own plan and decision, we, the Jews, have been chosen and called, and we were awaiting the Messiah, for the praise of His glory.

You, on hearing the word of truth, the Gospel that saves you, have believed in Him. And, as promised, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit, the first pledge of what we shall receive, on the way to our deliverance, as a people of God, for the praise of His glory.

Thursday, 19 October 2017 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day through the Sacred Scriptures all of us are reminded of the love which God has shown us mankind, by wanting to forgive us from our sins and trespasses. All have sinned and fell from the grace of God, and should have merited them all destruction and damnation, according to St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Rome.

Yet, the Lord still loves each and every one of us, for if He has not loved us, He would not have created us in the first place. He created us so that all of us, each and every one of us may experience His love and compassion, and share in that love. God Who is all perfect and filled with perfect love has no need for us or for our love, and yet because He wants to share that love with us, that is why He created us.

And because He has created us out of love, despite of our downfall and sinfulness, He still wants us to be freed from our bondage to sin, because He hates and despises our sins, but not us as human beings personally. As long as we are still capable of being forgiven, God will forgive us many times. But this also require from each one of us the commitment to repent from our sins and leave behind our sinful past way of life.

Yet, this is definitely easier said than done, as there are many who are adamant and stubborn in their refusal to leave behind their way of sin. The Lord Jesus used the example of the people of Israel who in the past refused to repent and to listen to the message and the words of the prophets sent to them by God. They hardened their hearts and became angry at the prophets, seizing them, torturing them and ended up killing many of them.

In the same manner, as Jesus compared it with, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were adamant in their refusal to believe in Jesus. They continued to walk in their path of sin, of pride and haughtiness, of human greed and desire. There were lots of temptations, of power, of worldly glory and the pleasures of the flesh that prevented many from being able to commit themselves to the cause of the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is an important lesson for each and every one of us, reminding us that we must not be complacent in how we live our lives in faith. And we must be aware of just how much suffering that sin can cause us, because sin makes us to be separated from the fullness of God’s love and grace. And it is easy for us to lose our way and to be tempted as the Pharisees, the teachers of the Law and their ancestors had been tempted.

To be a true Christian, many of us must truly live in accordance with our faith, and believe in God wholeheartedly, often through our very actions and deeds in life. We often make compromises with the world and its ways, so that we can live comfortably without worry, but by doing so, we allow ourselves to be swayed away from God’s righteousness and into the path of our downfall through sin.

Today, let us all reflect on the lives of the holy saints and martyrs whose feast we celebrate this very day, first of all the Holy Canadian Martyrs and then St. Paul of the Cross, a holy priest of God. The Holy Canadian Martyrs were brave and courageous missionaries, all of them were Jesuits, belonging to the Society of Jesus, who went to the uncharted and new lands of what is now known as Canada in the New World.

The Jesuit missionaries travelled through very difficult terrains and went from villages to villages, enduring difficulties through various weather conditions in the wilderness to proclaim the Good News of Christ to the people who were still pagans and unbelievers at that time. Some of the people were willing to listen to them, and gradually many of them gave themselves to be baptised and were converted.

Yet, there were many others who refused to believe in God, and they made life very difficult for the courageous Jesuit missionaries. Eventually, they arrested and tortured the missionaries, and made martyrs out of them, much in the same way as what we have heard happening to the prophets sent to the people of Israel in the old times. The sins of mankind and their stubbornness made them to refuse to listen to the truth.

But does this stop the Church and God’s servants from trying to bring those who were stubborn towards the truth and salvation in God? No, in fact, it only spurs them all the more, trying to save the souls of as many as possible, many of whom were misguided by their lack of understanding about our faith and about the Lord our God. That was what St. Paul of the Cross was doing in his life, working for the greater good of the people of God.

St. Paul of the Cross was remembered for his work in founding the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ, or also known as the Passionists. Through his works and dedications, he called many people to be thoroughly converted to the Lord, to turn away from their mistaken and misguided way of life, and be penitent throughout their days of life. He was also committed to a life of charity and work among the people of God, and their works had inspired many more people to join in his efforts and be converted to God’s cause.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as Christians, all of us should follow the footsteps of our holy predecessors, and not those who refused to listen to God and repent from their sins. There will indeed be difficulties and challenges, as those who went before us would have known and understood. But we must persevere, and we must realise that it is not just us who need to have a change of heart and conversion, but even more so, those around us also need the same conversion.

It is through our works and participation that we will be able to help our brethren on their way towards the Lord, following the examples of the Holy Canadian Martyrs and St. Paul of the Cross. Let us all renew our commitment to God, and to serve Him through our actions all the days of our lives. May God be with us always and may He empower us to be true Christians always. Amen.

Thursday, 19 October 2017 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)

Luke 11 : 47-54

At that time, Jesus said to the teachers of the Law, “A curse is on you, for you build monuments to the prophets your ancestors killed. So you approve and agree with what your ancestors did. Is it not so? They got rid of the prophets, and you build monuments to them!”

“For that reason the wisdom of God also said : I will send prophets and Apostles and these people will kill and persecute some of them. But the present generation will have to answer for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was murdered between the altar and the Sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, the people of this time will have to answer for them all.”

“A curse is on you, teachers of the Law, for you have taken the key of knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you prevented others from entering.”

As Jesus left that place, the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees began to harass Him, asking Him endless questions, setting traps to catch Him in something He might say.