Tuesday, 21 December 2021 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. Peter Canisius, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures and as we come ever closer to the celebration of Christmas in just a few more days, all of us are reminded that God loves us all, and we are all precious and cherished by Him. We should be grateful and feeling very fortunate to have been treasured in such a way by our loving God, and to have experienced His most wonderful love and grace. God has always ever been patient in loving us despite our many transgressions and mistakes, as He wants us to return to Him and rediscover the love that we all should have for Him.

The Lord has promised us all His salvation, and has always proved His love for us from the very beginning, never abandoning us even in the moments of our greatest distress. He has always put us all first and foremost in His thoughts, and He always endeavoured to reach out to us, trying to find us and to redeem us so that we may not be forever lost to Him. And that was why He came down into our midst, through His most Blessed Mother Mary, the Blessed Ever-Virgin Mother of God, who went to visit Elizabeth, her cousin in our Gospel passage today.

Elizabeth recognised Mary and the One inside her womb, the Saviour of the whole world and the Lord Himself, the Divine Word Incarnate, Who has taken up the human existence and form in the flesh, to bring His salvation into our midst. The Lord has revealed Himself to us, the fullness of His love, through His incarnation and then His birth into this world. The world that was once in the darkness and in the shadows of evil and wickedness has finally seen the truth, love and salvation from God.

That is the true essence of Christmas, which often sadly had been forgotten by the world, by many of us, even we who called ourselves as Christians. We have forgotten what the Lord had done for us and sidelined Him because we have little faith in Him. We are easily distracted by the many temptations and worldly desires present in this world. These had misled us down the wrong path and caused us to be separated further and further away from God.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we listened to these words of the Scriptures, we are therefore reminded of the need for us to respond to God’s love and to answer His call. He has called all of us to follow Him and to entrust ourselves completely to His care and to believe in His hope and light, in His truth and way. But in order to do so, first of all, we need to reject firmly the temptations of our worldly concerns and desires.

Today, all of us are celebrating the feast of a great saint whose life, works and devotion to God and His Blessed Mother Mary can be great source of inspiration and strength for all of us. St. Peter Canisius was a renowned Jesuit priest and teacher of the faith, who dedicated his life in serving God. Born as Peter Kanis in what is today the Netherlands, the future saint would come to join the Society of Jesus together with other famous saints like St. Francis Xavier and its founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola.

St. Peter Canisius dedicated himself in the many efforts of Counter Reformation in what is today Germany, seeking to undo and repair the damages caused to the Church and the communities of the faithful by the false teachings of the heresy of Protestantism back then. He laboured hard among the people, teaching the faith and revealing the truth about Church teachings and tenets, in a way that is both understandable, respectful and conciliatory.

He once remarked that the right manner and attitude must be used in persuading the lapsed ones to return to the Holy Mother Church, saying that if a forceful method is used, then it may end up preventing the healing of the division within the Church of God. To that extent, he continued to work hard to bridge the divisions among the people of God, and managed throughout his efforts to convert and convince many to abandon their rebellion and return to the true Church of God.

St. Peter Canisius was also well known for his Catechism, which was widely published and reproduced, which resulted in the great rejuvenation of faith among the people and the increase in the number of people who began to appreciate the true teachings of the Church more, and many others deepened their under his guidance and through their understanding and exposure to his works. He was also known for his Mariology and devotion to the Blessed Mother of God, and was credited with the last line in the Hail Mary prayer, ‘Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.’

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all follow in the footsteps of St. Peter Canisius in his faith and dedication to the Lord. Let us all devote ourselves ever more to Him and His Blessed Mother, while reminding ourselves of what we are celebrating this Christmas, of Christ Our Lord, Whose love for us and His generous mercy and compassion has saved us from certain destruction. May God be with us always, and may He continue to love us, now and forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 21 December 2021 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. Peter Canisius, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 1 : 39-45

Mary then set out for a town in the hill country of Judah. She entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leapt in her womb.

Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and, giving a loud cry, said, “You are most blessed among women; and blessed is the Fruit of your womb! How is it, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? The moment your greeting sounded in my ears, the baby within me suddenly leapt for joy. Blessed are you, who believed that the Lord’s word would come true!”

Tuesday, 21 December 2021 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. Peter Canisius, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 32 : 2-3, 11-12, 20-21

Give thanks to YHVH on the harp and lyre, making melody and chanting praises. Amid loud shouts of joy, sing to Him a new song and play the ten-stringed harp.

But His plan stands forever, and His heart’s design, through all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is YHVH – the people He has chosen for His inheritance.

In hope, we wait for YHVH, for He is our help and our shield. Our hearts rejoice in Him, for we trust on His holy Name.

Tuesday, 21 December 2021 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. Peter Canisius, Priest and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Song of Songs 2 : 8-14

The voice of my Lover! Behold He comes, springing across the mountains, jumping over the hills, like a gazelle or a young stag. Noe He stands behind our wall, looking through the windows, peering through the lattice.

My Lover speaks to me, “Arise, My love, My beautiful one! Come, the winter is gone, the rains are over. Flowers have appeared on earth; the season of singing has come; the cooing of doves is heard. The fig tree forms its early fruit, the vines in blossom are fragrant. Arise, My beautiful one, come with Me, My love, come.”

“O My dove in the rocky cleft, in the secret places of the cliff, let Me see your face, let Me hear your voice. Your face – how lovely! Your voice – how sweet!”

Alternative reading

Zephaniah 3 : 14-18a

Cry out with joy, o daughter of Zion; rejoice, o people of Israel! Sing joyfully with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem! YHVH has lifted your sentence and has driven your enemies away. YHVH, the King of Israel is with you; do not fear any misfortune.

On that day, they will say to Jerusalem : Do not be afraid nor let your hands tremble, for YHVH your God is within you, YHVH, saving warrior. He will jump for joy on seeing you, for He has revived His love. For you He will cry out with joy, as you do in the days of the feast. I will drive away the evil I warned you about.

Friday, 3 December 2021 : Feast of St. Francis Xavier, Priest and Patron of Missions (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of one of the great saints of God, one of His most faithful and dedicated servants in delivering the truth of the Gospel and the Good News of God’s salvation to the far-off lands, spending much of his life, his time and effort to spread the Word of God in many distant shores, enduring trials and challenges for the sake of the Lord, and for the many people to whom he had endeavoured to bring God’s truth, light and hope.

St. Francis Xavier was born in the Kingdom of Navarre in the early sixteenth century, at the town of Javier, then known as Xavier, which was to become part of his name. He was born as a son of the seneschal or court official of the Xavier castle, and his family became embroiled in the war of conquest that the king of Aragon and Castile waged for the control over the dominion of Navarre. It was at that same war that St. Ignatius of Loyola experienced his life-changing conversion which led to him later on establishing the Society of Jesus or the Jesuits, which St. Francis Xavier himself would later join.

St. Francis Xavier encountered St. Ignatius of Loyola and another future Jesuit saint, St. Peter Faber during his studies in Paris. It was there that St. Ignatius of Loyola, who had gathered ideas to establish a new order dedicated to serving the Lord and His Church, persuaded St. Peter Faber to become a priest. However, St. Francis Xavier was initially not convinced by what St. Ignatius of Loyola had told him, as he was still considering and desiring worldly advancement and glory, something that St. Ignatius of Loyola himself was once longing for.

Eventually, according to one tradition, after St. Ignatius of Loyola asked him, in the words of the Lord Himself, ‘What will it profit a man to gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?’, these words left a great impact on St. Francis Xavier. He eventually decided to join with St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Peter Faber and some other men to establish the Society of Jesus, vowing chastity, poverty, and obedience to the Pope, committing themselves to the missions of the Church. The Jesuits were involved deeply in the Counter Reformation efforts in Christendom and also in the missionary efforts to the newly discovered foreign lands in the Americas, Africa and the Far East.

St. Francis Xavier was one of those tasked with the mission in the newly discovered lands, as he was sent along with Portuguese explorers upon the request of their ruler, who was concerned that the Christian faith was being eroded among them. He was therefore sent to the mission, and he never returned to the lands that he came from. He spent most of his life in those territories, travelling from places to places, preaching about God among the Christian populace who were already there and also revealing Him to many others who have not known Him yet.

He travelled the long journey to India, to Malacca and explored the Malayan Archipelago, visiting many islands and communities, braving through storms and dangers along the journey, in very tough living conditions. He had to learn the local languages and brave through opposition from the local populace among many other hardships, but all of that did not discourage St. Francis Xavier from doing his best to serve the Lord and His people, committing himself to more and more efforts at evangelisation and outreach.

He went further to Japan and other far-flung islands, helping to establish the foothold for the Christian faith and Church in all those places. He worked tirelessly in explaining the faith to the local people and was involved in establishing diplomatic relationships with the local rulers. St. Francis Xavier also wished to go to China, his ultimate destination to evangelise to that great nation, but he did not make it as while waiting to enter China at Shangchuan Island he passed away. Nonetheless, his efforts and determination had helped the cause and the works of the Church greatly.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having heard of the life story and works of St. Francis Xavier, surely we know why he was made the Patron Saint of Missions, for all missionaries and all those who dedicated themselves to the great works of the Church’s evangelisation and outreach. But even more important as we recall his great works and contributions, is the need for us to remember that each and every one of us are also called to be missionaries and to contribute to the great work and effort of the Church in whatever way we can.

We are not just mere idle players that have no part in the works of mission of the Church. And we should not think that only missionaries, priests, religious brothers and sisters that are involved in the works of evangelisation and the work of the Church. All of us, each and every one of us are part of this work of evangelisation even through the very smallest things we do and act on in our respective lives. And how do we do that, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is through our own commitment throughout life.

In even the smallest things we do on each day, each and every one of us should live our lives in manner as Christian-like as possible, and we must really live our lives in accordance to the path that Our Lord has shown us, through His teachings and truth. That is how we make others to come to know God. It is not by mere words that we can convince others to believe in God but also through our real action, as we heard in our Scripture passages today and from the life and example of St. Francis Xavier, our holy patron of missions.

May the Lord be with us all and may He encourage us all to live our lives as faithful Christians so that we may be great missionaries in our everyday living moments. May God bless us all in our every good efforts and endeavours, now and always, for His greater glory. Amen.

Friday, 3 December 2021 : Feast of St. Francis Xavier, Priest and Patron of Missions (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 16 : 15-20

At that time, Jesus told His disciples, “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all creation. The one who believes and is baptised will be saved; the one who refuses to believe will be condemned.”

“Signs like these will accompany those who have believed : in My Name they will cast out demons and speak new languages; they will pick up snakes, and if they drink anything poisonous, they will be unharmed; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”

So then, after speaking to them, the Lord Jesus was taken up into heaven and took His place at the right hand of God. The Eleven went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it.

Friday, 3 December 2021 : Feast of St. Francis Xavier, Priest and Patron of Missions (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 116 : 1-2

Alleluia! Praise the Lord, all you nations; all you peoples, praise Him.

How great is His love for us! His faithfulness lasts forever.

Friday, 3 December 2021 : Feast of St. Francis Xavier, Priest and Patron of Missions (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Corinthians 9 : 16-19, 22-23

Because I cannot boast of announcing the Gospel : I am bound to do it. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel! If I preached voluntarily, I could expect my reward, but I have been trusted this office against my will. How can I, then, deserve a reward? In announcing the Gospel, I will do it freely without making use of the rights given to me by the Gospel.

So, feeling free with everybody, I have become everybody’s slave in order to gain a greater number. To the weak I made myself weak, to win the weak. So I made myself all things to all people in order to save, by all possible means, some of them. This I do for the Gospel, so that I too have a share of it.

Tuesday, 19 October 2021 : 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, today as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Sacred Scriptures, we are all called to reflect on our actions and readiness in life to follow Christ, Our Lord and Saviour as His faithful disciples and servants, to be exemplary in all of our actions and deeds so that through all of us, imitating the faith that Christ Himself has shown us and living the truth that He has revealed to us, all of us may come to be beacons of His light to many others who have not yet known Him.

Today in our first reading from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans, we heard the Apostle reminding all the faithful of the role that Christ has played in redeeming all of us from our sins, and how God had fulfilled His promise to release and liberate us from all bondage and enslavement to sin and evil through His Son, Jesus Christ, the Saviour of all, Who chose to take upon Himself all of our sins and wickedness, and bore the burden of those sins upon Himself.

He obeyed His Father perfectly, as St. Paul said, so that by His obedience as the Son of Man and the New Adam, the old disobedience and sins of mankind from the old Adam may be overcome. Through His incarnation in the flesh, He has united all of our humanity to Himself, and by His obedience, He opened to us the floodgates of God’s mercy and grace, and by offering Himself, His Most Precious Body and Blood, of the Lamb of God, as the perfect and worthy sacrifice for our sins, He reconciled us all with God, our loving Father and Creator.

And then, in our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord Jesus speaking to His disciples with regards to the readiness that all of His disciples ought to have, as He Himself repeated it several times, how they must be ready to welcome their Lord and Master at the moment of His coming, so that they would not be caught unprepared and unaware, when the Lord comes as He promised, at the day of Judgment. Essentially, He reminds all of them to be vigilant and to do their best in how they live their lives so that they may always be faithful in all things and do not allow wickedness and evil to gain roots in their hearts.

We are all therefore called, as those whom God had chosen and revealed His truth to, to be the ones who live with this knowledge and understanding of the truth, and to be the bearers of God’s light to the nations. We must not allow sin to rule over us again and influence us, just as the Lord has freed us from its bondage and power. Yet, the allure and attraction of sin can be very powerful and corrupting, and we have to be careful lest we fall again into its clutches. Many have failed to resist its temptations, and like our forefathers, they have fallen back into the path of sin.

What should we do then, brothers and sisters in Christ? We should follow the example and obedience of Christ, in His love for us and in His steadfastness in devoting Himself to the plan of salvation that He has brought upon us. And we should also follow the good examples set by our holy predecessors, all those who have given themselves in commitment to God, those who have shown us that it is possible to be faithful to the Lord in this world and to lead a good Christian life that is just and worthy of God.

Today, we celebrate from the Feast of the Holy Canadian Martyrs, also known as the Jesuit North American Martyrs, as well as that of St. Paul of the Cross, a great Italian mystic and priest who founded the Passionists religious order. All of them are great role models for us in how we can lead a better Christian life and in following our respective calling in life as Christians so that we may learn on how we can contribute even in the smallest things for the sake of the glory of God and for the success of His works in this world.

The Holy Canadian Martyrs were St. Isaac Jogues, St. John de Brebeuf and their companions in martyrdom, who were members of the Society of Jesus or the Jesuits during the years of early exploration of the New World, particularly in the exploration of North America, in regions that are now part of Canada. These courageous missionaries responded to the Lord’s calling and embraced their missionary works, in revealing God’s truth to those who have not yet known Him, the native peoples of North America.

Many of these missionaries had to brave through harsh conditions and bitter winters, as well as opposition and rejection from those to whom they had gone to. While some of the natives were open to the Lord’s truth and were willing to listen to the missionaries, but there were also equally many and even more of those who refused to listen to them, and even persecuted those missionaries. As such, those missionaries endured a lot of bitter moments and struggles, in the service of God and His people.

Yet, St. Isaac Jogues, St. John de Brebeuf and his courageous fellow martyrs faced all those challenges with faith, committing themselves to God without fear, continuing to minister to those who have willingly embraced the faith and given themselves to be baptised as the first native Christian societies in those remote areas. They persevered and even when many of them faced great suffering and martyred by the attacks of those who were hostile to the faith, their efforts became the foundation of the Church that lasts till this very day in those regions and communities.

Meanwhile, St. Paul of the Cross dedicated his life as a priest and servant of God in ministering to his fellow brothers and sisters, being called by God to establish a new religious community dedicated to a life of prayer and evangelical zeal, which would become the Passionists he founded. St. Paul of the Cross gathered like-minded men who wanted to serve the Lord more wholeheartedly and formed his community, and worked hard to gain the Church approval for his efforts.

St. Paul of the Cross and his community of priests went around from places to places and preached about the Lord to many people in those communities, spreading the Word of God and the truth of His Gospel to more and more people, and together with his many works and writings, of which numbering over two thousands at least, he and his fellow workers of the Lord managed to bring many people closer to God, and helped many who were on the brink of the path of sin.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all be inspired by these holy predecessors of ours, who had shown us what it truly means for us to be Christians. Let us all follow in their footsteps and do whatever we can in order to glorify the Lord by our lives and actions, by our exemplary actions and by doing our best to follow the path that the Lord has revealed before us. Let us also strive to resist the many temptations to sin, and commit ourselves from now on to walk in the path of the Lord. May all of us be inspiration as God’s children and as the beacons of His light and truth, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 19 October 2021 : 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 : 35-38

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “Be ready, dressed for service, and keep your lamps lit, like people waiting for their master to return from the wedding. As soon as he comes and knocks, they will open the door to him. Happy are those servants whom the master finds wide-awake when he comes.”

“Truly, I tell you, he will put an apron, and have them sit at table, and he will wait on them. Happy are those servants, if he finds them awake when he comes at midnight or daybreak!”