Friday, 1 May 2020 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, the first day of the month of May, which is celebrated all across the world as the Labour Day and May Day, the Church celebrates the great feast of the Patron of all workers, namely that of St. Joseph the Worker, a great saint and one of the most important figures in the Church as the Foster-Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. St. Joseph the Worker was also upright, virtuous and good in all the things he had done, a hardworking servant of God in all things.

St. Joseph is the Protector of the Universal Church for the important roles he had taken up in his life, in his tireless efforts to protect his family, the young Baby Jesus and His mother Mary. St. Joseph was the one who brought the Holy Family safely first to Bethlehem, when Mary gave birth to the Lord Jesus in a stable, and then later on, St. Joseph brought them to Egypt on the run from king Herod the Great and his agents trying to have the Lord Jesus murdered. It was also him who then brought them all back to Nazareth, where St. Joseph and Mary raised up Jesus well.

St. Joseph was just a mere carpenter, an occupation that did not earn a lot of money, then as well as even today. Even today, carpenters are often forgotten and easily overlooked, and they are even looked down upon and disrespected by many segments of the community. St. Joseph was a poor carpenter of a small village of Nazareth, a backwater area in the whole Jewish world and even more so in the greater world. Galilee, where Nazareth was, was at the periphery of the Jewish lands, and many of the people in Judea and Jerusalem looked down on the Galileans because of that, and all the more for a poor, unknown carpenter like St. Joseph.

Yet, St. Joseph was full of virtues and faith, and he dedicated his life to the service of God, raising the Lord Himself as his own foster Son, with great dedication and hardwork, not minding his reputation and anything else. He did his work for the greater glory of God and not for his own personal ambitions, glory or desires. Normally these are what most people would have sought for and desired over, such things like glory, wealth, reputation, fame among others, but not so for St. Joseph.

That is why we all look up at St. Joseph, the Worker, as the Patron saint of all workers and everyone in the workforce and in various employments. He is our great role model in how he lived his life, in how he devoted himself and his work to God, and in his tireless pursuit of the glorification of God rather than his own glory, vanity and power. That is why today, we celebrate the great virtues by which St. Joseph had lived his life and carried out his missions and efforts dutifully throughout his life.

Today, therefore, as we commemorate this Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, let us first of all remember all workers all around the world, in various occupations, particularly all those who are struggling with their work and all those who are about to lose their employment or rice bowl of income. We know of just how devastating the current terrible coronavirus pandemic had been to many workers in various sectors of employment and the society, how many businesses and companies had folded and closed down because of this pandemic as well as other issues.

Let us remember them in our prayers and ask St. Joseph the Worker to intercede for their sake, that the Lord will be with them all and guide them through these difficult times, that hopefully they will be able to find their good way out of their current predicament. And therefore, we also must not forget all those who are now working tirelessly to sustain themselves and their families, all those who are employed in the essential services and also all those who are trying their best to sustain their families in this great and needy moments.

We should also ask St. Joseph the Worker to intercede for all of our frontline workers, all those healthcare workers and all the personnel involved in the frontline of the battle against the pandemic, as well as others involved in the planning and the efforts to maintain the whole communities of people under these most difficult and challenging of times. Let us ask for the intercession of St. Joseph the Worker that through him, the Lord may be moved to show His mercy, compassion and love to all of us suffering now.

And lastly, let us all ourselves be inspired by the great examples set by St. Joseph the Worker in his life, his virtues and his dedication to the Lord. Let us all be shining examples of virtue and good work ourselves, by living our lives following the good examples of St. Joseph, by being faithful in all things, upright and virtuous in our actions and dealings, in how we interact with one another, and more. Let us all strive to be ever more faithful with each and every passing moments of our lives.

May the Lord continue to guide us and bless us in our works and efforts, and may He show us His mercy and love, particularly during these most difficult and challenging moments we are encountering at the moment. May God be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 1 May 2020 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 6 : 52-59

At that time, the Jews were arguing among themselves, “How can this Man give us flesh to eat?” So Jesus replied, “Truly, I say to you, if you do not eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, you have no life in you. The one who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood lives eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

“My Flesh is really food, and My Blood is truly drink. Those who eat My Flesh and drink My Blood, lives in Me, and I in them. Just as the Father, Who is life, sent Me, and I have life from the Father, so whoever eats Me will have life from Me. This is the Bread which came from heaven; not like that of your ancestors, who ate and later died. Those who eat this Bread will live forever.”

Jesus spoke in this way in Capernaum when He taught them in the synagogue.

Alternative reading (Mass of St. Joseph)

Matthew 13 : 54-58

At that time, Jesus went to His hometown and taught the people in their synagogue. They were amazed and said, “Where did He get this wisdom and these special powers? Is He not the carpenter’s Son? Is Mary not His mother and are James, Joseph, Simon and Judas not His brothers? Are not all His sisters living here? How did He get all this?” And so they took offence at Him.

Jesus said to them, “The only place where prophets are not welcome is their hometown and in their own family.” And He did not perform many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

Friday, 1 May 2020 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (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.

Alternative reading (Mass of St. Joseph)

Psalm 89 : 2, 3-4, 12-13, 14 and 16

Before the mountains were formed, before You made the earth and the world, from eternity to eternity – You are God.

You turn humans back to dust, saying, “Return, o mortals!” A thousand years in Your sight are like a day that has passed, or like a watch in the night.

So make us know the shortness of our life, that we may gain wisdom of heart. How long will You be angry, o Lord? Have mercy on Your servant.

Fill us at daybreak with Your goodness, that we may be glad all our days. Let Your work be seen by Your servants and Your glorious power by their children.

Friday, 1 May 2020 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 9 : 1-20

Meanwhile Saul considered nothing but violence and death for the disciples of the Lord. He went to the High Priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues of Damascus that would authorise him to arrest and bring to Jerusalem anyone he might find, man or woman, belonging to the Way.

As he travelled along and was approaching Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul! Why do you persecute me?” And he asked, “Who are You, Lord?” The voice replied, “I am Jesus Whom you persecute. Now get up and go into the city; there you will be told what you are to do.”

The men who were travelling with him stood there speechless : they had heard the sound, but could see no one. Saul got up from the ground and, opening his eyes, he could not see. They took him by the hand and brought him to Damascus. He was blind and he did not eat or drink for three days.

There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias, to whom the Lord called in a vision, “Ananias!” He answered, “Here I am, Lord!” Then the Lord said to him, “Go at once to Straight Street and ask, at the house of Judas, for a man of Tarsus named Saul. You will find him praying, for he has just seen in a vision that a man named Ananias has come in and placed his hands upon him, to restore his sight.”

Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man and all the harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem, and now he is here with authority from the High Priest to arrest all who call upon Your Name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go! This man is My chosen instrument to bring My Name to the pagan nations and their kings, and the people of Israel as well. I Myself will show him how much he will have to suffer for My Name.”

So Ananias left and went to the house. He laid his hands upon Saul and said, “Saul, my brother, the Lord Jesus, Who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me to you so that you may receive your sight and be filled with Holy Spirit.” Immediately something like scales fell from his eyes and he could see; he got up and was baptised. Then he took food and was strengthened.

For several days Saul stayed with the disciples at Damascus, and he soon began to proclaim in the synagogues that Jesus was the Son of God.

Alternative reading (Mass of St. Joseph)

Genesis 1 : 26 – Genesis 2 : 3

God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, to Our likeness. Let them rule over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, over the cattle, over the wild animals, and over all creeping things that crawl along the ground.” So God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it, rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky, over every living creature that moves on the ground.” God said, “I have given you every seed bearing plants which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree that bears fruit with seed. It will be for your food. To every wild animal, to every bird of the sky, to everything that creeps along the ground, to everything that has the breath of life, I give every green plant for food.” So it was.

God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. There was evening and there was morning : the sixth day. That was the way the sky and earth were created and all their vast array. By the seventh day the work God had done was completed, and He rested on the seventh day from all the work He had done. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on that day He rested from all the work He had done in His creation.

Alternative reading (Mass of St. Joseph)

Colossians 3 : 14-15, 17, 23-24

Above all, clothe yourselves with love which binds everything together in perfect harmony. May the peace of Christ overflow in your hearts; for this end you were called to be one body. And be thankful. And whatever you do or say, do it in the Name of Jesus, the Lord, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Whatever you do, do it wholeheartedly, working for the Lord, and not for humans. You well know, that the Lord will reward you with the inheritance. You are servants, but your Lord is Christ.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, just as the secular world celebrates the occasion of Labour Day or May Day. On this day we recall the good examples set by St. Joseph, who is the foster-father of Our Lord and Saviour, and also the head of the Holy Family as its protector and guide. The Church respects and honours St. Joseph as its protector, its role model and as a great saint, precisely because of his uprightness in life and his devotion to his mission, entrusted to him by God.

St. Joseph was a mere carpenter, and yet, his many virtues and courage have been extolled and honoured throughout the centuries by the Church. At that time, as it is indeed still today, the profession of a carpenter is often one that is looked down upon by the people, forgotten and taken for granted, as without carpenters, a lot of our daily activities, and even more so at the time of Jesus’ life, could not have happened properly.

As carpenters made the tools necessary for daily living, basic activities such as farming, fishing, and even houses and furnitures, their work was truly crucial for the survival of the community at the time, and yet, despite the hard labour and many hours they had to spend with the hammer and chisel, in high risk of injury and exhaustion, their role and contributions were often overlooked and ignored by the society in general.

The bias and prejudice can be very clearly seen in our Gospel passage today, when we heard how the people of Nazareth, the hometown where the Lord Jesus lived in and spent His early years, together with His family as the adopted Son of St. Joseph, the village carpenter. And the people came to know Him as the Son of a carpenter, and therefore, when He came before them full of age and full of divine wisdom, proclaiming the truth of God before all of them, they found it hard to believe in His words and in His truth.

They ridiculed Him and refused to believe in Him, because to them the Lord was no better than a mere Son of a carpenter, a poor and humble job, often overlooked and ignored, treated with contempt and ignorance at best. To them a carpenter is an uneducated person and a poor and belonging to the lowest of the lowest just as many of the people in Nazareth were. And that was why, out of either disbelief or jealousy, the people there refused to believe in the Lord.

But the Lord carried on doing His works, and although He was distraught that those people refused to believe in Him, He did not let it affect His commitment to do what His heavenly Father has entrusted to Him. He must have experienced many of such injustices, biases, and challenges that His poor carpenter’s family must have experienced, at a time when the people also suffered oppression under both the Romans and the Herodian kings.

Surely, He must have learnt it also through His foster-father, St. Joseph himself, the carpenter whom everyone probably often looked down upon. St. Joseph, although poor and had to labour very hard to make ends meet, as carpentry did not give a lot of provisions and income, but he was upright and just in all things, obedient to the Law of God, pious and faithful, and responsible to whatever he was entrusted with, including his role as the protector of the Holy Family.

He went all the extra mile, both figuratively and literally, when the Lord entrusted to Him the care for His Saviour, Jesus Christ, and His mother, Mary, whom St. Joseph took care as wife and as a dutiful husband and father to both of them. He escorted and protected them all the way as there were difficulties and oppositions along the way, all those who wanted the Lord Jesus dead, and even brought both Mary and the Baby Jesus into Egypt to protect them from all of His enemies.

In all of these, we should have seen just how dedicated, hardworking and faithful St. Joseph was. And that is why he is seen as the patron, role model and protector for all workers. And we should indeed ask St. Joseph for his protection and intercession, that all of us may be good workers and good labourers in our respective fields and responsibilities, and for those among us who have not yet worked or have retired from our work, that we will be able to emulate his examples in living up a virtuous Christian life from now on if we have not done so.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all be ever more faithful and be dedicated to the Lord, and let us all turn to Him through the examples of St. Joseph, holy worker and holy servant of God, that by following his examples we may draw ever closer to God and be more worthy Christians, day after day of our life. May God be with us always, and may He give us the strength and the courage to live our lives faithfully. Amen.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 3 : 16-21

At that time, Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Yes, God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him may not be lost, but may have eternal life. God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world; instead, through Him the world is to be saved.”

“Whoever believes in Him will not be condemned. He who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the Name of the only Son of God. This is how the Judgment is made : Light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

“For whoever does wrong hates the light, and does not come to the light, for fear that his deeds will be seen as evil. But whoever lives according to the truth comes into the light, so that it can be clearly seen that his works have been done in God.”

Alternative reading (Mass of St. Joseph)

Matthew 13 : 54-58

At that time, Jesus went to His hometown and taught the people in their synagogue. They were amazed and said, “Where did He get this wisdom and these special powers? Is He not the carpenter’s Son? Is Mary not His mother and are James, Joseph, Simon and Judas not His brothers? Are not all His sisters living here? How did He get all this?” And so they took offence at Him.

Jesus said to them, “The only place where prophets are not welcome is their hometown and in their own family.” And He did not perform many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 33 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

I will bless the Lord all my days; His praise will be ever on my lips. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the lowly hear and rejoice.

Oh, let us magnify the Lord, together let us glorify His Name! I sought the Lord, and He answered me; from all my fears He delivered me.

They who look to Him are radiant with joy, their faces never clouded with shame. When the poor cry out, the Lord hears and saves them from distress.

The Lord’s Angel encamps and patrols to keep safe those who fear Him. Oh, see and taste the goodness of the Lord! Blessed is the one who finds shelter in Him!

Alternative reading (Mass of St. Joseph)

Psalm 89 : 2, 3-4, 12-13, 14 and 16

Before the mountains were formed, before You made the earth and the world, from eternity to eternity – You are God.

You turn humans back to dust, saying, “Return, o mortals!” A thousand years in Your sight are like a day that has passed, or like a watch in the night.

So make us know the shortness of our life, that we may gain wisdom of heart. How long will You be angry, o Lord? Have mercy on Your servant.

Fill us at daybreak with Your goodness, that we may be glad all our days. Let Your work be seen by Your servants and Your glorious power by their children.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 5 : 17-26

The High Priest and all his supporters, that is the party of the Sadducees, became very jealous of the Apostles; so they arrested them and had them thrown into the public jail. But an Angel of the Lord opened the door of the prison during the night, brought them out, and said to them, “Go and stand in the Temple court and tell the people the whole of this living message.” Accordingly they entered the Temple at dawn and resumed their teaching.

When the High Priest and his supporters arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin, that is the full Council of the elders of Israel. They sent word to the jail to have the prisoners brought in. But when the Temple guards arrived at the jail, they did not find them inside, so they returned with the news, “We found the prison securely locked and the prison guards at their post outside the gate, but when we opened the gate, we found no one inside.”

Upon hearing these words, the captain of the Temple guard and the high priests were baffled, wondering where all of this would end. Just then someone arrived with the report, “Look, those men whom you put in prison are standing in the Temple, teaching the people.” Then the captain went off with the guards and brought them back, but without any show of force, for fear of being stoned by the people.

Alternative reading (Mass of St. Joseph)

Genesis 1 : 26 – Genesis 2 : 3

God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, to Our likeness. Let them rule over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, over the cattle, over the wild animals, and over all creeping things that crawl along the ground.” So God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it, rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky, over every living creature that moves on the ground.” God said, “I have given you every seed bearing plants which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree that bears fruit with seed. It will be for your food. To every wild animal, to every bird of the sky, to everything that creeps along the ground, to everything that has the breath of life, I give every green plant for food.” So it was.

God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. There was evening and there was morning : the sixth day. That was the way the sky and earth were created and all their vast array. By the seventh day the work God had done was completed, and He rested on the seventh day from all the work He had done. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on that day He rested from all the work He had done in His creation.

Alternative reading (Mass of St. Joseph)

Colossians 3 : 14-15, 17, 23-24

Above all, clothe yourselves with love which binds everything together in perfect harmony. May the peace of Christ overflow in your hearts; for this end you were called to be one body. And be thankful. And whatever you do or say, do it in the Name of Jesus, the Lord, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Whatever you do, do it wholeheartedly, working for the Lord, and not for humans. You well know, that the Lord will reward you with the inheritance. You are servants, but your Lord is Christ.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we mark the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, just as the world celebrates May Day or Labour Day today remembering the hard work contributed by the workers from all over the world. As Christians, we recall the great virtues of St. Joseph, the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and foster-father of Our Lord and Saviour.

St. Joseph was a carpenter as the Gospels mentioned, and he lived and worked in the small village called Nazareth in Galilee, where he met the young virgin named Mary, and as we all know, they became the member of the Holy Family together with the Lord Jesus, born in Bethlehem under their guardianship and loving care. St. Joseph protected the young Lord Jesus ever since His birth, bringing Him over to Egypt for protection upon the Angel’s guidance, and then returning with Him and Mary to Nazareth once it was safe for them to do so.

St. Joseph brought up the Lord Jesus together with Mary, His mother, and likely taught the young Jesus how to live in this world, and probably have taught Him his trades and skills as a carpenter as well. The villagers of Nazareth themselves, many years later, would remember the Lord Jesus as the Son of the carpenter at the time when He came to them, revealing His true nature and Who He really was.

Unfortunately, at that time, the people disparaged the Lord and treated Him badly, refusing to believe in His teachings and words, even though they have witnessed the great works He had done, and heard the many amazing stories and feats that Jesus had done, all because of the fact that they knew Him well as the Son of the village carpenter, St. Joseph. Despite being an honest and upright man himself, people at the time often looked down at his profession as a carpenter.

A carpenter was taught to be a menial job that no one wanted, and if possible, one would try to avoid having to do such a job for a living. Why is that so? That is because the work was tough and back-breaking, and yet the returns were minimal. One could not get rich depending on such a work, and generally, such a work like a carpenter does not bring prestige or honour for whoever it was who took it as a profession.

But St. Joseph showed the true mentality and attitude of a worker who was rooted in God and who was devoted to his cause as expressed through his works. Despite his unfavourable conditions and all the difficulties he might have experienced, and even the humiliations he might have endured and despite the temptations he might have received, in escaping the condition he was in, St. Joseph remained faithful to the mission entrusted to him by God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us should follow the example of St. Joseph, the faithful and honest worker, devout servant of God. He was humble and committed, righteous and just, despite having been chosen by God to be the protector of the Holy Family and the Messiah, and despite being the heir of David. He followed God’s commandments and was a good father at the same time, protecting and guiding the young Lord Jesus, bringing Him up in the best way possible.

To all of us Christians, St. Joseph is a great role model and an inspiration. All of us should follow his examples, that in all of our dealings, in all of our work, we do not forget about God, and centre our lives and all that we do in God. Otherwise, it is very easy for us to fall into the temptations set up on us by Satan and all of his wicked forces, all of whom are trying to snatch us from God.

There are many temptations around us, brothers and sisters, and we must be aware of them, lest we fall. In our work and in our career, as we are probably quite aware, many of us are striving to attain more recognition, more payouts and more benefits, seeking to gain greater achievement and attain greater glory. As such, many of us spend hours after hours trying to gain for ourselves all of these, but often, at the expense of those who are dear to us.

And not least, in our pursuit for power, glory, wealth and human recognition, we often neglect God and we also forget about our obligations to Him. As such, we end up becoming more and more distant from Him and separated from Him, and we become easy prey for Satan, who will drag us deeper into the trap of sin he has prepared for those of us who are unable to resist the temptation of worldliness and earthly pleasures. Many of us also end up doing whatever we can in order to get more of what we desire, at the cost of causing pain and suffering for others.

Let us all instead, follow the example of St. Joseph, and strive to resist the temptations of our desires and greed. Indeed, it will not be an easy path to take, as challenges will definitely be plenty, and there will be lots of opposition, but surely, all of these are worthwhile, for God will surely reward us at the very end, all of His loyal servants and disciples, when He comes again to gather all of His faithful ones.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, inspired by the great examples of St. Joseph the Worker, and remembering what it is that all of us Christians ought to actually be doing in our lives, let us all strive to build up for ourselves the eternal riches in God, through our faith, love and commitment to serve God with all of our hearts, by loving one another, and not to put our trust in worldly possessions and riches, all of which are just mere illusory and temporary in nature.

May the Lord be with us always, and be with all of our work and endeavours, so that in everything we say, act and do, we will always do them, for the greater glory of God. St. Joseph the Worker, pray for us always. Amen.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 14 : 27-31a

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “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.”

Alternative reading (Reading for Mass of St. Joseph)

Matthew 13 : 54-58

At that time, Jesus went to His hometown and taught the people in their synagogue. They were amazed and said, “Where did He get this wisdom and these special powers? Is He not the carpenter’s Son? Is Mary not His mother and are James, Joseph, Simon and Judas not His brothers? Are not all His sisters living here? How did He get all this?” And so they took offence at Him.

Jesus said to them, “The only place where prophets are not welcome is their hometown and in their own family.” And He did not perform many miracles there because of their lack of faith.