Wednesday, 29 April 2020 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 8 : 1b-8

This was the beginning of a great persecution against the Church in Jerusalem. All, except the Apostles, were scattered throughout the region of Judea and Samaria. Devout men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. Saul, meanwhile, was trying to destroy the Church. He entered house after house and dragged off men and women, and had them put in jail.

At the same time, those who were scattered went about, preaching the word. Philip went down to a town of Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there. All the people paid close attention to what Philip said as they listened to him, and saw the miraculous signs that he did. For, in cases of possession, the unclean spirits came out shrieking loudly. Many people who were paralysed or crippled, were healed. So there was great joy in the town.

Tuesday, 28 April 2020 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr, and St. Louis M. Grignion de Montfort, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Acts 7 : 51 – Acts 8 : 1a

Stephen said to the Council, “But you are a stubborn people, you hardened your hearts and closed your ears. You have always resisted the Holy Spirit just as your fathers did. Was there a prophet whom your ancestors did not persecute? They killed those who announced the coming of the Just One Whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the Law through the Angels but did not fulfil it.”

When the Council heard the reproach Stephen made against them, they were enraged and they gnashed their teeth against him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, fixed his eyes on heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus at God’s right hand, so he declared : “I see the heavens open and the Son of Man at the right hand of God.”

But they shouted and covered their ears with their hands and rushed together upon him. They brought him out of the city and stoned him, and the witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they were stoning him, Stephen prayed saying : “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

Then he knelt down and said in a loud voice : “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he died. Saul was there, approving his murder. This was the beginning of a great persecution against the Church in Jerusalem.

Monday, 27 April 2020 : 3rd Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 6 : 8-15

Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. Some persons then came forward, who belonged to the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia and Asia. They argued with Stephen but they could not match the wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke.

As they were unable to face the truth, they bribed some men to say, ‘We heard him speak against Moses and against God.’ So they stirred up the people, the elders and the teachers of the Law; they took him by surprise, seized him and brought him before the Council.

Then they produced false witnesses who said, “This man never stops speaking against our Holy Place and the Law. We even heard him say that Jesus the Nazarean will destroy our Holy Place and change the customs which Moses handed down to us.” And all who sat in the Council fixed their eyes on him, and his face appeared to them like the face of an Angel.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the tone and the meaning of the readings of today are not that different from the readings of yesterday, as they all talked about the understanding of the Law, and what is the true meaning of the Law, that is truly about the love of God. For the Law was meant not to oppress us mankind or to purposely make our lives difficult, but it was meant to lead the people of God and to help them to find their ways to Him.

And in the first reading we read about the Man named Melchizedek, who was written in the Book of Genesis as the King of Salem, or also known as the King of Peace, as the King of justice, which are indeed curiously, the titles which our Lord Jesus also holds, namely the King of Peace, and the Lord God of all, the Great Judge of all creation, who would judge all of creation.

This is to show once again, as often reiterated throughout the entire Epistle to the Hebrews, of the nature of Jesus Christ our Lord as the High Priest of all creation, of us all mankind, just as Melchizedek was the High Priest of God of old, at the time of Abraham. We do not have much info on who exactly Melchizedek was, based on what we know from the Book of Genesis, but in the Epistle to the Hebrews, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, it was made clearer, that Melchizedek was probably another manifestation of God in the world, just like Jesus.

But Jesus was beyond even Melchizedek in deeds, for He did not just offer an offering of the tenth of the wealth of the world, as Abraham had given to Melchizedek, but He offered none other than Himself, the Body and Blood of the Lamb of God, the one and only perfect sacrifice who through that sacrifice justified the entire human race.

And indeed, as I have mentioned at the beginning of today’s discourse, that the Lord had done this out of a single and clear purpose, that is out of His great and everlasting love for us all, that He does not want even a single one of us to be lost to Him. The Lamb of God offered Himself as the perfect and sweet sacrifice for our liberation, the liberation from the clutches of sin. Because of what He has done, all of us have been offered the freedom from the hands of Satan.

He is the High Priest who gathers all of us to Himself, and by His offering cleanses all of us from all of our sins with the singular act of His death on the cross. And this is our faith, what we believe in fully in our hearts. He died for us so that we may have life in us, and this is what the entire revelations God had made through the prophets, and all His laws are truly about, that is about the love of God made real by His sacrifice on the cross for us.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Agnes, the holy martyr of the Faith and one of the holy virgins, who maintained the purity of their bodies in defense of their faith and courageously defending the Faith against the corruption of the world. St. Agnes, also known as St. Agnes of Rome, lived during the most difficult years for the Church and the faithful, that is during the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocleatian, infamous for his great persecution of the Church and the faithful, where St. Agnes also met her end in a holy martyrdom in the defense of her faith.

St. Agnes was a young Christian maiden born to a noble family, who died at a very young age in her early teenager years during the aforementioned persecution by Emperor Diocletian, as she openly declared that she was a Christian to the authorities. St. Agnes went through many sufferings and different forms of torture meant to force her and persuade her to abandon her faith, none of which succeeded to do so.

Miracles happened even while she was tortured, and her persecutors grew ever more desperate and grew even more vicious in their persecution of her as the miracles continued to happen. Eventually she was martyred for her faith as such a young age, a defiant symbol to the Emperor who had persecuted the faithful so much, that whatever he had done to harm their bodies, they did not fear at all, for they put their trust in the Lord in whom they received great rewards for their faith.

One of the symbol often used on St. Agnes is the lamb, for her name very closely resembled the word lamb in Latin, that is ‘Agnus’, and this should be a reminder to all of us, of the suffering that St. Agnes had undergone in defending her faith, and even more importantly, the sacrifice which our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, had done to save us from the hands of death and bring us into life, as I have mentioned earlier in today’s discourse.

Let us all therefore renew our commitments to the Lord, so that all of us will grow ever closer to our Lord. Reject and resist all forms of temptations by Satan and let us strive to keep ourselves holy and pure, that when the Lord comes again, or when we see Him in heaven, He will praise us for our way of following Him, just as St. Agnes had done. God bless us all. Amen.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Mark 3 : 1-6

At that time, again Jesus entered the synagogue. A man, who had a paralysed hand, was there and some people watched Jesus : would He heal the man on the sabbath? If He did, they could accuse Him.

Jesus said to the man with the paralysed hand, “Stand here in the centre.” Then He asked them, “What does the Law allow us to do on the Sabbath? To do good or to do harm? To save life or to kill?” But they were silent.

Then Jesus looked around at them with anger and deep sadness, because they had closed their minds. And He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was healed. As soon as the Pharisees left, they met with Herod’s supporters, looking for a way to destroy Jesus.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 109 : 1, 2, 3, 4

The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand till I make Your foes Your footstool.”

From Zion the Lord will extend Your mighty sceptre and You will rule in the midst of Your enemies.

Yours is royal dignity from the day You were born in holy majesty. Like dew from the womb of the dawn, I have begotten You.

The Lord has sworn, and He will not take back His word : “You are a Priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”

Wednesday, 21 January 2015 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Hebrews 7 : 1-3, 15-17

Scripture says that Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, came out to meet Abraham who returned from defeating the kings. He blessed Abraham and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything.

Let us note that the name Melchizedek means King of Justice, and that king of Salem means king of Peace. There is no mention of father, mother or genealogy; nothing is said about the beginning or the end of his life. In this he is the figure of the Son of God, the Priest who remains forever.

All this, however, becomes clear if this Priest after the likeness of Melchizedek has in fact received His mission, not on the basis of any human law, but by the power of an immortal life. Because Scripture says : ‘You are a Priest forever in the priestly order of Melchizedek.’