Tuesday, 30 June 2020 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scripture we are all reminded through the readings of the Sacred Scriptures to be faithful to God and to follow His teachings and ways, rejecting the falsehoods of the world and to resist the temptations to sin against God. And we are also reminded to put our trust and to have faith in God, and not to be afraid, for God is and will always be by our side.

In our first reading today, as we heard from the Book of the prophet Amos, we heard of the words of the Lord through Amos chastising His people for their lack of faith and sinfulness. At that time, the Israelites and their descendants had veered away from the path that God had shown them, persecuted the prophets sent into their midst to remind them and to guide them back to the path of righteousness.

As the people continued to sin and disobey God, that was why the Lord reminded His people to listen to Him and to His prophets, that they ought to turn away from sin and embrace once again the path of the Lord, for those who have sinned against God, they all know what the terrible consequences of their choices were. Their sins were by their own conscious choice and by their deliberate actions in following the temptations of their desires, ego and pride that led them to their downfall.

Then, in the Gospel today, all of us heard of the narrative of the moment when the Lord and His disciples were travelling in a boat in the middle of the lake of Galilee when a great storm raged over the waters, with terrible winds and waves that were so great that the disciples all feared for their lives. They panicked and begged the Lord to save them all, and the Lord rebuked them for their little faith in Him. They had not yet placed their complete trust in Him and that was why then the Lord showed them, they had truly nothing to fear.

By taming and calming down the storm, the Lord showed all of His disciples that it is folly for them to trust in any worldly powers or matters, and not to trust in the Lord. If we trust in the Lord, then in the end, everything will be fine for us even though in the journey we may encounter challenges, trials and difficulties. We need to remain faithful and endure the difficulties and obstacles in our path if we are to follow the path of the Lord as good and devout Christians.

Today, all of us celebrate the feast of the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church, celebrating the memories of the martyrs of the great persecution of Christians by the Roman Empire, during the time of the Great Fire of Rome and the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero. These Christians were the victims of slander and false accusation, as scapegoats by the Emperor who was allegedly the one responsible for the Great Fire of Rome, and yet, put the blame squarely on the Christians living in Rome.

And thus, many of the Christians there faced persecution, arrests, imprisonment, and many suffered martyrdom for their faith. And some among them were the Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul, whose great Solemnity we celebrated just yesterday. This feast today marks the memory of all the other martyrs of the faith, who had also suffered in this first wave of great persecution of Christians, those who trusted in the Lord and remained faithful despite the sufferings they had to endure.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, when we are facing the great storm of uncertainty in our lives, are we able to trust in the Lord to lead us through the difficult moments and persevere through the challenges without losing our faith in Him? Let us all trust in the Lord more, and be inspired by the faith of the Holy Martyrs of Rome, whose memory we glorify and remember today. Let us all follow the Lord with ever greater commitment and faith, and let us all be righteous and just in all of our words, deeds and actions from now on.

May the Lord continue to bless us and guide us, and may He strengthen us all in faith, and may He empower us all to be His faithful and good disciples. And may the First Holy Martyrs of the Roman Church intercede for us as well, praying for us sinners still living in this world and enduring the temptations and sufferings of life. Amen.

Tuesday, 30 June 2020 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Matthew 8 : 23-27

At that time, Jesus got into the boat and His disciples followed Him. Without warning, a fierce storm burst upon the lake, with waves sweeping the boat. But Jesus was asleep.

The disciples woke Him up and cried, “Lord save us! We are lost!” But Jesus answered, “Why are you so afraid, you of little faith?” Then He stood up and rebuked the wind and sea; and it became completely calm.

The disciples were astonished. They said, “What kind of Man is He? Even the winds and the sea obey Him.”

Tuesday, 30 June 2020 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 5 : 5-6, 7, 8

You are not a God Who delights in wickedness; evil has no place in You. The arrogant cannot stand before You. You hate all who do evil.

You destroy all who speak falsehood, who thirst for blood and live on lies; all of them YHVH detests.

But I, by Your love and grace, may come into Your house. In reverence, I bow down and worship at Your holy Temple.

Tuesday, 30 June 2020 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Amos 3 : 1-8 and Amos 4 : 11-12

Hear this word which YHVH speaks against you, people of Israel, against the whole family which He brought up from the land of Egypt. YHVH said, “Only you have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will call you to account for all your wrongdoings.”

“Do two walk together unless they have agreed? Does a lion roar in the forest when it has no prey? Does a young lion growl in its den unless it has seized something? Does a bird get caught in a snare if the snare has not been baited? Does a tiger spring up from the ground unless it has caught something?”

“If a trumpet sounds in a city, will the people not be frightened? If disaster strikes a city, has not YHVH caused it? Yet YHVH does nothing without revealing His plan to His servants, the prophets. If the lion roars, who will not be afraid? If YHVH speaks, Who will not prophesy?”

“I overthrew you, a divine punishment, as happened to Sodom and Gomorrah; you were like a brand snatched from the blaze, yet you never returned to Me,” says YHVH. “Therefore, I will deal with you in My own way, Israel, and since I will do this to you, prepare, Israel, to meet your God!”

Tuesday, 2 May 2017 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
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.

Sunday, 31 July 2016 : 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 89 : 3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14 and 17

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 a watch in the night.

You sow them in their time, at dawn they peep out. In the morning they blossom, but the flower fades and withers in the evening.

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. May the sweetness of the Lord be upon us; may He prosper the work of our hands.

Friday, 5 February 2016 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Agatha, Virgin and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about God Who blessed David with many good things, with victory and wealth, with fame and with great family, and with his inheritance and kingship secure at the end of his earthly life, and his kingdom passed successfully and peacefully to his own son, Solomon. This was because of his faith and the dedication which he had for the Lord.

David did sin indeed, and he did commit things that were against the Lord’s will and teachings, but in the end, it was his desire to be forgiven, to humble himself before the presence of God, and seeking His mercy that God has blessed him not just with the mercy He had granted him, but also with the other blessings which we have heard in the Scriptures.

In the Gospel we heard about another king, Herod, the son of Herod the Great who was the king of Galilee, and who married his wife, Herodias, who was formerly the wife of his brother Philip. In doing so, he disobeyed the commandments of the Lord, by committing adultery with her. But unlike David, who had committed the same sin, he did not humble himself before God and commit himself to a new life in atonement, but continued to live his life in wickedness and sin.

We can clearly see the examples, in how Herod, during the dinner party that he had celebrated with his officials and guests, he was carried away by his lust and human desires, and his eyes and heart had betrayed him, as he was tempted to sin by the daughter of Herodias, his wife, likely to be the daughter of his brother, Philip. That daughter of Herodias was beautiful, and in her gracious dancing and performance, she caught such an attention from Herod that he ended up being completely swayed by her.

That was when he went so far as to make many vows and oaths pledging to do anything for her, which resulted in Herodias, who hated John the Baptist, whom Herod had imprisoned, to take that opportunity to get rid of him. He regretted that action only after he had already done the deed, and he could not retract his words. And thus, the blood of the prophet and the messenger of God came onto his hands.

Today, through these readings, we are all reminded that we are all temptable and weak. As Jesus said to His disciples, that while the spirit is strong and willing, but the flesh is weak. It is by our nature that we are easily tempted through the flesh, through our bodies, as the devil is always trying to find ways to persuade us and to pull us away from fulfilling God’s commandments, but instead trying to instil in us selfishness, pride, and greed.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Agatha, a great and renowned martyr of the faith, who was a very pious and faithful young woman, who dedicated her whole life to the Lord. St. Agatha was a virgin woman who lived in what is now Sicily in Italy. She was born into a rich and noble family, who had then chosen in her early life, to dedicate and commit herself in perpetual virginity dedicated to God.

When a pagan nobleman, a Roman prefect tried to pursue her interest and made his advance on her, her rejection made him to persecute her, and all the more because of her Christian faith and her commitment to a sacred and devoted life to God. He attempted to sway her and to persuade her with many good offers to turn her from her faith, but all with no avail.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the example of St. Agatha, who was tortured, who suffered because of her unfailing faith and devotion to God, should be an example to all of us, that we should also follow in her path, rejecting the temptations of the world, the temptations of our flesh and our desire, so that we would not end up like king Herod, who was tempted and gave himself up to that temptation, and in the end, he had nothing but condemnation.

May God strengthen us and our desire to love Him, and to commit things for the glory of His Name, and in all things, let us put forward our love for one another, the care and concern that should be shown to them, rather than to indulge in our own desires and wants. Let us all renew our commitment and faith in God, and let us all be ever closer to the throne of His mercy. God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 5 February 2016 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Agatha, Virgin and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Mark 6 : 14-29

King Herod also heard about Jesus, because His Name had become well-known. Some people said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in Him.” Others thought, “He is Elijah,” and others, “He is a prophet like the prophets of times past.” When Herod was told of this, he thought, “I had John beheaded, yet he has risen from the dead!”

For this is what had happened : Herod had ordered John to be arrested, and had had him bound and put in prison because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. Herod had married her, and John had told him, “It is not right for you to live with your brother’s wife.”

So Herodias held a grudge against John; and wanted to kill him, but she could not, because Herod respected John. He knew John to be an upright and holy man, and kept him safe. And he liked listening to him, although he became very disturbed, whenever he heard him.

Herodias had her chance on Herod’s birthday, when he gave a dinner for all the senior government officials, military chiefs, and the leaders of Galilee. On that occasion the daughter of Herodias came in and danced; and she delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want and I will give it to you.”

And he went so far as to say with many oaths, “I will give you anything you ask, even half my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” The mother replied, “The head of John the Baptist.” The girl hurried to the king and made her request, “I want you to give me the head of John the Baptist, here and now, on a dish.”

The king was very displeased, but he would not refuse in front of his guests because of his oaths. So he sent one of the bodyguards with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded John in prison; then he brought the head on a dish and gave it to the girl. And the girl gave it to her mother.

When John’s disciples heard of this, they came and took his body and buried it.

Friday, 5 February 2016 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Agatha, Virgin and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 17 : 31, 47 and 50, 51

This God – His way is perfect; the word of the Lord can stand fire. He is a shield for those who seek refuge in Him.

The Lord lives! Praised be my Rock! Exalted be my saviour God. For this I extol You, o Lord, among the nations; I will sing praise to Your Name.

He has given victories to His king; He has shown His love to His anointed ones, to David, and to his descendants forever.

Friday, 5 February 2016 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Agatha, Virgin and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Sirach 47 : 2-13 (Greek Septuagint – Sirach 47 : 2-11)

As fat is selected from the peace offering, so David was chosen from among the Israelites. He played with lions and bears as if they were lambs or young goats. He was still young when he slew a giant to restore the honour of his people. So they glorified him for his ten thousands and praised him as a blessing from the Lord when he was chosen king.

For He wiped out his enemies on all sides and annihilated his adversaries, the Philistines, crushing their power forever. In all that he did he gave thanks to the Most High, and showed his love for his Maker by singing with all his heart. He placed singers accompanied by harps before the altar to make beautiful music; he gave splendour to feasts and even greater magnificence to the more solemn occasions, exalting the holy Name of the Lord and having the sanctuary ring with His praised from early morning.

The Lord forgave David’s sins and established his power forever; He made a covenant with him for the benefit of the kings and gave him a glorious throne in Israel. A wise son succeeded him and fared well because of him. Solomon reigned during times of peace, and God gave him rest from war to enable him to build a house for His Name, a sanctuary that would stand forever.