Friday, 5 June 2020 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Boniface, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, through our Scripture passages today, we have heard of the reality of what it means to be a follower of Christ as Christians, and that often involves suffering and challenges. We have heard in our first reading from the Epistle that St. Paul wrote to St. Timothy, how persecution, trials and challenges had followed St. Paul all throughout his missionary journeys and efforts, and many of those occasions he was almost killed by all those who disagreed with him and refused to believe in the truth of God.

And St. Paul mentioned the truth clearly to St. Timothy, his godson and one of the early successors of the Apostles as the leaders of the Church, that all who follow Christ will suffer the persecution that Christ Himself had suffered, they will be rejected and ridiculed much as the Lord Himself had suffered humiliation, pain and the rejection of the world, and St. Paul wanted St. Timothy to know that, should he suffer for his faith and encounter difficulties during his missionary efforts and works, he was not alone in all that.

St. Paul used this opportunity to reaffirm the faith in his fellow servants of the Lord, giving them the courage and strength to carry on with their mission, in this case, St. Timothy himself. St. Paul used the example of how he himself had faced such bitter struggles and opposition, and yet, still survived to tell the tale, and still even had strong faith in the Lord, if not even stronger and more committed than before, to show all of us the faithful people of God, that we must not lose faith in Him and trust in Him.

We should not allow fear to lead us away from the path that the Lord has shown us, or make us to hide in fear and ignore our calling in life as God’s people, bearing the truth of His salvation to the nations. It was because of St. Paul and the many other Apostles and disciples of the Lord, as well as their successors, St. Timothy and many others, their courage and commitment to the Lord that many Christians were able to persevere in their faith despite the many challenges they encountered.

Many of the Apostles, disciples, and their successors met painful sufferings and martyrdoms, and yet, they still continued to give their best to serve the Lord and their brethren, the flock entrusted under their care. And all of these were because they trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ, His truth and love for each and every one of us, His beloved people, Who has brought into this world the pure and undeniable truth of God’s desire to save us all from certain destruction, and lead us into the new life and existence through Him.

This is why in the Gospel today, we heard why a lot of people still followed the Lord Jesus even though His ideas and truth might sound very difficult for certain segments of the society to accept, such as His identity as the Son of David and the Heir of the Kingdom of Israel, the Saviour or Messiah of the people, and even more so, being the very Son of God Most High Himself, the Divine Word of God incarnate in the flesh. Many of the people were touched by the truth, and stirred to know more about the truth because they had not closed their hearts and minds.

That was why, even though St. Paul and the other Apostles and disciples encountered many challenges, difficulties, ridicule and rejection throughout their ministry among the people, but there were also many people who were willing to listen to them and many eventually became believers and were baptised as Christians. These were the seeds of faith sown even through the most bitter and difficult years of persecution against the Christian faith, and by the faith and courage of those faithful servants of God, the Church and the faithful persevered through those difficult years.

Today, we also mark the feast of St. Boniface, a renowned bishop and Martyr of the Church. St. Boniface was remembered for his many works of mission among the pagan peoples in what is now modern day Germany. He worked very hard, much like St. Paul and the Apostles in the early days of the Church, in order to establish the foundations of the Church and the Christian faith in the vast lands of Germania, then still mostly pagan and ripe for the harvest of the faith.

St. Boniface went on many missions to convert the pagan peoples, preaching to them about the Lord and His Good News, patiently teaching them all about the Lord, and travelling from places to places bringing the Good News to more and more people. He was also renowned for his felling of the sacred oak of the pagans, known as Donar’s Oak, to which many of the newly converted Christians still went to worship as part of their old pagan practices. St. Boniface fell the tree down with an ax, and despite the curse from the people who witnessed it, the whole oak miraculously split apart and came down crashing, and the wood used to build a church in honour of St. Peter the Apostle. Many of the people who witnessed the event became true believers from then on.

St. Boniface worked hard to establish the Church in the land of Germania and was also committed to the reform of Church practices and disciplines, reducing clerical excesses and secular interference. He encountered much difficulty throughout his ministry, much like St. Paul and the other Apostles, disciples and servants of God. But those things did not stop St. Paul from dedicating himself to the cause of the Lord. In the end, waylaid by Frisian bandits during one of his journeys, St. Boniface faced death in martyrdom defending his faith against the wicked ones.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we all inspired to live our lives from now on with faith, following the great examples set by our holy and dedicated predecessors? Let us place our focus rather on the potential of glorious things to come rather than fearing the trials and persecutions of the world. Are we able to commit our time, effort and attention to serve the Lord from now on with greater fidelity and commitment, with greater sincerity and love for God and for our fellow men alike? Let us all discern these things carefully, and dedicate ourselves from now on, to the greater glory of God, now and always. May God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 5 June 2020 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Boniface, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Mark 12 : 35-37

At that time, as Jesus was teaching in the Temple, He said, “The teachers of the Law say that the Messiah is the Son of David. How can that be? For David himself, inspired by the Holy Spirit, declared : The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, until I put Your enemies under Your feet!'”

“If David himself calls Him Lord, in what way can He be his Son?” Many people came to Jesus, and listened to Him gladly.

Friday, 5 June 2020 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Boniface, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 118 : 157, 160, 161, 165, 166, 168

Many foes persecute me, but I have not turned away from Your Law.

The essence of Your word is truth, everlasting are Your just ordinances.

Rulers persecute me for no cause; yet, my heart stands in awe of Your words.

Lovers of Your Law have found great peace; nothing can make them stumble, not even distress.

O YHVH, I wait for Your salvation, and I keep Your commands in faith.

I obey Your precepts and Your decrees; my ways are always before You.

Friday, 5 June 2020 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Boniface, Bishop and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

2 Timothy 3 : 10-17

You, instead, have closely followed my teaching, my way of life, my projects, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions and sufferings. You know what happened to me at Antioch, Iconium and Lystra. How many trials I had to bear! Yet, the Lord rescued me from them all. All who want to serve God, in Christ Jesus, will be persecuted; while evil persons and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

As for you, continue with what you have learnt, and what has been entrusted to you, knowing from whom you received it. Besides, you have known the Scriptures from childhood; they will give you the wisdom that leads to salvation, through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God, and is useful for teaching, refuting error, for correcting and training in Christian life. Through Scripture, the man of God is made expert and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Boniface, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about two people who are saying goodbyes to their respective loved ones, praying and asking God for His protection and providence on those whom they loved. In our first reading today we heard St. Paul reminding the elders of the faithful in Ephesus and praying over them before he left them for the last time, and in our Gospel passage we heard of the Lord Jesus praying over His disciples just before He was about to embark on His Passion.

St. Paul in the Acts of the Apostles passage today reminded the elders to be watchful and to be careful in the management of their flock, especially against those who espoused heretical and wrong teachings of the faith, that they would not let all those people to mislead the faithful and causing divisions in the Church, and he also reminded them of God’s providence and love for His faithful ones, commending them to God’s love and care.

And St. Paul showed his dedication and commitment to the cause to which God has called him to, as he said how he sought neither reward nor monetary compensation for all that he has done. He did everything for God and dedicated himself wholly to His cause, and this came from the background of his great and many sufferings, in all the things he had been made to endure throughout his many years of ministering and working among the people of God.

What St. Paul had said to the elders of Ephesus, the joy he expressed to them even as he was about to leave them for his final journey, was exactly what the Lord prayed for in today’s Gospel passage, as He Himself was about to embark on His Passion, enduring bitter and most painful suffering and rejection, the massive burden of the Cross and all. The Lord prayed to His heavenly Father, that even as He was about to leave them, they would not be left without a new joy that God would give them.

What is this joy, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is the joy of love, of knowing that while once there had been bitter divisions and conflict, God has triumphed in gathering all those whom He loved, to be part of His Church, to gather as the body of Apostles and believers together, saved by the power of God, by the very action of sacrificial love and the perfect giving which Christ in our Gospel passage today, was about to do for His beloved ones.

Remember how St. Paul mentioned in today’s first reading that ‘happiness lies more in giving than in receiving’? This was exactly Christ has done for us. He was so filled with joy in the ultimate gift He was about to give them, the gift of His boundless love, and by Whose actions, all of us were about to be saved from death and eternal destruction. It was God’s everlasting and infinitely great love for each and every one of us that made everything possible.

Indeed, Christ had His agonising moments just after that time, when He prayed in the Gardens of Gethsemane. His humanity agonised the great and unimaginable sufferings that He had to endure, but His perfect obedience to His Father’s will, and ultimately, His wonderful love for each and every single one of us surpassed everything, all sorrow, all hesitations and all fears. He embarked on His sacrificial love journey, took up His Cross with joy, the joy of knowing how because of that, many of us were about to be saved.

That was the same joy and courage that St. Paul had when he said his farewell to the elders of Ephesus. He reflected the joy and strength that Christ had shown, because St. Paul knew that in whatever he himself was about to do, he was about to give a wonderful testimony of his faith and dedication even to the very end, even to his martyrdom and death. And he was joyful because everything he was about to do would become the source of joy and strength for countless generations of Christians to come.

That was the joyful feeling of knowing how many people would be saved because of our own faith and commitment to God. And today, we celebrate the feast of yet another famous and faithful saint, a holy woman and martyr who dedicated her life to God. St. Lucy, also known as St. Lucia of Syracuse was a faithful woman who consecrated and dedicated her life to God, promising her complete fidelity and virginity to God.

But her mother, not knowing of her commitment wanted to arrange her to marry a wealthy young pagan man. St. Lucy instead convinced her mother instead to donate generous sums of her own family’s property and wealth to the poor, revealing to her the revelations and power of God through another saint and martyr, St. Agatha. But the pagan family was furious and denounced the actions of St. Lucy before the authorities, at a time when Christians were persecuted terribly for their faith.

St. Lucy was made to suffer and was tortured, forced to make sacrifices to the Emperor but she refused to do so. The governor tried to defile her sacred virginity in a brothel, but miraculously no one could make her to move when they were about to do so. Eventually, they tried to burn her on the stake and yet it also did not work, and finally, they killed her by putting a sword through her throat. To the very end, St. Lucy endured in her faith and was joyful in accepting her death, because by her very examples and actions, many would also come to believe in God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us are called to follow in the good examples of St. Lucy, St. Paul the Apostle and Christ Our Lord Himself, in their joyful service of the Lord. Let us all live our lives from now on filled with faith and dedication to God in everything. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Boniface, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 17 : 11b-19

At that time, Jesus prayed to God His Father, “Holy Father, keep those You have given Me in Your Name, so that they may be one, as we also are. When I was with them, I kept them safe in Your Name; and not one was lost, except the one who was already lost, and in this, the Scripture was fulfilled. And now I come to You; in the world I speak these things, so that those whom You gave Me, might have joy – all My joy within themselves.”

“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world, I do not ask You to remove them from the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth.”

“I have sent them into the world as You sent Me into the world; and for their sake, I go to the sacrifice by which I am consecrated, so that they too may be consecrated in truth.”

Wednesday, 5 June 2019 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Boniface, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 67 : 29-30, 33-35a, 35bc and 36c

Summon Your power, o God, with the strength You have wielded for us. To Your Temple in Jerusalem, kings will come with gifts.

Sing to God, o kingdoms of the world; sing praises to the Lord, to Him Who rides the ancient heavens, and speaks in the voice of thunder. Proclaim the might of God.

He is great in Israel, powerful in heavens. Blessed be God!

Wednesday, 5 June 2019 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Boniface, Bishop and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Acts 20 : 28-38

Keep watch over yourselves, and over the whole flock the Holy Spirit has placed into your care. Shepherd the Church of the Lord that He has won, at the price of His own Blood. I know that, after I leave, ruthless wolves will come among you and not spare the flock. And, from among you, some will arise, corrupting the truth, and inducing the disciples to follow them.

Be on the watch, therefore, remembering that, for three years, night and day, I did not cease to warn everyone, even with tears. Now, I commend you to God, and to His grace-filled word, which is able to make you grow and gain the inheritance that you shall share with all the saints.

I have not looked for anyone’s silver, gold or clothing. You, yourselves, know, that these hands of mine have provided for both my needs and the needs of those who were with me. In every way, I have shown you that by working hard one must help the weak, remembering the words that the Lord Jesus Himself said, “Happiness lies more in giving than in receiving.”

After this discourse, Paul knelt down with them and prayed. Then, they all began to weep and threw their arms around him and kissed him. They were deeply distressed because he had said that they would never see him again. And they went with him even to the ship.

Monday, 5 June 2017 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Boniface, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about the person Tobit, an Israeli exile at the time of the Assyrian destruction of the northern kingdom, who was among the many descendants of Israel carried off to the exile in Assyria and in faraway lands. And even though many of the people of the northern kingdom abandoned the Lord and worshipped the pagan gods, but Tobit and his family remained faithful to the Lord God of Israel.

Indeed, Tobit was righteous and just in his actions, obeying the Lord and all of His commandments. He gave alms and cared for his fellow countrymen in exile, many of whom were suffering in poverty and slavery. Yet, in today’s reading, we heard also the reality of life, how people were persecuted and even killed because of their race, or because of they were weak and powerless, as what happened to the Israelites at that time, persecuted and scattered among the nations.

Such was the degree of human greed and desire, that they would even exploit others and made others to suffer in order to satisfy their own selfish needs and wants, and achieve their own personal glory. That is what the Lord Jesus wanted to show through the parable which He taught His disciples, what we heard in our Gospel today about the evil tenants who refused to pay their due to their landlord and master.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the evil tenants represent all those people who were wicked and who were controlled by their desires and greed. They should have paid their due to the landlord and master, who is none other than the Lord our God, Who has given them all the opportunity to live and to prosper from all His graces and blessings. Yet, they disobeyed Him and refused to listen to Him, even hurting and killing all those whom the Master had sent to them to remind them about their obligations.

This is representative of how mankind itself reacted to the Lord, as He constantly reminded them through His messengers and servants, whom He sent to be among His people, in order to call them to repent from all of their sinful ways, from all of their selfish deeds that brought about suffering and difficulties to their fellow men, and from all that they had done which were wicked in the sight of the Lord and men alike.

But many of those people turned a deaf ear and persecuted all those who had been sent to remind them and guide them. And thus the messengers, prophets and servants of God had suffered and died, and last of all, as Jesus Himself prophesied through His parable, they would even kill the son of the master, Who is representative of Jesus, the Son of God.

They rejected Him, ridiculed and mocked Him, and then arrested Him, putting Him under false charges and accusations made by false witnesses. They made Him to bear the burden of the cross, and condemned Him to death, death on the cross. And yet, as we all know, the Lord Jesus had transformed that suffering to grace, by obeying perfectly the will of God, His Father. That means, when the people had been unfaithful, His faith and obedience has become a great light that led the people from the darkness.

That was what the Lord had taught us all, His disciples and followers to do in our own respective lives. The Lord has shown us all by His own example, on how all of us ought to live in accordance with His will, helping to guide all those who have been swayed and corrupted by the evils of greed and desire, by telling them with gentle and yet firm words of reminders.

That means, all of us as Christians ought to do what the holy saints and martyrs had done, as they lived upright life and led an example for the rest of the people, all of whom had been struggling under the weight of their sins and wickedness. All of the saints themselves had been sinners like us as well, for everyone had committed sin at least once in their lives. And yet, they turned towards the Lord, and endeavoured to show others the way to do the same.

St. Boniface, the saint whose memory we remember today, did exactly just that, brothers and sisters in Christ. He was a bishop appointed to serve the people living in the areas and regions which now comprise the northern part of Germany, which at that time had not yet received the words and truth of God, as paganism was still the norm for the people living in those places, living in state of sin and wickedness, and doing what were abhorrent in the sight of God.

Yet, St. Boniface took up the challenge and set out to preach to those people, bearing to them the message of truth, as he patiently and courageously went about from towns to towns, from villages to villages, to proclaim God’s ways and calling on the pagans to repent from their sins and turn towards the Lord, their true God and Master. Yes, he was persecuted and faced many challenges, but he never gave up.

It is his conviction to help all those who were still separated from the love of God, be it because of ignorance or because of the temptations of the world, so that all those people would not end up in hell, damned because of their sins. He called them out of the darkness and into the light, through all of his hard work and commitment. This is what all of us Christians have to do in our own lives, as St. Boniface carried on doing his duty, even until he was martyred in the midst of his ministry, as told that he was attacked by brigands and was martyred defending his faith in God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, all of us are called to be the messengers of God’s truth, that we may not end up becoming like those evil tenants who were swallowed by their greed and desire for personal glory and power. We should help one another, especially our brethren who are still struggling in their journey towards the Lord, not by great and marvellous deeds, but beginning from ourselves, from our own actions and deeds in life.

Brethren, let us all show exemplary actions and deeds in life, so that through all the work that we have done, and through all of our dedication, by loving tenderly and sincerely, and by showing genuine care and concern for all those who have fallen along the way, we may convince more and more people to repent and to turn themselves completely and wholeheartedly towards the Lord, their God. So that, ultimately, all of us will rejoice together in the end, enjoying together as one people, the heavenly glory the Lord promised to all those who keep their faith in Him. May God bless us all. Amen.

Monday, 5 June 2017 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Boniface, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Mark 12 : 1-12

At that time, using parables, Jesus went on to say, “A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a hole for the wine press and built a watch tower. Then he leased the vineyard to tenants and went abroad. In due time he sent a servant to receive from the tenants his share of the fruit. But they seized the servant, struck him and sent him back empty-handed.”

“Again the man sent another servant. They also struck him on the head and treated him shamefully. He sent another and they killed him. In the same way they treated many others : some they beat up and others they killed. One was still left, his beloved son. And so, last of all, he sent him to the tenants, for he said, “They will respect my son.”

“But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the one who is to inherit the vineyard. Let us kill him and the property will be ours.’ So they seized him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. Now what will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.”

And Jesus added, “Have you not read this text of the Scriptures : The stone which the builders rejected has become the keystone; this is the Lord’s doing, and we marvel at it?”

They wanted to arrest Him, for they realised that Jesus meant this parable for them, but they were afraid of the crowd; so they left Him and went away.