Wednesday, 11 April 2018 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Stanislas, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day first of all we listened to the tribulations and difficulties that were faced by the Apostles, as they were assailed by the opposition from the chief priests and the elders of the people, who refused to believe in their teachings, which proclaimed the Risen Lord. They first of all have refused to listen to the Lord and to His teachings when He was in their midst, and then, they refused to listen to His disciples.

Yet, despite the challenges they encountered, the disciples continued to serve the Lord and obeyed His will to the very end, carrying out His works in many places and among many peoples, calling on many to repent from their sins and turn to the righteous ways of the Lord. This was despite the threats and challenges they faced, having been warned by the elders of the people and the whole council of the Sanhedrin.

In the same manner, saints and martyrs throughout the ages and the history of the Church have faced similar difficulties and persecutions. There were many martyrs who died defending their faith because they refused to abandon the Lord or to betray Him. They would rather perish in their earthly existence rather than being condemned to an eternity of suffering in hell.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Stanislas, a holy bishop and martyr, a Polish bishop of Krakow who lived approximately eight hundred years ago. St. Stanislas was a great servant of God who helped to establish the Church and its teachings more firmly in the land of Poland. However, he had to contend with a king, who eventually would be the one to slaughter him in cold blood, king Boleslaw II the Bold.

The king’s heavy handed and unfair treatment of the Church as well as many other segments of the society, and his rumoured sexual immorality and wicked behaviour led to the courageous bishop to rebuke the king publicly and opposed him in several occasions. In the end, the bishop St. Stanislas excommunicated the king. The king was furious, and sent armed men to strike the bishop. When these were afraid to do as the king commanded, the king himself struck and killed the martyr.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, from what we have heard of the tale of the Apostles and the disciples, as well as the martyrs like St. Stanislas, we see how being a devout Christian and a true follower of our Lord is not an easy path. That would require commitment and even at times, taking risk and suffering. But all of these, they have done, all the faithful servants of God, for the sake of God, He Who has given us everything and loved us dearly with all of His heart.

God has loved us so dearly, just as He Himself said it through His conversation to Nicodemus, the good Pharisee. He said that God so loved the world, that He gave us all His only beloved Son, as He was speaking about Himself, that through His coming into the world, by His dwelling among us, and by the Good News He had brought unto our midst; and ultimately, by His suffering and death on the cross, all of us who believe in Him will not perish but live forever with Him in glory.

That is because, God has paid for us the price of our liberation in His own Blood. He has shed His own Blood on the cross, and paid the ultimate price for our own good and for our lives. If He, Our God, has given us so much, then how can we His people, all of the believers, members of the Church, all Christians, not love Him in the same manner? God does not ask much, just our love and dedication, as much as He has loved us first.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us therefore be exemplary in our faith and in our lives. Let us all devote ourselves anew to the Lord, and spend time with Him through prayer and commitment to love Him. Let us all show one another, the love which God has given us, and which we now share amongst us, that many more people, having seen our faith made alive through our actions, may come to believe in Him as well, and answer God’s call to salvation, just as the Apostles had done long ago.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to guide us in our path, and bless us in all of our endeavours, now and forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Stanislas, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

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.”

Wednesday, 11 April 2018 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Stanislas, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

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!

Wednesday, 11 April 2018 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Stanislas, Bishop and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

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.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Irenaeus, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we heard about the false prophets from Jesus our Lord, Who told His disciples to beware of all those people who pretended to be good on the outside, and yet, on the inside, they are truly wicked and evil. This is not what the Lord want from us all Christians, as all of us are called to be good and to devote ourselves to the Lord, both inside and outside, that our whole being truly bring glory to God.

If we truly belong to God, then our actions and deeds must indeed reflect that nature, that we do what the Lord had told us to do, and be genuine in our actions. Otherwise, we will be like the hypocrites, who pretended that they believed, and yet in their actions, showed what was contrary to their faith. All of us must be genuine Christians in actions and deeds, and we must really spend the time and put the effort to live in accordance with what the Lord taught us.

Remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, that the Lord Jesus in the Gospel today said how bad trees will produce bad fruits, while good trees will produce good fruits. And all those trees that are bad will be cast out into the fire and given to be burnt away. All those trees are representing us mankind, both with our good and bad deeds, with all of our imperfections, which then ends up in our actions, be it that they are righteous or wicked.

Bad trees will produce bad fruits, which will not be desired or wanted, and the Lord will cast these out on the day of the harvest, or the Day of Judgment, out to the eternal damnation. Do we want to end up with this fate, brethren? Certainly we do not want to end up like that. Yet, that will be our lot, if we do not truly practice our faith and instead doing what is wicked in the sight and presence of God and man alike.

And we cannot hide our intentions and actions, for even though we may be successful in hiding them from others around us, but the Lord will always know all of our intentions and actions. Nothing that we do that we can hide away from the Lord Who knows everything that is in our hearts and in out minds. If we are like the hypocrites, who pretended to do good on the outside but yet having malicious intent in the heart, or for those whose faith is just for show, the Lord will know it all.

We should instead be like the fruitful vine of Abraham, who has devoted himself wholeheartedly to the Lord, and obeyed the will of God with commitment and zeal. We should follow his examples, in how he has devoted himself wholeheartedly and committed himself to God in all that He had asked him to do. And because of the faith of Abraham, countless people who were his descendants have been blessed because of him.

He was sincere in his faith, and no falsehood could be found in him. He is the example of one who has true faith in God, and we ought to look up to him. If our faith can be like that of Abraham, then surely the Lord will find no fault in us, and He will bless us all and welcome us into His eternal glory and happiness. That is what all of us can look forward to, if we follow the Lord faithfully.

Perhaps we all should also heed the examples of St. Irenaeus, a holy bishop and martyr of the Faith, who was the Bishop of Lugdunum, now known as Lyon in Roman Gaul, now France. He was a devout priest and later on bishop, who was determined to root out all heresies among Christians, by his numerous works through which he helped to dispel the falsehood of those heresies, most serious of which is the syncretic and heretical Gnosticism, which had a strong hold among many of the people at the time.

Through his extensive works, St. Irenaeus helped to keep many from falling into heresy, and in his exhortations and evangelisations, he helped to bring many more souls to salvation through the Church. He has given his all for the sake of the Lord and for the people of God. In the end, it was told by some sources, that he suffered martyrdom, but nonetheless, by his life, he has bring glory to God and to His people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, shall we walk in the footsteps of Abraham, our father in faith, and St. Irenaeus, the brave and courageous servant of God and defender of the faith? Let us all devote ourselves wholeheartedly to the Lord in the same manner as these holy predecessors of ours had done, shunning all that is evil, all pretensions and be honest in our devotion to God. May the Lord help us in our efforts and endeavours, and may He guide us always in our lives, that we will be able to find our way to His salvation. Amen.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Irenaeus, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Matthew 7 : 15-20

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Beware of false prophets : they come to you in sheep’s clothing; but inside, they are voracious wolves. You will recognise them by their fruits. Do you ever pick grapes from thorn bushes; or figs, from thistles?”

“A good tree always produces good fruit. A rotten tree produces bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit; and a rotten fruit cannot bear good fruit. Any tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruit.”

Wednesday, 28 June 2017 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Irenaeus, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Psalm 104 : 1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9

Give thanks to YHVH, call on His Name; make known His works among the nations. Sing to Him, sing His praise, proclaim all His wondrous deeds.

Glory in His holy Name; let those who seek YHVH rejoice. Look to YHVH and be strong; seek His face always.

You descendants of His servant Abraham, you sons of Jacob, His chosen ones! He is YHVH our God; His judgments reach the whole world.

He remembers His Covenant forever, His promise to a thousand generations, the Covenant He made with Abraham, the promise He swore to Isaac.