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.

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

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 144 : 10-11, 12-13ab, 21

All Your works will give You thanks; all Your saints, o Lord, will praise You. They will tell of the glory of Your kingdom and speak of Your power.

That all may know of Your mighty deeds, Your reign and its glorious splendour. Your reign is from age to age; Your dominion endures from generation to generation.

Let my mouth speak in praise of the Lord, let every creature bless His holy Name, forever and ever.

Alternative reading (Reading for 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.

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

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 14 : 19-28

Then some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and turned the people against Paul and Barnabas. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the town, leaving him for dead. But when his disciples gathered around him, he stood up and returned to the town. And the next day he left for Derbe with Barnabas.

After proclaiming the Gospel in that town and making many disciples, they returned to Lystra and Iconium and on to Antioch. They were strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain firm in the faith, for they said, “We must go through many trials to enter the Kingdom of God.”

In each Church they appointed elders and, after praying and fasting, they commended them to the Lord in Whom they had placed their faith. Then they travelled through Pisidia, and came to Pamphylia. They preached the Word in Perga and went down to Attalia. From there they sailed back to Antioch, where they had first been commended to God’s grace for the task they had now completed.

On their arrival they gathered the Church together and told them all that God had done through them and how He had opened the door of faith to the non-Jews. They spent a fairly long time there with the disciples.

Alternative reading (Reading for 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 (Reading for 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.

Sunday, 1 May 2016 : Sixth Sunday of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the essence of the readings from the Holy Scriptures on this day is that we ought to be doing the works that we have been expected to do as the followers and disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. The essence of today’s readings is one of action, that is good actions that we need to accomplish in our own respective lives, so that we will be worthy of God and His presence in us that bring us to justification and eternal life.

In the first reading, we heard about the dilemma faced by the early Church with regards to the obedience to the Law of God, and more specifically the laws of Moses passed down through the generations, with all of its modifications and additions, which resulted in a very complicated and numerous set of rules and regulations that the Pharisees and the conservatives in the Jewish society in particular, enforced on the people of God.

These rules and regulations covered everything in the Jewish society, all sorts of etiquettes and expectations in all kinds of activities, from how you ought to wash and purify your hands before you have a meal, and the rites involved in the commemoration of the Sabbath day, not withstanding the strict observation of the sabbath and its prohibition of any sorts of activities, as certainly all of us would have seen throughout the Gospels, how the Pharisees strictly enforced it.

But all these rules and regulations, are they helping in bringing the people closer to God? They are a burden and an unnecessary chore for those who wanted to follow the Lord. Indeed, the Jews themselves did not fulfil the entirety of the obligations of the human laws, and were struggling with it themselves, not to think about how difficult it would be for the different kinds of people at that time, Greeks, Syrians and Romans, and many others who became members of the Church.

These would have to abandon their old ways of life and embrace the strict rules of the Jewish traditions, if the Pharisees and the conservatives among the early Christians were to succeed in their endeavours. It would be difficult, as then those new faithful would be ostracised by their own societies and communities for being different, following a foreign culture instead of their own. But, the Apostles through the Holy Spirit reminded the whole assembly that this is not what the Lord wanted from His people.

Instead, He made it clear to them on many occasions, that if they love Him and truly love Him, they would listen to His words and do as what He had asked them to do. And His words and will are that they ought to love Him with all of their hearts, their minds and with all of their abilities and capacities, giving all of their beings and attention to Him above anything else, and then do the same to their fellow brethren.

It is what the Lord Jesus had revealed to all of us mankind, that His Law, the Law of God is truly the Law of Love. And love is that one should give it his or her all to another whom he or she love, unconditionally and with full intention of love. Love is unconditional and selfless, giving of oneself to another, just as what the Lord Jesus Himself perfectly had shown to us, by His death on the cross, the ultimate love, that no better love exist, other than for one to give His life for another.

But is love just a feeling, or something that we should enjoy with one another? No, it is not, brethren. Love without concrete and real action is empty and meaningless. Love without commitment is empty and without real significance, and it is indeed not love. Love must be active and filled with many good deeds, showing our care and concern for our fellow men and women, and showing our piety and dedication to our Lord.

This therefore ties in perfectly with today’s great celebration, which coincides with the sixth Sunday in the season of Easter. On the first day of May, in the secular world we heard about the term May Day or Labour Day, the day which commemorates all the workers of the world, all those who toil and labour for the sustenance of themselves and their families, and hoping for a better life.

But in the Church, we celebrate it with even more meaning than just worldly work and labours. Today we mark the feast of St. Joseph the Worker. St. Joseph is the foster father of our Lord Jesus, and he was a carpenter in Nazareth, both before and after the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was an upright man, who upheld integrity and justice in his profession, and worked with zeal and faith, a model worker for all.

He showed us all that a good worker is not just someone who is looking to gather and gain more money or possession for themselves. Otherwise, he himself would not have been satisfied with the job of a carpenter. A carpenter’s job was an honest and humble job, but at the same time, it was tiresome and does not produce much money, and at that time, the society tended to look down on these kind of menial works.

That was why the people of Nazareth was skeptical and indeed refused to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, because they thought they knew Him as the Son of a mere carpenter. They looked down on Him and sneered at Him, thinking that He was a nobody Who dared and tried to make Himself famous by breaking through the social prejudice. That is how mankind is, and that is how we ourselves live in our world today. We tend to categorise people and become prejudice against others based on who they are, what they are working as, or in how they act.

But again, God made it clear to all of us, that we should strive for love, and all of us should be honest and upright in all things. A good worker is someone who knows love, and a person who knows how to love is someone who can show their love for another through real and concrete actions and not just through mere words or proclamations.

Thus, all of us are called to love, to obey the Lord’s commandments, that is love. We should not be like the Pharisees who were overly attached to their human laws, rules and regulations that stifled the faithful who wanted to follow the Lord, but was discouraged by the kind of commitment they need to make by obeying those draconian rules.

Yet, we must also be aware that love is not something that is easy to do or to be attained. True love require effort, commitment and sacrifice. Jesus Himself had shown the example for us, that out of His love for us, He was willing to spend His time with us, teaching us and helping us to find the way to God through Him, and He even bore the multitudes of our sins, all the punishments intended for those sins, and bore it upon Himself, carrying that cross to Calvary.

We should walk in our Lord’s footsteps, and in the footsteps of his foster-father, St. Joseph the Worker, St. Joseph the Carpenter. We should be upright and uphold integrity and justice in all of our actions and in all of our dealings with one another. And most importantly of all, as I have emphasised again and again from just now, that we must all have love for each other, and show them through genuine acts of love, and show the same love for our Lord as well.

And all of us who have done all these faithfully, well, we know our heavenly reward is awaiting us at the end of the day. Just as all the workers are rewarded for their hard work and deeds, we too shall be rewarded, so long as we remain faithful to the Lord our God. In the second reading from the Book of Revelations of St. John the Apostle, at the end of that book, we hear about the heavenly city of Jerusalem, the City of God descending from heaven, in which all the faithful shall live forever with God.

And thus, if we are faithful, and if we show love for God and for each other, God shall find us worthy and just, and He shall welcome us into His City, and He shall wipe away all of our tears and sorrows, and place true joy inside each and every one of us. Let us all endeavour and work hard for this purpose, brethren, that all of us will draw ever closer to Him.

Let us all ask for the intercession of His foster-father, St. Joseph the Worker, that he will always intercede for our sake, and pray that all of us may persevere in our good works, for the sake of our salvation. May God bless us all always and keep us in His grace forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 1 May 2016 : Sixth Sunday of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 14 : 23-29

At that time, Jesus answered Judas, not Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples at the Last Supper, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word and My Father will love him; and We will come to him and make a room in his home. But if anyone does not love Me, he will not keep My words; and these words that you hear are not Mine, but the Father’s Who sent Me.”

“I told you all this while I was still with you. From now on the Helper, the Holy Spirit Whom the Father will send in My Name, will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I have told you. 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.”

Sunday, 1 May 2016 : Sixth Sunday of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Revelations 21 : 10-14, 22-23

One of the seven Angels took me up in a spiritual vision to a very high mountain and he showed me the holy city Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shines with the glory of God, like a precious jewel with the colour of crystal-clear jasper.

Its wall, large and high, has twelve gates; stationed at them are twelve Angels. Over the gates are written the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. Three gates face the east; three gates face the north; three gates face the south and three face the west. The city wall stands on twelve foundation stones on which are written the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb.

I saw no Temple in the city for the Lord God, Master of the universe, and the Lamb are Themselves its Temple. The city has no need for the light of the sun or the moon, since God’s Glory is its Light and the Lamb is its Lamp.