Monday, 18 October 2021 : Feast of St. Luke, Evangelist (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist, one of the four great Evangelists who wrote the Holy Gospels together with St. Matthew, St. Mark and St. John. According to Apostolic tradition, St. Luke was a physician and a follower and disciple of St. Paul the Apostle, who accompanied him for quite a few of his missionary journeys, and who wrote the accounts of those travels and also other actions of the Apostles in the Acts of the Apostles that he also authored. It was even told in some traditions that he was also the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews.

St. Luke according to different traditions was either a Hellenised Jew or a Greek who embraced the Christian faith as one of the earliest converts and as among the earliest of Christ’s disciples and missionaries. He was a physician and therefore likely highly educated and intelligent, which was also probably why God gave him the gift of wisdom and talent for writing, through which St. Luke recorded the very important events that he heard about the Lord’s life and ministry, and also as inspired by the Holy Spirit, to evangelise to those who have not yet known Him.

St. Luke through his efforts converted many to the Christian faith, turning many people towards the Lord and called them to embrace His truth and love. In his travels with St. Paul, he had assisted the great Apostle in preaching the truth of God, and through his Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, he had reached out even far beyond mere words and interactions, as by his courageous efforts in writing the words of God, he has, just like St. Paul and his many Epistles, kept the faith alive and the truth to remain firmly found in the Sacred Scriptures.

St. Luke continued his ministry among the people of God, ministering to the many people whom he encountered throughout his life and work, and he spread the word of God faithfully according to the tradition of the Church, until he died at an old age in the region of Boeotia in Roman Greece, after a very long life of service to God, and after having bestowed on us the wonders of his work in the Scriptures, which enriched our knowledge of God and His truth. Through his works, all of us ought to have known more about God and His works.

Today, as we celebrate this great feast in honour of St. Luke the Evangelist, all of us are called to be inspired by the faith and the commitment which he has shown in his life and work, and in all that he has done for the greater glory of God. We are called to follow in his examples and to do whatever we can in order to emulate his examples in our own daily lives. We may think that it is impossible for us to be like St. Luke or like any other great saints, but this is not true.

God has called His Apostles and many other disciples from various backgrounds and origins, some rich, some poor, some educated, some illiterate, some privileged and powerful, while others were weak and not noteworthy, and there had been countless of these whom God had called, all sinners, who came to the Lord’s side and listened to His call. They answered Him and His call, and He led them down the path of mission and commitment, as St. Luke and so many other innumerable saints had shown us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us are called to heed the Lord’s call, to be His faithful and committed disciples, in doing His will and in walking down His glorious path. We do not have to do great and wonderful things. Rather, in our own daily living and in every single thing we do, even in the smallest, we should strive to do our best, to show our faith in God and to be inspiration to one another. We are all called to walk down this path of discipleship, with our respective gifts and talents, with all that God has given to us.

Let us all discern carefully our path in life, and let us consider what each and every one of us can do to contribute to the works of the Lord, to the mission which He has entrusted to His Church and to all of us as Christians. We can no longer be idle in our lives as Christians and we should dedicate ourselves from now on to be ever truly faithful to God. Let us be inspired and walk in the path which St. Luke has shown us, that we too may bear rich fruits in faith from now on.

May God bless us all and may He strengthen each and every one of us to live our Christian lives genuinely and be the beacons of God’s light and truth to all who have seen us, witnessed our actions and interacted with us. May our lives bring hope and light of God’s truth, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 18 October 2021 : Feast of St. Luke, Evangelist (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 10 : 1-9

At that time, the Lord appointed seventy-two other disciples, and sent them, two by two, ahead of Him, to every town and place, where He Himself was to go. And He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. So you must ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers to His harvest. Courage! I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Set off without purse or bag or sandals; and do not stop at the homes of those you know.”

“Whatever house you enter, first bless them, saying, ‘Peace to this house!’ If a friend of peace lives there, the peace shall rest upon that person. But if not, the blessing will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking at their table, for the worker deserves to be paid. Do not move from house to house.”

“When they welcome you to any town, eat what they offer you. Heal the sick who are there, and say to them : ‘The kingdom of God has drawn near to you.'”

Monday, 18 October 2021 : Feast of St. Luke, Evangelist (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 144 : 10-11, 12-13ab, 17-18

All Your works will give You thanks; all Your saints, o YHVH, 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 endured, from generation to generation.

Righteous is YHVH in all His ways, His mercy shows in all His deeds. He is near those who call on Him, who call trustfully upon His Name.

Monday, 18 October 2021 : Feast of St. Luke, Evangelist (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

2 Timothy 4 : 10-17b

You must know, that Demas has deserted me, for the love of this world : he returned to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia and Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke remains with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is a useful helper in my work. I sent Tychicus to Ephesus.

Bring with you the cloak I left at Troas, in Carpos’ house, and also the scrolls, especially the parchments. Alexander, the metalworker, has caused me great harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. Distrust him, for he has been very much opposed to our preaching.

At my first hearing in court, no one supported me; all deserted me. May the Lord not hold it against them. But the Lord was at my side, giving me strength, to proclaim the word fully, and to let all the pagans hear it.

Monday, 11 October 2021 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. John XXIII, Pope (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Popes)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Lord, we are all reminded of the calling of the Lord to all of us to trust in the Lord and allow Him to lead us down the right path as our Shepherd, and each and every one of us must then also follow the example of our Shepherd and become sources of inspiration and strength for one another so that each and every one of us may be inspired to always remain committed to God.

In our first reading today from the book of the prophet Ezekiel, we heard the Lord speaking to His people, who at that time was in exile in Babylon, that He would gather them like a shepherd gathering his sheep, from those scattered among the nations, and He would look for them and reunite themselves to Him, as He still loved them and cared for them as His beloved people and His children. The Lord is still ever faithful to the Covenant which He had made with them even though those same people had betrayed and abandoned Him for the false pagan idols and gods.

The Lord would prove this right by gathering all of His scattered people and moved the heart of the King of Persia, Cyrus the Great to allow the descendants of the Israelites to return to their homeland and rebuild their cities and dwellings, as well as the Holy Temple and House of God in Jerusalem. God gathered them all and reunited them, to live once again in obedience to His Law and commandments, and distancing themselves from the rebellious ways of their ancestors.

Then, in our Gospel today, we listened to the story of the Lord Jesus after His resurrection from the dead, when He appeared to His disciples in Galilee, and as they gathered, the Lord had a conversation with St. Peter the Apostle, the leader of all of His disciples, who had earlier on denied Him three times at the moment of His Passion and suffering. The Lord asked St. Peter three times whether he loved Him, and St. Peter responded each time with a sincere proclamation of his love and dedication to the Lord.

Through these series of questions, in fact, which mirrored the three times denial of St. Peter earlier on, it showed that the Lord had forgiven St. Peter, and just as He had called and chosen him earlier on, He entrusted His Church to St. Peter, as He earlier on also said that, as He gave him the name of Peter, or Cephas, ‘the Rock’, that He established His Church on the Rock of St. Peter, as His Vicar and the leader of all the faithful, as the shepherd of shepherds and the one to represent the one True Shepherd of all, the Lord Himself.

This was further affirmed as the Lord told St. Peter to ‘feed My Sheep’, symbolically presenting the Church as the flock of the Lord’s faithful, and entrusting the Church and all the faithful to the Apostles and the other disciples to be the ones to lead and guide them to the right path, as they gather together in prayer, committing themselves to a new existence together in God, and guided by the examples and the inspiration of the Holy Apostles, the saints and martyrs who had lived with devotion to God.

Today, all of us also celebrate the feast of one of St. Peter’s holy successors, as Pope and leader of the Universal Church, namely Pope St. John XXIII, also known as the Good Pope, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, elected in the Year of Our Lord 1958 as the Supreme Pontiff and Vicar of Christ, to lead the entire faithful people of God, as the shepherd of all the faithful representing Christ, the Chief Shepherd. Pope St. John XXIII and his many contributions still inspire many even to this very day.

Pope St. John XXIII was born in a poor family in the northern part of Italy in Bergamo, in a family of many children, who raised their children in the Christian faith devoutly. One of his uncles sponsored his education, and eventually he joined the priesthood and was ordained a priest in Rome. He was then involved in working in the Diocese of Bergamo and witnessed firsthand how his bishop showed his care and concern for his flock during an incident in which workers on strike to fight for their rights were arrested, and he and his bishop helped in mediating between the workers and the authorities.

This would continue to inspire Pope St. John XXIII in his later role as the Apostolic Delegate to Bulgaria and Turkey, as he worked hard to reach out to his flock and also to all other Christians and fellow men, in showing God’s love to all, in leading them towards God as the successor of St. Peter, as the shepherd of shepherds and as guide for them towards the Lord. Then, as Apostolic Nuncio to France and finally as the Patriarch of Venice, the future Pope St. John XXIII would continue to show his dedication in his efforts to reach out to the faithful.

As Pope, Pope St. John XXIII devoted himself to reform the Church, and called for the Ecumenical Council at the Vatican, also known better as the Second Vatican Council, which began during the later part of his pontificate. Pope St. John XXIII also contributed greatly to the world, in healing the divisions between Christians, through his links to the separated brethren of the Eastern Orthodox Church from his earlier tenure as Delegate in Bulgaria and Turkey, among others. And he was also well-known for his peacemaking effort, between the superpowers at the height of the Cold War, in order to avoid mutual destruction between them and the world.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we listened to the good examples and the life work from Pope St. John XXIII, can we be inspired to follow him and his good examples, and do whatever we can in our lives, so that we may truly be faithful disciples and followers of our Lord? Let us all be shepherds and guides to one another as well, to reach out to those who are in need, and to help one another to find our way to the Lord together. May the Lord, our loving Shepherd and Guide, continue to strengthen us and help us in our journey through life, now and always. Amen.

Monday, 11 October 2021 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. John XXIII, Pope (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Popes)

Luke 11 : 29-32

At that time, as the crowd increased, Jesus spoke the following words : “People of the present time are troubled people. They ask for a sign, but no sign will be given to them except the sign of Jonah. As Jonah became a sign for the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be a sign for this generation.”

“The Queen of the South will rise up on Judgment Day with the people of these times and accuse them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and here, there is greater than Solomon. The people of Nineveh will rise up on Judgment Day with the people of these times and accuse them, for Jonah’s preaching made them turn from their sins, and here, there is greater than Jonah.”

Alternative reading (Mass of Pope St. John XXIII)

John 21 : 15-17

At that time, after Jesus and His disciples had finished breakfast, He said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.” And Jesus said, “Feed My lambs.”

A second time Jesus said to him, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” And Peter answered, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Look after My sheep.” And a third time He said to him, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”

Peter was saddened because Jesus asked him a third time, “Do you love Me?” and he said, “Lord, You know everything; You know that I love You.” Jesus then said, “Feed My sheep!”

Monday, 11 October 2021 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. John XXIII, Pope (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Popes)

Psalm 97 : 1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4

Sing to YHVH a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

YHVH has shown His salvation, revealing His justice to the nations. He has not forgotten His love, nor His faithfulness to Israel.

The farthest ends of the earth all have seen God’s saving power. All you, lands, make a joyful noise to YHVH, break into song and sing praise.

Alternative reading (Mass of Pope St. John XXIII)

Psalm 22 : 1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.

He guides me through the right paths for His Name’s sake. Although I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are beside me : Your rod and Your staff comfort me.

You spread a table before me in the presence of my foes. You anoint my head with oil; my cup is overflowing.

Goodness and kindness will follow me all the days of my life. I shall dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.

Monday, 11 October 2021 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. John XXIII, Pope (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Popes)

Romans 1 : 1-7

From Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, an Apostle, called and set apart for God’s Good News, the very promises He foretold through His prophets in the sacred Scriptures, regarding His Son, Who was born in the flesh a descendant of David, and has been recognised as the Son of God, endowed with Power, upon rising from the dead, through the Holy Spirit.

Through Him, Jesus Christ, our Lord, and for the sake of His Name, we received grace, and mission in all the nations, for them to accept the faith. All of you, the elected of Christ, are part of them, you, the beloved God in Rome, called to be holy : May God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, give you grace and peace.

Alternative reading (Mass of Pope St. John XXIII)

Ezekiel 34 : 11-16

Indeed YHVH says this : I, Myself, will care for My sheep and watch over them. As the shepherd looks after his flock when he finds them scattered, so will I watch over My sheep; and gather them from all the places where they were scattered in a time of cloud and fog. I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from their countries. I will lead them to their own land; and pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in all the valleys and inhabited regions of the land.

I will take them to good pastures on the high mountains of Israel. They will rest where the grazing is good, and feed in lush pastures on the heights of Israel. I, Myself, will tend My sheep and let them rest, word of YHVH. I will search for the lost and lead back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak; but the fat and strong will be eliminated. I will shepherd My flock with justice.

Monday, 4 October 2021 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Lord through the Sacred Scriptures in which we heard the story of both the prophet Jonah, his calling and mission to the city of Nineveh, as well as the story of the Good Samaritan from the well-known parable of the Good Samaritan. Through these readings all of us are called to realise what we have all been called to do as Christians, that is to bring forth God’s truth and love to this world, much as He had spoken through the prophet Jonah and what He had revealed to us directly through the story of the Good Samaritan.

In our first reading today, we heard the rather long account of how God called the prophet Jonah from the land of Israel, calling him to follow His task and mission of going to the great city of Nineveh, to proclaim God’s words to the people of that city, who were infamous for their wickedness and great power, as the capital of the mighty and powerful Assyrian Empire. The story of Jonah and his mission was dated by historians as having occurred in the eighth century before the birth of Christ, during the decades before the final fall of the northern kingdom of Israel to the hands of the same Assyrians.

At that time, the Assyrians were rapidly growing in power as the great Hegemon of the entire Middle East. They conquered many countries and did many horrible things through their conquests, destroying many places and displacing numerous peoples, all for their own benefits. They were haughty and sinful, and through the prophet Jonah, God wanted to remind them of their mortality and their insignificance before the power of God. In the end, what God really wanted was for them to repent from their sins, to humble themselves and turn away from their sins.

But Jonah refused to obey the Lord and instead attempted to flee far away from the Lord, first to Tarshish, and then perhaps hoping to take a ship travelling to a far away place where God could not reach him. It was then that God showed His might and reminded Jonah that he could not flee from Him no matter how hard he tried to, as a great storm came and almost sank the ship that he was in, and he finally gave in to the Lord, asking himself to be thrown into the sea, and thereafter, as the Lord sent a great fish or whale to rescue him from the sea, Jonah came on dry land and then went to the city of Nineveh as God intended.

Through the prophet Jonah, God revealed His will to the people of Nineveh, as He first told them that the great city would be utterly destroyed and ruined by God for their many sins and wicked attitudes. And surprisingly, the Assyrian King, the ruler of Nineveh and the entire city listened to the Lord and His words, and humbled themselves before Him such that they all wore sackcloths in deep mourning, hoping that the Lord would not carry out His sentence against them and spare them. The Lord saw their repentance, and then did not carry out what He had designed to do on them.

As we then heard the well-known parable of the Good Samaritans from our Gospel passage today, all of us are reminded of a similar story of how a man who had been beset by robbers had been left to die in the wilderness by the roadside, only for a priest and a Levite to walk past by him, ignoring him and doing nothing to save him at all. This is a significant representation, as not only that it was reminiscent of what Jonah did, in refusing to do something to save people in need, for his case, the people of Nineveh, while he could do so, but it also showed us that all of us are called to learn what true love actually means.

The priest and the Levite were those who were deeply and greatly revered in the community of God’s people then, and yet, they did nothing at all to help, and not even sparing a glance or effort to aid the dying man. Instead, it fell to a Samaritan, a man belonging to a race that had often been hated and rejected by the descendants of the Israelites, who reached out in compassion and love to save the man, who was most likely from among the Israelites, most bitter enemies and rivals of the Samaritans.

And not only that, but as we all heard, the Good Samaritan not only took very good care of the man and brought him to a proper lodging, but he even took the extra mile of providing for his needs and showing genuine care and concern, hoping for his full recovery and sponsorship of his treatment. Through this story of the Good Samaritan in our Gospel passage today, the Lord wanted all of His disciples and therefore, all of us to know what it truly means to be His followers and disciples, to love generously and with great compassion for those who are in need.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us as Christians are called to action, to follow the Lord and trust in Him as He called on us to do His will, to devote ourselves wholeheartedly to His cause, humbling ourselves before Him and trusting in Him. We should learn from the case of the prophet Jonah and the story of the Good Samaritan, how all of us have been called by God and been given the opportunities to do what is good in this world. Yet, many times we have rejected His call and find many excuses not to follow Him, just as Jonah, the priest and the Levite had done.

Today, all of us should look upon the great examples set by a most famous saint of the Church, whose life and holiness, whose labours and efforts are still remembered even to this very day. St. Francis of Assisi, the renowned founder of the Order of Friars Minor, better known as the Franciscans and its later many offshoots, was a great saint who dedicated much of his life in service to God and to his fellow men. St. Francis of Assisi is a great role model for all of us to follow, in how we should be willing to reach out to our brethren in need, and to do God’s will.

St. Francis of Assisi was born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, the son of a very rich and prosperous silk merchant in Assisi in what is today northern Italy, one Pietro di Bernardone, who would later on called his son Francesco upon his love for France, which eventually became his more famous name of St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis in his youth was exposed to the life of the rich, the indulging of worldly pleasures and excesses, and was brought up by his father with the hope that he would be the one to continue his family’s business and legacy.

However, the young St. Francis gradually came to detest the life of excesses and wastefulness he experienced, and began to seek for true satisfaction and happiness. After a stint in the military and being struck by a disease, he would come to seek spiritual closeness to God, going for pilgrimage to Rome and even joined the poor in begging for alms. Then, he received a spiritual vision and experience from God as he passed by the ruined church of San Damiano, in which as he passed by the dilapidated church, he heard the Lord’s voice calling him, to rebuild His Church.

The young St. Francis took it that the Lord was calling him to restore the dilapidated church, and he went to take some of his father’s fine silk, selling them and using them to help the rebuilding the church. However, the priest in charge refused to accept his ill-gotten money from stealing, and the angry St. Francis threw the coins he earned on the floor. Actually, what the Lord wanted him to do, as He called St. Francis was for him to follow the Lord and to do what he could to restore the Church of God, the Universal Church and the people of God.

When St. Francis tried to hide from the wrath of his father, he hid from him for a month in a cave before eventually seeking the help of the local bishop. And when his merchant father came to seek him and demanded that he return the properties that he had stolen from him, St. Francis decided to remove from himself all pieces of clothings and there laid naked before all. The bishop covered the naked St. Francis with his cope, and from then on, St. Francis abandoned his birthright and his past life, in exchange for a new life committed to God. Ever since then, St. Francis dedicated himself wholly to God.

St. Francis of Assisi then laboured to gather others who shared his vision to rebuild and reform the Church, eventually establishing what is to be known as the Order of Friars Minor, of a religious order committed not only to prayer but also ministry to the people of God, as friars who lived in the midst of the world and in a community at the same time, where they shared their property with one another in a community of brotherhood, in poverty and in joy of serving God. Many people would come to join the Franciscans, and the Pope himself also approved of this foundation.

St. Francis himself would come to receive the holy wounds of the Lord, also known as the ‘stigmata’, which appeared on his hands and side, as well as his feet, which according to tradition happened as a Seraphim came to him and showed him the spiritual vision of God. He endured the physical pain of the stigmata each day henceforth, while living a life truly dedicated and committed to God, serving the Lord humbly and with love to the very last moments of his life, when he eventually went to the glory of Heaven, carried by the Angels of God in his sleep of death.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of God and remembered the examples and the life showed by St. Francis of Assisi, let us all discern carefully in what way that we can follow the Lord and His calling more faithfully, listening to His words and urgings in our lives, and entrust ourselves to Him, inspired by what St. Francis of Assisi had done in his own life. May the Lord help us and strengthen us all, and may He continue to guide us in our journey of faith through life. May God bless us all in our every efforts and endeavours, in the footsteps of our holy predecessors, St. Francis of Assisi and many others. Amen.

Monday, 4 October 2021 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 10 : 25-37

At that time, then a teacher of the Law came and began putting Jesus to the test. And he said, “Master, what shall I do to receive eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What is written in the Law? How do You understand it?” The man answered, “It is written : You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind. And you shall love your neighbour as yourself.”

Jesus replied, “What a good answer! Do this and you shall live.” The man wanted to justify his question, so he asked, “Who is my neighbour?” Jesus then said, “There was a man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him, beat him and went off, leaving him half-dead.”

“It happened that a priest was going along that road and saw the man, but passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite saw the man, and passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan also was going that way; and when he came upon the man, he was moved with compassion. He went over to him, and cleaned his wounds with oil and wine, and wrapped them in bandages. Then he put him on his own mount, and brought him to an inn, where he took care of him.”

“The next day, he had to set off; but he gave two silver coins to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him, and whatever you spend on him, I will repay when I return.'” Jesus then asked, “Which of these three, do you think, made himself neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The teacher of the Law answered, “The one who had mercy on him.” And Jesus said, “Then go and do the same.”