Monday, 3 October 2022 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today each and every one of us as Christians are reminded to be full of love for the Lord and for our fellow brothers and sisters, as we are called to obey the word of God and His commandments, and are reminded to do what He has taught us to do, and even what He Himself had done for our sake. We are reminded of what it truly means for us to be Christians, not just in name only, but also in real deeds and actions. Otherwise, if we do not do as we are supposed to, then we are no better than hypocrites, and our empty and dead faith will avail us not on the day of Judgment.

In our first reading today we heard from the words of the Apostle St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful people of God in Galatia. The Apostle was reminding the people of God that there was the need for them to adhere closely to the truth and the message of the Gospels and whatever that he and the other missionaries of the Lord had delivered to them. At that time, the people were easily swayed by the teachings of the false prophets and messengers, all those who came up with their own interpretations and ideas not inspired by the truth of God and the Holy Spirit, by those who sought to subvert the truth and the message of the Gospels for their own selfish desires and purposes.

That is exactly what would happen to the various communities of the Lord’s faithful across the many centuries afterwards, as the history of the Church can testify to us, how there were various false teachings and heretical thoughts and ideas that sprung forth and not founded upon the truth and the traditions handed down through the Church from the Lord and His Apostles. Those false teachers and preachers spoke of values and teachings contrary to the way of the Lord, and instead following their own worldly and mistaken ways. And thus we heard one of the Lord’s true teachings being highlighted in our Gospel passage today, in the story of the parable of the Good Samaritan, which I am sure many of us are well aware of.

In that parable of the Good Samaritan, we heard of how a man from Jericho, a Jew was beset by bandits and was left to die. A priest and a Levite passed by and ignored the man’s plight while a Samaritan was eventually the one who took care of the man but not only that, as the Samaritan went the extra mile in trying to help the man, and helped the man in his hour of greatest need, caring for him and told the innkeeper to provide extra care as much as needed, and that he would return for him no matter what. This is what I meant by the true Christian values and teachings that each one of us have been called to uphold and proclaim, and to practice and do in our respective lives.

At that time, the priests and the Levites were the elites and the most well-respected within the Jewish community, while on the other hand the Samaritans were greatly despised and hated, and no Jew of good standing at that time would want anything to do with a Samaritan. All of these happened because of the historical enmity and misunderstandings between both the Jewish people and the Samaritans, as each one of them claimed to be the authentic and true heirs of the people of God of old, of the old kingdoms of Israel and Judah in the past. The Jews of course claimed that they were the rightful descendants of Israel, having been descended from the exiles of Israel and Judah, while the Samaritans claimed that they had lived in their lands since the days of the Israelites of old.

These struggles and misunderstandings meant that the Samaritans were deeply mistrusted, prejudiced against and despised as mentioned. And yet, it was the Samaritan man who actually went out of his way to help the Jewish man, in loving and caring for him even when he was not obliged to do so. He went beyond and cared for the man anyway. That is what Christian charity and love is all about, brothers and sisters in Christ, and what we are all called and expected to do as followers and disciples of Christ, our Lord and Saviour. For the Lord Himself did that as well, extending His love to us when He was not obliged to, and cared for us deeply.

He shouldered the burdens of our sins willingly, the punishments and humiliations, the scourges and tortures, and all of that and more, so that through all of them, we may receive the sure guarantee of eternal life and salvation through Him. Christ bore the punishment of sins for us, was beaten, humiliated and scourged for us, so that by His suffering and death, we who believe in Him and put our faith in Him will be freed from our fated eternal damnation because of our sins and disobedience against God. We should have perished as the Jewish man from Jericho should have perished, and yet, our Lord, like the Good Samaritan, came to us, brought us back to new life through Him, and gave us hope and strength.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore today as we listened to these readings from the Scriptures and remembering the great love by which God cared for us and loved us, let us all hence strive to be ever better and more committed disciples and followers of our Lord in all things. Let us all strive to love Him all the more, distancing ourselves from wicked and sinful ways. And most importantly, let us all heed His own examples in loving us, and the story of the Good Samaritan, for us to love one another in the same way, to love without boundaries and prejudices, and to love generously and sincerely without considerations for our backgrounds, origins, status or other things that often shaped our way of interacting with each other.

Let us all be genuine Christians in all things, so that in everything we say and do, we will always proclaim the glory of God through our lives and examples. May all of us remain faithful to our mission and calling in life, and to be ever dedicated and faithful to God and His ways. May God bless us always, in all things, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 3 October 2022 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

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.”

Monday, 3 October 2022 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 110 : 1-2, 7-8, 9 and 10c

Alleluia! I thank YHVH with all my heart in the council of the just, in the assembly. The works of YHVH are great and pondered by all who delight in them.

The works of His hands are faithful and just, trustworthy are all His precepts, ordained to last forever, bearers of truth and uprightness.

He has sent His people deliverance and made with them a Covenant forever. His holy Name is to be revered! To Him belongs everlasting praise.

Monday, 3 October 2022 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Galatians 1 : 6-12

I am surprised at how quickly you have abandoned God, Who called you, according to the grace of Christ, and have gone to another gospel. Indeed, there is no other Gospel, but some people, who are sowing confusion among you, want to turn the Gospel of Christ upside down.

But even if we, ourselves, were giving you another gospel, different from the one we preached to you, or if it were an Angel from heaven, I would say : let God’s curse be on him! As I have said, I now say again : if anyone preaches the Gospel in a way other than you received it, fire that one! Are we to please humans or obey God? Do you think that I try to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Let me remind you, brothers and sisters, that the Gospel we preached to you is not a human message, nor did I receive it from anyone, I was not taught of it; but it came to me, as a revelation from Christ Jesus.

Monday, 26 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all presented with the reminders for us to remain faithful to God and obedient to Him. Each one of us are expected to commit ourselves to His cause and to follow Him wholeheartedly, giving our whole lives and attention, focusing our hearts and minds on Him, and dedicating our time and efforts to His cause. All of us should be genuine in our faith and way of life so that we may be truly exemplary and worthy of the Lord, despite the many challenges and trials that we may have to face amidst that path of following the Lord.

In our first reading today, all of us heard from the Book of Job the beginning of a series of discourse from this servant of God named Job, who was well-known for being one struck down by Satan and afflicted with all sorts of maladies and unfortunate occurrences and events, and yet remained faithful to the Lord despite all of that. We heard how God and Satan had a conversation in which the latter made a bet that should he strike down at Job and his belongings, and eventually even at his own body and physical being, then Job would abandon the Lord and defy Him. But God knew Job well and He knew that Job would always be faithful.

Historically, there was little evidence that Job ever actually existed, and consensus amongst Biblical scholars and archaeologists are that Job was actually a figurative person probably based on some real stories and experiences, who was highlighted and told in order to show us the importance of perseverance in faith, and how God would not abandon His faithful ones even amidst the greatest of challenges and trials. God will always remember all of His people, and all the more so for those who have shown their faith to Him. It may be that we have to suffer for a time and for some moments, but in the end, we shall be triumphant together with God.

Regardless whether Job was actually historical, existent or not, we should heed the message of what we have heard from the Book of Job and based on what more we knew about Job and his story. God always loves all of His people, and He has always shown His love and care in ways that we may often even not be aware of. The Lord wants us to know that we always have Him by our side and despite the challenges that we have to face, we can always depend on Him and trust in Him. Unfortunately, often time it is we who abandon Him and ignore Him, and put our trust in everything else but the Lord.

That is why in our Gospel passage today, we heard the words of the Lord Jesus speaking to His disciples, which serve as a reminder that all of us ought to seek the Lord with genuine faith, like that of little children coming towards the Lord. Those little children came to the Lord with true and genuine faith, unadulterated and unaffected by worldly ambitions, desires and other things that often distracted us from our path towards God. We must not allow ourselves to be swayed by those who seek our downfall and destruction, and we have to heed the Lord’s words, His calling and all that He had done for our sake.

The Lord called on all of us to be humble and to free ourselves from all sorts of worldly temptations and delusions, all the false treasures and corruptions often present all around us, and remaining faithful to God. Job was able to remain faithful to God despite the many calamities he had encountered, in the numerous material and personal losses that he had to endure, all because he trusted in the Lord much more than he trusted in the powers, wealth and might of the world. He trusted that God Who had given him everything, had the right to take everything back from him, and that God would take care of him and all that he needed. That is, brothers and sisters, the faith that all of us should have as well.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, holy martyrs of the Church, who were persecuted and tortured for their faith in God during the great persecution of the Church and Christians by the Roman Emperor Diocletian. According to Church tradition and martyrology, St. Cosmas and St. Damian were twin brothers who were also physicians, and were renowned for their loving care for the poor and the sick, as they were known not to take any payment for those who were sick and yet were unable to pay for the medical fees and services. They were popular because of their skill as healers, and this eventually led them to be arrested by the authorities.

Despite their many efforts to try to persuade, coerce and force St. Cosmas and St. Damian from abandoning their faith in God, even with temptations and riches, the authorities were not able to sway the two physician brothers and they could not force them to recant their faith and reject God. And hence, after a period of torture and suffering, eventually each one of them were subjected to capital punishments and were martyred for their faith. The examples and inspiration shown by St. Cosmas and St. Damian truly still inspired many all around the world even to this day, for their faith and dedication to the Lord. We too should be inspired by their examples.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore commit ourselves ever more to the Lord from now on, dedicating our lives to serve Him and to walk in His path, becoming great beacons of His light and truth in our world today. Let us all not be swayed by the temptations of the world, but instead do our best to strive and glorify God by our every actions, words and deeds, to be faithful to Him like what St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Job the faithful man of God, and many others of our holy predecessors. May more and more people come to know the Lord through us, and may more and more souls come to the salvation and eternal glory in God through our faithful witness and actions. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 26 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Luke 9 : 46-50

At that time, one day, the disciples were arguing about which of them was the most important. But Jesus knew their thoughts, so He took a little child and stood him by His side. Then He said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in My Name, welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me, welcomes the One Who sent Me. And listen : the one who is found to be the least among you all, is the one who is the greatest.”

Then John spoke up, “Master, we saw someone who drives out demons by calling upon Your Name, and we tried to forbid him, because he does not follow You with us.” But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him. He who is not against you is for you.”

Monday, 26 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 16 : 1, 2-3, 6-7

Hear a just cause, o YHVH, listen to my complaint. Give heed to my prayer, for there is no deceit on my lips.

Let my defence come forth from You; Your eyes see what is right. You have probed my heart, searched me at night, tested me by fire, and You have seen no wickedness in me.

I call on You, You will answer me, o God; incline Your ear and hear my word. For You do wonders for Your faithful, You save those fleeing from the enemy as they seek refuge at Your right hand.

Monday, 26 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Job 1 : 6-22

One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before YHVH, and Satan came with them. YHVH asked Satan, “Where have you been?” Satan answered, “Going up and down the earth, roaming about.”

YHVH asked again, “Have you noticed My servant Job? No one on earth is as blameless and upright as he, a man who fears God and avoids evil.” But Satan returned the question, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not built a protective wall around him and his family and all his possessions? You have blessed and prospered him, with his livestock all over the land. But stretch out Your hand and strike where his riches are, and I bet he will curse You to Your face.”

YHVH said to Satan, “Very well, all that he has is in your power. But do not lay a finger upon the man himself.” So Satan left the presence of YHVH. One day, while his sons and daughters were feasting in the house of their eldest brother, a messenger came to Job and said, “Your oxen were plowing, and your donkeys were grazing nearby when the Sabaeans came and carried them off. They killed the herdsmen. I alone escaped to tell you.”

While he was still speaking, another messenger came, “God’s fire fell from the sky and burnt all your sheep and the shepherds as well. I alone have escaped to tell you.” He had hardly finished speaking when another messenger arrived, “Three raiding teams of Chaldeans have killed your servants and carried off your camels. I alone have escaped to tell you.”

He was still speaking when another messenger came and said to Job, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking in the house of their eldest brother when suddenly a great wind blew across the desert and struck the house. It collapsed on the young people and they all died. I alone have escaped to tell you.”

In grief Job tore his clothes and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground and worshipped, saying, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, naked shall I return. YHVH gave, YHVH has taken away. Blessed be His Name!”

In spite of this calamity, Job did not sin by blaspheming God.

Monday, 19 September 2022 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Januarius, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded that as Christians we must distance ourselves from all sorts of wickedness and unworthy behaviour that kept us away from the Lord and which can become a scandal for our faith, the Church and to the Holy Name of the Lord Himself. The Lord has told us all to follow His path, and He has taught us all how we should live our lives, in accordance to His Law and precepts. And that is how as Christians we are expected to be the beacons of God’s truth and love, distancing ourselves from the darkness that often corrupted us and prevented us from seeking His light.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of Proverbs, we heard of how God reminded His people that they should not do what is wicked and evil in the sight of God and man alike, and they are called to act fairly and justly towards one another. Each one of them are called to be honest in their actions and dealings, and not to cheat or do bad things on others for our own selfish desires and for our own benefits. Each one of us are called to be caring and compassionate, to be concerned and committed to one another, to our fellow brothers and sisters, all those who have shared with us the same gift of God’s graces and blessings.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord reminded us all through His parable to His disciples, in which He used the metaphor of a lighted lamp to show how nothing that is hidden that shall not be uncovered, and how one’s true intentions will come to be known by God and men alike. This is a reminder how each one of us are called to be genuine in our actions, and not be hypocrites, who pretended to care for others and be faithful, but in truth had no place for God in our hearts and minds. As the Lord Himself said, that there is no place by His Presence, for all those who have not been genuine in their faith and love for Him. That is why unless we are genuine in our desire and efforts to follow the Lord, then we can easily end up falling into the wrong paths of damnation and ruin.

Each one of us are therefore called to abandon our wicked ways and our sinful nature, all the attachments we had on the worldly matters and desires, all of which often became great obstacles in our path towards God and His salvation. We are reminded to reject the temptations of worldly things, and to refuse the advances of Satan and his allies, all of whom are always hard at work in trying to subvert us and turn us away from God and His salvation. We have to embrace the Lord wholeheartedly and do what He had commanded us to do, and not merely paying lip service and doing things from appearances. We have to commit ourselves to the Lord and dedicate our actions to Him.

How should we do it, then brothers and sisters? All of us should follow the good examples set by our predecessors, all those who have lived their lives worthily in the path of the Lord. We should not follow the wrong guidance and we should not heed the sweet lies and falsehoods of the evil ones. We have to reject their path that will lead us down to ruin. We have to raise up and remain faithful to the Lord in all of His teachings and truths. We have to be exemplary and inspirational in all of our actions and dealings so that we may be the beacons of God’s light to the people whom we encounter in this world, our fellow brothers and sisters and all those who seek the Lord and His truth.

Today, the Church and all the faithful celebrate the Feast of St. Januarius, one of the most renowned early Church fathers and saints, whose blood’s miraculous liquefaction has always been the subject of great devotion from many especially from the faithful from around the region of Naples and southern regions of Italy, where St. Januarius was once the bishop of. St. Januarius himself was the Bishop of Benevento in southern Italy as mentioned, and he was remembered for his great dedication to his flock, to the faithful people of God, serving the people faithfully when he and his people faced intense persecutions for their faith.

It was told that St. Januarius and his flock suffered during the reign of the infamous Roman Emperor Diocletian who instituted the last of the great persecutions against the Church. He hid some of his fellow Christians and protected them from harm, at the cost of his own safety. He was arrested, persecuted and tortured, and eventually was charged and condemned to death, being beheaded for his faith and dedication to God, remaining faithful to the very end. The miraculous relic of his blood that still performs its miracles every year to this day serve to remind us of the great courage of this great man of God whose life should become our source of inspiration and strength.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore seek the Lord with our renewed faith and courage, inspired by the examples and faith showed by St. Januarius, holy man and servant of God, who dedicated his whole life to bring glory to God and salvation to his fellow brothers and sisters. Are we willing and able to do this, just as the Lord wants it from us? Are we willing to live our lives worthily so that our every words, actions and deeds become testament and witnesses of our Lord’s truth and Good News, of His love and kindness, His compassion and mercy? Let us all do our best to serve the Lord from now on with faith.

May the Lord continue to strengthen and guide us all, and may He empower us and encourage us to walk ever in His path, and bless our every good works, efforts and endeavours. May God be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 19 September 2022 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Januarius, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Luke 8 : 16-18

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “No one, after lighting a lamp, covers it with a bowl or puts it under the bed; rather, he puts it on a lamp stand, so that people coming in may see the light.”

“In the same way, there is nothing hidden that shall not be uncovered; nothing kept secret, that shall not be known clearly. Now, pay attention and listen well, for whoever produces, will be given more; but from those who do not produce, even what they seem to have will be taken away from them.”