Monday, 27 May 2019 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture in which we are reminded that each and every one of us must be connected and attuned to God all of our lives, as the one and only True Vine from Whom all life and all peace and glory comes. This was the parable of the True Vine which the Lord used to reveal all of these to the people, so that they might understand the truth of God.

A vine of grapes is a plant which is connected to each other and to the roots via the vines, which deliver the important nutrients, water and all the things that the plant need in order to live and survive. If the fruit or any of the parts of the plant were to be separated from the main vine and the roots, those parts of the plant cannot possibly survive and grow, and eventually they will die. It is only by remaining attached to the vine that the whole body of the plant will remain alive and well.

The True Vine is Christ, the centre and source of all life. The parts of the plant are all of us, each and every one of us as members of the Church. The Church is the vine, united in its roots to Christ, as the Head of the entire Church. And unless we remain in good standing in faith within our Church, and remain firmly united with Christ through the Church, by our good and faithful lives, we are in fact separated from the True Vine of Christ.

In the same way therefore, if we remain separated from the Vine, there can be no life in us. And as the Gospel passage mentioned today, that the Lord pruned the vine from time to time to keep it growing and producing fruits well, unless we bear good fruits in our lives, eventually we shall be sundered and separated from that vine. These fruits are the fruits of our good labour in faith, of our loving commitment and dedication in serving God and in loving our fellow men.

In truth, God has given us all the skills, the abilities, the resources and all that is necessary for us to bear good fruits of faith. He has planted in us the good seeds of faith, of hope and of love, since the moment when He created us and reaffirmed through our baptism, by the Sacraments of the Church that we received. But whether these seeds will grow well and healthily and produce good fruits depend on whether we allow the Lord to enter into our lives, and by being connected to Christ, the True Vine.

Today, we celebrate the feast of one of our holy predecessors whose life and examples may become a source of inspiration for us in how we ought to live our own lives. St. Augustine of Canterbury was a great missionary who was sent by Pope St. Gregory the Great to begin the effort of the re-Christianisation of the land later on known as England, after decades of pagan invasions that destroyed much of the earlier Christian communities there.

St. Augustine of Canterbury worked tirelessly among the people, the nobles and their kings, preaching to them the word of God and showing them the truth of the Gospel, while caring for the need of his flock and reestablishing the foundations of the Church in England. Through his efforts and much time spent at working among the people and caring for the needs of his flock, many converted to the Christian faith and the mission flourished quickly.

The fruits of the works and labours of St. Augustine of Canterbury can be seen from the reestablishment of the Christian faith in England, although it would take many more decades after the time of St. Augustine of Canterbury before the whole England could be converted back to the Christian faith. His dedication and commitment to the Lord is an example to all of us, in how we ourselves should act in ways that follow the Lord’s path.

Let us all therefore be fruitful as Christians, devoting our time, effort and attention to be as loving, committed and be as Christ-like as we can in our every words and actions, in all the things we do, so that our lives will truly be filled with the fruits of God’s love and grace. May God bless us all and may He continue to guide us in our path. Amen.

Monday, 27 May 2019 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 15 : 26 – John 16 : 4a

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “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. 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. Come now, let us go.”

“I am the True Vine and My Father is the Vinegrower. If any of My branches does not bear fruit, He breaks it off; and He prunes every branch that does bear fruit, that it may bear even more fruit. You are already made clean by the word I have spoken to you. Live in Me as I live in you.”

Monday, 27 May 2019 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 149 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6a and 9b

Alleluia! Sing to the Lord a new song, sing His praise in the assembly of His saints! Let Israel rejoice in his Maker, let the people of Zion glory in their King!

Let them dance to praise of His Name and make music for Him with harp and timbrel. For the Lord delights in His people; He crowns the lowly with victory.

The saints will exult in triumph; even at night on their couches. Let the praise of God be on their lips; this is the glory of all His saints. Alleluia!

Monday, 27 May 2019 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 16 : 11-15

So we put out to sea from Troas and sailed straight across to Samothrace Island, and the next day to Neapolis. From there we went inland to Philippi, the leading city of the district of Macedonia, and a Roman colony. We spent some days in that city.

On the sabbath we went outside the city gate to the bank of the river where we thought the Jews would gather to pray. We sat down and began speaking to the women who were gathering there. One of them was a God-fearing woman named Lydia from Thyatira City, a dealer in purple cloth.

As she listened, the Lord opened her heart to respond to what Paul was saying. After she had been baptised together with her household, she invited us to her house, “If you think I am faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us to accept her invitation.

Monday, 20 May 2019 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are all reminded of the commandments that God has given to us and which He has revealed to us first of all through His servant Moses, in the form of the laws of the Old Testament, the laws of Moses, and then which He completed and revealed fully through His Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord.

The Lord assured all of us as we heard in our Gospel passage today that all those who obey His commandments will not be disappointed, as all of us who are in this world and obey His commandments will receive the promise of eternal glory and eternal life that can be found in God alone. Conversely, there can be no place in God’s presence for all those who refuse to obey the commandments of God.

And in the first reading today taken from the Acts of the Apostles, we heard of the efforts of St. Paul and St. Barnabas in the town of Lystra, where they performed miracles and signs, which the people misunderstood and misrepresented as the acts of the divine, that is their own divinity, the gods and deities of the Ancient Greco-Roman religion, of Zeus, the god of the sky, his supposed son Hercules and many other deities.

We see in these deities, in fact, the perversion of human desires and their own shortcomings, as is frequent among the polytheistic religions and customs that came before the advent of the Christian faith. For example, in the ancient Greek religion itself, many of the deities behaved no better and if not worse than that of human beings. Yes, they were supposedly powerful and mighty, with supernatural powers and control over the elements, but their behaviours were often debauched, a reflection of the imperfect humans who created them.

And all these were caused by man’s of self-desire to love themselves, to benefit themselves and to gain for themselves as much as can be profitable for them. They saw in their gods and deities a reflection of themselves, in what they hoped to achieve, more worldly power, more money and wealth, more sexual pleasures and many other forms of the indulgence of the flesh and the body and mind, and many other indulgences and pleasures.

That was why, they failed to recognise God’s truth being present in their midst, just as they mistook St. Paul and St. Barnabas as being the gods they coveted and worshipped being present right in their midst. But the Apostles presented to them the truth, that it was not all those false deities or human beings that should be worshipped, but God alone, the One and only True God. They did not allow themselves to be swayed by pride and desire for power, and that was exactly why the people there then must have been dumbfounded.

After all, who does not desire power and glory. If we can put ourselves in the shoes of the Apostles at that time, seeing the population of a whole city coming to you and bowing down before you as if you were gods and divinities surely would make you proud and arrogant, thinking that you are someone special and powerful. But that was where the Apostles clearly made their stand and resisted the temptation.

Instead, they firmly held onto their faith in God, remembering that first and foremost, it is God alone Who deserves such kind of love and adoration, and they put God before themselves and cast aside their pride and desire. They also loved their fellow brethren so dearly that they were willing to spend the time to explain to them the truth so that they would not fall into the wrong path or continue down the path of debauchery and sin.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, how about we ourselves? How have we lived our lives thus far? Have we been obedient to God’s will and commandments, or have we instead acted and done things according to our own selfish desires and wants? If we have been mostly doing the latter actions, then perhaps now is the time for us to reflect and begin making a change, by not putting ourselves and our own interests ahead of the obligations we have to God and the love which we ought to show our fellow brethren.

It was what St. Bernardine of Siena, who is today’s saint, had done with his own life. He was well known for his preaching against all kinds of immoral conduct, which ultimately stemmed from humanity’s prideful and selfish desires, and did a lot of work in trying to bring as many as possible to God’s redemption. He had many challenges, and not few opposed his work, but regardless, he continued to do the good works of God, loving God and his fellow men.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He continue to guide us all in out journey of life, and give us the courage and strength to be able to resist the temptation of pride and desire, and instead follow the good examples of the Apostles St. Paul and St. Barnabas, and St. Bernardine of Siena in their tireless and loving dedication to God. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Monday, 20 May 2019 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 14 : 21-26

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Whoever keeps My commandments is the one who loves Me. If he loves Me, he will also be loved by My Father; I too shall love him and show Myself clearly to him.”

Judas – not Judas Iscariot – asked Jesus, “Lord, how can it be that You will show Yourself clearly to us and not to the world!” Jesus answered him, “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.”

Monday, 20 May 2019 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 113B : 1-2, 3-4, 15-16

Not to us, o Lord, not to us, but to Your Name be the glory, for the sake of Your love and faithfulness. Why should the pagans say, “Where is their God?”

There in heaven is our God; whatever He wishes, He does. Not so the hand-made idols, crafted in silver and gold.

May you be blessed by the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth. Heaven belongs to the Lord, but the earth He has given to humans.