Wednesday, 17 October 2018 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the Scriptures through which we first heard of the contrasting fruits of the flesh and the fruits of the Spirit. The fruits of the flesh were that of fornication, evil, wickedness, greed, desires for worldly pleasures and the corruption of the body, heart, mind and soul. While the fruits of the Spirit were those of love, hope, kindness, fidelity and more good fruits that came from the Lord.

And then we heard from the Gospel of the rebuke which the Lord Jesus made upon the Pharisees, in harsh terms, with regards to their attitude and way of living their faith, which were hypocritical in nature, when they showed their external acts of piety, their devotions and prayers, not for the love which they had for God, but rather because of their self-serving attitude and desire to gain human praise and worldly glory.

The Lord also criticised the way they handled certain matters of the faith, and in how they enforced and carried out the laws of the Lord as according to Moses. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were supposed to be the guardians of the Law and those who were entrusted with the judgment and the leadership of the people, as those who showed the way for the people to live in accordance with God’s will.

However, in reality, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were corrupt in their judgment and in their faith. They were arbitrary in their judgment, and bent to human desires and worldly concerns in the way they enforce their version of the Law of God. They were bent by the sway of money, just as in how they gave in to the temptation of receiving monetary benefits from having many merchants selling their wares and goods in the courtyard of the Temple of Jerusalem.

What is the reason for all these unbecoming and wicked attitudes of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law? As mentioned in the first reading today, they are actually due to the evil and wicked fruits of the flesh, caused by the temptations of wealth, of worldly pleasures, of glory, of fame, of influence and prestige, of ambition and other forms of worldly indulgences. When these things came into the equation of one’s faith, it ends up causing the corruption of one’s own mind, heart and soul.

That is why, today we are called to discern carefully our path in life, that we should not fall into the same traps into which the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had fallen. We should not let these temptations to corrupt us and to turn us away from the path of the Lord. Instead, we should seek to purify our faith, and follow in the examples shown to us by God’s holy servants, especially that of St. Ignatius of Antioch, holy men and holy servant of God, the second bishop of Antioch.

St. Ignatius of Antioch was one of the disciples of Jesus, who was among the earliest of the Church fathers. He helped to establish the Church in the community of the faithful in the city of Antioch, where it was known that the first community of Christians outside of Judea was formed. He helped to steer the Church, both in Antioch and beyond, during difficult times of persecution and troubles, when they were persecuted by both the Jewish authorities and later on, the Romans.

St. Ignatius of Antioch suffered from the same persecution, and it was told that he was brought to Rome as part of the persecution. He wrote many letters to the faithful during that period, and these letters inspired the faithful, and became central part of the teachings of the Church as preserved by the Church fathers. He was martyred in Rome, but not before becoming beacon of faith and hope, an example for many Christians of his time.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we can see in St. Ignatius of Antioch, the flame of passion and love for the Lord, the genuine commitment which he showed before all of the people, including his tormentors and executioners. He put the Lord before all things, including that of his own desires and wishes. And in doing so, he did not allow the temptations of the evil one to enter into his heart, unlike that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law.

Now, are we able to follow the Lord in the same manner as that of St. Ignatius of Antioch? Surely, we can do so, if we put our heart and mind into it. Let us therefore turn ourselves thoroughly and completely to the Lord, from now on, that in all things, we may, glorify the Lord by our words, actions and deeds. May the Lord be our Guide, and may He help us to find our way to Him. Amen.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 11 : 42-46

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “A curse is on you, Pharisees! To the Temple you give a tenth of all, including mint and rue and other herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. These ought to be practiced, without neglecting the other obligations.”

“A curse is on you, Pharisees, for you love the best seats in the synagogues and to be greeted in the marketplace. A curse is on you, for you are like tombstones of the dead which can hardly be seen; people do not notice them, and make themselves unclean by stepping on them.”

Then a teacher of the Law spoke up and said, “Master, when You speak like this, You insult us, too.” And Jesus answered, “A curse is on you also, teachers of the Law. For you prepare unbearable burdens and load them on the people, while you yourselves do not move a finger to help them.”

Wednesday, 17 October 2018 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 1 : 1-2, 3, 4 and 6

Blessed is the one who does not go where the wicked gather, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit where the scoffers sit! Instead, he finds delight in the law of the Lord and meditates day and night on His commandments.

He is like a tree beside a brook producing its fruit in due season, its leaves never withering. Everything he does is a success.

But it is different with the wicked. They are like chaff driven away by the wind. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous but cuts off the way of the wicked.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Galatians 5 : 18-25

But when you are led by the Spirit you are not under the Law. You know what comes from the flesh : fornication, impurity and shamelessness, idol worship and sorcery, hatred, jealousy and violence, anger, ambition, division, factions, and envy, drunkenness, orgies and the like. I again say to you what I have already said : those who do these things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is charity, joy and peace, patience, understanding of others, kindness and fidelity, gentleness and self-control. For such things there is no Law or punishment. Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its vices and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us live in a spiritual way.

Monday, 17 October 2016 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we are reminded again how we have been saved through the loving action and through the mercy of God, Who have forgiven our trespasses and opened for us the path to salvation and eternal life, a liberation from the darkness and the corruptions which had trapped us all these while.

God has by His grace allowed us to receive the good fruits of His blessings, and through Him He has enabled us all to enjoy the promise of everlasting life, the hope amidst all of the despairs of this world. Yet, we mankind are the ones who are often obstinate and adamant in our ways, refusing to believe in Him and even rejected Him for lesser beings, false idols and all other distractions of this world.

We trust more in our own judgments and desires rather than listening and obeying to the Lord our God. And in doing so, we have often fallen into sin and deeper into the darkness. Our desires pull us ever more to try to attain for ourselves even more of what satisfied our flesh, the pleasures of our bodies, that we acted in ways as mentioned by Jesus in the Gospel today.

He mentioned about a rich man who had plenty of wealth, in his barns, crops and coins he possessed. And yet, he still desired for even more of these wealth, and thinking as well as worrying about what to be done to his ever growing wealth. He had planned long into the future to accumulate all the more of what he had attained, and to gather even more of what brought him satisfaction, fame, glory and prosperity.

And yet, God reminded him and indeed all of us, each and every one of us, that for all the wonders and the good things we have, all of these do not last forever. And just as much as we mankind can plan for all the things we want to do in life, ultimately, it is God Who decides our fate, and it is He alone Who understands us fully and knows the exact lengths of our earthly existence. He gave us life, and He alone can take the same life back.

It is a lesson and a reminder for us all Christians that our existence and our salvation depends on God, and indeed our lives depend on God, and His love is the one that made everything possible for us. He is generous and rich in mercy and love, but are we doing anything in order to accept these rich offerings of love? The love of God is ours to take, but do we love Him in the same manner and just as much as He has loved us?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all called to appreciate more what God had given us, and then to take up into ourselves the responsibilities and the tasks which He had entrusted to us just as He entrusted those same tasks in His commands to His Apostles that many years ago just before He left to ascend to His heavenly glory.

We are all called to serve the Lord with faith and zeal, and to deliver unto the whole world, the revelation of God’s salvation and of His hope for us all, that through believing and accepting that the Lord Jesus Christ is their Lord and Saviour, and through complete and total change in life attitudes and actions, all of them, all of us mankind may be brought to the salvation God promised His faithful ones.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch, a very influential and important disciple of the Lord who was the successor of St. Peter the Apostle in his capacity as the Bishop of Antioch, and therefore was its second bishop, in a city where the Church was first established and where the faithful were also first known as Christians.

St. Ignatius of Antioch was very devoted to the Lord, giving his best in the works to establish and to strengthen the foundations of the Church in the region and beyond after he converted to the faith and became one of the leaders of the Church. It was because of his hard work and contributions from the other faithful and Church leaders that the Church endured through the difficult first decades of its existence.

He wrote extensively about the teachings of the Lord and published these among the faithful, encouraging them to keep the faith courageously even amidst threat of persecution and suffering imposed by the Roman authorities. He often led by example, serving the poor and the weak ones in the community, and the numbers of the faithful continued to grow during his leadership of the Church in Antioch.

While he was eventually martyred in Rome as the traditions held, truly, he had no regret or fear, for unlike those who have endeavoured to build for themselves earthly wealth and treasures. For he had built up for himself immense treasure in heaven, one that truly matters. For no one who have placed their trust in the Lord shall be disappointed, and neither was St. Ignatius of Antioch and the many other holy saints and martyrs.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore join our efforts together, to bring the Good News of God to all the peoples, to our brethren by our own faith and fidelity to our faith and to the teachings of the Church. May God help us on our journey and may He help us to draw closer to Himself, leaving behind our sinful past and embrace a new future filled with love and joy. Amen.

Monday, 17 October 2016 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Luke 12 : 13-21

At that time, someone in the crowd spoke to Jesus, “Master, tell my brother to share with me the family inheritance.” He replied, “My friend, who has appointed Me as your Judge or your Attorney?”

Then Jesus said to the people, “Be on your guard and avoid every kind of greed, for even though you have many possessions, it is not that which gives you life.” And Jesus continued with this story, “There was a rich man, and his land had produced a good harvest. He thought, ‘What shall I do, for I am short of room to store my harvest?'”

“‘Alright, I know what I shall do; I will pull down my barns and I will build bigger ones, to store all this grain, which is my wealth. Then I will say to myself : My friend, you have a lot of good things put by for many years. Rest, eat, drink and enjoy yourself.'”

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be taken from you. Tell me who shall get all you have put aside?’ This is the lot of the one who stores up riches for himself and is not wealthy in the eyes of God.”

Monday, 17 October 2016 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Psalm 99 : 2, 3, 4, 5

Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.

Know that the Lord is God; He created us and we are His people, the sheep of His fold.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving, His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and bless His Name.

For the Lord is good; His love lasts forever and His faithfulness through all generations.

Monday, 17 October 2016 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Ephesians 2 : 1-10

You were dead through the faults and sins. Once you lived through them according to the world and followed the Sovereign Ruler Who reigns between heaven and earth and Who goes on working in those who resist the faith. All of us belonged to them at one time and we followed human greed; we obeyed the urges of our human nature and consented to its desires. By ourselves, we went straight to the judgment like the rest of humankind.

But God, Who is rich in mercy, revealed His immense love. As we were dead through our sins, He gave us life with Christ. By grace you have been saved! And He raised us to life with Christ, giving us a place with Him in heaven. In showing us such kindness in Christ Jesus, God willed to reveal and unfold in the coming ages the extraordinary riches of His grace.

By the grace of God you have been saved through faith. This has not come from you : it is God’s gift. This was not the result of your works, so you are not to feel proud. What we are is God’s work. He has created us in Christ Jesus for the good works He has prepared that we should devote ourselves to them.

Saturday, 17 October 2015 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the words of the Holy Scriptures, speaking to us about the grace and blessings that shall await all those who keep and maintain their faith in God, and the curses and the condemnations that await all those who have veered away from the path towards the Lord and towards salvation.

The example of Abraham, our forefather in faith was used, in his obedience and exemplary actions and life, which were filled with the obedience and the trust which he showed to God, the complete faith and trust that he had shown, which made his descendants to become truly blessed by God’s grace. This is done so to inspire all of us to strive for righteousness and justice, and therefore become eligible to enjoy forever God’s love and grace.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us have been called to a new life of repentance, of redemption and of forgiveness. All of us have been called out of the pit of darkness, misery and wickedness, and we are all called into the life filled with God’s justice and grace, which can become a reality only if all of us gather together and work together to achieve that goal of salvation in God.

Those who have not been faithful to God, who refused to listen to the word of God, and those who have gone astray in their lives, walking in their own paths in disobedience to the Law of God, will receive the wrath and anger of God, and God shall reject them, just as they themselves had rejected Him first. God is merely reciprocating the hatred and the unwillingness of those who have not given their love to Him. Yet, if these people were to repent and change their ways, God will readily show His infinite mercy and love to them.

God is ever loving and merciful, but this does not mean that He readily tolerates our sins and wickedness. He loves each and every one of us personally and as His beloved children and creation, but He does not love our sins and our wrongdoings. He hates all forms of sins and injustice, all forms of malice and wickedness, all forms of evil and all the darkness that lie in our actions.

If we persist in retaining all those sins and darkness, then certainly all of us will be condemned and prevented from reaching salvation in the Lord. This is because those sins and wicked things in our words and actions are barriers and obstacles that stop us from finding our way to the Lord. Those sins are what preventing us from receiving the fullness of God’s grace and blessings, and they kept us away from the light, remaining in the darkness and the abyss.

This is why, we ought to reflect on our own actions and deeds, and we should think about what we have done in this life, so that we may realise the current state of our being, whether we stand in righteousness and grace of God, or whether we are in danger of falling into the condemnation of eternal hell. Thus, we ought to heed the example of a holy man and saint whose feast day we celebrate on this day.

Today is the feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch, the second bishop and leader of the faithful in Antioch, a great city of Christendom in the Eastern Mediterranean. It was counted among the birthplaces of Christianity, as the place where the faithful were first called as Christianoi, or Christians. It was the place where the Church was established by St. Peter the Apostle, the Vicar of Christ, who later went on to establish the Church in Rome.

St. Ignatius of Antioch was his successor as the second Bishop of Antioch, and he helped to continue the establishment of the Church in Antioch and beyond, caring for the spiritual and overall well-being of his flock, giving them examples to follow and exhorting them to be always faithful to God and His ways, and resist the temptations of worldly goods and human greed.

Eventually, St. Ignatius of Antioch shared in the suffering of Christ our Lord, when he and the other Christians were persecuted under the orders of the civil authorities of the Roman Empire. The Emperor and the officials of the Roman state opposed the Christians and their teachings of truth, and they attempted to snuff out the light of the Church at its young stage of growth.

Nevertheless, St. Ignatius of Antioch remained resolute and committed to the evangelisation and spreading of God’s Good News of the Gospel, and he suffered death and martyrdom knowing that the works he had begun would be carried on by those who came after him, and his martyrdom served as an inspiration for countless others to also pick up their crosses and follow the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, let us on this day reflect once again on our own lives. We have a clear choice on whether to obey the Lord and His ways, walking in His righteousness and justice, and practicing His will and commandments in all of our words and actions, or whether we want to follow he devil and all of his errors and lies.

Let us all take concrete actions in our lives, so that in all the things we do and say, we will show a renewed effort of loving and serving the Lord our God, with all of our hearts’ strength. May the Lord have mercy on us all, forgive us all our sins, and bring us into everlasting life. Amen.

Saturday, 17 October 2015 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 12 : 8-12

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples and to the people, “I tell you, whoever acknowledges Me before people, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. But the one who denies Me before others will be denied before the angels of God.”

“There will be pardon for the one who criticises the Son of Man, but there will be no pardon for the one who slanders the Holy Spirit. When you are brought before the synagogues, and before governors and rulers, do not worry about how you will defend yourself, or what to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you have to say.”