Friday, 22 October 2021 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. John Paul II, Pope (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Popes)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures, all of us are reminded of the need for all of us to go forth and to proclaim the truth of God in all of our communities and to be inspiration for one another in faith, just as we look upon the inspirations of our many holy predecessors, those who have gone before us and whose lives have been exemplary, righteous and good, as beacons of God’s light and truth.

Today, we focus our attention on one of these faithful and courageous servants of God, namely that of Pope St. John Paul II, whom many of us surely knew very well. Many of us have known him when he was still in this world and being our Pope. His Pontificate of almost twenty-seven years was the longest in recent memory, and one of the longest overall, and therefore many of us have spent a significant period of time under his leadership as our Pope, Supreme Pontiff and Vicar of Christ.

No doubt that many of us may know quite a lot about Pope St. John Paul II, but I want us all to spend the time today to reflect on his life and actions, his life of service to God, of commitment and the courage which he had shown in opposing injustice and persecution of the Christian faith, his upholding of fundamental Christian values and teachings amidst the pressure of conflicting worldly agenda and corruption of worldly desires and sins, and in his great leadership of the entire Universal Church.

Pope St. John Paul II was born in Wadowice in Poland in the year of Our Lord 1920, just over a century ago. He was born into a loving and devout family in Poland, a country that had just then regained independence after over a century of oppression and conquest by its neighbouring countries. He was born as Karol Jozef Wojtyla, to a father who was an army officer and a mother who was a schoolteacher. He had an elder brother whom he adored and looked up to, who was a physician.

However, he had family tragedy early on in life, as he lost his family members one by one, his mother and then elder brother, before eventually his own father just right at the start of the Second World War. Nonetheless, the young Karol Wojtyla with the guidance of his friends and relatives, and his faith in the Lord, remained strong and courageous, even during those difficult years when Poland was engulfed in the midst of the great Second World War. He joined the seminary and went through formation during those difficult period, and having even suffered a close call to death.

And as the great war came to its end, the tyranny and persecution of the NAZI German reign was replaced by an equally oppressive regime installed by the Communists from the Soviet Union, a regime that would last for more than four decades and saw great sufferings for many of the Polish people. The future Pope was ordained a priest shortly after the end of the war and began his ministry in a country that has become officially atheist and hostile against the Christian Church and faith. As a young priest, Karol Wojtyla learnt to manoeuvre around the restrictions and oppressions while staying true to his faith.

Eventually, he was chosen and ordained as bishop, first as the Auxiliary Bishop of Krakow and eventually as the Metropolitan Archbishop of Krakow, during which he was also instrumental in his role and participation during the Second Vatican Council. Then, in a public show of defiance against the Communist regime in Poland, the then Archbishop Wojtyla led the faithful in establishing the parish church in the town of Nowa Huta, which had been the proud project of the Communists as a new city in which no church would be present. He led the faithful in prayer and in putting the foundation for the church there, which after many years, was eventually completed about a decade later.

And then, by the grace of God, he was elected as the successor of St. Peter, succeeding Pope John Paul I, who had a short reign of just thirty-three days after another Pope, Pope St. Paul VI. Adopting the regnal name of his predecessor, Pope St. John Paul II then led the Church in an amazing period of twenty-seven years, in which not only that he led to the beginning of the downfall of Communism in many parts of the world, including in his own native Poland, where he led to a great rejuvenation of the faith and the Church, and inspired popular uprisings that eventually led to the downfall of the Communist regime.

In the matter of faith and Church teachings, Pope St. John Paul II was instrumental in the stabilisation of the situation following the Second Vatican Council and was remarkable in his efforts and stance against the tide of relativism and attempts to change Church teachings. He led the Church into the third millennium and through his years of suffering and perseverance, he inspired many of the people of God to remain faithful and true to God, even amidst great sufferings they experienced in life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we recall the great life and the amazing faith which Pope St. John Paul II has shown us, all of us are encouraged to follow his good examples and we are all called to walk in his footsteps, in following what he has done in being faithful, as a successor of St. Peter, to whom the Lord Jesus had entrusted His flock and people in our Gospel passage today. Pope St. John Paul II had committed himself to the mission entrusted to him, and we ourselves should live our lives fulfilling the missions that each and every one of us have as Christians.

Let us all be great and exemplary role models for one another, and let us be filled with faith and love for God. May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us in our respective journey in life, and may He bless our every good works, efforts and endeavours, all for His greater glory, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 22 October 2021 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. John Paul II, Pope (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Popes)

Luke 12 : 54-59

At that time, Jesus said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming’; and so it happens. And when the wind blows from the south, you say, ‘It will be hot’; and so it is. You superficial people! You understand the signs of the earth and the sky, but you do not understand the present times.”

“And why do you not judge for yourselves what is fit? When you go with your accuser before the court, try to settle the case on the way, lest he drag you before the judge, and the judge deliver you to the jailer, and the jail throw you into prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the very last penny.”

Alternative reading (Mass of Pope St. John Paul II)

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!”

Friday, 22 October 2021 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. John Paul II, Pope (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Popes)

Psalm 118 : 66, 68, 76, 77, 93, 94

Give me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust in Your commands.

You are good, and Your works are good; teach me Your decrees.

Comfort me then with Your unfailing love, as You promised Your servant.

Let Your mercy come, to give me life; for Your Law is my delight.

Never will I forget Your precepts; for with them, You give me life.

Save me, for I am Yours, since I seek Your statutes.

Alternative reading (Mass of Pope St. John Paul II)

Psalm 95 : 1-2a, 2b-3, 7-8a, 10

Sing to YHVH a new song, sing to YHVH, all the earth! Sing to YHVH, praise His Name.

Proclaim His salvation, day after day. Recall His glory among the nations, tell all the peoples His wonderful deeds.

Give to YHVH, you families of nations, give to YHVH glory and strength. Give to YHVH the glory due His Name.

Say among the nations, “YHVH reigns!” He will judge the peoples with justice.

Friday, 22 October 2021 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. John Paul II, Pope (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Popes)

Romans 7 : 18-25a

I know, that what is right, does not abide in me, I mean, in my flesh. I can want to do what is right, but I am unable to do it. In fact, I do not do the good I want, but the evil I hate. Therefore, if I do what I do not want to do, I am not the one striving toward evil, but sin, which is in me.

I discover, then, this reality : though I wish to do what is right, the evil within me asserts itself first. My inmost self, agrees and rejoices with the Law of God, but I notice in my body, another law, challenging the Law of the Spirit, and delivering me, as a slave to the law of sin, written in my members.

Alas, for me! Who will free me from this being, which is only death? Let us give thanks to God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Alternative reading (Mass of Pope St. John Paul II)

Isaiah 52 : 7-10

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring Good News, who herald peace and happiness, who proclaim salvation and announce to Zion : “Your God is King!”

Together your watchmen raise their voices in praise and song; they see YHVH face to face returning to Zion. Break into shouts of joy, o ruins of Jerusalem, for YHVH consoles His people and redeems Jerusalem.

YHVH has bared His holy arm in the eyes of the nations; all the ends of the earth, in alarm, will witness God’s salvation.

Thursday, 4 March 2021 : 2nd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Casimir (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture we are called to put our trust in the Lord and be faithful to Him, be righteous and good in all of our ways, that as Christians we may indeed be true to our faith. We should not allow ourselves be tempted by the temptations of worldly power, wealth and other desires that are often great obstacles preventing us from truly being faithful to the Lord.

In our first reading today we heard the book of the prophet Jeremiah, in which the prophet spoke of God’s words on how those who put their trust in Him would not be disappointed, as He Who is always ever faithful to His promises and to the Covenant He had made with us will be faithful to us and will not forget what He has promised to us. We shall receive the fullness of His blessings and graces.

However, those who reject the Lord and refuse to follow Him, those who chose to trust in their own power and in the backing of the world, all of them would regret their choice as they would not be able to find true joy and assurance, as whatever that they had gathered and depended on, could be taken away just at any moment, and none of those would be lasting in any case.

In our Gospel passage today we then heard of a related story, that of the parable of Lazarus and the rich man as told by the Lord to His disciples. The rich man was truly living a good and comfortable life, revelling in his wealth and glory, his good and fortunate life, while Lazarus the poor beggar was waiting by his doorstep daily, hoping to get even scraps of food from the table, and yet nobody gave anything to him.

When both Lazarus and the rich man died not long one after the other, the former went to heaven by the side of Abraham, the father of the Israelites and many nations, while the rich man was condemned to hellfire. By then, it was too late for the rich man who constantly suffer for eternity the consequences of his sins and his lack of compassion for Lazarus, even when he was perfectly in the position to have helped.

This is a reminder to all of us that in this life all of us are called to be filled with love and compassion to one another, to be genuine Christians in deed and action, and not just merely formality and in words alone. We must not forget that to be faithful we must not only do what is good for ourselves, but also for others, in being charitable and generous in giving towards others who are in need.

Sin is not only just sins of action, but also including those sins due to our failure to act, namely the sins of omission. The rich man was in the perfect position to help Lazarus, to show him compassion, mercy and love, and even the slightest act could have made Lazarus’ life and condition in his life to be so much better. But he did not do so, and as a result, suffer the eternal damnation in hell for his lack of compassion and action.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore be reminded of these and endeavour to take action during the time and opportunity given to us in this season of Lent, to be more Christ-like in our actions, to be more generous in giving and to be more faithful and dedicated to the Lord. We are all called to make good use of the time God has given us, the talents and blessings He has given us, for the benefit of one another.

Today we also celebrate the feast of St. Casimir, a great saint whose actions in life can also be inspiration to each and every one of us. St. Casimir was the royal prince of Poland, who was renowned for his great piety, compassion for the poor and those who were suffering. And although he was born into the great nobility, among the highest ranked ones in that class as a royal prince, but that did not make him to be proud or to boast of himself.

On the other hand, he humbled himself and dedicated himself to the care of his people, to those whom he encountered, serving the sick and the poor, showing love and compassion for those who needed them most before dying at a relatively young age from tuberculosis. His great work and contributions, love and generosity still inspire many people even to this very day, calling on more and more Christians to be more like our Lord Jesus in His love.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us therefore do our very best to offer our lives for the greater glory of God. May the Lord guide us in our journey of faith and with our actions through life, so that we may draw ever closer to Him and be found worthy to be His disciples and as those who share in His glorious inheritance. Amen.

Thursday, 4 March 2021 : 2nd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Casimir (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 16 : 19-31

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Once there was a rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen and feasted every day. At his gate lay Lazarus, a poor man covered with sores, who longed to eat just the scraps falling from the rich man’s table. Even dogs used to come and lick his sores.”

“It happened that the poor man died, and Angels carried him to take his place with Abraham. The rich man also died, and was buried. From hell where he was in torment, the rich man looked up and saw Abraham afar off, and with him Lazarus at rest. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me, and send Lazarus, with the tip of his finger dipped in water, to cool my tongue, for I suffer so much in this fire.'”

“Abraham replied, ‘My son, remember that in your lifetime you were well-off, while the lot of Lazarus was misfortune. Now he is in comfort, and you are in agony. But that is not all. Between your place and ours a great chasm has been fixed, so that no one can cross over from here to you, or from your side to us.'”

“The rich man implored once more, ‘Then I beg you, Father Abraham, to send Lazarus to my father’s house, where my five brothers live, let him warn them, so that they may not end up in this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.'”

“But the rich man said, ‘No, Father Abraham; but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced, even if someone rises from the dead.'”

Thursday, 4 March 2021 : 2nd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Casimir (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

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.

Thursday, 4 March 2021 : 2nd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Casimir (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Jeremiah 17 : 5-10

This is what YHVH says, “Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings and depends on a mortal for his life, while his heart is drawn away from YHVH! He is like a bunch of thistles in dry land, in parched desert places, in a salt land where no one lives and who never finds happiness.”

“Blessed is the man who puts his trust in YHVH and whose confidence is in Him! He is like a tree planted by the water, sending out its roots towards the stream. He has no fear when the heat comes, his leaves are always green; the year of drought is no problem and he can always bear fruit.”

“Most deceitful is the heart. What is there within man, who can understand him? I, YHVH, search the heart and penetrate the mind. I reward each one according to his ways and the fruit of his deeds.”

Wednesday, 23 December 2020 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John of Kanty, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard of the servant of God sent before the coming of the Messiah, that is St. John the Baptist, the one to announce the coming of the Messiah or Saviour of God, and the one who would prepare the way for Him, as prophesied by the prophets and as promised by God to His people.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Malachi, of the promise of God regarding the sending of the messenger who would come ahead of the Lord Himself to clear the way and prepare the path for His coming, who would be like the prophet Elijah, whose faith had been tested by fire and trials, and whose works would lead many people to the Lord.

The prophet Malachi was one of the last prophets of the Old Testament, and his book is placed at the very last place as the last chapter of the Old Testament, just before the coming of the New Testament, that came through Christ. Therefore, it is significant indeed that Malachi spoke of the coming of the one to prepare the path for the Lord, that clearly referred to St. John the Baptist.

In our Gospel today then we heard of the moment when St. John the Baptist was born, and all of his relatives gathered at his house and wanted to name him Zechariah after his father, as was common during that time. Zechariah had been mute and unable to talk ever since the Angel of God revealed to him that his wife, Elizabeth was about to bear the one whom the prophet Malachi prophesied about, the Herald of the Messiah.

Just as the prophet Isaiah also proclaimed in another prophecy, this servant of God, whose name had been known before he was even born, as revealed by the Angel, was to be the one to lead the people of God to their Lord and Saviour. He came into this world, born miraculously of an old couple who had been barren throughout, as the first miracle of God’s approaching salvation, and as proof that God truly loved His people.

The moment that Zechariah wrote down the name that the Angel had revealed to him, and wanted his son to be named John, hence, Zechariah could speak again and praised God for all His wonders. All of the people gathered were astonished and praised God as well for the wonders He had done. And through St. John the Baptist, God would lead many of His people down the path to salvation, as he laboured and called many to repent from their sins.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, how do all these relate to us then? All of us have heard of God’s salvation and received the Good News, and we have believed in the Lord and all that He had done through Christ, His Son, Our Lord and Saviour. But have we proclaimed Him in our lives, and truly show that we are Christians not just in name only, but also in deeds and in all of our actions? Have we shown that Christ is truly the centre of our celebrations in Christmas, and not only just that, but also the centre of our whole lives and existences?

Today, as we are just two days away from Christmas, we are all called to look upon our lives and actions, and we should reflect on whether our actions have shown our true Christian faith at all times. We should dedicate our actions to the Lord and strive our best to follow Him and His saints’ examples, especially for today, that of St. John of Kanty or St. John Cantius, whose feast day we celebrate.

St. John of Kanty was a Polish saint whose life and work as a priest, philosopher and theologian was truly inspirational as he dedicated much of his life to the Lord, and spent a lot of effort in his numerous academic works and in the advancement of the Christian theology and teachings. But not only that, St. John of Kanty also dedicated much of time caring for the poor and the needy, being especially charitable towards them.

St. John of Kanty was remembered for his outreach and generosity to the poor, and also to the needy students in the university in which he taught as a professor. He was remembered for his almsgiving and his genuine faith and humility. He made pious pilgrimages to Jerusalem and to Rome, and some of those pilgrimages were made on foot. His life and work remain an inspiration for many long after his passing.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we should be inspired by the examples set by St. John of Kanty, and as we approach Christmas, let us all seek to celebrate it wholeheartedly with a new attitude of faith, renewed in love for our God, and dedicate ourselves thoroughly to Him so that all who witness us and our actions, as well as our Christ-centric life and celebration of Christmas, may come to believe in Him as well, so that by our lives and actions, even more people can be saved and share in our joy.

Let us all discern on this carefully as we come to the joyful celebration of Christmas, that we may truly celebrate it with true joy and with genuine celebration, so that we may draw ever closer to the Lord and be worthy of Him and the everlasting glory that He has promised us all. May the Lord bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 23 December 2020 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John of Kanty, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 1 : 57-66

When the time came for Elizabeth, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbours and relatives heard that the merciful Lord had done a wonderful thing for her, and they rejoiced with her. When, on the eighth day, they came to attend the circumcision of the child, they wanted to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, “Not so; he shall be called John.”

They said to her, “But no one in your family has that name!” and they asked the father, by means of signs, for the name he wanted to give him. Zechariah asked for a writing tablet, and wrote on it, “His name is John,” and they were very surprised. Immediately Zechariah could speak again, and his first words were in praise of God.

A holy fear came on all in the neighbourhood, and throughout the hill country of Judea the people talked about these events. All who heard of it pondered in their minds, and wondered, “What will this child be?” For they understood that the hand of the Lord was with him.