Friday, 5 June 2020 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Boniface, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, through our Scripture passages today, we have heard of the reality of what it means to be a follower of Christ as Christians, and that often involves suffering and challenges. We have heard in our first reading from the Epistle that St. Paul wrote to St. Timothy, how persecution, trials and challenges had followed St. Paul all throughout his missionary journeys and efforts, and many of those occasions he was almost killed by all those who disagreed with him and refused to believe in the truth of God.

And St. Paul mentioned the truth clearly to St. Timothy, his godson and one of the early successors of the Apostles as the leaders of the Church, that all who follow Christ will suffer the persecution that Christ Himself had suffered, they will be rejected and ridiculed much as the Lord Himself had suffered humiliation, pain and the rejection of the world, and St. Paul wanted St. Timothy to know that, should he suffer for his faith and encounter difficulties during his missionary efforts and works, he was not alone in all that.

St. Paul used this opportunity to reaffirm the faith in his fellow servants of the Lord, giving them the courage and strength to carry on with their mission, in this case, St. Timothy himself. St. Paul used the example of how he himself had faced such bitter struggles and opposition, and yet, still survived to tell the tale, and still even had strong faith in the Lord, if not even stronger and more committed than before, to show all of us the faithful people of God, that we must not lose faith in Him and trust in Him.

We should not allow fear to lead us away from the path that the Lord has shown us, or make us to hide in fear and ignore our calling in life as God’s people, bearing the truth of His salvation to the nations. It was because of St. Paul and the many other Apostles and disciples of the Lord, as well as their successors, St. Timothy and many others, their courage and commitment to the Lord that many Christians were able to persevere in their faith despite the many challenges they encountered.

Many of the Apostles, disciples, and their successors met painful sufferings and martyrdoms, and yet, they still continued to give their best to serve the Lord and their brethren, the flock entrusted under their care. And all of these were because they trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ, His truth and love for each and every one of us, His beloved people, Who has brought into this world the pure and undeniable truth of God’s desire to save us all from certain destruction, and lead us into the new life and existence through Him.

This is why in the Gospel today, we heard why a lot of people still followed the Lord Jesus even though His ideas and truth might sound very difficult for certain segments of the society to accept, such as His identity as the Son of David and the Heir of the Kingdom of Israel, the Saviour or Messiah of the people, and even more so, being the very Son of God Most High Himself, the Divine Word of God incarnate in the flesh. Many of the people were touched by the truth, and stirred to know more about the truth because they had not closed their hearts and minds.

That was why, even though St. Paul and the other Apostles and disciples encountered many challenges, difficulties, ridicule and rejection throughout their ministry among the people, but there were also many people who were willing to listen to them and many eventually became believers and were baptised as Christians. These were the seeds of faith sown even through the most bitter and difficult years of persecution against the Christian faith, and by the faith and courage of those faithful servants of God, the Church and the faithful persevered through those difficult years.

Today, we also mark the feast of St. Boniface, a renowned bishop and Martyr of the Church. St. Boniface was remembered for his many works of mission among the pagan peoples in what is now modern day Germany. He worked very hard, much like St. Paul and the Apostles in the early days of the Church, in order to establish the foundations of the Church and the Christian faith in the vast lands of Germania, then still mostly pagan and ripe for the harvest of the faith.

St. Boniface went on many missions to convert the pagan peoples, preaching to them about the Lord and His Good News, patiently teaching them all about the Lord, and travelling from places to places bringing the Good News to more and more people. He was also renowned for his felling of the sacred oak of the pagans, known as Donar’s Oak, to which many of the newly converted Christians still went to worship as part of their old pagan practices. St. Boniface fell the tree down with an ax, and despite the curse from the people who witnessed it, the whole oak miraculously split apart and came down crashing, and the wood used to build a church in honour of St. Peter the Apostle. Many of the people who witnessed the event became true believers from then on.

St. Boniface worked hard to establish the Church in the land of Germania and was also committed to the reform of Church practices and disciplines, reducing clerical excesses and secular interference. He encountered much difficulty throughout his ministry, much like St. Paul and the other Apostles, disciples and servants of God. But those things did not stop St. Paul from dedicating himself to the cause of the Lord. In the end, waylaid by Frisian bandits during one of his journeys, St. Boniface faced death in martyrdom defending his faith against the wicked ones.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we all inspired to live our lives from now on with faith, following the great examples set by our holy and dedicated predecessors? Let us place our focus rather on the potential of glorious things to come rather than fearing the trials and persecutions of the world. Are we able to commit our time, effort and attention to serve the Lord from now on with greater fidelity and commitment, with greater sincerity and love for God and for our fellow men alike? Let us all discern these things carefully, and dedicate ourselves from now on, to the greater glory of God, now and always. May God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 5 June 2020 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Boniface, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Mark 12 : 35-37

At that time, as Jesus was teaching in the Temple, He said, “The teachers of the Law say that the Messiah is the Son of David. How can that be? For David himself, inspired by the Holy Spirit, declared : The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, until I put Your enemies under Your feet!'”

“If David himself calls Him Lord, in what way can He be his Son?” Many people came to Jesus, and listened to Him gladly.

Friday, 5 June 2020 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Boniface, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 118 : 157, 160, 161, 165, 166, 168

Many foes persecute me, but I have not turned away from Your Law.

The essence of Your word is truth, everlasting are Your just ordinances.

Rulers persecute me for no cause; yet, my heart stands in awe of Your words.

Lovers of Your Law have found great peace; nothing can make them stumble, not even distress.

O YHVH, I wait for Your salvation, and I keep Your commands in faith.

I obey Your precepts and Your decrees; my ways are always before You.

Friday, 5 June 2020 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Boniface, Bishop and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

2 Timothy 3 : 10-17

You, instead, have closely followed my teaching, my way of life, my projects, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions and sufferings. You know what happened to me at Antioch, Iconium and Lystra. How many trials I had to bear! Yet, the Lord rescued me from them all. All who want to serve God, in Christ Jesus, will be persecuted; while evil persons and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

As for you, continue with what you have learnt, and what has been entrusted to you, knowing from whom you received it. Besides, you have known the Scriptures from childhood; they will give you the wisdom that leads to salvation, through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God, and is useful for teaching, refuting error, for correcting and training in Christian life. Through Scripture, the man of God is made expert and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Thursday, 4 June 2020 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard from the Sacred Scriptures a very powerful and important reminder for each and every one of us of our supreme duty as Christians to be people of love, acting with love and dedicating ourselves to the cause of love, not love that is selfish but rather pure and self-giving, following the examples of none other than the Lord Himself, Who has shown us what love truly means for each one of us.

In our Gospel reading today, we heard of the conversation between the Lord Jesus and a teacher of the Law who was curious of the Lord’s teachings and words and wanted to find out more on His opinion regarding the Law of God. To the teachers of the Law, and also the Pharisees, the Law was a very important part of their lives and daily activities, and serve as the focus of their teachings and their way of life. However, in their often zealous and sometimes stubborn pursuit of such efforts, they became engulfed in obsession over the way of life they have preserved for years.

That was how the Lord Jesus and His disciples often ended up in conflict and disagreement with the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who saw the actions and the teachings of the Lord Jesus to be contrary to the strict adherence and interpretation of the Law revealed through Moses. For over the centuries since the revelation of the Law, the people had lost sight over the true purpose and significance of why the Law was given to us from God.

What was meant to be the guide and help for the people in their journey towards the Lord, had become instead chains that kept them oppressed and pressured, living in strict and yet, empty and dead faith. What was meant to free mankind from their attachments and the chains of sin and wickedness, ended up being misused by those who failed to appreciate the real purpose and meaning of the Law of God, because they did not have real and genuine love for God.

But as we can see, there are those among the teachers of the Law and also the Pharisees who were touched by the truth that the Lord has brought into our midst. They wanted to know more about the Law, and the Lord helped them to understand what the Law truly means, not just the strict way of observing the Law that matters, but rather, why we need to obey the Law of God in the first place. Those who misunderstood the Law did so because they only see the Law in its ‘letters’ but fail to appreciate the ‘spirit’ of the Law.

The Law of God, as summarised by the Lord, is in its essence about love, love that is pure, selfless and giving, and first of all, to love the Lord our God, our Creator and Master, the One Who loves us all so perfectly that He had created us out of that love, and Who has given us His inheritance and blessings, that we may live our lives in this world, filled with every graces and heavenly blessings. God has loved us so much and yet, we mankind often overlook and ignore His love.

In the same way, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were so engrossed in trying to fulfil all the demands of their own strict interpretation and observance of the Law that they became distracted and ended up acting to preserve their own ego and pride, as they revelled in the respect and adulation they received for their efforts. They turned their gazes inward and into themselves rather than connecting themselves to the love of God as they should have done.

God has shown us His pure love, and there is no greater love indeed, in His own words, than for someone to give his or her life for his or her friends. And God showed this by His own concrete example, when He came down into this world Himself, born as the Son of Man through His mother Mary. And through His incarnation into this world, the Lord has shown His ultimate love for us, and which He carried on all the way to Calvary, as He bore His cross and died for us, the ultimate sacrifice of love.

As the Lord has showed us His love so amazingly and so wonderfully with such a great dedication, that we too, as Christians have to follow His examples, and show the same love to the Lord as He has loved us. Are we able to commit ourselves to love Him sincerely from now on? Are we able and willing to deepen our relationship with the Lord, putting Him as the priority over our lives? Let us all not be easily distracted by the many temptations present all around us, and let us not lose sight of the need for us to have a genuine loving relationship with God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, at the same time, just as the Lord said, then we must also show the same love towards our fellow brothers and sisters, caring and showing genuine love to them, wanting for the good of everyone. This is what we need to do in our actions and our lives as Christians. If we have not done so yet, then perhaps we need to do what we can to begin following the path that God has set before us.

Let us all therefore follow the true Law of God from now on, appreciating that through the Law, we are all called to show genuine and sincere love. Let us all be filled with love in all things, and devote ourselves to God and to the care of our fellow brethren, with all of our hearts from now on. May God bless us all in our good endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 4 June 2020 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 12 : 28b-34

At that time, a teacher of the Law came up and asked Jesus, “Which commandment is the first of all?”

Jesus answered, “The first is : Hear, Israel! The Lord, our God is One Lord; and you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. And after this comes a second commandment : You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these two.”

The teacher of the Law said to Him, “Well spoken, Master; You are right when You say that He is one, and there is no other besides Him. To love Him with all our heart, with all our understanding and with all our strength, and to love our neighbour as ourselves is more important than any burnt offering or sacrifice.”

Jesus approved of this answer and said, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that, no one dared to ask Him any more questions.

Thursday, 4 June 2020 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 24 : 4-5ab, 8-9, 10 and 14

Teach me Your ways, o Lord; make known to me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and instruct me, for You are my God, my Saviour.

Good and upright, the Lord teaches sinners His way. He teaches the humble of heart and guides them in what is right.

The ways of the Lord are love and faithfulness for those who keep His covenant and precepts. The Lord gives advice to those who revere Him and makes His covenant known to them.