Saturday, 3 September 2016 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the key message and the gist of today’s Scripture readings is really very simple, and yet it is at the same time, something very important for us all to take note of, as disciples and followers of our Lord. And that is the value and virtue of humility, and of rejecting pride and hubris, understanding that we mankind are not greater than God and His authority.

In order to understand fully the meaning and nuances behind what transpired between the Lord Jesus and the Pharisees in today’s Gospel, we have to appreciate and be able to understand the history of how it came to be as what it was like at the time of Jesus. By that time, the Jewish people, the descendants of Israel had had the Law revealed to them for over a thousand years, with many generations of peoples passing down the Law of God from mouth to mouth.

God made it clear in the beginning that He created mankind because of His love for all that He had created, and the greatest of which He reserved for us, the most perfect and beloved of all His creations, created in His very own Image. And because of that love, He has endeavoured to forgive them and rescue them from their own downfall, that is sin. Sin has entered into the hearts of men because of disobedience, and the reward for sin is death.

But God did not want such a fate for those whom He had intended to give His love to, and for the ones whom He had cared for, certainly He did not desire for them to perish, but to live and to rejoice together with Him. That was why He sent His messengers and servants among His people, to call them to repentance and to turn themselves to the loving and caring hands of the Lord, that He might take them up and bless them once more.

To that extent also, therefore, God sent Moses to rescue His people from their suffering and tribulation in the land of Egypt. They went out with the guidance from God’s own mighty Hand, and He showed His might before them. And in order to seal the promise He had made with them, He sealed it with the Covenant which He established through the Law that He passed down to Moses His servant, that His people would observe them forever.

These laws and commandments are love, brothers and sisters in Christ. If we read through the Ten Commandments, love the Lord your God and have no idols or false gods before Him, honouring His holy Name and the day of the Lord, all these speak of how we ought to have that love and dedication for God, just in the same manner as God has loved us first.

And the other commandments, exhorting us not to kill, not to steal, honouring one’s mother and father, all are speaking about how we ought then to show the same love we have shown to the Lord, in how we also love our brethren, our neighbours around us. This is what the Lord wanted from us all mankind, His beloved people, that we have love in us, His love, that we may love Him just as much as we have been loved by Him.

Yet, unfortunately, due to the obstinance and the rebelliousness of the people, they disagreed and doubted many times about the Lord, so much so that in order to keep them in check and to help ensure that they are able to restrain their negative desires and traits, God helped them by giving them rules and regulations to help them to manage themselves, that after having disciplined themselves, then they would be better able to find themselves on the right track towards the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, over time, the people of God forgot the intention of God why He established those rules and regulations in the first place. And as the Law was often transmitted from mouth to ear, and then from one to another again, over time, there were many misunderstandings and things that they had added into the laws, which then the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law zealously defended and imposed on the people.

These people saw themselves as superior to others, and they revelled in their pride knowing about their esteemed position and supposed greater piety and honour in the society, something which St. Paul clearly warned against in today’s First Reading, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Corinth. He warned them about human pride and hubris, greed and desire for power which could easily takeover us mankind, and make us not faithful servants of the Lord, but instead as wayward people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as Christians we should learn to be more like king David, whom Jesus mentioned in His words in the Gospel today. When his men were hungry, the king David cared for them and found food for them in the Temple of God, that they might be sustained and not suffer from hunger. That is the kind of love which our Lord also expects from each and every one of us, that we do not overlook the sufferings of others, or worse, by imposing our views and opinions on others.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were fixated on the wrong things. They were so blinded by their blind obedience to the laws of Moses, which was serious misunderstanding of the true intention of the Law of God, that is love. Instead of bringing mankind to love God more, they were making those people to fear Him, as the excessive obligations and rules ended up burdening the people, especially all those seeking to repent and to turn over a new leaf.

Rather, we should learn to be true disciples of our Lord, by not just having empty faith, but also through active participation and commitment of our loving works and deeds, that we show love in all that we do, in all that we say, and after all these, in not claiming the credit for ourselves, or be proud of our achievements and deeds, for all these we have done, all for the sake of the greater glory of our God.

Today we also commemorate the feast of the great and renowned Pope, Pope St. Gregory the Great, who was well known for his great devotion to God, in his efforts to live a truly Christian life. Even though he had been elected to such an important role and position in the Christian world, but he remained humble and was very dedicated to the mission which he had been entrusted with by the Lord.

Pope St. Gregory the Great helped to reform the Church and the lives of the faithful, bringing greater discipline to the Church and to help the people of God to learn how to live as a faithful disciple and follower of the Lord. He helped the poor and the weak in his areas of jurisdiction, improving the livelihood of those who once lived in squalor and filth, showing genuine Christian love to everyone who saw him.

And he also sent many missions to convert many Pagans and all those who still lived in the ignorance of the salvation of God, that through these courageous missionaries, the word of God, that is the love I have mentioned earlier, the desire of the Lord to have all of His beloved children to return to Him, may reach all the ends of the earth, and as many souls as possible could be saved.

In his short earthly life, we can already see how he embodied what we Christians have to do, and how we ought to do it. Can we all devote ourselves to God and to our fellow brethren in the same way that Pope St. Gregory the Great and many of the other holy saints had done, brethren? Are we able to commit ourselves to the Lord fully and wholly without being distracted by the temptations of worldliness, power and all others?

Let us all pray now, brethren, that we may be given the gift to discern carefully how we are to do our actions in life, that wherever we are, we will always be ready to show love where it is needed, to care for the life and wellbeing of others when they were under threat, and to stand up for our needy and poor fellow men who were unjustly oppressed. May God help us in these endeavours, and may He keep us all always in His everlasting grace. Amen.

Saturday, 3 September 2016 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Luke 6 : 1-5

At that time, one Sabbath Jesus was going through the corn fields, and His disciples began to pick heads of grain, crushing them in their hands for food. Some of the Pharisees asked them, “Why do you do what is forbidden on the Sabbath?”

Then Jesus spoke up and asked them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his men were hungry? He entered the house of God, took and ate the bread of the offering, and even gave some to his men, though only priests are allowed to eat that bread.”

And Jesus added, “The Son of Man is Lord and rules over the sabbath.”

Saturday, 3 September 2016 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White
Psalm 144 : 17-18, 19-20, 21

Righteous is the Lord in all His ways, His mercy shows in all His deeds. He is near those who call on Him, who call trustfully upon His Name.

He fulfils the wish of those who fear Him; He hears their cry and saves them. For those who love Him, the Lord has compassion; but the wicked, He will destroy.

Let my mouth speak in praise of the Lord, let every creature bless His holy Name, forever and ever.

Saturday, 3 September 2016 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Corinthians 4 : 6b-15

Learn by this example not to believe yourselves superior by siding with one against the other. How then are you more than the others? What have you that you have not received? And if you received it, why are you proud, as if you did not receive it?

So, then, you are already rich and satisfied, and feel like kings without us! I wish you really were kings, so that we might enjoy the kingship with you! It seems to me that God has placed us, the Apostles, in the last place, as if condemned to death, and as spectacles for the whole world, for the Angels as well as for mortals.

We are fools for Christ, while you show forth the wisdom of Christ. We are weak, you are strong. You are honoured, while we are despised. Until now we hunger and thirst, we are poorly clothed and badly treated, while moving from place to place.

We labour, working with our hands. People insult us and we bless them, they persecute us and we endure everything; they speak evil against us, and ours are works of peace. We have become like the scum of the earth, like the garbage of humankind until now.

I do not write this to shame you, but to warn you as very dear children. Because even though you may have ten thousand guardians in the Christian life, you have only one father; and it was I who gave you life in Christ through the Gospel.

Thursday, 30 April 2015 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Pius V, Pope (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we hear a brief summary of the history of salvation and of the people of God, Israel, in the first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, where St. Paul preached and testified for the faith in front of his fellow Jews in a synagogue. He told them about how God led His people out of Egypt, and gave them leaders to guide them, from the Judges to the kings, and on David, the faithful servant and king which God had chosen to rule over His people.

And it was told of the fulfillment of God’s promise of salvation of His people, through the promise which God had made to David, that His descendant would rule forever on his throne. And indeed, everything was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, including God’s promise to mankind, that salvation would come to them. Jesus broke free mankind from the chains of their slavery to sin and liberated them, just as the people of Israel once had been freed from their slavery to the Pharaoh and the Egyptians.

This freedom however, is not easy to maintain, as history had once proven. The people of Israel during their sojourn in the desert, were sorely tempted and many of them repeatedly gave in to their desires. As a result, they complained against God, rebelled against Him by saying how good their lives were back in Egypt as compared to what they had then in the desert, even though God fed them with manna and birds, and made them drink sweet and clear water in the middle of the desert.

Is this not the same with our own experience? We also have often done the same in our own respective lives. If we reflect on it, we should realise that there are some or many moments in our lives where we also disobeyed the Lord to pursue our own desires. We have this tendency to be tempted by the many things that Satan and the world offers us, and if we accept them as such, then we are no different than the people of Israel of old.

In the Gospel today, Jesus spoke about how a servant is not greater than his or her master, and therefore, as this is the case, all of us as the servants of God should not presume things and do things that betray our Lord and show that disobedience to the Lord, for if we truly belong to the Lord, then we ought to do things as the Master had taught us. If we do not, then we are liars and hypocrites, and we do not belong to Him, and thus we have no part in His inheritance.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have for an example, a saint, whose holy life had been an inspiration for many throughout the ages. This holy man, who happened to be the successor of St. Peter the Apostle as the Pope and Bishop of Rome, and therefore as the Vicar of Christ and leader of the entire Universal Church of God had a very important role to play in the development of the faith of many whom he had touched and inspired.

Pope St. Pius V lived at a time of great uncertainty, of many dangers and threats to the people of God and to the Church. He led the Church through a very turbulent time of dangers both outside and inside the Church. At that time, the threat of the mighty Ottoman Empire was at its zenith, and many feared the eventual conquest of Christendom by the forces of the heathens. In addition, the effects of the Protestant ‘reformation’ still caused great divisions in the body of the faithful, wars and conflicts.

Pope St. Pius V played a pivotal role in all of this, by truly committing himself to the role which he had devoted himself to, as the Leader of all God’s faithful, by assembling the combined forces of Christendom and the forces of the faithful that eventually led to a major and crushing victory against the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Lepanto. As such, the external threat against the faithful and the Church gradually diminished afterwards.

And with regards to combatting dissent and opposition in the Church and beyond, Pope St. Pius V successfully completed the long delayed Council of Trent, which resolved many of the outstanding issues in the Church and emphasized on the maintenance of the true faith and all of its teachings, as preserved by the Church since the time of the Apostles, to counter all the harmful effects of the so-called ‘reformation’.

Pope St. Pius V therefore led the Church in the vigorous effort of Counter-‘reformation’ to combat the rampant heresies among the people, and as a result, countless thousands and millions of souls returned to the true faith. Such was indeed the example of how all Christians should live their lives, that is to be truly devoted and faithful to all the ways of the Lord.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we all able to be true disciples of the Lord, and devote ourselves completely to Him? Are we able to commit ourselves to the way of truth and be true disciples of our Lord? It is the opportunity which we have today that we should not waste. May Almighty God therefore guide us on our path and help us so that in all of our actions, we may always be faithful to the Lord, and as a result, be found worthy to receive the inheritance which He had promised to all of us. God bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 30 April 2015 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Pius V, Pope (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 13 : 16-20

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly, I say to you, the servant is not greater than his master, nor is the messenger greater than he who sent him. Understand this, and blessed are you, if you put it into practice.”

“I am not speaking of you all, because I know the ones I have chosen, and the Scripture has to be fulfilled that says : ‘The one who shared My table has risen against Me.’ I tell you this now before it happens, so that when it does happen, you may know that I am He.”

“Truly, I say to you, whoever welcomes the one I send, welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me, welcomes the One who sent Me.”

Thursday, 30 April 2015 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Pius V, Pope (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 88 : 2-3, 21-22, 25 and 27

I will sing forever, o Lord, of Your love and proclaim Your faithfulness from age to age. I will declare how steadfast is Your love, how firm Your faithfulness.

I have found David My servant, and with My holy oil I have anointed him. My hand will be ever with him and My arm will sustain him.

My faithfulness and love will be with him, and by My help he will be strong. He will call on Me, ‘You are my Father, my God, my Rock, my Saviour.’