Monday, 14 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Callixtus I, Pope and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the faith that we must have in God and we must not doubt Him any longer, no matter what. We must trust in Him and we must not allow temptations to distract us and to pull us away from Him as what happened to the Israelites of the time of the Lord Jesus as mentioned in our Gospel passage today.

In that occasion, the Lord spoke before the people making references to both the Queen of the South as well as the prophet Jonah. And the context of this occasion was that the people especially the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law asked the Lord to perform miracles and signs before them that they might believe in Him and follow Him. Yet, the fact is that the Lord had done numerous miracles before their eyes before they asked Him, and they refused to believe.

In fact, plenty of times when they asked the Lord to show them something miraculous was meant to test Him and to find evidences against Him, as they continued to refuse to listen to Him and closed their hearts and minds against Him. They did not have faith in the Lord and they allowed pride and worldly greed and desires to overcome their rationale and wisdom, and as a result, they refused to believe even though they have seen and witnessed the wonders of God many times.

St. Paul in our first reading passage today, at the beginning of his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in the city of Rome spoke firmly and courageously of the Lord Jesus Christ, the one Whom he was serving as an Apostle, and laid before the faithful in simple and straightforward terms, who the Lord Jesus truly is, the One Whom God had promised to His people as the Saviour of the whole world and by Whose hands, mankind were to be saved.

As a significant proportion of the earliest Christians were members of the Jewish communities scattered throughout the Mediterranean including in Rome, St. Paul alluded to the Lord Jesus being the One Who fulfilled the many prophecies of the prophets of God, the One promised to bring mankind into eternal life and salvation, and by the supreme act of love on the Cross of His sacrifice, Christ brought salvation into the world.

And that was the sign of Jonah as alluded by the Lord Himself in the Gospel passage today. The Lord would descend into the depths of hell until the third day of His resurrection, just as Jonah spent three days in the belly of the great whale. And just as Jonah was sent to the city of Nineveh to remind them of their wickedness that led them to repent from their sins, the Lord Jesus came into this world to call us to repent from our sins.

Through all of these, and what we have heard in the Scripture passages today, we really need to reflect deeply on our own lives and actions thus far. Have we been truly faithful to God all these while or were our faith more of the superficial kind, or just of a formality and paying lip service to God and the Church? We need to discern what we have to do from now on in our lives as faithful Christians, that is as those who truly believe in God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today perhaps we should also look at the inspiring examples shown by this day’s saint, namely Pope St. Callixtus I, one of the early leaders of the Church who endured much difficulties and challenges from even his youth, as it was told that he lived formerly as a slave during his early years. When he was eventually elected as the Successor of St. Peter and leader of the Church, he lived through a difficult time of persecution of the Christian faithful.

There were challenges from both outside and from within the Church at the time, as disagreements in the Church leadership actually caused bitter division and election of a rival Pope, St. Hippolytus of Rome. And during those years, persecution of Christians would end up causing the arrest and eventual suffering and martyrdom of Pope St. Callixtus I and many other Christians of his time. Nonetheless, they lived their lives with great faith and dedicated themselves wholeheartedly to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore from now on renew our conviction and commitment to live as better Christians, to be more faithful in all things and to love God as well as our fellow brothers and sisters around us with ever greater love and faith. May God through the intercession of His faithful saints, especially Pope St. Callixtus I, continue to bless us in our daily lives. Amen.

Monday, 14 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Callixtus I, Pope and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Luke 11 : 29-32

At that time, as the crowd increased, Jesus spoke the following words : “People of the present time are troubled people. They ask for a sign, but no sign will be given to them except the sign of Jonah. As Jonah became a sign for the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be a sign for this generation.”

“The Queen of the South will rise up on Judgment Day with the people of these times and accuse them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and here, there is greater than Solomon. The people of Nineveh will rise up on Judgment Day with the people of these times and accuse them, for Jonah’s preaching made them turn from their sins, and here, there is greater than Jonah.”

Monday, 14 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Callixtus I, Pope and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 97 : 1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4

Sing to YHVH a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

YHVH has shown His salvation, revealing His justice to the nations. He has not forgotten His love, nor His faithfulness to Israel.

The farthest ends of the earth all have seen God’s saving power. All you, lands, make a joyful noise to YHVH, break into song and sing praise.

Monday, 14 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Callixtus I, Pope and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Romans 1 : 1-7

From Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, an Apostle, called and set apart for God’s Good News, the very promises He foretold through His prophets in the sacred Scriptures, regarding His Son, Who was born in the flesh a descendant of David, and has been recognised as the Son of God, endowed with Power, upon rising from the dead, through the Holy Spirit.

Through Him, Jesus Christ, our Lord, and for the sake of His Name, we received grace, and mission in all the nations, for them to accept the faith. All of you, the elected of Christ, are part of them, you, the beloved God in Rome, called to be holy : May God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, give you grace and peace.

Saturday, 14 October 2017 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Callixtus I, Pope and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are given the messages of encouragement through the Scriptures, that as the followers and disciples of Christ, all of us will not be forgotten or be abandoned, but instead will receive the fullness of the fruits of everlasting joy and grace that will be the lot of those who have kept their faith in God.

In the first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Joel, we heard the words of God through His prophet giving strength and encouragement to the people of the kingdom of Judah, as it was possible that the prophet lived during the time of the exile, when the people of God were exiled from their homeland in distant Babylonia after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.

At that time, it was a time of great humiliation, as the people of God had to endure scorn and shame as a conquered people, having their kingdom, their city and the holy Temple destroyed by the Babylonians under king Nebuchadnezzar. God had allowed their enemies to have power over them because the people of God had not been faithful, and they had been wayward in their lives, worshipping pagan idols and performing all sorts of acts that are wicked in the sight of God.

Therefore, God spoke through the prophet Joel, giving encouragement to His downtrodden and demoralised people, that if they would turn back to Him and to abandon their sinful ways, showing genuine regret and sorrow over their mistakes, then He would succour them and protect them, and He would bless them once again, He would be their God and they would be His people.

God is always faithful to His promises, to the Covenant which He had established with each and every one of us. To that extent, He gave us His own Son, Jesus Christ, to be the Mediator of the New Covenant, which He sealed by His sacrifice on the cross, through the outpouring of His Most Precious Blood and the offering of His own Most Precious Body as the perfect sacrifice for our reconciliation and as the atonement for our sins.

Yet, many of us failed to recognise this love which God has for us, and we ignored the care and love He has shown for us. We chose to walk on our own path, and disobeyed His laws and commandments, just as much as how the Israelites of the past had done. They had abandoned God and sinned before Him, and therefore, because of their sins and refusal to repent, they have been rejected and condemned.

In the Gospel today, Our Lord Jesus made it very clear to us, that all those who listened to the Word of God, will be blessed by God, and God will be with them. If only that we obey the Lord wholeheartedly, God will grant us all that we need, and provide for us every single moment of our lives. But it is indeed not easy to become a faithful disciple and follower of the Lord, for at every juncture in our lives, there will be temptations, challenges, and even persecution and oppression.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that was what Pope St. Callixtus I, the saint whose feast we celebrate today, have experienced in his life. Pope St. Callixtus I lived during the time of the early Church, and became the Pope and leader of the Universal Church at a time when there were great persecutions against Christians and the Church, and when becoming a Christian or being known as Christians would equate a fate of great suffering and even martyrdom.

Pope St. Callixtus I encountered these difficulties throughout his life, having to endure exile, prison and torture from time to time, and as he led the Church as the Pope, he encountered even more troubles and challenges. Yet, he did not give up the fight, and continued to remain faithful to God despite the odds and challenges. He was faithful to God, and obeyed Him in all of His laws and commandments, showing a great example to the people of God entrusted under his care.

Although eventually Pope St. Callixtus I was martyred for his faith, yet, his examples, his courage and bravery, the devotion and faith which he had in the Lord continued to inspire many throughout the ages, who saw his examples and became believers in God. Therefore, all of us should also follow in their footsteps, walking faithfully just as our holy predecessors had done, living righteously and devoutly in God’s presence.

May the Lord through His holy saints and martyrs, their lives and dedications continue to inspire each and every one of us as Christians to live in accordance with God’s ways, and be obedient to Him in everything, despite the challenges and difficulties we are likely to face as part of our faith. May He empower us to live ever more closely related to Him in all the things we say and do. Amen.

Saturday, 14 October 2017 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Callixtus I, Pope and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Luke 11 : 27-28

At that time, as Jesus was speaking, a woman spoke from the crowd and said to Him, “Blessed is the one who gave You birth and nursed You!”

Jesus replied, “Truly blessed are those who hear the word of God, and keep it as well.”

Saturday, 14 October 2017 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Callixtus I, Pope and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Psalm 96 : 1-2, 5-6, 11-12

YHVH reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the distant islands be glad. Clouds and darkness surround Him; justice and right, are His throne.

The mountains melt like wax before YHVH, the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim His justice, all peoples see His glory.

He sheds light upon the upright, and gladness upon the just. Rejoice in YHVH, you, who are blameless; and give praise to His holy Name.