Wednesday, 27 October 2021 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of God in the Scriptures, we heard how the Lord called us to be His people, sending to us His Holy Spirit to show us the path forward, so that we may know how we should proceed in life in following Him. He has called us all to Himself, and revealed us His wisdom and truth through the Holy Spirit, but at the same time, that we may find our way to Him, as He gave us the freedom and free will to choose our path.

However, unfortunately, many of us chose to ignore Him and His truth, and even among us who call and consider ourselves as Christians, as those who should have believed in Him and walked in His path, many of us still lived in a state of ignorance and rejection of God. Many of us acted in a way that is in contrast to what the Lord had revealed, taught and shown to us. In that way, we are just like what we have heard in our Gospel passage today, when the Lord chastised those who claimed to know the Lord and yet, did not truly know Him.

In that occasion, the Lord answered someone who asked Him if it was difficult for one to enter into the kingdom of God. The Lord told the man and the other people the reality that many people would try to enter into the kingdom of God and yet they would not be able to do so, because of various reasons. The Lord told them all that many would claim to know the Lord and sought Him, but they would falter along the way and would not find their way to Him, and they would be left outside, to suffer the eternal pain and consequences of their infidelities.

Why is this so, brothers and sisters in Christ? Why is it that following the Lord is such a difficult thing to do? That is because many of us prefer to follow our own personal ambitions, desires, our greed, ego and pride, over that of following the Lord and obeying His Law and commandments. The Lord has called us all to follow Him, and He has also revealed to us His truth, and yet, many still refused to do so, delayed to do so and walked elsewhere instead of going towards Him, all because we find that following the whims of our desires felt much better for us than to obey the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all reminded through our Scripture passages today to stay focused on the Lord and to follow Him wholeheartedly. We are all called to turn away from the way of evil and sin, from our selfish desires, from all greed and pride. Are we all able to do this? Or are we going to continue to allow sin to lead us down the wrong paths in life? Sin is truly dangerous and unless we are vigilant and careful in how we live our lives, we may end up being dragged and pulled into our downfall.

Unfortunately, it is much easier said than done, and many of us often constantly fail to resist the pull and allure of temptations to sin, to disobey the Lord and to walk our own path. Every day we always face this dilemma, the challenges and the difficulties of staying true to our faith in God. This is where all of us have to be resolute and to persevere together, helping one another to stay true to our faith, and not to slide into the path of wickedness and sin. We have to do our best to listen to the Lord, to discern carefully our path in life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, God has given us the gift of truth and wisdom as He has mentioned in our Scripture passages today, that through His Holy Spirit, He has revealed everything to us, and the choice is now ours to make, whether we want to follow the Lord and commit ourselves to Him or whether we want to continue walking down those paths of sin and evil. We have the free will given by God to choose whether we want to walk in the path of worldly pleasures, that may appear to be easy and all good now, and yet, leads us to eventual downfall and suffering, or whether we want to commit ourselves to the apparently more difficult path of Christ, and yet one that leads to eternal life and true joy.

May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us, and may He empower us all to live ever more faithfully in His presence. May God bless all of us and our every efforts and endeavours, all for His greater glory, that we shall always find joy in living our lives as Christians to the best of our abilities. Amen.

Tuesday, 26 October 2021 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Scriptures speaking to us about the coming of the Lord’s salvation and His kingdom, the kingdom that He has promised us, the kingdom of God to which we are all called to enter, to receive one day the fullness of glory, true happiness and pure joy that we can only find in the Lord alone. Today we are all called to turn towards the Lord and put our hope in Him.

In our first reading today, from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Rome, the Apostle reminded them all of the hope in God’s salvation, which all of them had been promised and which they would receive, if they could be patient and remain true to their faith, acknowledging how everyone had been looking forward to and desiring the love and salvation from God, after having suffered the many trials and challenges we have to face because of our sins.

St. Paul was in fact referring to the salvation of man from their original fall into sin. Mankind had chosen to listen to Satan and his lies, and to follow the temptations of their flesh and desires rather than to trust in God. And St. Paul reminded the faithful that all of us have to be patient and to persevere through the challenges that we may face in life. We cannot allow ourselves to be swayed easily by the lies of the devil, and all of his false promises, through which he and the other forces of evil ever always tried to distract us, mislead us and bring us into our downfall.

They would always try to tempt us with an easy life, that if we want to enjoy things we have and in our lives, and find pleasures in this life, then we should walk in the path that has been shown to us. In that way, they tried to make us regret following the Lord and instead turn towards the easier and more convenient path instead, one that has been presented to us as the better path in life. The Lord’s path certainly often seems to be the more challenging and difficult one to follow.

Yet, we must not lose faith, brothers and sisters in Christ, and we have to trust in the Lord and His providence. We must believe that if we remain faithful to Him, and true to His path, then in the end, there is nothing less than true glory and happiness in following Him. The Lord has always been faithful to the Covenant that He has established with our forefathers and which He had renewed and made evident to us through His Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

In our Gospel passage today, we listened to the words of the Lord speaking to us, as He spoke of the parable about the kingdom of God to the people listening to Him. He compared the kingdom of God to that of the mustard seed, which is planted and then later on would grow to be a large tree, from a mere small seed, and how mighty that tree would be as compared to the very small seed that was the mustard seed, from among the smallest of the seeds to be one of the largest among the trees.

Then He also compared it to the measures of flour with yeast, which is put together into dough and let to raise. When under the right and optimum conditions, the yeast would then make the dough to rise up and enlarge greatly when the leavened bread was to be made. However, just like the germinating mustard seed and the growing young mustard plant, everything would not have happened unless the right and appropriate conditions were provided.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, effort and commitment is need for us to walk faithfully in the path that the Lord has set before us. There will be opposition, challenges, trials and even persecutions facing us as we commit ourselves to this path set before us by the Lord, but we must realise that it is also part of the efforts of those who sought our downfall to lead us down the wrong path, by persuading us to give up the fight. We have to persevere in faith, brothers and sisters in Christ, and seek the true joy that we can find in the Lord alone.

Let us not seek the temporary joy and fulfilment that the false path of Satan and sin have offered us, but instead let us turn towards the Lord with renewed faith and love for Him, turning away from the path of evil and sinfulness, embracing His mercy and compassionate love from now on. May God be with us always and may He strengthen each and every one of us in our journey of faith through life towards the glorious kingdom of God. Amen.

Monday, 25 October 2021 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all called to reflect on the words we have heard reminding us to be faithful to God and to love Him as the same way as children are loving their parents, because we are God’s beloved children through baptism, by which all of us have been made sharers in God’s inheritance and received God’s grace and blessings, His love and providence.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Rome about the matter of following God and His ways, that all Christians as God’s own beloved sons and daughters ought to be truly faithful to Him and the commandments and laws which He has shown and given to them through the Church and its Apostles. They have been freed from the slavery of sin by God, and correspondingly should no longer subject themselves to the power and corruption of sin, and hence, they ought to live a life that is worthy of God.

St. Paul wrote this to the faithful in Rome with the context that there and elsewhere across the Mediterranean, in other communities of the faithful, quite a few of the Christian populations who were newly converted to the faith continued to practice pagan rituals and beliefs, and worse still, continue to live in a state of sin, full of debauchery and wickedness. Those behaviours and way of life were incompatible with the Christian faith, and in fact bring scandal upon the Church and the sanctity of our solemn faith and profession.

That is why, St. Paul reminded all of the people, and then, which includes all of us, that everyone who believe in God ought to be thoroughly converted to the path of God’s truth and righteousness. We must never allow our worldly desires and the many temptations to sin to bring and lead us to our downfall. If we are not careful, we may end up falling into those temptations and ended up sinning again, unless we make the conscious effort to reject Satan and his temptations for us to sin against God. We must realise just how blessed we are to have been beloved by God, and we should treasure how we have been saved by Him.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord and His healing of the woman who had been crippled for eighteen years, who had been suffering and tormented by her afflictions. And it was an evil spirit that forced her into that state. No one had been able to heal her, until that moment when she came before the Lord, and the Lord noticing her, had pity on her and showed her His most generous mercy, healed her by likely casting out the evil spirit that had tormented and troubled her. He made her whole again and liberated her.

Yet, the officials of the synagogue and the members of the Pharisees who were present there criticised the Lord for having done the healing on the day of the Sabbath, which to them was against their very strict interpretation of the Law of God. The Lord immediately rebuked them and pointed out the folly and illogical nature of their argument and their rigid attitude, as double standard quickly appeared when comparing how the people untied their donkey and oxen even on the Sabbath to provide for their needs, while the suffering woman had to wait to be healed, if the Lord had acted in the manner desired by the Pharisees and the synagogue officials.

Instead, the Lord through His action showed us that we are all truly precious for Him, as His lost sheep that He has gathered again from among the nations, from all those scattered and spread far and wide, and we are all His beloved ones that He would do nothing less than give His own life in exchange for our salvation. Through His Cross, Christ has suffered and died a most terrible, humiliating and painful death, all for our sake, that we may have new life through Him, and share in His glorious Resurrection and the eternal life promised to us.

Having been beloved in such a way, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we still willing to allow ourselves to be commanded and misguided by our desires, and by the temptations to sin? Having been rescued and redeemed from our sins, are we still insisting on following a path of sin and evil, in disobedience against God? Are we still stubborn in our refusal to open our hearts and minds, in order to welcome Him into them, that He may dwell in us and we may be made wholesome like that suffering woman? Let us all carefully consider our path in life from now on, that we will walk in the presence and grace of God.

Let us all inspire and strengthen one another to live ever more faithfully in God’s path, and let us be exemplary in our every actions and interactions in life, so that all who see us, hear us and witness our works, will come to know the Lord and will know that we are truly His beloved children, and come to believe in Him as well. May God, our loving Father and Creator, continue to bless us and our good efforts and endeavours, all for His greater glory, now and always. Amen.

Sunday, 24 October 2021 : Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time, World Mission Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday all of us mark the occasion of the World Mission Sunday, reminding all of us that all of us as Christians are called to be missionaries of our faith, of the truth and love of God. All of us through our baptism have received this mission from the Lord, the same mission that all of us share in our Christian faith, and we must never have the thinking that only those who are called as missionaries or those who are members of the ordained or the religious brothers and sisters who are called to a life of mission for God.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah, the words of the Lord proclaiming His care and love for His people, in gathering all of them, scattered from among the nations and lost, humiliated and without a leader, as He would become their Lord and guide once again, and reunite them into the land that He would lead them into. And this was the promise and reassurance that the Lord made to His people, who at that time were in the midst of the lowest points of their fortunes, surrounded and oppressed by their neighbouring nations.

At that time, the prophet Jeremiah ministered to the people of God in Judah, at the last years of its existence, after the northern kingdom of Israel had been destroyed by the Assyrians for over a century previously, and its people exiled and scattered among the nations. Judah would also follow suit shortly as it was attacked, its capital Jerusalem besieged and destroyed by the Babylonians, and most of the populations brought off into exile in Babylon and other placed, while some sought refuge in Egypt. All these happened during the lifetime and ministry of prophet Jeremiah.

Therefore, at that time, Jeremiah spoke the word of God in consoling and reassuring His people at the time of their great misfortune and misery. The Lord wanted all of them to know that He did not leave them alone, and He was always with them even through their darkest moments, and He sent to them Jeremiah to be the one to reveal to them His will, His intention and love. Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, Jeremiah was sent as not just a prophet but also as a missionary to reveal God’s truth and love to His people.

Then, in our psalm today this is reiterated again, as the song of joy speaks of how God brought back the exiles and all those people that had been scattered, and how they went in sorrow and God reunited them and returned them to their homeland in great joy. God had done great things for His people, and He came to them, seeking them, sending prophets, messengers as missionaries to find them and to reach out to them, and to touch their hearts and minds, to put in them once again the love and faith for God.

In our second reading today, we heard of the passage from the Epistle to the Hebrews, in which, as repeatedly mentioned throughout that Epistle, the Lord Jesus Christ, Saviour of all mankind and the whole world was presented as the High Priest of all, in presenting His offering on behalf of all of us, which is worthy for the atonement of all of our innumerable sins. That is because Christ acted as the High Priest of all, by offering the perfect and worthy offering, of Himself as the Sacrifice, the Lamb of God, put to death and slain on the Cross, which is His Altar.

Through this Epistle, the author of the Epistle, which was directed to the Jewish converts and other Jews among the people, both in Judea and around the world, wanted to tell all of them the same message that God has given their ancestors through the prophet Jeremiah. God loved all of them and wanted to be reunited with them, and as all of us had been separated from Him through sin, He sent us all the deliverance through His Saviour, Who is none other than His own beloved Son, Jesus Christ, born into this world, the Divine Word Incarnate that became our Light and Salvation.

This is the same Christ Who in our Gospel passage today heard the cries of Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus, who was blind for a long time. He cried out for the Lord to have mercy on Him and to heal him from his affliction. And when the people around him scolded him and tried to silence him, he cried out all the louder, calling on the Lord, Who heard him perfectly and came to him. The Lord wanted to heal him and restore his sight, and asked the blind man if that was what he desired, and then healed his eyes, by the power of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as I mentioned earlier at the start of today’s discourse, all of us are reminded through today’s Scripture passages of our mission as Christians, as those who have answered God’s call and received baptism to be members of His Church. All of us share this calling to be evangelistic and missionary in our lives, which is not just limited to those who have given themselves to the sacred orders or the consecrated life as religious brothers and sisters. The Lord calls on each and every one of us to play our part in the mission of the Church.

And how do we do that, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is why we have to recall what we have just heard in our Scripture passages today, as well as what we have just discussed and reflected just now. The Lord is calling us to do whatever we can, in our respective capacities and abilities, in whatever opportunities we have, in reaching out to our fellow brothers and sisters, to show them the truth and love of God and to be exemplary and as inspirations in how each one of us ought to live out our lives as good and dedicated Christians.

That is the essence of the Lord’s Great Commission to all of us, His Church, as He proclaimed to His disciples just before He was about to ascend to Heaven, that they all are to go forth to the peoples of all the nations, and to make disciples of them, and to baptise them all in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is the mission which the Lord has entrusted to all of us, for us to be His missionaries in this world, through our everyday living and our actions that lead many others to God and His salvation.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we celebrate this World Mission Sunday today, all of us must not be idle in living our Christian lives with true and genuine faith. We cannot be hypocrites who profess to believe in God and yet our actions show otherwise. Not only that it does not lead others towards God, but worse still, if our lives cause scandal to our faith, we can end up leading more people to leave the Church and to turn away from God’s truth and salvation. And with that, the responsibility for such event will hang heavily upon us.

We have to live our lives with faith, to reach out to the marginalised and those who are without hope and are downtrodden. Just like the Lord reassuring His people, gathering the lost and scattered ones back and calling on them to return to Him, and just as He has shown mercy and love on the blind man, healing Bartimaeus from his blindness, so all of us have also been called to follow Our Lord’s examples in love, in sharing this love He has for us, through us, with one another.

How do we do this? By genuinely loving our fellow brothers and sisters, and all those whom we encounter in life. We have to show our love for our loved ones, for our neighbours, friends and others, and even to acquaintances and strangers, and also, our enemies and those who hate us, that through our love and patience with them, we may even make them realise the errors of their ways, and be reconciled with them, just as the Lord had sought to be reconciled with us. It has to begin with us and our attitudes towards each other. As long as we are genuine in living our faith, then we are already good missionaries.

On this World Mission Sunday therefore, let us pray for one another, that we may be ever more effective and sincere missionaries of our Christian faith, that we may ever be more genuine in how we live up to our faith that we may always inspire more and more people to follow the Lord, and to touch the lives of more people, especially those who have not known or have distanced themselves from God. We should then also pray for those who have dedicated themselves especially to missionary work all over the world, all those who dedicated themselves to proclaim and teach the faith to diverse groups of peoples, both within and outside our Church communities.

May the Lord continue to be with us and guide us in our journey of faith and help us all to be good and dedicated missionaries that are committed to serve the Lord and His people daily, at all times. May God bless all of our good works, efforts and endeavours from now on, all for His greater glory, the holy mission of His Church for the salvation of souls. Amen.

Saturday, 23 October 2021 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Capestrano, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, all of us having heard from the readings of the Sacred Scriptures, we are all called to be truly faithful to God in all things, dedicating our whole lives to He Who has shown us the path forward in life, that is the path towards righteousness and goodness. Through Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, God had made His salvation and love for each and every one of us clear and visible, making Himself real and tangible, bringing forth His truth into this world.

In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Rome, we heard him speaking to them regarding this matter, reminding all of them that they have been saved through Jesus Christ, their Lord and Saviour. St. Paul the Apostle reminded the people that as they had been saved by the Lord, called to follow Him and received the gift of His grace and the Holy Spirit that has been given to them, therefore, all of them ought to follow Him wholeheartedly and obey Him, and no longer walk in the path of the flesh, that is the path of sin and darkness.

St. Paul made it clear that those who have chosen to follow the Lord have chosen to walk in the new path shown by the Spirit, and this new path is a revolutionary path that seeks to glorify the Lord through obedience and through our virtuous life rooted in the faith. We cannot be Christians that are professing to be faithful and devoted to God, and yet, in our behaviour, actions and interactions, we act in the same way as unbelievers are doing. We must not be hypocrites in our faith, and we have to be genuine in our way of living our faith.

Then linking what St. Paul then said with what the Lord had said to His disciples in our Gospel passage today, essentially, all of us are reminded that the path of sin and darkness leads to nothing else but ultimate destruction and annihilation. Those who died through sin shall be judged by those same sins and shall be held accountable for their actions. Their disobedience against God, their refusal to listen to Him and obey His Law and commandments will be held against them on the last day, at the moment of the Final Judgment. Meanwhile, those who hold fast to their faith and remain firm in their love for Him shall be rewarded in the end.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, what we have heard from the Sacred Scriptures today are kind reminders from the Lord through His Church, how sin can lead us to destruction and how we have been freed from the tyranny of those sins, by the loving sacrifice of our Lord and Saviour on the Cross. As such, we should strive to resist the temptations to sin and to disobey the Lord. There would be many such temptations all around us, persuading us, coercing us and forcing us to change our ways to suit the way of the world and to follow the corrupting path of sin.

As Christians, all of us are called to resist those temptations and to stand by our faith in God. Such is our calling and expectation as fellow servants and disciples of Our Lord. And God has given us many examples for us to follow, those saints, holy men and women, all those who have given themselves to serve the Lord faithfully. Today, we remember one of them, namely St. John Capestrano, also known as St. John of Capistrano, was a Franciscan friar and priest, who have been remembered for his great holiness and dedication to the Lord, for his zeal in defending the faith and for courageously preaching the truth of God.

St. John Capestrano was a very passionate preacher and missionary, who went from places to places as a friar and priest, to oppose the heresies that back then were being widespread in parts of Christendom. He worked hard, writing theses and other works against the teachings of heretics, while personally reaching out to many communities, in defending the true faith and the true traditions and magisterium of the Church. He was sent by the Pope as emissary and spokesperson to various Christian courts and rulers, while continuing his efforts against those who sought to corrupt the truth of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the many efforts and the great courage with which St. John Capestrano has shown us in how he lived his life with faith should be source of inspiration for us as well. All of us should commit ourselves to the Lord and devote our time, effort and attention, in the manner that St. John Capestrano and many other saints, our holy predecessors had done, all these while. Let us all turn towards the Lord from now on with renewed zeal, faith and love for Him, and do our best to be exemplary in faith and to be inspiration for one another, that we may be beacons of God’s light and truth in this world.

May God bless us all, in our every good efforts and endeavours, and may He empower all of us to walk faithfully in His presence from now on. May God be with us all and may He strengthen us each and every moment, through His light, His truth and love for us. Amen.

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.

Thursday, 21 October 2021 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord, we are reminded yet again by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Rome, of the dangers of sin and how sin once reigned over us before Christ redeemed and freed us from its dominion. And he also exhorted all the faithful to walk in the path of God and no longer submit themselves to the power and temptations of sin, for if they were to follow the way of sin, then they would suffer its consequences and perish.

St. Paul reminded them and therefore all of us that we who have been called and chosen to follow Christ, and have been baptised as Christians are all called to remain true to their faith and reject the temptations to sin. This is because as Christians, we have become God’s chosen people, whom He gathered from all the nations to embrace fully the truth and the light that He has brought into our midst. All of us should carry ourselves with true and genuine faith and be examples and inspiration for one another.

Contextually, St. Paul mentioned these things in his Epistle as many of the faithful people of God, especially among the recent converts who still lived in the similar way as they were before their conversion, as if their conversion meant nothing at all. Of course it was also a challenging and difficult time to be a follower of Christ, especially for the converts from among the Gentiles or the non-Jewish populations, as this often meant that those who chose Christ had to go against the wishes of their families or their communities.

This was exactly what the Lord meant in our Gospel passage today, when He presented to them the plain truth of what His coming into this world truly means. Many at that time, including Christ’s own disciples thought that the Messiah would come as a conquering King and Lord over all, Who would end all sufferings and usher in a time and era of great and everlasting peace, where everyone would rejoice and be happy, free from all sorrows and enjoying the bounty of God’s blessings, as the prophets proclaimed.

That will indeed come in due time, at the end of time as the Lord Himself has promised all of us. However, His first coming into this world brought into our midst the truth and the light of His salvation that would not have been well received by all those who reject the light and truth of God, and preferring to remain in the darkness and in the comfort of their sinful state. And that is why the Lord said that His coming into this world and His truth would lead to much suffering and divisions among His people.

That is because the world has a fundamentally different sets of values, and the devil and his allies have always ever sought to continue to distract us and trying to lead us away from God. They had done all they could to cause divisions and bitterness to exist within families and communities because some among their members chose to listen to the Lord and to obey Him rather than to obey the path of evil. Many martyrs and other saints suffered because of this, when they had to make a choice between following God and being acceptable and tolerated by their families, relatives and communities.

Yet, this is not a reason why we should not follow the Lord or to turn away from Him. On the contrary, having known this and realised this truth, it should serve as an important reminder for each one of us to keep strong our faith in God and to hold on to His truth as is expected of us. We should do our best to lead a life that is worthy of God, and commit ourselves each day and every moments, to do His will and to walk ever faithfully in His path so that our lives and examples may become sources of inspiration for so many more out there, our fellow brothers and sisters, many of whom have not even yet known the Lord.

Today, let us all renew our commitment to the Lord, and that is to be faithful in our Christian living so that we may always be righteous and virtuous as the children of our heavenly Father, so that by our every deeds and actions, our words and interactions, even the smallest and least significant among them, we may bring forth God’s light and truth to this darkened world. Challenges and sufferings will come our way, but we must never be afraid or fearful, for God will always stand by us, and He will always provide us throughout our respective journey in faith.

May the Lord continue to bless us and strengthen us, and may He give us all the courage to live our lives with faith from now on. May God bless us all and our every good works and endeavours, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 20 October 2021 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Sacred Scriptures, all of us are called as Christians to pay attention to our lives and how we live them. We are all reminded not to give in to the temptations of the world and the pressure to commit sin against God in whatever forms they may be, and we have to be always vigilant in ensuring that in all things we do in life, we will always strive to be exemplary in faith, in our every words, deeds and actions.

In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Rome, St. Paul exhorted the faithful to distance themselves from sin and all those things that could lead them to sin, reminding them how God had brought them out of the slavery of sin, liberated them and made them free. God had claimed them as His own people and made them to be His own children. Yet, many of them had not yet fully dedicated themselves to God and still allowed the corruptions of the world to affect and influence them.

That is why, St. Paul presented to them the reality, that if they were to choose sin over God and His grace, then they are heading towards death and destruction, while if they choose to walk with God in the path that He has shown them, then they shall inherit His rich inheritance and receive the fullness of His grace and promises. But they must therefore not allow the temptations of sin to distract and mislead them down the wrong path, which will end up bringing them towards the path of destruction and damnation.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard the Lord speaking to His disciples using the parable of stewards, as He related to them the story of a master who entrusted his household to a steward that was empowered and put in charge of the properties while the master was away. Then He told them how a good and responsible steward would be dutiful in discharging his duties and not be idle or complacent, while the lazy and unfaithful steward would squander away his time and even abuse his authority and power for his own benefits.

Then the Lord also spoke of how the master could suddenly just return unannounced, and He told His disciples how terrible it would be for the lazy steward to be caught unprepared and unaware, in the midst of misusing and wasting his talents and time for his own selfish purposes. And then on the other hand, how blessed it would be for the steward who is found to be hardworking and committed to his work by the master when he suddenly returns, as this one would be blessed and entrusted with even more, as is his just reward for his efforts.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to these words from the Scriptures, all of us are therefore reminded to be vigilant and ready in living our lives with faith at all times. We must not allow ourselves to be lulled and caught unprepared by the coming of the day of reckoning, but must always be ready to live our lives to the fullest and as faithful and dedicated Christians at all times. We have to exercise prudent judgment in deciding our course of action in life from now on, and why is that so? That is because like the stewards in our Lord’s parable, we have been entrusted this world as its stewards.

Let us all discern carefully our path in life and see what we can do in order to live our lives ever more worthily as Christians, as those whom God had called to be His own and to follow Him in the path that He has shown us. God has given us the opportunities and the talents, the capacity to do what we ought to be doing in serving His cause, and now it is really up to us to pick up our crosses and answer to His call, and to follow Him wholeheartedly, that we may be inspiration to one another in how we live our lives. We should do our best to commit ourselves to this mission entrusted to us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, may the Lord continue to guide us and be with us throughout our journey in life. May He constantly strengthen us and empower us all to live ever courageously in His presence, and to walk always in His path, not swayed and tempted by sin and by the pressures and allures of desire in our hearts. May God bless our many good works and efforts, in all things, and may He lead us into His loving presence. Amen.

Tuesday, 19 October 2021 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Martyrs, and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Sacred Scriptures, we are all called to reflect on our actions and readiness in life to follow Christ, Our Lord and Saviour as His faithful disciples and servants, to be exemplary in all of our actions and deeds so that through all of us, imitating the faith that Christ Himself has shown us and living the truth that He has revealed to us, all of us may come to be beacons of His light to many others who have not yet known Him.

Today in our first reading from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans, we heard the Apostle reminding all the faithful of the role that Christ has played in redeeming all of us from our sins, and how God had fulfilled His promise to release and liberate us from all bondage and enslavement to sin and evil through His Son, Jesus Christ, the Saviour of all, Who chose to take upon Himself all of our sins and wickedness, and bore the burden of those sins upon Himself.

He obeyed His Father perfectly, as St. Paul said, so that by His obedience as the Son of Man and the New Adam, the old disobedience and sins of mankind from the old Adam may be overcome. Through His incarnation in the flesh, He has united all of our humanity to Himself, and by His obedience, He opened to us the floodgates of God’s mercy and grace, and by offering Himself, His Most Precious Body and Blood, of the Lamb of God, as the perfect and worthy sacrifice for our sins, He reconciled us all with God, our loving Father and Creator.

And then, in our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord Jesus speaking to His disciples with regards to the readiness that all of His disciples ought to have, as He Himself repeated it several times, how they must be ready to welcome their Lord and Master at the moment of His coming, so that they would not be caught unprepared and unaware, when the Lord comes as He promised, at the day of Judgment. Essentially, He reminds all of them to be vigilant and to do their best in how they live their lives so that they may always be faithful in all things and do not allow wickedness and evil to gain roots in their hearts.

We are all therefore called, as those whom God had chosen and revealed His truth to, to be the ones who live with this knowledge and understanding of the truth, and to be the bearers of God’s light to the nations. We must not allow sin to rule over us again and influence us, just as the Lord has freed us from its bondage and power. Yet, the allure and attraction of sin can be very powerful and corrupting, and we have to be careful lest we fall again into its clutches. Many have failed to resist its temptations, and like our forefathers, they have fallen back into the path of sin.

What should we do then, brothers and sisters in Christ? We should follow the example and obedience of Christ, in His love for us and in His steadfastness in devoting Himself to the plan of salvation that He has brought upon us. And we should also follow the good examples set by our holy predecessors, all those who have given themselves in commitment to God, those who have shown us that it is possible to be faithful to the Lord in this world and to lead a good Christian life that is just and worthy of God.

Today, we celebrate from the Feast of the Holy Canadian Martyrs, also known as the Jesuit North American Martyrs, as well as that of St. Paul of the Cross, a great Italian mystic and priest who founded the Passionists religious order. All of them are great role models for us in how we can lead a better Christian life and in following our respective calling in life as Christians so that we may learn on how we can contribute even in the smallest things for the sake of the glory of God and for the success of His works in this world.

The Holy Canadian Martyrs were St. Isaac Jogues, St. John de Brebeuf and their companions in martyrdom, who were members of the Society of Jesus or the Jesuits during the years of early exploration of the New World, particularly in the exploration of North America, in regions that are now part of Canada. These courageous missionaries responded to the Lord’s calling and embraced their missionary works, in revealing God’s truth to those who have not yet known Him, the native peoples of North America.

Many of these missionaries had to brave through harsh conditions and bitter winters, as well as opposition and rejection from those to whom they had gone to. While some of the natives were open to the Lord’s truth and were willing to listen to the missionaries, but there were also equally many and even more of those who refused to listen to them, and even persecuted those missionaries. As such, those missionaries endured a lot of bitter moments and struggles, in the service of God and His people.

Yet, St. Isaac Jogues, St. John de Brebeuf and his courageous fellow martyrs faced all those challenges with faith, committing themselves to God without fear, continuing to minister to those who have willingly embraced the faith and given themselves to be baptised as the first native Christian societies in those remote areas. They persevered and even when many of them faced great suffering and martyred by the attacks of those who were hostile to the faith, their efforts became the foundation of the Church that lasts till this very day in those regions and communities.

Meanwhile, St. Paul of the Cross dedicated his life as a priest and servant of God in ministering to his fellow brothers and sisters, being called by God to establish a new religious community dedicated to a life of prayer and evangelical zeal, which would become the Passionists he founded. St. Paul of the Cross gathered like-minded men who wanted to serve the Lord more wholeheartedly and formed his community, and worked hard to gain the Church approval for his efforts.

St. Paul of the Cross and his community of priests went around from places to places and preached about the Lord to many people in those communities, spreading the Word of God and the truth of His Gospel to more and more people, and together with his many works and writings, of which numbering over two thousands at least, he and his fellow workers of the Lord managed to bring many people closer to God, and helped many who were on the brink of the path of sin.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all be inspired by these holy predecessors of ours, who had shown us what it truly means for us to be Christians. Let us all follow in their footsteps and do whatever we can in order to glorify the Lord by our lives and actions, by our exemplary actions and by doing our best to follow the path that the Lord has revealed before us. Let us also strive to resist the many temptations to sin, and commit ourselves from now on to walk in the path of the Lord. May all of us be inspiration as God’s children and as the beacons of His light and truth, now and always. Amen.

Monday, 18 October 2021 : Feast of St. Luke, Evangelist (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist, one of the four great Evangelists who wrote the Holy Gospels together with St. Matthew, St. Mark and St. John. According to Apostolic tradition, St. Luke was a physician and a follower and disciple of St. Paul the Apostle, who accompanied him for quite a few of his missionary journeys, and who wrote the accounts of those travels and also other actions of the Apostles in the Acts of the Apostles that he also authored. It was even told in some traditions that he was also the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews.

St. Luke according to different traditions was either a Hellenised Jew or a Greek who embraced the Christian faith as one of the earliest converts and as among the earliest of Christ’s disciples and missionaries. He was a physician and therefore likely highly educated and intelligent, which was also probably why God gave him the gift of wisdom and talent for writing, through which St. Luke recorded the very important events that he heard about the Lord’s life and ministry, and also as inspired by the Holy Spirit, to evangelise to those who have not yet known Him.

St. Luke through his efforts converted many to the Christian faith, turning many people towards the Lord and called them to embrace His truth and love. In his travels with St. Paul, he had assisted the great Apostle in preaching the truth of God, and through his Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, he had reached out even far beyond mere words and interactions, as by his courageous efforts in writing the words of God, he has, just like St. Paul and his many Epistles, kept the faith alive and the truth to remain firmly found in the Sacred Scriptures.

St. Luke continued his ministry among the people of God, ministering to the many people whom he encountered throughout his life and work, and he spread the word of God faithfully according to the tradition of the Church, until he died at an old age in the region of Boeotia in Roman Greece, after a very long life of service to God, and after having bestowed on us the wonders of his work in the Scriptures, which enriched our knowledge of God and His truth. Through his works, all of us ought to have known more about God and His works.

Today, as we celebrate this great feast in honour of St. Luke the Evangelist, all of us are called to be inspired by the faith and the commitment which he has shown in his life and work, and in all that he has done for the greater glory of God. We are called to follow in his examples and to do whatever we can in order to emulate his examples in our own daily lives. We may think that it is impossible for us to be like St. Luke or like any other great saints, but this is not true.

God has called His Apostles and many other disciples from various backgrounds and origins, some rich, some poor, some educated, some illiterate, some privileged and powerful, while others were weak and not noteworthy, and there had been countless of these whom God had called, all sinners, who came to the Lord’s side and listened to His call. They answered Him and His call, and He led them down the path of mission and commitment, as St. Luke and so many other innumerable saints had shown us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us are called to heed the Lord’s call, to be His faithful and committed disciples, in doing His will and in walking down His glorious path. We do not have to do great and wonderful things. Rather, in our own daily living and in every single thing we do, even in the smallest, we should strive to do our best, to show our faith in God and to be inspiration to one another. We are all called to walk down this path of discipleship, with our respective gifts and talents, with all that God has given to us.

Let us all discern carefully our path in life, and let us consider what each and every one of us can do to contribute to the works of the Lord, to the mission which He has entrusted to His Church and to all of us as Christians. We can no longer be idle in our lives as Christians and we should dedicate ourselves from now on to be ever truly faithful to God. Let us be inspired and walk in the path which St. Luke has shown us, that we too may bear rich fruits in faith from now on.

May God bless us all and may He strengthen each and every one of us to live our Christian lives genuinely and be the beacons of God’s light and truth to all who have seen us, witnessed our actions and interacted with us. May our lives bring hope and light of God’s truth, now and always, forevermore. Amen.