Tuesday, 20 June 2017 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Matthew 5 : 43-48

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “You have heard, that it was said : Love your neighbour and do not do good to your enemy. But this I tell you : love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in Heaven. For He makes His sun rise on both the wicked and the good; and He gives rain to both the just and the unjust.”

“If you love those who love you, what is special about that? Do not even tax collectors do as much? And if you are friendly only to your friends, what is so exceptional about that? Do not even the pagans do as much? As for you, be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Monday, 19 June 2017 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Romuald, Abbot (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Abbots)
Matthew 5 : 38-42

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “You have heard, that it was said : An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you this : do not oppose evil with evil; if someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn and offer the other. If someone sues you in court for your shirt, give him your coat as well.”

“If someone forces you to go one mile, go two miles with him. Give when asked, and do not turn your back on anyone who wants to borrow from you.”

Saturday, 17 June 2017 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)
Matthew 5 : 33-37

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “You have also heard that people were told in the past : Do not break your oath; an oath sworn to the Lord must be kept. But I tell you this : do not take oaths. Do not swear by the heavens, for they are God’s throne; nor by the earth, because it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King.”

“Do not even swear by your head, because you cannot make a single hair white of black. Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything else you say comes from the evil one.”

Friday, 16 June 2017 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Psalm 115 : 10-11, 15-16, 17-18

You, family of Aaron, trust in YHVH; He is your help and your shield! You who fear YHVH, trust in Him; He is your help and your shield!

May you be blessed by YHVH. Maker of heaven and earth. Heaven belongs to YHVH, but the earth He has given to humans.

It is not the dead who praise YHVH, for they have gone down to silence; but it is we, the living who praise YHVH, from now on and forever.

Thursday, 15 June 2017 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Matthew 5 : 20-26

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “I tell you, if your sense of right and wrong is not keener than that of the Lawyers and the Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

“You have heard, that it was said to our people in the past : Do not commit murder; anyone who murders will have to face trial. But now I tell you : whoever gets angry with a brother or sister will have to face trial. Whoever insults a brother or sister is liable, to be brought before the council. Whoever calls a brother or sister ‘Fool!’ is liable, of being thrown into the fire of hell.”

“So, if you are about to offer your gift at the altar, and you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there, in front of the altar; go at once, and make peace with your brother, and then come back and offer your gift to God.”

“Do not forget this : be reconciled with your opponent quickly when you are together on the way to court. Otherwise he will turn you over to the judge, who will hand you over to the police, who will put you in jail. There, you will stay, until you have paid the last penny.”

Sunday, 22 January 2017 : Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent, Deacon and Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green
1 Corinthians 1 : 10-13, 17

I beg of you, brothers, in the Name of Christ Jesus, our Lord, to agree among yourselves and do away with divisions; please be perfectly united, with one mind and one judgment.

For I heard from people of Cloe’s house about your rivalries. What I mean is this : “I am for Paul,” and others, “I am for Apollo,” or “I am for Peter,” or “I am for Christ.” Is Christ divided or have I, Paul, been crucified for you? Have you been baptised in the name of Paul?

For Christ did not send me to baptise, but to proclaim His Gospel. And not with beautiful words! That would be like getting rid of the cross of Christ.

Sunday, 26 October 2014 : 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we come together as one family of the Church of God, and we listened to the words of the Scripture and the Gospel. And today we heard how it was shown to us the truth and the heart and core of what is the Law of God, which God had revealed to His people through Moses, His servant. The basics of this Law is the set of ten commandments we know as the Ten Commandments.

The Ten Commandments is the basic tenets of the faith which God revealed to mankind so that they might follow in the ways which the Lord was to show them, that is the way of love. Before the revelation of the Ten Commandments, mankind did not have a standard set of rule that governed them, and as a result each one acted as it pleased them and as they liked, more often than not, not in accordance with the will of God and thus wickedness reigned over mankind.

And this Law was given through Moses to the people of God, to be a guide to them and in how they lived their lives. The Ten Commandments was written on two slabs of stone, written by God Himself, as a covenant which God renewed with the descendants of Abraham. And this covenant is a covenant of love, made upon love which God has for mankind, and as our part of the covenant, we also have to love Him back in the same way as He had loved us.

What is a covenant exactly? It is the promise and contract that is established between two parties, and it is legally and completely binding in nature. Both sides who have committed to a covenant must remain faithful to it, and as we all know, our Lord is forever ever faithful, and He never walked away from His promise. After all, He fulfilled completely His promises to His servants Abraham, David and all Israel, and the perfect fulfillment of His promises was through Jesus.

It is we mankind who often renege on our part of the covenant. God had first made His covenant with Adam, the first man and his wife Eve, the first woman. To them He gave authority and stewardship over all of the earth and over all of creations. And yet, they disobeyed despite God’s love and care for them, and they chose to put their lot with Satan and listened to their personal human desire rather than listening to God and obeying their part of the covenant between God and mankind.

And Abraham was faithful, this son of Adam who was righteous among the nations, that God renewed His covenant with men through Him, and he was blessed beyond all other men for his faithfulness and righteousness, walking faithfully in the way of the Lord. And yet, it was his descendants who yet again reneged against the Lord, committing evil after evil, with the treatment they showed to Joseph in jealousy and how they sold him into slavery out of that jealousy and hatred they had.

But God was patient, and He continued to love His people despite of their unfaithfulness and disobedience. Indeed, He wanted to show them His love, which He had shown them for generations after generations, but spurned by the people who did not listen to the Lord nor realise the extent of His love for them. He thus sent His servant Moses to liberate them, and to lead them to the promised inheritance for them, and bring them to know His Law, the Ten Commandments revealed through Moses.

But was the people faithful? No! As soon as they were freed from the land of Egypt they continued in their disobedience, complaining and disobeying God, creating idols after idols and embracing fornications after fornications of their bodies and souls. And they were indeed punished for their disobedience, for embracing the ways of the world and for worshipping false idols. But God again did not give up on the people He loved so much, and as He had done through the prophets, He revealed the final act of love He had for us.

Yes, that act is through Jesus, whom the Father sent to the world in order to save it and to bring all of us, the partakers of the covenant of God, into a new hope through the new covenant which Christ had established in His love. Yes, and that is why He explained to the Pharisees, the true meaning of the Law which is love. The love of God for men, and the desire of God to see us saved and freed from our state of sin due to our breaking of the promise of the covenant.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were puritans and extremists in the way of their faith, as they observed the Law very strictly, imposing a very strict set of rules, regulations, habits and behaviours which they forced onto the people of God. This was because the basic tenets of the faith, the Ten Commandments and the sets of laws and regulations which God had revealed through Moses had been twisted in their meaning and purpose by them, those shepherds and leaders who had been entrusted with teaching authority but misused them for their own gains.

The observations of their Law had become unmerciful in nature and they persecuted others just because they thought that those who did not adapt their puritan and extremist beliefs were unworthy and ought to be condemned. They condemned the one whom Jesus healed, the blind man from birth, just because he defended the Lord and told the truth about Him, a truth which the Pharisees and the scribes failed to see.

Remember again what the Lord told Moses and the people of Israel in the Book of Exodus in the first reading today? God made it clear to them that in the observation of the Law, one must act with the core of love in all purposes, and not anger, injustice, prejudice, and less so jealousy and other negativities which cause us to exercise the Law imprudently, just as the Pharisees had done.

Why the Ten Commandments of the Lord again? Why should it be that we should not kill, we should not steal, we should not covet others’ possessions? Why is it that we ought to honour our father and mother, loving our God and having no other gods beside Him? That is all because we all need to know love, and realise what is love all about, that is to give ourselves completely and totally to the love of God, avoiding all these actions which does not lead us to love and life, but indeed to hatred and death.

When we kill, we do not have love in us, and when we steal from someone, we do not have the love we ought to have for that brother or sister of ours, and when we covet someone else’s possession, it is impossible for us to love that person when we at the same time have any negativity towards the person. And how can we love if we cannot even love our parents, and foremost of all, if we cannot even love our God and devote ourselves entirely to Him?

We should take heed of what St. Paul had written to the Church and the faithful in Thessalonica, where he praised them for their ways and how they had changed their ways of old, of pagan worship and idol worship, of fornication and sin, into the way of the children of God, and walk righteously in the path of the Law. They obeyed the Law, not just because they have to obey it, but they understood the importance and the true meaning of the Law, that is love. We should indeed follow their examples and do the same.

Indeed, God did not give us the Law to torture us or to make our lives more difficult. The Law was intended to guide us, and guide us back from our waywardness and our rebellious tendencies, back to His loving embrace. And God also gave us a new chance through Christ, whose death and resurrection renewed for us a new covenant which He established with us. And remember that Jesus came not to destroy the Law but to perfect it, by revealing the true intention of the Law, which is indeed Love!

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, we all have a choice today. We can choose to continue our lives as usual, and we can do things as we like and as we wished it. We can also choose to live our lives following the rules and regulations as established by the Church and our Faith, following them just for the sake of following those laws and rules. But what will all these bring us? Nothing! Nothing indeed, other than harm and destruction.

So what is the other choice that we have? We can choose to understand the Law, as what we have heard and discussed here, that is to know the love in the Law of God. Indeed, the Law is very simple, as at the heart of it is love, and first, the first three commandments are all about loving God, and loving Him from the very bottom and depth of our hearts, with the whole might of our minds and with the full attention of our souls. That means we should not be partial in our faith, and we either accept the fullness of faith in God or we reject it, as we cannot believe in just parts of what we need to believe, and remember that we cannot serve God and another master.

But we must also love one another, in the same way that we have loved God and in the same way as we have loved ourselves. It is easier for us to love ourselves than to love others, and indeed we have often serve ourselves and our own purposes often at the expense of others around us. Thus, shall we learn from what God had taught us, that we need to put away our ego and begin to learn to love one another sincerely and earnestly, loving them just as we love ourselves?

Let us all pray to our Almighty God and Father, that He will continue to guide us in our lives, so that we may not lose sight on the true goal of our life, that is to reach Him and be reconciled with Him in love, through the love we show to Him and also through the love and the mercy we have shown to our brothers and sisters, following the examples of the saints of the past, and to exercise love and mercy in all of our judgments and actions. God bless us all. Amen.

 

First Reading : https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/10/24/sunday-26-october-2014-30th-sunday-of-ordinary-time-first-reading/

Second Reading : https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/10/24/sunday-26-october-2014-30th-sunday-of-ordinary-time-second-reading/

Gospel Reading : https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/10/24/sunday-26-october-2014-30th-sunday-of-ordinary-time-gospel-reading/

Tuesday, 16 September 2014 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Cornelius, Pope and Martyr, and St. Cyprian, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard about how Jesus healed the son of a widow from Naim, bringing him back from death into life, in which He showed to the people, the loving and merciful aspects of God, who truly loved and cared for all of us. He had pity on the mother who was sorrowful for having been left alone by her son, and brought them back into true joy and happiness in God.

And in the first reading, in the letter written by St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Corinth, about the nature of the Church of God, and how in the Church, which is in fact comprised of all of us who believe in Christ the Lord, there exist a certain hierarchy of its members, which allow the Church to function as a body, just as in our body we have various organs and parts that have distinct functions working together in order to achieve certain goals and actions.

St. Paul mentioned how each members and each people in the Church have their own distinct gifts from the Lord, also known as the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which the Apostles and disciples themselves had received during the occasion of the Pentecost day. Everyone had been called by the Lord for a specific purpose and task, and one ought not to think proudly of himself or herself so as to assume that they can gain for themselves the entirety of the goodness and the gifts of the Lord.

Thus, the Church of God, which is centred on our Lord Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church, and we as the members of His Body, has a specific task in order to carry out and continue the good works which Jesus had initiated in this world, that is the works of love and mercy, as He showed through the rising of the son of the widow of Naim from the dead.

The Church of God comprised of many different people, and indeed, different groups of people, from the laity to the ordained ministers, that is the sacred priesthood and those who dedicated their lives in the service of God, and everyone else, including those of us who belong to the group of those who serve the Lord and yet also still live in this world.

And even among the priesthood, we have various roles, such as the bishops and then the priests themselves. Bishops are those who have been given a greater role in the Church, as overseers of a group of priests and the laity, and they are entrusted with the sheep of the Lord’s flock, as the shepherds, who are then led by the chief shepherds on earth, that is the Pope, the Bishop of Rome and the Vicar of Christ in this world, the representation of the Chief Shepherd of all, Jesus Christ.

The bishops therefore lead the Church in the works of love and mercy, and are also entrusted with the supervision duty of the body of the faithful in the Church, and they are also entrusted with the management of the Church. That said, there are also many others who are also involved in the management of the Church, both among the laity, as well as those in the priesthood and the ordained ministry.

The priests serve the people of God in various means, that is by providing them a spiritual guidance and protection against the harms of the devil, and in some cases also by providing alms and charity works for them. Then, the deacons, as we heard in the New Testament, were appointed as those who would serve the people of God directly, aid in the works of charity of the Church, to aid the priests and the bishops, so that they can channel to the people of God, particularly the poorest and the weakest, the love of God through His Church.

Yet, it is sad indeed, that many today in the Church aspire to have everything in their greed and lack of faith. Many began to question their roles in the Church and some even fought in the name of what they described as equality. Therefore we have those who proposed such outrageous ideas such as the abolition of the sacred priesthood and the ordained ministry, as well as the ordination of women to the priesthood.

Those who proposed and supported such proposals failed to understand that each of us in the Church have our own unique roles which help to supplement each other and therefore, it makes the Church stronger. To go against this natural law of order would in fact mean to destroy the unity and strength of the holy Church of God and undermine its authority in this world. Every one has been given a specific and particular gift which enables us to have our own roles in the Church to carry out what the Lord had planned for us.

Brothers and sisters, today we celebrate together as the Church the feast day of two great saints, whose life will inspire us to appreciate the beauty of the order and hierarchy in the Church, namely that of Pope St. Cornelius and St. Cyprian, both holy martyrs of the faith, at the time of the persecutions of the Roman Empire.

Pope St. Cornelius was the Pope and the Vicar of Christ in the middle of the third century after the birth of Christ, during the reign of the Emperor Decius, the great persecutor of the faithful. Then St. Cyprian was his contemporary, as the Bishop of Carthage and the supporter of Pope St. Cornelius’ view regarding the faithful.

The two saints lived in a difficult time, when Christians and all who believed in the Lord were persecuted heavily and when their very lives were threatened by the Roman authorities. And amidst those persecutions, there were those among the faithful who submitted to the will of the state and the Emperor, and gave offering to the pagan idols, essentially an act of apostasy, or leaving the Church of God, who should be thereafter be treated the same as the pagans.

However, some of them repented their sins and returned to the embrace of the Holy Mother Church, and were received back among the faithful as long as they were sincere in their repentance. But, there were those in the Church who were opposed to the return of these so called traitors and apostates and demanded much stricter regulations to even allow them to be readmitted into the Church.

St. Cyprian and Pope St. Cornelius were the champions of those in the Church who would allow the faithful who had gone astray to return to the Church as long as their repentance was sincere. They worked hard among the faithful and among those who had gone astray to bring them back towards the Lord and to heal them from the afflictions of their souls. The laity themselves also played their own parts and supported the works of their shepherds, while they also kept their faith alive and strong despite even great persecutions.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, these saints, Pope St. Cornelius and St. Cyprian, who were both eventually martyred for their faith, had showed us the model of their faith, which showed love and mercy for the least of the society, those who were rejected because of the stigma of their status as apostates and betrayer of their faith. They showed that while in the Church itself there were already many different groups of people, there would always be a space for those who realised their errors and repented for their sins.

Let us all therefore reflect on the Scripture readings of this day, and grow to find in our hearts, the role that we can play as part of the Church of God. Let us all work together to continue the good works of Christ, to bring God’s love to all the peoples, and to heal many from their afflictions, both physical, and even more importantly, to heal the spiritual aspects of many people.

May Almighty God, together with the intercession of the holy saints, Pope St. Cornelius and St. Cyprian, bless us this day and guide us, so that we may also follow in their footsteps, to serve the people of God and love one another in the Lord. God bless us all and bring us into His light. Amen.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 6 : 20-26

Then, looking at His disciples, Jesus said, “Fortunate are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours.”

“Fortunate are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. Fortunate are you who weep now, for you will laugh.”

“Fortunate are you when people hate you, when they reject you and insult you and number you among criminals, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for a great reward is kept for you in heaven. Remember, that is how the ancestors of this people treated the prophets.”

“But alas for you who have wealth, for you have been comforted now. Alas for you who are full, for you will go hungry. Alas for you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Alas for you when people speak well of you, for that is how the ancestors of these people treated the false prophets.”

Sunday, 7 September 2014 : 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we come together to be with the Lord on this holy day of His, we are called together as the members of the Church of God to be responsible, loving and caring for one another, so that each one of us may help one another in our effort to seek our Lord and God, and so that all of us may be saved and be freed from the tyranny of sin.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the Scripture readings of this day called us to ponder and reflect on the attitude we adopt in this life, and in how we live our faith in this life. Mankind are by nature a social creature, and we often need others around us as we live and as we face the daily challenges and opportunities presented before us, and how we behave would certainly be greatly affected by who we interacted with and what we did together with others around us.

That is why today in the readings, the main theme that we heard is in fact on the nature of the Church, and on how the Church should work together to ensure the salvation of all of its members, that means all of us gathered here this day, and also many others who have fallen along the way. The Church here does not refer to just the buildings and the institution of the Church as we know it. The Church of God as a whole, is the assembly and the gathering of all the faithful ones in Christ, united to His Body, as a member of the same Body by which we are made one, and made righteous in the Blood of the Lamb of God.

That is why in the Church, the whole Church refers to the entire body of the faithful, all over the world, from the greatest to the least, from the Pope to the common layman, from the ordained ministers and the religious brothers and sisters to all common faithful ones like us, and from the youngest ones to the oldest, and both the newly baptised and those who had been long counted among the faithful.

Following the tradition and teachings established by Jesus as we read in the Gospel today, the Church indeed rightly should be concerned on the fate of the faithful and the salvation of their souls. Why is this so? This is because mankind are by nature disobedient, restless and easily manipulated, and we are also easily tempted by our own personal ego, pride and other emotions, which in many cases likely resulted in us drifting away further and further from God and into damnation.

That was why over the course of the past two millenia, since the establishment of the Church and the faith, countless peoples have tried to subvert the faith and to corrupt it to suit their own purposes. And worse still, they did so not just for themselves, but they also spread their false ideas and teachings to many others around them and thus condemning and risking not just themselves, but also many others who are around them and even those entrusted to their care.

Among these could be counted the ranks of princes, kings, lords, even priests, bishops and the top hierarchy of the Church at times, and also among the laity, the educated, the rich and the poor. What they have thought about, spoke about and taught about were incompatible to the faith and what Jesus had taught to His disciples. In time, the Church came up with varieties of words to describe their actions, that is anathema, heresy and many others.

Those who studied the history of the Church and the faith must have been surprised by the staggering number of times the punishment and measure known best as excommunication, had been used. And in fact, excommunication remains to be used this day to correct the behaviour and awaken the spirit of repentance of those whose ideas and teachings are in direct or indirect contradiction to the faith and to the teachings of the Church.

Many detractors of this measure had argued and even became violently opposed to the actions of the Church both in the past and in the present, so that they criticised the use of excommunications as a tool to remove opposition to the Church and to gain more influence for itself. And some even alleged that the Church used them to silence the voice of those who wanted for reform or change in the Church.

Yes, it is true indeed that sometimes, excommunication had been used inappropriately, but in most cases, they have been intended not to punish, but to awaken the spirit of repentance and genuine desire to seek forgiveness from the Lord, which is that desire to admit their errors and return to the full embrace of the loving God through His Church.

We have to first understand the history of how excommunication come about, using what we know from the Scriptures and from what we heard today in the readings, especially from what Jesus mentioned in the Gospel today. In the past, during the time of the people of Israel, after the Exodus, God gave them His laws, commandments and precepts through Moses.

In that Law, some dealt with how certain people should be treated. Those who were found to have the disease of leprosy were obliged to leave their houses and the community of the faithful, and they have to wander outside the community, in the barrens and the desert until they are healed or cured. And when this was so, they had to show themselves to the priests who would certify them to return once more to the society.

Indeed, it was inevitable that those who contracted leprosy at that time to be ostracised and intimidated against by the rest of the society. They were considered to be uncleaned and as leprosy can spread from one person to another, this helped the exclusion and the bad treatment of the leprosy patients, even after they had been cured from their afflictions. But God did not intend for this to happen.

And in a similar spirit, the Lord Jesus told us through His disciples precisely how to deal with those among us in the Church who had contracted the same ‘leprosy’. This leprosy no longer refers to the physical disease that affects the body, but in fact refers to the leprosy of the soul, that is the degeneration of the state of our faith and soul to the point that we become defiant and unwilling to listen and to obey the teachings of the Church and the fundamentals of our faith.

We have many peoples such as these, and what I am going to mention to you are not the only ones there are out there. The Gnostics of the second century after the birth of Christ mixed the teachings of the faith with the contemporary pagan religions, idols and philosophical pursuits that ended up as a syncretic movement and faith totally incompatible with our true faith.

Then came the Arians, the Donatists, the Monophysites and others who taught doctrines incompatible against the faith, and who tried to subvert the faithful to their cause, telling them lies and inaccurate statements about the faith, on the nature of Jesus our Lord Himself, so that the people who were confused were easy to lure into their corrupting hold. As such, many were led away from salvation in God and into damnation, despite the best efforts by those in the Church to resist and fight back against their corrupting influences.

Then we have many others like the the Albigensians or the Cathars, the Hussians, the Bogomils, Paulicians, Iconoclasts who taught numerous lies and confused theology to the faithful, ending up in corrupting the people in the same way, pulling them away from salvation in the Church into damnation and eternal suffering in hellfire. Those people were misguided by many who thought that their human wisdom were better than the teachings of the Lord preserved in the traditions of the Church and the faith.

Then lastly came the great heresy of the Protestant ‘reformation’, where many of the faithful came to take it on themselves to rebel against the authority of the Church and by willingly splitting themselves from the Church, a rebellion which continues even to this day. Yes, we have so many Protestant denominations, to the point that it may not be wrong to say that there are as many denominations, or splinter groups as there are heads.

People like King Henry VIII, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Zwingli and many other prominent persona of the Protestant ‘reformations’ like many others before them, Arian, Jan Hus, and others were truly the one mentioned by Jesus as the brethren who refused to listen to reason and chose to break away from the Church. They walked their own path, in open rebellion against God and the Church, leading and guiding many people into their rebellion and thus condemned countless souls to damnation.

The effects of their actions can still be felt today. Many remained separate from the Church and thus from the grace of God, and the lies perpetuated by those leaders mentioned earlier and their successors continued to poison their thoughts and that is why many remained with great contempt to the Church and all it represented.

The Church excommunicated them as well as many of the earlier members of the Church, who even included high ranking nobles and clergymen, and even kings, as they have erred in their path. However, as I have mentioned earlier, the purpose of this move was not to punish those afflicted, but rather to make them realise of the gravity of their errors, so that they may come to understand how their actions had caused grief wounds on the fabric of the Church and the faithful.

And thus, many of those who had been excommunicated had returned to the Church in penitence and seeking God’s forgiveness. A famous example would be that of the excommunication of Emperor Theodosius I of the Roman Empire, who was cut off from the communion of the Church by the famous St. Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan, for the Emperor’s implicit and direct role in a massacre of the city of Thessalonica, where thousands of the faithful were ruthlessly murdered and the city ransacked.

The meaning of excommunication itself was to exclude the person afflicted from the Communion of the Church, and if this word sounds familiar, that is indeed what we receive in the Holy Communion, which is none other than the Most Precious Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the Real Presence of the Most Holy Eucharist. All of us in the Church belongs to the Church, that is the Body of Christ precisely because all of us received the same Eucharist and thus are united to each other through our unity with the Lord.

And when a person is excommunicated, like that of the Emperor Theodosius and many others, they were severed from this unity and communion, and thus they were not able to receive the Eucharist, as they were also in a state of sin, and they were not able to exercise anything pertinent to the faith. Thus, that was why Jesus mentioned that those ought to be treated like a pagan or a publican, that means outside the Church, just like the lepers of old.

However, once again, the focus here is on mercy, and on the desire to see these people attaining forgiveness and justification, becoming once again a member of the Church and thus capable of attaining salvation once again. And to wrap up the story on the Emperor Theodosius, the Emperor went on to make a public display of humility and penance, wearing sackcloth to the Church and was once again welcomed into the Church by Bishop St. Ambrose.

That is, brothers and sisters in Christ, the purpose and intention of excommunication. Not as a punishment, but as a means through which the wayward ones and the staunchly rebellious among us may find our way back to God through the Church, through sincere repentance and penitence. Sadly, of course, many of those names and groups mentioned earlier never repented their sins and continued in their rebellions, some of which continued even today.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we reflect on these readings of today, let us recall the words of God to the prophet Ezekiel, how the faithful are tasked with the guardianship of the faith of one another, which means that we should be ready to intervene whenever we see around us there are those who begin to veer away from the path of the Lord.

It is only then if the person persisted in their rebelliousness, then we should refer it to the Church as a whole, and if he or she continued to persist to disobey the Lord, only then they should be cast out of the assembly of the faithful, in what we know as the excommunication, hoping that the person may in that time that remains for him or her, found his or her way back to the Lord and repent.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore work together to maintain the unity and the faith in the Church. May Almighty God guide us in our endeavours and help us to keep this faith alive and well. Let us all renew our commitment to the Lord and awaken in one another the love we truly should have for God, casting away all impurities and unworthiness. Let us all not reject and condemn those who have sinned and erred, and those who had been excommunicated, for indeed, many saints too were once sinners and excommunicants, who returned to the Lord and be reconciled with the Church. May God bless us all. Amen.