Thursday, 26 April 2018 : 4th Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are called to continue the good works of the Apostles, as St. Paul and many other disciples of the Lord who have testified before the people about God and His many good works, and ultimately, ending in the perfect fulfilment of all that God has promised His people, and what the Apostles was testifying about.

God has loved us all His people, and it is why He has given us opportunities after opportunities, time and again, for us to repent and to turn away from our sins. He does not want us to fall into damnation, as what would have happened, if we continued down our path of sin. He has given us the way out of this predicament, by the coming of His Saviour, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and through the testimony of faith which His Apostles and their successors have brought us.

The Apostle St. Paul was not afraid to speak up for his faith in God, and he revealed before the Jewish people in today’s first reading passage from the Book of Acts, about the Lord Jesus, despite the threats which the Pharisees and the elders from Jerusalem had given, against all those who taught and preached in His Name. He was not afraid of all those threats, and continued to speak in the Lord’s Name courageously.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is the kind of faith and dedication which all of us as Christians should also have in our own respective lives. Sadly, however, many of us have been inactive, passive, ignorant, or even repulsed at the thought of living our lives for God’s sake and in obedience of God’s will. Instead, we follow the whims of our own desires, and we end up living our lives led by our selfishness.

That is why so many of us are still so far away from the Lord and from His salvation, as we have not been able to let go of our desires and petty ambitions. We have been tempted by this world, and Satan has given us false happiness and promises of false joy, which many of us took up too gladly and too happily, without thinking of the consequences of what would happen if we chose this path instead of God’s path.

And this is the reality which each and every one of us need to realise, right now. Many of us are still lost and not sure of how we should proceed forward with our lives. Many of us are still too preoccupied with the many worldly concerns through which in fact, Satan and his allies were trying to keep us chained and enslaved, to our sins and wickedness, which separated us from God and His love.

That is where, all of us as Christians must come in, following in the footsteps of the Apostles, such as that of St. Paul the Apostle. We must be ready to stand up for our faith, to show our faith through real and concrete dedication to our faith. This is what each and every one of us must do, as those who profess to believe in God, that in everything we say and do, we will always do all we can, to bring greater glory to God.

Let us all from now on, be inspiration to one another, by living our lives with faith, and committing ourselves to the Lord in our hearts, with all of our strength. Let us all be beacons of God’s light in this world, so that through us, the works of God and His loving mercy may be exercised amongst us, so that more and more people, many more souls will come to believe in God and be saved. May the Lord bless us all, and be with us in this journey. Amen.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018 : Feast of St. Mark, Evangelist (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the feast of one of the Holy Evangelists, who wrote the Four Holy Gospels. And today we focus therefore on St. Mark the Evangelist, who wrote the Gospel of St. Mark, and who was also mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles as one of those who followed St. Paul in some of his journeys around the Mediterranean sea.

St. Mark wrote his Gospel book with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, as well as with the accounts of the Apostles and the disciples, first-hand accounts from all those who have witnessed the actual events recorded in the Gospels and in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. Through his works, St. Mark and the other three Evangelists made sure that all of us are also aware of what had happened at that time.

And that is how St. Mark had devoted himself in his effort of evangelisation, as he recorded all the things he saw and experienced throughout those journeys, so that he might be able to pass down the teachings of the Apostles through the recorded works in the Gospels, and later on, the Church would come together and decide what would encompass the body of Scriptures that would eventually become the Holy Scriptures or the Holy Bible.

We might misunderstand or we might not realise the importance and significance of St. Mark’s works, but do you realise that the power of a pen is truly mighty, just as the saying goes, that the power of pen is mightier than the power of swords. Just at the stroke of a pen, countries had gone to war and countless lives have been lost, just at the stroke of a mere pen.

And those were done by the wisdom of men. How much greater and mightier then, if the work was done by God and by His wisdom? Then, it would have ended up in a much greater deed! And that was exactly what happened with St. Mark and his Divine inspired works in the Gospel. Through the sacred treasure of the Word of God, compiled together as the Bible, the Church has spread the words of the Good News and salvation far and wide to many people.

And that was exactly what we have heard in our Gospel passage today. The Lord Jesus, just before He ascended into heaven and left this world, gave His disciples a final commandment, one that is still the command that He gives His Church to this very day, the obligation which He gave to His Church and to all of us as Christians. What is this obligation? It is the command that all of us should go forth to all the nations and preach the Good News of God’s salvation to all.

St. Mark has done his part, by doing such a great service to the Church and to countless faithful ones through his writing of the Holy Gospel, the one attributed to him. Many people have believed in God through what he had written, and many turned to Him and repented because of what they have read from the accounts of the life of Christ, the Saviour of the world in that Gospel.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, it is our turn to do our part, to follow in the footsteps of the Lord, in doing whatever we can, to be the bearers of the truth of God and His Good News to the people of many nations. And how can we do this? It is by living our faith seriously and with commitment, devoting ourselves and our entire lives to God, by doing His will, and by practicing our faith with real and concrete action, that we truly live up to our Christian obligations.

Let us all do this, brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us do our best and spend time and effort to develop ourselves in faith further and deepen our spirituality and relationship with God. Let us all follow in the footsteps of St. Mark the Evangelist, that we may, in our own way, be it through words, or actions, or through our works and writings even, as the Evangelist had done, or both, or all, we may bring more and more souls closer to God. May God bless us all and our endeavours. Amen.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, Priest and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard from the Acts of the Apostles, our first reading today, about the state of the Church in its early days, when the Apostles were out and about, going from places to places, to visit the communities of the faithful and to preach to more people about the Lord and His Good News.

At that time, the Church was under great pressure by those who sought to have it destroyed, as persecutions came up against the faithful from various quarters, especially from the Jewish authorities and the Pharisees. Many of the faithful had to hide themselves or hide their affiliation to the true faith, out of fear of the Jews and their authority.

But at the same time, the Church was then constantly growing despite all the challenges it encountered. More and more people came to believe in the Lord and His teachings. They were willing to endure the challenges and difficulties they met along the way, even as the difficulties and challenges continued to increase in number and diversity.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord was with His Church and He did not let His Church to go alone on its way. Ultimately, He was always by the side of His Church and all of His faithful ones. God is never far away from His people, as He loves each and every one of us, whom He has created out of love, to be with us and to share His love with us.

For God is our Shepherd, our loving Good Shepherd. He has led us, His flock, His Church throughout the journey of these lives we have in this world. He has always shown each and every one of us the way forward, to walk in the path of grace and righteousness, that we will not end up falling into the wrong path and fall prey into the grip of Satan and his allies.

God has always been with us, and He is always ever loving and ever patient towards us, regardless of our disobedience and constant stubbornness. Nonetheless, we should be aware how we have this tendency to be swayed by various factors and things that keep us away from the true path towards the Lord and His salvation. And this tendency is caused by our predisposition and vulnerability to sin.

We need to realise just how vulnerable we are to the threats that are constantly always around us, trying to strike at us when we are least ready and aware of those threats. Satan has always been active at work, trying to snatch us from the hands of God and into his hands. Indeed, God has saved us and delivered us, bringing us together into His flock. However, we must still be ever vigilant, lest these ‘wolves’ try to snatch us, the ‘sheep’ when we are least prepared.

That is why we need to strengthen ourselves and deepen our relationship to God, that we may resist the lies, the falsehoods, the wicked temptations and false promises that Satan and his allies have put in place along our path in order to bring about our downfall. That is why there is a need for us to remain true to our faith and keep our trust in the Lord at all times.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today, let us all also follow the examples and walk in the footsteps of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, a devout and committed servant of God, a Capuchin friar and preacher, by whose devotion and works, as a great teacher and confessor, many people were converted from the heresies which had arisen at the time, back into the true faith. However, his enemies also grew in number and they increasingly opposed him and his works.

St. Fidelis refused to be intimidated by all those threats and all the risks he had to face, and he continued to do his works among the people, placing the needs of his flock, the faithful ones of God entrusted under His care, above that of his own personal needs and desires. To this end, St. Fidelis eventually was martyred in great faith at that time. And even in death, St. Fidelis was able to convert the very people who had caused his martyrdom, who repented from their mistakes and turned towards God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, therefore, we are called to reflect on our lives and on what we need to do as Christians in our own respective lives. Are we able to do what our predecessors, such as St. Fidelis had done? Are we able to devote our time and effort for the Lord, by leading a righteous and good life, founded on faith? Let us all be shepherds and guides to one another in faith from now on.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He guide us on our journey of faith, that in everything we do, as we must do our very best to be ever faithful and to be ever more committed in our faith to God. May God bless us all. Amen.

Monday, 23 April 2018 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. George, Martyr and St. Adalbert, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us heard from the Acts of the Apostles, an excerpt from which our first reading was taken, about the experience which St. Peter the Apostle had received, when he was called by God to visit an influential Gentile, or a non-Jew named Cornelius. St. Peter initially received a vision from God, of animals from various kinds, which are not counted among those considered clean by the Jewish dietary laws.

God commanded St. Peter through His voice, to eat those animals, which St. Peter refused to do so, because he had been obedient to the Jewish dietary customs and would not want to do something contrary to those rules and laws. But God rebuked St. Peter and said that, whatever He had deemed to be clean and worthy, St. Peter should not have considered as unclean.

This vision repeated for three times, and which came to his mind once again, as St. Peter came to the house of Cornelius and his family, who believed in God and were baptised as Christians after having heard the Good News. Then St. Peter realised what God’s true intention was when He showed him the vision three times. It showed him that God, ultimately loves each and every one of us, regardless of who we are and what our background is, regardless of our race or language, appearance or by whichever parameter we often categorise ourselves with.

He is our Shepherd, Who knows each and every one of us, as He mentioned it in our Gospel passage today. And He has called all of His sheep to Himself, and leading them to the right path towards salvation. He desires nothing else for us other than our reconciliation and happiness in Him. And to Him, every one of us are equally beloved and dear to Him, unlike the Israelites at the time of Jesus, who thought that the Lord loved them alone over all the other nations.

Indeed, God has called the Israelites first from among all the other nations. They were His first chosen people, but that time, God wanted to reveal the truth about Himself, that all people, from all races and from all sorts of origins and backgrounds are His, and they are dear to Him. He has thus called on all of them to come to Him, to be reconciled and to be reunited in one flock, led and guided by Him, the Good Shepherd of all.

And to them, He sent His disciples, such as St. Peter, and especially St. Paul, the Apostle who had the most interaction with the Gentiles. Through these devoted servants and messengers, He turned the hearts of many of them to Him, and many were called to the faith, just as Cornelius and his family had shown us. Those Gentiles showed great faith, just as much and in fact even more than the Jews themselves, and they received the same gift of faith and the Holy Spirit as well.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us are called to remember the missionary nature of our faith. All of us have received this faith from someone else, be it from our own parents, or from someone who have instructed us in the faith. And they, in turn, have received the faith from others as well. Ultimately, all of us received our faith from God, through His Church, by the works of His Apostles and disciples, by which we have received the Good News and therefore made to share in His inheritance.

And many of these servants of God have suffered and died, just as the Apostles had, in order to bring us the faith and the Good News. Among them, today we remember two faithful saints, St. George and St. Adalbert, both of whom were martyred for their faith, and became source of great inspiration to many of the faithful throughout the ages. They have done all they could in order to bring God’s salvation to His people, imitating the example of He Who is the Good Shepherd.

St. George was a Roman soldier who served under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who was renowned for his particularly intense persecution of Christians. St. George himself was secretly a Christian, and when the Emperor commanded a universal persecution of all Christians, their arrest and torture, and for all the members of the army to sacrifice to the pagan Roman gods and to the Emperor, St. George was said to have resolved to remain faithful to God, and embraced the likely fate of his own martyrdom.

St. George openly declared his faith before the Emperor, who in his outrage, sent St. George to be imprisoned and tortured, hoping that he would abandon his faith after having been subjected to torture, suffering, as well as persuasions and temptations. It was told that the Emperor even sent a beautiful young woman to seduce St. George, but it backfired, as the young woman was instead converted, after having been convinced as such by the holy saint.

In fact, it was told that the Empress herself was so touched by St. George’s faith that she herself became a convert, and henceforth known as St. Alexandra of Rome, martyred together with St. George for their faith in God. The Emperor was particularly angered by the fact that even his wife had been persuaded and convinced to accept the Christian faith.

Meanwhile, St. Adalbert was a faithful and devout servant of God, who in his capacity as the bishop of Prague in what is now Czech Republic, went to evangelise among the pagan peoples of Central and Eastern Europe. He was devoted to the mission entrusted to him, and despite challenges and opposition from those who disagreed with his ways, St. Adalbert persevered faithfully and his flock benefitted greatly from his commitment and hard work.

St. Adalbert devoted himself to missionary work, and many people were baptised under his work. Many souls were saved from certain damnation by his works, calling men to repentance and to be forgiven and reconciled with God. However, he did not have his work easily done before him, and instead, he encountered many challenges and opposition, not least from the pagans themselves, many of whom refused to be converted to the true faith.

That was how St. Adalbert met his martyrdom as he went on to preach to the Baltic pagans, many of whom refused to welcome him and accept the Lord as their Saviour. But, his perseverance and hard work won him the admiration of many among the faithful, as well as many others who walked in his footsteps throughout the years. As we can see, St. George and St. Adalbert have both shown us, how we can be faithful to the Lord, in the mission entrusted to them.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, we too, have been entrusted with the same mission. The Lord wanted all the people, all of mankind to be reconciled with Him, and there are still many out there who have not yet received the Lord and His Good News, and many still have rejected Him and wandered off His path. It is now up to us, to continue the good works that the Apostles, and the saints, St. George and St. Adalbert had begun.

May the Lord be with us and guide us in this journey, so that we may be able to find our own way to Him, and be able to devote ourselves wholeheartedly to the mission and cause He has entrusted to us. May the Lord bless us all and our endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Sunday, 22 April 2018 : Fourth Sunday of Easter, Good Shepherd Sunday and Vocation Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday, we celebrate together the occasion of the Good Shepherd Sunday, known as such because of the Gospel passage of the Fourth Sunday of Easter that is about the Lord as the Good Shepherd, as well as the occasion of the Vocation Sunday, where all of us pray together for the vocations to the priesthood and life dedicated to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday is a very important one to us all in the Church, as all those who are priests and consecrated to God are the lifeblood of the Church, and an important part of God’s Church together with the laity. Without these courageous men who listened to God’s call and answered Him with concrete action, there would have been no Church to speak of today.

Why is that so? That is because they are called to follow in the example of the Lord, the Good Shepherd, Who loves us all His people. It was God’s love for us that had allowed His Church to exist and flourish, and it was God’s love, that He did not destroy us outright for our sins, but instead He gave us the opportunity to be forgiven and to be reconciled with Him.

All of the readings from the Scripture today speak of God’s love for us, which is great and its extent unimaginable. And He has often alluded to us, the love of a shepherd for the sheep, especially that of a good shepherd, the shepherd of the flock, and not of the hired men. The hired men would only care for the sheep for the money they received, and as soon as they had to do something beyond their obligations, or when they had to face danger to protect the sheep, they would flee.

On the other hand, the good shepherd would do all he could to protect the sheep, to go all the way to search for a lost sheep and to do all he could to make sure that the sheep is safe and sound. And as the Lord Himself mentioned, that a true and good shepherd knows all of his sheep, and the sheep know him. And that is exactly Who the Lord is, our Good Shepherd Who loves each and every one of us.

Obviously God loves each and every one of us, for it was He Who created us from nothingness and gave us life, for each one of us. God did not create us without a good reason, and that reason is that He wants to share with us His perfect love. God has no need for our love, as He Himself is already perfect in love and having perfect love in His Trinity, between the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, united in perfect love to each other.

Yet, He wants to love us, and to show His care upon us, to all He has created, and foremost of all, mankind, whom He created in His very own image, and who are the pinnacle of His creation. God is ever loving upon us, whom He considers to be His own children. And why is that so? That is all the more because Christ, His begotten Son, has willingly taken up our existence as Man, that just as He is Son, we too are sons and daughters of God.

The relationship between sheep and shepherd is a very close one, like that of parent and child. Hence, God as our Good Shepherd is yet another reinforcement of the fact of just how great His love for us is. He is our loving Father, our Guardian, our Protector, our Shepherd and our King. And because of that, He is always concerned about us, and worried about us, just as shepherds are always wary of the threats facing their sheep.

And like all sheep, which sometimes like to wander off on its own, all of us, God’s sheep also like to wander off the path that God has shown us. We have disobeyed the commands and laws that God has given us, and preferring to follow our own path. This is where the devil tries to come in, to prey upon us, just like wolves preying on sheep. And he is always ready to snatch those who are lost and separated from the rest of the flock, leading us to our downfall.

That is why the devil is never at rest, constantly trying to get his hands on us, especially those who are most vulnerable to his tricks and lies, to the temptations and persuasions with which he had swayed countless souls from their way to heaven, into the path leading towards hell. The devil is ever active, sending out his agents, demons and evil spirits, to harass us and to drag us into the depths of hell with them.

Of course, the Lord in all these does not stay silent or inactive. If we think that He has done nothing to help us, then let us remind ourselves by looking upon He Who was crucified on the cross. He, our Good Shepherd, above all else, laid down His very life for us, enduring the worst sufferings and pains, far beyond what we mankind can ever imagine or comprehend, so that by those sufferings and by His death, He could save us from a certainty of death and damnation.

He has become the fulfilment of His own words, “The Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep.” A good and committed shepherd would do everything in order to protect his sheep, and if necessary, they might even put themselves in harm’s way in order to protect the sheep from danger. That is what a true and good shepherd would have done, as he loved the sheep as much as himself.

God, Who is our Good Shepherd, has done exactly the same thing, and as all of us are His beloved sheep, who have been scattered and cast away from Him because of our sins, He came between us and damnation itself, by accepting the punishment for our sins, that though He died, all of us may live because of His ultimate sacrifice. And that is not the end, but instead, a new beginning, because He conquered death and sin, by His glorious resurrection.

Now Christ, our Good Shepherd and Risen Lord has shown us the way forward, and He appointed His disciples, from the Apostles to their successors, all the way to the priests and bishops of our present time, to be shepherds of His flock. And these shepherds model themselves after the Good Shepherd Himself, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Many of them have worked tirelessly, all throughout the ages, to serve the people of God and the Church, caring for the needs of God’s people, the flock entrusted under their care, as shepherds.

And it is important that today, we remember to pray for our priests and bishops, all those who are our shepherds, that they will remain strong in their faith, conviction and commitment to the vocation into which God had called and confirmed them. And not just that, we should also help them and take part in the activities of the Church together, as our shepherds cannot do their works alone. And there are many threats facing them that we need to be aware of.

Just as the Lord, our Good Shepherd, gave His life to protect us and to bring salvation unto us, many of our priests and bishops had to devote themselves, even to the point of suffering and laying down their lives as martyrs, just so that more and more souls of man may be saved from eternal damnation. That is why we need to pray for them and assist them in whatever way we can.

Remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, Satan knows that if he wants to gain access at us, God’s flock, he must first strike at the shepherds. That was exactly what he has been trying to do, and what he will continue to do. Assaults after assaults, temptations after temptations await our priests and bishops, all those whom God had called and chosen. Now, let us all help them, and help each other, united as one Church, that we strive and persevere through these challenges together.

May the Lord continue to watch over His servants, especially those whom He had made shepherds over His people, our priests and bishops. And may He call even more young men who are destined for a life of service and shepherdhood, that they may discern well and take up the cross, to continue the good works which the Apostles and their successors had done, in shepherding God’s flock and finding their way to Him. May God be with all of our priests, our bishops, and with all of us. Amen.

Saturday, 21 April 2018 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Anselm, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are reminded that as a disciple and follower of the Lord, we have a lot of responsibilities in our lives as well as work to do, in facing occasions when we need to stand up for our faith facing the challenges and obstacles that will be on our path if we remain faithful to God.

In the first reading today, we heard of how the Apostle St. Peter travelled from place to place, preaching about the Lord and performing many miraculous works, healing people who were sick, infirm and disabled. Eventually, he also performed what many people thought was impossible, that is to return someone who had died, back into life. Yet, that had exactly happened, just as the Lord Jesus Himself brought Lazarus back to life.

In the Gospel passage, the Lord Jesus spoke to His disciples regarding what they have heard Him teaching the people, on Himself as the Living Bread, the Bread of Life, by the giving of His own Body and by the outpouring of His own Blood, which in fact turned off many people who could not believe that someone would give His own Body and His own Blood for others to eat and drink.

They could not understand in their simple minds about the revelation which God had brought to them. To them it is inconceivable and impossible for a man to do as what the Lord Jesus had said, and they could not bring themselves to believe it. But that is because they were thinking in worldly terms and not in terms of God. Yet, that is the reality and the truth, just as a man and a girl who had died, could return to life once again, as the Lord Jesus and His Apostle, St. Peter had done.

As Christians, all of us stand by the Lord’s ways, which often may seem to be strange or even incomprehensible to those who live by the ways of the world. And as such, there may be occasions when we will be ridiculed, rejected and shunned by others, even by those who are close to us, because we stand by firmly to our faith in God and not following what is common to those in this world.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now, let us ask ourselves, are we able to stand by the Lord faithfully in the same manner as the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord had done? Are we able to commit ourselves in the same way as they had? Many people refused to believe what the Lord had said, left Him behind and went on their own way. But the disciples remained firm in their conviction and faith, despite of all that they have just experienced and heard.

What all of these are telling us, is the fact that as Christians, all of us will be tempted from all sides and sources, to abandon the Lord and to walk on their own path. But we have to persevere through all of these challenges and temptations, for should we fail to do so, what is at stake is nothing less than the fate of our eternal soul. And it is through Christ alone that we can reach out to the Lord and be saved.

Let us all look at the faith that our holy predecessor, St. Anselm of Canterbury had once shown, which became inspiration for many others. On this day, as we celebrate his feast and remember his actions, as the Archbishop of Canterbury, who faithfully served his flock and cared for the needs of all those who have been entrusted to him. He even resisted the secular authorities, of kings and nobles who tried to intrude into the governance of the Church.

For that, he had to endure opposition, persecution and exile. He had to endure painful suffering and opposition from the powerful lords and especially the king of England who wanted to make the Church in his domains subservient to his rule and whim. He struggled faithfully and remained firm in his faith, not giving in to the temptations or to the persuasions. In the end, the truth triumphed and St. Anselm shared in the glory of God’s Apostles and His saints.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all walk in the same path as walked by St. Anselm, in his faith and devotion, in his commitment and outreach, all the effort he had put in place to serve the people of God with faith. Let us all seek to be faithful at all times, and devote ourselves, our time and attention to be with God, to love Him with all of our strength, as we should, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 20 April 2018 : 3rd Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the story of the conversion of St. Paul the Apostle, the one who was once Saul, a great enemy of the Church and the bane of many of the faithful in the earliest days of the Church, and yet, later on would become the greatest champion and defender of the faith. St. Paul’s story of conversion to the faith is truly an inspiration to all of us.

Why is that so? That is because we are all sinners like St. Paul, and we have once been without hope and wicked, just as Saul had been. We may think that we are unworthy of God, and that we are far away from God and His salvation. But we should not forget the fact that God wants each and every one of us to be saved, by accepting the forgiveness and mercy He has given us freely and generously.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is what God has wanted to do with us, to love us and to reconcile us to Himself. And He has done it through the ultimate giving of Himself, that He gave us everything, even His very own life. From the cross came outpoured the gift of ultimate love and grace, by the sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb of God, the giving of His own Flesh and Blood, the Living Bread that came down from heaven.

That is what the Lord meant when He said in our Gospel passage today, that He is the Living Bread, by Whom all of us mankind, God’s own beloved people, would be saved and receive eternal life. He gave us through the Apostles and their successors, His Real Presence in the Eucharist, that in the celebration of the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass, the bread and the wine we offer, become truly the Body and Blood of Our Lord, which we then partake as one family of the Church.

The Lord Himself has chosen to dwell among us, as one of us, sharing our humanity, and now, He has chosen to commit Himself even deeper, by choosing to dwell within us, as we partake His Real Presence, His Body and Blood, and thus, the Lord Himself is in us, in our bodies, our minds, our hearts, in our whole being. We are therefore, God’s Holy Temple, as St. Paul himself had written in one of his Epistles.

And because of that, we need to be aware that we have to do our best to make ourselves worthy to be God’s own dwelling house. The Temple of God in Jerusalem at the time of Solomon was decorated with the most precious metals and riches of the world, just as it was at the time of Jesus, to show just how glorious God was, and how mighty He was, and that we mankind were trying our best to glorify Him in whatever way we could do.

Then, should it not be the same with each one of us? As Christians who have received baptism, and shared in the same Body and Blood given to us by Our Lord Jesus, all of us are God’s Holy Temple, in the entirety of our being, our bodies, our minds, hearts and souls. Yet, many of us treat our body and our being with such contempt and lack of respect for its status as God’s Temple and dwelling amongst us.

Therefore, we are all called, that from now on, we may do our best in order to treat ourselves and our whole being as God’s worthy House, dwelling in us by the Real Presence in the Eucharist which we partake together at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Let us all follow in the footsteps of St. Paul the Apostle, who devoted all of his time to serve the Lord, turning away from all of his sinful ways and past history of persecuting the people of God.

Let us all remember that there is always hope for all of us sinners, as long as we are willing to accept the Lord’s forgiveness and mercy in our lives. Let us all commit ourselves to good and honest Christian lives from now on, turning our attention fully to the Lord. May He be with us always, and may He continue to guide our actions and bless us all the days of our lives. Amen.