Friday, 30 September 2016 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Luke 10 : 13-16

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Alas for you, Chorazin! Alas for you, Bethsaida! So many miracles have been worked in you! If the same miracles had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would already be sitting in ashes and wearing the sackcloth of repentance.”

“Surely for Tyre and Sidon it will be better on the Day of Judgment than for you. And what of you, city of Capernaum? Will you be lifted up to heaven? You will be thrown down to the place of the dead. Whoever listens to you listens to Me, and whoever rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me, rejects the One Who sent Me.”

Friday, 30 September 2016 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White
Psalm 138 : 1-3, 7-8, 9-10, 13, 14ab

O Lord, You know me : You have scrutinised me. You know when I sit and when I rise; beforehand You discern my thoughts. You observe my activities and times of rest; You are familiar with all my ways.

Where else could I go from Your Spirit? Where could I flee from Your presence? You are there if I ascend the heavens; You are there if I descend to the depths.

If I ride on the wings of the dawn and settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand shall guide me and Your right hand shall hold me safely.

It was You Who formed my inmost part and knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I thank You for these wonders You have done, and my heart praises You for Your marvellous deeds.

Friday, 30 September 2016 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Job 38 : 1, 12-21 and Job 40 : 3-5

Then YHVH answered Job out of the storm : “Have you ever commanded the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might grasp the earth by its edges and shake the wicked out of it, when it takes a clay colour and changes its tint like a garment; when the wicked are denied their own light, and their proud arm is shattered?”

“Have you journeyed to where the sea begins or walked in its deepest recesses? Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of Shadow? Have you an idea of the breadth of the earth? Tell Me, if you know all this. Where is the way to the home of light, and where does darkness dwell?”

“Can you take them to their own regions, and set them on their homeward paths? You know, for you were born before them, and great is the number of your years!”

Job said, “How can I reply, unworthy as I am! All I can do is put my hand over my mouth. I have spoken once, now I will not answer; oh, yes, twice, but I will do no further.”

Friday, 9 September 2016 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Claver, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are called to put our attention into two things, that is firstly, we have to remember the mission which God had entrusted to us all through His Apostles, as St. Paul succinctly placed in what he wrote in his Epistle, that we all are servants and preachers of the Gospel, the Good News of God. We are the evangelisers of this new and current time and age.

We serve the Lord by preaching the Good News which He has brought upon this world, by being witnesses of His death and resurrection. We are God’s servants, and thus we should speak, act and do things in accordance with what He has revealed to us and taught us, or else, others will not come to believe in us if we ourselves do not act in accordance with God’s ways.

And that is in tandem with the second thing that we heard in today’s Gospel, that is about how Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law for their hypocrisy and lack of genuine faith, using the well known parable of the plank and the eyes. They were rebuked as those who wanted to remove the sins in others while they themselves committed great sins and yet they turned a blind eye to these.

In order to understand this, we have to understand what it was like at the time of Jesus. The Pharisees, the teachers of the Law and scribes, the elders and the priestly class and caste are among the elites and the highly respected and influential members of the community, and also rightly feared for their influence and oppression of all forms of dissent against their authority.

They considered themselves pious and great in faith, as guardians of God’s laws and commandments. They treasured their customs and traditions, valuing highly their appearances and showy prayers in public as signs of their faith. And yet, in all these, they did not glorify God, and neither did they honour Him as He should have been honoured. They thought only of themselves and their human needs and desires.

And in that, they did not just oppress others around them but they also misled and misguided them to the wrong path. Instead of bringing the people closer to God, they have closed the path off to many, and including themselves as well. That is a reminder for us not to be like them and not to act as they have acted. We must instead be true to our faith and be committed in all things, that whatever we do, we do not for ourselves, but for the greater glory of God.

Perhaps the example of today’s saint, St. Peter Claver can be a source of inspiration and example for us all to follow from today on. St. Peter Claver was a Spanish Jesuit priest who went forth to the New World, what is today called the American continent. He went specifically to the Spanish colony in what is now Latin or South America, ministering to the people there, preaching among those who have yet to accept the Lord as their Saviour.

It was told that many people listened to his sermons and preachings, and as many as three hundred thousand people converted to the Faith and gave themselves to be baptised through his works, and that he baptised them all by himself throughout his forty years of working among them. He was hardworking and dedicated to his mission, that is to save the souls of those who still lived in the darkness and in ignorance of the Lord and His saving works.

St. Peter Claver did not allow himself to succumb to the same temptations facing the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. Despite of his privileged position as a priest and as a Spanish, which accorded to him immense benefits and privileges as both a member of the clergy and as a European versus all the natives and the pagans living in the New World, he lived simply and even when given privileges, he chose to live among the slaves, to whom he had dedicated his life’s works to.

The examples of St. Peter Claver should serve as a reminder to us all, brothers and sisters in Christ, that as the disciples and servants of our Lord, we must live according to what He has commanded us to be, that is to love and to give ourselves in love to one another, just as St. Peter Claver had done. And he also gave himself to the poorest, the weakest, those who were oppressed and who were at a disadvantage.

Let us all therefore vow to make ourselves better disciples of the Lord, by following in the footsteps of our holy predecessors, the saints and servants of God, and not fall into the temptations of this world. May God help us to love each other ever more sincerely with each passing day. God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 9 September 2016 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Claver, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)
Luke 6 : 39-42

At that time, Jesus offered this example, “Can a blind person lead another blind person? Surely both will fall into a ditch. A disciple is not above the master; but when fully trained, he will be like the master. So why do you pay attention to the speck in your brother’s eye, while you have a log in your eye, and are not conscious of it?”

“How can you say to your neighbour, ‘Friend, let me take this speck out of your eye,’ when you cannot remove the log in your own? You hypocrite! First remove the log from your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your neighbour’s eye.”

Friday, 9 September 2016 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Claver, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)
Psalm 83 : 3, 4, 5-6, 12

My soul years, pines, for the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young, at Your altars, o Lord of hosts, my King and my God!

Happy are those who live in Your house, continually singing Your praise! Happy the pilgrims whom You strengthen, to make the ascent to You.

For the Lord God is a sun and a shield; He bestows favour and glory. The Lord withholds no good thing from those who walk in uprightness.

Friday, 9 September 2016 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Claver, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)
1 Corinthians 9 : 16-19, 22b-27

Because I cannot boast of announcing the Gospel : I am bound to do it. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel! If I preached voluntarily, I could expect my reward, but I have been trusted this office against my will. How can I, then, deserve a reward?

In announcing the Gospel, I will do it freely without making use of the rights given to me by the Gospel. So, feeling free with everybody, I have become everybody’s slave in order to gain a greater number.

So I made myself all things to all people in order to save, by all possible means, some of them. This I do for the Gospel, so that I too have a share of it. Have you not learnt anything from the stadium? Many run, but only one gets the prize. Run, therefore, intending to win it, as athletes who impose upon themselves a rigorous discipline. Yet for them the wreath is of laurels which wither, while for us, it does not wither.

So, then, I run knowing where I go. I box but not aimlessly in the air. I punish my body and control it, lest after preaching to others, I myself should be rejected.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green
1 Corinthians 7 : 25-31

With regards to those who remain virgins, I have no special commandment from the Lord, but I give some advice, hoping that I am worthy of trust by the mercy of the Lord.

I think this is good in these hard times in which we live. It is good for someone to remain as he is. If you are married, do not try to divorce your wife; if you are not married, do not marry. He who marries does not sin, nor does the young girl sin who marries. Yet they will face disturbing experiences, and I would like to spare you.

I say this, brothers and sisters : time is running out, and those who are married must live as if not married; those who weep as if not weeping; those who are happy as if they were not happy; those buying something as if they had not bought it, and those enjoying the present life as if they were not enjoying it. For the order of this world is vanishing.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016 : Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, World Day for Consecrated Life and Closing of the Year of Consecrated Life (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we celebrate together a great feast in the memory and in honour of our Lord Jesus and His presentation at the Temple of God in Jerusalem, on the eighth day after His birth just as the Law of God had prescribed it, a compulsory matter for all the firstborn sons of Israel, just as Jesus is the Firstborn Son of Mary.

He was presented at the Temple, as a sign to all the peoples, revealed to the nation of Israel and to all others, that the Messiah of the Lord had come into the world. The servant of God, Simeon and the prophetess Anna also ensured that His coming into this world was known, and that His future good works would be known and expected by the people of God.

The expression and actions of the servant of God, Simeon showed us the kind of anxiety, the expectation and the hope that mankind had placed in the awaiting process for the coming of the Messiah. The people of God had expected the coming of God’s Messiah for a long time, and they have long awaited for His coming into the world in order to rescue them from their fated destruction.

And today’s celebration is so significant because of that fact, as the Lord today in truth, He was not just presented and consecrated to God on that day as all the firstborn of Israel were consecrated to God, but in that same way, God also presented His own Son to us, to be our Deliverer and Saviour from all of our troubles, from our fate of encountering and facing destruction in hell.

Do we remember the passage from the Holy Scriptures regarding Abraham and his son, Isaac? The promised son whom God had promised Abraham? That through that son, he would have his descendants to rule over the nations and to have them as many as the stars in the sky and as many as the grains of sand on the seashore? Then, we have to remember about the time when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his own beloved son to Him as a sacrificial offering.

Anyone would have refused to do so, and they would have doubted and complained against God and His seemingly wicked request to sacrifice one’s own son, all the more that, that very son was the one whom God Himself had promised to be the son awaited for a long time by the childless Abraham and Sarah, and through whom God had promised that many nations would be his children.

But Abraham remained faithful and true to the Lord, and despite how sad that must have been for him, he went on and brought his son, Isaac to the mountain of Moria where he would sacrifice him to the Lord as He had wished for. But God was only testing Abraham for his faith, whether he would remain in faith and keep strong in his faith despite that kind of horrendous request, or whether he would sway and leave the Lord behind.

For his faith, God rewarded Abraham greatly, and He fulfilled all the promises which He had made to him, and then, interestingly, it was in the same way as Abraham had acted, that God Himself through His action made all of His promises to all mankind fulfilled in all of its perfection. It was through Jesus His Son, that God made everything whole once again.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, just as Abraham did not hold back his own son from God, neither did God hold back His own Son, His own Precious Word, from us, as He gave Jesus, to be our Deliverer, our Saviour and our Hope, through none else but another sacrifice, the ultimate sacrifice of God Who loves all of His people, His beloved children, that He willingly offered Himself as the perfect and loving sacrifice on the altar of the cross.

This is the joy of the nations that the prophet and servant of God Simeon had foretold as how it would happen to the people of Israel and for the rest of the world. It was through the hard work and the toils and labours of our Lord Himself, that through His hard effort, that we all mankind, who have been scattered in the darkness by our sins, would be gathered together again and receive God’s blessings and grace.

Thus, today, as we commemorate this great feast of the Presentation of our Lord, just as we receive God’s rich and wonderful offering of His own Son, to be our Lord, Saviour, Redeemer and Hope, then let us all dedicate ourselves to Him all the more, commit ourselves to Him in love and in all of our actions and deeds, so that in everything that we do and say, we may always bring glory to Him, and help to gather more of our scattered brethren unto Him.

Let us also pray for all of those who have dedicated their whole lives to God, our religious brothers and sisters, and even more those who have committed themselves to the sacred priesthood and the episcopate, dedicating and committing their whole lives to serve the people of God. Let us pray that God will keep them faithful and dedicated in their service. And may God bless us all, now and forever. Amen.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016 : Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, World Day for Consecrated Life and Closing of the Year of Consecrated Life (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 2 : 22-40

At that time, when the day came for the purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought the Baby up to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord, as it is written in the Law of the Lord : Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to God. And they offered a sacrifice, as ordered in the Law of the Lord : a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

There lived in Jerusalem at this time a very upright and devout man named Simeon; the Holy Spirit was in him. He looked forward to the time when the Lord would comfort Israel, and he had been assured, by the Holy Spirit, that he would not die before seeing the Messiah of the Lord.

So he was led into the Temple by the Holy Spirit at the time the parents brought the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the Law. Simeon took the Child in his arms, and blessed God, saying, “Now, o Lord, You can dismiss Your servant in peace, for You have fulfilled Your word and my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You display for all the people to see. Here is the light You will reveal to the nations, and the glory of Your people Israel.”

His father and mother wondered at what was said about the Child. Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary, His mother, “Know this : your Son is a sign, a sign established for the falling and rising of many in Israel, a sign of contradiction; and a sword will pierce your own soul, so that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.”

There was also a prophetess named Anna, daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. After leaving her father’s home, she had been seven years with her husband, and since then she had been continually about the Temple, serving God as a widow night and day in fasting and prayer. She was now eighty-four.

Coming up at that time, she gave praise to God, and spoke of the Child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem. When the parents had fulfilled all that was required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to their town, Nazareth in Galilee. There the Child grew in stature and strength, and was filled with wisdom : the grace of God was upon Him.

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Luke 2 : 22-32

At that time, when the day came for the purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought the Baby up to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord, as it is written in the Law of the Lord : Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to God. And they offered a sacrifice, as ordered in the Law of the Lord : a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

There lived in Jerusalem at this time a very upright and devout man named Simeon; the Holy Spirit was in him. He looked forward to the time when the Lord would comfort Israel, and he had been assured, by the Holy Spirit, that he would not die before seeing the Messiah of the Lord.

So he was led into the Temple by the Holy Spirit at the time the parents brought the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the Law. Simeon took the Child in his arms, and blessed God, saying, “Now, o Lord, You can dismiss Your servant in peace, for You have fulfilled Your word and my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You display for all the people to see. Here is the light You will reveal to the nations, and the glory of Your people Israel.”