Thursday, 21 January 2021 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Mark 3 : 7-12

At that tine, Jesus and His disciples withdrew to the lakeside, and a large crowd from Galilee followed Him. A great number of people also came from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, Transjordan, and from the region of Tyre and Sidon, for they had heard of all that He was doing.

Because of the crowd, Jesus told His disciples to have a boat ready for Him, to prevent the people from crushing Him. He healed so many, that all who had diseases kept pressing towards Him to touch Him. Even the people who had evil spirits, whenever they saw Him, they would fall down before Him and cry out, “You are the Son of God.” But He warned them sternly not to tell anyone Who He was.

Thursday, 21 January 2021 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 39 : 7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 17

Sacrifice and oblation You did not desire; this You had me understand. Burnt offering and sin offering You do not require. Then I said, “Here I come!”

“As the scroll says of me. To do Your will is my delight, o God, for Your law is within my heart.”

In the great assembly I have proclaimed Your saving help. My lips, o Lord, I did not seal – You know that very well.

But may all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; and may all who love Your saving grace continually say, “The Lord is great.”

Thursday, 21 January 2021 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Hebrews 7 : 25 – Hebrews 8 : 6

Consequently Jesus is able to save for all time those who approach God through Him. He always lives to intercede on their behalf. It was fitting that our High Priest be holy, undefiled, set apart from sinners and exalted above the heavens; a Priest Who does not first need to offer sacrifice for Himself before offering for the sins of the people, as high priests do. He offered Himself in sacrifice once and for all.

And whereas the Law elected weak men as high priests, now, after the Law, the word of God with an oath appointed the Son, made perfect forever. The main point of what we are saying is that we have a High Priest. He is seated at the right hand of the Divine Majesty in heaven, where He serves as minister of the true Temple and Sanctuary, set up not by any mortal but by the Lord.

A high priest is appointed to offer to God gifts and sacrifices, and Jesus also has to offer some sacrifice. Had He remained on earth, He would not be a priest, since others offer the gifts according to the Law. In fact, the ritual celebrated by those priests is only an imitation and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary.

We know the word of God to Moses with regard to the construction of the holy tent. He said : You are to make everything according to the pattern shown to you on the mountain. Now, however, Jesus enjoys a much higher ministry in being the Mediator of a better covenant, founded on better promises.

Wednesday, 25 November 2020 : Last Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Lord speaking to us the challenges and trials that are part of our journey as Christians and how we should keep up faith and not be afraid. This is because the Lord will always be with us and by our side no matter what, and with His guidance and strength, we shall persevere through all the challenges and trials.

In our first reading today we heard of the words from the Book of Revelations of St. John regarding the happenings of the end times as the time of reckoning and judgment is coming up on the world, and the Angels of God bearing the seven great plagues that will befall the nations and the people who refused to believe in God. At that time, the righteous and those who are still faithful in God will be persecuted and oppressed by those unbelievers, and the plagues and other signs are reminders that God is by the side of His faithful.

The Lord will not abandon His people to darkness and destruction, and He, as the Lamb of God seen in the vision of St. John, has triumphed by His Passion and Resurrection from the dead, and not even death and evil can overcome Him. For He has defeated the ultimate enemy of all, that is death, and showing to all of us that there is light and hope beyond death, and death no longer has the final say for all of us. It used to be something that we were all scared of as death is a separation from our lives in this world.

The Lord reassured us all that death that we experience is only a temporary experience and is just a mark of the new beginning of a new life with Him, when we will be reunited completely with Him and enter into the eternal glory and the eternal life that have been prepared for all of us. However, unless we believe in Him and are faithful in HIm, dedicating ourselves to Him, there will be no place for us in His eternal kingdom and glory.

And all of these relate well to what we heard from our Gospel passage today. In our Gospel passage today we heard the Lord proclaiming the revelation of what His disciples and followers as Christians would encounter soon enough, after He established His Church and they preached His Good News to the nations. They would be persecuted, oppressed, rejected and ridiculed by many of those who refused to believe in the Lord and in His message, as well as those who saw the faithful as threats to their own power and influence.

Hence, that was why Christians especially in its early centuries faced so many persecutions, initially from the Jewish authorities, the members of the Sanhedrin and the chief priests, the Pharisees and Sadducees and all those who were opposed to the Lord and His followers. And in addition, the Roman authorities and the state governments, as well as the Greeks and other pagan peoples who refused to believe in God also persecuted the faithful and made things difficult to them.

Yet, amidst all of that, many of our holy predecessors, the innumerable martyrs and saints of the Church remained firm in their faith and conviction to serve the Lord, dedicating their lives and all their efforts to follow the Lord to the very end. They endured those sufferings, trials, persecutions and challenges since they had faith that God would be with them and journeyed together with them even through the greatest sufferings and the deepest darkness and despair.

One of those saints is St. Catherine of Alexandria, one of the most famous and inspirational saints of the early Church. St. Catherine of Alexandria was a noble, born of a powerful family as her father was the governor of Alexandria in Egypt, a very important position in the Roman Empire at that time. St. Catherine was persuaded to become a Christian after receiving visions of the Lord and was convinced to embrace the Christian faith fully. And all these happened amidst one of the most bitter and brutal persecution against Christians.

It was told that St. Catherine was arrested and tortured for her Christian faith. And in the attempt to make her abandon her faith and to publicly denounce the Christian faith and truth, the Emperor made her to debate as many as fifty or more pagan philosophers, who were all unable to outsmart or debate her, unable to match her wisdom, the wisdom of God as passed on and revealed through the Holy Spirit. It was told that St. Catherine’s wisdom was such that even the Emperor’s own wife was touched, inspired and converted to the true faith.

And when all methods and ways had failed to persuade St. Catherine to abandon her faith, the desperate Emperor tried to turn her by offering her his hand in marriage. Normally, the temptation to abandon the faith to embrace marriage with the most powerful and influential person in the land would be so great. But St. Catherine resisted the offer and temptation, declaring publicly that she maintained her virginity and dedicated it to the Lord, refusing to stain her purity in any way, and neither would she abandon her faith. And thus, afterwards, she was martyred for remaining true to her faith in God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, from the inspiring examples set by St. Catherine of Alexandria, as well as the many other examples made by the other holy men and women of God, who had chosen to walk with God and refused to abandon Him, let us all be inspired to follow their examples and walk in their footsteps even as challenges and trials are facing us and become great obstacles in our own respective journeys of faith. Let us all discern carefully our path going forward in life, that we may grow ever closer to God and in faith.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He guide us all in our journey of faith. May He strengthen us and our resolve that we may persevere and be more courageous in our pursuit of faith, and be ourselves inspiring examples of faith to one another. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Wednesday, 25 November 2020 : Last Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Luke 21 : 12-19

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Before all these things happen, people will lay their hands on you and persecute you; you will be delivered to the synagogues and put in prison, and for My sake you will be brought before kings and governors. This will be your opportunity to bear witness.”

“So keep this in mind : do not worry in advance about what to say, for I will give you words and wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends, and some of you will be put to death.”

“But even though, because of My Name, you will be hated by everyone, not a hair of your head will perish. By your patient endurance you will save your souls.”

Wednesday, 25 November 2020 : Last Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 97 : 1, 2-3ab, 7-8, 9

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

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

Let the sea resound and everything in it, the world and all its peoples. Let rivers clap their hands, hills and mountains sing with joy.

Before the Lord, for He comes to rule the earth. He will judge the world with justice and the peoples with fairness.

Wednesday, 25 November 2020 : Last Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Revelations 15 : 1-4

Then I saw another great and marvellous sign in the heavens : seven Angels brought seven plagues which are the last, for with these the wrath of God will end. There was a sea of crystal mingled with fire, and the conquerors of the beast, of its name and the mark of its name stood by it.

They had been given the celestial harps and they sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb : Great and marvellous are Your works, o Lord, God and Master of the universe. Justice and truth guide Your steps, o King of the nations.

Lord, who will not give honour and glory to Your Name? For You alone are holy. All the nations will come and bow before You, for they have now seen Your judgments.

Saturday, 17 October 2020 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are reminded of our faith in Christ, and our calling and indeed obligation as Christians to proclaim Him as our Lord and Master, as the One and only God we have, our one True God. We are called and we call ourselves as Christians because of this fundamental belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Divine Word of God incarnate in the flesh as the Son of Man.

And we believe that He has come down into this world to be our Saviour, and we have been saved through His sacrifice on the Cross, that by dying together with Him through our baptism, and rising together with Him in His Resurrection, we have been brought into a new life and existence. The Lord has revealed all of these to us, and blessed us, and called us to this new life and existence. As Christians, therefore, we are God’s people, united to Him by our faith.

But our faith cannot be just merely a stationary and stagnant faith, that is without any actions or examples through which we stand up for that faith and be genuine witnesses to our belief in God. On the contrary, our faith must be vibrant and active, filled with genuine actions through which all who see us, hear us and witness us, interacting with us may know that God is in us, working through us and that we are His people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is what all of us are called to do with our lives, that is to be righteous and good, striving for virtue in life and obeying the laws and commandments of God. We are called to be good models and inspirations for one another, that we may help each other, fellow Christians, to remain faithful to God and to follow His path with piety and commitment.

Many of us today are no longer active in how we live up to our faith, as well as our calling as Christians. Many of us prefer to keep to ourselves and do just the very minimum. Even to do that, many among us were already often grumbled, complained and refused to participate fully. When the Church states that we have to fulfil our Sunday obligations, we grumbled and could not wait until the Mass is over.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, many of us are taking our faith and even good life for granted. Many of us may have been blessed abundantly by God, or to have the freedom to worship God and follow His path without any issues. But do we realise just how tough it was for one to be Christians, and even up to today, there are still parts of the world where to be Christians may mean certain death and great sufferings?

Christians had to endure many persecutions during much of its history, and today, our saint of the day, St. Ignatius of Antioch, was himself a victim of this brutal persecution, having also witnessed how many of the faithful were persecuted and killed. St. Ignatius was the successor of St. Peter in the See of Antioch as its bishop, and was the overseer of that Christian community, which according to the Acts of the Apostles, was the very first place where the faithful were known as Christians.

St. Ignatius, as one of the most prominent and important of all the early Church fathers, was very influential in the early Church, and helped to establish solid foundation for the Church, not just in Antioch, but also to the larger Universal Church. He wrote extensively to the other Church communities and was also instrumental in guiding the faithful and the Church in Antioch during those years when he was the shepherd of the faithful in that city.

St. Ignatius himself as mentioned was martyred at the end of his ministry as the Bishop of Antioch, and he suffered greatly like his flock, defending his faith to the very end. But he and the many other martyrs remained faithful and committed to God, despite all the challenges that they had to face. They put their complete faith and trust in the Lord, and followed Him to wherever and whatever He led them into.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all take all these into mind as we endeavour to live our lives with greater zeal and dedication to the Lord. Let us all be courageous and truthful in standing up for our faith whenever it is necessary, that we may continue to be inspiring examples for one another and that we may become shining beacons of God’s light and truth. May the Lord bless us all, in our every endeavours and good deeds, now and always. St. Ignatius, holy servant of God and holy martyr of the Church, pray for us all. Amen.

Saturday, 17 October 2020 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 12 : 8-12

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “I tell you, whoever acknowledges Me before people, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the Angels of God. But the one who denies Me before others will be denied before the Angels of God. There will be pardon for the one who criticises the Son of Man, but there will be no pardon for the one who slanders the Holy Spirit.”

“When you are brought before the synagogues, and before governors and rulers, do not worry about how you will defend yourself, or what to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you have to say.”

Saturday, 17 October 2020 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 8 : 2-3a, 4-5, 6-7

O YHVH, our YHVH, how great is Your Name throughout the earth! And Your glory in the heavens above. Even the mouths of children and infants exalt Your glory in front of Your foes.

When I observe the heavens, the work of Your hands, the moon, and the stars You set in their place – what is man, that You be mindful of him; the Son of Man, that You should care for Him?

Yet You made Him a little less than a god; You crowned Him with glory and honour, and gave Him the works of Your hands; You have put all things under His feet.