Wednesday, 8 October 2014 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Galatians 2 : 1-2, 7-14

After fourteen years I again went up to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and Titus came with us. Following a revelation, I went to lay before them the Gospel that I am preaching to the pagans, I had a private meeting with the leaders – lest I should be working or have worked in a wrong way.

They recognised that I have been entrusted to give the Good News to the pagan nations, just as Peter has been entrusted to give it to the Jews. In the same way that God made Peter the Apostle of the Jews, He made me the Apostle of the pagans.

James, Cephas and John acknowledged the graces God gave me. Those men who were regarded as the pillars of the Church stretched out their hand to me and Barnabas as a sign of fellowship; we would go to the pagans and they to the Jews. We should only keep in mind the poor among them. I have taken care to do this.

When later Cephas came to Antioch, I confronted him since he deserved to be blamed. Before some of James’ people arrived, he used to eat with non-Jewish people. But when they arrived, he withdrew and did not mingle anymore with them, for fear of the Jewish group.

The rest of the Jews followed him in this pretense, and even Barnabas was part of this insincerity. When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the Gospel, I said to Cephas publicly : ‘If you who are Jewish agreed to live like the non-Jews, setting aside the Jewish customs, why do you now compel the non-Jews to live like Jews?’

(Usus Antiquior) Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, Memorial of St. Placidus and Companions, Martyrs (II Classis) – Sunday, 5 October 2014 : Homily and Scripture Reflections

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today Jesus our Lord highlighted to us on how the Lord is love, and Jesus Himself is love, as He is Son of God and therefore, is God. He at the same time is also the Son of David, as his legal descendant through Joseph, His foster-father, and therefore is the heir and indeed the one true and only King of the kingdom given to His ancestor David, as God had promised to David himself His servant, that his heir and descendant would sit forever on his throne.

And the commandments and the Laws which God had given to His people, which they knew as the Ten Commandments, together with all the accompanying laws and customs are all actually about love, and love that we need to express both to God, as well as to our fellow men, to our parents, our brothers and sisters around us. For the commandments were given to us, not to burden us unnecessarily with laws and customs, but to help us on our way to reach the Lord.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law favoured and imposed a very puritanical, fanatical and punitive approach of applying the Law to the people entrusted to them. In total, there were in fact up to six hundred and thirteen laws, customs and its various applications. Those numerous laws and customs strained the people and made life difficult for them, and the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were quick to condemn all those who committed the slightest act of disobedience.

And they were very quick to praise themselves and seek human approval, when they did what they had done in life. They thought highly of themselves and sought to advance their own cause, and their own standing among men, thinking that in their piety, they have earned the right to boast and to be proud on their ways, and that they had fulfilled the way and the will of the Lord.

No, Jesus made it very clear to them, that they would not be justified by what they had done. On the other hand, they would indeed be condemned, for their failure to guide the people of God entrusted to them on the right path. They have not led the people to grow stronger and deeper in love, but instead they oppressed the people for their own benefits, and they were concerned only about themselves.

If they themselves were not faithful to the commandments of the Lord, then it is definitely also impossible for the people of God to follow their examples to be faithful as well. Their faith was empty and meaningless, and their ego was their undoing. They were unable to control themselves and allowed themselves to be controlled by their emotions and desires. As such, they refused to listen to Jesus and refused to believe in Him and in His works.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all learn from what we had heard today, that we may all grow better and stronger in our own faith. That we will not follow the examples of the Pharisees and the elders of Israel, but instead listen to God, through Christ who had made all things clear to us. We have to obey the commandments of God, but not just to obey them for the sake of obeying. On the other hand, we should understand the real meaning and purpose of the Law, that is for us to know and to learn about love.

Our faith without love is empty and meaningless, and indeed, if we do not play our part in living our faith with real devotion, to love God with all of our strength, and with all of our heart, and if we do not love our brethren and our neighbours in the same manner, then we cannot find justification in the Lord, and we will have no part in His grace and blessing.

Today we celebrate together as the Church, the feast of St. Placidus and his thirty companions, who were martyred together for their faith in God, at the time of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, the architect and mastermind behind the last and greatest of the persecutions of the faithful by the Roman Empire. St. Placidus and his companions, the fellow martyrs of the faith, refused to compromise their faith and devotion to God, just for the sake of preserving their lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in this we can see the real contrast between the actions of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who compromised the purity and the truth about their faith, and what they ought to do to teach the faithful, for the sake of temporary and worldly pleasures and to satisfy their own wants and ego. Meanwhile, the holy martyrs, led by St. Placidus became an example to all others who looked upon their actions. Their staunch and strong faith in the Lord did not give way to the world and to their own desires. Instead, through their obedience and their shedding of their blood for the Lord, they helped many others to stay faithful to the Lord.

Therefore, let us today renew our commitment to the Lord, inspired by the example of St. Placidus and his companions in holy martyrdom, so that in all the things we do, in all the things we say, we may be truly loving in all things, that our ways may be made of love, and we will be worthy of being called the children of God, who is Love Himself. God bless us all. Amen.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Monica (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are presented yet again with the great necessity for us to truly live in the faith, walk in the faith, and act according to our faith. It is necessary for us to embody what we believe in, not in just our external dispositions and appearances, but even more importantly that even in our heart, mind and soul we may be utterly transformed to conform the way of our Lord.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law claimed to represent the faith, and they claimed to have great piety and devotion to God, but their hearts were in fact devoid of the love of God. What was in their heart is the love for their own selves and the concern for their own well-being, status, fame and influence. This was why Jesus rebuked them so harshly, for they misused and abused the authority they had been entrusted with.

Then St. Paul in his letter to the faithful in Thessaly also emphasized on the need for action and work rather than mere inaction or passivity in life and in how the faith is lived on. We cannot be mere bystanders or have a passive attitude in living our faith, or else we can indeed be grouped together with the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, as hypocrites and lazy people who neglected their responsibilities and duties to the Lord and His people.

As we all know, faith without good works is a dead faith, and it does us no good nor help us in our way towards salvation. For those who believe that faith alone is sufficient for salvation, then they have failed to understand that faith itself cannot exist without a concrete and deliberate act on our part to live that faith in reality, through our words, deeds and actions. Faith is real and living only when we have taken steps to implement what we believe in our daily actions and deeds.

Otherwise, faith by mere thinking and understanding alone is not enough, as this kind of faith, not only that it is weak and shaky, but it is also not capable of inspiring others to also follow our suit in faith. Worse still, if our actions and deeds do not match that which we believe in, then we are truly hypocrites, who believe and say one thing in this manner, but do not act on it in the same way, and instead in ways contradicting what we profess to believe.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of St. Monica, a great woman and saint, who lived during the time of the late Roman Empire. St. Monica was renowned especially because she was the mother of St. Augustine of Hippo, one of the four great original Doctors of the Church, and one of the most crucial pillars and builders of the Church, particularly the Church of the Western Roman Empire, centred in Rome, the heart of Christendom.

However, the virtues of St. Monica did not just come about because she was the mother of a great saint. In fact, it was in her role as a mother and a servant of the Lord that St. Monica had been found worthy of heaven as a holy saint together with her son, whose works and ministries for the Church inspired many around the world at that time, and brought about the salvation of many souls. If that was the role of St. Augustine of Hippo, then St. Monica’s role was equally important, that is the salvation of her son’s soul.

St. Monica was married to a rich Roman nobleman, Patricius, who was still the follower of the traditional Roman religion, the worship of the pagan gods of the Roman Pantheon. St. Monica herself was a Christian, and she was very devoted in her faith, which she showed through her generous charity and works. Her husband had a very bad temper and he was easily angered, but St. Monica worked and prayed hard for his eventual repentance and turning to the way of the Lord.

She also had three children, one of which was to be St. Augustine. St. Monica cared for him greatly and prayed for his sake, that he would grow to be a faithful and devoted servant of God, like that of his mother, having been baptised in early age. However, St. Augustine would go on to disappoint her greatly by immersing himself in the hedonistic and materialistic pleasures of the world, and went on to follow the practice of the syncretist and heretical Manichaean religion.

Although St. Monica was greatly saddened by the actions of her son, she continued to pray and did her best to convince him to return to the faith and repent. It was said that St. Monica wept daily because of her son, and she ceaselessly prayed for his sake, showing the true love of a Christian mother. She followed her son as he went for his journey, and working with another holy saint, St. Ambrose of Milan, she eventually succeeded in turning her son back towards the Lord, who eventually became a great pillar of the Church and the faith.

St. Monica did not give up, and every day, she thought only of her son, and she prayed fervently and without end for the salvation of his soul. This is the kind of faith that we need, one based on dedication, hard works, filled with prayers, tears, hope and action, as what St. Paul had written in the first reading today, and which Jesus had rebuked the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law for, due to their inactivity and hypocrisy in faith.

As we can see, the actions of St. Monica would go on to bring much good for the Church and for countless among the faithful. If not for her hard work, we would not have the wonderful works of St. Augustine, who in turn inspired countless people throughout the ages, and even today, who also followed in the footsteps of St. Augustine and repent their past ways and turn back towards the Lord.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we reflect on the Scripture readings today, and on the actions of St. Monica, let us all think about our own lives, whether we have been truly active in living our faith and dedicating ourselves to God, not just by mere words, but also through actions and deeds. Let us all from now on, live our faith truly and concretely if we have not done so, for the good of all the faithful, that more may turn back towards the Lord and be saved. God bless us all and our endeavours. Amen.

Tuesday, 31 December 2013 : Seventh Day of the Christmas Octave, Memorial of Pope St. Silvester I, Pope (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and this Word was made flesh, that it came into the world and dwell among us. Brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s Gospel proclaimed to us the truth about Christ and His coming into the world, and what the truth is about the Messiah and His ways.

For, as St. John the Evangelist warned us, in his first letter, that there are antichrist and false prophets who came into this world to mislead us and distract us from the true teachings and the way of the Lord, revealed in Jesus His Son. There are those who taught that Jesus is not God, and that even He is not the Holy One of God, or even that He worked with the power of the evil spirit, and many other.

And there were also those who proclaimed themselves as the Messiah and misled the people of God, both before and after the coming of the true Messiah, Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh. That is the truth as proclaimed by the Holy Apostles and martyrs who risked their lived to keep true the revelations as we heard today in the Gospel.

The truth about Jesus is that He is God, and therefore He is Love for God is Love. That was why He came down upon us, incarnate into flesh. He was the Word of God, and of the same essence as God. He was one third of the Holy Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He was there before time and before all ages, not created, perfect and one in unity, in perfect unity and love as One and only True God with three characteristics.

God the Creator, God the Word, and God the Spirit. These are the persona unified perfectly in God. If you all read the first chapter of the very first book in the Holy Bible, that is the Book of Genesis, you will understand it easily. It was written that once there was nothing and the Spirit of God floats in that nothingness. Then God who was there from the very beginning, and who exists outside of time, spoke and with His Word, made things to be created into existence.

All of those involved are one and the same God, the Creator who is the Father, the Word who is the Son, whom we later know as Jesus, and the Spirit of God, which is the Holy Spirit. That is the reality of our faith, that we believe in One and only One God, but God who in Him exists three distinct yet unified persona, in the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.

All three of them cannot be separated from each other and they are One in God. Through His own Word, He decreed the universe and all creations into existence. Thus, through that Word of God, we and all the things around us were created. And because He created us, and because His nature is love, He cannot deny us the love He has for us. We have sinned when our ancestors chose to listen to Satan instead of the Lord, and therefore we should have deserves damnation and destruction as our fate.

We have been made unworthy of God because of our rebelliousness, and we who have been tainted by sin should have had no place in the kingdom of God. But God being God, and loving us deeply, gave us a new chance, that is the only way out of the predicament that we were in. That way is in Jesus, who came into this world, the Word who was God and was with God, but emptied Himself of all His glory and descend into this world as one of us.

This is the truth about the Lord, our Christ, the Saviour, the Messiah of the world. Satan certainly did not stay quiet or idle during the works of Christ, but he worked hard to undermine the works of the Lord, and as a result, sent many deceivers to deceive and distract the people of God from the true salvation in Jesus Christ.

Today we celebrate a saint whose feast is the last we have on the year. Pope St. Silvester I or Sylvester I was the leader of the Universal Church as the Bishop of Rome at the time of the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine during the late Roman Empire period. He succeeded the Pope Miltiades, during whose reign as Pope the Edict of Milan was signed by the Emperor, which ended the state persecution against Christians.

Pope St. Silvester I worked hard to strengthen the Church and rebuilt the faith after centuries and past decades of persecution against Christians. He oversaw the period of great revival of the fortunes of the faith, from one that is constantly persecuted and chased by the state authorities and the pagans, into one that is eventually becoming the state faith of the Empire.

His piety and hard work to consolidate the position of the faith as the guiding beacon for many people, and for helping the pious Emperor Constantine to build up the foundations for the Universal Church in converting millions and more to the cause of the Lord made him a great saint of the Church. Yet, as we celebrate what he had achieved, we must remain wary of the devices and works of the devil aimed at disturbing the good works that Pope St. Silvester I and the other saints had initiated.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we end this year of our Lord 2013, let us look forward to the new year with a new and rejuvenated faith, that we will continue to remain faithful to the Lord and His ways, and not be swayed by the temptations of evil, no matter how attractive they are. Reject the devil as firmly as Jesus had rejected him and cast him away from His side. Reject any false prophet bearing the lies and falsehoods of Satan.

May the Lord strengthen our faith and empower us, to be better able to resist Satan and his temptations on us. That we will remain ever faithful in Jesus, our Lord, the true, one and only Saviour of the world. Amen.

Thursday, 26 September 2013 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Saints Cosmas and Damian, Martyrs (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard the story on Jesus, and on who Jesus truly is. Yes, Christ is the Son of God, God incarnate into man, the Word of God made flesh, but what is the significance to us? What is the significance of the coming and the revelation of this Man, who made even Herod tremble, hearing about His Name and His deeds?

That is because, dear brethren, Christ is the bringer of new hope, the new hope in God, in the same way as how we heard in the first reading today, on the prophet Haggai admonishing the people of Israel for not taking their part in the rebuilding of the House of God in Jerusalem. Through Christ, the House of God long forgotten and which laid in ruins, was rebuilt, in all its new splendour and glory.

That new House of God is us, brothers and sisters in Christ, that is the Body of Christ, that is the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Through Christ, we had been brought together into one, as one people, and towards God. The old, ruined house had been rebuilt, and a new hope arose for all mankind and for all creation marred by sin.

The first physical House of God, that is the First Temple of Jerusalem, the Temple King Solomon had built, was truly magnificent and mighty, and yet, it faltered and was destroyed, when Jerusalem and Israel were both given over to their enemies, to the Babylonians who enslaved them for years. The Temple, as the symbol of the unity of the people of God was destroyed and the people of God was scattered, because they themselves had rejected the Lord and His love.

The prophet Haggai criticised the people and rebuked them, because they seemed to become lax in their faith, in how they showed no concern and general ignorance on the need to rebuild the House of God in the midst of His people. All these while they themselves lived well and had had a good life. They lived according to the world and gave in to the temptations of the world. Sin still held mastery over them, and enslaved they were to it.

The Lord sent His own Son, Jesus the Christ as the One who would reestablish that Temple, and not just any Temple like that of Solomon, but an eternal Temple, the renewed House of God, of all the people of God, reunited once again as one people, united by Christ the Lord, through His sacrifice on Calvary. That Temple is the new Temple, also known as the Temple of the Holy Spirit, that are our physical bodies, all of us who had accepted Christ and He dwells in us.

Just as the Temple of Jerusalem housed the Lord residing among the people in the Holy of Holies, we too house the Lord within each one of us. That is why we have to keep ourselves pure and holy, and therefore worthy of His presence within us. Not only pure and clean in physical terms, but even more importantly, the purity of our soul, our spiritual being, from any kind of sins or fornication.

Today, we celebrate the feast of two saints, St. Cosmas and Damian, who are well-known martyrs of the Church, and they were martyred for their faith at the last great persecution against the faithful ones of God, during the late Roman Empire. St. Cosmas and Damian were twin brothers who were doctors and faithful servants of the Lord living in the late third century after the birth of Christ.

St. Cosmas and Damian worked hard for the good of the people of God and even performed miracles on the sick, bringing them back to good health, even in impossible cases. Yet, the Roman Emperor at the time, Diocletian, was staunchly against the faithful of the Lord, and ordered a vicious persecution on them, killing and capturing many, torturing them to abandon the faith in God.

St. Cosmas and Damian were also among those who were imprisoned for their faith, and despite attempts, persuasion, and even torture to make them recant their faith went nowhere, and they stayed ever faithful and did not budge even in the face of suffering and death. They were crucified, shot with arrows, and finally beheaded. They spilled their blood defending their faith, keeping their purity, the purity of their souls from the taints of sin.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, following the example of Saints Cosmas and Damian, let us also strive to strengthen ourselves, our faith in God, and our love, that we will be ever holy and worthy for our God, that we, as the Temples of the Lord, where He resides, will be found worthy and that God will reside in us, and we in Him, that we will be welcomed into His kingdom on the last day.

Pray for us, St. Cosmas and Damian, that we will be always inspired by your examples and strive to keep our faith strong and alive in Christ. May God bless us all. Amen.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Saints Xystus II, Pope and Companions, Martyrs; and St. Cajetan, Priest (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Saints Xystus II and Companions); White (St. Cajetan)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today, the case of the Canaanite widow and her daughter, and how the daughter was healed by Christ our Lord because of her mother’s faith, should stir all of us, all of our hearts. That the woman had shown her great faith and trust in God, placing all of her heart and faith in the power and ability of our Lord, recognising Him as the heir of David, the awaited Messiah of Israel, the Saviour of the world.

Yes, brothers and sisters, the woman, the Canaanite woman, not of the chosen race and the chosen people of Israel, had recognised the Lord and put her entire heart and full faith in Him when so many other people of Israel had failed to do so. Not only that many of these people had failed to put their full attention and faith in the Lord, but they even complained against Him and grumbled against Him, when He had shown them so much love, compassion, care, and kindness.

So great is His love that He listened to their complaints, giving them food, the bread of heaven in the form of manna for them to eat in the morning, and quails for them to eat in the evening, as well as crystal-clear and sweet spring water from rocks for them to drink and satisfy themselves when they complained that they have not enough to eat or drink.

Yes, the Lord even promised them, as He had promised Abraham their forefather, the Promised Land of milk and honey, where the land is so rich that it will yield fruits manyfold and bring with them great riches for God’s people, that is Israel to enjoy for eternity. He fulfilled that promise and brought His people to the land that He had given to them and their descendants.

And yet, they still complained, and they did not truly love the Lord their God, nor did they give Him their full dedication and faith. When the explorers sent by Moses reached the Promised Land and saw the warlike peoples of Canaan living in the land, with giant men and powerful warlords, the people chose to follow their own human instincts and immersed themselves in their own human fear, that they again complained against the Lord for having brought them to that ‘dreaded’ Promised Land filled with enemies and prospects of death.

Despite all the good things that the Lord had given them and would have given them in perpetuity, for eternity, they rejected the kindness of the Lord, because they trusted themselves more, in human power and fear, and not in divine power of our God. And therefore, because of their rebelliousness, they deserved death. The Lord rejected them from His presence and denied them from entering the Land He promised them.

Then we can contrast this, to the widow, the widow who does not belong to the people of Israel, the Canaanite woman dismissed by many in Israel in Jesus’ time as pagans and people doomed to hell. Yet, she proclaimed the Lord and recognised in Him the salvation that is to come for her and the whole world. She asked humbly for His mercy and showed her faith to Him, even when Christ seemingly rebuked her and mentioned that He was only sent to the people of Israel. She answered well and proved her faith to God, and as a result, she received her due reward, the same reward promised to the people of Israel of old, but which they rejected because they trusted more in the power of man rather than in the power of the One and almighty God.

It does not mean that the people of Israel are bad or that they are rejected by God. Remember that Jesus Himself is a Jew, and He belongs to the House of David, because He is His heir, and the widow rightly proclaimed that He is the Son of David, the One to whom God will give eternal kingship, glory, and power over not just Israel, but over all mankind, over all the world. Instead, the readings today highlight that, first, we must be always faithful and trusting in the Lord our God, and we should be fast to praise and slow to complain.

It is our nature to feel that we do not have enough when we actually already have more than enough. It is part of our natural greed and desire for things and material goods. And it is also our nature to first think about ourselves and our needs before that of others, and we are quick to praise ourselves in general, whenever we achieve something, but it is generally considerably more difficult for us to give due thanks and praise to others, when they have done something that had benefited us in one way or another.

This happened to the people of Israel in the desert, that despite the freedom God had given them from the backbreaking and hard labour under slavery in Egypt, despite that He had showed them His might and power in opening the sea, giving them His own Laws and commandments, making sweet and crystal-clear water to gush out from rocks and even giving them food from His own table in heaven in the manna, they did not feel that they have enough, and indeed, complained that their previous life in Egypt had been much better, and even brought the Lord to the test, in doubting whether God could provide for them in their journey in the desert.

Yes, brethren, the path of the Lord is not an easy one, and there will certainly be numerous obstacles lying in our path if we choose to follow the Lord. The evil one certainly does not stay idle and let us, the followers of God, His disciples to just go free without any difficulties. This is why, it is often much easier and much more pleasurable for us, to settle on things that seem to be easier and more relaxed, even though to do that means that we sin against the Lord our God.

We cannot have this mentality, brothers and sisters in Christ, because to settle for such a thing would mean that we prefer the slavery under sin and Satan, instead of the freedom God had offered all of us through His suffering and death on the cross. Do not follow the path of the Israelites who chose to rebel against God and complained against His love and kindness. Our Lord knows what we truly need, brethren, and He will not leave us without love or care, because He always watches over us, at all times.

Today, brothers and sisters in Christ, we celebrate the feasts of Pope St. Xystus II or Sixtus II, as well as St. Cajetan. Both of them are holy and pious men dedicated to God in their own ways. Pope St. Xystus II lived in the middle era of the Roman Empire, and reigned as the leader of the Universal Church during the height of the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire in the middle of the third century. He reunited the divided factions of the people of God after healing the rifts that existed after heresies wrecked the faithful, and brought them back to God, once again as one people. He was martyred along with several of his companions following a brutal repression and persecution of the faithful by the Emperor Valerian.

St. Cajetan on the other hand was a priest who lived in the middle of the Renaissance Italy, during the sixteenth century. He helped much in the Church’s attempts to combat heresy of the Reformation which spread like wildfire during his lifetime. He dedicated much of his efforts and works to love and serve the poor, the lonely, and those without love, committing himself towards caring for all of them. He founded a religious order, the Theatines, which has a similar vision to him, that especially focus on the virtue of service and committing acts of love to others, as part of the faith.

Therefore brothers and sisters, today, let us be resolved to have the faith of the widow, to seek the Lord with great humility and persistence, and ask Him to show mercy and love upon us sinners. Let us not harden our hearts the way the people of Israel had done when they journeyed through the desert. Let us reflect on ourselves and our own weaknesses, and seek the Lord to enlist His aid, in helping us to overcome these weaknesses.

Let us also follow the example of Pope St. Xystus II in his commitment to the cause of the Lord, and the faith and love, as well as the dedication he had shown him, just as the widow had shown her faith to God, by her recognition of the good that the Lord had done for us. Let us also follow the example of St. Cajetan, in his own devotion to the Lord, which he showed through his love and service, and all the care he had given to all the children of God in need, in need for love, care, and compassion. In doing those things, St. Cajetan showed his love and faith in God. We too can do the same, brothers and sisters in Christ. Show Christ our love, just as He had shown us His love from the cross.

May the Lord bless us all with strength, faith, and perseverance to go on in our lives, no longer complaining but from now on putting our whole and complete trust in the Lord our God who loves us. May Pope St. Sixtus II and St. Cajetan, and all the company of saints and angels in heaven intercede on our behalf before the Lord who is loving and merciful, that He will forgive us our trespasses and deem us worthy of His presence and His kingdom once again. Amen.

Thursday, 7 March 2013 : 3rd Week of Lent, Memorial of Saints Perpetua and Felicity, Martyrs (Scripture Reflection)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today let us stand with God and declare our faith and love in Him, that we would not be like the stiff-necked people in Israel in the past, and those who spurned God’s love and even accused Him of doing evil in His divine ministry in this world. For they were blind, blinded by their human weaknesses, blinded by sin and evil that they have committed.

For they have no true love for the Lord in their hearts. They love not the Lord but the praise of men and worldly honour. For these people failed to see the works of the Holy Spirit in Jesus, in healing the disabled, and casting out demons from the possessed. They instead submitted to their human jealousy and hatred of the good deeds of the Lord. There were also those, as mentioned in the Gospel today, put the Lord to the test, to see if He is really sent by God, to test His powers by sending a sign for them to see.

In fact, the act that Jesus did in casting out demons from the possessed had been the very sign that they have sought, in order for them to believe in Him. But they still failed to see, for their eyes were veiled with a thick layer of worldly sin and filth, that prevented them from seeing the works of God that is good. Jealousy is another thing, that it was indeed possible that in the hearts of some of the people gathered there, there brewed jealousy for the powers that God had, in Christ. It was the same case in the Acts of the Apostles, where Simon the sorceror attempted to bribe the Apostles to have the same authority and power given to them. But the authority of God is not purchaseable, and God gives it only to those whom He deems worthy.

Indeed, brothers and sisters, today God wants to show us that we have to believe in God, and not to be distracted by the evil one, that we begin to accuse God’s works as evil, out of our blindness to see the truth, which eventually will cause divisions between us, and in the end, as Christ had said, we will not be able to stand united, and shall fall down.

Truly, we are One, One in Christ, one as a member of the One Body of Christ, that is the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, that is our Catholic Church. We must all always remember the warning that Christ had given us today, that no house divided against itself will be able to stand and survive. The devil will not survive if he is divided against his servants and his collaborators, and therefore, so does our Church.

Throughout the millenia since the birth of the Church, there had been many dissents and divisions that led to the painful separation and destruction of unity in the Church of Christ, in parallel to the civil war of the nation as mentioned by Christ. We managed to stay together as the Catholic Church, and even managed to welcome some of our separated brethren back into unity with the One and only Church of our Lord. But even within our Church today, there are divisions, that will threaten to destroy the unity and harmony between all the faithful ones in God.

There are those who are blinded to the reason for unity, and chose to separate themselves from the Universal Church to pursue their own goals and ideas, rejecting all other ideas and anything that our Church had come through in the past 50 years since the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. On the other hand, there are many who had succumbed to the world, and buoyed by the evils of the world, begin to demand for worldly changes and innovations to enter the Church.

We must learn to be courageous and say no to all these things that brought disunity and discord into the holy Church of God. We must stand firm despite all the pulls that the world and evil that tried to break up the unity of the Church. How are we to bring back our separated brethren in Christ, those who had been lost in their long journeys in the faith, into the One Church of God, if we ourselves are divided in a civil war against ourselves?

Therefore. brothers and sisters, once again let us pray for unity, both among ourselves, the faithful in Christ already united in His Church, and ourselves and our separated brethren in the myriads of ‘churches’ throughout the world, with our brethren in the Eastern Orthodox and Syriac Orthodox Churches, and that very soon, Christ’s prayer and wish that all of us may be one (That they all may be One) just as He and the Father is one and indivisible, will be fulfilled, and all faithful in God, will be One.

Today, we also commemorate the memorial of Saints Perpetua and Felicity, who were martyrs in the early days of the Church. Saint Perpetua and Saint Felicity were a noble mother and her slave respectively, who were martyred in the height days of the Roman Empire, due to their steadfastness to stand by their faith and their God, and refused all forms of persuasion for them to leave their faith and convert back into paganism. Their faith in God and solid stand had earned them martyrdom and thus eternal life and place in heaven with God who loves them and all of us.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, let us not be divided among ourselves and instead strive for unity, beginning from those near to us, and gradually let us work for unity of all, reach out to our brother Christians who is not yet in full communion with the Holy Church of God. Pray that all will soon return and be united in Christ in the Church He had established on Peter, the Rock.

Pray for us, Saints Perpetua and Felicity, that we also can follow in your footsteps and imitate the strong and unshakeable faith both of you had in the Lord, even to giving up your life for God’s sake, out of love for Him and His children, all of us. Amen.