Saturday, 25 November 2017 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Luke 20 : 27-40

At that time, then some Sadducees arrived. These people claim that there is no resurrection, and they asked Jesus this question, “Master, in the Law Moses told us, ‘If anyone dies leaving a wife but no children, his brother must take the wife, and any child born to them will be regarded as the child of the deceased.’”

“Now, there were seven brothers : the first married, but died without children. The second married the woman, but also died childless. And then the third married her, and in this same way all seven died, leaving no children. Last of all the woman died. On the day of the resurrection, to which of them will the woman be a wife? For all seven had her as a wife.”

And Jesus replied, “Taking a husband or a wife is proper to people of this world, but for those who are considered worthy of the world to come, and of resurrection from the dead, there is no more marriage. Besides, they cannot die, for they are like the Angels. They are sons and daughters of God, because they are born of the resurrection.”

“Yes, the dead will be raised, as Moses revealed at the burning bush, when he called the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. For God is God of the living, and not of the dead, for to Him everyone is alive.”

Some teachers of the Law then agreed with Jesus, “Master, You have spoken well.” They did not dare ask Him anything else.

Saturday, 25 November 2017 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Psalm 9 : 2-3, 4 and 6, 16b and 19

Let my heart give thanks to YHVH, I yearn to proclaim Your marvellous deeds, and rejoice and exult in You; and sing praise to Your Name, o Most High.

For my enemies fell back in retreat, they stumbled and perished before You. You have turned back the nations; You have destroyed the wicked; You have blotted out their names forever.

The feet of the pagans were ensnared by the trap they laid. For the needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the poor perish forever.

Saturday, 25 November 2017 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

1 Maccabees 6 : 1-13

When king Antiochus was making his way through the upper regions of Persia, he received news about Elymais, a city renowned for its wealth in silver and gold. They kept in the wealthy temple of their city golden armour, breastplates and weapons, left there by the Macedonian king, Alexander, the son of Philip, the first sovereign of the Greeks.

So Antiochus went there. But the inhabitants came out armed against him when they learnt of his intention, so his attempt to take the city failed. He had to turn back; and he returned much embittered to Babylon. While he was still in Persia, it was reported to him that the armies sent to Judea had been defeated. They told him that although Lysias had gone with a strong army, he had to flee before the Jews, who had been strengthened with the weapons and the abundant booty taken from the neighbouring armies.

He heard, too, that the Jews had destroyed the abominable idol he had erected on the altar in Jerusalem; and had rebuilt the Temple walls to the same height as before; and had also fortified the city of Beth-zur. When he received this news, he was terrified and deeply upset. He fell sick and became greatly depressed because things had not turned out the way he had planned.

So he remained overcome by this terrible anguish for many days. He felt he was dying, so he called his friends and said to them, “Sleep has fled from my eyes and I am greatly crushed by my anxieties. And I keep on asking why such grief has come upon me – I who was generous and well-loved when in power – and now I am so discouraged.”

“Now I remember the evils I did in Jerusalem, the vessels of gold and silver that I stole, the inhabitants of Judea I ordered to be killed for no reason at all. I now know, that because of this, these misfortunes have come upon me; and I am dying of grief in a strange land.”

Saturday, 14 October 2017 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Callixtus I, Pope and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are given the messages of encouragement through the Scriptures, that as the followers and disciples of Christ, all of us will not be forgotten or be abandoned, but instead will receive the fullness of the fruits of everlasting joy and grace that will be the lot of those who have kept their faith in God.

In the first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Joel, we heard the words of God through His prophet giving strength and encouragement to the people of the kingdom of Judah, as it was possible that the prophet lived during the time of the exile, when the people of God were exiled from their homeland in distant Babylonia after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.

At that time, it was a time of great humiliation, as the people of God had to endure scorn and shame as a conquered people, having their kingdom, their city and the holy Temple destroyed by the Babylonians under king Nebuchadnezzar. God had allowed their enemies to have power over them because the people of God had not been faithful, and they had been wayward in their lives, worshipping pagan idols and performing all sorts of acts that are wicked in the sight of God.

Therefore, God spoke through the prophet Joel, giving encouragement to His downtrodden and demoralised people, that if they would turn back to Him and to abandon their sinful ways, showing genuine regret and sorrow over their mistakes, then He would succour them and protect them, and He would bless them once again, He would be their God and they would be His people.

God is always faithful to His promises, to the Covenant which He had established with each and every one of us. To that extent, He gave us His own Son, Jesus Christ, to be the Mediator of the New Covenant, which He sealed by His sacrifice on the cross, through the outpouring of His Most Precious Blood and the offering of His own Most Precious Body as the perfect sacrifice for our reconciliation and as the atonement for our sins.

Yet, many of us failed to recognise this love which God has for us, and we ignored the care and love He has shown for us. We chose to walk on our own path, and disobeyed His laws and commandments, just as much as how the Israelites of the past had done. They had abandoned God and sinned before Him, and therefore, because of their sins and refusal to repent, they have been rejected and condemned.

In the Gospel today, Our Lord Jesus made it very clear to us, that all those who listened to the Word of God, will be blessed by God, and God will be with them. If only that we obey the Lord wholeheartedly, God will grant us all that we need, and provide for us every single moment of our lives. But it is indeed not easy to become a faithful disciple and follower of the Lord, for at every juncture in our lives, there will be temptations, challenges, and even persecution and oppression.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that was what Pope St. Callixtus I, the saint whose feast we celebrate today, have experienced in his life. Pope St. Callixtus I lived during the time of the early Church, and became the Pope and leader of the Universal Church at a time when there were great persecutions against Christians and the Church, and when becoming a Christian or being known as Christians would equate a fate of great suffering and even martyrdom.

Pope St. Callixtus I encountered these difficulties throughout his life, having to endure exile, prison and torture from time to time, and as he led the Church as the Pope, he encountered even more troubles and challenges. Yet, he did not give up the fight, and continued to remain faithful to God despite the odds and challenges. He was faithful to God, and obeyed Him in all of His laws and commandments, showing a great example to the people of God entrusted under his care.

Although eventually Pope St. Callixtus I was martyred for his faith, yet, his examples, his courage and bravery, the devotion and faith which he had in the Lord continued to inspire many throughout the ages, who saw his examples and became believers in God. Therefore, all of us should also follow in their footsteps, walking faithfully just as our holy predecessors had done, living righteously and devoutly in God’s presence.

May the Lord through His holy saints and martyrs, their lives and dedications continue to inspire each and every one of us as Christians to live in accordance with God’s ways, and be obedient to Him in everything, despite the challenges and difficulties we are likely to face as part of our faith. May He empower us to live ever more closely related to Him in all the things we say and do. Amen.

Saturday, 14 October 2017 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Callixtus I, Pope and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Luke 11 : 27-28

At that time, as Jesus was speaking, a woman spoke from the crowd and said to Him, “Blessed is the one who gave You birth and nursed You!”

Jesus replied, “Truly blessed are those who hear the word of God, and keep it as well.”

Saturday, 14 October 2017 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Callixtus I, Pope and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Psalm 96 : 1-2, 5-6, 11-12

YHVH reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the distant islands be glad. Clouds and darkness surround Him; justice and right, are His throne.

The mountains melt like wax before YHVH, the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim His justice, all peoples see His glory.

He sheds light upon the upright, and gladness upon the just. Rejoice in YHVH, you, who are blameless; and give praise to His holy Name.

Saturday, 14 October 2017 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Callixtus I, Pope and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Joel 4 : 12-21

Rise up, o people, and come to the Valley of Jehoshaphat, nations. Bring a sickle for the harvest is ripe; come and tread, for the wine press is full, and the vats overflow; so great is their wickedness! Multitudes and more multitudes in the Valley of Verdict! The day of YHVH is near in the Valley of Verdict! The sun and the moon become dark, the stars lose their radiance.

YHVH roars from Zion and raises His voice from Jerusalem; heaven and earth are shaken. Indeed, YHVH is a refuge for His people, a stronghold for the Israelites. You will know that I am YHVH, your God, dwelling on Zion, My holy mountain. Jerusalem will be a holy place; and foreigners will never pass through there again.

On that day, the mountains shall drip wine and the hills flow with milk; all the streams of Judah will run with water; and a fountain will spring from the house of YHVH, and water the valley of Shittim. On the other hand, Egypt will be devastated; and Edom will become a deserted wasteland, because they committed violence against Judah and shed innocent blood in their country.

But Judah will be inhabited forever, and Jerusalem through all generations. And I shall avenge their blood and not leave it unpunished, for YHVH dwells in Zion.