Tuesday, 23 February 2021 : 1st Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are reminded of God’s amazing and most wonderful love by which He generously cared for us and provided for us and our needs. He has loved us all as a father loves all of his children, and to that extent, He has given us the assurance of true happiness and eternal joy through His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is our Lord and Saviour.

And in our first reading today from the Book of the prophet Isaiah we heard the prophecy of the coming of Christ, Who is indeed the very Word of God mentioned in that passage of the prophet Isaiah. The prophet spoke of the Lord sending His Word into the world and how the Word would not return to Him before He has done the will of His heavenly Father, which is to bring about the salvation to all peoples of all the nations. The Lord sent His Son to reveal to us His most wonderful mercy and love, and to gather us all in, as a Shepherd gathering all of the lost sheep.

And thus, we have seen the glory and love of God revealed to us through Christ, the Son of God and the Divine Word Incarnate, Who by assuming our humble human nature and existence, united us to Himself, and by sharing in our humanity, has made us all the adopted sons and daughters of God, our heavenly Father. Just as Christ is the Son of God, and as the Son of Man is like a brother to us, that we have shared in the relationship that He has with His Father in heaven, and thus, become those whom God had favoured and called to be His own ones.

And gathering us all in, the Lord Jesus also taught us what it means for us to be a true disciple and a follower of His, to be devoted to God, His laws, ways and commandments. Then, in our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord speaking to His disciples and teaching them all how to pray to their heavenly Father, to the Lord, their God. This is the prayer that we now know as the Lord’s Prayer, being taught by the Lord Himself, or the Pater Noster in various languages, which means ‘Our Father’.

Through the prayer that the Lord taught us, He wanted to teach us that to pray is for us to speak, communicate and interact with our own beloved Father, the One Who had loved us so much. And the essence of prayer is one of communication and the willingness to engage in a meaningful conversation and spending time with God, to praise Him and to thank Him for all the wonderful things that He had done for us, and to seek His forgiveness for our many faults and wrongdoings.

All these were contained in the Lord’s Prayer, a prayer that is all of thanksgiving, petition, glorification of God and communication all in one. Through that prayer, the Lord Jesus wanted to teach us to pray in the right way, not to pray as if we are seeking for things to magically and miraculously happen to us by asking the Lord to do things for us. The Lord is not a miracle granter or wish granter that we can just ask for something or even worse still, demand for something.

And with this, brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all reminded and asked to reflect on our own faith and lives thus far. Have our way of life thus far been truly reflective of true Christian discipleship? Have we had a good and healthy relationship with the Lord, a regular life of prayer and constant communication with God? Or have we allowed our faith to wither and go to waste, to remain idle and lacking in genuine commitment to love the Lord?

Have we remembered God only in times of desperation and great need, brothers and sisters in Christ? Or have we consistently and constantly been making the effort to strengthen our relationship with Him through prayer and charity, by listening to Him in the depth of our hearts and in speaking to Him, to know what it is that He has been calling us to do with our lives? Today we are all called to reflect on this carefully as we discern how to move forward in life.

As we progress through the season of Lent, we have been given this excellent opportunity to reevaluate our lives and to reconsider how our way of living our Christian faith has been. Are we willing to commit ourselves anew to the Lord, by deepening our spiritual existence through prayer, through generosity and charity in all of our dealings in life? Today we are all called to follow the examples of one of our holy predecessors in faith, namely that of St. Polycarp, in how he had lived his life virtuously and courageously.

St. Polycarp was one of the early Church fathers and the Bishop of Smyrna in Asia Minor, renowned for his links to the early leaders of the Church such as St. John the Apostle, who was still alive during the lifetime of St. Polycarp, as well as St. Ignatius of Antioch, the successor of St. Peter in the important See of Antioch. St. Polycarp himself was also remembered for his interactions with the then Pope and Bishop of Rome, Pope St. Anicetus, for his writings and correspondences with other bishops in the region.

Then, St. Polycarp was remembered for his courageous faith and defence of his beliefs in martyrdom, when he in his old age he was martyred for refusing to offer sacrifices to the Roman Emperor under the pain of suffering and death. He remained firm and resolute in staying true to his conviction and dedication to the Lord to the very end, and his example in faith inspired many others who came after him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore be inspired by the same courage and faith showed by St. Polycarp, in all that he had done for the sake of the Church and the faithful. Let us all seek the Lord with a renewed faith and zeal, and strive to dedicate ourselves to glorify the Lord by our lives, through our actions and deeds in life. Let us all deepen our relationship with the Lord, and let us be ever better Christians in life, making best use of this season of Lent to bring ourselves ever closer to God, to be His beloved and worthy children.

May God bless us always, and may He strengthen our faith and may He guide us all to the path to eternal life, true happiness and joy with Him. May God be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 23 February 2021 : 1st Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 6 : 7-15

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “When you pray, do not use a lot of words, as the pagans do; for they believe that, the more they say, the more chance they have of being heard. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need, even before you ask Him.”

“This, then, is how you should pray : Our Father in heaven, holy be Your Name, Your kingdom, come, Your will, be done on earth, as in heaven. Give us today, our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we forgive those who are in debt to us.”

“Do not bring us to the test, but deliver us from the evil one. If you forgive others their wrongdoings, your Father in heaven will also forgive yours. If you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive you.”

Tuesday, 23 February 2021 : 1st Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 33 : 4-5, 6-7, 16-17, 18-19

Oh, let us magnify YHVH; together, let us glorify His Name! I sought YHVH, and He answered me; from all my fears He delivered me.

They who look to Him are radiant with joy, their faces never clouded with shame. When the poor cry out, YHVH hears and saves them from distress.

The eyes of YHVH are fixed on the righteous; His ears are inclined to their cries. But His face is set against the wicked, to destroy their memory from the earth.

YHVH hears the cry of the righteous and rescues them from all their troubles. YHVH is close to the brokenhearted and saves the distraught.

Tuesday, 23 February 2021 : 1st Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 55 : 10-11

As the rain and snow come down from the heavens and do not return till they have watered the earth, making it yield seed for the sower and food for others to eat, so is My Word that goes forth out of My mouth : it will not return to Me idle, but it shall accomplish My will, the purpose for which It has been sent.

Friday, 5 February 2021 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Agatha, Virgin and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us as Christians are reminded to be holy and pure in all things, in our dealings and in our relationships. In particular today we are called to focus on the nature of marriage and family that is truly sacred in the eyes of the Lord. Then we are also called to reflect on the courage that St. John the Baptist in upholding the sanctity of this marriage against even the powerful ruler of his time when he disobeyed the Law and committed adultery.

In our first reading today from the Epistle to the Hebrews, the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews reminded the faithful to keep up their faith and to continue showing the love as they had been instructed and commanded to by the Lord. The author wanted all the faithful especially among the Jewish populations not to be afraid of the opposition and challenges from the community at large and in particular from the authorities who might be trying to prevent them from practicing their faith.

The author reminded all of the people that God was with them and that they would not walk the journey all alone, as God would be journeying with them. The Lord was by their side and walked with them even against the world, and therefore they should not be afraid. In the same way, their predecessor in faith, namely St. John the Baptist himself had suffered and endured bitter struggles for his commitment and faith in the Lord.

St. John the Baptist had been arrested and imprisoned for having rebuked the king, Herod Antipas for his adulterous and sinful behaviour in taking the lawfully wedded wife of his own brother, Herod Philip, as his own wife, when Philip was very much still alive. Such an action was tantamount to adultery and wicked, and a very immoral act for someone who ruled as the king over the land.

Hence, just as St. John the Baptist had earlier on rebuked the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law for their hypocrisy and lack of faith in doubting his work and authentic ministry, thus he did the same against even king Herod, earning especially the wrath and enmity from Herodias, the wife of Herod, the one with whom Herod committed adultery with. Yet, as we can see, St. John the Baptist was not afraid to do so.

Even in prison, he would continue to speak out against the king and his immoral actions, being faithful to the very end. When he was eventually martyred after Herodias tricked king Herod into killing the man of God by using her own daughter as a pawn in the process, St. John the Baptist showed us all what it truly means for us to be a follower of God and to be faithful to Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all respond to God’s call to be His faithful servants, and let us all be inspired by the faith that had been shown by St. John the Baptist. Let us all not be deterred by the challenges and trials that we may face throughout our journey, all the temptations and pressures that may persuade or force us to abandon the faith and the efforts to live a genuine Christian living.

Today we also commemorate the feast of St. Agatha, a renowned saint and martyr of the faith, who have died defending her faith and purity in commitment to God. Also known as St. Agatha of Sicily, she lived a virtuous Christian life throughout her youth, and despite the efforts of a pagan Roman prefect who desired her, she resisted the temptations and efforts, and this led to her arrest and torture.

But St. Agatha remained firm and resolute in her faith, and not even all the sufferings and trials could dim her dedication and zeal to the Lord. Despite all the sufferings she experienced, tortured and struck with iron hooks, burnt with torches and even had her breasts cut out with iron pincers, she remained true to her faith, to the very end, as the perfect example of dedication and commitment of a true Christian, one that we can be inspired by and follow.

The Lord has called us all to be His faithful servants and followers. He has called us to be exemplary in our lives and to be inspiration in our way of life such that so many others could be inspired to follow in our footsteps and be saved as well. Let us all pray for the grace of faith and strength, of courage and the ability to dedicate our lives and actions daily for the Lord, in keeping ourselves true to our faith. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 5 February 2021 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Agatha, Virgin and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Mark 6 : 14-29

At that time, king Herod also heard about Jesus, because His Name had become well-known. Some people said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in Him.” Others thought, “He is a prophet like the prophets of times past.” When Herod was told of this, he thought, “I had John beheaded, yet he has risen from the dead!”

For this is what had happened : Herod had ordered John to be arrested, and had had him bound and put in prison because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. Herod had married her, and John had told him, “It is not right for you to live with your brother’s wife.”

So Herodias held a grudge against John; and wanted to kill him, but she could not, because Herod respected John. He knew John to be an upright and holy man, and kept him safe. And he liked listening to him, although he became very disturbed, whenever he heard him.

Herodias had her chance on Herod’s birthday, when he gave a dinner for all the senior government officials, military chiefs, and the leaders of Galilee. On that occasion the daughter of Herodias came in and danced; and she delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want and I will give it to you.”

And he went so far as to say with many oaths, “I will give you anything you ask, even half my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” The mother replied, “The head of John the Baptist.” The girl hurried to the king and made her request, “I want you to give me the head of John the Baptist, here and now, on a dish.”

The king was very displeased, but he would not refuse in front of his guests because of his oaths. So he sent one of his bodyguards with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded John in prison; then he brought the head on a dish and gave it to the girl. And the girl gave it to her mother.

When John’s disciples heard of this, they came and took his body and buried it.

Friday, 5 February 2021 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Agatha, Virgin and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 26 : 1, 3, 5, 8b-9abc

The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the rampart of my life; I will not be afraid.

Though an army encamp against me, my heart will not fail; though war break out against me, I will still be confident.

For He will keep me safe in His shelter in times of misfortune; He will hide me beneath His roof, and set me high upon a rock.

I seek Your face, o Lord. Do not hide Your face from me nor turn away Your servant in anger. You are my Protector, do not reject me.

Friday, 5 February 2021 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Agatha, Virgin and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Hebrews 13 : 1-8

Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to offer hospitality; you know that some people have entertained Angels without knowing it. Remember prisoners as if you were with them in chains, and the same for those who are suffering. Remember that you also have a body.

Marriage must be respected by all and husband and wife faithful to each other. God will punish the immoral and the adulterous. Do not depend on money. Be content with having enough for today for God has said : I will never forsake you or abandon you, and we shall confidently answer : The Lord is my Helper, I will not fear; what can man do to me?

Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Consider their end and imitate their faith. Christ Jesus is the same today as yesterday and forever.

Wednesday, 11 November 2020 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us are reminded to give thanks to God for all of His love, mercy and kindness towards us through the words of the Scripture we have just heard earlier on. We heard these in our first reading today, in the Epistle written by St. Paul the Apostle to his protege and brother bishop St. Titus, as well as in the Gospel passage today in the story of the healing of the ten lepers by the Lord Jesus.

In our first reading today, St. Paul wrote to St. Titus on some reminders for the Christian communities and the faithful, as part of his many Epistles or letters addressed to the different communities, urging all of them to keep their faith in Christ firmly and hold onto whatever the Lord had taught them through His Apostles and not fall into the wrong paths. The Lord through St. Paul is reminding all of us here to be good and righteous, to follow His laws and commandments faithfully.

This was what St. Paul spoke of in today’s segment of his Epistle, saying that while once we had been selfish and corrupt in the ways of the world, foolish and disobedient against God, but through Christ, God’s beloved Son sent into this world to be our Saviour, we have been called into a new life and existence that is holy and good, through the path that He has shown us and which He now calls us all to follow.

Through that passage, we can see how God has showed us all His love and grace, in His desire to save all of us from eternal damnation and lead us into a new, eternal life. He does not want us all to perish and end up in eternal darkness, and therefore, He showed us His most genuine love and compassion, one example of which we have heard in our Gospel passage today in the healing of the ten lepers by the Lord Himself.

In that occasion, we have ten lepers who because of their condition had to stay outside the community as in accordance to the laws of God revealed through Moses. This Law came from the time of the Exodus from Egypt, when the Israelites were living together in tents in close proximity to one another. At that time, as the people came into frequent contact with each other, both in their persons and possessions, a disease like leprosy were deeply feared, and therefore, to prevent an outbreak, those who contracted the disease were forced to live outside the community until they were healed.

Those ten lepers who came by the Lord Jesus were those who suffered the same fate, being excluded and forced to live away from their community, from their families and loved ones, to wander in the wilderness until they were proven to be healed and made whole. They sought the Lord to heal them from their sickness, and the Lord told them to go and see the priests as prescribed by the Law. By right, they could only go to see the priests once they had been completely healed, which at that time they were obviously not healed yet.

Nonetheless, all of them did as the Lord asked them to, and went on their way to see the priests. By their faith they were saved and healed, and along the way, they were healed from their leprosy and became whole again. They noticed what had happened to them, and they went off very happy and joyful for what had happened to them. However, out of all ten lepers, only one of them remembered the Lord and came back to see Him and thank Him for all that He had done for him.

And that man was a Samaritan, an important fact to notice at that time because the Jews often considered the Samaritans as pagan and godless people who worshipped idols and were wicked in their lives. Yet, as we have seen here among other instances throughout the Gospels, it is clear that Samaritans were no different from the Jews, and God made it clear through this occasion that His love and mercy is for everyone who seeks Him.

The question now is, have we loved God as we should? Have we thanked Him for all of His kindness to us? Or have we been like the other nine lepers who were so happy for the healing that happened to them and forgot to give thanks to God? We really need to spend some time reflecting about this and our lives, and how we should proceed onward in life as good and dedicated Christians through our actions and deeds, and not just by mere words or formality.

Today, we all should look up to the good examples set by our holy predecessors, especially that of St. Martin of Tours, a holy saint and man of God, who dedicated much of his life serving the Lord and the needs of his flock, as the Bishop of Tours in what is today southern part of France. St. Martin of Tours was once a career soldier, a high ranking army soldier or a captain of the guard, who became a Christian early in his life against the wishes of his own parents.

He became a military man following the family tradition as his own father was a veteran army officer. But his career in the military did not last long as his Christian faith and calling eventually led him to pursue his vocation and becoming a full-time follower of Christ through his discipleship of St. Hilary of Poitiers, another great saint of the time. St. Martin had difficulties earlier on in his calling and ministry due to the opposition and challenges from the Arians who had divided many of the Christian communities of the time.

Nonetheless, St. Martin continued to dedicate himself, his effort and time to care for the people in the community, until he was acclaimed by the people and the clergy in Tours who had been impressed by his faith and life, as the Bishop of the Diocese. He was nonetheless reluctant to be a bishop that according to some tradition, he was hiding from his own consecration as bishop. Despite this, as a bishop, St. Martin committed his life fully to serve the people and worked hard to proclaim the Christian faith and oppose the heresies and false teachings that misled the people unto the wrong paths in life.

St. Martin dedicated his whole life to God, and his holiness is seen even early in life when he was still a soldier as told by many traditions that he met a beggar on a cold night, and he immediately cut his own military cloak in half to give the other half to the beggar that he might cover himself and not be cold. That very night, the Lord HImself appeared to St. Martin wearing the half-cloak and telling him how he had such a great faith, that at time, despite merely being just a catechumen, not even baptised as Christian yet, but he had already lived so virtuously.


Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all follow the good examples of St. Martin of Tours in our own respective lives. Let us all dedicate our lives for the greater glory of God and for the genuine love of our fellow brothers and sisters. Let us all be good and virtuous Christians, and be thankful of all the love that God has extended to us, appreciating His mercy and kindness, and love Him back with greater zeal and commitment from now on. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Wednesday, 11 November 2020 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 17 : 11-19

At that time, on the way to Jerusalem, Jesus passed through Samaria and Galilee, and as He entered a village, ten lepers came to meet Him. Keeping their distance, they called to Him, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

Jesus said to them, “Go, and show yourselves to the priests.” Then, as they went on their way, they found they were cured. One of them, as soon as he saw that he was cleansed, turned back, praising God in a loud voice; and throwing himself on his face before Jesus, he gave Him thanks. This man was a Samaritan.

Then Jesus asked him, “Were not all ten healed? Where are the other nine? Did none of them decide to return and give praise to God, but this foreigner?” And Jesus said to him, “Stand up and go your way; your faith has saved you.”