Saturday, 20 May 2017 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we have heard a reminder that if we are to remain faithful and true to the Lord, in our faith to Him, we will encounter difficulties and challenges in our path, as there will definitely be those who will be opposed to us and to our faith, namely those who are clinging on to the ways of the world and would not want to see their influence challenged by us.

That means, our lives as Christians, if we truly cling onto our faith in God, and practice wholeheartedly what we believe in, will not be that smooth-going and easy. If we have found our lives to be easy and manageable, without crisis or difficulty, perhaps that is because God had indeed blessed us so, or which we hope that is not the case, that we have not been truly faithful in our ways and in our lives.

Many of us want to be accepted by the world, and to that extent, we conform to the ways and customs of the world, even if that ran contrary to the teachings of our faith. At the same time, we know that the reality in our Church is that there are many who are ‘cafetaria Christians’, which means those who pick and choose what they want to believe in our faith, and refuse to believe or that they are ignoring those tenets which they found to be too difficult to be followed or complied with.

That was what happened to the disciples of Jesus two millennia ago, as Jesus went about preaching about the coming of the kingdom of God to them and speaking about Himself, the truth of what would happen to them should they became His followers, and what they needed to believe in, even when they found the teaching to be difficult to be complied with. Indeed, many left the Lord behind because they were not willing to open their hearts and listen to Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is not we all should be like, as all of us should be true and devoted to our Lord in all things we do, and believe in Him wholeheartedly, and not conditionally. After all, the Lord had given us all His life and His love unconditionally, by His loving sacrifice on the cross. He has loved us with all of His heart, generously granting us pardon and mercy, forgiveness and grace even when we are all still great sinners and rebels.

If the Lord had not hold back His love for us, then why should we then hold back our love for Him? Why do we have to choose or to select what we want to believe in His message? Why should we set conditions for the Lord? It is not right, if He had already suffered for our sake, bearing the burden for our sins, the burdens which should have been ours, and died on the cross for us, then we should not and indeed cannot treat the Lord with ignorance or apathy.

We must devote ourselves wholeheartedly to the Lord, and learn from the examples of the holy saints, especially St. Bernardine of Siena, whose feast day we are celebrating on this day. St. Bernardine of Siena was a devout and holy priest, as a Franciscan missionary who lived during the late Medieval era. He was renowned as the ‘Apostle of Italy’ for his tireless works in bringing many people, especially throughout Italy, the heart of Christendom, back to the Lord.

For at that time, many of the people did not live in accordance with the ways of the Lord, living in debauchery and sin, in wickedness and doing what is vile and evil in the sight of God. People are more concerned with money and worldly livelihood rather than serving the Lord and obeying His will. St. Bernardine went around many places, preaching directly to the people in those places, and his words of encouragement and call to repentance have brought many people back to the loving embrace of the Lord.

His sincerity and devotion to the Lord inspired those lost souls who saw the light of God through St. Bernardine of Siena, like that of darkness being pushed back by the light. His examples and his dedication to the salvation of souls should be our inspiration, brothers and sisters in Christ, in how we ought to live our lives faithfully to the Lord. We should be exemplary in our actions and deeds, so that all those who see us will also then come to believe in God through us.

May the Lord awaken in all of us the desire to love Him, and to obey Him in all of His teachings. May we follow in the footsteps of St. Bernardine of Siena, that in all the things we say and do, we will always proclaim the glory of the Lord and remain true to His ways. Amen.

Saturday, 20 May 2017 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
John 15 : 18-21

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “If the world hates you, remember that the world hated Me before you. This would not be so if you belonged to the world, because the world loves its own. But you are not of the world, since I have chosen you from the world; because of this the world hates you.”

“Remember what I told you : the servant is not greater than his master; if they persecuted Me, they will persecute you, too. If they kept My word, they will keep yours as well. All this they will do to you for the sake of My Name, because they do not know the One Who sent Me.”

Saturday, 20 May 2017 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White
Psalm 99 : 2, 3, 5

Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.

Know that the Lord is God; He created us and we are His people, the sheep of His fold.

For the Lord is good; His love lasts forever and His faithfulness through all generations.

Saturday, 20 May 2017 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Acts 16 : 1-10

Paul travelled on to Derbe and then to Lystra. A disciple named Timothy lived there, whose mother was a believer of Jewish origin but whose father was a Greek. As the believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him, Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him. So he took him and, because of the Jews of that place who all knew that his father was a Greek, he circumcised him.

As they travelled from town to town, they delivered the decisions of the Apostles and elders in Jerusalem, for the people to obey. Meanwhile, the churches grew stronger in faith and increased in number every day.

They travelled through Phrygia and Galatia, because they had been prevented by the Holy Spirit from preaching the message in the province of Asia. When they came to Mysia, they tried to go to Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to do this. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas.

There one night Paul had a vision. A Macedonian stood before him and begged him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” When he awoke, he told us of this vision and we understood that the Lord was calling us to give the Good News to the Macedonian people.

Thursday, 21 May 2015 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Christopher Magallanes, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we continue to hear about the prayer which Jesus had made to His Father, asking Him to bless and protect those who have dedicated themselves to Him, and all those whom He had chosen out of the world and have not betrayed Him like what Judas Iscariot had done.

And He prayed that they all may be united and one in Body and Spirit, just as He and His Father are one, that as One Church, they may stand together against the darkness around them, and become the testimony of the Faith that all who saw them might believe and repent.

In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we also heard about how St. Paul stood for trial in front of the Sanhedrin, or the Council of the elders of the people of Israel, and he was condemned because of his faith in God and his courageous and ceaseless preaching and evangelisation of the peoples regarding the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world, which most of the Sanhedrin members had rejected.

And we heard how God blessed St. Paul and protected him from harm by putting discord amongst his persecutors, the party of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. And this was because of the discord of those who do not belong to the Church of God. Each of them with their own ideas and thoughts. That is indeed the way of this world, the way of selfishness where everyone gives in to their own selfish desires and wants.

But sadly, this is the same issue that also affected even the Church of God. Because of mankind’s greed and inability to resist the temptations of the world, this brought about division into the Church of God, where heresy and falsehoods were rampant amongst the people of God, misleading many souls away from salvation. And this is a great danger to all of us, for division in the Church brings about harm for the souls that became ensnared in the lies of Satan.

That is why Jesus prayed for the unity of the Church, that is the unity of all of His faithful ones, all of His beloved children. The Church is not just a building and an establishment, or an organisation, but in fact, it encompassed all of us, all the believers and all those who have placed their faith in God. All of us make up the one Body of Christ, that is His Church. For while the Church is filled with peoples of different origins from all over the world, but its human traits hide the truth that truly, the Church came from God and it, together with all of us, belongs to God alone.

If united, the Church of God will be able to face and persevere through whatever it is that Satan and his wicked allies throw against us. Remember that Jesus Himself told Peter that not even the gates of hell will prevail against it. Thus, if we remain united and devoted to our call and mission as children of God and members of His Church, then not even the greatest force and power of Satan can uproot us or harm us.

As we approach the celebration of Pentecost, let us all remember that all of us faithful ones in God all share the same Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit which we have received, in the one Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, His Church. And today we also celebrate the feast of St. Christopher Magallanes and his companions, who are martyrs of the Faith and the Church.

St. Christopher Magallanes was a faithful and devoted priest and servant of God, who ministered to the people of God with love and tenderness, sharing with them the love of God. He lived however, in a turbulent country at a turbulent time, in Mexico during a time of great hostility and opposition against the Church and the Faith in general. The people in power were adamantly and aggressively hostile against the Church.

Thus, he was martyred with many other brave and courageous defenders of the faith, and together they were elevated to their glory at the Altar as the holy saints and martyrs of the Church. They remained true to their faith and calling as servants of God, bringing the word of God despite knowing that doing so would lead to their deaths.  Their examples should serve as a reminder for all of us to lead a dedicated and committed life of faith in our Lord. There are so much more that we can do.

Let us all in all of our actions seek to bring unity to the Church, and bringing one another closer to God, and helping one another to resist the temptations of the flesh and the world. May God our Father guide us on our way and keep our hearts strongly in love for Him, and so that we may remain true to Him and keep all of His Laws and commandments faithfully. Amen.

Thursday, 21 May 2015 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Christopher Magallanes, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

John 17 : 20-26

At that time, Jesus prayed to God His Father and said, “I pray not only for these, but also for those who through their word will believe in Me. May they all be one, as You Father are in Me and I am in You. May they be one in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.”

“I have given them the glory You have given Me, that they may be one as we are one : I in them and You in Me. Thus they shall reach perfection in unity; and the world shall know that You have sent Me, and that I have loved them, just as You loved Me.”

“Father, since You have given them to Me, I want them to be with Me where I am, and see the glory You gave Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world has not known You, but I have known You, and these have known that You have sent Me. As I revealed Your Name to them, so will I continue to reveal it, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I also may be in them.”

Thursday, 21 May 2015 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Christopher Magallanes, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 15 : 1-2a and 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11

Keep me safe, o God, for in You I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “O Lord, my inheritance and my cup, my chosen portion – hold secure my lot.”

I bless the Lord who counsels me; even at night my inmost self instructs me. I keep the Lord always before me; for with Him at my right hand, I will never be shaken.

My heart, therefore, exults, my soul rejoices; my body too will rest assured. For You will not abandon my soul to the grave, nor will You suffer Your Holy One to see decay in the land of the dead.

You will show me the path of life, in Your presence the fullness of joy, at Your right hand happiness forever.