Saturday, 27 May 2023 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, all of us are reminded of the need for all of us to continue living our lives faithfully as Christians at all times, in carrying out the will of God and in doing what we can to proclaim His truth and Good News in all possible opportunities that God has provided to us, following the good examples that the Apostles and many other saints and holy people of God, our holy predecessors had done. Each one of us have been called and sent to do whatever the Lord has willed for us to do, in our respective various areas of responsibility, and in whichever places and communities that God has desired us to be, all according to His will.

In our first reading today, we heard of the ministry of St. Paul the Apostle who had come to Rome at the end of his long travel from Jerusalem and after enduring a shipwreck that brought him to the island of Malta and gave him the opportunity to evangelise to the people there. St. Paul went to Rome upon answering God’s call, as He told St. Paul of everything that he would do for His glory, in fulfilling His wishes, that St. Paul ought to proclaim the Good News to the faithful at the very heart and centre of the Roman Empire. The Lord has sent St. Paul to perform His good works among His people, and through the Apostle, He laid the firm foundation of His Church, strengthened by the faith and the dedication of His Apostles like St. Paul, St. Peter and others.

As we heard in our Gospel passage today, we listened to the conversation between the Lord Jesus and His disciples, in which St. Peter asked the Lord about the saying that one of them, the youngest among them, St. John the Apostle, to whom the Lord had entrusted His own mother Mary, would not die till the day the Lord comes again. The Lord then told St. Peter that if He wanted St. John or anyone to live till the day He comes, that is His decision and His prerogative alone, and everything will indeed happen as He desires it to be. In a way, this would be fulfilled as St. John was the one to whom the Lord showed the heavenly and otherworldly vision of the end of time, which he recorded and wrote in the Book of Revelations.

Thus, in a way, St. John indeed did not die before he saw the coming of the Lord, as in his visions, St. John did indeed see the triumphant Second Coming of the Lord, and wrote about it in his Book so that all of us, the faithful people of God may remain firm in our faith and know what is coming ahead for us. All of us are reminded that each and every one of us as God’s followers are called to carry on with our mission, in our respective areas of responsibility and calling, in our own communities and in wherever the Lord has called and sent us to, just like how He has called and sent His Apostles. Each and every one of us are members and parts of the same Church of God, and hence, we are part of the ever growing efforts and works of the Church to reach out to more and more souls out there.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, at the penultimate day of the season of Easter, with the Solemnity of the Pentecost Sunday happening just tomorrow, all of us are therefore reminded that we are all part of the Church’s important evangelising mission and works, in reaching out to all those who are still not yet aware of the Lord, His truth and Good News, and everything that He has done for us. All of us are parts of this missionary work, the same mission which He Himself has entrusted and commanded to His disciples, that is to go forth to all the people of all the nations, and to baptise them all in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

All of us are strengthened and encouraged with the hope that the Lord has given us, and through the Holy Spirit that He has bestowed upon us, His Church. Through the guidance and strength that we have been provided with, we have gone truly very far in our journey of faith and work, and we have already grown ever stronger in our efforts and works to glorify Him and in doing whatever it is that the Lord has taught us to do. And each of our actions and contributions do matter, and we should not be disheartened if we think that we have not done a lot for the Lord. After all, each and every one of our actions are part of the greater works of the Church, and we must realise that no one can do all those great works all by themselves. All of us have to help and assist each other, and help one another in fulfilling what the Lord has called us all to do, and strengthen one another that we may always be firm in our faith and dedication.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all hence renew our commitment and desire to serve and follow the Lord, to do His will and to proclaim His Good News just as the Apostles and our other holy predecessors had done in the past. All of us have been given the various talents, abilities and gifts in order to do God’s will and to carry out our missions in life. Each and every one of us should do whatever we can so that we may inspire more and more souls to come closer towards God and His grace and love. We must also realise that eachh one of us are capable of doing just so many great and wonderful things if we put our heart into our efforts, and do whatever we can to obey the Lord and His commandments, and to do what we can to serve the Lord at all times.

St. Augustine of Canterbury, whose feast we celebrate today, can inspire all of us in our actions and works as well, since this great saint and man of God had given his whole life to the service and the glory of God. He was a monk who was entrusted with the mission to proclaim the Christian faith in the British Isles, to proclaim the truth of God to those who have lost their path and to those who have not yet heard or known about the Christian faith and truth, the Good News of God. He was sent by Pope St. Gregory the Great to evangelise to the people of the British Isles, especially to England, where he ministered faithfully for many years, as the first Archbishop of Canterbury, establishing the first firm foundation for the Church in England. His courage and dedication should serve as inspiration to all of us as Christians.

May the Risen Lord, through His faithful Apostles and disciples, St. Paul the Apostle, St. Peter and St. John, among many others, including that of St. Augustine of Canterbury, continue to strengthen all of us in our faith. May the Lord continue to empower us all and give us the strength and courage to walk ever more faithfully in the path that He has shown us and led us to. Through the Holy Spirit, may He continue to inflame in us the spirit and the passion to do His will, as always. May the Lord be with us always and bless our every good works and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Saturday, 27 May 2023 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 21 : 20-25

At that time, Peter looked back and saw that the disciple Jesus loved was following as well, the one who had reclined close to Jesus at the supper, and had asked Him, “Lord, who is to betray You?”

On seeing him, Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain until Income, does that concern you? Follow Me!” Because of this the rumour spread in the community that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus had not said to Peter, “He will not die,” but, “Suppose I want him to remain until I come.”

It is this disciple who testifies about the things he has written here, and we know that his testimony is true. But Jesus did many other things; if all were written down, I think the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.

Saturday, 27 May 2023 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 10 : 4, 5 and 7

The Lord is in His holy place – our God Whose throne is in heaven. He looks down to earth to observe the race of Adam.

The Lord searches both righteous and wicked. He hates those who delight in violence, for the Lord is righteous; He loves justice. The upright will see His face.

Saturday, 27 May 2023 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 28 : 16-20, 30-31

Upon our arrival in Rome, the captain turned the prisoners over to the military governor but permitted Paul to lodge in a private house with the soldier who guarded him. After three days, Paul called together the leaders of the Jews.

When they had gathered, he said to them : “Brothers, though I have not done anything against our people or against the traditions of our fathers, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans. They examined me and wanted to set me free, for they saw nothing in my case that deserved death.”

“But the Jews objected, so I was forced to appeal to Caesar without the least intention of bringing any case against my own people. Therefore, I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is because of the hope of Israel that I bear these chains.”

Paul stayed for two whole years in a house he himself rented, where he received without any hindrance all those who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught the truth about Jesus Christ, the Lord, quite openly and without any hindrance.

Saturday, 20 May 2023 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, all of us are reminded of the joy by which we should live our lives as Christians, and how we should proclaim the Lord with great joy, in our every day moments and lives, in our every actions and activities, in how we interact with others all around us. All of us are reminded to live our lives with great faith and dedication, following the examples of the Apostles and the many other disciples of the Lord, the holy missionaries and all those who have given their lives to the service of God, in proclaiming His truth and Good News, just as we have heard these from our Scripture passages today, the story of great deeds of evangelisation and missionary works, which we ourselves ought to be inspired to continue in our own way.

In our first reading today, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, we heard of the story of the missionary works of a particular Jewish Christian preacher named Apollos or St. Apollos, who was a contemporary of St. Paul and the other Apostles and early Church missionaries. He was a Jewish Christian convert from Alexandria, and according to the Acts of the Apostles and other New Testament sources, he was likely one of the disciples or followers of St. John the Baptist, as it was mentioned how he knew only of the baptism of John and the teachings of St. John the Baptist. But what was unique about St. Apollos was his great zeal and charism, his eloquence and oratorical skills which was very empowering and brought many people, especially those in the Jewish diaspora community, to become Christian believers. After two disciples of the Lord, Priscilla and Aquila spoke to Apollos regarding the revelation of the Christian truth which Apollos had not yet received, St. Apollos continued his labours therefore with even greater zeal and success.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord Jesus speaking to His disciples, telling them how one day the whole truth would be revealed to them, and how at that time, prior to His Passion, death and resurrection, He was still speaking in veiled languages, and how many among the disciples did not really understand or appreciate what He was trying to tell them. But He reassured them that everything would be revealed in due time, and indeed, the Lord revealed all to them, the truth that He spoke of and delivered to our midst, and the Holy Spirit has been sent to us, invigorating and strengthening us, while revealing the fullness of truth that God has been willing to share with us. Through the wisdom of God and the zeal that the Lord has placed in us via the Holy Spirit, all of us have been called and reminded to follow the Lord our God in each and every moments of our lives.

All of us should be inspired by the examples presented by our predecessors in faith, that is all those who have embraced the Lord’s call and responded positively to His call, in living their lives well in accordance to the way of the Lord and in doing what they could in order to proclaim the Good News of God. We should look upon these examples in order to help and lead us down the right path, and as inspiration to help us to do what we can in our own way, in whatever capacity that the Lord has given us, through whatever graces and blessings that we have received. Each one of us as the disciples and followers of the Lord all share the same mission and responsibility, to bring forth God’s truth and Good News to all the people of all the nations so that more and more may come to believe in God and be saved through Him.

Today, the Church celebrates the feast of one of the holy servants of God, whose life should be an inspiration and example for all of us as Christians, namely that of St. Bernardine of Siena, a great priest and man of God. He was born in what is now Italy in the early days of the Renaissance era, in which time there were a lot of great excesses and corruption in the Church as well as in the general society. He lived through tumultuous and turbulent times, as there were great scandals and political struggles at that time, which affected even to the highest echelons of the Church and the civil society at that time. It was in that time and occasion that St. Bernardine of Siena was called by God to be His servant, to proclaim His truth to a wayward people and to remind all of them of everything that they had wickedly done, and how they should turn away from all those evil ways.

St. Bernardine of Siena became a member of the Franciscan Order and eventually became a friar and ordained as a priest, after which he led a life of great missionary works, preaching and ministering to the people of God. St. Bernardine spent over thirty years working among the people, preaching to them directly and speaking to them, calling upon all of them to turn over a new life and to discard their wayward and wicked ways, calling on them to return to the virtuous and blessed path of being Christians, stopping whatever activities and things that have kept them separated from God and corrupted, such as gambling, excesses of wealth and hedonistic lifestyle among others. He spoke out against corruption and against all sorts of other vices, and through him, not few turned back to the Lord. Nonetheless, it did not mean that St. Bernardine’s work was smooth, as he had to encounter quite a few challenges and opposition to his works, but regardless, he faced it all with faith and courage.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore be inspired by the faith and examples of St. Bernardine of Siena, and look upon our own lives, thinking and discerning in what manner we may be able to serve our Lord with greater fidelity and zeal. Are we willing and able to commit ourselves in the manner of how St. Bernardine of Siena had dedicated his life to serve the Lord, to proclaim His truth and Good News and in persevering in doing so even when he encountered stiff and often bitter resistance from the people that he had been ministering to? Are we willing and able to embrace faithfully our respective calling as Christians, in doing what we must do in order to do our part as members of the same Church of God, to do our best to be His faithful and dedicated beacons of His light and truth to the nations?

May the Risen Lord, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, continue to be with us and bless us in our every good efforts and endeavours, and may He empower each and every one of us to be ever stronger and more committed in the path that He has shown us all. May God be with His Church and may all of us remain in His favour and love, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 20 May 2023 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 16 : 23b-28

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My Name, He will give you. So far you have not asked in My Name; ask, and receive, that your joy may be full.”

“I taught you all this in veiled language, but the time is coming when I shall no longer speak in veiled language, but will tell you plainly of the Father. When that day comes, you will ask in My Name; and it will not be for Me to ask the Father for you, for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and you believe that I came from the Father.”

“As I came from the Father, and have come into the world, so I am leaving the world, and going to the Father.”

Saturday, 20 May 2023 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 46 : 2-3, 8-9, 10

Clap your hands, all you peoples; acclaim God with shouts of joy. For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared; He is a great King all over the earth.

God is King of all the earth; sing to Him a hymn of praise. For God now rules over the nations, God reigns from His holy throne.

The leaders of the nations rally together with the people of the God of Abraham. For in His hands are the great of the earth, God reigns far above.

Saturday, 20 May 2023 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 18 : 23-28

After spending some time at Antioch, Paul left and travelled from place to place through Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening the disciples. A certain Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, arrived at Ephesus. He was an eloquent speaker and an authority on the Scriptures, and he had some knowledge of the way of the Lord.

With great enthusiasm he preached and taught correctly about Jesus, although he knew only of John’s baptism. As he began to speak boldly in the synagogue, Priscilla and Aquila heard him; so they took him home with them and explained to him the way more accurately.

As Apollos wished to go to Achaia, the believers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly strengthened those who, by God’s grace, had become believers, for he vigorously refuted the Jews, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Messiah.

Saturday, 13 May 2023 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Church celebrates the occasion of the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, marking the moment when the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, appeared to the three little children at Fatima, the three visionaries, St. Francisco de Jesus Marto, St. Jacinta de Jesus Marto and their cousin, Lucia dos Santos. This happened just not long after a century ago, when the world was deeply wrapped within the destruction and the chaos of the First World War, then known as the Great War. There had been vast amounts of destruction and chaos at that time, millions having perished and died throughout all the years of conflict, and it was there in the small town of Fatima in Portugal, that the Blessed Mother of God chose to make her appearance before the three children who were there shepherding their families’ sheep.

The Blessed Mother of God, who revealed herself to the three children on this date in the Year of Our Lord 1917, as a loving and beautiful Lady whose countenance is more brilliant than the Sun. Our Lady of Fatima hence appeared to the three, telling them about the messages which she wanted to tell all mankind, of the anger of God at the great destruction and all the chaos which man had wrought upon each other, and how many people had committed great sins against each other because of their greed, pride and ambition. She called on all the children of God, who were also her children, entrusted to her by her own Son, to repent from their many sins, and to follow once again the path that the Lord has shown and taught us to do. She wanted to guide us all, her beloved children, towards her Son by her guidance, through whom we can find sure path to our Lord and Saviour.

Our Lady of Fatima appeared on several occasions, every thirteenth day of the month, as she continued to reveal more and more about herself and the messages that she wanted to deliver to the people of God. She told the children to spread her message and call to more and more of the people, calling them all to repent and to pray the Holy Rosary, especially with regards to peace and the ending of the Great War. The fact that the three children heard about all these from Our Lady, in a place relatively far from the frontlines of the war then, was significant. Not only that, but Our Lady also spoke about the Consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart, which foreshadowed what would happen to Russia at that time, at the threshold of a Communist revolution that would see a seven decades long period of anarchy and severe oppressions against the faithful not just in Russia but also elsewhere.

Then, Our Lady of Fatima also mentioned persecutions and hardships that the Church and Christian faithful around the world had to suffer, and she even predicted the assassination attempt on Pope St. John Paul II, which would happen exactly on the date of her first apparition, sixty-four years after it happened. As she continued to appear to the three children, the message of Our Lady of Fatima and news about the apparition began to spread, and more and more people came to believe in God through her and through the apparition event. At last, on her last apparition on the thirteenth day of October, Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes and Mother of God showed a great miracle that was witnessed by many people, also known as the ‘Miracle of the Sun’, in which the Sun appeared to be erratic in its movement, circling around the sky and seen by no less than forty thousand people.

Ever since then, the devotion to Our Lady of Fatima kept on gaining popularity as more and more people come to the Lord, through the devotion to His blessed Mother Mary, Our Lady of Fatima. All of us have also come closer to the Lord through her, and I hope that this day as we all remember the love of God shown to us through His mother, then hopefully all of us should be inspired by her examples, faith and commitment to her Son, as well as her continued love for each and every one of us. All of us are reminded to be faithful to the Lord in the same manner as His Mother, Our Lady of Fatima. Through her apparitions, including the one at Fatima, Mary our mother continued to carry on the mission entrusted to her by her own Son. For the Lord has entrusted all of us to His own Mother as her own children, and she as our own mother.

That is why she has always cared for us, reaching out to us constantly, and her heart must have been filled with sorrow as she saw any single one of us falling into the path of sin and evil. Certainly she does not want any one of us to be lost to eternal damnation and darkness, and she wants us all to come to her Son through her and with her guidance. However, more often than not we have rejected the ever generous offer of love and compassion from her Son, Our Lord and Saviour, and rejected the same love showed by Mary herself, the Mother of God, and our own mother. All of us are called to turn towards the Lord once again, and Mary called on us to heed her examples and faith, her love for her Son, which we should listen to and follow, as we ought to hear the advice and heeding from our mother and our parents.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore be inspired by the good examples of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, Our Lady of Fatima, and the faith that she had, the obedience that she had in her life, the dedication and commitment that she had towards everything that the Lord had entrusted to her. Let us all today as one whole Universal Church all entrust ourselves anew to our blessed Mother, Our Lady of Fatima and ask her for her ever generous intercession and help, and guidance so that we may be able to find our way in life, towards her Son, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, heeding her call for us to repent and turn away from our many sins and wickedness. Let us all hence listen to our Mother and strive to live our lives ever more worthily from now on, as Christians, that is as all those whom God had called and chosen.

May our Blessed Mother Mary, Our Lady of Fatima, the Holy Mother of God, continue to pray for us all sinners, and may she continue to inspire us and lead us down the path towards salvation in her Son. May all of us continue to be encouraged and strengthened, so that in all of our actions and way of life, we will always be filled with zeal and faith, the desire to serve God and to do what is right with our lives, as according to what God Himself has revealed and taught to us. May God bless us all and be with His Church, now and always. Amen.

Saturday, 13 May 2023 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima (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.”

Alternative reading (Mass of Our Lady of Fatima)

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.”