Saturday, 18 November 2017 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Dedication of the Papal Basilica of St. Peter and Papal Basilica of St. Paul-Outside-the-Walls (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Dedication of a Basilica)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Church commemorates the feast of the dedication of the two Basilicas, of St. Peter and St. Paul, which together with the Cathedral of Rome, the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, and the Papal Basilica of St. Mary Major (Santa Maria Maggiore) form the four Major Papal Basilicas in Rome, the most important churches in Christendom.

And the Papal Basilicas of St. Peter in Vatican and St. Paul Outside the Wall are in particular to the city and the Church in Rome, because both St. Peter and St. Paul were the ones who helped to establish the Church in Rome, the heart of the Roman Empire at that time, and became the important pillars of the early Church. As we know, St. Peter is the Prince of the Apostles, the leader of all of Christ’s disciples and Apostles, and the first Pope and Bishop of Rome. Meanwhile, St. Paul is the Apostle to the Gentiles, the one who helped the Church to propagate the message of the Gospels to the non-Jewish people.

Thus, these two great Basilicas are tributes and monuments built for the memory of these two most faithful servants of God, who gave their all to serve the Lord, devoting their whole lives to the end, defending their faith and proclaiming Christ the Lord to all men. The sites chosen for the Basilicas were significant places, as where the Papal Basilica of St. Peter was built, was where St. Peter the Apostle most likely encountered his martyrdom, by being crucified upside down, and the site of the Papal Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls was where St. Paul stayed during his time in Rome, as mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles.

St. Peter as the first Bishop of Rome worked among the faithful, preaching the Gospels and the messages of Christ, which brought about the conversion of many to the faith, together with St. Paul the Apostle, who came to Rome after being persecuted in Jerusalem and throughout his journeys. Both of them led the Christians in Rome, amidst a difficult and turbulent time, culminating in the great persecution under the Emperor Nero.

The Christian population of Rome was accused and scapegoated by the Emperor, blamed for causing the fire that burnt much of the great city. As such, many Christians were tortured and arrested, pursued and had their lives made very difficult. St. Paul himself was martyred in this condition, beheaded for his faith during this great tribulation, and yet he gladly laid down his life for the Lord.

St. Peter was also martyred a few years after this, as the persecution of Christians continued. He was crucified by the Roman authorities at the Vatican hills, as mentioned, where now stands the Basilica of St. Peter in Vatican. But St. Peter felt that he was not worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and therefore, asked to be crucified upside-down instead. That was how St. Peter glorified God by his faith and steadfastness to the very end.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we rejoice in the celebration of the anniversary of the dedication of these great Houses of God dedicated to His beloved two saints, the main pillars and foundations of His Church in this world, St. Peter and St. Paul, let us remember that their works and missions are still far from over. There are still many things that are not yet done, and there are still many more areas that require our attention.

We are the modern day successors of the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord, and the same commands which Our Lord had given to His Apostles to reach out to all the peoples of all the nations, preaching the Good News of God’s salvation and calling them to Him have therefore been passed on to us. Now, what matters is, for us to do what the Lord expects from us to do, that we walk in the path of the Apostles, particularly the glorious and faithful St. Peter and St. Paul. Pray for us, o Holy Apostles! Amen.

Saturday, 18 November 2017 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Dedication of the Papal Basilica of St. Peter and Papal Basilica of St. Paul-Outside-the-Walls (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Dedication of a Basilica)

Luke 18 : 1-8

At that time, Jesus told them a parable, to show them that they should pray continually, and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain town there was a judge, who neither feared God nor people. In the same town there was a widow, who kept coming to him, saying, ‘Defend my rights against my adversary!'”

“For a time he refused, but finally he thought, ‘Even though I neither fear God nor care about people, this widow bothers me so much, I will see that she gets justice; then she will stop coming and wearing me out.'”

And Jesus said, “Listen to what the evil judge says. Will God not do justice for His chosen ones, who cry to Him day and night, even if He delays in answering them? I tell you, He will speedily do them justice. But, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”

Alternative reading (Mass for Dedication of the Basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul)

Matthew 14 : 22-33

At that time, immediately, Jesus obliged His disciples to get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowd away. And having sent the people away, He went up the mountain by Himself, to pray. At nightfall, He was there alone. Meanwhile, the boat was very far from land, dangerously rocked by the waves, for the wind was against it.

At daybreak, Jesus came to them, walking on the sea. When they saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, thinking that it was a ghost. And they cried out in fear. But at once, Jesus said to them, “Courage! Do not be afraid. It is Me!” Peter answered, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”

Jesus said to him, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water to go to Jesus. But seeing the strong wind, he was afraid, and began to sink; and he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately stretched out His hand and took hold of him, saying, “Man of little faith, why did you doubt?”

As they got into the boat, the wind dropped. Then those in the boat bowed down before Jesus, saying, “Truly, You are the Son of God!”

Saturday, 18 November 2017 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Dedication of the Papal Basilica of St. Peter and Papal Basilica of St. Paul-Outside-the-Walls (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Dedication of a Basilica)

Psalm 104 : 2-3, 36-37, 42-43

Sing to YHVH, sing His praise, proclaim all His wondrous deeds. Glory in His holy Name; let those who seek YHVH rejoice.

Then He smote all the firstborn, the first fruits of their manhood. He led Israel out of the alien land, laden with silver and gold, and none were left behind.

For He remembered His promise to Abraham, His servant. So He led forth His people with joy, His chosen ones with singing.

Alternative reading (Mass for Dedication of the Basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul)

Psalm 97 : 1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4, 5-6

Sing to YHVH a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

YHVH has shown His salvation, revealing His justice to the nations. He has not forgotten His love, nor His faithfulness to Israel.

The farthest ends of the earth all have seen God’s saving power. All you, lands, make a joyful noise to YHVH, break into song and sing praise.

With melody of the lyre and with music of the harp. With trumpet blast and sound of the horn, rejoice before the King, YHVH!

Saturday, 18 November 2017 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Dedication of the Papal Basilica of St. Peter and Papal Basilica of St. Paul-Outside-the-Walls (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Dedication of a Basilica)

Wisdom 18 : 14-16 and Wisdom 19 : 6-9

While all was in quiet silence and the night was in the middle of its course, Your Almighty Word leapt down from the royal throne – a stern Warrior to a doomed world. Carrying Your fearful command like a sharpened sword and stretching from heaven to earth, He filled the universe with death.

All creation in its different forms was fashioned anew at Your command, in order to protect Your people. The cloud covered the camp with its shadow, dry land emerged where water had been. A safe passage was opened through the Red Sea, the tempestuous flood became a green plain where the whole nation of those protected by Your hand passed across, witnessing Your astounding deeds.

They were like horses led to pasture, or like frolicking lambs, praising You, their Lord, Who had delivered them.

Alternative reading (Mass for Dedication of the Basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul)

Acts 28 : 11-16, 30-31

After three months, we boarded a ship that had spent the winter at the island. It belonged to an Alexandrian company, and carried the figurehead of Castor and Pollux as insignia. We sailed for Syracuse, staying there for three days; and, after circling the coast, we arrived at Rhegium.

On the following day, a south wind began to blow, and, at the end of two days, we arrived at Puteoli, where we found some of our brothers, who invited us to stay with them for a week. And that was how we came to Rome. There, the brothers and sisters had been informed of our arrival, and came out to meet us as far as the Appian Forum and the Three Taverns.

When Paul saw them, he gave thanks to God and took courage. 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.

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, 11 November 2017 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we continued the discourse from the Scriptures which started yesterday, in the Gospel according to St. Luke, in which the Lord Jesus taught the people with the parable of the dishonest steward, pointing out what the dishonest steward had done in order to secure his livelihood after he was fired from his job as steward. The steward used his guile and craftiness to trick his master from his money, that there would be people who had gratitude in him and thus would take care of him.

The essence of this passage today is not for us to think that God despises the rich or those who have more possessions than others. Indeed, in the Gospel today, it was mentioned how the Pharisees loved money and sneered at what Jesus had just told and taught them. Yet, in this, we have to understand the context in which the Lord spoke to His people. Jesus did not say that money is evil or wicked, but rather, it was the Pharisees’ love for money and other forms of worldly glory that ended up becoming their downfall.

Throughout the history of mankind, we have seen how our love and desire for money, wealth, possessions and worldly things have resulted in sorrow and suffering for many people because of the actions that those who seek money, wealth, fame and worldly glory have taken, in order to secure for themselves these things. And we know that it is very difficult for us to be satisfied with what we have, as even after we get what we wanted, we will be tempted to want even more.

Thus, at the root of the problem is mankind’s inability to resist the temptations of money, worldliness and pleasures of life, which distract us from our attention and faith towards God. This is what we must address, and what we must take care of, if we are to be true disciples of the Lord, as true Christians. We must not put ourselves and our selfish desires ahead of our obligations to love, for Christians are called to love just as the Lord our God Himself has loved us.

Let us spend some time to reflect, brothers and sisters, on the love of God. God has loved each and every one of us so much, that He has bestowed on us the greatest gift of love of all, that is the perfect love shown by His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who willingly died on the cross for our sake, that through His crucifixion, suffering and death, He delivered us from the tyranny of sin and death.

If God has loved us all so much, then should we not also love Him in the same manner? He has given us all everything, even to the point of humbling Himself unto death on the cross for us. That is why as the Lord Jesus said, that the Law and the Commandments of God can be summarised into two key laws, that is, to love the Lord our God with all of our hearts, minds, strength and our whole beings. And then, because we have loved God, we must also love our brothers and sisters in the same way, for God loves all of us, without exception.

We must realise that the more we have been given by God, the humbler and more loving we should have become, and the more we should have shared our blessings with those who have less, little or none. We should follow the examples of the Apostles and the disciples of Our Lord, in the first reading today, where it was mentioned all those who have given themselves for the service of God.

Today we also celebrate the feast day of St. Martin of Tours, a saint who dedicated his life to the service of God, and who was remembered for his many good deeds, care and loving concern for his people, first as a layman, and later on as the Bishop of Tours in what is now southern France. St. Martin of Tours was once a soldier in the Roman army, and according to some accounts, he was an army captain.

It was told that in one occasion, St. Martin of Tours met an elderly man who seemed to be homeless on the roadside, without clothing or cover, in the middle of a cold day. Therefore, St. Martin of Tours was moved with pity and compassion, and using his sword, cut off half of his army captain’s cloak, and use that half of the cloak to cover the old man. That same night, the Lord appeared to St. Martin of Tours in a vision, showing him that He was the old man whom St. Martin had helped.

This example is a reminder for all of us, of what the Lord Himself had said in another parable, that whatever we have done for the least among our brethren, the poor, the hungry, the destitute and the lonely, we have done it for the Lord Himself. St. Martin of Tours and the many other holy men and women of God had shown us the example of how each and every one of us as Christians should live in accordance to our faith.

Let us all therefore commit ourselves anew to the Lord, and seek to devote ourselves, our time and effort more and more, to love first of all, Our God, and then to love our fellow brothers and sisters, particularly those who are in need of our love, and those who have no one else to turn to, and those who are unloved and have been rejected by their peers. May God help us in this endeavour, and may He strengthen our resolve to live always in accordance with His ways. Amen.

Saturday, 11 November 2017 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 16 : 9-15

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “And so I tell you : use filthy money to make friends for yourselves, so that, when it fails, these people may welcome you into the eternal homes.”

“Whoever can be trusted in little things can also be trusted in great ones; whoever is dishonest in slight matters will also be dishonest in greater ones. So if you have been dishonest in handling filthy money, who would entrust you with true wealth? And if you have been dishonest with things that are not really yours, who will give you that wealth which is truly your own?”

“No servant can serve two masters. Either he does not like the one and is fond of the other, or he regards one highly and the other with contempt. You cannot give yourself both to God and to Money.”

The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and sneered at Jesus. He said to them, “You do your best to be considered righteous by people. But God knows the heart, and what is highly esteemed by human beings is loathed by God.”

Saturday, 11 November 2017 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 144 : 2-3, 4-5, 10-11

I will praise You, day after day; and exalt Your Name forever. Great is YHVH, most worthy of praise; and His deeds are beyond measure.

Parents commend Your works to their children and tell them Your feats. They proclaim the splendour of Your majesty and recall Your wondrous works.

All Your works will give You thanks; all Your saints, o YHVH, will praise You. They will tell of the glory of Your kingdom; and speak of Your power.