Saturday, 23 October 2021 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Capestrano, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, all of us having heard from the readings of the Sacred Scriptures, we are all called to be truly faithful to God in all things, dedicating our whole lives to He Who has shown us the path forward in life, that is the path towards righteousness and goodness. Through Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, God had made His salvation and love for each and every one of us clear and visible, making Himself real and tangible, bringing forth His truth into this world.

In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Rome, we heard him speaking to them regarding this matter, reminding all of them that they have been saved through Jesus Christ, their Lord and Saviour. St. Paul the Apostle reminded the people that as they had been saved by the Lord, called to follow Him and received the gift of His grace and the Holy Spirit that has been given to them, therefore, all of them ought to follow Him wholeheartedly and obey Him, and no longer walk in the path of the flesh, that is the path of sin and darkness.

St. Paul made it clear that those who have chosen to follow the Lord have chosen to walk in the new path shown by the Spirit, and this new path is a revolutionary path that seeks to glorify the Lord through obedience and through our virtuous life rooted in the faith. We cannot be Christians that are professing to be faithful and devoted to God, and yet, in our behaviour, actions and interactions, we act in the same way as unbelievers are doing. We must not be hypocrites in our faith, and we have to be genuine in our way of living our faith.

Then linking what St. Paul then said with what the Lord had said to His disciples in our Gospel passage today, essentially, all of us are reminded that the path of sin and darkness leads to nothing else but ultimate destruction and annihilation. Those who died through sin shall be judged by those same sins and shall be held accountable for their actions. Their disobedience against God, their refusal to listen to Him and obey His Law and commandments will be held against them on the last day, at the moment of the Final Judgment. Meanwhile, those who hold fast to their faith and remain firm in their love for Him shall be rewarded in the end.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, what we have heard from the Sacred Scriptures today are kind reminders from the Lord through His Church, how sin can lead us to destruction and how we have been freed from the tyranny of those sins, by the loving sacrifice of our Lord and Saviour on the Cross. As such, we should strive to resist the temptations to sin and to disobey the Lord. There would be many such temptations all around us, persuading us, coercing us and forcing us to change our ways to suit the way of the world and to follow the corrupting path of sin.

As Christians, all of us are called to resist those temptations and to stand by our faith in God. Such is our calling and expectation as fellow servants and disciples of Our Lord. And God has given us many examples for us to follow, those saints, holy men and women, all those who have given themselves to serve the Lord faithfully. Today, we remember one of them, namely St. John Capestrano, also known as St. John of Capistrano, was a Franciscan friar and priest, who have been remembered for his great holiness and dedication to the Lord, for his zeal in defending the faith and for courageously preaching the truth of God.

St. John Capestrano was a very passionate preacher and missionary, who went from places to places as a friar and priest, to oppose the heresies that back then were being widespread in parts of Christendom. He worked hard, writing theses and other works against the teachings of heretics, while personally reaching out to many communities, in defending the true faith and the true traditions and magisterium of the Church. He was sent by the Pope as emissary and spokesperson to various Christian courts and rulers, while continuing his efforts against those who sought to corrupt the truth of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the many efforts and the great courage with which St. John Capestrano has shown us in how he lived his life with faith should be source of inspiration for us as well. All of us should commit ourselves to the Lord and devote our time, effort and attention, in the manner that St. John Capestrano and many other saints, our holy predecessors had done, all these while. Let us all turn towards the Lord from now on with renewed zeal, faith and love for Him, and do our best to be exemplary in faith and to be inspiration for one another, that we may be beacons of God’s light and truth in this world.

May God bless us all, in our every good efforts and endeavours, and may He empower all of us to walk faithfully in His presence from now on. May God be with us all and may He strengthen us each and every moment, through His light, His truth and love for us. Amen.

Saturday, 23 October 2021 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Capestrano, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Luke 13 : 1-9

At that time, one day, some people told Jesus what had occurred in the Temple : Pilate had had Galileans killed, and their blood mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. Jesus asked them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered this? No, I tell you. But unless you change your ways, you will all perish, as they did.”

“And those eighteen persons in Siloah, who were crushed when the tower fell, do you think they were more guilty than all the others in Jerusalem? I tell you : no. But unless you change your ways, you will perish as they did.” And Jesus continued, “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it, but found none. Then he said to the gardener, ‘Look here, for three years now I have been looking for figs on this tree, and I have found none. Cut it down, why should it continue to deplete the soil?’”

“The gardener replied, ‘Leave it one more year, so that I may dig around it and add some fertiliser; perhaps it will bear fruit from now on. But if it does not, you can cut it down.’”

Saturday, 23 October 2021 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Capestrano, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Psalm 23 : 1-2, 3-4ab, 5-6

The earth and its fullness belong to the Lord, the world and all that dwell in it. He has founded it upon the ocean and set it firmly upon the waters.

Who will ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who will stand in His holy place? Those with clean hands and pure heart, who desire not what is vain.

They will receive blessings from the Lord, a reward from God, their Saviour. Such are the people who seek Him, who seek the face of Jacob’s God.

Saturday, 23 October 2021 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Capestrano, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Romans 8 : 1-11

This contradiction is no longer exists for those who are in Jesus Christ. For, in Jesus Christ, the Law of the Spirit of life has set me free from the law of sin and death. The Law was without effect, because the flesh was not responding. Then God, planning to destroy sin, sent His own Son, in the likeness of those subject to the sinful human condition; by doing this, He condemned the sin, in this human condition.

Since then, the perfection intended by the Law would be fulfilled, in those not walking in the way of the flesh, but in the way of the Spirit. Those walking according to the flesh tend toward what is flesh; those led by the Spirit, to what is Spirit. Flesh tends toward death, while Spirit aims at life and peace. What the flesh seeks is against God : it does not agree, it cannot even submit to the Law of God.

So, those walking according to the flesh cannot please God. Yet your existence is not in the flesh, but in the spirit, because the Spirit of God is within you. If you did not have the Spirit of Christ, you would not belong to Him.

But Christ is within you; though the body is branded by death as a consequence of sin, the spirit is life and holiness. And if the Spirit of Him Who raised Jesus from the dead is within you, He Who raised Jesus Christ from among the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies. Yes, He will do it through His Spirit Who dwells within you.

Saturday, 16 October 2021 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious, and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious or Holy Virgins or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all called to entrust ourselves to the Lord just in the way that Abraham, our father in faith and the ancestor of many nations have been faithful to God, in following Him and giving himself and dedicating his whole race and his entire descendants to God. Abraham was that most faithful paragon of faith that we should look up to, and we should model our faith based on how he has been and remained faithful to God.

In our first reading today from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Rome, we heard how the Apostle spoke about Abraham and the faith that he had in the Lord, the faith and commitment he had in the Lord, despite the challenges he had, and despite not knowing at the beginning how everything would turn out for him and his family. Through his faith, Abraham became the father of numerous nations, and not only that, he became the spiritual father of so many other peoples and nations that were not directly descended from him.

Abraham was one of the descendants of Adam and Noah, who dwelled in the land of Ur, in what is today Mesopotamia and Iraq. It was there then that the Lord called Abraham to follow Him to the land that He would give to him and his descendants. Abraham was a rich man with vast amounts of wealth, a family and his properties in his ancestral homeland. He had no reason to follow the Lord to an unknown land, leaving everything that was familiar to him. However, Abraham did so, and entrusted himself to the Lord.

That was how he became a most faithful servant of God, and God made a Covenant with Abraham and his descendants, promising him that he would become the father of so many nations. At that time, Abraham did not even have a son yet, and his wife was barren after many years, and they were already old back then. Yet, Abraham still believed in God and trusted in Him and the Covenant which He had made with him. As such, God bestowed on Abraham the son he had been promised with, and blessed him and his descendants.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the faith of Abraham is what all of us ought to have as Christians, to be courageous in following God and to proclaim His truth, to entrust ourselves to Him wholeheartedly as we should, and dedicating our time and effort to His cause. Abraham had that faith and allowed the Lord to guide his path because he was not afraid of whatever the world could trouble him as he knew that the Lord was always by his side, and he could trust in His providence. Whatever he would lose, he would regain back in the Lord’s favour and grace.

Today, all of us are called to reflect on whether we have truly been faithful to God, and whether we have followed Him in the way that we should have done, in obeying the laws and commandments of God and in being exemplary in our every deeds and actions in the way that our father in faith Abraham had done. We are all called to think of how we can be better and more committed Christians in our way of life. And we can look upon the good examples set by our holy and dedicated predecessors in faith, namely that of St. Hedwig and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, the two saints whose feast we celebrate today.

St. Hedwig was also known as St. Hedwig of Silesia, a renowned Duchess Consort of Silesia during the High Middle Ages who was famous for her holiness and her charitable actions to her people when she was the consort of the ruler. She spent a lot of effort to help the poor and the sick, establishing hospitals and care houses for them, and together with her husband, they were remembered as very pious and caring rulers. And after she was widowed, St. Hedwig decided to enter religious life and spent the rest of her life in serving God through prayer and charity, devoting herself wholly to His cause.

Meanwhile, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was the famous mystic and visionary of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, remembered for her visions of the Lord’s Most Sacred Heart, whose writings and experiences came to be the inspiration behind the now very popular Devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. St. Margaret Mary Alacoque gave herself to God, and she received many visions of the Lord’s great love for His people, in His sufferings out of love for them, and from there, as she shared her mystical visions, it became the impetus for the popular Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, St. Hedwig and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque were both pious and faithful in their own way, living their lives in commitment and total surrender to God. They loved the Lord as well as their neighbours, their fellow brothers and sisters, and this is what all of us are called to do as Christians. If we call ourselves as Christians and yet we have not done what our forefathers and holy predecessors had done, then are we not better than hypocrites of the past, who claimed to be faithful and yet had a mostly empty and meaningless faith?

Let us all discern carefully our path going forward in life, and let us do our very best from now on to follow the Lord ever more devoutly, and commit ourselves to His cause. May the Lord be our strength and guide, and may He empower each and every one of us to walk in His path each and every moments of our lives. May God bless us all, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 16 October 2021 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious, and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious or Holy Virgins or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Luke 12 : 8-12

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “I tell you, whoever acknowledges Me before people, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the Angels of God. But the one who denies Me before others will be denied before the Angels of God. There will be pardon for the one who criticises the Son of Man, but there will be no pardon for the one who slanders the Holy Spirit.”

“When you are brought before the synagogues, and before governors and rulers, do not worry about how you will defend yourself, or what to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you have to say.”

Saturday, 16 October 2021 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious, and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious or Holy Virgins or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Psalm 104 : 6-7, 8-9, 42-43

You descendants of His servant Abraham, you sons of Jacob, His chosen ones! He is YHVH our God; His judgments reach the whole world.

He remembers His Covenant forever, His promise to a thousand generations, the Covenant He made with Abraham, the promise He swore to Isaac.

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

Saturday, 16 October 2021 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious, and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious or Holy Virgins or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Romans 4 : 13, 16-18

If God promised Abraham, or rather his descendants, that the world would belong to him, this was not because of his obeying the Law, but because he was just, and a friend of God, through faith.

For that reason, faith is the way, and all is given, by grace; and the promises of Abraham are fulfilled for all his descendants, not only for his children according to the Law, but, also, for all the others, who have believed. Abraham is the father of all of us, as it is written : I will make you the father of many nations. He is our father, in the eyes of Him, Who gives life to the dead, and calls into existence, what does not yet exist, for this is the God in Whom he believed.

Abraham believed, and hoped against all expectation, thus, becoming the father of many nations, as he had been told : See how many will be your descendants.

Saturday, 9 October 2021 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Denis, Bishop and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs, and St. John Leonardi, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all called to be faithful to God, and to believe in Him and His providence, to do His will because all of us who are faithful to Him and remain true to our commitment to Him will not be disappointed, as God knows all of our actions and dealings, and whatever we have done, our every small little actions, for the greater glory of His Name, shall be rewarded in the end.

In our first reading today, we heard of the words of the Lord spoken to His people through the prophet Joel, who was active during the years following the return of the descendants of the Israelites from their exile in Babylon. To put things in context, the people of Israel had by then endured a lot of humiliations and sufferings because of their past sins, due to their stubborn refusal to follow the Lord and to believe in His words and the prophets that had been sent to them.

They had been beaten, oppressed and conquered by the Assyrians and the Babylonians. Their cities and towns were destroyed, and they were forced to leave their ancestral homeland for a faraway exile in Assyria and Babylon, and seeing pagans and foreigners taking over the ownership of their lands. Their Holy Temple in Jerusalem, the House of God was destroyed, a House which they themselves had long forgotten and abandoned for the worship of pagan gods and idols.

The Lord never forgot about His people though, and continued to love them despite of all the troubles and the betrayals they had done to Him. He loved them regardless and desired to reconcile themselves to Him, to love them once again and to extend His merciful hands to be reunited with them. He guided them and sent His prophets to them, and after many decades, gathered them back and through King Cyrus of Persia, led them back to their homeland, and allowing them to rebuild their towns and the Temple of God.

Therefore, through the prophet Joel, God wanted to remind His people to stand by His side and to remain faithful to Him so that they will no longer experience those periods of sufferings and challenges, and even if they were to suffer from difficulties and challenges, the Lord would be by their side and they would triumph together with Him, for He will come in the end to gather them all and lead them into the true joy and glory with Him, at the very end of time.

As we heard in our short Gospel passage today, we are all then reminded that in order to do this, what we all need to do is to be faithful to God and to commit ourselves wholeheartedly, by doing His will and obeying His laws and commandments. To do the will of God is the calling for us all as Christians, and we should do our very best to live a virtuous and exemplary life, to the best of our ability, so that even in the smallest things that we do, we will always remain faithful and committed to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us also follow the good examples set by our holy predecessors, namely St. Denis and his companions in martyrdom, as well as St. John Leonardi, faithful servants of God and saints whose feasts we are celebrating today. We should delve into their lives’ examples and be inspired with how they had led lives that were centred and focused on God, and how they had shown great faith despite the many challenges and trials they had encountered in life.

St. Denis was the Bishop of Paris during the time of the later Roman Empire, during a time of great persecution of Christians by the Roman Emperors and the state. St. Denis was sent from Rome by Pope St. Fabian, and was tasked with the evangelisation and conversion of Roman Gaul, together with several other missionaries. They encountered great challenges while having a lot of successes as well, and that time, when the Emperor Decius declared a great persecution against Christians, he and the other missionaries were arrested.

St. Denis and his companions were tortured and made to suffer for their faith in God, and they refused to give in, and finally, were led to their execution, which St. Denis suffered by beheading, together with his fellow martyrs. However, in a most miraculous and amazing occasion, St. Denis remained alive even after he was beheaded, and he picked up his head, and the head preached to the people as he walked for many kilometres, to many awed witnesses and even those who were involved in the execution. It was at the place where he stopped and finally passed into heavenly glory, that he was buried and where a great church, the Basilica of St. Denis in Paris now stands.

Meanwhile, St. John Leonardi was an Italian priest and founder of the Clerks Regular of the Mother of God of Lucca, who lived about five centuries ago. As a priest, he was remembered for his great dedication to his flock, the parishioners and the other members of the faithful whom he dedicated himself to, in the formation of young adults in the faith among other things. He also popularised the devotion of the Forty Hours and the Eucharist to the faithful, which was meant to bring them closer to God.

St. John Leonardi also worked hard to implement the many reforms of the Ecumenical Council of Trent, while also proposing to the Pope for the formation of a religious order that is focused on the reforms of the Church and greater discipline in faith, which eventually became a reality with the foundation of the Clerks Regular of the Mother of God of Lucca, gathering many like-minded people who seek to serve the Lord following the charism and efforts of St. John Leonardi. Through his faith and dedication, and his perseverance, in facing the challenges and opposition he had for his efforts, St. John Leonardi has shown us, just as St. Denis and his companions in martyrdom had, on how to be truly faithful and committed to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore commit ourselves anew to the Lord and let us do our very best to follow Him, and to walk in His path, so that in everything we do, we will always glorify Him and be exemplary and inspirational in our way of life, such that many more people may come to believe in the Lord through us and our examples. May the Lord continue to guide us and help us in our journey of faith, and may He strengthen each and every one of us to live ever more faithfully from now on. Amen.

Saturday, 9 October 2021 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Denis, Bishop and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs, and St. John Leonardi, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priest or 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.”