Saturday, 26 May 2018 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Philip Neri, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture, telling us about the importance for us as Christians, to care for one another, our fellow faithful, our brothers and sisters in the same Lord. St. James told us this, in the Epistle he wrote, that we should pray, pray for our sake and pray for each other.

A good and devout Christian will pray, and pray in order to communicate with the Lord, Our God, the source of our strength, hope and power. And through prayer, we show our concern towards one another, and then, we put ourselves into action, to help lead and guide one another, that each and every one of us are responsible for the well-being of one another in faith.

And this means that, we should not be quick to judge or to cast our brothers or sisters out, just because we think that they were not as faithful as we are, or that they are not doing things the way we want it to be. In the Gospel passage today, we saw how the Lord Jesus rebuked His disciples because they tried to prevent children from coming towards Him. He was angry at them because they tried to impose what they thought was right over others.

And we have to understand this in the context of their actions towards one another. The disciples were often arguing and bickering among themselves on who among them, will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. But in doing so, they are trying to undermine each other, and exclude others from God’s grace and love. St. James and St. John went with their mother to the Lord, asking Him to grant them special favours over that of the other disciples.

But the Lord showed them that it is not the way that He wants from each one of His followers and disciples. Rather, He showed that the Church must be welcoming, especially to little children who want to come to the Lord and know Him. This is important because, those children are still innocent, and are willing to know the Lord with genuine intention and faith.

If we prevent them from reaching out to the Lord, then we have committed a great sin, for we have caused their souls to be lost to Him. And then, if we, through our actions have caused them to fall into sin, because we ourselves have not been faithful and committed what is wicked and sinful before God, then we will also be held accountable for the souls of these little children, as well as anyone else that we have misled into sin.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today, we celebrate the feast of St. Philip Neri, a famous holy man and devout servant of God, who was an Italian priest remembered for his great dedication to the Lord, for his missionary work and outreach to many of the faithful, calling many people to repent from their sins and follow the Lord. As a result, many people followed the Lord and turn away from their sins. He has done the Church and the people of God a great service.

Now, each and every one of us as Christians should follow the examples of St. Philip Neri and live in the way that he has lived his life, and in how he has served the people of God. Let us all devote ourselves anew to God, and be exemplary in our lives, by truly living them with faith, through genuine actions, by loving one another and by our guidance towards one another in faith. We hope that through all these, we may help to guide each other, to remain true to our Christian faith, and welcome all those who seek the Lord, especially those who desire His love, like those little children who come to Him.

May the Lord be with each and every one of us, and may He continue to strengthen us in faith, that we will grow to love Him more and more, with each and every passing day of our lives. Amen.

Saturday, 26 May 2018 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Philip Neri, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 10 : 13-16

At that time, people were bringing their little children to Jesus to have Him touch them, and the disciples rebuked them for this. When Jesus noticed it, He was very angry and said, “Let the children come to Me and do not stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.”

Then He took the children in His arms and, laying His hands on them, blessed them.

Saturday, 26 May 2018 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Philip Neri, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 140 : 1-2, 3 and 8

Lord, I call on You, hasten to help me! Listen to my plea when I call to You. Let my prayer rise to You, like incense; as I lift up my hands, as in an evening sacrifice.

O YHVH, set a guard at my mouth; keep watch at the gate of my lips. But my eyes are turned to You, o God, my YHVH; strip me not of life, for You are my refuge.

Saturday, 26 May 2018 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Philip Neri, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

James 5 : 13-20

Are any among you, discouraged? They should pray. Are any of you happy? They should sing songs to God. If anyone is sick, let him call on the elders of the Church. They shall pray for him, anointing him with oil in the Name of the Lord. The prayer said in faith will save the sick person; the Lord will raise him up and if he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.

There will be healing, if you confess your sins to one another, and pray for each other. The prayer of the upright man has great power, provided he perseveres. Elijah was a human being, like ourselves, and when he prayed, earnestly, for it not to rain, no rain fell for three and a half years. Then he prayed again : the sky yielded rain and the earth produced its fruit.

Brothers, if any one of you strays far away from the truth, and another person brings him back to it, be sure of this : he who brings back a sinner from the wrong way, will save his soul from death and win forgiveness for many sins.

Saturday, 19 May 2018 : 7th Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we enter into the conclusion of the Season of Easter, we also end the readings and discourses from the Acts of the Apostles. We have heard of the many works of the Apostles in ministering to the people of God and in testifying for their faith, saving many souls through their actions and dedication.

In today’s first reading, we heard about the story of St. Paul in Rome, at the last legs of his earthly ministry. St. Paul continued to work and dedicate himself to the faithful in the city of Rome, and spoke to the Jewish community living there. He has done many good works for the Lord’s sake, and even at that time, he still performed one last great work for God, in helping to establish the foundation of the Church at the heart of the Empire in Rome.

In today’s Gospel passage, we heard the Lord’s words to His Apostles, at the time after He had risen from the dead. What we have heard was basically normal human emotions and reaction, for the Apostles themselves were still humans as well. It was the jealousy and rivalry that still existed in their hearts at that time, stemming from the fact that St. John, the youngest one among the Twelve, was the Lord’s favourite.

In fact, St. John, together with St. James, his brother and St. Peter himself, was counted among the three of the closest confidants of the Lord, whom He always brought with Him to the important events of His life, such as the Transfiguration and the moment just before His Passion at the night after the Last Supper. But sometimes, as humans, we may be tempted by power, and by the seduction of glory and praise.

St. John and St. James had their mother to come to the Lord together, asking Him whether they could be granted special position among the Apostles, by conferring on them positions on His left and right when He entered into His kingdom. But the Lord chastised and rebuked them, saying to them, that true discipleship is not about worldly glory and prestige, and not about honour and position, but rather, about dedication and even sacrifice.

Later on, the Apostles themselves would realise this truth, and they no longer sought for worldly glory and honour as they had before. In truth, just as St. Paul had shown us, they were willing to give it all for their service to God. It is what they had to endure for their faith in the Lord Jesus, and they persevered through all those challenges and difficulties with commitment, zeal and love for God and for their fellow men alike.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now, all of us are called to follow the examples of these holy Apostles and servants of the Lord. We are called to be faithful and to be devoted to Him, in all of our ways and actions. However, as what we may have realised and seen, many of us Christians are not doing what we should have done as expected of us as disciples and followers of the Lord.

Instead, we often bicker among ourselves and are bitterly divided and we are jealous of each other’s achievements and possessions. Why is this so? This is because we are unable to resist the temptation of worldly pleasures, glory, honour, wealth and all sorts of things that Satan and his allies are using in order to distract us and to pull us away from God’s path, and into our downfall.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us resist the temptation for all these transient and impermanent glories, for all those pleasures that do not last forever. Let us all instead seek the true joy and happiness, the satisfaction and eternal glory that we can gain in God alone. And as Christians, we do not need to worry about all of them, as God Who is always with us, will reward us for our faith and commitment to Him.

Let us all therefore, as we come to celebrate the Solemnity of the Pentecost tomorrow, remember that each and every one of us have received the Holy Spirit and His many gifts. Let us remember that all of us ought to make use of these gifts for the greater glory of God, and for the good of our fellow men. May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to guide us in our path. May God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 19 May 2018 : 7th Week of Easter (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, 19 May 2018 : 7th Week of Easter (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.