Saturday, 21 May 2022 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Christopher Magallanes, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded of the responsibility and mission that each one of us as Christians had been entrusted with, and how as the followers and disciples of Christ, it is bound that we will encounter challenges and trials in our journey and path, as we continue to proceed down this way, in obeying the Lord and His commandments. Sometimes we may even have to make a stand and choose between remaining faithful to the Lord or to conform to the ways and norms of the world at the cost of abandoning our faith and Christian identity.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord spoke plainly before all of His disciples that they were bound to be hated by the world, as the world itself had hated the Lord and tried to suppress Him and His truth. Just as the Lord had encountered a lot of opposition from the Pharisees, the teachers of the Law and the chief priests throughout His mission in this world, and had His path littered with plenty of disapproval, persecution and ridicule from those who hardened their hearts and refused to believe in His truth, hence, the same things would likely happen to those who walk in the same path that Christ had walked as well.

That was what the disciples would encounter as they went on their mission and works, having been sent by the Lord with the mission to evangelise to the whole entire world. He called on all of them and gave them the mission to go forth to all the nations, and make disciples of all mankind, to baptise them all in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Apostles and the many other missionaries and servants of God all laboured throughout the history of the Church, proclaiming the Good News of God’s salvation and His truth, and both enjoying great successes as well as enduring the persecution that came in quite a few of their missions.

As we heard in our first reading today, we heard of how St. Paul continued with his missionary journey, bringing St. Timothy, one of his protege with him, who would become one of the first bishops and successors of the Apostles. It was mentioned and indirectly implied how the Apostles were encountering challenges in their journey, and how the Christian missionaries encountered opposition from both the Jewish diaspora and from others who were not receptive of the truth they were bringing to them. If we read on more from the Acts of the Apostles beyond our reading passage today, then we will realise just how much hardships they had to endure.

Thus, as I mentioned earlier, the Apostles both encountered hardships, trials, prison and even death in martyrdom, as well as great successes in gaining many more people who became believers in the Lord. They established firm foundation for the Church, and many people flocked to seek the truth of God. The Church as we know it today would not have existed if not for all the hard work and efforts showed by the Apostles and all the followers of the Lord. This is why it is very important for us to appreciate and realise the importance of our commitment to the work of evangelisation, as without those who commit themselves to the work of the Gospels, the Church would not have grown.

Today, we remember the great examples set by the faithful servants of God, St. Christopher Magallanes and his companions in faith and martyrdom, as they dedicated themselves to the works of the Lord and in defending their faith against those who sought to force them to abandon and betray their Lord and Master. St. Christopher Magallanes was a priest who ministered to the people of God and carried on his works in Mexico during the time of great persecution against the Christian faith, the Church, and especially against the clergy, priests and religious at a time of great suffering and sorrow for the Church.

At that time, the Mexican government was very hostile against the Church and its clergy, as well as to any expression of Christian faith and the faithful. Many of the clergy and the laity had to suffer a lot of persecution, being arrested and tortured, because of the government’s opposition against the Church, and the antipathy and disagreements they held over the missionaries and servants of God like St. Christopher Magallanes and many others, both the clergy and laity alike, many of whom were arrested and put in prison, and many were eventually martyred for remaining firmly true to their faith.

St. Christopher Magallanes himself was arrested and accused of helping the rebellion of the government, which was a false charge, and he was eventually sentenced to death, enduring martyrdom for his love for God. Many others shared his fate, dying from the persecution of the Church and the faithful which lasted for more than a decade and resulting in the destruction of many of the Church’s structures and the deaths of countless people to the persecution by the authorities. That however did not dampen the spirit and courage of many among the faithful who welcomed suffering and martyrdom in remaining faithful to God, becoming great inspiration even for us today.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all do our best to serve the Lord faithfully, commit ourselves to the great works entrusted to us by God. May God empower us to walk with faith and to be great role models and faithful witnesses in the same manner that St. Christopher Magallanes and his companions in faith and martyrdom had inspired us all. May God bless us all, now and forevermore, and bring us all ever closer to His throne of grace. Amen.

Saturday, 21 May 2022 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Christopher Magallanes, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

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, 21 May 2022 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Christopher Magallanes, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

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, 21 May 2022 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Christopher Magallanes, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

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.

Saturday, 14 May 2022 : Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the great Feast of St. Matthias the Apostle, one of the Twelve Apostles of Our Lord, one of those great servants whom God had called and chosen to be His followers and to be the chief ones among His disciples. St. Matthias and his examples, his dedication to the Lord together with that of the other Apostles and disciples of the Lord, should be our source of inspiration in how we live our lives with faith, and in inspiring us all to proclaim the truth of God in the same manner to our fellow brothers and sisters.

St. Matthias was not originally one of the Twelve Apostles, but he was chosen by all the assembled Apostles and disciples to replace the betrayer Judas Iscariot, who had betrayed the Lord and sold Him off to the chief priests, which led to His Passion, suffering and death. Judas Iscariot was one of the chosen twelve disciples of the Lord, and his death as he decided to take his own life marked an empty spot among the Twelve. As mentioned in our first reading today, the Apostles and the other disciples led by St. Peter the Apostle decided to choose from among those who had been with the Lord since the beginning, to be the one to replace Judas Iscariot.

St. Matthias was chosen after prayer and deliberation by the disciples, and he became one of the Twelve Apostles. According to Apostolic traditions, St. Matthias was indeed among the first disciples of the Lord, who had followed Him right from the beginning of His ministry that began with the Lord’s baptism and followed Him through to the end and beyond. And just like the other Apostles, St. Matthias went to many distant places proclaiming the Good News of God, the Gospel of salvation to all whom he encountered. According to traditions, St. Matthias went to the region of Cappadocia in Asia Minor, region of Colchis in Georgia in the Caucasus, and as far as Ethiopia.

St. Matthias dedicated himself for many years to serve the people of God and in calling more and more people to believe in God. St. Matthias gave himself like the other Apostles and disciples of the Lord, spending a lot of time and effort to reach out to those who have not yet known the Lord. He endured persecutions and challenges, trials and sufferings in the midst of his ministry, and yet he remained firmly faithful to the end. Entrusting himself to the Lord and empowered by the Holy Spirit, St. Matthias persevered on in his ministry until he was finally martyred for his faith, which some traditions placed as happening at Sebastopolis in the Caucasus.

As we listened to the Scripture readings today and recalling the courage and faith showed by St. Matthias, all of us are reminded that each and every one of us are also called to the same mission that we share with the Apostles like St. Matthias, with the saints and martyrs, all those who had gone before us and performed many great deeds for the sake of the Lord. The story of St. Matthias should serve as an inspiration to us on how each one of us ought to be faithful in how we all live our lives that we may truly glorify God by our actions and deeds, by our words and interactions with one another.

In today’s Gospel we are reminded of how we can be truly good disciples of the Lord, by following the Lord’s commandment which He has entrusted to us all. He told us to love one another just as He has loved us. The Lord has told His disciples and followers to be His witnesses as He has shown them His love and truth, all that love that He has presented to us. By His love, we are all as His disciples, called to show the same love to our fellow brothers and sisters. We are all called to love one another, and not just loving ourselves only. This is not something easily done, as we tend to be selfish more than selfless, but this is exactly why we need to challenge our ego and selfishness.

That is also why, brothers and sisters in Christ, we have this obligation and calling to be exemplary in how we conduct ourselves as Christians, and we cannot believe in God in one hand, and yet not showing love to our fellow men, our fellow brothers and sisters. If we do so, then we are no better than hypocrites who claim to believe in God and yet, in us, there is no real faith and real commitment to the path that the Lord has shown us. If we truly call ourselves as Christians, as God’s people, then we ought to begin doing what God has called us to do.

Brothers and sisters, let us all hence walk in the footsteps of the Apostles, inspired by the examples of St. Matthias and all the other holy men and women of God, that we too may become the bearers and beacons of God’s light to the people still living in the darkness of this world, in ignorance of God and His truth. May all of us be able to do our best and strive to be courageous and good Christians in all of our actions and works, so that through us and our works, we may endeavour to bring many more souls to the salvation and eternal life in God. St. Matthias, Holy Apostle of Our Lord, pray for us all sinners. Amen.

Saturday, 14 May 2022 : Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 15 : 9-17

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “As the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you. Remain in My love! You will remain in My love if you keep My commandments, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love.”

“I have told you all this, that My own joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete. This is My commandment : Love one another as I have loved you! There is no greater love than this, to give one’s life for one’s friends; and you are My friends, if you do what I command you.”

“I shall not call you servants any more, because servants do not know what their master is about. Instead, I have called you friends, since I have made known to you everything I learnt from My Father. You did not choose Me; it was I Who chose you and sent you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. And everything you ask the Father in My Name, He will give you.”

“This is My command, that you love one another.”

Saturday, 14 May 2022 : Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 112 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8

Alleluia! Praise, o servants of YHVH, praise the Name of YHVH! Blessed be the Name of YHVH now and forever!

From eastern lands to the western islands, may the Name of YHVH be praised! YHVH is exalted over the nations; His glory above the heavens.

Who is like YHVH our God, Who sits enthroned on high, but also bends down to see on earth as in heaven?

He lifts up the poor from the dust and the needy from the ash heap. He makes them sit with princes, with rulers of His people.

Saturday, 14 May 2022 : Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Acts 1 : 15-17, 20-26

It was during this time that Peter stood up in the midst of the community – about one hundred and twenty in all – and he said, “Brothers, it was necessary that the Scriptures referring to Judas be fulfilled. The Holy Spirit had spoken through David about the one who would lead the crowd coming to arrest Jesus. He was one of our number and had been called to share our common ministry.”

“In the Book of Psalms it is written : ‘Let his house become deserted and may no one live in it.’ But it is also written : ‘May another take his office.’ Therefore, we must choose someone from among those who were with us during all the time that the Lord Jesus moved about with us, beginning with John’s baptism until the day when Jesus was taken away from us. One of these has to become, with us, a witness to His resurrection.”

Then they proposed two : Joseph, called Barsabbas, also known as Justus, and Matthias. They prayed : “You know, Lord, what is in the hearts of all. Show us, therefore, which of the two You have chosen to replace Judas in this Apostolic ministry which he deserted to go to the place he deserved.”

Then they drew lots between the two and the choice fell on Matthias who was added to the eleven Apostles.

Saturday, 7 May 2022 : 3rd Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are reminded to remain true and faithful to the Lord, no matter what happens. We are reminded to stay committed to His truth even amidst the many challenges and trials that we may have to endure in order to live our lives in the way that the Lord has presented to us. The Lord revealed to us that becoming His disciples would not be an easy matter, and there would be hard truths that we have to accept and not only that, but to proclaim in our own communities.

In our Gospel reading today, taken from the Gospel of St. John, we heard the conclusion of the account of the Bread of Life discourse by the Lord Jesus to the people who were gathered to listen to Him, as He revealed to them the truth about Himself, as the One Who would give Himself for the salvation of the world, the Paschal Lamb, by Whose sacrifice all of mankind would be given the path out of the darkness of the world, and through Him all will once again be reconciled and reunited with God. He would offer Himself as the worthy sacrifice to the Father on our behalf, as the atonement for our sins, with His Body broken for us, and His Blood shed for our salvation.

Much like in the time of the original Passover during the Exodus of the Israelites who were enslaved under the tyranny of the Egyptians, the Passover lamb was slaughtered and its body broken and shared to be eaten by the members of all the people of Israel, while the blood marks the doorposts of the houses of the faithful, by which they were spared from the terrible punishment that God sent upon the land of Egypt, the Angels that brought God’s retribution and judgment upon all the firstborn children of Egypt. The Lord saved His people from destruction, and not only that, but made a Covenant with them, sealing them with the blood of a lamb.

Then, when the Lord Himself came into this world to save His people from the tyranny of sin and evil, He gave Himself as the Paschal Lamb, the Lamb of God, to be sacrificed and crushed for our sake. His own Precious Body and Blood given to us through the Holy Eucharist that He has instituted and given to His Church, to all of us, at the Last Supper and which was perfectly fulfilled through His Passion and death, His crucifixion on which He was laid as the sacrificial victim on the Altar of the Cross. His Blood flowed down from the Cross to the earth, marking each and every one of us who believe in Him, and who share in His Body and Blood, with faith, as His own beloved children and beloved people.

And having received and witnessed this truth, the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord went forth to proclaim the Lord to all the people, calling on them to believe in Him and to put their trust in Him, and no longer doubt in Him anymore but believe. The Lord entrusted to His Church and His disciples the very important mission of the conversion of the whole world, that all the children of man may come to be reconciled with God through Him. By His grace we have been offered this path out of the darkness and despair surrounding us, and He sent His disciples to come to us and to reach out to us, that now each one of us have become those who believe in Christ and share the gift of our baptism.

As we heard in our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, detailing to us the works of the Apostles who ministered to the faithful and tirelessly travelling all over the region to proclaim the Lord to more people, we heard how St. Peter the Apostle performed a great miracle in raising up Tabitha, a faithful disciple and follower of the Lord who had fallen sick and died. St. Peter prayed over her and by the power of God raised her from the dead, much as how the Lord Jesus had once raised the daughter of the synagogue official, the son of the widow of Nain and also Lazarus, one of His own friends. By this act, we can see how the Lord’s truth was shown to all, that despite His passing from this world, His works remain through His Church and those to whom He has entrusted power and authority.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all hence reflect on the meaning and significance of what we had heard in our Scripture readings today, and see in what way we can answer God’s call better, just as He has called us all to follow Him and to become His faithful disciples. We have to be active members of the Church and be courageous and proactive in living our lives in the most worthy way possible, by obeying God’s Law and commandments, and in leading a way of life that is truly in harmony with God and His truth. We are all the ones who have received the Lord Himself, His own Precious Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist, a people He had set aside to be His own, blessed and called to be holy.

May all of us continue to strive to live in holiness and do our very best so that in our every words, actions and deeds, we may indeed be the source of inspiration and hope for many others, and that we may help more and more people to find their way to God and His salvation. Let us be strengthened by the Holy Eucharist that we have partaken, and remind ourselves to put our complete faith and trust in Him, Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life and Lamb of God, our Lord and Saviour, now and always. Amen.

Saturday, 7 May 2022 : 3rd Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 6 : 60-69

At that time, after the Jews heard Jesus, many of His followers said, “This language is very hard! Who can accept it?”

Jesus was aware that His disciples were murmuring about this, and so He said to them, “Does this offend you? Then how will you react when you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? It is the Spirit that gives life, not the flesh. The words that I have spoken to you are Spirit and they are life. But among you there are some who do not believe.”

From the beginning, Jesus knew who would betray Him. So He added, “As I have told you, no one can come to Me unless it is granted by the Father.” After this many disciples withdrew and no longer followed Him. Jesus asked the Twelve, “Will you also go away?

Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We now believe and know that You are the Holy One of God.”