Saturday, 27 May 2017 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, as we approach the seventh Sunday of the season of Easter, which is also the World Communication Sunday, we speak about the preaching of the Apostles to the people across the Mediterranean, throughout the many cities and towns, spreading the faith in Jesus to all the peoples, by the means of preaching and teaching.

It was by communicating that the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord had become witnesses to His truth and resurrection, to all that He had revealed to them, and to all that He had done for the sake of the whole race of mankind. These faithful servants went forth and told the people who have not yet heard of God’s salvation, and therefore allowing more and more people to come to believe in the Lord and His truth.

They courageously went forth to distant lands, to the places where no one had yet known the Lord and His love, those who were still living in darkness and ignorance, all those who were still living in a state of sin. Without the courage of these Apostles, who taught and preached with zeal, many more souls would have been lost to the Lord, into the damnation in hell.

And that was what the saint whose feast day we celebrate today, had done by devoting his entire life, in order to avoid such a fate for those who have remained in ignorance of the Lord. St. Augustine of Canterbury, the founder of the Church and its architect in the lands of the Anglo-Saxons, now known as England, set forth from Rome, under the orders of the Pope at that time, Pope St. Gregory the Great, going away from his homeland, in order to be a missionary to the people who have not yet received proper guidance in the faith.

At the time, the collapse of the Roman Empire authority in Britain has left the Christian faith over there to fall into decline, as the pagan barbarians invaded, and disestablished much of the foundations of the Church in that area, which had not been strong and extensive to begin with. As a result, St. Augustine of Canterbury went to a region mostly filled with ignorance and lacking in faith in the Lord.

Nonetheless, St. Augustine of Canterbury persevered through the difficult times, and despite the challenges he faced, including opposition from the pagans and the enemies of the Church. St. Augustine of Canterbury patiently preached to the people, calling them to accept the truths as the Lord had revealed to His Church, and therefore for them to accept Him as their Lord and Saviour.

Gradually, St. Augustine of Canterbury managed to reestablish the Church in England, establishing his diocese in Canterbury, and at the same time building crucial infrastructure and foundation for the Church in that region, which eventually flourished and many people came to end up converting to the Christian faith. This is what he had done, for the sake of the Lord and for His people, all of the hard work he had done.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, all of us are called to reflect on the actions of St. Augustine of Canterbury, as well as the works of the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord, all of whom had devoted much of their life’s work and energy in order to advance the cause of the Lord, and bring more and more souls back to the Lord’s loving embrace.

All of us should follow their examples, and learn to do the same with our lives. All of us should devote our time and effort to accomplish what the Lord had commanded His Apostles and disciples to do, and which therefore had become the same command that all of us need to obey as well. This is what we need to do, in order to fulfil what the Lord had wanted us to do.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all come ever closer to the Lord, and be ever more committed to Him. May He bless us all and give us the strength to persevere in this life, filled with ever more zeal and love for Him. May God be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 27 May 2017 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (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, 27 May 2017 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (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, 27 May 2017 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (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, 20 May 2017 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we have heard a reminder that if we are to remain faithful and true to the Lord, in our faith to Him, we will encounter difficulties and challenges in our path, as there will definitely be those who will be opposed to us and to our faith, namely those who are clinging on to the ways of the world and would not want to see their influence challenged by us.

That means, our lives as Christians, if we truly cling onto our faith in God, and practice wholeheartedly what we believe in, will not be that smooth-going and easy. If we have found our lives to be easy and manageable, without crisis or difficulty, perhaps that is because God had indeed blessed us so, or which we hope that is not the case, that we have not been truly faithful in our ways and in our lives.

Many of us want to be accepted by the world, and to that extent, we conform to the ways and customs of the world, even if that ran contrary to the teachings of our faith. At the same time, we know that the reality in our Church is that there are many who are ‘cafetaria Christians’, which means those who pick and choose what they want to believe in our faith, and refuse to believe or that they are ignoring those tenets which they found to be too difficult to be followed or complied with.

That was what happened to the disciples of Jesus two millennia ago, as Jesus went about preaching about the coming of the kingdom of God to them and speaking about Himself, the truth of what would happen to them should they became His followers, and what they needed to believe in, even when they found the teaching to be difficult to be complied with. Indeed, many left the Lord behind because they were not willing to open their hearts and listen to Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is not we all should be like, as all of us should be true and devoted to our Lord in all things we do, and believe in Him wholeheartedly, and not conditionally. After all, the Lord had given us all His life and His love unconditionally, by His loving sacrifice on the cross. He has loved us with all of His heart, generously granting us pardon and mercy, forgiveness and grace even when we are all still great sinners and rebels.

If the Lord had not hold back His love for us, then why should we then hold back our love for Him? Why do we have to choose or to select what we want to believe in His message? Why should we set conditions for the Lord? It is not right, if He had already suffered for our sake, bearing the burden for our sins, the burdens which should have been ours, and died on the cross for us, then we should not and indeed cannot treat the Lord with ignorance or apathy.

We must devote ourselves wholeheartedly to the Lord, and learn from the examples of the holy saints, especially St. Bernardine of Siena, whose feast day we are celebrating on this day. St. Bernardine of Siena was a devout and holy priest, as a Franciscan missionary who lived during the late Medieval era. He was renowned as the ‘Apostle of Italy’ for his tireless works in bringing many people, especially throughout Italy, the heart of Christendom, back to the Lord.

For at that time, many of the people did not live in accordance with the ways of the Lord, living in debauchery and sin, in wickedness and doing what is vile and evil in the sight of God. People are more concerned with money and worldly livelihood rather than serving the Lord and obeying His will. St. Bernardine went around many places, preaching directly to the people in those places, and his words of encouragement and call to repentance have brought many people back to the loving embrace of the Lord.

His sincerity and devotion to the Lord inspired those lost souls who saw the light of God through St. Bernardine of Siena, like that of darkness being pushed back by the light. His examples and his dedication to the salvation of souls should be our inspiration, brothers and sisters in Christ, in how we ought to live our lives faithfully to the Lord. We should be exemplary in our actions and deeds, so that all those who see us will also then come to believe in God through us.

May the Lord awaken in all of us the desire to love Him, and to obey Him in all of His teachings. May we follow in the footsteps of St. Bernardine of Siena, that in all the things we say and do, we will always proclaim the glory of the Lord and remain true to His ways. Amen.

Saturday, 20 May 2017 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (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.”

Saturday, 20 May 2017 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White
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.