Saturday, 30 April 2022 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Pius V, Pope (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Lord speaking to us regarding the trust and faith that we must have in the Lord, because even with all the trials and challenges that we may have to face in this world, the Lord is surely with us and He will never abandon us, and He will guide and lead us down the right path, as long as we are willing to follow Him wholeheartedly. The Lord has also called His servants and those among us whom He had chosen to be the ones to care and minister to the needs of the Christian community as we heard in our Scripture passage today from the Acts of the Apostles.

In that first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we heard of the conflict that occurred in the early Church in the group called the Hellenists, which signified one of the earliest groups within the early Christian community, a division that was bound to happen due to the diverse nature of the first Christians and the community built by the Apostles. As detailed elsewhere in the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles, there were disagreements, divisions and even conflicts between the early Christians who still considered themselves part of the Jewish community and hence vigorously practiced and even pressured others to follow the Jewish practices, and the Gentiles or the non-Jewish people who became believers, and yet there were also the Jewish converts who were sympathetic to the Gentiles and desired to accommodate them, and those were the Hellenists.

Unfortunately, it was likely that those divisions and disagreements between the various parties led to the discrepancy in the distribution of goods and others to the Christian families and communities. As such, the Apostles, guided by the Holy Spirit decided to appoint several men who were tasked with the care of the community, making sure that all of the faithful and their needs are taken care of. These seven holy men dedicated by the Apostles would become the first deacons of the Church and hence became the institution of the Order of Deacons or the Diaconate.

Through those deacons, most renowned of which was St. Stephen, who would become the first martyr of the Church, the love of God and His providence were shown to all the people, as those deacons reached out to the people of God, ministering to them and caring for their needs. They were also at the forefront of the works of evangelisation and in facing the various peoples that they had been sent to, which in the case of St. Stephen resulted in him being persecuted and was then stoned to death by those who opposed him and the Christian faith and truth that he had been speaking about.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the moment when the Lord appeared before His disciples in the middle of a great storm in the sea of Galilee. They were in their boat, amidst all the storm and the winds, the waves and others, when the Lord appeared to them while walking on the water. The disciples were all frightened but the Lord reassured them that it was indeed Him that they had seen. The Lord then calmed the storm and the waves to the astonishment of the disciples. And through this, we had seen how God would not leave His beloved ones alone, and He would always take good care of them.

In that Gospel passage we see the symbolism of the Church through the disciples and their boat in the midst of the storm. The boat is the representation of the Church, with the disciples representing all of us the faithful people of God. The storm and the waves represent the many trials and challenges facing the Church, all the opposition, persecution and difficulties that we as the faithful may encounter in our lives as Christians. But we must not be afraid as the Lord will always be with us and He will never abandon us in our time of need. God will always be by our side no matter what.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded that we have the calling and mission to reach out to our fellow brothers and sisters, committing our lives to the good works entrusted to us through the Church. We are all the successors of the Lord’s disciples and the ones who are tasked to be His witnesses in our world today. Each and every one of us by our calling have been entrusted with the mission to preach the Good News of God’s salvation to more people all over around the whole world. As His witnesses and disciples we are called to proclaim His light and hope amidst our darkened world.

Today, we should draw inspiration from one of our holy predecessors, namely Pope St. Pius V, a great and dedicated leader of the Church who led the Church and all the faithful during a particularly difficult period of time in the Church history. He was prominent in his role in the Ecumenical Council of Trent and also his contributions before he even became the Pope and thus leader of all Christendom. He led the Church during the crucial years in which it was fighting both internal divisions and the changes and instabilities caused by the Protestant heresy and falsehoods, among other political conflicts, as well as the external threats from the forces of the Ottoman Turks threatening to conquer the lands of Christendom.

Yet, Pope St. Pius V persevered through all those challenges and entrusted himself and the Church to the Lord. He led the Church to implement the many important reforms and changes made at the Council of Trent, and helped to enforce its decrees on the many segments of the Church, rooting out the corruptions and excesses within the Church, while restoring many of the people who had been misguided and misled by falsehoods back into the truth of God in the Church. He also helped to assemble the great Christian alliance that managed to win a great victory over the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Lepanto.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, inspired by the great examples set by Pope St. Pius V and the many other holy saints, holy men and women of God, let us all continue to strive to be faithful to God, to dedicate ourselves wholeheartedly to Him. Let us all do our best, in whatever way we can, to dedicate ourselves to the Lord and to proclaim His truth and love in our various communities, even through the smallest things we say and do in our lives. May God bless us all and may He empower each one of us to be faithful to Him, now and always, evermore. Amen.

Saturday, 30 April 2022 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Pius V, Pope (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 6 : 16-21

At that time, when evening came, the disciples went down to the shore. After a while they got into a boat to make for Capernaum on the other side of the sea, for it was now dark and Jesus had not yet come to them. But the sea was getting rough because a strong wind was blowing.

They had rowed about three or four miles, when they saw Jesus walking on the sea, and He was drawing near to the boat. They were frightened, but He said to them, “It is I! Do not be afraid!” They wanted to take Him into the boat, but immediately the boat was at the shore to which they were going.

Saturday, 30 April 2022 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Pius V, Pope (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 32 : 1-2, 4-5, 18-19

Rejoice in the Lord, you who are just, praise is fitting for the upright. Give thanks to Him on the harp and lyre, making melody and chanting praises.

For upright is the Lord’s word and worthy of trust is His work. The Lord loves justice and righteousness; the earth is full of His kindness.

But the Lord’s eyes are upon those who fear Him, upon those who trust in His loving-kindness to deliver them from death and preserve them from famine.

Saturday, 30 April 2022 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Pius V, Pope (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 6 : 1-7

In those days, as the number of disciples grew, the so-called Hellenists complained against the so-called Hebrews, because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.

So the Twelve summoned the whole body of disciples together and said, “It is not right that we should neglect the word of God to serve at tables. So, friends, choose from among yourselves seven respected men full of Spirit and wisdom, that we may appoint them to this task. As for us, we shall give ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.”

The whole community agreed and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and Holy Spirit : Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenus and Nicolaus of Antioch who was a proselyte. They presented these men to the Apostles who first prayed over them and then laid hands upon them.

The Word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly and even many priests accepted the faith.

Friday, 29 April 2022 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord through the Scriptures, we are all presented with the calling for us all as Christians in proclaiming the Risen Lord as the Saviour of the whole world, He Who has given His own life for our sake, in breaking His own Precious Body and shedding His own Precious Blood for our sake. Our Lord and Saviour has extended His love and compassion in coming down into our midst, to gather us all and to provide for us the path towards salvation and eternal life. He, the Bread of Life and the Lamb of God, is the sure and only path towards eternal life.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the account from the Gospel of St. John on the Lord Jesus Who miraculously fed the great multitude of five thousand men and many more women and children with just five loaves of bread and two fishes. The Lord showed pity and love for all the people who were gathered there for days, following Him and listening to His teachings, and had become hungry because there was no place nearby for them to buy any food. But the Lord told His disciples for the need of the people, and with just five loaves of bread and two fishes which He blessed and prayed over, He multiplied them all miraculously and fed everyone with enough food and even with plenty of spare.

As the Lord fed the people with all the food, some among them wanted to make Him as their King, and would have had their way if the Lord did not quietly slip away amidst all the multitudes of people and everything that happened. But through that feeding of the people, the Lord reminded all of us that He came into this world to nourish us, and to restore us to new life, not just physically, but also spiritually as well, wholesomely transforming us from those who hunger for the truth and justice, for the light and hope in our life, to those who have been strengthened and empowered by the light and hope of Christ.

This is why, as compared to the false idols and all other distractions in life, there is nothing comparable to the Lord in fulfilling our needs and in revealing to us our true path in life. And as the Scriptures pointed out to us, that unless we anchor ourselves in the Lord’s truth and grace, in His light and hope, then we will likely end up falling into the wrong path, falling into the path of sin and evil, and from which we may find it difficult or even impossible to get out from. And that is why the Lord constantly reminds us that in Him and through Him alone there is hope and sure path out of the darkness and the despair surrounding us, and if we put our trust in Him, we shall surely not be disappointed.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Acts of the Apostles of the time when the disciples of the Lord were arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin or the Jewish High Council, with many of its members wanting to persecute and oppress the followers of Jesus, banning His teachings and truths. The Lord has always been seen as a great rival and threat by many among the members of the Sanhedrin back then, and many of them refused to believe in Him despite all the miraculous deeds that the Lord had done before all of them and before the people. They hardened their hearts and minds against Him.

However, as we heard in that same reading, a wise member of the High Council named Gamaliel spoke to the whole Sanhedrin regarding leaving everything to God and His providence, giving the evidence based on the past several false prophets and Messiahs who had claimed to be the Messiah and yet, failed in their efforts and attempts, as they proved to be no more than just mere men who were misguided, selfish and even wicked, in their desire for worldly power and glory, and their works and followers quickly dissipated and disappeared after their failure. Hence, Gamaliel stated that if the Lord Jesus was truly genuine and His works true, and His truth and teachings authentic, then the Sanhedrin would soon find themselves going against God Himself.

With this, the Sanhedrin as represented by Gamaliel himself acknowledged that the truth came from God alone, and indeed, as history had proven that until this very day, this very moment now we are breathing and living in, the Church is still very much alive and vibrant, and even flourished beyond what the Apostles might have been able to imagine, and therefore, is the proof that our Christian faith, the Church and the truth, and everything that the Lord had done, is the truth and the one and only truth of God. And it is this faith that each and every one of us ought to hold very closely onto, as we live our lives in this world today.

We must also remember that we are given the task and mission to spread the truth of God, His Good News and the words of His love and salvation to all the peoples, and we should do our best in life, and become great inspiration for many others to follow, that our way of life may inspire them to come to believe in God as well. Today we can find inspiration from one of our holy predecessors, namely that of St. Catherine of Siena, the well-known saint and patron of Italy and one of the Church’s great Doctors of the Church. St. Catherine of Siena was truly a dedicated servant of God, whose commitment to God and her holiness in life should be source of inspiration for each one of us as Christians in how we should lead our own lives with faith.

St. Catherine of Siena was a very devout woman who dedicated much of her life for the betterment of the Church and Christian communities of her time. She spent a lot of time and effort in restoring purity and holiness, sanctity to the Church, its various organisations and the religious orders and groups, especially against the creeping corruptions caused by the influences of worldly temptations and vices which caused scandal and disturbances within the Church and the various Christian communities. She was also credited with her effort in helping to broker peace among the various conflicting parties and in the ending of the schisms within the Church. Her great dedication and piety inspired many to follow in her examples.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, inspired by the great examples set by St. Catherine of Siena and many other holy men and women of God, let us all dedicate ourselves anew to God, striving to do our best to glorify Him by our lives. Let us put our faith in Him and do whatever we can to serve the Lord ever more faithfully from now on. May all of us be faithful witnesses of Our Lord’s truth and Resurrection, and bear the Good News of His love, that more and more may come to entrust themselves to the Lord, the Bread of Life, our Hope and Saviour, through us. May God bless us all in our every good works and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 29 April 2022 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 6 : 1-15

At that time, Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, near Tiberias, and large crowds followed Him, because of the miraculous signs they saw, when He healed the sick. So He went up into the hills and sat down there with His disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand.

Then lifting up His eyes, Jesus saw the crowds that were coming to Him, and said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread so that these people may eat?” He said this to test Philip, for He Himself knew what He was going to do. Philip answered Him, “Two hundred silver coins would not buy enough bread for each of them to have a piece.”

Then one of Jesus’ disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass there, so the people, about five thousand men, sat down. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were seated. He did the same with the fish, and gave them as much as they wanted.

And when they had eaten enough, He told His disciples, “Gather up the pieces left over, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with bread, that is, with pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

When the people saw the miracle which Jesus had performed, they said, “This is really the Prophet, the One Who is to come into the world.” Jesus realised that they would come and take Him by force to make Him King; so He fled to the hills by Himself.

Friday, 29 April 2022 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 26 : 1, 4, 13-14

The Lord is my Light and my Salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the Rampart of my life; I will not be afraid.

One thing I ask of the Lord, one thing I seek – that I may dwell in His house all the days of my life, to gaze at His jewel and to visit His sanctuary.

I hope, I am sure, that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Trust in the Lord, be strong and courageous. Yes, put your hope in the Lord!

Friday, 29 April 2022 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 5 : 34-42

But one of the members of the Council, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law highly respected by the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin. He ordered the men to be taken outside for a few minutes and then he spoke to the assembly.

“Fellow Israelites, consider well what you intend to do to these men. For some time ago Theudas came forward, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men joined him. But he was killed and all his followers were dispersed or disappeared.”

“After him, Judas the Galilean appeared at the time of the census and persuaded many people to follow him. But he too perished and his whole following was scattered. So, in this present case, I advise you to have nothing to do with these men. Leave them alone. If their project or activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. If, on the other hand, it is from God, you will not be able to destroy it and you may indeed find yourselves fighting against God.”

The Council let themselves be persuaded. They called in the Apostles and had them whipped, and ordered them not to speak again of Jesus Saviour. Then they set them free. The Apostles went out from the Council rejoicing that they were considered worthy to suffer disgrace for the sake of the Name. Day after day, both in the Temple and in people’s homes, they continued to teach and to proclaim that Jesus was the Messiah.

Thursday, 28 April 2022 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr, and St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, Priest (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 telling us about the importance for us to remain steady in our faith in God, and not to give in to the various temptations, pressures, coercions, or any other attempts to lure us away from the path that God has shown us. As His disciples and followers, as Christians, that is those who have been called and chosen by God, and we who have answered His call, we are all entrusted with the important mission and commandment, to be the bearers of God’s truth and love which He has revealed to us in Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

In our first reading today, we heard of the confrontation between the Lord’s Apostles and the High Priest, the members of the Sanhedrin or the Jewish High Council. The Sanhedrin led by the High Priest had arrested and gathered the Apostles, who had earlier on been arrested for preaching about the Lord Jesus among the people of Jerusalem, and when they miraculously escaped the prison and were once again proclaiming God’s truth and resurrection, the Sanhedrin arrested them again and tried to pressure and coerce them not to preach anymore in the Name of the Lord under strong words and threat of persecution. Yet, none of those could persuade the Apostles to do otherwise, as they trusted in the Lord and His providence.

They refused to obey the commands of the High Priest and the Sanhedrin, and also refused to be coerced or pressured by their threats, as they were the servants of God and were tasked by the Lord with the evangelisation of the whole world. They were sent by the Lord and had been strengthened by the Holy Spirit to be His witnesses among the nations, and they would not back down or be silenced by the threats of the authorities or anyone else who were opposed to the Lord and His works among the people of God. They obeyed the Lord instead of the orders of men, and they suffered happily for His sake, for through them many would be saved.

In our Gospel passage today, we listened to the words of the Lord Jesus in His conversation with Nicodemus, one of the member of the Sanhedrin who was sympathetic to Him and His teachings, and who became one of His secret disciples. The Lord revealed to Nicodemus in their night time encounter that God has loved the world so much that He gave them all His most beloved Son, Himself Who was there and then speaking about the new and eternal life that He has brought and promised to all of us, such that everyone who believe in Him will not perish but will exist with true joy with God in an everlasting and true happiness.

The Apostles had received the same assurance, promise and revelation that the Lord had given to Nicodemus, and He had shared with them the mission that He entrusted to them in bringing this truth and the same knowledge, as well as thand also the desire for this truth to be delivered to more and more people, as many people had not yet known about Him, His path and ways, and they were still living in the darkness and in the state of sin, and unless they repent and change their ways, and come to know of the Lord and His salvation, many of them may end up in eternal damnation and hell.

That is why they resist, refusing to give up their ministry and work, their struggles and all the things that they had done to accomplish the Lord’s works among His people. There were many more people who need to know about the Lord and His saving grace, and they were waiting for those who would bear this light of truth and redemption to them, as many among them did not yet have the opportunity to know Christ, and yet there were also many others who had known the Lord but still resisted Him and refused to follow Him. It was by the tireless efforts and works of the Apostles, the saints, the martyrs, and many other holy men and women of God that God’s truth and salvation were revealed to the people.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, each and every one of us as Christians have been entrusted with the same mission, which we have inherited through the Church, to be the ones to bring forth the Good News of God’s salvation, His light, truth and love to all the people, to all mankind, our fellow brothers and sisters throughout the whole world. We are given this task to fulfil the will of God, and to help countless brothers and sisters of ours, all our fellow men who are still wandering off in the darkness of this world. If we do not avail ourselves to reach out and help them, then who will do so? And if they fall into damnation when we could have done more to help them, then the blame and consequence for that will fall squarely on us.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, through what we have heard in our Scripture readings today and reflecting on the examples of the Apostles of the Lord, we are all reminded to fulfil our Christian calling, to be faithful missionaries and witnesses of Our Lord’s truth and resurrection. What are we going to do from now on, brothers and sisters? Are we still going to continue to ignore our calling in life, to be true and faithful disciples of our Lord, in doing whatever we can to proclaim the Lord in our communities? Or are we going to embrace that calling wholeheartedly and follow the Lord wherever and whenever He calls us?

Today, we celebrate the feast of both St. Peter Chanel and St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, two great saints whose lives should be inspiration for us in living our lives with faith. St. Peter Chanel was a great missionary who went to proclaim the Lord and His truth to the furthest ends of the world, travelling to the island of Futuna in the southern Pacific far away from his homeland in France as a missionary priest, converting many among the natives and earning both the respect and opposition by the local nobles and powerful men, which eventually led to his martyrdom by the local king who was angered by the conversion of his own son due to the works of St. Peter Chanel.

Meanwhile, St. Louis Marie de Monfort, also known well as the founder of the Montfortians was a renowned missionary priest, who ministered to the people in France, which at that time required a lot of guidance and help amidst the rise of numerous false teachings and heresies that could threaten to mislead many down the path of error and rebellion against God. St. Louis Marie de Montfort was known for his dedication in proclaiming the truth of God to His people, resulting in many people discovering the truth about Him and emerging out of the darkness of their erroneous ways, and be reconciled with God and His Church.

Let us all do our best, in whatever we can do, in even the smallest things we can contribute, following in the examples set by these holy people, as we must not forget than even in the smallest things we do, for the sake of the Lord, and for the last, the lost and the least amongst us, we glorify God by our works, and we shall surely be blessed and filled with His blessings. May God be with us always, and may He strengthen us all that we may always ever live worthily of His Presence, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 28 April 2022 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr, and St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

John 3 : 31-36

At that time, John the Baptist said, “He Who comes from above is above all; he who comes from the earth belongs to the earth, and his words belong to the earth. He Who comes from heaven speaks of the things He has seen and heard; He bears witness to these things, but no one accepts His testimony. Whoever does receive His testimony acknowledges the truthfulness of God.”

“The One sent by God speaks God’s words, and gives the Spirit unstintingly. The Father loves the Son and has entrusted everything into His hands. Whoever believes in the Son lives with eternal life; but he who will not believe in the Son will never know life, and always faces the justice of God.”