Monday, 10 May 2021 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. John of Avila, Priest 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 Scripture, we are called to be evangelising disciples and missionaries of the faith to more and more people, to reach out to others around us who have not yet known the Lord or have lapsed from the faith that through us we may bear forth God’s truth and love and touch the lives of many people, and lead ever more souls to the salvation in God. This is our calling as Christians, and which we all need to embrace and which we need to respond to in our lives.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord Jesus speaking to His disciples reassuring them and promising to them that He would send them the great Helper, the Advocate, namely the Holy Spirit. This promise would later on then be fulfilled on the day of the Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came down on the Apostles and the other disciples assembled in Jerusalem after the Lord ascended into Heaven. The Holy Spirit strengthened the Apostles and the other disciples, giving them all the courage and the wisdom to reach out to all the peoples to whom the Lord was sending them to, in preaching the truth of the Good News of the Gospels.

The Lord then also be told His disciples fo be fruitful and productive in how we live our lives and faith. He called on all of them to be genuine in the way we carry out ourselves so that we may inspire one another to be willing to take action to spread the Good News of God, His truth and love in our respective communities, within our own families, circle of friends and acquaintances, among others whom we encounter in life. He sent them out to bear witness to this truth and call on more and more people to come to the salvation through Him.

This is what we then heard in our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, telling us about what St. Paul and the other disciples had been doing, in their missionary work and outreach, as St. Paul visited the communities of the faithful all throughout the Mediterranean region. He went from place to place, preaching the Good News and strengthening the faith among the people who were in those places, and many were converted because they believed in St. Paul and in all that he has spoken about.

These are the efforts of those who have witnessed and seen the truth of God, and having received the truth, they passed it on from one to another, that more and more people might come to know about the truth, and find out about the salvation in God. Through the Holy Spirit, they had been encouraged and strengthened, that despite the challenges and trials, the difficulties and obstacles they encountered, all these never prevented them from remaining firmly committed to the same mission that God has entrusted to them.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us have also been called to live our lives with faith, loving the Lord wholeheartedly and to commit ourselves to the Lord and His cause, with the same mission as that which had been entrusted to the Apostles and their successors. In our present day today, the works of the Church are still far from done, and there are still many areas where there are still many opportunities for us to take part in the works of evangelisation and outreach, in order to reach out more and more people.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. John of Avila, a great saint whose life may become a source of inspiration in how we ought to live our lives in obedience to God and His will. He was a Spanish priest and missionary, who was always aspiring in his early years and priesthood to go forth as a missionary in distant lands. However, the great piety of St. John of Avila was noted by another local priest who then recommended him to the Archbishop of Seville, who then encouraged him to stay on in Spain and minister to the people there.

St. John of Avila since then ministered to the faithful in the region of Andalusia in southern Spain, ministering to the needs of the faithful and to many diverse groups of people, calling for the faithful to turn away from their sins and to renounce their sinful ways. He established various faith communities and inspired many to follow in his examples and to continue the works that he had started. Through his writings and many works, St. John of Avila inspired many people throughout many regions, and not few were converted to the true faith.

St. John of Avila showed great piety and devotion to God in all of his actions, and he served the Lord unconditionally, with total devotion and this inspired so many others to follow the Lord and to change their ways of life for the better as well as in the reforming of the Church, and therefore countless souls have been saved, as those whom St. John of Avila had influenced and touched, they themselves would reach out and inspire many more people to return to the Lord and embrace their faith.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all follow in the footsteps of St. John of Avila, that all of us may be inspired to be good role models and inspirations in faith for one another, and through our lives, through our commitment and love for God, we may inspire others to follow in our footsteps, and enter into the kingdom of God and be saved as well. Let us all be inspired as Christians, to live our lives most virtuously and in accordance to the way that the Lord has shown us.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He guide us through His Holy Spirit, that we can be exemplary in life, and be missionary in spirit, that we may glorify His Name through our every actions in life. May God bless us all and our every good efforts and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Monday, 10 May 2021 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. John of Avila, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 15 : 26 – John 16 : 4a

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “From now on the Helper, the Holy Spirit Whom the Father will send in My Name, will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I have told you.”

“Peace be with you! I give you My peace; not as the world gives peace do I give it to you. Do not be troubled; do not be afraid. You heard Me say, ‘I am going away, but I am coming to you.’ If you loved Me, you would be glad that I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”

“I have told you this now before it takes place, so that when it does happen you may believe. It is very little what I may still tell you, for the prince of this world is at hand, although there is nothing in Me that he can claim. But see, the world must know that I love the Father, and that I do what the Father has taught Me to do. Come now, let us go.”

“I am the True Vine and My Father is the Vinegrower. If any of My branches does not bear fruit, He breaks it off; and He prunes every branch that does bear fruit, that it may bear even more fruit. You are already made clean by the word I have spoken to you. Live in Me as I live in you.”

Monday, 10 May 2021 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. John of Avila, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 149 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6a and 9b

Alleluia! Sing to the Lord a new song, sing His praise in the assembly of His saints! Let Israel rejoice in his Maker, let the people of Zion glory in their King!

Let them dance to praise of His Name and make music for Him with harp and timbrel. For the Lord delights in His people; He crowns the lowly with victory.

The saints will exult in triumph; even at night on their couches. Let the praise of God be on their lips; this is the glory of all His saints. Alleluia!

Monday, 10 May 2021 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. John of Avila, Priest and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 16 : 11-15

So we put out to sea from Troas and sailed straight across to Samothrace Island, and the next day to Neapolis. From there we went inland to Philippi, the leading city of the district of Macedonia, and a Roman colony. We spent some days in that city.

On the sabbath we went outside the city gate to the bank of the river where we thought the Jews would gather to pray. We sat down and began speaking to the women who were gathering there. One of them was a God-fearing woman named Lydia from Thyatira City, a dealer in purple cloth.

As she listened, the Lord opened her heart to respond to what Paul was saying. After she had been baptised together with her household, she invited us to her house, “If you think I am faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us to accept her invitation.

Tuesday, 23 March 2021 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture, hearing how the people of Israel rebelled against God and disobeyed Him when they grumbled and complained against Him as they journeyed through the desert from Egypt. They complained that they had a better life in Egypt even though over there they were slaves and were treated badly.

They did all these even though the Lord had in fact treated them very kindly, patiently answering their pleas and requests, giving them daily the bread from heaven itself, and also other food and plenty of water to drink in their journey through the desert. The Lord took good care of His people and patiently cared for them only to gain contempt, betrayal and disobedience, rebellion and wickedness in return.

The Lord then sent fiery serpents that were disastrous in their effects on the people, as many were bitten by those serpents and died. Those serpents killed many and the people begged the Lord for mercy, asking Moses to intercede for their sake. The Lord had pity on His people and showed them His clemency through instructing Moses to build a great bronze serpent standard, and lifting it up before the whole people that all those who had been bitten and saw the bronze serpent would be saved.

This is related to our Gospel passage today in which we heard of the Lord Jesus speaking plainly to the people and all gathered about what would happen to Him. Those Jews were the ones living in Judea and many of them supported the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law in opposition against Jesus. They doubted Him and refused to believe in Him, demanding to see miracles and signs from Him even when He had done all those wonders before them all.

And the Lord then revealed to all of them how He would be lifted up high above the Earth, a prelude to what He would endure during His Passion namely when He would be scourged, stripped and nailed to the Cross, and lifted up on the hill of Calvary, for all the same people to whom the Lord had spoken, to see the ultimate and greatest of all the signs of God’s wonders and love.

What is the significance of this, brothers and sisters? It is just like the lifting of the bronze serpent of Moses in the past through which the people were saved from the deadly sting of the serpents, thus, the Lord also had Himself lifted up so that all those who see Him, believe in Him and have faith in Him will be saved from certain death and destruction from the sting of sin.

This is therefore an important reminder for each and every one of us that we are all called to shun the temptations to sin, the allure and pull of its corruption, and all the things that have led us to our downfall, and the downfall of so many who came and went before us. As we approach the beginning of the Holy Week in less than a week’s time, we are all called to reflect deeply of the Lord’s Passion, all that He had done, out of His great love for us.

It is thanks to Him, His enduring love and great patience that each and every one of us still have hope, the hope of entering into a new and blessed existence free from sin, and one that is no longer corrupted by those wicked and evil taints of the world. The Lord has willingly taken up His Cross, bearing our many sins and their consequences and punishments, all because of His love for us. If not for Him, we should have been lost to despair and the darkness.

That is why we should appreciate the love of God and everything that He had done for us, and we must not take the opportunities that He has given us for granted, or else, we may find it that we are too late to realise how fortunate we are to have been beloved by God and to have received so many good opportunities from Him. We need turn towards the Lord, look at Him crucified and remember the love by which He selflessly took up that sacrifice in order to save all of us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we can also be inspired by the good examples set by St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, one of our holy predecessors. St. Turibius de Mogrovejo was a great and renowned Archbishop, who was once also the confessor and trusted advisor of the King of Spain. He was credited with the conversion of numerous people, many of whom he personally preached to and worked with. He dedicated himself wholeheartedly to the improvement of the life of his flock, and committed himself to care for them.

St. Turibius de Mogrovejo travelled extensively throughout his diocese and beyond, often on foot and baptising many, taking care of the spiritual needs of those whom he had encountered throughout his ministry. He established many chapels, convents, hospitals and schools for the benefit of many people, and many indeed were helped and touched by the actions of this saintly bishop that they became converts and believers.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all turn towards the Lord with a new heart and desire to follow Him, inspired by the good examples of the saints, particularly that of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo. May the Lord be our guide that we may journey successfully through life with faith, and focusing our attention from now on, to the Lord and His saving grace. Let us always remember all the sufferings and humiliations that Our Lord had to face in order to save us all, out of His enduring and ever-present love for us. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 23 March 2021 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 8 : 21-30

At that time, Jesus said to the Jews, “I am going away, and though you look for Me, you will die in your sin. Where I am going you cannot come.” The Jews wondered, “Why does He say that we cannot come where He is going? Will He kill Himself?”

But Jesus said, “You are from below and I am from above; you are of this world and I am not of this world. That is why I told you that you will die in your sins. And you shall die in your sins, unless you believe that I am He.” They asked Him, “Who are You?”; and Jesus said, “Just what I have told you from the beginning. I have much to say about you and much to condemn; but the One Who sent Me is truthful and everything I learnt from Him; I proclaim to the world.”

They did not understand that Jesus was speaking to them about the Father. So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He and that I do nothing of Myself, but I say just what the Father taught Me. He Who sent Me is with Me and has not left Me alone; because I always do what pleases Him.”

As Jesus spoke like this, many believed in Him.

Tuesday, 23 March 2021 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 101 : 2-3, 16-18, 19-21

O Lord, hear my prayer; let my cry for help come to You. Do not hide Your face from me when I am in trouble. Turn Your ear to me; make haste to answer me when I call.

O Lord, the nations will revere Your Name, and the kings of the earth Your glory, when the Lord will rebuild Zion and appear in all His splendour. For He will answer the prayer of the needy and will not despise their plea.

Let this be written for future ages, “The Lord will be praised by a people He will form.” From His holy height in heaven, the Lord has looked on the earth to hear the groaning of the prisoners, and free those condemned to death.

Tuesday, 23 March 2021 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, Bishop (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Numbers 21 : 4-9

From Mount Hor they set out by the Red Sea road to go around the land of Edom. The people were discouraged by the journey and began to complain against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is neither bread nor water here and we are disgusted with this tasteless manna.”

YHVH then sent fiery serpents against them. They bit the people and many of the Israelites died. Then the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, speaking against YHVH and against you. Plead with YHVH to take the serpents away.”

Moses pleaded for the people and YHVH said to him, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a standard; whoever has been bitten and then looks at it shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a standard. Whenever a man was bitten, he looked towards the bronze serpent and he lived.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture, which in essence is calling us to be sincere and true in our faith, that is not by putting a farce or falsehood in our devotion to God in our life. It is telling us that unless we are sincere in our devotion, by genuine actions that came from the heart, we cannot call ourselves as true Christians.

In the Gospel today, Jesus told the people to do their good deeds for the right intentions, that is to really serve the people of God, our fellow brethren, and therefore to glorify God and serve Him, and not our own personal desires and interests. He used the examples of prayers and fasting, which the Jewish people according to the laws of Moses were obliged to do, especially during certain times and periods in the year.

However, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who strictly enforced the application of the rules on prayers and fasting, they themselves did so not because they truly do them for the sake of God, but instead, it was to fulfil their own vanity, their own desire to be praised and adored for their piety and commitment to the laws of Moses. They showed their prayers and fasting in order to be looked favourably upon by other men and women.

That was why Jesus rebuked them and were angry at these people, who made their faith as if they were showpieces for their own personal benefits. He was angry because the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were not doing what they preached, and yet, they burdened the people to obey the same rules to the suffering of the people. They misled the people by their actions, and were not showing true discipleship as those whom the Lord had entrusted with the leadership and guidance over His people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, the same response of the Lord will be ours if we ourselves do not love Him, serve Him and be faithful to Him in a way that is much more than the way the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had done. That is, if we live our lives in this world, but we do not do what we believe, we do not act in the manner that we have preached and claimed to have faith in.

What are some of the examples, brethren? First of all, many of us Christians go to the Mass in the Church, not because we want to really be with the Lord and spend our time with Him. Rather, some of us wanted to outdo each other in piety, and showing our fellow friends or relatives just how devout we are, by our prayers and devotions. We turn our focus inwards upon ourselves, upon our ego and desires instead of what we need to focus on, that is our love and devotion for the Lord our God.

And then, we grumble and we put up grumpy faces when we fast, because we do not truly understand what it is that we fast for, or that as the Pharisees had done, we wanted to be praised for our piety. This is not what the Lord wants from us, brothers and sisters in Christ. What He wants from us is our sincere and genuine love, devotion and commitment, through our prayers and fasting, as well as through many other ways of how we can love Him, but which must be done with true desire from our hearts.

Let us all look at the examples of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, the holy saint whose feast we are commemorating today. St. Aloysius Gonzaga was born into a noble, rich and powerful family of the Gonzagas in the late Renaissance era Italy, a few hundred years ago. He was born as the firstborn of the noble family, a position of extreme honour, as the rule was that he was to inherit all the titles, prestige, wealth and properties that his father as an influential nobleman had possessed.

But as he grew up, even though he received numerous education and preparation of a typical nobleman of his era, St. Aloysius Gonzaga slowly grew to seek and long for the Lord, by all the experiences and the readings he had done, especially on the missionary activities of the Jesuits in the faraway lands. As his desire to serve the Lord grew, eventually, things came to the point when he openly declared his intention to become a Jesuit and thus, had to renounce all that he stood to inherit.

He encountered stiff opposition from his family, particularly from his father, who tried all he could to dissuade him and stop him from joining the religious order. Nevertheless, St. Aloysius Gonzaga remained firm in his commitment and was adamant in his desire to serve the Lord through what He had called him to be. In the end, he prevailed and he became a Jesuit.

He lived his life with devotion and commitment, serving the people of God through words and action, caring for the poor, the sick and the dying, even in the midst of a deadly plague which eventually took his life. St. Aloysius Gonzaga, his strong devotion and desire to love the Lord and to serve Him by serving His people, as well as his ability to resist the temptation of human glory, desire and all the other obstacles should be our inspiration in how we ourselves ought to live our lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all now therefore renew our commitment to live our lives full of faith, genuine faith to the Lord, just in the same manner as St. Aloysius Gonzaga and the many other holy saints and martyrs of God had done. May the Lord help us in our journey, so that we will be able to give our all to serve Him with all of our lives, with all of our might and all of our commitment. May the Lord bless us all. Amen.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Matthew 6 : 1-6, 16-18

At that time, “Be careful not to make a show of your good deeds before people. If you do so, you do not gain anything from your Father in heaven. When you give something to the poor, do not have it trumpeted before you, as do those who want to be noticed in the synagogues and in the streets, in order to be praised by people. I assure you, they have their reward.”

“If you give something to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your gift remains really secret. Your Father, Who sees what is kept secret, will reward you. When you pray, do not be like those who want to be noticed. They love to stand and pray in the synagogues or on street corners, in order to be seen by everyone. I assure you, they have their reward.”

“When you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father Who is with you in secret; and your Father Who sees what is kept secret will reward you. When you fast, do not put on a miserable face, as do the hypocrites. They put on a gloomy face, so that people can see they are fasting. I tell you this : they have been paid in full already.”

“When you fast, wash your face and make yourself look cheerful, because you are not fasting for appearances or for people, but for your Father, Who sees beyond appearances. And your Father, Who sees what is kept secret, will reward you.”