Saturday, 15 October 2022 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus, 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 Sacred Scriptures, all of us are reminded that as Christians, we have all believed in the Lord Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour. Each one of us have been called to embrace the Lord wholeheartedly and we have been called to follow His path and entrust ourselves to His Wisdom and truth. Otherwise how can we call ourselves as genuine Christians, as those whom the Lord had called and chosen to be His own beloved people, to be His beloved children? All of us may have to stand up and defend our faith even in the face of persecution, and are we ready for that?

In our first reading today, we heard of the reading from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Ephesus. In that passage, we heard of the Apostle speaking to the faithful there of the faith that each and every one of them shared as members of the same Church of Christ, the Body of Christ, the union of all the faithful people of God. And St. Paul reminded all of them what it truly meant to be Christians, to be good and true disciples and followers of the Lord. St. Paul encouraged them and strengthened them, reminding them that all of them were not alone in their struggle and journey of faith.

Back then, the Church everywhere including in Ephesus were struggling with challenges and difficulties, with divisions from within and challenges from external sources such as persecutions from both the Jewish authorities and the Roman state. There were many of the faithful who probably were facing hardships and persecutions, arrested and tortured, and even martyred for their faith. It was a truly difficult time to be Christians, and yet, many of the faithful remained firm in their faith and obedience to God, and they did not allow fear or uncertainty from persuading them to abandon their faith.

That was why St. Paul encouraged and affirmed the faithful in Ephesus for their faith in the Lord, for all that they had done, in sacrificing their time, effort and even well-being to remain faithful and true to God. He told then to trust in the Lord and how everything will be subjected to the dominion and power of the triumphant Christ. No matter how they might be rejected and condemned by the world, the Lord will always win in the end, and all those who remain firm in their faith will be saved in the end, and will receive the fullness of God’s promises of love and grace. None of those who have entrusted themselves to God will be lost from Him.

Then, in our Gospel passage today we heard of the words of the Lord highlighting to the people and to His disciples how that there would be persecution and hardships that they all would have to face, just as He Himself, the Son of Man, would have to suffer most grievously for the sake of all mankind. The Lord Himself took up the massive and most certainly unimaginable burden of the Cross so that by such an action of pure and most selfless love for us, He might offer on all of our behalf, the worthy offering for the atonement and forgiveness of all the multitudes of our sins.

And the Lord highlighted the fact that just as the world itself had persecuted Him, therefore the disciples and followers of the Lord might have to suffer as well. The long history of the Church itself showed us just how many and even innumerable, the saints and martyrs who had suffered and died before us. And all of that serve as a reminder to us all that we should not and cannot afford to be complacent or idle in living our faith, as there will likely be a lot of temptation, pressure, and even coercions and forces trying to lead us down the wrong path, all around us. If we are not vigilant and careful, we may likely end up in the wrong path. That is why we should be inspired by the lives and examples of all the saints.

Today, the Church celebrates the feast of one of the great saints and Doctors of the Church, namely St. Teresa of Jesus, also known as St. Teresa of Avila, whose life may indeed be good source of inspirations and hope, strength and encouragement for all of us in how each and every one of us ought to be living up our lives. All of us are reminded that we are all called to follow the good examples of the saints, like that of St. Teresa of Jesus, who was the founder of the Order of the Discalced Carmelites. Together with St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Jesus was credited with the very important reform within the Carmelite Order, seeking to lead a more committed and virtuous religious life and observance, as compared to the then increasingly lax standards of the Carmelites.

St. Teresa of Jesus sought to reform the Carmelite order, and was also involved in the arbitration of certain other issues facing both her order and the wider Christian communities around her convent. St. Teresa of Jesus together with her companion, St. John of the Cross, continued to labour hard and well for the sake of the glory of God and the salvation and well-being of God’s people. They faced a lot of opposition from both within the Carmelite Order itself and from the community, but they pressed on with the reforms, and their hard works and efforts eventually bore fruit, for the benefit of both the religious order and the general Christian community.

St. Teresa also wrote very extensively on many articles on the faith, and all those writings and publications, books and works were what eventually led to her canonisation, and also the declaration that she was to be made one of the Doctors of the Church. Her many contributions and good works should serve as source of inspiration for all of us, in how each and every one of us should behave in our lives, and in what we should do as Christians, in doing the will of God and in putting our efforts in every moments of our lives to glorify God by our actions, words and deeds. This is what we have been called to do, brothers and sisters in Christ.

Let us all therefore remain committed to the Lord and renew our faith in Him, not being shaken or worried, or tempted or coerced by whatever persecutions, hardships, difficulties or temptations that may surround any one of us. Let us all seek to serve the Lord with renewed zeal and fervour, and dedicate ourselves to the path that God has shown us and led us into, now and always. Amen.

Saturday, 15 October 2022 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 12 : 8-12

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “I tell you, whoever acknowledges Me before people, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the Angels of God. But the one who denies Me before others will be denied before the Angels of God. There will be pardon for the one who criticises the Son of Man, but there will be no pardon for the one who slanders the Holy Spirit.”

“When you are brought before the synagogues, and before governors and rulers, do not worry about how you will defend yourself, or what to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you have to say.”

Saturday, 15 October 2022 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 8 : 2-3a, 4-5, 6-7

O YHVH, our YHVH, how great is Your Name throughout the earth! And Your glory in the heavens above. Even the mouths of children and infants exalt Your glory in front of Your foes.

When I observe the heavens, the work of Your hands, the moon, and the stars You set in their place – what is man, that You be mindful of him; the Son of Man, that You should care for Him?

Yet You made Him a little less than a god; You crowned Him with glory and honour, and gave Him the works of Your hands; You have put all things under His feet.

Saturday, 15 October 2022 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ephesians 1 : 15-23

I have been told of your faith and your affection toward all the believers, so I always give thanks to God, remembering you in my prayers. May the God of Christ Jesus our Lord, the Father of glory, reveal Himself to you, and give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation, that you may know Him.

May He enlighten your inner vision, that you may appreciate the things we hope for, since we were called by God. May you know how great is the inheritance, the glory, God sets apart for His saints; may you understand, with what extraordinary power, He acts in favour of us who believe.

He revealed His Almighty power in Christ when He raised Him from the dead, and had Him sit at His right hand in heaven, far above all rule, power, authority, dominion, or any other supernatural force that could be named, not only in this world, but in the world to come as well. Thus has God put all things under the feet of Christ and set Him above all things, as Head of the Church, which is His Body, the fullness of Him, Who fills all in all.

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.