Monday, 15 November 2021 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Albert the Great, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord, we are all presented with the accounts of the persecution of the faithful Jews, the descendant of the Israelites at the time of the Greek Seleucid rule in Judea which caused the spark of the Maccabean Revolt, and then in the Gospel passage we heard of the moment when the Lord Jesus healed a blind man whose sight He restored, showing the blind man mercy and compassion, the love of God.

In our first reading today from the first Book of the Maccabees, we heard of the moment when the new King of the Seleucid Empire, one of the several successor kingdoms of Alexander the Great’s Empire, rose to power as Antiochus IV Epiphanes and wanting to impose the Greek customs and ways, traditions and practices on the Jewish people living in Judea, Galilee and in the other parts of his Empire. This is the main cause of the great Maccabean Revolt detailed in the Book of the Maccabees.

Historically, the Jews, who are the descendants of the Israelites living in Judah and others, had been left to practice their faith and traditions without hindrance by the Persians, who emancipated them from the exile in Babylon, and allowed them to return to their homeland to live in accordance with their laws and customs as long as they recognised the Persian King as their Sovereign. Such practice was continued mostly unchanged by Alexander the Great, the King of Macedon when he conquered the Persian Empire.

While the Hellenic influence gradually established itself among many of the Jews, the kings who succeeded Alexander’s divided kingdoms usually left the locals, including the Jews alone. However, King Antiochus IV Epiphanes, known to history for his pride, arrogance and megalomania, was determined to change his whole Empire to suit his own purpose and desires. He forced his subjects to adopt the Greek way of life, religious beliefs, practices and traditions, forcing them to abandon their own distinctive ways of life.

This imposition of the pagan ways and beliefs on the Jews then resulted in the rise of the Maccabeans as the leaders of the revolt against the Greeks. They led the people in their opposition to the sufferings that the faithful people of God had suffered for remaining faithful to the Lord and to His Law. Through them, God eventually delivered His people from their sufferings, and restored their faith and practices to them as they gained independence from the Greek kings.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord healed the eyes of a blind man and made him to be able to see again. He showed His love and compassion for the suffering blind man, and answered his plea, as the blind man begged to be healed, knowing that the Lord could heal him. His example showed us all that God always cares for us and protects us whenever He can, and we must not doubt His love and kindness, which He had once shown on His people at the time of the Maccabean Revolt.

As we listened in the Gospel today, the Lord told the blind man that his faith had saved him. He believed that the Lord could heal him and thus he was healed. His faith, just as the faith of the faithful living during the time of the Maccabean Revolt should inspire us, in how they remain true and faithful to the Lord despite the challenges and trials they had to face. Are we able to have the same faith and dedication as they had shown the Lord and all of us? Are we also willing to make that commitment if we have not done so, brothers and sisters in Christ?

Today, being the feast of St. Albert the Great, we have yet another good example that we should follow in our lives in being faithful to God at all times. St. Albert the Great was a great Dominican friar and bishop who was one of the most famous and brilliant theologian of all time. He was remembered for his many marvellous books and treatises, all works on various areas of theology. St. Albert the Great dedicated his whole life to the service of God and to the advancement of theological studies and teaching.

As a member of the Dominican Order and the Bishop of Regensburg in what is today southern Germany, he also dedicated himself to his responsibilities and worked hard to glorify God and to serve those who have been entrusted to him as shepherd and as a member of his Dominican Order community. In this case, we can see from the holiness and faith that this great saint had, how each and every one of us can also contribute our time and effort, in believing God and in loving Him, just as St. Albert the Great and our predecessors had done.

Let us all discern these and see in what way we can dedicate ourselves to the Lord better, to be better Christians from now on. Let us also not be discouraged by persecution, oppression, trials and challenges we may face in life in being faithful to God, but remain firm in our adherence to our faith in Him, always. May God be with us all and may He bless us all in our every efforts and good works for His greater glory. Amen.

Monday, 15 November 2021 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Albert the Great, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Luke 18 : 35-43

At that time, when Jesus drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the road, begging. As he heard the crowd passing by, he inquired what was happening, and they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was going by. Then he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

The people in front of him scolded him, “Be quiet!” they said, but he cried out all the more, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped, and ordered the blind man to be brought to Him; and when he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And the man said, “Lord, that I may see!”

Jesus said, “Receive your sight, your faith has saved you.” At once the blind man was able to see, and he followed Jesus, giving praise to God. And all the people who were there also praised God.

Monday, 15 November 2021 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Albert the Great, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Psalm 118 : 53, 61, 134, 150, 155, 158

I feel indignant at the wicked who have forsaken Your law.

The wicked have me trapped in their snares, but I have not forgotten Your laws.

Rescue me from human oppression, and help me keep Your precepts.

My persecutors close in with evil intent; they are far from Your law.

Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek Your statutes.

I look upon the faithless with loathing, because they do not obey Your ruling.

Monday, 15 November 2021 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Albert the Great, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

1 Maccabees 1 : 10-15, 41-43, 54-57, 62-64

From their descendants there came a godless offshoot, Antiochus Epiphanes, son of king Antiochus, who had been held as hostage in Rome. He became king in the one hundred and thirty-seventh year of the Greek era, in the year 175 B.C..

It was then that some rebels emerged from Israel, who succeeded in winning over many people. They said, “Let us renew contact with the people around us for we had endured many misfortunes since we separated from them.”

This proposal was well-received and some eagerly went to the king. The king authorised them to adopt the customs of the pagan nations. With his permission, they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem in the pagan style. And as they wanted to be like the pagans in everything, they made artificial foreskins for themselves and abandoned the Holy Covenant, sinning as they pleased.

Antiochus issued a decree to his whole kingdom. All the people of his empire had to renounce their particular customs and become one people. All the pagan nations obeyed and respected the king’s decree, and, even in Israel, many accepted the imposed cult. They offered sacrifices to idols and no longer respected the Sabbath.

On the fifteenth day of the month of Chislev, in the year one hundred and forty-five, in the year 167 B.C., Antiochus erected the “abominable idol of the invaders” on the altar of the Temple. Pagan altars were built throughout the whole land of Judea; incense was offered at the doors of their houses and in the squares.

There wicked men tore up the books of the Law they found and burnt them. They killed anyone they caught in possession of the book of the Covenant and who fulfilled the precepts of the Law, as the royal decree had ordered. But in spite of all this, many Israelites still remained firm and determined not to eat unclean food. They preferred to die rather than to make themselves unclean with those foods prohibited by the Law that violated the Holy Covenant. And Israel suffered a very great trial.

Friday, 15 November 2019 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Albert the Great, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of God contained in the day’s Scripture passages, again we are further reminded of the future that is to come as the Lord reminded His people, of the day of reckoning and judgment of all creation. He was reminding them all that when the time comes, some will be deemed as righteous while others will be sent to their fated damnation, and while some enter into the glory of God in heaven, others will go to the eternal suffering in hell.

This is a reality for all of us to ponder upon, and it should be a means of check of our own path in life. Have we lived our lives thus far in ways that will see us ending up by the side of God? Or have we instead walked down the path towards darkness and annihilation? The Lord made it clear that by the time of the coming of the judgment, it will be too late for some of us to regret that we have not done better to allow us to enter the glorious kingdom of God.

But unfortunately many of us fall into the temptations of worldly things, of worldly glory and of the false idols of money, possessions, of fame and glory, of renown and affluence, of pleasures of the body and the mind among many others. As a result, we became attached to those that led us down the path of sin, and we become indifferent and ignorant of God’s truth and love for us. We are distracted by our sinful ways.

And we are easily tempted, brothers and sisters in Christ, as the desires, the greed and the pride within our hearts and minds are always ready to overcome us and to lead us into the path of sin. The devil knows this very well, and that is why, seeking our destruction and annihilation, he is always ever ready with all of his wicked forces to try and bring us down through this path, by tempting us with all the distractions of life.

In the Book of Wisdom all of us are reminded that all those worldly things that I have mentioned earlier are nothing more than just mere creations of God, and yet we tend to glorify them and treasure them even more and much more than how we treasure God and His love in our own lives. And these are painfully visible and real through our own daily actions and through the way we have lived our lives.

Let us ask ourselves, brothers and sisters in Christ. How many of us have spent a lot of time trying to accrue for ourselves more of the worldly goods, money, possessions of all sorts, influence and power in the community, and then because we have been so preoccupied and busy with all that, we end up forgetting about God and distancing ourselves from Him in our busy attachments to the world.

That is how we fall into the trap of the devil, and how we end up being dragged ever deeper into the darkness. Let us therefore today look up to the examples of faith set by our saint today, St. Albert the Great, a holy and devout servant of God and bishop, who was truly exemplary and whose life should be a great inspiration to each and every one of us in how we should be living our lives with faith.

St. Albert the Great was a member of the Dominican Order and was renowned for his great intellect and wisdom, and he was a renowned intellectual and teacher in the Church, throughout his many years of teaching and scholarship, research and writing about the many aspects of the faith. One among his students was none other than another great saint, St. Thomas Aquinas, both of them equally well-known for their faith and dedication to God.

Yet, for all his intellect and wonderful knowledge, St. Albert the Great used all of his strength and being to serve God with all of his heart, to minister to the people entrusted to him and leading them down the path of God’s salvation. He was also a humble person who did not seek any glory for himself, and he preferred to remain in the low rather to let himself be known or be glorified for his works and actions.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having seen the great faith and humility shown by St. Albert the Great in his life, of his allowance of God’s grace and wisdom to flow and work through him, let us all follow in his footsteps and walk on God’s path from now on. Let us all seek to trust God with ever more zeal and devotion, and let us all be ever closer to Him and love Him with ever greater faith and fidelity. Let us die to our pride and human desires, and let us grow in humility and faith. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 15 November 2019 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Albert the Great, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Luke 17 : 26-37

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be on the day the Son of Man comes. In those days people ate and drank and got married; but on the day Noah entered the Ark, the flood came and destroyed them all. So it was in the days of Lot : people ate and drank, and bought and sold, and planted and built; but on the day Lot left Sodom, God made fire and sulfur rain down from heaven, which destroyed them all. So will it be on the day the Son of Man is revealed.”

“On that day, if you are on the rooftop, do not go down into the house to get your belongings; and if you happen to be in the fields, do not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to save his life will lose it, but whoever gives his life will be born again. I tell you, though two men are sharing the same bed, it might happen that one will be taken, and the other left; though two women are grinding meal together, one might be taken and the other left.”

Then they asked Jesus, “Where will this take place, Lord?” And He answered, “Where the body is, there too will the vultures gather.”

Friday, 15 November 2019 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Albert the Great, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Psalm 18 : 2-3, 4-5

The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament proclaims the work of His hands. Day talks it over with day; night hands on the knowledge to night.

No speech, no words, no voice is heard – but the call goes on, throughout the universe, the message is felt to the ends of the earth.

Friday, 15 November 2019 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Albert the Great, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Wisdom 13 : 1-9

The natural helplessness of humans is seen in their ignorance of God. The experience of good things did not lead them to the knowledge of Him Who is. They were interested in His works, but they did not recognise the Author of them.

Fire, wind, air, the sphere of the stars, rushing water and the lights in the sky were held as the rulers of the world. If, charmed by such beauty, they took them for gods, let them know how far superior is their sovereign. And if they were impressed by their power and activity, let them understand from this how much mightier is He Who formed them. For the grandeur and beauty of creatures lead us to ponder on their Author, greater and more magnificent.

No doubt these people are not to be blamed severely, for possibly they strayed though they searched for God and desired to find Him. They pondered over the created things that surrounded them and were captivated by the sight of such beauty. Even so they are not to be excused, for if they were able to explore the world, why did they not discover first the world’s Sovereign?

Thursday, 15 November 2018 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Albert the Great, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture telling us about the love which each and every one of us as Christians ought to have for one another. This is shown in the first reading of today, taken from the Epistle written by St. Paul to Philemon. In that correspondence, St. Paul spoke of the request which he made of Philemon to take good care of Onesimus, his godson.

This happened at the time when St. Paul was already imprisoned for his activities in preaching the Gospel to the people both the Jews and Gentiles alike. He faced much opposition and endured many rejections from his enemies and from those who refused to believe in the message he preached. He was imprisoned together with Onesimus and many other fellow Christians, and it was likely that Onesimus was released earlier than St. Paul from the prison.

Therefore, what happened was that, St. Paul sent Onesimus back to the community where he met him, the community which Philemon also belonged to. He asked Philemon and the community to accept Onesimus back and to take care of him well, without prejudice and with true love, as if Onesimus was St. Paul himself. This was made likely because St. Paul knew that his time was almost up, and he wanted to make sure everything was well taken care of.

It was likely that St. Paul was about to go forth to his last journey to Rome, where he would eventually meet his martyrdom, and therefore, he sent forth Onesimus, that the community might be able to take good care of him in Christian love. And this is indeed, what the Lord had told His people, by the coming of His kingdom into this world. Not by wonderful and miraculous signs, but through concrete building of a thriving and loving community of the people of God.

In the Gospel passage today, the suffering of Christ was foretold by none other than the Lord Himself, Who told the people and His disciples of His coming passion and suffering. He mentioned how He, the Son of Man, would be rejected and cast out, and would be handed over to the Romans to be crucified for the sake of all the people. And similarly, the Lord had reminded His disciples on various occasion, how they too shall suffer as He has suffered.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, there were many of those who opposed the works and efforts of the Lord, who refused to allow the coming of the kingdom of God into our midst. Instead, they trusted more in the providence of worldly powers, goods and abilities. They hardened their hearts and minds against the Lord, and proudly sought to advance their own causes and desires, and in doing so, they failed to realise the potential of the kingdom of God in each one of us.

Today we are called to look once again upon our lives and actions. Have we been truly Christian in our attitudes and interactions with one another? Have we showed love, care and concern for our fellow brethren, especially those who are in need and those who have none to love them? These are the things that we should be doing as Christians, as those who follow the teachings and the examples of Christ, Our Lord and God.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Albert the Great, a truly devoted servant of God and bishop of the Church, who was renowned for his many contributions to the developing and growing Church and its communities in the region now known as Germany. St. Albert the Great was also a member of the Dominican religious order, and wrote very extensively on various matters of the faith. He helped to develop the theology and philosophical teachings of the Church, and his many works inspired many people through the centuries.

At the same time, besides his numerous contributions in the literary and teaching areas of the Church, St. Albert the Great was also remembered for his roles in defusing many conflicts and tensions between various factions of the Church, travelling from places to places, calling the people to righteousness and to abandon their sinful and wrong paths. He devoted himself to the good works of the Church and to the building of Christian communities to the very end.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we should emulate the examples which had been shown by St. Paul and the other disciples of the Lord, and also St. Albert the Great, and the many other holy men and women of God, who have strived to bring God’s kingdom into our midst, to exist in reality through our Church and how its members exist in love with each other and with God.

Let us all embody this faith and belief which we have in God, in our own actions and deeds throughout life. And let us all turn wholeheartedly towards the Lord from now on, being role models for one another in faith, and in how we show our love to our fellow brethren, especially those who have need of our love. May God be with us always, and may He bless us all in our good works of faith. Amen.

Thursday, 15 November 2018 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Albert the Great, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Luke 17 : 20-25

At that time, the Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God was to come. He answered, “The kingdom of God is not like something you can observe, and say of it, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘See, there it is!’ for the kingdom of God is within you.”

And Jesus said to His disciples, “The time is at hand, when you will long to see one of the glorious days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. Then people will tell you, ‘Look there! Look here!’ Do not go with them, do not follow them. As lightning flashes from one end of the sky to the other, so will it be with the Son of Man; but first He must suffer many things, and be rejected by this generation.”