Saturday, 28 August 2021 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine, Bishop 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 Scriptures, we are all called to remember our calling and mission in life as Christians, as those whom God has called to be His followers, that is to be active in our participation of the living of our faith that we do not just live our lives without meaning and faith, and we have to make good use of the gifts and talents that God has given to each and every one of us.

That is what was elaborated and symbolised by the Lord in the famous parable of the talents in our Gospel passage today, as we heard the Lord Jesus and His teaching to His disciples, making use of that parable of the talents to remind them to commit themselves to the cause of the Lord and to do whatever they can in their capabilities and opportunities to be the bearers of our faith in God. We should be active in our lives and in showing our devotion to God, and not merely just paying lip service to Him.

This parable of the talents highlighted the action of three servants who had been entrusted with different amount of silver talents by their master, talent being the unit used to measure weights at that time, which is why this parable is often known as the parable of the talents. One servant was given one talent of silver, while another was given two silver talents, and the other one five silver talents. Those talents represent the gifts and abilities, the opportunities the Lord has given to us, just as the master represents the Lord Himself.

And as we have heard from the passage and the parable within, the servants treated the entrusted talents differently, as those two who were entrusted with two and five talents respectively invested and made good use of what had been given to them, and when the master came back, those servants were able to present the master not only with the silver back, but even with double returns. Meanwhile, the servant who was entrusted with the one silver talent hid his talent and did not do anything with it, as he said that he was afraid of his master and his exacting nature, and thus, hid the talent.

This showed that he did not trust his master at all, and had no desire to do as he was supposed to do, or to obey his master’s will, and more concerned with his own self-preservation and selfish desires. This is why he refused to do anything with the talent, and we already heard what happened next then, as those who did good with their entrusted silver talents received even more from their master, while the lazy and untrustworthy servant was punished for his actions and also lack of action in making use of the talents entrusted to him.

What is its significance to us, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is a reminder to us all that each and every one of us are expected to make good use of the talents, gifts, abilities and opportunities that God has given to all of us. We may think that we have nothing special or have little ability to contribute anything, but this is often where we are wrong. Even in the smallest things we do, we can make a great difference. And just like the case of that servant given just one silver talent, it does not mean that if one is given less, then one cannot make good use of what he or she has been given.

On the contrary, all of us are always encouraged to contribute whatever we can, even in the smallest things, that in doing our best for the Lord, we may grow and bear many fruits of our faith in the Lord. The Lord has given us what we need, and now it is up to us to pick ourselves up and begin to do what we can do to follow the Lord and to commit ourselves to His cause, and in doing His will, in our communities and in wherever we have been called to serve and do our part as respective members of the Church.

Today, all of us should also be inspired by the great examples set by St. Augustine of Hippo, the great saint and Doctor of the Church, one of the four original Doctors and revered as one of the most important fathers of Western Christianity, for his many contributions to the Church, and his various writings, of which especially well known being the City of God and the De Trinitatis, the writing on the nature of the Most Holy Trinity, among many others that he had done, as well as in his many contributions to the local and Universal Church.

However, St. Augustine did not always begin with such a wonderful and faithful life. Instead, as we may recall from yesterday’s celebration of the feast of St. Monica, who was St. Augustine’s own mother, we may remember how St. Augustine used to lead a debauched lifestyle and sought worldly pleasures and ambitions, following heresies especially Manichaeanism, and in his many philosophical and worldly pursuits in his youth, before finally, through the unceasing prayers of his mother, and through God’s grace, he turned back towards the Lord and gave himself completely to Him, to His cause and for His greater glory.

St. Augustine dedicated himself henceforth as a most faithful servant of God, making best use of his energy and all of his talents, his abilities in inspiring numerous others to be faithful to the Lord. And he dedicated himself to the very end, doing whatever he could to serve the Lord and His people, both in Hippo, his diocese and especially throughout Western part of Christendom at the time. His many writings and contributions to the Church remained very influential, and many theologians and philosophers of the Church drew inspiration from St. Augustine, his life and his works.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have seen how St. Augustine dedicated himself to the Lord and turned away from a life of idleness and sin, and into righteousness and fruitfulness in the Lord. Through his efforts, many great things had happened, many people had been touched and called to follow the Lord, and this is just yet another example of what it means for us to invest in our ‘talents’, that it may grow and provide us with great returns, not in material things but rather in our spiritual growth and closeness to God.

May the Lord continue to guide us and inspire us in our journey of faith through life, and may He strengthen each and everyone of us that we may always persevere in faith from now on. May God bless us always, in all things, now and forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 28 August 2021 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 25 : 14-30

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Imagine someone who, before going abroad, summoned his servants to entrust his property to them. He gave five talents of silver to one servant, two talents to another servant, and one talent to a third, to each, according to his ability; and he went away.”

“He who received five talents went at once to do business with the talents, and gained another five. The one who received two talents did the same, and gained another two. But the one who received one talent dug a hole in the ground, and hid his master’s money.”

“After a long time, the master of those servants returned and asked for a reckoning. The one who had received five talents came with another five talents, saying, ‘Lord, you entrusted me with five talents, but see, I have gained five more.’ The master answered, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant, since you have been faithful in a few things, I will entrust you in charge of many things. Come and share the joy of your master.'”

“Then the one who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you entrusted me with two talents; with them I have gained two more.’ The master said, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant, since you have been faithful in little things, I will entrust you in charge of many things. Come and share the joy of your master.'”

“Finally, the one who had received one talent came and said, ‘Master, I know that you are a hard man. You reap what you have not sown, and gather what you have not scattered. I was afraid, so I hid your money in the ground. Here, take what is yours!’ But his master replied, ‘Wicked and worthless servant, you know that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered. You should have deposited my money in the bank, and given it back to me with interest on my return.'”

“Therefore, take the talent from him, and give it to the one who has ten. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who are unproductive, even what they have will be taken from them. As for that useless servant, thrown him out into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Saturday, 28 August 2021 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 97 : 1, 7-8, 9

Sing to YHVH a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

Let the sea resound and everything in it, the world and all its people. Let rivers clap their hands, hills and mountains sing with joy.

Before YHVH, for He comes to rule the earth. He will judge the world with justice, and the peoples, with fairness.

Saturday, 28 August 2021 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Thessalonians 4 : 9-11

Regarding mutual love, you do not need anyone to write to you, because God, Himself, taught you how to love one another. You already practice it with all the brothers and sisters of Macedonia, but I invite you to do more.

Consider how important it is, to live quietly, without bothering others, to mind your own business, and work with your hands, as we have charged you.

Monday, 28 August 2017 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to God speaking to the people, condemning the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law for their hypocrisy in their faith, in how they have not been truly faithful to God, and how they have not obeyed God in His laws and commandments, through their mistaken interpretation and application of the Law entrusted to them as the teachers and the leaders of the people of God.

That is because the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had not been faithful in keeping the commandments, and their duty was to ensure that the people of God obeyed those laws and through those laws learn to love the Lord as He had commanded, and then show the same love towards their fellow men and women. That is the essence of the Law which the Lord Jesus had spoken to His people and revealed to them, as the real intention of the Law God gave to them.

Yet, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law misused their authority and teachings to suit their own desires and to seek their own personal and worldly glory. They used the Law to suit their own needs and wants, and allowing certain practices that were not in line with the Law, but which brought about convenience to them, as well as benefits. They turned around a blind eye to unlawful practices and wickedness, including those of their own, and yet punished those who genuinely and sincerely desiring to love God.

Yes, they closed the gates of salvation to those who needed it most, by turning away prostitutes, tax collectors and other sinners, whom they despised, looked down upon, and sneered on. They themselves did not practice the Law of God and did not have the love of God in themselves, but they wanted to look down on others just because they thought that those people did not deserve to be saved because of their sins.

How is this relevant to all of us, brothers and sisters in Christ? The message of the Scripture passages today is that each and every one of us as Christians must not follow what the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had done. We must not think that all of us are better than others and that certain people are beyond God’s grace and salvation, for it is God’s prerogative to judge the soul of a person and not us.

And these readings we heard today perfectly match the holy saint whose feast we celebrate today, as we remember together the memory of St. Augustine of Hippo, a holy bishop and a well-known saint, known for his many works and writings in various matters of the faith, so much so that he was considered among the four original Doctors of the Church, whose contributions to the Church was indeed immense.

Yet, how many of us know that St. Augustine of Hippo was also a sinner, especially in his involvement with the Manichaean heresy and how he spent his early life in debauchery and wickedness, seeking the glory and the pleasures of the world, and certainly no one would have thought that St. Augustine, then a pagan philosopher whose life was filled with sin and wickedness, would be a Christian one day, less still a saint.

It was by the ceaseless prayers and efforts of his mother, St. Monica, a devout Christian, who prayed daily for his sake, and for the conversion of his soul, that God called St. Augustine to his service. St. Augustine of Hippo yearned in his heart to seek for fulfilment which he was unable to attain through all of his worldly pursuits for knowledge, for worldly glory and power, for the pleasures of the body and others.

Thus, eventually St. Augustine made a complete turnaround in his life, repenting from his past sins, and under the tutelage of another great saint, St. Ambrose of Milan, who would also be counted together with St. Augustine as one of the four original Doctors of the Church, St. Augustine was baptised as a Christian, and henceforth walked on the path that God had set for him.

From what we have heard in the Scripture passages today, and what we have heard in the story of St. Augustine of Hippo, a great sinner turned a great saint, much as St. Paul the Apostle himself was a great enemy of the Church and the faithful before his conversion, we see how God through His Church transformed men and women who were once sinners into saints and holy people, through the transformation of those who were willing to repent wholeheartedly from their sins, and opening themselves to God’s love and grace.

It means that as Christians all of us must not be like the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who despised those they deemed to be sinners and unworthy, but instead, we must love them and embrace them, and most importantly, we must call them to repentance and forgiveness for their sins through that sincere repentance.

All of us are also sinners, all in need of repentance and then God’s mercy. Therefore, let us all open our hearts and minds, allowing God to do His work in us, and through us as well, that by our work and effort, we may call ever more souls towards God and His light, delivering them from the darkness of sin and thus saving them from the fires of hell.

May the Lord bless us all His Church, that all of us who are sinners may come ever closer to Him, and have that strong desire in us to sin no more and to repent, wholeheartedly turning ourselves to His way. Let us all also help one another in our journey towards God, that in the end, no one will be lost from God, and all of us will receive from Him, the gift of eternal life. St. Augustine of Hippo, pray for us sinners. Amen.

Monday, 28 August 2017 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 23 : 13-22

At that time, Jesus said to the people and to His disciples, “But woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door to the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You, yourselves, do not enter it, nor do you allow others to do so.”

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You devour widows’ property; and as a show, you pray long prayers! Therefore, you shall receive greater condemnation. Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel by sea and land to make a single convert; yet, once he is converted, you make him twice as fit for hell as yourselves!”

“Woe to you, blind guides! You say : To swear by the temple is not binding; but, to swear by the gold of the temple is binding. Foolish men! Blind men! Which is of more worth : the gold in the temple, or the temple which makes the gold a sacred treasure? You say : To swear by the altar is not binding, but to swear by the offering on the altar is binding. How blind you are! Which is of more value : the offering on the altar, or the altar which makes the offering sacred?”

“Whoever swears by the altar, is swearing by the altar and by everything on it. Whoever swears by the temple, is swearing by the temple, and by God, Who dwells in the temple. Whoever swears by heaven, is swearing by the throne of God, and by Him, Who is seated on it.”

Monday, 28 August 2017 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

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

Alleluia! Sing to YHVH 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 in praise of His Name; and make music for Him with harp and timbrel. For YHVH 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, 28 August 2017 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Thessalonians 1 : 1-5, 8b-10

From Paul, Sylvanus and Timothy, to the church of Thessalonica, which is in God, the Father, and in Christ Jesus, the Lord. May the peace and grace of God be with you.

We give thanks to God, at all times for you, and remember you in our prayers. We constantly recall, before God, our Father, the work of your faith, the labours of your love, and your endurance, in waiting for Christ Jesus our Lord.

We remember, brothers and sisters, the circumstances of your being called. The Gospel we brought you was such, not only in words. Miracles, the Holy Spirit, and plenty of everything, were given to you. You, also, know how we dealt with you, for your sake.

The faith you have in God has become news in so many places, that we need say no more about it. Others tell, of how you welcomed us, and turned from idols, to the Lord. For you serve the living and true God, and you wait for His Son, from heaven, Whom He raised from the dead, Jesus, Who frees us from impending trial.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are faced once again with the reality of our world, both past, today, and also what it will be in the future. We know that this world does not belong to the Lord but to the devil, for the evil one has his dominion over the world, and we are all under his power which he exercised through the world.

With Christ and His death on the cross, and His glorious resurrection from the dead, He had liberated us from the thrall and dominion of Satan, in that he no longer has any direct power or control over us, and eternal life has been promised and assured to us, providing that we follow the Lord and always walk in His ways.

But the devil still has his ways in this world, and he remains very capable of tempting us and leading us astray from the path that we walk on towards the Lord and His salvation. He has many ways and tools through the world, and his weapons are plenty. Just like when Satan tempted our Lord Jesus with all the things at his disposal, including the wealth and temptations of the world, he will do so to us too, to make us falter.

Why is this so crucial, brethren? And why do I bring this matter up today? That is because today we celebrate the feast of the missionary who brought the faith to the land of England, which that time was filled with mostly the Anglo-Saxon invaders and some native Britons, around the end of the sixth century, more than a thousand years ago. He is St. Augustine of Canterbury, the founder and the progenitor of the Church in England, which is now known as the United Kingdom.

And you all know that there was a great tragedy of the faith, when heresy, an immense heresy and unworthiness brought so great a destruction for the faithful, which remains even until today, and the great repercussions continue to affect even to the rest of the world. Truly, the devil was busy, and is busy causing havoc among the faithful and in God’s Church!

What am I talking about then? It is about the so-called ‘Church of England’, the ‘Anglican Communion’, the product of the devil and his cultivation of division among the faithful, the product of the King of England five hundred years ago, King Henry VIII, who in his futile and desperate attempts to seek a male heir, resulted in him choosing to follow the path to damnation and brought many down with him, rather than submitting to the will of God.

Let me fill you in with some background, beginning from St. Augustine himself, the founder of the Church in England. St. Augustine was a priest and missionary from Rome, who was the personal confidant of Pope St. Gregory the Great and a holy and pious person, dedicated to the works of the Lord. He was well renowned for his great piety and exemplary lifestyle, and as such he was chosen to evangelise the Good News to the heathens in England.

England was once a province of the Roman Empire, and the faith had made its way to that country, and ever since the Emperor Constantine made the faith legal,  the Church there had grown, but with the downfall of the Roman Empire in the West, the society in England broke down, and with the invasion of the Germanic Anglo-Saxons from what is now northern Germany, the faith in England floundered and for many years, the people there lived in darkness.

Pope St. Gregory the Great who was elected Pope in 590 AD was a great worker and dedicated reformer, who was very dedicated to the evangelisation of the word of God among the many people who still were ignorant of the faith, and he sent many missionaries, including to England, whom he sent St. Augustine of Canterbury to.

St. Augustine of Canterbury was known as such because he founded the see of Canterbury in the southernmost part of England where he landed after his trip from Rome. The see of Canterbury eventually grow to become the first or the primate seat of all England and the isles there, and that is why now the supposed successor to St. Augustine of Canterbury is the Archbishop of Canterbury, but the one who now holds that seat is illegitimate and unworthy of such a position, ever since the King, Henry VIII sundered the Church in England from the obedience to the Pope, the entire rebellious episcopate and priesthood in England had been rendered invalid.

King Henry VIII was a great and mighty king of England, great in all things especially in his willpower and desire, but he is seriously lacking in one thing. He lacked a male heir, which was all-important especially for monarchs and rulers who always sought for ways to secure their rule and reign, even to that of their descendants’. His first and lawful marriage to Catherine of Aragon provided a daughter but no son.

Hence, Henry VIII was desperate and tried to have his marriage to Catherine annulled, or in short, to divorce her so that he can marry another woman to provide him with a male heir. He petitioned the Pope in Rome to be allowed to do so, but as we all know that divorce is sinful and terrible, for it tramples upon the sanctity of marriage life, which we know is a Sacrament, and a union by God which no man should divide.

The Pope refused to give his permission and sanction, and king Henry VIII in his obstinence, decided to break relations with Rome instead, and established the so-called ‘Church of England’, a national church with the king at its head. It is an act of desperation, and an act of wickedness, done without greater regards for the good of the faithful people of God, casting many souls into eternal damnation and deny them salvation by leading them into heresy.

St. Augustine would truly be sad had he lived to see such degradations and wickedness that his successors at the throne of Canterbury had allowed to happen, as the bishops conspired and followed the king and his successors into sin and wickedness, and therefore hell is assured for them.

And even more lamentable is that, king Henry VIII in his desperation and insanity, even went on to marry a total of six times, a marriage that produced only one male heir, who was sickly and died not long after king Henry VIII himself, ultimately a punishment from God for his debauchery and great sin of causing a split in the Church of God and the faithful.

Today, as we remember St. Augustine of Canterbury and ask for his intercession, let us ask him to pray for the Anglican ‘churches’, that these may see the error of their ways, abandon their sinful rebelliousness and return to the Holy Mother Church, expunging from themselves the mortal sins of Henry VIII and embrace total and complete repentance.

May God guide them, and also all of us, to be able to walk the true path, the path towards salvation in God, and be reunited as one people, and believe in Him without the taint of the corruption of Satan. Let us not be like those who have rebelled against God, like king Henry VIII and his supporters, who put ahead human and worldly concerns, as well as their private desires ahead of God’s love and truth. God bless us all. Amen.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 16 : 5-11

But now I am going to the One who sent Me, and none of you asks Me where I am going; instead you are overcome with grief, because of what I have said. Believe Me, it is better for you that I go away, because as long as I do not leave, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go away, it is to send Him to you, and when He comes, He will vindicate the truth before a sinful world; and He will vindicate the paths of righteousness and justice.

What is the world’s sin, in regard to Me? Disbelief. What is the path of righteousness? It is the path I walk, by which I go to the Father; and you shall see Me no more. What is the path of justice? It is the path on which the prince of this world will always stand condemned.