Wednesday, 6 October 2021 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bruno, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Sacred Scriptures we are all called to seek the mercy of God, our loving Father and to rebuild the relationship we have with Him, just a child seeking and asking for his or her father’s forgiveness. The father who loves his children will forgive them after he has chastised and disciplined them, and he will reunite them to himself, guiding them down the right path.

In our first reading today, as we listened to the words of the Lord speaking to us regarding the conversation that God has with Jonah, the prophet that He has chosen, called and sent to the people of Nineveh, the great capital of the Assyrian Empire which at that time had conquered many countries and peoples, razed multiple cities and settlements, enslaving innumerable people across the known world then. They committed great sins before God and their fellow men alike, and for that, they should have been destroyed and crushed.

That was what God told them through the prophet Jonah, who was sent to Nineveh to proclaim the imminent destruction of that city and its people. Upon hearing that, the people of Nineveh, from its great King, all the nobles, to all the people to the lowest status ones, all listened to the words of the Lord and sought to appease the wrath of God, humbling themselves from their previous pride and haughtiness, stripping themselves from their regal and proud appearances, and wore the penitential sackcloth as a sign of their regret and penitence before God and mankind alike.

The Lord then did not carry out what He intended to do to Nineveh, as He saw their sincerity in humbling themselves and in asking for His forgiveness, that He forgave them and spared them their destruction. But this angered Jonah in turn, for he has earlier on tried to escape from the Lord and His calling for him to go to Nineveh to speak the judgment for Nineveh. For Jonah, he was angry probably because he has laboured for the Lord and went through a great many things to come to Nineveh and speak of God’s words, only for whatever he had spoken to not have come true, as God spared Nineveh its destruction.

But God in truth never desired the destruction of Nineveh or any of its people at all. That is because ultimately, He still loves each and every one of His children equally, and every single one of them are precious to Him. Although the people of Nineveh and its king had committed great sins against Him, just as a father with prodigal and naughty children, he still desired their conversion and return to righteousness. Is this not the same as the attitude showed by the elder son in the famous parable of the prodigal son? Jonah was acting exactly the way the elder son behaved, while the younger son was representative of the people of Nineveh.

Just as in that parable, the Lord, Who is our loving Father rejoiced at the conversion of hearts of the people of Nineveh just as the younger son was welcomed with great joy by his father. Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is our God, our loving Father, Who truly desired to be reconciled with us and for us to find our way back to His love and embrace, to be filled once again with His grace and blessings, and to walk once again in the path of His truth and to be righteous and good just as He is righteous and good.

And therefore, as the Lord Himself has taught us the Lord’s Prayer in our Gospel passage today, we ought to deepen our relationship with our heavenly Father through prayer, and not just any prayer that merely passes through our mouth, but prayers that are made with genuine love and desire to commit ourselves wholeheartedly to the Lord, to spend precious time with Him and to know Him more in each and every available opportunities. Through deepening ourselves in prayer and devotion to Him, and through a more genuine living of our Christian faith, all of us are called to be ever more faithful children of our Father in Heaven.

Today, let us all also be inspired by the faith and examples showed by St. Bruno, whose feast day we are celebrating today. St. Bruno was a priest of Cologne in Germany, who is also the founder of the renowned Carthusian Order. St. Bruno was a longtime educator and theologian, credited with the upbringing and development of numerous students who became great priests and servants of God. He was humble and dedicated to God, and when he was about to be appointed as a bishop, he renounced secular glory and privileges, choosing to leave behind his position and assuming the simple life of a priest.

He was a close confidant of the Pope and through his contributions by the foundation of the Carthusian Order, St. Bruno inspired many others to follow in his footsteps in being ever faithful to God, to be humble in one’s ways and to put God ahead of everything else in one’s life. St. Bruno is truly a great example that all of us ought to be inspired to follow, and today, we are all reminded and called, to reflect on our lives and to ask ourselves if we can commit ourselves to the Lord with sincerity and genuine love for Him.

May the Lord continue to guide us in our journey and may He strengthen each and every one of us that we will always persevere through whatever challenges we may encounter throughout life. May God bless us in our every endeavours and efforts to live our lives ever more worthily in His Name. Amen.

Wednesday, 6 October 2021 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bruno, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Luke 11 : 1-4

At that time, Jesus was praying in a certain place; and when He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught His disciples.”

And Jesus said to them, “When you pray, say this : Father, may Your Name be held holy, may Your kingdom come; give us, each day, the kind of bread we need, and forgive us our sins; for we also forgive all who do us wrong; and do not bring us to the test.”

Wednesday, 6 October 2021 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bruno, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Psalm 85 : 3-4, 5-6, 9-10

Have mercy on me, o YHVH, for I cry to You all day. Bring joy to the soul of Your servant; for You, o YHVH, I lift up my soul.

You are good and forgiving, o YHVH, caring for those who call on You. Listen, o YHVH, to my prayer, hear the voice of my pleading.

All the nations You have made will come; they will worship before You, o YHVH, and bring glory to Your Name. For You are great, and wonderful are Your deeds; You alone, are God.

Wednesday, 6 October 2021 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bruno, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Jonah 4 : 1-11

But Jonah was greatly displeased at this, and he was indignant. He prayed to YHVH and said, “O YHVH, is this not what I said when I was yet in my own country? This is why I fled to Tarshish. I knew that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and full of love, and You relent from imposing terrible punishment. I beseech You now, YHVH, to take my life, for now it is better for me to die than to live.”

But YHVH replied, “What right have you to be angry?” Jonah then left the city. He went to a place east of it, built himself a shelter and sat under its shade to wait and see what would happen to Nineveh. Then YHVH God provided a castor-oil plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade over his head and to ease his discomfort. Jonah was very happy about the plant.

But the next day, at dawn, God sent a worm which attacked the plant and made it wither. When the sun rose, God sent a scorching east wind; the sun blazed down upon Jonah’s head, and he grew faint. His death wish returned and he said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”

Then God asked Jonah, “Do you have a right to be angry about the castor-oil plant?” Jonah answered, “I am right to be angry enough to wish to die.” YHVH said, “You are concerned about a plant which cost you no labour to make it grow. Overnight it sprang up, and overnight it perished. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot distinguish right from left and they have many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned for such a great city?”

Tuesday, 6 October 2020 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bruno, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are reminded of the call to holiness and to be converted to God’s truth. We are called to follow in the footsteps of St. Paul in his conversion to the Christian faith and how he dedicated himself to serve the Lord with all of his heart after early on he was a fanatical opponent of the Christian faith. And in the Gospel passage today, we heard of the interaction between the Lord and the sisters Mary and Martha, and how God reminded us to choose the ‘better part’.

Beginning with our first reading today, we heard St. Paul recounting his own conversion experience, and how he abandoned his past disobedience against God, his misguided fanatic zeal in hunting down the early Christian converts especially among the Jewish people. That was how this great enemy of Christians and the Church became almost overnight, the greatest defender and champion of the faithful. St. Paul had a choice when God called him on the way to Damascus, on whether he wanted to continue in his past way of life, or if he wanted instead to embrace God’s call and transform himself.

Had St. Paul remained in his past life, as a prominent young Pharisee and also a Roman citizen, he was bound to have a very good life and could have possibly been a very influential member of the Sanhedrin and the ruling elite of the Jewish people, and would also likely be quite influential among the Romans and the Gentiles. Certainly for sure, his life would not have been so difficult and challenging as how he had suffered and laboured so much for the Lord’s sake. Yet, this was the path that St. Paul had chosen in the end, and he committed himself to it wholeheartedly.

St. Paul chose the ‘better path’, entrusting himself to God despite having to let go of his comfortable and influential old life, a life that would have guaranteed worldly safety and satisfaction, a life without much difficulty and hassles. But he chose to leave these comforts and assurances behind, for the better assurance in God. Although he endured a lot of trials and sufferings for the many decades after, but in the end, as he has faithfully committed himself to the very end, he was sure of the Lord’s promise and the eternal glory he would receive with many other faithful ones.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard about the two sisters, Mary and Martha, who were close friends of the Lord with their brother, Lazarus, whom the Lord raised from the dead. And when the Lord Jesus came by their house, we saw the difference between the reaction of Mary and Martha in welcoming the Lord to their place. While Martha was very busy doing all she could to prepare the place well for the Lord’s coming, Mary was sitting by the side of the Lord, spending time with Him and listening to Him.

Martha certainly had good intentions, and she did what she thought was the best to welcome the Lord and be hospitable to Him. However, in her excessive preoccupation and desire to serve the Lord in the way she thought best, she had forgotten about what was most important, just like St. Paul earlier, when as Saul, he persecuted the Christians out of misplaced zeal in trying to protect the interpretation of the faith according to the Pharisees, which was then threatened by the Lord and His revelations and teachings.

Both Martha and Saul were trying to do what they could in their own way to serve God, but when they tried to do so on their own, and becoming swallowed by the intensity, by their emotions and desires, they ended up losing sight and focus on what they really ought to focus their attention on. As they pursued their intentions, they were distracted by the temptations of pride and the desire in their hearts, the pride of their achievements and the desire to be acclaimed and praised for their efforts. For Martha, it was likely to be praised for her hospitality, while Saul wanted attention and achievement in destroying the Christians.

But as we have heard, these were the wrong paths, which Martha was reminded by the Lord, and Saul was called from, and in the end, Martha realised that what was important, was not how meticulous her preparations and plans were, but spending time with God Who has come to her place to spend His time with her. Similarly, Saul came to realise that his path had been wrong, and from the moment of his conversion, he chose to follow the Lord wholeheartedly and devote all of his energy and efforts to glorify God from then on.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all reminded today to reflect on the path which we should take in life, in serving God wholeheartedly as we should, and in keeping to the Lord’s path faithfully even when we may encounter difficulties, trials and challenges along the journey. We must realise that while the path that God has showed us may seem to be less promising, more challenging and difficult, but in truth, it is the ‘better part’ and the path that we all should choose, for in the Lord alone lies our hope and true joy.

Today, all of us also celebrate the feast of St. Bruno, a dedicated servant of God, who was remembered as a great priest and intellectual, who committed his efforts to lead more and more among the faithful towards God. And St. Bruno was also known for rejecting the position of bishop, which could have easily been his, if he had chosen to do so. However, St. Bruno chose to walk down this more tedious path, living a holy existence and life, gathering some others to live in a prayerful community, away from the distractions of the world.

St. Bruno chose to walk down this path in responding to the call that the Lord has made to him, calling him to a life of holiness, to be a great witness and example to all the faithful, on what it truly means to be a follower of Christ. St. Bruno is a humble person, who spent his days and moments in doing everything to glorify God through prayer and virtue, and which is something that we can be inspired from and follow as well. Through all that we have heard today, we are presented with the choice, do we want to follow the Lord and take His ‘better part’ or do we want to indulge in worldly desires and pleasures, and seek for worldly satisfaction instead?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us are called to live our lives virtuously as Christians from now on. And we are called to be holy and virtuous in all things, and most importantly, centre our focus and attention on the Lord, as the centre and heart of our very existence. Are we willing and able to reject the allures of pride and greed, the temptations of worldly pleasures and corruptions, and rediscover our true and genuine faith? Let us all discern this carefully as we commit ourselves ever more faithfully to the path that the Lord has shown us and guided us through.

May the Lord continue to bless us and guide us in our journey, that all of us may draw ever closer to Him, and inspire one another to stay together and remain true to our Christian calling in our respective lives and in our various communities, devoting ourselves wholeheartedly to God, from now on, in all things, in all of our words, actions and deeds. Amen.

Tuesday, 6 October 2020 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bruno, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Luke 10 : 38-42

At that time, as Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He entered a village, and a woman called Martha welcomed Him to her house. She had a sister named Mary, who sat down at the Lord’s feet to listen to His words. Martha, meanwhile, was busy with all the serving, and finally she said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the work? Tell her to help me!”

But the Lord answered, “Martha, Martha, you worry and are troubled about many things, whereas only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Tuesday, 6 October 2020 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bruno, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Psalm 138 : 1-3, 13-14, 15

O YHVH, You know me : You have scrutinised me. You know when I sit and when I rise; beforehand, You discern my thoughts. You observe my activities and times of rest; You are familiar with all my ways.

It was You Who formed my inmost part and knit me together in my mother’s womb. I thank You for these wonders You have done, and my heart praises You, for Your marvellous deeds.

Even my bones were known to You when I was being formed in secret, fashioned in the depths of the earth.

Tuesday, 6 October 2020 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bruno, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Galatians 1 : 13-24

You have heard of my previous activity in the Jewish community; I furiously persecuted the Church of God and tried to destroy it. For I was more devoted to the Jewish religion than many fellow Jews of my age, and I defended the traditions of my ancestors more fanatically.

But one day, God called me, out of His great love, He, Who had chosen me from my mother’s womb; and He was pleased to reveal, in me, His son, that I might make Him known among the pagan nations. Then, I did not seek human advice nor did I go up to Jerusalem, to those who were Apostles before me. I immediately went to Arabia, and from there, I returned, again, to Damascus.

Later, after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to meet Cephas, and I stayed with him for fifteen days. But I did not see any other Apostle except James, the Lord’s brother. On writing this to you, I affirm before God that I am not lying. After that, I went to Syria and Cilicia. The churches of Christ in Judea did not know me personally; they had only heard of me : “He, who once persecuted us, is now preaching the faith he tried to uproot.” And they praised God because of me.

Saturday, 6 October 2018 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bruno, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard of the end and conclusion of the story of Job, the suffering servant of God. Modern Biblical scholars contended that Job did not necessarily represent a historical figure, but rather, a figurative representation of us as God’s people and followers, who live in this world, and are therefore, exposed to all sorts of temptations and from the attacks by the evil one, Satan.

Satan tried to tempt Job and to strike at him, making bets with the Lord, that if he struck at Job, surely Job would fall into temptation and in his anger, he would abandon his faith in God and curse Him. But Job remained faithful and true to his faith, and he did not allow all the sufferings he encountered to be obstacles and hindrances in the way of his faith. He remained firmly faithful and believed that all of what he had to endure, was part of God’s will and plan.

And in the end, God executed His plan and saved His people from the darkness of their sufferings and despair, as He showed clearly in the example of Job, as mentioned in our first reading passage today. We heard how Job was healed from all of his afflictions, and even had his possessions and blessings returned to him, not just what he once had, but in fact double of what he had before.

Through this, God wanted His people to know, that in Him alone there is hope and true salvation, liberation and freedom from all of our troubles, from all the challenges, difficulties and all sorts of obstacles that we may encounter in one way or another in our respective lives. Indeed, the path will be a challenging and difficult one, just as Job’s multitudes of sufferings and pains showed us, but in the end, if we remain faithful to God, our rewards will be great and everlasting.

In the Gospel passage today, the Lord also spoke to us the same message of hope, with the bold proclamation of the defeat of Satan as foretold by the Lord Jesus Himself before His disciples. It was a premonition of what would happen, at the time of Jesus, when the Lord finally put His plan to save His people into its fulfilment and perfect completion, by the crucifixion in which, He gathered all of His people and took up all of their sins and faults, and died for their sake, in an act of perfect love and self-sacrifice that became the source of our salvation.

By the loving sacrifice of Christ on the cross, we have been made free and saved from our fated destruction at the hand of death and sin. And that marks the ultimate defeat of Satan and all of his diabolical plans to bring about our downfall through sin. Through His loving sacrifice, He destroyed forever the dominion of sin over us mankind, and opened for us the path to eternal life and salvation in Him.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us are called to have faith in God just as Job and all the faithful servants of God, those who went before us have done. Indeed, there will be plenty of obstacles and challenges facing us, just as faced by those who have shown their courage and commitment, piety and dedication, but as long as we anchor ourselves strongly in our faith, and in our willingness and desire to love God, God will protect us and guide us on our journey.

Today, we celebrate together the feast day of St. Bruno of Cologne, a holy and devout priest, servant of God, who founded the religious order of the Carthusians. St. Bruno was a great teacher of the faith, inspiring many with his deep love for God and great piety, in all of his actions, words and dealings. His great and deep humility also touched many people who had the opportunity to know him.

St. Bruno dedicated himself to a life of service to God, in poverty and simplicity, in how he declined appointment to the office of bishop and in his commitment to serve the greater cause of the Lord. St. Bruno entrusted himself completely to the love of God, and gave himself fully to Him in love, inspiring many others who followed in his footsteps and thus marking the foundation and growth of the early Carthusians.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to trust the Lord and to give ourselves so completely as Job, St. Bruno and the many other holy men and women of God had done? We are all challenged in this manner, reminding us that as Christians, we ought to give our best to the Lord, in all of our whole being. May the Lord help us, and with the intercession of St. Bruno, guide us in our journey of faith towards Him. Amen.

Saturday, 6 October 2018 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bruno, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Luke 10 : 17-24

At that time, the seventy-two disciples returned full of joy. They said, “Lord, even the demons obeyed us when we called on Your Name.” Then Jesus replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. You see, I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the Enemy, so that nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the evil spirits submit to you; rejoice, rather, than your names are written in heaven.”

At that time, Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and made them known to little ones. Yes, Father, such has been Your gracious will. I have been given all things by My Father, so that no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son, and he to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.”

Then Jesus turned to His disciples and said to them privately, “Fortunate are you to see what you see, for I tell you, that many prophets and kings would have liked to see what you see, but did not see it; and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”