Friday, 29 April 2022 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, 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 Lord through the Scriptures, we are all presented with the calling for us all as Christians in proclaiming the Risen Lord as the Saviour of the whole world, He Who has given His own life for our sake, in breaking His own Precious Body and shedding His own Precious Blood for our sake. Our Lord and Saviour has extended His love and compassion in coming down into our midst, to gather us all and to provide for us the path towards salvation and eternal life. He, the Bread of Life and the Lamb of God, is the sure and only path towards eternal life.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the account from the Gospel of St. John on the Lord Jesus Who miraculously fed the great multitude of five thousand men and many more women and children with just five loaves of bread and two fishes. The Lord showed pity and love for all the people who were gathered there for days, following Him and listening to His teachings, and had become hungry because there was no place nearby for them to buy any food. But the Lord told His disciples for the need of the people, and with just five loaves of bread and two fishes which He blessed and prayed over, He multiplied them all miraculously and fed everyone with enough food and even with plenty of spare.

As the Lord fed the people with all the food, some among them wanted to make Him as their King, and would have had their way if the Lord did not quietly slip away amidst all the multitudes of people and everything that happened. But through that feeding of the people, the Lord reminded all of us that He came into this world to nourish us, and to restore us to new life, not just physically, but also spiritually as well, wholesomely transforming us from those who hunger for the truth and justice, for the light and hope in our life, to those who have been strengthened and empowered by the light and hope of Christ.

This is why, as compared to the false idols and all other distractions in life, there is nothing comparable to the Lord in fulfilling our needs and in revealing to us our true path in life. And as the Scriptures pointed out to us, that unless we anchor ourselves in the Lord’s truth and grace, in His light and hope, then we will likely end up falling into the wrong path, falling into the path of sin and evil, and from which we may find it difficult or even impossible to get out from. And that is why the Lord constantly reminds us that in Him and through Him alone there is hope and sure path out of the darkness and the despair surrounding us, and if we put our trust in Him, we shall surely not be disappointed.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Acts of the Apostles of the time when the disciples of the Lord were arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin or the Jewish High Council, with many of its members wanting to persecute and oppress the followers of Jesus, banning His teachings and truths. The Lord has always been seen as a great rival and threat by many among the members of the Sanhedrin back then, and many of them refused to believe in Him despite all the miraculous deeds that the Lord had done before all of them and before the people. They hardened their hearts and minds against Him.

However, as we heard in that same reading, a wise member of the High Council named Gamaliel spoke to the whole Sanhedrin regarding leaving everything to God and His providence, giving the evidence based on the past several false prophets and Messiahs who had claimed to be the Messiah and yet, failed in their efforts and attempts, as they proved to be no more than just mere men who were misguided, selfish and even wicked, in their desire for worldly power and glory, and their works and followers quickly dissipated and disappeared after their failure. Hence, Gamaliel stated that if the Lord Jesus was truly genuine and His works true, and His truth and teachings authentic, then the Sanhedrin would soon find themselves going against God Himself.

With this, the Sanhedrin as represented by Gamaliel himself acknowledged that the truth came from God alone, and indeed, as history had proven that until this very day, this very moment now we are breathing and living in, the Church is still very much alive and vibrant, and even flourished beyond what the Apostles might have been able to imagine, and therefore, is the proof that our Christian faith, the Church and the truth, and everything that the Lord had done, is the truth and the one and only truth of God. And it is this faith that each and every one of us ought to hold very closely onto, as we live our lives in this world today.

We must also remember that we are given the task and mission to spread the truth of God, His Good News and the words of His love and salvation to all the peoples, and we should do our best in life, and become great inspiration for many others to follow, that our way of life may inspire them to come to believe in God as well. Today we can find inspiration from one of our holy predecessors, namely that of St. Catherine of Siena, the well-known saint and patron of Italy and one of the Church’s great Doctors of the Church. St. Catherine of Siena was truly a dedicated servant of God, whose commitment to God and her holiness in life should be source of inspiration for each one of us as Christians in how we should lead our own lives with faith.

St. Catherine of Siena was a very devout woman who dedicated much of her life for the betterment of the Church and Christian communities of her time. She spent a lot of time and effort in restoring purity and holiness, sanctity to the Church, its various organisations and the religious orders and groups, especially against the creeping corruptions caused by the influences of worldly temptations and vices which caused scandal and disturbances within the Church and the various Christian communities. She was also credited with her effort in helping to broker peace among the various conflicting parties and in the ending of the schisms within the Church. Her great dedication and piety inspired many to follow in her examples.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, inspired by the great examples set by St. Catherine of Siena and many other holy men and women of God, let us all dedicate ourselves anew to God, striving to do our best to glorify Him by our lives. Let us put our faith in Him and do whatever we can to serve the Lord ever more faithfully from now on. May all of us be faithful witnesses of Our Lord’s truth and Resurrection, and bear the Good News of His love, that more and more may come to entrust themselves to the Lord, the Bread of Life, our Hope and Saviour, through us. May God bless us all in our every good works and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 29 April 2022 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 6 : 1-15

At that time, Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, near Tiberias, and large crowds followed Him, because of the miraculous signs they saw, when He healed the sick. So He went up into the hills and sat down there with His disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand.

Then lifting up His eyes, Jesus saw the crowds that were coming to Him, and said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread so that these people may eat?” He said this to test Philip, for He Himself knew what He was going to do. Philip answered Him, “Two hundred silver coins would not buy enough bread for each of them to have a piece.”

Then one of Jesus’ disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass there, so the people, about five thousand men, sat down. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were seated. He did the same with the fish, and gave them as much as they wanted.

And when they had eaten enough, He told His disciples, “Gather up the pieces left over, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with bread, that is, with pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

When the people saw the miracle which Jesus had performed, they said, “This is really the Prophet, the One Who is to come into the world.” Jesus realised that they would come and take Him by force to make Him King; so He fled to the hills by Himself.

Friday, 29 April 2022 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 26 : 1, 4, 13-14

The Lord is my Light and my Salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the Rampart of my life; I will not be afraid.

One thing I ask of the Lord, one thing I seek – that I may dwell in His house all the days of my life, to gaze at His jewel and to visit His sanctuary.

I hope, I am sure, that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Trust in the Lord, be strong and courageous. Yes, put your hope in the Lord!

Friday, 29 April 2022 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 5 : 34-42

But one of the members of the Council, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law highly respected by the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin. He ordered the men to be taken outside for a few minutes and then he spoke to the assembly.

“Fellow Israelites, consider well what you intend to do to these men. For some time ago Theudas came forward, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men joined him. But he was killed and all his followers were dispersed or disappeared.”

“After him, Judas the Galilean appeared at the time of the census and persuaded many people to follow him. But he too perished and his whole following was scattered. So, in this present case, I advise you to have nothing to do with these men. Leave them alone. If their project or activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. If, on the other hand, it is from God, you will not be able to destroy it and you may indeed find yourselves fighting against God.”

The Council let themselves be persuaded. They called in the Apostles and had them whipped, and ordered them not to speak again of Jesus Saviour. Then they set them free. The Apostles went out from the Council rejoicing that they were considered worthy to suffer disgrace for the sake of the Name. Day after day, both in the Temple and in people’s homes, they continued to teach and to proclaim that Jesus was the Messiah.

Thursday, 29 April 2021 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, 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 Scripture, we are reminded yet again as we have constantly been reminded throughout this season of Easter of how fortunate we are to be beloved by God each and every moments of our lives. He has graciously given us all so many blessings and wonders throughout all these time that we are always beloved and taken care of by Him Who loves us dearly. All of us belong to God and God treats us as His own children.

In our first reading today, we heard the testimony of St. Paul as he preached to the Jewish people in diaspora in Antioch in Pisidia, as he was asked by the synagogue officials to give words of encouragement to the people assembled there on the Sabbath. He spoke of how God had saved His people from harm and destruction when He rescued them from their slavery in the land of Egypt. He reminded all of the people of the generous love by which God took their ancestors out of the land of their slavery and led them into the land promised.

And St. Paul also continued on speaking of how God sent His Saviour into the world, born of the House of David as predicted and prophesied by the prophets, and how St. John the Baptist came not long before Him, to prepare His way and call the people all to repentance and to embrace once again the truth of God and be forgiven from their sins through His Saviour, Jesus Christ, of Whom St. Paul was preaching about in all those occasions with great zeal and courage.

The Lord has sent St. Paul and the other Apostles and disciples to all the people, the children of God, to be the bearers of His Good News and truth as He said in our Gospel today, and all those who listens to the ones whom He has sent, listens to Him, and they receive the truth and should they all remain in faith, then they shall be blessed and be saved. He has called on all to be His followers, and He has also called more and more to be like St. Paul, as those to whom He entrusts the mission of the conversion of sinners.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we listened to all these from the Scriptures, we are then reminded that we ourselves as part of the Church have the same calling and obligation to be witnesses for the truth of Our Lord, to be His exemplary disciples and followers that by our lives and actions, by our words and dedication, our good role model and deeds, we may inspire many others like what St. Paul and the other Apostles, the saints and many holy martyrs had done with their own lives and throughout their respective ministries.

Today, we are all called to look upon the great example showed by one great woman and saint, whose life and dedication inspired so many of her time and beyond, and even Popes were listening to her advice and words. St. Catherine of Siena was renowned for her great piety and dedication to the Lord, that since her youth she has committed herself to the Lord, opposing the efforts made to marry her to a widower. And later on, after constant struggle and determination, through prayer and faith eventually St. Catherine of Siena managed to enter into life consecrated to God.

Throughout her life, St. Catherine of Siena had become great source of inspiration for so many others as she lived her life most virtuously and dedicated herself to a holy life of service to the people of God as she ministered to the poor and the sick in her community and beyond. She helped to rejuvenate the faith in many segments of the community and gained a lot of influence and trust from various members of the Church, including from the Popes, the Cardinals and the bishops in various places. Many sought her for advice and guidance.

St. Catherine of Siena was instrumental in helping the Church, then bitterly divided by factional tension and by various disagreements, by divisions that existed between rival claimants to the Papacy and the divided support from the Christendom which led to a fracturing of Christian unity. She helped to give advice to the Church leaders and elders, and encouraged the Pope to return to Rome and address all the problems and things that had led to the troubles in the Church at that time.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through the courage and the faith showed by St. Catherine of Siena, all of us are called and encouraged to follow the Lord in the same manner too. Are we willing to do so, brethren? Are we able to commit ourselves wholeheartedly to Him, doing our very best to glorify Him through our lives, and inspiring one another and so many others who have not yet known the Lord. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 29 April 2021 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 13 : 16-20

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly, I say to you, the servant is not greater than his master, nor is the messenger greater than he who sent him. Understand this, and blessed are you, if you put it into practice.”

“I am not speaking of you all, because I know the ones I have chosen, and the Scripture has to be fulfilled that says : The one who shared My table has risen against Me. I tell you this now before it happens, so that when it does happen, you may know that I am He.”

“Truly, I say to you, whoever welcomes the one I send, welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me, welcomes the One Who sent Me.”

Thursday, 29 April 2021 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 88 : 2-3, 21-22, 25 and 27

I will sing forever, o Lord, of Your love and proclaim Your faithfulness from age to age. I will declare how steadfast is Your love, how firm Your faithfulness.

I have found David My servant, and with My holy oil I have anointed him. My hand will be ever with him and My arm will sustain.

My faithfulness and love will be with him, and by My help he will be strong. He will call on Me, ‘You are my Father, my God, my Rock, my Saviour.’

Thursday, 29 April 2021 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 13 : 13-25

From Paphos, Paul and his companions set sail and came to Perga in Pamphylia. There John left them and returned to Jerusalem, while they went on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia. On the Sabbath day they entered the synagogue and sat down. After the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the officials of the synagogue sent this message to them, “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the assembly, please speak up.”

So Paul arose, motioned to them for silence and began, “Fellow Israelites and also all you who fear God, listen. The God of our people Israel chose our ancestors, and after He had made them increase during their stay in Egypt, He led them out by powerful deeds.”

“For forty years He fed them in the desert, and after He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He gave them their land as an inheritance. All this took four hundred and fifty years. After that, he gave them Judges until Samuel the prophet. Then they asked for a king and God gave them Saul, son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, and he was king for forty years.”

“After that time, God removed him and raised up David as king, to whom He bore witness saying : ‘I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all I want him to do.’ It is from the descendants of David that God has now raised up the promised Saviour of Israel, Jesus.”

“Before He appeared, John proclaimed a baptism of repentance for all the people of Israel. As John was ending his life’s work, he said : ‘I am not what you think I am, for after me another One is coming Whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.'”

Wednesday, 29 April 2020 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are reminded that there will be difficulties, persecutions and challenges in our way as we seek to be faithful Christians and to obey the Lord in all things. We are not going to have it easy if we choose to follow the Lord’s commandments and walk faithfully in His path. Just as mentioned in our first reading today, even from the earliest days of the Church there had been persecutions against the faithful, and martyrdom as shown by St. Stephen and his martyrdom.

We heard of how Saul, the zealous and misguided young Pharisee, attempted to destroy the then still very young and fledging Church, using force and even violence to strike at the followers of Christ and all who were suspected to be Christians, not sparing even the women and children. There had been many sufferings and trials those early Christians had to suffer, and many had to endure prison and even martyrdom because of their steadfast faith in God.

But despite all of these, we must not lose heart just as those Christians remained strong in their faith, as they still committed themselves to the cause of the Lord and His Church even amidst the persecutions, like what St. Philip the Apostle had done, in preaching the Good News of God and performing his ministry even at the height of the persecution from the Jewish authorities and the vengeful but misguided crusade of people like Saul, the future St. Paul in those days when he was still a great enemy of the Church.

Saul has been a great persecutor of the faithful, but later on, God would call him and in turn he repented and became instead a great champion of the Church and the faith. And this is just how we must truly have faith and put our trust in God, for God will surely be with us, and we do not need to worry, for God has His plans for us. If someone who had been so vicious and so dangerous to the Church as Saul could be converted and had such a total change in his life to be a follower of God, then everything is indeed possible for God, although we may have thought that such a thing is impossible.

All the Apostles, the disciples and all those Christians, our very own predecessors have been able to persevere through those difficult moments, through those persecutions and trials because they truly put their trust in the Lord, their Risen and glorious Saviour. In our Gospel passage today, we continue to hear from what yesterday’s Gospel had told us on the discourse of the Bread of Life. Christ referred to Himself as the Bread of Life, to the disgust of some of His own followers who failed to understand what He had meant properly.

Through His gift of the Eucharist to us, the Lord has strengthened us and make us all to share in His Body and Blood, that all of us who partake in His own Most Precious Body and Blood, are united in this Communion with Him, the whole entire Church together, both all of us who are living in the present in this world, and also all those who have gone before us triumphantly, the same Apostles and disciples and all those who had endured martyrdom for their faith, namely the saints and martyrs, as well as all the holy souls in purgatory waiting for their time to enter the glory of Heaven.

All of us share in this same Bread of Life, the Lord Jesus Christ through Whom we have received the assurance of eternal life if we trust Him and have complete faith in Him. He has called us all from the nations and brought us to Him, that through Him we may find our way to the eternal glory with Him in heaven. That is why we must look forward to this and focus our attention on the Lord, our Hope and our Light, even when we may encounter difficulties and challenges in our lives as Christians.

Today, let us also look upon the good examples of our predecessor, St. Catherine of Siena, a great and renowned saint and Doctor of the Church whose life and contributions to the Church are still felt and experienced even to this very day. She was renowned for her many visions and experiences of the faith with the Lord that she had received from when she was as young as five or six years old, and which she would continue to receive through life.

She devoted herself and her whole life to the Lord, and she wrote extensively about her experiences and her visions, as well as treatises about the faith and the Church. She was deeply respected and honoured for her faith and piety, for her great visions and writings, and she was involved even in the resolutions of conflicts that were common at her time, in what is now Italy, over six hundred years ago. Even Popes and Cardinals at that time sought her advice and help for the issues of the Church.

St. Catherine of Siena truly placed her complete faith in the Lord, the Bread of Life, as she committed herself to an almost daily reception of the Holy Eucharist, living with great simplicity and practiced fasting so often that she had to be reminded to take care of herself. Nonetheless, her faith sustained her throughout her life and missions, her contributions and efforts in rejuvenation of the faith and the Church.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to imitate the good examples of St. Catherine of Siena in her faith and dedication to the Lord? Let us all put more of our trust in the Lord, and be more committed in our faith from now on, and appreciate this most wonderful gift He has given us in the Eucharist? By sharing in the Bread of Life, all of us will be strengthened in faith and in our lives, especially important in these days when things seem so bleak and hopeless all around us.

Let us all share our hope in the Lord, and share this joy of having the Bread of Life, the Christ with us, with one another. May the Lord be with us always and may He guide us through our journey, now and always. Amen.

Wednesday, 29 April 2020 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 6 : 35-40

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “I am the Bread of Life; whoever comes to Me shall never be hungry, and whoever believes in Me shall never be thirsty. Nevertheless, as I said, you refuse to believe, even when you have seen. Yet all those whom the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me, I shall not turn away. For I have come from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of the One Who sent Me.”

“And the will of Him Who sent Me is that I lose nothing of what He has given Me, but instead that I raise it up on the last day. This is the will of the Father, that whoever sees the Son and believes in Him shall live eternal life; and I will raise him up on the last day.”