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.”

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

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 65 : 1-3a, 4-5, 6-7a

Shout with joy to God, all you on earth; sing to the glory of His Name; proclaim His glorious praise. Say to God, “How great are Your deeds!”

All the earth bows down to You, making music, in praise of You, singing in honour of Your Name. Come, and see God’s wonders; His deeds, awesome for humans.

He has turned the sea into dry land, and the river was crossed on foot. Let us, therefore, rejoice in Him. He rules by His might forever.

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

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 8 : 1b-8

This was the beginning of a great persecution against the Church in Jerusalem. All, except the Apostles, were scattered throughout the region of Judea and Samaria. Devout men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. Saul, meanwhile, was trying to destroy the Church. He entered house after house and dragged off men and women, and had them put in jail.

At the same time, those who were scattered went about, preaching the word. Philip went down to a town of Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there. All the people paid close attention to what Philip said as they listened to him, and saw the miraculous signs that he did. For, in cases of possession, the unclean spirits came out shrieking loudly. Many people who were paralysed or crippled, were healed. So there was great joy in the town.

Monday, 29 April 2019 : 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, on this day we listened first of all of the frustrations as shown in the prayers uttered by the Apostles, St. Peter and St. John, who at that time had just healed the sickness of a crippled man and restored him to full health in the Name of the Lord, and yet, they were oppressed, persecuted and treated like criminals, by the Sanhedrin or the Jewish High Council who wanted to stop them from performing miracles and teaching in the Name of the Lord Jesus.

They voiced out their frustrations at the stubbornness of all those who refused to believe in God and in His truth, and constantly placed obstacles in the path of the disciples of the Lord. But they trusted in the Lord and believed that He would not abandon them to their enemies. They prayed that God would guide and protect them as they embarked on the challenging and dangerous mission that He has commanded them to do.

And God sent them all the Holy Spirit, Who descended on them and filled their hearts and minds with courage and strength, with the desire and conviction to carry out the mission which has been entrusted to them. And as compared to how they were prior to receiving the Holy Spirit, the disciples had undergone a great transformation in action and in their way of life. Where they were once fearful, doubtful and easily shaken in their faith, they became courageous defenders of the Lord from then on.

And this is what the Lord Jesus actually meant in our Gospel passage today, when He discussed with Nicodemus the Pharisee, on the matter of being born again in the Spirit. Nicodemus was initially puzzled when the Lord mentioned that for him to be able to see and witness the kingdom of God, he must be born again in God. He thought that to be born again meant that one had to literally go back into his or her mother’s womb, which was not possible.

But the Lord clarified it for him, and through the examples of the Apostles, all of us have also received the truth about what being born again truly means for each and every one of us. It means that each and every one of us must go through that profound change in our lives, that is just so profound and complete, that one must seem to be unrecognisable and transformed by the change, so as to be ‘born again’.

And this happens when we allow the Lord to enter into us, and perform His work through us, by the bestowing of His Holy Spirit and His Real Presence in each and every one of us. The Apostles as we have heard earlier, prayed, and the Holy Spirit was given to the discipled who were gathered with them, so that despite all of the challenges and difficulties that they had to endure, they endured them nonetheless with great courage and faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us have also received the same gift of the Holy Spirit, and God Himself has entered into our lives, being present in us and with us. However, many among us have not been able to make use of these gifts God has given to us, and we remain aloof and indifferent to the calling and the mission which God has called us to do. This is because of our own inability to recognise God being present in us, and how we have shut ourselves from God and His love.

Today, all of us are called to reflect on our own lives, on how we have lived our lives all these while. Are we able to be truly born again in faith, by embracing what the Lord has given to us all in our own respective lives? And this requires us all to be more faithful and to be more committed in our faith in God. And perhaps, we should learn from the experiences and the examples shown to us by our holy predecessors, especially St. Catherine of Siena, whose feast day we are celebrating today.

St. Catherine of Siena was a very renowned saint of the Church, who dedicated herself into a life of sanctity and devotion to God from early on in her life. She did these all despite the oppositions from her family and the many challenges she had to encounter throughout her life. Yet, her commitment to God, her sanctity and great wisdom, in her many writings and letters inspired many others to return to their faith in God.

She was in fact so influential that she even had a crucial role in the ending of the great Western Schism, when rival Popes came to power being elected by the opposing factions and groups in the Church. She exhorted the faithful and the Pope to put their faith and obedience to God’s will as the first and foremost focus in their choice of action. And therefore the Lord showed His wonderful works through this faithful saint, by which many were saved.

Let us all therefore follow in the footsteps of St. Catherine of Siena, holy woman and servant of God, and also the examples of the Apostles and the many other holy disciples of the Lord. Let us all renew our faith and commitment, just as the disciples and St. Catherine of Siena had done, and live up to the calling which God had called us to, to be good and devoted Christians, all those whom God has called to be His own. Amen.

Monday, 29 April 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 3 : 1-8

At that time, among the Pharisees there was a ruler of the Jews named Nicodemus. He came to Jesus by night and said, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God to teach us, for no one can perform miraculous signs like Yours unless God is with Him.”

Jesus replied, “Truly, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again from above.” Nicodemus said, “How can there be rebirth for a grown man? Who could go back to his mother’s womb and be born again?” Jesus replied, “Truly, I say to you : No one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

“Because of this, do not be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again from above.’ The wind blows where it pleases and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going. It is like that with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”