Monday, 26 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all presented with the reminders for us to remain faithful to God and obedient to Him. Each one of us are expected to commit ourselves to His cause and to follow Him wholeheartedly, giving our whole lives and attention, focusing our hearts and minds on Him, and dedicating our time and efforts to His cause. All of us should be genuine in our faith and way of life so that we may be truly exemplary and worthy of the Lord, despite the many challenges and trials that we may have to face amidst that path of following the Lord.

In our first reading today, all of us heard from the Book of Job the beginning of a series of discourse from this servant of God named Job, who was well-known for being one struck down by Satan and afflicted with all sorts of maladies and unfortunate occurrences and events, and yet remained faithful to the Lord despite all of that. We heard how God and Satan had a conversation in which the latter made a bet that should he strike down at Job and his belongings, and eventually even at his own body and physical being, then Job would abandon the Lord and defy Him. But God knew Job well and He knew that Job would always be faithful.

Historically, there was little evidence that Job ever actually existed, and consensus amongst Biblical scholars and archaeologists are that Job was actually a figurative person probably based on some real stories and experiences, who was highlighted and told in order to show us the importance of perseverance in faith, and how God would not abandon His faithful ones even amidst the greatest of challenges and trials. God will always remember all of His people, and all the more so for those who have shown their faith to Him. It may be that we have to suffer for a time and for some moments, but in the end, we shall be triumphant together with God.

Regardless whether Job was actually historical, existent or not, we should heed the message of what we have heard from the Book of Job and based on what more we knew about Job and his story. God always loves all of His people, and He has always shown His love and care in ways that we may often even not be aware of. The Lord wants us to know that we always have Him by our side and despite the challenges that we have to face, we can always depend on Him and trust in Him. Unfortunately, often time it is we who abandon Him and ignore Him, and put our trust in everything else but the Lord.

That is why in our Gospel passage today, we heard the words of the Lord Jesus speaking to His disciples, which serve as a reminder that all of us ought to seek the Lord with genuine faith, like that of little children coming towards the Lord. Those little children came to the Lord with true and genuine faith, unadulterated and unaffected by worldly ambitions, desires and other things that often distracted us from our path towards God. We must not allow ourselves to be swayed by those who seek our downfall and destruction, and we have to heed the Lord’s words, His calling and all that He had done for our sake.

The Lord called on all of us to be humble and to free ourselves from all sorts of worldly temptations and delusions, all the false treasures and corruptions often present all around us, and remaining faithful to God. Job was able to remain faithful to God despite the many calamities he had encountered, in the numerous material and personal losses that he had to endure, all because he trusted in the Lord much more than he trusted in the powers, wealth and might of the world. He trusted that God Who had given him everything, had the right to take everything back from him, and that God would take care of him and all that he needed. That is, brothers and sisters, the faith that all of us should have as well.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, holy martyrs of the Church, who were persecuted and tortured for their faith in God during the great persecution of the Church and Christians by the Roman Emperor Diocletian. According to Church tradition and martyrology, St. Cosmas and St. Damian were twin brothers who were also physicians, and were renowned for their loving care for the poor and the sick, as they were known not to take any payment for those who were sick and yet were unable to pay for the medical fees and services. They were popular because of their skill as healers, and this eventually led them to be arrested by the authorities.

Despite their many efforts to try to persuade, coerce and force St. Cosmas and St. Damian from abandoning their faith in God, even with temptations and riches, the authorities were not able to sway the two physician brothers and they could not force them to recant their faith and reject God. And hence, after a period of torture and suffering, eventually each one of them were subjected to capital punishments and were martyred for their faith. The examples and inspiration shown by St. Cosmas and St. Damian truly still inspired many all around the world even to this day, for their faith and dedication to the Lord. We too should be inspired by their examples.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore commit ourselves ever more to the Lord from now on, dedicating our lives to serve Him and to walk in His path, becoming great beacons of His light and truth in our world today. Let us all not be swayed by the temptations of the world, but instead do our best to strive and glorify God by our every actions, words and deeds, to be faithful to Him like what St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Job the faithful man of God, and many others of our holy predecessors. May more and more people come to know the Lord through us, and may more and more souls come to the salvation and eternal glory in God through our faithful witness and actions. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 26 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Luke 9 : 46-50

At that time, one day, the disciples were arguing about which of them was the most important. But Jesus knew their thoughts, so He took a little child and stood him by His side. Then He said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in My Name, welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me, welcomes the One Who sent Me. And listen : the one who is found to be the least among you all, is the one who is the greatest.”

Then John spoke up, “Master, we saw someone who drives out demons by calling upon Your Name, and we tried to forbid him, because he does not follow You with us.” But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him. He who is not against you is for you.”

Monday, 26 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 16 : 1, 2-3, 6-7

Hear a just cause, o YHVH, listen to my complaint. Give heed to my prayer, for there is no deceit on my lips.

Let my defence come forth from You; Your eyes see what is right. You have probed my heart, searched me at night, tested me by fire, and You have seen no wickedness in me.

I call on You, You will answer me, o God; incline Your ear and hear my word. For You do wonders for Your faithful, You save those fleeing from the enemy as they seek refuge at Your right hand.

Monday, 26 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Job 1 : 6-22

One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before YHVH, and Satan came with them. YHVH asked Satan, “Where have you been?” Satan answered, “Going up and down the earth, roaming about.”

YHVH asked again, “Have you noticed My servant Job? No one on earth is as blameless and upright as he, a man who fears God and avoids evil.” But Satan returned the question, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not built a protective wall around him and his family and all his possessions? You have blessed and prospered him, with his livestock all over the land. But stretch out Your hand and strike where his riches are, and I bet he will curse You to Your face.”

YHVH said to Satan, “Very well, all that he has is in your power. But do not lay a finger upon the man himself.” So Satan left the presence of YHVH. One day, while his sons and daughters were feasting in the house of their eldest brother, a messenger came to Job and said, “Your oxen were plowing, and your donkeys were grazing nearby when the Sabaeans came and carried them off. They killed the herdsmen. I alone escaped to tell you.”

While he was still speaking, another messenger came, “God’s fire fell from the sky and burnt all your sheep and the shepherds as well. I alone have escaped to tell you.” He had hardly finished speaking when another messenger arrived, “Three raiding teams of Chaldeans have killed your servants and carried off your camels. I alone have escaped to tell you.”

He was still speaking when another messenger came and said to Job, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking in the house of their eldest brother when suddenly a great wind blew across the desert and struck the house. It collapsed on the young people and they all died. I alone have escaped to tell you.”

In grief Job tore his clothes and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground and worshipped, saying, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, naked shall I return. YHVH gave, YHVH has taken away. Blessed be His Name!”

In spite of this calamity, Job did not sin by blaspheming God.

Saturday, 26 September 2020 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are all reminded of the shortness of our lives, the temporary nature of our earthly existence, and how we are reminded not to lose ourselves in the pursuit of worldly matters and pleasures, just as we have been reminded in the past few days from this Book of Qoheleth or Ecclesiastes.

The author of this book clearly intended to remind the people of his time of the many excesses of worldly desires, their decadent lifestyle and refusal to obey the Law of God. And throughout history, we have seen how greed and attachment to desire had led to the conflicts that raged in wars and conquests, in the exploitation of the weak and the vulnerable, those who were poor and sick.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is what happens when we place our own selfish desires above our faith, and when we allow all these to tempt us and sway us to indulge in all sorts of worldly and materials pursuits. And we are reminded by these readings, including from our Psalm today, ‘Make us know the shortness of our lives, that we may gain wisdom of heart.’

Yes, often we may end up becoming foolish in our endless and persistent desire for all that I have mentioned earlier. We spent so much time to worry about all those things, and spent much of our energy to gain for ourselves all these so that we can gain satisfaction. And our greed makes us to desire for even more and more, never fully satisfying or fulfilling our needs and desires.

In the end, with all these accumulated in our hands, what are we going to do with it, brothers and sisters in Christ? Even the greatest piles of money and wealth can be destroyed or vanished overnight, as how past financial crises had showed us. Many despaired after the Great Depression after losing all that they had, even when they were very wealthy earlier on. And no amount of food, luxury and other goods can be lasting to us.

In the end, we must realise as how Job did, that naked we had been born into this world, empty and without any possessions, and thus in the same manner we shall depart from this world, from our earthly existence. We shall not bring any of our worldly possessions, or fame or glory with us. What we shall receive in the end, is either eternal glory and true joy with God, or eternity of regret and suffering, especially if we have rejected God for the sake of our worldly pursuits.

It is indeed a great folly for us to reject true happiness and joy that can be found in the Lord alone. But if we are wondering why this is the case, that is because we are easily tempted, and we often look for quick happiness and pleasure that all these false happiness are offering us. That is why many of us fell and failed in our journey of faith, as we prioritise our own selfish desires rather than our faith in God.

Today, all of us should look upon the examples of our holy predecessors to help guide us in what we should do in order to be faithful to God. We celebrate the feast of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, renowned saints, who were physicians by trade and according to some traditions, were twin brothers. They lived through the difficult years for the Christian faith, as the Roman Empire and its administration persecuted all the Christians, and forced them to abandon their faith on the pain of death.

They were renowned for their services as physicians, caring for the needs of the sick and all the diseased. And most notably, they refused to accept any payment or returns for their services, which they offered voluntarily and with much love and great care for those whom they treated. It was told that miracles even happened as there were those who were miraculously healed by their intercession.

When the Christian faith was persecuted even more harshly under the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, both of them were arrested and were tortured to force them to abandon their Christian faith. But St. Cosmas and St. Damian remained faithful and chose to suffer, which according to some accounts including being hung on a cross, stoned and shot by arrows and finally they were beheaded, dying a martyr’s death.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all look upon the exemplary faith of the brothers St. Cosmas and St. Damian, generous in love and compassion, putting God and their fellow brothers and sisters above their own needs and desires. Are we able and willing to follow that example? Let us all spend some time to discern carefully on these and do what we can to be ever more faithful and be genuine in how we live up to our Christian faith.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He guide us in our journey of faith. May He bless us and strengthen us, and empower us all to live virtuously and not be swayed or shaken by the many temptations of worldly matters. Let us all dedicate ourselves ever more faithfully to the Lord from now on and always. Amen.

Saturday, 26 September 2020 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

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

Luke 9 : 43b-45

At that time, while all were amazed at everything Jesus did, He said to His disciples, “Listen, and remember what I tell you now : The Son of Man will be betrayed into the hands of men.” But the disciples did not understand this saying; something prevented them from grasping what He meant, and they were afraid to ask Him about it.

Saturday, 26 September 2020 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (Psalm)

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

Psalm 89 : 3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14 and 17

You turn humans back to dust, saying, “Return, o mortals!” A thousand years in Your sight are like a day that has passed, or like a watch in the night.

You sow them in their time, a dawn they peep out. In the morning they blossom, but the flower fades and withers in the evening.

So make us know the shortness of our life, that we may gain wisdom of heart. How long will You be angry, o YHVH? Have mercy on Your servant.

Fill us at daybreak with Your goodness, that we may be glad all our days. May the sweetness of YHVH be upon us; may He prosper the work of our hands.

Saturday, 26 September 2020 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (First Reading)

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

Qoheleth (Ecclesiastes) 11 : 9 – Qoheleth 12 : 8

Rejoice, young man, in your youth and direct well your heart when you are young; follow your desires and achieve your ambitions but recall that God will take account of all you do.

Drive sorrow from your heart and pain from your flesh, for youth and dark hair will not last. Be mindful of your Creator when you are young, before the time of sorrow comes when you have to say, “This gives me no pleasure,” and before the sun, moon and stars withdraw their light, before the clouds gather again after the rain.

On the day when the guardians of the house tremble, when sturdy men are bowed and those at the mill stop working because they are too few, when it grows dim for those looking through the windows, and the doors are shut and the noise of the mill grows faint, the sparrow stops chirping and the bird-song is silenced, when one fears the slopes and to walk is frightening;

Yet the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper is fat and the caperberry bears fruit that serves no purpose, because man goes forward to his eternal home and mourners gather in the street, even before the silver chain is snapped or the golden globe is shattered, before the pitcher is broken at the fountain or the wheel at the mill, before the dust returns to the earth from which it came and the spirit returns to God Who gave it.

Meaningless! Meaningless! The teacher says; all is meaningless!

Thursday, 26 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of God in the Scriptures reminding us about the time for us to embrace God’s love and compassion to their fullest, knowing that He has always loved us dearly and He never ceases to want to reach out to us, welcoming us back into His embrace and forgiving us from our sins. And we should not wait any longer and try our best to seek Him out at the soonest opportunity available.

In our first reading today, we heard the passage taken from the Book of the prophet Haggai in which God spoke through the prophet Haggai to the people of God represented by their leader Zerubbabel, the heir of David and the other leaders and elders of the community. God told them all to reconsider their continued delaying and refusal to rebuild the House of God in Jerusalem even after they have returned to their ancestral homeland from their exile in Babylon.

The people have rebuilt their houses and cities and they have resettled back nicely in their ancestral land, and yet, the prophet Haggai pointed out that as long as the House of their Lord, the Temple in the city of Jerusalem has not been rebuilt yet, to replace the one built by Solomon that has been destroyed by the Babylonians, the Israelites would not be able to find true and lasting happiness and peace.

And that is all because of the fact that God has not been truly at the heart and centre of their community, and the Lord had not yet dwelled again amidst His people as He had once done. And that was why the prophet Haggai insisted that the people rebuild the Temple of Jerusalem and put their priorities right, spending the effort to return the Lord’s glory back in the midst of His people.

The Temple is a very important centre of the community of the Israelites, especially for the community post-exile from Babylon, as it was a new centre of their community that had once been scattered in the faraway lands, as the focal point of all the believers in God, and where they would go on the days of the important festivals and celebrations like the Passover among many other festivals and celebrations.

And we can see all that in how at the time of the Lord Jesus, throughout the Gospels and into the time of the Apostles and the early Church, the Temple played such a very important role in the Jewish community and also among the earliest Christians who went to the Temple to gather and worship, and the Lord Himself spent a lot of time teaching at the Temple, and as we all know, He once cleared that same Temple from the corruption of merchants and cheaters with zealous anger.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, what then is the significance of today’s Scripture readings to us? It is the fact that all of us are God’s chosen people, and therefore, rightfully, God should be at the very centre of our lives and our existences. We should not tarry and wait, postpone and delay in doing this just as what the Israelites had done in rebuilding the House of God while they have rebuilt their houses and cities.

It means that just as we continue to live our lives, building our careers and families, and even our wealth and property, our worldly belongings and things that we desire, we must always remember that our obligation is to focus ourselves on God and place Him at the very centre of our lives, and in everything we say and do, we must always have God in mind, or else indeed it will be very easy for us to go astray and fall into sin.

Today let us all reflect on this, and how we can make ourselves to be better Christians more attuned to God’s will and more capable of walking down this journey of faith. And we should look for inspiration from two of His faithful saints, St. Cosmas and St. Damian, two holy martyrs of the Church and devout servants of God who had given their whole lives to the service of God, and remained faithful to the very end.

St. Cosmas and St. Damian were known as famous physicians who were also twins, and they were known to treat the poor and the needy without charging them for their services. They also remained true and faithful to God even amidst the persecution of Christians at that time under the Roman Emperor Diocletian. St. Cosmas and St. Damian were martyred, but their courageous faith and also upright life and generosity in loving others truly showed us what it truly means for us to be Christians.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to follow in their footsteps? Are we able to walk the same path that St. Cosmas and St. Damian had walked, in following God wholeheartedly and giving ourselves to Him in each and every words, actions and deeds we take? Let us all draw ever closer to God and let us be ever more faithful to Him from now on, so that we may truly come to the eternal glory He has promised us all who are faithful to Him. Amen.

Thursday, 26 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Luke 9 : 7-9

At that time, king Herod heard of all that Jesus and His disciples had done, and did not know what to think, for people said, “This is John, raised from the dead.”

Others believed that Elijah, or one of the ancient prophets, had come back to life. As for Herod, he said, “I had John beheaded. Who is this Man, about Whom I hear such wonders?” And he was anxious to see Him.