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.

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

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

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

Alleluia! Sing to YHVH a new song, sing His praise in the assembly of His saints. Let Israel rejoice in his Maker; let the people of Zion glory in their King!

Let them dance in praise of His Name; and make music for music for Him with harp and timbrel. For YHVH delights in His people; He crowns the lowly with victory.

The saints will exult in triumph; even at night, on their couches, let the praise of God be on their lips. This is the glory of all His saints. Alleluia!

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

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Haggai 1 : 1-8

In the second year of the reign of Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, a word of YHVH was directed to the prophet Haggai, for the benefit of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest.

So says YHVH of hosts : This people claim that the time to rebuild the House of YHVH has not yet come. Well now, hear what I have to say through the prophet Haggai : Is this the time for you to live in your well-built houses while this House is a heap of ruins? Think about your ways : you have sown much but harvested little; you eat and drink, but are not satisfied; you clothe yourselves, but still feel cold; and the labourer puts the money he earned in a tattered purse.

Now think about what you must do : go to the mountain and look for wood to rebuild the House. This will make me happy; and I will feel deeply honoured, says YHVH.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018 : 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 word of God from the Scriptures, in which we heard from our Gospel passage today, of the moment when the Lord Jesus sent out His disciples to go before Him to the many towns and villages He Himself was about to go, in order to prepare His way before His coming, by preaching to the people about the truth of His salvation.

He told them all not to bring with them any spare money, provisions, or even tunic and clothings. Literally He told them to go forth into their missionary journey with the bare minimum of what they had on them, their own bodies and the least of all conveniences available to them. And why did He do so? That is because He wanted them all not to depend on all of their earthly goods and assistances.

The disciples should not put their trust in their own strength, or in their worldly resources and abilities. Instead, they should trust wholeheartedly in God, putting themselves and entrusting themselves in His care and love. They must draw upon the strength and the grace of God, which He has given to each and every one of us in our own way. In that manner then, they will truly be able to do their work and calling with the right intention in mind.

Otherwise, if they depended on their own strength and abilities, their own resources and their own efforts, then they will have vested interests in the conduct of their daily missionary works. They will then be biased in their works, depending on whether what they invested in the work give positive returns in the end. That means, our human instinct of desiring reward and affirmation will kick in, and should what we have given does not give us the return we want, then we will not be willing to give more.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why the Lord sent them out with the barest minimum in everything so that they may put their complete trust in God in everything, from everything good or bad that might have happened to them, in everything they encountered in life, and throughout their mission, that God alone is the centre, the focus, the purpose and the destination of their whole effort, their works and their ministry.

And thus, God has laid for us the expectation which He made for all of us as parts and members of His Church, to be God-centric and full of faith in Him as we go about doing our works and contributions as His servants and witnesses in faith. Unfortunately, the reality is that many of us have not been true to this expectation which the Lord has given us, especially because of our attachments to the world and all of its temptations.

That is why, all of us in the Church, especially in the different Church ministries and segments ended up being embroiled in politicking and internal rivalries, because we have forgotten what it means for us to serve the Lord through His Church and as members of His Church. We make use of the Church and its ministries as springboard to our own success and self-serving goals, to be more affluent and gain more influence in the community.

But that is not what we should be doing as servants and followers of God. Instead, we should resist the temptations of our pride and human desires, for all sorts of worldly satisfaction of power, of wealth, of glory and fame. We should realise that our sole and main objective is not our personal satisfaction or achievement, but rather, the glorification of God and the advancement of His work of salvation among us.

And in doing so, we must realise that the journey will not be all smooth and good for us, as there is bound to be rejection and challenges we will encounter along the way. What the Lord said to His disciples at that time was a premonition of what they would encounter, in the various persecutions that they would endure for the sake of the Lord and His people. Many martyrs of the faith were made when the world struck back against the good and faithful workers of the Lord.

Today, we celebrate the feast of two holy martyrs, St. Cosmas and St. Damian. St. Cosmas and St. Damian were renowned physicians who took care of the maladies and sicknesses of both the flesh and the spirit, through their expertise in medicine and in the matter of the faith. Many people came to them seeking for help, and many of these were cured when the two saints touched them and worked on them.

But they had to endure horrible persecution of the faithful and the Church by the Roman Emperor Diocletian. They were arrested and tortured, and yet they remained faithful despite the offers to free and reward them should they willingly want to abandon their faith. St. Cosmas and St. Damian remained faithful unto death in martyrdom, and by their examples in faith and charity, they have become our inspiration in faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all commit ourselves to the Lord as St. Cosmas and St. Damian, as well as the many other holy men and women had done before us. May the Lord guide us in our journey of life, that we will be ever more faithful to Him, and draw ever closer to Him, each and every days of our life, enduring whatever persecution and challenges that may come our way. Amen.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Luke 9 : 1-6

At that time, Jesus called His Twelve disciples and gave them power and authority to drive out all evil spirits and to heal diseases. And He sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He instructed them, “Do not take anything for the journey, neither staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not even take a spare tunic.”

“Whatever house you enter, remain there until you leave that place. And wherever they do not welcome you, leave the town and shake the dust from your feet : it will be as a testimony against them.”

So they set out, and went through the villages, proclaiming the Good News and healing people everywhere.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 118 : 29, 72, 89, 101, 104, 163

Keep me away from deceitful paths; be gracious and teach me Your Law.

Your Law is more precious to me than heaps of silver and gold.

O YHVH, Your word stands forever, firmly fixed in the heavens.

I turn my feet from evil paths, that I may keep step with Your word.

Your precepts have given me knowledge, and I hate all that is false.

I hate and abhor falsehood, but I love Your Law.