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.

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

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Proverbs 30 : 5-9

Every word of God is true, He is a shield in Whom man can find refuge. Add nothing to His words lest He rebuke you and take you for a liar. O God, two things I beg of You, do not deny me them before I die. Keep lying and falsehood far away from me, give me neither poverty nor riches.

Give me just as much food as I need lest, satisfied, I deny You and say, “Who is YHVH?” Or else, out of necessity, I steal and profane the Name of my God.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017 : 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 heard the Gospel speaking to us about doing the will of God in our lives, and that those who obey the Lord and do His will shall be considered as the brothers and sisters of our Lord, meaning as those whom God had chosen to be His own people. And consequently, we are expected, as Christians, to do God’s will in our lives.

In the first reading today, we continue with the discourse from the Book of the prophet Ezra which began yesterday, speaking of the time when the people of Israel were freed from their Babylonian exile and slavery, and they were allowed to return to the land of their ancestors. They were also allowed to rebuild the Temple of God in Jerusalem, and today we heard of the preparations which were in place to reestablish fully the worship of God.

The priests and the relevant people were appointed just as the Temple of God was rebuilt in Jerusalem. The sacrifices and celebrations which had not been celebrated anymore ever since the days of the kingdom of Israel and Judah were celebrated once again, and the worship of God therefore continued once again in its proper order, and the people flocked to return to God.

The people of Israel and Judah had once been sinful and wicked in their actions, and they have not been faithful to God, and instead they worshipped the pagan gods and idols, which resulted in their estrangement from the Lord and their exile, the destruction of their kingdoms and livelihoods, until the time when they have repented from their sins, and therefore were allowed to return to the promised land, as we have heard in the passages from the Book of Ezra.

What God wanted from all of them was their dedication, love and commitment, not their empty gestures and sacrifices. He wanted them to love Him with all of their hearts and not merely just paying lip service in faith. That is why He constantly reminded us His people, that our faith in Him can neither be lukewarm or superficial. We should have genuine love for God, the strong desire in our hearts to be with God and to commit ourselves to His ways.

Today we should learn from the examples of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, the holy and dedicated servants of God, whose commitments to God have been exemplary, and whose faith in the Lord are truly inspirations for all of us. St. Cosmas and St. Damian were told to be twin brothers who were renowned physicians in the Roman province of Syria, who were martyred during the time of the great persecution under the Roman Emperor Diocletian.

They were very renowned physicians who were remembered fondly by many because of their sincere and generous devotion to the people, by not charging a single cent for their services. They did their services out of pure love for God and men alike. Their selflessness turned many towards the Christian faith, who were stirred by the faith which the twin saints practiced in their lives and in how they healed many from their afflictions.

Yet, the two saints were arrested during the great persecution of Christians, and were put to death in martyrdom, defending their faith to the very end. Nonetheless, the memory of their great faith, and the great love and compassion they have shown to their brethren were not forgotten, and still inspired many people to this very day. This is what all of us Christians should aspire to achieve in our lives.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all, inspired by the holy lives of the saints, particularly that of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, be true disciples of our Lord in deeds and actions, that in our every works, and in our every actions, we will always show forth that we truly belong to the Lord, by loving one another, and by caring for the least fortunate among us, practicing our faith in our every deeds in life. May God be with us all, and may He bless all of our good works. Amen.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Luke 8 : 19-21

At that time, the mother of Jesus and His relatives came to Him; but they could not get to Him because of the crowd. Someone told Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside and wish to meet You.”

Then Jesus answered, “My mother and My brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”

Tuesday, 26 September 2017 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 121 : 1-2, 3-4a, 4b-5

I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the House of YHVH!” And now we have set foot within your gates, o Jerusalem!

Jerusalem, just like a city, where everything falls into place! There, the tribes go up, the tribes of YHVH, the assembly of Israel.

To give thanks to YHVH’s Name. There stand the courts of justice, the offices of the house of David.