Saturday, 9 October 2021 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Denis, Bishop and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs, and St. John Leonardi, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all called to be faithful to God, and to believe in Him and His providence, to do His will because all of us who are faithful to Him and remain true to our commitment to Him will not be disappointed, as God knows all of our actions and dealings, and whatever we have done, our every small little actions, for the greater glory of His Name, shall be rewarded in the end.

In our first reading today, we heard of the words of the Lord spoken to His people through the prophet Joel, who was active during the years following the return of the descendants of the Israelites from their exile in Babylon. To put things in context, the people of Israel had by then endured a lot of humiliations and sufferings because of their past sins, due to their stubborn refusal to follow the Lord and to believe in His words and the prophets that had been sent to them.

They had been beaten, oppressed and conquered by the Assyrians and the Babylonians. Their cities and towns were destroyed, and they were forced to leave their ancestral homeland for a faraway exile in Assyria and Babylon, and seeing pagans and foreigners taking over the ownership of their lands. Their Holy Temple in Jerusalem, the House of God was destroyed, a House which they themselves had long forgotten and abandoned for the worship of pagan gods and idols.

The Lord never forgot about His people though, and continued to love them despite of all the troubles and the betrayals they had done to Him. He loved them regardless and desired to reconcile themselves to Him, to love them once again and to extend His merciful hands to be reunited with them. He guided them and sent His prophets to them, and after many decades, gathered them back and through King Cyrus of Persia, led them back to their homeland, and allowing them to rebuild their towns and the Temple of God.

Therefore, through the prophet Joel, God wanted to remind His people to stand by His side and to remain faithful to Him so that they will no longer experience those periods of sufferings and challenges, and even if they were to suffer from difficulties and challenges, the Lord would be by their side and they would triumph together with Him, for He will come in the end to gather them all and lead them into the true joy and glory with Him, at the very end of time.

As we heard in our short Gospel passage today, we are all then reminded that in order to do this, what we all need to do is to be faithful to God and to commit ourselves wholeheartedly, by doing His will and obeying His laws and commandments. To do the will of God is the calling for us all as Christians, and we should do our very best to live a virtuous and exemplary life, to the best of our ability, so that even in the smallest things that we do, we will always remain faithful and committed to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us also follow the good examples set by our holy predecessors, namely St. Denis and his companions in martyrdom, as well as St. John Leonardi, faithful servants of God and saints whose feasts we are celebrating today. We should delve into their lives’ examples and be inspired with how they had led lives that were centred and focused on God, and how they had shown great faith despite the many challenges and trials they had encountered in life.

St. Denis was the Bishop of Paris during the time of the later Roman Empire, during a time of great persecution of Christians by the Roman Emperors and the state. St. Denis was sent from Rome by Pope St. Fabian, and was tasked with the evangelisation and conversion of Roman Gaul, together with several other missionaries. They encountered great challenges while having a lot of successes as well, and that time, when the Emperor Decius declared a great persecution against Christians, he and the other missionaries were arrested.

St. Denis and his companions were tortured and made to suffer for their faith in God, and they refused to give in, and finally, were led to their execution, which St. Denis suffered by beheading, together with his fellow martyrs. However, in a most miraculous and amazing occasion, St. Denis remained alive even after he was beheaded, and he picked up his head, and the head preached to the people as he walked for many kilometres, to many awed witnesses and even those who were involved in the execution. It was at the place where he stopped and finally passed into heavenly glory, that he was buried and where a great church, the Basilica of St. Denis in Paris now stands.

Meanwhile, St. John Leonardi was an Italian priest and founder of the Clerks Regular of the Mother of God of Lucca, who lived about five centuries ago. As a priest, he was remembered for his great dedication to his flock, the parishioners and the other members of the faithful whom he dedicated himself to, in the formation of young adults in the faith among other things. He also popularised the devotion of the Forty Hours and the Eucharist to the faithful, which was meant to bring them closer to God.

St. John Leonardi also worked hard to implement the many reforms of the Ecumenical Council of Trent, while also proposing to the Pope for the formation of a religious order that is focused on the reforms of the Church and greater discipline in faith, which eventually became a reality with the foundation of the Clerks Regular of the Mother of God of Lucca, gathering many like-minded people who seek to serve the Lord following the charism and efforts of St. John Leonardi. Through his faith and dedication, and his perseverance, in facing the challenges and opposition he had for his efforts, St. John Leonardi has shown us, just as St. Denis and his companions in martyrdom had, on how to be truly faithful and committed to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore commit ourselves anew to the Lord and let us do our very best to follow Him, and to walk in His path, so that in everything we do, we will always glorify Him and be exemplary and inspirational in our way of life, such that many more people may come to believe in the Lord through us and our examples. May the Lord continue to guide us and help us in our journey of faith, and may He strengthen each and every one of us to live ever more faithfully from now on. Amen.

Saturday, 9 October 2021 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Denis, Bishop and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs, and St. John Leonardi, Priest (Gospel Reading)

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

Luke 11 : 27-28

At that time, as Jesus was speaking, a woman spoke from the crowd and said to Him, “Blessed is the one who gave You birth and nursed You!”

Jesus replied, “Truly blessed are those who hear the word of God, and keep it as well.”

Saturday, 9 October 2021 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Denis, Bishop and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs, and St. John Leonardi, Priest (Psalm)

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

Psalm 96 : 1-2, 5-6, 11-12

YHVH reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the distant islands be glad. Clouds and darkness surround Him; justice and right, are His throne.

The mountains melt like wax before YHVH, the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim His justice, all peoples see His glory.

He sheds light upon the upright, and gladness upon the just. Rejoice in YHVH, you, who are blameless; and give praise to His holy Name.

Saturday, 9 October 2021 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Denis, Bishop and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs, and St. John Leonardi, Priest (First Reading)

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

Joel 4 : 12-21

Rise up, o people, and come to the Valley of Jehoshaphat, nations. Bring a sickle for the harvest is ripe; come and tread, for the wine press is full, and the vats overflow; so great is their wickedness! Multitudes and more multitudes in the Valley of Verdict! The day of YHVH is near in the Valley of Verdict! The sun and the moon become dark, the stars lose their radiance.

YHVH roars from Zion and raises His voice from Jerusalem; heaven and earth are shaken. Indeed, YHVH is a refuge for His people, a stronghold for the Israelites. You will know that I am YHVH, your God, dwelling on Zion, My holy mountain. Jerusalem will be a holy place; and foreigners will never pass through there again.

On that day, the mountains shall drip wine and the hills flow with milk; all the streams of Judah will run with water; and a fountain will spring from the house of YHVH, and water the valley of Shittim. On the other hand, Egypt will be devastated; and Edom will become a deserted wasteland, because they committed violence against Judah and shed innocent blood in their country.

But Judah will be inhabited forever, and Jerusalem through all generations. And I shall avenge their blood and not leave it unpunished, for YHVH dwells in Zion.

Thursday, 9 October 2014 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Denis, Bishop and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs, and St. John Leonardi, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are both reminded of the fact that temptations are always around us and they will always threaten to sever us from the connection of love which is between us and our God. St. Paul in his letter to the faithful and the Church in Galatia rebuked the people severely, after their unfaithfulness and submission to their human desire and the pleasures of the flesh, abandoning what is good for what is wicked and evil.

And the rest of the readings, including the Gospel as written by St. Luke mentioned how God is like our Father, who cared for us and loved us so much, that He would indeed give us all many things that we need, and we have nothing to worry about or fear, for our God will be with us and guide us. What we need is to have faith in Him, and put our trust completely in Him, rather than in the worldly things which the evil one is trying very hard to impose upon us.

But many of us do not know how to ask God our Father for what we need. Instead, as we grow, we become more and more affected by the world and all its corruptions, resulting in us becoming like a spoilt child, crying and causing wreckage all around us whenever what we want is not fulfilled. Thus is the same with our attitude in life, and how we live our faith life.

Just like the faithful in Galatia at the time of St. Paul, we often let go of our restraint and faith, taking pleasure in indulging ourselves with the goods of the world, with the pleasures of the flesh, so that we who were once good and faithful, had been defiled by the darkness of the evils we had committed. This resulted in us being separated from the grace and love of God, and if nothing is done, we will indeed come under great threat of damnation before us.

Therefore, what Jesus wanted to tell His disciples, and as well as what He wants to tell us through them, is that we ought to follow the Lord, not just with empty lip-service or superficial faith, but also through real and concrete devotion, filled with the acts of faith. And in that faith, we ought to listen to God, and know what our Lord and loving Father wants from us. He cares for us, and He will love us and bless us if we devote ourselves completely and entirely to Him, turning away from our ways of sin and evil.

Today we celebrate the lives of two great saints, whose life may indeed inspire us on how we ought to live out our faith. They are St. Denis, whose name is the patronymic for the Basilica of St. Denis in Paris, France today. St. Denis and his companions in faith were martyred approximately at the time of the reign of the Emperor Decian of the Roman Empire in the middle of the third century after the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Meanwhile, St. John Leonardi, also known as St. Giovanni Leonardi is an Italian priest who lived during the Counter Reformation era in Italy, where he was a crucial member of the efforts of the Church to reclaim countless souls from the heretical and misguided lead of the so-called ‘reformation’ by the Protestant heretics and schismatics. He also founded a community of the faithful, in which he led the effort to strengthen the foundations of their faith, by living in good devotion to the Lord and to His mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

St. John Leonardi devoted himself to the education and guidance of youths and many others, so that they might find their way towards the Lord, through sincere and devout commitment to prayerful life and loving acts to others, so that by such cultivation of good deeds and efforts, those whom St. John Leonardi had touched may find the salvation of their souls in God.

Meanwhile, St. Denis was the evangeliser sent by the Pope in Rome to the faithful and the community of the people in Gaul, the Roman province now known as France, where he was sent with several other priests and preachers to bring many souls to the Faith and salvation in Jesus Christ. During his ministry there, the Roman Emperor at the time, Emperor Decius, carried out an Empire-wide persecution of the faithful, in what was later known as the Decian persecution, where many martyrs of the Faith were born.

St. Denis and his companions were arrested, rounded up and imprisoned, before they were brought for execution for their faith and for their evangelising works. St. Denis was beheaded, but even so, even after he was beheaded, he was able to walk holding up his own separated head on his hands, and continued to walk, speak and preach the word of God until a few kilometres away from his execution place. This miracle of the speaking head after beheading, or cephalophore was widely witnessed and reported by contemporaries.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we see in their examples, the love and devotion which God has for all those who put their trust and faith in Him, that these people who depended on Him will not be disappointed. They will be blessed and bountiful will be their reward, just as St. Denis received through his perseverance and martyrdom, a just reward of heavenly glory and eternal life, as well as St. John Leonardi, through his works and devotion towards the salvation of souls.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all keep always in mind that we need to preserve this faith which we received from God, and follow the Lord in all things, casting away all of the pride within our hearts, all of the wicked and unworthy desires for the pleasures of the flesh, so that we, as the children of God, may find our way to the Lord, our Father, and gain salvation in Him, He who loves us all and wants us reunited with Him.

May Almighty God, our Father, continue to watch closely over us, protect us from the assaults of Satan and his angels, and guide us through towards eternal life in Him. God bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 9 October 2014 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Denis, Bishop and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs, and St. John Leonardi, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 11 : 5-13

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to his house in the middle of the night and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine who is travelling has just arrived, and I have nothing to offer him.’ Maybe your friend will answer from inside, ‘Do not bother me now; the door is locked, and my children and I are in bed, so I cannot get up and give you anything.'”

“But I tell you, even though he will not get up and attend to you because you are a friend, yet he will get up because you are a bother to him, and he will give you all you need. And so I say to you, ‘Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For the one who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to him who knocks the door will be opened.'”

“If your child asks for a fish, will you give him a snake instead? And if your child asks for an egg, will you give him a scorpion? If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.”

Thursday, 9 October 2014 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Denis, Bishop and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs, and St. John Leonardi, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 1 : 69-70, 71-72, 73-75

In the house of David His servant, He has raised up for us a victorious Saviour; as He promised through His prophets of old.

Salvation from our enemies and from the hand of our foes. He has shown mercy to our fathers; and remembered His holy covenant.

The oath He swore to Abraham, our father, to deliver us from the enemy, that we might serve Him fearlessly, as a holy and righteous people, all the days of our lives.

Thursday, 9 October 2014 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Denis, Bishop and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs, and St. John Leonardi, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Galatians 3 : 1-5

How foolish you are, Galatians! How could they bewitch you after Jesus Christ has been presented to you as crucified? I shall ask you only this : Did you receive the Spirit by the practice of the Law, or by believing the message? How can you be such fools : you begin with the Spirit and end up with the flesh!

So you have experienced all this in vain! Would that it were not so! Did God give you the Spirit and work miracles among you, because of your observance of the Law or because you believed in His message?