Wednesday, 5 October 2022 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Faustina Kowalska, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Holy Virgins)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded of our Christian obligations to seek the Lord and to remain faithful to Him, and to follow the good examples of faith set by the Lord Himself and His many saints. Each and every one of us are called to devote our time and attention to God, and we are all encouraged to proclaim the word of God in our lives courageously, through our words and actions, and to be genuine in our interactions with one another, so that our lives may become good examples for many others who witness our works and interact with us.

In our first reading today, as we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and faithful in Galatia, we heard the Apostle recounting his past experiences, as he grew in the faith and followed what the Lord asked him to do. We heard of the deeds of the Apostles, of St. Paul himself and his companions like St. Barnabas the Apostle and others, as well as with Cephas, that is St. Peter the Apostle, the leader of the Church and all the Apostles. St. Paul recounted his works and his interactions with the other Apostles, and how the Lord worked through their interactions, as they helped and assisted each other, and St. Paul himself reminded St. Peter in the spirit of fraternal correction, that he should not give in to those who advocated for the imposition of un-Christian rules and regulations on the Gentiles.

Back then, we have to understand that during the time of the early Church, there existed great tensions and divisions among the members of the faithful as they were still maintaining their past distinctions in terms of their race and origin, their prior identities and beliefs, their status and ideologies, among others. The Jews and the Gentiles or the non-Jewish people, in particular, were often divided in their opinion and ways in the early Church, with some among the Jewish Christian converts advocating the imposition of Jewish laws and customs in their entirety on the entire body of the Christian faithful.

The Jewish people made up a significant proportion of the early Christians as the disciples of the Lord preached first to the Jews and the people in Judea and Galilee before they began their outreach to the Gentiles both in the lands of Judea and Galilee and in distant lands. The Apostles and many other disciples of the Lord were themselves Jewish, and that naturally made many of the early Christians to hold certain ideas and viewpoints, with some among them desiring to impose their will on others. The non-Jewish people however would find adopting such practices and customs to be very difficult, as many of them were difficult to enforce even among the Jews themselves, and some of those customs were also seen as abhorrent by the non-Jewish communities.

As such, St. Paul, who had often reached out to the Gentiles and worked among them, spending many years in ministering to the Gentile converts to Christianity and more, he stood by the Christian Gentiles, that the Church ought to understand their position and difficulties, and also understand better the true wishes of the Lord, Who called on everyone to follow Him, Jews and Gentiles alike. There should be no prejudice or bias in the path of following God, and all the faithful people of God should have been treated equally without certain preferences to a particular race, culture, customs and ways of living.

What is important is for all Christians to embrace the true core of our faith and belief in the Lord, that all of us ought to love the Lord our God, with all of our hearts and minds, with all of our strength and abilities, and then to love one another, our fellow brothers and sisters in the same way that we have loved the Lord and ourselves. What some of the Jewish converts back then tried to impose on the whole Church especially on the Gentile Christians were excessive and unnecessary, and could have even turned many people away from the Lord, and worsen the instances of elitism and self-righteousness among the Christian people, just as what had happened among the Pharisees and the Jewish elites.

Then, in our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord teaching His disciples how to pray, through the prayer that I am sure all of us know very well, that is the Lord’s Prayer or Pater Noster. As we listened to the words of this prayer that I am sure we have often prayed for, we are once again reminded of our purpose and obligation as Christians, that is as those whom God had called and chosen, and having responded to His call, each one of us have been made the children of God. And because of this, each and every one of us should do our best to live our lives in the way that the Lord had taught and shown us to do. All of us should not behave in ways that will bring disgrace and dishonour to the Name of the Lord and to His Church.

We should also deepen our relationship with the Lord through prayer, just as the Lord Himself had taught us. And praying is one of these ways, as we are reminded to keep in contact with the Lord our God. As in any relationships we have in this world, we have to maintain them through constant contact and interactions, and we cannot be close to the Lord unless we really make the conscious efforts to do so, and to bring ourselves nearer to Him, through prayers and by following His will, obeying His Law and commandments. The Lord has called us all to follow Him, and it is really up to us to renew our relationship with Him and commit ourselves to Him, through our efforts at each and every moments.

Then, we should also be inspired by the examples and good things done by our holy predecessors, just as on this day we celebrate the feast of St. Faustina Kowalska, the Polish religious sister who was the visionary and the inspiration for the very popular Devotion to the Divine Mercy of God. St. Faustina Kowalska joined religious life at an early age and began receiving visions of the Lord, especially that of the suffering Jesus, calling upon the people of God to return to Him and to embrace His mercy and love. St. Faustina Kowalska recorded her experiences and mystical visions, especially when the Lord appeared to her in the now famous Divine Mercy form, with rays of red and white light emanating from His Most Sacred Heart.

St. Faustina Kowalska spent a lot of time in prayer and devoted herself in humble submission to the will of God. She also related her visions and told them to her superiors and others, as per instructed by the Lord Himself in her visions. Despite the challenges and oppositions that she encountered throughout her life, and in her work of spreading the message and truth of the Devotion to the Divine Mercy of God, St. Faustina continued to persevere nonetheless, and eventually, this Devotion gained tract and popularity among Christians worldwide, especially after her passing not long after she received those visions of the Divine Mercy. This Devotion is now among the most popular among Christians all over the world. St. Faustina Kowalska might have lived just a short life, and yet, in that short moment, she had touched the life of so many people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all emulate the good faith and examples as shown by St. Faustina Kowalska and many other saints, our holy predecessors, holy men and women of God. Let us all live up to our faith and do whatever we can to fulfil our obligation and calling as Christians, living our lives to the fullest as role models and the good examples of Christian discipleship, loving God and loving one another with all of our strength and might. Let us all inspire one another and be the good examples to help more and more people to find their way to God, to embrace the Divine Mercy and His love for us, that we may be forgiven from our multitudes of sins.

May God be with us always and may He continue to empower us all, that we may always persevere with faith. May God be glorified through our lives, our actions and deeds, and may our every interactions help to proclaim His truth and love to others, and bring more souls ever closer to God and His loving embrace. In the words of the prayers to the Divine Mercy, ‘Eternal Father, I offer You, the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.’ Amen.

Wednesday, 5 October 2022 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Faustina Kowalska, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Holy Virgins)

Luke 11 : 1-4

At that time, Jesus was praying in a certain place; and when He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught His disciples.”

And Jesus said to them, “When you pray, say this : Father, may Your Name be held holy, may Your kingdom come; give us, each day, the kind of bread we need, and forgive us our sins; for we also forgive all who do us wrong; and do not bring us to the test.”

Wednesday, 5 October 2022 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Faustina Kowalska, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Holy Virgins)

Psalm 116 : 1, 2

Alleluia! Praise the Lord, all you nations; all you peoples, praise Him.

How great is His love for us! His faithfulness lasts forever.

Wednesday, 5 October 2022 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Faustina Kowalska, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Holy Virgins)

Galatians 2 : 1-2, 7-14

After fourteen years, I, again, went up to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and Titus came with us. Following a revelation, I went, to lay before them the Gospel that I am preaching to the pagans. I had a private meeting with the leaders – lest I should be working, or have worked, in a wrong way.

They recognised that I have been entrusted to give the Good News to the pagan nations, just as Peter has been entrusted to give it to the Jews. In the same way that God made Peter the Apostle of the Jews, He made me the Apostle of the pagans. James, Cephas and John acknowledged the graces God gave me.

Those men, who were regarded as the pillars of the Church, stretched out their hand to me and Barnabas, as a sign of fellowship; we would go to the pagans, and they, to the Jews. We should only keep in mind, the poor among them. I have taken care to do this.

When, later, Cephas, came to Antioch, I confronted him, since he deserved to be blamed. Before some of James’ people arrived, he used to eat with non-Jewish people. But when they arrived, he withdrew, and did not mingle anymore with them, for fear of the Jewish group. The rest of the Jews followed him in this pretense, and even Barnabas was part of this insincerity.

When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the Gospel, I said to Cephas publicly : If you, who are Jewish, agreed to live like the non-Jews, setting aside the Jewish customs, why do you, now, compel the non-Jews to live like Jews?

Tuesday, 5 October 2021 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Faustina Kowalska, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Holy Virgins)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us heard the readings from the Sacred Scriptures in which all of us are reminded of the great love and mercy of God, the compassionate and merciful love which He had for each and every one of us that He is willing to forgive us from our sins if we are willing to listen to Him and repent, turning away from those wicked and sinful ways. Unfortunately, more often than not, we are too preoccupied and busy to listen to the Lord’s words and urging in our hearts.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Jonah on the words that Jonah brought on behalf of the Lord to the people of Nineveh, the capital of the great Assyrian Kingdom, which at that time was the Hegemon of that part of the world. Assyria was rising in power and they conquered many other smaller states and cities, committing atrocities and acts of wanton destruction during their conquests as attested by historical records and evidences. They grew rich and mighty over the sufferings and pains of others and this was their great sin.

As such, God sent Jonah to them to warn them of their upcoming destruction and annihilation, and yet, while God desired destruction upon the wicked that is justified because of their sins, the fact that He actually sent His prophet Jonah to proclaim this to them was truly a clear sign how the Lord still loved and cared for His people, even after they had sinned greatly against Him, disobeyed Him and betrayed Him. That is why, one of the reason why He sent Jonah to them was actually to make them to realise the errors of their ways, repent and turn back to righteousness.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the truth is that God never intended for any of us to be destroyed or crushed because of our sins. Otherwise, He could have destroyed us right from the beginning when our ancestors first disobeyed and betrayed Him for the temptations of Satan. He created all of us out of His love for each one of us, and it is by His love and enduring attention to us that we all live by His grace. He wants all sinners to return to Him and to find salvation through Him, be freed from the bondage of sin and death.

However, as we have also heard in our Gospel passage today, the main hindrance to this is our own preoccupation in life, as we are often distracted by the many desires, temptations and other things in life, as well as the lies and the falsehoods that the devil has planted in our hearts and minds, which we heeded to instead of the truth and love of God. In our Gospel passage today we heard of the Lord Jesus visiting to the house of Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, who were good friends of the Lord, and while Mary was listening to the Lord and His teachings, Martha was very busy tending to the preparations and possibly cooking.

When Martha scolded Mary and told the Lord that Mary should have helped her in her work and efforts, the Lord lightly rebuked Martha and told her that what Mary had done was right. Martha was not wrong in her desire to serve and provide for the Lord, but in her preoccupation with her chores and work, it distracted her from truly welcoming the Lord and allowing His words of truth and love to enter her heart as her sister Mary had done. She has essentially placed her work and actions above her love for God.

This is why we should not allow all those distractions from keeping us away from God, and we must realise and be grateful that the Lord has been so loving and merciful towards us, all these while. He has given us His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, to be the One Who would deliver us from the destruction due to our sins and evils, and redeemed us by the most loving sacrifice He had made on the Cross, as He offered Himself in atonement for our many and innumerable sins. Here we have ourselves seen God’s most wonderful mercy and love bared to us.

Today, we celebrate the feast of the great saint and mystic who had revealed to us this loving and merciful aspect of the Lord, the Divine Mercy of God, namely St. Faustina Kowalska, the original visionary of the Divine Mercy. St. Faustina Kowalska was a Polish nun who entered the convent at a young age and received for much of her life, visions of the Lord, the Divine Mercy, calling on her to propagate the devotion to the Divine Mercy of God, reminding the people of God about their sins, and how they ought to turn away from their sins and embrace God’s most generous mercy.

St. Faustina Kowalska saw the vision of the Divine Mercy, with rays of red and white light emanating from the Most Sacred Heart of the Lord, which is symbolic of the blood and water that had come out forth from the wound that the centurion lanced to check that the Lord had died on the Cross. By that Most Precious Blood, the Lord had redeemed and brought us to freedom from the tyranny of sin and death, and by His Divinity and Humanity mingled together in the person of Jesus Christ, He has become the Salvation of the whole entire world.

The devotion to the Divine Mercy gradually grew in popularity and now it has become one of the most popular devotions in the world. But what we must truly realise is that we must not leave it as merely a devotion alone, but it must be accompanied with a genuine conversion of the heart and soul, of our entire beings, that we reject sin and evil, Satan and all of his wicked lies and falsehoods that have kept us away from the Lord and His salvation for so long.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all entrust ourselves to the Lord and listen to Him, His calling for us to embrace His love and mercy, much like how the people of Nineveh, wicked as they were, decided to humble themselves before God and all men, abashing themselves for their wickedness and sorrowful over their sins. This is the same attitude that we should have as well, brothers and sisters, and we should turn ourselves towards our Lord, the Divine Mercy, and seek His mercy and forgiveness, that we may be healed, made whole and reconciled once again.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He strengthen each and every one of us to live ever more courageously in faith from now on, and walk virtuously in His path from now on. May God bless us always, and may He guide us in our journey of faith through life, with the intercession of the saints, especially St. Faustina Kowalska, our role model in faith. Amen.

Tuesday, 5 October 2021 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Faustina Kowalska, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Holy Virgins)

Luke 10 : 38-42

At that time, as Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He entered a village, and a woman called Martha welcomed Him to her house. She had a sister named Mary, who sat down at the Lord’s feet to listen to His words. Martha, meanwhile, was busy with all the serving, and finally she said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the work? Tell her to help me!”

But the Lord answered, “Martha, Martha, you worry and are troubled about many things, whereas only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Tuesday, 5 October 2021 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Faustina Kowalska, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Holy Virgins)

Psalm 129 : 1-2, 3-4, 7bc-8

Out of the depths I cry to You, o YHVH, o YHVH, hear my voice! Let Your ears pay attention to the voice of my supplication.

If You should mark our evil, o YHVH, who could stand? But with You, is forgiveness, and for that, You are revered.

For with Him, is unfailing love and with Him full deliverance. He will deliver Israel from all its sins.

Tuesday, 5 October 2021 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Faustina Kowalska, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Holy Virgins)

Jonah 3 : 1-10

The word of YHVH came to Jonah a second time : “Go to Nineveh, the great city, and announce to them the message I give you.”

In obedience to the word of YHVH, Jonah went to Nineveh. It was a very large city, and it took three days just to cross it. So Jonah walked a single day’s journey and began proclaiming, “Forty days more and Nineveh will be destroyed.”

The people of the city believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. Upon hearing the news, the king of Nineveh got up from his throne, took off his royal robe, put on sackcloth and sat down in ashes. He issued a proclamation throughout Nineveh :

“By the decree of the king and his nobles, no people or beasts, herd or flock, will taste anything; neither will they eat nor drink. But let people and beasts be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call aloud to God, turn from his evil ways and violence. Who knows? God may yet relent, turn from His fierce anger and spare us.”

When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He had compassion and did not carry out the destruction He had threatened upon them.

Monday, 5 October 2020 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Mary Faustina Kowalska, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard first of all from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Galatia in Asia Minor, addressing them on the matter of the true Gospel and revelations of our Lord. Then, we also heard from our Gospel passage today, the well-known parable of the Good Samaritan, in which a Samaritan helped a Jew who was wounded, while a priest and a Levite passed by without helping.

In our first reading today, we heard of the frustrations shared by St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Galatia regarding how many among them followed the false teachings and different doctrines held by those who turned the true teachings of the faith to suit their own purposes. Even from this very early time in the history of the Church, there had been division and confusion sowed by the devil and all of those opposed to the good works of God, trying to mislead the faithful to the wrong paths.

That was why St. Paul spoke sternly against all those who misinterpreted the Gospels and the Scriptures, the words of God and His truth for their own purposes, and sowed divisions and confusions among the Christian communities. He said that the truth of God is unchanging and also should have been faithfully kept as it was revealed, and anyone who preached otherwise, had committed sin against God and against His people. St. Paul warned the people in such a way to keep themselves guarded against those who would claim that the Lord had spoken to them and reveal to them a new truth that is contrary to what the Lord had revealed through His Church.

This is truly prescient as in time, many people came to claim to have knowledge of a better truth, or used the truth to mislead the people, leading to heresies that divided the Church and caused confusion among the faithful. All these happened long after St. Paul had encountered the same troubles during his missionary efforts and journeys. But despite all of these, because of the efforts and reminders that St. Paul mentioned, the Church had remained faithful to the truth of Christ, and preserved the same truth despite all the heresies and divisions that had occurred in the past two millennia.

And part of this truth is what is espoused in our Gospel passage today, in the well-known parable of the Good Samaritan. In that parable, the Lord used it to highlight His points, especially to the teacher of the Law and others present at the time who were trying to test Him and placed upon Him the question, ‘Who is my neighbour?’ when the Lord reminded them that the Law of God is about loving God with all of one’s heart and also loving one another, our fellow neighbours.

The Lord used the example of a Samaritan, as Samaritans at the time were often reviled and hated by the people in Judea, especially by the religious establishment and the elites of the society. The Samaritans were seen as pagans and foreigners, as wicked people who have strayed away from the teachings and Law of God. The Samaritans themselves were in fact descended from the people who once inhabited the land of Israel, with the people who were brought in by the Assyrians and others to inhabit the land after many of the Israelites of the northern kingdom were brought to exile in Assyria and other lands.

As such, they were deemed as impure, as foreigners, and as those who were unworthy of God. And as a result, they were shunned and tensions often existed between the Samaritans and the Jews, with both of them disagreeing on the matter of worship of God. But as the parable of the Lord showed, it served to dispel the notion that the Samaritans were worse as human beings, and in fact, from the example of the Good Samaritan, it showed that while the priest and Levite, themselves highly respected within the Jewish community, had ignored the plight of the man beset by robbers, the Samaritan stooped down to help, and not only help, but even went the extra mile in helping him.

The victim who was a Jew, was abandoned by his own people, and worse still, by those who were highly respected and deemed within the community as righteous and pious. Instead, it was a Samaritan, often hated and shunned, who was there to help, to reach out to the victim, and cared for him with extra efforts, to make sure that he recovered completely, without regards for his own inconvenience, and also without regards or considerations or worries about helping a Jew, something that both the Jews and Samaritans were then loath doing, as neither side wanted anything to do with the other.

This, brothers and sisters in Christ, is what the Lord wanted to remind us as His truth, the teachings of His love, that He wants us all to embrace and accept, and we should embrace the fact that every one of us are beloved by God, no matter what we are, where we came from, what our background and origin is, or what group we belong to, all of us are equally beloved by God. And we must not look down on others or think that others do not deserve God’s love or not worthy of Him.

The Good Samaritan story is both a story that breaks prejudices and biases, as well as a story that highlights to us the calling as Christians to reach out in love to others, especially those who are suffering and in need of help. We should not be like the priest and the Levite, who just passed by without even offering any help at all, or being concerned with the well-being of the man. As Christians we must always be filled with compassion and love for one another, and even to those who despise us and hate us.

That is why, linking to what we have heard in our first reading today, should anyone or any teachings by some state that we must be discriminatory or act in ways that highlight our differences from our fellow men, especially against those who have not believed in God, or those who have lapsed from their faith, these are not true teachings of Christ. Throughout history, there had been those who deemed themselves as being more righteous and more worthy of God, and looking down on those whom they deemed to be inferior or different from them. And these are those who have followed the wrong path and even are misleading the faithful.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we should not entertain these false ideas and attitudes that are not in accordance to God’s ways and teachings. And today, we also celebrate the feast of St. Mary Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun who was most remembered for her visions of the Divine Mercy of God, from which stemmed the now very popular Devotion to the Divine Mercy.

St. Faustina Kowalska initially faced a lot of opposition for her visions and writings, and it took many, many decades before her writings and experiences as genuine and integral after extensive and intensive research to make sure that they are in accordance to the Church teachings, and not misleading the faithful as what some other false visionaries and teachers had done.

Now, the Devotion to the Divine Mercy of God became a very important reminder of God’s love and mercy, which He has showed us without prejudice or bias just as the Good Samaritan had done. God is ever patient and merciful, and He is calling on all of us to be more Christ-like in our lives and way of life. We can be inspired by St. Faustina’s faith and perseverance through all of these.

Let us all embrace wholeheartedly God’s calling for us to be faithful in life, to be compassionate towards those who are in need, and especially during these difficult times, these challenging moments, let us all spend time and effort to care for those who are not as fortunate as we are. Let us all dedicate ourselves anew, with a new commitment to love and serve the Lord with ever greater devotion from now on. May God bless us all, in our every good efforts and endeavours, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 5 October 2020 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Mary Faustina Kowalska, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Luke 10 : 25-37

At that time, then a teacher of the Law came and began putting Jesus to the test. And he said, “Master, what shall I do to receive eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What is written in the Law? How do You understand it?” The man answered, “It is written : You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind. And you shall love your neighbour as yourself.”

Jesus replied, “What a good answer! Do this and you shall live.” The man wanted to justify his question, so he asked, “Who is my neighbour?” Jesus then said, “There was a man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him, beat him and went off, leaving him half-dead.”

“It happened that a priest was going along that road and saw the man, but passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite saw the man, and passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan also was going that way; and when he came upon the man, he was moved with compassion. He went over to him, and cleaned his wounds with oil and wine, and wrapped them in bandages. Then he put him on his own mount, and brought him to an inn, where he took care of him.”

“The next day, he had to set off; but he gave two silver coins to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him, and whatever you spend on him, I will repay when I return.'” Jesus then asked, “Which of these three, do you think, made himself neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The teacher of the Law answered, “The one who had mercy on him.” And Jesus said, “Then go and do the same.”