Saturday, 16 October 2021 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious, and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious or Holy Virgins or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all called to entrust ourselves to the Lord just in the way that Abraham, our father in faith and the ancestor of many nations have been faithful to God, in following Him and giving himself and dedicating his whole race and his entire descendants to God. Abraham was that most faithful paragon of faith that we should look up to, and we should model our faith based on how he has been and remained faithful to God.

In our first reading today from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Rome, we heard how the Apostle spoke about Abraham and the faith that he had in the Lord, the faith and commitment he had in the Lord, despite the challenges he had, and despite not knowing at the beginning how everything would turn out for him and his family. Through his faith, Abraham became the father of numerous nations, and not only that, he became the spiritual father of so many other peoples and nations that were not directly descended from him.

Abraham was one of the descendants of Adam and Noah, who dwelled in the land of Ur, in what is today Mesopotamia and Iraq. It was there then that the Lord called Abraham to follow Him to the land that He would give to him and his descendants. Abraham was a rich man with vast amounts of wealth, a family and his properties in his ancestral homeland. He had no reason to follow the Lord to an unknown land, leaving everything that was familiar to him. However, Abraham did so, and entrusted himself to the Lord.

That was how he became a most faithful servant of God, and God made a Covenant with Abraham and his descendants, promising him that he would become the father of so many nations. At that time, Abraham did not even have a son yet, and his wife was barren after many years, and they were already old back then. Yet, Abraham still believed in God and trusted in Him and the Covenant which He had made with him. As such, God bestowed on Abraham the son he had been promised with, and blessed him and his descendants.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the faith of Abraham is what all of us ought to have as Christians, to be courageous in following God and to proclaim His truth, to entrust ourselves to Him wholeheartedly as we should, and dedicating our time and effort to His cause. Abraham had that faith and allowed the Lord to guide his path because he was not afraid of whatever the world could trouble him as he knew that the Lord was always by his side, and he could trust in His providence. Whatever he would lose, he would regain back in the Lord’s favour and grace.

Today, all of us are called to reflect on whether we have truly been faithful to God, and whether we have followed Him in the way that we should have done, in obeying the laws and commandments of God and in being exemplary in our every deeds and actions in the way that our father in faith Abraham had done. We are all called to think of how we can be better and more committed Christians in our way of life. And we can look upon the good examples set by our holy and dedicated predecessors in faith, namely that of St. Hedwig and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, the two saints whose feast we celebrate today.

St. Hedwig was also known as St. Hedwig of Silesia, a renowned Duchess Consort of Silesia during the High Middle Ages who was famous for her holiness and her charitable actions to her people when she was the consort of the ruler. She spent a lot of effort to help the poor and the sick, establishing hospitals and care houses for them, and together with her husband, they were remembered as very pious and caring rulers. And after she was widowed, St. Hedwig decided to enter religious life and spent the rest of her life in serving God through prayer and charity, devoting herself wholly to His cause.

Meanwhile, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was the famous mystic and visionary of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, remembered for her visions of the Lord’s Most Sacred Heart, whose writings and experiences came to be the inspiration behind the now very popular Devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. St. Margaret Mary Alacoque gave herself to God, and she received many visions of the Lord’s great love for His people, in His sufferings out of love for them, and from there, as she shared her mystical visions, it became the impetus for the popular Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, St. Hedwig and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque were both pious and faithful in their own way, living their lives in commitment and total surrender to God. They loved the Lord as well as their neighbours, their fellow brothers and sisters, and this is what all of us are called to do as Christians. If we call ourselves as Christians and yet we have not done what our forefathers and holy predecessors had done, then are we not better than hypocrites of the past, who claimed to be faithful and yet had a mostly empty and meaningless faith?

Let us all discern carefully our path going forward in life, and let us do our very best from now on to follow the Lord ever more devoutly, and commit ourselves to His cause. May the Lord be our strength and guide, and may He empower each and every one of us to walk in His path each and every moments of our lives. May God bless us all, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 16 October 2021 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious, and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious or Holy Virgins or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Luke 12 : 8-12

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “I tell you, whoever acknowledges Me before people, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the Angels of God. But the one who denies Me before others will be denied before the Angels of God. There will be pardon for the one who criticises the Son of Man, but there will be no pardon for the one who slanders the Holy Spirit.”

“When you are brought before the synagogues, and before governors and rulers, do not worry about how you will defend yourself, or what to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you have to say.”

Saturday, 16 October 2021 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious, and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious or Holy Virgins or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Psalm 104 : 6-7, 8-9, 42-43

You descendants of His servant Abraham, you sons of Jacob, His chosen ones! He is YHVH our God; His judgments reach the whole world.

He remembers His Covenant forever, His promise to a thousand generations, the Covenant He made with Abraham, the promise He swore to Isaac.

For He remembered His promise to Abraham, His servant. So He led forth His people with joy, His chosen ones with singing.

Saturday, 16 October 2021 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious, and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious or Holy Virgins or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Romans 4 : 13, 16-18

If God promised Abraham, or rather his descendants, that the world would belong to him, this was not because of his obeying the Law, but because he was just, and a friend of God, through faith.

For that reason, faith is the way, and all is given, by grace; and the promises of Abraham are fulfilled for all his descendants, not only for his children according to the Law, but, also, for all the others, who have believed. Abraham is the father of all of us, as it is written : I will make you the father of many nations. He is our father, in the eyes of Him, Who gives life to the dead, and calls into existence, what does not yet exist, for this is the God in Whom he believed.

Abraham believed, and hoped against all expectation, thus, becoming the father of many nations, as he had been told : See how many will be your descendants.

Thursday, 16 October 2014 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Virgins)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today heard about the salvation which God had brought upon mankind through the means of Christ our Lord, who is His own Son and also the Messiah, our Saviour. And how Jesus had secured this for all of us, through His obedient act on the cross, that is to suffer for our sins and so that we may be free from the consequences of our sins, that is death.

By the shedding and outpouring of His Blood, He who is the Lamb of God, completely perfect and unblemished, not just by appearance but also by the complete purity and perfection of His heart, without any traces of sin, obtained for us the grace of redemption from sins, which God had also granted to all those who offered sin and burnt offerings of animals, sheep, goats and doves.

However, the loving sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ was different, because through that singular act of ultimate love, and by the offering of the perfect sacrifice, the only One worthy of all of our sins at once, He obtained for us all, salvation for all those who believe in Him and those who indeed willingly take part in His salvation, namely those who with faith and love for Him, accept and receive His Body and Blood into themselves, which He freely shed and offered for our salvation.

And this was in essence what God had in mind for all of His beloved people, when He sent them His messengers, that is the prophets and servants during the time of the old covenant of God, and to the Apostles, who were also His messengers and bearers of the truth of God at the time of the new covenant of God. Through them God wanted to reveal to mankind the fullness of His mercy and love, which He conveyed through Jesus and His works in this world.

And yet, the hearts of mankind were too heavily saddled and corrupted with the burdens of sin. And this burden of sin prevented them from understanding and realising the love of God, which He had for them. Instead, they embraced those sins and succumbed to their own temptations, the temptations of their flesh, so that they turned a deaf ear to the words and callings of the prophets and the Apostles of God, and they became proud and haughty, torturing and persecuting those messengers of God’s Good News because they considered them a nuisance to their way of life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, can we tell indeed how many times had the people of God disobeyed Him throughout time? In the Bible we witnessed yet again and again of this disobedience, beginning from the disobedience of our ancestors, who listened to Satan rather than to the words of the divine Wisdom of God, and then with the countless generations of mankind who continued to live in debauchery and sin, disregarding His laws and precepts.

And we knew of how the people of Israel did not have their full heart’s attention to the Lord. They complained against Moses and always made demands after demands to the Lord, even after He had done so much for them, so much that everyone who saw them would have proclaimed how fortunate and blessed they were, having been given the grace of God.

The disobedience of the people of God, who preferred to languish in sin and under the chains of slavery of the aforementioned sin, therefore became the greatest obstacle for mankind to reach out back to the Lord, their God and loving Father. But all this changed when the Lord exercised His might and power, and through a single stroke, changed everything through Christ, giving new hope to mankind and liberating them from the slavery of sin.

Thus, brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are reminded of the need for us all to constantly shun sin and impurities before the Lord, and we need to be always vigilant in all things, and be aware how the evil one may try to turn us away from the Lord. His attacks are always relentless and unforgiving, but we have no need to fear him, as long as we stay steadfastly faithful to His Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Today we also celebrate the feast day of two great and faithful saints, whose life I am certain will be a great example to all of us, and what I am going to share with all of you about them will certainly benefit our faith, and our salvation in God. They are St. Hedwig of Silesia, the once Duchess of Poland turned into a holy religious devoted to God, and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a holy virgin devoted to God who began the popular devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

St. Hedwig of Silesia was married off to a Polish duke at a very young age, and in age of warfare at the time, time was chaotic and destructive. And she lost her husband after she had born him many children. After the death of her husband, she moved to a monastery established by her daughter, Gertrude, and she devoted her life to God fully from then on. St. Hedwig and her husband were both renowned for their very pious lifestyle and very great devotion to helping the poor.

They devoted themselves to give their love and service to the poor, and amidst difficulties, they never gave up but continued with their works with great passion. St. Hedwig donated all of her riches and fortune after her widowhood and as she enters the Church as a religious. She was renowned for her great piety and humility as well, often walking barefoot even in snow.

Meanwhile, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was a young woman who devoted herself since early in her life to the Lord, to live a completely devoted life to the Lord. She lived frugally and with full faith in God. St. Margaret Mary Alacoque experienced many visions of the Lord and His mother Mary during her life, and in those visions, she experienced in particular the love emanating from the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Thus from her began the promotion of the now popular devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which reminds us of the love of God which He showed us all through His Son, Jesus our Lord, whose loving sacrifice on the cross purchased for us the freedom from all of our sins and iniquities, and opened for us the path towards His love and His salvation, the offer of eternal life which He freely gives to all those who believe in Him.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, inspired by the examples of these two saints, let us all be on our way to seek the Lord and to be faithful to Him in all of our actions. Let us all shun all forms of sins and fornications, holding tightly and strongly to the centre tenets of our faith. May Almighty God grant us the gift of faith, empower us and help us on our way to reach Him. God bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 16 October 2014 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Virgins)

Luke 11 : 47-54

At that time, Jesus said, “A curse is on you, for you build monuments to the prophets your ancestors killed. So you approve and agree with what your ancestors did. Is it not so? They got rid of the prophets, and you build monuments to them!”

“For that reason the Wisdom of God also said : I will send prophets and Apostles and this people will kill and persecute some of them. But the present generation will have to answer for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was murdered between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, the people of this time will have to answer for them all.”

“A curse is on you, teachers of the Law, for you have taken the key of knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you prevented others from entering.”

As Jesus left that place, the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees began to harass Him, asking Him endless questions, setting traps to catch Him in something He might say.

Thursday, 16 October 2014 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Virgins)

Psalm 97 : 1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4, 5-6

Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

The Lord has shown His salvation, revealing His justice to the nations. He has not forgotten His love nor His faithfulness to Israel.

The farthest ends of the earth all have seen God’s saving power. All you lands, make a joyful noise to the Lord, break into song and sing praise.

With melody of the lyre and with music of the harp, with trumpet blast and sound of the horn, rejoice before the King, the Lord!

Thursday, 16 October 2014 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Virgins)

Ephesians 1 : 1-10

Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints in Ephesus, to you who share Christian faith : receive grace and peace from God our Father and from Jesus the Lord.

Blessed be God, the Father of Christ Jesus our Lord, who in Christ has blessed us from heaven with every spiritual blessing. God chose us in Christ before the creation of the world to be holy and without sin in His presence.

From eternity He destined us in love to be His adopted sons and daughters through Christ Jesus, thus fulfilling His free and generous will. This goal suited Him : that His loving kindness which He granted us in His Beloved might finally receive all glory and praise.

For in Christ we obtain freedom, sealed by His Blood, and have the forgiveness of sins. In this appears the greatness of His grace, which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and understanding, God has made known to us His mysterious design, in accordance with His loving kindness in Christ.

In Him and under Him God wanted to unite, when the fullness of time had come, everything in heaven and on earth.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Virgins)

Be righteous and be good, be loving, forgiving, and be compassionate, and finally be slow to anger and slow to judge on others. That is the Lord’s message to us in the readings today. These are the attributes of those who are truly belonging to God and reflect the nature of His love.

This is because, brothers and sisters in Christ, He does not want as His people those who are empty in them, empty of love and compassion, and empty of His presence. What He wants is that we would be filled with His Holy Spirit and His love, that we may be what He wants us to be, that is to be loving, merciful, caring, and compassionate.

We must not be enslaved to our pride and arrogance, the natural result of our love for ourselves and our sense of accomplishment. We love to be praised, and have good things whispered in our ears. We love words like, ‘Well done!’ or ‘Amazing!’ or ‘You have done a good job!’. There is in fact nothing wrong with these statements, as they are justified in their use if we truly deserve such praises, but it must not be overdone.

Pride and arrogance is the main reason and culprit behind why the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law cannot accept Jesus, less still whatever He had taught the people of God. That is because in their state of wisdom and learning, they like to consider themselves to be well above the other people, whom they often regard as being less pious than them, as well as lacking in the knowledge of the Law, where in fact, they were the ones misguided by their pride, and in turn misguided even more people themselves.

The Lord cursed them because of this, and denounced their selfish and self-serving behaviour. They were cast down because in their pride, they had not given glory to God, but instead attributed glory to themselves. In their pride, they have rejected the Lord who came to save the world, in Jesus Christ, just as their ancestors had rejected, tortured, and murdered the prophets and messengers of God’s love.

To be a true disciple of the Lord, one requires a great humility and faith, and not just any faith, but also the living faith empowered by love. That requires us to not be idle and thus take up actions proactively, to ensure that the faith within us remains burning brightly and alive. We must always also make sure that our words and actions truly reflect our faith in God, that all who sees us, will see God reflected in us.

Today, brethren, we celebrate the feast of St. Hedwig, a religious from Bohemia, and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a virgin and devout servant of God from France. St. Hedwig was the consort of the ruler of the area now known as Czechoslovakia and also Poland, and she was well known, together with her husband, for her immense piety and charity, especially to the poor and the neglected. And after her husband died early, she entered a monastery to dedicate herself to a life of prayer and contemplation.

St. Hedwig continued to live devoutly, and invited many religious priests and nuns into her country, greatly helping the cause of evangelisation, especially because her country was often notorious for its heresies and rebellions against the true faith by certain individuals. She also donated her possessions and wealth to the poor, giving everything she had for charity and dedicating herself fully to the Lord.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was also a very devout religious nun, who devoted herself to a life of prayer. What made her most well-known was the vision and appearance of Jesus Christ our Lord to her, revealing to her and the world, of the love He has for all mankind, through His most Sacred Heart. Jesus advocated the need for the world to devote themselves to Him, and devote themselves especially to His Sacred Heart.

That such devotion indeed can help mankind to overcome their sinfulness, and help them on the path towards salvation. That was the beginning of what we would now know as the devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. This important devotion helps many to reorientate themselves towards the Lord and salvation in God.

Therefore, brethren, let us humble ourselves and seek the help of the Lord, by asking Him for His mercy, and devote ourselves, and following in the ways of St. Hedwig and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, and in the latter’s devotion to the Sacred Heart of our loving God, Jesus Christ, who came down to us, to bring salvation to us, out of His undying love for all of us. God bless us all and protect us forever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Virgins)

Luke 11 : 42-46

Jesus said, “A curse in on you, Pharisees; to the Temple you give a tenth of all, including mint and rue and the other herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. These ought to be practiced, without neglecting those.”

“A curse is on you, Pharisees, for you love the best seats in the synagogues and to be greeted in the marketplace. A curse in on you, for you are like tombstones of the dead which can hardly be seen; people do not notice them, and make themselves unclean by stepping on them.”

Then a teacher of the Law spoke up and said, “Master, when You speak like this, You insult us, too.” And Jesus answered, “A curse is on you also, teachers of the Law. For you prepare unbearable burdens and load them on the people, while you yourselves do not move a finger to help them.”