Monday, 19 October 2020 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Martyrs, and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are all reminded of the Lord’s generous love and providence, all that He had done for our sake, in caring for us and giving us our freedom and for bringing us out from our fated destruction. The Lord has called on all of us to have faith in Him, to put our trust and also be humble, as much as we can.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Ephesus on the Lord and how His love for us has rescued us from the depth of darkness and destruction, liberating us from the fate that we ought to have suffered because of our sins and disobedience against Him. God has given us this wonderful gift thanks to His enduring love for each and every one of us.

And therefore, we are reminded that we have been saved by God’s grace and love, and not by our own might and achievements. But for those who argue then that we are saved by faith alone then they must realise also that faith without any actions and deeds done in accordance to that faith is truly an empty, meaningless and dead faith.

And we shall also then be judged by our inaction, which is tantamount to committing sins of omission. Whatever it is, we have to follow the path that the Lord has set before us and have genuine faith in Him, living our lives virtuously and being centred on God. This is not something that can be easily done as there would definitely be plenty of temptations and challenges in our path and journey.

One of the most common temptations is that of pride and desire, as we heard the warning from St. Paul in our first reading today and also in our Gospel passage today through the parable the Lord used to teach His disciples and the people on the futility of worldly desires and pursuits, and the foolishness of human desires and greed, as well as pride and ego. In that reading, we heard about a rich and powerful man who owned a vast holding and earned plenty of harvests from his vast farmlands.

We heard how the man worried and wondered how he were to store all the things he had gained, and planned to build even larger barns and storehouses to gather more worldly wealth and possessions, thinking that he had secured his future completely and that he had nothing to fear from. This was the fault of his pride and ego, as well as his greed that he was oblivious and unable to recognise his own limitations and mortality.

And the Lord through that parable showed clearly all these, by showing how the life and death of man are completely in the hands of God. And no one could ever know the exact time and moment of the ending of one’s earthly life and existence. For all the wealth, glory and power that man had gathered as according to the parable, all of those would have amounted to nothing and are meaningless, as none of them would end up following the man to the afterlife.

This is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all reminded this day that as Christians we must lead a life that is filled with faith and devotion to God, free from the corruption of ego, pride, greed and earthly desires in our hearts and minds. And we can look upon the good examples set by our saints whose feast day we celebrate today, the Holy Canadian Martyrs or the North American Martyrs, the martyrs St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, holy Jesuit missionaries of North America, as well as their companions in martyrdom.

St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues were the members of the Jesuits or the Society of Jesus that had been instrumental in Counter-Reformation and were also involved in missionary works. In that particular area, St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues ministered among the native populations and tribes of North America, spending much time and a lot of effort in reaching out to the pagan tribes and preaching the Good News of Christ to them.

As those tribes lived in some of the least hospitable and difficult conditions known to men, St. John de Brebeuf, St. Isaac Jogues and other missionaries had difficult time trying to adjust and to minister to the people, which was further compounded and made difficult by the reluctance and opposition by some of the native tribes against the efforts to evangelise among them by the Christian missionaries. There were misunderstandings and even conflicts, and also disagreements between the tribes that converted to the Christian faith with the other tribes.

Yet, despite all of these, the missionaries dedicated themselves wholeheartedly, and devoted their time and effort to minister to the people, both caring for them and providing for them, especially spiritually. In the end, amidst all the hardships they encountered, they were attacked by those who misunderstood the intentions of the missionaries, and they were tortured, made to suffer and eventually killed. Nonetheless, the seeds of faith they had spread and nurtured by their efforts remained strong and became the source of the Christian faith among many of the people for generations onwards.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, those missionaries laboured in terrible conditions, had nothing on themselves, and had nothing else but God’s providence and guidance. They entrusted themselves completely to the Lord and allowed Him to lead them through the path that He has led them through. Are we as Christians, able to follow in their footsteps, and be inspired by their faith and courage to live their lives with genuine faith?

Let us all carefully discern this, and see in which way each and every one of us are able to commit ourselves to the Lord, in our every moments and actions. Let us all dedicate ourselves anew to the Lord, strengthen ourselves with faith, and walk faithfully and virtuously in the Lord’s presence, that our every efforts and works will be for the greater glory of God. St. John de Brebeuf, St. Isaac Jogues and all the martyrs of North America, holy servants of God and courageous defenders of the Faith, pray for us all. Amen.

Monday, 19 October 2020 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Martyrs, and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)

Luke 12 : 13-21

At that time, someone in the crowd spoke to Jesus, “Master, tell my brother to share with me the family inheritance.” He replied, “My friend, who has appointed Me as your Judge or your Attorney?” Then Jesus said to the people, “Be on your guard and avoid every kind of greed, for even though you have many possessions, it is not that which gives you life.”

And Jesus continued, “There was a rich man, and his land had produced a good harvest. He thought, ‘What shall I do, for I am short of room to store my harvest? Alright, I know what I shall do : I will pull down my barns and I will build bigger ones, to store all this grain, which is my wealth. Then I will say to myself : My friend, you have a lot of good things put by for many years. Rest, eat, drink and enjoy yourself.'”

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be taken from you. Tell Me, who shall get all you have put aside?’ This is the lot of the one who stores up riches for himself and is not wealthy in the eyes of God.”

Monday, 19 October 2020 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Martyrs, and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)

Psalm 99 : 2, 3, 4, 5

Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.

Know that the Lord is God; He created us and we are His people, the sheep of His fold.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving, His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and bless His Name.

For the Lord is good; His love lasts forever and His faithfulness through all generations.

Monday, 19 October 2020 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Martyrs, and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)

Ephesians 2 : 1-10

You were dead, through the faults and sins. Once, you lived through them, according to this world, and followed the Sovereign Ruler Who reigns between heaven and earth, and Who goes on working, in those who resist the faith.

All of us belonged to them, at one time, and we followed human greed; we obeyed the urges of our human nature and consented to its desires. By ourselves, we went straight to the judgment, like the rest of humankind.

But God, Who is rich in mercy, revealed His immense love. As we were dead through our sins, He gave us life, with Christ. By grace, you have been saved! And He raised us to life, with Christ, giving us a place with Him in heaven.

In showing us such kindness, in Christ Jesus, God willed to reveal, and unfold in the coming ages, the extraordinary riches of His grace. By the grace of God, you have been saved, through faith.

This has not come from you : it is God’s gift. This was not the result of your works, so you are not to feel proud. What we are, is God’s work. He has created us, in Christ Jesus, for the good works He has prepared, that we should devote ourselves to them.

Saturday, 19 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the reassurance which God has given us that He is always with us, protecting us and providing for us, and for always being faithful to the Covenant which He had made with us despite our own inability to commit to that Covenant. In the Scripture passages today, we are reminded of God’s promises to us which He had made from time immemorial and renewed again and again.

In our first reading today we heard of the Lord’s promise to Abraham, the Covenant which He had sealed and made with the father of many nations and our father in faith. Abraham was then without a child although he and his wife were already old and Sarah, his wife past childbearing age, and he had relegated his hopes to have his estates and patrimony passed on to one of his own trusted servants rather than to the heir of his body.

But Abraham trusted in God just as he trusted Him and listened to Him when He called him out of the lands of his ancestors in Ur, Mesopotamia. When God first called Abraham, Abraham entrusted himself in the Lord and left behind family and land, following God to the land which He had promised to him and his descendants, a land which He has blessed Abraham with. And Abraham stayed faithful to the end, devoting himself to God and God fulfilled the promise which He has made with him.

We have seen how God made Abraham to be the father of many nations, blessing the descendants he has gained from the grace of God. What seemed to be impossible for man, God has made possible, for indeed there is nothing that is impossible or too great for God to do. And through his faith, Abraham gained what he has been promised, for God is ever faithful, and even when His people were unfaithful, God is always ever faithful, for according to St. Paul, He cannot deny Himself and the love He has for us all.

And in the Gospel today the Lord again reiterated His faithfulness to the Covenant which He had made with His people, and as long as they are faithful to Him, they will not be disappointed and they will receive what God has promised to them as Abraham had once received. But at the same time, God wants us all to know that just as Abraham did not have it easy through his many years of following and obeying Him, we too will encounter difficulties and challenges along the way.

This was a premonition of what the disciples and the Apostles would have to face as they were sent on their missions to be witnesses of Christ’s truth and salvation. They would face bitter persecutions and challenges during their ministry, being arrested, tortured and rejected by the people they ministered to, and even betrayed and abandoned by those who were close to them, their own families and friends.

But they held on fast to their faith, as Abraham once had, and spent their energy and strength to serve the Lord wholeheartedly despite all those challenges. And today, we have yet more of these holy predecessors of ours, whose lives have been exemplary and whose actions and deeds can become our inspiration as well, as we look upon the examples of the Holy Canadian Martyrs, the Jesuit missionaries of North America as well as St. Paul of the Cross.

The Jesuit missionaries of North America, St. Isaac Jogues, St. John de Brebeuf and their companions were those who braved the tough challenges of evangelisation in distant lands in the wild and untamed nature of the North American continent, in what is now part of Canada in Quebec. They preached the word of God and His salvation to the natives, many of whom were reluctant and apprehensive of the message of the Gospel they received.

They had to endure bitter cold winters, wild animals and shortages of food, attacks from hostile tribes and torture from those who were captured by those hostile to the missionaries. And yet, they refused to back down and remained strong in their faith and in their strong resolution to serve God. Many of them were martyred but their efforts and their inspiration served to strengthen the faith of many and made firm the foundations of the Church in those lands.

Meanwhile St. Paul of the Cross was a mystic and the founder of the Passionist Order, renowned for his great piety and personal austere lifestyle, through which he inspired many people to live their lives with greater faith and commitment to God. His extensive writings and works became source of strength and conviction for many of those who followed in his footsteps through the centuries since. He showed us all how one can live his life so focused and centred on God and obey His will so well.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to follow in the footsteps of our courageous and dedicated, faithful and committed predecessors in faith? Let us all make a new resolution in our lives that from now on we will be ever deeper in our commitment to God and in being ever closer to God. Let us all put our trust in God and be faithful to His Covenant and remember the great love and faithfulness He has always shown us despite our rebelliousness and stubbornness all these while. May God bless us all and be with us always. Amen.

Saturday, 19 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests 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, 19 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests 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, 19 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests 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.

Friday, 19 October 2018 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to God’s reassurance and promise to His people, through His Apostle St. Paul, who in our first reading today, taken from the Epistle to the Church and the faithful in the city of Ephesus, mentioned how those who have accepted the truth of Christ, have been chosen from among the nations and all the people, to be God’s own people.

And because they have been chosen, God would be with them, despite the challenges and difficulties they might face in their lives, and despite the pains and sufferings that they had to endure. This was reiterated by the Lord when He told them what is on our Gospel passage today. He told them that they should not fear or worry about the one who could only harm them in the body but has no power over the soul.

What the Lord meant was that, even though the difficulties and challenges might be great and seemingly insurmountable, but in the end, despite the challenges and pain, the hardships that the world was piling up upon them, but they must not stumble on the way or fall into the trap of temptation of the devil. The evil one does not desire the salvation of us mankind, and therefore, he is always trying his best to lure us away from God’s path by all means.

Many of the disciples and followers of Christ during the years of the early Church, during the time of the persecution by the Jewish and Roman authorities chose to give up their faith in place of safety and good treatment by the world. They chose to leave behind the sufferings that they endured when they adhered to the Christian faith, because of various reasons, either because they could not leave their family behind, or because of the same family that pressured them to abandon their faith, or the community which ostracised and persecuted all those who believed in God.

It was truly not an easy time to be a Christian, unlike many of us in the present day who are taking our faith for granted, living in the comfort and security of our own, often flourishing Christian communities. Thus, we have to understand the circumstances in which those Christians in the early Church, and in fact, even in our present day, where there are still our fellow brothers and sisters who are suffering persecution and difficulties just because they believe in the Lord.

But we must not give up our faith, for to give up in order to gain the temporary respite of the world, the pleasures of life and the comfort of the lack of persecution, oppression and rejection, and worldly acceptance, is for us to abandon for eternity the salvation and eternal life that God offers only to those who remain true to Him and keep their faith in Him alive even in the midst of the darkest times and moments.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today, let us all look upon the examples of some of our holy predecessors, first of all, the Holy Canadian Martyrs, the Jesuit priests and missionaries who strove through the harsh conditions of the then wild lands of Canada, where winters were very cold, the wildlife vicious and living conditions harsh, on top of the opposition from the pagan tribesmen especially those who refused to accept the truth of the Scriptures.

There were those of the natives who were willing to listen to the Lord’s words and truth. They converted to the faith and became among the first Christians in that wild and harsh land. They established parishes and mission stations among the native peoples, and more and more came to believe in God despite the challenging times and circumstances. But they were attacked by those natives who opposed the missionaries’ efforts to evangelise to them.

That was where the Holy Canadian Martyrs, St. John Brebeuf, St. Isaac Jogues and their companions suffered martyrdom for their faith. They suffered greatly before they died, and they defended their faith to the end, even protecting those natives who have believed in the Lord and became the followers of Christ. They refused to abandon those sheep whom the Lord had entrusted to be their flock, to be under their care.

Meanwhile, today we also mark the feast of St. Paul of the Cross, who was a holy priest of God, who was the founder of the Passionists, a religious order of those who would want to dedicate themselves in a life of prayer and love towards God, by means of prayer and by charitable works among the community. St. Paul of the Cross emulated the good example for his brethren, in his generous works of mercy, his tireless efforts at evangelisation and in delivering the truth to the people.

St. Paul of the Cross showed us all how we ought to live our lives, filled with love for God and His people, just as the Holy Canadian Martyrs had also done, in their selfless and courage love for their flock, for those whom the Lord had called through them. These holy men of God have shown us what it truly means for us to be Christians, to be men for God and men for others. And we should put our trust in God in all things, that as long as we are faithful, God will always bless us and protect us in our journey of faith.

Let us ask the Lord for His guidance, and for strength and courage, that we may continue to live in faith, devoting ourselves from now on for the sake of God’s greater glory. Let us draw ever closer to the Lord and seek to love Him with ever greater devotion, day after day from now on. And may God continue to bless us all in our deeds and in all that we do. Amen.

Friday, 19 October 2018 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)

Luke 12 : 1-7

At that time, such a numerous crowd had gathered that they crushed one another. Then Jesus spoke to His disciples in this way, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered that will not be uncovered; or hidden, that will not be made known. Whatever you have said in darkness will be heard in daylight, and what you have whispered in hidden places, will be proclaimed from housetops.”

“I tell you, My friends, do not fear those who put to death the body and, after that, can do no more. But I will tell you Whom to fear : Fear the One Who, after killing you, is able to throw you into hell. This One you must fear. Do you not buy five sparrows for two pennies? Yet not one of them has been forgotten by God. Even the hairs of your head have been numbered. Do not be afraid! Are you less worthy in the eyes of God than many sparrows?”