Monday, 25 July 2022 : Feast of St. James, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Feast of St. James the Apostle, one of the great Apostles of the Lord and member of the Twelve Apostles. He is also known as St. James the Greater to distinguish him from the other St. James, such as St. James the Just, a relative of the Lord and first Bishop of Jerusalem, or St. James the Lesser, also known as St. James, son of Alpheus. St. James was also the elder brother of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist, as one of the two sons of Zebedee, as was a fisherman at the lake of Galilee together with St. Peter, St. Andrew and his brother, St. John.

St. James was one of the first disciples and followers of the Lord, who committed himself to Him and followed Him through many important occurrences throughout the Lord’s ministry. He was often chosen together with St. Peter and his brother St. John as the three disciples who accompanied Him during important moments of His ministry, such as the resurrection of the dead young daughter of the synagogue official, during the moment of the Transfiguration of the Lord at Mount Tabor, where he, St. Peter and St. John all witnessed the Lord glorified and transfigured before their own eyes, and lastly during the time of the Agony in the Gardens of Gethsemane just before the Lord was to be betrayed and arrested.

As such, St. James was one of the Lord’s innermost circle members and closest confidants. After the Lord’s Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven, together with the other Apostles, St. James went on extensive evangelising missions and ministry, where it was told by Apostolic tradition and evidences that he went all the way to Hispania, the region now known as Spain and Portugal, where he preached the Gospels and the Lord there, and it was also there that he saw one of the first apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, who at that time was still living in Jerusalem. She miraculously appeared to St. James in Hispania, in what is known as the apparition of Our Lady of the Pillar.

It was told that St. James was facing a lot of challenges and trials in his ministry, and faced opposition and hardships on his missionary journey which left him exhausted and discouraged by what he encountered. It was then that as St. James was praying, that the Blessed Virgin appeared to him, surrounded by multitudes of thousands of Angels of God, strengthening and encouraging him. This apparition gave St. James the courage and strength to finish his mission, and made him more fervent in his efforts to reach out to the people of the region and establishing the foundations of the Church there.

Later on, St. James would return to Jerusalem, and according to the records of the Acts of the Apostles, was the first among the Twelve Apostles to be martyred, when king Herod, in trying to appease the Jewish authorities and leaders, persecuted the early Christian communities and killed St. James, who therefore died a martyr for his faith. It was later told that his remains and relics were miraculously translated to where he performed his ministry in Hispania, where now stands the great Basilica of Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain, the site of his tomb and shrine today.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the examples of the faith of St. James the Apostle, his hard work and contributions, to the Church and to the glorification of God should serve to inspire us to do the same. And if we are not confident that we are able to do it, then we need to again examine who St. James was, a poor, illiterate fisherman from Galilee, a mere fisherman living in the periphery of the Jewish world at the time, not at all destined for greatness. He did not have the pedigree, the connections and the necessary education and background for greatness and status at that time. And yet, through him God had done so many wonderful works, that the impact is still felt even to this day.

St. James allowed God to lead him on his way, empowering and strengthening him on his journey, that by God’s providence and grace, he managed to do all the great things that he had done, in the many miracles he performed, in the communities of the faithful he had established, and the many souls that he had saved, that although his early martyrdom did not give him a long time to perform his missions, but it is undeniable that he had done so many great things, all for the greater glory of God, and it was for all these that we venerate and thank St. James the Apostle for, and why we are all inspired by his great courage and examples.

Now, are we all able to follow and commit ourselves in the same way that St. James had committed his life to the Lord? Are we willing to devote more of our time and effort in following the Lord and being His good disciples? Each and every one of us have been called and God has bestowed each one of us with variety of gifts and blessings, opportunities and chances for us all to reach out and to do His will. What matters is for us to respond to God’s call and our commitment to walk faithfully in His path. Are we willing to drink the cup that Christ and His servants had drunk, the cup of suffering? And if we suffer with Christ, we too shall be glorified with Him in triumph.

Let the examples of St. James the Apostles and all the other great holy men and women of God inspire us to do more for the greater glory of God, in fulfilling our Christian calling and our obligation to live our lives most worthily for the Lord. May God be with us always and may He strengthen us always in faith. Amen.

Monday, 25 July 2022 : Feast of St. James, Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Matthew 20 : 20-28

At that time, the mother of James and John came to Jesus with her sons, and she knelt down, to ask a favour. Jesus said to her, “What do you want?” And she answered, “Here, You have my two sons. Grant, that they may sit, one at Your right hand and one at Your left, in Your kingdom.”

Jesus said to the brothers, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They answered, “We can.” Jesus replied, “You will indeed drink My cup; but to sit at My right or at My left is not for Me to grant. That will be for those, for whom My Father has prepared it.”

The other then heard all this, and were angry with the two brothers. Then Jesus called them to Him and said, “You know, that the rulers of nations behave like tyrants, and the powerful oppress them. It shall not be so among you : whoever wants to be great in your community, let him minister to the community. And if you want to be the first of all, make yourself the servant of all. Be like the Son of Man, Who came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life to redeem many.”

Monday, 25 July 2022 : Feast of St. James, Apostle (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 125 : 1-2ab, 2cd-3, 4-5, 6

When YHVH brought the exiles back to Zion, we were like those moving in a dream. Then, our mouths were filled with laughter, and our tongues with songs of joy.

Among the nations it was said, “YHVH has done great things for them.” YHVH had done great things for us, and we were glad indeed.

Bring back our exiles, o YHVH, like fresh streams in the desert. Those who sow in tears will reap with songs and shouts of joy.

They went forth weeping, bearing the seeds for sowing, they will come home with joyful shouts, bringing their harvested sheaves.

Monday, 25 July 2022 : Feast of St. James, Apostle (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

2 Corinthians 4 : 7-15

However, we carry this treasure in vessels of clay, so that this all-surpassing power may not be seen as ours, but as God’s. Trials of every sort come to us, but we are not discouraged. We are left without answer, but do not despair; persecuted but not abandoned, knocked down but not crushed.

At any moment, we carry, in our person, the death of Jesus, so, that, the life of Jesus may also be manifested in us. For we, the living, are given up continually to death, for the sake of Jesus, so, that, the life of Jesus may appear in our mortal existence. And as death is at work in us, life comes to you.

We have received the same Spirit of faith referred to in Scripture, that says : I believed and so I spoke. We also believed, and so we speak. We know that He, Who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us, with Jesus, and bring us, with you, into His presence. Finally, everything is for your good, so that grace will come more abundantly upon you, and great will be the thanksgiving for the glory of God.

Tuesday, 3 May 2022 : Feast of St. Philip and St. James, Apostles (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Church celebrates the glorious Feast of not just one but two of the Lord’s glorious Apostles, two of the Twelve Apostles, namely that of St. Philip and St. James, the two faithful servants of God who had dedicated their lives in the service of God, and who had persevered despite the challenges and trials they had to endure as part of their ministry. Both of them laboured hard to spread the words of the Gospels and the Good News to the far corners of the world, enduring many sufferings and joy during their ministries, and eventually martyrdom for the sake of the Lord and His Church. They are celebrated together because historically, their relics were translated to Rome on the same day.

St. Philip was one of the Lord’s closest disciples who was mentioned in several occasions in the Gospels, especially in the Gospel of St. John, one of which accounts was part of our Gospel passage today. St. Philip was mentioned in today’s Gospel when he asked the Lord Jesus to show him and the other disciples the Father, God the heavenly Father Whom Jesus had been speaking about. This was met with the incredulous words from the Lord as He told St. Philip and the other disciples that they had seen the Father just as they had seen Him, all because He and the Father are One, and seeing Him means that one has seen the Father manifested in the flesh, as the Lord Jesus was indeed the Divine Word of God Incarnate.

St. Philip was also mentioned when the Lord miraculously fed five thousand men and many others with just five loaves of bread and two fishes, which was our Gospel passage just a few days ago. He was the one to present the food offered by a child to the Lord, and was also the one who introduced Nathanael, also known as St. Bartholomew the Apostle, to the Lord. He was also the one who proclaimed the Lord to the Ethiopian official as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles early in the Church history. And later on, he was also involved in many works of evangelisation, preaching the Gospels and the Good News to the people in far off places, in Greece, parts of Syria and Asia Minor in Phrygia.

Meanwhile, St. James, also known as St. James the Less, to distinguish him from St. James the Greater, the brother of St. John the Apostle, was identified as either St. James, son of Alphaeus or as St. James, one of the brothers or more accurately, relatives of the Lord Jesus. He was called ‘Less’ because of his relatively shorter stature as compared to St. James the Greater, and he was a relative of one other follower of Jesus, identified as Mary, wife of Cleopas. He was often widely credited with the authorship of the Epistle of St. James, and he was also involved in many evangelising missions in various places, although the details were less than that was available for St. Philip and the other more renowned Apostles.

Regardless of the details of their exact activities and involvements in the Church and its missions, what we all ought to know is the fact that each and every one of them and the other Apostles had dedicated their whole lives in the service of God, and having been encouraged and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, they had proclaimed the Lord with joy and fervour, seeking to glorify Him by their lives, by their every words and actions. And those Apostles did not fear even persecutions, trials, sufferings and challenges in life, and they bore their crosses with true dedication and love for God and His people.

As we come together today to celebrate and mark the great memories of these two wonderful saints, the Holy Apostles of Our Lord, St. Philip and St. James, we are all called to reflect on ourselves and on our own calling in life. Each one of us as Christians are disciples and followers of the Lord, and we are all called to the same mission that the Lord has entrusted to His Apostles. The Lord has given to us the mission to reach out to more people among the nations, that we may be the genuine witnesses of His truth, love and resurrection among all the people of God. We are the ones to be the beacons of God’s light in our respective communities today.

The question is, are we all ready and willing to embark on this journey of faith, together with God and following in the footsteps of the Apostles like St. Philip and St. James? Are we also willing to make sacrifices of time and effort, offering our best to serve the Lord and to be the examples and inspirations for one another, that we may ever be more courageous in living our lives with faith? Each and every one of us have been given and entrusted with the mission to call more and more people to the light and truth of God. We have to make that conscious effort to live our lives worthily and devote ourselves thoroughly to His cause from now on.

Let us all therefore do our best to serve the Lord by our every contributions, even to the smallest and seemingly least significant actions we do. For it is by our combined works and efforts that God will extend His reach and works ever more gloriously among His people. Let us all spend more time in building up our relationship with God and in deepening our understanding of our faith, so that we may be truly inspirational to all those who witness our lives and works. Let us walk in the path of the Apostles and do whatever we can to proclaim the Lord in each and every moments of our lives. May God bless us always in our every efforts and good works, now and forevermore. St. Philip and St. James, Holy Apostles of the Lord, pray for us sinners. Amen.

Tuesday, 3 May 2022 : Feast of St. Philip and St. James, Apostles (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 14 : 6-14

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you know Me, you will know the Father also; indeed you know Him, and you have seen Him.”

Philip asked Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and that is enough.” Jesus said to him, “What! I have been with you so long and you still do not know Me, Philip? Whoever sees Me sees the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me?”

“All that I say to you, I do not say of Myself. The Father Who dwells in Me is doing His own work. Believe Me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; at least believe it on the evidence of these works that I do. Truly, I say to you, the one who believes in Me will do the same works that I do; and he will even do greater than these, for I am going to the Father.”

“Everything you ask in My Name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. Indeed, anything you ask, calling upon My Name, I will do.”

Tuesday, 3 May 2022 : Feast of St. Philip and St. James, Apostles (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 18 : 2-3, 4-5

The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament proclaims the work of His hands. Day talks it over with day; night hands on the knowledge to night.

No speech, no words, no voice is heard – but the call goes on throughout the universe, the message is felt to the ends of the earth.

Tuesday, 3 May 2022 : Feast of St. Philip and St. James, Apostles (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

1 Corinthians 15 : 1-8

Let me remind you, brothers and sisters, of the Good News that I preached to you and which you received and on which you stand firm. By that Gospel you are saved, provided that you hold to it as I preached it. Otherwise, you will have believed in vain.

In the first place, I have passed on to you what I myself received that Christ died for our sins, as Scripture says; that He was buried; that He was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures; that He appeared to Cephas and then to the Twelve. Afterwards He appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters together; most of them are still alive, although some have already gone to rest.

Then He appeared to James and after that to all the Apostles. And last of all, He appeared to the most despicable of them, this is to me.

Sunday, 25 July 2021 : Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Feast of St. James, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today this Sunday as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures, we are all reminded of the most wonderful love of God which He has shown us by sharing with us His blessings and graces, His kindness and providence by the sharing of food and sustenance for His people, as highlighted in our Scripture readings today. The Lord also wants to unite His people through the same breaking and sharing of the bread that is in essence, at the centre of our Christian faith.

In our first reading today we heard the account of the activity of the prophet Elisha from the Book of Kings during his ministry in the land of the northern kingdom of Israel. The prophet Elisha was followed by a large number of people, about a hundred in total, and a man they encountered brought them offering of bread from barley and wheat, about twenty loaves all in all. Those bread were nowhere near enough to sustain the whole multitude of people, and hence, the follower of the prophet asked him how he could get enough food to feed all of them.

The prophet reminded that follower and told him to do what he asked him to do, to give all the offered bread and food to everyone, and that God would provide for His beloved ones and they would not be lacking. True enough, everyone miraculously had enough to eat, and everyone had their fill just as the prophet had said, as God miraculously multiplied the bread for them all, and gave them all the share of bread and food to eat in the midst of their ministry and works.

This is a close parallel to what we know even better in the Lord’s miraculous feeding of the five thousand men and thousands of others in the Gospel as we heard earlier today. In that occasion, the Lord fed the whole multitudes of thousands assembled before Him, with even much fewer food, only five loaves of bread and two fishes offered by a young boy. The Apostles, especially St. Philip wondered how they were to go and obtain the food and sustenance to provide for all those people when the Lord asked them to provide the whole multitudes with food.

The Lord prayed and broke the loaves of bread, and also did the same with the fish, distributing them to the disciples who then gave the food to the assembled multitudes, all of whom received enough food and things to eat, had their fill, and still, twelve basket-full of leftovers were gathered. Everyone had enough and were happy, and the Lord showed to all of them, as well as to all of us again how wonderful God’s love and grace is, how He cared for each one of us. He did not send the people away, but fed them from the food which had been offered to Him, and provided for them in their hour of need.

How is this significant for us, brothers and sisters in Christ? This is exactly how it is like at every time we celebrate the Holy Mass, at the Liturgy of the Eucharist. At the offertory, we bring the bread and the wine as offerings to the Lord, which the priests gathered and took, giving thanks to the Lord just in the same manner as the Lord Jesus having given thanks to His Father, and then gave the bread for all of us to partake and share. But even much more so than what had happened in the past, at the Eucharist, which the Lord Jesus Himself instituted at the Last Supper, He gave Himself, His own Precious Body and Blood to all.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, at the pinnacle of our faith, at its very core, is our belief in the Real Presence of the Lord in the Most Holy Eucharist, that in miracle that surpasses any other miracles, not only that God feeds us and gave us all food to eat, but He Himself came down upon us, to be in our midst and to be with us. He has given us all Himself as the sustenance and food, to be partaken and shared among us that we truly become part of that One and united Body of Christ, the Church of God, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

The Church of God of which we are part of is united through this Communion, by the sharing of the Body and Blood of Christ, as we gather together to celebrate the Holy Mass and the Eucharist. Through the Eucharist, God did not just provide for us in our physical needs, but even more importantly, He shared with us the spiritual nourishment, His true and Real Presence that comes to dwell within us, and we become the Temple of His Presence, as He dwells in us with the Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen us in our path in life.

And as we therefore reflect on all these words of the Scripture we received this Sunday, then we should spend some time to discern and reflect on our attitude in the Church as one united community in Christ. Unfortunately, in the past few years and decades, especially in recent years, there have been those who wanted to harm the unity of the Church, either by being exclusive and Pharisaical, extremist and hardline in their ideologies and way of thinking, or by disrespecting and disobeying the core tenets and teachings of the Church.

I refer to those fundamentals and extreme groups who sought to either change the Church teachings or to adapt activities and ways that are not in accordance with our faith or sacred tradition, as well as those who have taken in to the extremes ideas such as being against the reforms of the Second Vatican Council that had been legitimate and inspired by the Holy Spirit through the assembly and discussion of all the bishops and the assembled prelates of the Church.

All these things caused divisions within the Church, as it had happened previously in the long history of the Church. It set brothers against fellow brothers, families against others, and segments of the faithful against other segments, groups against groups. And because of this, we ended up losing sight on the true calling we have as Christians, to keep the unity among us and to live together with faith, celebrating and sharing together the Eucharist, the Sacrament of Unity in the Holy Mass.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we recall and reflect on the love which God has shown to all of us, His faithful and beloved people, let us all therefore strive to put aside our differences, and abandon our illogical and unhealthy ideologies, especially those based not on the truth of the Gospel and the teachings of the Church, but on the basis of human prejudices, ambition, and even selfishness and evil. Let us all put aside all the things that divide us, and instead, focus our attention on the Lord, our God.

Through Him we have received this new life, for He Who is the Bread of Life, has given us all new life, that we receive, partake and share not just mere bread alone, but in truth, we have received nothing less than His own Most Precious Body and Blood, that we who partake worthily of Him, become one Body and one Church, and through this unity and the sharing of this holy union with God, we are made whole once again, and receive the assurance of eternal glory and true joy in Him.

Let us all remember what St. Paul mentioned in his Epistle to the Ephesians, part of which is our second reading today, that we all have to strive for unity of the Church, through the Holy Spirit, and nurture a spirit of charity and love, of generosity and kindness towards one another, that we share this blessing and grace of God we have received with each other, that we remind ourselves of the need to build a truly united and harmonious community of the faithful and Church, that we do not only love the Lord with all of our might and strength, but also our fellow brethren, as part of the same Body of Christ, the Church of God.

Let us all therefore grow ever more in our faith in the Lord, deepen our relationships with Him, and entrust ourselves to Him with ever greater commitment and devotion, with greater trust and desire to seek Him in each and every moments of our lives. May the Lord be with us all, and may He empower each and every one of us to live together as one united Church, one united community of the faithful. May God bless us all and our every good works and good endeavours. Amen.

Sunday, 25 July 2021 : Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Feast of St. James, Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

John 6 : 1-15

At that time, Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, near Tiberias, and large crowds followed Him, because of the miraculous signs they saw, when He healed the sick. So He went up into the hills and sat down there with His disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand.

Then lifting up His eyes, Jesus saw the crowds that were coming to Him, and said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread so that these people may eat?” He said this to test Philip, for He Himself knew what He was going to do. Philip answered Him, “Two hundred silver coins would not buy enough bread for each of them to have a piece.”

Then one of Jesus’ disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass there, so the people, about five thousand men, sat down. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were seated. He did the same with the fish, and gave them as much as they wanted.

And when they had eaten enough, He told His disciples, “Gather up the pieces left over, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with bread, that is, with pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

When the people saw the miracle which Jesus had performed, they said, “This is really the Prophet, the One Who is to come into the world.” Jesus realised that they would come and take Him by force to make Him King; so He fled to the hills by Himself.