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.

Thursday, 19 October 2017 : 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)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day through the Sacred Scriptures all of us are reminded of the love which God has shown us mankind, by wanting to forgive us from our sins and trespasses. All have sinned and fell from the grace of God, and should have merited them all destruction and damnation, according to St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Rome.

Yet, the Lord still loves each and every one of us, for if He has not loved us, He would not have created us in the first place. He created us so that all of us, each and every one of us may experience His love and compassion, and share in that love. God Who is all perfect and filled with perfect love has no need for us or for our love, and yet because He wants to share that love with us, that is why He created us.

And because He has created us out of love, despite of our downfall and sinfulness, He still wants us to be freed from our bondage to sin, because He hates and despises our sins, but not us as human beings personally. As long as we are still capable of being forgiven, God will forgive us many times. But this also require from each one of us the commitment to repent from our sins and leave behind our sinful past way of life.

Yet, this is definitely easier said than done, as there are many who are adamant and stubborn in their refusal to leave behind their way of sin. The Lord Jesus used the example of the people of Israel who in the past refused to repent and to listen to the message and the words of the prophets sent to them by God. They hardened their hearts and became angry at the prophets, seizing them, torturing them and ended up killing many of them.

In the same manner, as Jesus compared it with, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were adamant in their refusal to believe in Jesus. They continued to walk in their path of sin, of pride and haughtiness, of human greed and desire. There were lots of temptations, of power, of worldly glory and the pleasures of the flesh that prevented many from being able to commit themselves to the cause of the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is an important lesson for each and every one of us, reminding us that we must not be complacent in how we live our lives in faith. And we must be aware of just how much suffering that sin can cause us, because sin makes us to be separated from the fullness of God’s love and grace. And it is easy for us to lose our way and to be tempted as the Pharisees, the teachers of the Law and their ancestors had been tempted.

To be a true Christian, many of us must truly live in accordance with our faith, and believe in God wholeheartedly, often through our very actions and deeds in life. We often make compromises with the world and its ways, so that we can live comfortably without worry, but by doing so, we allow ourselves to be swayed away from God’s righteousness and into the path of our downfall through sin.

Today, let us all reflect on the lives of the holy saints and martyrs whose feast we celebrate this very day, first of all the Holy Canadian Martyrs and then St. Paul of the Cross, a holy priest of God. The Holy Canadian Martyrs were brave and courageous missionaries, all of them were Jesuits, belonging to the Society of Jesus, who went to the uncharted and new lands of what is now known as Canada in the New World.

The Jesuit missionaries travelled through very difficult terrains and went from villages to villages, enduring difficulties through various weather conditions in the wilderness to proclaim the Good News of Christ to the people who were still pagans and unbelievers at that time. Some of the people were willing to listen to them, and gradually many of them gave themselves to be baptised and were converted.

Yet, there were many others who refused to believe in God, and they made life very difficult for the courageous Jesuit missionaries. Eventually, they arrested and tortured the missionaries, and made martyrs out of them, much in the same way as what we have heard happening to the prophets sent to the people of Israel in the old times. The sins of mankind and their stubbornness made them to refuse to listen to the truth.

But does this stop the Church and God’s servants from trying to bring those who were stubborn towards the truth and salvation in God? No, in fact, it only spurs them all the more, trying to save the souls of as many as possible, many of whom were misguided by their lack of understanding about our faith and about the Lord our God. That was what St. Paul of the Cross was doing in his life, working for the greater good of the people of God.

St. Paul of the Cross was remembered for his work in founding the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ, or also known as the Passionists. Through his works and dedications, he called many people to be thoroughly converted to the Lord, to turn away from their mistaken and misguided way of life, and be penitent throughout their days of life. He was also committed to a life of charity and work among the people of God, and their works had inspired many more people to join in his efforts and be converted to God’s cause.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as Christians, all of us should follow the footsteps of our holy predecessors, and not those who refused to listen to God and repent from their sins. There will indeed be difficulties and challenges, as those who went before us would have known and understood. But we must persevere, and we must realise that it is not just us who need to have a change of heart and conversion, but even more so, those around us also need the same conversion.

It is through our works and participation that we will be able to help our brethren on their way towards the Lord, following the examples of the Holy Canadian Martyrs and St. Paul of the Cross. Let us all renew our commitment to God, and to serve Him through our actions all the days of our lives. May God be with us always and may He empower us to be true Christians always. Amen.

Thursday, 19 October 2017 : 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)

Luke 11 : 47-54

At that time, Jesus said to the teachers of the Law, “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 these 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, 19 October 2017 : 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)

Psalm 129 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-7a

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.

I waited for YHVH, my soul waits; and I put my hope in His word. My soul expects YHVH more than watchmen, the dawn. O Israel, hope in YHVH.

Thursday, 19 October 2017 : 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)

Romans 3 : 21-30a

But, now it has been revealed, altogether apart from the Law, as it was already foretold in the Law and the prophets : God makes us righteous by means of faith in Jesus Christ, and this is applied to all who believe, without distinction of persons.

Because all have sinned and all fall short of the glory of God; and all are graciously forgiven and made righteous, through the redemption effected in Christ Jesus. For God has given Him to be the Victim, Whose Blood obtains us forgiveness, through faith.

So God shows us, how He makes us righteous. Past sins are forgiven, which God overlooked till now. For, now, He wants to reveal His way of righteousness : how He is just, and how He makes us righteous, through faith in Jesus. Then, what becomes of our pride? It is excluded. How? Not through the Law and its observances, but through another Law, which is faith. For we hold, that people are in God’s grace, by faith, and not because of all the things ordered by the Law.

Otherwise, God would be the God of the Jews; but is He not God of pagan nations as well? Of course He is, for there is only one God.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016 : 29th 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)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the Scripture passages telling us firstly about the works of St. Paul the Apostle who was called by God and was sent to preach the Good News of God into the foreign lands to the pagan peoples who have yet to hear the Good News, and who have yet to know the identity of their true Lord and Saviour.

He has worked among them and preached among them the Good News, calling them to conversion and to understand the will of God for them. God helped him and guided him along the path, and in doing so he has been like the good and hardworking steward that Jesus our Lord mentioned in the Gospel today, where He praised the actions of the good steward who was committed to fulfil the work he was entrusted with by his master.

This was contrasted with the lazy and wicked servant whose actions were not what his master wanted from him. The lazy and wicked servant was not forthcoming with his works, and he thought that when the master was not around, he could do whatever he wanted and nothing would happen to him if he did not do as what was expected of him.

Unfortunately the master came back unexpectedly and he found out that the lazy servant had been neglecting his works, and he had therefore become unworthy of his position, and thus, the master sacked him and punished him heavily, while he praised and graced the good servant who did his work admirably, and this is a reminder to each and every one of us, we who are God’s people, His servants and followers, that we should not neglect what the Lord had entrusted to us.

And what is that brothers and sisters in Christ? What is it that God entrusted to us? It is the mission of evangelisation, to preach the Good News to our brethren, to one another, to all those who have yet to receive and to hear the Good News, all those who are living in sin and corruption of their darkness and wickedness, that all of these may be saved and may be freed from the evils that beset them and be brought into eternal life in God.

Many of us Christians are not aware of this mission which God had entrusted to us through His Apostles and His Church. We are all called to continue the works of the Apostles, continuing the good works that St. Paul had started, the labours and hardships he had encountered which we have heard in our first reading today. We may have thought that their works were completed, but in reality, there are always more work out there to be done.

Perhaps we should look at the examples of the holy saints whose feast we are celebrating today. This day we celebrate firstly the feast of the martyrs of North America, namely St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, and their many companions, fellow priests and missionaries, as well as many laymen who died defending their faith and in their mission to spread the Good News in the region now known as Canada and the rest of North America.

These missionaries, who were members of the Jesuit order, went from France to the wild lands and unexplored territories known now as Quebec and Canada, working and preaching among the local American Indian populations, introducing them to the Lord Jesus and to His salvation. Their work was not easy, as although there were some of the Indian populations who listened to them and converted to the Faith, but there were many others who refused to believe and were hostile to the missionaries and their efforts.

Nevertheless, these brave and courageous missionaries did not let the difficulties and challenges to overcome them, and despite all the mounting challenges facing them, they persevered on and continued to minister to the people whom they have called from the darkness. But several of them were martyred as they were captured and tortured by those tribes who refused to believe in Jesus and in His salvation.

Eventually the rest would be martyred as they were caught in between conflict among the worldly powers as well as between the Indian tribes, but their missionary works and pioneering examples served as examples for many generations of Christians in that region and in other parts of the world alike. Many more missionaries were to perish and to suffer in their attempt to evangelise to the people living in ignorance and darkness, but their contributions had saved countless souls and helped to establish the Church in various places.

St. Paul of the Cross meanwhile was an Italian priest and mystic, who was a simple man devoting himself to a life of service to God and to His people, and he was very devoted in his prayer life to God, and established with many other similar-minded companions, the congregation of the Poor of Jesus, devoting their time and efforts to live in a life of poverty and commitment to God, while teaching many others how they can become closer to God.

He established many communities devoted to contemplative life to God, and through his many visions received from the Lord, St. Paul of the Cross shared with many of his followers and others about these revelations and through his many writings and works, he gave to them and also to all of us, the insight into how we ought to follow the Lord and walk in His ways.

The examples from these holy saints and all the faithful predecessors who have walked and laboured before us should be inspirations for us all to follow, that by walking in their footsteps, we may be able to draw closer to God ourselves, and at the same time, also help to bring one another especially those who have lost their ways, that we all may find our way to God together and receive the fullness of His grace together. May God be with us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016 : 29th 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)
Luke 12 : 39-48

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Pay attention to this : If the master of the house had known at what time the thief would come, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man will come at an hour you do not expect.”

Peter said, “Lord, did You tell this parable only for us, or for everyone?” And the Lord replied, “Imagine, then, the wise and faithful steward, whom the master sets over his other servants to give them wheat at the proper time. Fortunate is this servant if his master on coming home, finds him doing his work. Truly, I say to you, the master will put him in charge of all his property.”

“But it may be that the steward thinks, ‘My Lord delays in coming,’ and he begins to abuse the male servants and the servant girls, eating and drinking and getting drunk. Then the master will come on a day he does not expect, and at an hour he does not know. He will cut him off, and send him to the same fate as the unfaithful.”

“The servant who knew his master’s will, but did not prepare and do what his master wanted, will be soundly beaten; but the one who does unconsciously what deserves punishment, shall receive fewer blows. Much will be required of the one who has been given much, and more will be asked of the one who has been entrusted with more.”