Monday, 10 May 2021 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. John of Avila, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are called to be evangelising disciples and missionaries of the faith to more and more people, to reach out to others around us who have not yet known the Lord or have lapsed from the faith that through us we may bear forth God’s truth and love and touch the lives of many people, and lead ever more souls to the salvation in God. This is our calling as Christians, and which we all need to embrace and which we need to respond to in our lives.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord Jesus speaking to His disciples reassuring them and promising to them that He would send them the great Helper, the Advocate, namely the Holy Spirit. This promise would later on then be fulfilled on the day of the Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came down on the Apostles and the other disciples assembled in Jerusalem after the Lord ascended into Heaven. The Holy Spirit strengthened the Apostles and the other disciples, giving them all the courage and the wisdom to reach out to all the peoples to whom the Lord was sending them to, in preaching the truth of the Good News of the Gospels.

The Lord then also be told His disciples fo be fruitful and productive in how we live our lives and faith. He called on all of them to be genuine in the way we carry out ourselves so that we may inspire one another to be willing to take action to spread the Good News of God, His truth and love in our respective communities, within our own families, circle of friends and acquaintances, among others whom we encounter in life. He sent them out to bear witness to this truth and call on more and more people to come to the salvation through Him.

This is what we then heard in our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, telling us about what St. Paul and the other disciples had been doing, in their missionary work and outreach, as St. Paul visited the communities of the faithful all throughout the Mediterranean region. He went from place to place, preaching the Good News and strengthening the faith among the people who were in those places, and many were converted because they believed in St. Paul and in all that he has spoken about.

These are the efforts of those who have witnessed and seen the truth of God, and having received the truth, they passed it on from one to another, that more and more people might come to know about the truth, and find out about the salvation in God. Through the Holy Spirit, they had been encouraged and strengthened, that despite the challenges and trials, the difficulties and obstacles they encountered, all these never prevented them from remaining firmly committed to the same mission that God has entrusted to them.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us have also been called to live our lives with faith, loving the Lord wholeheartedly and to commit ourselves to the Lord and His cause, with the same mission as that which had been entrusted to the Apostles and their successors. In our present day today, the works of the Church are still far from done, and there are still many areas where there are still many opportunities for us to take part in the works of evangelisation and outreach, in order to reach out more and more people.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. John of Avila, a great saint whose life may become a source of inspiration in how we ought to live our lives in obedience to God and His will. He was a Spanish priest and missionary, who was always aspiring in his early years and priesthood to go forth as a missionary in distant lands. However, the great piety of St. John of Avila was noted by another local priest who then recommended him to the Archbishop of Seville, who then encouraged him to stay on in Spain and minister to the people there.

St. John of Avila since then ministered to the faithful in the region of Andalusia in southern Spain, ministering to the needs of the faithful and to many diverse groups of people, calling for the faithful to turn away from their sins and to renounce their sinful ways. He established various faith communities and inspired many to follow in his examples and to continue the works that he had started. Through his writings and many works, St. John of Avila inspired many people throughout many regions, and not few were converted to the true faith.

St. John of Avila showed great piety and devotion to God in all of his actions, and he served the Lord unconditionally, with total devotion and this inspired so many others to follow the Lord and to change their ways of life for the better as well as in the reforming of the Church, and therefore countless souls have been saved, as those whom St. John of Avila had influenced and touched, they themselves would reach out and inspire many more people to return to the Lord and embrace their faith.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all follow in the footsteps of St. John of Avila, that all of us may be inspired to be good role models and inspirations in faith for one another, and through our lives, through our commitment and love for God, we may inspire others to follow in our footsteps, and enter into the kingdom of God and be saved as well. Let us all be inspired as Christians, to live our lives most virtuously and in accordance to the way that the Lord has shown us.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He guide us through His Holy Spirit, that we can be exemplary in life, and be missionary in spirit, that we may glorify His Name through our every actions in life. May God bless us all and our every good efforts and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Monday, 10 May 2021 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. John of Avila, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 15 : 26 – John 16 : 4a

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “From now on the Helper, the Holy Spirit Whom the Father will send in My Name, will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I have told you.”

“Peace be with you! I give you My peace; not as the world gives peace do I give it to you. Do not be troubled; do not be afraid. You heard Me say, ‘I am going away, but I am coming to you.’ If you loved Me, you would be glad that I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”

“I have told you this now before it takes place, so that when it does happen you may believe. It is very little what I may still tell you, for the prince of this world is at hand, although there is nothing in Me that he can claim. But see, the world must know that I love the Father, and that I do what the Father has taught Me to do. Come now, let us go.”

“I am the True Vine and My Father is the Vinegrower. If any of My branches does not bear fruit, He breaks it off; and He prunes every branch that does bear fruit, that it may bear even more fruit. You are already made clean by the word I have spoken to you. Live in Me as I live in you.”

Monday, 10 May 2021 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. John of Avila, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 149 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6a and 9b

Alleluia! Sing to the Lord a new song, sing His praise in the assembly of His saints! Let Israel rejoice in his Maker, let the people of Zion glory in their King!

Let them dance to praise of His Name and make music for Him with harp and timbrel. For the Lord delights in His people; He crowns the lowly with victory.

The saints will exult in triumph; even at night on their couches. Let the praise of God be on their lips; this is the glory of all His saints. Alleluia!

Monday, 10 May 2021 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. John of Avila, Priest and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 16 : 11-15

So we put out to sea from Troas and sailed straight across to Samothrace Island, and the next day to Neapolis. From there we went inland to Philippi, the leading city of the district of Macedonia, and a Roman colony. We spent some days in that city.

On the sabbath we went outside the city gate to the bank of the river where we thought the Jews would gather to pray. We sat down and began speaking to the women who were gathering there. One of them was a God-fearing woman named Lydia from Thyatira City, a dealer in purple cloth.

As she listened, the Lord opened her heart to respond to what Paul was saying. After she had been baptised together with her household, she invited us to her house, “If you think I am faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us to accept her invitation.

Friday, 8 March 2013 : 3rd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. John of God, Religious (Scripture Reflection)

Today we hear again about love, and about compassion, these two most wonderful things in the world that came to us from God Himself. For God is love, and God is compassion. He loves all things, and especially all mankind, the last and greatest of all of His creations. Of course God hates all forms of evil and sin, but even greater is His love is for us sinners, if only that we too show Him our sincere and pure love for Him.

That is why the greatest commandments of all is to love, and even the base and heart of all the ten commandments in the Ten Commandments given to Moses, in all the prohibitions and the wordings are basically about love, and the commands given by God not to spurn the love between God and man, and the love between mankind themselves, who are fellow brothers and sisters in God. That is why love is very important, especially in our world today, when love is increasingly marginalised and misinterpreted.

For love is not just a commercial kind of love, and love is not desire and lust. Contrary to what popular perception is, love is not just limited to the love between a love-struck male and a love-struck female. That is just one form of love, and there are many kinds of love, and true love is definitely much more difficult than just to say “I love you” or giving presents and expensive gifts to show our ‘love’.

For to love means to have the profound and concrete change in our heart, and our being, and in some cases even to give ourselves in its entirety, to the other person, especially in the case of our love to God, to love Him with all our hearts, our minds, and our souls, and of course love between man and woman who have been made one by God, and no man should divide and separate such a divine union.

The reason why the institution of love, marriage, and the family had been under attack and had been subjected to much destruction in recent years is because of the growing absence of love in our world today, either between spouses, within the family itself, between the parents and the children, and between man and God, and between man and their fellow neighbours. Many of our world’s troubles today are because of the lack of this love, that man began to turn their back against God, abandoning Him for other pursuits, either for material goods or for the fame among men.

Violence in our world today has also arisen because of this growing lack of love, where brothers and sisters would not hesitate to attack one another physically or verbally, totally disregarding the commandments that God had given us, that is to love one another as we love ourselves. In too many cases today, we love ourselves too much, and we think too highly of ourselves. We are increasingly becoming less communal and more individualistic, and began to isolate ourselves from others, either in our busy career, in our busy commitments, or in our material properties and wealth, and at the same time also isolating ourselves from God and His love.

That is exactly the kind of love that St. John of God, whose feast we celebrate today, want to get away from. For St. John of God was a holy and pious man of God, and often strived for his personal piety and salvation through prayers and faith in God. However, one day, a great enlightenment came for St. John of God, through another saint, St. John of Avila, who advised him to put his personal piety and salvation behind an even more important matter, that is love for others, and service for the poor, the needy, and the less fortunate.

Since then, the light of love within St. John of God, which was previously confined within him, was released and he did plenty of good works for the sake of the poor, the abandoned, and the weak in the society of his time. This is the kind of love that God wants us to have, to care for our brethren, our fellow mankind without any hesitation, qualms, or ulterior motives, and to die first in ourselves, that we can be born anew as caring persons that place the well-being of others before our own.

It is not easy to cast away our selfishness and our strong love for ourselves, but brothers and sisters, if we help one another, and keep a strong prayer life, God will show us how to love others. It is not enough just to love God or to love ourselves alone, but to love others unconditionally is the final piece in the puzzle, that allow us to become truly beings of love that God desires, for when we love others in this way, and give ourselves to them, our own love for God will only become more perfect and more profound.

Let us pray brothers and sisters in Christ, that our life will be filled more fully with love, and that our actions too will be based on love and compassion. That we can do more things as God wanted us to do, to help one another, especially those least among us. Forgive one another’s sins and faults too. For if we do not forgive, we can never fully love one another, with the grudge and faults being in the way for that perfection of love. Let us imitate St. John of God, and also experience his moment of epiphany, when he understood that love can be more perfect, and faith can be more perfect, when it is shared and used for the good of others around us, rather than just kept within ourselves.

St. John of God, pray for us sinners, that we may follow your footsteps and grow in love for one another, and love for God our Father. Amen.