Wednesday, 23 October 2019 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John of Capestrano, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the Sacred Scriptures in which we are reminded of the importance for us to stay vigilant and resist the temptation to sin. Sin is a very dangerous threat to us and if we allow sin to have its way with us, we will end up being dragged deeper and deeper into the darkness and in the end, we have nothing left but eternal regret and despair.

And St. Paul reminded us all in his Epistle to the Romans in our first reading today that all of us truly belong to God, and as Christians, we who believe in God and take Him as our Lord and Master should only obey and listen to Him alone, and not to any other things. It is when we allow ourselves to be tempted and swayed that we end up falling into sin, and from sin into eventually damnation.

We are all called to resist the temptation and urge to sin, restraining the desires of our body and mind. As these temptations can easily lead us astray and make us to forget what it is that we, God’s people ought to be doing with our lives, just as the Gospel passage today elaborated further to us. In that passage we heard the Lord Jesus teaching His disciples using a parable describing the actions of the stewards of a master.

In that parable, the actions of a lazy steward was described, as that steward delayed in doing the will of his master when the master was away on a journey. The lazy steward indulged in all sorts of things, in drunkenness and gluttony, and also abused the other male servants and maids. He thought that he could get away with all that because of his position and thinking that the master would not return so soon.

That was when he was truly very wrong, as the master returned and caught that lazy steward in all of his wickedness and he got his well-deserved punishment. This is something that all of us must keep in mind as we go on living our own lives, as the Lord’s way to remind us to be truly faithful to Him. The stewards represent all of us, God’s people and His servants, just as the master is a representation of the Lord, our God.

And sin leads us to fall astray just as the lazy steward fell into those temptations, disobeying his master and failed to do as he has been told and instructed to do. In the end, the lazy steward met a terrible reckoning as he delayed on and assumed that the master would not have come in time for him to rectify everything and sort things out first. He was wrong, and we can be wrong too, if we choose to follow the example of the lazy steward.

What does this mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that we must not delay any longer in rejecting sin and in turning away from the path of sin and wickedness we have been walking along all these while. We must embrace God and obey Him from now on, for we do not know when the end of our mortal existence in this world will come to us. If we keep on delaying and dragging our feet, it will come eventually to the point when we will regret for not having done something much earlier.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we must realise just how much God loves each and every one of us and how He is always willing to welcome us back to His presence and how He wants to embrace us all with love, forgiving us our sins. But are we willing to be forgiven and to take the necessary steps needed to embrace His love fully by being repentant of all of our sins and by leading a holy life from now on.

Today perhaps we can imitate the good examples of St. John of Capestrano, a holy priest and dedicated servant of God who can show us what it truly means to be a good, dedicated and faithful steward and servant of God. St. John of Capestrano was a member of the Franciscan Order dedicated to the service of God, ministering to the people of God, calling them to a renewed faith and a holy life in God.

He was also remembered for his dedication to God, that he zealously opposed the falsehoods of the many heresies that sprung up during the years of his ministry in the fifteenth century, a few hundred years ago. He went about spreading the truth of God and wrote extensively against the heresies. On top of this, he was remembered for his courageous participation in the Crusade against the enemies of the faithful.

St. John of Capestrano showed us all what it means to be a true disciple and servant of God, and we are all therefore called to follow in his footsteps. Are we able to dedicate ourselves in the same manner as this faithful and holy servant of God? Let us all discern our lives carefully and think of what we can do from now on to serve the Lord ever more courageously and faithfully, delaying no more and embracing fully His ways. May God bless us all in our journey of faith and remain with us always. Amen.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John of Capestrano, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green 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.”

Wednesday, 23 October 2019 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John of Capestrano, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Psalm 123 : 1-3, 4-6, 7-8

Had not YHVH been on our side – let Israel say – had not YHVH been on our side, when people rose up against us, then, they would have swallowed us alive; such was their anger against us.

A bit more, and the flood would have engulfed us; the torrent would have swept over us; the raging waters would have swept us away. Blessed be YHVH, Who did not let us be devoured.

Like a bird, our soul escaped from the snare of the fowler; the snare was broken and we were freed. Our help is in the Name of YHVH, Who made heaven and earth.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John of Capestrano, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Romans 6 : 12-18

Do not allow sin any control over your mortal bodies; do not submit yourselves to its evil inclinations, and do not give your members over to sin, as instruments to do evil. On the contrary, offer yourselves, as persons returned from death to life, and let the members of your body be as holy instruments, at the service of God. Sin will not lord it over you again, for you are not under the Law, but under grace.

I ask again : are we to sin because we are not under the Law, but under grace? Certainly not. If you have given yourselves up to someone as his slave, you are to obey the one who commands you, are you not? Now, with sin, you go to death, and by accepting faith, you go the right way.

Let us give thanks to God, for, after having sin as your master, you have been given to another, that is, to the doctrine of faith, to which you listen willingly. And being free from sin, you began to serve true righteousness.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John of Capestrano, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in the city of Ephesus, speaking about the Lord Who has brought about the end of the divisions and categorisations between the communities of God’s faithful, as the Lord united them all, regardless whether they were Jewish people or whether they were Gentiles or non-Jews, regardless whether they were Greeks or Romans, regardless whether they were freedmen or slaves.

The essence of what St. Paul spoke to the faithful of Ephesus must be understood in the context of the dynamics of the community of the people at the time, in a world dominated by the Romans, a multicultural, multilingual and multiracial world, where there was a relative freedom of movement between the different parts of the Roman Empire. And this is a continuation of the history of about three centuries of intermingling between the Greeks and the local population of the Eastern Mediterranean throughout the preceding Hellenistic era.

The Romans, as the new elite and people in power and influence became a new addition to the mix of peoples, and also coupled with movement of populations from the other parts of the Empire. And at that time, there were also plenty of slaves being sold all around the Empire, as a result of warfare and conflict, when people could easily lose even their basic rights and freedom just by being at the wrong side of the war or by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Therefore, the population in many parts of the Empire, especially in places like Ephesus, a thriving metropolis and centre of trade at that time, were highly heterogenous and divided along cultural, linguistic, racial and many other classifications and divisions. There were frequent prejudices, disagreements, conflicts and problems that arose because of all these differences and divisions that existed.

Therefore, St. Paul exhorted to the Church and the faithful in Ephesus, as he also did in various other places, that all of the people who believe in God must look beyond and indeed overcome their differences, all sorts of categorisations, groupings and kinds of divisions that had divided the community all these while. Since they have all been saved by the Lord Jesus, through the same sacrifice He had made on the cross, then we must also love everyone equally without bias or prejudice.

After all, the Lord Himself loves everyone, every single one of us, without so much as dividing His attention unequally or favouring any one of us based on any of our worldly backgrounds and things. Therefore, now it is important for us to reflect on what we have heard and allow God to influence us and to change our lives. We must allow God to enter into our hearts, minds and our whole being.

Rather than focusing on what divides us or on what differentiates us, we should instead be the sources of unity, and this unity comes about because of Christ, in our shared and common belief in the Lord Jesus as the One Master, God and Saviour of all of us. The unity of the faithful is important, as when the people were divided, one against another, as what truly happened during the time of St. Paul, the Church was not only just unable to accomplish its mission, but even worse, they scandalised the faith and made others to be unwilling to follow their way.

In the Gospel passage today, the Lord Jesus spoke of a parable regarding servants whose master had gone on a journey, and how the master could return just at any time. And as the servants were expected to continue in what they have been assigned to do during the time when the master was away, should some of them slacked or failed to work properly when the master suddenly came back from his journey, would be caught in a bad condition.

Through this parable, the Lord Jesus wanted His disciples to be ever ready and to be ever prepared for the Lord. And more importantly, He wanted everyone to be awakened from their slumber or from their distractions, and do what He has commanded and willed for them to do. And as St. Paul mentioned to the people in Ephesus, many of the people were burdened and distracted by all the divisions that existed among them.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, within our Church today, there are often divisions, disagreements and conflicts, even among ourselves, who are supposed to be brothers and sisters, children of the same loving God. Instead of working together for the good of the Church and for the salvation of more souls, we have instead brought about even more divisions and conflict among each other.

Today, perhaps we should reflect on the life of St. John of Capestrano, a famous Franciscan friar and priest, who was remembered for his great commitment to the Lord, and in his hard work among the faithful, committing himself, his time and much effort trying to bring the word of God, and the truth of God to the people, and calling them to leave behind their ways of sin and disobedience.

St. John of Capestrano devoted himself to the Lord, spending time again and again to convert the people to the truth, and to bring them closer to the salvation in God. Instead of being distracted by the many worldly concerns and desires, by the many temptations and allures of worldly things, perhaps we should be more like St. John of Capestrano and the many other holy men and women who have gone before us, in their exemplary holiness and way of life.

Let us all renew our desire to love God, without the divisiveness and the conflicts that we have endured thus far, even within our Church communities and groups. Let us all turn our hearts, minds, and our whole being towards God, and draw ever closer to His love and mercy, which He willingly gives us, if only we ask Him and are willing to come to Him, as one people, belonging to Him, our One and only God. Amen.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John of Capestrano, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Luke 12 : 35-38

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “Be ready, dressed for service, and keep your lamps lit, like people waiting for their master to return from the wedding. As soon as he comes and knocks, they will open the door to him. Happy are those servants whom the master finds wide-awake when he comes.”

“Truly, I tell you, he will put an apron, and have them sit at table, and he will wait on them. Happy are those servants, if he finds them awake when he comes at midnight or daybreak!”

Tuesday, 23 October 2018 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John of Capestrano, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Psalm 84 : 9ab and 10, 11-12, 13-14

Would, that I hear God’s proclamation, that He promise peace to His people, His saints. Yet, His salvation is near to those who fear Him, and His glory will dwell in our land.

Love and faithfulness have met; righteousness and peace have embraced. Faithfulness will reach up from the earth while justice bends down from heaven.

YHVH will give what is good, and our land will yield its fruit. Justice will go before Him, and peace will follow along His path.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John of Capestrano, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Ephesians 2 : 12-22

At that time, you were without Christ, you did not belong to the community of Israel; the Covenants of God, and His promises, were not for you; you had no hope, and were without God in this world.

But now, in Christ Jesus, and by His Blood, you, who were once far off, have come near. For Christ is our peace; He, Who has made the two people, one; destroying, in His own flesh, the wall – the hatred – which separated us. He abolished the Law, with its commandments and precepts. He made peace, in uniting the two people, in Him; creating, out of the two, one New Man.

He destroyed hatred and reconciled us both to God, through the cross, making the two, one body. He came to proclaim peace; peace to you who were far off, peace to the Jews who were near. Through Him, we – the two people – approach the Father, in one Spirit.

Now, you are no longer strangers or guests, but fellow citizens of the holy people : you are of the household of God. You are the house, whose foundations are the Apostles and prophets, and whose cornerstone is Christ Jesus.

In Him, the whole structure is joined together, and rises, to be a holy Temple, in the Lord. In Him, you, too, are being built, to become the spiritual Sanctuary of God.

Monday, 23 October 2017 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John of Capestrano, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in today’s Scripture readings we are presented with two very interesting contrasts in the passages we heard, both involving very rich men, who had plenty in worldly terms, blessed by God in all that they do, bountiful with all sorts of wealth and possessions, yet with very different outcomes.

In the Old Testament, we heard how Abraham, the patriarch of the Israelites and father of many nations was mentioned. Then in the Gospel, we heard the Lord Jesus telling us in a parable about a rich man who had plenty of grains stored in numerous granaries, earning him great amount of riches and wealth.

But the contrast lie in the fact that while Abraham put his trust and faith in God, as he was ready to leave behind everything in the land of his ancestors to travel into an uncharted territory solely based on God’s call, the rich man mentioned in the Gospel had trust only in himself and in his riches. The rich man mentioned in the Gospel was happy with his many riches, but not satisfied, because he wanted to have more.

Abraham placed his trust and faith in God, believing that in all he has received, all of them were due to the grace and blessings from God. He was satisfied in what he had received and was willing to give back to God what He deserved, that is his love and commitment. That was why God blessed him and chose him among many others, to be the father of many nations and as the progenitor of the race of the first chosen people of God.

The rich man in the Gospel put his trust in his wealth and possessions, and loved them more than his love for God. He was thinking about them all the time, worrying that he would not have enough barns to store all of his grains and not enough storehouses to contain all of his wealth. But God rebuked him, saying that all that he had gained would be for nothing, as if his life was to be taken away that very night, all the wealth and possessions he had would not save him.

It is therefore an important reminder for each and every one of us, that we should realise that the true treasure of our life lies in God alone, and in God we have that inheritance and promise of eternal glory that last forever, and not temporary in nature. Meanwhile, all kinds of worldly assurances and matters can be easily destroyed and perish, and if we put our trust in these, we will only be disappointed in the end.

Let us all therefore spend some time to reflect on our lives. Let us all think on how we have led our lives thus far, on whether we have spent too much time trying to assemble for ourselves worldly glories, fame, wealth and renown, to the point that we have forgotten what it is that we really should be doing with our lives. We should devote ourselves, our effort, our time and attention to the Lord, so that in all the things we do, we do not do them for our own selfish gains, but for the greater glory of God.

Today, we celebrate the feast day of St. John of Capestrano, a renowned holy man and priest, who was a Franciscan friar and preacher, giving himself wholeheartedly to the Lord, abandoning behind all forms of worldly glory, as he was once an influential ruler and governor of the province of Perugia in Italy. He left everything behind and joined the Franciscan order to serve the greater purpose of God, trusting everything to Him.

St. John of Capestrano travelled through many cities and villages throughout Europe, preaching against heresies and excesses of human nature. He called many people to repent from their sins and to turn once again towards God. He was also involved in many embassies sent by the Pope to the rulers of Christendom, going from place to place to combat heresies as well as to settle matters of state, or broker peace between kingdoms and rulers.

The examples shown by St. John of Capestrano should inspire us all as Christians, that we should put God ahead of everything else in our lives. There will indeed be plenty of temptations urging us to do otherwise, but we will do well in obeying God and putting our trust in Him, as Abraham our father in faith, St. John of Capestrano and the many other holy saints had done in their lives.

Let us all therefore renew our commitment to God, by learning to be faithful in all the things we do in life, by trusting God in each and every moment of our lives, and by learning to let go of the temptations of material goods, wealth and all other things that do bring us temporary pleasure and happiness, but in the end, bring us only to disappointment and become obstacles in our journey to reach out to true happiness found in God alone.

May the Lord bless us always, and may He continue to guide us in our path, that in our journey towards Him, we shall be able to draw closer to Him and find justification through our faith and commitment in Him. Amen.

Monday, 23 October 2017 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John of Capestrano, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green 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.”