Friday, 28 April 2017 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr, and St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard in the Scriptures from the first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, of how the Pharisees, the chief priests and the elders of the people argued on how they should deal with the Apostles and their work in spreading the Good News about Jesus Christ the Messiah and Lord. They wanted to persecute them and silence them, and many of them wanted in fact to put them to death.

But the respected elder, Gamaliel spoke up in their midst, calling them to restrain themselves and let God decide what is right and wrong. He mentioned how the previous false prophets and Messiahs, who had declared themselves as the chosen ones, failed in whatever they had done. Their movement and efforts disappeared as soon as they perished or were defeated in their rebellions against the Romans and the authorities.

Gamaliel told all those who were assembled, that if the teachings of Jesus and His Apostles came from man as previous false prophets had done, then they would meet downfall on their own accord, but if the truth of Christ came indeed from God, then nothing that they do would be able to stop or hinder the progress of the good works God had begun in this world.

The wise Gamaliel had indeed spoken with wisdom, and understanding that what comes from God, indeed belongs to God, and what God has planned for us mankind, He shall do without fail. If we go against God, we shall fail. But if we remain true and faithful to His will, then He will do all that He can to make sure that we go forward in life, and through to the salvation which He had promised us all.

And in the Gospel today, we all heard about the famous event when Jesus fed a multitudes of five thousand men, not counting women and children who were also fed, with merely just five loaves of bread and two fishes, which Jesus miraculously broke into pieces enough to feed all the people who were gathered there. Many subsequently wanted to follow Him and liked to make Him as a King over them, after witnessing what He had done for them. But Jesus withdrew and hid Himself to avoid being forced into such a fate.

In this account of the feeding of the five thousand men and more, we saw how the Lord provided for His people, giving them food when they were hungry and had nothing to sustain themselves with. He loved each and every one of them, and showed them His compassion and love. He gave them all food to fill their stomachs, so that the people who were once hungry then became satisfied.

Yet, that was not all that the Lord had done, for He did not just give them food to eat. He had done that before, at the time when the Israelites went out of Egypt and travelled through the desert for forty years. He fed them with manna, the bread from heaven itself, sustaining them for all of those times. But, He did not just give physical and earthly food to the people, rather, He gave them true satisfaction and sustenance.

How so? It is by the giving of Himself, the offering of His own Most Precious Body and Blood, which gave us all sustenance, and true fulfilment. Jesus Himself mentioned that, unless we eat of His Body and drink of His Blood, we shall have no part in Him, and we shall be excluded from the promise of salvation and eternal glory, which He had promised to all those who are faithful to Him.

And all those who have faithfully shared in the gift of His own Body and Blood, shall never perish, for the Lord Himself has become our anchor, and He has become our support and strength. That was just as what Gamaliel mentioned to the gathering of the chief priests and elders. Those who put their trust in the world shall perish, but all those who place their trust in the Lord shall prosper and not be disappointed.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, there are many people who have preceded us and have lived their lives in accordance to the will of God, even sometimes having to endure bitter persecutions. For example, St. Peter Chanel, the holy saint whose feast we celebrate today, was a devout priest and missionary who went to the region of Oceania to preach the Good News of the Lord there.

He endured bitter persecution by the king and his followers who resisted the effort to convert them to the faith. He was martyred in the midst of his evangelising work, but not before gaining many converts to the faith. Even eventually those who murdered him were converted as well and atoned for their sins. This was among many other examples of just how the Lord was always with His faithful ones and provided for them when they are in need.

St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort was another saint whose feast we are celebrating today. He was the founder of the Montfortian congregation, who was renowned for his deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. He was a very hardworking person, committing his whole life to the service of God and the Gospels. 

He also placed his trust in the Lord and did his best to serve Him, and many good deeds and results had come about because of his devotion. Many were inspired by his actions to follow the Lord more faithfully, and many of them had a conversion of the heart. After we listen to the examples of these two saints of God and also that of the Apostles and disciples of the Lord, should we not do the same too, brothers and sisters in Christ?

May the Lord help us to remain strong in our faith in Him, so that in everything and at all times, we will always be ever faithful to Him, and that we can give our complete and full trust to Him, our Lord, God and Saviour. May the Lord bless us all, now and forever. Amen.

Friday, 28 April 2017 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr, and St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)
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.

Friday, 28 April 2017 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr, and St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)
Psalm 26 : 1, 4, 13-14

The Lord is my Light and my Salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the Rampart of my life; I will not be afraid.

One thing I ask of the Lord, one thing I seek – that I may dwell in His house all the days of my life, to gaze at His jewel and to visit His sanctuary.

I hope, I am sure, that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Trust in the Lord, be strong and courageous. Yes, put your hope in the Lord!

Friday, 28 April 2017 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr, and St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)
Acts 5 : 34-42

But one of the members of the Council, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law highly respected by the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin. He ordered the men to be taken outside for a few minutes and then he spoke to the assembly.

“Fellow Israelites, consider well what you intend to do to these men. For some time ago Theudas came forward, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men joined him. But he was killed and all his followers were dispersed or disappeared.”

“After him, Judas the Galilean appeared at the time of the census and persuaded many people to follow him. But he too perished and his whole following was scattered. So, in this present case, I advise you to have nothing to do with these men. Leave them alone. If their project or activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. If, on the other hand, it is from God, you will not be able to destroy it and you may indeed find yourselves fighting against God.”

The Council let themselves be persuaded. They called in the Apostles and had them whipped, and ordered them not to speak again of Jesus Saviour. Then they set them free. The Apostles went out from the Council rejoicing that they were considered worthy to suffer disgrace for the sake of the Name. Day after day, both in the Temple and in people’s homes, they continued to teach and to proclaim that Jesus was the Messiah.

Thursday, 28 April 2016 : Fifth Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr, and St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard first about the contention present in the body of the faithful, the assembly of the Church of God in Jerusalem, which were divided in their opinions and decisions with regards to the admission of the non-Jews or also known as the Gentiles into the Church. They disagreed with what kind of laws that the Gentiles had to obey as a member of the Church.

There were those who were among the Pharisees who believed in Jesus, those who put particular attention to the strict and unbending interpretation of the Law of God, and to be more precise, the laws of Moses, as passed down through the many generations, and modified through those same many generations. And these Pharisee Christians refused to let the Gentiles to be believers unless they obeyed the entirety of the laws of Moses.

According to one account, there were over six hundred and thirteen laws present in the entirety of the Jewish law as passed down through the generations from the time of Moses, and many of these involved numerous customs pertinent and unique to the Jews, but might not be applicable or suitable for others who were not counted or belonging to the Jewish race.

And to demand those non-Jewish people who wanted to believe in Jesus, and indeed they had believed in Jesus with all their hearts, would mean difficulties and challenges for them, as for these Greeks, Romans and others who lived in the cosmopolitan and diverse Roman Empire, to follow entirely the ways of the Jews as it was at the time of Jesus would likely mean estrangement and trouble between these faithful ones and their respective communities.

In the end, it may indeed become a serious obstacle and hindrance for the works of evangelisation, as it would have kept many people who believed in the Lord, from making a commitment to the faith, as some of them might not be sure of the sacrifices they needed to make by becoming a disciple of Jesus. And in the end, such efforts would be counter-productive, turning people away from salvation rather than welcoming them into it.

Thus, an important lesson for all of us is that, while at times we may be fussy about certain things, but in the matter of the works of salvation, we should not make it difficult for people to believe in the Lord. But on the contrary, at the same time, the Apostles also made it clear that, the Gentiles who wanted to believe in Jesus and became members of the Church must believe in the basic tenets and obey the basic laws of the Church.

So this does not mean that any important teachings of the faith should be compromised, but instead, all those who profess the faith in God must all obey the Law and commandments of love as taught by the Lord to us through His Apostles and His Church. They must not engage in wicked and vile acts contrary to the Lord’s will and ways, and they must devote themselves to the way of righteousness.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in this matter, we can imitate the examples of the two great and holy men, holy saints whose feast we are celebrating today. St. Peter Chanel and St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort were both renowned for their holy lives and exemplary attitudes, which all of us should follow as well. St. Peter Chanel was a missionary to the far regions of Oceania, who was martyred in the midst of his works, while St. Louis Marie de Montfort was the famous founder of the religious order of the Montfortians.

St. Peter Chanel was a person who lived his life with great zeal, and ever since a young age, he has desired to be the servant of the Lord’s will, carrying out His truth and words to those who have not yet heard of it. He was renowned for his hard work in caring for the sick and the less fortunate in his community and parish. He joined the Society of Mary at a young age, and went forth as a missionary, being sent to the southern Pacific islands, specifically to the island of Futuna.

He preached to the natives there about the Lord Jesus and worked hard to turn their hearts to God. Despite the challenges with language barrier and opposition from the natives, especially from the elites, St. Peter Chanel was able to convert a sizeable number of people and brought them as the foundation of the Church. When St. Peter Chanel managed to convert even the crown prince of the kingdom, the king feared that he would lose his influence, and thus sent one of his warriors to kill St. Peter Chanel.

And in the end, although St. Peter Chanel was martyred in the midst of his holy works, but the king himself who ordered the death of this holy saint repented his deeds and became a Christian himself. And his many works allowed many souls who would have otherwise been lost to be saved. Meanwhile, St. Louis Marie de Montfort also did a great work, particularly renowned in his devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, furthering the devotion to Mary and in the fields of Mariology.

St. Louis Marie de Montfort joined the priesthood and served among the people, serving those who were poor and less fortunate, and he also became a famous preacher, renowned for his passionate speeches and sermons. He wanted to go forth to preach in mission areas, but he was advised against it. Instead, he eventually established the community and society of religious life known now as the Montfortians, also known as the Company of Mary.

St. Louis Marie de Montfort never stopped doing good works for the sake of the people of God. Through prayers, good and inspiring words of truth, and through loving care of the body and soul, he and his followers helped to bring many people to the Lord, and helped sinners to return to the Lord and to repent from all of their sins. Thus, we can see here clearly, how the two saints we celebrate today, have such great examples we can follow.

Let us all devote ourselves to the Lord, brothers and sisters in Christ, and do our best to help one another to reach out to the Lord. Definitely we must not close the doors of salvation to those who seek it, and instead, welcome them and bring them closer to God. However, let us also remember that we should not compromise on the matter of faith, and make sure that each and every one of us in the Church obey God’s commandments of love. God bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 28 April 2016 : Fifth Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr, and St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

John 15 : 9-11

At that time, Jesus spoke to His disciples at the Last Supper, “As the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you. Remain in My love! You will remain in My love if you keep My commandments, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love.”

“I have told you all this, that My own joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete.”

Thursday, 28 April 2016 : Fifth Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr, and St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 95 : 1-2a, 2b-3, 10

Sing to the Lord a new song, sing to the Lord, all the earth! Sing to the Lord, bless His Name.

Proclaim His salvation day after day. Recall His glory among the nations, tell all the peoples His wonderful deeds.

Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!” He will judge the peoples with justice.