Tuesday, 2 June 2020 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Sacred Scripture we are presented with the calling for us to deepen our relationship with God, to follow Him and to obey His Law and commandments. We are called to reflect on our lives’ actions and whether they truly proclaim God’s glory and whether we have been faithful in doing what God has commanded and taught us to do in our lives.

In our first reading today, we listened to the words of St. Peter the Apostle reminding the faithful to remain steadfast in their faith, not to be deceived by the words of the false prophets and teachers, that they hold fast to the true and authentic Christian faith and truth as had been taught and revealed to them by the Apostles. Indeed, in time to come, there would be many who spread heresies and falsehoods among the people, causing confusion and division, because these people did not have strong and genuine faith in God.

Many of them put their own human and worldly desires, wants, and ambitions ahead and above their faith and obligation to stay true to that faith in God. They propagated their own ideas and false ways, and in the end, causing division and bitterness among the members of the Church, the faithful people of God. St. Peter therefore in his Epistle today forewarned of what would happen to the faithful community, and reminded them all to keep their faith.

Then in our Gospel passage today we heard about the Lord speaking to the Pharisees, sent by the elders and the teachers of the Law to set Him up and test Him, as the latter group wanted to find a reason to have Christ arrested and sentenced for His ways and teachings which the Jewish elders and the elites found to be unnerving and against their own way and teachings. At that time, the Pharisees used the matter of paying taxes in order to trick the Lord into a seemingly inescapable situation.

Why is that so? That is because no matter what the Lord supported of doing, it would end up hurting Him and His credibility, and through the Pharisees, the elders and the teachers of the Law wanted to use this opportunity as strong evidence against the Lord. At that time, paying of taxes was a topic that could bring about bitter argument, disagreement and violence among the people. Many people at that time despised paying taxes and only did pay grumblingly.

That is because many among the Jewish people did not like being ruled by the Romans, who had recently taken over control of Judea and the surrounding regions. And no one likes to have their incomes taxed and burdened with fees that they have to pay, less still to the so-called conquerors and overlords. That was why at that time, the tax collectors were also often hated and reviled in the society. If the Lord answered that the people ought to pay taxes to the Romans, then the Pharisees could gather strong evidence against Him by the people.

In addition, as the taxes must be paid with the Roman coins, in denarius or sestertius at the time, which were casted with the image of the Roman Emperor, to some among the Jews, it would be tantamount to acknowledgement of the Emperor’s divine status and also a form of idolatry which made the matter even more complicated. Thus, if the Lord had supported the paying of taxes, He could have landed Himself in a very big trouble.

On the other hand, if the Lord had said that the people should not pay the taxes, then the elders could quickly construe that as an act of disobedience and rebellion against the Romans, and as the Romans took acts of treason and disobedience, less still rebellion, very seriously, it could have led to a very adverse and troublesome ending for the Lord and His disciples. But the Lord solved the situation in a very ingenious way that certainly none of His opponents had expected.

He simply said that, ‘Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God’. This means that the denarius and sestertius coins used in the tax payment indeed belong to man, and since the government decreed it that way, that all the citizens and other people living in the Empire must pay their due to the state and the Emperor then they ought to obey it. And in the same way, if we obey the law of the state and give what the state demands, then we must also obey the Lord and give to Him what He has asked from us.

It is something that all of us ought to discern carefully and consider, whether we have been truly faithful to God or not in our lives. Have we given Him what we should have given Him, our love, our faith, fidelity and obedience, our commitment and dedication? Or have we instead been distracted by various worldly concerns and desires, by the many temptations of life that we end up forgetting our obligations and responsibilities as Christians?

As what St. Peter had reminded the faithful of the need for us to put our faith in God and to stay steadfast in our devotion to Him, this is where we have been called and challenged to do so, in our daily living. And today, we also celebrate the feast of two great saints and martyrs, whose life examples, courage and faith can inspire us to be good Christians on our own. St. Peter, who was named after St. Peter the Apostle, and St. Marcellinus were two renowned martyrs of the Church.

Both of them were known as faithful servants of God who died during the particularly harsh persecution of Christians under the rule of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. St. Peter and St. Marcellinus were faithful to the Lord and even though there was not much known about them, but their life stories and commitment must have been so powerful and moving for many, that their commemoration were widespread and they were respected as faithful servants of God to the very end of their lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us are called to reexamine our lives and how we have lived them all these while. We have our holy and dedicated predecessors, like St. Marcellinus and St. Peter to show us their courage and commitment, that they were willing to suffer and die for their faith amidst the tough and challenging persecutions of their faith by the Roman Emperor and the administration. Let us do our best, in our own lives, to be good servants of God, to be faithful in all things, and at the same time, be good citizens of this world, obeying the rules and laws of the land as long as they do not contradict our Christian Law and commandments.

May the Lord help us and give us the strength needed for us to persevere in faith from now on, following the examples of the saints and martyrs, and become inspirations ourselves for our fellow brothers and sisters. Let us all listen to the Lord, and follow His advice, ‘to give to the world, what belongs to the world, and most importantly, give to God, what belongs to God, that is our hearts, our whole existence, our whole beings.’ May God bless us in our every good endeavours. Amen.

Tuesday, 2 June 2020 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Mark 12 : 13-17

At that time, the chief priests, the teachers of the Law and the elders sent to Jesus some Pharisees with members of Herod’s party, with the purpose of trapping him by his own words. They came and said to Jesus, “Master, we know that You are truthful; You are not influenced by anyone, and Your answers do not vary according to who is listening to You, but You truly teach God’s way. Tell us, is it against the Law to pay taxes to Caesar? Should we pay them or not?”

But Jesus saw through their trick and answered, “Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a silver coin and let Me see it.” They brought Him one and Jesus asked, “Whose image is this, and whose name?” They answered, “Caesar’s.” Then Jesus said, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” And they were greatly astonished.

Tuesday, 2 June 2020 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 89 : 2, 3-4, 10, 14 and 16

Before the mountains were formed, before You made the earth and the world, from eternity to eternity – You are God.

You turn humans back to dust, saying, “Return, o mortals!” A thousand years in Your sight are like a day that has passed, or like a watch in the night.

Seventy years to our life, or eighty if we are strong; yet, most of them are sorrow and trouble; speeding by, they sweep us along.

Fill us at daybreak with Your goodness, that we may be glad all our days. Let Your work be seen by Your servants and Your glorious power by their children.

Tuesday, 2 June 2020 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

2 Peter 3 : 12-15a, 17-18

As you wait for the day of God, and long for its coming, when the heavens will dissolve in fire, and the elements melt away in the heat. We wait for a new heaven and a new earth, in which justice reigns, according to God’s promise.

Therefore, beloved, as you wait in expectation of this, strive, that God may find you rooted in peace, without blemish or fault. And consider, that God’s patience is for our salvation. So then, dearly beloved, as you have been warned, be careful, lest those people who have gone astray, deceive you, in turn, and drag you along, making you stumble, and finally fall away.

Grow in the grace and knowledge of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ : to Him be glory, now, and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Saturday, 2 June 2018 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the readings from the Scripture speaking to us about the forgiveness and mercy that came from God, and which has indeed appeared in our midst as the Lord Jesus, Saviour of the world, Who have come to deliver us from our certain death and destruction because of our sins.

However, many of us do not truly believe in what the Lord has done for us, and we have doubted the Lord’s good works and intentions. This is just as how the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law doubted the Lord, by questioning Him on Whose authority He has delivered all the teachings He gave to the people, and they in fact, even doubted the works and teachings of St. John the Baptist, who came before the Lord to prepare His way.

However, they could not answer Him when He asked them whether the works of St. John the Baptist came from God or from merely human invention. That is because in fact, they knew, deep in their hearts and minds, that the works of St. John the Baptist, as well as the works of the Lord Jesus were in fact divine in origin, and is the truth surpassing any human knowledge.

But why were they unable to admit that openly before the people, that what the Lord Jesus said is true? That is because they were unable to resist the temptation of their ego and pride, their arrogance and ambition. They were those who were entrusted with the guardianship of the laws and the customs of the people, but they ended up being overly possessive and jealous of any threats or challenges to their authority and power.

They were swayed by the temptations of power, by the allure of fame and glory, and therefore, they ended up falling into sin. They do not truly have faith in them, because they were so full of themselves that they did not leave a place for God in their hearts and minds. That is why God’s words and truth had no effect on them. Yet, God forgave them all that they had done, at the very end in Calvary, when He forgave all those who rejected and persecuted Him from the cross.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let this be a reminder for each and every one of us, that as Christians, our lives must be centred on God, and we must always keep in mind, everything that God has done for our sake. As long as we put the Lord at the centre of our lives, then our actions, words and everything we do will be filled with faith, and we will draw closer to Him, and we will be able to find our way to His salvation.

On this day, we celebrate the feast of the two saints, St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, who were holy martyrs of the faith. They were martyred at the time of the great persecution under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, when many of the faithful people of God were arrested, tortured, and forced to choose between abandoning their faith in God and live, or to remain faithful and die.

Yet, despite the attempts and persuasions given to them, of riches, wealth, fame, security and well-being under guarantee from the Emperor and the state, St. Marcellinus, St. Peter and many of the other martyrs and saints of their time refused to abandon and betray the Lord to serve their own selfish desires and purposes. They rather chose death in faith than to live in sin and darkness.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, how about us? Are we also going to follow the examples of the holy saints of God? Are we able to give the same commitment to the Lord as they had done before us? Or do we rather choose the path of the Pharisees, all those who place themselves and their selfish desires, ego and pride before the Lord? The choice is in our hands, and we need to make the choice.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore seek to be ever more faithful to God, and turn towards Him wholeheartedly. Let us all be ever more committed through our actions, and show just how much we love the Lord, by obeying Him and doing what He has commanded us to do, that is to love Him with all of our hearts and with all of our strength. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 2 June 2018 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Mark 11 : 27-33

At that time, Jesus and His disciples were once again in Jerusalem. As Jesus was walking in the Temple, the chief priests, the teachers of the Law and the elders came to Him, and asked, “What authority do You have to act like this? Who gave You authority to do the things You do.”

Jesus said to them, “I will ask you a question, only one, and if you give me an answer, then I will tell you what authority I have to act like this. Was John’s preaching and baptism a work of God, or was it merely something human? Answer Me.”

And they kept arguing among themselves, “If we answer that it was a work of God, He will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’” But neither could they answer before the people that the baptism of John was merely something human, for everyone regarded John as a prophet. So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you what authority I have to act as I do.”

Saturday, 2 June 2018 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Psalm 62 : 2abc, 2d-4, 5-6, 8-9

O God, You are my God, it is You I seek; for You my body longs and my soul thirsts.

As a dry and weary land without water. Thus have I gazed upon You in the Sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You.

I will praise You as long as I live, lift up my hands and call on Your Name. As with the richest food, my soul will feast; my mouth will praise You with joyful lips.

For You have been my help; I sing in the shadow of Your wings. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.

Saturday, 2 June 2018 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Jude 17, 20b-25

But, most beloved, remember what the Apostles of Christ Jesus, Our Lord, announced to you. Build your life on the foundation of your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit. Remain firm, in the love of God, welcoming the mercy of Jesus Christ, Our Lord, which leads to eternal life.

Try to convince those who doubt; others you will save, snatching them from condemnation. Treat the others with compassion, but also with prudence, shunning even the clothes that touched their body. To the one God, Who is able to keep you from all sin, and bring you, happy and without blemish before His own glory, to the one God, Who saves us, through Jesus Christ, Our Lord, to Him be glory, honour, might and power, from past ages, now and forever. Amen.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about the well known teaching of our Lord Jesus on the matter of the paying of taxes to Caesar. From there came the words we all must have known, that we ought to pay back or give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God. This is a clear reminder for us, to do our duties to the Lord, which we often forget and neglect.

Why is this so, brothers and sisters? It is because we are often so occupied by the many things of this world to the point that we forget about giving glory to God. It is too often that we seek to please the world and give in to the demands of the world, at the expense of our faith in the Lord and at the cost of our conviction to walk in the way of our God.

We try to please the world, try to be accepted and not to be different from the opinion of the majority, trying to be seen as being open and receptive, all so that we may feel the acceptance by the world, that the world may welcome us and even praise us for what we have done, and also to give us that sense of comfort. But at what cost, brothers and sisters in Christ?

At the cost of our very own soul and our own salvation. We have been given much by the Lord, from our lives to our talents and skills, and all the other graces and blessings He had granted us. But at the same time, this cannot mean that we ought to be on the other extreme, that is to give honour to the Lord alone and rejecting all that is in the world.

For this will mean bringing and unnecessarily causing the opposition of the world upon us. Yes, indeed in the ages past and even now, many have suffered persecution, oppression and even martyrdom for their faith, but this does not mean that we have to purposefully look for this kind of trouble by actively opposing the world and rejecting the world completely and entirely.

Truly, what we should do is just as what Jesus had advocated in the Gospel today. It is the middle way between the two extremes. The Pharisees had tried to trap Jesus in His own words, that if He chose any of the two choices, then they would condemn Him. If He chose to say that we should obey God alone, then the Pharisees would condemn Him before men, before the Roman leaders. If He chose to say that we should obey human authority alone, then they would also condemn Him because then He would have blasphemed against God.

In the same way therefore, we must walk the path of compromise between the two. Remember, give to the world what is due to it, and give to the Lord, what we owe to the Lord. We owe the world the obedience to the human norms and laws, taxes and other things that bind us as people of this world. On the other hand, we owe the Lord even more, namely our love and obedience, our obedience to His laws and commandments, and ultimately our lives itself is due from the Lord.

What we have to take note is, we must be very careful and vigilant, that in observing the laws of this world, we do not make compromises that undermine the wholeness of the truth of the Lord which we have received, and the wholeness of the faith which we have for the Lord. We should be good citizens and follow the customs of the world, but not to the point of sacrificing or giving in to worldliness in the matter of faith and in the matter of our obedience to God.

Today we celebrate the feast of two great martyrs, St. Marcellinus and St. Peter the Martyr, both of whom were Roman martyrs of the early Church, who were martyred at the time of the great persecution against the Church and the faithful by the Roman Emperor Diocletian. They were likely martyred because of their opposition to the Emperor’s demands that all Romans, including Christians, must offer sacrifices to the pagan gods and to the Emperor.

Most if not all Christians at that time were good citizens, paying taxes and obeying the laws as far as they do not impinge on the core tenets of the faith. When the Emperor and the Roman state began to encroach upon this and force things that would cause the people to sin against God, many of them refused to follow suit and as a result were martyred, as St. Marcellinus and St. Peter were martyred.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all reflect on this today, so that we may find our true path in this world, that while we conform to some ways of the world, we will be careful not to let anything to sway or distract us away from our true allegiance to the Lord our God. May God Almighty be with us always and guide us, so that we may resist the temptations of the world and remain faithful to Him. Amen.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Mark 12 : 13-17

At that time, the chief priests and the teachers of the Law sent to Jesus some Pharisees with members of Herod’s party, with the purpose of trapping Him by His own words. They came and said to Jesus, “Master, we know that You are truthful; You are not influenced by anyone, and Your answers do not vary according to who is listening to You, but You truly teach God’s way. Tell us, is it against the Law to pay taxes to Caesar? Should we pay them or not?”

But Jesus saw through their trick and answered, “Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a silver coin and let Me see it.” They brought Him one and Jesus asked, “Whose image is this, and whose name?” They answered, “Caesar’s.”

Then Jesus said, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” And they were greatly astonished.