Friday, 16 October 2020 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Holy Virgins)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Sacred Scripture, we heard how God has sealed us with His grace, which is through baptism that He has claimed us all and renewed us, liberating us all from the hold of original sin and death, and we have all been made and adopted to be children of God. God has called us all to be His disciples, His followers, and made us all to be His children.

God has loved us all so much, from the depth of His heart. His love is poured on us bountifully, and it was because of His infinite, patient and enduring love for each and every one of us that we have been saved. He has been patient in dealing with us, even when we have sinned and disobeyed Him again and again. He has always extended His mercy and the desire to forgive us at all times. Unfortunately, we often ignored and disregarded His love, because we were too busy with many things, and tempted by many distractions.

This is what the Lord also referred to in our Gospel passage today when He spoke of the ‘yeast of the Pharisees’, after a series of the past few days when we heard all the criticism and curses the Lord spoke of the Pharisees. And He plainly mentioned how the great sin of the Pharisees as being their hypocrisy and lack of genuine faith in God. Although outwardly pious, but their hearts were not fully attuned to the Lord.

God knows full well what is in our hearts, as He said in our Gospel today, that nothing hidden that will not be uncovered, nothing that is beyond God’s ability to know. He knows all of our intentions and everything about us, and therefore, if we have been faithful even in little things, we will be assured of the Lord’s favour and providence. Similarly, if we have not been faithful and wayward, then all these will be held against us too.

We must take heed of these reminders from the Lord through these readings, not to be easily tempted by worldly temptations, or by concerns and fears that we may be having. In that same passage we heard of the Lord reassuring us that we are all precious to Him, that we are all beloved by Him and will be provided and taken care of. Most often we find reasons for those who strayed from the Lord is that because they were preoccupied with securing themselves and gaining their worldly satisfactions or achievements.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore be genuinely faithful to God, and knowing that God has loved us so much, then we really should spend the same effort and time to love the Lord with equal intensity and commitment. If God has loved us so much, then why is it that we cannot even try to love Him, even in little matter and things. The Lord is always willing to reach out to us, to embrace us, and He is waiting for us to respond to Him and His love. Are we willing to embrace that love, brothers and sisters?

Today, all of us ought to look upon the examples and inspirations of the saints, our holy predecessors. St. Hedwig of Silesia and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque are those whose lives and inspirations that we need to follow and be inspired from. St. Hedwig of Silesia was the Duchess consort of Silesia who joined religious life after she was widowed, while St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was the renowned visionary of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

St. Hedwig of Silesia was born into the noble family, and was married to the Duke of Silesia, and she was renowned for her piety and dedication even during those years. She was always remembered for her commitment to God, her charity and love for the poor. But most memorably, after her husband passed away early on, having settled and taken care of her children, St. Hedwig of Silesia joined the religious life and committed herself to God. Her piety was so great that even her own son, the Duke of Silesia also led a pious life.

And as mentioned, St. Hedwig of Silesia also cared for the poor, the sick and widows as well as orphans, showing them care and concern, extending the love of God to them all. And she also definitely loved the Lord very much, as she spent a lot of quality time with Him. This is exactly the same as what the other saint, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, who was also very devout and committed in her service to God.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque had a rough early life, as misfortune befell her family, but this did not stop her from being pious in her life, even from her youth. After joining the religious life, this continues on, which St. Margaret Mary Alacoque carried on faithfully as she served the Lord through prayer and service. She experienced miraculous visions of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, from which the now popular devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus stemmed forth.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque shared what she had received in her visions, the words that the Lord, in His Most Sacred Heart spoke to her, calling for the repentance of sinners and to entrust themselves in His Most Sacred Heart. And it is a kind reminder that us of the generous love of God we discussed earlier, in how He loved us with His heart and dedicated everything to us, even to the point of the sacrifice He made on the Cross.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore follow in the footsteps of the saints, our holy predecessors, especially that of St. Hedwig of Silesia and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, to serve the Lord faithfully. May the Lord bless us all in all of our every good endeavours and efforts, all for His greater glory. Amen.

Friday, 16 October 2020 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Holy Virgins)

Luke 12 : 1-7

At that time, such a numerous crowd had gathered that they crushed one another. Then Jesus spoke to His disciples in this way, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered that will not be uncovered; or hidden, that will not be made known. Whatever you have said in darkness will be heard in daylight, and what you have whispered in hidden places, will be proclaimed from housetops.”

“I tell you, My friends, do not fear those who put to death the body and, after that, can do no more. But I will tell you Whom to fear : Fear the One Who, after killing you, is able to throw you into hell. This One you must fear. Do you not buy five sparrows for two pennies? Yet not one of them has been forgotten by God. Even the hairs of your head have been numbered. Do not be afraid! Are you less worthy in the eyes of God than many sparrows?”

Friday, 16 October 2020 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Holy Virgins)

Psalm 32 : 1-2, 4-5, 12-13

Rejoice in the Lord, you who are just, praise is fitting for the upright. Give thanks to Him on the harp and lyre, making melody and chanting praises.

For upright is the Lord’s word and worthy of trust is His work. The Lord loves justice and righteousness; the earth is full of His kindness.

Blessed is the nation whose God is YHVH – the people He has chosen for His inheritance. YHVH looks down from heaven and sees the whole race of mortals.

Friday, 16 October 2020 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Holy Virgins)

Ephesians 1 : 11-14

By a decree of Him, Who disposes all things, according to His own plan and decision, we, the Jews, have been chosen and called, and we were awaiting the Messiah, for the praise of His glory.

You, on hearing the word of truth, the Gospel that saves you, have believed in Him. And, as promised, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit, the first pledge of what we shall receive, on the way to our deliverance, as a people of God, for the praise of His glory.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Virgins)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the matter of having genuine faith in God and to give judgment with the right intention in mind, so that as Christians we are truly filled with love, first of course for God and then secondly for our fellow brothers and sisters, and not to love ourselves above these as what many of us have often done.

It is our nature that we are selfish and self-loving, as the desires in our hearts and the ego and pride within us made us to seek our own satisfaction and the sense of fulfilment. And that is why we seek for all these worldly pleasures and comfort, desiring to be pleased and filled with all sorts of joy for our own benefits. And this often led us into causing, either intentionally or unintentionally, the sufferings of others.

That was what St. Paul spoke of as he wrote in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in the city of Rome. He spoke of those who put their own interests ahead of their obligation to serve God faithfully and justly, in their responsibility to be just and righteous in all of their actions. And this is related to what we have heard in our Gospel passage today as well, as we heard of the Lord rebuking the Pharisees for their inappropriate actions especially considering their very important position as the custodians of the Law and as teachers of the faith.

Many of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law took great pride in their privileged and highly respected status in the community, and they often looked down on those whom they deemed to be less worthy and more sinful than they were, such as the tax collectors and prostitutes, disabled and people with evil spirits and diseases in particular, seeing those people as being cursed by God and therefore were unworthy.

They judged others because they saw themselves as superior and in doing so they wanted to prove just how good they were in comparison to those whom they despised and had judged against. And this was why the Lord was unhappy with them because they failed to realise just how they themselves were sinners too. They should not act as if they were superior or better for in reality, they actually were equally sinful and unworthy.

The Lord wants us all to know that all of us are equally beloved by Him, and we should not be prejudiced or be biased in our attitudes and opinions towards others, but instead treat one another with love and genuine compassion from our hearts. For if God Himself has loved us so wonderfully and blessed us so greatly with His mercy and love no matter how great our sins had been, then how can we not love one another in the same way?

Today all of us are called to be humble and to get rid of our pride and ego, all the obstacles that often come in our way, in our faith journey and life. Unless we get rid off ourselves all these obstacles and wickedness in us, it may be difficult for us to be true disciples of Our Lord, as in the end, we will end up loving ourselves and being concerned about ourselves more than we love God and our fellow brethren as we should have.

That is why, on this day perhaps we should spend some time to reflect on the life of two saints whose lives can be inspiration for us how we should carry on living our lives from now on with genuine faith, love and devotion towards God. They are St. Hedwig of Silesia and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. St. Hedwig of Silesia was the Duchess of Silesia and later of Poland who was known for her great piety and devotion to God, her charitable acts and faithful life, while St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was renowned as the one who helped to make the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus to be as popular as it is today.

St. Hedwig of Silesia was a pious and dedicated wife, who had to endure many struggles in the noble courts and numerous plots against her family, both from external and internal sources. She was remembered for her many charitable actions and generosity to the poor and those who were suffering throughout the realm of her husband. Her personal piety and great humility in life were well known. She remained faithful and true to her faith, and after she was widowed, she entered into a monastery and devoted the rest of her life as a religious dedicated entirely to God.

Meanwhile, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was known for her visions of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, through which she received the revelation about the Lord and His love through His Most Sacred Heart, by which eventually the ever popular Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus came to be. St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was also known for her great piety and dedication to God throughout her life, despite of the many difficulties and challenges she herself had to face.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have here the example of two pious and holy women of God who devoted their lives to the Lord and have become inspiration for many others to follow. Are we then able to follow their examples as well and dedicate ourselves to God from now on with renewed zeal, faith and love? Let us all turn away from our sinful ways in our past and embrace from now on a renewed holiness in God, living our lives filled with love for God and for our fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord.

May the Lord continue to bless us all and guide us in our journey, and may He continue to be with us through our journeys in life, that through the intercessions of St. Hedwig of Silesia and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, we may be brought closer to God’s ever present love and compassionate mercy. Amen.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Virgins)

Luke 11 : 42-46

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “A curse is on you, Pharisees! To the Temple you give a tenth of all, including mint and rue and other herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. These ought to be practiced, without neglecting the other obligations.”

“A curse is on you, Pharisees, for you love the best seats in the synagogues and to be greeted in the marketplace. A curse is on you, for you are like tombstones of the dead which can hardly be seen; people do not notice them, and make themselves unclean by stepping on them.”

Then a teacher of the Law spoke up and said, “Master, when You speak like this, You insult us, too.” And Jesus answered, “A curse is on you also, teachers of the Law. For you prepare unbearable burdens and load them on the people, while you yourselves do not move a finger to help them.”

Wednesday, 16 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Virgins)

Psalm 61 : 2-3, 6-7, 9

My soul finds rest in God alone; from Him, comes my salvation. He alone, is my rock and salvation; with Him as my stronghold, I shall not be overcome.

Find rest in God alone, o my soul; from Him, comes my hope. He alone, is my rock and my salvation; with Him as my stronghold, I shall not be overcome.

Trust in Him at all times, my people; pour out your hearts before Him; God is our refuge.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Virgins)

Romans 2 : 1-11

Therefore, you have no excuse, whoever you are, if you are able to judge others. For, in judging your neighbour, you condemn yourself, for you practice what you are judging. We know, that the condemnation of God will justly reach those who commit these things, and do you think that by condemning others, you will escape from the judgment of God, you, who are doing the same?

This would be taking advantage of God, and His infinite goodness, patience and understanding; and not to realise that, His goodness is in order to lead you to conversion. If your heart becomes hard and you refuse to change, then you are storing for yourself a great punishment on the day of judgment, when God will appear as just Judge.

He will give each one his due, according to his actions. He will give everlasting life to those who seek glory, honour and immortality, and persevere in doing good. But anger and vengeance will be the lot of those who do not serve truth, but injustice. There will be suffering and anguish, for everyone committing evil, first the Jew, then the Greek.

But God will give glory, honour and peace to whoever does good, first, the Jew, then, the Greek, because one is not different from the other before God.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Holy Virgins)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the Scriptures, telling us about being truly faithful to God, in all of our words, deeds and actions, as exemplified by the Lord and His words to the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law before the people who followed and heard His teachings. In that exhortation, the Lord rebuked those mentioned for their uptight and unreasonable attitude with regards to the observance and the fulfilment of the commandments of God’s Law.

In the Gospel passage today, the Lord rebuked the Pharisee who invited Him to a meal, and wondering in his heart why was it that the Lord and His disciples did not wash their hands in the way prescribed in the laws and customs of the Jewish people at the time, as handed down the generations from the time of Moses. The Lord knew what was in the heart and mind of the Pharisee, and voiced out His anger at the warped and unreasonable way of thinking as shown by the Pharisee and the others.

To them, external cleanliness and good appearances are important, but yet, they paid little to no attention on their internal disposition and preparedness, in terms of how they lived their lives, that ended up making them unworthy because of their wicked and unholy deeds, by desiring the many temptations of life. They did all their outward manifestations of faith, all the prayers and devotions, not because they truly loved God, but because they wanted to be praised and gain prestige among the people.

That is what the Lord wanted to highlight when He said that those who clean the outside but not the inside of a cup has been foolish in their deeds. He was against all those who treated their faith as a mere outward expression of piety and devotion, and yet, has nothing inside their hearts, no love of the Lord, and no true understanding and appreciation of what they were doing for the sake of the Lord.

It is sad that truly, it is possible to act in piety and in what seemingly pleases the Lord, but yet not having faith in someone’s mind and heart. And it was not just the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who did so, but even us as Christians. How many of us lived through our lives as Christians, doing what we are supposed to do as Christians, in our piety and our devotions to God, in our prayers and in what we have done all these while, and yet, in our hearts and minds, God was not truly present?

That means we are just going through the motion in living our faith life. How many of us coming for the Mass every Sunday without realising its importance for the salvation of our souls? How many of us goes through our prayers and other forms of expressions of our faith not because of our love for God, but instead for our own selfish desires, for either power, glory, recognition and all those other similar sorts of typical human greed and ego.

Today, we are called as Christians, to emulate the good examples set by our faithful predecessors in faith, namely St. Hedwig and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, whose faith and whose lives have been exemplary and good, and which we should also follow in our own expression of faith. They have shown us how it is that we should live, in turning ourselves towards God with complete sincerity and desire to love Him.

St. Hedwig was a noblewoman who became the wife of the powerful Duke of Silesia in what is now present day Poland. She was a devout and committed Christian, who has not let her position of power and glory to distract her from her faith, obedience and commitment to God. She lived a good life, caring for the needs of her people, and after her husband passed away, she entered a monastery in which she spent the rest of her life.

Throughout her life, St. Hedwig led a prayerful life centred on God, and her many charitable works for the poor, the sick and the less privileged in her society showed just how her heart and mind is attuned and centred on the Lord, which therefore influenced her every actions and deeds, which she did out of love for God and for her fellow men, and not for herself or for satisfying her selfish human desires.

Meanwhile, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was a mystic, visionary and member of the religious order of the Visitation nuns. She received many visions of the Lord and His Blessed Mother, in which she saw the vision of the Sacred Heart of Our Lord, and through the conversations between Him and St. Margaret, she received what is now known as the Devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. In that vision, she received the revelation of just how God loved us mankind, pouring out from His bleeding Heart.

St. Margaret Mary therefore led a pious and devout life, centred on the devotion she had, a very fervent and true love for the Most Sacred Heart of the Lord. She directed many people both during and after her life, to turn themselves to God’s love and to entrust themselves to the love which God has shown to each one of us, despite our sins and disobedience against Him. And she showed us the way to go forward in our life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, shall we follow the good examples set by St. Hedwig and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, by turning ourselves towards God with our whole heart and with our whole being. Let us be true Christians from now on, that our interior, and not just exterior self, be truly attuned and centred on God, and that we may love Him from now on, till the end of our days. Amen.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Holy Virgins)

Luke 11 : 37-41

At that time, as Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked Him to have a meal with him. So He went and sat at table. The Pharisee then wondered why Jesus did not wash His hands before the dinner.

But the Lord said to him, “So then, you Pharisees, you clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside yourselves you are full of greed and evil. Fools! He Who made the outside, also made the inside. But according to you, by the mere giving of alms everything is made clean.”