Tuesday, 2 August 2022 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop, and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops and Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are called to believe in God and to trust in Him, despite all the challenges and trials that we may have to face and endure throughout our journeys of faith and life. Each and every one of us are called to devote our time, effort and attention to the Lord, and to put our trust in Him that He will guide us through the ups and downs of this life we have in this world, and in the end, we shall be triumphant with Him, hand in hand. We shall not be disappointed if we have faith in the Lord.

In our first reading today, we heard the words of the Lord speaking to us from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah in which the prophet spoke of God’s words to His people, the Israelites particularly in Judah, a people who had become wayward in their ways, wicked in their deeds and who had fallen away from the path of God’s righteousness. They had abandoned God, His Law and commandments, persecuting all those whom God had sent to them to remind and call them to repentance. As such, God said that by their own wickedness and deeds, they would be judged and would have to suffer the consequences of their sins.

But at the same time, just as the Lord has spoken the ominous words of warning and voicing out His displeasure at the wickedness of His people, He also reaffirmed them in His love, reminding them that while He disapproved of and hated their sins, and would discipline them for their misbehaviours, ultimately, His love for them was still and would still be greater than His disgust for their sins. He would gather them back and be reunited and reconciled with them. Through their sincere repentance and desire to return to Him, God would forgive His people and bring them all back to His loving embrace.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the famous story of how the Lord Jesus appeared to His disciples in the middle of a great storm by the lake, in which the disciples’ boat was travelling in. The storm, the gale, the wind and the waves were so intense that the boat was in real danger of being sunk, and the disciples must have been very terrified. It was then that the Lord miraculously appeared before them, in the flesh, as He walked towards them on the raging waters. As we heard from the Gospel, the disciples were initially frightened and spooked out, thinking that they had seen a ghost.

The Lord reassured His disciples and told them all that it was Him indeed, and St. Peter then jumped into the water, walking towards Him, both with faith and desire to come to the Lord as well as doubt and uncertainties, thinking that if it was indeed the Lord, then he would be able to walk on the water towards Him. St. Peter walked towards the Lord for a few steps, miraculously able to walk on the water. However, it was then told that he wavered, likely overwhelmed by fear and doubt, which made him to begin to sink into the water, and he cried out to the Lord for help. The Lord helped St. Peter out and chided him for his lack of faith in Him and for his doubts.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through the story of Jesus walking in the water to His disciples, and how He made St. Peter walked on the water and how He assisted him afterwards, all of us are reminded that each one of us should not be afraid of the challenges and trials of the world, as the Lord is and will always be by our side, helping us to endure through the many challenges and trials that we may have to face throughout life. The boat represents all of us, God’s people and His Church, while the disciples represent each and every one of us, all of us with our faith and doubts, with our courage and uncertainties.

The storm, the gale, the wind and the waves on the other hand represents the trials and challenges that we have to face in our lives, as we live through the many obstacles that we encounter daily in their various forms. Like St. Peter and the other disciples, sometimes we have no faith in God and we did not trust Him enough to lead us out of harm’s way, and we became doubtful and fearful, worried that we would suffer and lose everything. But today’s story reminded us that God is and will always be there by our side, if we only learn to focus on Him and not be distracted by the many trials and challenges present all around us.

Today, all of us should be strengthened and inspired by the good examples set by our holy predecessors, the holy saints, holy men and women of God, especially that of St. Eusebius of Vercelli and St. Peter Julian Eymard, whose feast we are celebrating this day. St. Eusebius of Vercelli was the Bishop of Vercelli in what is now northern Italy during the tumultuous years of struggle between the true Christian faith and the popular heresy of Arianism. He had to endure many trials and challenges throughout his ministry and work, and was even persecuted, humiliated and made to suffer, dragged through the streets for his continued faith and adherence to the true faith. And yet, all those things did not dampen his faith at all.

St. Eusebius of Vercelli continued to labour hard and gave his energy, time and effort to lead the faithful from the clutches of the heretical teachings. He patiently endured the challenges and trials, all the oppressions and persecutions he faced from those who sided and sympathised with the heretics and their false teachings. St. Eusebius of Vercelli showed us his resolve and what each one of us should do in the face of hardships, and to continue to trust in the Lord at all times and opportunities. Like St. Peter and the other Apostles, and like the prophet Jeremiah and the other prophets, St. Eusebius of Vercelli committed his life to God and entrusting God with that life.

Meanwhile, St. Peter Julian Eymard was a renowned priest who was particularly devoted to the Blessed Sacrament and the Real Presence in the Eucharist, spending a lot of time and effort to popularise the devotion to the Eucharist, the respect and understanding of the Lord’s Real Presence among the people that he ministered to. He dedicated his life and his time to glorify the Lord, reaching out to all those who have been separated from God, calling on them to return to the Lord and to put their faith and trust in Him once again. He spent countless hours in his ministry, and also founded two religious orders to support his mission, the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament and the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we have heard from the great examples of our holy predecessors, let us all therefore turn to the Lord with renewed faith and courage, and not be easily swayed by our fears and temptations anymore, knowing that the Lord, our God and Saviour is always ever by our side, and He will never abandon us in our hour and time of greatest need. May the Lord continue to guide us and give us the courage to live our lives ever more worthily, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 2 August 2022 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop, and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops and Priests)

Matthew 14 : 22-36

At that time, immediately, Jesus obliged His disciples to get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowd away. And having sent the people away, He went up the mountain by Himself, to pray. At nightfall, He was there alone.

Meanwhile, the boat was very far from land, dangerously rocked by the waves, for the wind was against it. At daybreak, Jesus came to them, walking on the sea. When they saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, thinking that it was a ghost. And they cried out in fear. But at once, Jesus said to them, “Courage! Do not be afraid. It is Me!”

Peter answered, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” Jesus said to him, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water to go to Jesus. But seeing the strong wind, he was afraid, and began to sink; and he cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Jesus immediately stretched out His hand and took hold of him, saying, “Man of little faith, why did you doubt?” As they got into the boat, the wind dropped. Then those in the boat bowed down before Jesus, saying, “Truly, You are the Son of God!”

They came ashore at Gennesaret. The local people recognised Jesus and spread the news throughout the region. So they brought to Him all the sick people, begging Him to let them touch just the hem of His cloak. All who touched it became perfectly well.

Tuesday, 2 August 2022 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop, and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops and Priests)

Psalm 101 : 16-18, 19-21, 29 and 22-23

O Lord, the nations will revere Your Name, and the kings of the earth Your glory, when the Lord will rebuild Zion and appear in all His splendour. For He will answer the prayer of the needy and will not despise their plea.

Let this be written for future ages, “The Lord will be praised by a people He will form.” From His holy height in heaven, the Lord has looked on the earth to hear the groaning of the prisoners, and free those condemned to death.”

Your servants’ children will dwell secure; their posterity will endure without fail. Then the Name of the Lord will be declared in Zion, and His praise in Jerusalem, when the peoples and the kingdoms assemble to worship Him.

Tuesday, 2 August 2022 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop, and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops and Priests)

Jeremiah 30 : 1-2, 12-15, 18-22

This is another word that came to Jeremiah from YHVH : YHVH, God of Israel says, “Write in a book all that I have communicated to you.”

“YHVH says, ‘Your wound is incurable, your injury is grievous. There is no one to plead your cause. There is a remedy for an ulcer but no healing for you! All your lovers have forgotten you; they care nothing for you. For I struck you as an enemy does, with a cruel punishment, because of your great guilt and the wickedness of your sin. Why cry now that you are hurt? Is there no cure for your pain? Because of your great crime and grievous sin I have done this to you.’”

“YHVH says, ‘I will restore My people into Jacob’s tents and have pity on his dwellings. The city will be rebuilt over its ruins and the palace restored on its proper place. From them will come songs of praise and the sound of merrymaking. I will multiply them and they shall not be few. I will bestow honour on them and they shall not be despised. Their children will be as before and their community will be established before Me. I will ask their oppressors to account.’”

“‘Their leader will be one of themselves, their ruler shall emerge from their midst. I will bring him close to Me for who would dare to approach Me? You shall be My people and I shall be your God.’”

Monday, 2 August 2021 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop, and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops and Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened again to the love and kindness of God in providing for the needs of His people, as we heard the stories of God feeding and providing for them in the desert during their Exodus as described in our first reading today, and then the similar story in the well-known miracle of the feeding of the five thousand men and more by mere five loaves of bread and two fishes by the Lord Jesus, Who multiplied the food for them.

In that first reading passage today, we heard how the people were so ungrateful about the love and attention which the Lord had given them. They were complaining that they could not have the cucumber, leeks, garlic and other things that they used to eat in Egypt, a land that was fertile and bountiful, with all available produces, even when they were enslaved by the Egyptians and the Pharaoh. They were complaining that what they had was just the manna, which they detested.

In truth, the manna itself tasted quite fine, but the people were biased against it, despite the truth that it had been an immense honour and grace for all of them to even have any food at all throughout their journey throughout the desert. Instead of being appreciative of how the Lord had sent them manna, and not only just manna, but even flocks of birds daily to supplement their diet, as well as bountiful amount of water in the midst of the dry and lifeless desert, they chose to complain and refuse to obey the Lord.

They gave in to the temptations of their desires, their desire for good and pleasant life, a decadent and free life without restraint, which led them to wander off from the path that the Lord had shown them. They fell into sinful ways, and committed those sins against God. Moses himself, as the leader of the Israelites, was under great pressure all the time, as we can clearly see his distress as we heard in our first reading passage today.

And yet, the Lord was still ever patient with His people, providing for them ceaselessly and guiding them throughout their forty years of journey, even as He chastised and punished them for their sins, excesses and disobedience. God still loved His people very much, and this was why He showed love and compassion to them, and by feeding them as a very tangible and visible proof of this love, providing them with their essential physical and bodily needs.

As therefore we then heard in our Gospel passage today, how the Lord miraculously fed a multitude of five thousand men and many thousands of other women and children, with just five loaves of bread and two fishes, a story that many of us are surely very familiar with. God cared for all of them as they were hungry and were in need of sustenance after following Him and listening to His teachings for many days.

Through all of these, we are reminded that we are truly fortunate to have been beloved by God, Who wants to love us and care for us. Indeed, if it had not been for His love, we would have been crushed, destroyed and thrown into hellfire for our disobedience and sins. That the Lord still patiently tries, even to this day, in calling us to return to Him, sending countless prophets and messengers, and ultimately His own beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus to come and save us, are the ultimate proofs and signs of His everlasting love.

Therefore, all of us should be grateful for the Lord, and strive to do whatever we can to follow Him and obey His Law and commandments, which we can do by following the inspiring examples of the saints whose memories we recall and venerate today, namely St. Eusebius of Vercelli and St. Peter Julian Eymard. St. Eusebius of Vercelli was the bishop of Vercelli and a ardent defender of the true faith against the falsehoods of heresies which were plenty at his time. Meanwhile, St. Peter Julian Eymard was a holy and devoted priest well renowned for his piety and devotion to the Lord.

St. Eusebius of Vercelli was dedicated to his flock and endeavoured to keep them safe and faithful throughout the various challenges facing them, and he dedicated his time and effort to care for the spiritual needs of the people, living among them and showing true and genuine love for them. He endured trials and difficulties when persecutions and troubles come for the faithful, especially from those who believed in the heresies and followed the tenets of the heretics, and led to the persecution of those who remained true to the true faith. He endured exile and humiliations throughout his ministry, but those things did not deter him from his best for the sake of the Lord and His people.

St. Eusebius of Vercelli worked hard to reconcile the various divided factions of the Church, reaching out to the many people who had been feuding and been separated from one another due to misunderstandings and lack of guidance in faith. He visited many communities, and many were touched by his efforts, which brought the Lord to His people and helped many to turn away from their wrong paths and to be reconciled with their loving God and Father. His dedication and faith are things that we should be inspired to follow.

St. Peter Julian Eymard meanwhile was a faithful and dedicated priest whose devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and to Mary, the Mother of God inspired many to follow his examples, as he popularised the Forty Hours devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and established several congregations dedicated to the ministry of the Lord among the people of God. Many followed in his footsteps and committed themselves to the Lord in the same manner, abandoning their previous, sinful ways of life and embracing the path that St. Peter Julian Eymard has shown them. St. Peter Julian Eymard should be our inspiration in how we lived our own lives with faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore follow in the footsteps of our holy predecessors, and be worthy in all of our dealings and deeds, and do our best in all things, to glorify the Lord and His Name at all times. May God be with us all and may He bless us and all of our good endeavours, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 2 August 2021 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop, and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops and Priests)

Matthew 14 : 13-21

At that time, when Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, He set out by boat for a secluded place, to be alone. But the people heard of it, and they followed Him on foot from their towns. When Jesus went ashore, He saw the crowd gathered there, and He had compassion on them. And He healed their sick.

Late in the afternoon, His disciples came to Him and said, “We are in a lonely place and it is now late. You should send these people away, so that they can go to the villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” But Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat.” They answered, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fishes.” Jesus said to them, “Bring them here to Me.”

Then He made everyone sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves and the two fishes, raised His eyes to heaven, pronounced the blessing, broke the loaves, and handed them to the disciples to distribute to the people. And they all ate, and everyone had enough; then the disciples gathered up the leftovers, filling twelve baskets. About five thousand men had eaten there, besides women and children.

Monday, 2 August 2021 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop, and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops and Priests)

Psalm 80 : 12-13, 14-15, 16-17

But My people did not listen; Israel did not obey. So I gave them over to their stubbornness and they followed their own counsels.

If only My people would listen, if only Israel would walk in My ways, I would quickly subdue their adversaries and turn My hand against their enemies.

Those who hate YHVH would cringe before Him, and their panic would last forever. I would feed you with the finest wheat and satisfy you with honey from the rock.

Monday, 2 August 2021 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop, and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops and Priests)

Numbers 11 : 4b-15

The Israelites wept and said, “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish we ate without cost in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions and garlic. Now our appetite is gone; there is nothing to look at, nothing but manna.”

Now the manna was like coriander seed and had the appearance of bedellium. The people went about gathering it up and then ground it between millstones or pounded it in a mortar. They boiled it in a pot and made cakes with it which tasted like cakes made with oil. As soon as dew fell at night in the camp, the manna came with it.

Moses heard the people crying, family by family at the entrance to their tent and YHVH became very angry. This displeased Moses. Then Moses said to YHVH, “Why have You treated Your servant so badly? Is it because You do not love me that You burdened me with this people? Did I conceive all these people and did I give them birth?”

“And now You want me to carry them in my bosom as a nurse carries an infant, to the land You promised on oath to their fathers? Where would I get meat for all these people, when they cry to me saying :’Give us meat that we may eat?'”

“I cannot, myself alone, carry all these people; the burden is too heavy for me. Kill me rather than treat me like this, I beg of You, if You look kindly on me, and let me not see Your anger.”

Friday, 2 August 2019 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops and Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Sacred Scriptures speaking to us about the feasts celebrated by the people of Israel as commanded to them by the Lord Himself through Moses, His servant, who delivered the Law and the commandments, the precepts and rules of the Lord to the people. We heard in detail how there were appointed times and days in certain months for particular feasts and celebrations to be celebrated.

And then in the Gospel passage today, it seemed that we heard a different passage not quite related to our first reading passage because in the Gospel we heard of the doubt which the people who witnessed the Lord’s miracles and works in His own hometown in Nazareth. In that passage, we heard of how the people doubted the Lord despite having seen the miracles He has performed, the wisdom with which He spoke to them, simply because they thought they knew Who He was.

These two readings at a quick glance may not seem to be related and speak of two very different contents. However, in truth, the two readings remind each and every one of us in their own way, that a lot of times in our respective lives we must always put our trust in God and remember to love Him and to dedicate ourselves to Him, and not to be distracted and swayed by the many other commitments we have in life.

It is very easy for us to be distracted by the many commitments we have in life, and to be swayed by the temptations of worldly things, which cause us to forget about God and to ignore Him despite Him truly being present in our midst and within our own lives. In the first reading from the Book of Leviticus, God appointed all those feasts and celebrations of the people for a reason, not just merrymaking and celebration, but also to remind them of God and His love for them.

Otherwise it will be very easy for us to be swallowed and distracted by our worldly concerns, thoughts, as what we have witnessed in the Gospel account on the rejection of the Lord by His own people, from His very own hometown in Nazareth was because of their stubborn insistence to follow their own prejudices and biases, that was borne out of their acquaintance and knowledge of the background of Jesus and His growing years in their midst.

Those people would not allow the Lord to enter into their hearts and minds, and they closed themselves to Him, rejecting Him. That is what exactly can happen to us all as well if we allow ourselves to be swayed by worldly ideas and corruptions. That is why, similar to what the Israelites have celebrated in the past through their many festivals and celebrations throughout the year, the Church has also put in place numerous celebrations and events throughout the entire liturgical calendar, for us to refocus our attention on God.

On this day we also celebrate the feast day of two saints whose lives and examples may be a great source of inspiration to all of us as Christians, in how we should live our lives to the fullest and devote ourselves to the Lord wholeheartedly as we should have. St. Eusebius of Vercelli was a holy and dedicated bishop who endured through a lot of hard times and persecutions and yet remained faithful to the Lord while St. Peter Julian Eymard was a dedicated priest who founded two religious congregations and was remembered for his great piety and commitment to God.

St. Eusebius of Vercelli was a very hardworking bishop and shepherd to the flock of the faithful entrusted under his care, as he spent countless hours and time to minister to the needs of the people of God. He had to endure through a difficult persecution and challenges when he stood up for the true faith against the heresy of Arianism, which was then widespread and popular, enduring even exile for his commitment and faith in God. He continued to work hard in combatting the falsehoods of the heresies to the last moments of his life.

Meanwhile, St. Peter Julian Eymard was remembered for his strong devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and the Real Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist. He helped to spread the popular Forty Hours devotion to the Blessed Sacrament throughout his priesthood ministry and gathered likeminded people in establishing two religious congregations of those who dedicate themselves to the Blessed Sacrament, namely the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament for the men, and the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament for the women.

Having seen the examples and the good works done by these two faithful servants of God, all of us should be inspired to live our own lives in the way that they have shown us, that is to centre ourselves on God and to focus our efforts and attention on Him. Let us all strive to be more dedicated and committed to God despite all the challenges, temptations and obstacles we may encounter on our journey of life.

May the Lord through the intercession of His faithful servants, St. Eusebius of Vercelli and St. Peter Julian Eymard continue to guide us and grant us the strength and courage needed for us to continue to be faithful and loving towards Him, at every moments of our lives. May the Lord bless us all and our good works and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 2 August 2019 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops and Priests)

Matthew 13 : 54-58

At that time, Jesus went to His hometown and taught the people in their synagogue. They were amazed and said, “Where did He get this wisdom and these special powers? Is He not the carpenter’s Son? Is Mary not His mother and are James, Joseph, Simon and Judas not His brothers? Are not all His sisters living here? Where did He get all these things?” And so they took offence at Him.

Jesus said to them, “The only place where prophets are not welcome is his hometown and in his own family.” And He did not perform many miracles there because of their lack of faith.