Friday, 7 January 2022 : Friday after the Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are called to remember the love of God and all that He has done for our sake, which He has shown us and revealed to us through none other than Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. He has revealed to us just how fortunate we are to have been beloved in such a way by our Lord. God has always been kind and compassionate to us, and His love was what made His action possible, in sending us our salvation through Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. John, we heard of the words of the Apostle concerning all that God had done for our sake, through His Son, Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. In that passage, we heard St. John speaking of how Christ has been acknowledged through water and through Blood and the Spirit of God. This was a reference of everything that we have received from Him, and how He has revealed Himself and God’s salvation, through His baptism at the Jordan, His crucifixion and death, and finally through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

First of all, at the time of His baptism at the River Jordan by St. John the Baptist, the Lord has been proclaimed by the voice coming down from Heaven, as He was immersed in the water, and a Dove came to rest on Him, the Holy Spirit descending from the Father into this world through Jesus, the Son. The Father’s voice spoke the truth about the Man Who was baptised that day, that Jesus is indeed His Son and the One Whom He had promised to send into our midst, so that we may be saved from our fated destruction.

Then, at the moment of His crucifixion, as Christ bore His Cross, and was nailed to that Cross, enduring for us the punishments and the consequences that we ourselves ought to have suffered, He spilled His Most Precious Blood, which came down to us, as the Blood that washes us away from our sins. At that same time, when the soldiers were told to break the legs of those who had been crucified, Jesus was already dead, and one of the soldiers, later known as St. Longinus, took a spear and hit the side of the Lord with it, and immediately blood and water poured forth from it, a proof of God’s Love that endured even through His death on the Cross.

And lastly, the same Holy Spirit that had come down upon the Lord was also sent to the Apostles and the other disciples just as the Lord Himself has promised them, as tongues of fire descending on them at Pentecost, fulfilling what He has promised them and revealing to those who have received the Spirit, the fullness of truth of God’s love for us mankind and His saving grace. Through all these signs therefore we have been made aware of the most wonderful love that God has given us, through His most beloved Son, Whose coming into this world has given us all a new hope.

In our Gospel passage today, we then also heard from the Gospel of St. Luke regarding the healing of a man suffering from leprosy. The Lord wanted to heal him, and immediately, He cured the man from the leprosy. Leprosy was then a very dreaded disease that according to the old Law and customs of the Israelites would have led those who were suffering from it to be forced to live away from the rest of the society, to wander off in the wilderness until they could prove that their disease had been completely cured.

This is yet again another reminder for us of the most generous and wonderful love of God which He has kindly and generously shown us from the very beginning. God has reached out to us and make Himself approachable to us through Christ, and we ought to remember during this the blessed time of Christmas. We celebrate the most generous and amazing love God has bestowed on us, everything that He had done for us through His Son. We all rejoice because the Light of our Hope has come upon us.

Today, we celebrate the Feast of St. Raymond of Penyafort, also known as St. Raymond of Penafort, a renowned Dominican friar and priest who was instrumental in the codification of the laws of the Church that remained in force for many centuries, as well as his many contributions to the Church in the areas of theology and Catholic education, and in a most well-known miracle, he was also instrumental in the conversion of King James I of Aragon, who lived in a state of sin with his mistress and repeatedly refused to dismiss her.

St. Raymond of Penyafort sailed away from the city on his cloak, in a great miracle still remembered to this day, when the king forbade him to leave the capital city of Barcelona. This was seen by many of the sailors who witnessed the saint sailing on his cloak, as well as by many other spectators. The king was stunned by this great miracle, and was humbled, that he mended his path in life and from then on, lived more virtuously in accordance with the Law and the rules of the Church.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through the short exposition of the life and examples showed by St. Raymond of Penyafort, all of us are called to follow his good examples and to show our faith sincerely to the Lord. Are we able and willing to show our love to the Lord, brothers and sisters in Christ? Remember how He has loved us so much through His Son, Our Lord and Saviour, just as discussed it earlier on. Let us then love the Lord in the same way that He has first loved us, and do our best to honour Him with our righteous and worthy lives from now on.

May the Lord be with us all, and may His love continue to be poured onto us, in our every day and every moments. May He bless us all in our every endeavours and good works for the greater glory of His Name. Amen.

Friday, 7 January 2022 : Friday after the Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 5 : 12-16

At that time, one day, in another town, a man came to Jesus covered with leprosy. On seeing Jesus, the man bowed down to the ground, and said, “Lord, if You want to, You can make me clean.”

Stretching out His hand, Jesus touched the man and said, “Yes, I want to. Be clean.” In an instant, the leprosy left him. Then Jesus instructed him, “Tell this to no one. But go, and show yourself to the priest. Make an offering for your healing, as Moses prescribed; that will serve as evidence for them.”

But the news about Jesus spread all the more; and large crowds came to Him, to listen and to be healed of their sickness. As for Jesus, He would often withdraw to solitary places and pray.

Friday, 7 January 2022 : Friday after the Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 147 : 12-13, 14-15, 19-20

Exalt YHVH, o Jerusalem; praise your God, o Zion! For He strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your children within you.

He grants peace on your borders and feeds you with the finest grain. He sends His command to the earth and swiftly runs His word.

It is He, Who tells Jacob His words; His laws and decrees, to Israel. This, He has not done for other nations, so His laws remain unknown to them. Alleluia!

Friday, 7 January 2022 : Friday after the Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 5 : 5-13

Who has overcome the world? The one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus Christ was acknowledged through water, but also through Blood. Not only water but water and Blood. And the Spirit, too, witnesses to Him for the Spirit is truth.

There are then three testimonies : the Spirit, the water and the Blood, and these three witnesses agree. If we accept human testimony, with greater reason must we accept that of God, given in favour of His Son. If you believe in the Son of God, you have God’s testimony in you.

But those who do not believe make God a liar, since they do not believe His words when He witnesses to His Son. What has God said? That He has granted us eternal life and this life is in His Son. The one who has the Son has life, the one who do not have the Son of God do not have life.

I write you, then, all these things that you may know that you have eternal life, all you who believe in the Name of the Son of God.

Thursday, 7 January 2021 : Thursday after Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures, we are reminded yet again that the Lord has fulfilled His promises to us, the promise of deliverance and salvation that He has made and renewed throughout the history of mankind and the world. The Lord sent His deliverance to us all through His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. And as Christians, all of us believe in this truth, the same truth that has been preserved through the Church all these time.

In our Gospel reading today, we heard of the moment when the Lord proclaimed the truth of God and the fulfilment of all the wonderful promises of God’s salvation in the synagogue of His own hometown, Nazareth. At that time, the Lord read the prophecy from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah and his words, which specifically mentioned what the Messiah or the Saviour would do in order to save the people.

And the Lord Jesus essentially proclaimed the coming of God’s time of grace, His salvation and liberation to all the people. He did not mince His words or hold back anything as He proclaimed God’s truth. He was the Anointed One and the Holy One of God sent into the world to be its Saviour. Through Him all would once again see the light of hope, and a way out of the darkness of sin in this world.

All of these are what we believe in as Christians, that we hold true and strongly to this same truth that the Lord had proclaimed, and which He had then proven through His loving sacrifice on the Cross. The love of God has been made manifest into this world through Christ, and this love was shown to us by the selfless sacrifice and the life-giving action that the Lord had done, in offering up Himself for our sake, for our liberation from sin and for our salvation.

St. John then spoke of this in our first reading today as he elaborated on Christ as the manifestation of God’s love made flesh just as we celebrate it this Christmas season. He also exhorted all Christians to turn towards the Lord with love, that just as He has loved us so generously at first, then we should also love Him to the best of our abilities with our most sincere love, and then show the same love to our fellow brothers and sisters as well.

The Lord has taught us His love and revealed to us what it means for us to love, through His own actions and examples. He has reached out to all of us, especially even to the worst and the most wicked amongst sinners. He has touched us with His love and He has called us to follow Him and His path, but are we willing and able to commit ourselves to this path, brothers and sisters in Christ?

Let us all today therefore look upon the examples of our holy predecessors in how they lived their lives in accordance with God’s ways, such as what was done by St. Raymond of Penyafort, whose feast day we are celebrating today. St. Raymond of Penyafort was a Dominican friar and priest who was the Master of the Order of Preachers or the Dominicans.

St. Raymond of Penyafort dedicated himself, his life and his actions to serve the Lord, compiling the teachings of the faith in the many books and writings that he has written for the many years of his dedicated service. St. Raymond of Penyafort was also committed to the reform of the Church, in his efforts in helping the Church and the leaders like the Pope in leading the faithful to the right path.

Through his efforts and most notably through his renowned miracle, St. Raymond of Penyafort turned many souls towards the Lord. When he worked as the confessor of the king of Aragon, James I, who was infamous for his immoral behaviour, he courageously criticised the king and his actions, which was against the Law of God. He sought to call the king back to his senses and return to the true faith.

When the king still insisted to continue his actions and forbade St. Raymond from leaving the island he was ministering in, he miraculously sailed on his long Dominican robe, and witnessed by many, he made the king to realise the depth and severity of his errors, and the king repented from all his sinful ways. Many others became believers through him and many were inspired by his examples long after his passing.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all devote ourselves to the Lord therefore, filling ourselves with love, the love of God, just as shown by St. Raymond of Penyafort and the many other holy men and women of God. Let us all therefore seek the Lord and do our best as Christians, from now on, that we may lead all souls to Him, Our Lord and most loving Saviour. May God be with us always, and may He bless us in all our good endeavours. Amen.

Thursday, 7 January 2021 : Thursday after Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 4 : 14-22a

At that time, Jesus acted with the power of the Spirit; and on His return to Galilee, the news about Him spread throughout all that territory. He began teaching in the synagogue of the Jews and everyone praised Him.

When Jesus came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, as He usually did. He stood up to read, and they handed Him the book of the prophet Isaiah.

Jesus then unrolled the scroll and found the place where it is written : “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me. He has anointed Me, to bring good news to the poor; to proclaim liberty to captives; and new sight to the blind; to free the oppressed; and to announce the Lord’s year of mercy.”

Jesus then rolled up the scroll, gave it to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. Then He said to them, “Today, these prophetic words come true, even as you listen.” All agreed with Him, and were lost in wonder, while He spoke of the grace of God.

Thursday, 7 January 2021 : Thursday after Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 71 : 1-2, 14 and 15bc, 17

God, endow the King with Your justice, the Royal Son with Your righteousness. May He rule Your people justly and defend the rights of the lowly.

He rescues them from oppression and strife, for their life is precious to Him. May people always pray for Him, and blessings be invoked for Him all day.

May His Name endure forever; may His Name be as lasting as the sun. All the races will boast about Him; and He will be praised by all nations.

Thursday, 7 January 2021 : Thursday after Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 4 : 19 – 1 John 5 : 4

So let us love one another, since God loved us first. If you say, “I love God,” while you hate your brother or sister, you are a liar. How can you love God, Whom you do not see, if you do not love your brother, whom you see? We received from Him, this commandment : let those who love God also love their brothers.

All those, who believe that Jesus is the Anointed, are born of God; whoever loves the Father, loves the Son. How may we know, that we love the children of God? If we love God and fulfil His commands, for God’s love requires us to keep His commands. In fact, His commandments are not a burden because all those born of God overcome the world. And the victory, which overcomes the world, is our faith.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020 : Tuesday after the Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture starting from the Gospel passage that told us about the wonderful work that the Lord had performed among His people as highlighted in His miraculous feeding of the five thousand men and more people, as the women and children accompanying the men were not included in the count. He provided for them and gave them all food to eat.

And then, we also heard from the Epistle of St. John in our first reading today that spoke about God’s love for us mankind and how that love has manifested perfectly in the person of Jesus, the beloved Son of God, Who was sent into the world to redeem us, to help us, to show us just how much God loves each and every one of us, that each and every one of us may not perish because of our sins but have eternal life. The Lord Jesus Himself said this, and St. John reaffirmed it in his Epistle.

We are reminded therefore how each and every one of us as Christians are God’s own beloved sons and daughters, and we are made into such a privileged position because of none other than the Lord Jesus Whose birth we celebrate during this Christmas season. His birth and arrival into this world marked the beginning of the reconciliation between God and mankind, once separated by the wickedness of our sins and disobedience.

Christ has entered into this world as a unique Being, both a Divine being, because He is the Word of God and the Son of the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and also a Human being, because He was conceived in the womb of a woman, Mary, His mother, taking the fullness of our human existence and qualities. He has two natures, Divine and Human, both united in His one single person though the two natures remained distinct, but inseparable. This is why through Christ, we have been adopted as God’s children.

Because if Christ is the Son of God, then all of us mankind who share in His humanity is also the sons and daughters of God, by this adoption through Christ. All of us who believe in Him and become members of the Church are adopted as children of God. And we are all truly privileged to have been granted this honour and opportunity, that we really should not waste it. We should appreciate just how God still loves us so dearly even when we have erred against Him and should have been exterminated instead of being forgiven.

Today, all of us are called to reflect on our lives and how we have lived them with faith. We are called to think of whether we have reciprocated God’s generous offer of love and mercy, and how we can draw close to Him, entrusting ourselves to this love, which He has shown us through His Son, Who fed the multitudes of five thousand men and more, and even more so, gave us all spiritual sustenance through His truth.

Have we been faithful and loving towards Him, brothers and sisters in Christ? Or have we been too preoccupied and busy with ourselves that we end up distancing ourselves from Him and getting trapped deeper and deeper into the path of sin? This is where perhaps we should look upon the good examples set by our holy predecessor, St. Raymond of Penyafort, whose feast day we celebrate today, who was a Spanish Dominican friar living in the twelfth and thirteenth century.

St. Raymond of Penyafort was renowned for his lifelong dedication to God, and although he was remembered more for his important contributions in the compilation of the canon laws of the Church, which eventually became the version of the Canon Law used for many centuries, but actually St. Raymond of Penyafort was also known for his steadfastness in faith and dedication, in how he persistently opposed the King of Aragon in today’s Spain because of his immoral behaviour with a supposed mistress.

St. Raymond of Penyafort was punished and put under arrest and watch by the king for his criticism and opposition to his immoral and wicked attitude, but the saint remained steadfast in faith and in his opposition. In a well remembered miracle, it was told that St. Raymond sailed away from his island exile on a cloak and this miracle, witnessed by many caused the king to renounce his wicked behaviours and turn back towards God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have heard how St. Raymond of Penyafort loved God and had great faith in Him to the point that he was willing to oppose a king in doing so, and to do what he has done in his many contributions to the Church for so many years. Are we able to follow in his footsteps? It is something that we should perhaps think about as we continue living our lives with faith from now on. May the Lord be with us always, and may He bless us all in everything we do, and help us that we may grow ever stronger in our faith, love and devotion towards Him. Amen.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020 : Tuesday after the Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 6 : 34-44

At that time, as Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He had compassion on them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd. And He began to teach them many things. It was now getting late, so His disciples came to Him and said, “This is a lonely place and it is now late. You should send the people away and let them go to the farms and villages around here, to buy themselves something to eat.”

Jesus replied, “You, yourselves, give them something to eat.” They answered, “If we are to feed them, we need two hundred silver coins to go and buy enough bread.” But Jesus said, “You have some loaves; how many? Go and see.” The disciples found out and said, “There are five loaves and two fish.”

Then He told them to have the people sit down, together in groups, on the green grass. This they did, in groups of hundreds and fifties. And Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish and, raising His eyes to heaven, He pronounced a blessing, broke the loaves, and handed them to His disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them.

They all ate and everyone had enough. The disciples gathered up what was left, and filled twelve baskets with broken pieces of bread and fish. Five thousand men had eaten there.