Wednesday, 11 April 2018 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Stanislas, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day first of all we listened to the tribulations and difficulties that were faced by the Apostles, as they were assailed by the opposition from the chief priests and the elders of the people, who refused to believe in their teachings, which proclaimed the Risen Lord. They first of all have refused to listen to the Lord and to His teachings when He was in their midst, and then, they refused to listen to His disciples.

Yet, despite the challenges they encountered, the disciples continued to serve the Lord and obeyed His will to the very end, carrying out His works in many places and among many peoples, calling on many to repent from their sins and turn to the righteous ways of the Lord. This was despite the threats and challenges they faced, having been warned by the elders of the people and the whole council of the Sanhedrin.

In the same manner, saints and martyrs throughout the ages and the history of the Church have faced similar difficulties and persecutions. There were many martyrs who died defending their faith because they refused to abandon the Lord or to betray Him. They would rather perish in their earthly existence rather than being condemned to an eternity of suffering in hell.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Stanislas, a holy bishop and martyr, a Polish bishop of Krakow who lived approximately eight hundred years ago. St. Stanislas was a great servant of God who helped to establish the Church and its teachings more firmly in the land of Poland. However, he had to contend with a king, who eventually would be the one to slaughter him in cold blood, king Boleslaw II the Bold.

The king’s heavy handed and unfair treatment of the Church as well as many other segments of the society, and his rumoured sexual immorality and wicked behaviour led to the courageous bishop to rebuke the king publicly and opposed him in several occasions. In the end, the bishop St. Stanislas excommunicated the king. The king was furious, and sent armed men to strike the bishop. When these were afraid to do as the king commanded, the king himself struck and killed the martyr.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, from what we have heard of the tale of the Apostles and the disciples, as well as the martyrs like St. Stanislas, we see how being a devout Christian and a true follower of our Lord is not an easy path. That would require commitment and even at times, taking risk and suffering. But all of these, they have done, all the faithful servants of God, for the sake of God, He Who has given us everything and loved us dearly with all of His heart.

God has loved us so dearly, just as He Himself said it through His conversation to Nicodemus, the good Pharisee. He said that God so loved the world, that He gave us all His only beloved Son, as He was speaking about Himself, that through His coming into the world, by His dwelling among us, and by the Good News He had brought unto our midst; and ultimately, by His suffering and death on the cross, all of us who believe in Him will not perish but live forever with Him in glory.

That is because, God has paid for us the price of our liberation in His own Blood. He has shed His own Blood on the cross, and paid the ultimate price for our own good and for our lives. If He, Our God, has given us so much, then how can we His people, all of the believers, members of the Church, all Christians, not love Him in the same manner? God does not ask much, just our love and dedication, as much as He has loved us first.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us therefore be exemplary in our faith and in our lives. Let us all devote ourselves anew to the Lord, and spend time with Him through prayer and commitment to love Him. Let us all show one another, the love which God has given us, and which we now share amongst us, that many more people, having seen our faith made alive through our actions, may come to believe in Him as well, and answer God’s call to salvation, just as the Apostles had done long ago.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to guide us in our path, and bless us in all of our endeavours, now and forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Stanislas, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 3 : 16-21

At that time, Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Yes, God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him may not be lost, but may have eternal life. God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world; instead, through Him the world is to be saved.”

“Whoever believes in Him will not be condemned. He who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the Name of the only Son of God. This is how the Judgment is made : Light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

“For whoever does wrong hates the light, and does not come to the light, for fear that his deeds will be seen as evil. But whoever lives according to the truth comes into the light, so that it can be clearly seen that his works have been done in God.”

Wednesday, 11 April 2018 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Stanislas, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 33 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

I will bless the Lord all my days; His praise will be ever on my lips. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the lowly hear and rejoice.

Oh, let us magnify the Lord, together let us glorify His Name! I sought the Lord, and He answered me; from all my fears He delivered me.

They who look to Him are radiant with joy, their faces never clouded with shame. When the poor cry out, the Lord hears and saves them from distress.

The Lord’s Angel encamps and patrols to keep safe those who fear Him. Oh, see and taste the goodness of the Lord! Blessed is the one who finds shelter in Him!

Wednesday, 11 April 2018 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Stanislas, Bishop and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Acts 5 : 17-26

The High Priest and all his supporters, that is the party of the Sadducees, became very jealous of the Apostles; so they arrested them and had them thrown into the public jail. But an Angel of the Lord opened the door of the prison during the night, brought them out, and said to them, “Go and stand in the Temple court and tell the people the whole of this living message.” Accordingly they entered the Temple at dawn and resumed their teaching.

When the High Priest and his supporters arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin, that is the full Council of the elders of Israel. They sent word to the jail to have the prisoners brought in. But when the Temple guards arrived at the jail, they did not find them inside, so they returned with the news, “We found the prison securely locked and the prison guards at their post outside the gate, but when we opened the gate, we found no one inside.”

Upon hearing these words, the captain of the Temple guard and the high priests were baffled, wondering where all of this would end. Just then someone arrived with the report, “Look, those men whom you put in prison are standing in the Temple, teaching the people.” Then the captain went off with the guards and brought them back, but without any show of force, for fear of being stoned by the people.

(Holy Week) Tuesday, 11 April 2017 : Tuesday of Holy Week, Memorial of St. Stanislas, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about how Jesus said that one of His own disciples would betray Him and surrendered Him to the hands of the chief priests and the elders. He was speaking of the time of His own suffering and death, which at that time was indeed about to occur. We heard of the betrayal of Judas who left to inform the chief priests and the elders on how and when to arrest Jesus in exchange for monetary compensation of thirty silver pieces.

Then we also heard how Jesus predicted that Peter would deny Him three times before others, even as he said that he would give his life for the sake of the Lord. This is what we are certainly quite well aware of, how during the time when Jesus had been arrested, out of fear and doubt, Peter denied three times knowing Jesus and had wanted nothing to do with Him when the bystanders at the trial of Jesus asked him.

In what we have heard thus far, what the Lord wants us to know is that all of us mankind have sinned, committed acts out of disobedience to Him, and we are easily tempted by various things, from money, to pleasures of the body, to desire, to lust and greed for power, human ambition, to fame and renown, and all other things that have caused us to doubt, to falter and to fall into sin, as the disciples had done when the Lord was arrested. They all abandoned Him and hid themselves out of fear.

Yet, we must be wondering why then did God call such weak and easily tempted men to be His disciples? Then, we should also think then that the Lord called people who were sinners like the tax collectors, prostitutes and all others whom the general public considered to be the dregs and the lowest of them all, outcasts and unworthy people, who should have been condemned because of all the wickedness that they had done.

But God called them and made them turn away from their past sinfulness and He made them to abandon their old ways of wickedness. He had transformed all of them from the beings of darkness and sin, into the children of the light, and therefore, we have to realise that even all saints were once themselves sinners too, just like each and every one of us.

What is it that differentiate between saints and all those who have fallen into damnation? Since all of them were once the same in what they had done, in whatever sins they have committed, we may not realise the answer for this question. But truly, it is because while saints turned away from their sins and made the commitment to sin no more, those who have been condemned ended up with such a fate because they continued to live in the state of sin.

As we progress through the Holy Week, and approach the time when we will commemorate again the suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord, let us all ponder upon these matters and reflect on our actions in life thus far. How have we made use of this life and opportunity given to us by our Lord? Have we used it in accordance with what He wanted us and willed for us? Or have we instead ignored His will and decided to follow our own path, by turning into sin and debauchery?

We should look upon the examples set by St. Stanislas or St. Stanislaus the Bishop and Martyr, who was a renowned saint and martyr from Poland, who lived almost a millennia ago, as the Bishop of Krakow in Poland. St. Stanislas was a just and upright man, who committed himself wholeheartedly to the mission to which he had been called to. He spent much of his time to help guide the people of God through difficulties, challenges and temptations in life to seek God and His ways.

And he was very courageous in standing up to his faith and to the truth that could be found in the Lord alone, as he even stood up against the king of Poland, king Boleslav who was told to be immoral in his life and in his activities. He was chastised by the courageous saint, who ended up excommunicating the king when he refused to change his ways and continued to commit scandalous acts before God and men alike.

The king took matter to his own hands and personally killed the Bishop as he was celebrating the Holy Mass outside the city. The uproar over the killing of such a holy and pious man forced the king off from his throne, and it was told that he had to go into exile, and some accounts placed him as a penitent who went about trying to be forgiven from his grievous sin of murdering a holy man of God. Nevertheless, the faith of St. Stanislas were widely noted and many venerated him after his death.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us should also walk in the footsteps of St. Stanislas. We should emulate his commitment to live a pious and worthy life, rejecting all forms of sins and wickedness. We should turn our way back from our sins, and reject all those things that had led us to sin. Let us all devote ourselves and our time from now on to serve the Lord with all of our hearts, with all of our strength, so that we may join the company of the saints, all the sinners whom God had forgiven and welcomed back into His embrace, and now enjoy the eternal glory of heaven. May the Lord bless us all. Amen.

(Holy Week) Tuesday, 11 April 2017 : Tuesday of Holy Week, Memorial of St. Stanislas, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
John 13 : 21-33, 36-38

At that time, after He said a discourse to His disciples after He washed their feet, Jesus was distressed in Spirit, and said plainly, “Truly, one of you will betray Me.” The disciples then looked at one another, wondering whom He meant. One of the disciples, the one Jesus loved, was reclining near Jesus; so Simon Peter signalled him to ask Jesus whom He meant.

And the disciple, who was reclining near Jesus, asked Him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “I shall dip a piece of bread in the dish, and he to whom I give it, is the one.” So Jesus dipped the bread and gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And as Judas took the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus then said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.”

None of the others, reclining at the table, understood why Jesus said this to Judas. As Judas had the common purse, they may have thought that Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or “Give something to the poor.” Judas left as soon as he had eaten the bread. It was night.

When Judas had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him. God will glorify Him, and He will glorify Him very soon. My children, I am with you for only a little while; you will look for Me, but as I already told the Jews, so now I tell you : where I am going you cannot come.”

Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but afterwards you will.” Peter said, “Lord, why can I not follow You now? I am ready to give my life for You.”

“To give your life for Me?” Jesus asked Peter, “Truly I tell you, the cock will not crow, before you have denied Me three times.”

(Holy Week) Tuesday, 11 April 2017 : Tuesday of Holy Week, Memorial of St. Stanislas, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Psalm 70 : 1-2, 3-4a, 5-6ab, 15 and 17

In You, o Lord, I seek refuge; let me not be disgraced. In Your justice help me and deliver me, turn Your ear to me and save me!

Be my Rock of refuge, a Stronghold to give me safety, for You are my Rock and my Fortress. Rescue me, o my God, from the hand of the wicked.

For You, o Lord, have been my Hope, my Trust, o God, from my youth. I have relied on You from birth : from my mother’s womb You brought me forth.

My lips will proclaim Your intervention and tell of Your salvation all day, little though it is what I can understand. You have taught me from my youth and until now I proclaim Your marvels.