Thursday, 11 April 2019 : 5th Week of Lent, 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 listened to the words of the Scripture reminding us of the Covenant which God has established with each and every one of us, the children of Abraham by faith. Abraham was prominently mentioned in the first reading today taken from the Book of Genesis, in which the Covenant of God with him was mentioned, all the promises that God had made before him, how He would make him the father of many nations, and how his descendants would be innumerable and became great nations.

And Abraham were favoured by God with such a great promise because of his faith in God, his steadfastness and willingness to obey and to follow the will of God. That was why out of many other men and women of his time, God chose Abraham to be the instrument of His will and the partaker of His Covenant. To him was granted a son, even at his old age, and when his wife could not possibly have borne him any more children, as the proof and concrete sign of God’s faithfulness.

It was ironic therefore, that in the Gospel passage today, when the Lord came to fulfil the fullness of His promises to the descendants of Abraham, many among those same descendants refused to believe in Him, and in the good works and the truth that He was proclaiming and performing in their midst. Instead, they accused Him of collaborating with evil spirits and committing blasphemy before God, in their own opinion.

The people claimed that the Lord could not have been true in what He spoke, because they were unable to see the wisdom of God being revealed in the person of Jesus. They were amazed and in fact enraged when they heard Jesus saying that He was there even before Abraham was, and they thought of Him as merely a Man and nothing else. Some among them even thought of the Lord Jesus as a heretic, a dangerous influence that must be removed.

In this occasion therefore, we saw two very different attitudes and expressions between the attitude of Abraham, who was faithful and committed to God, and the attitude of the people of Israel, the descendants of Abraham who lacked faith in God and who refused to believe in the One Whom He had sent into the world, into their midst. We saw how mankind had succumbed so deeply into sin, that those sins hardened their hearts and minds, and prevented them from coming closer to God and His truth.

In this case, we saw the contrast between the humility of Abraham in accepting God’s plans for him, and the pride of his descendants who refused to acknowledge the truth of God being revealed before their very eyes. And that pride brought danger to them, for it made them stubborn and even ardently opposing the Lord’s efforts and wanting to kill Him for His supposed ‘blasphemy’ in their opinion.

And therefore, through the passages of the Scriptures we have received and heard today, we are reminded that we have been presented with many choices of actions in our daily lives. We can choose to obey the Lord and to follow His commandments and laws just as Abraham, our father in faith has done, or we can instead indulge in our own worldly desires and in our own ego and pride, as the Israelites did, many times throughout history, including at the time of Jesus, in how they disobeyed God and opposed His good works.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all be aware that if we choose to follow in the path of Christ, as we should, we will likely encounter the same opposition and challenges as the Lord Himself has faced. It is indeed much easier for us to be wicked than to be righteous, to be prideful rather than to be humble, to be filled with anger, hatred, lust and jealousy rather than to be filled with love, compassion and mercy.

Today, therefore, we ought to listen to the story of the life of St. Stanislas, a holy bishop and servant of God, and also a martyr of the Church and the faith. St. Stanislas was a Polish bishop who stood up courageously against the ruler of Poland at the time, king Boleslaw the Brave. The king and his nobles were not living righteously and were enacting laws and regulations that were corrupt. St. Stanislaw himself chastised the king for his sexual immorality and lack of proper conduct as a ruler.

The king was so angered by the bishop’s opposition to his rule and his policies, that he tried to have him killed, only for St. Stanislas to be even firmer in his opposition to the king’s waywardness. Eventually, the holy and devout servant of God was martyred at the hand of the king himself, when the men the king sent to slaughter him refused to lay their hands on the holy bishop. And thus, a faithful servant of God fell for defending his faith, and yet, be assured that his reward in heaven and everlasting life is unimaginably great.

Thus, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us ought to be inspired by the faith of both Abraham, our father in faith and that of St. Stanislas, holy servant of God and faithful defender of the faith. Let us all purge from ourselves all taints of sin, of ego and pride, of anger and jealousy, of hatred, greed and worldly desires. Let us all instead fill ourselves with humility, with love and compassion in our hearts, and with the burning desire to love God and put Him at the centre of our lives from now on. May the Lord always be our guide, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 11 April 2019 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Stanislas, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 8 : 51-59

At that time, Jesus said to the Jews, “Truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word, he will never experience death.” The Jews replied, “Now we know that You have a demon. Abraham died and the prophets as well, but You say, ‘Whoever keeps My word will never experience death.’ Who do You claim to be? Do You claim to be greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets also died.”

Then Jesus said, “If I were to praise Myself, it would count for nothing. But He Who gives glory to Me is the Father, the very One you claim as your God, although you do not know Him. I know Him, and if I were to say that I do not know Him, I would be a liar like you. But I know Him and I keep His word. As for Abraham, your ancestor, he looked forward to the day when I would come; and he rejoiced when he saw it.”

The Jews then said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old and You have seen Abraham?” And Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” They then picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and left the Temple.

Thursday, 11 April 2019 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Stanislas, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 104 : 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

Look to the Lord and be strong; seek His face always. Remember His wonderful works, His miracles and His judgments.

You descendants of His servant Abraham, you sons of Jacob, His chosen ones! He is the Lord our God; His judgments reach the whole world.

He remembers His covenant forever, His promise to a thousand generations, the covenant He made with Abraham, the promise He swore to Isaac.

Thursday, 11 April 2019 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Stanislas, Bishop and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Genesis 17 : 3-9

Abram fell face down and God said to him, “This is My covenant with you : you will be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer will you be called Abram, but Abraham, because I will make you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you more and more famous; I will multiply your descendants; nations shall spring from you, kings shall be among your descendants.”

“And I will establish a covenant, an everlasting covenant between Myself and you and your descendants after you; from now on I will be your God and the God of your descendants after you, for generations to come. I will give to you and your descendants after you the land you are living in, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession and I will be the God of your race.”

God said to Abraham, “For your part, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you, generation after generation.”

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!