Monday, 3 July 2017 : Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast of one of the Holy Apostles, namely St. Thomas the Apostle, known also as the Twin and who was famous for his doubt of the Lord’s resurrection, and wanted a proof of it before he believed in Jesus, the Risen Christ. He had always been the skeptical one among the Apostles, as he sarcastically remarked when the Lord Jesus was about to go to Jerusalem for the final time before His Passion and death, that ‘let us all follow Him to our death!’.

We may be wondering, why did Jesus call St. Thomas to be His Apostle, to be the one to whom He entrusted His Church, if this Apostle of His has doubted Him so much and had been so skeptical about Him? But that is where we need to realise that when God called His disciples and Apostles, He called all those whom He deemed to be worthy, and not those who have deemed themselves to be worthy and faithful.

Let us ask ourselves, are we not the same as St. Thomas as well? Are we not like Him at times, doubting our God and not realising that we have done so? How many times has it been in our lives that we have questioned God’s love and decision for us? We are just like St. Thomas in our ways, and just like the other disciples and Apostles whom Jesus had called, all sinners alike before God and men.

God came to call all those who have sinned and lived in the darkness, that they may come into the light, and that was how He approached the prostitutes and tax collectors, people who have been sinning before God, and those whom the people had considered to be worthy to be saved. But God showed forth His love and called all of them to be His disciples, to be healed from their sins and faults, and to be reconciled with God.

St. Thomas himself did not doubt any longer, and believed from then on wholeheartedly. It was told by sacred tradition that St. Thomas travelled to many places evangelising among the pagan peoples, spreading the Good News to them, particularly what is now the southern parts of India, where even until today, thriving Christian communities can be found, as the so-called ‘St. Thomas Christians’ who preserved the faith given to them through St. Thomas the Apostle.

And St. Thomas himself would go on to die in martyrdom defending his faith against those who opposed his good works and evangelisation. From a doubter of the Lord and from a feeble faith, God had transformed the faith of St. Thomas into one that was firm and true, to the point that he was even ready to lay down his life for the sake of the Lord and standing true to his faith.

Otherwise, how we would explain his hard work and effort, and the thriving Christian communities which he had established two millennia ago and yet still thriving even until this very day? All those Christians did not come about from nothing, but through the effort and the hard works of the Apostles and their successors, from all the faith and hard work done by St. Thomas the Apostle, a doubter turned a firm believer of Christ.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us must realise that the works of St. Thomas, the Apostles and all the disciples of the Lord are yet incomplete, as the commands of the Lord still stand true even to this day. He has commanded all of them to go forth to all the nations and to preach the Good News to all the peoples, calling them to repentance and to accept the Lord as their Saviour and their God.

Let us all therefore be exemplary in all of our words, actions and deeds, be filled with love and joy in all of them, truly showing everyone that we really are faithful people of God, who completely place our trust in Him, and who walk in His path without hesitation and doubt. Let us ask the Lord to strengthen our faith in Him, especially when we are faced with challenges, with difficulties, temptations and doubt. St. Thomas the Apostle, pray for us always, pray that we will be strong in faith. Amen.

Monday, 3 July 2017 : Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red
John 20 : 24-29

At that time, Thomas, the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with the other Eleven when Jesus came. The other disciples told Him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he replied, “Until I have seen in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in His side, I will not believe.”

Eight days later, the disciples were again inside the house and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see My hands; stretch out your hand, and put it into My side. Do not continue in your unbelief, but believe!”

Thomas said, “You are my Lord and my God.” Jesus replied, “You believe because you see Me, do you not? Happy are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

Monday, 3 July 2017 : Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Psalm 116 : 1, 2

Alleluia! Praise YHVH, all you nations; all you peoples, praise Him.

How great is His love for us! His faithfulness lasts forever.

Monday, 3 July 2017 : Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Ephesians 2 : 19-22

Now, you are no longer strangers or guests, but fellow citizens of the holy people : you are of the household of God. You are the house, whose foundations are the Apostles and prophets, and whose cornerstone is Christ Jesus.

In Him, the whole structure is joined together, and rises, to be a holy Temple, in the Lord. In Him, you, too, are being built, to become the spiritual Sanctuary of God.

Sunday, 23 April 2017 : Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
John 20 : 19-31

At that time, on the evening of the day when Jesus rose from the dead, the first day after the Sabbath, the doors were locked where the disciples were, because of their fear of the Jews. But Jesus came, and stood among them, and said to them, “Peace be with you!” Then He showed them His hands and His side. The disciples kept looking at the Lord and were full of joy.

Again Jesus said to them, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, so I send you.” After saying this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit! Those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; those whose sins you retain, they are retained.”

Thomas, the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he replied, “Until I have seen in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in His side, I will not believe.”

Eight days later, the disciples were inside again and Thomas was with them. Despite the locked doors Jesus came and stood in the their midst and said, “Peace be with you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see My hands; stretch out your hand, and put it into My side. Do not be an unbeliever! Believe!”

Thomas then said, “You are my Lord and my God.” Jesus replied, “You believe because you see Me, do you not? Happy are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

There were many other signs that Jesus gave in the presence of His disciples, but they are not recorded in this book. These are recorded, so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Believe, and you will have life through His Name!

Sunday, 3 July 2016 : 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about the sending of the seventy-two disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom the Lord Himself entrusted the mission to evangelise and to preach the Good News of His salvation. To them the authority had been given to bring peace and the grace of God to mankind, to all the people who are willing to welcome the peace and grace of God.

In the first reading, taken from the last chapters of the Book of the prophet Isaiah, God promised His people with hope and salvation, at a time when many periods of turmoil and suffering had occurred to them for many generations because of their own infidelity and lack of faith in God, following the pagan gods and idols rather than following the Lord their God. The northern kingdom of Israel had also fallen, and most of its people had been brought to slavery and exile in Assyria.

In those darkened and uncertain times, God had promised His mercy and peace, the rest that they would enjoy from all those things that troubled them. But at the same time, as what we heard in the Gospel today, there was a need for those who would come up and bring the word of God to the people and the masses. And only a few of them would dare to come up and to preach to the people of God, the likes of Isaiah himself, and later on Jeremiah.

If we read through the entirety of the book of the prophet Isaiah and especially later on the prophet Jeremiah, we would see how they encountered challenges after challenges in their work, and they certainly did not have it easy most of the time. The kings like Ahaz of Judah rejected Isaiah, and the later kings also rejected Jeremiah. The people refused to listen to them, and false prophets would rise to challenge Jeremiah, spreading lies and untruths, and making Jeremiah’s life very difficult.

That was why Jesus when He spoke to His seventy-two disciples whom He sent ahead of Him, spoke of how He was sending them like sheep among the wolves. They would really be wandering among those who might refuse to listen to the word of God. Some would turn themselves to God, open their hearts and follow Him, but many others would not do so, reject their message and even persecute them.

But God was with them, and He encouraged them, saying that He would be with them, and so long as they remained faithful, their names had been written in heaven, and thus the promise of eternal life and everlasting glory was already theirs. Yet, there is always a lack of faithful servants of the Lord due to various reasons, but especially because of the lack of the ability to commit to a life of suffering and difficulties that would come as a result of our faith in the Lord.

That is why Jesus said that while the harvest was plentiful, but the labourers are few, and those few labourers would not be able to fully engage and capitalise on the rich harvest, and the excess harvest will just be wasted. And this fact cannot be further than the truth today. There is a need for many more labourers and servants of the Lord, those who are willing to give up their time and effort for the sake of the Lord and for His Church.

Today, we celebrate also the feast of one of the Twelve holy Apostles, that is of St. Thomas, the Twin, also known as the doubter and the one who has always been doubtful and lacking in faith in Jesus, and to that end, even doubting that Christ had risen from the dead in His glorious resurrection. He doubted Jesus when He was going forth to Jerusalem, saying that they were all going to die together with Him. And of course all of us are aware that he also asked for a proof that Jesus had risen.

In some ways, the actions and behaviours of St. Thomas represent that of our own actions. We ourselves have not been completely faithful to the Lord, and we have our moments of doubt. There are times I am sure, when we tend to believe more in ourselves and less in God. There are also times when we think that we know it all, and we do not need God. And it is in those moments of vulnerability, when Satan can enter our hearts and sow the seeds of confusion and discord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is also the reason why many of us do not embrace the calling of God. We as Christians have been called to be His servants and to follow His ways in all things, and yet, many of us still commit actions and things that are contrary to the way of the Lord, in being selfish, in being uncaring and unloving towards others, and sometimes even bringing other people into sin through our own actions.

If we ourselves are not capable of fulfilling what is required of us as Christians, then how should we expect that we will be able to convert the whole world to the cause of the Lord? And that is precisely the mission which God had entrusted to all of us, as the members of His Church, to go forth to all the nations and preach the Good News of His salvation, and baptise them all in the Name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

We have to start with ourselves, and make a difference from ourselves. Otherwise we will not be able to inspire others if we ourselves have not been faithful to God and righteous in our ways. God Himself will not look kindly upon us if we do not walk faithfully in His ways, if we just call ourselves Christians and yet we act in ways that are totally un-Christian in nature.

There is that challenge for us all Christians, particularly those among us who have been called to serve the Lord. God calls His servants in unique and mysterious ways. He called them through their hearts, prodding them up to take up their crosses and follow Him. He had chosen those whom He deemed to be worthy, and now it is up to those whom God had chosen to choose whether they want to follow Him or not.

But the voice of God is often muffled and silenced by the noise of this world. We are too busy, too distracted by the concerns of the world, by the concerns of power, of wealth and possessions, of the ambitions and human greed, of prestige and many other factors which affect our ability to devote ourselves to God and to His people. And the opposition from the society, even from within our own families will be great too.

Are we all ready to stand up against the challenge? Are we all ready to embrace the roles into which we have been entrusted by God? Let us all embrace our calling, be doubtful no longer but from now on be filled with courage and strength to embark on the way of the Lord. And for those among us whom God has called in His own subtle ways, let us all not be afraid but be fully dedicated and be committed to serve the Lord, carry our crosses and follow Him. St . Thomas himself, who was doubtful, eventually made a turnaround and devoted himself for the Lord with all of his heart and faced death with pride, defending his Lord and Master while bringing many nations to God’s presence.

May God bless us all, and may He put in each and every one of us, a loving heart, fully filled with love for Him and for our fellow men, that in everything we say and do, we will always bring greater glory to the Lord, our God. May God be with us all, now and forever. Amen.

Sunday, 3 July 2016 : 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 10 : 1-12, 17-20

At that time, the Lord appointed seventy-two other disciples, and sent them two by two ahead of Him to every town and place, where He Himself was to go. And He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. So you must ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers to His harvest.”

“Courage! I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Set off without purse or bag or sandals; and do not stop at the homes of those you know. Whatever house you enter, first bless them, saying, ‘Peace to this house!’ If a friend of peace lives there, the peace shall rest upon that person. But if not, the blessing will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking at their table, for the worker deserves to be paid. Do not move from house to house.”

“When they welcome you to any town, eat what they offer you. Heal the sick who are there, and say to them : ‘The kingdom of God has drawn near to you.’ But in any town where you are not welcome, go to the marketplace and proclaim : ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off and leave with you. But know for a certainty that the kingdom of God has drawn near to you.’ I tell you, that on the Day of Judgment it will be better for Sodom than for this town.”

The seventy-two disciples returned full of joy. They said, “Lord, even the demons obeyed us when we called on Your Name.” Then Jesus replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. You see, I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the Enemy, so that nothing will harm you.”

“Nonetheless, do not rejoice because the evil spirits submit to you; rejoice rather that your names are written in heaven.”

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Luke 10 : 1-9

At that time, the Lord appointed seventy-two other disciples, and sent them two by two ahead of Him to every town and place, where He Himself was to go. And He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. So you must ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers to His harvest.”

“Courage! I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Set off without purse or bag or sandals; and do not stop at the homes of those you know. Whatever house you enter, first bless them, saying, ‘Peace to this house!’ If a friend of peace lives there, the peace shall rest upon that person. But if not, the blessing will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking at their table, for the worker deserves to be paid. Do not move from house to house.”

“When they welcome you to any town, eat what they offer you. Heal the sick who are there, and say to them : ‘The kingdom of God has drawn near to you.'”