Monday, 27 September 2021 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, 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 all called to follow the Lord and to obey His will, to put our trust in Him and not to be vain in our desire to recognised and honoured, and rather, we should seek the greater glory of God in all things. We should seek to be humble and strive to resist the temptations to satisfy our own ego and personal ambitions so that we may truly be faithful disciples and followers of the Lord.

In our first reading today taken from the Book of the prophet Zechariah, we have heard the words of the Lord to His people telling them and reassuring them that they were His people and He would be with them, blessing them and protecting them, as He would dwell once again in their midst in Jerusalem, the place where the Temple and House of God was. At that time, during the years following the return from the Babylonian exile, many of the Israelites were still scattered all around and Jerusalem was not yet fully rebuilt.

The Israelites had earlier on been humiliated and crushed, as their nations of both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah were destroyed by the Assyrians and the Babylonians respectively. Most of the people of Israel were conquered and brought into exile in far-off land away from their ancestral lands, and their cities destroyed, while the Holy Temple of God in Jerusalem was also utterly destroyed and ruined.

However, God never abandoned and forgot about His people, and they were always foremost in His mind. This was also the case despite their wayward behaviour and actions, and God still wanted to forgive them for their sins and desired to see them turn away from those sins and wickedness that they have committed earlier on. As He brought them back to the land of their ancestors through the emancipation of King Cyrus of Persia, He wanted to remind them once again that they were His people and that He would always be with them.

As He said through the prophet Zechariah, He would gather the scattered people from all over the world and from all the nations, to gather them back once again into His presence. God would gather His people and bless them again in His presence, all reunited as one flock, and this is what He has promised to them. He even sent them His own Son to be born into the world as their Saviour. He gave them all His promised inheritance through Christ, Who opened for us all the path to eternal life and true glory with Him.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us are called through Christ to embrace God and to do His will wholeheartedly in our lives, as we heed His words in our Gospel passage today, that all those who welcomes the Lord faithfully and sincerely, and opens themselves to the Lord shall be great in His kingdom and shall be the first to be saved. All of us are called to partake in the efforts and great works to glorify the Lord through all that we do and through our contributions.

Today, all of us ought to reflect on the good examples of St. Vincent de Paul, whose feast we are celebrating today. We are all called to emulate the great life of this great saint, whose dedication to the Lord and actions were truly exemplary in helping so many people to find their way to the Lord, either by his direct actions or through the efforts whom he had gathered and inspired to follow in his footsteps. St. Vincent de Paul was very widely remembered for his role in founding the Congregation of the Mission also known after their founder as the Vincentians, as well as the inspiration in the establishment of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul after his passing, all inspired by his generosity and humility.

St. Vincent de Paul himself had a very eventful early life during his youth, as he was ordained a priest in his early years after being educated in a seminary, only to be taken captive by Barbary pirates and enslaved. He suffered in slavery for two years passing from master to master, before finally coming to the possession of one Guillaume Gautier, a former priest who had been enslaved himself and apostatised in order to be freed from slavery. Through the acts of one of Gautier’s wives, who was intrigued by St. Vincent’s Christian faith, eventually that led to St. Vincent de Paul returning to Christendom together with his former master.

St. Vincent de Paul thereafter continued his ministry and later on founded congregations and societies of Apostolic life inspired by his previous experiences including that of his capture and enslavement. He ministered to the poor, the captives and slaves, the weak and those who were oppressed and marginalised. Through the aforementioned Congregation of the Mission, the Vincentians, St. Vincent de Paul inspired many people to reach out to the least among their brethren and made many people to become aware of the plight of their fellow brethren.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, how about us? Are we able to follow in the footsteps of this faithful servant of God, Whom the Lord had led and guided to become great inspiration for so many including that of ourselves? Shall we not learn to love the Lord and commit ourselves to Him just as He has been so kind and generous to us? Let us all be generous and charitable in giving just as St. Vincent de Paul had done, in giving his time, effort and attention to those who need them. We should love one another just in the same way that the Lord Himself has loved us.

Let us all reflect carefully on everything that we have discussed thus far today. May the Lord help us in discerning our path, that we may find our way amidst this world, amidst all the challenges and temptations that we may be facing daily in life. May God be with us always and may He strengthen us to be ever faithful to Him, at all times. Amen.

Monday, 27 September 2021 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 9 : 46-50

At that time, one day, the disciples were arguing about which of them was the most important. But Jesus knew their thoughts, so He took a little child and stood him by His side. Then He said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in My Name, welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me, welcomes the One Who sent Me. And listen : the one who is found to be the least among you all, is the one who is the greatest.”

Then John spoke up, “Master, we saw someone who drives out demons by calling upon Your Name, and we tried to forbid him, because he does not follow You with us.” But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him. He who is not against you is for you.”

Monday, 27 September 2021 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

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.

Monday, 27 September 2021 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Zechariah 8 : 1-8

The word of YHVH, the God of hosts was directed to me in this way, “I am intensely jealous for Zion, stirred by a burning anger for her sake. YHVH says : I will return to Zion and live in her midst. Jerusalem shall be called the city of faithfulness and the mountain of holiness.”

YHVH, God of hosts speaks, “Old men and women will again sit in the squares, each with a stick in hand on account of their great age. The squares of the city will be filled with girls and boys playing.”

YHVH, God of hosts declared, “If that seems impossible in the eyes of those who have returned from exile, will it be impossible for Me as well?” – word of YHVH. YHVH, God of hosts says, “See, I am going to save My people, bringing them from the east and from the west; and they will live in Jerusalem. They will be My people and I shall be their God, in truth and in justice.”

Friday, 27 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day the readings taken from the Scripture remind us about the sufferings and challenges that we may and indeed will encounter as those who believe in God and walk in His path. He did not mince His words when He Himself told His disciples as we have heard in our Gospel passage today, as He asked them of who did they think that He was for them.

And as St. Peter courageously declared, he stated that he believed that the Lord Jesus was indeed the Messiah of God, the One Whom the people had waited for a long time for their salvation and liberation as promised by God. And the Lord said before all of them how He would suffer and would have to go through great pains and tribulations, trials and difficulties as He did what He had to do in order to bring about the fulfilment of God’s plan of salvation.

But as He said that, He also showed them encouragement and hope, because not only that He would suffer and die in humiliation and pain, but in the end of it all, He would rise again into life, and through that glorious resurrection, He would complete once and for all what God has promised all of His faithful and beloved ones. God showed His people that in the end, He will triumph and all of us will share in His triumph and glory.

And this is also echoed in what we have heard in our first reading today from the Book of the prophet Haggai, in which God reassured Zerubbabel, the heir of David and governor of Judah, and also Joshua the then High Priest in their efforts of rebuilding the land of Israel and their cities, and in particular the Temple of God in Jerusalem. He reassured them all that despite the challenges, oppositions, pains and sufferings they had to face, God would be with them.

And all of these were in the context of how at that time, the memory of the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah were still fresh in the minds of most of the people, and it was indeed a very humiliating and painful memory for most if not all of them. The memory of suffering and exile for many years must have been terrible for them all to endure. But God wanted them all to know that no matter what, He would be with them and in the end, God will bless them always.

This is what each and every one of us must understand and realise as we carry on with our lives. Indeed, to live with faith will entail suffering, challenges, many obstacles and persecutions that will be in our journey, but we must not lose sight at the focus that we must have, at the end of our journey, where God will be with us and bless us with true happiness and joy that He has always intended for each and every one of us, His beloved ones.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of St. Vincent de Paul, one of the faithful servant of God who have dedicated his whole life to the service of God. And this was despite the challenges and difficulties that he had to endure throughout his life, and his story can be inspiration for all of us to follow as well. St. Vincent de Paul can lead us to the path towards God and it begins from his early life in which he had to endure much difficulty.

Throughout his early years and education, he had to encounter much bitterness around him and troubles, including murder and infighting among those who were within his circle. And then later on, he was abducted by pirates and was enslaved, and had to endure several years in suffering as a slave. But by the grace of God, his piety and faith led him to eventually find freedom when his last master who was a Christian repented his wayward path and returned with St. Vincent de Paul who then gained his freedom.

St. Vincent de Paul would then go on to become a priest and worked hard in ministering to the faithful, caring for them and showing great compassion especially to the poor and to the less fortunate, remembering that he himself had once suffered the same humiliation and suffering. He founded several religious congregations, and his name until today is still remembered for his great charity and outreach to the poor, inspiring many others to be charitable and show love for those who are suffering and less fortunate.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all also reflect on this and think about how each and every one of can walk in the footsteps of St. Vincent de Paul and the Lord Himself. Suffering and pain, challenges and trials are part of our faith and our lives as Christians and we cannot run away from them. But St. Vincent de Paul and ultimately, the Lord Jesus Himself endured those sufferings with love for God and for mankind. In the end, God is always ever faithful, and as long as we remain true to our faith, we will be triumphant in the end.

Let us all draw closer to God and put our trust in Him. Let us all devote ourselves wholeheartedly from now on, and seek to glorify Him with all of our every words, deeds and actions. May the Lord continue to guide us in our journey and may He continue to strengthen us in our faith from now on. May the Lord be with us always and may He bless us in everything we do. Amen.

Friday, 27 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 9 : 18-22

At that time, one day, when Jesus was praying alone, not far from His disciples, He asked them, “What do people say about Me?” And they answered, “Some say, that You are John the Baptist; others say, that You are Elijah; and still others, that You are one of the Prophets of old, risen from the dead.”

Again Jesus asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.” Then Jesus spoke to them, giving them strict orders not to tell this to anyone. And He added, “The Son of Man must suffer many things. He will be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the teachers of the Law, and be put to death. Then after three days He will be raised to life.”

Friday, 27 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 42 : 1, 2, 3, 4

Make justice, o God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people; deliver me from the wicked and deceitful.

You are my God, my Stronghold, why have You cast me out? Why should I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?

Send forth Your light and Your truth; let them be my guide, let them take me to Your holy mountain, to the place where You reside.

Then will I go to the Altar of God, to God, my gladness and delight. I will praise You with the lyre an harp, o God, my God.

Friday, 27 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Haggai 1 : 15b – Haggai 2 : 9

On the twenty-first day of the seventh month, of the second year of the reign of Darius, this word of YHVH was sent through the prophet Haggai, “Give this message to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, and to Joshua, the High Priest, and to all the people : Is there left among you one of those who saw this House long ago, in the time of its glory? What do they think, of what they see now? Is it not a very little thing?”

“But I say to you, Zerubbabel, Joshua and My people : do not be discouraged. Begin to work, for I am with you, says YHVH. Do not be afraid, for My Spirit is in your midst. Thus says YHVH of hosts, within a short while, I will shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the continents. Then I will shake all the nations; and bring in the treasures of the whole world.”

“I will fill this House with glory, says YHVH. I will have as much silver and gold as I wish. The renown of this Temple will be greater than before, and in this place I will give peace,” says YHVH of hosts.

Thursday, 27 September 2018 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scriptures mentioning to us about the meaninglessness of life as we know it. In the Book of Ecclesiastes or Qoheleth, we heard this word of wisdom, speaking to us about how all of the things we do, our achievements and glories in life, are truly like rivers that can never fill up the sea, no matter how much water from them flowing into the latter.

Therefore, similarly, no matter how much we have achieved in this life, but first of all, none of them will truly be able to satisfy us from the desiring more achievement and worldly glory and fame. When we have achieved something and received satisfaction, it is part of our nature to want to achieve even more and to desire for more pleasures and satisfactions, and as a result, we will end up craving and desiring for more.

That is why we mankind are so often preoccupied by so many things in life, that end up in us spending so much time in trying to gain more of these worldly desires and objects of our cravings, be it wealth, or fame, or prestige, or human praise, glory and influence. But in the end of the day, let us ask ourselves, how will it benefit us, should we gain and hoard for ourselves, so much of this wealth, prestige, glory and fame? Will all those things last forever?

And then, the reality is that none of these things will be with us forever. The Lord Jesus mentioned this in another occasion in the Gospels with the parable of a rich man, who proudly and greedily gathered much wealth for himself, and gathered many grains in his barns, and he was indeed boastful about that fact. However, the Lord reminded that as man, all of us are mortal beings whose life and earthly existences are limited.

Nothing will last forever for us, and in the end of the day, our legacy is not in what we have achieved and in what we have gathered in life, for those things are impermanent and have limited timespans. Instead, our true legacy will be how we impact one another, and how we have touched those whom we have encountered in our respective lives. And even when we are forgotten and not remembered, it is the legacy of our Christian faith that remains down through the generations.

That is why, from now on, each and every one of us as Christians must have a thorough conversion of attitude, action and outlook in life. We can no longer be complacent or passive in how we lived our lives, or worse, if we have not even acted in accordance with our faith, as shown by what we have just discussed earlier. If our lives have been marked by our preoccupation with worldly desires and temptations, then perhaps, it is time for us to reevaluate our lives.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of St. Vincent de Paul, a renowned holy priest and holy man of God, whose life is truly exemplary and should become inspiration for each and every one of us. St. Vincent de Paul was remembered especially for his great works of charity, his personal humility and great dedication and faith in God, which inspired many others to follow in his footsteps.

St. Vincent de Paul endured slavery during the early years of his life, when he was taken captive by pirates on his journey. He was passed on from master to master, until his last master and his family were so impressed by the great faith he had, and the exemplary virtues he exhibited, that they all converted to the faith and St. Vincent de Paul regained his freedom. St. Vincent de Paul continued his works of charity, and helped the poor and the weak, remembering his own ordeals and challenges in slavery.

He showed us an example of what Christian discipleship and life is all about, through his commitment to the Lord, his pious devotion to a life of prayer and his many charitable works among the poor, the sick and the oppressed. We see for ourselves how St. Vincent de Paul showed such an exemplary actions and faith that it touched the life of his former master and converted him. We should also do the same with our own lives.

May the Lord strengthen our faith, and may He empower us all to live according to our faith, in all of our actions, words and deeds, so that we may be truly worthy as disciples of the loving God. Let us ask St. Vincent de Paul fo his intercession and prayers for our sake, that we may find the strength to live ever more devoutly and with greater courage day after day. May the Lord bless us all and our works, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 27 September 2018 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 9 : 7-9

At that time, king Herod heard of all that Jesus and His disciples had done, and did not know what to think, for people said, “This is John, raised from the dead.”

Others believed that Elijah, or one of the ancient prophets, had come back to life. As for Herod, he said, “I had John beheaded. Who is this Man, about Whom I hear such wonders?” And he was anxious to see Him.