Tuesday, 27 September 2022 : 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, as we listened to the words of the Lord contained in the Scripture passages we heard today, we are all reminded that we must always have that faith in God, and not allow ourselves to be swayed by worldly sentiments and temptations. Unless we put our effort to resist the temptations against us, then we may find ourselves easily swayed and falling into those same temptations again and again, and therefore fall into the trap of sin. We must always be persistent in living our lives to the best of our abilities, in serving God with all of our hearts and might, at all times.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of Job we heard of the lamentations of Job who suffered greatly after having been struck by Satan, who was testing him if Job would abandon his faith in God when he faced such adversities and losses. Job lost most if not all of his vast worldly possessions, his many properties and vast herds of animals and livestock, and he also lost his beloved children to the calamities put forth by the devil. Not only that, but Satan himself even struck at Job’s own body, making him covered with terrible and painful boils and lesions which must have been so unbearable.

Yet, Job remained firm in his faith in God, and he did not allow all those things to deter him or distract him from his obedience to God. Job lamented as we heard in our first reading today, but he did not blame his predicaments on God. Rather, he blamed it on himself and his unworthiness. And in his despair that we heard, he wished that he would rather perish and die, rather than to exist anymore in this world. Certainly we can feel the anguish and the sufferings which Job encountered back then, all that he had lost and all that he was suffering from, the pain and the indignity, the troubles and trials that he faced.

Then in our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord Who was travelling on His way to Jerusalem, and was rejected entry into a Samaritan village because the people in that village came to know that the Lord was on His way to Jerusalem in Judea. Back then, the ethnic and religious tensions between the Jewish people in Judea and Galilee, and the Samaritans in the region of Samaria had been happening for many years. Both sides accused each other of having been unfaithful to the teachings of the Lord and they treated each other with disdain and contempt.

That was why, because they knew that the Lord was on His way to Jerusalem, they closed their doors and gates against Him. They hardened their hearts and minds, and allowed their worldly desires, considerations, sentiments and attachments to guide their way instead of being able to listen to God. That was exactly why they wandered and become lost from God. But yet God did not punish or strike them down as we heard in that Gospel passage story we heard today, and that is because God’s love and compassionate mercy towards us is so great that He wants us to be reconciled with Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it means that we are truly fortunate to have God Who has always looked after us and protect us, providing for us and guiding us all the time with great patience and love. Unfortunately, we did not have strong love for Him and faith in Him, and when the time of trials and troubles come, it was just a matter of time before we give up and abandon the Lord, for comfort in worldly things and desires. In this regard, we should heed the faith and dedication which Job had, in remaining steadfastly faithful to God despite his many sufferings and struggles.

Today, the Church also celebrates the feast of a great and renowned saint whose exemplary life and dedication to God and to his fellow brothers and sisters may become our great source of inspiration and a worthy role model in living our lives as good and committed Christians. St. Vincent de Paul was renowned for his great dedication for the poor and for all those who were suffering. He likely drew his passion and strength from his own experiences, which was also hard and bitter, especially when he had to experience being a slave during his younger years. Back then, he was a young man studying to be a priest when he was abducted and enslaved by the infamous Barbary pirates, who sold him to several masters before finally he managed to convince his last master to return to the Church and to Christendom.

Those early experiences and the own zeal and passion which St. Vincent de Paul had in serving the Lord and his fellow men likely encouraged him to become a priest and then involve himself in missionary work, and also in many outreach particularly towards the sick and the less privileged in the community. He founded and inspired the foundation of several religious congregations and organisations, like the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and many others. He worked with the Daughters of Charity in the provision of care for the poor families and those who were suffering. He was also involved in the ministry to those who were forced to work in the galleys and ships as slaves, remembering his own not-so-good experiences as slaves during his younger days.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we have heard from the lives of St. Vincent de Paul, and also from many other saints and holy men and women of God, we have to remain steadfast in faith at all times, and we should not allow the sufferings, struggles, trials, temptations and other things present in our world from distracting us in our path towards God and His salvation. We have to be inspired by the perseverance and passion showed by those holy predecessors of ours, particularly that of St. Vincent de Paul whose memory and great life we recall today. May God be with us all in our good efforts and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 27 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 9 : 51-56

At that time, as the time drew near when Jesus would be taken up to heaven, He made up His mind to go to Jerusalem. He sent ahead of Him some messengers, who entered a Samaritan village to prepare a lodging for Him. But the people would not receive Him, because He was on His way to Jerusalem.

Seeing this, James and John, His disciples, said, “Lord, do You want us to call down fire from heaven to reduce them to ashes?” Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they went on to another village.

Tuesday, 27 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 87 : 2-3, 4-5, 6, 7-8

O YHVH, my God, I call for help by day; before You I cry out by night. May my prayer come to You; incline Your ear to my cry for help.

My soul is deeply troubled; my life draws near to the grave. I am like those without strength. Counted among those going down into the pit.

I lie forsaken, among the dead, like those lying in the grave, like those You remember no more, cut off from Your care.

You have plunged me into the darkest depths of the pit. With Your wrath heavy upon me, You have battered me with all Your waves.

Tuesday, 27 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Job 3 : 1-3, 11-17, 20-23

At length it was Job who spoke, spoke, cursing the day of His birth. This is what he said : “Cursed be the day I was born, and the night which whispered : A boy has been conceived.”

“Why did I not die at birth, or come from the womb without breath? Why the knees that received me, why the breasts that suckled me? For then I should have lain down asleep and been at rest with kings and rulers of the earth who built for themselves lonely tombs; or with princes who had gold to spare and houses stuffed with silver. Why was I not stillborn, like others who did not see the light of morn?”

“There, the trouble of the wicked ceases, there, the weary find repose. Why is light given to the miserable, and life to the embittered? To those who long for death more than for hidden treasure? They rejoice at the sight of their end, they are happy upon reaching the grave. Why give light to a man whose path has vanished, whose ways God blocks at every side?”

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.”