Sunday, 4 October 2015 : Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we heard about a very clear message from the Holy Scriptures, at a very appropriate time as we as the Church are heading to a very important meeting between the bishops of the Church on the matter of the Family and Marriage, in the General Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops scheduled to begin today.

It is a very clear reminder sent by the Lord to His servants in the Church, the cardinals and bishops assembled in Rome together with our Pope, that the institution of the holy matrimony or marriage, and the institution of the family are not to be tampered with or disturbed or changed in any way comprehensible. And the Church as the custodians and the Body of the faithful must preserve these institutions as far as they are able to, and support them with all of their might.

There must be no alteration or perversion to the sacred rules which had governed how the Church treat all holy marriages and union between man and woman as decreed by the Lord since the beginning of time, and which Jesus His Son had reaffirmed through His own words. Those who dare to try to alter the laws of God and the laws of the Church to suit the world and to suit their own selfish ends, will incur the wrath of God and the condemnation of hell.

Why is this so, brothers and sisters in Christ? This is because firstly we have to realise that there have been increasingly ever greater attacks on not just our Faith and the Church, but on the very fabric and foundation that holds our faithful ones together, that is the institution of the family and by extension therefore, the institution of the holy matrimony or marriage.

Without marriage and solemn union between man and woman, there can be no family, and without family, there can be no Church, since it is through a functioning, proper and sanctified family, that new generations of the faithful can be born. These are the gifts of God, the gift of life which God has given to the union of man and woman which He had blessed.

And that is why the devil is trying to assault us all, and assault God’s Church, not only by promoting the culture of death, disrespecting life unborn and life of all people, treating unborn children as if they are not living, but he is going even further, and in trying to destroy the very foundations of our Christian communities, that is our families. Satan knows clearly that, if he can shake and weaken these foundations, he will be able to reap the fruits of his efforts, namely fallen souls which he will bring with him to hell.

This is the aim of the devil, who is always prowling about seeking souls to devour and destroy, in his hatred against God and His beloved ones, whom he would want to bring with him to his condemnation. And there are so many of his fellow fallen angels out there going about, planting the seeds of dissent and disobedience against God and His commandments, especially those relating to the sanctity of life, of holy matrimony, and of the family.

They masked their true intentions by persuading mankind to disobey the Lord in the name of free will and freedom to choose. This has been what we know as the pro-choice movement, where countless millions of life had been destroyed in the name of free choice, and then, now, even the world is trying very hard to make it the same for the institution of holy matrimony and the family, by giving alternatives, such as unnatural unions and adulterous relationships.

There are many those, even sadly within the Church who advocated accepting such perversions and such corruptions that mocked the sanctity of true marriage and true families built on the foundation of Faith. They advocated that those who have disobeyed the Lord and His laws by accepting and promoting the destruction of the families and of marriage, such as through divorce and remarriage should be given mercy and be allowed to return to the Church more easily, and be reallowed to receive the Holy Communion.

However, this is what I would call, advocating false mercy and in fact damnation to those who have sinned and disobeyed the Lord in these matters. Our world nowadays are obsessed with mercy and soft ways, and they prefer the soft application of justice and dislike punishments and harsh words, but these are simply ways for the devil to confuse us and to make us think that to sin against the Lord is acceptable, and that He will forgive us easily our sins.

But we forget the fact that just as much as God is loving and merciful, and just as much as He loves all of us, the most beloved ones of all His creations, He is also a wrathful and just God, who does not tolerate any forms of evil and sins in His presence. The devil is trying to lead us to think that God does not mind our sins, or that there is a way to be easily forgiven without repentance, or by simply fulfilling our faith obligations while continuing to live in sin.

No, that is not the way, brothers and sisters in Christ. God indeed does not hate or despise us as a person, and as someone whom He loves greatly and dearly, but He has also a great enmity against us because of our disobedience and sins. He has decreed it very clearly that He has created us man and woman, and He has created woman in the beginning from man, in order to make him complete, because she was taken from man.

This means that without the holy union between man and woman, a man is incomplete, and so is also a woman, who will also be incomplete, unless the two of them are united in the holy union blessed by God. God did not bless them to be united and then to dissolve the union later on. What Jesus had said to His disciples is true, and remains true to this day, that the holy union of matrimony is indissoluble, and no man should ever break what God had united.

God did not mince His words or being unclear or gave alternative explanations. He was truly very clear when He said the truth to His people. Moses only allowed the people of Israel to file for divorce and to break the unity of the holy union because of their stubbornness and constant bickering in disobedience against God and His laws.

These people refused to listen to God and to Moses, and they constantly wanted to follow their own ways. Therefore, in disgust and indignant moment, Moses did allow them to do such a wicked thing, but that meant that each of those who did so risk themselves in sinning against God. It was not because Moses has received God’s approval that the holiness of marriage can just be substituted with a deed of divorce.

But Jesus made it extremely clear that whoever has divorced his wife or husband when that union has been legally blessed and made one by the Lord, that is a valid Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, it is a sin against the Lord Himself. And worse still, if the person who had divorced then decide to remarry again by finding another partner, for whatever reason, it is an even greater sin against God.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all use this opportunity to pray, pray hard and fervently for the guidance of the Holy Spirit to be with the bishops and the cardinals, and all the participants of the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops that will begin today and last another two weeks. Let us pray that the devil will not be able to have his way in this holy gathering, and may all who seek the destruction of the true faith and the institution of the Family and the Holy Matrimony be condemned and be destroyed.

Let us all pray for the repentance and the turning of those who have sinned against the Lord by disregarding the holiness of life, the holiness of marriage and union between man and woman, and the holiness of the family, that they may be turned from a path of sin into the path towards redemption and salvation in God. May the Lord Almighty be with all of us, guide us and keep us in His grace. Amen.

Sunday, 4 October 2015 : Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 10 : 2-16

At that time, some Pharisees came and put Jesus to the test with this question, “Is it right for a husband to divorce his wife?” He replied, “What Law did Moses give you?” They answered, “Moses allowed us to write a certificate of dismissal in order to divorce.”

Then Jesus said to them, “Moses wrote this Law for you, because you are stubborn. But in the beginning of creation God made them male and female, and because of this, man has to leave father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one body. So they are no longer two but one body. Therefore let no one separate what God has joined.”

When they were indoors at home, the disciples again asked Him about this, and He told them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against his wife, and the woman who divorces her husband and marries another also commits adultery.”

People were bringing their little children to Jesus to have Him touch them, and the disciples rebuked them for this. When Jesus noticed it, He was very angry and said, “Let the children come to Me and do not stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.”

Then He took the children in His arms and, laying His hands on them, blessed them.

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Mark 10 : 2-12

At that time, some Pharisees came and put Jesus to the test with this question, “Is it right for a husband to divorce his wife?” He replied, “What Law did Moses give you?” They answered, “Moses allowed us to write a certificate of dismissal in order to divorce.”

Then Jesus said to them, “Moses wrote this Law for you, because you are stubborn. But in the beginning of creation God made them male and female, and because of this, man has to leave father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one body. So they are no longer two but one body. Therefore let no one separate what God has joined.”

When they were indoors at home, the disciples again asked Him about this, and He told them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against his wife, and the woman who divorces her husband and marries another also commits adultery.”

Sunday, 4 October 2015 : Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Hebrews 2 : 9-11

But Jesus who suffered death and for a little while was placed lower than the angels has been crowned with honour and glory. For the merciful plan of God demanded that He experience death on behalf of everyone.

God, from whom all come and by whom all things exist, wanted to bring many children to glory, and He thought it fitting to make perfect through suffering the Initiator of their salvation. So He who gives and those who receive holiness are One. He Himself is not ashamed of calling us brothers and sisters.

Sunday, 4 October 2015 : Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 127 : 1-2, 3, 4-5, 6

Blessed are you who fear the Lord and walk in His ways. You will eat the fruit of your toil; you will blessed and favoured.

Your wife, like a vine, will bear fruits in your home; your children, like olive shoots will stand around your table.

Such are the blessings bestowed upon the man who fears the Lord. May the Lord bless you from Zion. May you see Jerusalem prosperous all the days of your life.

May you see your children’s children, and Israel at peace!

Sunday, 4 October 2015 : Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Genesis 2 : 18-24

YHVH God said, “It is not good for Man to be alone; I will give him a helper who will be like him.”

Then YHVH God formed from the earth all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air and brought them to Man to see what he would call them; and whatever Man called every living creature, that was its name.

So Man gave names to all the cattle, the birds of the air and to every beast of the field. But he did not find among them a helper like himself. Then YHVH God caused a deep sleep to come over Man and he fell asleep. He took one of his ribs and filled its place with flesh.

The rib which YHVH God had taken from Man He formed into a woman and brought her to the man. The man then said, “Now this is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman because she was taken from man.” That is why man leaves his father and mother and is attached to his wife, and with her becomes one flesh.

Saturday, 4 October 2014 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate together the feast of the famous and renowned saint of our Church, that is St. Francis of Assisi, the epitome and model of our faith, and the faithful servant of God, through whose works and legacies, he had brought countless souls into salvation in God, and through whose dedications and works he had become an example for countless more who followed and walked in his path.

He was the founder of the Franciscan order, or the Order of the Friars Minor, renowned for their brown coloured habit and dedication to simple life and poverty, entrusting everything to the Lord, giving it all to the Lord and abandoning all worldly possessions. He was also contributed to the founding of several other religious orders, and his works and dedications had truly profound effect on the Church and the faith as a whole, even until today.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, St. Francis of Assisi was himself once like us all, an ordinary man, the son of a wealthy and influential merchant, named Pietro di Bernardone at his birth, as the heir of his father’s fortune and business. He was educated and prepared for a life of glory and happiness, being well versed in the ways of the world and in all matters of finances.

However, St. Francis of Assisi, then known as Pietro, always had that emptiness in his heart, which he could not satisfy with what he had gained in the happy life he had, and in the privileged life he had been given by his father. And therefore, there began the new life journey of who would eventually become the holy man of Assisi, one of the greatest saints of the Universal Church.

He was praying in a rather dilapidated church building, when he heard a voice, from the Lord, saying to him to repair and rebuild His Church. The young Pietro Bernardone mistook this for the order to rebuild the dilapidated church building where he was praying in, and where he had heard the voice of God. As his father was a wealthy merchant dealing in precious goods such as silk trading, he took some of his father’s stock of silk, sold it and used the proceeds to pay for the repair work of the church.

The word of this action came to the knowledge of Pietro’s father, the rich merchant, who then confronted him on his actions. At this time, Pietro, having heard the call of the Lord had decided that the path of his life was not through what he had always been prepared to be, and he sought refuge at the local bishop’s residence at his cathedral.

The father of Pietro, the future St. Francis of Assisi, confronted the bishop and his son, contending and made noises over the amount of money and preparation he had given to his son and heir, and the supposedly humiliating action of his son, stealing and selling his goods and donating them to the Church. In response, St. Francis of Assisi took off all his clothes and possessions, and stood naked in front of the bishop, who then immediately covered him and protected him with his voluminous cope.

In that way therefore, Pietro Bernardone rejected the temptations of wealth and the world, giving up everything to follow the Lord, and began his journey of faith and suffering, to be who we know now as the holy St. Francis of Assisi, the great servant of God, and went to truly rebuild and strengthen the Church of God as God had once called him. He went from place to place, preaching about the Lord and growing ever stronger in faith, and in various occasions, he experienced various experiences of faith that further strengthened his devotion to the Lord.

St. Francis of Assisi also championed the faithful living of abandoning all forms of worldly attachments, and living in joyful poverty, in a life where everything he has belongs to the Lord, and where there is no need for worry, as everything will be taken care of by the Lord. St. Francis of Assisi thus established a new religious orders, now known famously as the Franciscans, after their founder, as a body to accommodate those who also desired to follow the Lord after the example of St. Francis of Assisi.

Like St. Pius of Pietrelcina, another famous Franciscan monk and priest, who had received the five wounds of Jesus, called the stigmata, St. Francis also received the holy wounds of Christ through the moment of euphoria and holy vision, where he received the honour to bear the five wounds that were also once on the feet and hands of the crucified Lord Jesus Christ. These wounds would bring him great suffering but also great joy until the end of his life just a few years later.

St. Francis of Assisi was known to be a holy and pious servant of God, and he was also exemplary in his life, loving all the people of God and he held great sincerity seeking to find a way to help bring the salvation of souls to as many souls as possible. St. Francis of Assisi was renowned for his prayer for peace, also known as the Peace Prayer of St. Francis, where he extolled the values blessed by the Lord in the Beatitudes, on those who championed peace and who are devoted to the Lord with all of their hearts.

And therefore, St. Francis of Assisi is truly a great role model which we can follow in this life, that in all of his actions and deeds, we hope that we may also follow in his footsteps and therefore, we may also share in the justification which he had attained. And we should also follow in the loving ways of St. Francis, whose love for all the creations of God, mankind and animals alike, that we truly can become epitome of love as he had indeed become.

And referring to the readings of the Holy Scriptures and the Gospels today, it is quite clear that God will reward all those who had believed in Him and remained true to Him in faith. To Job who remained faithful in his humility and obedience, He granted him great graces and blessings which He had bestowed once before, and then gave him even greater things, to the point that what Job had after his suffering was far greater than what he once had.

And Jesus also gave thanks to the Lord His Father for the faith and the good works which His disciples had on Him and which they had done in His Name. And He revealed the truth about Himself, and how blessed they were indeed, for the righteous and the faithful had indeed seen the Lord Himself in action. And thus, all of us here who are also faithful and true to our faith will be blessed with greatness and riches beyond all things.

Thus, brothers and sisters in Christ, following the example of St. Francis of Assisi and the other holy saints of God, let us all from now on excise from ourselves, from our hearts, our minds and our souls, the darkness and evils of this world, committing ourselves in the same manner as St. Francis of Assisi had done. It is not necessary that we ought to all abandon everything of possession and goodness as he had done, but what is important is that we try to imitate him in his actions and deeds, which reflected his standing as a pious servant of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all renew our faith in the Lord, not just through empty words or superficial application of faith, but through a dedicated and real devotion reflected in our actions and deeds, so that we may indeed be generous with our love, be caring for one another, especially those who are poor, sick and weak. Let us be peacemakers in this world, abandoning the ways of violence and hatred, and instead follow the path of love and justice.

May Almighty God help and guide us in this endeavour, that in all the things we do we may become ever more and more faithful and devoted to the ways of the Lord in the same way as St. Francis of Assisi had done. May He guide us all, that we may become justified through our loving actions, filled with faith, hope and love. God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 4 October 2014 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 10 : 17-24

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

At that time Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and made them known to little ones. Yes, Father, such has been Your gracious will. I have been given all things by My Father, so that no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son, and he to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.”

Then Jesus turned to His disciples and said to them privately, “Fortunate are you to see what you see, for I tell you that many prophets and kings would have liked to see what you see, but did not see it; and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”