Saturday, 30 November 2019 : Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the great feast of the Holy Apostle St. Andrew, the brother of St. Peter the Apostle, once a fisherman at the Lake of Galilee together with his brother and with the sons of Zebedee, St. James and St. John, and he was also known to be the one who was first called among the other Apostles, being the one who introduced the Lord to his brother and fellow fishermen.

That was why St. Andrew was also known as St. Andrew the First-Called, as according to the Gospel of St. John, he was one of the followers of St. John the Baptist, who introduced the Lord to his own disciples, some of whom, including St. Andrew, came to the Lord and St. Andrew would then introduce Him to St. Peter, St. James and St. John. He was mentioned again in the Gospel during the miraculous feeding of the five thousand men, as the Lord asked His disciples how much food they had, and St. Andrew responded.

Later on, after the Lord’s suffering, Passion, death and resurrection, St. Andrew with the other Apostles led by his brother, St. Peter began their evangelising missions and established the Church of God in various places and communities, and St. Andrew according to the tradition of the Church went to evangelise in the region around the Aegean Sea and the Black Sea, in what is now Greece, parts of Eastern Europe and southern Russia, parts of Cyprus and Georgia among many others.

St. Andrew laboured for a long time, enduring many challenges and difficulties throughout his ministry as he had to face opposition and rejections from those who refused to believe in the truth of Christ. He also founded a few Church dioceses and sees, of which the most important one dating to the present day was the See of Byzantium at the crossroads of Asia and Europe, where eventually a great new city and capital of the Roman Empire was built by the Emperor Constantine the Great, the city of Constantinople.

That is why St. Andrew is revered as the Apostolic origin and founder of the Patriarchal See of Constantinople, where his successors as the Archbishop of Constantinople and titled as the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople reigns. To this day, St. Andrew is revered for his role as a great Apostle of Christ, in his dedication to God’s works and in his tireless efforts to spread the Good News among many of the people and the communities that he had visited throughout his ministries.

Eventually, St. Andrew was also martyred like most of his brother Apostles, being crucified on an X-shaped cross, which is afterwards ever known as the Cross of St. Andrew. St. Andrew the Apostle gave his life and devoted his service to God, in defending his faith and in bringing forth God’s truth and salvation into this world. St. Andrew lived up to his calling as an Apostle, giving everything foe the sake of God and to glorify His Name by all of his works.

But if we think that St. Andrew the Apostle was truly an exceptional man that is beyond us or our means, then we are mistaken. Let us all remember that he was just a mere fisherman, a poor, humble and illiterate man who was probably unexceptional and ordinary in all things, except for one thing. St. Andrew had deep faith in God, the love and trust which he had placed in the Lord Jesus, in following Him with all of his heart and with all of his strength.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it was not St. Andrew who justified himself by his own talents, abilities, strengths or capabilities. On the other hand, it was God Who justified him, blessed him and the other Apostles and disciples with the strength, courage and wisdom to carry out the missions that God has called them to do, and which He has entrusted in their hands. God called St. Andrew and his fellow Apostles from humble backgrounds, that they might glorify Him through their works and actions.

Now, what matters is for us to realise that each and every one of us still have many things to do in our lives as Christians, as those whom God has also blessed with faith and called to be His servants and followers. We have been entrusted with the missions and works that the Lord Himself had entrusted to the Apostles, as we are supposed to continue their work and labour as part of God’s same Church. There are still many areas out there that are not yet touched by the love and grace of God, and have not yet heard or known His truth and salvation.

All of us have been blessed by God with unique talents, capabilities, strengths and resources to carry out whatever we need to do for the sake of the Lord and the mission which He has entrusted to us. The question now is, are we willing to accept this mission and do our best to serve the Lord in evangelisation and missionary works following the examples of the Apostles? Many of us have not dedicated ourselves and our lives in a Christian manner unlike what our holy predecessors had done.

And we do not have to think or aim big, brothers and sisters in Christ. Often what we need to do is just to do our best in our daily living, through small and simple acts in our lives, in how we live our lives virtuously in accordance to the teachings of the Church and in remaining true to our Christian faith in our interactions, works, and every small efforts we put in life. That is what we need to do, and not being worried or being too ambitious, but just trusting our lives in the hands of God, and let Him guide us in doing the rest.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all pray that the Lord may strengthen us all in faith through the inspiration of His Apostle, St. Andrew, and through his intercessions for our sake, and that we may be courageous and be committed in living our lives with faith and in embracing our missions as God has entrusted us all, to be the workers and servants of His many wonderful works, and to be the bearers and witnesses of His truth and salvation to all the peoples. May God bless us all, always. Amen.

Saturday, 30 November 2019 : Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Matthew 4 : 18-22

At that time, as Jesus walked by the lake of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come, follow Me; and I will make you fish for people.”

At once they left their nets and followed Him. He went on from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John, in a boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. Jesus called them.

At once, they left the boat, and their father, and followed Him.

Saturday, 30 November 2019 : Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 18 : 2-3, 4-5

The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament proclaims the work of His hands. Day talks it over with day; night hands on the knowledge to night.

No speech, no words, no voice is heard – but the call goes on, throughout the universe, the message is felt to the ends of the earth.

Saturday, 30 November 2019 : Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Romans 10 : 9-18

You are saved, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord, and, in your heart, you believe that God raised Him from the dead. By believing from the heart, you obtain true righteousness; by confessing the faith with your lips, you are saved.

For Scripture says : No one who believes in Him will be ashamed. Here, there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; all have the same Lord, Who is very generous with whoever calls on Him. Truly, all who call upon the Name of the Lord will be saved.

But how can they call upon the Name of the Lord without having believed in Him? And how can they believe in Him, without having first heard about Him? And how will they hear about Him, if no one preaches about Him? And how will they preach about Him, if no one sends them?

As Scripture says : How beautiful are the feet of the messenger of Good News. Although, not everyone obeyed the Good News, as Isaiah said : Lord, who has believed in our preaching? So, faith comes from preaching, and preaching is rooted in the word of Christ.

I ask : Have the Jews not heard? But, of course, they have. Because the voice of those preaching resounded all over the earth, and their voice was heard, to the ends of the world.

Friday, 29 November 2019 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scripture and as we approach the last days of this current liturgical year, the readings of the Scripture are purposefully chosen by the Church to remind us all that with every year that moves on and proceeds on, year after year, the time will eventually come for the coming of God’s glorious and eternal kingdom, the final fulfilment of His promises of salvation to us.

In our first reading today, we heard the continuation of this week’s discourse from the Book of the prophet Daniel, in which we heard of the vision which Daniel received on heaven and the glory of God in heaven, in which he saw the revelation of what was to come, even though he probably was not be able to understand it then, on the sending of the Messiah and Saviour of God into the world, the Son of Man and Son of God, Jesus Christ Our Lord.

He saw God in the fullness of His glory, God the Father and Creator of all on His Throne in heaven, surrounded by the Angels and by the Cherubim, which he saw as the holy creatures surrounding God’s Throne and glory. He saw Him as the One of Great Age, along with the Son of Man, Jesus, the Son of God, Who was soon to be sent into the world to reveal the Good News of God’s salvation, and in that same vision, Daniel received a partial revelation of how God entrusted the kingdom of Israel to His Son.

This was how the Lord came into the world, to be the One through Whom God’s many promises to His people, to Abraham, David among many others were fulfilled. Through Jesus and His coming, the House of David has a King once again, and His promise to David that his house and descendants will reign forever, and his house will not end. Through Christ all of these were fulfilled and God made good all that He had promised to His servants.

And linking this to what we have heard in our Gospel passage today, as we heard of how Christ reminded His disciples of the imminent coming of His kingdom with the signs of times, it is a reminder for each and every one of us as Christians that God has always been faithful to His promises, and He is always ever truthful in His words. Whatever He has revealed to us will come to their complete fulfilment in good time.

As we approach the end of this current liturgical year and going to begin on a new liturgical year cycle, we are reminded that the Lord, our God and King is the Master of all things, and He is beyond time and space, beyond all sorts of humanly comprehension and wonders. He is the Lord of all, the King of all creation, of all time, past, present and future, and beyond all of that. We are all reminded that this is the truth about the one and only true God Whom we serve.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, with this knowledge and understanding in mind, we should put God always at the forefront of our minds and in the most honourable place in our hearts, and He must truly be the focus and centre of our lives and our existence. We must no longer allow other distractions and false idols to replace God as the King of our hearts, our minds and indeed of our entire and whole beings. These idols are the idols of worldly attachments, of power, glory, fame, wealth amongst many others.

Let us all, as faithful Christians seek to glorify God therefore from now on by our lives, by our actions, words and deeds. Let us serve Our Lord and King daily in our own actions and works, that through us, God’s kingdom may come closer to us all and that through us, the Lord’s works and graces find their way to the hearts of many people, especially to those who have not yet known God and who are still living in the darkness of sin and in ignorance of the light of God.

May the Lord continue to be with us, guiding us and protecting us, that all of us His people may continue to walk faithfully in His way, and may He bless us all in our good endeavours from now on, that we will be able to perform most magnificently His many good works in our world today, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 29 November 2019 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 21 : 29-33

At that time, Jesus added this comparison, “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. As soon as their buds sprout, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly, I tell you, this generation will not pass away, until all this has happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.”

Friday, 29 November 2019 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Daniel 3 : 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81

Mountains and hills, praise and exalt Him forever.

Everything that sprouts on the earth, praise and exalt Him forever.

Springs of water, praise and exalt Him forever.

Seas and rivers, praise and exalt Him forever.

Whales and fishes, praise and exalt Him forever.

All the birds of heaven, praise and exalt Him forever.

Animals, wild and tame, praise and exalt Him forever.

Friday, 29 November 2019 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Daniel 7 : 2-14

Daniel said, “I saw the following in my vision : the four winds of heaven stirred up the great sea, and four great beasts, each one different from the other, came out of the sea. The first was like a lion with eagle’s wings. As I looked at it, its wings were torn off. It was lifted up from the ground, stood up on its feet like a man, and was given a human heart.”

“The second was a beast like a bear; it was raised up on one side and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told : Go and devour much flesh. I went on looking and saw another beast like a leopard with four wings on its back; it had four heads and dominion was given to it.”

“I continued seeing my visions of the night and saw a terrible fourth beast. It was fearful and extraordinarily strong; it had great iron teeth; it ate, tore into pieces, and crushed underfoot whatever remained. It was different from the previous beasts and had ten horns. I was looking at the horns, when another small horn sprang among them, and three of the first horns were pulled out by the roots to make way for the new. It had eyes like human eyes and a mouth that uttered insolent words.”

“I looked and saw the following : Some thrones were set in place and One of Great Age took His seat. His robe was white, as snow, His hair, white as washed wool. His throne was flames of fire with wheels of blazing fire. A river of fire sprang forth and flowed before Him. Thousands upon thousands served Him and a countless multitude stood before Him. Those in the tribunal took their seats and opened the book.”

“But as I remembered the haughty words of the horn with human eyes and mouth, which I had seen before, this animal was killed before my eyes; and its body destroyed and cast into the fire. Dominion was taken from the other animals, though they were allowed to stay alive for a time, until the fixed time.”

“I continued watching the nocturnal vision : One like a Son of Man came on the clouds of heaven. He faced the One of Great Age and was brought into His presence. Dominion, honour and kingship were given Him, and all the peoples and nations of every language served Him. His dominion is eternal and shall never pass away; His kingdom will never be destroyed.”

Thursday, 28 November 2019 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture reminding us of the coming of the Lord’s salvation to His people, of the coming of God’s providence and liberation to His faithful ones. In our first reading we have heard about the moment when the prophet Daniel was delivered from the hands of his enemies while in the Gospel passage we heard of the Lord’s own ominous warning to the people and the city of Jerusalem.

In our first reading today, we heard of the predicament of the prophet Daniel who was forced to be thrown into the lions’ den by the machinations and plots of his enemies, who resented him for his courageous opposition to pagan worship and the pagan idols of Bel, the chief god of the Babylonians and the dragon of Bel. Daniel managed to prove that the priests of Bel were frauds and the dragon he defeated by the power and wisdom of God.

As a result, the enemies of Daniel among the nobles and the courtiers ganged up and plotted against him. Daniel was forced to endure the lions’ den, which the enemies of his hoped that the hungry lions, purposefully kept hungry and unfed that they would devour Daniel. But the Lord was with Daniel and protected him from his enemies and from the lion. In the end, the prophet Daniel was freed by the king and all of his enemies who slandered him were thrown instead to the lions and were immediately devoured.

Meanwhile, in the Gospel passage today, we heard of the prophetic and ominous warning that the Lord Jesus shared with His disciples and followers, of the coming of the destruction of Jerusalem, the city and its Temple, and how everything would be overturned and their world would be shattered. This was a revelation of what was to come, and eventually would come true with the downfall of Jerusalem just a few decades after the Lord’s death and resurrection.

Yet, amidst all the challenges and difficulties that the faithful people of God would have to face, all the bitter struggles and sufferings that they had to go through, the humiliations and betrayals that they had to endure, God reassured them again and again that He would be with them, and that despite all the trials and tribulations, in the end, the faithful ones will be triumphant together with God.

This is the kind of faith that all of us must have, brothers and sisters in Christ, the kind of faith that has allowed so many of the holy martyrs and saints of the Church to persevere through even the most brutal and terrible persecutions and oppressions of their faith and the Church. They all trusted in God and placed their faith in Him, and as a result, they remained firm and resolute even when faced with most severe of troubles, just as how the prophet Daniel remained firm in his conviction and faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we are all called to reflect on our own lives and whether we have been truly faithful to God in all of our actions and deeds thus far. If we have not yet lived our lives thus far with faith, then now is perhaps the good time for us to recollect ourselves and redirect our lives, our efforts and our attention towards the Lord, and take the necessary steps to make ourselves closer to God and to be more loving and faithful towards Him.

Let us all grow to trust more in God, and let us put ourselves in His loving embrace from now on, knowing that even when our lives are terrible, our trials are difficult and are seemingly insurmountable, God will never stop loving us and as a result, we should also devote ourselves in the same manner. Let us no longer worry or be too concerned with our own well-being, but learn to put our trust more in God.

May the Lord our God be with us always, and may He continue to love us all, each and every days and moments of our lives. May He bless all of our good works and endeavours, that we all may always work for the greater good and the glory of God. Amen.

Thursday, 28 November 2019 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 21 : 20-28

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that the time has come when it will be reduced to a wasteland. If you are in Judea, flee to the mountains! If you are in Jerusalem, leave! If you are outside the city, do not enter it!”

“For these will be the days of its punishment, and all that was announced in the Scriptures will be fulfilled. How hard will it be for pregnant women, and for mothers with babies at the breast! For a great calamity will come upon the land, and wrath upon this people. They will be put to death by the sword, or taken as slaves to other nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled upon by the pagans, until the time of the pagans is fulfilled.”

“Then there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth anguish of nations, perplexed when they hear the roaring of the sea and its waves. People will faint with fear at the mere thought of what is to come upon the world, for the forces of the universe will be shaken. Then, at that time, they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”

“So, when you see things begin to happen, stand erect and lift up your heads, for your deliverance is drawing near.”