Saturday, 22 November 2014 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast day of St. Cecilia, virgin and martyr of the Faith. St. Cecilia was also well known as the patron saint of Church music and hymns, and as the patron of choirs. She was a Roman noblewoman who lived a pious Christian life, and was martyred for her faith together with her husband, and other Christians, who were also counted the holy martyrs.

St. Cecilia is one of the most renowned and prominent saints of the Church, as she is the patron of musicians and songs made to glorify God. St. Cecilia married her husband, whose name was Valerian, and during the wedding it was said that St. Cecilia sang in her heart full of joy and praise to God, which then became the reason why she is associated with musicians and all those involved in Church music.

When the time came for her to consummate her marriage to her husband, an angel of the Lord appeared to her and proclaimed to her that the wrath of the Lord would come upon whoever it was that tried to violate the virginity of St. Cecilia. When her husband inquired about the angel, St. Cecilia pointed out where he could witness the sign of God, and as a result, her husband became a believer of Christ and was baptised.

St. Cecilia was martyred and her memory was preserved by veneration of the faithful. Her former residence became the site of the Church of St. Cecilia, to where many people thronged to, even until this day. St. Cecilia became a long time patron of music, and in particular the beautiful Church music and symphonies of praise to God, and numerous musical establishments and choirs were named in her honour.

Today, as we come together to celebrate the feast of this great saint and martyr, we listened to the words of the Sacred Scripture, in the Gospel we heard how the Lord rebuked the Sadducees, the faction of the people of Judea who did not believe in the resurrection from the dead, angels, or any other supernatural phenomena, beyond what they could prove with their senses.

The Sadducees thought that resurrection of the dead was meaningless and a nonsense, using the example of a woman who was betrothed to seven brothers as a justification. But their view and opinion on the laws of Moses was twisted and false. They thought not in terms of the divine, but in terms of the flawed senses of men. They trusted their own judgments and wishes rather than to trust in the Lord.

They thought in terms of human lust and desires, and they thought that this life in this world ought to be given to hedonistic pleasures and desires. But they failed to realise that in the world that is to come, all will have no more need for worldly things and desires, for the faithful will be made perfect and united in full perfection with the Lord. And what matters is the purity and sanctity of one’s soul. Being united with God makes us all perfect and all our needs are satisfied. And thus it is shown as if we are like angels before God, praising and singing hymns to God at all times.

Do you know, brothers and sisters in Christ, that singing with devotion is worth twice the prayer? Thus, on this feast day of St. Cecilia, patron saint of music and hymns, let us all seek to bear witness to the Lord through sacred music. Just as in the first reading today, it was told of the witnesses of God who would come at the end of time to preach the truth of God, we too should be witnesses of the Lord, and there is indeed no better way to do so, than to sing hymns of praise to God with the full devotion and focus of our hearts.

The songs of our heart should be song of joy and rejoicing, mimicking the song of the glory of the Lord sung by the angels. That is because we know that we have hope through the Lord who had forgiven us our sins, and to those of us who remain faithful to Him, as St. Cecilia had been, our victory and triumph against evil and darkness is already assured.

St. Cecilia was resolute and firm in defending her faith, and she was also firm in maintaining the purity of her soul, by maintaining her sacred virginity as ordained by God. Through that grace, she had saved not just herself, but also her husband and all those whom she had met and encountered, and many more people inspired by her examples also received the same grace of God.

This is the proof of what Jesus had told to the Pharisees, that in this world, life is more than just enjoyment and pursuit of worldly desires, but indeed, our lives should be filled with meaning and purpose, just as St. Cecilia offered herself to the full and total service to God, singing the hymn of her faith and joy, knowing that she has been found worthy of the Lord and be made pure just as our Lord is pure and good.

The holy witnesses from the Book of revelations were also resolute and firm in their faith, and amidst opposition and threats to them, they remained fully faithful and devoted. And through their witnessing of the faith, they had shown to us, that there is indeed nothing to fear from the power of evil and death, for if we are faithful and truly devoted to God, we have absolutely nothing to fear. The beast might have been able to destroy the body, but it cannot harm our soul. The souls of the faithful are pure and holy, and they are under protection of the Lord, our loving God.

Therefore, be not afraid, brethren! But sing the song of our joy and adulation for the Lord, who alone is worthy of all praise, and be brave in defending our faith and the purity of our hearts. Let us not be like the Sadducees and those others who put their trust in themselves and in the things of this world. Be courageous and faithful in living our faith life, and let us all, inspired by the examples of St. Cecilia, raise the song of our Lord’s praise from our hearts, that through our joyful and triumphant song, we may bring more souls to salvation in Jesus Christ, our Lord.

May Almighty God bring us into His eternal kingdom, which He had prepared for those who had laid down their lives for Him, and also for those who had remained faithful despite the temptations of the world. Let us all be like angels in our honour and praise to God, that our song will echo throughout the heavens and the earth, proclaiming His glory and majesty for all eternity. God bless us all. Amen.


First Reading :


Psalm :


Gospel Reading :

Saturday, 22 November 2014 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 20 : 27-40

At that time, some Sadducees arrived. These people claim that there is no resurrection, and they asked Jesus this question, “Master, in the Law Moses told us, ‘If anyone dies leaving a wife but no children, his brother must take the wife, and any child born to them will be regarded as the child of the deceased.'”

“Now, there were seven brothers; the first married a wife, but he died without children; and the second and the third took the wife; in fact, all seven died leaving no children. Last of all the woman died. On the day of the resurrection, to which of them will the woman be a wife? For all seven had her as a wife.”

And Jesus replied, “Taking a husband or a wife is proper to people of this world, but for those who are considered worthy of the world to come, and of resurrection from the dead, there is no more marriage. Besides, they cannot die, for they are like the angels. They are sons and daughters of God, because they are born of the resurrection.”

“Yes, the dead will be raised, as Moses revealed at the burning bush, when he called the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. For God is God of the living, and not of the dead, for to Him everyone is alive.”

Some teachers of the Law then agreed with Jesus, “Master, You have spoken well.” They did not dare to ask Him anything else.


Homily and Reflection :

Saturday, 22 November 2014 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 143 : 1, 2, 9-10

Blessed be the Lord, my Rock, who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle.

My loving God, my Fortress; my Protector and Deliverer, my Shield where I take refuge, who conquers nations and subjects them to my rule.

I will sing a new song to You, o Lord, I will make music on the ten-stringed harp, for You who give victory to kings and deliver David, Your servant.


Homily and Reflection :

Saturday, 22 November 2014 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Revelations 11 : 4-12

These are the two olive trees and the two lamps which are before the Lord of the earth. If anyone intends to harm them, fire will come out of their mouths to devour their enemies : this is how whoever intends to harm them will perish.

They have the power to close the sky and hold back the rain during the time of their prophetic mission; they also have the power to change water into blood, and punish the earth with a thousand plagues, any time they wish.

But when My witnesses have fulfilled their mission, the beast that comes up from the abyss will make war upon them, and will conquer and kill them. Their dead bodies will lie in the square of the Great City which the believers figuratively call Sodom or Egypt, where their Lord was crucified.

And their dead bodies will be exposed for three days and a half to people of all tribes, races, languages and nations who will be ordered not to have them buried. Then the inhabitants of the earth will rejoice, congratulate one another and exchange gifts among themselves because these two prophets were a torment to them.

But after those three and a half days, a spirit of life coming from God entered them. They then stood up, and those who looked at them were seized with great fear. A loud voice from heaven called them, “Come up here.” So they went up to heaven in the midst of the clouds in the sight of their enemies.


Homily and Reflection :

Friday, 21 November 2014 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate together the feast of the presentation of the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, that is Mary, Theotokos or Mother of God. She was chosen by God from among many of the children of mankind, to be the one who was destined to be the vessel to bear the coming of the Saviour into this world, and in that, to bear the Lord and Master of all the creations Himself, when He was incarnate into flesh.

As our Lord is perfect and perfectly good, without sin and any taint of evil, thus His blessed mother, Mary, was also therefore conceived without the taint of sin, of the original sin of Adam and Eve, the first ancestors of mankind. She was conceived free from sin, immaculate and pure, worthy to be the Mother of our Lord and Saviour, as decreed by God. And today, we celebrate the memory of her presentation at the Temple of the Lord.

In the Jewish custom, as according to the Law of God revealed through Moses, the firstborns of Israel are dedicated to the Lord, through a presentation ceremony, as ceremonially belonging to the Lord. This is a strong reminder of what they had encountered in Egypt, during the time of their liberation from slavery. At that time, God sent ten great plagues to pressure the Pharaoh to liberate the people of Israel and allow them to go back to the land of their ancestors in freedom.

The last of the ten plagues, and the most terrifying of them all, is the death of all the firstborns of the Egyptians, including the firstborn of the Pharaoh himself. No firstborn was spared, and the firstborn of humans and animals of the Egyptians alike were destroyed, for the sins of the Pharaoh and the Egyptians. The firstborn of the people of Israel however, were spared, because of the Lord’s promise to them, and His instruction, that they be presented and offered to Him, and they ever since belonged to the Lord who spared them from the power of the angel of death.

Thus, Mary, who was the firstborn of the couple, Joachim and Anne, whom we know now as St. Joachim and St. Anne, was offered at the Temple of God, according to the Law. Thus from that day of the presentation onwards, Mary was entrusted completely to God, and she remained pure and blameless, as God had intended her to be, as the new Ark of the new Covenant, which was made through Jesus her Son.

Jesus too was presented at the Temple when He was eight days old, in the same manner of His mother Mary, as her firstborn Son. And from this offering of the blameless and pure sacrifice, Christ, who is the Lamb of God, offered Himself to be the One to bear the burdens of the sins of the world, and thus purify us from our sins and allow us to escape the claws of death, which is caused by sin.

The festival of the Jewish Passover, which commemorated the ‘passing over’ of the angel of death over the faithful people of God, who sacrificed a lamb and shed its blood on their doors’ lintels and surfaces, is therefore completed in its perfection through Jesus, the One and True Lamb, whose Blood is shed over all mankind, and therefore those of us who believe and receive His Body and Blood had been marked to be saved, and to be passed over by death, which is the lot of those who are wicked and unfaithful.

Thus, this feast of the presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, is a reminder for us all, that we who believe in Him and faithfully receive His Body and Blood, had also received grace and salvation through the death and resurrection of our Lord. However, this does not mean that this alone is enough for us to be saved.

When we present something to the Lord, certainly we do not offer something that is wicked, evil, tainted and filled with sin. We ought to offer something that is pure, filled with love and righteousness, with genuine faith and understanding of what that faith is about. Thus, let this day’s celebration be a wake-up call to all of us, so that we may look deep into ourselves and see where we have been faithful, and more importantly, where we have fallen short and where we have failed in our faith.

Let us all follow the example of Mary, the mother of our Lord, whose life is completely and totally devoted to the Lord and His ways, and in all that she did in her life, she did them with complete and full faith in God, knowing that God knows best for His servants and handmaids, and she also acted with love, justice and in accordance with all that the Lord had taught His people.

Mary is our role model, and we should follow her examples. Let us not wait any longer, lest the Lord comes again in surprise, and catch us unprepared. Remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, what is at stake, is the salvation of our souls, and whether, on the day of judgment, we will be ‘passed over’ by eternal death and then proceed into eternal life and bliss, or whether we will suffer the penalty of death for sins we have been unrepentant from.

Mary, mother of us all, pray for us all sinners, that we may learn to change our ways, to follow your examples, and therefore we will be able to offer ourselves anew and refreshed, pure and freed from the taints of sin. Pray for us that we may do our best to distance ourselves from sin and all things wicked in the sight of God. May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, bring us to eternal life. Amen.


First Reading :


Psalm :


Gospel Reading :

Friday, 21 November 2014 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 12 : 46-50

At that time, while Jesus was still talking to the people, His mother and His brothers wanted to speak to Him, and they waited outside. So someone said to Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside; they want to speak with You.”

Jesus answered, “Who is My mother? Who are My brothers?” Then He pointed to His disciples and said, “Look! Here are My mother and My brothers. Whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is for Me brother, sister or mother.”


Homily and Reflection :

Friday, 21 November 2014 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 1 : 46-47, 48-49, 50-51, 52-53, 54-55

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit exults in God my Saviour!

He has looked upon His servant in her lowliness, and people forever will call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, Holy is His Name!

From age to age His mercy extends to those who live in His presence. He has acted with power and done wonders, and scattered the proud with their plans.

He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and lifted up those who are downtrodden. He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty.

He held out His hand to Israel, His servant, for He remembered His mercy, even as He promised to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever.


Homily and Reflection :