Thursday, 21 October 2021 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 12 : 49-53

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “I have come to bring fire upon the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and what anguish I feel until it is finished! Do you think that I have come to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on, in one house five will be divided : three against two, and two against three.”

“They will be divided, father against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

Thursday, 21 October 2021 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 1 : 1-2, 3, 4 and 6

Blessed is the man who does not go where the wicked gather, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit where the scoffers sit! Instead, he finds delight in the Law of YHVH and meditates day and night on His commandments.

He is like a tree beside a brook producing its fruit in due season, its leaves never withering. Everything he does is a success.

But it is different with the wicked. They are like chaff driven away by the wind. For YHVH knows the way of the righteous but cuts off the way of the wicked.

Thursday, 21 October 2021 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Romans 6 : 19-23

You see, that I speak in a very human way, taking into account that you are not fully mature. There was a time, when you let your members be slaves of impurity and disorder, walking in the way of sin; convert them, now, into servants of righteousness, to the point of becoming holy.

When you were slaves of sin, you did not feel under obligation to righteousness, but what were the fruits of those actions, of which you are now ashamed? Such things bring death. Now, however, you have been freed from sin and serve God. You are bearing fruit, and growing in holiness, and the result will be life everlasting.

So, on one side is sin : its reward, death; on the other side, is God : He gives us, by grace, life everlasting, in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Thursday, 14 October 2021 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Callistus I, Pope and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we all listen to the word of God in the Sacred Scriptures continuing to remind us that as Christians we have to put the foundation of our faith in Christ and believe in Him wholeheartedly, and not just pay Him lip service or empty faith like that of hypocrites. We have to love the Lord above everything else and put our focus in Him, so that He is the centre of our lives and existence, and He Who has offered us freely and generously His salvation and grace, may gather us all in His presence.

In our first reading today, in the continuation of the discourse of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Rome, we heard the courageous and passionate appeal of the Apostle in calling on all the faithful in Rome to put their trust and salvation in God, in Jesus Christ, Lord and Saviour of the whole entire world. At that time, the community of the faithful in Rome was also composed of the members of the Jewish diaspora there, as well as some of the local Roman population who converted to the Christian faith and became believers.

And just like elsewhere in the Church, there were often tension between some of the Jewish people, who asserted that all Christians had to observe the full range of the Jewish customs and practices, as the Pharisees and the elders practiced them, including the recent converts from among the Gentiles or the non-Jewish people. However, St. Paul was quick in his rebuttal and his explanations on how such an attitude was not truly Christian in nature and not in accordance to what the Lord Himself had revealed to us, how He rejected the excessive practices and observances of the leaders of the Jewish people in obeying the Law of God.

Contextually, the extent of the strict observance of the Law by the Pharisees and the elders of the descendants of Israel was such that it would have made it very difficult for the Gentiles or the non-Jewish people to follow the Lord and to practice their faith. Over the centuries, many adaptations, interpretations and modifications to the Law had fundamentally altered its meaning, purpose and practice so much such that it no longer truly represent what the Law of God was all about. It would have made it very difficult for the Gentiles to accept the Christian faith if they were forced to follow the very strict customs and rules.

Today’s Gospel also echoed the same sentiment as we heard the continuation of the Lord’s confrontation against the Pharisees as He rebuked them for their excessive focus and obsession on enforcing a very strict way of interpreting and following the Law, as well as in practicing their faith, which they themselves were often unable to follow and do, and ended up with many merely doing it to fulfil their obligations and as a formality, or even worse, as means for them to boast about their faith and to put others down, those whom they deemed to be less worthy than they were.

This is not what a Christian should be doing, as not only that they have diverged from the true meaning and intention of the Law, but many of them had obeyed the Law and its precepts in face value only, and misunderstood what God wanted to do with us through the Law. Instead of helping to bring the people closer to God, the Law ended up being tools used to satisfy the greed and desires of some, as well as becoming the way how some discriminated against their own brothers and sisters, against those whom one hated and despised.

The Lord and His Apostle St. Paul made it clear that we must be truly faithful and centred on God in our lives and actions. We must not allow the corruption of worldly power and desires to affect us and our way of life, that we do not end up behaving like those who are hypocritical and lacking in true faith in God. We must listen to the Lord and His words, His teachings and truth, and the words of His Apostles and servants, all those whom He had sent into this world to be our guide and helper, and today, we celebrate the feast of one of them, namely Pope St. Callistus I, also known as Pope St. Callixtus I.

Pope St. Callixtus I was the Vicar of Christ and leader of the Universal Church during the time of the height of persecutions against Christians in the third century after the birth of Our Lord. At that time, there were already divisions and heresies affecting the Church, and Pope St. Callixtus I was remembered for allowing converts from among these who had lapsed from the true faith and fallen into heretical ways and teachings. He called for all of them to return to the Holy Mother Church and be repentant over their sins. Through this, many would come to realise the errors of their ways and began the path towards redemption.

However, Pope St. Callixtus I did not have it easy as there were those within the Church then who disagreed with his methods and works, and refused to admit those who have lapsed and fallen into heresy, considering that salvation can only be given once, and once people left the Church or fell into heresy, they would not be allowed to return. Nonetheless, Pope St. Callixtus I, in the spirit of what St. Paul the Apostle had written in his Epistle to the Romans, and as the Lord spoke, warning against the excesses of self-righteousness exhibited by many of the Pharisees, continued to strive for welcoming lapsed Christians right to the moment of his martyrdom.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we listened to these Scripture passages today and reflect on what we have just discussed, as well as the life and efforts of Pope St. Callixtus I, all of us are reminded to look upon our own lives and discern carefully how we can lead a more Christian existence and living, in faithfully following the Lord and His truth, and in remaining true to the love that He has shown us, while avoiding the excesses of self-righteousness, ambition, ego and personal desires among others.

Let us all seek the Lord with new spirit of humility and with genuine love from now on. May the Lord be with us all and may He help us to live our lives most worthily for the Lord. May God bless us in our every good efforts and endeavours, now and always, evermore. Amen.

Thursday, 14 October 2021 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Callistus I, Pope and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Luke 11 : 47-54

At that time, Jesus said to the teachers of the Law, “A curse is on you, for you build monuments to the prophets your ancestors killed. So you approve and agree with what your ancestors did. Is it not so? They got rid of the prophets, and you build monuments to them!”

“For that reason the wisdom of God also said : I will send prophets and Apostles and these people will kill and persecute some of them. But the present generation will have to answer for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was murdered between the altar and the Sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, the people of this time will have to answer for them all.”

“A curse is on you, teachers of the Law, for you have taken the key of knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you prevented others from entering.”

As Jesus left that place, the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees began to harass Him, asking Him endless questions, setting traps to catch Him in something He might say.

Thursday, 14 October 2021 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Callistus I, Pope and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 129 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-7a

Out of the depths I cry to You, o YHVH, o YHVH, hear my voice! Let Your ears pay attention to the voice of my supplication.

If You should mark our evil, o YHVH, who could stand? But with You, is forgiveness, and for that You are revered.

I waited for YHVH, my soul waits; and I put my hope in His word. My soul expects YHVH more than watchmen, the dawn. O Israel, hope in YHVH.

Thursday, 14 October 2021 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Callistus I, Pope and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Romans 3 : 21-30a

But, now it has been revealed, altogether apart from the Law, as it was already foretold in the Law and the prophets : God makes us righteous by means of faith in Jesus Christ, and this is applied to all who believe, without distinction of persons.

Because all have sinned and all fall short of the glory of God; and all are graciously forgiven and made righteous, through the redemption effected in Christ Jesus. For God has given Him to be the Victim, Whose Blood obtains us forgiveness, through faith.

So God shows us, how He makes us righteous. Past sins are forgiven, which God overlooked till now. For, now, He wants to reveal His way of righteousness : how He is just, and how He makes us righteous, through faith in Jesus. Then, what becomes of our pride? It is excluded. How? Not through the Law and its observances, but through another Law, which is faith. For we hold, that people are in God’s grace, by faith, and not because of all the things ordered by the Law.

Otherwise, God would be the God of the Jews; but is He not God of pagan nations as well? Of course He is, for there is only one God.

Thursday, 7 October 2021 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, a highlight of this month of October, which is also the Month of the Holy Rosary, a time when we are all encouraged to pray the rosary daily and to rediscover that love and relationship we have for God through Mary, His loving Mother and our beloved mother too. Mary has always interceded and prayed for us on our behalf, and her thoughts are always ever focused on us, her wayward children still living in this dark and sinful world.

Today, we mark the occasion of the four hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto, a great and decisive battle, a triumphant victory for the forces of Christendom and the champions of the Lord in the struggle against the forces of heathens of the Ottoman Empire and its allies, who sought the domination of the world and the subjugation of Christians and the Christian kingdoms and states of that time. At that time, Christendom was beset not only with these external pressures but also with many internal divisions, having suffered from the effects of the reformation that led to many leaving the Church and many in rebellion against the true faith.

Therefore, at that time, the Church, the faithful and the entire Christendom itself were under great threat of destruction, and that would have happened if not for the great intercession of the Blessed Mother Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary, by the actions of the Pope then, Pope St. Pius V, who exhorted all of Christendom to stand together and asked all the faithful to pray the Rosary as he gathered together forces from the various kingdoms and realms, establishing a great Holy Alliance aimed at standing up against the great Turkish invasion forces.

At the same time, the Church also geared up her efforts in combating the heresies and divisions by the conclusion of the Ecumenical Council of Trent and its many sweeping reforms through which many excesses and previous errors of the Church were eradicated, and the teachings of the Church were reaffirmed and reinforced. Missionaries and teachers of the faith, led by the courageous Jesuits were sent to the forefront where many of those who have lapsed from the true faith were to be encouraged and welcomed to return to the Holy Mother Church, and many more still were sent to evangelise in far away nations and places.

And then, the forces of Christendom were gathered together, numerous mighty ships, sailors and soldiers, all gathered against an even larger armada of the Ottomans bent on destruction of Christendom. With the guidance and intercession of the Blessed Mother Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary, as Christendom was united in the prayer of the rosary as encouraged by the Pope, the forces of the Holy Alliance met the enemy at the Bay of Lepanto in a great battle that is still remembered to this very day, as a major turning point in the history of the world.

During the battle, many eyewitnesses saw a great vision of heavenly forces led by Our Lady, with a rosary in her hand, which terrified the forces of the enemies of the Lord, and many of the sailors and slaves on the ships, who were enslaved Christians forced by the wicked Ottomans, turned against their masters and slavers, seeking freedom and turned the whole tide against the enemy, resulting in a great overwhelming victory for the forces of Christendom. The forces of the enemies of the Lord were scattered, and the faithful were saved from the destruction planned against them.

Through this great victory, the whole Christendom rejoiced and celebrated, as church bells tolled and rang all around, commemorating the great triumph which God had led His people into. The Pope proclaimed the day of this great victory initially as the celebration of Our Lady of Victory, before eventually it was changed to the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary as we all celebrate it today. We remember the great intercession by which Our Lady of the Rosary had helped the faithful being attacked by the forces of the enemies of the Lord and His Church.

As we heard in the story of the Battle of Lepanto, and undoubtedly many other examples present in our world and in our own lives, the Lord often delivered the faithful through the intercession of His loving mother, who always directed her gaze upon us, her children in this world, and through the Holy Rosary that we dedicated to her, we united ourselves in prayer through Mary to her Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. So, we ought to ask ourselves if we have spent at least some good quality time in prayer to God and also asking His blessed mother to pray for us, by devoting ourselves through the rosary.

The rosary devotion has been given to us by our own blessed mother Mary, as a way for us to draw closer to the Lord through her, as a way for us to deepen our relationship with God through prayer, by removing from us the distractions and the temptations of our daily living, and instead focusing ourselves on the Lord and His mother, through which we may grow ever deeper in spirituality and in commitment to God, and through the rosary, we may grow ever better as Christians, and also even inspire others to follow in our good examples.

Let us all therefore entrust ourselves to our beloved mother Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary, so that we may grow ever deeper in our love for God through His mother. May the Lord, our loving God and Saviour deliver us from those who seek our destruction, and may He strengthen and encourage us all always, to strive and persevere through the challenges of our lives, at all times. Our Lady of the Rosary, our most loving mother, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Thursday, 7 October 2021 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 1 : 26-38

In the sixth month, the Angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth. He was sent to a young virgin, who was betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the family of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

The Angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” Mary was troubled at these words, wondering what this greeting could mean. But the Angel said, “Do not fear, Mary, for God has looked kindly on you. You shall conceive and bear a Son, and you shall call Him Jesus. He will be great, and shall rightly be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the kingdom of David, His ancestor; He will rule over the people of Jacob forever, and His reign shall have no end.”

Then Mary said to the Angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” And the Angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the Holy Child to be born of you shall be called Son of God. Even your relative Elizabeth is expecting a son in her old age, although she was unable to have a child; and she is now in her sixth month. With God nothing is impossible.”

Then Mary said, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said.” And the Angel left her.

Thursday, 7 October 2021 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (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.