Tuesday, 17 September 2019 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the Word of God in the Scripture passages we heard, we are reminded of what it truly means for us to be Christians, and in particular, those among of us who have been called to a greater purpose through the service of God, the expectation of their actions and righteousness in life because ultimately all of us Christians must be role models in faith for one another, and those who have been called to the greater service of God are examples and role models for us to follow.

In our first reading today, St. Paul in his Epistle to St. Timothy went through a series of characteristics and attitudes which the elders and leaders of the Church ought to have. These elders, also called as overseers, of which St. Timothy also belonged to, eventually became the successors of the Apostles as the bishops of the Church. St. Paul who helped to establish the Church and firming its foundations throughout the Mediterranean therefore wanted the elders and leaders of the Church to be as devoted and righteous as they can be to inspire and strengthen the rest of the faithful.

This is important because while all of Christians at that time believe in God and profess their faith in the salvation in Jesus Christ, but it is through their leaders, the Apostles and all those whom God had called to be the deacons, the priests and the bishops of the Church that they remained strong and rooted in their faith despite the many persecutions and challenges that they had to go through especially in those earliest years.

If those leaders and servants of God’s people did not live their lives with good faith and with good actions, then it would not bode well among the faithful and in fact could cause scandal of the faith that would end up pushing the people away from God or causing bitter divisions and further challenges within the Church that was already under quite an intense persecution at that time.

From among the deacons themselves, very early on we have heard of St. Stephen who was the very first martyr of the Church, martyred and killed just because he stood up for his faith with courage and spoke with the strength of the Holy Spirit when he was persecuted and accused wrongly of blasphemy by his enemies. And yet, at the same time, he followed Christ’s example in loving even his enemies and forgiving them with his dying breath.

And amongst the priests and bishops there were also innumerable martyrs, all those who have given their lives and all for the greater glory of God and for the love they had for the people entrusted under their care. All of these faithful servants of God had exemplified well what true Christians should be like and how they have followed Christ with all of their hearts and minds, and with all of their strength.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us as Christians are also expected to do the same with our own lives, in how we should follow the footsteps of the Apostles, all those holy bishops, priests, deacons and martyrs of the faith who have given their all for the service of God and His Church. And today, we celebrate the feast of yet another one of these many faithful servants of God, namely St. Robert Bellarmine whose life and devotion to God can be yet another inspiration for us all to follow.

St. Robert Bellarmine was a renowned Italian Cardinal and member of the Society of Jesus or the Jesuits. He was also one of the Church’s few Doctors of the Church for his many contributions to the faith and to the Church, in his courageous stand for his faith amidst the turbulent years in the Church’s history beset by many problems in particular that of the reformation heresy and divisions. He was one of the most important contributors to the Counter Reformation efforts.

St. Robert Bellarmine was remembered for his great many works on theology and other aspects of the faith, and his many devout contributions that eventually made the Pope to decide to elevate him to the Cardinalate in which capacity he continued to serve the Church in various efforts he undertook to purify the Church from corruptions and worldly influences. He worked hard all the time despite the oppositions and challenges he faced from various sources.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, St. Robert Bellarmine, St. Stephen and all of the other holy saints and martyrs, all those who have given their lives to the service of God should become our sources of inspiration in how we should live our own lives with faith from now on, that in each and every days of our lives and in everything we say and do, we will always do them for the greater glory of God.

Let us all grow ever deeper in our commitment and faith towards God, and let us all grow ever closer in our relationship with Him, and be ever more courageous and strong to stand up for our faith especially when we are faced with challenges and difficulties in life. Let us all be good examples of our true Christian faith and our genuine devotion to God, that many others may also follow in our footsteps. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Luke 7 : 11-17

At that time, a little later, Jesus went to a town called Naim. He was accompanied by His disciples and a great number of people. As He reached the gate of the town, a dead man was being carried out. He was the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; there followed a large crowd of townspeople.

On seeing her, the Lord had pity on her and said, “Do not cry.” Then He came up and touched the stretcher, and the men who carried it stopped. Jesus then said, “Young man, I say to you, wake up!” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.

A holy fear came over them all, and they praised God saying, “A great Prophet has appeared among us. God has visited His people.” The news spread throughout Judea and the surrounding places.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Psalm 100 : 1-2ab, 2cd-3ab, 5, 6

I will sing of Your love and justice; to You, o YHVH, I will sing praise. I will walk the way of integrity – o YHVH, when will You come to me?

With a blameless heart, I will walk within my house. I will not set before my eyes anything that is base. I hate the deeds of faithless people.

He who deals with others treacherously, I will silence. He who talks and acts arrogantly, I will not endure.

I will choose from the faithful of the land, those who may dwell with Me; only the upright shall be My servant.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

1 Timothy 3 : 1-13

If someone aspires to the overseer’s ministry, he is, without a doubt, looking for a noble task. It is necessary, that the overseer (or bishop) be beyond reproach, the husband of one wife, responsible, judicious, of good manners, hospitable and skilful in teaching.

He must not be addicted to wine, or quarrelsome, but be gentle and peaceful, and not a lover of money, but a man whose household is well-managed, with obedient and well-mannered children. If he cannot govern his own house, how can he lead the assembly of God? He must not be a recent convert, lest he become conceited, and fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover, he must enjoy a good reputation among the outsiders, lest people speak evil about him, and he fall into the snare of the devil.

Deacons, likewise, must be serious and sincere, and moderate in drinking wine, not greedy for money; they must keep the mystery of faith with a clear conscience. Let them be first tried and, if found blameless, be accepted as deacons. In the same way, the women must be conscientious, not given to gossip, but reserved and trustworthy.

A deacon must be husband of one wife, and must know how to guide his children and manage his household. Those who serve well as deacons will win honourable rank, with authority to speak of Christian faith.

Tuesday, 10 September 2019 : 23rd 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 God through the Scripture passages we heard reminding us of the need for each and every one of us as Christians to be truly devoted to God, and to be wholehearted in our commitment to love Him and to serve Him as His followers and disciples, into the lives of service He has called us into. He should be the centre and focus of our whole existence, and everything we say, act and do should be for the greater glory of His Name.

We should follow the example of the Apostles, the Twelve of whom God Himself has called to be His principal and most important disciples. He has called them from their various origins and backgrounds, some of them being fishermen, while others were intellectuals, a tax collector, a zealot and freedom fighter among others. But when He called them all, they left behind everything and followed Him.

Of course we know that not everyone remained faithful, as Judas Iscariot eventually betrayed the Lord for money to the chief priests and the elders, and St. Peter denied knowing the Lord when He was arrested, not just once but three times in total. And the other Apostles also fled in fear at that same time, abandoning the Lord in the hour of His greatest agony and suffering. Nonetheless, eventually all but Judas returned to the Lord with renewed faith.

All the Twelve Apostles, including St. Matthias who was included to their number replacing Judas Iscariot, except St. John the Apostle were martyred for their faith, after having spent many years and more in missionary journeys and works throughout many parts of the world, spreading the Good News of God and His truth to many people who have not yet had faith in Him or heard about His salvation.

Each and every one of them spent those years enduring difficulties and challenges, one after another, rejection and ridicule, persecutions and oppressions against them. The faithful people of God has also suffered a lot, and many martyrs came up from the early Church because of all those difficult challenges. And yet, they gave their all to God and devoted themselves wholeheartedly nonetheless.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all look at ourselves and our own lives. Can we truly be called as devout Christians in how we have lived our lives thus far? Can we truly consider ourselves as God’s faithful and committed disciples by our actions, words and deeds, or have we been rather distracted by the many temptations in life, or by the fear and apathy in our hearts and minds, preventing us from devoting ourselves to Him with all of our heart?

Many of us are often reluctant to dedicate ourselves more to the Lord, because of the many obstacles and reasons that keep us being distracted and unable to give more of ourselves to God. And we need to be aware of these obstacles and prevent them from causing us to fall into sin and disobedience towards God. We need to discern our path in life carefully, thinking of how we can better serve God in our respective capacity and making use of the various gifts and talents He has blessed us with.

Today each and every one of us are called to follow in the footsteps of the Apostles, spending our time, effort and attention to serve God and to follow Him through our every words, actions and deeds. Let us all spend this opportunity and time to think carefully about how we can follow the Lord more faithfully and truly put God first before everything else in our respective lives. Let us all be ever closer to God and be true Christians from now on. Amen.

Tuesday, 10 September 2019 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 6 : 12-19

At that time, Jesus went out into the hills to pray, spending the whole night in prayer with God. When day came, He called His disciples to Him, and chose Twelve of them, whom He called ‘Apostles’ : Simon, whom He named Peter, and his brother Andrew; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James son of Alpheus and Simon called the Zealot; Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who would be the traitor.

Coming down the hill with them, Jesus stood in an open plain. Many of His disciples were there, and a large crowd of people, who had come from all parts of Judea and Jerusalem, and from the coastal cities of Tyre and Sidon. They gathered to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases. And the people troubled by unclean spirits were cured.

The entire crowd tried to touch Him, because of the power that went out from Him and healed them all.

Tuesday, 10 September 2019 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 144 : 1-2, 8-9, 10-11

I will extol You, my God and King; I will praise Your Name forever. I will praise You, day after day; and exalt Your Name forever.

Compassionate and gracious is YHVH, slow to anger and abounding in love. YHVH is good to everyone; His mercy embraces all His creation.

All Your works will give You thanks; all Your saints, o YHVH, will praise You. They will tell of the glory of Your kingdom; and speak of Your power.