Tuesday, 27 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we listened to the words of the Lord contained in the Scripture passages we heard today, we are all reminded that we must always have that faith in God, and not allow ourselves to be swayed by worldly sentiments and temptations. Unless we put our effort to resist the temptations against us, then we may find ourselves easily swayed and falling into those same temptations again and again, and therefore fall into the trap of sin. We must always be persistent in living our lives to the best of our abilities, in serving God with all of our hearts and might, at all times.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of Job we heard of the lamentations of Job who suffered greatly after having been struck by Satan, who was testing him if Job would abandon his faith in God when he faced such adversities and losses. Job lost most if not all of his vast worldly possessions, his many properties and vast herds of animals and livestock, and he also lost his beloved children to the calamities put forth by the devil. Not only that, but Satan himself even struck at Job’s own body, making him covered with terrible and painful boils and lesions which must have been so unbearable.

Yet, Job remained firm in his faith in God, and he did not allow all those things to deter him or distract him from his obedience to God. Job lamented as we heard in our first reading today, but he did not blame his predicaments on God. Rather, he blamed it on himself and his unworthiness. And in his despair that we heard, he wished that he would rather perish and die, rather than to exist anymore in this world. Certainly we can feel the anguish and the sufferings which Job encountered back then, all that he had lost and all that he was suffering from, the pain and the indignity, the troubles and trials that he faced.

Then in our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord Who was travelling on His way to Jerusalem, and was rejected entry into a Samaritan village because the people in that village came to know that the Lord was on His way to Jerusalem in Judea. Back then, the ethnic and religious tensions between the Jewish people in Judea and Galilee, and the Samaritans in the region of Samaria had been happening for many years. Both sides accused each other of having been unfaithful to the teachings of the Lord and they treated each other with disdain and contempt.

That was why, because they knew that the Lord was on His way to Jerusalem, they closed their doors and gates against Him. They hardened their hearts and minds, and allowed their worldly desires, considerations, sentiments and attachments to guide their way instead of being able to listen to God. That was exactly why they wandered and become lost from God. But yet God did not punish or strike them down as we heard in that Gospel passage story we heard today, and that is because God’s love and compassionate mercy towards us is so great that He wants us to be reconciled with Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it means that we are truly fortunate to have God Who has always looked after us and protect us, providing for us and guiding us all the time with great patience and love. Unfortunately, we did not have strong love for Him and faith in Him, and when the time of trials and troubles come, it was just a matter of time before we give up and abandon the Lord, for comfort in worldly things and desires. In this regard, we should heed the faith and dedication which Job had, in remaining steadfastly faithful to God despite his many sufferings and struggles.

Today, the Church also celebrates the feast of a great and renowned saint whose exemplary life and dedication to God and to his fellow brothers and sisters may become our great source of inspiration and a worthy role model in living our lives as good and committed Christians. St. Vincent de Paul was renowned for his great dedication for the poor and for all those who were suffering. He likely drew his passion and strength from his own experiences, which was also hard and bitter, especially when he had to experience being a slave during his younger years. Back then, he was a young man studying to be a priest when he was abducted and enslaved by the infamous Barbary pirates, who sold him to several masters before finally he managed to convince his last master to return to the Church and to Christendom.

Those early experiences and the own zeal and passion which St. Vincent de Paul had in serving the Lord and his fellow men likely encouraged him to become a priest and then involve himself in missionary work, and also in many outreach particularly towards the sick and the less privileged in the community. He founded and inspired the foundation of several religious congregations and organisations, like the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and many others. He worked with the Daughters of Charity in the provision of care for the poor families and those who were suffering. He was also involved in the ministry to those who were forced to work in the galleys and ships as slaves, remembering his own not-so-good experiences as slaves during his younger days.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we have heard from the lives of St. Vincent de Paul, and also from many other saints and holy men and women of God, we have to remain steadfast in faith at all times, and we should not allow the sufferings, struggles, trials, temptations and other things present in our world from distracting us in our path towards God and His salvation. We have to be inspired by the perseverance and passion showed by those holy predecessors of ours, particularly that of St. Vincent de Paul whose memory and great life we recall today. May God be with us all in our good efforts and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 27 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 9 : 51-56

At that time, as the time drew near when Jesus would be taken up to heaven, He made up His mind to go to Jerusalem. He sent ahead of Him some messengers, who entered a Samaritan village to prepare a lodging for Him. But the people would not receive Him, because He was on His way to Jerusalem.

Seeing this, James and John, His disciples, said, “Lord, do You want us to call down fire from heaven to reduce them to ashes?” Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they went on to another village.

Tuesday, 27 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 87 : 2-3, 4-5, 6, 7-8

O YHVH, my God, I call for help by day; before You I cry out by night. May my prayer come to You; incline Your ear to my cry for help.

My soul is deeply troubled; my life draws near to the grave. I am like those without strength. Counted among those going down into the pit.

I lie forsaken, among the dead, like those lying in the grave, like those You remember no more, cut off from Your care.

You have plunged me into the darkest depths of the pit. With Your wrath heavy upon me, You have battered me with all Your waves.

Tuesday, 27 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Job 3 : 1-3, 11-17, 20-23

At length it was Job who spoke, spoke, cursing the day of His birth. This is what he said : “Cursed be the day I was born, and the night which whispered : A boy has been conceived.”

“Why did I not die at birth, or come from the womb without breath? Why the knees that received me, why the breasts that suckled me? For then I should have lain down asleep and been at rest with kings and rulers of the earth who built for themselves lonely tombs; or with princes who had gold to spare and houses stuffed with silver. Why was I not stillborn, like others who did not see the light of morn?”

“There, the trouble of the wicked ceases, there, the weary find repose. Why is light given to the miserable, and life to the embittered? To those who long for death more than for hidden treasure? They rejoice at the sight of their end, they are happy upon reaching the grave. Why give light to a man whose path has vanished, whose ways God blocks at every side?”

Tuesday, 20 September 2022 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Kim Taegon, Martyr, St. Laurent Imbert, Bishop and Martyr, St. Jacques Chastan, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all presented with the words of the Lord reminding us to do the will of God and not to fall into the path of sin and wickedness. Again and again we have constantly been reminded of the dangers of sin and the temptations to sin. Unless we are vigilant and put our conscious effort to reject sin and evil, more often than not we may find ourselves stumbling and falling yet again because we are unable to resist the strong pull and allure of sin which can drag us down the path towards damnation and downfall.

In our first reading today taken from the Book of Proverbs, we are all reminded that the Lord values our actions and obedience to His Law, commandments and will more than our sacrifices and offerings. The Lord honours and blesses the just and the righteous ones, all those who have obeyed His will, followed His ways and dedicated themselves to His cause by their real actions and works, instead of just merely paying lip service or making profession of faith. And yet in our way of life and actions, we are often full of actions that are contrary to God’s teachings and truth, as we often follow the whim of our desires, our pride and ego, the norms and ways of this world among others.

The Lord said that those who were haughty and wicked, who oppressed the poor and the weak, all those who were selfish and proud, and thinking only of fulfilling their own selfish and wicked desires, all of these will not flourish with Him, and will not have part in any of His inheritance and graces. The Lord made it clear that all of us as Christians are called to distance ourselves from wicked ways, and embrace wholeheartedly instead the path of righteousness and justice, of all the good things that the Lord Himself had taught us to do. God had taught us His ways, and showed us all how to live our lives in the right manner, and it is in the end, up to us whether we want to follow Him or to follow our own path.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the words of the Lord when the people told Him that His family members, His mother and other relatives were waiting for Him. The Lord then told them all that His brothers and sisters, His mother are all those who listen to the Lord and do His will. While at a glance it might seem that the Lord had been rude to His mother and family, but in truth, the intention behind those words uttered by the Lord Jesus is that, each and every one of us are equally beloved by God, and all of us who do His will, who are righteous and just, virtuous and good, upright and faithful, all of us will share the fullness of God’s love, grace and compassion. And we should look upon our glorious and holy predecessors how we ought to be just doing exactly that.

Today the Church celebrates the memory of the great martyrs and all those who had given their lives for their faith in the region of Korea, as part of the Feast of the Holy Martyrs of Korea, namely St. Andreas Kim Taegon, St. Paul Chong Hasang among the many other local Christians of Korea who were persecuted for their faith, as well as foreign missionaries such as St. Laurent Imbert, the first Apostolic Vicar to Korea, St. Jacques Chastan and many others who had travelled far and wide, to come to the far peripheries of the world and spread the Good News of God to all those who have yet to hear of Him, and who suffered for His sake.

At that time, the state and the government of Korea was highly hostile and suspicious of Christian missionaries and the Christian faith, considering them all as unwanted foreign influences that could potentially bring harm to the state. To that extent, the state carried out intense official persecution much alike what happened during the time of the Roman Empire in the early Church. The Christian missionaries had to operate in secret, in fear of repercussions from the officials and the authorities, and many of the Christian faithful, both the missionaries and converts alike suffered because of their persistence and perseverance in remaining true to their faith in God despite the oppressions.

St. Andrew Kim Taegon was the first local convert Catholic priest in Korea, whose parents were themselves converts, and his father was martyred for his faith. St. Andrew Kim Taegon eventually chose priesthood as his path and finally returned to Korea after years of ministry and studies, during which time then he ministered and preached to his native Koreans about the Lord, having to deal with the intensifying persecution from the government authorities. He was martyred together with thousands of the other Christians who refused to abandon their faith, as he was tortured and beheaded, enduring glorious martyr’s death for the Lord.

Then, I would also like to share the story of St. Laurent Imbert, who was the first Apostolic Vicar to Korea, as the first bishop to establish the nascent hierarchy of the Church in that land. St. Laurent Imbert was a member of the Paris Foreign Missions society or the M.E.P., who together with the other missionary priests clandestinely ministered to the faithful and grew the Church during those difficult years. And it was told that when the officials demanded that he and the other priests surrendered themselves in exchange for the safety of his faithful flock, he willingly surrendered himself and asked his fellow two other priests to do the same as well, saying that ‘The Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep’, remembering what the Lord Himself, our Good Shepherd, had done for our sake.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the numerous stories of great wisdom and courage from the martyr saints of Korea should inspire us all to live our lives worthily and to do our best to glorify the Lord by our lives, actions and works. Each and every one of us should follow God’s will and obey His Law and commandments. Let us all no longer distance ourselves from Him or be ignorant of Him calling on us to follow Him in our hearts and minds. May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to strengthen us all each day, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 20 September 2022 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Kim Taegon, Martyr, St. Laurent Imbert, Bishop and Martyr, St. Jacques Chastan, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 8 : 19-21

At that time, the mother of Jesus and His relatives came to Him; but they could not get to Him because of the crowd. Someone told Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside and wish to meet You.”

Then Jesus answered, “My mother and My brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”

Tuesday, 20 September 2022 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Kim Taegon, Martyr, St. Laurent Imbert, Bishop and Martyr, St. Jacques Chastan, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 118 : 1, 27, 30, 34, 35, 44

Blessed are they whose ways are upright, who follow the Law of YHVH.

Explain to me all Your ordinances, and I will meditate on Your wondrous deeds.

I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart upon Your laws.

Give me understanding, that I may observe Your Law with all my heart.

Guide me in obeying Your instructions, for my pleasure lies in them.

May I always keep Your word, forever and ever.

Tuesday, 20 September 2022 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Kim Taegon, Martyr, St. Laurent Imbert, Bishop and Martyr, St. Jacques Chastan, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Proverbs 21 : 1-6, 10-13

In the hands of YHVH, the heart of the king is like running water; He directs it wherever He wishes. To the eyes of man all His ways are honest but it is YHVH Who weighs the heart. To do what is upright and just pleases YHVH more than sacrifice.

Haughty looks, proud heart, the light of the wicked is sin. The plans of a hardworking man result in earnings; poverty is for those who act too hastily. To make a fortune by means of deceit is like running after the wind; the end is death.

The soul of the wicked desires nothing but evil; not even his friend is treated with compassion. When the mocker is punished the ignorant man grows wise; when the wise man is instructed he grows in knowledge. The Just One watches the house of the evildoer and hurls the wicked into misfortune.

He who is deaf to the poor man’s cry will not be heard when he himself calls out.

Tuesday, 13 September 2022 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures reminding us that all of us have been gathered as one people and one flock by the Lord to be His followers and disciples, and to receive the bountiful gifts of His graces and blessings. The Lord has gathered us all from the nations and from the world, regardless of our background or origins, all equally beloved by God and all equally precious to Him. And through Him, we shall receive the assurance of eternal life, true happiness and joy, and we will find the path to eternal bliss with Him, at the end of time.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Corinth regarding how the Church is united as one body, the one Body of Christ, composed of all believers, not distinguished by anything or by any considerations of their background, be it whether the faithful were Jews or Greek, at the time when the Jewish people were often harbouring prejudice and dislike for the non-Jewish peoples, also known as the Gentiles, most of whom were Greeks and those who were steeped in the Greco-Roman culture and ways, as opposed to those who fervently and zealously kept the Jewish laws and customs.

St. Paul also highlighted the unity of the Church and the faithful although its members came from among the free and the rich, as well as from among the slaves, the poor and the marginalised in the community. All of the people, regardless of their origins, backgrounds and others, who have been called by God and received baptism through Him, have been made sharers of the same Body of Christ and became that one united Body of believers. And amidst the divisions and the struggles that the different factions of the faithful in Corinth experienced back then, this was a truly powerful, important and timely reminder from the Apostle.

This is a reminder that as one faithful people and community of Christians, all of us in the Church should not be prejudiced, biased or divided against each other. We should not let our differences, whether in opinion or whether in our background and status to be stumbling blocks and obstacles in preventing us from achieving true unity in God. We have to remind ourselves that in the Church we are serving the Lord and not our own selfish desires, ambitions and other things. We are God’s servants and followers, and we should focus our attention on Him, our efforts on glorifying Him rather than seeking attention towards ourselves.

Through the Lord we have received the assurance of salvation and eternal life, an existence beyond death, which all of us in one way or another, and which eventually will experience, as all of us are mortal and will not live in this world forever. As highlighted in our Gospel passage today from the story of the widow of Naim, death is something that will claim us all, and we heard of the sorrow that accompanied this, especially the widow who had to see her own son pass away before herself. Yet, the Lord showed that He is truly the Lord and Master of all life, as He raised the widow’s son from the dead, just as He had done so with the daughter of the synagogue official, Jairus, and with Lazarus, one of His close friends.

All of these showed us that while death exists as a punishment for our sins, that came with the taint of sin which entered to our humanity through our disobedience against God, but the Lord in His most wonderful and loving way has extended His most gracious love and mercy towards us, through His Son showing us that death does not hold dominion over us. Not only through the miraculous resurrection from the dead, but even more importantly, through His own suffering and death on the Cross, and then His own glorious Resurrection, Christ conquered sin and death, and presented to us the sure path out of the darkness and into the light and life eternal.

Today all of us are reminded therefore to focus our attention on the Lord, and on the love and truth which He has revealed to us through His Son, Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. All of us have been so fortunate to receive this assurance of love, and hence, we should do our best to live our lives worthily as Christians, that is as God’s disciples and followers, in the footsteps of our holy predecessors, the saints and martyrs, who should be our inspiration and role models. St. John Chrysostom, whose feast we are celebrating today, is one of them. He is the Archbishop of Constantinople, the then capital of the Roman Empire and also recognised later on as one of the great Doctors of the Church.

St. John Chrysostom was attracted to the Christian faith and studied theology as well as experiencing ascetic lifestyle as a hermit before he became a deacon, and later on becoming a great priest in Antioch, renowned for his eloquent and courageous sermons, which stirred the hearts of many people. He placed particular emphasis in the care for the poor and was particularly against the abuse of power and privileges by the rich and the powerful against the poor and those who were marginalised by the community. He preached directly to the people, with simple terms and words which helped him to connect well to those whom he was preaching to, helping him to convert countless thousands to the faith.

Eventually this holy man and servant of God was appointed as the Archbishop of Constantinople, and his works and reforms immediately gained opposition from the members of the rich and privileged, the nobles and the powerful clergy who opposed his more simple and disciplined approach in the Church affairs. It was particularly known that he was the enemy of the powerful Roman Empress Aelia Eudoxia, whose extravagant lifestyle was opposed by St. John Chrysostom, and the former also thought that St. John’s sermons were directed against herself. As such, by the efforts of those opposed against him, St. John Chrysostom had to endure exile from his See, and he was banished not just once but twice, as frictions continued to exist between the Empress and her supporters and St. John Chrysostom and his supporters on the other side.

The holy man of God nonetheless never gave up, and continued to serve the Lord faithfully, dedicating himself to whatever tasks and ministries he could perform, even while in exile, until his death. The dedication and hard works of St. John Chrysostom should therefore inspire all of us to trust in the Lord and allow Him to lead and guide us in our journey of faith and life. We have to remind ourselves that we have to serve God in this life and proclaim His truth and love by our lives. Let us all remind one another that God and His love for us have made us truly blessed and fortunate, for by His love, He has gathered us all from all the peoples and all the nations, to be His one flock, one Body of Christ, the Church.

May the Lord continue to bless us and strengthen us in all things. May He empower and strengthen us to be able to face challenges and trials in life. May He give us the courage and the energy to resist against the temptations of this world, and help us to remember that we are all His people, and that we should always be united in love with each other, and not be divided one against another. May God be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 13 September 2022 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 7 : 11-17

At that time, a little later after Jesus healed the servant of a captain in Capernaum, He 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.