Wednesday, 30 November 2022 : Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Church celebrates the Feast of one of the great Twelve Apostles of the Lord, namely that of St. Andrew the Apostle, also known as St. Andrew the First-Called because he was indeed one of the first if not the first one among the Twelve Apostles to be called by the Lord to be one of His followers. St. Andrew the Apostle was once a fisherman of the region of the lake of Galilee, together with his brother St. Peter, the chief of all the Apostles and first Vicar of Christ, as well as the sons of Zebedee, St. James and St. John, another two of the Twelve Apostles. Altogether, the four of them were the first of the Twelve Apostles to follow the Lord, and were the Lord’s first disciples, leaving everything behind in order to follow Him.

St. Andrew according to the Gospel of St. John and tradition was also one of the disciples of St. John the Baptist, and was one of the two disciples who became first followers of Christ because St. John the Baptist at the moment when he baptised the Lord Jesus at the River Jordan proclaimed, ‘Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world’, revealing that the One he had just baptised, was truly the One Whom God had promised, the Messiah and Saviour of the whole world. St. Andrew and the other unnamed disciple of St. John the Baptist therefore decided to follow the Lord from then on, and it was likely hence that St. Andrew was the one who introduced the Lord to his fellow fishermen, his brother St. Peter as well as the brothers St. James and St. John as mentioned.

St. Andrew the Apostle was often present at many important events in the Lord’s ministry as mentioned in the Gospels. He continued to carry out his ministry amidst the challenges and trials of the world, and all the persecutions facing the faithful after the Lord has suffered, died on the Cross and risen from the dead, and sent out His disciples and the Apostles to the many distant parts of the world to proclaim the Word of God and the Good News of His salvation to all the people in those places. St. Andrew himself according to Apostolic and Church traditions, went to the various regions in the distant north from the Holy Land, in places like Scythia, which corresponds to the modern day parts of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. He also ministered to the people in other places like the Balkans, establishing the See of Byzantium, which would later on became the principal See of Constantinople of his successors, and Greece among others.

St. Andrew later would suffer martyrdom as described by the traditions of the Church, as he was arrested and condemned to death in the region of what is now Greece. He was crucified on an X-shaped cross, which henceforth would be known as St. Andrew’s Cross. He remained firm in his dedication and faith in God, doing his best in fulfilling God’s missions and calling entrusted to Him. St. Andrew continued to persevere in the mission which the Lord has given him, to the very end. He chose to suffer and die rather than to abandon His mission and to endure the hardships of this world rather than to stay silent amidst proclaiming the words of God’s truth against the falsehoods and evils of this world. His examples, faith and convictions should inspire us in our own way of observing the Law of God and in following His path.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we reflect together on this Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle upon the actions and life work of this Apostle and holy man of God, let us all discern our own actions and way of life, in how we live our lives as Christians in our world today. Have we placed the Lord our God as the centre and focus of our lives, or have we instead allowed ourselves to be swayed by the many temptations and allures of this world that we end up being drawn further and further away from the Lord and His salvation? It is important that we reflect upon these today as we continue to progress through the season of Advent in preparation for the great celebrations at Christmas. That is because we must not be ignorant of our calling and mission as Christians, to be the beacons of God’s light and hope in our world today.

Often we may think that we are unworthy or incapable of doing what the Lord has entrusted to us to do, but this is because we do not realise or understand that it is not we who make ourselves worthy of the Lord or decide whether we are worthy or not. Instead, it is God Himself Who calls and has called upon all those whom He deems to be worthy. After all, He knows everything in us, all in our hearts and minds, even to the deepest of our secrets. Nothing is hidden from His All-Knowing might, and hence, He knows perfectly what we are capable of, and He empowers each one of us with unique and variety of gifts, blessings and opportunities to do His will, and to be fruitful in the missions that He has entrusted to each one of us. All of us should follow in the footsteps of St. Andrew the Apostle, and the other Apostles and saints.

The works that the Lord had entrusted to His Apostles and disciples are still far from being completed, brothers and sisters in Christ. There are still many areas where there are people who have not yet known the truth, wisdom and salvation in God, and there are many of those who can be called closer to God and His truth, His salvation and grace by our lives and actions. We have been entrusted with many things by the Lord, and sometimes we ourselves do not realise this, as we are often too preoccupied with worldly matters, our desires and ambitions that we end up being blindsided and unable to realise what a great opportunity that we have been given by God, and how we often squandered those opportunities and gifts, in ignoring and not answering to the call that the Lord has made upon us to follow Him.

Let us all therefore entrust ourselves to the Lord, following the examples that saints like St. Andrew the Apostle had done. Let us all allow the Lord to lead and guide us in our lives so that we may truly walk faithfully down the path that He has prepared for us. Let us all be active in the faithful living and carrying out of our Christian duties and obligations, in being true and shining beacons of God’s light and truth in our world today. Are we willing to commit ourselves to this path? And are we willing to commit our effort, time and attention to do what the Lord had called us to do and entrusted in our care? Let us ask St. Andrew to intercede for us, that God may always be by our side and strengthen us in whatever struggles and paths that He has called us to walk through, now and always, evermore. May our lives, and especially this time of Advent be a truly fruitful one. Amen.

Wednesday, 30 November 2022 : 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.

Wednesday, 30 November 2022 : 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.

Wednesday, 30 November 2022 : 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, 28 October 2022 : Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate together on this momentous day, the celebration of the Feast of Our Lord’s Holy Apostles, and not just one but two of the Twelve Apostles, namely St. Simon and St. Jude, Holy Apostles of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Both Apostles followed the Lord and dedicated their lives and works to God, and they became for us great role models, examples and inspirations to follow, in how we should live our own lives. God had called them from their respective lives and pasts, to be His servants, and to do His will. Today as we rejoice in their memory and glory, let us all discern all that they had done for the greater glory of God.

St. Simon the Apostle, also known sometimes as St. Simon the Zealot, as the name suggests, was a member of the Zealots, which was back then a highly nationalistic group of people who were determined to liberate the Jewish people in the region of Judea and Galilee from the domination and rule by the Romans or any other foreign oppressors, and to establish once again the independent rule over the people of God, in the form of the Kingdom of Israel. St. Simon was probably one of these Zealots, who then left to follow the Lord. Another tradition stated that the name of St. Simon meant more of being ‘zealous’ rather than him being a member of the Zealots. Regardless, he chose to follow the Lord and to do His will from the moment that the Lord called him.

Meanwhile, St. Jude the Apostle was also commonly known as St. Jude Thaddeus or St. Judas Thaddeus. He was often confused with Judas Iscariot, the traitor, as well as Jude, the brother of James, who was one of relatives or brothers of the Lord Jesus, as well as the writer of the Epistle of Jude, which might or might not have been written by St. Jude the Apostle himself. The association of St. Jude and his name of ‘Thaddeus’ itself was not conclusive, and biblical scholars sometimes considered them to be two separate people. Again, regardless of their origins, both St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles of the Lord, followed the Lord and faithfully embarked on the missions entrusted to them.

St. Simon and St. Jude both went on their missions after having received the commissioning and the commandment from the Lord, to go forth to all the nations and all the peoples, proclaiming the Good News and the salvation of God to them, and to baptise them all in the Name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. St. Simon and St. Jude both dedicated themselves to their ministries, as tradition stated how St. Simon the Apostle went to evangelise in the regions of Egypt, Persia, Armenia and Lebanon among other places like Ethiopia. It was often mentioned that St. Simon and St. Jude worked together as an evangelising team, and hence the reason why their feasts are celebrated together this day.

Meanwhile, St. Jude the Apostle himself preached the Gospels and the Good News of God in many places, including that of Judea and Samaria, near Jerusalem, and also the faraway places such as Libya, Mesopotamia and Syria, and to other places together with the other Apostles and missionaries, like that of with St. Simon the Apostle. Both he and St. Bartholomew, another of the Twelve Apostles were credited as the first ones to bring the Christian faith to the region of Armenia, sowing the seeds of faith there long before that realm eventually becoming the first ever Christian nation in the world.

Both St. Simon and St. Jude encountered many challenges as well as opportunities and successes throughout their missions and works, as through their efforts, many came to know of the Lord and His truth, and many chose to accept Him as their Lord and Saviour. Just like that of the other Apostles, St. Simon and St. Jude laid the groundwork and firm foundations for the Church and the Christian faith. St. Simon and St. Jude nonetheless faced intense persecutions and challenges throughout their ministry and both were martyred for their faith. While traditions sometimes differed on the details of their martyrdom, what matters is that they remained true and faithful to God to the very end.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we heard and reflect upon the lives and the works of these two Holy Apostles of the Lord, let us all ponder upon what we ourselves as Christians have been called to do with our lives like that of the Apostles St. Simon and St. Jude. Both of them had dedicated themselves to the Lord, answered His call and committed themselves to do what they had been tasked and entrusted to do. And we have to realise that there are still a lot of things that the Apostles did which were still not yet completed. In fact, as time passes on, there are more and more opportunities and areas where we as Christians and the Church can contribute for the sake of many of the people out there still in need of God’s grace and love, His salvation and eternal life.

Let us all hence be inspired and strengthened by the courage and faith shown by St. Simon and St. Jude, and ask them both for their intercessions that through their prayers and guidance, we may always be strengthened by God and empowered to remain faithful and committed to the Lord at all times. May God be with us all His Church, His beloved people, and may each and every one of us be evangelising and faithful disciples of His, in the manner of the Holy Apostles, especially that of St. Simon and St. Jude. May God bless us all in our every good deeds and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 28 October 2022 : Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

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 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.

Friday, 28 October 2022 : Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles (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.

Friday, 28 October 2022 : Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Ephesians 2 : 19-22

Now, you are no longer strangers or guests, but fellow citizens of the holy people : you are of the household of God. You are the house, whose foundations are the Apostles and prophets, and whose cornerstone is Christ Jesus. In Him, the whole structure is joined together, and rises, to be a holy Temple, in the Lord.

In Him, you, too, are being built, to become the spiritual Sanctuary of God.

Friday, 7 October 2022 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 1 : 12-14

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the Mount called Olives, which is a fifteen minute walk away. On entering the city they went to the room upstairs where they were staying. Present there were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James, son of Alpheus; Simon the Zealot and Judas son of James.

All of these, together, gave themselves to constant prayer. With them were some women, and also Mary, the mother of Jesus, and His brothers.

Tuesday, 6 September 2022 : 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 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.