Friday, 27 December 2019 : Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast of one of the great Apostles of the Church, one of the most prominent among the Twelve Apostles as he was also a writer of the Holy Gospels, counted both among the Apostles and the Evangelists. St. John the Apostle and Evangelist was known to be the youngest among the Apostles and also as the one beloved by the Lord.

St. John was also the younger brother of St. James the Greater, another one of the Apostles, and was one of the fishermen called by the Lord at the Lake of Galilee, to be one of the earliest of His Apostles and followers. St. John was present through many of the Lord’s most important moments in His ministry, often together with St. Peter and St. James, his brother. He was present at the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor as well as at the Agony of the Lord in the Gardens of Gethsemane.

It was also to St. John that the Lord entrusted Mary, His mother from the Cross as He was about to die for the salvation of all mankind. St. John took care of Mary from then on until the time when she was assumed into heavenly glory. And St. John, like the other Apostles, were also heavily involved in the formation of the Church, preaching the truth and salvation of God in many places, enduring challenges and trials in the process.

St. John eventually was arrested and exiled to the island of Patmos, where he received a series of heavenly visions of the world that is to come, as compiled in the Book of Apocalypse or the Book of Revelations of St. John, as the Apostle saw the vision of the future, of the time of the end, when the forces of the enemies of the Lord and the Antichrist persecuted the faithful people of God, and how God would then come again in glory to win the war and triumph over all evil once and forevermore.

St. John was the last of the Apostles to pass on from this world, and unique among all of them, he was the only one who did not die in martyrdom, but instead passing on from this earthly life in old age. Because of this, partly, the Gospel that was written by St. John was the latest of the four Holy Gospels and contained significantly different contents as compared to the Gospels according to St. Matthew, St. Mark and St. Luke.

It was fitting that the feast of St. John the Apostle is celebrated every year within the Christmas Octave within just two days from Christmas day, as this Apostle as mentioned, was indeed very close to the Lord and had a lot of knowledge of the Lord and His many works, as he recorded in his Gospel and the short Epistles he wrote, and also the aforementioned Book of Revelations that detailed the outlook of the future of the Church and the faithful.

And just as yesterday we commemorate the martyrdom of St. Stephen, the first martyr of the Church, and now today we celebrate the feast of St. John the Apostle, the Church wants all of us to know that as Christians, our celebrations of Christmas cannot be separated from Christ, that is Our Lord and Saviour, the very One for Whom St. Stephen and St. John the Apostle had laboured in faith, which is the same for all the other saints and martyrs as well.

They are reminding all of us that our celebration of Christmas must be centred and focused on the Lord, our Saviour, the very One for Whom we ought to rejoice because without Him, and without the love which He has shown us, there would have been no hope for us, and absolutely no reason for us to rejoice at all. We rejoice because knowing the love of God through the very courageous and brave examples of His servants like St. John the Apostle, other Apostles and disciples of the Lord, we know that all He had done for us is truly worth celebrating.

St. John the Apostle lived a very long and fruitful life, filled with both happiness and sorrows, sufferings and pains, all the trials and challenges he had to endure as a faithful servant of God and more. And yet, surely, St. John was satisfied at the end of it all, having served the Lord to the best of his ability and did everything he could to fulfil the mission entrusted to him and the other Apostles and disciples.

How about us, brothers and sisters in Christ? Have we been celebrating in this Christmas season with the right reason and intention, knowing that in everything we say and do, in all of our celebrations, Christ is always at the most prominent place. Are we able to follow in the footsteps of the Apostles and saints, especially that of St. John the Apostle who gave all of his life for the service and the greater glory of God?

Let all that we do from now on, particularly as we celebrate in this Christmas season, proclaim the Lord and His glorious wonders, His love for each and every one of us, as the reason for all of our joy and happiness. May the Lord be with us all, and may He strengthen our faith and love for Him so that we may be inspired to live in the manner that St. John had lived his life. Amen.

Friday, 27 December 2019 : Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 20 : 2-8

At that time, Mary of Magdala ran to Peter, and the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and she said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

Peter then set out with the other disciple to go out to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down and saw the linen cloths lying flat, but he did not enter. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and entered the tomb; he, too, saw the linen cloths lying flat.

The napkin, which had been around His head, was not lying flat like the other linen cloths, but lay rolled up in its place. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in; he saw and believed.

Friday, 27 December 2019 : Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 96 : 1-2, 5-6, 11-12

The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the distant islands be glad. Clouds and darkness surround Him; justice and right are His throne.

The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim His justice, all peoples see His glory.

He sheds light upon the upright, and gladness upon the just. Rejoice in the Lord, you who are blameless, and give praise to His holy Name.

Friday, 27 December 2019 : Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 1 : 1-4

This is what has been from the beginning, and what we have heard and have seen with our own eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, I mean the Word Who is Life…

The Life made Itself known, we have seen Eternal Life and we bear witness, and we are telling you of it. It was with the Father and made Himself known to us. So we tell you what we have seen and heard, that you may be in fellowship with us, and us, with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.

And we write this that our joy may be complete.

Saturday, 7 December 2019 : 1st Week of Advent, Memorial of St. Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Bishops)

Matthew 9 : 35 – Matthew 10 : 1, 6-8

At that time, Jesus went around all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom; and He cured every sickness and disease. When He saw the crowds, He was moved with pity; for they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are only few. Ask the Master of the harvest to send workers to gather His harvest.”

Jesus called His Twelve disciples to Him, and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to drive them out, and to heal every disease and sickness. Jesus sent these Twelve on mission, with the instruction : “Go, instead, to the lost sheep of the people of Israel. Go, and proclaim this message : The kingdom of heaven is near. Heal the sick, bring the dead back to life, cleanse the lepers, and drive out demons. Freely have you received, freely give.”

Saturday, 30 November 2019 : Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the great feast of the Holy Apostle St. Andrew, the brother of St. Peter the Apostle, once a fisherman at the Lake of Galilee together with his brother and with the sons of Zebedee, St. James and St. John, and he was also known to be the one who was first called among the other Apostles, being the one who introduced the Lord to his brother and fellow fishermen.

That was why St. Andrew was also known as St. Andrew the First-Called, as according to the Gospel of St. John, he was one of the followers of St. John the Baptist, who introduced the Lord to his own disciples, some of whom, including St. Andrew, came to the Lord and St. Andrew would then introduce Him to St. Peter, St. James and St. John. He was mentioned again in the Gospel during the miraculous feeding of the five thousand men, as the Lord asked His disciples how much food they had, and St. Andrew responded.

Later on, after the Lord’s suffering, Passion, death and resurrection, St. Andrew with the other Apostles led by his brother, St. Peter began their evangelising missions and established the Church of God in various places and communities, and St. Andrew according to the tradition of the Church went to evangelise in the region around the Aegean Sea and the Black Sea, in what is now Greece, parts of Eastern Europe and southern Russia, parts of Cyprus and Georgia among many others.

St. Andrew laboured for a long time, enduring many challenges and difficulties throughout his ministry as he had to face opposition and rejections from those who refused to believe in the truth of Christ. He also founded a few Church dioceses and sees, of which the most important one dating to the present day was the See of Byzantium at the crossroads of Asia and Europe, where eventually a great new city and capital of the Roman Empire was built by the Emperor Constantine the Great, the city of Constantinople.

That is why St. Andrew is revered as the Apostolic origin and founder of the Patriarchal See of Constantinople, where his successors as the Archbishop of Constantinople and titled as the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople reigns. To this day, St. Andrew is revered for his role as a great Apostle of Christ, in his dedication to God’s works and in his tireless efforts to spread the Good News among many of the people and the communities that he had visited throughout his ministries.

Eventually, St. Andrew was also martyred like most of his brother Apostles, being crucified on an X-shaped cross, which is afterwards ever known as the Cross of St. Andrew. St. Andrew the Apostle gave his life and devoted his service to God, in defending his faith and in bringing forth God’s truth and salvation into this world. St. Andrew lived up to his calling as an Apostle, giving everything foe the sake of God and to glorify His Name by all of his works.

But if we think that St. Andrew the Apostle was truly an exceptional man that is beyond us or our means, then we are mistaken. Let us all remember that he was just a mere fisherman, a poor, humble and illiterate man who was probably unexceptional and ordinary in all things, except for one thing. St. Andrew had deep faith in God, the love and trust which he had placed in the Lord Jesus, in following Him with all of his heart and with all of his strength.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it was not St. Andrew who justified himself by his own talents, abilities, strengths or capabilities. On the other hand, it was God Who justified him, blessed him and the other Apostles and disciples with the strength, courage and wisdom to carry out the missions that God has called them to do, and which He has entrusted in their hands. God called St. Andrew and his fellow Apostles from humble backgrounds, that they might glorify Him through their works and actions.

Now, what matters is for us to realise that each and every one of us still have many things to do in our lives as Christians, as those whom God has also blessed with faith and called to be His servants and followers. We have been entrusted with the missions and works that the Lord Himself had entrusted to the Apostles, as we are supposed to continue their work and labour as part of God’s same Church. There are still many areas out there that are not yet touched by the love and grace of God, and have not yet heard or known His truth and salvation.

All of us have been blessed by God with unique talents, capabilities, strengths and resources to carry out whatever we need to do for the sake of the Lord and the mission which He has entrusted to us. The question now is, are we willing to accept this mission and do our best to serve the Lord in evangelisation and missionary works following the examples of the Apostles? Many of us have not dedicated ourselves and our lives in a Christian manner unlike what our holy predecessors had done.

And we do not have to think or aim big, brothers and sisters in Christ. Often what we need to do is just to do our best in our daily living, through small and simple acts in our lives, in how we live our lives virtuously in accordance to the teachings of the Church and in remaining true to our Christian faith in our interactions, works, and every small efforts we put in life. That is what we need to do, and not being worried or being too ambitious, but just trusting our lives in the hands of God, and let Him guide us in doing the rest.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all pray that the Lord may strengthen us all in faith through the inspiration of His Apostle, St. Andrew, and through his intercessions for our sake, and that we may be courageous and be committed in living our lives with faith and in embracing our missions as God has entrusted us all, to be the workers and servants of His many wonderful works, and to be the bearers and witnesses of His truth and salvation to all the peoples. May God bless us all, always. Amen.

Saturday, 30 November 2019 : 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.