Saturday, 28 October 2017 : Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the feast of not just one but two of the Lord’s own Twelve Apostles, the principal and most important ones among His disciples, whom He had called and chosen from among the people and the other disciples, to be the pillars of His Church, established on earth, as mentioned in the Epistle that St. Paul wrote to the Church and to the faithful in the city of Ephesus.

Jesus our Lord is the Head and the Foundation of the Church, as He founded it Himself, establishing the Church as the Body of the faithful, composed of all the faithful people of God united to Him as the Head of the Universal Church. And the Apostles are the support structures that are crucial in maintaining the integrity of the entire Church, as without them, their works and commitments, the Church would not have been what it is today.

We may think of the Apostles as those whom God had chosen among His people and were great ones among men. However, the reality is that, while God indeed gave them the authority over the Church and the faithful, the power to forgive sins and the authority over evil spirits and to continue the good works of the Lord, but the challenges and responsibilities that they faced were enormous. There were great tribulations and difficulties that they had to endure on their journey to establish and build God’s Church.

If we read throughout the entirety of the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles written by St. Paul the Apostle, as well as through the traditions and stories of the tales of the saints of the early Church and the martyrs, especially the martyrdom of the Apostles themselves, we will realise just what a calling that God had called those Twelve Apostles into, to the point that all of them, except for St. John the Apostle, died of martyrdom defending their faith in God.

And neither were these Apostles chosen because they were mighty in their deeds or power, but instead, God chose them from among the people, from among the poor and the ordinary, from those who were once fishermen, illiterate and uneducated, or tax collectors and sinners, or like St. Simon the Apostle, who was a member of the Zealots, a group of Jewish fanatical fighters, and many more. God called them from various sources and made them to be worthy.

And God called them to a mission, that is to bring all the people of God to Him, to reconcile them with Him and to bring them to a loving reunion through forgiveness and grace. They have worked tirelessly, continuing the good works of the Lord after His Resurrection from the dead and Ascension into heaven. They went from place to place, from towns to towns, and from villages to villages as the witnesses of the Lord, proclaiming to many people the truth of God.

By their faith in God, they have become indispensable key players in the earliest days of the Church, especially amidst the challenges and difficulties that many of the earliest Christian communities had. And therefore, many of the Apostles led the way in martyrdom, because they courageously went on to preach the Gospels among the various communities and when they were arrested and persecuted, they did not give up their faith.

In particular, St. Simon, also known as the Zealot, is often depicted together with St. Jude, also known as St. Jude Thaddeus, because both of them according to the sacred tradition of the Church, went on together on a mission of evangelisation in many places, from Persia, which is in present day Iran, to Armenia and then to Lebanon and the Jordan. It was also documented that they might have travelled to other parts of the Roman Empire, preaching the faith, until they died in holy martyrdom.

Through glorious martyrdom God glorified His holy Apostles, His greatest servants, that the Church declared them to be saints, those who are worthy of praise, honour and veneration, as they are now in heaven, and they now stand in the presence of God, becoming our great intercessors, praying for our sake at all times. We know how St. Jude Thaddeus in particular is well-known as the saint to whom a great devotion is present, as the patron saint for hopeless causes.

The examples of these Apostles of our Lord, their courage and commitment to serve the Lord in doing the will of God, and obeying all of His commandments, should be inspiration for each and every one of us. We should devote ourselves, our time and effort to do what they have done, continuing their good works in the Church. If I would like to compare us all, as Christians all of us are the bricks of the Church, just as the Apostles are the foundations and the pillars supporting the Church.

Just as without the pillars a building will collapse, without good bricks and good arrangement and strong bonds between the bricks, the building will not be able to withstand the pressure and forces from the outside, and the whole edifice will also eventually collapse too. This is why, all of us as Christians, are called to do the same mission that the Lord had first entrusted to His Apostles.

We should not think that there is nothing much to do in our lives as Christians in this world. We should not think that there is no more works of evangelisation and conversion that need to be done. There are in fact still numerous opportunities and areas where we can contribute our efforts, to help the multitudes of people who are still living in the dark and in the ignorance of God’s love.

There are many out there who have also lapsed in their faith, and walking down the path towards damnation, because they have lost their way, either through temptations or coercions, and it is in our hands now, that we are able to devote ourselves, our time and effort to help these brethren of ours, by our contributions, actions and deeds, imitating the examples set by the Apostles themselves.

Let us remember that God had chosen His Apostles to be His instruments to bring His salvation to more and more souls. The same calling and mission has been given to us all as well. Let us embrace this willingly, and commit ourselves wholeheartedly to God, no longer hesitating, but we should encourage each other to walk righteously in the presence of God. May God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 28 October 2017 : 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.

Saturday, 28 October 2017 : 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.

Saturday, 28 October 2017 : 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, 27 October 2017 : 29th 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 the Scriptures, we heard a very important reminder for each one of us, that as Christians we must be ever vigilant in our lives, that in our actions and every deeds we will be able to stay faithful to the Lord, regardless the temptations to do otherwise. We cannot be lukewarm or be hypocrites in our faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in the first reading today, all of us heard how St. Paul in his Epistle and exhortation to the Church and the faithful in the city of Rome spoke of how the people of God must be vigilant against the temptation of their flesh, as their bodies are vulnerable to corruption by sin, by the wickedness of the darkness of Satan, who sowed the seeds of sin in our hearts and minds.

Indeed, we may have experience it ourselves, on how even though deep in our hearts we want to be righteous and good, faithful and committed to the Lord, yet our flesh is unwilling, and the pressures of our flesh cause us to stumble and falter in our journey of faith, as Jesus Himself said to His Apostles, Peter, James and John, whom He called to accompany Him at the Garden of Gethsemane just before His Passion.

In that occasion, the Apostles were supposed to stay awake and keep the Lord company, throughout the time when Jesus was praying, and yet they fell asleep because their eyelids were heavy, and the effects of the full meal they ate at the Last Supper bore down upon them. And the Lord woke them up a few times, as He went back to them to check on them, and said to them, “While the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

This is something that perhaps all of us should keep in mind, as we reflect on our own lives and actions today. Perhaps we should begin with very simple comparison with what we have just discussed about the Apostles. How many of us feel very drowsy and lethargic after eating a heavy meal, because all the blood in our system goes down to our digestive system, and our brains not getting enough blood.

And that made us very reluctant to do anything, as our bodies feel very tired and we just want to lay down and rest. Similarly, I am sure that there were many occasions when we were moved in our hearts and minds, wanting to reach out to those others around us when we see them being wronged, persecuted or unjustly treated. Yet, our flesh, our limbs and bodies deterred us from going forth to help, because of this inertia, this laziness, this unwillingness of the flesh, corrupted by sins and the temptations to sin.

This is why many Christians have not led a very Christian life. Instead, in fact, some have been very un-Christian in nature, because of the things that we failed to do, for the sake of our brethren, and also in what we have done. There were Christians who claimed that they were the followers of Christ, and yet have acted in a manner that showed just how selfish they were, caring for their own needs, and also committed acts that were contrary to the teachings of the Lord, and instead, indulging in all sorts of the pleasures of the flesh and the body.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, all of us must strengthen our relationship with God. And how do we do that? It is by drawing ourselves closer to God through fervent and genuine prayer life, and also through active participation in the faith. We have to realise that the devil is always active, prowling about trying to snatch us from God’s salvation. And therefore, the less involved we are in the Church and in living our faith, the more likely that he will be able to strike at us.

Let us all therefore help one another in our journey of faith, so that we may do our best to resist the temptations of Satan which he had made through sin, and through the temptations of the world and the pleasures of the flesh. Let us all resist these wicked abominations, and seek to purify ourselves from all that are unworthy, and which had separated us from the fullness of God’s love and grace.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He give us the courage to live faithfully day after day, doing our best to live according to His will, and following the message and the teachings of His Word in the Gospels and according to the teachings passed down through the Church. Amen.

Friday, 27 October 2017 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 12 : 54-59

At that time, Jesus said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming’; and so it happens. And when the wind blows from the south, you say, ‘It will be hot’; and so it is. You superficial people! You understand the signs of the earth and the sky, but you do not understand the present times.”

“And why do you not judge for yourselves what is fit? When you go with your accuser before the court, try to settle the case on the way, lest he drag you before the judge, and the judge deliver you to the jailer, and the jail throw you into prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the very last penny.”

Friday, 27 October 2017 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 118 : 66, 68, 76, 77, 93, 94

Give me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust in Your commands.

You are good, and Your works are good; teach me Your decrees.

Comfort me then with Your unfailing love, as You promised Your servant.

Let Your mercy come, to give me life; for Your Law is my delight.

Never will I forget Your precepts; for with them, You give me life.

Save me, for I am Yours, since I seek Your statutes.