Saturday, 17 October 2015 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the words of the Holy Scriptures, speaking to us about the grace and blessings that shall await all those who keep and maintain their faith in God, and the curses and the condemnations that await all those who have veered away from the path towards the Lord and towards salvation.

The example of Abraham, our forefather in faith was used, in his obedience and exemplary actions and life, which were filled with the obedience and the trust which he showed to God, the complete faith and trust that he had shown, which made his descendants to become truly blessed by God’s grace. This is done so to inspire all of us to strive for righteousness and justice, and therefore become eligible to enjoy forever God’s love and grace.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us have been called to a new life of repentance, of redemption and of forgiveness. All of us have been called out of the pit of darkness, misery and wickedness, and we are all called into the life filled with God’s justice and grace, which can become a reality only if all of us gather together and work together to achieve that goal of salvation in God.

Those who have not been faithful to God, who refused to listen to the word of God, and those who have gone astray in their lives, walking in their own paths in disobedience to the Law of God, will receive the wrath and anger of God, and God shall reject them, just as they themselves had rejected Him first. God is merely reciprocating the hatred and the unwillingness of those who have not given their love to Him. Yet, if these people were to repent and change their ways, God will readily show His infinite mercy and love to them.

God is ever loving and merciful, but this does not mean that He readily tolerates our sins and wickedness. He loves each and every one of us personally and as His beloved children and creation, but He does not love our sins and our wrongdoings. He hates all forms of sins and injustice, all forms of malice and wickedness, all forms of evil and all the darkness that lie in our actions.

If we persist in retaining all those sins and darkness, then certainly all of us will be condemned and prevented from reaching salvation in the Lord. This is because those sins and wicked things in our words and actions are barriers and obstacles that stop us from finding our way to the Lord. Those sins are what preventing us from receiving the fullness of God’s grace and blessings, and they kept us away from the light, remaining in the darkness and the abyss.

This is why, we ought to reflect on our own actions and deeds, and we should think about what we have done in this life, so that we may realise the current state of our being, whether we stand in righteousness and grace of God, or whether we are in danger of falling into the condemnation of eternal hell. Thus, we ought to heed the example of a holy man and saint whose feast day we celebrate on this day.

Today is the feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch, the second bishop and leader of the faithful in Antioch, a great city of Christendom in the Eastern Mediterranean. It was counted among the birthplaces of Christianity, as the place where the faithful were first called as Christianoi, or Christians. It was the place where the Church was established by St. Peter the Apostle, the Vicar of Christ, who later went on to establish the Church in Rome.

St. Ignatius of Antioch was his successor as the second Bishop of Antioch, and he helped to continue the establishment of the Church in Antioch and beyond, caring for the spiritual and overall well-being of his flock, giving them examples to follow and exhorting them to be always faithful to God and His ways, and resist the temptations of worldly goods and human greed.

Eventually, St. Ignatius of Antioch shared in the suffering of Christ our Lord, when he and the other Christians were persecuted under the orders of the civil authorities of the Roman Empire. The Emperor and the officials of the Roman state opposed the Christians and their teachings of truth, and they attempted to snuff out the light of the Church at its young stage of growth.

Nevertheless, St. Ignatius of Antioch remained resolute and committed to the evangelisation and spreading of God’s Good News of the Gospel, and he suffered death and martyrdom knowing that the works he had begun would be carried on by those who came after him, and his martyrdom served as an inspiration for countless others to also pick up their crosses and follow the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, let us on this day reflect once again on our own lives. We have a clear choice on whether to obey the Lord and His ways, walking in His righteousness and justice, and practicing His will and commandments in all of our words and actions, or whether we want to follow he devil and all of his errors and lies.

Let us all take concrete actions in our lives, so that in all the things we do and say, we will show a renewed effort of loving and serving the Lord our God, with all of our hearts’ strength. May the Lord have mercy on us all, forgive us all our sins, and bring us into everlasting life. Amen.

Saturday, 17 October 2015 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 12 : 8-12

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples and to the people, “I tell you, whoever acknowledges Me before people, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. But the one who denies Me before others will be denied before the angels of God.”

“There will be pardon for the one who criticises the Son of Man, but there will be no pardon for the one who slanders the Holy Spirit. When you are brought before the synagogues, and before governors and rulers, do not worry about how you will defend yourself, or what to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you have to say.”

Saturday, 17 October 2015 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 104 : 6-7, 8-9, 42-43

You descendants of His servant Abraham, you sons of Jacob, His chosen ones! He is the Lord our God; His judgments reach the whole world.

He remembers His covenant forever, His promise to a thousand generations, the covenant He made with Abraham, the promise He swore to Isaac.

For He remembered His promise to Abraham, His servant. So He led forth His people with joy, His chosen ones with singing.

Saturday, 17 October 2015 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Romans 4 : 13, 16-18

If God promised Abraham, or rather his descendants, that the world would belong to him, this was not because of his obeying the Law, but because he was just and a friend of God through faith.

For that reason, faith is the way and all is given by grace; and the promises of Abraham are fulfilled for all his descendants, not only for his children according to the Law, but also for all the others who have believed. Abraham is the father of all of us, as it is written : I will make you father of many nations. He is our father in the eyes of Him who gives life to the dead, and calls into existence what does not yet exist, for this is the God in whom he believed.

Abraham believed and hoped against all expectation, thus becoming father of many nations, as he had been told : See how many will be your descendants.

Friday, 16 October 2015 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Virgins)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about the readings from the Holy Scriptures speaking on the theme of forgiveness, and how those who have been forgiven by God shall receive great grace and blessings, as they will be counted among those whom God is pleased with, and they shall inherit the fullness of God’s grace and love.

And why is it so important for us to follow the path of righteousness and repentance from our sins? That is because history itself had shown that the righteous were blessed and brought into greatness, like Abraham, our father in faith and the forefather of many nations, and David, the king of Israel raised from humble origin of a shepherd to become the ruler of a great nation, and whose descendants rule forever, and through Christ, the heir of David, his kingdom is made secure eternally.

Meanwhile, the wicked had no share in the glory promised by the Lord, and for all their worldly glory and greatness, for all their boasts and haughtiness, they were not remembered and they left no legacy of their greatness on earth, save for ruins and emptiness, as well as burnt husks of possessions, material and wealth they left behind in this world.

It is in our human nature for us to act in ways that are selfish, self-glorifying, hypocritical and self-praising, that is to fill up our own human ego and pride, our own desires and greed, to bring pleasures to our own body and flesh, and to mortify and corrupt our existence, our minds, hearts and souls, with the corruption of sin and darkness. And it is these things that had caused us to fall and fail in our path to attain God’s mercy and salvation.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are called to reevaluate our actions, words and deeds, and ask ourselves whether the things we have done in our lives are truly just and rightful, or wrong and wicked in the sight of God and men alike. If we have not been faithful or dedicated in our lives and actions, then truly, we always have that opportunity to rediscover ourselves and commit ourselves into actions that bring about God’s grace upon us.

The righteous and the saints, the holy ones of God did not always lead a holy and just life, and their lives were far from perfect. Even saints and blessed ones were once sinners as well, and they have committed sinful deeds before, just as no man was free from sin, save for Jesus Christ our Lord. Even Abraham once also did not have enough faith in the Lord at one moment, when he took Hagar, his maid to be his wife, as suggested by Sara, his wife.

And king David of Israel, as faithful and devoted as he was, he was once tempted by his lust and desire to take the wife of another as his own, as how he obtained Bathsheba, his wife, the mother of Solomon, by plotting the murder of her first husband, the captain Uriah. Such was the extent of his sin, plotting the murder of another to fulfil his own selfish wishes.

But he repented and atoned for his sins, just as Abraham, who disowned his maid and sent her off with the son she bore for him, and for king David, he sincerely repented for his sins, and having made a turnaround in his life, he was forgiven and given a new chance, where he continued to be a great king and honoured and glorified. This is the promise God has given to all those who have followed Him and rejected the path of Satan.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Hedwig, also known as Jadwiga of Poland, the Queen of Poland and the last of her dynasty. She was one of the greatest rulers in the Polish history, who was very devoted to her people, caring for the poor and the less fortunate in her kingdom, and giving all she could do to help those who have been left unloved and oppressed.

St. Jadwiga devoted her time for her people, the sheep that have been placed under her care by the Lord, entrusted to her care and love. St. Jadwiga showed many of us how to become a good follower and disciple of the Lord our God, living righteously, with faith and dedication, and by caring and loving for one another, especially the last, the lost and the least.

Meanwhile, today we also celebrate the feast of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, who popularised and promoted the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which today is a major devotion and a central tenet and part of the Church and our faith. The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is centred upon the loving heart of our God, whose most wonderful heart is filled with great and rich mercy and care for all of us, His beloved ones.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque is a very devoted servant of God, who devoted her life to a complete spiritual life committed with prayer and steadfastness in her life lived with the full grace and obedience to the will of God. She received many visions from the Lord, and most profoundly, this vision spoke of the most loving heart and the love which pours out of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Knowing the love and the care, the compassion and the grace that are flowing out from the Most Sacred Heart of our Lord, then we truly should appreciate what a good Master and Lord that we have, and let us all appreciate the opportunities and chances which He has provided us with, and let us all not be filled with pride or haughtiness, opening our hearts and minds to God’s grace and love.

Let us all commit ourselves therefore to a new life that is filled not with greed, desire, jealousy or anger, but with love, compassion, care for others and sympathy, that we may always be justified and rightful in our actions and deeds. May Almighty God bless us all, forgive us all our sins, for us poor sinners, and bring us to the everlasting life He has promised all those who hold fast to Him. Amen.

Friday, 16 October 2015 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Virgins)

Luke 12 : 1-7

At that time, such a numerous crowd had gathered that they crushed one another. Then Jesus spoke to His disciples in this way, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered that will not be uncovered, or hidden that will not be made known. Whatever you have said in darkness will be heard in daylight, and what you have whispered in hidden places, will be proclaimed from housetops.”

“I tell you, My friends, do not fear those who put to death the body and, after that, can do no more. But I will tell you whom to fear : Fear the One whom after killing you is able to throw you into hell. This One you must fear. Do you not buy five sparrows for two pennies? Yet not one of them has been forgotten by God. Even the hairs of your head have been numbered. Do not be afraid! Are you less worthy in the eyes of God than many sparrows?”

Friday, 16 October 2015 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Virgins)

Psalm 31 : 1-2, 5, 11

Blessed is the one whose sin is forgiven, whose iniquity is wiped away. Blessed are those in whom the Lord sees no guilt and in whose spirit is found no deceit.

Then I made known to You my sin and uncovered before You my fault, saying to myself, “To the Lord I will now confess my wrong.” And You, You forgave my sin, You removed my guilt.

Rejoice in the Lord, and be glad, you who are upright; sing and shout for joy, you who are clean of heart.