Saturday, 18 October 2014 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate with the entire Universal Church, the feast of one of the four great Evangelists, that is the four writers of the Holy Gospels. Today is thus the feast of St. Luke the Evangelist, who wrote the Gospel accorded with his name, the Gospel of St. Luke. As a background, St. Luke was once a renowned physician, who became one of the faithful and followed St. Paul in some of his journeys, including what St. Paul wrote in the letter he wrote to Timothy, another faithful disciple of the Lord.

As we can see from what St. Paul shared with Timothy, St. Luke remained faithful and devoted to the tasks entrusted to him. Yes, this is true even though his fellow journeymen had left to pursue their own interests or for various other reasons. They encountered difficulties along the way, and not all the people they were sent to welcomed them. There were indeed instances when they were welcomed and accepted gladly, but more often than not, they literally had the doors slammed on their faces.

This is exactly what Jesus mentioned as He sent His group of seventy-two disciples, who were meant to help both Jesus Himself and His Apostles in the ministries and works they were doing. Jesus mentioned how they would be sent like lambs among wolves. They would not encounter easy works and acceptance easily, but will be constantly subjected to difficulties and suffering. The lambs rightly represent the disciples and the Apostles, while the wolves represent the various people of God, from which a great majority refused to listen to the Word of God.

Remember that in the other occasion in the Gospels, Jesus also mentioned how that as He who is the Lord and Master of all would suffer rejection and suffering at the hands of mankind, the very people of God to whom He had been sent, then His disciples and Apostles, as well as all those who follow Him and walk in His path will also suffer the same fate. Thus, it explained the fate which St. Paul and St. Luke the Evangelist met during their journeys.

But did they stop on their path? No! That is what made them different from those others who gave up along the way, who could not endure the difficulties and challenges and preferred the comfort of their old lives, settling for the less worthy. What can indeed be more worthy than the Lord and to live to proclaim the Lord’s words to the nations? And St. Luke, together with the other saints continued courageously to defend their faith and to continue the hard works for which they are admired and adored now.

Remember what the Lord had said in the Gospel today, in the Gospel written by St. Luke himself, so that we may know it and hear it as if it was spoken directly by the Lord Jesus Himself to us? Yes, that the harvest is plentiful but the labourers and workers are few. So what did Jesus then tell His disciples? Exactly, that they should ask the Lord of the harvest to send more labourers and workers to tend to the harvest. This truly makes sense, as more labourers will help the Lord of the harvest to bring in even more harvest and bring about more bountiful returns.

But what does this mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? This means exactly that the harvest is truly plentiful in our world, and the harvest refers to the people of God, who are ripe for picking and salvation in God, are awaiting for the labourers and workers who serve the Lord, to pick mankind for the Lord of the harvest, that is the Lord our God.

The field itself refers to this world. This world is filled with much difficulties and uncertainties, but it also offers much opportunities and chances for the crops grown in the field of this world. The pests and the weeds that threaten the crops refer to the forces of darkness that is led by Satan, the father of lies and evil, who always try their best to seduce mankind and make them to follow him instead of the Lord.

The rich harvest is a very tempting thing to the pests and weeds, who will definitely try to snatch and destroy the good harvest from the hands of those who collect these rich harvests to the Lord of the harvest. Thus, the same applies to us, as Satan and his fellow fallen angels is out there trying to turn us mankind, by appealing to our human desires and weaknesses, so that we may fall along our path towards the Lord, and then into damnation with them.

The labourers and the workers of the harvest refer to the servants of God, the disciples of Christ and the Apostles, who like St. Luke the Evangelist and many other saints, worked hard and courageously, like lambs among wolves, to ensure that the harvest of the Lord is collected amidst all the pests and the weeds, that is amidst the challenges and difficulties. Their successors, our priests and bishops, and all who devoted themselves to the service of God, continued their hard works even until this very day.

But this does not mean that the works of the Lord are limited to them only. In fact, brothers and sisters in Christ, we too are the workers and servants of the Lord. How is this so? That is because all of us who believe in the Lord and had received the revelation of truth through the Holy Scriptures and the Church, and have been baptised and accepted into the Church of God have the responsibility to spread the Good News of the Lord.

If St. Luke the Evangelist wrote one of the four Holy Gospels and through it countless souls had been saved, then we too can do it in our own way, by showing the faith through our own actions, that show our sincere and genuine faith, which is not in mere words but also through real actions, so that all those who see us, may know that we belong to the Lord, and therefore hopefully they too will seek salvation in God.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, inspired by the examples of St. Luke the Evangelist and other holy saints of God, and remembering always the words of the Lord, how the harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few, let us all pray sincerely and fervently, so that we may truly know and understand what we can do in order to help the works of God in the salvation of mankind.

May Almighty God bless us all and strengthen us, that we may courageously take up the cross and bear the mission entrusted to us, so that we may help the works of God, saving many others who await God’s salvation and who still live in the darkness of the world, and so that those of us who are called, we may embrace our calling and devote our lives in the full and complete service of the Lord. God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 18 October 2014 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 10 : 1-9

At that time, the Lord appointed seventy-two other disciples, and sent them two by two ahead of Him to every town and place, where He Himself was to go. And He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. So you must ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers to His harvest.”

“Courage! I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Set off without purse or bag or sandals; and do not stop at the homes of those you know. Whatever house you enter, first bless them, saying, ‘Peace to this house!’ If a friend of peace lives there, the peace shall rest upon that person. But if not, the blessing will return to you.”

“Stay in that house, eating and drinking at their table, for the worker deserves to be paid. Do not move from house to house. When they welcome you to any town, eat what they offer you. Heal the sick who are there, and say to them : ‘The kingdom of God has drawn near to you.'”

Saturday, 18 October 2014 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 144 : 10-11, 12-13ab, 17-18

All Your works will give You thanks; all Your saints, o Lord, will praise You. They will tell of the glory of Your kingdom and speak of Your power.

That all may know of Your mighty deeds, Your reign and its glorious splendour. Your reign is from age to age; Your dominion endures from generation to generation.

Righteous is the Lord in all His ways, His mercy shows in all His deeds. He is near those who call on Him, who call trustfully upon His Name.

Saturday, 18 October 2014 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

2 Timothy 4 : 10-17b

You must know that Demas has deserted me for the love of this world : he returned to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia and Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke remains with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is a useful helper in my work. I sent Tychicus to Ephesus.

Bring with you the cloak I left at Troas, in Carpos’ house and also the scrolls, especially the parchments. Alexander the metalworker has caused me great harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. Distrust him for he has been very much opposed to our preaching.

At my first hearing in court no one supported me; all deserted me. May the Lord not hold it against them. But the Lord was at my side, giving me strength to proclaim the Word fully, and let all the pagans hear it.

Friday, 17 October 2014 : 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, today we celebrate together as we heard in the Scriptures being read this day, the love and mercy of our Lord and God, who had delivered us from the power of death, so that we may be freed from the bondage and slavery of sin which leads eventually to death. Through Christ and what He had done in this world in full obedience to the Lord, He had brought us safety and reassurance against the power of death.

That is because by His suffering and death, He willingly took upon Himself the scourge of death, and all the consequences of our sins, so that those who trust in Him and believe in the words of truth and the Good News He brought, may gain the fullness of salvation and new life just as He had promised to the people of God. Christ had broken the power of death and freed mankind from the tyranny of sin by the act of His ultimate love and obedience to God the Father.

As mentioned ll by Jesus, that we have nothing to fear from sin and death if we are faithful to the Lord through our devotion and faith in Jesus, the Lord and Messiah sent by the Father to be our beacon of hope in this darkened world. As long as we keep ourselves strongly attached and faithful to the teachings of God, we will be safe from all evils and difficulties related to sin and death. Yes, Satan will do all in his power to try and wrest us back from the Lord, and bring us back into damnation, but if we are vigilant, we will not easily fall again for his lies and tricks.

That was why Jesus warned the people to be vigilant and careful against the yeast of the Pharisees. What is this yeast of the Pharisees? It is namely the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of the human soul and heart, which infect us all mankind, as the tools and leverages of Satan in trying to subvert us and turn us against the Lord our loving God and Father. It is pride, jealousy, hatred, lack of faith, and many other vulnerabilities that exist in our hearts.

The Pharisees were a group of social elites in the society of the people of God at the time, and they commanded great respect from the people and wielded great teaching authority in teaching the matters of the faith. They took great pride in their position and authority, and were jealous in guarding them against anyone they saw as threats and potential rivals to their power and authority, as well as prestige.

This is what brought them into direct conflict with the group of the Sadducees, the rational thinkers and the powerful nobilities in the society of the people of God, as the Pharisees acted as the extremely orthodox and zealous defenders of the laws of Moses, to the point that they pointed out the extremities in the application of those laws through their own actions, leading the people away from the true intention and meaning of those laws.

They violently rejected Christ, who they saw as a revolutionary preacher and a great threat to their teaching authority and influence. To this end, they always tried to disrupt His teachings and also to test Him wherever He went, asking many questions designed to trap Him, in which they failed, for the Lord knew all that were in their hearts and minds, and their evil desire to bring about His downfall.

This was why Jesus was so adamant in His warning to the people, that they need to guard themselves against the yeast of the Pharisees. Indeed, as I have mentioned, that through His own actions and act of supreme and ultimate love on the cross, Jesus had given us all new hope through our liberation from the tyranny of our sins and from the enslavement of evil, but this does not mean that we can just get this easily without effort.

In order for us to be saved, then in all of our actions we have to guard ourselves from the yeast of the Pharisees, that is hatred, jealousy, prejudice, greed and desire, violence, anger and wrath, pride and arrogance, and many other things which are indeed the main cause for all of us mankind in our committing of sins and evils. The many sins and evils of this world can be traced to these evils, the evils of our hearts, which we should indeed excise and remove from ourselves.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch, the successor of St. Peter who was the first Bishop of Antioch. He was a martyr of the faith, who was martyred in the defense of the Faith which he held so dearly. St. Ignatius of Antioch was a convert to the Faith in his youth, and he was also told to be among the children whom the Lord had called to His embrace as told in the Gospels.

St. Ignatius of Antioch succeeded St. Peter in the leadership of the faithful in the major city of Antioch, one of the first dioceses in the world, and the place where the faithful were first called by the appelation ‘Christianos’, which eventually became the name we are now known for, the Christians. St. Ignatius of Antioch led the faithful with love, and he devoted himself to them completely, leading them to live their faith truthfully and with zeal.

He wrote extensively, and in his many letters both to the other bishops and to his own faithful, he affirmed the many central teachings of the Faith, and urged all of his people and peers to adhere closely to the teachings of the Lord as revealed in the Good News the Apostles and disciples of Christ preached. And to the end, St. Ignatius of Antioch remained true to his faith, and even in suffering after he was arrested, he continued to attach himself strongly in faith to the Lord.

He suffered martyrdom in the Colosseum, being thrown to lions and other wild beasts, the fate which also awaited many other of his successors and contemporaries in faith, but indeed, he did not fear death nor he had any need to fear death. Why so? That is because he had been faithful in his life, and was completely devoted to the Lord, and in his righteousness, he was justified and made true in faith, and death no longer has any power over him and all the other faithful who kept their faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today let us all also reaffirm our faith in God, following in the footsteps of St. Ignatius of Antioch and the other faithful saints and martyrs. Let us all not just have faith in mere words, but with real and true actions as well, so that our faith may be alive and living well, and so that we may be truly devoted and our Lord who sees our living and genuine faith, will justify us and bring us to His promised eternal life and reward, and free us forever from the threat of death. God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 17 October 2014 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 12 : 1-7

Meanwhile, 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 who 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, 17 October 2014 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 32 : 1-2, 4-5, 12-13

Rejoice in the Lord, you who are just, praise is fitting for the upright. Give thanks to Him on the harp and lyre, making melody and chanting praises.

For upright is the Lord’s word and worthy of trust is His work. The Lord loves justice and righteousness; the earth is full of His kindness.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord – the people He has chosen for His inheritance. The Lord looks down from heaven and sees the whole race of mortals.