Saturday, 26 September 2015 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast of two saints who were renowned servants of God and martyrs of the faith. They are St. Cosmas and St. Damian, both of whom lived during the time of great persecution of the Church under the Roman Emperors, where the faithful had to hide and they could not openly declare and practice their faith, or else they would face almost certain suffering and death at the hands of the authorities.

St. Cosmas and St. Damian themselves were told to be twin brothers who worked as physicians and doctors in the Asian region of the Roman Empire, in what is today Syria. They travelled around healing the sick and the wounded, those who were down with illness and troubles, and they did these free of charge, especially helping the poor and the downtrodden who had none to help them.

Eventually however, during the climate of persecution of Christians at the time, they went about their work under constant threat of danger. And they were arrested by the authorities after they were found out to be Christians. Under the pain of suffering, torture and death, they were forced to abandon their faith in the Lord, but they refused to do so, and therefore they were martyred in the defence of their faith.

This is related again to how Jesus spoke of the betrayal that men would hand Him, the betrayal that was very despicable and evil, because they have betrayed the very One who had given His all in order to help them to get out of the pit and trouble that they were in. The actions and life of St. Cosmas and St. Damian truly reflected what Christ Himself had encountered in His life, and the same too could be expected from us.

Just like St. Cosmas and St. Damian who went about the many cities, towns and villages as physicians and doctors, healing countless people who suffered from various diseases and illnesses free of charge, then our Lord Jesus also went about healing and curing people from their sickness, and more importantly, lifting up people who have fallen into the darkness, that is into the sickness of sin, into the new light He brought them.

Yes, Jesus Himself told the people, and all those who criticised Him such as the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, that He came not to seek the righteous and the just, who have already been saved, but those who have fallen along the way and need help. These were the ones who truly needed the help of our Lord, and it was to them that He came. Of course He still at the same time, loves all those who have been saved as well.

And He also suffered rejection, ridicule, curses, and even the lashes and the wounds inflicted upon His flesh, before He was dragged to carry the burden of the cross and be crucified on the hill of Calvary. He suffered on that day and died, so that all of us who shared in His death by our baptism, may also share in His glorious resurrection through the same baptism in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, it is a reminder for us that all of us also need to carry our own crosses if we are faithful to the Lord. Difficult times will be upon us and there will be rejection and temptations to leave behind this difficult path, for a shortcut of pleasure and enjoyment of worldly goods and accepting the wicked ways of this world. But then, we truly should ask ourselves, whether we want to have our souls to fall deep into the sickness of sin.

Let us all reflect on all these, and inspire ourselves to walk in the path of St. Cosmas and St. Damian. Let us all not be afraid to help each other and to love one another with the same love that the two saints and our Lord Himself had shown, the true and genuine love that brings about a new hope and life in all those who had been afflicted by the sickness, and particularly the sickness of sin, the disease of our soul.

Our Lord Jesus Christ has laboured out of love for us, so that we may be healed and be restored to full grace and be forgiven from all of our sins. Now, shall we also do the same and help those whom we know as still living in darkness and are still lost and do not know the way to go for them to seek the Lord their God. Let us all help each other, and extend a helping hand, modelling after the examples of St. Cosmas and St. Damian.

May Almighty God be with us all always, and may He plant in us a heart filled with love and grace, that we may be found worthy of the life and the glory He had prepared for us all. God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 26 September 2015 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of our Lady)

Luke 9 : 43b-45

At that time, while all were amazed at everything Jesus did, He said to His disciples, “Listen, and remember what I tell you now : The Son of Man will be betrayed into the hands of men.”

But the disciples did not understand this saying; something prevented them from grasping what He meant, and they were afraid to ask Him about it.

Saturday, 26 September 2015 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of our Lady)

Jeremiah 31 : 10, 11-12ab, 13

Hear the word of YHVH, o nations, proclaim it on distant coastlands : He who scattered Israel will gather them and guard them as a shepherd guard his flock.

For YHVH has ransomed Jacob and redeemed him from the hand of his conqueror. They shall come shouting for joy, while ascending Zion; they will come streaming to YHVH’s blessings.

Maidens will make merry and dance, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness, I will give them comfort and joy for sorrow.

Saturday, 26 September 2015 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of our Lady)

Zechariah 2 : 5-9, 14-15a

Raising my eyes again, I saw a man with a measuring line in his hand. I asked, “Where are you going?” He answered, “I am going to measure Jerusalem, to find its width and its length.”

As the angel who spoke to me came forward, another angel met him and said, “Run and tell this to that young man : ‘Jerusalem will remain unwalled because of its multitude of people and livestock.’ For this is the word of YHVH : I Myself will be around her like a wall of fire, and also within her in Glory.”

“Sing and rejoice, a daughter of Zion, for I am about to come, I shall dwell among you,” says YHVH. “On that day, many nations will join YHVH and be My people.”

Friday, 25 September 2015 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, continuing from yesterday’s discourse on the Temple of Jerusalem, its rebuilding and how it is related to the death of Jesus Christ and His salvation of all mankind through that death, then today, again this fact is emphasised to us in a way that all of us really should take it to the heart how God saved us all through His love.

It is this love that brought the Lord to be willing to come down to us and dwell among us, assuming our own flesh and form, as a Man, so that through this act, by becoming an example to all mankind, He offered a sacrifice beyond anything comparable, and by that sacrifice, He brought about the purification and absolution for our sins, all of us who believe in Him and thus worthy to receive His everlasting forgiveness.

He has come through Jesus in order to save us all, with His mighty power and deeds, just like when He once saved the people of Israel, His chosen ones, from the oppression and slavery of the Pharaohs of Egypt, and then when they suffered again under the yoke of the Assyrians and the Babylonians, enslaved and under great pressure, He came yet again to liberate them and help them to return to good standing with Him.

But the greatest enemy is not the Pharaoh of Egypt, or the Assyrian or Babylonian kings and their mighty forces. For these were truly nothing compared to the true enemy, that is sin, death and the devil. For it was the devil who brought sin into the world, by first his own vanity and pride, as Lucifer, the greatest and most brilliant among the angels of God, but fell into his own pride. And as he fell, he brought many angels along with him, and then also our ancestors along with him.

He tempted them with good and sweet words, saying that by disobeying God and doing what God had forbidden them to do, then they would enjoy much goodness and could become even like the Lord Himself. He was playing with our desire and our vulnerabilities, to be tempted by material goods and promises of pleasure and happiness, such that we were willing to trade our obedience to the Lord for such temptations.

Thus it was also how many of us fell along the way, as we witness ourselves when we read the Scriptures. We should have noticed how often it was that the people of God disobeyed the Lord, because they complained and grumbled about many things, about how they did not have enough of what they wanted, either to be happy or to fill up their stomachs. And all these were there even though God had done so much for them.

It is in fact should have been just for the Lord to just destroy us and leave us behind, for many of us were truly obstinate and adamant on following our own paths of sin, and refused to walk in the path of righteousness or to repent from our sins. And as a result, we suffer death, that is the punishment and consequence for sin, as because of our sins, we are not worthy of the Master of Life, that is our Lord.

Yet, He came to save us, and He wanted to show us all, that if we want to follow Him and gain favour with Him, then all of us ought to abandon our old ways of sin and worldliness. And just as He suffered grievously for our sins and faults, bearing them upon Himself, this showed how the world, Satan and all of his allies rejected Jesus and His salvation, because they preferred to live and stay in the darkness rather than coming into the light.

Therefore, this fact, combined with the fact that Satan does not wish us all to be saved, because it was his intention that we all should fall together with him and join him in condemnation, should have awakened us to the reality that life lived out of faith for God will not be easy. If we seek eternal life and grace in God, then the path ahead of us will be filled with challenges and obstacles.

Truly, there is another option given to us, none other by Satan himself, who offers us all a shortcut, which seems to be easier and less troublesome. But do not be deceived, brothers and sisters, for the path of the devil may seem to be easier, but all these are an illusion that prevents us from seeing that this will end with even greater suffering and destruction without hope of getting out, that is hell, an eternity of separation between us and God.

Let us all be courageous and be more devoted in our faith, so that we may stay focused on our goal that is to reach out to the Lord our God and to be reunited with Him. Let us all change our ways, our sinful and selfish ways, so that we may practice more of the love which God had taught us, in our own words, actions and deeds, that we all truly become worthy of being called the children of God.

May Almighty God be with us all and bless us always, and may He guide us on our way, that whatever suffering and difficulties we encounter, we may unite them to the suffering of Jesus, and by dying together with Him to our past and our sinfulness, we may share in His eternal glory. Amen.

Friday, 25 September 2015 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 9 : 18-22

At that time, one day, when Jesus was praying alone, not far from His disciples, He asked them, “What do people say about Me?”

And they answered, “Some say that You are John the Baptist; others say that You are Elijah, and still others that You are one of the prophets of old, risen from the dead.”

Again Jesus asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.” Then Jesus spoke to them, giving them strict orders not to tell this to anyone. And He added, “The Son of Man must suffer many things. He will be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and teachers of the Law, and be put to death. Then after three days He will be raised to life.”

Friday, 25 September 2015 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 42 : 1, 2, 3, 4

Make justice, o God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people; deliver me from the wicked and deceitful.

You are my God, my stronghold, why have You cast me out? Why should I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?

Send forth Your light and Your truth; let them be my guide, let them take me to Your holy mountain, to the place where You reside.

Then will I go to the altar of God, to God, my gladness and delight. I will praise You with the lyre and harp. O God, my God.