Wednesday, 19 June 2019 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Philip Minh, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture in which we heard of the matter of prayer and fasting, two of the practices of our faith which we constantly do all the time and at the prescribed times of the year. And He reminded all of us to pray and fast with the right attitude and intention, or else we are not doing what is right for us to do as Christians.

What does this mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? First we must understand the context of what the Lord had said to His disciples at that time, as He compared the practices that the Pharisees at that time did, in showing of their piety and prayers in public, not with the intention to glorify God but glorifying themselves and seeking for attention and human praise. And that is exactly what the Lord does not want His disciples and all of us to do.

The Pharisees were influential group of people who were intelligent and educated at that time, who held sway over a lot of the people, highly respected and honoured because of their role in safeguarding and keeping the customs and practices of the Jewish people, which they came to guard zealously and strongly against anyone or anything that might threaten those practices and customs, and all the privileges that they had earned by safeguarding those customs and laws.

But at that time, their preoccupation and excessive focus on maintaining the customs and the practices of the Jewish people ended up on them focusing on the external appearances and the superficial obedience to those laws and customs, rather than truly appreciating the significance and the real substance and intention of the Law of God. They ended up practicing those customs and laws not because they truly had God in their mind, but a lot of time because they had to do them.

As Christians, all of us are reminded by today’s Scripture readings not to follow the examples of many of the Pharisees who have forgotten the true importance of the Law and the customs they practiced, doing it all for appearances and praise rather than for the true purpose that is to worship, glorify and communicate with God. We must remember that as we live through our faith life, we must practice our faith with sincerity and commitment, not just by paying lip service.

In our first reading today, St. Paul in his Epistle to the Corinthians reminded us of the gifts that God has given us, His blessings and wonders, and consequently, as those whom the Lord has blessed, all of us should make good use of the gifts He has given to us, that we may truly be fruitful and bountiful in God. He said, those who have sowed meagrely will reap meagrely, and those who sowed generously will reap generously as well.

Therefore, in our lives we should be exemplary in our faith, and in our actions, in how we pray, in what we do in our daily lives we must reflect our faith and dedication to the Lord. We should put God as the focus and attention of our whole lives, and do our best to glorify Him and not ourselves. And today, we also can follow the examples showed by St. Philip Minh and his companions in martyrdom, the Holy Vietnamese Martyrs.

At that time, the authorities in Vietnam were very hostile to the Christian faith and the missionaries who worked among the people proclaiming the truth of Christ. They were viewed with suspicion of collaboration with the French and other colonial powers. St. Philip Minh was among the first of the local Vietnamese to be ordained a priest and ministered among his own people before he and many others throughout those difficult years were arrested and made to suffer for their faith.

Yet, these courageous saints did not give up their faith despite the many temptations, persuasions, pressures and coercions to do so. They remained firm in their faith and dedication to the Lord. Had they placed their own safety, well-being and glory before that of the Lord, they would have abandoned God to gain the safety and acceptance of the world. But they showed all of us what it means to be true disciples and followers of Christ.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day let us all be inspired by the examples of the holy saints of God, especially St. Philip Minh and his companions, the Holy Vietnamese Martyrs. Let us all dedicate ourselves to the Lord in the same way as they have done and do our best to be true disciples of the Lord. May the Lord bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Philip Minh, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Matthew 6 : 1-6, 16-18

At that time, “Be careful not to make a show of your good deeds before people. If you do so, you do not gain anything from your Father in heaven. When you give something to the poor, do not have it trumpeted before you, as do those who want to be noticed in the synagogues and in the streets, in order to be praised by people. I assure you, they have their reward.”

“If you give something to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your gift remains really secret. Your Father, Who sees what is kept secret, will reward you. When you pray, do not be like those who want to be noticed. They love to stand and pray in the synagogues or on street corners, in order to be seen by everyone. I assure you, they have their reward.”

“When you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father Who is with you in secret; and your Father Who sees what is kept secret will reward you. When you fast, do not put on a miserable face, as do the hypocrites. They put on a gloomy face, so that people can see they are fasting. I tell you this : they have been paid in full already.”

“When you fast, wash your face and make yourself look cheerful, because you are not fasting for appearances or for people, but for your Father, Who sees beyond appearances. And your Father, Who sees what is kept secret, will reward you.”

Wednesday, 19 June 2019 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Philip Minh, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 111 : 1-2, 3-4, 9

Alleluia! Blessed is the one who fears YHVH, who greatly delights in His commands. His children will be powerful on earth; the upright’s offspring will be blessed.

Wealth and riches are for his family; there, his integrity will remain. He is for the righteous a light in darkness; he is kind, merciful and upright.

He gives generously to the poor; his merits will last forever; and his head will be raised in honour.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Philip Minh, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

2 Corinthians 9 : 6-11

Remember : the one who sows meagerly will reap meagerly, and there shall be generous harvests for the one who sows generously. Each of you should give as you decided personally, and not reluctantly, as if obliged. God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to fill you with every good thing, so that you have enough of everything, at all times, and may give abundantly for any good work.

Scripture says : He distributed, he gave to the poor, his good works last forever. God, Who provides the sower with seed, will also provide him with the bread he eats. He will multiply the seed for you and also increase the interest on your good works. Become rich in every way, and give abundantly. What you give will become, through us, a thanksgiving to God.

Saturday, 24 November 2018 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the readings from the Scripture which we heard about the suffering of the faithful and the resurrection from the dead into eternal glory of heaven. And this is apt considering that today we celebrate the feast of St. Andrew Dung-Lac and his companions, the Holy Vietnamese Martyrs who perished during the harsh persecutions against Christians in Vietnam.

In the first reading today, we heard about the moment from the Book of the Revelations of St. John the Apostle, when at the end of time, holy witnesses of God came into the world to preach the truth about God, and many would not listen to the words that they said in their midst. Those witnesses were given power and authority to oppose those who were against them until the time when the great enemy, the devil is to rise up and destroy those faithful servants of God at the end of their ministries.

The wicked people rejoiced at the death of the two servants of God, and continued to walk in sin, not repenting from those sins that they have committed. But God will not abandon those who have been faithful to Him, and after three days, in the same manner as He Himself has risen from the dead, He raised the dead servants into glory, and they rose to heaven at the plain sight of those who had rejected and persecuted them.

This is related to what has happened throughout the history of the Church, of the challenges and persecutions that occur in various parts of the world, and at different periods and times in the history of the Church, when the faithful were subjected to varying persecutions and oppressions, be it from individuals, or from state governments and holders of power and authority.

Many missionaries and followers of Christ have encountered difficulties and challenges, rejections and oppositions throughout their ministries in the attempt and effort to preach the truth and the word of God among the people who have not yet heard of them. They had to suffer prison, torture, indignation, and even death just because of their determination and commitment to remain faithful to the Lord.

Today, we celebrate the feast of the Holy Vietnamese Martyrs as mentioned, celebrating the memory of those who have perished through the many years of persecution of Christians in the land of Vietnam. There are both missionaries and local Christians amidst these martyrs, whose life and stories spanned over a century of the history of the early years of Christian faith in Vietnam.

At that time, the state government of Vietnam viewed the Christian faith with great suspicion, and suspected the missionaries to be agents of Western influence and of their effort to colonise their country. As a result, they placed strict regulations and restrictions on the propagation of the Christian faith among the local population, and persecuted the Christian communities harshly.

Yet, the Christian communities continued to grow, and many more local populace converted to the faith despite the strong oppression and persecution by the government. That is because the Christian faithful held fast to the promise that God has made in today’s Gospel passage, when the Lord Jesus reiterated what He meant by the resurrection of the dead, when those faithful departed will be raised once again to life, to enjoy forever the eternal glory with God.

The saints and martyrs of Vietnam, St. Andrew Dung-Lac and his companions resisted the sufferings and the many temptations through which the enemies of the Lord wanted to lead the Christian faithful to abandon their faith. Putting their trust completely in God, they did not fear the pain of death and chose rather suffering and death rather than to abandon their hard-won faith and commitment to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we ought to reflect on our own lives, on our actions in life thus far on whether we have been truly faithful to God in everything, or whether we have allowed ourselves to be swayed by the temptations and to be intimidated to give up our faith and the Christian way of living. We need to reflect on this, so that we may be able to find our way to the Lord, and follow in the footsteps of the holy martyrs.

Let us all ask for the intercessions of the Holy Martyrs of Vietnam, St. Andrew Dung-Lac and his companions, that we may continue to strive to reach righteousness in God, to be able to courageously stand up for our faith amidst trials and tribulations we face. May the Lord be with us always, and may He be our guide in everything we do, now and forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 24 November 2018 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 20 : 27-40

At that time, some Sadducees arrived. These people claim that there is no resurrection, and they asked Jesus this question, “Master, in the Law Moses told us, ‘If anyone dies leaving a wife but no children, his brother must take the wife, and any child born to them will be regarded as the child of the deceased.'”

“Now, there were seven brothers; the first married a wife, but he died without children; and the second and the third took the wife; in fact, all seven died leaving no children. Last of all the woman died. On the day of the resurrection, to which of them will the woman be a wife? For all seven had her as a wife.”

And Jesus replied, “Taking a husband or a wife is proper to people of this world, but for those who are considered worthy of the world to come, and of resurrection from the dead, there is no more marriage. Besides, they cannot die, for they are like the Angels. They are sons and daughters of God, because they are born of the resurrection.”

“Yes, the dead will be raised, as Moses revealed at the burning bush, when He called the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. For God is God of the living, and not of the dead, for to Him everyone is alive.”

Some teachers of the Law then agreed with Jesus, “Master, You have spoken well.” They did not dare to ask Him anything else.

Saturday, 24 November 2018 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 143 : 1, 2, 9-10

Blessed be the Lord, my Rock, Who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle.

My loving God, my Fortress; my Protector and Deliverer, my Shield where I take refuge, Who conquers nations and subjects them to my rule.

I will sing a new song to You, o God, I will make music on the ten-stringed harp, for You Who give victory to kings and deliver David, Your servant.