Category: Lesson

Sts Simon and Jude~ The Very Rev Lady Sherwood, OPI

Reading 1: EPH 2:19-22

Responsorial Psalm: PS 19:2-3, 4-5

Gospel: LK 6:12-16

Liturgical colour: Red.

Today dear brothers  and sisters, we come together  to celebrate the feast of Sts Simon and Jude,  They are two of the Apostles. Simon is also known as Simon the Zealot, who belonged to the group of the Zealots, who were a very puritanical and extremist group opposed to the Roman rule in Judea at the time of Jesus,  he was a type of freedom fighter, who was turned from his former path with the Zealots, and instead joined Jesus and became His follower. St. Jude was also known as Judas Thaddeus, who is a different person from Judas Iscariot the traitor.  St. Jude is particularly  widely known for being the patron saint of hopeless cases.

 St. Jude  unlike St Judas with which his name is sometimes confused, remained faithful to the Lord, and he continued to preach the Good News together  with St. Simon,  with whom he was often closely associated, and this is the reason why we celebrate their feast days together.

Both St. Simon and St. Jude travelled together,  they preached, spreading the faith in the region of Judea, Syria, and also in Egypt and Libya, as well as to many other regions where they preached the Good News of our Lord  and Saviour Jesus, the hope of salvation for all the people living in those places who have yet to witness the light of Christ. And through their hard work and ministry, they planted the seeds of the Faith and the Church, which would eventually grow and bring many souls to salvation in God.

Both Sts  Simon and  Jude went through many trials and difficulties in their lives. They were met with acceptance and also with rejection, by the people and from the communities to whom they were sent. Yet they both persevered, and like St. Paul the Apostle, they never gave up in the face of their difficulties, and through their good and hard work, they gained many souls to the mercy of God, and brought them towards salvation. Indeed, these two, among the other ten Apostles, were the crucial and important pillars of Faith and salvation.

It was told that Simon and  Jude were both  martyred in the region of Syria during a persecution of the Faithful, and were beheaded with an axe, a symbol often associated to them. But even in death, they continued to bring goodness and good works and wonders to the faithful, even in death they  managed to continue to lay down the seeds of faith to the newly faithful, spreading the Good News ever further and greater to the ends of the earth.

And we know that St. Jude was particularly famous because he is the patron saint of the cases of hopelessness and where hope is dim. People ask for his intercession to help in those cases that seem to be impossible and where the outcome is likely to be unfavourable. However, my dear brothers and sisters, we have to be careful lest we think that they are like gods or those who can fulfill our wishes and needs at our whim.

These Apostles, St. Jude and St. Simon, as well as the other Apostles are the twelve central pillars of the faith, and besides the Lord’s own Blessed Mother Mary, they stand the closest to the throne of God, their Lord and Master. They were men once, but they have been tested through fire and through many trials, they faced all the difficulties and the challenges of the world, suffering even martyrdom for the sake of the Lord.

Sts Simon and Jude therefore are role models whose examples we can use within our lives, they show us a reflection of what we can also achieve if we are to follow in their paths and walk in their footsteps. They represent the fulfillment of God’s promise. Remember that Jesus said to them at one time, how they would sit upon twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel? This is the same promise which God has also given to each and every one of us. We will all sit among the righteous and the just, but only if we remain faithful to the Lord, resisting all temptations of life and  of the flesh.

The Apostles as well as the many Disciples, were once also diverse in their occupations just as we are, and they were people of the world, and yet they chose to follow God and become His loyal servants, to be the ones to help Him to accomplish much good work in this world. They did have the choice to follow the Lord or to follow their own hearts’ desire as indeed we all do, but chose the only path to righteousness  and salvation, that only accepting and following our Lord Jesus can give.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all called to reflect on our own lives and actions. We are all sinners and unworthy of the Lord’s love and mercy. And yet, He offered them to us freely and tenderly nonetheless, giving them through the ultimate act of love, His suffering and death on the cross. We have the choice to continue in our ways of sin, following the wicked paths of the world, or to embrace the mercy and love offered by God.

The Apostles, and especially the ones we celebrate today, St. Simon and St. Jude are good models in our life. They themselves were not perfect, and they also were sinners, and yet they were willing to allow the Lord to come into their lives and to transform them, that they would no longer live in sin but became the tools of the Lord in bringing good into this world, and in that, they were justified in their faith.

Let us therefore use this opportunity to begin to follow our Lord Jesus ever close within our lives and emulate the examples of His holy Apostles, St Simon and St. Jude whose joint feast we celebrate today. Let us all also become faithful disciples of our Lord, building ever stronger the foundations of our Church, the Church of God, for our salvation and for the salvation of all souls. Leave our old lives of sin and darkness and exchange it for the lives in the light of God. God bless us all. Amen.

Do Unto Who What? ~ The Rev. Dcn. Scott Brown, OPI

The Hebrew Testament for today comes from Exodus 22:20-26:

Thus says the LORD:  “You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt.  You shall not wrong any widow or orphan.   If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me,  I will surely hear their cry.   My wrath will flare up, and I will kill you with the sword;  then your own wives will be widows, and your children orphans.  “If you lend money to one of your poor neighbors among my people, you shall not act like an extortioner toward him by demanding interest from him.   If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, you shall return it to him before sunset; for this cloak of his is the only covering he has for his body.   What else has he to sleep in?  If he cries out to me, I will hear him; for I am compassionate.”

In today’s environment and with our nation’s presidential election coming up in just a few days, this reading really hit home for me. “Close the border, build a wall, deport everyone who wasn’t born here, keep our country pure.” To those who really feel this way I have only one thing to say to you: READ ABOVE!!!!  From God’s lips, “You shall not molest or oppress an alien.” He is not talking about little green men from other planets (however, when they do finally show up here on earth – this will still apply). “Aliens” here is a reference to peoples from other lands. People seeking a better life for their family and their future. What would Jesus do? He would welcome all people of any color, creed, and ethnicity to our land without any second thought or reservation. Our forefathers were aliens in this land at one time and were welcomed by the original inhabitants.

 Regarding the widows and orphans: they are apparently incredibly special to the Lord. He commands us to take care of them and protect them from harm. Widows and orphans refer to the weak and frail among us. Orphans does not just mean fatherless or motherless, they are the ones who wander aimlessly without hope and guidance. Be their guide and direct them to the Lord, witness to them, preach to them, feed them, shelter them, and love them unconditionally. Leviticus 25:35-37 tells us : “If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you. You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit.” If you lend money to your neighbor, do not demand interest from him. Allow him to repay the money without hounding him and browbeating him. On the same level, if you accept your neighbors’ cloak as collateral, return it to him and trust in him to repay the loan. In Biblical times the cloak was one of the most important possessions a person could own. In many cases it was their only shelter and covering. If not returned to the owner, they could freeze to death and hence never be able to repay the loan. Again, the Lord says that if one cries out He will hear him because He is compassionate. Proverbs 19:17 says “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.” The Lord will compensate you for your generosity and giving while taking care of His children.

What would it take for our society to follow these guidelines laid out by our Lord? How difficult would it be to pick up a few cans of food next time you are grocery shopping and donate that food to a local food pantry? Would it be such an imposition to clean out your closet and donate a couple of old blankets to the local homeless shelter? Could you spend a few hours one weekend a month visiting shut-ins or ministering at the local homeless shelter or battered women’s shelter. The consequences of failure to do these simple things are outlined in Matthew 25, 31:46 as follows:

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Take a little bit of time from your busy day and life, follow the above guidelines for the sake of your eternal life.

Heavenly father give us the knowledge to know when to look beyond politics and prejudice, so that we may love one another the way you have commanded. Help us to understand how proud you will be when we do treat others as you would treat them. Amen.

Give What to Who? ~ The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OP

Reading 1: IS 45:1, 4-6

Responsorial Psalm: PS 96:1, 3, 4-5, 7-8, 9-10

Reading 2: 1 THES 1:1-5B

Gospel: MT 22:15-21

Liturgical colour: Green.

Let us begin by looking at our Gospel reading today in MT 22: 15=21:

The Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech. They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. And you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion, for you do not regard a person’s status. Tell us, then, what is your opinion: Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” Knowing their malice, Jesus said, “Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? Show me the coin that pays the census tax.” Then they handed him the Roman coin. He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?” They replied, “Caesar’s.” At that he said to them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”

So, what we are being told here?

Today, We are hearing about Jesus’ encounter with the Pharisees and Herodians.

The Pharisees and Herodians were well known to have hated each other, but they were willing to put aside their differences to focus their energy  on working together with the purpose of bringing down Jesus.  They conspired together to attempt to trap him.  If Jesus said that they shouldn’t pay their taxes, he would  be arrested and imprisoned by the Romans.  But if he told people that they must pay the taxes,, he would’ve across as being unpatriotic to the people of Israel.  So what does he do?  He takes the coin and utters that timeless phrase: “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.”

Jesus focuses a lot on using images.  Caesar’s image was the image of the realm at that time.  Caesar’s image was the face of power, his face represented far more than just being Caesar, but  of the power of Rome itself.  It was the currency used by the great Roman Empire, and Roman coins were spread throughout the entire known world.  But ultimately, the empire ran it’s course and  eventually it fell apart.  Now, Roman coins are worth more for their rarity and antiquity than they are for their value.  Like Caesar’s coins, the things of this world are only  temporary in nature.  We know that we have a responsibility to render to the world those things that belong to it, like paying taxes, or voting, or maybe by buying things to provide comfort and flourishing for our physical lives here on earth.  These things are important to some extent, don’t get me wrong!  So go out there, and give to Caesar what  belongs to Caesar, give to the world what belongs  to the world, – but be assured that it is only temporary.

But as powerful as Caesar’s image may have been, or indeed the things of the world  currently  may be, there is another image that is even  far more powerful, and that carries far more responsibility – this is the image of God.  But it isn’t  upon coinage or upon the paper money of the world that bears the image of God, it our souls! Each of us, when we received the Holy sacrament of  our baptism, received an indelible, irremovable mark.  And that mark shows us that baptism doesn’t just make us card-carrying members of the Christian community.  It doesn’t just remove the stain from our original sin.  It also marks us, it seals us, with the mark of God, indicating that just as those coins bearing Caesar’s image belonged to Caesar, we ourselves belong to God!  And that mark won’t ever fade away with time like the Roman Empire, or today’s worldly things will be their temporary nature, This will last forever – we are God’s forever if we choose to be!!

I would say it is likely that the majority of us don’t have too many issues giving Caesar his due, and in fact, you’re probably feeling like you give him enough already.  That’s not the issue we are dealing  with here.  It’s the second part that is challenging.  It is the giving to God what is God’s – the living out of our baptismal dignity and making that indelible mark, that image of God on our souls actually mean something!  So what do we give to God?  What is it that belongs to God that we can give to God?  The answer is shown to us right here in the Cross of our Lordand saviour, Jesus Christ.  The gift that we can and indeed ought to give is the gift of ourselves.  It is a gift of self-sacrifice, a gift of self-emptying love!

“Give to God what belongs to God.”  This is the gift of a mother or father to their children, providing  them with clothes, shelter, education, faith, and despite the exhaustion and strain on the finances, doing it out of love. “Give to God what belongs to God.”  It’s the gift to the poor – whether this be the donating of food stuffs to the local food bank, or  whether it be offering days  working with a charity, to help those who are in need. “Give to God what belongs to God.”  It is putting God first in our lives, by taking that one hour to go to Mass, even if it is a busy day of  football games or doing other non essential things.  It’s about more than that hour! Much more! it’s about putting aside distractions, or tiredness,  to simply praise God, as he deserves!

As we approach the Lord in the Holy Eucharist today, we realize the need to live in the world, but we know in our hearts that we no longer in truth, belong to the world, the world is a temporary place we are merely passing through. We belong to God!!  May we have the grace to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what he truly deserves, the gift of our whole hearts, and lives!!

The Lord Will Provide ~ The Rev. Dcn. Scott Brown, OPI

In today’s Hebrew Bible reading, the Psalm appointed for today, and the Epistle Reading (IS 25:6-10A;   PS 23; EPH 1:17-18)  we hear of how God provides everything we need.   In fact, there are approximately 170 places in scripture where we read of God’s promises of provision.  Of these verses, perhaps the most popular is today’s Epistle Reading, Paul’s words to the church at Philippi: “And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19, NRSV). 

Well now.  What?  What about the Christian poor?  What about the homeless?  Those who go hungry?

It’s enough to make a person crazy, isn’t it?  You’re thinking, “But I need…..and God hasn’t…..”  In today’s society, it’s all about consumerism, money, wealth, and getting more and more and more… 

There is a belief in our culture that many people are deceived by what is called the “prosperity gospel.” It is a false teaching that in essence says, “If I am a Christian, God promises to bless me with great health, wealth, and prosperity.” This teaching is a great danger to those who believe it. What happens is people place their hope in what God gives even over and above God himself. The problem is God never promises a life of riches, comfort, and abundant prosperity, so when a person experiences suffering they feel as though God has lied to them.  We have to remember that Jesus was born poor, and he died poor. During his earthly tenure, he spoke time and again about the importance of spiritual wealth and health. When he talked about material wealth, it was usually part of a cautionary tale. 

And too, while prosperity seekers might always be looking for money or possessions to miraculously arrive, we should take a closer look at what God desires to provide for us.  God does not want us to see Him as a heavenly source of mere material possessions. Acquiring things is not the fundamental goal of this life.  God is not a genie to grant us wishes.  Luke 12:15 states:  15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

So, what then, exactly is it that God DOES provide?  I think, maybe, perhaps, probably that what we think we need, and what God knows we need are two completely different animals. First, God provides in all the ways people and Earthly possessions can’t: through perfect love. No person knows us as intimately and requires nothing of us like God does.  We have to remember, too, that in 2 Corinthians 12:9 Paul writes: 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

So… the grace is sufficient. Hmmm. And His power is perfect in my weakness. Well that sounds promising.  Faith carries you even when it’s hard to smile, hard to remain positively positive. Falling on your face doesn’t negate faith. It strengthens it when you can stand back up and say, yes, I trust you. I know you are here. I know your word is true.

God is saying, in this verse, that he has enough grace to carry us through the storms of our lives. He is assuring us that He will not let go of us. That is what His grace is and it is more than enough to meet any challenge. Once we admit that we are weak, God is there, willing and more than able to carry us through the hard times.

Even if He doesn’t provide, really He does. Even when we can’t see, He can. Even when we don’t believe, He does.

St. Francis of Assisi ~ The Rev Dcn Igor Kalinski

Deacon Igor Kalinski, OPI, Dominican Hermitage & Oratory of St’s Sebastian & Peregrine in Gevgelija, Republic of Macedonia


HOMILY for the TRANSITUS or Crossing of our holy father Saint Francis of Assisi 04 October 2020


Saint Father Francis of Assisi, I can say our father, because we the Dominicans are very connected with the Franciscan branches of Orders, while living both their early lives, our founder Saint Dominic de Guzman and Saint Francis of Assisi have been close friends and brothers, both orders are mendicant and in different of several years of establishing the orders. Since then, more than 803 almost 804 years of mutual cooperation, respect and mutual harvest and manual work on Gods vineyard, the one cant be without the other. But that is other subject.
Today we commemorate the transitus or the trespassing or the crossing of Saint Francis.

“Be praised, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whose embrace no living person can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Happy those she finds doing your most holy will.
The second death can do no harm to them.”
—St. Francis of Assisi, Canticle of the Creatures
Deaths are commonly celebrated in the church, actually every date of death of saint is the birthday in Heaven, as we today commemorate the Transitus of Saint Francis, and in 365/66 days throughout the year, some are double, there is thousands of saints and blessed, even in the Christmas time, is not safe , as one of the major liturgical seasons, because the next day is. In fact, St. Anastasia of Sirmium, an early and very important Christian martyr, has the second Mass on Christmas morning dedicated to her.
On October 4 is the day the Church sets aside to celebrate St. Francis of Assisi’s dies natalis — his birth into eternal life. Francis is easily one of the Church’s most beloved and venerated saints. Thus, even the vigil of his death is celebrated in style. In October 3 is the vigil of his passing over and bears a special name — his Transitus. The word is derived from the Latin meaning “passage,” “crossing” or “going over.”
St. Francis spent the last few days before his death in praising the Lord and teaching his companions whom he loved so much to praise Christ with him. He himself, in as far as he was able, broke out with the Psalm: I cry to the Lord with my voice; to the Lord I make loud supplication. He invite the creatures to praise the Lord, as well he invite sister death that can take him joyfully to meet God, even the death is considered as hateful and terrible, he says welcome sister Death.
We approach soon for the next month in to All Saint Day, when we generally united we offer all transituses that happened throughout the years for those who have passed this life and been both in the Heaven. Our beloved sister Dollie remained me that although she was ill, and she hided from all, but giving the best part of her daily life, with her short consistent petitions offered, smile face. This commemoration today also remind me of deceased brother Philip Gerboc, who was the Francis of the suburbs in this decade, or sister Victoria too, Franciscan servant. Saint Francis loved the nature, helped and communicated and feed animals and wild too, he lived a simple life in poverty and been satisfied with his life, In life, St. Francis of Assisi embraced Nature and everything in calling it a Brother or Sister under God — after all, are we not all Creatures made by the one Creator? He sacramentalized poverty and died owning nothing perfecting the Christian life thus inspiring millions thus giving the Master his investment back a thousand fold. (John 4:38, Matthew 25:14-30) This commemoration of Saint Francis will always remind me to reflect of the grace that we sahred common life in friendship and family. I want to remind all of us, that we are about to live soon or late this earthly life, and that we will experience our own trasitus, and been born again in Heaven. They lived, let perpetual light shine upon them, and they gave us very good example of their Christian life of virtue and failues too. Let us prepare each day stay vigilant, and be like Saint Francis who didn’t own anything, but all the nature he communicated and protected, we dhall do the same in this hateful enviromential disasters, we have toapreciate Gods creatures, not to explote them and torture the animals.W e have to take off the baggage of this world out of our body and soul as St francis and take Jesus yoke. Life can be easy if we can come to that point to live life as Francis lived in a way.
SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI PRAY FOR US !

Feast of the Guardian Angels ~ The Rt. Rev. Michael Beckett, OPI

We often think of guardian angels as a special angel only for children, but the truth is that we all have a guardian angel for our entire lives. Our angels are a gift from God. They watch over us, aid us in prayer, enlighten us, guide us and protect us. Angels are mentioned in both the Old and New Testament and many saints have had visions of their guardian angels. We can hope that our Guardian Angel will help us during our journey to eternal happiness in Heaven. The Feast of the Guardian Angels is celebrated on October 2nd. Although Guardian Angels have been venerated since the early days of the Church, it wasn’t until the 17th century that Pope Clement X extended the feast day to the universal Church. It comes just two days after the Feast of the Archangels Gabriel, Michael, and Raphael.

On this Feast of the Guardian Angels in 2011, Pope Benedict XVI said,

“Dear friends, the Lord is always near and active in human history, and follows us with the unique presence of His angels, that today the Church venerates as ‘Guardian,’ in other words those who minister God’s care for every man. From the beginning until death human life is surrounded by their constant protection.”

It is an established Catholic belief that each individual person has their own guardian angel assigned to watch over their soul. There are three important verses in the Catholic Bible from which this belief is drawn:

Psalm 90:11: “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.”

Matthew 18:10: “See that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.”

Hebrews 1:14: “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to do service for the sake of them that shall inherit salvation?”

These verses have led St. Jerome, one of our early Church Fathers, to conclude, “How great the dignity of the soul, since each one has from his birth an angel commissioned to guard it.” Many others wrote about our guardian angels, including St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil, and St. Thomas Aquinas. According to Aquinas, our guardian angels have a good influence over us, but they cannot control our free will. Guardian angels influence or guide us by acting upon our intellect through our senses and our imagination. When they do this, they are influencing our will to do good and avoid evil. So really, their job is to help you get to heaven. Thus guardian angels do not control us by any means, but they do greatly assist us in finding and doing God’s will. Our guardian angels are also able to protect us from danger as well as assist us in prayer and meditation on the divine things of God.

We don’t only have the Scriptures and the Early Fathers of the Church who tell us about our Guardian Angels. We also have the saints, some of which actually witnessed their guardian angel in action. In many cases their Guardian Angel was visible to them. These include St. Padre Pio, who could see his guardian angel, which would often send him on special missions; St. Faustina Kowalska, whose Guardian Angel accompanied her to observe the pains of the Holy Souls in Purgatory; and St. Gemma Galgani, to name a few. St. Gemma Galgani wrote much about her Guardian Angel in her autobiography, including this account:

“One evening, when I was suffering more than usual, I was complaining to Jesus and telling him that I would not have prayed so much if I had known that He was not going to cure me, and I asked Him why I had to be sick this way. My angel answered me as follows: ‘If Jesus afflicts you in your body, it is always to purify you in your soul. Be good.’”

Ask yourself this question today: How is my relationship with my guardian angel? Do I listen to him? Do I say good morning to him in the morning? Do I ask him: Watch over me when I sleep?’ Do I speak with him? Do I ask his advice? He is by my side. We can answer this question today, each of us: How is our relationship with this angel that the Lord has sent to watch over me and accompany me on my journey, and who always sees the face of the Father who is in heaven?So, today is the day to tell your guardian angel “Thank You” for their daily guidance, and to show gratitude to God for assigning a powerful heavenly protector for your personal care. It is also a good time to make the resolution to pray to your Guardian Angel daily as our Holy Father admonishes us.

As St. Bernard of Clairvoux plainly states in his sermon:

“‘He has given his angels charge over you to guard you in all your ways’. These words should fill you with respect, inspire devotion and instill confidence; respect for the presence of angels, devotion because of their loving service, and confidence because of their protection. And so the angels are here; they are at your side, they are with you, present on your behalf. They are here to protect you and to serve you.

But even if it is God who has given them this charge, we must nonetheless be grateful to them for the great love with which they obey and come to help us in our great need. So let us be devoted and grateful to such great protectors; let us return their love and honor them as much as we can and should. Yet all our love and honor must go to Him, for it is from Him that they receive all that makes them worthy of our love and respect. Even though we are children and have a long, a very long and dangerous way to go, with such protectors what have we to fear? They who keep us in all our ways cannot be overpowered or led astray, much less lead us astray. They are always loyal, prudent, and powerful.

Guardian Angel Novena:

Loving God, you are so good that you gave me a Guardian Angel to protect my body and my soul. Help me to know and follow my angel so that, with their guidance, I will be worthy of being in Heaven with You!

My sweet Guardian Angel, you are my defender every day of my life. Protect me from sin and bodily harm. Help me to learn to defend and protect myself so that I can be the person that God is calling me to be.

You are with me all the time so you already know these my intentions that I ask you to deliver to the Lord. (Mention your intentions here…)

My guardian angel, my defender, protect me!

The Feast of St Matthew ~ The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI

Reading 1: EPH 4:1-7, 11-13

Responsorial Psalm: PS 19:2-3, 4-5

Gospel: MT 9:9-13

Liturgical colour: Red.

Today, we come together as the church to commemorate the Feast day of St Matthew the Apostle.  Matthew was originally named Levi, but was renamed Matthew by our Lord Jesus.   He was a tax collector (i.e., a publican) and he spent his days  in Capernaum, collecting the tax money from his fellow citizens.

We can understand the type of employment which he held, and how his country folk felt about his trade, by reading what he wrote regarding publicans in his Gospel. We find that the word “publican” is used to mean a derogatory term and is often associated with “sinner” and “heathen.” For example, Matthew writes that if we love others as they love us we do not deserve a reward because even publicans do the same (Matt. 5:46-47). He also mentioned that Jesus was viewed negatively because he was accused of eating with such publicans and sinners (Matt. 9:10-11; 11:19). Another reference is shown to us when he writes that if a Christian is corrected by an elder of the Church but does not listen, he is to be treated as a heathen and a publican (Matt. 18:17). Finally, we see that publicans are even grouped with harlots, when Jesus, speaking to the Pharisees, said: “Verily I say unto you, that the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you” (Matthew 21:31).

One day while still named Levi , he was applying his trade when the Lord, Jesus walked by and, upon seeing him, said, “Follow me.” It is said of Levi that at that moment, “he left all, rose up, and followed Him” ( Luke 5:27, . Matthew 9:9). Next, Luke writes:

Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them. But [the] scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with publicans and sinners?” And Jesus answering said unto them, “They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (5:29-32)

Little is written about Matthew throughout the rest of the Gospel except that he was one of the twelve Apostles of Jesus. After Jesus’ Ascension and the descent of the Holy Spirit, the Matthew stayed in Jerusalem preaching the gospel with the other Apostles. It is at this time that he wrote his gospel. When it came time for the Apostles to disperse to preach the Gospel throughout the whole world, he preached in Macedonia, Syria, Persia, Parthia, Media and Ethiopia all the while establishing churches.

Let us pray:

O Glorious St. Matthew,

in your Gospel you portray Jesus

as the longed-for Messiah

who fulfilled the Prophets

of the Old Covenant and

as the Lawgiver who founded

a Church of the New Covenant.

Obtain for us the grace to see

Jesus living in His Church and

to follow His teaching in our lives

on Earth so that we may live forever

with Him in heaven.

Amen.

The Holy Cross ~ The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI

The Exaltation of The Holy Cross.

Reading 1: NM 21:4B-9

Responsorial Psalm: PS 78:1BC-2, 34-35, 36-37, 38

Reading II: PHIL 2:6-11

Gospel: JN 3:13-17

Today, we come together to commemorate the feast of the exaltation of the Holy Cross. We celebrate this each year on September 14th of each year.

Today’s Feast day was originally established to celebrate the anniversary of the finding of the True Cross of Jesus in Jerusalem on September 14, 326 by St.Helen, who was the mother of the Emperor Constantine.

The cross is an amazing and wonderful symbol of contradiction.  The cross has become the most recognized religious symbol in the world, it is the ultimate symbol of God’s love, forgiveness and redemption. In the ancient Roman world, historically, the cross was the symbol of degradation, suffering and death. Death by crucifixion was extremely brutal. Now the cross is the greatest symbol of God’s love and of our salvation.

Today the Church gives all of us the place at which we ought we ought to stand – by the cross of Our  Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

And from there we can move not only the earth, but heaven as well!

From the cross of our Lord, the gates of hell are shattered, the devil and his angels are disarmed of their power and death is destroyed.

From the cross- the people who dwell in darkness see a great light – the glory of God shining forth from the face of Christ;

From the cross – a host of captives are set free and the ancient gates are lifted up high.

From the cross- sin will be pried from our hearts and our minds lifted to heaven.

So must the son of man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life (Jn: 3:15)

In our first reading today, we get the description of how God healed the complaining Israelites through the brazen serpant. In the second reading, we see how St.Paul explains how God Exalted Jesus for his self-emptying on the cross for our salvation by granting him resurrection.

In todays Gospel, answering the question raised by Nicodemus, Jesus explains how he is going to save the world by his death on the cross. Jesus cites the example of how brazen serpant raised by Moses representing the healing power of God, saved the Israelites in the desert from snake bites.

So comparing his cross to the serpent of bronze lifted up by Moses, Jesus tells us that those who are bitten by the serpant of sin can be healed by a look of faith to the ever forgiving cross.

At the cross of Jesus there were three men looking at him: two sinners, the criminals hanging in crucifixion near him, and an unbeliever, the centurion. One of the criminals asked him: “ Aren’t you the Messiah? Then save yourself and us. “ But the other one rebuked him: “ Have you no fear of God, seeing you are under the same sentence? We deserve it after all. We are paying the price for what we’ve done, but this man has done nothing wrong”. The he said: “Jesus remember me when you enter upon your reign”. And Jesus replied this: I assure you; this day you will be with me in paradise”. Notice the two looks: the look of the impenitent and the look of the repentant. The third one who looked at Jesus on the cross was the centurion. We read in the Gospel according to saint mark: “ the centurion who stood guard over him, on seeing the manner of death, declared: ‘clearly this man was the son of God” ( Mk 15:39)

The feast of the exaltation of the cross provides us with the opportunity to remember, in a special way, Jesus’ passion, and the significance of his death for us upon the cross. Through the Holy Cross, God has entered into our suffering. The good news is that when we suffer those earthly trials and crosses from which it is humanly impossible for us to escape, Jesus our Lord is intimately there with us in the midst of all our sufferings.

The cross is the hope of Christians. The cross is the staff for the lame. The cross is the deposing of the proud. The cross is the hope of those who despair.  The cross is the haven for the bestormed. The cross is comfort for those who mourn. The cross is the glory of mankind. The cross is the crown of elders. The cross is the light for those who sit in darkness. The cross is freedom for slaves, it is the wisdom for the ignorant. The preaching of prophets and the joy of priests. The foundation of the church. The cleansing of the lepers, the rehabilitation of the enfeebled. Bread for hungry , a fountain for the worst thirst.

How splendid and wonderful is the cross of Christ!

It brings life, not death

Light, not darkness.

Paradise, not its loss.

It is the wood on which Our Lord and Saviour, like the greatest of warriors, was wounded in hands and feet and side , but who thereby healed all our wounds.

A tree has destroyed us, a tree now brought us life.

Growing Seasons ~ The Rev. Dcn. Igor Kalinski, OPI

Marshal Tito 157

1480 GEVGELIJA

MACEDONIA

Homily for 30 August, Twenty second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Blessed Sunday day dear brothers and sisters.

I feel this melancholic frontier between the end of summertime and beginning of autumn, the mix of refreshing nights, shorter days, but still so hot during the low sunshine here. Nature is slowly changing in golden shape. We are changing too, physically and spiritually, in a good and in a negative way, too.

The golden, red color of the trees’ leaves as they are falling on the ground, is a remarkable story. The leaves from green and young, to the red and golden colors, saying goodbye, dying and fertilizing the ground for the next generation of seeds and plants.

We people are the leaves, the tree is the mother church, we physically die, and be buried.

Through our lives, we grow, we get green and inexperienced and young, and we learn from our mistakes and sins, we learn to follow and recognize the voice of our God. He provides us through his graces in a spiritual journey with his sacred sacraments. Our Holy Mother Church.

The tree is our diocesan bishop, cos every bishop is an image of Jesus, every autocephalous bishop is church based on the tradition and teachings of the Holy fathers. In this modern 21 century world, the church is witnessing the same unique story of God’s love for the people.

I know the spiritual life is not easy in a way, but our weakness and our sacrifice for God let us offer all that pain and struggle, with pure intentions and prayers, we can transform the society when we learn what is Gods will, what is good and pleasant to do.

If we can lose our life, it’s not lost in God, be brave, God have future for all of us. He will never leave us. Let’s take daily our own cross and go forward as a servant of Jesus.

God will provide for the rest. He never leaved us, and He will embrace us all in the end of our journey.

Stay faithful and passionate for Christ Risen.  Amen.

Faith Unto Death: John the Baptist ~ The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI

Reading 1:1 COR 1:26-31

Responsorial Psalm: 33:12-13, 18-19, 20-21

Gospel: MK 6:17-29

Liturgical colour: Red.

Dearest  brothers and sisters in Christ, Today we come together to honour the Passion of St John the Baptist.  The life of St. John the Baptist was indeed a very dramatic one. Even in his mother’s womb, he leapt with joy when Mary greeted Elizabeth at the Visitation.  At John’s birth, there was an amazing occasion= that of the choosing of his name which  was that which restored the power of speech of his father Zechariah, and which also left the astonished local people wondering who he would he grow up to be.  John’s appearances at the river Jordan preaching repentance and baptising people earned him the reputation of “the Baptist” and he was even the one who baptised our Lord Jesus himself.

John had a very illustrious ministry. Yet in essence, he was a prophet and his greatest action as a prophet was to point out to all that Jesus was indeed the Lamb of God.  And as a prophet, he had fulfilled his ministry mission by proclaiming the ways of the Lord to all, and pointing out  to them, their sin and evil ways, and calling for their repentance and  for their conversion.   St. John the Baptist paid the consequence for pointing out Herod’s sin, as for doing this, he was captured and was imprisoned in Herod’s fortress.  If the life of John the  Baptist was dramatic and illustrious, his death was equally very dramatic, and it was also a death which was  extremely gruesome in it’s nature.

John’s death by being  beheaded, reveals the true character of person of Herod, of Herodias, of her daughter, and also of all the guests that were present, as they did nothing and said nothing to stop the heinous act.  For a great prophet like St. John the Baptist who had such a dramatic and illustrious life and ministry, his death was so humiliating, yet indeed, so terrible of nature.

Yet, today, we the Church come to  honour him. Over and above all else, we honour him for his faithfulness to God and  also for his  great courage in the acceptance and fulfilment of his mission of being God’s prophet.  Even for us, in all the drama of  our lives,  whether in times of spills and thrills, or whether in times of being mundane and monotonous, what counts for us will be our faithfulness to God.  Because in the end, it will be the depth and strength of our faithfulness to God that mattered.  This mattered to St. John the Baptist. It also matters to God and it should indeed be what matters to us!

The life and ministry of John the Baptist, and his willingness to die for his faith and  devout service to God, is an excellent example of how our lives as Christians, and as children of God should be. There is much we can take from John the Baptist and can and should, live by such within our own lives.

Let us pray:

O God, who willed that St John the Baptist

should go ahead of Your Son

both in his birth and in his death,

grant that, as he died a Martyr for truth and justice,

we, too, may fight hard

for the confession of what You teach.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,

who lives and reigns with You

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

Amen.