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It Is Good~The Feast of the Transfiguration~The Rev. Frank Bellino

A week before the Transfiguration, Jesus had promised to His disciples: “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.”

The Transfiguration is now part of the fulfilment of this promise which would really be fulfilled at Jesus’ resurrection. The disciples were experiencing a foretaste of the glory and power of God’s kingdom. God gave them this experience to strengthen their faith and to assure them that the Man of Nazareth was really His beloved Son, the promised Messiah.

Peter became so excited with this experience that he wanted to perpetuate that moment. He didn’t want to go down the mountain anymore, back to the problems and challenges of the daily life. He wanted to stay there: “It is good for us to be here! Let us put up three shelters – one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

It is usually accepted that Mark wrote his Gospel based on the reports he heard from Peter. I can imagine Peter telling Mark about the Transfiguration! It was a unique experience for him, and it touched him deeply. He wrote about the Transfiguration in his first letter as well, confirming the voice they had heard from the Father and the brightness of the light that shone around them.

We are children of God of the new covenant. We know how the story ended with the resurrection and ascension of Christ. We know that Jesus established His kingdom among us. We know that Jesus is now in glory with the Father ad with Moses, Elijah and all other saints. We believe that we will all be there by God’s grace. But for the disciples it was not as easy as it is for us. They couldn’t understand what was to happen: Jesus’ suffering and death. They couldn’t even understand when Jesus spoke about His resurrection! Therefore, Peter wanted to stay there, in glory with Jesus, Moses and Elijah, and his fellows John and James. “It is good for us to be here.”

I – It is good for us…

A) It is good for us to be with Jesus too. This one hour that we spend together in Service is a blessed hour in communion with Jesus! Away from the daily rush, we sit quiet and worship our God. We listen to His voice and partake in His Holy Meal. We believe and confess that Jesus is the Beloved Son of God, our Savior. We sing with angels and archangels: “Holy, Holy Holy!” – The same happens when we read the Bible and pray at home, alone or with our family. It is a moment of peace and of fellowship with God. It is good to be with Jesus!

B) It is good for us to be with Moses too. We need to hear the Commandments, who call us to repentance and show us how to walk according to God’s will. We cannot just take some sweet drink; but we must accept some bitter medicine as well. If people would listen to the 10 Commandments more, the world wouldn’t be as bad as it is. For us it is good to be with Moses; it gives us security; because Moses is not alone, but he comes with Jesus, who reaches His hand to help us as we are unable to obey 100% the Commandments.

C) It is good for us to be with Elijah, the prophet. Elijah called the king and the people of his time back to the true faith. Elijah and the other prophets pointed to the Messiah; and we know that those prophecies were done in Jesus. God is faithful in what He promises. We can be sure about what He promises to us as well. And the biggest promises were done in Jesus promises of forgiveness and eternal life.

D) It is good for us to be with Peter, James and John. They were eyewitnesses of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. When we read what they wrote in the Bible, it is like to be with them and to enjoy their telling the stories and sharing with us their faith and life experiences. Peter wrote (2 Peter 1:16-18): “For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.” This gives us confidence that the Bible is really the Word of God!

II – The end has not come yet

It is good for us to be with Jesus, Moses, Elijah and the apostles, to be strengthened in our faith and in our life. After the Transfiguration Moses and Elijah went back to the glory of God, where all our blessed beloved ones and ancestors are. But the glorious end has not yet come to us. After being with Jesus and His fellows for a while, we must go down the mountain, like Jesus and the disciples after the Transfiguration. Jesus had to face suffering and death, as we will remember it during the Lent Season, which begins this week on Ash Wednesday. We have to face Lent Season in our lives as well. Not like Jesus, because He did the most for us and on our behalf on the cross. But we know that life is not easy. Every one of us has temptations and sufferings to carry. But after being with Jesus and His fellow prophets and apostles, we know and believe that we can lift up our eyes from the darkness and dirt of this world to the glory of the Resurrected Jesus! Like the apostles were comforted in hope remembering the experience on the Transfiguration Mountain, like they were facing persecutions and sufferings, we are also comforted in hope by the glory of the living Christ! Don’t miss the opportunities to be with Jesus and to kneel at His table with your Christian family. God said in our Gospel: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to Him!” As we enjoy being here and always with Jesus, He will never forsake us, according to His promise.

In good and in bad times of our lives, He will reach His hand to us and hold us firm, until we will be with Him, with Moses, Elijah, the apostles and all the saints for ever and ever. Then He will accept our wish when we say: Lord, it is good to be here. And He will answer: “Good and faithful servant. Come and share your Master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:23). Amen.

St. Mary Magdalene, Protectress of the Order

Mary Magdalen is a model of contemplation, and is thus a suitable proctectress for an Order whose end is the salvation of souls by the preaching of the truths contemplated


Epistle: Canticle 3:2-5; 8:6,7

I will rise and will go about the city; in the streets and the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth; I sought him and I found him not. The watchmen who keep the city found me: Have you seen him whom my soul loveth? When I had a little passed by them, I found him whom my soul loveth. I held him; and I will not let him go till I bring him into my mother’s house, and into the chamber of her that bore me. I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes and the harts of the fields, that you stir not up, nor awake my beloved till she please. Put me as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon thy arm, for love is strong as death; jealousy as hard as hell; the lamps thereof are fire and flame. Many waters cannot quench charity, neither can the floods drown it; if a man should give all the substance of his house for love, he shall despise it as nothing.

The soul that, following the direction of the watchmen, that is, the priests, teachers, and rulers of the Church, seeks Jesus, He goes to meet, gives Himself up to, takes up His abode in, with all His love, with all His treasures. The soul which has found Christ for delight forgets all outward things, and no longer has love or joy but for and in Christ. How should it be otherwise? What can be wanting to him who truly possesses Christ? This love for Him Who loved us unto death shows itself by outward acts that are heroic. So Mary Magdalen loved Jesus. Follow her example.

St. Mary Magdalene is one of the greatest saints of the Bible and a legendary example of God’s mercy and grace. The precise dates of her birth and death are unknown, but we do know she was present with Christ during his public ministry, death and resurrection. She is mentioned at least a dozen times in the Gospels.

Mary Magdalene has long been regarded as a prostitute or sexually immoral in western Christianity, but this is not supported in the scriptures. It is believed she was a Jewish woman who lived among Gentiles, living as they did.

The Gospels agree that Mary was originally a great sinner. Jesus cast seven demons out of her when he met her. After this, she told several women she associated with and these women also became followers.

There is also debate over if Mary Magdalene is the same unnamed women, a sinner, who weeps and washes Jesus’ feet with her hair in the Gospel of John. Scholars are skeptical this is the same person.

Despite the scholarly dispute over her background, what she did in her subsequent life, after meeting Jesus, is much more significant. She was certainly a sinner whom Jesus saved, giving us an example of how no person is beyond the saving grace of God.

During Jesus’ ministry, it is believed that Mary Magdalene followed him, part of a semi-permanent entourage who served Jesus and his Disciples.

Mary likely watched the crucifixion from a distance along with the other women who followed Christ during His ministry. Mary was present when Christ rose from the dead, visiting his tomb to anoint his body only to find the stone rolled away and Christ, very much alive, sitting at the place they laid Him. She was the first witness to His resurrection.

After the death of Christ, a legend states that she remained among the early Christians. After fourteen years, she was allegedly put into a boat by Jews, along with several other saints of the early Church, and set adrift without sails or oars. The boat landed in southern France, where she spent the remaining years of her life living in solitude, in a cave.

St. Mary Magdalene’s feast day is July 22. She is the patroness of converts, repentant sinners, sexual temptation, pharmacists, tanners and women, and many other places and causes.


Be Still and Listen~ The Rev. Frank Bellino

The story of Jesus in the home of Martha and Mary complements the story of the Good Samaritan, which we heard last week in Luke’s Gospel. Both stories are unique to Luke. The story of the Samaritan opens with the words “a certain man.” Today’s reading opens with the words “a certain woman.” The Samaritan is an example of how a disciple should see and act. Mary is an example of how a disciple should listen. Mary, a woman, is a marginalized person in society, like the Samaritan. Both do what is not expected of them. As a woman, Mary would be expected, like Martha, to prepare hospitality for a guest. Here again Jesus breaks with the social conventions of his time. Just as a Samaritan would not be a model for neighborliness, so a woman would not sit with the men around the feet of a teacher.

Both stories exemplify how a disciple is to fulfill the dual command which begins chapter 10—love of God (Mary) and love of neighbor (the Samaritan). These are the two essentials of life in the kingdom. By using the examples of a Samaritan and a woman, however, Jesus is saying something more. Social codes and boundaries were strict in Jesus’ time. Yet to love God with all one’s heart and one’s neighbor requires breaking those rules. The Kingdom of God is a society without distinctions and boundaries between its members. It is a society that needs times for seeing and doing and also times for listening and learning at the feet of a teacher.

I always feel that Mary and Martha’s home was a kind of sanctuary where Jesus could take time out to be among his friends especially if he had things weighting on his mind. The Bible tells us that Jesus loved Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus. I wonder why he was so fond of them. Maybe because they allowed him space and time to unwind and share with them his innermost thoughts and feelings. In the first reading Abraham and Sarah did the same bending over backwards to accommodate their three mysterious visitors who turned up at their tent unannounced.

Do we ever make space in our lives for people who could do with a listening ear especially if they catch us on the hop and we’re not expecting them? Loving someone is not just about helping them in a time of crisis, like the Good Samaritan in last Sunday’s gospel, but also about making space and time for them on a more mundane level and especially if it inconvenient to us.

But before this happens it is important to make space and time for God in our busy lives. It mentions a number of times in the Gospel that Jesus took time out for prayer usually in a place where he wasn’t likely to be disturbed. According to the old catechism answer prayer is ‘a raising up of the mind and heart to God’. That simply cannot be done if our minds are all over the place. How can we raise up a restless heart to God if it is preoccupied with other things?

The gospel tells us that Mary sat down at the Lord’s feet and listened to his words. Blaise Paschal, the renowned 17th century philosopher and mathematician, wrote that “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

If that was true of the 17th century, how much more relevant is it for modern people. Even Sunday rest, which the Church calls for, is paid lip service to by many. We need to make uninterrupted space and time for God if we are ever going to give quality time to others. Martha and Mary were equally loved by Jesus. On this occasion he gently reminds Martha that Mary had chosen the better part on this occasion, and it would be a shame to take it from her

If you read about the lives of saintly Catholics who were very active in their ministries, like Saint Teresa of Calcutta or St. Rita, you may be surprised at how much time they spent in a chapel each day, praying at the feet of the Lord, before engaging in their ministries of service.

For this reason, I believe every one of us needs to have both a Mary and a Martha in us. To be a healthy Catholic is to unite in the soul the contemplative life and the active life. That mix will be different for each and every one of us. For those who work all week on the job and at home, this can be a challenging message indeed. My friends, can we devise strategies to help ourselves, every member of our family, circle of friends, and parishioners here at St. Michael’s to be rooted in the Mary side of our relationship with God and neighbor? Do we care enough to voluntarily give the Martha’s in our lives a break every so often, so she too can be rooted in the better part?

For we know the task of running a healthy parish here at Saint Michael’s takes the joint effort of an army of Martha’s, everyone doing their part. On the other hand, if we are not first Mary’s in our daily lives, our efforts are in vain. The Gospel challenges our parish, and in truth the Gospel needs all of us at home and outside of home, to root all of our activities in our prayerful discipleship of the Lord. This is very important because, as imperative as all the things we have to get done each day, if these activities are not rooted in a relationship with Jesus Christ, why does it matter?

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

Reading I: 1 Jn 1:5—2:2

Responsorial Psalm: 124:2-3, 4-5, 7cd-8

Gospel: Mt 2:13-18

Liturgical Colour: Red.

Today, we as a church remember The Holy Innocents, those infant boy martyrs all  aged 2 years and under. This liturgical season has such a huge contrast. Only 3 days ago, we were celebrating the joyous celebration of the birth of Our dear Lord and Saviour, Jesus. Then the very next day, our thoughts turn To st Stephen and his Martyrdom for Christ. Now, we are remembering these Innocent young child martyrs, and how they were slaughtered on the orders of King Herod.

Let us first look at The Gospel reading for today of  Mt 2:13-18:

When the magi had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search  for the child to destroy him.”

Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled,     Out of Egypt I called my son.

When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious.  He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi.  Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:

A voice was heard in Ramah,  sobbing and loud lamentation;  Rachel weeping for her children,  and she would not be consoled,  since they were no more.

It’s  extremely difficult to imagine that anyone could see a little baby as such a great threat, yet that is exactly what is  recounted in our gospel today. When Jesus was born, the shepherds and magi see in the Christ Child a Lord and  Saviour. King Herod, however, sees the baby Jesus as merely a rival that has to be feared and to be  eliminated. The “Holy Innocents” we celebrate today are all those little babies that Herod had murdered in Bethlehem in an attempt to kill this child Jesus. Sadly, this event is not the first such occurrence of this nature in the Scriptures. When the Israelites grew numerous in Egypt, Pharaoh also sensed a rival and thus ordered all the babies to be thrown into the river. Despite this attempt, Moses, like Jesus, escaped the plot against them. The important point in these stories is that we need to recognize that God’s plan was brought about even in spite of these murderous efforts to thwart it. Many babies died in Egypt and Bethlehem and yet Moses and Jesus remained safe and sound. God’s plan was accomplished.

The readings tell us today about  light and about darkness. The magi are in darkness, and yet they see the star and follow the guiding light it which it shines. They are willing to go out of their way, to change their lives to conform to God’s guidance. The magi find their way to that light. We too are often given the choice between being in  light or in  darkness.

This day which commemorates the sad slaughter of so many innocent children in Bethlehem is somewhat ironically also a feast day on which is for celebrating. Whilst we remember the horror of the deaths of these little babies, and the traumatic suffering their families obviously suffered by their slaughter, We also celebrate the fact that King Herod’s plan failed. Not only did Jesus survive, but the lives of the little babies were not snuffed out eternally  as Herod had planned. Rather, these children now live forever in God’s  heavenly Kingdom, where they intercede for us. Yes, we rejoice to see that God’s plan is triumphant even in the face of great opposition and evil. Light will always be triumphant over darkness. The only question that remains is, will we live in the darkness of this world, or will we follow the light and live in the Lord our God and Saviour, and he in us?

Let us pray:

We remember today, O God, the slaughter of the holy innocents of Bethlehem by King Herod.  Receive, we pray, into the arms of your mercy all innocent victims;  and by your great might frustrate the designs of evil tyrants and establish your rule of justice, love and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the union of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

He Is Born!

Luke And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

The Feast of All Souls ~ The Rev. Frank Bellino, Novice

“…and Hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5)

As we celebrated All Saints yesterday and today All Souls it becomes Bitter and sweet. Bitter because we remember our dead, sweet because we know the capacity of our prayers on their behalf. Our Mass today is the same as what we do at a funeral except that on this day, we do not have just one death, but many, very many, so many just look at the pictures.

It is easy for us to reminisce and pray for our close relatives, our friends, our parents, our colleagues, those with whom we shared quality time, but today is also the chance to remember and pray for those who had no one to pray for them, those who did not have the chance of an appropriate burial, the unidentified souls; victims of natural disasters. (Flooding, earthquakes, typhoon, and so on). We also remember millions of people who have died because of man’s inhumanity to man, victims of abortion, sales of expired drugs and fake food, holocausts, war and so on.

Why do we pray for the dead?

One, in praying for the dead, we remember them and by doing so, we offer them a great offering. “I once read somewhere, “you will know your true value when you consider the speed with which you will be forgotten after your death.”” (“A Day to Remember the Dead: All Hope Is Never Lost …”) A day like this is a good day for the dead if one living person still remembers them. The movie COCO, yes, a Disney movie has Christian themes. Nothing is as wonderful as being remembered by someone after your death.

Two, by praying for the dead, we become knowledgeable and worthier. Death is a great educator and one of its teachings is the equality of all humans. Death teaches us those judging others or treating people with disdain, coldness or unforgiveness is foolish. Even the few minutes we spend thinking of our dead ones could boost the quality of our lives and our interactions with one another.

Three, our prayers for the dead help to reduce their pain. Africans, have a traditional belief in the notion of people who died “before their time.” Such persons are said to be in a state of roving until they finally settle with the others that have gone to the other side. As Catholics, we believe in purgatory, a place that is neither hell nor heaven where the sins of the dead are cleansed until they are permitted to enter heaven. This is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1030. There have been numerous occurrences of dead people appearing to the living either in dreams or in visions requesting for prayers or even going further to give advice or warning.

In the end, what we celebrate today is HOPE. Hope that as we pray for the dead, they will enter heaven, hope that if they are in heaven, they will intercede for us. Hope that one day, when we too pass on, there would be people around here praying for us. St. Paul tells us today that Hope does not fail us.

Together with Job 19:25 in our first reading, we sing: “I know my Redeemer lives.” I know God who is my Redeemer will not desert me even after my death. I know I want see God, whom I shall see with me. Our Psalm continues this song saying “The Lord is my Shepherd… surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for length of days unending.”

Finally, just like yesterday, we hear Jesus repeat the beatitudes again. As we hear these beatitudes again, we are made to understand that they apply not only to the Saints but to all departed souls. By repeating this reading, the church wants us to meditate on what is important, the beatitudes.

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, deepen our hope of resurrection for your departed servants. Amen.

Be Bold In Faith ~ The Rev. Dcn. Igor P. Kalinski, OPI

Dominican Hermitage & Oratory of St’s Peregrine and Sebastian in Gevgelija, Republic of Macedonia, Europe in the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Beloved family and friends, beloved sisters and brothers in Christ our Lord and Redeemer, in today’s mass readings from Deuteronomy, Hebrews and Gospel according  to Saint evangelist Mark, I will try to give my little brief of how the Holy Scriptures reflect this to us as ultimate truth for understanding better the meaning and the message, and for our daily devotional spiritual food.

We read here  “days…prolonged, Moses’ concern is that successive generations maintain the obedience to God’s laws that ensures life and prosperity, in 6:3 : a land flowing with milk and honey: a description that includes the richness of the land which the Israelites were soon to possess, in 6:4 has become the Jewish confession of faith, recited twice daily by the devout, the intent of these words was to give a clear statement of the truth of the monotheism, that there is only one God. The most important passage is that those commandments in 6:6 shall today be on our hearts. Such a beautiful message, inspirational, and we have to give that to our children, in our family members. Since the relationship such as this of love for God could not be represented in any material way as with idols, if had to be demonstrated in obedience go God’s law in daily life.

In the epistle of St. apostle Paul to the Hebrews we read:  “also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing, but He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable to save  to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them, that mean that by the authority  invested to them the priests in the old testament , after the establishment of the Mosaic law, the Levitical priests collected tithes from their fellow Israelites, and the submission was not to honor the priest but to honor the law of Moses. Melchizedek not only received a tithe from Abraham , but he also blessed him, and this prove Melchizedek superiority and another superiority is that of our Lord Christ’s divine  and holy character as proof for superiority of His priesthood. In 7:26 in His relationship with  God , Christ is holy , he is harmless without evil or malice, in relationship with himself He is undefiled, free of contamination, separate from sinners, He had no sinful nature, which will be source for any act of sin, so He is without sin , higher that heaven, how marvelous is to have such a priest, and we have to watch as in daily mirror to put these words in our heart, and to be faithful in daily attendance of mass, where alter Christus the priest is offer his daily sacrifice in the Holy Mass.

In the Mark’s gospel we read that vinedressers were greedy because they wanted the entire harvest and the vineyard for themselves and would stop at nothing to achieve that end , they plotted to kill the owner’s son. Because Jesus had achieved such a following, the Jewish leaders believed only the way to maintain their position and power over the people was to kill Jesus.

The owner of the vineyard will execute the vinedressers, thus serving as a prophesy to the destruction of Jerusalem. So also another attribute, prophet, for Jesus  King, Prophet and Priest.

According to Matthew if I can little include this verdict was echoed by the chief priests, scribes, and elders, Matthew 21:41 “give the vineyard to other” those others dear beloved family and friends are all of us the Gentiles, , this  was fulfilled in the establishment of Christ’s church and its leaders who were most Gentiles. In Mark 12:10 the stone which the builders rejected, those builders that typically rejected stones until they found one perfectly straight in lines that could serve as the cornerstone, that is critical for the stability of the building. So here Jesus is metaphor He Himself is the stone, the builders were the Jewish religious leaders rejected Him, as crucified Him. But the resurrected Christ is the cornerstone, and the chief priests, scribes and elders were completely aware that Christ was condemning their actions, but it only aroused  their hatred, not their repentance.

So what we learned from today’s  Gospel? We can be servants as the stones that support the cornerstone, to be bold, and steady  to the end, always confession our Lord, if we want to be recognized from Him in Heaven as his family, so don’t be afraid to make the proper sign of the cross in public, or before you eat in public restaurant, when we usually pray, we always have to be not people who hide privately  the faith, that’s  not what Jesus would do.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

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

Reading I: Eph 2:19-22

Responsorial Psalm: 19:2-3, 4-5

Gospel: Lk 6:12-16

Liturgical colour: Red.

My dearest Brothers and sisters-in-Christ:

Today we come together as the church to celebrate the feast day of Saints Simon and Jude. Little is known about either of these saints apart from the fact that they were called by Jesus to be among his band of disciples and were later named amongst the Apostles.

Let us first take a look at St. Simon:

Simon was a simple Galilean, a brother of Jesus, as the ancients called close relatives in those times, including such as uncles and first cousins. He was one of the Saviour’s four first cousins, together with James, Jude and Joseph. These were all sons of Mary, the wife of Alpheus, or Cleophas, both names being a derivative of the Aramaic Chalphai. According to tradition Cleophas was the brother of Saint Joseph, Jesus earthly father. All the sons of this family were raised at Nazareth, close neighbours of the Holy Family.

All were called by Our Lord to be Apostles: pillars of his Church. Saint Mark tells us that Simon was born in Cana, the place, according to Saint John, of Jesus’ first miracle. Some traditions identify Simon as the bridegroom at that wedding and suggest that he became a disciple as a direct response to witnessing that miracle, a miracle that was, after all, performed, at the request of Mary, to get the newly-weds out of a somewhat embarrassing predicament.

Saint Simon is not mentioned anywhere in the New Testament except in lists of the Apostles’ names.

Tradition has it that Saint Simon preached in Mauretania (an area which approximated to present day north-west Africa and southern Spain), in Egypt and in Libya, leaving behind him the fertile hills of Galilee, where he had been engaged in cultivation of the vineyards and olive gardens. He later rejoined his brother Jude in Persia (modern day Iran) where they laboured and died together, probably martyred, hence the change to a red altar frontal in their honour on this their feast day. At first the Persian king respected them, for they had manifested power over two ferocious tigers that had terrorised the land. With their king, sixty thousand Persians became Christians, and churches rose over the ruins of the idolatrous temples. However, when they visited other parts of the Persian kingdom unconverted, pagan hordes commanded them to offer sacrifices to the Sun god. They prayed for mercy and offered their lives to the living God but the idolaters fell on the two Apostles and massacred them, while they blessed God and prayed for their murders.

Now let us take a look at Saint Jude:

Saint Jude is also known by a variety of other names. He is called Lebbaeus in Matthew chapter ten and Thaddaeus in Mark chapter three.

In the end of our Bibles, we find The Epistle of Jude. It is a short work of only one chapter containing just 25 verses. Here we are warned against corrupt influences that have crept into the church.

St. Jude is often and popularly referred to as the patron saint of desperate or lost causes, the one who is asked for help when all else fails. Possibly due to prayers for intercession, to be asked of the other Apostles first. Hence, Jude has come to be called ‘the saint of last resort’, the one whom we ask only when desperate.

What, then, can we in today’s world learn from the lives of these two relatively unknown Apostles?  Firstly, they, like the rest of the twelve, ‘forsook all and followed Jesus. Can we be accused of doing that? Could we, and should we, give up some of our modern comforts and privileges and live our lives more like our Lord? Secondly, if tradition tells us, St Simon was the recipient of Jesus’ first miracle. We should be reminded that, even two thousand years later, that miracles still happen. We must always be aware that the Holy Spirit is at work in the world and he does not always do things in the way in which we would have him do them.

Thirdly, judging by his epistle, Saint Jude proved to be an avid supporter of gospel truths.

So then, are we truly passionate enough about the tenets and doctrines of our faith? Do we hold fast to the creedal affirmations of the Church?

Both Sts Simon and Jude, spent their lives preaching the gospel to a very pagan world and it is believed that they died a martyr’s death for their faith. We may not be called to be martyrs like they were (hopefully), but we shall be called to make other sacrifices. Are we ready to suffer for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ?

Let us, thank God for the lives of his Apostles Saint Simon and Saint Jude.

Let us pray:

Father, you revealed yourself to us through the preaching of your apostles Simon and Jude.  By their prayers, give your Church continued growth and increase the number of those who believe in you.

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.

The Feast of St Luke ~ The Very Rev Lady Sherwood, OPI

Reading I: 2 Tm 4:10-17b

Responsorial Psalm: 145:10-11, 12-13, 17-18

Gospel: Lk 10:1-9

Liturgical colour: Red.

Today we commemorate St. Luke the Evangelist, Patron saint of Physicians. Luke, from his perspective, records for us in his Gospel writings, the life of Jesus=from His birth at Bethlehem, through His ministry and His many healings. How Jesus heals the blind, the deaf, and the lame.

Luke tells us of the peace which Jesus speaks to all, because Jesus is indeed the peace and healing of God, then in human form. That is why in Luke 10, Jesus tells the 72, to say, “Peace be with this house”, as he sends them out as apostles of his peace.

Jesus gives us spiritual healing and peace which forgives our sins, and which reconciles us with God, our Heavenly Father, by His death upon the cross for us.

Jesus is truly the physician of our Soul. He knows all too well, that we are sick with sin, but it deters him not. Each and every one of us, is precisely why He came to earth to be amongst us, the reason he lived with us upon the earth, and why he suffered, bled, was tortured, and died for all our sakes.

Jesus came down from Heaven to our world, to take from us our dark sickness of sin and of death, and to heal us, to bring us true life and salvation. He took all upon himself for us upon the cross, our sickness and death, died with the Lord, to all who truly believe, love and follow Him. We are forgiven, we are healed, we are saved, we are at peace.

If we truly examine our lives, we will see our constant need for healing of the sins of this world. As with the body, if we are sick, we see our dr for diagnosis and treatment, that’s why today, we give thanks to God for His servant, Luke, the Evangelist. It’s Luke’s role to bring Jesus, His healing and peace to each of us through the living and active word of God.

The word of God is the scalpel of Jesus our physician and saviour. With total precision, Jesus’ laws cuts us and ‘kills’ the sickness of the human condition, so that he can heal us, and give us true life.

Each of the commandments of Jesus is a precise incision of his law. We have failed to fear, love, and trust God above all else as we ought to do. We have failed to use God’s name as we should, and to call upon him as our Father, as his children when in every trouble or need, or to give him worthy thanks and praise. We have ignored God’s Holy word and preaching, we have not loved our neighbour, or helped to eased their needs. We have been bad stewards of earthly material things such as money, or possessions. We have failed in giving kindness and forgiveness to our brothers and sisters.

So indeed, our human sickness of sin is dire=without Jesus as our Lord, our Saviour, and physician, the diagnosis is terminal.

But Jesus is merciful, he does not delight in punishment. Jesus our physician of our soul, cuts with His law in order to heal us with His Gospel. The Lord heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds (PS 147:3). Jesus has kept on our behalf, all those commandments, which we have failed to truly follow.

If we want to call our doctor, we pick up the phone, and wait for an appointment to become available. But Jesus as our physician for our souls, is contactable 24 hrs per day, every single day with no exception. He is contactable easily anytime, day or night, by the important communication of prayer.

So let’s end today with the simplest but most important prayer of all, to our Saviour and physician of our soul:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,  have mercy on me, a sinner.

Amen.