Jesus Christ, King of the Universe! ~ The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of  Universe.

Reading 1:Dn 7:13-14

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 93:1, 1-2, 5

Reading II: Rv 1:5-8

Gospel: Jn 18:33b-37

Liturgical colour: White.

Today we come together to honour Our King and Our saviour, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord Jesus is the One and true King of all heaven and of all the earth. There is no one who Jesus is not the ruler of, whether such person be an Earthly King or Queen, a President or a Prime minister of a country, Jesus still is the ruler and the King of all. Earthly kingdoms and offices of power are just that, earthly.

Jesus has His true Kingship of all, not by elections or by earthly processes, but by election of God. From his resurrection from the dead and from his installation in heaven at God’s right hand. When our dear Lord rose from the dead, after paying for all our sins upon the cross, God the Father exalted Him and gave him a “name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow.” and this includes everyone, ourselves, and all the rulers of the earth. Jesus lives today and rules over us from his heavenly Kingdom with the Father. Jesus doesn’t rule with evil or hate, or with earthly wants, policies and pride, but rules with love, mercy and forgiveness and who loves and accepts each of us where we are as long as we love him. We have a King that loves us so much that he suffered human death upon the cross for all of our sins, so that we could have a chance of eternal life with Him. What a wonderful Lord and King we have indeed!

Lord Jesus, you are the King of Kings!!

Let us pray:

O Divine Saviour and King of all, transform us into that which is pleasing to yourself. May our hands be your hands. Grant that every faculty of our being may serve only to glorify you. Above all, transform our Spirit, our will, and our affections so that they become those of you, our Lord and King. We pray that you destroy all within us that is not of you, our King of all. May we live in you, by you, and for you. Amen.

Mules, Attitude, and Giving Your Best ~ The Rev. Frank Bellino, Novice

In days of old there was a woman married to a most annoying man. He would complain about everything. He never did anything to help his wife. He expected to be waited on hand and foot all the time. (Do not shoot the messenger guys) Remember if you want to be treated like a king, she must be your queen. One day he went to the river with his mule. He complained so much that the mule got upset and kicked him till he died. At the funeral, when all the men walked by the wife, she shook her head in the affirmative. Every time the women walked by; she shook her head negatively. The priest asked the woman after seeing this: “Why are you shaking your head “yes” for men and “no” for women?” Her answer was: “The men would say how bad they felt for me, and I was saying, ‘Yes, I’ll be good.’ “When the women walked by, they were asking if the mule was for sale…”” (“Simple Truths for Marriage”)

The readings today seem filled with despair and disaster. The prophet Daniel tells of the day when the great Archangel, Michael, shall trumpet the time Jesus returns. And Jesus speaks of the time when the Son of Man shall come in glory and gather the elect into His kingdom.

While select might find these readings frightening, they would be wrong. For the readings are given to us not to incite fear but to invite reflection about how we live our lives today.

The fantasy mule-kicked husband is just like those people that only care about themselves and want it their way all the time or they are unhappy. And while the husband may be an extreme example, the numerous variations of his behavior find a home in many places and peoples in our world.

Today’s readings challenge us to look at life with a diverse set of lenses…not with self-centered glasses but with compassion and care for all. It calls us to see with new eyes. To see that the person who cuts us off in traffic might be a single parent who worked nine hours that day and is rushing home to cook dinner, help with homework, do the laundry and spend a little precious moment with her children. The older couple who are walking excessively slowly through the store and who block our shopping progress are savoring this moment, knowing that, based on the biopsy report from the doctor she got back last week, this might be the last time that they will be able to go shopping together for a while or forever depending on the aggressiveness of the cancer.

To serve each other is not only to learn to think differently it also means taking the next step and moving outside of we: to lend a hand to those in need, a listening ear to those who are lonely and a compassionate and understanding heart to those who find themselves living on the fringes of society.

It is only when we learn to give ourselves in service to each other and to those in need that we gain a proper perspective on life and let Jesus Christ lead us so that we might, in the words of the prophet Daniel, “be wise and shine brightly…like the stars forever.”

Martin De Porres

Blessed Martin de Porres was born in the city of Lima, in the Viceroyalty of Peru, on December 9, 1579, the illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman and a black former slave. He grew up in poverty; when his mother could not support him and his sister, Martin was confided to a primary school for two years, and then placed with a barber/surgeon to learn the medical arts. This caused him great joy, though he was only ten years old, for he could exercise charity to his neighbor while earning his living. Already he was spending hours of the night in prayer, a practice that increased rather than diminished as he grew older.

At the age of 15, he asked for admission to the Dominican Convent of the Rosary in Lima and was received first as a servant boy; as his duties grew, he was promoted to almoner. Eventually he felt the call to enter the Dominican Order, and was received as a tertiary. Years later, his piety and miraculous cures led his superiors to drop the racial limits on admission to the friars, and he was made a full Dominican. It is said that when his convent was in debt, he implored them: “I am only a poor mulatto, sell me.” Martin was deeply attached to the Blessed Sacrament, and he was praying in front of it one night when the step of the altar he was kneeling on caught fire. Throughout all the confusion and chaos that followed, he remained where he was, unaware of what was happening around him.

When he was 34, after he had been given the habit of a Coadjutor Brother, Martin was assigned to the infirmary, where he was placed in charge and would remain in service until his death at the age of sixty. His superiors saw in him the virtues necessary to exercise unfailing patience in this difficult role, and he never disappointed them. It was not long before miracles were attributed to him. Saint Martin also cared for the sick outside his convent, often bringing them healing with only a simple glass of water. He begged for alms to procure necessities the Convent could not provide, and Providence always supplied.

One day an aged beggar, covered with ulcers and almost naked, stretched out his hand, and Saint Martin, seeing the Divine Mendicant in him, took him to his own bed. One of his brethren reproved him. Saint Martin replied: “Compassion, my dear Brother, is preferable to cleanliness.”

When an epidemic struck Lima, there were in this single Convent of the Rosary sixty friars who were sick, many of them novices in a distant and locked section of the convent, separated from the professed. Saint Martin is said to have passed through the locked doors to care for them, a phenomenon which was reported in the residence more than once. The professed, too, saw him suddenly beside them without the doors having been opened. Martin continued to transport the sick to the convent until the provincial superior, alarmed by the contagion threatening the religious, forbade him to continue to do so. His sister, who lived in the country, offered her house to lodge those whom the residence of the religious could not hold. One day he found on the street a poor Indian, bleeding to death from a dagger wound, and took him to his own room until he could transport him to his sister’s hospice. The superior, when he heard of this, reprimanded his subject for disobedience. He was extremely edified by his reply: “Forgive my error, and please instruct me, for I did not know that the precept of obedience took precedence over that of charity.” The superior gave him liberty thereafter to follow his inspirations in the exercise of mercy.

Martin would not use any animal as food—he was a vegetarian.

In normal times, Saint Martin succeeded with his alms to feed 160 poor persons every day, and distributed a remarkable sum of money every week to the indigent. To Saint Martin the city of Lima owed a famous residence founded for orphans and abandoned children, where they were formed in piety for a creative Christian life. This lay brother had always wanted to be a missionary, but never left his native city; yet even during his lifetime he was seen elsewhere, in regions as far distant as Africa, China, Algeria and Japan. An African slave who had been in irons said he had known Martin when he came to relieve and console many like himself, telling them of heaven. When later the same slave saw him in Peru, he was very happy to meet him again and asked him if he had had a good voyage; only later did he learn that Saint Martin had never left Lima. A merchant from Lima was in Mexico and fell ill; he said aloud: “Oh, Brother Martin, if only you were here to care for me!” and immediately saw him enter his room. And again, this man did not know until later that he had never been in Mexico.

Martin was a friend of both Saint John de Massias and Saint Rose of Lima. When he died in Lima on November 3, 1639, Martin was known to the entire city. Word of his miracles had made him known as a saint throughout the region. As his body was displayed to allow the people of the city to pay their respects, each person snipped a tiny piece of his habit to keep as a relic. It is said that three habits were taken from the body. His body was then interred in the grounds of the monastery.

Pope Gregory XVI beatified Martin de Porres in 1837. Nearly one hundred and twenty-five years later, Blessed Martin was canonized in Rome by Pope John XXIII on May 6, 1962. His feast day is November 3. He is the Patron Saint of people of mixed race, innkeepers, barbers, public health and more besides.

In iconography, Martin de Porres is often depicted as a young mulatto friar (he was a Dominican brother, not a priest, as evidenced by the black scapular and capuce he wears, while priests of the Dominican order wear all white) with a broom, since he considered all work to be sacred no matter how menial. He is sometimes shown with a dog, a cat and a mouse eating in peace from the same dish.

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.

Who Are These In White Robes? ~ The Rt. Rev. Michael Beckett, OPI

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints (also called All Saints Day).

All Saints’ Day, All Hallows Day, or Hallowmas is solemnly celebrated on 1 November by many Western Liturgical Churches to honor, literally, all the saints, known and unknown; those individuals who have attained Heaven; all the holy men and women who have lived their lives for God and for his church, who now have attained Beatific vision and their reward of Heaven.

In early Christian history it was usual to solemnize the anniversary of a Martyr’s death for the Lord at the place of their martyrdom. Frequently there were multiple martyrs who would’ve suffered and died on the same day which led to multiple commemorations on the same day. Eventually, the numbers of martyrs became so great that it was impossible for a separate day to be assigned to each individually, but the church feeling that every martyr should be venerated, appointed a feast day to commemorate them all on the same day.

The origin of the festival of All Saints celebrated in the West dates to the month of May in the year 609 or 610, when Pope Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon at Rome to the Blessed Virgin and all the martyrs.  In the 730’s Pope Gregory III moved the Feast of All Saints to 1 November when he founded an oratory in St. Peter’s for the relics of the holy apostles and of all saints, martyrs and confessors, of all the just made perfect who are at rest throughout the world.”

From our Readings today, we hear of the vision of St. John from the Book of Revelation:

After this, I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue.  They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.  They cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb.”

All the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures.  They prostrated themselves before the throne, worshiped God, and exclaimed:

“Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power, and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”

Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me, “Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?” I said to him, “My lord, you are the one who knows.” He said to me, “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.”

Who are these nameless saints?  Their anonymity teaches us that sainthood is not reached through great achievements or rare acts of bravery.  Sainthood comes from simply loving God and doing our best to live our lives in a way consistent with Jesus’ commandment.  I would dare say that none of the saints actually set out to be saints.  They simply loved God and lived their lives to follow Him.

Revelation goes on to remind us that giving our lives over to God will not protect us or insulate us from hardship.  Living in, for, with, and through God, however, will make sure that we can and will endure whatever “great distress” comes our way.  In this passage of Revelation, John is speaking specifically of those who have given their lives for their faith.  Christians throughout the Middle East are being martyred by forces opposed to Christianity, but in reality, it is very unlikely that any of us will be called upon to sacrifice our lives for our faith.

Our challenge, then, is to live for Christ, rather than to die for Christ.  Jesus does ask to lay down our lives for Him. Peter said to the Lord, “I will lay down my life for Your sake,” and he meant it (John 13:37). Has the Lord ever asked you, “Will you lay down your life for My sake?” (John 13:38). It is much easier to die than to lay down your life day in and day out with the sense of the high calling of God. We are not made for the bright-shining moments of life, but we have to walk in the light of them in our everyday ways.  For thirty-three years Jesus laid down His life to do the will of His Father. “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16).

If we are true followers of Jesus, we must deliberately and carefully lay down our lives for Him. It is a difficult thing to do, and thank God that it is, for great is our reward.  Salvation is easy for us, however, because it cost God so much. But the exhibiting of salvation in our lives is difficult. God saves a person, fills him with the Holy Spirit, and then says, in effect, “Now you work it out in your life, and be faithful to Me, even though the nature of everything around you is to cause you to be unfaithful.” And Jesus says to us, “…I have called you friends….” Remain faithful to your Friend, and remember that His honor is at stake in your bodily life.  We are called to remain faithful, despite the reasons the world gives us to not, despite the “great distresses” in our lives.

Who are these dressed in white robes?  It is my prayer to be counted among them.  What about you?

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.

Always Preach Love ~ The Rev. Frank Bellino, Novice

At times in the gospel, we must be thankful to Jesus, because he had a marvelous instinct for simplifying things. In his time, it is written that there were more than 600 laws that devout Jews were supposed to know and follow, dietary rules, rules about behavior, more than half were things that you were simply never to do. So it might seem like it was a bit of a big deal for Jesus to say that really, not to ignore the other 600 laws, but if you could do two of them right, love God and love your neighbor as yourself, and to be told that if you do that, you’re not far from the kingdom of God, that’s redemptive. It was uncommon for a scribe and Jesus to discuss with someone whose business it was to know all those laws, and yet who realized that they were not all of equal meaning, who was willing to say that God possibly doesn’t get that much satisfaction from burnt offerings, what God gets pleasure from than anything is our love, our love for God, and to see us authentically love one another. It is the same for us today, many of us feel like we do not know enough about our faith, or that we could not explain it to someone else. There are about 3,000 numbered paragraphs in our catechism explaining what we trust and how we should live, and to believe, if we get these two things right, that we can feel good about where we are in our walk, which is almost un-Catholic, isn’t it?


Just two commandments that Jesus gave to be accepted as a citizen in good standing by Jesus Christ himself. Before we feel too comfortable, though, about the easiness of what Jesus is saying here, we must remember the way Jesus saw the state of this world we live in. From the surface what Jesus is asking for sounds very peaceful and simple, but he is involving us in something much larger. Because when you read the gospels, it is impactable not to realize that Jesus saw this world in the hands of a dominion that needs fighting against, and he is recruiting us in building the kingdom that is going to be the alternative to that power. Sometimes we see this power that we are fighting, we see it daily on the streets and on the news, we see it in wars that go on for years and deprive people of the basics of life, we see it when people are demonized, rejected, and feared. We are not sure what this power is sometimes, but we see what love is up against, and we do not see how love is going to win. But the kind of love Jesus is asking for here triumphs over anything. He is not saying for us to be even-tempered, mild-mannered patience with everyone, or leaving people alone the way we would mostly like to be left alone. Instead, the love he is talking about is love that is 100% focused on God and others, love people who are hurting and who have nothing and no one else. And in this war, our weapon is not a rule book but a love that always asks the question, what if that were me? What would I want to have happen if I were them? If I were that person who is coming up here from another country, that person whose lengthy illness is so dispiriting and unfixable, that person who stands for things I do not believe in or understand. How would I want to be treated, for what would I desire? We may not be able to repair any of those situations, we do not know how to, and we cannot but acts of love towards others are the sign we need in this world of another way of life, of that other kingdom that is still on its way. This one commandment is not such an easy commandment to follow, as it appears today. Simple does not mean easy. What is going to save us from disappointment, from giving up? If we only had the second part as our labor, loving our neighbor as ourselves, we could never do it. But God gave us this, a gift of love.


This commandment says that all God wants is a connection of love with us,
establish love as our first job in life, before anything else, realize that we already have it. God is not an inactive participant waiting for us to take the lead here, saving the world by ourselves. We cannot fight this all-alone God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and all the angels and Saints are assisting us. God is already trying to have love take over. The love you have knowledge of from God in your life, the love that is poured out here in this parish, the love that God already showed for this world by sending his Son to the Cross, it is all on our side. Love has already rescued this world and us.

In the first reading today from the Old Testament where we heard these two commandments laid out for the people of Israel, God had already brought these people to the edge of the promised land, and that is available for us, also. We are not digging ourselves out of a hole against impossible odds. We have work to do, but it is as if we should know that God has already suffered death for us. Our relationship with God is already so influential that we can turn to Him no matter what needs to occur. We know it, and yet, we lose faith. We are human. We will at times feel like the odds are against love in this world.

In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus says that in an age where evil is multiplied, most people’s love will grow cold, and some days it does seem as if that is possible.

St. Oscar Romero, who gave his life fighting this fight.
He said, let us never tire of preaching love; it is the force that will overcome the world.


Today we ask God to keep our love from dying, and to give us life to put love to work where love is required most.

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 Gift of Salvation ~ Br. Milan Komadina, Novice

As you know I live in Serbia (Balkan). In my country there is something interesting related to the practice of receiving gifts and that is showing excessive gratefulness for every single thing that we get. Even a small one. I think this is similar culture and in N. Macedonia, Bosnia, Montenegro. People feel a bit uncomfortable when receiving gifts.  This phenomenon dates back to many periods when people were very poor and had to literally sacrifice a lot to get a small regular gift for someone. The thing that we may often experience while giving gift to a Yugoslav person is hearing many times ”thank you”, but we should not be surprised if we get some other gift back in order to show thankfulness. This culture is specific for this part of the world.  Why I started this sermon with talking about gifts getting practice in my country is related to what I read in today`s Bible reading. This inspired me thinking about the salvation that we get as a free gift. And while meditating on that I found out that people somehow feel uncomfortable with getting the gift of salvation. Seems that we often would like to add a bit of our own deeds or our own sacrifice to the most holy sacrifice that Jesus did for the sake of the forgiveness of all sins ever. In Hebrews 5:1-6 we read:

”Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people.And no one takes this honor on himself, but he receives it when called by God, just as Aaron was. In the same way, Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father. ”And he says in another place, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.””

Here we read that Jesus is a priest forever. We can see that in the past Israel people had many priests, one of them was Aaron who had that honor to bring many sacrifices to God. But when the time came, it was clear that human deeds, human sacrifices and all the goodness that a single human could provide was never enough to please God and to cover sins of a fallen human. There had to be a perfect sacrifice, a spotless lamb and that was Jesus.

Of course today we have bishops, priests, deacons as it was founded by apostles and we can learn a lot of all those brothers and sisters, but only Jesus is the one who saved us by grace through His mercy. In Serbia and neighbor countries people bring big bouquets of expensive flowers, they buy and bring to Christian temples expensive candles made of purest bee wax and bring many gifts to the churches which sometimes look to me (as a person looking from aside) that they believe they could add something to salvation and they can add their own gifts to the perfect gift of Jesus` sacrifice.

We sometimes fast, sometimes pray to saints and Holy Mary (to assist us in prayer to God and to pray for us) and we try to live morally and to be good people as a result of being saved by grace, by faith in Jesus and all that he has done for us. Holy Eucharist is here to remind us on the Sacrifice of Jesus. All these things are necessary and they are good but what is not God is having fear of our loving God which would lead us to depression and feeling that we will never be saved. Nowadays I also read that some number of people (so called anti-vaxers) are afraid of anti-covid 19 vaccines that billions of people have received and are receiving for almost a year. They believe that there is some satanic chip in the vaccine and that if they get it they may lose Christ and they may lose the salvation. I met many Christians in several denominations believing in these conspiracy theories and I really feel sad about that.

So today I wanted to share that as Christians we should know that God is our father and he is not some scary god who is willing to put us all in hell and who is calculating our sins. Christianity is about joy, spiritual joy of saved people. It is about feeling saved, feeling safe and feeling that God will always be here with us and for us. With all that lightening candles, incense, praying with rosary, giving charity and all other activities we do can make our lives much happier. We cannot earn salvation and all the things we do should be the result of previously being saved. And remember that it was written you are saved by grace it was not written you become perfect and sinless. Unfortunately we will make some sins in the future and during our lives. And yes we should always repent and try not to repeat them. But please don`t feel lost and depressed because of that.

From time to time we might feel week and sinful or we may feel that God is far away from us. This is all normal and in this situation we should not doubt in the gift of salvation. We all experience ups and downs, but our salvation was given as a gift when we gave our hearts to Jesus. What I would also like to emphasize here is the importance of prayer. The prayer is always powerful. Especially when we fall in sins it is very useful to pray. Or if you feel in a bad mood ask your Christian brother and sister to pray for you, ask Holy Mary, or some saint or holy angels to pray for you and with you. Jesus hears your prayer, he knows how you feel and he knows what situation are you in at the moment. He will listen.

In today`s Gospel we also read the story when Jesus healed blind man in Jericho. Mark 10:46-52

“Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.”Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.”

As many times in Bible, Jesus emphasizes the importance of faith. Here we should remember these words: ”your faith has healed you”. Every time when we ask for something we should have faith. Jesus did not tell him ”your gifts given to the local church, expensive flowers and candles, Greek expensive incense and the money you donated has healed you”. He simply stated that the faith is what he counted. Because our God is God of Mercy. I pray today for all of us to have faith and to be thankful for the mercy that God is giving us. 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.