SELECTED HOMILIES OF THE MONTH

 

The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed
(All Souls), 2 Nov 2017
[Readings: Isaiah 25:6-9, Romans 5:5-11, Matthew 11:25-30]
 
“As we come together to commemorate the faithful departed on All Souls’ Day and offer prayers for souls, there may be some people who have been challenged, or asked, by others: Why pray for the dead? Isn’t it all over and done with? Once they are dead, they are dead, and we cannot do anything.
 
Well, we know as Christians, and even later as we read the preface of the Mass, we are told that death is not the end, but a passage into eternal life, the movement into immortality.
 
So it is with this confidence that we pray, knowing that we are praying to a God who has promised us eternal life.
 
As in the first reading from the prophet Isaiah goes, ‘On this mountain, the Lord is going to prepare a huge banquet of rich food’. Or basically, through or on this mountain, God is going to make life beautiful for us.
 
Today we know that in Scripture, the mountain stands for two things: Firstly, it was on the mountain that God gave His people the instructions for life, the 10 commandments. Second, it was also on the mountain that Jesus died, and gave His life for us.
 
So on this ‘mountain’, through our participation, our obedience to God’s will, but more especially, through the death and resurrection of Jesus, God is going to prepare for us a beautiful life.
 
So everytime we pray for the dead, it is with this conviction and hope.
 
As St Paul tells us in the second reading, hope is not deceptive, God is not playing a trick on us. Hope is a gift from God. It is the hope that has been planted in our hearts through the Holy Spirit.
 
And what is this hope? Our hope is in the same promise that God gave us. He not only spoke about it, but showed it. St Paul tells us that even while we were sinners, Christ died for us to reconcile us with God.
 
So even as we recognise the pain of loss, the grief of death, we should be encouraged by the promise of God.
 
As Jesus says in today’s Gospel, come to me all you who are overburdened – even you who grieve for the loss of loved ones – I will give you rest.
 
The ‘rest’ that we pray for ourselves and for our loved ones who have died, is not a rest in terms of us not doing anything, but the rest that comes when we are united with God.
 
Today we pray for this, to be able to do all things in our life so that we can be united with God, to be completely one with Him. We also pray this for the departed faithful who, on this earth, followed Jesus, the Good Shepherd.
 
Let us pray with confidence and hope, because we believe in the resurrection, and we believe in the power of God to raise our loved ones. We pray that God gives that eternal rest to all those who have died. In a special way, let us also remember to pray for those who have no one to actively pray for them.”
 
– Fr Ambrose Vaz

The Solemnity of All Saints, 1 Nov 2017
[Readings: Apocalypse 7:2-4,9-14, 1 John 3:1-3, Matthew 5:1-12]
 
“The Solemnity of All Saints that we celebrate reminds us of who we are, and that a bright future is ahead of us.
 
We celebrate not just those who have been canonised as saints, and also those saints who are unknown to us but known to God, those who are in full communion with Him.
 
It also reminds us of the goal that they have attained, the ultimate goal: Heaven itself, to be one with God, face to face.
 
The saints encourage us in our struggles. They are like us in every way. When they were living on earth, they had to endure their own struggles day after day.
 
The difference was that they grew from strength to strength to strength. They were open to God’s graces and used the graces to enhance their lives and those around them.
 
In the Old Testament, we have Abraham. He lied to others that his wife was his sister, he was afraid, but he grew from strength to strength, so much so that we now call him the father of our faith.
 
And there was Moses, who had a speech impediment. He murdered an Egyptian soldier. When God called him, he protested, telling God to choose his brother Aaron instead. But he, too, grew from strength to strength, eventually leading his people out of Egypt.
 
In the New Testament, we have Peter, the impulsive one, the one who denied Jesus. Yet, in the Acts of the Apostles, we see that he was leading the people, willing to die for Jesus.
 
Take Paul, who persecuted Christians. After his conversion, he ended up fighting for Christians.
 
Outside of the bible, we also have many wonderful saints.
 
St Augustine comes to mind. If you read about his life, from a young age, he was a rascal. He led a loose life, mixing with the wrong company, had a mistress, fathered an illegitimate child.
 
But when he was converted in Milan, there was no turning back. He put his sights high, and all for the Lord Jesus. He was ordained a priest and became a bishop. He left behind many writings and we see his contributions in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Most of his quotations are found there.
 
These saints struggled, like you and I, and had limitations.
The difference was, they were always open to God’s graces, wanting to change.
 
The second reading from the first letter of St John shows us this reality. It says that we are God’s children, and what we shall be has not yet been fully revealed to us.
 
But what we know is that when it is revealed, we shall be like Him. Why? Because we shall see Him face to face.
 
That is what we are invited to do, to set our sights high, so that we can be one with God at the end of time.
 
As we celebrate this feast, we also remember those who have gone before us.
 
We pray that they are also in the number of people who are standing in front of the throne of God. And if not, that they will be there soon.
 
We pray for ourselves, because we want to be counted with the saints as well when our time here is completed, and to intercede for others.
 
For now, we are still on that journey towards sainthood, with all our limitations.
 
In communion with the saints, we ask them to pray with us and for us in all our struggles and temptations, that they be our guiding light, because they have already reached the ultimate goal.
 
We thank God for the many countless saints who are in communion with Him, and pray with the hope that we will one day join them, to be in their company in heaven. Amen.”
 
– Fr John Bosco Pereira