Wednesday, 25 July 2018 : Feast of St. James, Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Matthew 20 : 20-28

At that time, the mother of James and John came to Jesus with her sons, and she knelt down, to ask a favour. Jesus said to her, “What do you want?” And she answered, “Here, You have my two sons. Grant, that they may sit, one at Your right hand and one at Your left, in Your kingdom.”

Jesus said to the brothers, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They answered, “We can.” Jesus replied, “You will indeed drink My cup; but to sit at My right or at My left is not for Me to grant. That will be for those, for whom My Father has prepared it.”

The other then heard all this, and were angry with the two brothers. Then Jesus called them to Him and said, “You know, that the rulers of nations behave like tyrants, and the powerful oppress them. It shall not be so among you : whoever wants to be great in your community, let him minister to the community. And if you want to be the first of all, make yourself the servant of all. Be like the Son of Man, Who came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life to redeem many.”

Wednesday, 25 July 2018 : Feast of St. James, Apostle (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 125 : 1-2ab, 2cd-3, 4-5, 6

When YHVH brought the exiles back to Zion, we were like those moving in a dream. Then, our mouths were filled with laughter, and our tongues with songs of joy.

Among the nations it was said, “YHVH has done great things for them.” YHVH had done great things for us, and we were glad indeed.

Bring back our exiles, o YHVH, like fresh streams in the desert. Those who sow in tears will reap with songs and shouts of joy.

They went forth weeping, bearing the seeds for sowing, they will come home with joyful shouts, bringing their harvested sheaves.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018 : Feast of St. James, Apostle (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

2 Corinthians 4 : 7-15

However, we carry this treasure in vessels of clay, so that this all-surpassing power may not be seen as ours, but as God’s. Trials of every sort come to us, but we are not discouraged. We are left without answer, but do not despair; persecuted but not abandoned, knocked down but not crushed.

At any moment, we carry, in our person, the death of Jesus, so, that, the life of Jesus may also be manifested in us. For we, the living, are given up continually to death, for the sake of Jesus, so, that, the life of Jesus may appear in our mortal existence. And as death is at work in us, life comes to you.

We have received the same Spirit of faith referred to in Scripture, that says : I believed and so I spoke. We also believed, and so we speak. We know that He, Who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us, with Jesus, and bring us, with you, into His presence. Finally, everything is for your good, so that grace will come more abundantly upon you, and great will be the thanksgiving for the glory of God.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Sharbel Makhluf, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the word of God in the Scriptures, we can hear how God is calling us all to follow Him, that is to abandon all of our past, sinful ways, and turn towards Him with all of our hearts, with all of our strength, and with all of our capabilities. He is calling us to have a total conversion of the heart, mind and of our whole being, to become His people, His beloved children.

In the first reading today, taken from the book of the prophet Micah, it was an exhortation by the prophet, which is both in form, a prayer and a reminder for the people of the great love which God has shown His people, Israel, ever since the time He chose them to be His people, all the time He has blessed them and guided them, giving a bountiful land to be their inheritance. The prophet Micah was calling the people to repent from their sins and turn towards God once again.

God is always ever merciful and loving towards His people, despite His anger at the sins and disobedience which they have constantly shown to Him. But of course, His mercy and love requires us to be receptive and to actively accept His generous offer of mercy for it to take effect in our lives. We cannot assume that we will be forgiven if we refuse to obey the Lord, and continue to live our lives in our usual, sinful ways.

Instead, He wants us to have a conversion as mentioned, from those who walked in sin and disobeyed Him, to be those who listen to His will, and do what is right and just in our lives, as He mentioned in the Gospel passage today to the people, telling them that all those who have done God’s will, is the mother, brothers and sisters of the Lord. It means that all those who obey God, belongs to God.

And those who belong to God, will not be lost from God, for the Lord will gather all of His sheep, His beloved ones, as a loving and good Shepherd. God will not abandon all those who have been faithful to Him, and indeed, even to those who have not been obedient, He is always ever obedient to the Covenant and the promise which He has made to all of us mankind.

That is why, He chose willingly to accept suffering and death on the cross, for our sake. No one in the right mind and in the right worldly logic will consider suffering, less still to die for someone else, if he or she does not love that person so much, that he or she is willing to do such an act of selfless love and compassion. And as St. Paul said, Christ is even better, for He chose willingly to die for us all, sinners and disobedient people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all called to reflect on our lives, on whether we have been good disciples of the Lord all these while. Have we obeyed the Lord with our actions and deeds in life, or have we instead been listening to all the falsehoods, lies and the temptations of the evil one? Have we been true disciples of Our Lord, in all of our words and actions?

Let us today examine the life of a holy and devout servant of God, whose examples we can perhaps incorporate into our own lives. St. Sharbel Makhluf or St. Charbel was a famous saint originating from what is today Lebanon, a member of the Maronite church, who was a faithful and devout monk and priest. He devoted his whole life to God, and was exemplary in his prayer life and dedication to serve God.

St. Sharbel Makhluf has done what he could have done, to love the Lord Who has loved him first. And in his pious devotion to Him, he showed us all, how we mankind should turn away from all of the distractions of the world, and focus our attention towards God instead. It does not mean that we have to join religious life and monkhood as St. Charbel had done, but truly, we must have a change in our life for the better.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we all able to commit ourselves anew to the Lord, Our God? Are we able to turn away from all the wicked things which we have done in our lives, and have a new life that is centred on God? These are the questions we have to keep asking in our minds and in our hearts, as we continue on living our daily lives in this world.

Let us all renew our commitment to be faithful and good children of God, as those who do the work that God wants us to do, and listen to Him speaking in our hearts and minds, by having a good spiritual relationship with Him through prayer. May God be with us all, and may He continue to bless all the works He has done through us. Amen.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Sharbel Makhluf, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Matthew 12 : 46-50

At that time, while Jesus was talking to the people, His mother and His brothers wanted to speak to Him, and they waited outside. So someone said to Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside; they want to speak with You.”

Jesus answered, “Who is My mother? Who are My brothers?” Then He pointed to His disciples and said, “Look! Here are My mother and My brothers. Whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”

Tuesday, 24 July 2018 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Sharbel Makhluf, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Psalm 84 : 2-4, 5-6, 7-8

You have favoured Your land, o YHVH; You have brought back the exiles of Jacob. You have forgiven the sin of Your people; You have pardoned their offences. You have withdrawn Your wrath and turned from Your burning rage.

But restore us, God our Saviour; put away, altogether, Your indignation. Will Your anger be ever with us, carried over to all generations?

Will You not give us life anew, that Your people may rejoice in You? Show us, o YHVH, Your unfailing love, and grant us Your saving help.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Sharbel Makhluf, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Micah 7 : 14-15, 18-20

Shepherd Your people with Your staff, shepherd the flock of Your inheritance that dwells alone in the scrub, in the midst of a fertile land. Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead as in the days of old, in the days when You went out of Egypt. Show us Your wonders.

Who is a God like You, Who takes away guilt and pardons crime for the remnant of His inheritance? Who is like You Whose anger does not last? For You delight in merciful forgiveness. Once again You will show us Your loving kindness and trample on our wrongs, casting all our sins into the depths of the sea.

Show faithfulness to Jacob, mercy to Abraham, as You have sworn to our ancestors from the days of old.