Tuesday, 16 July 2013 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Gospel Reading)

Matthew 11 : 20-24

Then Jesus began to denounce the cities, in which He had performed most of His miracles, because the people there did not change their ways. “Alas for you Chorazin and Bethsaida! If the miracles worked in you had taken place in Tyre and Sidon, the people there would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I assure you, for Tyre and Sidon it will be more bearable on the day of judgement than for you.”

“And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to heaven? You will be thrown down to the place of the dead! For if the miracles which were performed in you had taken place in Sodom, it would still be there today! But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom, on the day of judgment than for you.”

 

Alternative Reading (from the Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

 

Matthew 12 : 46-50

While Jesus was still 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 for Me brother, sister, or mother.”

Tuesday, 16 July 2013 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Psalm)

Psalm 68 : 3, 14, 30-31, 33-34

I am sunk in the miry depths where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, swept and engulfed by the flood.

But I pray to You, o Lord, at a time most favourable to You. In Your great love, o God, answer me with Your unfailing help.

But I myself am humbled and wounded; Your salvation, o God, will lift me up. I will praise the Name of God in song; I will glorify Him with thanksgiving.

Let the lowly witness this and be glad. You who seek God, may your hearts be revived. For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise those in captivity.

Alternative Reading (from the Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

Luke 1 : 46-47, 48-49, 50-51, 52-53, 54-55

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit exults in God my Saviour!

He has looked upon His servant in her lowliness, and people forever will call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, Holy is His Name!

From age to age His mercy extends to those who live in His presence. He has acted with power and done wonders, and scattered the proud with their plans.

He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and lifted up those who are downtrodden. He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty.

He held out His hand to Israel, His servant, for He remembered His mercy, even as He promised to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (First Reading)

Exodus 2 : 1-15a

Now a man belonging to the clan of Levi married a woman of his own tribe. She gave birth to a boy and, seeing that he was a beautiful child, she kept him hidden for three months. As she could not conceal him any longer, she made a basket out of papyrus leaves and coated it with tar and pitch. She then laid the child in the basket and placed it among the reeds near the bank of the Nile; but the sister of the child kept at a distance to see what would happen to him.

Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe in the Nile; her attendants meanwhile walked along the bank. When she saw the basket among the reeds, she sent her maidservant to fetch it. She opened the basket and saw the child – a boy, and he was crying! She felt sorry for him, for she thought : “This is one of the Hebrew children.”

Then the sister of the child said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?” Pharaoh’s daughter agreed, and the girl went to call the mother of the child. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take the child and nurse him for me and I will pay you.” So the woman took the child and nursed him and, when the child had grown, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter who adopted him as her son. And she named him Moses to recall that she had drawn him out of the water.

After a fairly long time, Moses, by now a grown man, wanted to meet his fellow Hebrews. He noticed how heavily they were burdened and he saw an Egyptian striking a Hebrew, one of his own people. He looked around and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.

When he went out the next day he saw two Hebrews quarrelling. Moses said to the man in the wrong, “Why are you striking a fellow countryman?” But he answered, “Who has set you prince and judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must be known.”

When Pharaoh heard about it, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in the land of Midian.

Alternative Reading (from the Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

Zechariah 2 : 14-17

“Sing and rejoice, o daughter of Zion, for I am about to come, I shall dwell among you,” says YHVH. “On that day, many nations will join YHVH and be My people, but My dwelling is among you.”

The people of Judah will be for YHVH as His portion in His holy land. He will choose Jerusalem again. Keep still in YHVH’s presence, for He comes, having risen from His holy dwelling.

Monday, 15 July 2013 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we reflect on the readings, which began from the opening of the Book of Exodus from the Old Testament, which told us the story of the people of Israel, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the chosen people, in Egypt, during their time of stay there. The people of Israel had been blessed by the Lord and grew exponentially in wealth and in their number, such that the Egyptians truly might have feared that the Israelites might overwhelm them in their own country.

Thus began the persecution of Israel, led by the Pharaoh, king and ruler of Egypt, who felt the threat created by the people of Israel in his lands. He oppressed them and tried to bring them under control, and therefore begun the slavery of Israel, the years of suffering in Egypt, when the people of Israel laboured under the yoke of the Pharaohs and many died. Yet, the Lord remained with His people, and He continued to bless them, and thence, they multiplied still even more.

But the Lord did not leave His people to suffer, because He cared for them and wished for their safety, and that was why He sent them a liberator, through Moses, the son of Israel lifted from the water of the River Nile by the daughter of the then reigning Pharaoh. Through Moses, the prayers of Israel were heard, and the Lord brought His people out of Egypt on eagle’s wings, with the ten plagues He sent to Egypt to punish them for mistreating the people of Israel and keeping them enslaved in suffering.

The Lord saved Israel from the slavery in Egypt, and He brought them through the Red Sea to the land of flowing milk and honey, the Promised Land of Canaan. The Lord God brought the people through the desert to Canaan, so that they can enjoy the promise that the Lord had made to Abraham, their forefather, that they, as his descendants, will enjoy the fruits of God’s blessings which had been given to Abraham and his descendants for eternity.

But the journey was not easy, and was full of trial and suffering, just as the people of Israel had endured suffering during their time in Egypt. That is because to become the disciples of the Lord is not easy, and is not straightforward. Much sacrifices had to be made, and indeed, as Christ had told His disciples, we have to take up our crosses and follow Him, otherwise we would not be worthy of Him.

That is because there is much evil in the world, ever since the beginning of time, when the evil one came and corrupted mankind and creation, with the evils that did not belong to God. Terrible things such as hatred, jealousy, greed, lust, and many other evils that had marred the perfection of God’s creations and all of His works.

But Christ would not let us suffer alone in this darkness, and that was why He came, to be the Light that rescues all from the grip of darkness. Instead, He bear all our sufferings, caused by our disobedience, so that He would blamed instead of us, punched and received blows instead of us, and died instead of us, a death on the cross.

The cross was, at the time of Jesus, the Romans’ favourite way to deal with criminals, particularly those seen as great threat to the Romans and to the society itself. Death of the cross for Jesus was to be a sure condemnation of His memory and a completely humiliating death for the so called ‘Messiah’, according to the chief priests.

Yet, the Lord prevailed, through His death, and then, most importantly, His Resurrection, the first to be Risen from the dead by His own power. The Risen Lord turned the humiliating cross, a symbol of shame, into a glorious sign of victory and triumph. The cross reminds us always that we have been victorious against the devil, and have also been triumphant in the struggle against sin and evil, because through that cross on Calvary, we had been made whole once again, and be made worthy in the presence of God.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, we must be proud to show that we are the people who belongs to God, a people of the Lord, marked by none other than by the sign of the victorious cross. Through even simple gestures like making the sign of the cross before meals would signify our pride and faith in the triumphant cross, the Lord who had brought us up from the mire of sin, and like the Israelites of old, brought with the power of God’s hands out of Egypt, thus we have been brought out of our slavery of sin, into a new, free life in Christ.

Do not be afraid to show that we are Christians, and we also should not attempt to hide it whenever we make the sign of the cross, before meals, before prayers, and in many other occasions. Behold the symbol of our salvation, our pride and faith in God, the cross, to remember our Lord who had died for us, endured suffering that should have befallen us, just so that all of us may live, and not just a life that is temporary, but eternal life in heaven.

Today we also commemorate the memorial of St. Bonaventure, who was a religious and a well-known theologian, preacher, and scholar who lived in the early part of the last millenium, living just after the time of St. Francis of Assisi. He and his works advanced the theology and teachings of the Franciscans, which he was a member of, and his great contribution made the Pope elevated him to the Cardinalate.

St. Bonaventure in his hard works, ensured that the Franciscans would be known for its depth in understanding God’s teachings and also excellent oratory skills. He had laboured hard for Christ and God’s people, and He upheld the cross that was his, and he did not shirk from the duty to carry that cross. Instead he embraced it, and carried his cross alongside Christ.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, inspired by the zeal and devotion of St. Bonaventure and other great saints, holy men and women of God, let us renew our commitment and faith to the Lord, the One who saved us from certain death, death that awaits us sinners and evildoers, but which had been voided by the power of Christ, through the outpouring of His Blood on the cross.

Let us bear our own crosses, and help one another to bear one another’s cross, and walk our way through the path to salvation, to Christ. It will not be an easy journey, as often there will be temptations and oppositions, especially by the world, but if we remain strong, and carry our crosses faithfully, we will reach the end, and we will reach Christ, our Lord who loves us. It is up to us, brothers and sisters in Christ, whether we end up in hell or in heaven. Let us be proactive in living out our faith, that our faith will not die, but blossom with love.

God bless us all, and let us ask St. Bonaventure for his intercession for us sinners. Pray for us St. Bonaventure. Amen.