Thursday, 17 October 2013 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are reminded of God’s saving power, which He had made truly manifest, through the coming, the life, the ministry, and the death of Himself through Jesus crucified on the cross. That was truly the culmination of God’s long planned salvation for mankind, which He had promised to mankind even as they fell into sin, and even as they were enslaved by Satan through sin and death.

The Lord hates sin and all things evil, and yet at the same time, He loves all, particularly all of us, who are the greatest and most beloved of all His creations. And also especially so because we had fallen away from Him and were cast away from His presence because of our rebellion and our sinfulness, our disobedience. In fact, brethren, if we feel the loss of our Lord and desire to return back to

His loving embrace, even greater is the feeling He has for us, and the greater is the desire that He has to see us reunited completely with Him once again.

The Lord our God desires noone to be lost from Him forever through death. He desires that we do not fall into hell, but arise to meet Him in heaven. Yet, it is often we ourselves who spurned His love and rejected His forgiveness, preferring the false promises of Satan and the pleasures of the world, to the true and everlasting happiness with God in heaven.

That is precisely what the ancestors of Israel of the time of Jesus had done, those ancestors whose stories were told to us through the prophets of the Old Testament. These are the people who slaughtered God’s prophets and messengers, because they turned deaf ears to their warnings, advices, and heeding, preferring to remain in their state of sin, and continue in their life of debauchery.

That is why the Lord punished them and scattered them all over the nations, to be an example to all, as what would happen to those who stray from the path of righteousness and venture into the path of sin and evil. The Lord did this, however, not because He hates them, but in fact because He truly loves them, and yet, as a just and righteous Lord, He cannot just overlook their sins and stubbornness. He is just to all, even to those whom He loves.

These people did not have God in their hearts, and they sold themselves and their souls to the pagan gods of their neighbours, that the worship of the Lord was replaced with the worship of Baal, Asherah, and other pagan gods and goddesses. They loved not God but silver and gold, and all the pleasures this world could give.

That is why Jesus rebuked the chief priests, the scribes and teachers of the Law, and the Pharisees, because of their hypocrisy. Outwardly, they look pious and perfect, and they seemed to have obeyed the Lord’s commandments even to its smallest details. And yet, the fact is that, despite all of those appearances, their hearts do not have the Lord in them. The Lord’s words did not take strong root in them, because the faith they have is an eventual faith, depending on the Lord and His words, which they forgot after their liberation from sin.

They put their own vanity above anything else, and rebuked those whom they considered to be inferior to them. They sought the glory of men, instead of praising the glory of God. They are bad shepherds who do not love those who had been entrusted to them, and led them into darkness instead of into the light.

In this way, they are even more sinful and irresponsible than before. They who had blocked the path to salvation for many, and even tried to prevent the very Messiah, from completing His missions in this world. That is why Christ cursed them, both for their sins, for their lack of repentance, and for their apathy towards the suffering of the people of God.

Today, brethren, we celebrate the feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch, one of the first bishops of Antioch, a great early Christian cities, as the place where Jews and Gentiles lived together, and where the faithful lived with the Jews and the Gentiles, and great evangelisation works were done.

St. Ignatius of Antioch was a faithful servant of the Lord, who devoutly helped to spread the words of the Lord and the works of salvation, converting many to the cause of the Lord. He lived during a time of difficulties and persecutions, when the Roman Emperor at the time was obsessed with the idea that he was divine, and ordered all the people and subjects of the Empire, including Christians, to worship him as a living god.

Obviously, St. Ignatius of Antioch and the faithful refused to do so, because to them, there is only one and only God, that is the Lord our Father, who had come upon this world as Jesus Christ, His Son. This is the only God that both St. Ignatius during his time and we today profess as the only one we will worship, and this brought about a great wrath of the Emperor, who arrested St. Ignatius and many Christians, bringing them to Rome to be martyred in the Colosseum.

Despite being captured and knowing of his fate of martyrdom in painful death, St. Ignatius continued to care for the sheep entrusted to his care, sending letters and encouragements to the people. St. Ignatius was brought to Rome, the capital of the Empire, and was tortured and then thrown into the arena of the Colosseum, to be fed to the lions and the beasts. Despite all the sufferings, St. Ignatius remained faithful and encourage all the fellow Christians being tortured to look towards God and keep their faith strong, even in the face of death.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, with the inspiration of the life of St. Ignatius of Antioch, let us commit ourselves to God with all of our hearts, that we will not go astray from the path He had prepared for all of us. That we will, like St. Ignatius of Antioch, be brave and courageous in standing up for his faith in God and be fully dedicated to the service of the Lord, never fearing any man nor any powers of the world, with God foremost in our heart. God bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 17 October 2013 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red (Martyrs)

Luke 11 : 47-54

Jesus said, “A curse is on you, for you build monuments to the prophets your ancestors killed. So you approve and agree with what your ancestors did. Is it not so? They got rid of the prophets, and you build monuments to them!”

“For that reason the Wisdom of God also said : ‘I will send prophets and apostles and this people will kill and persecute some of them. But the present generation will have to answer for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was murdered between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, the people of this time will have to answer for them all.'”

“A curse is on you, teachers of the Law, for you have taken the key of knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you prevented others from entering.”

As Jesus left that place, the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees began to harass Him, asking Him endless questions, setting traps to catch Him in something He might say.

Thursday, 17 October 2013 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 129 : 1-2, 3-4b, 4c-6

Out of the depths I cry to You, o Lord, o Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears pay attention to the voice of my supplication.

If You should mark our evil, o Lord, who could stand? But with You is forgiveness.

For that You are revered. I waited for the Lord, my soul waits, and I put my hope in His word. My soul expects the Lord more than watchmen the dawn.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Virgins)

Be righteous and be good, be loving, forgiving, and be compassionate, and finally be slow to anger and slow to judge on others. That is the Lord’s message to us in the readings today. These are the attributes of those who are truly belonging to God and reflect the nature of His love.

This is because, brothers and sisters in Christ, He does not want as His people those who are empty in them, empty of love and compassion, and empty of His presence. What He wants is that we would be filled with His Holy Spirit and His love, that we may be what He wants us to be, that is to be loving, merciful, caring, and compassionate.

We must not be enslaved to our pride and arrogance, the natural result of our love for ourselves and our sense of accomplishment. We love to be praised, and have good things whispered in our ears. We love words like, ‘Well done!’ or ‘Amazing!’ or ‘You have done a good job!’. There is in fact nothing wrong with these statements, as they are justified in their use if we truly deserve such praises, but it must not be overdone.

Pride and arrogance is the main reason and culprit behind why the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law cannot accept Jesus, less still whatever He had taught the people of God. That is because in their state of wisdom and learning, they like to consider themselves to be well above the other people, whom they often regard as being less pious than them, as well as lacking in the knowledge of the Law, where in fact, they were the ones misguided by their pride, and in turn misguided even more people themselves.

The Lord cursed them because of this, and denounced their selfish and self-serving behaviour. They were cast down because in their pride, they had not given glory to God, but instead attributed glory to themselves. In their pride, they have rejected the Lord who came to save the world, in Jesus Christ, just as their ancestors had rejected, tortured, and murdered the prophets and messengers of God’s love.

To be a true disciple of the Lord, one requires a great humility and faith, and not just any faith, but also the living faith empowered by love. That requires us to not be idle and thus take up actions proactively, to ensure that the faith within us remains burning brightly and alive. We must always also make sure that our words and actions truly reflect our faith in God, that all who sees us, will see God reflected in us.

Today, brethren, we celebrate the feast of St. Hedwig, a religious from Bohemia, and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a virgin and devout servant of God from France. St. Hedwig was the consort of the ruler of the area now known as Czechoslovakia and also Poland, and she was well known, together with her husband, for her immense piety and charity, especially to the poor and the neglected. And after her husband died early, she entered a monastery to dedicate herself to a life of prayer and contemplation.

St. Hedwig continued to live devoutly, and invited many religious priests and nuns into her country, greatly helping the cause of evangelisation, especially because her country was often notorious for its heresies and rebellions against the true faith by certain individuals. She also donated her possessions and wealth to the poor, giving everything she had for charity and dedicating herself fully to the Lord.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was also a very devout religious nun, who devoted herself to a life of prayer. What made her most well-known was the vision and appearance of Jesus Christ our Lord to her, revealing to her and the world, of the love He has for all mankind, through His most Sacred Heart. Jesus advocated the need for the world to devote themselves to Him, and devote themselves especially to His Sacred Heart.

That such devotion indeed can help mankind to overcome their sinfulness, and help them on the path towards salvation. That was the beginning of what we would now know as the devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. This important devotion helps many to reorientate themselves towards the Lord and salvation in God.

Therefore, brethren, let us humble ourselves and seek the help of the Lord, by asking Him for His mercy, and devote ourselves, and following in the ways of St. Hedwig and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, and in the latter’s devotion to the Sacred Heart of our loving God, Jesus Christ, who came down to us, to bring salvation to us, out of His undying love for all of us. God bless us all and protect us forever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Virgins)

Luke 11 : 42-46

Jesus said, “A curse in on you, Pharisees; to the Temple you give a tenth of all, including mint and rue and the other herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. These ought to be practiced, without neglecting those.”

“A curse is on you, Pharisees, for you love the best seats in the synagogues and to be greeted in the marketplace. A curse in on you, for you are like tombstones of the dead which can hardly be seen; people do not notice them, and make themselves unclean by stepping on them.”

Then a teacher of the Law spoke up and said, “Master, when You speak like this, You insult us, too.” And Jesus answered, “A curse is on you also, teachers of the Law. For you prepare unbearable burdens and load them on the people, while you yourselves do not move a finger to help them.”

Wednesday, 16 October 2013 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Virgins)

Psalm 61 : 2-3, 6-7, 9

My soul finds rest in God alone; from Him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and salvation; with Him as my stronghold, I shall not be overcome.

Find rest in God alone, o my soul; from Him comes my hope. He alone is my rock and my salvation; with Him as my stronghold, I shall not be overcome.

Trust in Him at all times, my people; pour out your hearts before Him; God is our refuge.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Virgins)

Romans 2 : 1-11

Therefore, you have no excuse, whoever you are, if you are able to judge others. For in judging your neighbour, you condemn yourself, for you practice what you are judging. We know that the condemnation of God will justly reach those who commit these things, and do you think that by condemning others you will escape from the judgment of God, you who are doing the same?

This would be taking advantage of God and His infinite goodness, patience and understanding, and not to realise that His goodness is in order to lead you to conversion. If your heart becomes hard and you refuse to change, then you are storing for yourself a great punishment on the day of judgment, when God will appear as just judge.

He will give each one his due, according to his actions. He will give everlasting life to those who seek glory, honour, and immortality and persevere in doing good. But anger and vengeance will be the lot of those who do not serve truth but injustice.

There will be suffering and anguish for everyone committing evil, first the Jew, then the Greek. But God will give glory, honour, and peace to whoever does good, first the Jew, then the Greek, because one is not different from the other before God.