Tuesday, 1 July 2014 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we hear how God indeed is the source of all things, and the focal point of all creations. For it is God who should be the font of all knowledge and all things, to be the One whom we anchor ourselves to. The well-known story of the disciples who feared the great storm and then the Lord Jesus who calmed the storm with His authority, tells us clearly that in the Lord there is nothing to be feared, for God has control over everything.

Jesus rebuked His disciples for their lack of faith, chiding them with the words, ‘You of little faith!’ because they did not put their faith in the power of God, but instead in the power of men, which is fallible and weak compared to the power and majesty of the Lord. They feared the storm because they did not completely put their trust in Jesus, whom, if they had trusted Him and known Him completely, they would not have feared.

In the first reading today, taken from the book of the prophet Amos, God once again wants to remind us that He is in control of everything, for He is the Lord of all. Everything and every single phenomenon in creation, He knows all of them. And He would reveal His plans and what He desires from His people through the means of the prophets, and ultimately, through His own Son, Jesus Christ.

Those who listened and understood the words of God revealed through the prophets would know that God takes care of our lives, and therefore, there is no need to worry or fear. All we need is faith, and true faith in God. And through Jesus Christ, God revealed all that He had planned for the world and mankind, in all its completeness and fullness. And therefore those who listened and understood what Christ meant in His words, would have no need for fear, because they have everything they would ever need, in Jesus Christ the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we ourselves should not see this as a problem that existed only in the past, as in fact, the same problems can be applied to our own selves. We cannot be complacent, as the storms of this life are plentiful, and we can be easily overwhelmed by the torrents, the winds and the waves if we do not have a solid anchor and foundation. What is this foundation? None other than Jesus, our Lord and God.

For Christ is the solid Rock from which the whole creation and the entire community of believers and the faithful in the Church hung upon, as He is the One who became our pivot in the storms of this world, to be a light in the great darkness of this world, and to be the One who joins us back to the Father our Lord who loves us all.

There are many storms in this world, the storm of jealousy and desire, the storm of pride and arrogance, and the storm of money and materialism, which if we are not careful, may engulf us and sink us into the deep, if we do not have a stable and strong anchor in the Lord. Brothers and sisters in Christ, it is easy for us to fall into the deep currents of this world, which threaten to pull us away from the Lord and His salvation, and into damnation, if our faith is weak and stumbling.

What do we need to do then? We have to put our complete faith in the Lord and keep our lives in tune with Him, through prayer and through charity and love. In doing all these, we live our lives in accordance to the will of God, and we are ourselves transformed into loving children of our God. May God be with us, and continue to love and care for us, keeping us strong amidst all the storms of life. Amen.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 8 : 23-27

Jesus got into the boat and His disciples followed Him. Without warning a fierce storm hit the lake, with waves sweeping the boat. But Jesus was asleep. They woke Him up and cried, “Lord save us! We are lost!”

But Jesus answered, “Why are you so afraid, you of little faith?” Then He stood up and rebuked the wind and sea; and it became completely calm. The disciples were astonished. They said, “What kind of Man is He? Even the winds and the sea obey Him.”

Tuesday, 1 July 2014 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 5 : 5-6, 7, 8

You are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil has no place in You. The arrogant cannot stand before You. You hate all who do evil.

You destroy all who speak falsehood, who thirst for blood and live on lies; all of them the Lord detests.

But I, by Your love and grace, may come into Your House. In reverence I bow down and worship at Your holy Temple.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Amos 3 : 1-8 and Amos 4 : 11-12

Hear this word which YHVH speaks against you, people of Israel, against the whole family which He brought up from the land of Egypt. “Only you have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will call you to account for all your wrongdoings.”

Do two walk together unless they have agreed? Does a lion roar in the forest when it has no prey? Does a young lion growl in its den unless it has seized something?

Does a bird get caught in a snare if the snare has not been baited? Does a tiger spring up from the ground unless it has caught something? If a trumpet sounds in a city, will the people not be frightened? If disaster strikes a city, has not YHVH caused it?

Yet YHVH does nothing without revealing His plan to His servants, the prophets. If the lion roars, who will not be afraid? If YHVH speaks, who will not prophesy?

“I overthrew you, a divine punishment, as happened to Sodom and Gomorrah; you were like a brand snatched from the blaze, yet you never returned to Me,” says YHVH. “Therefore I will deal with you in My own way, Israel, and since I will do this to you, prepare, Israel, to meet your God!”

Monday, 30 June 2014 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of the very first martyrs of the faith, most likely those who suffered great persecutions under St. Paul when he was still an unbeliever, Saul, as well as those who were persecuted by the Roman authorities, particularly those who were martyred during the first official persecution by the Emperor Nero, who also martyred the two saints, St. Peter and St. Paul, later known as the patron saints of Rome and the Universal Church.

These faithful people did not abandon their faith in exchange for their safety and life. They chose to remain faithful even though they had to suffer for their faith and for their obedience to the Lord and to His ways. That was why they were honoured and raised to the glory of the altar as the holy martyrs and saints of the Church. These martyrs therefore became the source of great inspiration to countless others who would follow in their footsteps and seek the Lord as they once had done.

As the Gospel reading today highlighted to us, following the Lord is not an easy or a simple matter. For indeed, following the Lord requires from us complete and extensive dedication and commitment, as well as readiness to face difficulties and oppositions from many sides. We already know quite well that this world stands often in direct opposition to the Lord and His ways, and as a result, we who follow Him and His ways, will also stand in the way of the world and its ways too.

This does not mean that we should hate the world or refuse to have anything to do with the world, or withdrawing entirely from the world, as this is not the right way to do things. This withdrawal and ignoring attitude in fact can be seen as our inability to accept the reality of things and our responsibilities and the risks of following the Lord. Indeed, if I am to be bluntly honest, that is tantamount to running away from the difficulties of the world, which were not what the martyrs had done.

The martyrs had a choice, whether they would remain faithful and committed to the Lord, and suffer grievous death and torture, as many of the tales of the martyrs had enlightened us with, or to save their own lives and live comfortably in peace of the world, but forsaking their faith and trampling on the cross, on the Lord Himself. Similar tales were also heard all over the different parts of the world, where persecution of the faithful were rampant and vicious.

They had a choice, to face the truth, or to run away. Running away does not always mean turning one’s back to the Lord or to be an apostate, namely someone who betrays the Lord, but in fact, if we avoid doing our responsibilities and avoid the challenges presented to us in this world, we are no different from those who ran away from their faith to the Lord into eternal damnation.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we may think that martyrdom is a thing of the past, and it is no longer relevant in today’s world. However, if we look at it more closely, persecution of the faith and the faithful is still rampant at every part of the globe. Many were still ridiculed and worse still, suffered grievously for believing and walking in the way of the Lord, and yet many of us are still oblivious to this fact.

How do we then overcome this? Yes, how do we overcome our fear of the world and the suffering it may bring to us? None other than by having a good and living relationship with our God, just as the first martyrs of the Church once had. They placed their trust in God, and they therefore did not fear, for they knew that God would take good care of them. They also prayed often, as prayer is the way for us to connect with God, as a two-way conversation between Him and us.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all emulate the examples of the first martyrs and the many other holy men and women who had lived their lives according to the will of God. Let us walk in their ways and remain truly faithful and dedicated to the Lord our God. God be with us all and may He guide us on our way. Amen.

Monday, 30 June 2014 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Matthew 8 : 18-22

When Jesus saw the crowd press around Him, He gave orders to cross to the other shore. A teacher of the Law approached Him and said, “Master, I will follow You wherever You go.”

Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

Another disciple said to Him, “Lord, let me go and bury my father first.” But Jesus answered him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

Monday, 30 June 2014 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 49 : 16bc-17, 18-19, 20-21, 22-23

What right have you to mouth My laws, or to talk about My covenant? You hate My commands and cast My words behind you.

You join a thief when you meet one; you keep company with adulterers. You have a mouth of evil and a deceitful tongue.

You speak ill of your brother, and slander your own mother’s son. Because I was silent while you did these things, you thought I was like you. But now I rebuke you and make this charge against you.

Give this a thought, you who forget God, lest I tear you to pieces with no one to help you. Those who give with thanks offerings honour Me, but the one who walks blamelessly, I will show him the salvation of God.