Friday, 4 July 2014 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Portugal (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard about the story of the calling of Matthew or Levi by Jesus to be one of His Apostles, and we also heard how the Lord will punish those who are wicked and carry on with their wicked lives at the expense of others. These two stories remind us how important it is for us to seek God’s mercy and to be converted to the true faith in God, and to turn away decisively from our old lives of wickedness into new lives in truth and righteousness.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord is loving and merciful to all of His children, but He does not want us to sin, and He hates sin in all of its forms, some of which examples had been highlighted in the first reading today, namely the actions of those who does not have the Lord in their hearts and the wicked things that they did in cheating others for their own self benefits. The lack of fairness, justice and many other acts that are indeed in violation of the Lord and His truths.

The essence of today’s readings can truly be summarised to the two words that Jesus spoke to Matthew as he was seated at his tax-house, that is ‘Follow Me!’, the desire that God has for all of us, which is to abandon our sinfulness and our obstinate behaviours in resisting His love, and to follow Him faithfully till the end of our lives, as Matthew and the other Apostles and saints had done.

We need to be like Matthew, who did not hesitate to leave all the wealth and worldly happiness that he had, and immediately harkened to the words of the Lord, following Him without condition and without qualms. He left behind all his position could offer him, and all the wealth that his job could have given him, and in doing so, he lost the treasure of this world but gain the treasure of the world that is to come, and this treasure he will never lose.

The first reading indeed warns us that we mankind are easily tempted and swayed by the pleasures and goodness of this world, so that we forget our real purpose in this world and fall into the trick and trap of Satan. What os our real purpose, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is to love and glorify our Lord and God, instead of what many of us are doing now, to love ourselves and seek material wealth and worldly glory, as well as human praise.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast day of St. Elizabeth of Portugal also known as St. Elizabeth of Aragon, the Queen consort of Portugal during the high Medieval era Europe. She was truly renowned for her zeal and great piety in life, both before and after becoming the Queen of Portugal. She came from quite a religious family and many of her relatives had already been made saints in their own right.

But what truly set St. Elizabeth of Portugal from her contemporaries was truly how she led a faithful and devoted life to God, shorn of the hunger and greed for pride, human praise and glory, and rather, she lived humbly and with full of love for one another, and for those less fortunate and weak in the society. She inspired many others by her lifestyle and actions, making peace when there were wars, donating food and help to those who were affected by famine and diseases, and many other acts that truly set her apart as a holy woman and an inspiration for the faithful.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, she worked so hard and was eventually overcome by her exertion and sickness. But even as she passed from this life into the eternal life with God, she continued to work her wonders, through the miracles that happened at her tomb, and through her works and inspirations that brought so many people back to the Church and returned so many to their zealous ways before God.

We can all follow her life examples, and aspire to be like her as well. We must be more true and devoted to our faith in the Lord, more than ever before. How do we do so? By following what St. Elizabeth of Portugal had done. Be loving and forgiving to others around us, be charitable to the weak and the needy, and by not thinking and worrying only about ourselves and keeping our ego. Be open, brothers and sisters in Christ! Let everyone and all of us together enjoy the love of God through the doors of our hearts, open wide in acceptance of one another as brethren in Christ.

May Almighty God, through the intercession of St. Elizabeth of Portugal, continue to instill in us, within our hearts the love both for God Himself and for mankind, especially those who are in most need for our help. Amen.

Friday, 4 July 2014 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Portugal (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Matthew 9 : 9-13

As Jesus moved on from there, He saw a man named Matthew at his seat in the custom-house, and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And Matthew got up and followed Him.

Now it happened, while Jesus was at table in Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners joined Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is it that your Master eats with sinners and tax collectors?”

When Jesus heard this, He said, “Healthy people do not need a doctor, but sick people do. Go and find out what this means : ‘What I want is mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Friday, 4 July 2014 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Portugal (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Psalm 118 : 2, 10, 20, 30, 40, 131

Blessed are they who treasure His word and seek Him with all their heart.

I seek You with my whole heart; let me not stray from Your commands.

My soul is consumed with desire for Your ordinances at all times.

I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart upon Your laws.

Oh, how I long for Your precepts! Renew my life in Your righteousness.

I gasp in ardent yearning for Your commandments that I love.

Friday, 4 July 2014 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Portugal (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Amos 8 : 4-6, 9-12

Hear this, you who trample on the needy to do away with the weak of the land. You who say, “When will the new moon or the sabbath feast be over that we may open the store and sell our grain? Let us lower the measure and raise the price; let us cheat and tamper with the scales, and even sell the refuse with the whole grain. We will buy up the poor for money and the needy for a pair of sandals.”

YHVH says, “On that day I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight. I will turn your festivals into mourning and all your singing into wailing. Everyone will mourn, covered with sackcloth and every head will be shaved. I will make them mourn as for an only son and bring their day to a bitter end.”

YHVH says, “Days are coming when I will send famine upon the land, not hunger for bread or thirst for water, but for hearing the word of YHVH. Men will stagger from sea to sea, wander to and fro, from north to east, searching for the word of YHVH, but they will not find it.”