Sunday, 20 July 2014 : 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Bible Sunday (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 13 : 24-43

Jesus told them another parable, “The kingdom of heaven can be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.”

“When the plants sprouted and produced grain, the weeds also appeared. Then the servants of the owner came to him and said, ‘Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? Where did the weeds come from?'”

“He answered them, ‘This is the work of an enemy.’ They asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull up the weeds?’ He told them, ‘No, when you pull up the weeds, you might uproot the wheat with them. Let them just grow together until harvest; and at harvest time I will say to the workers : Pull up the weeds first, tie them in bundles and burn them; then gather the wheat into my barn.'”

Jesus offered them another parable : “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, that a man took and sowed in his field. It is smaller than all other seeds, but once it is fully grown, it is bigger than any garden plant; like a tree, the birds come and rest in its branches.”

He told them another parable, “The kingdom of heaven is like the yeast that a woman took, and hid in three measures of flour, until the whole mass of dough began to rise.”

Jesus taught all this to the crowds by means of parables; He did not say anything to them without using a parable. So what the Prophet had said was fulfilled : I will speak in parables. I will proclaim things kept secret since the beginning of the world.

Then He sent the crowds away and went into the house, and His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” Jesus answered them, “The One who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world; the good seed are the people of the kingdom; the weeds are those who follow the evil one. The enemy who sows the weeds is the devil; the harvest is the end of time, and the workers are the angels.”

“Just as the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so will it be at the end of time. The Son of Man will send His angels, and they will weed out of His kingdom all that is scandalous and all who do evil. And these will be thrown in the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

“Then the just will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. If you have ears, then hear.”

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Matthew 13 : 24-30

Jesus told them another parable, “The kingdom of heaven can be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.”

“When the plants sprouted and produced grain, the weeds also appeared. Then the servants of the owner came to him and said, ‘Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? Where did the weeds come from?'”

“He answered them, ‘This is the work of an enemy.’ They asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull up the weeds?’ He told them, ‘No, when you pull up the weeds, you might uproot the wheat with them. Let them just grow together until harvest; and at harvest time I will say to the workers : Pull up the weeds first, tie them in bundles and burn them; then gather the wheat into my barn.'”

Sunday, 20 July 2014 : 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Bible Sunday (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Romans 8 : 26-27

We are weak, but the Spirit comes to help us. How to ask? And what shall we ask for? We do not know, but the Spirit intercedes for us without words, as if with groans.

And He who sees inner secrets knows the desires of the Spirit, for He asks for the holy ones what is pleasing to God.

Sunday, 20 July 2014 : 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Bible Sunday (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 85 : 5-6, 9-10, 15-16a

You are good and forgiving, o Lord, caring for those who call on You. Listen, o Lord, to my prayer, hear the voice of my pleading.

All the nations You have made will come; they will worship before You, o Lord, and bring glory to Your Name. For You are great, and wonderful are Your deeds; You alone are God.

But You, o Lord God, are merciful, slow to anger, loving and faithful. Turn to me, take pity on me.

Sunday, 20 July 2014 : 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Bible Sunday (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Wisdom 12 : 13, 16-19

For there is no other god besides You, One who cares for everyone, who could ask You to justify Your judgments. Your strength is the source of Your justice and because You are the Lord of all, You can be merciful to everyone.

To those who doubt Your sovereign power You show Your strength and You confound the insolence of those who ignore it. But You, the Lord of strength, judge with prudence and govern us with great patience, because You are able to do anything at the time You want.

In this way You have taught Your people that a righteous person must love His human fellows; You have also given Your people cause for hope by prompting them to repent of their sin.

Saturday, 19 July 2014 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of our Lady)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we hear how in Jesus Christ, the long awaited Saviour of this world had finally come into it, and through Him, we received great graces and blessings. But at the same time, through the Holy Scriptures, we also heard how the opposition against the Lord did not remain silent, but rather this opposition grow in strength and threatened to strike againsf God and all those who followed Him.

Jesus was not welcomed by the Pharisees, the Scribes, and the elites and leaders in the Jewish society. He was constantly followed, hounded, and harassed by them, and in all the things that He did, they tirelessly tried to find something to fault Him against and to accuse Him in front of the people although they failed to do so, no matter what they had done.

The happenings in the Gospel of today is a clear link to the prophecy of the prophet Micah, who mentioned how the wicked and those who walked on the path of evil would lay evil plans and plotted against the faithful, seeking the destruction of the righteous and the good, for their own benefits in selfishness and greed. They cared not for the innocent in obtaining their goals, and would stop at nothing for their own gain.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that was why our Lord was angry at those who are in this world, who attached themselves to the corrupted ways of this world, and to all the corruptions of sins and worldly attachments that kept them away from God. To those who continue to refuse to listen to Him, and those who continuously rebel against His will, there will be no mercy and no quarter given when the time comes for God to announce His judgments to all.

But for those who listen to Him, and those who repent from their sinfulness, God will show His rich mercy and love, baring open His loving heart for all to see. And He had made it plain in sight for all through the loving sacrifice of Jesus Christ His Son, which sadly many people simply failed to realise and notice how much love God showed them, and how much He cared for them.

So much love God had shown us indeed, that He was truly willing to come personally to deal with our issue. Yes, we truly had an issue, that is an issue with sin and wickedness on our parts, and that of our constant disobedience and ignorance of God’s laws and precepts. And Jesus came into this world to open our eyes, open our ears, and make us see and hear the truth about God and His love for us, and so that we may emerge from the darkness that engulfed our souls.

God came into this world in Jesus, not to punish or destroy us. It was never in His intention to condemn us to death or eternal damnation in hell. It was truly our own actions and our own constant disobedience which has cast us body and soul into hellfire. God does not wish our destruction but rather our salvation and our reunion with Him in grace and love. He wants us to be totally changed and transformed from our ways of old and into a new way based on true faith and true love.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, shall we all recognise the love of God, and resolve to love Him back too? Shall we be truly children of God who walk in the same way as our Father in heaven? If we are truly beloved children of God, then let us all follow Him with all of our hearts, without hesitation, and continue to do the will of God just as how Jesus taught us through His disciples.

May Almighty God strengthen the faith in us, the hope in us, and the love in us, so that we may be saved just as He had intended for us, and therefore be reunited in perfect love with Him and never be separated again. Let us rebuke and reject the devil in all totality. Never doubt God’s love again, brethren! Amen.

Saturday, 19 July 2014 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of our Lady)

Matthew 12 : 14-21

Then the Pharisees went out, and made plans to get rid of Jesus. As Jesus was aware of their plans, He left that place. Many people followed Him, and He cured all who were sick. Then He gave them strict orders not to make Him known.

In this way Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled : Here is My Servant whom I have chosen, the One I love, and with whom I am pleased. I will put My Spirit upon Him and He will announce My judgment to the nations. He will not argue or shout, nor will His voice be heard in the streets.

The bruised reed He will not crush, nor snuff out the smoldering wick. He will persist until justice is made victorious, and in Him all the nations will put their hope.

Saturday, 19 July 2014 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of our Lady)

Psalm 9 : 22-23, 24-25, 28-29, 35 (1-2, 3-4, 7-8, 14)

Why, o Lord, do You stand afar? Why hide from us in times of distress? The wicked are in power; the weak suffer harassment; the poor become victims of evil schemes.

Exploiters boast in their power and greed; the covetous blasphemes and defies God. In their pride the wicked say, “There is no God.” They see no further.

Their mouths are filled with cursing, deceit and threats; spite and mischief are under their tongues. They lie in ambush near the villages, murdering the innocent and the unfortunate, spying upon their next victim.

But You see those in misery, o God, and You take it in hand. The unfortunate commits Himself to You; the orphan turns to You for help.

Saturday, 19 July 2014 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of our Lady)

Micah 2 : 1-5

Woe to those who plot wickedness and plan evil even on their beds! When morning comes they do it, as soon as it is within their reach. If they covet fields, they seize them. Do they like houses? They take them. They seize the owner and his household, both the man and his property.

This is why YHVH speaks, “I am plotting evil against this whole brood, from which your necks cannot escape. No more shall you walk with head held high for it will be an evil time.”

On that day they will sing a taunting song against You and a bitter lamentation will be heard, “We have been stripped of our property in our homeland. Who will free us from the wicked who allots our fields.”

Truly, no one will be found in the assembly of YHVH to keep a field for you.

Friday, 18 July 2014 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we should grow to appreciate more the tenets of our faith, and not just to know and understand them, but also to put them into the deepest parts of our hearts and minds. It is only if we had done this that we may truly be good and faithful servants of our Lord, who follow Him not out of blind faith, but out of true understanding and appreciation of His precepts and laws.

The Pharisees of Jesus’ time are hardliners and ultra-orthodox purists who took up a very conservative and strict stance on how the people ought to live out their lives in accordance to the faith and to the laws of God as revealed to the people of God via Moses and the prophets who came after him. They criticised Jesus and His followers, and were constantly at their heels, trying to disturb and harass them at every opportunity because they failed to understand the true meaning of the law of God, and in doing so, they believed in God through blind faith and ended up causing greater harm than good.

Jesus today in the Gospel advocated and taught us the importance of understanding the words of the Lord found in the Holy Scriptures, and finding the true meaning of what our faith, and indeed of what our God is all truly about. And He highlighted that using the example of His own servant David, who out of hunger, were allowed to eat the bread of offerings in the Temple, normally reserved only for the consumption of the priests. David and his companions ate the bread.

All of this is to show that God is love, and all about love. He loves all of His creations, and in particular all mankind, the most beloved of all His creations. And the laws which He had given to them through His prophets, is just another form of His love and dedication which He showed them. Through the Law, He hoped that mankind would be able to find their way to Him and ensure that these beloved ones of Him did not fall along the way as they seek the way to reach out to Him.

Sadly, throughout the history of mankind, and the history of the people of Israel, the chosen people of God, they had grown corrupt in their ways, and even with the prophets to remind them about the love of God espoused and enshrined in the Law, they still chose to ignore the pleadings of the prophets even to the point of rejecting and murdering them to shut them up for good.

And even after God had rescued His people when He showed His mercy to the exiled ones of Israel, they still persisted in their unruly behaviour, as shown in the occasions of the apostasies during the time of the Maccabees, when many of the people of God chose to honour their own safety and well-being in exchange for abandoning their Lord and their faith. But the worst of all was indeed not the ways of the people who veered away from the Law of God, but the rise of those who took the Law for granted and used it for their own selfish and self-aggrandising desires.

The Pharisees and the Scribes were among these, and they used the Law to impose on the people a very strict and unbending set of rules and obligations that ended up mocking and ridiculing the Law itself, causing the people to forget the true meaning and intention of the Law, in exchange for a blind observation of the faith which they truly did not understand and misinterpreted, to the point that the Pharisees regarded themselves as being superior to others and casually condemned all those who were against them.

Jesus our Lord came as the Saviour of the world, and of all His beloved people. Therefore, as part of His great mission, He came to clarify all doubts and remove the layers of untruths and distortions which the people had made with the Law. He came to bring the Law into its perfection, the Scriptures and the prophecies of the prophets and servants of God into their complete fulfillment, and to bring love, the love of God Himself, into the world once again.

And to show that love, which God had shown mankind and all creations since the beginning of time, He showed that through His ultimate act of love, the sacrifice on the cross on Calvary, when He bared Himself and opened His own heart to all of His beloved creations. In that, He made the Law perfect and revealed the entirety of the meaning of God’s love and precepts.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, even today there are still those who refuse to listen to God’s loving words and His calls for us to repent and to follow Him and instead, trusting in their own human wisdom and intellect and thinking that they know it all better than anyone else, walk on their own paths towards their own doom.

We must not end up being focused so much on ourselves, that we forget or ignore everything else, especially God and His love for us. Our fear of losing things precious to us and our attachments to the world can often stand in the way of truly becoming faithful disciples of the Lord. The concerns and worries of king Hezekiah of Judah, although a faithful servant of the Lord, was to become his taint and the blotch of ink that spanned through his otherwise immaculate record.

King Hezekiah was so distraught that he was to die young, that he begged the Lord for mercy, and kindly, the Lord heard him and extended his life. But later on, we found that if we read the Holy Scriptures, that King Hezekiah showed off his wealth and glory to the Babylonian ambassadors, priding in his own greatness and human power, all these while rejecting and refusing to listen to the word of God which He had spoken through His prophet.

King Hezekiah is an example of how attachments to worldly things and all other distractions that exist in this world may lead to our detachment from the Lord and His way, and end up being too caught up in our own concerns, worries and others, that we do not glorify God in our works and actions, but instead glorify ourselves and the evil one.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all be mindful of all these, and let us be careful, lest our worldly attachments bring us into ruin. Let us all have a good and healthy relationship with our God, through devout prayer and obedience to the teachings of the Church, through which Jesus our Lord had made clear the purpose of the Laws of God, purified from all the corruptions of men, the Pharisees and others.

May Almighty God bless us and be with us always, that He may guide us to Him, and straighten our path and make it secure, that we may not fall into the darkness, but remain always in the light. Amen.