Friday, 25 July 2014 : Feast of St. James, Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red (Apostles and Martyrs)

Matthew 20 : 20-28

Then the mother of James and John came to Jesus with her sons, and she knelt down, to ask a favour. Jesus said to her, “What do you want?” And she answered, “Here You have my two sons. Grant that they may sit, one at Your right hand and one at Your left, when You are in Your kingdom.”

Jesus said to the brothers, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They answered, “We can.” Jesus replied, “You will indeed drink My cup, but to sit at My right or at My left is not for Me to grant. That will be for those, for whom My Father has prepared it.”

The other ten heard all this, and were angry with the two brothers. Then Jesus called them to Him and said, “You know that the rulers of the nations act as tyrants over them, and the powerful oppress them. It shall not be so among you : whoever wants to be more important in your community shall make himself your servant.”

“And if you want to be the first of all, make yourself the servant of all. Be like the Son of Man who has come, not to be served but to serve, and to give His life to redeem many.”

Friday, 25 July 2014 : Feast of St. James, Apostle (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red (Apostles and Martyrs)

Psalm 125 : 1-2ab, 2cd-3, 4-5, 6

When the Lord brought the exiles back to Zion, we were like those moving in a dream. Then our mouths were filled with laughter, and our tongues with songs of joy.

Among the nations it was said, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord had done great things for us, and we were glad indeed.

Bring back our exiles, o Lord, like fresh streams in the desert. Those who sow in tears will reap with songs and shouts of joy.

They went forth weeping, bearing the seeds for sowing, they will come home with joyful shouts, bringing their harvested sheaves.

Friday, 25 July 2014 : Feast of St. James, Apostle (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red (Apostles and Martyrs)

2 Corinthians 4 : 7-15

However, we carry this treasure in vessels of clay, so that this all-surpassing power may not be seen as ours but as God’s. Trials of every sort come to us, but we are not discouraged. We are left without answer, but do not despair; persecuted but not abandoned, knocked down but not crushed.

At any moment we carry in our person the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in us. For we, the living, are given up continually to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may appear in our mortal existence. And as death is at work in us, life comes to you.

We have received the same spirit of faith referred to in Scripture that says : I believed and so I spoke. We also believe and so we speak. We know that He who raised the Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus and bring us, with you, into His presence.

Finally, everything is for your good, so that grace will come more abundantly upon you and great will be the thanksgiving for the glory of God.

Thursday, 24 July 2014 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Sharbel Makhluf, Priest (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we hear the admonition, almost to the point of lamentation, on why the people of God, whom God had loved so much, did not appreciate that love and refused to budge and listen to the kind words of the Lord, offering hope and comfort. God had done so much for men, as we all may testify and witness in how He cared for His people throughout the Scriptures, and yet they rejected His love.

But the Lord is not someone who would just leave sinners like that once His approach had been spurned. In fact, He tried many times and sent reminders after reminders to tell mankind, both how much He loves us, and also how He gave us chance after chance, which we either ignored or cast aside in our pursuit for the goodness of the world. We have tasted the corruptions of this world, and into sin, where we have fallen into.

Our hearts and minds are corrupted with the darkness of sin, and our beings are filled with darkness that prevents us from seeing the light and living in the light. We are truly the creatures of darkness, unlike the children of the light we all ought to become. And precisely as it had been written in the Scripture reading today, how we trust rather in the leaking faucet and pipes, that is our own flawed strength and feeble foundations, over the strength of the everlasting spring of God’s power.

We are easily tempted, and too easily bribed by Satan who offered the sweetest of his treacherous lies and temptations. He has all of his forces arrayed against us, tempting us daily that we may eventually falter along our path towards salvation, and be dragged together with him into the hellfire. That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, we must be vigilant and be solid in our faith, that we have a strong defense against whatever it is that the devil is using against us.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Sharbel Makhluf or St. Charbel Makhluf, a renowned Maronite saint, who lived just over a hundred years ago in today’s Lebanon. St. Sharbel Makhluf is a holy man and a deeply devoted person to God, who was born to a devout Christian Maronite family, a group of Christians that has dwelled for a very long time in Lebanon area since the days of the early Church, and which remained loyal to the authority of the Apostles even though many others had apostasized.

St. Sharbel Makhluf joined the religious life and devoted his life entirely to God. He was truly a role model for the faithful, and his life was an example for all to see. His life might have been relatively uneventful, and he dedicated all of his time to God. However, upon his passing from this world to the heavens to be with God, miracles came abound from his body and his grave. This is a mark of favour by God, showing how much He blessed those who are with Him and who devoted themselves to Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, should we not follow the examples of this great and yet humble saint of God? In his life, St. Sharbel Makhluf had shown us that it is perfectly possible for us all to be faithful servants of our God, provided that we set our sights, our attention and our hearts on Him alone. If we do these things, certainly God will bless us just as He had once blessed St. Sharbel Makhluf.

Let us all therefore seek God in this life, and devote ourselves ever more to our loving God. God wants nothing other than our love and devotion, just as He Himself had first been devoted to us. Let us no longer spurn His love, but with great humility, ask Him for His grace and forgiveness, that we may once again enjoy the fullness of His love. God be with us all. Amen.