Wednesday, 1 October 2014 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of Missions (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s readings, is truly all about children, as in the first reading, from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, mentioned how we are like children to the Lord, whom the Lord will send His love, care and providence, and how the Lord will bring gladness to us, like that of a father who loves his children with all of his heart, protecting and providing for the wellbeing of the children.

And in the Gospel, as written by St. Matthew, showed us the bickering and competition among the Apostles and the disciples of Christ, on who would be considered the greatest among them, in the kingdom of heaven. And Jesus brought to Himself a child, whom He made into a model for the Apostles, chiding and rebuking their childish ways of fighting amongst themselves for meaningless purpose.

Rather, Jesus mentioned to His Apostles, that if they want to be found worthy of the kingdom of heaven, they must be like children in their faith. Not childish in their faith and in their way of life, but instead to be as innocent and pure in their faith in life as those possessed by the young children. Those who know children and how they are like would immediately know how pure they are, untainted by the ways, the concerns, and ultimately the corruptions that exist in the world.

And when a child believe in something, they really hold on to it very strongly, and they believe without a single grain of doubt, such purity it is within their hearts, before the corruption of the world and the darkness of the world taint them. And indeed, the Apostles and disciples of Christ who bickered and quarrelled over who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven exactly showed us what kind of corruption that the world and the darkness of evil can have on us.

Human desire, that is desire for fame, wealth, possessions, glory and many other things, as well as human pride, hubris, jealousy, arrogance, and greed, as well as many other negativity that exist in us are what had caused a great gap and indeed, a rift to develop between us and the Lord, our loving Father. Our Lord and God loves us dearly, as we clearly heard in the way He proclaimed it to the prophet Isaiah.

But that rift of our pride, of our greed, of the darkness that is in us separate us from the love and grace of God. And that is truly dangerous and harmful, for we have just two choices, either life and glory in God or death and eternal damnation in hell, away forever from God. If we choose to cling on to our disobedience and our way of violence and evil, the taints of darkness within our hearts, then we move dangerously closer and closer towards damnation awaits us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast day of a great and holy woman, a renowned saint, known as the Little Flower, and more appropriately, the Little Flower of Jesus in full. She is St. Therese of Lisieux, also known as St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, a Discalced Carmelite religious nun, who devoted her entire life and work to the cause of the Lord and His people.

St. Therese of Lisieux was very renowned both during and after her life in her piety and her spirituality, and she was truly devoted and dedicated in complete faith to her Lord and God, and ever since her mother passed away very early in her life, she had been alone in the world, and in her loneliness as well in her constant sickness, she suffered greatly, in silence and in sorrow.

St. Therese of Lisieux encountered a divine experience as she grew older, and she experience a complete transformation of herself, where once she felt sorrow and suffering, the love and joy of Christ had entered her and made her anew. She entered the religious life following the example of her older sister before her. She took on the name of Therese in honour of St. Teresa of Avila, the founder and the great saint of the order of the Discalced Carmelites.

She persevered through the difficult life of a religious sister, despite her weakness and constant sickness, and even amidst the persecution and ridicule from her fellow sisters, who ridiculed her apparent lack of talent in doing the many things which the sisters committed themselves to do at that time. And eventually she discovered what she named as the ‘Little Way’, which is the way of surrendering all to God, and putting all our trust in God, just like that of a child.

In this, St. Therese Lisieux proposed the idea that in order for us to attain salvation, we who are mere men and sinners have great difficulties in our effort and our way to reach the Lord and His salvation. Instead, rather than boasting and fighting our way to become greater and mightier, as what the Apostles had done, she proposed that instead we should become smaller and little, and our Lord and loving Father will raise us up to Himself, just like a father who raises up his children.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, following the examples of St. Therese of Lisieux, through her amazing thoughts and wisdom, and as well as through what our Lord Jesus Christ had taught us Himself, let us all become ever more faithful to our Lord and devote ourselves ever more strongly to Him. Let our faith and our lives be pure and sincere, like that of little children, and cast away all pride, jealousy, hatred, desire and other negativity, the taints of darkness from our hearts.

May our loving God and Father continue to love us tenderly and provide for us, that all of us His children may come to a greater understanding and appreciation of the love He had shown to us, and may draw ever closer to His merciful and loving heart. God bless us all, forever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of Missions (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 18 : 1-5

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked Him, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Then Jesus called a little child, set the child in the midst of the disciples, and said, “I assure you that, unless you change and become like little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.”

“Whoever becomes lowly like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and whoever receives such a child in My Name receives Me.”

Wednesday, 1 October 2014 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of Missions (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 131 : 1-3

O Lord, my heart is not proud nor do I have arrogant eyes. I am not engrossed in ambitious matters, nor in things too great for me.

I have quieted and stilled my soul like a weaned child on its mother’s lap; like a contented child is my soul.

Hope in the Lord, o Israel, now and forever.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of Missions (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 66 : 10-14

Rejoice for Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her. Be glad with her, rejoice with her, all you who were in grief over her, that you may suck of the milk from her comforting breasts, that you may drink deeply from the abundance of her glory.

For this is what YHVH says : “I will send her peace, overflowing like a river and the nations’ wealth, rushing like a torrent towards her. And you will be nursed and carried in her arms and fondled upon her lap.”

“As a son comforted by his mother, so will I comfort you. At the sight of this, your heart will rejoice; like grass, your bones will flourish. For it shall be known that YHVH’s hand is with His servant, but His fury is upon His enemy.”

Tuesday, 30 September 2014 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard how Job, the rich man who encountered great calamities because of the works of Satan to tempt him and test his faith in God, lamented about the sufferings which he had endured, and cursed that life which he had been brought to difficulties in, even to the point of cursing and regretting his own birth, a great lamentation and sorrow indeed.

But to all those who are familiar and know the Book of Job well, even though Job complained and complained about many things, and questioned about many things, but in no way that he was being directly disrespectful or insulting against God. Job also in the end realised the love which God had for him and all mankind, and was truly very sorry and repentant for all the abuses and curses which he had uttered.

And in the Gospel according to St. Luke, we heard how Jesus was proceeding to Jerusalem to embrace His mission as the Saviour of mankind, and then when He was passing by a Samaritan village, He asked for a lodging and dwelling, and was rejected because the people heard and knew that He was going to Jerusalem, the capital city of Judea and where the Jews have their centre of power.

We all should know that the Jews and the Samaritans at that time, as it had been for centuries before the coming of Christ, had been at odds and relationship between them had been stormy at best. The Samaritans feared the Jews because the Jews often mistreated them and have strong prejudice against them, and at times they had also suffered under the rule of the Jews, while the Jews themselves, puritan in nature, particularly the Pharisees, strongly condemned and looked down at the Samaritans as pagans and barbarians.

Therefore, it was likely that the Samaritans in the village refused to accept Jesus, not because of any hostile intent or malice, as what was shown by the Pharisees and the people of Israel themselves towards Jesus, but rather because of fear, uncertainty and doubt about what would happen to them, if they were to accept Jesus into their midst. Surely they were also aware that the Jews were particularly not at friendly terms with Jesus and His disciples at the time. It was after all, moments just before Jesus would carry on with His Passion and suffer death at their hands.

And notably, we should see that, Jesus did not punish them, and He even rebuked the Apostles for suggesting that the Lord should punish them for their apparent rejection of Him. This is in fact the same as what happened to Job, when his friends, fellow faithful ones of the Lord, counselled him and in a sense, persuaded him to be admonished, because they thought that Job was a sinner, and it was because of sin that he was punished. The truth was that Job was special, and he suffered not because of his sins, but rather, because he was truly faithful.

Today, we also celebrate the feast of St. Jerome, one of the great early Church fathers, and one of those who initiated the translation of the Bible from the original Greek version, the Septuagint, into a Latin version, which was more comprehensible to the Latin speaking world of the western portion of the Roman Empire, and eventually how we all know the Scriptures we have today, which are further translations from the Latin Bible written by St. Jerome, the Vulgate Bible.

St. Jerome himself once lived a pleasurable and debauched life early in his life, but soon his experiences, especially as he studied the occurrences of death in catacombs awakened him to the realities of hell to come. Thus, he atoned for his sins, and turned his energy into intellectual pursuits, working hard to study the teachings of the Lord and the teachings of His Church.

St. Jerome was indeed quite a scholar and writer, and his contributions to the Church was indeed immense. He wrote extensively, and his writings, together with his contemporary, St. Augustine of Hippo, another Doctor of the Church and important pillar of the Western Christendom, they formed the strong foundation and basis for the development of the faith and the Church in the subsequent years, including up to today.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the fact highlighted here very clearly, after we heard the Scripture and Gospel readings, as well as the life of St. Jerome, we should all realise how our Lord is great, loving and merciful. God does not desire our destruction and suffering, but rather our prosperity and happiness. That is why He will never punish us without good reason, and more often than not, the suffering we encounter in life, was because of the works of Satan and his agents, as well as from ourselves.

It is indeed our wickedness and our lack of faith which caused us to suffer, because these separate us from the love and harmony of God, and we end up to dwell in the darkness of sin and evil, and it is this darkness that cause us suffering, and if we are not careful, we risk losing ourselves completely and fall into eternal damnation together with Satan and his angels.

Clearly this is not what we want. Therefore, let us all today vow to renew our faith to the Lord, and show it through concrete action, so that through our words and deeds, we may bring glory to God and show all those who see us, how great and loving is our God, and how merciful He is to forgive us from all our sins. May all of us be freed from the suffering of evil and this world, and be led into a new life in perfect happiness and joy of the Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 9 : 51-56

As the time drew near when Jesus would be taken up to heaven, He made up His mind to go to Jerusalem. He sent ahead of Him some messengers, who entered a Samaritan village to prepare a lodging for Him.

But the people would not receive Him, because He was on His way to Jerusalem. Seeing this, James and John, His disciples, said, “Do You want us to call down fire from heaven to reduce them to ashes?” Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they went on to another village.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 87 : 2-3, 4-5, 6, 7-8

O Lord, my God, I call for help by day; before You I cry out by night. May my prayer come to You; incline Your ear to my cry for help.

My soul is deeply troubled; my life draws near to the grave. I am like those without strength. Counted among those going down into the pit.

I lie forsaken among the dead, like those lying in the grave, like those you remember no more, cut off from your care.

You have plunged me into the darkest depths of the pit. With Your wrath heavy upon me, You have battered me with all Your waves.