Friday, 3 October 2014 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today in the Scriptures we heard about how Jesus sent His curses and warnings against the cities of Galilee, that of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum, on their lack of faith and refusal to listen to the truth which Jesus had brought into the world, into their very midst, while at the same time, saying how in Tyre and Sidon, if such truth was delivered, they would have believed.

Then in the Psalms we heard how God is so great and powerful, and how in all things within our lives, He had His role to guide and lead us into the ways of the righteous, to lead us so that we may find our way to Him and not to be lost to the darkness of the world, and how indeed we ought to recognise Him and what He had done for us, to deliver us from certain destruction.

And lastly, in the first reading taken from the Book of Job, was the reply which God gave in the end, after the long series of lamentations, complaints and words from the suffering Job, who suffered tremendously at the works of Satan to test his faith in the Lord, and God reminded Job how the vastness of the Lord and His wonders, as well as the infinite nature of His thoughts and plans, could not possibly be understood by Job and his human mind and intellect. And Job realised how God did not abandon him and in fact was about to bless him for his constant faith, and through his repentance, he gained blessings and graces.

In this we see the very importance for us to put our trust in God, and to listen to Him in all of His words. We should not put forward our pride or our ego, which are indeed great obstacles to our ability to reach the Lord and all His goodness. Pride and human ego lay in the path towards of our salvation, especially because they lead us to believe that we are saved, because of our greatness, our superiority and others that separate us from the love of God.

In order to fully understand and discern the meaning of the Gospel today, we have to understand the kind of prejudice and opinion prevailing in the society of the people of God at Jesus’ time. The Jews lived in the land once given to their ancestors, but they did not live there alone. Just as their ancestors once had lived among the nations, they also lived among many nations, the Samaritans, the Nabataeans, to which King Herod the Great and their descendants belonged to, and the people of the region of Tyre and Sidon, north from Judea, the land where the Jews lived in.

Some Jews also lived in Galilee, occupying cities such as Capernaum, Bethsaida and Chorazin among many others, including the village of Nazareth where Jesus lived with His parents on earth early in His life. And the Jews at the time, particularly among the caste of the Pharisees, were very puritan and fanatical in their faith and lives, to the point that they disdained all the foreigners living in their midst.

They thought highly of themselves, thinking that they alone among all the races and peoples of the world who deserved salvation and grace in the Lord, and that all others were condemned to hellfire. They thought of that because they considered themselves being the people chosen by God, they deserved that salvation, and they looked down on the ways of those who lived in their midst.

But they failed to understand that God does not desire the destruction of the righteous, just as He did not desire the destruction and the suffering of Job, His faithful servant. God therefore did not act with prejudice against those whom He did not choose first, and He will also save them if they are indeed righteous and just, and walk in His path.

This is why, God Himself had spoken through His prophets, through Isaiah and others, that even the Gentiles would come and see the light of God, and revel in its wonder. This is to presage the flock and throngs of the non-Jewish peoples coming to seek salvation in God by following Christ and His teachings. Isaiah at the same time also mentioned, how a new light has dawned in the land of Issachar and Zebulun, which is exactly at the place where Jesus lived, in the land of Galilee.

But we have to take note indeed, that no matter what the Lord had done, and even when the light of God has arrived in the world, if those to whom the Lord had intended it to, never paid attention and ignored it, then it will be of no use to them. And this was exact what had happened. The people of God saw the miracles which Jesus had performed in the areas around His hometown of Nazareth, including the three cities mentioned in the Gospel.

Yet, they would not believe in Him, although they were awed by what He had done, and those who knew who He was in life even rejected and ridiculed Him, and none worse than His own hometown relatives and acquaintances, who ridiculed Him as they thought that He was a mere carpenter’s Son. The people of God refused to listen to the Lord and believe in what He had done, and that is why, He bypassed them for those who truly are worthy of Him.

Many of the non-Jewish populations, including a widow from the region of Tyre and Sidon, the Samaritans and others believed in Jesus and His truth, despite them being looked down and ridiculed by the people of God, especially by the Pharisees. Yet, their actions were clear, and they were faithful not just in words but also deeds, and as such, they would indeed receive the promised salvation of God.

Those who only believed superficially and gave only lip-service to the Lord, such as the Pharisees and those who refused even after Jesus revealed to them the truth about Himself through His actions, were doomed to oblivion and suffering. They did not understand that, in their own little minds, they thought they have everything and they were able to do as they please, but of course they were wrong.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all come to reflect about these words of the Lord which we should ponder within our hearts. That we should aim to be closer and closer to our Lord, seeking always His mercy and love, that in all things, we may grow to be more like Him, and be found righteous and just in all our ways, and thus merit the salvation which God had promised to all those who walk in His ways, not just by mere words, but also with actions. God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 3 October 2014 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 10 : 13-16

At that time, Jesus said, “Alas for you, Chorazin! Alas for you, Bethsaida! So many miracles have been worked in you! If the same miracles had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would already be sitting in ashes and wearing the sackcloth of repentance. Surely for Tyre and Sidon it will be better on the Day of Judgment than for you.”

“And what of you, city of Capernaum? Will you be lifted up to heaven? You will be thrown down to the place of the dead.”

“Whoever listens to you listens to Me, and whoever rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me, rejects the One who sent Me.”

Friday, 3 October 2014 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 138 : 1-3, 7-8, 9-10, 13-14ab

O Lord, You know me : You have scrutinised me. You know when I sit and when I rise; beforehand You discern my thoughts. You observe my activities and times of rest; You are familiar with all my ways.

Where else could I go from Your Spirit? Where could I flee from Your presence? You are there if I ascend the heavens; You are there if I descend to the depths.

If I ride on the wings of the dawn and settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand shall guide me and Your right hand shall hold me safely.

It was You who formed my inmost part and knit me together in my mother’s womb. I thank You for these wonders You have done, and my heart praises You for Your marvellous deeds.

Friday, 3 October 2014 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Job 38 : 1, 12-21 and Job 40 : 3-5

Then YHVH answered Job out of the storm : “Have you ever commanded the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might grasp the earth by its edges and shake the wicked out of it, when it takes a clay colour and changes its tint like a garment; when the wicked are denied their own light, and their proud arm is shattered?”

“Have you journeyed to where the sea begins or walked in its deepest recesses? Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of Shadow? Have you an idea of the breadth of the earth? Tell Me, if you know all this.”

“Where is the way to the home of light, and where does darkness dwell? Can you take them to their own regions, and set them on their homeward paths? You know, for you were born before them, and great is the number of your years!”

Job said, “How can I reply, unworthy as I am! All I can do is put my hand over my mouth. I have spoken once, now I will not answer; oh, yes, twice, but I will do no further.”

Thursday, 2 October 2014 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Holy Guardian Angels (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we celebrate together the feast and memorial of the Holy Guardian Angels, that is the angels of God who had been sent to each one of us, that is to become our protector and guardian, to watch over us and protect us from danger and harm’s way, especially on the forces seeking our destruction and damnation, that is Satan and his angels, the fallen ones.

God created the angels to serve Him, and they ceaselessly worship and glorify Him at all times. They served His various purposes, to carry His throne in heaven, to sing Him the songs of praise, to deliver His message to His creations, to fight in the constant battle against the angels who had fallen along the way into the darkness. Lucifer, the greatest among the angels, the most beautiful and mightiest, who lost himself to his pride and vanity, and ended up leading a third of the heavenly hosts into the darkness with him.

And the fallen one, stripped of his greatness and majesty became the great enemy, Satan, the deceiver and the accuser, who was filled with wrath, desire, jealousy and anger, and he is indeed angry and jealous against the love which God had shown to the greatest of His creations, that is mankind. And of course he who had aspired to raise his throne above that of God’s, and he who desired to usurp the Lordship of all the universe, would not just stay silent or happy if everything that the Lord has planned goes perfectly according to His will.

That is why, after Satan had been defeated, and his forces beaten by the angelic host of the faithful angels led by the prince of the heavenly hosts, St. Michael the Archangel, he was cast out of heaven and fall into the earth. And he then carried out an alternative plan of his, that is to wreck the Lord’s most precious and greatest of His creations, mankind, who lived in perfect bliss and joy, in complete happiness in the gardens of Eden.

Thus, he sowed the seeds of disobedience in the hearts and minds of men, by spreading his lies, first to Eve and then to Adam. This is because, if Satan was unable to overcome the Lord in his attempt to rise up against Him, then he would do something in order to hurt the Lord, and there is indeed no better way than to try to inflict injury on those whom the Lord are most pleased with.

And as we knew it, that due to the disobedience of men, our first ancestors, who chose to listen to the lies of Satan rather than to the truth of the Lord, mankind had been stripped of their rights to dwell in perfect happiness and joy, cast out of the gardens of Eden, because of the sins that had dwelled in the hearts of men through that act of disobedience, just as Satan was cast out of heaven due to his pride and rebellion against God.

But God did not give up on us, for He loved us beyond anything else in creation, and He still loves us even today, and He will always love us. That is why He gave us Jesus His Son, to be our Saviour and Deliverer from our sins. But He also sent His servants, the angels, to guard us against the forces of the evil one who are always at large to tempt us and to mislead us into a path towards sin and condemnation.

For as mentioned, the devil or Satan, and his allies resented the love God had for us, and they intend to twist us, to tempt us and to make us to turn against God and be damned just as they had once been damned before. If we allow ourselves to be led astray by them, then we are in great danger indeed, for the price is none other than the loss and eternal damnation of our souls.

If we can use an approximation to show this, we can approximate it to the shepherds, their flocks of sheep and the wolves that prowl about, waiting to get their claws and jaws on the sheep. The Lord our God, our Father and our Creator is truly like the owner of the flock, who owned the pasture and every things that are in the flocks of sheep.

Then the sheep are all of us, mankind, the children of God, whom the Lord cares for in all things, given His providence for all our needs, protected from all harm. The wolves represent the devil and his allies, the fallen angels, the demons, who are always constantly prowling about, around the flock, awaiting for the chance and opportunity to snatch the unaware and unfortunate sheep, those that wandered outside the safety of the flock.

Therefore, naturally the loving owner who cares for his sheep would employ shepherds to take care of the sheep, and to protect them from the hungry wolves, both by ensuring that the sheep remain in the flock, and guide them along the right paths to avoid any sheep from being lost. These shepherds are the angels, our guardian angels, who have been assigned to each one of us to help us on our way, so that we would not be lost to the evil ones.

The guardian angels helped us and protected us from the attacks by the evil ones, as our guides and spiritual shields. They are locked in constant battles for the sake of our souls. But they cannot do it alone, and we need to play our part as well. We too must be righteous and be listening and receptive to the guidance which our guardian angels and all the other saints and holy people of God had given us.

Therefore, let us all turn to our guardian angels and ask them for their intercession and protection, so that we may always be in the love and grace of God, and that we may avoid the traps of Satan and his fellow demons, who are prowling around us, awaiting for a chance to strike at us. Let us all fortify ourselves, that our hearts and minds may be strong and fortified against the assaults of Satan, that we may not fail the Lord as our ancestors had once done.

May Almighty God bless us and be with us, and may His angels, the guardian angels always be on us, and with the leadership of St. Michael, the prince and chief of all the heavenly hosts, including all the guardian angels, may they all smite Satan and cast him down, safeguarding us from his lies and vile works. God be with us all, and may our guardian angels be on our side always. Amen.