Monday, 20 October 2014 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are asked through the Scriptures we have heard, to reflect on our own lives, on whether our lives have been filled with selfishness, self-centredness, egoistic acts and behaviours, as well as pride or arrogance, or whether our lives had been filled with love, that is genuine love for one another, and the love for God just as much as we love ourselves.

It is very difficult for us men to live according to the latter standards as compared to the former standards. We have a big ego with us, just as the word ‘Ego’ in Latin means ‘I’, that is we are first and foremost always concerned first about ourselves, and then far below that concern is the concern about others who are around us. We are by our nature selfish, and filled with desire to the point of greed and unwillingness to show charity to others.

This ‘I’ is dangerous indeed, and do you all know who was Satan, our great enemy, before he is known now as the prince of evil and darkness? He was Lucifer, the ‘lightbringer’, one created bright, beautiful, mighty and great among all the angels who serve the Lord day and night, not to outshine his Creator, but to show all creation how great and mighty the Lord is, in creating such a perfect and wonderful creation.

Yet, in the beauty, greatness and perfection in which he had been created, Lucifer grew proud and attached to his perfection and wonders, and thus his ego grew, and his desires grew to the point that he aspired to be like God and even to surpass His own creation, in his own words, that he wanted to raise his throne above the stars of God, and to rule over all creations.

It is this pride that led to his downfall, and it is this same arrogance over his apparent greatness and abilities that made him to commit sin before God. And his rebellion against God brought him nothing but his own downfall, as he was cast out of heaven, as a sign to all others who also followed him into his rebellion, thinking that in the greatness and all the endowments they had received, they had the right to boast or be proud of those achievements.

And what did he get in the end? Nothing but damnation and eternal punishment, for the pride and greed that brought him nothing else but oblivion. Hence, this is also to help remind us, just as we heard in the Holy Scriptures, how Jesus and St. Paul both urged the people of God to let go of their ego, their pride, their arrogance, their selfishness, and all of the vices they had committed in life, and embrace the true faith, in accepting the fullness of the faith as taught to them by the Lord and through His Apostles and disciples.

How is this relevant to us? We can look at our own lives. It is very obvious that at some points and moments in our lives, we are vulnerable to our ego and our desires. How many times in our respective lives, that we put our own prosperity above that of others? How many of us did not hesitate to do certain actions, even when fully knowing that such actions may bring hurt to others, but may benefit us in some ways?

Surely this life is filled with many of such examples, when we mankind succumb to our desires and began to greedily desire on things and possessions, even often beyond our means and at the expense of others. This is also the precise cause of the many evils and miseries in the world, namely wars, conflicts, abuses, hatred and jealousy of one another. That is because mankind had grown proud of themselves and what they can do, and by what they have discovered in life, that they think too highly of themselves and as a result, inevitably come into conflict with one another due to conflicting interests.

Thus, brothers and sisters in Christ, what then, we can do so that we can prevent or to settle this matter? We are often too focused on the world, and all things worldly, to the point that we ended up worrying too much about what we ought to eat, what we may receive in life, what possessions we should have or obtain, and many other things, while forgetting that in our pursuit of such things and in our worry, we may end up causing trouble for one another.

Worry and fear is not the way, brothers and sisters in Christ. We have to realise that our Lord and God loves us very much, and He wants to love us tenderly just as a father loves his children. He provides us with essentially everything that we need in this life. He will care for us as He had always done, and if we put our complete trust and faith in Him, we shall never be disappointed.

Indeed, those who put their trust in themselves will be disappointed, and just like the rich man who worried about where he ought to put his excess harvest products and building new barns to contain them, he did not put their trust in God and thus he will suffer for his selfishness and lack of love, both for men and for God. Thus, this is exactly what we need to avoid.

Let us all from now on, lead a life filled with genuine faith in God, seeking God at all times, and seeking to imitate Him in all that we do, so that in everything we do in this life, we may be truly like the children and the servants of God, and like the Apostles and disciples in their lives, so that our lives may be filled with love and charity, love that we show for our fellow men, particularly those who are in most need for our love, the last, the lost and the least among men.

And lastly, let us all love God by devotion and by action, showing our genuine faith to Him founded in love. May Almighty God see our love and our faith, and by those love and faith we have done in this life, may we be made justified and worthy of salvation and the promise of eternal life which God had made through Jesus His So. Let us pray therefore for one another, and helping one another that all of us will reach the Lord our God safely. Amen.

Monday, 20 October 2014 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 12 : 13-21

At that time, someone in the crowd spoke to Jesus, “Master, tell my brother to share with me the family inheritance.” He replied, “My friend, who has appointed Me as your Judge or your Attorney?”

Then Jesus said to the people, “Be on your guard and avoid every kind of greed, for even though you have many possessions, it is not that which gives you life.” And Jesus continued with this story, “There was a rich man, and his land had produced a good harvest. He thought, ‘What shall I do, for I am short of room to store my harvest?'”

“‘Alright, I know what I shall do : I will pull down my barns and I will build bigger ones, to store all this grain, which is my wealth. Then I will say to myself : My friend, you have a lot of good things put by for many years. Rest, eat, drink and enjoy yourself.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be taken from you. Tell me who shall get all you have put aside?'”

“This is the lot of the one who stores up riches for himself and is not wealthy in the eyes of God.”

Monday, 20 October 2014 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 99 : 2, 3, 4, 5

Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.

Know that the Lord is God; He created us and we are His people, the sheep of His fold.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving, His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and bless His Name.

For the Lord is good; His love lasts forever and His faithfulness through all generations.

Monday, 20 October 2014 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Ephesians 2 : 1-10

You were dead through the faults and sins. Once you lived through them according to this world and followed the Sovereign Ruler who reigns between heaven and earth and who goes on working in those who resist the faith.

All of us belonged to them at one time and we followed human greed; we obeyed the urges of our human nature and consented to its desires. By ourselves, we went straight to the judgment like the rest of humankind.

But God, who is rich in mercy, revealed His immense love. As we were dead through our sins, He gave us life with Christ. By grace you have been saved! And He raised us to life with Christ, giving us a place with Him in heaven.

In showing us such kindness in Christ Jesus, God willed to reveal and unfold in the coming ages the extraordinary riches of His grace. By the grace of God you have been saved through faith. This has not come from you : it is God’s gift. This was not the result of your works, so you are not to feel proud.

What we are is God’s work. He has created us in Christ Jesus for the good works He has prepared that we should devote ourselves to them.

Final document of the 2014 Extraordinary Synod on the Family

(Update : The official final Synod document is still in processing and will be released soon. Below document is the summary by the Synod Fathers)

The 2014 Extraordinary Synod on the Family had been concluded, and we give thanks to God for helping His Church to defend the true Faith, and that He did not allow those who wished to see our Faith compromised and destroyed to have their way. May the Lord continue to watch over His Church as we await the second part of the Synod of the Family in 2015.

The Church is the guardian of the Tradition of the Faith and the Deposit of the Faith, and no one may alter the teachings of the Church which came down to us from the Apostles and thus from Jesus Christ our Lord. We can help sinners to return to the Faith but not to offer false mercy. The sanctity of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is inviolable, and marriage is between one man and one woman, made one by the Lord and no man should divide. Remember that Jesus had said that those who divorce and remarry commit adultery and thus live in a state of grave sin.

The same state of sin also apply to all others in unnatural order outside of Christian marriage, and until they repent from their sins and make their penance, they should indeed abstain from receiving the Most Precious Body and Blood of Christ, lest they sin against the Holy Spirit. Let us help them by welcoming them back and guiding them to repentance, that one day they may once again receive the Lord with full faith.

I also recommend all of you to read the Papal Encyclical Humanae Vitae by Blessed Pope Paul VI and the Theology of the Body by Pope St. John Paul II, as well as the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The text of the final summary document of the 2014 Extraordinary Synod on the Family can be found below.

http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2014/10/18/0768/03043.html

 

III EXTRAORDINARY GENERAL ASSEMBLY

OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS

 

MESSAGE

            We, Synod Fathers, gathered in Rome together with Pope Francis in the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, greet all families of the different continents and in particular all who follow Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We admire and are grateful for the daily witness which you offer us and the world with your fidelity, faith, hope, and love.

Each of us, pastors of the Church, grew up in a family, and we come from a great variety of backgrounds and experiences. As priests and bishops we have lived alongside families who have spoken to us and shown us the saga of their joys and their difficulties.

The preparation for this synod assembly, beginning with the questionnaire sent to the Churches around the world, has given us the opportunity to listen to the experience of many families. Our dialogue during the Synod has been mutually enriching, helping us to look at the complex situations which face families today.

We offer you the words of Christ: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me” (Rev 3:20). On his journeys along the roads of the Holy Land, Jesus would enter village houses. He continues to pass even today along the streets of our cities. In your homes there are light and shadow. Challenges often present themselves and at times even great trials. The darkness can grow deep to the point of becoming a dense shadow when evil and sin work into the heart of the family.

We recognize the great challenge to remain faithful in conjugal love. Enfeebled faith and indifference to true values, individualism, impoverishment of relationships, and stress that excludes reflection leave their mark on family life. There are often crises in marriage, often confronted in haste and without the courage to have patience and reflect, to make sacrifices and to forgive one another. Failures give rise to new relationships, new couples, new civil unions, and new marriages, creating family situations which are complex and problematic, where the Christian choice is not obvious.

We think also of the burden imposed by life in the suffering that can arise with a child with special needs, with grave illness, in deterioration of old age, or in the death of a loved one. We admire the fidelity of so many families who endure these trials with courage, faith, and love. They see them not as a burden inflicted on them, but as something in which they themselves give, seeing the suffering Christ in the weakness of the flesh.

We recall the difficulties caused by economic systems, by the “the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose” (Evangelii gaudium 55) which weakens the dignity of people. We remember unemployed parents who are powerless to provide basic needs for their families, and youth who see before them days of empty expectation, who are prey to drugs and crime.

We think of so many poor families, of those who cling to boats in order to reach a shore of survival, of refugees wandering without hope in the desert, of those persecuted because of their faith and the human and spiritual values which they hold. These are stricken by the brutality of war and oppression. We remember the women who suffer violence and exploitation, victims of human trafficking, children abused by those who ought to have protected them and fostered their development, and the members of so many families who have been degraded and burdened with difficulties. “The culture of prosperity deadens us…. all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us” (Evangelii gaudium 54). We call on governments and international organizations to promote the rights of the family for the common good.

Christ wanted his Church to be a house with doors always open to welcome everyone. We warmly thank our pastors, lay faithful, and communities who accompany couples and families and care for their wounds.

***

There is also the evening light behind the windowpanes in the houses of the cities, in modest residences of suburbs and villages, and even in mere shacks, which shines out brightly, warming bodies and souls. This light—the light of a wedding story—shines from the encounter between spouses: it is a gift, a grace expressed, as the Book of Genesis says (2:18), when the two are “face to face” as equal and mutual helpers. The love of man and woman teaches us that each needs the other in order to be truly self. Each remains different from the other that opens self and is revealed in the reciprocal gift. It is this that the bride of the Song of Songs sings in her canticle: “My beloved is mine and I am his… I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” (Song of Songs 2:16; 6:3).

 

This authentic encounter begins with courtship, a time of waiting and preparation. It is realized in the sacrament where God sets his seal, his presence, and grace. This path also includes sexual relationship, tenderness, intimacy, and beauty capable of lasting longer than the vigor and freshness of youth. Such love, of its nature, strives to be forever to the point of laying down one’s life for the beloved (cf Jn 15:13). In this light conjugal love, which is unique and indissoluble, endures despite many difficulties. It is one of the most beautiful of all miracles and the most common.

This love spreads through fertility and generativity, which involves not only the procreation of children but also the gift of divine life in baptism, their catechesis, and their education. It includes the capacity to offer life, affection, and values—an experience possible even for those who have not been able to bear children. Families who live this light-filled adventure become a sign for all, especially for young people.

This journey is sometimes a mountainous trek with hardships and falls. God is always there to accompany us. The family experiences his presence in affection and dialogue between husband and wife, parents and children, sisters and brothers. They embrace him in family prayer and listening to the Word of God—a small, daily oasis of the spirit. They discover him every day as they educate their children in the faith and in the beauty of a life lived according to the Gospel, a life of holiness. Grandparents also share in this task with great affection and dedication. The family is thus an authentic domestic Church that expands to become the family of families which is the ecclesial community. Christian spouses are called to become teachers of faith and of love for young couples as well.

Another expression of fraternal communion is charity, giving, nearness to those who are last, marginalized, poor, lonely, sick, strangers, and families in crisis, aware of the Lord’s word, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). It is a gift of goods, of fellowship, of love and mercy, and also a witness to the truth, to light, and to the meaning of life.

The high point which sums up all the threads of communion with God and neighbor is the Sunday Eucharist when the family and the whole Church sits at table with the Lord. He gives himself to all of us, pilgrims through history towards the goal of the final encounter when “Christ is all and in all” (Col 3:11). In the first stage of our Synod itinerary, therefore, we have reflected on how to accompany those who have been divorced and remarried and on their participation in the sacraments.

We Synod Fathers ask you walk with us towards the next Synod. The presence of the family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in their modest home hovers over you. United to the Family of Nazareth, we raise to the Father of all our petition for the families of the world:

            Father, grant to all families the presence of strong and wise spouses who may be the source of a free and united family.

            Father, grant that parents may have a home in which to live in peace with their families.

            Father, grant that children may be a sign of trust and hope and that young people may have the courage to forge life-long, faithful commitments.

            Father, grant to all that they may be able to earn bread with their hands, that they may enjoy serenity of spirit and that they may keep aflame the torch of faith even in periods of darkness.

            Father, grant that we may all see flourish a Church that is ever more faithful and credible, a just and humane city, a world that loves truth, justice and mercy.

Video for the beatification of Pope Paul VI, Vicar of Christ and Successor of St. Peter the Apostle

To those who would like to follow the proceedings live from the Vatican, please see the video below. The event, the Holy Mass of the Beatification of Pope Paul VI will start at 10.00 am Central European Time (CET/UTC+1) direct from St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican City.

The video will remain after the live event should you miss it. May Blessed Pope Paul VI pray for us all and for our families!