Saturday, 1 August 2015 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 14 : 1-12

At that time, the news about Jesus reached king Herod. And he said to his servants, “This Man is John the Baptist. John has risen from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in John.”

Herod had, in fact, ordered that John be arrested, bound in chains and put in prison, because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. For John had said to Herod, “It is not right for you to have her as your wife.” Herod wanted to kill him but he did not dare, because he feared the people, who regarded John as a prophet.

On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced among the guests; she so delighted Herod that he promised under oath to give her anything she asked for. The girl, following the advice of her mother, said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a dish.”

The king was very displeased, but because he had made this promise under oath in the presence of his guests, he ordered it to be given to her. So he had John beheaded in prison, and his head brought on a dish and given to the girl. The girl then took it to her mother.

Then John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went away to bring the news to Jesus.

Saturday, 1 August 2015 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 66 : 2-3, 5, 7-8

May God be gracious and bless us; may He let His face shine upon us, that Your way may be known on earth and Your salvation among the nations.

May the countries be glad and sing for joy, for You rule the peoples with justice and guide the nations of the world.

The land has given us its harvest; God, our God, has blessed us. May God bless us and be revered, to the very ends of the earth.

Saturday, 1 August 2015 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Leviticus 25 : 1, 8-17

YHVH spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai : “When seven sabbaths of years have passed, that is, seven times seven years, there shall be the time of the seven weeks of years, that is forty-nine years. Then on the tenth day of the seventh month sound the trumpet loudly. On this Day of Atonement sound the trumpet all through the land.”

“Keep holy the fiftieth year and proclaim freedom for all the inhabitants of the land. It shall be a jubilation year for you when each one shall recover his property and go back to his family. In this fiftieth year, your year of Jubilee, you shall neither sow nor reap the aftergrowth, nor gather the grapes from the uncultivated vines. This Jubilee year shall be holy for you, and you shall eat what the field yields of itself without cultivation.”

“In this year of Jubilee each of you shall recover his own property. When you sell something to your neighbour or buy something from him, do not wrong one another. According to the number of years after the Jubilee, you shall buy it from your neighbour and according to the number of years left for harvesting crops he shall sell to you.”

“When the years are many the price shall be greater and when the years are few, the price shall be less, for it is the number of crops that he is selling to you. So you shall not wrong one another but you shall fear your God, for I am YHVH, your God.”

Friday, 31 July 2015 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard from the Book of Leviticus, how the Lord charged Moses and therefore His people, with the keeping of the observance of festivals, feasts and important holy days, such as the sabbath days. We heard how the Lord charged the people to keep the observance of the Festival of the Unleavened Bread, to remember the days when they were brought out of Egypt by the mighty power of God.

All of these feasts and festivals, rites and celebrations truly are for a single purpose, that is to remind the people of God of God’s great glory and power, and even more importantly, that is to remind them of the love which He has for them, and therefore, to remind them yet again of the love and dedication which they have to have for Him. Yet over time, people seemed to forget this, and focused more on the exterior aspect of the celebrations rather than on the substance.

In the Gospel today, we heard how Jesus was not well received in His own hometown of Nazareth, where the people doubted Him and questioned His teachings and authority, because they thought that they knew Him as a mere carpenter’s Son. This is exactly the same problem that had been faced by many other prophets and messengers that God had sent to His people as well.

They were not well received because these people had become a superficial people, who cared just for their appearances and external outlook. Inside them, within their hearts, there is truly a void not filled by the love of God, but by their love for themselves. This is why they rejected the prophets and ultimately Jesus Himself as well, for they challenged the people and their way of thinking as well as their way of life.

We should not think that this is an issue that is confined only to the past. In fact, throughout history, mankind had been affected by the very same issue that caused us to be captivated and mesmerised by the multitudes of goodness and temptations that lie in this world, the pleasures of the flesh and the many concerns of this world. We then end up forgetting about God and our obligation and need to serve Him and to give all of our attention to Him.

Then, we truly should learn from the example of a great saint whose feast we are celebrating on this day, namely that of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, also known as the Society of Jesus, one of the most renowned and important religious order in the history of our Church. St. Ignatius of Loyola, through his life, would show us the way to the Lord and how to find it amidst the challenges and temptations of this world.

St. Ignatius of Loyola was born in a noble family in what is now Spain a few hundred years ago, where conflicts and wars were regular parts of people’s life. He was born into the caste of society which believed that glory and power, or gold and wealth, or fame and affluence, or all of them are the way to go in life. And so did St. Ignatius of Loyola, who believed all these as integral parts of his life.

But one day, after he was injured during a battle and siege of a castle, he got a revelation in life, that the way which he had pursued all the while might not be the right way to go. He found that all the things which he had pursued for himself and his own glory were truly meaningless, and he began to seek a true and real purpose in his life, and it was there that he found the Lord and turned himself and his life to serve Him.

He abandoned all the worldliness that had been part of his early life, abandoning everything and devoted all of the rest of his life and his works to the greater glory of God, ‘Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam’ which was his motto and which became the motto of the Jesuits as a whole. He dedicated his time and his life to the glory of God and laboured hard to help the people of God finding their way to Him.

St. Ignatius of Loyola was a champion and great defender of the Faith, who spearheaded and led the Church’s great effort to counter the great heresy of Protestantism in what was so-called ‘reformation’. He was one of the great heroes of the Church’s effort to reconvert back countless thousands of people to the true faith, together with his fellow Jesuits, which would soon prove to be very essential to the salvation of many lost souls.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all follow in the footsteps of St. Ignatius of Loyola, walk in his ways, and follow him as he leads us towards the Lord our God. May we be able to shun all sorts of temptations and pleasures of the flesh and instead of focusing on appearances and our external outlook, may all of us be able to find our inner beauty, by devoting ourselves ever more to the Lord and practicing our faith, so that we may be found worthy by He who will reward us. God be with us all. Amen.

Friday, 31 July 2015 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 13 : 54-58

At that time, Jesus went to His hometown and taught the people in their synagogue. They were amazed and said, “Where did He get this wisdom and these special powers? Is He not the carpenter’s Son? Is Mary not His mother and are James, Joseph, Simon and Judas not His brothers? Are all His sisters not living here? How did He get all this?” And so they took offence at Him.

Jesus said to them, “The only place where prophets are not welcome is their hometown and in their own family.” And He did not perform many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

Friday, 31 July 2015 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 80 : 3-4, 5-6ab, 10-11ab

Start the music, strike the timbrel, play melodies on the harp and lyre. Sound the trumpet at the new moon, on our feastday when the moon is full.

This is a decree for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob, a statute He wrote for Joseph when he went out of Egypt.

There shall be no strange god among you, you shall not worship any alien god, for I the Lord am your God, who led you forth from the land of Egypt.

Friday, 31 July 2015 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Leviticus 23 : 1, 4-11, 15-16, 27, 34b-37

YHVH spoke to Moses, “Then there are the appointed feasts of YHVH at the times fixed for them, when you are to proclaim holy assemblies. At twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month is YHVH’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of this month it is YHVH’s feast of Unleavened Bread.”

“For seven days you shall eat bread without leaven. On the first day there will be a sacred assembly and no work of a worker shall be done. For seven days you shall present an offering by fire to YHVH and on the seventh day you shall hold a sacred assembly and do no work of a worker.”

YHVH spoke to Moses and said, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them : When you enter the land that I will give you and you reap its harvest, you will bring to the priest a sheaf, the firstfruits of your harvest and he shall wave the sheaf before YHVH for you to be accepted; on the day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.”

“From the day after the sabbath, on which you bring the sheaf of offering, you are to count seven full weeks. The day after the seventh sabbath will be the fiftieth day and then you are to offer YHVH a new offering. The tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. You are to hold a sacred assembly. You must fast, and you must offer a burnt offering to YHVH.”

“The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of Tents for YHVH, lasting seven days. The first day you shall hold an assembly; you must do no work of a worker. For seven days you must offer a burnt offering to YHVH. On the eighth day you are to hold a sacred assembly and you must offer a burnt offering to YHVH. It is a day of solemn assembly in which you shall do no work of a worker.”

“These are the appointed feasts of YHVH in which you are to proclaim holy assemblies for the purpose of offering offerings by fire, burnt offerings, grain offerings and drink offerings to YHVH, according to the ritual of each day.”