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.”

Thursday, 30 July 2015 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard in the first reading taken from the Book of Exodus, how God had instructed Moses to establish the Holy Tent, also known as the Tent of Meeting, as the place where He would dwell among His people on earth, which His presence is signified by the presence of the great pillar of cloud during the day, and as a great pillar of fire at night time, providing light to all who need it in the darkness of the night.

In this we see God who did not just stay far and apart from His people, nor did He remain aloof from His people’s concerns and thoughts, but He Himself had chosen to dwell among them, to be really present among them, walking and moving about around them, as God who is real, true and exists among all mankind, and not just some abstract beings carved on stones, wood, gold or silver, like that of the pagan idols.

And then in the Gospel, we heard how Jesus spoke to His disciples and to the people about the kingdom of God, which is to come, and how it will be like on the day of judgment, when all mankind shall be judged by their merits, actions and their faith in God. And those who have not been faithful would receive their just reward that is to suffer for eternity the agony of hell and separation from God’s love.

But those who are faithful would not be disappointed, for God would be with them and bless all of them, and He would welcome all of them into His glorious kingdom, to enjoy forever the happiness and joy which He had promised for all those who had laboured and even suffered for His sake. God will always be with His people, and He will be with His people who walked in His ways and followed Him faithfully.

For we all have to remember that God had devoted Himself so much for us, that He was willing to descend upon us and dwell among us, and in the end even to give Himself to be the redemption of our sins. Yes, for the redemption of us all, sinners and unworthy people who have piled wickedness and sins, one after another. And yet, such is the love which God has for us, that even while we are still sinners, He was willing to suffer and give up Himself for our sake, that we may be saved.

And by renewing the covenant which He Himself had established with His people, He had proved His love, by giving Himself in the form of His Body and Blood, which He offered Himself freely for us, so that all of us who partake in them may have life in us, because the Lord Himself would therefore dwell within us, in our bodies and within our hearts.

On this day, we can also reflect on the life of St. Peter Chrysologus, who was a great bishop and later declared as a Doctor of the Church, for his many dedicated works and devotions to both God and to His people, that is to the brethren around him. St. Peter Chrysologus was a very renowned preacher and shepherd of the people of God who lived during the later years of the Roman Empire, during the years of turbulence and difficulties, and even troubles for the faithful.

He was especially known for his powerful speeches, sermons and teachings which all encouraged countless peoples to return from their path of sin, and repent back to the favour and grace of God. He explained the truth of the faith and the truth about the Scriptures and the Lord God with great clarity and understanding, such that all who ever heard from him, would repent from any of the heretical thoughts that they had espoused and returned to the true, orthodox faith.

His conviction and great dedication to love the Lord and to explain His love and truth to the people should be an inspiration to all of us. That is because all of us also have the capacity to bring each other closer to God, and by our own words and actions, we can help each other to find our way to the Lord, and to repent from our sinfulness and faults which has kept us away from salvation.

Therefore, on this day, let us all pray to the Lord, that we may discover the strength within us to carry on living our lives with renewed commitment to the Lord and walk always in His ways. This means that we truly should find the way to live our lives ever more faithfully. This means that in all of our actions, we truly should practice our faith with love, loving one another and loving our Lord ever more devotedly from day to day.

May the examples of St. Peter Chrysologus be an inspiration to all of us, and may our loving Father, our Almighty God be with us always in this endeavour that is our lives. Amen.

Thursday, 30 July 2015 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Matthew 13 : 47-53

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a big fishing net let down into the sea, in which every kind of fish has been caught. When the net is full, it is dragged ashore. Then they sit down and gather the good fish in buckets, but throw the worthless ones away.”

“That is how it will be at the end of time; the angels will go out to separate the wicked from the just, and to throw the wicked into the blazing furnace, where they will weep and gnash their teeth.”

Jesus asked, “Have you understood all these things?” “Yes,” they answered. So He said to them, “You will see that every teacher of the Law, who becomes a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a householder, who can produce from his store things both new and old.”

When Jesus had finished these parables, He left that place.

Thursday, 30 July 2015 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Psalm 83 : 3, 4, 5-6a and 8a, 11

My soul yearns, pines, for the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young, at Your altars, o Lord of hosts, my King and my God!

Happy are those who live in Your house, continually singing Your praise! Happy the pilgrims whom You strengthen, they go from strength to strength.

One day in Your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be left at the threshold in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of the wicked.