Sunday, 5 June 2016 : 10th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Boniface, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about the Lord Who has shown to us all how He is the Lord and Master of all things, the Lord and Master of all life. He is Lord over life and death, and nothing is impossible for Him, even to restore life to those who have died. In the first reading we witnessed how Elijah prayed to God for the sake of the widow, whose son has just perished from the famine and sickness, and God listened to the prayer of His servant, returning the life back to the boy.

And as a perfect parallel to what Elijah has done in the ages past, the Lord Himself, when He came into the world as the Saviour, Jesus, did the same with the dead son of a grieving widow of Naim. We witness yet again the greatness of God as He returned the life back to the son of the widow of Naim, showing to all that He has authority even over life and death, something that no other person or being has.

And in the end, all these can be linked to the most important aspect of our faith, as we know that our Lord Jesus emptied Himself, endeavoured to suffer great pains and horrendous persecutions for our sake, and carrying the burden of the cross, on which was laid the entirety of the burden of mankind’s sins and their consequences, He died on the cross, a shameful death, but yet death did not have the power over Him. And neither did death has any power or authority now, and in the future to come.

He has shown through His own glorious Resurrection, by the power and authority which He has over all things, that He has freed all things from the bonds of death, beginning with Himself, as He has conquered death and hell itself, triumphant in the battle against evil and wickedness, against sin and the corruption of the soul. Through His perfectly selfless act of love, He has overcome that darkness which have kept mankind chained all that while.

We mankind have often feared death, and not just then at that time, but even now as well. And this is rightly so, because we see death as the end of all that we ever know, all that we ever have and all we have enjoyed in this life, and from where there is no turning back, no way out. And that is why some others looked for easy death, to escape from whatever pains and sufferings they had in this life.

Then let us reflect on what we have heard from today’s Scripture readings, how the Lord Jesus has shown His power and authority over life and death. First of all, we should not fear death, nor should we ignore it entirely. Death is not the end of all things we love and know, and it is not something that we should be overly worried about. It was our fear of death in fact which has led us to do things that bring us even closer to the eternal death.

What was I talking about? I was talking about those who have done all they can to preserve themselves, often at the expense of others, and at the same time, while they acted in selfishness to sustain themselves, they may cause difficulties and suffering for others. And for this, let us all reflect the parable which Jesus told His disciples and the people at a different occasion.

Jesus told them all about a rich man who had plenty of grains and crops, who was thinking about how he ought to contain all the wealth that he was gaining, and all his barns had been fully filled up. He was thinking of tearing down all of his barns and build even bigger ones to contain even more of the grains and crops. But God chided him saying that he was a fool for thinking that he had such a control over his life, or that he can have more of what he wanted. If He is to take away his life on that very day, then all that he had gathered would come to nothing.

God reminded us through this story that neither should we be fearful of death nor should we be ignorant or be dismissive about it. Death is a reality of life, the result of our sinfulness, our rebelliousness against God and His ways. But death does not have the final say over us, so long as we believe in the Lord, Who has conquered death and risen from the dead.

Death is not the end of the life as we know it, but rather a turning point, the beginning of a new life that is to come. It is the end of our earthly journey, and for us all who remain faithful to the Lord and remain worthy of Him, it is the ending of our years of exile from the Lord, the years of tribulations and sufferings, and marking our entry into the new life blessed by God, eternal life which He has promised us all who believe.

Thus as Christians, all of us have this fundamental belief in the Lord our God, Who has triumphed over death, and Who is loving to all of us, and it is His desire that we are all saved from that certain death. Mankind has been created out of God’s love for us, and we were intended for a life filled with joy with our God Who is loving and compassionate. Through sin we have been separated and sundered from that perfect love.

And death which was not our due become ours. God did not intend for us to suffer and die, but to enjoy the fruits and the happiness in this world, for He truly loves us all with all of His heart. He did not create us to make us suffer, but to be happy, and yet by our shortcomings and disobedience, we have brought trouble on ourselves. Death came to claim us, but the Lord Who always loves us regardless of whatever we have done, He has provided us with the way out.

And that way out is Christ, our Saviour. Do we really believe in Him? Do we believe that in Christ is our way to salvation and eternal life? If we believe so, then should we not be more like Christ our Lord in all things? The Lord has said to Martha when He came to Lazarus to resurrect him from the dead, that He is the Life and the Resurrection, and all who believe in Him shall not die but have life in them.

Now it comes to the question, how do we believe in Christ? Do we just say, oh I believe in You, o Lord? Is that all? Is that sufficient? Faith is not just about that, and it is certainly not enough if we just say that we believe, without actually acting out in the name of that faith which we have for the Lord. It means that as Christians, all of us must go forth and show that faith which we have in our Lord, the Risen Lord Who is Lord over all things and over life and death.

And we have been tasked by God to go forth into the world and preach His salvation to all the world, that they may hear His message, internalise those messages and turn themselves towards Him with all of their heart, mind and soul. So, in order for us to do this, we have to do it ourselves first, practicing obedience and faith in God in our own actions and deeds.

Let us all commit ourselves to the Lord anew from now on, and let us commit ourselves to do the work which the Lord has assigned us to do. And may God also help us and guide us in this path, that our lives may be filled with joy, knowing that God has always been faithful to us, and He will bless us and free us from the dangers of death. And may He awaken in us the strong desire to love Him and to commit ourselves to Him with all our heart, no longer bound by the chains of sin, and no longer bound by fear of death.

In God all of us can trust, and in Him, we shall find our salvation. Let us all go forth knowing with joy that the Lord is with us, helping us on this way, this journey we have, and we need to start from now, preparing ourselves for the day when the Lord comes to judge us, and hope that we are found worthy of His promise. May God bless us all, and remain with us all, now and forever. Amen.

Sunday, 5 June 2016 : 10th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Boniface, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 7 : 11-17

At that time, a little later after Jesus healed the servant of a captain, He went to a town called Naim. He was accompanied by His disciples and a great number of people. As He reached the gate of the town, a dead man was being carried out. He was the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; there followed a large crowd of townspeople.

On seeing her, the Lord had pity on her and said, “Do not cry.” Then He came up and touched the stretcher, and the men who carried it stopped. Jesus then said, “Young man, I say to you, wake up!” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.

A holy fear came over them all, and they praised God saying, “A great Prophet has appeared among us; God, has visited His people.” This news spread throughout Judea and the surrounding places.

Sunday, 5 June 2016 : 10th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Boniface, Bishop and Martyr (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Galatians 1 : 11-19

Let me remind you, brothers and sisters, that the Gospel we preached to you is not a human message, nor did I receive it from anyone, I was not taught of it but it came to me as a revelation from Christ Jesus. You have heard of my previous activity in the Jewish community; I furiously persecuted the Church of God and tried to destroy it. For I was more devoted to the Jewish religion than many fellow Jews of my age, and I defended the traditions of my ancestors more fanatically.

But one day God called me out of His great love, He Who had chosen me from my mother’s womb; and He was pleased to reveal in me His Son, that I might make Him known among the pagan nations. Then I did not seek human advice nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were Apostles before me. I immediately went to Arabia, and from there I returned again to Damascus.

Later, after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to meet Cephas, and I stayed with him for fifteen days. But I did not see any other Apostle except James, the Lord’s brother.

Sunday, 5 June 2016 : 10th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Boniface, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 29 : 2 and 4, 5-6, 11-12a and 13b

I extol You, o Lord, for You have rescued me; my enemies will not gloat over me. O Lord, You have brought me up from the grave, You gave me life when I was going to the pit.

Sing to the Lord, o you His saints, give thanks and praise to His holy Name. For His anger lasts but a little while, and His kindness all through life. Weeping may tarry for the night, but rejoicing comes with the dawn.

Hear, o Lord, and have mercy on me; o Lord, be my Protector. But now, You have turned my mourning into rejoicing; o Lord, my God, forever will I give You thanks.