Thursday, 9 June 2016 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ephrem, Deacon and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Doctors of the Church)

Matthew 5 : 20-26

At that time, Jesus spoke to the people and to His disciples, “I tell you then, if you are no righteous in a much broader way than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.”

“You have heard that it was said to our people in the past : Do not commit murder; anyone who does kill will have to face trial. But now I tell you : whoever gets angry with a brother or sister will have to face trial. Whoever insults a brother or a sister deserves to be brought before the council. Whoever calls a brother or a sister “Fool!” deserves to be thrown into the fire of hell.”

“So, if you are about to offer your gift at the altar, and you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, go at once and make peace with him, and then come back and offer your gift to God.”

“Do not forget this : be reconciled with your opponent quickly when you are together on the way to court. Otherwise he will turn you over to the judge, who will hand you over to the police, who will put you in jail. There you will stay, until you have paid the last penny.”

Thursday, 9 June 2016 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ephrem, Deacon and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Doctors of the Church)

Psalm 64 : 10abcd, 10e-11, 12-13

You water the land and care for it, enriching it with natural resources. God’s stream is filled with water.

So You prepare the earth to give us its fruits. You drench the furrows in the land and level the ridges, You soften the soil with showers and bless its crops.

You crown the year with Your goodness; abundance flows everywhere. The deserts have become pasture land, the hills are clothed with gladness.

Thursday, 9 June 2016 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ephrem, Deacon and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Doctors of the Church)

1 Kings 18 : 41-46

Elijah then said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink, for the sound of rain is rushing in.” So Ahab went up to eat and drink. Elijah, in the meantime, went to the top of Carmel, bowed to the ground and put his face between his knees.

Then he said to his servants, “Go up and look in the direction of the sea.” The man went up, looked, and said, “There is nothing.” Then Elijah said, “Go again.” And seven times he went. At the seventh time, he perceived a little cloud, the size of a man’s hand, rising out of the sea.

Elijah told him, “Go, tell Ahab : Prepare your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.” A little later the sky grew dark with clouds and wind and a strong rain fell. Ahab was riding on his way to Jezreel; as for Elijah, the hand of YHVH was on him, and tucking his cloak in his belt, he ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in the Scripture readings today, we may not be able to immediately see the link between the different passages which we have heard today. But in fact all of them spoke of a singular message which all of us must know and understand. Our first reading was taken from the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah, telling us how the prophet Elijah went up against king Ahab and his four hundred and fifty priests of Baal.

And in the Gospel we heard how Jesus was telling the people as well as His disciples about how He came not to nullify and replace the old Law, but instead to reaffirm and confirm the Law and reveal its truth to the whole world. He came not to destroy the old Law but to renew that Law and to bring the people to understand fully the meaning and the purpose of that Law.

How do the two readings reconcile and link with each other? In fact, what we heard from the Old Testament is the most fundamental belief which all of us must have if we are to call ourselves as Christians. We are Christians because we believe in that one and only True God, Jesus Christ, Who has come into the world to be our Saviour, redeeming us from death and sin.

And it was the same God about Whom Elijah preached among a population of unbelievers, the people of the northern kingdom of Israel who had followed their kings into the worship of Baal, Asherah and the other pagan gods worshipped by their neighbours, the Canaanites, Ammonites, Moabites and others. Those people refused to remain true to the covenant which their ancestors had established with God.

God gave His commandments and laws to Moses, so that through him, His people might come to know of His precepts and ways, and therefore obey the rules and the regulations that would be part of the covenant which He established with them. And among the commandments and laws that He had given them, all of them spoke of the same thing, that we the people of God must love God with all of our heart and with all our attention, and then show the same love to our parents, our family, our neighbours and all others around us.

And the people of Israel at the time of Elijah had abandoned those laws and forgotten the love which God has given them. They no longer loved and served the Lord, and instead they served the pagan idols and fornicated themselves, committing wicked acts in the sight of God. But God Who loved us all still wanted to give us a chance, and thus, He sent to them the prophet Elijah to bring the revelation of His truth to those rebellious people.

And Elijah showed the might and the power of God, to lead the people to know that God is the One and the only One Whom they ought to worship. And that same God has then shown us His love and faithfulness, by fulfilling the Law and its covenant through Jesus Christ, as God Himself became one of us, so that through Him all of us may gain perfection and eternal life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus showed His perfect love, the perfect love of God by His own act of the ultimate sacrifice on the cross. He has loved us all even to the point of willingly picking up His cross and bearing our sins, so that we may be free from those sins and their consequences, and thus be made righteous through Him. He showed us all how to love by His own example, to love God with all of our heart, as Elijah had done, and as Jesus loved God His Father, and then loving one another in the same way as He has loved us all.

Let us all reflect on the love which God has generously granted to us, that as we share in His love, we may always be ever mindful of one another, and show love in all our actions, that in everything we do, we will show care, concern, compassion and love for each other, for our brethren, especially those who have no love in them, those who were unloved and ostracised, and those who are despised.

Let us all also love God in the same manner and more, devoting ourselves completely to Him. May God be with us all, and may He continue to love us all the same, always, now and forever. Amen.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 5 : 17-19

At that time, Jesus spoke to the people and to His disciples, “Do not think that I have come to annul the Law and the Prophets. I have not come to annul them but to fulfil them. I tell you this : as long as heaven and earth last, not the smallest letter or dot in the Law will change until all is fulfilled.”

“So then, whoever breaks the least important of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be the least in the kingdom of heaven. On the other hand, whoever obeys them, and teaches others to do the same, will be great in the kingdom of heaven.”

Wednesday, 8 June 2016 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 15 : 1-2a, 4, 5 and 8, 11

Keep me safe, o God, for in You I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord.”

Those who run after foreign gods only have their sorrows multiplied. Let me not shed blood for them, nor their names be heard on my lips.

O Lord, my inheritance and my cup, my chosen portion – hold secure my lot. I keep the Lord always before me; for with Him at my right hand, I will never be shaken.

You will show me the path of life, in Your presence the fullness of joy. At Your right hand happiness forever.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Kings 18 : 20-39

So Ahab sent for all the people of Israel and gathered the prophets at Mount Carmel. Then Elijah addressed the people and asked, “How long will you follow two ways at the same time? If YHVH is God, follow Him; but if Baal is God then follow him.” The people remained silent.

So Elijah continued, “I am the only prophet of YHVH left here to face Baal’s four hundred and fifty prophets. Get us two bulls. Let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it into pieces and lay it on the wood and I will do the same with the other bull. But we will not set it on fire. Then you shall call on the name of your gods while I shall call on the Name of YHVH. The God Who answers with fire is the true one.” Then the people answered, “That is right.”

Then Elijah told the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many. Then call on the name of your god lest you are left without fire!” So they took the bull and prepared it, and they called on the name of Baal, “Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice and no one answered them while they went on dancing on one foot around the altar they had built.

By noontime, Elijah began to mock them, “Shout out louder. Baal is a busy god; or he may have gone out or perhaps he has gone on a trip, or he is sleeping and must be wakened.” So they shouted louder gashing their skin with knives, as they are used to doing, until they bled. It was already past noon and they were still raving on until the time of the evening offering. But still there was no voice; no one answered or gave a sign of life.

Then Elijah said to the people, “Draw closer to me,” and the people drew closer to him. He then repaired the Altar of YHVH which had been thrown down. He took twelve stones corresponding to the number of tribes of the sons of Jacob whom YHVH had addressed saying, “Israel shall be your name.”

With these stones, he built an Altar to the Name of YHVH and dug a trench around it that would contain about thirty litres. He then arranged the firewood, cut the bull in pieces and laid them on the wood. Then, he said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the firewood.” He said, “Do it again”; and they did it again; “one more time,” and they did it a third time. The water ran around the Altar and filled the trench.

When the time of the evening offering came, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O YHVH, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant, doing all these things at Your command. Answer me, o YHVH, answer me so that is people may know that You, o YHVH, are God and that You are turning back their hearts to You.”

Then the fire of YHVH fell and consumed the burnt offering, together with the wood, the stones also, and the dust; the water also dried up in the trench. All the people witnessed this. Then they fell on their faces and said, “YHVH is God! YHVH is God!”

Tuesday, 7 June 2016 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about the famous sayings of our Lord Jesus Christ on the parable of the salt and the light. Through that parable, Jesus challenged His disciples, the people at that time, and ultimately all of us, to be true and faithful disciples of God, filled with zeal and courage to do what has been expected of them.

He called on all of them to be salt of the earth and to be the light of the world. He challenged them by saying that if salt loses its saltiness, it would become useless and similarly that if light is hidden from sight, it is also useless as well. Thus, in the same manner, if Christians are to lose their Christian values, the flavour if their faith, and what distinguished them from those unbelievers, then how can we share in what God has promised His faithful ones?

This is the challenge and the reminder which God has given to us all His faithful ones, that we ought to consider them and take action on what we have been reminded with. We as Christians cannot be passive and cannot be ignorant of what we are expected to do for the sake of our faith. If we are to call ourselves Christians and yet in our actions and deeds we do not show it, or worse, if we do things that are contrary to our faith, then would we not cause scandal to our faith, to the Church and ultimately to the Lord our God.

It is therefore a challenge which Jesus had presented to us, to be a true Christian, and which means that we must love one another, care for each other without considering our own selfishness. We must go forth and show tender care and love to our brethren, and be genuine in that love. Love is what made us all Christians, for we believe in God Who is love, and Who loves us all with His heart.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, God loves everyone, and in particular those who have shown their faith in Him. In the first reading today, continuing from what we have heard yesterday, we heard about how the prophet of God, Elijah, who was on the run from king Ahab, went to the city of Zarephath and met a widow there. And through the will of God, He helped and cared for both Elijah and the widow.

He provided Elijah with a dwelling place and a shelter during his exile and journey away from those who wanted to persecute him. At the same time, God also fed him through the widow who made for him and provided him with the food and sustenance he needed. And at the same time, God showed mercy and love to the widow, whom He helped through Elijah, by providing her with flour and oil that would not dry up and continued until the Lord restored the rain over the land.

Elijah did not despair even though he was under constant persecution by the king and his allies, and he did not give up the fight even though at that time literally he was the only one standing up and indeed, dared to stand up against the king and the worship of Baal, the pagan god of the Canaanites that led Israel to sin. He preached about God throughout the land and even in the foreign lands.

And that widow of Zarephath showed her faith in God when she served the prophet of God, Elijah, by providing him with water and provisions, even when she herself was very short on food for herself and for her own son. The Lord called her and she responded with faith, and for that faith, she was rewarded, just as God rewarded the prophet Elijah for his faith and devotion.

They had shown themselves to be salt of the earth and light of the world, showing God’s love, grace and truth in a world which has been immersed in the darkness of evil. They have shown their light to many people, through whom they have called them to righteousness and grace in God. Not many responded well, and many refused to change their ways, but in the end of the day, through their example, many have been saved. Jesus our Lord Himself commended the faith of the widow of Zarephath in one of His teachings to the people.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, can we do the same as well with our own lives? Are we able to be truly faithful to God? Are we showing good examples of our faith to others and our neighbour? If we want to be true Christians and reap the grace and blessings of our Lord, then surely we have to show that we are true and devoted to Him, with all our heart and our mind, and be sincere and be genuine in our faith.

Let us all renew our faith to the Lord, and devote our time and effort in order to be ever more committed and be more faithful to the Lord our God in all the things which we do. May God be with us all and may He bless us in all of our endeavours. Amen.