Tuesday, 14 June 2016 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 5 : 43-48

At that time, Jesus spoke to the people and to His disciples, “You have heard that it was said : Love your neighbour and do not do good to your enemy. But this I tell you : love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of Your Father in Heaven. For He makes His sun rise on both the wicked and the good, and He gives rain to both the just and the unjust.”

“If you love those who love you, what is special about that? Do not even tax collectors do as much? And if you are friendly only to your friends, what is so exceptional about that? Do not even the pagans do as much? As for you, be righteous and perfect in the way your heavenly Father in righteous and perfect.”

Tuesday, 14 June 2016 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 50 : 3-4, 5-6a, 11 and 16

Have mercy on me, o God, in Your love. In Your great compassion blot out my sin. Wash me thoroughly of my guilt; cleanse me of evil.

For I acknowledge my wrongdoings and have my sins ever in mind. Against You alone have I sinned; what is evil in Your sight I have done.

Turn Your face away from my sins and blot out all my offences. Deliver me, o God, from the guilt of blood, and of Your justice I shall sing aloud.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Kings 21 : 17-29

Then YHVH spoke to Elijah of Tishbe, “Go down to meet Ahab, king of Israel, in Samaria. He is taking possession of the vineyard of Naboth. Say to him : ‘Have you killed and have taken possession at the same time?’ Then give him this word of Mine : ‘Dogs shall lick your blood in the very place where the dogs licked the blood of Naboth.'”

Ahab then said to Elijah, “Who, better than my enemy, could find me here and now!” Elijah answered, “I have come to you because you have done what YHVH abhors. This is YHVH’s word : I will bring disgrace on you. I will sweep you away and cut off every male of your family, from the lowliest to the greatest.”

“Your family will disappear like the families of Jeroboam and Baasa, because you have offended me and have dragged Israel into sin. There is another word of YHVH to Jezebel : ‘The dogs shall devour Jezebel within the territory of Jezreel.’ If anyone of Ahab’s line dies in the city, he shall be devoured by dogs; if in the green country, the birds of the air shall feed on him.”

There was no one like Ahab, urged by his wife Jezebel, in doing what YHVH abhorred. He did horrible things and ran after unclean idols just as the Amorites had done, from whom YHVH had taken the land to give it to Israel. On hearing these words, Ahab tore his clothes and put on sackcloth. He fasted as he lay in sackcloth and moved around despondently.

Then YHVH said to Elijah the Tishbite, “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself? Because of this I will not bring about the disaster during his reign; during his son’s reign disgrace will fall on his family.”

Monday, 13 June 2016 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard about the story of the wicked king of Israel, Ahab who desired the vineyard of Naboth to become his own, and when Naboth refused the king bluntly on the consideration that the land belonged to him and to his ancestors, king Ahab became angry and with the complicit help of his wife, Jezebel, Ahab managed to gain the vineyard by the means of false accusation and murder of Naboth.

If we look at this passage from the Book of Kings, we may find it difficult to reconcile with what we heard in the Gospel today. In the first reading, God spoke to king Ahab through His prophet Elijah regarding the wickedness of his actions in causing the death of Naboth for his own gain, unlawfully gaining the vineyard through trickery and lies. And God said that what happened to Naboth would also happen to Ahab.

It means that whatever evil things Ahab had done would also befall him as the consequence for his sins. But in the Gospel we heard about Jesus our Lord who told His disciples that they should not seek vengeance or to get retribution from those who have mistreated them or hurt them. It seems that the two passages contradict each other if we read them at the face value, but in reality, they actually complement each other.

How is this so? It is because both of them speak of the same thing. All of us human beings have been created with love and out of love by our God, and we were all intended for good things. And thus the very important rule that all of us have to understand is that if we want others to treat us kindly and nicely, then we ourselves must start to treat others in the same manner too.

If we treat others badly, then it will bring about pain and anger in their hearts and minds, and as a result, they too will want to treat us in the same manner too, seeking vengeance against us. And when vengeance has been accomplished, the cycle is not over but in fact continues on, as when we become the object of that vengeance and suffered because of it, then we ourselves will want to enact our own revenge. The end result is a never-ending cycle of revenge and vengeance that bring about nothing but suffering, more suffering, pain and evil.

On the other hand, if we love one another, and even love and forgive those who have hurt us or hated us, then in fact we are breaking that endless cycle of hatred and suffering, by opening up the floodgates of God’s love to fill our hearts, and the hearts of those who have despised us and hated us, so that we stop that continuation of hatred and all the evil emotions, and instead spread and spawn the seeds of love.

And when we love even our enemies and those who have loathed us and persecuted us, what we hope is that we may bring their hearts to know the love which God has given to them through us, and that they may repent their ways and turn back to those evil deeds and into the light of God. And thus, we may bring one another into the love of God, and receive His grace and blessings.

And how about what we heard with regards to king Ahab and Naboth? Brothers and sisters in Christ, there is a crucial difference between that case and what our Lord is asking us to do. What king Ahab had done was definitely very wicked, and it was not just on that occasion, but also on numerous other occasions, where Ahab had disobeyed the Lord and brought the whole people of Israel into sin.

And unlike us all who have in our tendency not to love our enemies and those who hate us, God loves everyone equally, as He has created all of us without discrimination, whether they eventually became good or evil based on their own conscious choices. And He has loved us all even though many of us if not most or all of us, have disobeyed Him and rejected His love from time to time.

And God offered Ahab and the Israelites the same love, and yet they rejected it. And thus, in the end, those who refuse to love, and refuse the love which God had generously presented to us, and choose instead to act on our own whim and desires, then we have to part in God’s love and inheritance, and our fate will be like that of king Ahab, whom God had rejected and cast out from His presence. Remember brethren, that God loves us, but He hates our sins and wickedness.

Thus, let us today heed the example of a great saint whose feast we celebrate today. St. Anthony of Padua, the renowned Franciscan friar and preacher was a very famous saint whose works in Italy and in many places have brought numerous if not countless souls back from the periphery of death and darkness and back into the light and the love of God.

St. Anthony of Padua showed great devotion to the Lord, and then correspondingly a great commitment for the people of God, to whom he had devoted himself fully, caring for the weak, the ostracised and the downtrodden, teaching to them the word and the truth of God, and revealing God’s love to them through his own loving actions.

He inflamed the hearts of many people with his preaching, and he inspired many of them to rediscover their faith and to commit themselves anew to God. And he often led by example, showing many people how they should act as those who believe in the Lord our God. It is very important for us all to follow his examples, and also have love in our own actions and deeds.

Let us all renew our faith for the Lord, and be loving and be merciful in all the things we say and do. May God strengthen the love within our hearts, and allow us to be filled with His gracious love and mercy, that we will always endeavour for the good and for the salvation of all mankind, each and every one of us. May God bless us all, now and forever. Amen.

Monday, 13 June 2016 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 5 : 38-42

At that time, Jesus spoke to the people and to His disciples, “You have heard that it was said : An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you this : do not oppose evil with evil; if someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn and offer the other.”

“If someone sues you in court for your shirt, give him your coat as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go two miles with him. Give when asked, and do not turn your back on anyone who wants to borrow from you.”

Monday, 13 June 2016 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 5 : 2-3, 5-6, 7

O Lord, listen to my words and hear my complaint, give heed to my sighs, my King and my God.

You are not a God Who delights in wickedness; evil has no place in You. The arrogant cannot stand before You. You hate all who do evil.

You destroy all who speak falsehood, who thirst for blood and live on lies; all of them the Lord detests.

Monday, 13 June 2016 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Kings 21 : 1-16

Now Naboth, a man from Jezreel, owned a vineyard just beside the palace of Ahab, king of Samaria. Ahab asked Naboth, “Give me your vineyard which is near my house that I may use it for a vegetable garden. I will give you a better vineyard in exchange. Or, if you prefer, I will pay you its price.”

But Naboth said to Ahab, “YHVH forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.” So Ahab went home angry and sad because of what Naboth had told him, that he would not give him the inheritance of his fathers. So he lay down on his bed with his face turned toward the wall and refused to eat.

His wife Jezebel came to him and said, “Why are you so angry that you refuse to eat?” He answered, “I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and asked him to sell me his vineyard or to exchange it for another better one but he answered : I will not give you my vineyard.”

His wife Jezebel said to him, “Are you not king of Israel? Get up and eat and be joyful, for I will give you the vineyard of Naboth of Jezreel.” So Jezebel wrote letters using Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters to the elders and important persons living near Naboth.

This is what she wrote in the letters, “Declare a fast and put Naboth on trial. Get two worthless fellows to accuse him in this way : ‘You have cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out and stone him to death.”

The people, the elders and the important persons who lived in his city did as Jezebel had instructed them in the letters she sent to them. They declared a fast and put Naboth on trial. The two worthless fellows came in and sat facing him, accusing Naboth before the people, “Naboth cursed God and the king!” So the people took him outside the city and stoned him to death. They then sent word to Jezebel that Naboth had been stoned and was dead.

As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, she told Ahab, “Now take possession of the vineyard of Naboth, the man of Jezreel who refused to sell it to you, for Naboth is now dead.” As soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he went down to the vineyard of Naboth and took possession of it.