Friday, 17 June 2016 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

2 Kings 11 : 1-4, 9-18, 20

When Athaliah, the mother of Ahaziah, saw that her son had died, she was determined to wipe out all the descendants of the king. But Jehosheba, the daughter of king Joram and sister of Ahaziah, took Joash, her nephew, and brought him away from among the king’s sons who were about to be killed, and put him with his wet nurse in the bedroom.

Thus she hid him from Athaliah, so that the boy was saved. And Joash remained hidden in the House of YHVH for six years while Athaliah reigned over the land. In the seventh year, Jehoiada the chief priest, summoned the officers of the royal guard and of the Carites to the House of YHVH. After concluding a pact with them under oath, he showed them the king’s son.

The commanders of the guards did what Jehoiada the priest had told them to do and they showed up with all their men, those who were to go off duty on the sabbath as well as those who were to come on duty on that day. Jehoiada entrusted to the officers the spears and shields of king David which were in the House of YHVH.

And the guards stood from the southern corner of the house to the north, surrounding the altar and the House of YHVH. Then Jehoiada, the priest, brought out the king’s son, crowned him and put the bracelets on him, then proclaimed and consecrated him king. All clapped their hands, shouting and crying out, “Long live the king!”

When Athaliah heard the noise of the people, she approached the crowd surrounding the House of YHVH. The king was standing by the pillar, according to the custom, and the officers and the trumpeters were with him. The people were filled with joy and they were blowing trumpets. On seeing this, Athaliah tore her clothes and cried out, “Treason, treason!”

Jehoiada the priest commanded the officers, “Surround her and bring her out to the courtyard, and kill anyone who tries to defend her.” He gave this order, because he thought, “She should not die in the House of YHVH.” They brought her out, and when they reached the palace of the king by the horses’ entrance, there they killed her.

Jehoiada made a covenant between YHVH and the king and the people so they would be the people of YHVH. All the citizens went to the temple of Baal and destroyed it. They broke the altars and the images into pieces, and killed Mattan, the priest of Baal, before his altar. Then Jehoiada, the priest, posted guards over the House of YHVH.

All the citizens were happy and the city was at peace. Now regarding Athaliah, she had died by the sword in the king’s palace.

Thursday, 16 June 2016 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we heard the words of the Scriptures speaking to us regarding the examples of faith which the prophet Elijah and our Lord Jesus had shown us. In the first reading, we saw how the prophet Sirach spoke about Elijah, to whom God had granted His power and authority, that by his hands and works, he performed many miracles and good deeds among the people of God.

And he preached repentance and forgiveness for the sins which Israel and its people had done, urging them to turn their back on their sinful ways and be converted wholly to the way of the Lord. He worked tirelessly among the people of God, and persevered on even though he faced rejection, opposition and even outright hostility from those to whom God had sent him.

And God rewarded Elijah with the gift which He had granted to only a few, those whom He deemed to be worthy enough so as to avoid the taste of death, as what happened first with Enoch, the descendant of Adam, who was so righteous and just that God took him up to heaven, and also probably Moses, who could not enter the Promised Land because of his sin, but his faith and devotion in leading the people of God through the Exodus, and having seen God face to face, like Elijah had done, it is probable that God also took Moses up with Him to the glory of heaven.

And in Jesus our Lord, we then heard about the way which we as the faithful people of God should pray, and how not to pray, as what the pagans had done. And that was where Jesus taught His disciples the Lord’s Prayer, the perfect prayer which came from the very words of our Lord and Saviour. And from the Apostles, they passed down the teachings to us, so that we all also learnt and knew the truth which God wanted to show us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus taught us that when we pray we should not pray with many words, as what the pagans do, and that our prayer should come from our heart, a true expression of ourselves rather than an empty and meaningless prayer. Unfortunately, I am sure that if we look at our own way of praying, and how each of us pray, we can see that there are many occasions when we did not pray in a proper way.

It is very common that when we pray, we make it into a litany of requests, wishes and even demands. And for many of us, the reality is that, we have that tendency to equate prayer to asking or begging the Lord to do us a favour, and that prayer is like a hotline for us all to contact the Lord when we are in need of help. That is where we were wrong, brothers and sisters in Christ, as prayer is not just for us to speak to God and have the airtime for our own only, but also as a venue for God to speak to us in the depths of our hearts.

And this is where we as Christians should learn to improve ourselves, and change our ways where it had not been right before. The problem with our way of prayer and with our works is that, it is too often that these are done with regards to ourselves, for ourselves, and to satisfy our ego. Our ego stood in the way of our true faith in the Lord, for the ego or our beings led us to do things in the way that we had done them.

But that is not what it is supposed to be, brethren, as we have been called to a greater purpose, rather than to serve just ourselves and our needs, which is selfishness, and embrace the way of selflessness, where we ought to learn to care and love one another, and show mercy, forgiveness and love in the way we interact with each other.

In the first reading, the prophet Elijah showed us how we should act as a follower of our God. Rather than being overly indulged into ourselves, we should go forth and work in order to bring our brethren, especially those whom we know, and those in our societies and communities, closer to the Lord our God, and persevered to preach to them the Good News of God as Elijah had done, through our own actions.

But no action can be complete without prayer and correct spiritual dimension. Prayer and work complements each other, and prayer and work are essential components of our Christian faith. When we pray, we should let go of our desires, wants and ego, and we should instead open our hearts, keeping the silence in our minds and hearts that the Lord our God may speak in them, and show to us the path to move forward.

Let us all from now on become renewed Christians, devoting ourselves, our effort and our time to do the good works of God, spreading His Good News and salvation to ever more people and bring to Him ever more souls. And let us all also keep ourselves close to God through prayer, talking with Him and communicating regularly with Him, so that we may listen to Him and know what is His will for us. May God be with us all always, now and forever. Amen.