Saturday, 2 July 2016 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of our Lady)

Matthew 9 : 14-17

At that time, the disciples of John came to Jesus with this question, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast on many occasions, but not Your disciples?” Jesus answered them, “How can you expect wedding guests to mourn as long as the Bridegroom is with them? The time will come, when the Bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.”

“No one patches an old coat with a piece of unshrunken cloth, for the patch will shrink and tear an even bigger hole in the coat. In the same way, you do not put new wine in old wineskins. If you do, the wineskins will burst and the wine will be spilt. No, you put new wine in fresh skins; then both are preserved.”

Saturday, 2 July 2016 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of our Lady)

Psalm 84 : 9, 11-12, 13-14

Would that I hear God’s proclamation, that He promise peace to His people, His saints – lest they come back to their folly.

Love and faithfulness have met; righteousness and peace have embraced. Faithfulness will reach up from the earth while justice bends down from heaven.

The Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its fruit. Justice will go before Him, and peace will follow along His path.

Saturday, 2 July 2016 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of our Lady)

Amos 9 : 11-15

On that day I shall restore the fallen hut of David and wall up its breaches and raise its ruined walls and so build it as in days of old. They shall conquer the remnant of Edom and the neighbouring nations upon which My Name has been called.” Thus says YHVH, the One Who will do this.

YHVH says also, “The days are coming when the plowman will overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes overtake the sower. The mountains shall drip sweet wine and all the hills shall melt. I shall bring back the exiles of My people Israel; they will rebuild the desolate cities and dwell in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will have orchards and eat their fruit.”

“I shall plant them in their own country and they shall never again be rooted up from the land which I have given them,” says YHVH your God.

Friday, 1 July 2016 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the story of how Jesus called one of His twelve Apostles from among the tax collectors and sinners, Levi who was then afterwards known as St. Matthew, the Apostle and one of the Four Evangelists. And this calling of St. Matthew was closely linked to what we also heard in the first reading, when in the book of the prophet Amos, God through him denounced all those wicked ones who manipulated the poor and the weak for their own benefits.

It is also related to the behaviours and attitudes of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law during the time of Jesus our Lord. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law during that time behaved as if they were righteous and just, as great ‘role models’ for all the faithful people of God. They acted as if they were beyond and above all the other people of God, and they thought highly of themselves, thinking that because of all the supposedly good and pious things they have done, they have earned the right to brag about them.

And worse still, it was not just that they have bragged about their faith and being proud of them and the high status which they have received from the people, but they also actively persecuted all those who disagreed with them, or those who openly refused to listen to their demands and orders. They persecuted the people and burdened them with many obligations to the laws and the customs of the Jewish traditions.

And worst of all is the fact that, which our Lord Jesus had mentioned directly to them and to others, is how these people preached and demanded very strict, unbending and even blind obedience to the precepts and the laws of God, and yet they themselves had no God in their hearts and minds. They did not do what they had preached, and their actions were often contrary to what they have said. And as a result, the faith they had was superficial and lacking in real substance.

Thus Jesus rebuked them and warned the people that while they should listen to them, but they should not follow what they were doing or how they observed the laws and precepts that they themselves preached. Thus was the faith of the hypocrites who thought of themselves as better than the others and those whom they deemed as sinners, unworthy of God’s love and grace.

And Jesus broke all of those misconceptions, as He ventured forth to the sinners and to all those whom the society had deemed to be beyond salvation. He called Levi, the tax collector who would then become a great Apostle and a great Evangelist. If we read through the entirety of the Gospel of St. Matthew, surely we will be amazed at the kind and the extent of transformation that had occurred, from a lowly and considered sinner as tax collector, to a great and eloquent writer of the Gospels of the Lord.

But before we then go and claim that all sinners are welcome and can have an easy happy ending in the Lord, we too have to take note that, when Jesus called Levi the tax collector, he had the choice to ignore Him or to listen to His call and follow Him. Certainly he had a choice, and by the conventional wisdom of the world, even at that time, the most logical choice would be to ignore Him and to continue with his life.

But instead, he chose to abandon everything behind, leaving behind all of his wealth and status as the tax collector, whatever advantages and disadvantages these brought to him, and followed Jesus from then on. This therefore is the same thing we must expect from ourselves, and from all sinners who are willing to return to the Lord. God’s mercy is for all, and He loves us all without end, but sincere and genuine repentance is a must.

May the Lord bless us all and help us on our journey. Let us all devote ourselves anew and commit ourselves fully to God and His ways. Let us all not doubt any longer but give ourselves fully to the Lord and do our best to fulfil what the Lord asked of us, not through blind obedience as what the Pharisees and the teachers of the Lord had done, but instead through sincere and true faith. May God be with us all. Amen.

Friday, 1 July 2016 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 9 : 9-13

At that time, as Jesus moved on from the place where He cured a paralytic man, He saw a man named Matthew at his seat in the custom house, and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And Matthew got up and followed Him.

Now it happened, while Jesus was at table in Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners joined Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is it that your Master eats with sinners and tax collectors?”

When Jesus heard this, He said, “Healthy people do not need a doctor, but sick people do. Go and find out what this means : What I want is mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Friday, 1 July 2016 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 118 : 2, 10, 20, 30, 40, 131

Blessed are they who treasure His word and seek Him with all their heart.

I seek You with my whole heart; let me not stray from Your commands.

My soul is consumed with desire for Your ordinances at all times.

I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart upon Your laws.

Oh, how I long for Your precepts! Renew my life in Your righteousness.

I gasp in ardent yearning for Your commandments that I love.