Thursday, 1 September 2016 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the theme of today’s Scripture readings tie in very nicely with the special event we are currently celebrating on this same day, that is the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, during which we offer our solemn prayers together as the whole Church, that we as the stewards whom God had entrusted with the care of this world, may exercise our responsibilities and duties with genuine commitment and effort for the maintenance and the care for this world.

And we have to remember, lest we be distracted by what this world thinks about the environment, we as Christians have duties to take care of the living and the non-living world, caring for all the wonderful animals and plants, all the creatures that God had created to be in this world with us. We are the stewards of all the things God had created, and as such, we have that very great responsibility to care for what God had made with His hands.

But that does not mean that we focus our attention so much on those things living around us, the animals, plants and the environment, that we forget our most important mission and responsibility, that is to care for one another, for our fellow men alike. After all, God had appointed us to lead and guide one another on our way to reach out to Him, that we may receive the salvation and life promised to us by our loving God.

The Gospel today spoke of the moment when Jesus was calling His first disciples, the ones whom He had chosen to be His Apostles. And He called them from various places, and not the least of which was from the shores of lake Galilee, from simple fishermen paddling their daily lives and livelihoods catching fishes from the lake to be sold at the market.

These fishermen were simple men, uneducated and without great intelligence, power or influence. They were mere ordinary people of their time, without special talents and skills, without experience in governance and privilege, without much wealth and possessions, and yet, God chose them to be His principal agents and workers to spread His salvation and light to the nations.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what Jesus spoke today is what He expected from us to do, as His disciples and all those who follow Him. We are made to be the fishers of men, as what Jesus called those simple fishermen for, that they would no longer catch the fishes of the lake and the sea, but instead, spread their nets and catch for the Lord, the whole race of mankind, people of various kinds and from various origins, that they may be found by the Lord their God.

And that is the task entrusted to the Church by our God, and therefore becomes our mission and duty as well. And therefore, we are not just the stewards of creation, but also caretaker for one another as well, especially with regards to guarding our brethren against falling into corruption and sin, and liberating them from the darkness and bringing them into the light.

We have to be responsible with our words, actions and deeds, that they will not be misunderstood or even worse, mislead our brethren into the darkness instead of the light. We have to be responsible in our actions towards one another, towards other living creatures of God, that we show care, concern and the effort to preserve and make beautiful what God had created in His wonders.

Let us all therefore today renew our commitment to God, and seek to do our best in order to commit ourselves to the Lord and His ways. Let us learn to be more like Him in all of our ways and in all that we do, so that in everything that we do, we will proclaim Him to the whole world, for all others to see, that they too may believe and thus by believing, we all together will be brought to the eternal inheritance and life God promised us. God bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 1 September 2016 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 5 : 1-11

At that time, one day, as Jesus stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, with a crowd gathered around Him listening to the word of God, He caught sight of two boats, left at the water’s edge by fishermen, now washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to pull out a little from the shore. There He sat and continued to teach the crowd.

When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Simon replied, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing. But if You say so, I will lower the nets.” This they did, and caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. They signalled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They came, and they filled both boats almost to the point of sinking.

Upon seeing this, Simon Peter fell at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Leave me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and his companions were amazed at the catch they had made, and so were Simon’s partners, James and John, Zebedee’s sons. Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. You will catch people from now on.”

So they brought their boats to land and followed Him, leaving everything.

Thursday, 1 September 2016 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 23 : 1-2, 3-4ab, 5-6

The earth and its fullness belong to the Lord, the world and all that dwell in it. He has founded it upon the ocean and set it firmly upon the waters.

Who will ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who will stand in His holy place? Those with clean hands and pure heart, who desire not what is vain.

They will receive blessings from the Lord, a reward from God, their Saviour. Such are the people who seek Him, who seek the face of Jacob’s God.

Thursday, 1 September 2016 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Corinthians 3 : 18-23

Do not deceive yourselves. If anyone of you considers himself wise in the ways of the world, let him become a fool, so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s eyes. To this, Scripture says : God catches the wise in their own wisdom. It also says : The Lord knows the reasoning of the wise, that it is useless.

Because of this, let no one boast about human beings, for everything belongs to you, Paul, Apollos, Cephas – life, death the present and the future. Everything is yours, and you, you belong to Christ, and Christ is of God.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard in the first reading, the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Corinth, how they were divided against each other there, with factions arising among the members of the Church, some professing to believe in what St. Paul taught them, and some others professing to believe in what another famous preacher, St. Apollos, preached to them.

These factionalism hurt the Church and the faithful as a whole, because the bitterness and ill-feeling that arose between them caused difficulties not just in the works of evangelisation, but also in the efforts to keep the faithful united against matters which they should be standing up against instead of falling against each other’s throats just because they disagreed on certain matters.

That was likely because they were really not feuding about the Lord, but instead, they feud because of their own human needs, of their own human rivalries and emotions, desires and greed. Ultimately, as St. Paul mentioned in his Epistle, all of them were serving the same Lord their God, and regardless of the methods each of them employed, each and every one of them were serving the greater glory of God.

In the Gospel today, Jesus worked hard among the people, healing them from sickness and casting out demons from them, and even the evil spirits themselves recognised Jesus as Who He is, that is the Messiah and the Son of God. They feared Him for rightly, even though they have rebelled against Him together with Satan, their master, but they, together with Satan, are still bound to Him nonetheless.

Yet, it was often that the people themselves, even those among whom Jesus had performed His miracles, that refused to believe in Jesus, in His teachings and His words. They rejected Him, cast Him aside and even handed Him to His tortures and enemies, calling for Him to be crucified. And all these, which we have also heard in yesterday’s Scripture passages, reflect the nature of mankind.

Yes, we are often too busy with ourselves, settling our businesses and activities that we tend to forget entirely about God, about our faith and about why we live this life in this world. And that is where we begin to lose our focus and our way, and we end up like those who bicker among themselves even for simple matters, rather than serving the Lord and His Church.

Let us all ask ourselves, and let us all reflect on ourselves, our actions, as well as look through the Church and all of its long history. Then we should realise how often indeed it was that many bitterness and divisions were caused by similar selfish desires of men, which contradicted what the Lord had commanded them to do. They were unable to hold their ego and desire in check, and as a result, division that harm the Church and the salvation of souls were created.

Shall we then prevent the same thing from happening again? Let us not be so taken in by our differences and by our worldly concerns and desires so as to divide us and the Church into many factions that hamper and hinder the works of God among His people. Rather, let us all help one another, working together as one people, realising that the mission which He had granted us is greater than each and every one of us, as we are all called together as His Church that through us the grace and work of salvation may be made a reality.

May God help us in our works and endeavours. May He bless us and our efforts to guide lost souls to Him, that all may find their way to the eternal life and salvation God has promised to all those who keep their faith in Him. May God be with us all and be with His Church, now and forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 4 : 38-44

At that time, leaving the synagogue, Jesus went to the house of Simon. His mother-in-law was suffering from high fever, and they asked Him to do something for her. Bending over her, He rebuked the fever, and it left her. Immediately she got up and waited on them.

At sunset, people suffering from many kinds of sickness were brought to Jesus. Laying His hands on each one, He healed them. Demons were driven out, howling as they departed from their victims, “You are the Son of God!” He rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, for they knew He was the Messiah.

Jesus left at daybreak and looked for a solitary place. People went out in search of Him, and finding Him, they tried to dissuade Him from leaving. But He said, “I have to go to other towns to announce the Good News of the kingdom of God. That is what I was sent to do.” And Jesus continued to preach in the synagogues of Galilee.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 32 : 12-13, 14-15, 20-21

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord – the people He has chosen for His inheritance. The Lord looks down from heaven and sees the whole race of mortals.

From where He sits He watches all those who dwell on the earth – He Who fashions every heart observes all their deeds.

In hope we wait for the Lord, for He is our help and our shield. Our hearts rejoice in Him, for we trust in His holy Name.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Corinthians 3 : 1-9

I could not, friends, speak to you as spiritual persons but as fleshly people, for you are still infants in Christ. I gave you milk and not solid food, for you were not ready for it and up to now you cannot receive it for you are still of the flesh. As long as there is jealousy and strife, what can I say but that you are at the level of the flesh and behave like ordinary people.

While one says : “I follow Paul,” and the other, “I follow Apollos,” what are you but people still at a human level? For what is Apollos? What is Paul? They are ministers and through them you believed, as it was given by the Lord to each of them. I planted, Apollos watered the plant, but God made it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God Who makes the plant grow.

The one who plants and the one who waters work to the same end, and the Lord will pay each according to their work. We are fellow-workers with God, but you are God’s field and building.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard from the Scriptures about the Lord Who cast out demons from a man while He was teaching them, and what was remarkable is how those evil spirits inside the man who was possessed knew Who Jesus really was, and proclaimed Him before many who heard him, that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.

Indeed it may seem funny that evil spirits would proclaim such a thing before many, but truly, that was because they knew Who He was, and they could see Him in the fullness of His glory as God, the Divine Word Incarnate. And by understanding who these evil spirits are, we can understand better the meaning of today’s Scripture readings.

Those evil spirits were also once the devoted servants of God, the Angels and the spirits of the world, which were around all over creation since God created the world and created them. But they fell into the darkness when they followed that proud and rebellious Archangel, Lucifer the Accursed who refused to bow down out of his pride, and therefore were cast down together out of Heaven.

But even though they were in rebellion against God, and plotted many bad and evil things for God’s creations, especially on us mankind, but they are still after all God’s creation too. And therefore, as those whom God had created and given the knowledge of His Spirit, they were bound to God just as much as we are bound to Him. They were still subjects of the Lord, and they are still the same as well even to this day and beyond.

And all the more they were afraid of the Lord, because they already knew beforehand what their fate was! And when Jesus came into this world to heal the sick and the corrupted ones among His people, He also brought these wicked spirits a reminder of what their fate would be when they were to face judgment and condemnation at the end of time. Their fates have already been sealed.

But the irony is how the people themselves did not recognise Jesus as He was, and they doubted Him, refused to believe in Him, and they even rejected Him and handed Him over to the Romans to be crucified. Such is the ignorance which we the people of God have often showed the Lord, even though He had shown us so much care and love. That is because they were blind to His truth, and they had not God’s Spirit in them.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is when then that the Lord reveals to us the truth about Himself and His salvation, by offering to us His Spirit, which descended upon all of us, that we may understand Him better and appreciate His love for us more. And it is also through His Spirit and His Word that we have now known the fate that awaits all those who refused His love and rejected His mercy, that is the same fate awaiting Satan and his fellow rebel angels.

Now that we know Who He is, and what He has offered us, if we keep our faith in Him, let us all reveal Him to the world through our works and actions, by bringing the Word of God closer to our brethren especially those who still live in the ignorance and the darkness of this world. It is our work at evangelisation that will bring each of us, brethren in the Lord, closer to Him.

May God bless us and keep us in His love, and may His grace be ever enough for us. Let us all commit ourselves anew to the Lord, and let us draw ourselves closer to God and His salvation, knowing that if we remain faithful to Him and walk in His ways, we will reach our true goal in life, that is to be blessed forevermore and to receive from our loving Father, the inheritance He has promised us. And while Lucifer and his angels suffer for eternity, let us all not share his fate, but instead the fate intended for us all, the beloved children of our loving God. Amen.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 4 : 31-37

At that time, Jesus went down to Capernaum, a town of Galilee, and began teaching the people at the sabbath meetings. They were astonished at the way He taught them, for His words was spoken with authority.

In the synagogue there was a man possessed by an evil spirit, who shouted in a loud voice, “What do You want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I recognise You : You are the Holy One of God.”

Then Jesus said to him sharply, “Be silent and leave this man!” The evil spirit then threw the man down in front of them, and came out of him without doing him harm. Amazement seized all these people, and they said to one another, “What does this mean? He commands the evil spirits with authority and power. He orders, and you see how they come out!”

And news about Jesus spread throughout the surrounding area.