(Usus Antiquior) Fourth Sunday after Pentecost (II Classis) – Sunday, 2 July 2017 : Epistle

Liturgical Colour : Green

Lectio Epistolae Beati Pauli Apostoli ad Romanos – Lesson from the Epistle of Blessed Paul the Apostle to the Romans

Romans 8 : 18-23

Fratres : Existimo, quod non sunt condignae passionis hujus temporis ad futuram gloriam, quae revelabitur in nobis. Nam exspectatio creaturae revelationem filiorum Dei exspectat Vanitati enim creatura subjecta est, non volens, sed propter eum, qui subjecit eam in spe : quia et ipsa creatura liberabitur a servitute corruptionis, in libertatem gloriae filiorum Dei.

Scimus enim, quod omnis creatura ingemiscit et parturit usque adhuc. Non solum autem illa, sed et nos ipsi primitias spiritus habentes : et ipsi intra nos gemimus, adoptionem filiorum Dei exspectantes, redemptionem corporis nostri : in Christo Jesu, Domino nostro.

 

English translation

Brethren, I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come, that shall be revealed in us. For the expectation of the creature waited for the revelation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him that made it subject in hope, because the creature also itself shall be delivered from the servitude of corruption, into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.

For we know that every creature groans and travails in pain, even till now, and not only it, but ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves, groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption of the sons of God, the redemption of our body, in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(Usus Antiquior) Fourth Sunday after Pentecost (II Classis) – Sunday, 2 July 2017 : Introit and Collect

Liturgical Colour : Green

Introit

Psalm 26 : 1, 2, 3

Dominus illuminatio mea et salus mea, quem timebo? Dominus defensor vitae meae, a quo trepidabo? Qui tribulant me inimici mei, ipsi infirmati sunt, et ceciderunt.

Si consistant adversum me castra : non timebit cor meum.

Response : Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto, sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper : et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

 

English translation

The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the protector of my life of whom shall I be afraid? My enemies that trouble me have themselves been weakened and have fallen.

If armies in camp should stand together against me, my heart shall not fear.

Response : Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

 

Collect

Da nobis, quaesumus, Domine : ut et mundi cursus pacifice nobis Tuo ordine dirigatur; et Ecclesia Tua tranquilla devotione laetetur. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

 

English translation

Grant us, we beseech You, o Lord, that the course of the world may be directed for us, and that Your Church may rejoice in peace. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who with You lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

Saturday, 1 July 2017 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we heard about the stories of the servants of God, in their faith in God’s power and providence. In the first reading, we heard the story from the Book of Genesis, of the time when God came to visit Abraham and reveal to him and Sarah, his wife, the fulfilment of the promise which He had made with them, about a child that was to be born from Abraham and Sarah.

Then in the Gospel today, we heard about the army captain or centurion, who sought the Lord Jesus to heal his servant who was very sick. And in this story, we heard how the army captain humbled himself so much before the Lord, that he uttered the words which we also repeat every time we celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass before we are about to receive Him in the Eucharist, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof.”

The same attitude was shown by Abraham, who humbled himself before God, Who approached him, and then Abraham recognising them, begged them to stop over his dwelling place, and not to pass him by. And God stopped by Abraham’s dwelling to tell him of what would happen to him as He fulfilled His promise of a son to Abraham.

In all of these we can see both similarities and differences, one that can help us to appreciate our faith in God better. The contrast between the case of Abraham and that of the army captain could be traced back to the custom of the Jews, who as the chosen people of God were quite wary of the pagans and non-Jewish people, and interactions with the Gentiles or the non-Jews were usually frowned upon.

That was likely the reason why the army captain deferred from having the Lord to come upon his house in order to heal his servant. As a Roman soldier, belonging to the Gentiles and a pagan group of people, certainly the army captain did not want Jesus to be seen negatively by His visit to the house of a foreigner. As such, he humbly begged the Lord instead to heal his servant with the mere orders of His words.

It was in this manner that the army captain had shown the same faith as Abraham had done. Abraham believed in God wholeheartedly, even though he did have some reservations in the beginning. He believed that God would be able to grant what He had promised him, to have a son at such an old age, even though Sarah his wife had been long past childbearing age.

In the same manner, the army captain believed that the Lord Jesus was able to heal his servant with the mere action of His will alone. Most people would have believed only upon seeing and witnessing what had happened, and yet, the army captain did not require even any proof in order for him to believe in the Lord. He believed that God was able to do what is considered impossible for men.

Many of us have perhaps acted as Sarah had done. When Sarah heard the Lord, disguised as the travellers, speaking of how she would conceive a child in her old age, she laughed in her heart, thinking of the words as mere joke, as something that is impossible according to human intellect and understanding. That is also how we often react to the Lord Who calls upon us to believe in Him and walk in His ways.

Let us all ask ourselves, whether we are capable or not in the matter of believing in God wholeheartedly as Abraham, our father in faith, and the army captain, who believed in the Lord Jesus and His providence, had done. Are we able to devote ourselves to the Lord in the same manner, and with the same zeal? That is what we need to do, brothers and sisters in Christ. We need to put our complete trust in the Lord, our God.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to guide us in our path. May we draw ever closer to Him, and find in our own hearts, the strength to commit ourselves to His cause and to walk forever in His path. May the Lord be with us all and bless us. Amen.

Saturday, 1 July 2017 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)
Matthew 8 : 5-17

At that time, when Jesus entered Capernaum, an army captain approached Him, to ask His help, “Sir, my servant lies sick at home. He is paralysed and suffers terribly.” Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”

The captain answered, “I am not worthy to have You under my roof. Just give an order and my boy will be healed. For I myself, a junior officer, give orders to my soldiers. And if I say to one, ‘Go!’ he goes; and if I say to another, ‘Come!’ he comes; and if I say to my servant, ‘Do this!’ he does it.”

When Jesus heard this, He was astonished; and said to those who were following Him, “I tell you, I have not found such faith in Israel. I say to you, many will come from east and west and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob at the feast in the kingdom of heaven; but the heirs of the kingdom will be thrown out into extreme darkness; there, they will wail and grind their teeth.”

Then Jesus said to the captain, “Go home now. As you believed, so let it be.” At that moment, his servant was healed. Jesus went to Peter’s house and found Peter’s mother-in-law in bed with fever. He took her by the hand and the fever left her; she got up and began to wait on Him.

Toward evening, they brought to Jesus many people possessed by evil spirits; and with a word, He drove out the spirits. He also healed all who were sick. In this way, what was said by the prophet Isaiah was fulfilled : He bore our infirmities and took on Himself our diseases.

Saturday, 1 July 2017 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)
Luke 1 : 46-47, 48-49, 50 and 53, 54-55

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit exults in God, my Saviour!

He has looked upon His servant, in her lowliness, and people, forever, will call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, Holy is His Name!

From age to age, His mercy extends to those who live in His presence. He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty.

He held out His hand to Israel, His servant, for He remembered His mercy, even as He promised to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever.

Saturday, 1 July 2017 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)
Genesis 18 : 1-15

YHVH appeared to Abraham near the oaks of Mamre. Abraham was sitting at the entrance to his tent, in the heat of the day, when he looked up and saw three Men standing nearby. When he saw Them he ran from the entrance of the tent to meet Them. He bowed to the ground and said, “My Lord, if I have found favour in Your sight, do not pass Your servant by. Let a little water be brought. Wash Your feet and then rest under the trees. I shall fetch some bread so that You can be refreshed and continue on Your way, since You have come to Your servant.”

They then said, “Do as you say.” Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah and said to her, “Quick, take three measures of flour, knead it and make cakes.” Abraham then ran to the herd, took a fine, tender calf, gave it to the servant who hurried to prepare it. He took butter and milk and together with the calf he had prepared laid it all before Them. And while he remained standing, They ate.

They then asked, “Where is Sarah, your wife?” Abraham answered, “She is in the tent.” And the visitor said, “At this same time next year I will return and Sarah by then will have a son.” Now Sarah was behind him, listening at the entrance to the tent. Abraham and Sarah were old, well on in years, and Sarah no longer had her monthly periods.

Sarah laughed to herself saying, “Now that I am old and worn and my husband is an old man, am I to have this pleasure?” YHVH said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Am I really going to have a child now that I am old?’ Is there anything that is impossible for God? At this same time next year I will return and Sarah by then will have a son.”

Sarah denied saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. But He said, “You did laugh.”

Friday, 30 June 2017 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us celebrate the feast of the first martyrs of the Holy Roman Church, remembering all those martyrs of the faith, who perished during the great persecution by the Roman Emperor Nero, in conjunction with what we celebrated yesterday in the great Solemnity of St. Peter and St. Paul, both Apostles who also died in martyrdom during the same period of persecution.

At that time, the Church which the two Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul founded in the city of Rome, the capital and heart of the Roman Empire was truly flourishing with many converts from the Jewish and Gentiles communities alike. Many more people turned from their pagan gods to follow the Lord, Who have shown His glory through His Apostles and disciples, as we have heard in our Scripture passages today.

He healed them of their sickness and diseases, and caused evil spirits to go away from the people afflicted by them. He brought joy to the people much as Abraham in our first reading, faithful to the Covenant which God established with him, received his share of joy in the child whom God promised him, Isaac, his own son with his wife Sarah. And thus, the faithful God showed His love to His people, and many more people came to believe in Him.

But there were great oppositions from those who were not happy to see all these people becoming Christians, as those who believe in God. First of all, there were those who were opposed to the teachings of Christ, including those who were holding fast to the way of the Pharisees among the Jews, as well as those who were pagan in nature, the pagan philosophers and teachers who saw the Christian faith as a threat to them.

Then, the Imperial administration, the government, the Emperor and all the state officials viewed the Christian faith with suspect, particularly and primarily because, having adhered themselves completely and truly to the teachings of the Lord, refused to offer sacrifices to the Roman pagan gods and idols as well as to the Emperor, which was mandated from all the Roman citizens and subjects.

Therefore, the state carried out a great persecution of Christians, particularly in the city of Rome, when the perfect opportunity to scapegoat and blame them appeared as the Emperor Nero allegedly instigated the Great Fire of Rome, when most of the capital came down in a great fire that engulfed most of it. Christians were blamed for the fire, and many were put to death because of their faith as a result.

Many of the faithful were put to the gladitorial games in the Roman arenas, where they were thrown to the lions and wild beasts to be torn apart. Many were also put to death by beheading and by crucifixion. Yet, most if not all of these faithful people of God never feared, and they faced their death with faith, knowing that the Lord was with them, to the very end.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of these should bring us to the reality of our faith, that as Christians, there will always be obstacles and challenges in our path, not least from this world and all those who belong to the world, all those who are opposed to the Lord, to His ways, His truth and His salvation. Remember, brethren, that the devil and his angels are always prowling about, waiting for us to fall into the trap of his sin, temptation and persuasion that we end up as their prey.

Therefore, let us all be inspired by the examples of the first martyrs of the Church of Rome, whose memory we celebrate on this day. Let us be inspired by their steadfast faith, and their refusal to let go of their principles and their faith, even if certainly they must have been persuaded to do so. Let us all thus stand firm in our faith, and be really obedient to the will of God, by our actions and deeds in this life.

May the Lord be with us always in our journey of life, and may He empower us all to become His faithful disciples so that in all of our actions in life, we will always bring glory to Him, and will be worthy to share in that inheritance He has granted to all of His saints and martyrs, not least those martyrs whose memory even now, we remember before Him. May God bless us all, now and forever. Amen.