Wednesday, 5 July 2017 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Zaccaria, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)
Matthew 8 : 28-34

At that time, when Jesus reached Gadara, on the other side, He was met by two men, possessed by devils, who came out from the tombs. They were so fierce that no one dared to pass that way. They cried out, “Son of God, leave us alone! Have You come here to torment us before the time?”

Some distance away there was a large herd of pigs feeding. So the demons begged Him, “If You drive us out, send us into that herd of pigs.” Jesus ordered them, “Go!” So the demons left the men and went into the pigs. The whole herd rushed down the cliff into the lake and was drowned.

The men in charge of the pigs ran off to the town, where they told the whole story; and also what had happened to the men possessed with the demons. The whole town went out to meet Jesus; and when they saw Him, they begged Him to leave their region.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Zaccaria, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)
Psalm 33 : 7-8, 10-11, 12-13

When the poor cry out, YHVH hears and saves them from distress. YHVH’s Angel encamps and patrols, to keep safe those who fear Him.

Revere YHVH, all you, His saints, for those who fear Him do not live in want. The mighty may be hungry and in need; but those who seek YHVH lack nothing.

Come, listen to me, my children; I will show you how to fear YHVH. If you desire long life; if you want to enjoy prosperity.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Zaccaria, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)
Genesis 21 : 5, 8-20

Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. The child grew and on the day Isaac was weaned, Abraham held a great feast. Sarah saw the child that Hagar, the Egyptian had borne to Abraham, mocking her son and she said to Abraham, “Send this slave girl and her son away; the child of this slave must not share the inheritance with my son, Isaac.”

This matter distressed Abraham because it concerned his son, but God said to him, “Do not be worried about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to Sarah and do whatever she says, because the race which is called by your name will spring from Isaac. But from the son of your servant I will also form a nation, for he too is your offspring.”

Abraham rose early next morning and gave bread and a skin bag of water to Hagar. He put the child on her back and sent her away. She went off and wandered in the desert of Beersheba. When there was no more water in the skin, she pushed the boy under one of the bushes, and then went and sat down about a hundred yards away, for she thought, “I cannot bear to see my son die.”

But as she sat there, the child began to wail. God heard him and the Angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid. God has heard the boy crying. Get up, pick the boy up and hold him safely, for I will make him into a great nation.”

God then opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. She went and filled the skin and gave the boy a drink. God was with the boy. He grew up and made his home in the wilderness and became an expert archer.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Portugal (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us heard from the Sacred Scriptures the tale about God’s providence and help for those who are faithful to Him. In the first reading today, taken from the Book of Genesis, we heard about how the Lord rescued Lot and his family from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, which were known to us as places where hideous and grievous sins had been committed by the people there, but Lot and his family were righteous in the sight of God, and God wanted to rescue them from harm.

To that extent, God sent His Angels to Lot and his family, warning them about the impending catastrophe, protecting them from the wrath of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah and led them out of the city into the wilderness so that they could escape the destruction and live. This was what He has also done for His disciples as they laid in fear in the middle of the lake, battered by strong wind and waves. He chastised the waves and the wind, and all quietened down.

In the end, God helped His faithful ones and saved them from their distress, but it is we, His people, who have often panicked and became worried, having doubts in the Lord’s providence and love for us. The disciples panicked and became worried in the boat, worried that the wind and the waves would knock the boat off and cause it to sink. They were worried because they feared for their lives, and their faith in the Lord were shaken.

In a similar manner, as Lot and his family fled in a hurry away from Sodom and Gomorrah, while they were specifically instructed by the Angels of God not to look back towards the city, the wife of Lot hesitated, and looked back at the city, and ended up turning into a pile of salt, a punishment for her disobedience. Why did she do so? It was the same with that of the disciples’ reasons for their fear and panicking in the boat rocked by the wind and the waves. They had fear in their hearts, and attachment to worldly things that they were not able to overcome.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, have we acted in the same manner as the wife of Lot and as the Apostles had done? Certainly at some points in our lives we have done so. It is in our human nature for us to worry and to think about our lives, and therefore, we end up losing sight of God’s providence and protection for us all His faithful ones. We are entangled amidst our worldly concerns and worries, and we cannot detach ourselves from those concerns.

How many of us, for example, spent so many hours busily working and preparing for our daily schedules and careers? And then how many of us spent so much time in our daily busy schedules that we end up spending close to nothing or indeed nothing for the Lord? Can we not even spend some time with the Lord, for all that He has done for us, for all that He has blessed us with?

Our Lord has done so much for us, that even though we are sinners and unworthy of Him, He resolved to make us worthy again through reconciliation with Him. Do we realise this fact? Do we realise that He has done so much for us to the point of bearing the cross and suffer great injustice and persecution, just so that through His suffering and death, all of us may have new life in Him?

Perhaps all of us should follow the example of St. Elizabeth of Portugal, the holy woman and saint whose feast we celebrate today. St. Elizabeth of Portugal was the Queen consort of the kingdom of Portugal, who was remembered for her great piety as queen and mother for her people, caring for the poor and the sick, giving herself to a prayerful and charitable life, dedicated to the service of God and to His people.

She maintained peace between the feuding factions in her family and in her country, at the time when a civil war broke between those factions. She made the feuding parties to reconcile with one another, and in other occasions, ensuring the peace between the nobles and the lords of the nation. And when her husband, the king of Portugal passed away, St. Elizabeth of Portugal decided to devote the rest of her life joining the religious nuns in a convent, and continuing to do what she had done for most of her life, caring for the people of God who are in need.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the examples of St. Elizabeth of Portugal should remind us that each and every one of us, whom God had called to become His children and His people, all of us are beloved by God, and God will protect us from harm, and provide for all of us in our times of need. However, all of us need to devote ourselves in the same manner that God had devoted Himself to us, by loving Him with all of our hearts, and therefore by loving one another, fellow brethren in Christ.

Shall we follow in the footsteps of St. Elizabeth of Portugal and all of our holy predecessors? Shall we walk in their path, which God had shown them and now also show us, so that we may come closer to Him, and thus making us ever more beloved children of His? Let us all commit ourselves anew to God, and seek to do His will in our respective lives and actions. May God continue to love us and bless us, and may He continue to give us His grace and protection. Amen.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Portugal (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)
Matthew 8 : 23-27

At that time, Jesus got into the boat and His disciples followed Him. Without warning, a fierce storm burst upon the lake, with waves sweeping the boat. But Jesus was asleep.

The disciples woke Him up and cried, “Lord save us! We are lost!” But Jesus answered, “Why are you so afraid, you of little faith?” Then He stood up and rebuked the wind and sea; and it became completely calm.

The disciples were astonished. They said, “What kind of Man is He? Even the winds and the sea obey Him.”

Tuesday, 4 July 2017 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Portugal (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)
Psalm 25 : 2-3, 9-10, 11-12

Prove me, o YHVH, put me to the test; examine my soul and my heart. For Your love is ever before my eyes, and I live in truth and faithfulness.

Let me not share the fate of sinners, nor lose my life with the violent; their hands are guilty of crimes, their right hands are weighed down with bribes.

But I will walk in integrity, redeem me, o God, be gracious to me. My foot stands firm in the straight path, I will praise You, o YHVH, in Your assemblies.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Portugal (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)
Genesis 19 : 15-29

At daybreak the Angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and two daughters who are here, lest they perish because of the sin of the town.” As he hesitated, the men took him by the hand and his wife and two daughters with him, because YHVH had mercy on him. And they led him outside the town.

When they were outside, the visitors said to him, “Flee for your life and do not look back and do not stop anywhere in the plain. Flee to the mountain lest you perish.” But Lot replied, “My lords, your servant has found favour with you, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life. But I cannot flee to the mountains for fear the disaster will overtake me and I die.”

“See, there is a town near enough for me to flee to and it is a small one. Let me flee there : it is very small (that is why the town is called Zoar). So I will be safe.” And the Angel answered, “I grant you this favour as well by not destroying the town you speak of. But flee fast for I can do nothing until you arrive there.”

The sun had risen on the earth when Lot reached Zoar. Then YHVH rained on Sodom and Gomorrah burning sulfur out of the heavens from YHVH, and He completely destroyed those towns and all the valley and all the inhabitants of the towns and everything that grew there. Lot’s wife looked back and she became a pillar of salt.

Early next morning Abraham returned to the place where he had stood before YHVH. He looked towards Sodom and Gomorrah and towards all the land of the valley and he saw smoke rising from the earth like the smoke from a furnace. So when God destroyed the towns of the plain He remembered Abraham and made Lot escape from the catastrophe while He destroyed the cities where Lot had lived.