Sunday, 23 July 2017 : Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday, all of us heard the message of the Scriptures, telling us all to be righteous in all of our ways, heeding all that the Lord had taught us to do, by obeying the laws and rules of the Church, and by living a genuine life of faith, filled with love for God and with love for our fellow men. This is what all of us as Christians have been called to do, to be true disciples of our Lord in all of our words and deeds alike.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we heard how Jesus our Lord spoke to His disciples in parables, and then revealed to them the meaning of those parables. Through those parables, God through His Son, Jesus, wanted to reveal to us, the truth about Himself and how we all ought to strive to achieve our salvation through Him, that is by obeying Him and by walking righteously in His path. This is where we should indeed take heed of what we have heard from the Word of God in the Scriptures today, that we may know how we ought to go forward from now on.

First of all, we heard about the parable of the weeds, in which a sower sowed good seeds in a field, and hoped to see good plants and crops growing in due time, only to see weeds growing amongst the good crops because an enemy had come in the dark and sowed the seeds of the weeds amongst the crops. The enemy surely wanted the crops to fail, and the weeds were scattered among the crops in order to compete against the crops for nutrients, and for the whole crop to be less desirable as a whole.

This parable showed us the works of God amongst us mankind, for God Himself is the sower, who sowed good seeds, that is the seeds of faith in our hearts. The field itself is the world, encompassing all of us mankind, in whom God planted His goodness, His Spirit and presence in all. However, the enemy, that is the devil, is out there, actively trying to undermine the good works of God, by spreading the weeds among us, that is sin and the temptations to sin.

But did God in the parable of the sower immediately ordered all of the wheat crops to be thrown away with the weeds? No, He did not do so. He allowed the wheat to grow first, and mature into mature wheat crops with bountiful fruits, and the weeds also grew alongside them. That is because all of us mankind, who have been tainted by sin ever since our forefathers disobeyed God and His commandments, are still ultimately beloved by God, our Lord and Creator.

He wanted to give us all a second chance, the opportunity for us to redeem ourselves, and that was why, He allowed us to continue to grow and develop in this world, with all of our imperfections in us, all the good and evil within us. What we all need to take note of, is then, what the Lord Jesus then continued to tell His disciples, comparing His heavenly kingdom with the parable of the mustard seed and the rising bread.

The Lord mentioned that the kingdom of Heaven is like that of a mustard seed, very small compared to the other seeds and fruits of more noticeable trees and crops. However, that very small seed, when planted in a good soil, will grow into a large tree, larger than many other trees and scrubs, certainly much larger than what people would normally think such a small seed would grow into.

There are many symbolisms in this particular parable, as the mustard seed represents the faith in all of us. The faith might have begun as a small seed, which we ourselves often do not realise that we have with us. However, given the right conditions, when planted in a good soil, meaning that when we realise that gift of faith present in each one of us, and then doing what we can to cultivate that faith, through our actions in life, through the love which we show to God and to our fellow men, and through our justice and righteousness, we will allow the faith to grow in us.

And indeed, as in the other parable not mentioned in today's readings, the parable of the sower, the seed that fell onto the rich and good soil bear its fruits a thirtyfold, a sixtyfold and even a hundredfold and more! That means, if we are truly faithful to the Lord, and truly practice what we believe in our lives, we are allowing ourselves to grow in the sight of the Lord, like a growing stalk of wheat that is healthy and bountiful.

Otherwise, if we do not do what the Lord had told us to do, but instead preferring to follow the temptations of the devil, we are like those wheat crops that were outcompeted by the weeds and whose life is choked out of it by the wheat. That is the reality of sin, brothers and sisters in Christ. The devil is always trying to tempt us with sin, and indeed sin can often feel very pleasurable and enjoyable. It is easier to do what is considered as sin before God, rather than to obey the will of the Lord.

But if we do not make an active effort to resist the encroaching allures of sin, we will often end up falling into those temptations and commit sin before God, and in the end, as the sower and master of the field ordered his servants to collect all the weeds and burn them in the fire, He will also collect all the unworthy wheat, all those corrupted and destroyed by the weeds, and throw them into the fire, for they are useless and meaningless as a harvest.

We need to ask ourselves, and look deep into our lives, brothers and sisters in Christ. Are we doing what the Lord wants us to do? Or are we instead too busy with our wants and desires, with our busy daily schedules and preoccupations in life to take note of what it is that God really wants us to do with our lives? If we are not providing the best condition for God's good works to be realised in us, then how will our faith in God grow and develop?

Just like in the parable of the flour rising as a dough when yeast is added to the flour and mixed in it. All those who have baked before will know that yeast cannot cause the rising of the dough into a fluffy and soft, spongy bread without the proper condition. It requires a seal from outside air, since yeast will only cause fermentation of the flour and creating the fluffy texture of the bread in the absence of oxygen.

Similarly, if our lives are not devoid of all of its wickedness and all of the sins which we have committed, and if we do not make the conscious and active effort in order to turn ourselves away from those sins, how will we then grow closer and more devoted to God? We will only draw further and further away from Him, and when the time of judgment comes upon us, we shall end up on the wrong side of the judgment. Do we want to end up in the eternal torment prepared for the devil and all of his fellow fallen angels? Do we want to be counted among those rejected by God?

Now, indeed, it is the right time for us to do something with our lives. Many of us often like and prefer to delay and to put off doing what we can in fact do now, at this very moment, beginning from this minute. But, do we realise that our lives are at the mercy of God? Do we all realise that we may just meet the end of our lives at any moment that God wishes it? Should we wait until it is too late for us and then regret about it?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all begin from this moment on, in every little things we do in our respective lives, to be faithful to God in all of our ways. In this manner, slowly we are providing for ourselves a rich and fertile soil for the seeds of faith inside each one of us to germinate and to grow, providing rich fruits of the Spirit inside us. And the Lord, Who knows all that we are thinking and doing, will reward us in the end.

Let us all make it a habit to do what is good according to God's will, by loving our brethren, by showing mercy and forgiveness to those who have caused us hurt and suffering. Let us all show our faith by example, and not just by mere words alone. Let us all be ever more devoted and committed disciples of the Lord, so that in the end, all of us will share the eternal joy and glory of our Lord in His kingdom in Heaven. May God bless us all forever and ever. Amen.

Sunday, 23 July 2017 : Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 13 : 24-43

At that time, Jesus told the people another parable, "The kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a man, who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep, his enemy came, and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the plants sprouted and produced grain, the weeds also appeared. Then, the servants of the owner came, and said to him, 'Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? Where did the weeds come from?'"

"He answered them, 'This is the work of an enemy.' They asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull up the weeds?' He told them, 'No, when you pull up the weeds, you might uproot the wheat with them. Let them grow together, until harvest; and, at harvest time, I will say to the workers : Pull up the weeds first, tie them in bundles and burn them; then gather the wheat into my barn.'"

Jesus offered them another parable : "The kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is smaller than all other seeds, but once it is fully grown, it is bigger than any garden plant; like a tree, the birds come and rest in its branches."

He told them another parable, "The kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast that a woman took, and hid in three measures of flour, until the whole mass of dough began to rise."

Jesus taught all these things to the crowds by means of parables; He did not say anything to them without using a parable. This fulfilled what was spoken by the Prophet : I will speak in parables. I will proclaim things kept secret since the beginning of the world.

Then He sent the crowds away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field." Jesus answered them, "The One who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world; the good seed are the people of the kingdom; the weeds are those who follow the evil one. The enemy who sows the weeds is the devil; the harvest is the end of time, and the workers are the Angels."

"Just as the weeds are pulled up and burnt in the fire, so will it be at the end of time. The Son of Man will send His Angels, and they will weed out His kingdom all that is scandalous and all who do evil. And these will be thrown into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the just will shine, like the sun, in the kingdom of their Father. If you have ears, then hear."

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Matthew 13 : 24-30

At that time, Jesus told the people another parable, "The kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a man, who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep, his enemy came, and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the plants sprouted and produced grain, the weeds also appeared. Then, the servants of the owner came, and said to him, 'Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? Where did the weeds come from?'"

"He answered them, 'This is the work of an enemy.' They asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull up the weeds?' He told them, 'No, when you pull up the weeds, you might uproot the wheat with them. Let them grow together, until harvest; and, at harvest time, I will say to the workers : Pull up the weeds first, tie them in bundles and burn them; then gather the wheat into my barn.'"

Sunday, 23 July 2017 : Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Romans 8 : 26-27

Likewise, the Spirit helps is in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes for us, without words, as if with groans. And He, Who sees inner secrets, knows the desires of the Spirit, for He asks for the holy ones, what is pleasing to God.

Sunday, 23 July 2017 : Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 85 : 5-6, 9-10, 15-16a

You are good and forgiving, o YHVH, caring for those who call on You. Listen, o YHVH, to my prayer, hear the voice of my pleading.

All the nations You have made will come; they will worship before You, o YHVH, and bring glory to Your Name. For You are great, and wonderful are Your deeds; You alone, are God.

But You, o YHVH God, are merciful, slow to anger, loving and faithful. Turn to me, take pity on me.

Sunday, 23 July 2017 : Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Wisdom 12 : 13, 16-19

For there is no other god besides You, One Who cares for everyone, who could ask You to justify Your judgments. Your strength is the source of Your justice and because You are the Lord of all, You can be merciful to everyone.

To those who doubt Your sovereign power You show Your strength and You confound the insolence of those who ignore it. But You, the Lord of strength, judge with prudence and govern us with great patience, because You are able to do anything at the time You want.

In this way You have taught Your people that a righteous person must love his human fellows; You have also given Your people cause for hope by prompting them to repent of their sin.

(Usus Antiquior) Seventh Sunday after Pentecost (II Classis) – Sunday, 23 July 2017 : Offertory, Secret Prayer of the Priest, Communion and Post-Communion Prayer

Liturgical Colour : Green

Offertory

Daniel 3 : 40

Sicut in holocaustis arietum et taurorum, et sicut in milibus agnorum pinguium : sic fiat sacrificium nostrum in conspectu Tuo hodie, ut placeat Tibi : quia non est confusio confidentibus in Te, Domine.

 

English translation

As in holocausts of rams and bullocks, and as in thousands of fat lambs, so let our sacrifice be made in Your sight this day, that it may please You, for there is no confusion to those who trust in You, o Lord.

 

Secret Prayer of the Priest

Deus, qui legalium differentiam hostiarum unius sacrificii perfectione sanxisti : accipe sacrificium a devotis Tibi famulis, et pari benedictione, sicut munera Abel, sanctifica; ut, quod singuli obtulerunt ad majestatis Tuae honorem, cunctis proficiat ad salutem. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

 

English translation

O God, You Who have sanctioned the diversity of offerings by the perfection of one sacrifice, receive the sacrifice offered to You by Your devoted servants, and sanctify it as You had sanctified the gifts of Abel, that which each one had offered to the glory of Your majesty may profit for the salvation of all. 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.

 

Communion

Psalm 30 : 3

Inclina aurem Tuam, accelera, ut eripias me.

 

English translation

Bow down Your ear, make haste to deliver me.

 

Post-Communion Prayer

Tua nos, Domine, medicinalis operatio, et a nostris perversitatibus clementer expediat, et ad ea, quae sunt recta, perducat. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

 

English translation

May Your health giving operation, o Lord, mercifully rid us of our evil inclinations and unto rightful ways strongly lead us. 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.

(Usus Antiquior) Seventh Sunday after Pentecost (II Classis) – Sunday, 23 July 2017 : Holy Gospel

Liturgical Colour : Green

Sequentia Sancti Evangelii secundum Matthaeum – Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew

Matthew 7 : 15-21

In illo tempore : Dixit Jesus discipulis Suis : Attendite a falsis prophetis, qui veniunt ad vos in vestimentis ovium, intrinsecus autem sunt lupi rapaces : a fructibus eorum cognoscetis eos. Numquid colligunt de spinis uvas, aut de tribulis ficus? Sic omnis arbor bona fructus bonos facit : mala autem arbor malos fructus facit.

Non potest arbor bona malos fructus facere : neque arbor mala bonos fructus facere. Omnis arbor, quae non facit fructum bonum, excidetur et in ignem mittetur. Igitur ex fructibus eorum cognoscetis eos. Non omnis, qui dicit mihi, Domine, Domine, intrabit in regnum caelorum : sed qui facit voluntatem Patris Mei, qui in caelis est, ipse intrabit in regnum caelorum.

 

English translation

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so, every good tree brings forth good fruit, and the evil tree brings forth evil fruit.”

“A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that does not bring good fruit shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them, not every one that says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father, Who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

(Usus Antiquior) Seventh Sunday after Pentecost (II Classis) – Sunday, 23 July 2017 : Gradual and Alleluia

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 33 : 12, 6 and Psalm 46 : 2

Venite, filii, audite me : timorem Domini docebo vos.

Response : Accedite ad eum, et illuminamini : et facies vestrae non confundentur.

Alleluja, Alleluja.

Response : Omnes gentes, plaudite manibus : jubilate Deo in voce exsultationis. Alleluja.

 

English translation

Come, children, hearken to me. I will teach you the fear of the Lord.

Response : Come all of you to Him and be enlightened, and your faces shall not be confounded.

Alleluia, Alleluia.

Response : O clap your hands, all you nations, shout unto God with the voice of joy. Alleluia.

(Usus Antiquior) Seventh Sunday after Pentecost (II Classis) – Sunday, 23 July 2017 : Epistle

Liturgical Colour : Green

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

Romans 6 : 19-23

Fratres : Humanum dico, propter infirmitatem carnis vestrae : sicut enim exhibuistis membra vestra servire immunditiae et iniquitati ad iniquitatem, ita nunc exhibete membra vestra servire justitiae in sanctificationem. Cum enim servi essetis peccati, liberi fuistis justitiae.

Quem ergo fructum habuistis tunc in illis, in quibus nunc erubescitis? Nam finis illorum mors est. Nunc vero liberati a peccato, servi autem facti Deo, habetis fructum vestrum in sanctificationem, finem vero vitam aeternam.

Stipendia enim peccati mors. Gratia autem Dei vita aeterna, in Christo Jesu, Domino nostro.

 

English translation

Brethren, I speak a human thing, because of the infirmity of your flesh, for as you have yielded your members to serve uncleanness and iniquity unto iniquity, so now yield your members to serve justice, unto sanctification. For when you were the servants of sin, you were free from justice.

What fruit therefore did you then have in those things, of which you are now ashamed? For the end of them is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, you have your fruit unto sanctification, and the end life everlasting.

For the wages of sin is death. But the grace of God, life everlasting, in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(Usus Antiquior) Seventh Sunday after Pentecost (II Classis) – Sunday, 23 July 2017 : Introit and Collect

Liturgical Colour : Green

Introit

Psalm 46 : 2, 3

Omnes gentes, plaudite manibus : jubilate Deo in voce exsultationis.

Quoniam Dominus excelsus, terribilis : Rex magnus super omnem terram.

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

 

English translation

O clap your hands, all you nations. Shout unto God with the voice of joy.

For the Lord is most high. He is terrible, He is a great King over all the earth.

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

Deus, cujus providentia in sui dispositione non fallitur : Te supplices exoramus; ut noxia cuncta submoveas, et omnia nobis profutura concedas. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

 

English translation

O God, You Whose providence does not fail in setting things in order, we, Your suppliants, beseech You, that You would remove from us all things harmful and grant us all that makes for our welfare. 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.