Wednesday, 4 October 2017 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 9 : 57-62

At that time, as Jesus and His disciples went on their way, a man said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

To another, Jesus said, “Follow Me!” But he answered, “Let me go back now, for, first, I want to bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their dead; as for you, leave them, and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

Another said to Him, “I will follow You, Lord, but first let me say goodbye to my family.” And Jesus said to him, “Whoever has put his hand to the plow, and looks back, is not fit for the kingdom of God.”

Wednesday, 4 October 2017 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 136 : 1-2, 3, 4-5, 6

By the streams of Babylon, we sat; and then wept, as we remembered Zion. When, on the poplars, we hung our harps.

Our captors asked for song. Our tormentors wanted songs of joy : “Sing to us one of the songs of Zion!”

How could we sing YHVH’s song in a strange and alien land? If I forget you, o Jerusalem, may my right hand fall useless!

May my tongue cleave to my palate if I remember you not, if Jerusalem is not the first of my joys.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Nehemiah 2 : 1-8

In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of king Artaxerxes, I was doing my duty as cupbearer. I took up the wine and gave it to the king. I had never been sad before the king in the past. So, the king said to me, “Why do you look sad? You do not look sick. Is there something that bothers you?”

I became hesitant. And I said, “May the king live forever! How could I afford not to be sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins and its gates are burnt down?” The king said to me, “What do you want, then?” I asked help of God from heaven and said to the king, “If it seems good to the king and if he is pleased with my work, then may he send me to the land of Judah, to the city where my ancestors are buried, that I may rebuild it.”

The queen was sitting beside the king, and the king asked me, “How long will you be gone? When will you be back?” I told him the date and he allowed me to leave. And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, may you give me letters for the governors of the province of the other side of the River that I may travel to Judah; and also a letter to Asaph, the caretaker of the king’s forest, for I will need wood for the gates of the citadel near the Temple, for the walls of the city and for the house where I shall live.”

The good hand of God was supporting me, so that the king gave me what I asked.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the messages from the Sacred Scriptures speaking to us about being accepted and being rejected for bringing the word of God and the message of truth to the people. We see the contrast between the first reading, taken from the book of the prophet Zechariah and the Gospel passage taken from the Gospel of St. Luke.

In the first reading, we heard about many people, coming from many nations, states and countries, all coming towards God and following Him. God had called all of His people to Him, regardless of nationalities, background, racial profiles and whatever differences that exist between us. And people listened to God’s call and come towards Him.

And then, in the Gospel passage today, we heard how Jesus and His disciples were on their way from Galilee towards Jerusalem, and on their way, they passed through the region of Samaria, where the Samaritan people lived. The Samaritan village that Jesus and His disciples passed through refused to admit them, and rejected them because they were on their way to Jerusalem.

We may be wondering why the Samaritans did what they have done. After all, many Samaritans readily welcomed Jesus and His teachings, listening intently to Him, and many also became His followers and disciples. Yet, if we are to understand this matter fully, we should understand the history between the Samaritans and the Jewish people.

The Samaritans were the descendants of the people who lived in what was once the northern kingdom of Israel after the division of the kingdom of David and Solomon. Meanwhile, the Jews were mainly the descendants of those who once lived in the southern kingdom of Judah. And ever since then, the animosity between the two people have arisen.

While many of the Israelites in the north were exiled when their kingdom was destroyed by the Assyrian Empire, and the region repopulated with pagan peoples, but the animosities remained. The Samaritans believed that worshipping in the mountains of Samaria, where once a rival religious centre was established by the kings of the northern kingdom, while the Jews believed that the House of God is at the Temple in Jerusalem.

Those differences resulted in the animosity between the two peoples, to the point that they adamantly refused to receive Jesus and His disciples just because they were going to Jerusalem. On the other hand, the Jews themselves also often looked down on the Samaritans, considering them as pagans and loathsome. These prejudices caused them to harden their hearts and closed their ears, hearts and minds against God Who tried to speak to them and make them understand the truth.

Therefore, on this day, all of us are called to reflect on our own lives, on our very actions and deeds in life. Have we sometimes or even often closed our hearts and minds to the words of God, just because of our prejudices and our refusal to admit that it is God’s ways and not our ways, that is right? It is too often that we are too proud to admit that we may be in the wrong, and we are in need of correction.

If we are to reach out to many more people, as what the Lord had commanded all of us Christians to do, then we must not walk down the path of stubbornness and ego. Instead, we should open ourselves to the Lord, our hearts and minds, that God may speak in the silence of our hearts and minds, and hence, knowing what it is that He wants us to do, we may find our way in this life to Him.

May the Lord bless us all, and may He give us all the grace to be able to listen to His will, and the grace of accepting one another, recognising that each and every one of us who believe in God, are truly brothers and sisters, all sharing the same one God, Who loves each and every one of us. May God be with us all, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 9 : 51-56

At that time, as the time drew near when Jesus would be taken up to heaven, He made up His mind to go to Jerusalem. He sent ahead of Him some messengers, who entered a Samaritan village to prepare a lodging for Him. But the people would not receive Him, because He was on His way to Jerusalem.

Seeing this, James and John, His disciples, said, “Lord, do You want us to call down fire from heaven to reduce them to ashes?” Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they went on to another village.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 86 : 1-3, 4-5, 6-7

He Himself has built in in His holy mountain; YHVH prefers the gates of Zion to all of Jacob’s towns. Great things have been foretold of you, o City of God.

Between friends, we speak of Egypt and Babylon; and also Philistia, Tyre, Ethiopia : “Here so-and-so was born.” But of Zion, it shall be said, “More and more are being born in her.” For the Most High Himself has founded her.

And YHVH notes in the people’s register : “All these were also born in Zion.” And all will dance and sing joyfully for You.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Zechariah 8 : 20-23

YHVH, the God of hosts speaks, “Peoples will come from other nations, people from great cities. The inhabitants of one town will talk with those of another, and, say : ‘Come, let us go and implore the favour of YHVH, and I, too, will seek YHVH.’ Many great peoples and powerful nations will come, seeking YHVH, God of hosts, in Jerusalem and pray to Him.”

YHVH, the God of hosts assures you. “In those days, ten men of different languages spoken in various lands, will take hold of a Jew by the hem of his garment and say : We, too, want to go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”