Sunday, 8 October 2017 : Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we heard the words of the Sacred Scriptures this Sunday, each and every one of us who gather together to give glory to God are reminded to lead a holy and good life, in accordance with what the Lord had taught us to do. We are called to be fruitful vines and bear rich and bountiful fruits for the Lord, and these fruits are the fruits of our faith.

In the first reading today, we heard of the Lord speaking to His people through His prophet Isaiah. The Lord spoke of how His people were His beautiful and precious vine, grown in His own vineyard. The Lord blessed the vineyard and took good care of it, but it only resulted in barren vines and bad quality grapes. And the Lord unleashed His wrath on the useless and unproductive vineyard, destroying it.

In what we have heard from this passage, we see that the aim for all of us as Christians is to be bountiful and fruitful. This is also the same recurring theme which the Lord Jesus often used in His teachings and parables. If we do not bear fruits, it is because we are lukewarm in how we have lived our faith, and we have not been truly faithful in our ways. We have also perhaps been compromising in many aspects of our faith, to the point that it leads us to sin.

As the Lord Jesus mentioned in another of His parables, that good trees and vines should produce good fruits and seeds, while bad and rotten fruits come only from bad and rotten trees, those that were poorly taken care of and were riddled with diseases. Therefore if we do not make the effort to keep ourselves spiritually well, we will end up becoming corrupted and wicked.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in the Gospel passage today, the Lord Jesus showed us how many of us ended up falling for this same problem, as He spoke to the people, using the parable of the evil vineyard tenants as a method to show them, the dangers of the worldly temptations of power, greed and human desires.

The tenants of the vineyard had been entrusted with the care of the vines and the grapes, tending the vineyard in the absence of the master. Yet, when the master of the vineyard sent his servants to claim the master’s due from the tenants, the tenants refused to obey and even persecuted and killed the servants.

And when the master of the vineyard sent his son to collect the due from the tenants, similarly they also refused to obey him, and instead, hatching wicked plots in their minds, they struck at him and killed him. This was what Jesus had told the people, which was in fact a premonition of His own suffering and death, as the son mentioned in the parable refers to none other than Jesus Himself, the Son of God.

In that parable, we can see how God performs His loving mercy towards His people. Even though the evil and wicked tenants have repeatedly refused to listen and to obey to the master’s wish, that is to fulfil their obligations to pay him what was due for him, but the master still continued to send more and more servants, until ultimately he sent them his own beloved son.

Similarly, even though we have sinned and not obeyed His laws and commandments, but God is always willing to bring us back to obedience and faith. That is why the Lord sent us many of His prophets and messengers, and last of all, His own beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, Who like the master’s son in the parable, was persecuted and put to death by those who rejected Him.

The Lord has always been willing to give us new chances, one after another. Yet, many of us continue to be stubborn and refused to listen to Him. We cling strongly to our greed, to our pride, our haughtiness and arrogance, to the point that we are unable to control ourselves and we spiral down the path of sin. Pride prevents us from recognising our defects and unworthiness before God, and thus the need for us to repent from our sins.

We have to remember that sin is the great disease of our souls. Even though we may seem to be healthy and without any problems from the outside, but sin corrupts and makes our entire being rotten and wicked. Sin is the cause of our downfall, which is our disobedience against God, and instead following the path that we prefer for ourselves, for our own selfish desires and wishes.

If we continue to sin, and walk down this path of rebellion, then that is when we become barren and unworthy in our faith lives. The fruits of our faith is love, compassion, hope, zeal, devotion and charity, and more, and all these are snuffed away by sin. Sin becomes a veil that prevents us from loving one another, and from showing genuine care and concern for our fellow brethren. And at the same time, it also dulls our senses, that we are no longer capable of distinguishing between deeds that are good from those that are bad.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us ask ourselves, do we want to be fruitful or barren vine? When the Lord comes, to claim all those who have been faithful to Him, thus bearing rich fruits, do we want to be counted among those whom He rejects because we have been found unworthy due to our rotten selves, through our sins and refusal to repent from our sinful ways?

Just as it is not an easy task to ensure that a grapevine or indeed any other crop to grow healthily from a mere seed or shoot, needing constant and long periods of care and attention, it will not be easy for us as Christians to live faithfully and to bear good quality of the fruits of our faith. Yet, if we choose the easier path out, offered by the devil who is constantly tempting us with worldly glories and temptations, then the outcome will be dire for us.

We need to learn to step out from our comfort zone, and nurture that seed of faith which the Lord had planted in each and every one of us. We need to do this by practicing our faith actively, through deeds and actions, and not just by words or formality alone. And that means, whenever we see anyone around us who are unloved, or even persecuted and in suffering, we should do our very best to help them, and to show compassion to them.

Let us all therefore, from now on, devote ourselves anew to God, and renew the commitment to live faithfully every single day of our lives, that we may grow ever more fruitful in our actions, based on our sincere and genuine faith in God. There will indeed be challenges, temptations and even opposition, but we cannot give up, for what is at stake is nothing less than the fate and salvation of our souls.

May the Lord continue to guide us on the path to His salvation and grace. May He empower each and every one of us to live as how the Lord wants us to be, and be ever more fruitful in this life, so that we will not follow the path of the wicked tenants, but instead, be loyal and good servants of our God. May God bless us all. Amen.

Sunday, 8 October 2017 : Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 21 : 33-44

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Listen to another example : There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a fence around it, dug a hole for the wine press, built a watchtower, leased the vineyard to tenants, and then, went to a distant country.”

“When harvest time came, the landowner sent his servants to the tenants to collect his share of the harvest. But the tenants seized his servants, beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Again, the owner sent more servants; but they were treated in the same way.”

“Finally, he sent his son, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they thought, ‘This is the one who is to inherit the vineyard. Let us kill him, and his inheritance will be ours.’ So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.”

“Now, what will the owner of the vineyard do with the tenants when he comes?” They said to Him, “He will bring those evil men to an evil end, and lease the vineyard to others, who will pay him in due time.” And Jesus replied, “Have you never read what the Scriptures say? The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, and we marvel at it.”

“Therefore I say to you : the kingdom of heaven will be taken from you, and given to a people who will produce its fruit. Whoever falls on this stone, he will be broken to pieces; on whomsoever this stone falls, he will be ground to dust.”

Sunday, 8 October 2017 : Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Philippians 4 : 6-9

Do not be anxious about anything. In everything, resort to prayer and supplication, together, with thanksgiving, and bring your requests before God. Then, the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, fill your minds with whatever is truthful, holy, just, pure, lovely and noble. Be mindful of whatever deserves praise and admiration. Put into practice what you have learnt from me, what I passed on to you, what you heard from me or saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you.

Sunday, 8 October 2017 : Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 79 : 9 and 12, 13-14, 15-16, 19-20

You had a vine You brought from Egypt. You drove nations out, to plant it in their land. Its branches reached out to the sea and its shoots to the River.

Why, then, have You broken down its walls, so that all who pass by pluck its fruits? The beasts of the forest ravage it and all creatures of the field feed on it.

Turn again, o YHVH of hosts, look down from heaven and see; care for this vine, and protect the stock Your hand has planted.

Then, we will never turn away from You; give us life, and we will call on Your Name. Restore us, o YHVH, God of hosts; make Your face shine on us, that we may be saved.

Sunday, 8 October 2017 : Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Isaiah 5 : 1-7

Let me sing for my Beloved, my love song about His vineyard. My Beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it up, cleared the stones, and planted the choicest vines. He built there a watchtower and hewed out a wine press as well. The He looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only wild grapes.

Now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between Me and My vineyard. What more was there to do that I have not done for My vineyard? Good grapes was the yield I expected. Why did it yield only sour grapes?

Now I will let you know what I am going to do with My vineyard : I will remove its hedge and it will be burnt; I will break down its wall and it will be trampled on. I will make it a wasteland, I will neither prune nor hoe it, and briers and thorns will grow there. I command the clouds, as well, not to send rain on it.

The vineyard of YHVH Sabaoth is the people of Israel; and the people of Judah are His pleasant vine. He looked for justice, but found bloodshed; He looked for righteousness but heard cries of distress.

(Usus Antiquior) Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost (II Classis) – Sunday, 8 October 2017 : Offertory, Secret Prayer of the Priest, Communion and Post-Communion Prayer

Liturgical Colour : Green

Offertory

Exodus 24 : 4, 5

Sanctificavit Moyses altare Domino, offerens super illud holocausta et immolans victimas : fecit sacrificium vespertinum in odorem suavitatis Domino Deo, in conspectu filiorum Israel.

 

English translation

Moses consecrated an altar to the Lord, offering upon it holocausts, and sacrificing victims. He made an evening sacrifice to the Lord God for an odour of sweetness, in the sight of the children of Israel.

 

Secret Prayer of the Priest

Deus, qui nos, per hujus sacrificii veneranda commercia, unius summae divinitatis participes efficis : praesta, quaesumus; ut, sicut Tuam cognoscimus veritatem, sic eam dignis moribus assequamur. 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, Who through the august, communication of this sacrifice, had made us partakers of the one supreme divinity, grant, we beseech You, that, as we know Your truth, so we may ever follow it with worthy actions. 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 95 : 8-9

Tollite hostias, et introite in atria Ejus : adorate Dominum in aula sancta Ejus.

 

English translation

Bring up sacrifices, and come into His courts. Adore all of you the Lord in His holy court.

 

Post-Communion Prayer

Gratias Tibi referimus, Domine, sacro munere vegetati : Tuam misericordiam deprecantes; ut dignos nos ejus participatione perficias. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

 

English translation

Strengthened by the sacred gift, we render thanks to You, o Lord, beseeching Your mercy that You make us entirely worthy to partake thereof. 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) Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost (II Classis) – Sunday, 8 October 2017 : Holy Gospel

Liturgical Colour : Green

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

Matthew 9 : 1-8

In illo tempore : Ascendens Jesus in naviculam, transfretavit et venit in civitatem Suam. Et ecce, offerebant ei paralyticum jacentem in lecto. Et videns Jesus fidem illorum, dixit paralytico : Confide, fili, remittuntur tibi peccata tua.

Et ecce, quidam de scribis dixerunt intra se : Hic blasphemat. Et cum vidisset Jesus cogitationes eorum, dixit : Ut quid cogitatis mala in cordibus vestris? Quid est facilius dicere : Dimittuntur tibi peccata tua; an dicere : Surge et ambula? Ut autem sciatis, quia Filius Hominis habet potestatem in terra dimittendi peccata, tunc ait paralytico : Surge, tolle lectum tuum, et vade in domum tuam.

Et surrexit et abiit in domum suam. Videntes autem turbae timuerunt, et glorificaverunt Deum, qui dedit potestatem talem hominibus.

 

English translation

At that time, Jesus entering into a ship, passed over the water and came into His own city. And behold they brought to Him one sick of the palsy lying in a bed; and Jesus seeing their faith, said to the man sick of the palsy, “Be of good heart, son, your sins are forgiven.”

And behold some of the scribes said within themselves, “He has blasphemed.” And Jesus seeing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? Whether it is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk?’ But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins, (then He said to the man sick of the palsy), ‘Arise, take up your bed, and go into your house.”

And he arose, and went into his house, and the multitude seeing it feared, and glorified God Who had given such power to men.