Tuesday, 10 October 2017 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 10 : 38-42

At that time, as Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He entered a village, and a woman called Martha welcomed Him to her house. She had a sister named Mary, who sat down at the Lord’s feet to listen to His words. Martha, meanwhile, was busy with all the serving, and finally she said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the work? Tell her to help me!”

But the Lord answered, “Martha, Martha, you worry and are troubled about many things, whereas only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Tuesday, 10 October 2017 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 129 : 1-2, 3-4, 7bc-8

Out of the depths I cry to You, o YHVH, o YHVH, hear my voice! Let Your ears pay attention to the voice of my supplication.

If You should mark our evil, o YHVH, who could stand? But with You, is forgiveness, and for that, You are revered.

For with Him, is unfailing love and with Him full deliverance. He will deliver Israel from all its sins.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Jonah 3 : 1-10

The word of YHVH came to Jonah a second time : “Go to Nineveh, the great city, and announce to them the message I give you.”

In obedience to the word of YHVH, Jonah went to Nineveh. It was a very large city, and it took three days just to cross it. So Jonah walked a single day’s journey and began proclaiming, “Forty days more and Nineveh will be destroyed.”

The people of the city believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. Upon hearing the news, the king of Nineveh got up from his throne, took off his royal robe, put on sackcloth and sat down in ashes. He issued a proclamation throughout Nineveh :

“By the decree of the king and his nobles, no people or beasts, herd or flock, will taste anything; neither will they eat nor drink. But let people and beasts be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call aloud to God, turn from his evil ways and violence. Who knows? God may yet relent, turn from His fierce anger and spare us.”

When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He had compassion and did not carry out the destruction He had threatened upon them.

Monday, 9 October 2017 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Denis, Bishop and Companions, Martyrs, and St. John Leonardi, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the Sacred Scriptures in which we are challenged as Christians to be ever more ready and willing to devote our effort and works for the sake of those who are in need of our help. For ultimately our faith cannot be kept within us alone, but instead we must share this faith which we have, and make use of whatever blessings God had given us, for the good of each other.

In the first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Jonah, of the time when God called Jonah to be the instrument of His will, to deliver the message to the people of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire, that their city together with the entire inhabitants would be destroyed because of the great sins which the Assyrians had committed. But Jonah refused to obey God, and instead he tried to flee the Lord to a faraway land.

Jonah ran away because he was hesitant, and he was unwilling to do what the Lord had wanted him to do. Instead, he tried to do his own will, and fled to the faraway land on a ship. Yet, God reminded him in His own way, that no matter what he tried to do, if the Lord had willed something, His will shall be done. Thus, when the storm came upon the ship carrying Jonah, the shipmen had no choice but to throw him into the water, and a great whale took him in its belly for three days and nights before releasing him on the shore.

Eventually, Jonah continued on and did what the Lord had asked him to do, and as a result, through his warning of the doom awaiting the city and people of Nineveh, the whole city repented from their sins, from the king to the least among the slaves and inhabitants, and showed true and sincere remorse before God. And God stayed His hand, sparing the population of Nineveh and the city the destruction He had planned for them.

Had Jonah continued to refuse to obey the Lord, the city would not have turned away from its sins, and God’s punishment would still be carried out even though it might have gone unannounced. And many more people would have been damned because of the failure of one man to do what he could have done to avoid the catastrophic outcome. And it is a similar case which the Gospel passage today also presented us.

In the Gospel passage, we heard the familiar story of the Good Samaritan, a parable which the Lord Jesus spoke to the people, including the Pharisees, to show them that it was in doing what was pleasing to God, that a man is considered to be righteous, as exemplified in the person of the Good Samaritan. It will also be good if we can understand the nuances and the context of the story as told by Jesus, as we can then truly understand why the Lord Jesus came up with such a parable.

The Jewish people, especially the priests and the Pharisees often looked down on the Samaritans and criticised them as pagans. On the other hand, they looked on themselves as pious and holy, as those whom God had chosen out from the many nations to be His people, and they were fiercely proud about that fact. However, their pride and their stubbornness ended up becoming the sources of their downfall.

In the story that Jesus told the people, three people passed by the man on the way from Jerusalem to Jericho, who was attacked by bandits and left to die on the road. The priest and the Levite passed by without stopping to help the poor man, who without any help would surely end up dead. Instead, it was a Samaritan passing by, who stopped and showed compassion on the man.

Jesus was not glorifying the Samaritan or chastising the Jewish priest or the Levite by the fact of their background and race. Rather, through the story, He chastised the inaction of the people who were supposed to be holy and pious, in their mind. Those people were perfectly capable of helping the man, and yet, they ignored him and walked past by. The Samaritan was praised because of his action, and the fact that he ignored the prejudices existing between the two peoples, that a Jew ought to have no interaction whatsoever with a Samaritan and vice versa.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of these that we have heard today are reminders for us that as Christians we should not be idle or be lukewarm in our faith. We cannot be passive as Christians, or thinking selfishly only about our own salvation and not be concerned about others. Instead, we have to actively reach out to others, just as our Lord Jesus taught us to love our brethren, and commanded us just as He had commanded His disciples to preach the Good News to all the peoples.

Perhaps we should follow the examples of the holy saints whose feast we celebrate today. St. Denis and his companions were the holy martyrs of the Roman Empire’s persecution of Christians during the time of the Emperor Decius. He was the Bishop of Paris, and together with his companions in martyrdom, were arrested because of their Christian faith. As they refused to recant their faith and abandon the Lord, they were persecuted and tortured.

In the end, they were martyred by beheading. But miraculously, it was told that St. Denis continued to preach to the people around him after his head had been separated from his body. Many people were inspired by this action, a miracle of God that strengthened the hearts of the faithful and stirred the faith in many others who witnessed the miraculous spectacle. St. Denis preached for several more miles before he died.

Meanwhile, St. John Leonardi was a renowned priest and hardworking servant of God, who went out of his way to help educate the youths in his areas of work about the faith and spread the devotion to the Lord, through the dedication to the Blessed Virgin Mary as well as the popular Forty Hours devotion to the Lord. Through the works of St. John Leonardi, many people were turned from their sins, and became righteous and worthy of God.

As we can see, brothers and sisters in Christ, that the servants of God must be active in their faith, and must be ready to stand up for the Lord whenever it is necessary. And as we heard today from the Scriptures, there are truly many opportunities around us in which we are able to do our part to contribute as Christians, as those who believe in the Lord and walk in His ways.

Let us all therefore, heed the call of the Lord, and do our best in order to devote our time, effort and attention to those who need us. Let us all renew our commitment in faith to God, so that we will always be ever faithful to Him, and be zealous in how we live our lives just as the holy saints, St. Denis and his companions, and St. John Leonardi had lived theirs. May God bless us always. Amen.

Monday, 9 October 2017 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Denis, Bishop and Companions, Martyrs, and St. John Leonardi, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)

Luke 10 : 25-37

At that time, then a teacher of the Law came and began putting Jesus to the test. And he said, “Master, what shall I do to receive eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What is written in the Law? How do You understand it?” The man answered, “It is written : You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind. And you shall love your neighbour as yourself.”

Jesus replied, “What a good answer! Do this and you shall live.” The man wanted to justify his question, so he asked, “Who is my neighbour?” Jesus then said, “There was a man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him, beat him and went off, leaving him half-dead.”

“It happened that a priest was going along that road and saw the man, but passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite saw the man, and passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan also was going that way; and when he came upon the man, he was moved with compassion. He went over to him, and cleaned his wounds with oil and wine, and wrapped them in bandages. Then he put him on his own mount, and brought him to an inn, where he took care of him.”

“The next day, he had to set off; but he gave two silver coins to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him, and whatever you spend on him, I will repay when I return.'” Jesus then asked, “Which of these three, do you think, made himself neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The teacher of the Law answered, “The one who had mercy on him.” And Jesus said, “Then go and do the same.”

Monday, 9 October 2017 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Denis, Bishop and Companions, Martyrs, and St. John Leonardi, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)

Jonah 2 : 3, 4, 5, 8

In my distress I cried to YHVH, and He answered me; from the belly of the netherworld You heard my voice when I called.

You cast me into the abyss, into the very heart of the sea, and the currents swirled about me; all Your breakers and Your billows passed over, engulfing me.

Then I thought : I have been cast out from Your presence, but I keep on looking to Your holy Temple.

When my soul was fainting within me, I remembered YHVH, and before You, rose my prayer up to Your holy Temple.

Monday, 9 October 2017 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Denis, Bishop and Companions, Martyrs, and St. John Leonardi, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)

Jonah 1 : 1 – Jonah 2 : 1, 11

The word of YHVH came to Jonah, son of Amittai, “Go to Nineveh, the great city, and preach against it, because I have known its wickedness.”

But Jonah decided to flee from YHVH and go to Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, found a ship bound for Tarshish, and paid the fare. Then he boarded it and went into the hold of the ship, journeying with them to Tarshish, far away from YHVH.

YHVH stirred up a storm wind on the sea, so there was a sea tempest, which threatened to destroy the ship. The sailors took fright, and each cried out to his own god. To lighten the ship, they threw its cargo into the sea. Meanwhile Jonah had gone into the hold of the ship, where he lay fast asleep. The captain came upon him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your God. Perhaps He will be mindful of us and will not allow us to die here.”

The sailors said to each other, “Let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this disaster.” So they dod, and the lot fell on Jonah. They questioned him, “So you are responsible for this evil that has come upon us? Tell us where you are from. What is your country, your nationality?” And Jonah told them his story, “I am a Hebrew and I worship YHVH, God of heaven Who made the sea and the land…”

As they knew that he was fleeing from YHVH, the sailors were seized with great fear and said to him, “What a terrible thing have you done! What shall we do with you now, to make the sea calm down?” The sea was growing more and more agitated.

He said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea. It will quiet down, for I know it is because of me that this storm has come.” The sailors, however, still did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea had grown much rougher than before. Then they called on YHVH, “O YHVH, do not let us perish for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us guilty of shedding innocent blood. For You, YHVH, have done this as You have thought right.”

They took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm again. At this the men were seized with great fear of YHVH. They offered a sacrifice to YHVH and made vows to Him. YHVH provided a large fish which swallowed Jonah. He remained in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights. Then YHVH gave His command to the fish, and it belched out Jonah onto dry land.