Tuesday, 7 November 2017 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in the Gospel passage today the Lord Jesus reminded us of the need for all of us Christians to follow Him and to listen to His will, and not be distracted by the many temptations of life in this world. In that Gospel Jesus used the parable of the feast and its guests in order to teach the people, showing them the fact that while many have been called, but few will be chosen in the end.

The man who held the feast is none other than God Himself, Who has invited His people to come into the eternal banquet of heaven. Yet, as we heard from the passage, God’s call went unheeded, as those who were invited to the feast refused to come for the event. They came up with various reasons why they could not come to the event as we heard in the passage.

All of these represent just how stubborn we mankind can be in resisting God’s call, and how temptations can easily turn us away from God’s path and into the path to our doom. There are many of these temptations that we are all quite familiar with, the temptation of power, of wealth, of worldly glory, of pleasures of the flesh, of wickedness, and many others.

These are the obstacles that can indeed hamper us in our way towards salvation and eternal glory in God, for these things can distance us from God, and make us to be unworthy of Him. Many of us also have this misconception, thinking that God is forever merciful and loving, and that there is no way that God will cast us all who have believed in Him into the sufferings in hell. Yet, that is the reality, that even Christians may end up in hell, should they wander away from the Lord’s path.

God offers us His mercy and love freely, but should we refuse to accept that mercy and love, and stubbornly close our hearts and minds against Him, then in the end, it is we ourselves who have caused our downfall into damnation. God is always ready to forgive us our sins and trespasses, and He is always willing to welcome us back and to be reconciled with us, but are we willing to be forgiven?

And more importantly, are we willing to make the sacrifices to make changes in our lives that we may be truly reconciled with our God? It is easier said to be done, if we want to be truly faithful to God. There will be inconveniences, but that is what all of us as Christians need to be prepared to do if we are to follow God.

Then we should also heed what we heard in our first reading today, where St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Rome pointed out how Christians should live their lives. We should follow what St. Paul had mentioned, in our interactions with one another. What does this mean? As mentioned, we should love one another tenderly and genuinely, seeking to be compassionate to those who are in need. We should reach out to our brethren who are unloved, weak, poor or those who are hated by the world.

These will not be easy, as we have to persevere against those who disapprove of our actions and our faith in God. Yet, through our commitment to Him, if we truly love Him, we will not easily fall into temptation, just as our holy predecessors, the saints and martyrs had done. Let us all therefore draw ever closer to the Lord, and ensure that in everything we say, and we do, we always do them for the greater glory of our God.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to bless us and all of our works day after day, so that, through our efforts, and through the love which we show Him, we will be able to resist the many temptations of power, of money, of glory, of fame, of the many other things that Satan is using to bring about our downfall. May the Lord empower each and every one of us to become His committed disciples. Amen.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 14 : 15-24

At that time, upon hearing the words of Jesus, one of those at the table said to Him, “Happy are those who eat at the banquet in the kingdom of God!”

Jesus replied, “A man once gave a feast and invited many guests. When it was time for the feast, he sent his servant to tell those he had invited to come, for everything was ready. But all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘Please excuse me. I must go and see the piece of land I have just bought.'”

“Another said, ‘I am sorry, but I am on my way to try out the five yoke of oxen I have just bought.’ Still another said, ‘How can I come, when I have just got married?'”

“The servant returned alone, and reported this to his master. Upon hearing his account, the master of the house flew into a rage, and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly, into the streets and alleys of the town, and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.'”

“The servant reported after a while, ‘Sir, your orders have been carried out, but there is still room.’ The master said, ‘Go out to the highways and country lanes, and force people to come in, to ensure that my house is full. I tell you, none of those invited will have a morsel of my feast.'”

Tuesday, 7 November 2017 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 130 : 1, 2, 3

O YHVH, my heart is not proud nor do I have arrogant eyes. I am not engrossed in ambitious matters, nor in things too great for me.

I have quieted and stilled my soul, like a weaned child, on its mother’s lap; like a contented child is my soul.

Hope in YHVH, o Israel, now and forever.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Romans 12 : 5-16a

The same with us; being many, we are one body in Christ, depending on one another. Let each one of us, therefore, serve, according to our different gifts. Are you a prophet? Then give the insights of faith. Let the minister fulfil his office; let the teacher teach, the one who encourages, convince.

You must, likewise, give, with an open hand, preside with dedication, and be cheerful in your works of charity. Let love be sincere. Hate what is evil and hold to whatever is good. Love one another and be considerate. Out do one another, in mutual respect. Be zealous in fulfilling your duties. Be fervent in the spirit, and serve God.

Have hope and be cheerful. Be patient in trials and pray constantly. Share with other Christians in need. With those passing by, be ready to receive them. Bless those who persecute you; bless, and do not wish evil on anyone. Rejoice with those who are joyful, and weep with those who weep. Live in peace with one another.

Monday, 6 November 2017 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the essence of what we heard in today’s Scripture readings is a reminder for all of us as Christians, that we all need to go out of our comfort zone, reaching out to our brothers and sisters in practicing and living our lives faithfully. This is what all of us are called to as Christians, and not to be passive and inactive, thinking that once we have received the grace of the Sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation, and that is it for us.

In the Epistle written by St. James, there is a famous saying which many of us may be familiar with. “Faith without works is dead.” And he wrote more about that phrase, in which I summarise as, faith that is not accompanied with actions inspired by that faith, good works in accordance with what we believe in the Lord, is meaningless and useless in the eyes of the Lord. And salvation will not come to those who profess the faith in God, and yet do not practice what they believe in.

That is why, we must understand this important tenet of our faith, lest we misunderstand it, just as there are those who misinterpreted and misunderstood this approach of our faith. It does not mean that we are saved by our good works or that by doing more then we are considered to be of higher standard and quality as compared to others who did not do as much.

Instead, it means that we are still saved by our faith in God, by our belief in Him. Yet, what is important is that, our faith emphasises the need for us to have a genuine and living faith, which means we must not be idle in our faith, and in living our lives. We cannot call ourselves as faithful, unless we truly live in accordance with our faith and actively expressing our faith through our actions, directed through love for our brethren in need. This is our faith, evidenced through our ‘good works’.

We are all called to love generously, to care without any prejudices or bias. We should not only love those who we think can love us back, or return us the love that we have given. That is what the Lord Jesus mentioned in the Gospel passage today, with His parable, comparing this to those who invite people to come to the wedding banquet. Those who are invited should not be just those who we also love, but should be everyone without prejudice.

In the same manner, the Lord Jesus had told us to love even our enemies, and all those who hate us. We ought to pray for those who persecute us and forgive those who have caused us suffering and harm. This is what we should do as Christians, rather than perpetuating the endless cycle of hatred and violence, which is common in this world. Are we all able to challenge the conventional ways of this world and showcase our Christian faith through our actions?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore renew our faith and commitment to the Lord, by trying our best in each and every day to show love in our actions and deeds, to care for our brothers and sisters, strangers and all who are in need of our love, attention and help. We should not be ignorant to their needs, and be selfish in our actions. We should not put ourselves above the rest, and we definitely should not do things that can cause detrimental effect on others just so that we can benefit from it.

Let us all seek to become true Christians, by following the examples of the holy saints and all those whose life have been exemplary, so that we may give more of ourselves and become ever better Christians, dedicated wholly to God in all things. May the Lord bless us and guide us in His path, now and always. Amen.

Monday, 6 November 2017 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 14 : 12-14

At that time, Jesus also addressed the man who had invited Him, and said, “When you give a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends, or your brothers and relatives, or your wealthy neighbours. For surely they will also invite you in return, and you will be repaid.”

“When you give a feast, invite instead the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind. Fortunate are you then, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the upright.”

Monday, 6 November 2017 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 68 : 30-31, 33-34, 36-37

But I myself, am humbled and wounded; Your salvation, o God, will lift me up. I will praise the Name of God in song; I will glorify Him with thanksgiving.

Let the lowly witness this, and be glad. You who seek God, may your hearts be revived. For YHVH hears the needy; and does not despise those in captivity.

For God will save Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah. His people shall dwell in the land and possess it. The children of His servants shall inherit it, and those who love His Name will dwell in it.

Monday, 6 November 2017 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Romans 11 : 29-36

Because the call of God, and His gifts, cannot be nullified. Through the disobedience of the Jews, the mercy of God came to you who did not obey God. They, in turn, will receive mercy, in due time, after this disobedience, that brought God’s mercy to you. So, God has submitted all to disobedience, in order to show His mercy to all.

How deep are the riches, the wisdom and knowledge of God! His decisions cannot be explained, nor His ways understood! Who has ever known God’s thoughts? Who has ever been His adviser? Who has given Him something first, so that God had to repay him? For everything comes from Him, has been made by Him and has to return to Him. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.