Wednesday, 27 June 2018 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Matthew 7 : 15-20

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Beware of false prophets : they come to you in sheep’s clothing; but inside, they are voracious wolves. You will recognise them by their fruits. Do you ever pick grapes from thorn bushes; or figs, from thistles?”

“A good tree always produces good fruit. A rotten tree produces bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit; and a rotten fruit cannot bear good fruit. Any tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruit.”

Wednesday, 27 June 2018 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Psalm 118 : 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 40

Explain to me, o YHVH, Your commandments, and I will be ever faithful to them.

Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law with all my heart.

Guide me in obeying Your instructions, for my pleasure lies in them.

Incline my heart to follow Your will and not my own selfish desire.

Turn my eyes away from vanities and direct them to Your life-giving word.

Oh, how I long for Your precepts! Renew my life in Your righteousness.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

2 Kings 22 : 8-13 and 2 Kings 23 : 1-3

At that moment Hilkiah, the high priest, said to Shaphan, the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the House of YHVH.” And he entrusted the Book to Shaphan who read it. Then Shaphan went to the king and said, “We have gathered the money in the House, and this has been turned over to the caretakers of the House to make the repairs.”

And Shaphan added, “The priest Hilkiah has turned over a Book to me.” And Shaphan read the Book to the king. When the king heard the contents of the Book, he tore his clothes and commanded Hilkiah, Ahikam, Achbor, the secretary Shaphan, and Asaiah, his minister, to do the following, “Go and consult YHVH about the threats in this Book which you have found. Consult Him for me, for the people and for the whole of Judah, since our fathers did not listen to what this Book says nor its ordinances. This is why the anger of YHVH is ready to burn against us.”

The king summoned to his side all the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem. Then he went up to the house of YHVH, followed by all the people of Judah and Jerusalem. The priests with the prophets and all the people went with him, from the youngest to the oldest. When all were gathered, he read to them the Book of the Law found in the house of YHVH.

The king stood by the pillar; he made a Covenant in the presence of YHVH, promising to follow Him, to keep His commandments and laws, and to respect His ordinances. He promised to keep this Covenant according to what was written in the Book with all his heart and with all his soul. And all the people promised with him.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the story of the king of Assyria, Sennacherib, who gathered a massive army and attacked the kingdom of Judah under king Hezekiah, and went on to besiege the city of Jerusalem. King Sennacherib boasted of his mighty army and his great accomplishments, in how he has conquered various nations and peoples with his army, and how their idols had not done anything to help them against the power of Sennacherib’s army.

And in that moment of great pride, king Sennacherib boasted against God, by comparing Him to the other idols of the conquered nations, that not even the Lord YHVH, the God of Judah and Hezekiah would be able to save Jerusalem and Judah against his mighty power. But Sennacherib failed to realise that he was going up against the Lord God, Creator of the universe and Master of all things.

And the Lord spoke to His people through His prophet Isaiah, who encouraged the king of Judah, Hezekiah and the people of Judah, who must have been terrified by the power of the king of Assyria. The Lord reassured them that the king of Assyria would not have what he wanted, and he would not conquer Jerusalem, as the Lord Himself would protect Jerusalem and His people, who at the time of Hezekiah had turned once again to the Lord in their hearts.

In the end, as we heard from the passage, the Lord sent His Angels and slaughtered more than a hundred thousand and eighty-five thousand men from among Sennacherib’s massive army. How they did that, whether through some form of calamities or deadly disease, is immaterial, but the impact was surely clear. The king of Assyria retreated back to his homeland in shame, and he was assassinated by two of his own sons.

Then, in the Gospel passage, we listened to the Lord Jesus speaking to His disciples and to the people, about how it is so difficult for man to pass through the narrow gate to enter into the eternal life promised to all those who have been faithful to God. This is actually showing the difficulties, obstacles and challenges that one will come to encounter during their journey of faith in this worldly life.

What all of us can, and indeed should learn from our Scripture passages today, is that, many of us were like king Sennacherib of Assyria in our lives and actions. King Sennacherib was proud and ambitious, because he had a vast empire, subjected many peoples and nations, and he had a mighty army that was without compare and competition, and literally, at that time, he could do everything he wanted.

However, he was humbled because he failed to realise that for all his greatness and power, all of those things were transitory, illusory and meaningless before God. All of his wealth, power, majesty and glory were nothing before God, and in the end, when he was murdered by his own sons, in the end, he had nothing, and he was just a mortal human being, who had to die and perish in his mortal body.

For us, it is a reminder that pride, ego, ambition and greed are serious obstacles and challenges that often prevented us from finding our way to God. If we do not make the conscious effort to resist the temptation of all these obstacles, then we will likely fall into temptation and end up sinning against God. That is why the Lord Jesus mentioned about the difficulty of entering into the eternal life, as a narrow gate, because there will indeed be a lot of challenges for us in our journey of life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us ask ourselves, are we ready to pass through the narrow gate on our way to God? If we think that we are ready, then we must be ready to face the challenges and manage the obstacles that will be on our way. Let us all help each other in our way, and devote ourselves to the Lord with renewed fervour and zeal. May the Lord bless us all and be with us in this journey of faith, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 7 : 6, 12-14

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples and to the people, “Do not give what is holy to the dogs, or throw your pearls before pigs. They might trample on them, and then turn on you and tear you to pieces.”

“So, do to others whatever you would that others do to you : there, you have the Law and the prophets. Enter through the narrow gate : for wide is the gate, and broad is the road, that leads to destruction, and many go that way. How narrow is the gate that leads to life; and how rough, the road; few there are, who find it.”

Tuesday, 26 June 2018 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 47 : 2-3ab, 3cd-4, 10-11

Great is YHVH, most worthy of praise in the City of God, His holy mountain. Beautifully elevated, it is the joy of all the earth.

Mount Zion, heavenly mountain, the City of the great King. Here, within her lines of defence, God has shown Himself to be a sure fortress.

Let us recall Your unfailing love, o God, inside Your Temple. Let Your praise, as does Your Name, o God, reach to the ends of the earth. Your right hand is ever victorious.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

2 Kings 19 : 9b-11, 14-21, 31-35a, 36

Again Sennacherib sent messengers to Hezekiah with these words, “Say to Hezekiah, king of Judah that his God in Whom he trusts may be deceiving him in saying that Jerusalem will not be given into the hands of the king of Assyria. Surely you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the lands they have destroyed! And will you be spared?”

Hezekiah took the letter from the messengers, and when he had read it he went to the house of YHVH; where he unrolled the letter and prayed saying, “O YHVH, God of Israel, enthroned above the Cherubim! You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth; You have made the heavens and the earth. Give ear, YHVH, and hear! Open Your eyes and see! Listen to all the words of Sennacherib who has sent men to insult the living God!”

“It is true, YHVH, that the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the countries of the earth. They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not true gods but gods made of wood and stone by human hands. Now, o YHVH our God, save us from his hand and let all the kingdoms of the earth know that You alone, YHVH, are God.”

Then Isaiah, son of Amoz, sent word to Hezekiah : “You have called upon YHVH and He has heard your prayer regarding Sennacherib, king of Assyria. This is what YHVH has spoken against him : ‘The Virgin Daughter of Zion despises and scorns you; the Daughter of Jerusalem shakes her head behind you.”

“For a remnant will come from Jerusalem and survivors from Mount Zion. The zeal of YHVH of Hosts will accomplish this. That is why YHVH has said this concerning the king of Assyria : ‘He shall not enter this city nor shoot his arrows. He shall not raise a shield to oppose it nor build a siege ramp against it. He shall leave by the way he came and he shall not enter the city, word of YHVH. I will protect this city and so save it for My own sake and for the sake of David, My servant.”

It happened that the Angel of YHVH went out that night and struck one hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. So Sennacherib, king of Assyria, departed, returned home and lived in Nineveh.