Thursday, 2 August 2018 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Priests)

Matthew 13 : 47-53

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a big fishing net, let down into the sea, in which every kind of fish has been caught. When the net is full, it is dragged ashore. Then they sit down and gather the good fish into buckets, but throw the bad away. That is how it will be at the end of time; the Angels will go out to separate the wicked from the just, and to throw the wicked into the blazing furnace, where they will weep and gnash their teeth.”

Jesus asked, “Have you understood all these things?” “Yes,” they answered. So He said to them, “Therefore, every teacher of the Law who becomes a disciple of the kingdom of heaven, is like a householder, who can produce from his store things both new and old.”

When Jesus had finished these parables, He left that place.

Thursday, 2 August 2018 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Priests)

Psalm 145 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6ab

Alleluia! Praise YHVH, my soul! I will sing to YHVH all my life; I will sing praise to God while I live.

Do not put your trust in princes, in a great one, who cannot save. Not sooner his spirit has left, that he goes back to the earth; on that very day, any plan comes to nothing.

Blessed are they whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in YHVH their God, Maker of heaven and earth, the sea and all they contain.

Thursday, 2 August 2018 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Priests)

Jeremiah 18 : 1-6

This is the word of YHVH that came to Jeremiah : “Go down to the potter’s house and there you will hear what I have to say.”

So I went to the potter’s house and found him working at the wheel. But the pot he was working on was spoilt in his hands, so he reworked it all over again into another pot that suits his desire.

Meanwhile YHVH sent me His word, “People of Israel, can I not do with you what this potter does? As clay in the potter’s hand so are you in My hands.”

Wednesday, 1 August 2018 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the prophet Jeremiah, who made his grievances known to the Lord. The context of this passage was that, at that moment, the prophet Jeremiah was assailed by his many enemies, who opposed him and refused to believe in his words. Prophet Jeremiah had difficulties and challenges which he had to endure while he performed his mission among the people.

It was therefore only natural that he would feel so distressed and displeased with his situation at that time. But the Lord reassured him and told Jeremiah that He would always be with him and He will guide him in all of his ways, despite the challenges he might encounter. And He proclaimed to him all the good things that He would do to His people if they turned themselves to Him and repented from all of their sins.

Essentially, He would bless them bountifully once again, and He would love them completely once again without the barrier of disobedience and sin which had caused separation between them and their God. Through this redemption, they would be healed and they would be made whole once again, that while once they were cast away and humiliated because of their disobedience, they would once again become God’s beloved and chosen people.

This was the same promise which God kept on reiterating to His people through the many prophets and messengers that He sent to them. He called them all to embrace the forgiveness that He has given to all of them freely. According to St. Alphonsus Liguori, whose feast we celebrate today, in God there is plentiful redemption. And it is this belief in God’s great saving grace and the redemption He freely gives us all, that encouraged St. Alphonsus to establish the religious order known as the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer or the Redemptorists.

In the Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord speaking to the people what the kingdom of God is like. He compared it to a pearl of great value and a rich treasure found hidden in a field. In this parable, the Lord wanted us to know that looking for God’s mercy and love is truly something that we should look up for in life. To be with God and to be reconciled with Him is something that all of us should aspire to.

But the Lord in the same parable also wanted us all to know that, attaining the kingdom of God, that is to be reconciled with Him and to live in His grace is something that does not come easily for us without our commitment and effort. Indeed, God has given us and offered to us His bountiful and infinite mercy, but this mercy will only come into its full and complete fruition in us, if we endeavour to commit ourselves to be forgiven, that is through sincere and complete repentance from our sins.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us are therefore called to reflect on our own lives, on whether we have allowed God’s mercy and love to enter into our lives. Have we been so preoccupied in life that we end up forgetting what is it that we are living for in this world? We do not live and we indeed should not live for the worldly things that many of us often desires, as those things are temporary and superficial at most.

Instead, we should seek for the true and everlasting treasure that is in God alone. It is God’s love that all of us should be seeking for, as we cannot live and survive without God’s love. God is the giver of our lives and it was because of Him that we exist today. If God withdrew from us His favour, grace and spirit, and by His will, should He have willed our destruction, every single one of us would have perished.

But God has always been loving and merciful to all of us, that even to the greatest sinners who repented and truly regretted having sinned before God, He would give salvation and liberation from their sins if the sinner truly, genuinely and sincerely showed the love which he or she had for God, and the total rejection of sin. It is ultimately our sins and wickedness that God despises and not our own self as human beings. We are, after all, God’s most beloved creations.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, let us all strive from now on to look for God’s redemption, by following the examples set by St. Alphonsus Liguori and the many other holy predecessors of our faith. St. Alphonsus Liguori was renowned for his great piety and devotion to the Lord, as well as to the Blessed Mother of God, Mary, who is the best example for us on how to live faithfully in the way of the Lord.

He dedicated his whole life to God, to the service of God’s people and to the poor. He has given his all to bring God’s redemption to all the people, including to the least privileged, the poor and the greatest of sinners in the community. St. Alphonsus’ examples inspired many others, who joined the Redemptorists and became agents of God’s continuing work of mercy and love among His people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, let us all do our very best to turn ourselves to God, to make Him the very centre and focus of our lives, remembering that He Himself has loved us first from the very beginning. He has given us so much in life, that it is only right and just that we should love Him with the same intensity and devotion. And let us all also be exemplary in faith and in our lives, so that in everything we say and do, we will always glorify God and help more and more people to be inspired to return to the Lord.

May God be with us all, and may He continue to guide us all our lives, giving us the strength and conviction to live our lives for His greater glory, and to bring ourselves ever closer to His merciful heart. St. Alphonsus Liguori, patron and founder of the Redemptorists, pray for us all. Amen.

Wednesday, 1 August 2018 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 13 : 44-46

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure, hidden in a field. The one who finds it, buries it again; and so happy is he, that he goes and sells everything he has, in order to buy that field.”

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a trader, who is looking for fine pearls. Once he has found a pearl of exceptional quality, he goes away, sells everything he has and buys it.”

Wednesday, 1 August 2018 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 58 : 2-3, 4-5a, 10-11, 17, 18

Deliver me from my enemies, o God, from those who rise up against me. Deliver me from evildoers; rescue me from the bloodthirsty.

Look, they lie in wait for my life; the mighty conspiring against me, for no fault of mine, o YHVH. I have done them no wrong; yet, they prepare to attack me.

O my Strength, I look up, to You; for You, o God, are my Fortress. My loving God will come to help me and let me see my enemies fall.

But I will sing of Your might; in the morning I will sing of Your love. For You have been a Fortress to me, a Refuge in time of distress.

O my Strength, I will sing praises to You; for You, o God, are my Stronghold; You are a loving God.

Wednesday, 1 August 2018 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Jeremiah 15 : 10, 16-21

Woe is me, Mother, why did you bring me to the light? A man of dissension throughout the land! I owe them nothing, neither do they owe me, yet they all curse me!

I devoured Your words when they came. They were my happiness and I felt full of joy when You made Your Name rest on me. I never associate with worldly people, amusing myself with scoffers! When Your hand was upon me I stood apart and You filled me with Your anger. Why is there no end to my sorrow or healing for my wound? Why do You deceive me, and why does my spring suddenly dry up?

Then YHVH spoke to me, “If you return I will take you back and you will serve Me again. Draw the gold from the dross and you will be as My own mouth. You must draw them to you and not to go over to them. I will make you a fortress and a wall of bronze facing them; if they fight against you they will not overcome you; I am with you to free you and save you. I will redeem you from the wicked and free you from the hands of tyrants.”

Tuesday, 31 July 2018 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard from the prophet Jeremiah in the first reading passage, in which he beseeched and asked God to be merciful to His people, for they have been assailed by their enemies, beaten up and in danger of being destroyed and annihilated. At that time, during the ministry of the prophet Jeremiah, the kingdom of Judah was on its last days of existence, as it was threatened by the power of the mighty Babylonians.

Yet, the people of Judah still refused to listen to the prophet’s warnings and they in fact persecuted him and made life very difficult to him. They arrested him and put him into prison, all because they would rather believe in the false prophets and guides, and in continuing to live in the state of sin, disobeying the Lord’s laws and commandments, profaning His Temple and House.

It was in this context that the prophet Jeremiah made his plea and prayer before God, for the sins of the people were very great indeed. If they continued to live as they were, their punishment and the consequences for their sins would be very great. Nothing would have been left of the people which God had led into the Promised Land of Canaan, and just as their northern neighbours, they would face destruction and annihilation unless they repented from their sins.

In the end, the people of Judah lost their kingdom, and they lost their Temple, destroyed by the Babylonians together with Jerusalem, which was sacked at the end of the kingdom of Judah. Most of the inhabitants, God’s people, were brought into exile in the faraway lands of Babylon, and what the prophets had prophesied and foretold for a long time became a stark reality. But eventually the people repented and turned back to God.

They realised the suffering and humiliation they endured, caused by the disobedience of their ancestors, and led by the prophets Ezra and Nehemiah, they would return to their homeland many decades later, to rebuild their cities, as well as the Temple of God in Jerusalem. They repented their sinful ways and cast aside many of the wicked acts and corruptions that had led their ancestors to sin.

And all of these showed us God’s true and enduring love for us all, His people. He despised our sins and wickedness, but in the end, He still loves each one of us. Every one of us that has been lost to Him because of sin, unrepented in stubbornness, are painful wounds in His heart. He does not desire the destruction of sinners, but rather their repentance, forgiveness and redemption, that all of them may be reconciled with Him.

That is why in the Gospel passage today, the parable of the wheat and weed, we heard about a sower of good seeds, representing God, who went against the enemy who tried to sabotage the field by sowing weeds among the good seeds. The devil is always trying to spread his lies and tempt us to sin, to disobey and rebel against God’s will. That is why the wheat grows up intertwined with the weeds, as there are both good and evil within us.

But God did not outright destroy us for our sins. Indeed, our sins are despicable in His sight, but He allowed us the opportunity to seek forgiveness and to be reconciled with Him, so that, in the end, we will be made worthy and clean again, free from the chains of our sins. Therefore, we will be truly worthy to be called God’s children and as God’s beloved people.

Today, together with the whole Church, all of us celebrate together the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, also better known as the Jesuits, the largest religious order present in the Church today. St. Ignatius of Loyola was once a soldier, born from a noble and rich family in what is today known as Spain, but had a moment of conversion and revelation, in which, he changed his life completely, and devoted himself to a new existence with a new purpose in God.

St. Ignatius of Loyola initially desired for worldly glory, honour and power, as how he was conditioned in within his family environment and noble upbringing. Hence, he joined the military, fighting in the army in order to gain for himself valour, power, fame, recognition and honour, all the things that the world treasured at that time. But he did not find true fulfilment and consolation in them.

When he was grievously injured and imprisoned by his enemies during one particular siege, St. Ignatius of Loyola went through a spiritual conversion in which he was convinced to follow the religious life, called by God to turn away from worldly glory, and instead seek to bring greater glory of God. This would later on become the motto of the Jesuits, Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam – For the greater glory of God.

St. Ignatius of Loyola continued to study more about the faith and eventually was ordained as a priest. Gathering likeminded men of his time, filled with zeal and fervour for the faith, as well as missionary zeal, St. Ignatius of Loyola founded the Society of Jesus, which very quickly became the epicentre of the efforts of Counter-Reformation against the false Protestant heresies spreading in many parts of Christendom at that time.

St. Ignatius of Loyola and many of his fellow Jesuits established schools and seminaries, through which the efforts of Counter-Reformation were done, as the spearheads of the Church’s work to call many of those who have fallen into heresy to return to the Mother Church. Many people and many souls were saved because of the works of the Jesuits, and many of them had to suffer persecution for their faith.

The example of St. Ignatius of Loyola shows us all that while all of us are sinners and are unworthy of God because of our sins, but through sincere and genuine repentance, we can truly make a difference in our lives. As the conversion of St. Ignatius of Loyola has shown us, that God Who has called us to be reconciled with Him can make us into such great instruments of mercy and forgiveness for many others, and many more can be saved, through us, who have been saved first.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, shall we all strive to turn away from our own sinful lives, and from all the wickedness we have committed thus far, which made us all unworthy to be truly called children of God? Let us all be inspired by the fervour and the courage which St. Ignatius of Loyola and the Jesuits showed, in the midst of difficulties and even persecution, to do the work of God, and to gain greater glory, not for ourselves, but for the greater glory of God.

May the Lord be glorified through our works, and may He be glorified by the strong and living faith present in each and every one of us. May He continue to bless us and all of our works, that we may truly walk the path to the eternal glory and true joy that God alone can give, and not the world. May the Lord be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 13 : 36-43

At that time, Jesus sent the crowds away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” Jesus answered them, “The One Who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world; the good seed are the people of the kingdom; the weeds are those who follow the evil one. The enemy who sows the weeds is the devil; the harvest is the end of time, and the workers are the Angels.”

“Just as the weeds are pulled up and burnt in the fire, so will it be at the end of time. The Son of Man will send His Angels, and they will weed out of His kingdom all that is scandalous and all who do evil. And these will be thrown into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the just will shine, like the sun, in the kingdom of their Father. If you have ears, then hear.”

Tuesday, 31 July 2018 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 78 : 8, 9, 11, 13

Do not remember against us the sins of our fathers. Let Your compassion hurry to us, for we have been brought very low.

Help us, God, our Saviour, for the glory of Your Name; forgive us for the sake of Your Name.

Listen to the groans of the prisoners; by the strength of Your arm, deliver those doomed to die.

Then we, Your people, the flock of Your pasture, will thank You forever. We will recount Your praise from generation to generation.