Wednesday, 4 July 2018 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Portugal (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Matthew 8 : 28-34

At that time, when Jesus reached Gadara, on the other side, He was met by two men, possessed by devils, who came out from the tombs. They were so fierce that no one dared to pass that way. They cried out, “Son of God, leave us alone! Have You come here to torment us before the time?”

Some distance away there was a large herd of pigs feeding. So the demons begged Him, “If You drive us out, send us into that herd of pigs.” Jesus ordered them, “Go!” So the demons left the men and went into the pigs. The whole herd rushed down the cliff into the lake and was drowned.

The men in charge of the pigs ran off to the town, where they told the whole story; and also what had happened to the men possessed with the demons. The whole town went out to meet Jesus; and when they saw Him, they begged Him to leave their region.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Portugal (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Psalm 49 : 7, 8-9, 10-11, 12-13, 16bc-17

“Hear, o My people, for I am speaking. I will accuse you, o Israel, I am God, your God!”

“Not for your sacrifices do I reprove you, for your burnt offerings are ever before Me. I need no bull from your stalls, nor he-goat from your pens.”

“For I own all the beasts of the forest and the animals of My thousand hills. All the birds of the air I know; all that move in the fields are Mine.”

“I need not tell you if I were hungry, for Mine is the world and all that it contains. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?”

“What right have you to mouth My Laws, or to talk about My Covenant? You hate My commands and cast My words behind you.”

Wednesday, 4 July 2018 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Portugal (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Amos 5 : 14-15, 21-24

Seek good and shun evil, that you may live. Then YHVH, the God of hosts, as you have claimed, will be with you. Hate wickedness and love virtue, and let justice prevail in the courts; perhaps YHVH, the God of hosts, will take pity on the remnant of Joseph.

YHVH said, “I hate, I reject your feasts, I take no pleasure when you assemble to offer Me your burnt offerings. Your cereal offerings, I will not accept! Your offerings of fattened beasts, I will not look upon! Away with the noise of your chanting, away with your strumming on harps. But let justice run its course like water, and righteousness be like an ever-flowing river.”

Tuesday, 3 July 2018 : Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle, one of the Twelve Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, also known as St. Thomas Didymus or St. Thomas the Twin. St. Thomas was well remembered in the Gospels as the Apostle who doubted the Lord Jesus on more than one occasion. The first time was when the Lord Jesus wanted to go to Jerusalem again after the chief priests and the Pharisees had sought out to arrest Him, and St. Thomas sarcastically remarked that indeed, the Apostles and disciples should all follow the Lord Jesus, to their own deaths.

And then, on the more well-remembered occasion, as we heard in our Gospel passage today, St. Thomas refused to believe that the Lord Jesus had appeared to them after He has risen from the dead. He adamantly and stubbornly said that unless he was able to tangibly prove that the Lord did indeed exist in the flesh and body, then he would not believe in Him.

When the Lord Jesus appeared in person before St. Thomas and the other disciples, showing the truth of His resurrection from the dead, and even challenging him to do what he had said he would do, that is to put his fingers into the wounds made by the nails on His hands and feet, St. Thomas was dumbfounded, and on his knees, acknowledged with faith, that it was indeed the Lord risen from the dead, his Lord and Master.

Today, all of us reflect on this stubbornness and lack of faith which St. Thomas had exhibited in his life. Now, we ought to look at our own lives, and evaluate whether we have also followed in the examples shown by St. Thomas in his lack of faith, doubt and refusal to believe in the Lord’s truth. Have we also doubted the Lord and His love, or complained that God has not been there for us?

This is something that many of us commonly said, when we were disappointed or even angry at God, for we often wrongly thought that God refused to listen to our prayers, or that He did not listen to our prayers. Then we ended up even doubting whether God was really present. We failed to realise that, first of all, our prayers are not means for us to demand that God must do something for us. Instead, prayer is truly a way for us to know what is God’s will for us.

Let us now take a look at the first reading passage we heard today, from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Ephesus. In that passage, we heard about the comparison which St. Paul made between our body and physical existence with the Temple and House of God. In another occasion in his Epistle, St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, reminding them that they are the Temple of the Holy Spirit.

And hence, all of us are the Temples of God’s Holy Presence, especially because we have received the Lord Himself, in His Body and Blood, His Real Presence through the Eucharist. And God is always present in us, for all of us are created by God, and God is present in His Spirit inside each and every one of us. The Lord Jesus once walked physically with His disciples on this world, but now that after He had ascended into heaven, we can no longer see Him physically, but many of us did not realise that He is still always present, with us and within us. That is why we also end up like how St. Thomas was initially.

And why is that so? That is because in our daily lives, we are often so busy with our various preoccupations, and all sorts of noises coming from the world, from our career, from our relationships and merrymaking, from our pursuits of wealth, power, influence, fame and all sorts of other worldly enjoyments. We are simply too distracted and too preoccupied with all the noises of the world, that we were not able to recognise the Lord speaking deep within our hearts.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, it is up to us whether we want to remain in this state, or whether we want to follow in the footsteps of St. Thomas the Apostle, who went on his knees, and acknowledged that the Lord was there, his God, Master and Saviour, with all of his hearts, despite the long time it took for him to recognise that fact. The same applies to us as well, brethren, as it may also take us a long time before we recognise this truth, but eventually, we must strive towards this state of faith.

In the end, St. Thomas would go on to preach the Good News and wholeheartedly devoted himself to the cause of the Lord. There was no longer doubt that was once filling his heart and mind. He went on to many places, especially to India, where he preached the faith and converted quite a number among the local populace, who were known thenceforth as ‘St. Thomas Christians’, descendants of which are still present today in parts of India, holding faithfully to the truth in God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us ought to follow in the footsteps of St. Thomas, in the journey of faith, and the dedication which he had, that he persevered through all the challenges and the oppositions, to accept martyrdom while defending his faith in God. We have seen how he was transformed from someone who doubted and lacked faith into a true servant of God. The same should also happen to us all.

Let us all therefore seek the Lord from now on, with all of our hearts, devoting our time, effort and attention to serve Him. And we should hence open our hearts and minds to the Lord, by quieting ourselves down and spending more time with God through prayer. Let us do this, brothers and sisters, deepening our relationship with Our God, that we may truly, indeed, be able to follow in the footsteps of the Holy Apostles, in our ever increasing devotion and love to God and to our fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord. May God be with us all, and bless us all in our endeavours. Amen.