Thursday, 12 July 2018 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are all yet again reminded of the great love and kindness which God has shown each and every one of us, His beloved ones. This He has done despite our constant disobedience and rebellion, which we have done regardless of the love God has shown us in so many situations and circumstances.

In the Old Testament, we can see how the people of Israel, having received so great a bounty and grace from God, having been rescued from slavery in Egypt, being protected and provided by God throughout their long journey in the desert, and having God as their Guide and Lord for so many years, and yet, they still betrayed Him and abandoned Him for other, false gods and idols.

But God never gave up on His people. Instead, He constantly and persistently sent to His people, prophets after prophets, and messengers after messengers, all with the same message, that is, repent and turn away from sin, and turn your attention to the Lord, your God, and follow Him with all of your hearts.

To that end, as St. John wrote in his Gospel, the famous quote, ‘For God so loved the world, that He sent us all His only Begotten Son, that through Him, all may be saved and have life in them’, that is why He sent us all Jesus Christ, His Son, into our midst, to reconcile us all with Him and to gather us all, His people, who have been scattered and lost due to our sins.

Yet as we have seen from what the Lord told His disciples in today’s Gospel passage and based on what we have known from the life and experiences of Our Lord, we see the same opposition which the Lord and His disciples had to face, in the midst of their good and dedicated work for the sake of the salvation of the very people who have rejected Him.

But that said, although there were those who rejected Him, there were also many more who listened to the Lord and accepted Him as their Lord and Saviour. That is the hope which the Lord wanted to bring to the world, that more and more will come to believe in His truth, and through reconciliation with God, find a new existence in Him and be worthy to receive the eternal grace and life from God.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, what each and every one of us as Christians must realise is that we are called by God to be the instruments through which He will perform His good works among His people, just as He had once called and sent out His disciples, especially the Twelve Apostles in their mission to bring the Good News to all the people of all nations.

Have we been living as ambassadors and messengers of the Lord as we are called to be? Have we lived our lives in accordance with God’s ways and followed the examples that He had shown us? Or have we instead scandalised our faith by our lack of action and genuine faith, and by our double standards in life, professing to believe in God on one hand, but then doing what is against God’s ways and abhorrent in His sight on the other?

Let us all today reflect on our way of life thus far, and discern in what manner we can be ever more faithful and committed to the Lord, by our every actions in life. May the Lord be with us, and may He strengthen each and every one of us in our faith, so that we may be able to find our way to Him, and that we can dedicate ourselves ever more to His cause, day after day. Amen.

Thursday, 12 July 2018 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 10 : 7-15

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Go, and proclaim this message : The kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, bring the dead back to life, cleanse the lepers, and drive out demons. Freely have you received, freely give. Do not carry any gold or silver or money in your purses. Do not take a travelling bag, or an extra shirt, or sandals, or a walking stick : workers deserve to be compensated.”

“When you come to a town or a village, look for a worthy person, and stay there until you leave. When you enter the house, wish it peace. If the people are worthy people, your peace will rest on them; if they are not worthy people, your blessing will come back to you.”

“And if you are not welcomed, and your words are not listened to, leave that house or that town, and shake the dust off your feet. I assure you, it will go easier for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment, than it will for the people of that town.”

Thursday, 12 July 2018 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 79 : 2ac and 3bc, 15-16

Listen, o Shepherd of Israel, You, Who sit enthroned between the Cherubim. Stir up Your might and come to save us.

Turn again, o YHVH of hosts, look down from heaven and see; care for this vine, and protect the stock Your hand has planted.

Thursday, 12 July 2018 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Hosea 11 : 1-4, 8c-9

I loved Israel when he was a child; out of Egypt I called My Son. But the more I have called, the further have they gone from Me – sacrificing to the Baals, burning incense to the idols. Yet, it was I Who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; yet, little did they realise that it was I Who cared for them.

I led them with cords of human kindness, with leading strings of love, and I became for them as One Who eases the yoke upon their neck and stoops down to feed them. My heart is troubled within Me and I am moved with compassion. I will not give vent to My great anger; I will not return to destroy Ephraim, for I am God and not human. I am the Holy One in your midst; and I do not want to come to you in anger.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Benedict, Abbot (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard from the first reading taken from the book of the prophet Hosea first of all about the sins which Israel and their kings have committed with their wickedness and pagan worship, the abandonment of the laws and commandments which have been given to them through the prophets of God.

And we also heard how the Israelites and their country were humbled and thrown to the worst of situations, as their cities were razed and destroyed, and their populace carried off into slavery and became a stigma and outcast among the nations. That was what happened to them, when the Assyrians destroyed Israel and carried off most of the population to exile in faraway lands.

And after such a terrible state, the Lord was calling on His people to return to Him, and to worship Him once again, as in the end, He did not despise them for who they were, but rather, for the sins and wickedness that they had committed. God did not create us mankind in order to see us destroyed and humiliated, but instead, our own failures to resist the worldly temptations of pride, greed and desire have led us to utter humiliation of our noble soul and existence.

But God never gave up on us, and He gave us chance after chance, opportunity after opportunity to repair our relationship with Him. He sent prophets after prophets, messengers one after another to Israel, His beloved and chosen people. And even though they rejected and persecuted many of His faithful servants, but God continued to open the doors of His mercy and love, in case His people came to Him repenting from their sins.

And He sent us His own Son, to be the messenger of the Good News of His salvation. He freely offered pardon and forgiveness to all those who have sinned against Him and disobeyed Him. All that He asked them, is for a change of heart, and for an openness of the mind and our being, so that He may be able to enter our existence and being, and inside us, transform us from people of darkness into children of the Light.

Then, in today’s Gospel passage, we heard how the Lord Jesus selected twelve among His followers and disciples, whom He made to be His Twelve Apostles, those to whom He entrusted the growth of the mission and the good works that He had begun in this world, in the saving of souls and calling of sinners to repentance. He sent them all out to go before Him, and proclaim the message of the coming of the kingdom of God.

It was through the courage of the Apostles and disciples of the Lord, and the hardships they encountered which had brought so many souls away from the brink of destruction and eternal damnation, because they preached the Good News of God and called many to turn away from their sins before it was too late for them. And although many refused to listen to them and rejected them, but there were also quite a few who were stirred in their hearts and accepted the Lord.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, we are called to follow in the footsteps of the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord. There are still much work to be done, and there are in fact still many souls out there, who are in great danger of eternal damnation, as they continue to live in sin, either through ignorance of the truth or through deliberate intention to disobey God.

I am sure that many of us would feel unworthy of such a monumental task. After all, we are talking about the state of someone’s soul here. Yet, should we fail to do anything or to continue the good works that the Apostles have started, then many more souls will fall into hell forever. Now we should perhaps reflect on the life and the work of the famous St. Benedict the Abbot, whose feast day we celebrate today.

St. Benedict the Abbot, also known as St. Benedict of Nursia, was the inspiration for the foundation of the Benedictines, one of the largest religious and monastic order present today. St. Benedict was remembered for his great dedication to God, his exemplary faith and his reform of the livelihood and way of life of many Christians, by turning away from the sins of the world, and rejecting the temptations of worldly pleasures and the wickedness of human greed.

He lived at a time where decadence was rampant among the middle and rich classes of the people, into which St. Benedict was born. He was born a noble and was destined into a life of greatness, going through extensive education and preparation for life. Yet, he was dissuaded from all the wickedness he experienced and encountered in life, and instead, sought to deepen his relationship with God by becoming a hermit.

The rules for ascetic and hermitic Christian life written by St. Benedict, later known as the Rule of St. Benedict, would eventually be followed by many later monastic orders and congregations, with thousands and many more following the examples of St. Benedict, deepening their spiritual relationship with God, and resisting the worldly temptations that had led so many people to sin.

The examples shown by St. Benedict and the inspiration he had given to so many others, who in turn, inspire even more people and might have turned countless souls from the edge of damnation, show us that for us to do what the Apostles had done, does not require incredible feats of faith. Indeed, we must in fact remember that the Lord had called the Apostles from humble and the most unlikely of origins.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, what matters is our willingness to listen to God’s calling, for us to be His disciples, and to act and work like one of those whom He had called. And this requires us to practice our faith through real action, by showing love in all of our actions and deeds, and by deepening our relationship with God, just as St. Benedict has shown us.

It is often times that we do not need to utter grandiose words in order to convince others to be faithful, but rather through our concrete actions and sincerity of heart. That is how true holiness came about, and how we can convince many others to follow us, just as we followed the Apostles, on our way together to the Lord, to be worthy of the salvation and eternal life He has promised all those who are faithful to Him.

May the Lord be with us always, and may through the intercession of St. Benedict of Nursia, many more will be able to discover the Lord and His love through us. May each and every one of us be holy instruments of God, in all the things and actions we do in our daily lives. May God bless us all. Amen.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Benedict, Abbot (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 10 : 1-7

At that time, Jesus called His Twelve disciples to Him, and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to drive them out, and to heal every disease and sickness.

These are the names of the Twelve Apostles : first Simon, called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew, the tax collector; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon, the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, the man who would betray Him.

Jesus sent these Twelve on mission, with the instruction : “Do not visit pagan territory and do not enter a Samaritan town. Go, instead, to the lost sheep of the people of Israel. Go, and proclaim this message : The kingdom of Heaven is near.”

Wednesday, 11 July 2018 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Benedict, Abbot (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 104 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7

Sing to the Lord, sing His praise, proclaim all His wondrous deeds. Glory in His holy Name; let those who seek the Lord rejoice.

Look to the Lord and be strong; seek His face always. Remember His wonderful works, His miracles and His judgments.

You descendants of His servant Abraham, you sons of Jacob, His chosen ones! He is the Lord our God; His judgments reach the whole world.