Saturday, 28 July 2018 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Matthew 13 : 24-30

At that time, Jesus told the people another parable, “The kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a man, who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep, his enemy came, and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the plants sprouted and produced grain, the weeds also appeared. Then, the servants of the owner came, and said to him, ‘Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? Where did the weeds come from?'”

“He answered them, ‘This is the work of an enemy.’ They asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull up the weeds?’ He told them, ‘No, when you pull up the weeds, you might uproot the wheat with them. Let them grow together, until harvest; and, at harvest time, I will say to the workers : Pull up the weeds first, tie them in bundles and burn them; then gather the wheat into my barn.'”

Saturday, 28 July 2018 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Psalm 83 : 3, 4, 5-6a and 8a, 11

My soul yearns; pines, for the courts of YHVH. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young, at Your altars, o YHVH of hosts, my King and my God!

Happy are those who live in Your house, continually singing Your praise! Happy, the pilgrims whom You strengthen, they go from strength to strength.

One day in Your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be left at the threshold in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of the wicked.

Saturday, 28 July 2018 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Jeremiah 7 : 1-11

These words were spoken by YHVH to Jeremiah, “Stand at the gate of YHVH’s House and proclaim this in a loud voice : Listen to what YHVH says, all you people of Judah (who enter these gates to worship YHVH). YHVH the God of Israel says this : Amend your ways and your deeds and I will stay with you in this place. Rely not on empty words such as : ‘Look, Temple of YHVH! Temple of YHVH! This is the Temple of YHVH!’”

“It is far better for you to amend your ways and act justly with all. Do not abuse the stranger, orphan or widow or shed innocent blood in this place or follow false gods to your own ruin. Then I will stay with you in this place, in the land I gave to your ancestors in times past and forever.”

“But you trust in deceptive and useless words. You steal, kill, take the wife of your neighbour; you swear falsely, worship Baal and follow foreign gods who are not yours. Then, after doing all these horrible things, you come and stand before Me in this Temple that bears My Name and say, ‘Now we are safe.’ Is this House on which rests My Name a den of thieves? I have seen this Myself – it is YHVH Who speaks.”

Friday, 27 July 2018 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard of God calling back His people through His prophet Jeremiah, a people who have been lost and separated to Him, that they may be gathered again after they had been scattered due to their rebelliousness and sin. He has called them all to repent from their sins, and therefore, to turn their back to the unfaithfulness they had done before.

To this extent, He gave us all a Saviour, to be the One Who can deliver us out of our predicament, and from the current state of sin that we suffer from, in Jesus Christ, Our Lord and the Son of God. Through the giving of His own beloved Son, God wants each and every one of us to be reconciled to Himself. And indeed, He had done that, by His ultimate sacrifice and perfect love on the cross.

He offered us all salvation and liberation from our sins, bringing the truth about our need for salvation and repentance to us. He is the Word of God, through Whom His will has been revealed to us and made known, that we may know how we should live our lives in this world, in order for us to be receptive to His saving grace, mercy and forgiveness. And the Lord Jesus presented it well through the parable which He said in our Gospel passage today.

In today’s parable, well known as the parable of the sower, we heard about a sower who sowed seeds in a certain place, but the seeds fell on different types of environments. They landed in all sorts of places, from the most unfavourable to the most favourable, with some landing on the roadside, while others landed on rocky ground, or among thistles and brambles, while some others fell on rich and fertile soil.

None of the seeds grew on those places where the conditions were unfavourable for growth, as in the case of the ones that fell on the roadside, they were eaten up by the birds. Those that fell on rocky ground were unable to find firm ground to establish their roots and they perished in the hot sun. And those that fell among thistles and brambles were surrounded and suffocated by those same thistles and brambles, and thus all perished, save for those which fell on rich and fertile soil.

What does this mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? And how is this relevant to us all as the people of God? The Lord explained to His disciples, that the seeds are the Word of God, freely given to all of us, just as the sower spread the seeds in all directions. God does not discriminate in giving His love, mercy and forgiveness for our sins, no matter our background and our origin. He gives to all of us, from the smallest to the greatest of sinners, His love and generous offer of mercy.

That is the seeds of faith which He sowed in us, and which He had hoped that those seeds will eventually grow in each and every one of us who believe in Him. However, as we ourselves have heard, not all the seeds were able to grow, because they fell in greatly differing conditions, which in fact, represent our varying responses to the Lord’s call and offer of love and mercy. If we are not receptive of God’s call and love, how can we then expect to grow in faith in Him?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why today, all of us as Christians are called to rediscover our faith and we are called to let our faith grow strong in a fertile ‘soil’ which is our hearts, our minds, our bodies and indeed, our whole being. And how do we make ourselves fertile? It is by enriching our spiritual life through sincere and devout prayer life, regularly communicating with God and seeking to know His will by listening to Him speaking in our hearts.

If we are able to do so, then just as the Gospel passage mentioned how the seeds grew thirtyfold, sixtyfold and hundredfold in produce, therefore, we too shall gain immeasurably from the richness of our spiritual life, in which our faith in God can grow and prosper. This is what we are called to do, and which we should aspire to be in our Christian life and discipleship.

Let us all therefore, from now on, strive to be ever better and more committed disciples of Christ, no longer closing our hearts and minds from God, but instead, willingly opening ourselves to Him and finding ways through which we can grow ever more devoted to the Lord, Our God and Saviour. May God be our guide and be our strength, that in all the things we do in life, we will always seek His greater glory, and desire to love Him ever more, with each passing day. Amen.