Sunday, 2 September 2018 : Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday we listened to the Scripture passages with regards to the Law and the commandments which God has given to us all, His beloved people, beginning from the time of the Old Testament, when God first revealed His laws and His truth to the people of Israel, descendants of Abraham, whom He had chosen to be the first people He called as His own.

In the first reading today, we heard from the passage taken from the Book of Deuteronomy about the exhortation which Moses, the leader of Israel, gave to the entire people with regards to the Law which God had revealed before the people, and which He had expected the people to follow and obey. It was then also that, it was mentioned how the people must follow the Law without adding or taking away anything from it, but just obey the Law in its complete fullness.

And this is related to what the Lord Himself presented before His people, in the Holy Gospel according to St. Mark. In that Gospel passage, we heard of the frustration and the anger which the Lord felt towards the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who He decried as hypocrites with a shallow and superficial faith in God. This means that they did not keep a true and genuine faith.

He took great issue out of this particularly because those people were the ones entrusted to safeguard and preserve the Law, as well as teaching them to the people that they may keep them from generation to generation. They were the ones who were supposed to safeguard the Law from corruption and perversion of falsehood, and yet, they were the very ones who had corrupted and subverted the Law to their own selfish purposes.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law followed their own interpretation of the Law and the commandments, insisting that the people must follow their version of the Law and the commandments. And their version of the Law demands that everyone must follow all the rigid and unreasonable demands of their interpretation of the Law. They demanded many external observances of the Jewish customs, right to the smallest details.

For example, in today’s Gospel, the Pharisees took great issue and were offended that the disciples of the Lord did not follow the strict requirement of ritual cleansing and washing of oneself before a meal, which in fact involves a great detail of washing sequences, of the whole hands and arms right to the elbow. To the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, because the disciples did not obey the Law in the manner they prescribed, the disciples were considered unclean and unworthy.

That was the same sentiment they likely shared about the Lord Jesus, with Whom they had many issues and clashes throughout the occasions of His ministry. They thought of Him as someone Who is against the Law, even to the point of accusing Him of committing blasphemy against God, and of spreading His supposedly unorthodox teachings and ways among the people.

Yet, what the Lord Jesus taught was the truth, and it was the pure Law of God revealed to the people without the corruption of the Pharisees, the teachers of the Law and the past generations of the people of God. He revealed to everyone the true meaning of what God has given to His people in His Law, the Law of Love, that is the set of ordinances and rules meant to bring the people of God to understand the fullness of His love.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, unlike the laws and rules practiced and propagated by the Pharisees, which were exclusive and punitive in nature, in how the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law excluded and were prejudiced against those who did not follow their version of the Law, the true Law of God is inclusive and loving, and was meant to show the people how to love God and to love one another.

The Lord Himself revealed that the entire Law could be summarised into two key commandments, first of which is to love the Lord, Our God with all of our hearts, with all of our minds, with all of our strength. He is the first and foremost One for us to focus our love and attention on, and He must exist at the very core and centre of our lives. This is the key principle of the Law.

And because we love God, Who is so full of love, then naturally we must imitate His love for us mankind, and show the same love towards our fellow men, the second of the two key commandments of the Law. This means that for us to be able to obey the Law in its entirety and in its true intention, we must then internalise the Law and understand what it means for us to be followers of God.

First of all, the Law is a gift from God and is about bringing us closer to God and to help us to know more about Him and to get closer to Him. It is not for the glorification of ourselves just as how the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had done. Those people abused and misused the Law to suit their own desires and to satisfy their human pride. Instead of using the Law to bring the people of God closer to Him, they chased people away from God by their exclusivism and self-righteous attitude.

As the Lord Jesus rightly pointed out in another occasion in the Gospels, the Pharisees, teachers of the Law and others did not observe the Law because they truly understood the Law and its purpose, but rather because they wanted to feel and gain the glory and praise from man, to feel the euphoria and pride of being at the centre of attention and human applauses, when they were praised for their supposed piety and obedience to the Law.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, how about we ourselves? Have we acted in this manner in our own lives? It is a sad reality for the Church, seeing how many of the faithful coming for Mass or any other Church activities, not because they loved God or were filled with the desire to love Him, but because they wanted to be seen by others, vying with each other for prestige, fame and glory. That is also how bickering and rivalry end up creating bitterness and pain in the Church, in many Church ministries and activities.

And when these things happen, we end up causing scandal for our faith, because instead of showing true examples of Christian discipleship and faith, we end up turning people away from the Lord, causing many to be disillusioned with the Church and the faith by our actions. That was exactly what the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had done as well, turning the people of God seeking His mercy and forgiveness away and misguiding many others from the true path towards God.

Many of us unfortunately do not truly appreciate and understand the importance of obeying the Law of God in our own respective lives. That is why many of us eventually lose our faith and become indifferent. Many of us do not know why we have to come for the Holy Mass on Sundays of the Lord, and we did these just because it is merely an obligation to do so, or for some of us, we were afraid that if we did not obey, we would end up falling into hell.

That is why, it is important, brothers and sisters in Christ, to understand and appreciate both the letter and the spirit of the Law. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, as well as many of us only focus on the letter of the Law, but do not understand the spirit of the Law. What is this spirit of the Law? It is the true understanding of what God’s Law means for us, that is to bring us closer to God, to be more like God, to be loving just as the Lord, Our God is full of love.

Therefore, today, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all deeply reflect in our hearts and minds, and be thankful to God for what He has done for us. He has loved us so much, that despite our wretched state, our unworthiness and our disobedience against Him, all the sins we have committed against Him, He was still so full of love and mercy for us, that He gave us all His Law and Commandments. And He gave us His own Beloved Son, through Whom we receive the fullness of truth of the Law, and the perfect proof of His love.

For He gave everything to us, even to the point of suffering and dying for us on the cross, so that by His selfless love, He may bring us all into a new life and existence, no longer burdened by sin, but each and every one of us may be worthy of God and His love, and to receive forever, the fullness of His inheritance and love. May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to love us and guide us in our journey of life, that we may reach Him through the guiding hands of the Law He has given us. May God bless us all. Amen.

Sunday, 2 September 2018 : Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 7 : 1-8, 14-15, 21-23

At that time, one day, the Pharisees gathered around Jesus, and with them were some teachers of the Law who had just come from Jerusalem. They noticed that some of His disciples were eating their meal with unclean hands, that is, without washing them.

Now the Pharisees, and in fact all the Jews, never eat without washing their hands, for they follow the tradition received from their ancestors. Nor do they eat anything, when they come from the market, without first washing themselves. And there are many other traditions they observe; for example, the ritual washing of cups, pots and plates.

So the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders, but eat with unclean hands?” Jesus answered, “You shallow people! How well Isaiah prophesied of you when he wrote : This people honours Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. The worship they offer Me is worthless, for what they teach are only human rules. You even put aside the commandment of God to hold fast to human tradition.”

Jesus then called the people to Him again and said to them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and try to understand. Nothing that enters a person from the outside can make that person unclean. It is what comes from within that makes a person unclean, for evil designs come out of the heart : theft, murder, adultery, jealousy, greed, maliciousness, deceit, indecency, slander, pride and folly. All these evil things come from within and make a person unclean.”

Sunday, 2 September 2018 : Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

James 1 : 17-18, 21b-22, 27

Every good and perfect gift comes from above, from the Father of Light, in Whom there is no change, or shadow of a change. By His own will, He gave us life, through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of offering to Him, among His creatures.

And welcome the word that has been planted in you, and has the power to save you. Be doers of the word, and not just hearers, lest you deceive yourselves. In the sight of God, our Father, pure and blameless religion lies in helping the orphans, and widows in their need, and keeping oneself from the world’s corruption.

Sunday, 2 September 2018 : Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 14 : 2-3ab, 3cd-4ab, 5

Those who walk blamelessly and do what is right, who speak truth from their heart and control their words.

Those who do no harm to their neighbours and cast no discredit on their companions, who look down on evildoers but highly esteem God’s servants.

Those who do not lend money at interest and refuse a bribe against the innocent. Do this, and you will soon be shaken.

Sunday, 2 September 2018 : Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Deuteronomy 4 : 1-2, 6b-8

And now, Israel, listen to the norms and laws which I teach that you may put them into practice. And you will live and enter and take possession of the land which YHVH, the God of your fathers, gives you. Do not add anything to what I command you nor take anything away from it. But keep the commandments of YHVH, your God, as I command you.

When they come to know of all these laws, they will say, “There is no people as wise and as intelligent as this great nation.” For in truth, is there a nation as great as ours, whose gods are as near to it as YHVH, our God, is to us whenever we call upon Him? And is there a nation as great as ours whose norms and laws are as just as this Law which I give you today.

(Usus Antiquior) Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost (II Classis) – Sunday, 2 September 2018 : Offertory, Secret Prayer of the Priest, Communion and Post-Communion Prayer

Liturgical Colour : Green

Offertory

Psalm 39 : 2, 3, 4

Exspectans exspectavi Dominum, et respexit me : et exaudivit deprecationem meam : et immisit in os meum canticum novum, hymnum Deo nostro.

 

English translation

With expectation I have waited for the Lord, and He had given His regard to me. And He heard my prayer, and He put a new canticle into my mouth, a song to our God.

 

Secret Prayer of the Priest

Tua nos, Domine, sacramenta custodiant : et contra diabolicos semper tueantur incursus. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

 

English translation

May Your sacraments, o Lord, keep us and guard us always from the assaults of the devil. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who with You lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

 

Communion

John 6 : 52

Panis, quem ego dedero, caro mea est pro saeculi vita.

 

English translation

The bread that I will give is My flesh for the life of the world.

 

Post-Communion Prayer

Mentes nostras et corpora possideat, quaesumus, Domine, doni caelestis operatio : ut non noster sensus in nobis, sed jugiter ejus praeveniat effectus. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

 

English translation

Let the operation of the heavenly gift, o Lord, possess our souls and bodies, that, its holy grace, not our own impulses, may continually be our guide. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who with You lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

(Usus Antiquior) Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost (II Classis) – Sunday, 2 September 2018 : Holy Gospel

Liturgical Colour : Green

Sequentia Sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam – Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke

Luke 7 : 11-16

In illo tempore : Ibat Jesus in civitatem, quae vocatur Naim : et ibant cum eo discipuli Ejus et turba copiosa. Cum autem appropinquaret portae civitatis, ecce, defunctus efferebatur filius unicus matris suae : et haec vidua erat : et turba civitatis multa cum illa.

Quam cum vidisset Dominus, misericordia motus super eam, dixit illi : Noli flere. Et accessit et tetigit loculum. (Hi autem, qui portabant, steterunt.) Et ait : Adolescens, tibi dico, surge. Et resedit, qui erat mortuus, et coepit loqui. Et dedit illum matri suae. Accepit autem omnes timor : et magnificabant Deum, dicentes : Quia Propheta magnus surrexit in nobis : et quia Deus visitavit plebem Suam.

 

English translation

At that time, Jesus went into a city called Naim, and there went with Him His disciples, and a great multitude. And when He came nigh to the city, behold a dead man was carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and much people of the city were with her.

And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her, and said to her, “Do not weep.” And He came near, and touched the bier. And those who carried it stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, Arise.” And he who was dead sat up, and began to speak, and He delivered him to his mother. And there came fear on all of them, and they glorified God, saying, “A great Prophet has risen up amongst us and God had visited His people.”