Friday, 7 September 2018 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the Lord speaking to us through His parable, of the wineskin and wine, and of new and old cloths, as He taught His disciples about the importance of the conversion of hearts, minds and all of our being in order for us to be able to follow the Lord, Our God, with all of our strength and ability. The wineskin and the cloth represents the state of our lives, whether we are attuned to the Lord or instead, attuned to the world.

First of all, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law came to Jesus asking about the behaviour and habits of His disciples, as contrasted to the disciples of St. John the Baptist, and to the Pharisees themselves, who have obeyed the whole rigorous commandments, rules and regulations of the Jewish tradition. They were slandering the Lord and His disciples, because they have not followed the traditions of the Jewish people.

But the Lord countered their argument by saying that His disciples did not fast as the disciples of St. John and the Pharisees had done, because God Himself was with them, and therefore, they should not weep or mourn at a time when the Lord was with them. In fact, they should be happy and rejoice without end. But the Lord told them a premonition of His own death, by saying that the time would come for Him to be taken away from His disciples.

The new wineskin and the old wine represent the contrast between the ways and the ideas of the Lord, from those espoused by the world, exemplified by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. Should we follow the examples of the faith of the Pharisees, as well as the teachers of the Law, in their faith? The Lord answered with a firm no, through His parable. Their faith was one of hypocrisy, as the Lord Jesus often mentioned to His disciples.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law practiced their faith by fasting, by saying long prayers and public show of devotion, in order to be seen by the people, and to be praised by them. But in their hearts and minds, they did not have true faith in God, or love for Him. They practiced their faith in order to gain worldly favour and benefits, a selfish and self-centred attitude rather than a true act of faith.

When the Lord mentioned about the new wineskin and old wineskin, and new cloth and old cloth, He was referring to the ways of the Pharisees, as well as all the self-centred attitudes and all the selfishness in our hearts and minds as the old wineskins for the new wine that the Lord is offering us, or as the old, torn piece of cloth on which the Lord’s new cloth is to be patched on.

This means that, all sorts of worldliness and selfishness as how we mankind often practice, are incompatible with the Lord’s ways. The Lord’s ways are love, compassion, mercy, selflessness and tenderness, while our worldly ways are hatred, anger, jealousy, selfishness and greed. If we continue to live our life according to how we have always lived it in this world, then we cannot call ourselves as true Christians.

And for us to be able to follow the Lord with all of our hearts and with all of our strength, it therefore requires us to make a profound change to ourselves, to our attitude and our way of life. To be a Christian requires us to follow Christ with all of our efforts, to be wholly converted to Him, and to be ready to follow Him each and every moment of our lives.

Are we willing to change our way of life, in order to suit what the Lord has asked us to do? Are we willing to embrace the teachings and the truth of Christ fully with our whole support? We have been called to bear our crosses in life and follow the Lord. So, are we ready to commit ourselves to the Lord? Let us all turn ourselves to be true and devout servants of Our God from now on, by deepening our relationship with Him through prayer and time spent in quality time with Him.

May the Lord continue to guide us through life, and may He empower each and every one of us to live faithfully, in each and every actions we take, and at every moments of our life. Amen.

Friday, 7 September 2018 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 5 : 33-39

At that time, some people asked Jesus, “The disciples of John fast often and say long prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees. Why is it, that Your disciples eat and drink?”

Then Jesus said to them, “You cannot make wedding guests fast while the Bridegroom is with them. But later, the Bridegroom will be taken from them; and they will fast in those days.”

Jesus also told them this parable : “No one tears a piece from a new coat to put it on an old one; otherwise the new coat will be torn, and the piece taken from the new coat will not match the old coat. No one puts new wine into old wine skins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and be spilt, and the skins will be destroyed as well.”

“But new wine must be put into fresh skins. Yet, no one who has tasted old wine is eager to drink new wine, but says, ‘The old is good.’”

Friday, 7 September 2018 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 36 : 3-4, 5-6, 27-28, 39-40

Trust in the Lord and do good, dwell in the land and live on it. Make the Lord your delight, and He will grant your heart’s desire.

Commit your way to the Lord; put your trust in Him and let Him act. Then will Your revenge come, beautiful as the dawn, and the justification of your cause, bright as the noonday sun.

Do good and shun evil, so that you will live secure forever. For YHVH loves justice and right, and never forsakes His faithful ones. The wicked, instead, will perish, and their bread will be cut off.

The Lord is the Salvation of the righteous; in time of distress, He is their refuge. The Lord helps them, and rescues them from the oppressor; He saves them for they sought shelter in Him.

Friday, 7 September 2018 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Corinthians 4 : 1-5

Let everyone then see us as the servants of Christ and stewards of the secret works of God. Being stewards, faithfulness shall be demanded of us; but I do not mind if you or any human court judges me. I do not even judge myself; my conscience indeed does not accuse me of anything, but that is not enough for me to be set right with God : the Lord is the One Who judges me.

Therefore, do not judge before the time, until the coming of the Lord. He will bring to light whatever was hidden in darkness and will disclose the secret intentions of the hearts. Then each one will receive praise from God.

Thursday, 6 September 2018 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the Lord speaking to us, through His Apostle St. Paul, in the Epistle he wrote to the faithful in Corinth, as well as through His calling of the Apostles St. Peter, St. Andrew, St. James and St. John at the lake of Galilee. Through these words of the Scripture we are reminded that God has given us His wisdom and His truth, and He is calling on us to follow Him and put our trust in Him.

He was at the side of the lake, when He saw the boats of fishermen coming ashore without fish. He then told the fishermen, some of whom would become His disciples, to go out into the sea and cast out their net to catch the fish. St. Peter initially hesitated and said to the Lord, that they had gone out all night and were not able to catch any fishes, but he still listened to the Lord and obeyed His commands.

In the end, he and his fellow fishermen caught such a huge number of fish, that they needed help to get the fishes into their boat, that almost sunk because of the huge catch of fishes. St. Peter immediately bowed down before the Lord, begging Him for mercy and forgiveness, for he was a sinner. But the Lord was loving and kind to him and the other fishermen He called, and said that from then on, they would fish for men instead.

What do we make of this, brothers and sisters in Christ? First of all, we must understand that St. Peter and the other fishermen must have been quite experienced in their work and profession as fishermen. They were surely able to know where they could catch a lot of fishes and gather plenty of gains for themselves, but they could not find anything on that day.

We must understand the context that likely the fishermen had been going out for hours to catch the fishes, as St. Peter himself said, and they must have been tired and exhausted, disappointed and probably even angry at the lack of catch, as any one of us would, if we have done plenty of work and yet no result appeared. And for the fishermen, the last thing they needed was for someone to tell them to go and catch fishes again.

And not least the fact that such a request was made by someone, who was not even a fisherman at all, like the Lord Jesus. In their minds, they must have thought that they were good fishermen, with much skill and experience, and why they should listen to the command of a Man Who seemingly did not even know how to fish at all. Yet, they listened and did what the Lord told them to do, and they were dumbfounded by what happened, as what has been mentioned in the Gospel today.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what does the readings today mean to us? First of all, linking back to what St. Paul said in his Epistle to the Corinthians, many of us if not most, tend to think that we know everything that we know in this world, in our respective areas of expertise. We think of ourselves as good, educated, intellectual and capable in the ways of the world, and we put a lot of trust in our human wisdom, intellect and power.

Therefore, what St. Peter initially said to the Lord Jesus is in fact a natural response that we mankind will often make, when the Lord speaks to us and tells us what He wants us to do. However, as we have seen and heard from the Gospel, trusting in the Lord’s words can open our eyes to the reality of the truth, that it is not our will that will be done, but the Lord’s will.

For all the wisdom, power and abilities that we have, first of all, we must realise that they all pale in comparison with the wisdom and power of God, and God alone knows what is best for us. And then, we must realise that all of our abilities, talents, knowledge, power and all ultimately came from God and were blessings that He has bestowed upon us. And He intends for us to make use of these gifts and blessings for good use.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now, are we able to put our trust in God in the same way as the Apostles had done? They left everything behind and followed the Lord, and the Lord made them the fishers of men. And many souls have been saved through their hard work and commitment, their faith and dedication that they were even willing to lay down their lives for the Lord’s sake.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, it does not mean that we have to follow the exact same way as the Apostles, leaving everything behind to serve the Lord. What is important is that, we must discern what is our true calling in life, by listening to God speaking in our hearts, and by quietening ourselves from all the noise of this world, and from all the temptations of pride in our hearts.

Let us all seek to be humble and to be open to the Lord’s calling in our hearts, and learn to put our complete trust in Him. Let us no longer be proud or haughty, arrogant or be ambitious, thinking that we alone know what is best for us. May the Lord be our Guide, and may He continue to watch over us in our lives. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.