Tuesday, 11 September 2018 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day the Lord reminds each and every one of us as Christians, that we ought to be living a true and charitable Christian lifestyle in our respective lives as members of His Church. We cannot profess to have faith in Him and yet act in ways that are scandalous as how we mankind have often done in our lives.

In the first reading today, taken from the Epistle that St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, we heard of the division among the members of the Church and the faithful, where they bickered among themselves, and were judgemental towards each other. They complained against each other and even went behind each others’ back to the civil and pagan courts instead of settling the matter amicably in the Church.

St. Paul took issue with the fact that the people of God bickering with one another and instead of trusting in the Church, they went instead to the civil court, with the intention to punish the party in the wrong, or to blackmail, or to pressurise the other party to give in to their demands. They could have settled the matter amicably by consulting with one another in the spirit of Christian charity and understanding.

He was saying this with the intention to let the people know that, if they have embraced the Christian faith, then they should not behave in the manner of the pagans and those who have not yet believed in God. While it might be normal for those in the secular society at the time to do what they have done towards each other, but as Christians, they were called to a much higher calling and standards than that of the world’s.

All of us are called to be true followers of Christ, in our actions and deeds, and in all of our dealings with one another. We should not practice double standard in any case, that we appear outwardly pious and faithful, and yet, behind the scene, we plot against each other and cause suffering and pain to those whom we are not pleased with. This rivalries and unbecoming attitudes unfortunately are quite common even within the Church.

It is indeed a sad reality for us Christians, in how many of us treat one another, even as part of our Church ministries. There had been many instances when Church politicking and power-jockeying led to us, fellow brothers and sisters in the same Lord turning against one another and causing much pain, sorrow and suffering through our irresponsible and unbecoming actions as Christians.

How many of us often like to gossip about our fellow parishioners, or even against the priests and the religious themselves? While indeed, for us to be tempted to gossip and to badmouth or be jealous of one another is part of our human nature, but as Christians, we are expected to be better than all of these. We must resist these temptations that will definitely always come to tempt us and to pull us away from God’s saving grace.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today, in the Gospel passage we heard the Lord Jesus calling and choosing His Apostles from among those who followed Him. These were ordinary people, from ordinary origins, called and chosen by God. And even though initially they also struggled in faith, and one of them even betrayed the Lord but eventually, except for the betrayer, Judas Iscariot, all the Apostles grew stronger in their faith, and dedicated the rest of their lives to the service of God.

Now, all of us as Christians are called to follow the examples of the Apostles and all the other dedicated holy servants of God, who have shown us by their own life examples, on how we should live our lives in accordance with God’s will. Are we then willing enough and committed enough to take up our crosses just as the Apostles had done, and follow the Lord with all of our hearts?

There will indeed be many challenges in our path, should we decide to commit ourselves, but this is the cause which St. Paul had advocated for us all, the noble path of true Christian discipleship, where we stand above the temptations and ways of this world, and strive to do our best to be faithful in all of our actions, words, deeds and interaction with each other, that in all things, we will always show true Christian love.

May the Lord continue to watch over us and guide us, that we may grow ever more like Him in love, both towards Him and towards our fellow brothers and sisters, our fellow men. Let us all love each other and learn to forgive one another our mistakes and faults. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 6 : 12-19

At that time, Jesus went out into the hills to pray, spending the whole night in prayer with God. When day came, He called His disciples to Him, and chose Twelve of them, whom He called ‘Apostles’ : Simon, whom He named Peter, and his brother Andrew; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James son of Alpheus and Simon called the Zealot; Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who would be the traitor.

Coming down the hill with them, Jesus stood in an open plain. Many of His disciples were there, and a large crowd of people, who had come from all parts of Judea and Jerusalem, and from the coastal cities of Tyre and Sidon. They gathered to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases. And people troubled by unclean spirits were cured.

The entire crowd tried to touch Him, because of the power that went out from Him and healed them all.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 149 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6a and 9b

Alleluia! Sing to the Lord a new song, sing His praise in the assembly of His saints! Let Israel rejoice in his Maker, let the people of Zion glory in their King!

Let them dance to praise of His Name and make music for Him with harp and timbrel. For the Lord delights in His people; He crowns the lowly with victory.

The saints will exult in triumph; even at night on their couches. Let the praise of God be on their lips; this is the glory of all His saints. Alleluia!

Tuesday, 11 September 2018 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Corinthians 6 : 1-11

When you have a complaint against a brother, how dare you bring it before pagan judges, instead of bringing it before God’s people? Do you not know, that you shall one day judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you incapable of judging such simple problems?

Do you not know, that we will even judge the Angels? And could you not decide everyday affairs? But when you have ordinary cases to be judged, you bring them before those who are of no account in the Church! Shame on you! Is there not even one among you wise enough to be the arbiter among believers?

But no. One of you brings a suit against another one, and files that suit before unbelievers. It is already a failure that you have suits against each other. Why do you not rather suffer wrong and receive some damage? But no. You wrong and injure others, and those are your brothers and sisters. Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?

Make no mistake about it : those who lead sexually immoral lives, or worship idols, or who are adulterers, perverts, sodomites, or thieves, exploiters, drunkards, slanderers or embezzlers will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. Some of you were like that, but you have been cleansed, and consecrated to God and have been set right with God, by the Name of the Lord Jesus, and the Spirit of our God.

Monday, 10 September 2018 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, the Lord through His words in the Scriptures are calling all of us Christians to embrace fully His teachings and ways in our own respective lives, and thus be true believers not just in formality but also in reality through our words, actions and deeds.

In the first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Corinth, St. Paul was addressing the faithful in that city and highlighted the immoral behaviour of some among the faithful who have committed grave sins against the Lord, by their improper relationships and immoral acts. He rebuked those who have fallen into the temptation and caused scandal for the Church of God.

However, at the same time, St. Paul also extended God’s generous offer of mercy to the same people who have erred in their mission and life. He called the faithful to discard the old leaven of sin, using the example of bread that is developed by the addition of yeast. A baker knows that yeast that is already old can no longer work properly and in fact will likely result in spoilt bread when used on dough.

Essentially, St. Paul was asking the people of God to abandon their past ways of sin, their previous wicked attitude, their adherence to the ways of the world that were against God’s ways, and to turn wholeheartedly to God, Who alone is their Guide and Compass, to Whom all the faithful should turn to and place their focus on, as He was the One through Whom deliverance has been given to this world.

In the Gospel passage today we heard of the account of what happened when the Lord healed a man with a paralysed right hand, despite the efforts of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law to discredit Him and to strike at Him using that miraculous healing. In order to better understand the meaning of our Gospel passage today, then we need to understand better its context.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were rigorous and strict adherents of the Jewish traditions and customs, in that they enforced a very strict interpretation of the Law of God, paying particular attention that everyone should follow all the extensive customs and traditional practices of the Jewish people to the letter, and this included the law on the Sabbath day.

The Sabbath day is a sacred day dedicated to the Lord, when no one was supposed to do work or to labour, and the people were supposed to spend the day to pray to God and to worship Him. This must be understood in the context of the people of Israel who at that time continued to disobey the Lord and ignored His commandments, during the time of the Exodus. The Sabbath day was designed by the Lord and conveyed to His people through Moses, in order to remind them to refocus and reorientate themselves towards Him.

It is a reminder that despite all the business and all the things we are often preoccupied with in life, we must remain focused on God, and we must indeed spend quality time for Him. For if we do care about someone and love that person, we will want to spend time with that person, as much as we are able to do so. That was why the Sabbath law was enacted, that is to bring God’s people back towards Him.

But the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law misunderstood this intention and they made it a mere formality of observing the law of the Sabbath, to the point that they persecuted those who did not agree with them or did not practice the law in the manner prescribed by them. That was why they were up against the Lord Jesus, Who showed them that the true way to observe the Sabbath was to serve the Lord through good deeds and good actions, filled with love for Him and for one another, rather than just passive observance.

This is the old way that St. Paul mentioned, the old way of ignorance, the old yeast of passivity and lukewarmness of faith. This is what we have been called to leave behind, to turn away from this unfaithfulness, that we should embrace fully God’s ways and be truly faithful to Him. We cannot just be superficially being faithful as the Pharisees were, who were faithful on the appearances, but not inside their hearts.

Let us all therefore rediscover the meaning of our faith, and rediscover the love and dedication which we should have for the Lord, Our God. Let us from now on, turn towards Him with a renewed commitment and faith, that we may continue to serve Him and to love Him, with an ever greater zeal every passing day. May the Lord be with us and continue to bless us, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 10 September 2018 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 6 : 6-11

At that time, on another Sabbath, Jesus entered the synagogue and began teaching. There was a man with a paralysed right hand, and the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees watched Him : Would Jesus heal the man on the Sabbath? If He did, they could accuse Him.

But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to the man, “Get up, and stand in the middle.” Then He spoke to them, “I want to ask you : what is allowed by the Law on the Sabbath? To do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” And Jesus looked around at them all.

Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored, becoming as healthy as the other. But they were furious, and began to discuss with one another how they could deal with Jesus.

Monday, 10 September 2018 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 5 : 5-6, 7, 12

You are not a God Who delights in wickedness; evil has no place in You. The arrogant cannot stand before You. You hate all who do evil.

You destroy all who speak falsehood, who thirst for blood and live on lies; all of them YHVH detests.

But for those who take refuge in You, let them ever sing and rejoice. Let Your deliverance shield them, that they may praise You in gladness – those who love Your Name, o YHVH.