Thursday, 13 September 2018 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are called to pay attention to our actions and interactions in life, in how we spend our time with those whom we encounter throughout our lives. It is because each and every one of our actions can truly have a great impact on those on whom we have interacted with, and which in fact can be a great opportunity at evangelisation.

In the Gospel passage today, the Lord challenges each and every one of us, just as He had done with His disciples. He asked each and every one of them to go the extra mile in the giving of themselves and in the love that they and indeed, all of us, must show in our actions and deeds. We cannot just do what the world and its people and ways have shown us, but we must be truly exemplary in our Christian faith.

And what the Lord Jesus asked of us is often something that is very difficult for us to do, as He asked us to actually forgive our enemies and all those who have persecuted us and caused us much pain. He called upon us to love our enemies and to not take revenge and retribution against those who have hurt us, to pray for those who have persecuted us and hated us.

This is what we have been called to do, to be true Christians in faith and in love, that in everything we do, we show the example of this love which the Lord, Our God, Himself has shown us. The Lord asked for kindness and love to be shown to those who have not shown the same love and kindness towards us, and He Himself led by example, by extending His care and love even to the people who would abandon Him and betray Him, and even to those in His own hometown of Nazareth that rejected Him.

And nothing can beat the fact that the Lord forgave even His enemies and all those who persecuted Him, tortured Him and cast Him as a criminal, from the cross, by praying that all of them be forgiven their sins, because they did not know what they were doing. The Lord showed His mercy and forgiveness even as He suffered grievously for our sake, bearing the burden of our sins and our punishments.

But although this is what we have been called to be, to be those who forgive our brethren’s faults, mistakes and slights against us, it is usually easier said than done. Many of us, even among us Christians, keep grudges and jealousies, hatreds and anger in our hearts and minds, against all those who we do not agree with, against all those who have caused us pain and suffering, and against those who have something that we do not have.

We bicker and even fight among ourselves, within our Church communities and ministries. How many of us have seen members of Church communities and ministries gossiping and talking bad things behind the back of each person they did not like? There were also surely many occasions when we spread lies and untruths just so that we may discredit our rivals and competitors.

This is the sad and unfortunate reality of our faith life in the Church, as many of us did not lead a life in accordance to how the Lord has commanded and taught us. But we are called to a purpose greater than all of these human and worldly bickerings, infightings and unbecoming attitudes, to be true servants and followers of God, by imitating His own examples of love and mercy.

And today, we celebrate the feast of St. John Chrysostom, one of the great Church fathers and elder, one of the Four original Doctors of the Church together with St. Ambrose, St. Augustine of Hippo and St. Gregory Nazianzen. St. John Chrysostom was the Archbishop of the Imperial city of Constantinople, the eastern capital of the Roman Empire at the time. He was remembered for his great piety, his charitable love for his people and flock, and for his fervent and zealous defence of his faith against heresies and falsehoods.

Against all those who brought in their corrupt ways into the Church and the community, including that of the Roman Empress Eudoxia, the wife of the Emperor, St. John Chrysostom stood his ground against all those who abused their power and position for personal benefit, especially when such manipulations brought about the suffering of the poor and the hungry.

In the midst of all these efforts, St. John Chrysostom was persecuted and opposed, including from that of the Empress, who managed to get him to be exiled from his See of Constantinople. Yet, St. John Chrysostom never wavered throughout his life and ministry, to his very dying day, to dedicate himself for the greater glory of God and for the salvation of souls.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, having heard of the courageous examples of St. John Chrysostom, holy bishop and defender of the faith, courageous and fearless, but merciful and loving towards sinners and the poor, let us all then follow his examples, to live our lives more devotedly to the Lord from now on, that we may, in each and every one of our actions, strive for the glorification of God, and for the salvation of souls.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to empower us to live ever more faithfully, and be courageous to walk in His ways, each and every days of our lives. May God bless us all, and all of our endeavours and good works. Amen.

Thursday, 13 September 2018 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 6 : 27-38

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “But I say to you who hear Me : Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you, and pray for those who treat you badly. To the one who strikes you on the cheek, turn the other cheek; from the one who takes your coat, do not keep back your shirt. Give to the one who asks, and if anyone has taken something from you, do not demand it back.”

“Do to others as you would have others do to you. If you love only those who love you, what kind of grace is yours? Even sinners love those who love them. If you do favours to those who are good to you, what kind of grace is yours? Even sinners do the same. If you lend only when you expect to receive, what kind of grace is yours? For sinners also lend to sinners, expecting to receive something in return.

But love your enemies and do good to them, and lend when there is nothing to expect in return. Then will your reward be great, and you will be sons and daughters of the Most High. For He is kind toward the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

“Do not be a judge of others and you will not be judged; do not condemn and you will not be condemned; forgive and you will be forgiven; give and it will be given to you, and you will receive in your sack good measure, pressed down, full and running over. For the measure you give will be the measure you receive back.”

Thursday, 13 September 2018 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 138 : 1-3, 13-14ab, 23-24

O YHVH, You know me : You have scrutinised me. You know when I sit and when I rise; beforehand, You discern my thoughts. You observe my activities and times of rest; You are familiar with all my ways.

It was You Who formed my inmost part and knit me together in my mother’s womb. I thank You for these wonders You have done, and my heart praises You.

Search me, o God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts. See if my steps are going astray, and lead me in Your eternal way.

Thursday, 13 September 2018 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Corinthians 8 : 1b-7, 11-13

We know that all of us have knowledge, but knowledge puffs up, while love builds. If anyone thinks that he has knowledge, he does not yet know as he should know, but if someone loves God, he has been known by God.

Can we, then, eat meat from offering to the idols? We know that an idol is without existence and that there is no God but one. People speak indeed of other gods in heaven and on earth and, in this sense, there are many gods and lords. Yet for us, there is but one God, the Father, from Whom everything comes, and to Whom we go. And there is one Lord, Christ Jesus, through Whom everything exists, and through Him, we exist.

Not everyone, however, has that knowledge. For some persons, who, until recently, took the idols seriously, the food remains linked to the idol, and eating of it stains their conscience, which is unformed. Then, with your knowledge, you would have caused your weak brother or sister to perish, the one for whom Christ died. When you disturb the weak conscience of your brother or sister, and sin against them, you sin against Christ Himself. Therefore, if any food will bring my brother to sin, I shall never eat this food, lest my brother or sister fall.