Tuesday, 18 September 2018 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, the Scripture passages chosen bring us to reflect upon the nature of the Church, its significance and our role as members and partakers of God’s Church and its numerous works and ministries among the people of God in this world.

In the first reading today, St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Corinth spoke of all of us, God’s people, who believe in Him and who have received baptism, the Sacrament through which we have been liberated from our taints of sin, have been made into One Body, the One Body of Christ, the Church.

By baptism, we have been made members of this Church, and have been united to one another, by our Communion with Christ. That is because by our common Baptism, and by our worthy reception of the Lord’s own Most Precious and Holy Body and Blood in the Eucharist, we have become One Body and One Spirit in Christ.

But then, it does not end there, brothers and sisters in Christ. The story of our Christian life and our salvation by God does not end just by our baptism, or by our membership in the Church, or by our faith in God. Rather, it is by our continuing faith and fulfilment of that faith through our concrete and good works that we live a good and exemplary life in God.

Many of us have this misconception, both within and outside the Church, that we are saved by faith alone. No, this is not completely true, as yes, faith is what saved us, but our faith cannot be an empty faith that is meaningless and useless for us. Instead, our faith must be substantiated and proven by our actions, our words and our deeds, through the good works we do, in accordance and guided by our faith.

That is why, as members of the one Body of Christ, the Church, we are called to follow the commandments which God has given us, and the mission which He has entrusted to His Church through His Apostles. As Christians we are called to show true Christian love and compassion to one another, especially to those who are suffering, in pain or those who are experiencing great sorrows.

We are called to be beacons of hope and light for one another, that we may guide each other in our respective journey of life. And we have to do this through our actions, which we do in accordance with God’s will and with how God has taught us to do. But we must also remember that we cannot do everything on our own. We must be able to work together with the other members of the Church, our fellow brethren in faith.

That is because to each one of us, God has given different gifts and talents, each according to our abilities and to how God has intended us to live, and how He created us. St. Paul mentioned this in the same passage taken from the Epistle to the Corinthians, when he told the people, that not everyone can be Apostles, or speak with tongues, or perform miracles and wonders. To each and every one of the disciples were given various and diverse gifts.

This means that in the Church, we cannot exist by ourselves or do everything on our own. Instead, we must learn to work together, making good use of each others’ strengths and learn to help one another in overcoming our respective weaknesses and shortcomings. It is only by good and concerted effort from each of us, members of God’s Church, that many wonderful good works will come to fruition, for the benefit of all those who seek God’s salvation.

Are we able then to strive to work together with our fellow brothers and sisters in faith? Especially for all of us in the Church ministries, we must be able to work together, overcoming whatever grievances, prejudices, misunderstandings, conflicts, gossips, lies, and other obstacles that often appear within our Church groups and establishments. Otherwise, if we allow all of these things to be in the way of our efforts to build a vibrant and evangelising Christian communities, then it will cause much setback for the good works of the Church, many souls can be lost, and the blame will squarely be on us.

This is why, from now on, let us all come to realise the contributions that each one of us can give, for the common good of the Church and all the faithful, in all the talents and gifts that God has given us. Let us all work together, and coming together as a community that prays for each other, that is concerned for the well-being of one another, and that wants to see each and every one of its members to be spiritually filled by God’s love. Let us all turn towards God with a renewed zeal and courage.

May God bless us all, and may He continue to be our Guide, that each and every one of us may be filled with the strong desire to love Him and to love our fellow brethren, through our actions and deeds, and be truly committed and living our lives in accordance with our living and vibrant faith. Amen.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 7 : 11-17

At that time, a little later after Jesus healed the servant of a captain in Capernaum, He went to a town called Naim. He was accompanied by His disciples and a great number of people. As He reached the gate of the town, a dead man was being carried out. He was the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; there followed a large crowd of townspeople.

On seeing her, the Lord had pity on her and said, “Do not cry.” Then He came up and touched the stretcher, and the men who carried it stopped. Jesus then said, “Young man, I say to you, wake up!” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.

A holy fear came over them all, and they praised God saying, “A great Prophet has appeared among us; God, has visited His people.” The news spread throughout Judea and the surrounding places.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 99 : 2, 3, 4, 5

Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.

Know that the Lord is God; He created us and we are His people, the sheep of His fold.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving, His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and bless His Name.

For the Lord is good; His love lasts forever and His faithfulness through all generations.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Corinthians 12 : 12-14, 27-31a

As the body is one, having many members, and all the members, while being many, form one body, so it is with Christ. All of us, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free, have been baptised in one Spirit, to form one Body, and all of us have been given, to drink from the one Spirit. The Body has not just one member, but many.

Now, you are the Body of Christ, and each of you, individually, is a member of it. So God has appointed us in the Church. First Apostles, second prophets, third teachers. Then come miracles, then the gift of healing, material help, administration in the Church and the gift of tongues. Are all Apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Can all perform miracles, or cure the sick, or speak in tongues, or explain what was said in tongues? Be that as it may, set your hearts on the most precious gifts.

Monday, 17 September 2018 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in today’s Scripture passages we heard about the moment when the Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper, as recounted by St. Paul to the faithful in the city of Corinth. And then in the Gospel today, we heard of the Lord healing the servant of a Roman army centurion, by the great faith which he showed before all.

At that occasion, the Roman centurion, which was quite a senior leader within the structure of the Roman army, came to Jesus and begged Him to make his servant better and recover from the illness that affected the servant. He had a great faith in the Lord, as well as astute understanding of the socio-political landscape at the time.

Why is that so? That is because of what the Roman centurion told Jesus when He was about to go to his house in order to heal the centurion’s servant. The centurion spoke the words which each and every one of us now regularly recite during the celebration of the Holy Mass. “Lord I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof.”

These words showed to us that the centurion understood well the possible negative implications and repercussions should the Lord Jesus came to his house. The Jewish customs and traditions of that time prescribed against entry or visit into the house of a pagan. If one was to enter the house of a pagan, then he or she would be considered as unclean.

As such, the centurion simply asked the Lord to say the words, and he believed that his servant would be healed within an instant. And this ought be contrasted with what we heard of the attitude of many of the people to whom the Lord had come for. The Pharisees, the teachers of the Law, many of the people and even Our Lord’s own hometown neighbours rejected Him, despite having seen directly with their own eyes the Lord’s wonders and miracles.

The centurion believed with all of his heart, and for his faith, his prayers were listened to by God, and were fulfilled. The Lord praised him for his faith, which not many people in Israel at that time possessed, as we have just discussed. Now, let us ask ourselves, do we have the same faith as what the Roman centurion had?

As we see in our first reading today, the Lord instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper He had with His disciples, just before He was about to suffer and die and fulfil completely the mission He was sent into this world. And it was also to fulfil what He Himself had said earlier on to the people, that He is the Bread of Life, and all who eat of the Flesh and drink of the Blood that He gives, will have eternal life.

Now, the Eucharist and the Real Presence of Our Lord are the very focus and centres of our Christian faith. Yet, unfortunately, the reality is that there are still so many of us Christians who have not taken this seriously, or even acted in ways that scandalised this essential Christian truth.

This is evident from how we lack the respect and reverence for the Real Presence of God in the Eucharist, treating the Eucharist not as the Lord Himself present in His full and complete Presence, in the Body, Soul and Divinity. Our core Christian faith is that we believe that even though the bread and wine remains as such in appearance, but in reality, in substance and in truth, they have been transformed into the very Presence and Reality of Our Lord Himself.

Then, we cannot do what we have done so far any longer, all of our irreverent attitudes, our lukewarm faith and attitude towards the Holy Mass, our refusal to put our whole heart and indeed, our whole being to be with God, and our failures to put God to be at the centre of our lives.

Let us today follow the example of the Roman centurion, as well as that of St. Robert Bellarmine, a great bishop and Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, devoted servant of God and dedicated reformer of the Church. All of them have shown us what it means to be true disciples and followers of God.

St. Robert Bellarmine was a great intellectual and theologian remembered for his many beautiful works and writings, through which he helped to rejuvenate the Church battered and assailed both from inside and outside by divisions, heresies and external threats. He drove the reform of the governance of the Church, taking issue with the bishops and ordinaries who did not commit themselves or reside with their flock.

St. Robert Bellarmine and the many other saints of his era, and past and present holy men and women have shown us that we must have that strong faith in God, and dedication in order to be worthy of God. Indeed, as the army centurion said, ‘I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof’, for he and all of us are sinners. Our sins have made us to be unworthy of God. But are we willing to allow God to exercise His wonderful work of mercy in us?

Remember that the army centurion also asked the Lord to heal his servant, and let us link it with what we always utter during the Mass, ‘but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed’. This is a calling for us all to put our trust in God and turn towards Him, looking forward for His mercy and love. We have to remember that ultimately, each and every one of us are God’s beloved ones.

May the Lord be with us, and continue to shower us with His love. May He empower each and every one of us, that we may continue to grow in faith, modelled after St. Robert Bellarmine, the faithful Roman centurion and the many other holy men and women who have gone before us. May God bless us and all of our endeavours. Amen.

Monday, 17 September 2018 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Luke 7 : 1-10

At that time, when Jesus had finished teaching the people, He went to Capernaum. A Roman military officer lived there, whose servant was very sick and near to death, a man very dear to him. So when he heard about Jesus, he sent some elders of the Jews to persuade Him to come and save his servant’s life. The elders came to Jesus and begged Him earnestly, saying, “He deserves this of You, for he loves our people and even built a synagogue for us.”

Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house, when the Roman officer sent friends to give this message, “Sir, do not trouble Yourself, for I am not worthy to welcome You under my roof. You see, I did not approach You myself. Just give the order, and my servant will be healed. For I myself, a junior officer, give orders to my soldiers, and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes; and to the other, ‘Come!’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.”

On hearing these words, Jesus was filled with admiration. He turned and said to the people with Him, “I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.” The people, sent by the captain, went back to his house; there they found that the servant was well.

Monday, 17 September 2018 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Psalm 39 : 7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 17

Sacrifice and oblation You did not desire; this, You had me understand. Burnt offering and sin offering You do not require. Then I said, “Here I come!”

As the scroll says of me. To do Your will is my delight, o God, for Your law is within my heart.

In the great assembly I have proclaimed Your saving help. My lips, o YHVH, I did not seal – You know that very well.

But may all those who seek You, rejoice, and be glad in You; and may all who love Your saving grace continually say, “YHVH is great.”