Thursday, 11 July 2019 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Benedict, Abbot (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the exchange between Joseph and his brothers, as the former wanted to keep Benjamin as a hostage as part of a ploy he planned to test his brothers. Judah spoke up passionately in defence of his brothers and also Benjamin, pleading for Joseph to release Benjamin. At that time, they did not know yet who Joseph actually was.

The brothers defended Benjamin who was accused of stealing from the Regent of Egypt, that is Joseph, and they showed concern that their father Israel would die if Benjamin was to be arrested and taken away, and they also kind of showed regret having sent Joseph off earlier on, abandoning him to the hands of the slavers of Midian. And Joseph was touched by all the love that the brothers showed to each other, so much so that he was overwhelmed by his emotions and eventually revealed himself to his brothers.

And in the end, the twelve brothers were united once again, and Joseph, the brother once thought lost, was reunited with his other brothers, and eventually this good news came to Israel who was left behind in Canaan. Ut was a happy ending for the bitter pain that the family had to endure, especially for Israel, who had to accept the painful fact of his beloved son’s death earlier on.

It is then for this same reason that God in our Gospel passage today, through His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, sent out His disciples to the many places He was about to visit, to prepare His way for him and to call on the people to repent from their sins and to be willing to accept the Good News and the truth of God. Through this, the Lord wanted to reconcile His people to Himself, and to gather them back from being scattered away in the darkness of the world.

However, at the same time, just as it was difficult for the sons of Israel to be reunited, the Lord also revealed to His disciples that they would encounter challenges and difficulties along the way, people who would reject them and refuse to believe in them, those who were stubborn and hardened in heart. But at the same time, He also reassured them that He would be with them, and those who refused to believe essentially had rejected salvation on their own volition.

All of us are therefore also called to go forth and be witnesses of the truth of God, by virtue of our Christian baptism and therefore membership of the Church. As members of God’s Church, all of us are called to be examples and role models in faith so that by our good examples and living faith, many others will also come to believe in God through us and our actions. There will indeed be challenges along the way, but we should not easily give up our efforts just because of those.

Today, let us be inspired by the good and faithful example of St. Benedict of Nursia, also known as St. Benedict the Abbot, who was famous for his inspiration for what would eventually become the Benedictine religious order, and also for his rigorous and disciplined rule, the Rule of St. Benedict, which became a model for many other religious orders and faithful communities in how they lead a life of faith.

St. Benedict of Nursia was a Roman noble who was intelligent and bright, and yet, was disappointed with the immorality he discovered when he went to Rome to further his studies. Eventually, he retired away from the city and found a place of solitude, where gradually he developed a hermit-like lifestyle of solitude and prayer, and more and more people came to join him. That was how the Benedictines first came to be, a gathering of men who wanted to seek God through prayer and internal peace.

The faith, piety and love which St. Benedict had for God is truly an inspiration to each and every one of us as Christians, for through his examples, many have been inspired to follow a better and holier way of life, turning away from sin and the temptations to sin, embracing instead the noble and true path of the Lord. Let us also be inspired by their examples and lead a better, more Christian way of life from now on in our own lives.

May the Lord be with us, and may He continue to guide us, through the inspiration and examples of St. Benedict, that we may grow ever closer to God and we may be more faithful in all things we say and do. May God bless us all and our good endeavours, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 11 July 2019 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Benedict, Abbot (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 10 : 7-15

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Go, and proclaim this message : The kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, bring the dead back to life, cleanse the lepers, and drive out demons. Freely have you received, freely give. Do not carry any gold or silver or money in your purses. Do not take a travelling bag, or an extra shirt, or sandals, or a walking stick : workers deserve to be compensated.”

“When you come to a town or a village, look for a worthy person, and stay there until you leave. When you enter the house, wish it peace. If the people are worthy people, your peace will rest on them; if they are not worthy people, your blessing will come back to you.”

“And if you are not welcomed, and your words are not listened to, leave that house or that town, and shake the dust off your feet. I assure you, it will go easier for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment, than it will for the people of that town.”

Thursday, 11 July 2019 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Benedict, Abbot (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 104 : 16-17, 18-19, 20-21

Then YHVH sent a famine and ruined the crop that sustained the land; He sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave.

His feet in shackles, his neck in irons; till what he foretold came to pass, and YHVH’s word proved him true.

The king sent for him; set him free; the ruler of the peoples released him. He put him in charge of his household and made him ruler of all his possessions.

Thursday, 11 July 2019 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Benedict, Abbot (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Genesis 44 : 18-21, 23b-29 and Genesis 45 : 1-5

Judah then went forward and said, “My lord, allow your servant to speak. Do not be angry with your servant, although you are equal to Pharaoh himself. The last time you questioned your servants saying : ‘Have you a father or a brother?’ We said to my lord : ‘We have an aged father who had a child in his old age. His brother is dead and he is the only one left of his mother’s children. And his father loves him.'”

“Then you said to us : ‘Bring him down so that I can see him for myself, if your youngest brother did not come with you, you would not be admitted to my presence.’ All this we said to our father on returning there. So when he told us to come back and buy a little food, we said : ‘We cannot go down again unless our youngest brother is with us. We shall not be admitted to the lord’s presence unless our brother is with us.'”

“Then my father said : ‘You know that my wife had two children. One went away from me and has surely been torn to pieces since I have not seen him anymore. If you take this one from me and something happens to him you will bring my gray hair in sorrow to the grave.'”

Now Joseph could no longer control his feelings in the presence of all those standing by and he called out, “Leave my presence, everyone!” And only his brothers were with him when Joseph made himself known to them. He wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard and the news spread through Pharaoh’s house.

Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” And his brothers could not answer because they were terrified at seeing him. Joseph said, “Come closer,” and they drew nearer. “I am Joseph your brother, yes, it is me, the one you sold to the Egyptians. Now do not grieve or reproach yourselves for selling me, because God has sent me before you to save your lives.”