Wednesday, 24 July 2019 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Sharbel Makhluf, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Matthew 13 : 1-9

At that time, that same day, Jesus left the house and sat down by the lakeside. Many people gathered around Him. So He got into a boat, and sat down, while the crowds stood on the shore; and He spoke to them in parables about many things.

Jesus said, “The sower went out to sow; and, as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path; and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where there was little soil, and the seeds sprouted quickly, because the soil was not deep. But as soon as the sun rose, the plants were scorched; and they withered, because they had no roots.”

“Again, other seeds fell among thistles; and the thistles grew and choked the plants. Still, other seeds fell on good soil and produced a crop : some a hundredfold, others sixty, and others thirty. If you have ears, then hear!”

Wednesday, 24 July 2019 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Sharbel Makhluf, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Psalm 77 : 18-19, 23-24, 25-26, 27-28

The people of God tested Him, demanding the food they craved. They blasphemed against God, saying : “Can God spread a table in the desert?”

Yet, He commanded the skies above, and opened the doors of heaven; He rained down manna upon them, and fed them with the heavenly grain.

They ate and had more than their fill of the bread of Angels. Then, from heaven He stirred the east wind, and, by His power, let loose the south wind.

To rain down meat on them like dust. Birds as thick as the sand on the seashore fell inside their camp, lying all around their tents.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Sharbel Makhluf, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Exodus 16 : 1-5, 9-15

The Israelites left Elim and the entire community reached the desert of Sin, between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after leaving Egypt. In the desert the whole community of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron and said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of YHVH in Egypt when we sat down to caldrons of meat and ate all the bread we wanted, whereas you have brought us to this desert to let the whole assembly die of starvation!”

YHVH then said to Moses, “Now I am going to rain down bread from heaven for you. Each day the people are to gather what is needed for that day. In this way I will test them to see if they will follow My Teaching or not. On the sixth day when they prepare what they have brought in, they will find that there is twice as much as they gather each day.”

Then Moses directed Aaron to say to the whole community of Israel, “Draw near to YHVH for He has heard your complaints.” It happened that as Aaron was speaking to the full assembly of Israel, they turned towards the desert and saw the Glory of YHVH in the midst of the cloud.

Then YHVH spoke to Moses, “I have heard the complaints of Israel. Speak to them and say : Between the two evenings you will eat meat, and in the morning you will have bread to your heart’s content; then you shall know that I am YHVH, your God!”

In the evening quails came up and covered the camp. And in the morning, dew had fallen around the camp. When the dew lifted, there was on the surface of the desert a thin crust like hoarfrost. The people of Israel upon seeing it said to one another, “What is it?” for they did not know what it was. Moses told them, “It is the bread that YHVH has given you to eat.”

Tuesday, 23 July 2019 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bridget of Sweden, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the trust and obedience that each and every one of us must have in our lives towards God, our loving Father and Creator, the One Who loves each and every one of us, and by Whose hands we have been brought to freedom from sin, through the gift of His own beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

In our first reading today, the people of God, the sons and daughters of Israel were brought out of the land of Egypt by God’s own great power. Those who were saved enjoyed God’s saving power because they obeyed the Lord and His commands, which He made through His servant Moses. They followed the Lord’s instructions, on the Passover and what they ought to do, smearing the blood of the Passover lambs on their house doorposts.

Those who did not do what the Lord has commanded them to do, and refused to believe in the Lord and obey Him, like the Egyptians and their Pharaoh, as the latter constantly refused to let the people of Israel go free until the very end, all of these suffered because of their disobedience and stubborn refusal to listen to God. They rejected God’s truth and love, and therefore, received the wrath of God as a result.

In our Gospel passage today, this message was reiterated once again by the Lord Jesus Himself, as He mentioned before His disciples and the people, that all those who do the will of God, His heavenly Father, obey Him and follow His ways, are all those who will be considered as His brothers, His sisters and His mother. This happened when the relatives of the Lord came to see Him, and those were waiting while the Lord was busy teaching the people.

It may seem that the Lord Jesus was being rude in rebuking His own relatives and refusing to acknowledge them in such a public manner before His own disciples and so many of the people. But if we look at it more carefully and understand the context and purpose in which the Lord made that comment, then we will realise that the Lord was making a point, calling on the people to be truly faithful to the Lord.

And it also showed how the Lord would not be limited by the boundaries of societal norms and familial relations, which often caused people to be divided and grouped together, to the exclusion of others. What the Lord has done was to show that God’s love is extended to all the people equally, with no favourites and cliques. All those who has obeyed the Lord and done His will shall be considered as God’s own beloved ones.

That is precisely because of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has assumed our humanity in the flesh, the Divine Son of God Who has willingly taken up our human existence and essence to be His own, that in His person is perfectly united and yet distinct, two natures, fully Divine and fully Man at the same time. Through His humanity, and by His sacrifice on the Cross, He has made a new Covenant between us and God.

And by this Covenant, each and every one of us have been made worthy of adoption by God Himself, to share with Christ and through Him the status as the beloved children of God. But are we willing to be part of this great inheritance? More often than not, we are distracted and prevented from finding our way because of the many temptations present in this world, because of sin.

Today, perhaps, all of us should look upon the examples set by one of our holy predecessors, namely that of St. Bridget of Sweden, whose feast we celebrate on this day. St. Bridget was born into a noble family and was a devoted mother of a large family. She was remembered for her great piety and generosity in helping the poor and the needy, in being generous for all those who were in need.

St. Bridget devoted her life to the Lord, especially after her husband passed away early, and began the foundation of a religious order eventually named after her, the Brigittines, also known as the Order of the Most Holy Saviour, gathering men and women from many backgrounds to dedicate themselves to the Lord in prayer and service in monasteries. She went on a pilgrimage to Rome and stayed on there, performing many more good works throughout the rest of her life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the piety and commitment shown by St. Bridget of Sweden should become a great inspiration and example for each one of us to follow, in our own lives, that we may also do the same and may also grow ever closer to God, in our obedience and wilful following of God’s will in each and every single days of our life.

May the Lord continue to guide us all in our journey of life, and may He strengthen us all to live courageously with faith from now on, for the sake of His greater glory. Amen.

Tuesday, 23 July 2019 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bridget of Sweden, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Matthew 12 : 46-50

At that time, while Jesus was talking to the people, His mother and His brothers wanted to speak to Him, and they waited outside. So someone said to Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside; they want to speak with You.”

Jesus answered, “Who is My mother? Who are My brothers?” Then He pointed to His disciples and said, “Look! Here are My mother and My brothers. Whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”

Tuesday, 23 July 2019 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bridget of Sweden, Religious (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Exodus 15 : 8-9, 10 and 12, 17

At the blast of Your nostrils the waters piled up, the surging waters stood firm in a heap; the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea. The enemy said, “I will give chase and overtake, I will divide the spoil and make a feast of it. I shall draw my sword and my hand will destroy them.”

A breath of Yours and the sea covered them; they sank like lead in the mighty waters. You stretched out Your right hand; the earth swallowed them.

You will bring them in and plant them on the mountain of Your inheritance, the place You chose to dwell in, o YHVH, the sanctuary prepared by Your hands.

Tuesday, 23 July 2019 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bridget of Sweden, Religious (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Exodus 14 : 21 – Exodus 15 : 1a

Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. At daybreak the sea returned to its place. As the Egyptians tried to flee, YHVH swept them into the sea. The waters flowed back and engulfed the chariots and horsemen of the whole army of Pharaoh that had followed Israel into the sea. Not one of them escaped. As for the Israelites they went forward on dry ground in the middle of the sea, the waters forming a wall on their right and their left.

On that day YHVH delivered Israel from the power of the Egyptians and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the seashore. They understood what wonders YHVH had done for them against Egypt, and the people feared YHVH. They believed in YHVH and in Moses, His servant. Then Moses and the people sang this song to YHVH : “I will sing to YHVH, the Glorious One, horse and rider He has thrown into the sea.”