Wednesday, 31 July 2019 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of God in the Sacred Scripture speaking to us about the moment when Moses came down from Mount Sinai where he encountered and spoke with God Who gave him the new two tablets of stone containing the Ten Commandments which He had given to His people Israel, after the first stone tablets were destroyed when Moses in his anger broke them at the moment when Israel rebelled against God by erecting a golden calf idol over themselves as their god.

Moses appeared before the people bearing the Law of God in the Ten Commandments, showing all of them what the Lord has revealed to him, and they all saw that his face was radiant, full of the glory of God, having seen God Himself face to face. Perhaps this also refers to the great joy and happiness that Moses has experienced when he stood in the presence of God, listening to the wonderful truth and the love which God has for His people.

How is this related to our Gospel passage today? In fact, what we have heard in our first reading today on Moses and his reception of God’s Law at Mount Sinai is the moment mentioned in the Gospel, of how he has found and discovered the true treasure of mankind, that is God and His Law, His truth and His ways. The Lord Jesus mentioned to His disciples the parable of the true treasure that is the kingdom of heaven.

In that parable, He compared the kingdom of heaven with a great treasure that a person has discovered, likened to to a great treasure and to a pearl of great value that a trader has discovered in the sea. And using these approximations and comparisons, the Lord wanted us all to know that just as Moses was radiant and most likely joyful of having known God Himself that time, all of us too should seek the true treasure of our lives.

And what is this treasure, brothers and sisters in Christ? What is the treasure of our lives? Is it wealth? Is it prestige? Is it worldly glory? Is it fame? Is it human achievements and praise? Is it pleasures of the flesh? If these are the treasures that we seek in life, then I am afraid that we have not managed to find the true treasure that we ought to seek, which can be found in God alone.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the famous saint who is the founder of the Society of Jesus, also popularly known as the Jesuit Order. St. Ignatius of Loyola together with several like-minded men like St. Peter Faber, St. Francis Borgia, St. Francis Xavier among many others founded the Society of Jesus during the time of the Counter-Reformation where they were at the forefront of action.

But St. Ignatius of Loyola had a very different beginning, and it was probably most unlikely for him when he was young to have foreseen what he would eventually become, especially when he was born and raised with intense expectation for glory and fame. St. Ignatius of Loyola was particularly attracted to martial combat and the ideals of chivalry, and that was why he joined the military at a young age, seeking worldly glory and fame.

Initially he had great success and acclaim, but an unfortunate accident changed his whole life forever, when during a battle, one of his legs was shattered by the force of the explosion of a cannonball. He had to go through a painful process of healing and recovery, and from then on, physically disabled and never fully regaining the strength in his injured leg, his path of worldly glory through combat was over.

This was the beginning of a period of spiritual conversion and change in the young St. Ignatius of Loyola’s life, in which the future saint began to read up on the Scriptural texts and the lives of saints, gaining more understanding and comprehension of what his true treasure and purpose in life were. From then on, St. Ignatius of Loyola would no longer dream on pursuing worldly ambitions and chivalrous ideals, and instead, he sought to imitate the saints.

He embarked on intensive study of the faith and as mentioned earlier, gathered like-minded men to begin the foundation of the Jesuits. At that time, the whole of Christendom was in turmoil due to internal divisions and heretical ideas, and at the same time the threat of external invasions and conquest by the forces of unbelievers brought about a truly dark time in the history of the Church.

But St. Ignatius of Loyola and his fellow Jesuits devoted themselves to be at the forefront of the concerted efforts to bring about a change in the direction of the Church, the conversion of many sinners and all those who have been swayed away or left the Church and the faith, as well as for the evangelisation of more people both within Christendom then and also in faraway mission lands.

Through the examples shown by St. Ignatius of Loyola, his change in mindset and spiritual conversion, all of us should be inspired to look deep into our own lives and see in what way we ourselves can change and be converted spiritually and indeed, wholly in our entire beings, from those who seek after the worldly treasures of fame, human achievements and glory, wealth and pleasures of the flesh, into those who seek the true treasure found in God alone.

Let us all therefore refocus and redirect our attention and efforts from now on, that gradually we may grow stronger in our faith as well as becoming ever closer to God, our loving Lord and Master. As St. Ignatius and the Jesuits’ motto says, ‘Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam’ or ‘For the Greater Glory of God’, let us all live our lives from now on with the intention to glorify God. May God continue to guide us in our path and bless our lives, that we may be ever closer and be more faithful to Him, following the examples of St. Ignatius of Loyola and many other holy saints, holy men and women of God. Amen.

Wednesday, 31 July 2019 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 13 : 44-46

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure, hidden in a field. The one who finds it, buries it again; and so happy is he, that he goes and sells everything he has, in order to buy that field.”

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a trader, who is looking for fine pearls. Once he has found a pearl of exceptional quality, he goes away, sells everything he has and buys it.”

Wednesday, 31 July 2019 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 98 : 5, 6, 7, 9

Extol YHVH, our God; worship at His footstool. Holy is He! And mighty!

Among His priests were Moses and Aaron; and Samuel, among those who called on His Name. They called to YHVH, and He answered them.

In the pillar of cloud He spoke to them; and they kept His statutes and the decrees He gave them.

Extol YHVH our God; worship at His holy mountain. Holy is YHVH our God!

Wednesday, 31 July 2019 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Exodus 34 : 29-35

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that the skin of his face was radiant after speaking with YHVH. Aaron and all the sons of Israel saw that Moses’ face was radiant and they were afraid to go near him.

But Moses called them, and Aaron with all the leaders of the community drew near, and Moses spoke to them. Afterwards all the Israelites came near and he told them all that YHVH had commanded him on Mount Sinai. When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face.

Whenever Moses went before YHVH to speak with Him, he took off the veil until he came out again. And when he came out and told them what he had been commanded, the Israelites saw that his face was radiant. Moses would then replace the veil over his face until he went again to speak with YHVH.