Tuesday, 3 September 2019 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are reminded through what we have heard from the Sacred Scriptures that we all need to escape from the darkness present in this world, and find the true Light and salvation that can be found in God alone. For too long we have dwelled in the darkness and God has come to us to free us from this darkness and bring us into the light.

The Lord blesses us all and protects us because of His great love for us. He does not want us to be destroyed and be condemned because of the darkness that are all around us. He is always ever vigilant in watching over us and in being concerned with us. And that was why He sent us His Saviour, His own beloved Son to us in the first place. If He did not love us as He does, then He would not have done whatever He had done for our sake.

I am referring to His work and ministry among us, how He went about from places to places to save His people and deliver them from the darkness of their sins, ministering and caring for them and their needs. In our Gospel passage today we heard about how He taught among the people in Capernaum in the synagogue and then healed a man who was tormented and possessed by evil spirits, casting those demons out of him.

He showed all the people that He has power and authority over all things, including even over the evil spirits, who had to obey Him and get out of the man they possessed when He commanded them to do so. He is the One Whom every being on earth, in heaven, in hell and indeed in all places and in all creation had to obey and bend to knee to worship, even Satan and all of his allies, the fallen angels and demons.

All of these forces are trying their best to bring about our downfall, striking at us constantly with temptations and efforts to turn us away from God and leading us down the path of sin. But what the Lord intends with us has been made clear as St. Paul wrote it in his Epistle to the Thessalonians in our first reading passage today, as he said that “God has not willed us to be condemned, but to gain salvation, through Christ Jesus, Our Lord.”

Through what the Lord has done, we can see just how much He truly loves each and every one of us without exception, as we are after all, His most precious and beloved creations. He did not go through so much suffering on the Cross for no reason, and that reason that He loves us all and wants us to be reconciled completely with Him is good enough for Him to bear and endure the burden of our sins and to suffer and die for our sake and for our salvation.

Yet, unfortunately, the sad reality is such that even though God truly loves us all and desires nothing but our liberation and salvation from certain destruction, but it is often that we mankind refuse to accept His generous offer of mercy and love, His compassion and willingness to reach out to us, to heal us and to make us whole again. We are often tempted and swayed by our desires and by all the worldly things present all around us, our busy schedules and preoccupations with them that prevented us from truly loving and knowing God as we should.

Today perhaps all of us should look at the example set by a holy man of God, whose feast we celebrate, namely Pope St. Gregory the Great, a great and holy servant of God, dedicated and ever committed to the service of God. Pope St. Gregory the Great was remembered for his many contributions to the Church, in the vigorous reforms he carried out, in his works of evangelisation, most prominently by sending St. Augustine of Canterbury to re-establish the Church in England among many others.

Pope St. Gregory the Great truly loved God and devoted himself to the many works to bring greater glory to His Name, in allowing the Church to grow even more and in stabilising the foundations of the Church, strengthening the leadership and rooting out corruptions and heresies from within the Church. He was also credited with the reforms in the Church music for worship, which eventually led to the famous Gregorian chants being named after him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we can see just how much this holy servant of God dedicated himself to God, each and every moments of his life. Now, are we able to do the same with our own lives? Can we be inspired to do what Pope St. Gregory the Great had done with his own life, a life of total service and commitment to God? Let us all learn to resist the many temptations present in our lives, and resist the allure and distractions of our busy life in this world.

Instead, let us all turn towards God, in our hearts, minds and indeed, in our whole being, that we are no longer being distracted by those thoughts and distractions, of worldly ambitions, pride, greed and vainglory. Let us instead be true Christians, true disciples of the Lord from now on, knowing just how much He has loved us all, all these while. Let us all love Him dearly in the same way He has loved us from the Cross, giving our whole lives to

Him just as He has given everything to us. Amen.

Tuesday, 3 September 2019 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 4 : 31-37

At that time, Jesus went down to Capernaum, a town of Galilee, and began teaching the people at the Sabbath meetings. They were astonished at the way He taught them, for His word was spoken with authority.

In the synagogue, there was a man possessed by an evil spirit, who shouted in a loud voice, “What do You want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I recognise You : You are the Holy One of God.”

Then Jesus said to him sharply, “Be silent and leave this man!” The evil spirit then threw the man down in front of them, and came out of him without doing him harm. Amazement seized all these people, and they said to one another, “What does this mean? He commands the evil spirits with authority and power. He orders, and you see how they come out!”

And news about Jesus spread throughout the surrounding area.

Tuesday, 3 September 2019 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 26 : 1, 4, 13-14

YHVH is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? YHVH is the rampart of my life; I will not be afraid.

One thing I ask of YHVH, one thing I seek – that I may dwell in His house all the days of my life, to gaze at His jewel and to visit His Sanctuary.

I hope, I am sure, that I will see the goodness of YHVH in the land of the living. Trust in YHVH, be strong and courageous. Yes, put your hope in YHVH!

Tuesday, 3 September 2019 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Thessalonians 5 : 1-6, 9-11

You do not need anyone to write to you about the delay, and the appointed time for these events. You know, that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When people feel secure, and at peace, the disaster will suddenly come upon them, as the birth pangs of a woman in labour, and they will not escape.

But you, beloved, are not in darkness; so that day will not surprise you like a thief. All of you are citizens of the light and the day; we do not belong to night and darkness. Let us not, therefore, sleep as others do, but remain alert and sober.

For God has not willed us to be condemned, but to win salvation, through Christ Jesus, our Lord. He died for us, so that, we might enter into life, with Him, whether we are still awake or already asleep. Therefore, encourage one another and build up one another, as you are doing now.

Monday, 2 September 2019 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us are reminded to be faithful to God and to put all of our hope in Him, trusting in Him completely as the one and only source of our salvation, the very reason for our existence and the true Light through Whom we shall be freed from the darkness of our lives and by Whom we shall enter into the glorious kingdom of His heavenly glory.

In our first reading today, St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in the city of Thessalonica reassured them all that God would always be with them, and trusting in God would bring them eventual happiness and glory, as the Lord will reward all those who remain true and faithful to Him, and even in suffering and death, God will always be with His beloved ones. The promise of resurrection and eternal life in God is mentioned in the same passage to reassure all the people of God.

And that is important because at that time, in the earliest days of the Church, even as more and more people came to believe in God, there were increasingly more and more tensions within the community as those who refused to believe in God persecuted and rejected those who have accepted the Lord Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. As a result, some among the faithful were wavering in their faith in the face of opposition and persecution.

Then, as we also heard in the Gospel passage today, all of us are reminded that just as Christians have been persecuted for their faith all throughout time and ages, we must not forget that first and foremost, the Lord Himself, Our Lord and Master have been rejected first, persecuted first and made to suffer, ultimately leading to His sacrifice and most painful death on the Cross, by which He saved us all and brought the fulfilment of all of God’s promises.

In that occasion, as the Lord Jesus returned to His hometown of Nazareth in Galilee, He preached the word of God, as prophesied through His prophet Isaiah about the coming of God’s salvation through His Messiah, and how, at that very moment, the salvation of God was revealed for Jesus Himself was finally already in our midst. He is the fulfilment of God’s many promises to us, and which He had shown and proven to us through what He has performed while He walked on this earth.

However, as the passage continued on, many among His own townspeople rejected Him and refused to believe in Him. They must have thought that just because they knew Him and His family, the family of a humble and likely poor carpenter, then the Lord Jesus could not have been the One for Whom they have been waiting for. They judged Him and became prejudiced against Him, preferring to believe in themselves rather than God.

And the Lord showed them all how they were doing exactly what their own ancestors had done when those people struck at the prophets of God, rejecting them and refusing to believe in them, even though they brought with them the truth and wisdom of God. And the Lord Himself received the greatest rejection of all, in the end, when on the moment of His Passion, they condemned Him to die, death on the Cross.

Yet, the Lord continues to love us all regardless, despite all of our sins, our stubbornness and persistent refusal to believe in Him. He is ever faithful to the Covenant which He had made with us and sealed by His own Most Precious Blood on the Cross at Calvary. The Lord wants us all to be saved, and He wants us all to put our trust in Him, because after all, He has loved us so much that He willingly endured all the sufferings for our sake, for our salvation.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to dedicate ourselves and commit ourselves to God fully from now on? Are we willing and wanting to love Him all the more for the way He has loved us and cared for us all these while and for securing for us the path to eternal life and glory with Him? Let us all discern this carefully in our hearts and let us all truly turn to Him wholeheartedly from now onwards. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 2 September 2019 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 4 : 16-30

At that time, when Jesus came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, as He usually did. He stood up to read, and they handed Him the book of the prophet Isaiah.

Jesus then unrolled the scroll and found the place where it is written : “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me. He has anointed Me, to bring good news to the poor; to proclaim liberty to captives; and new sight to the blind; to free the oppressed; and to announce the Lord’s year of mercy.”

Jesus then rolled up the scroll, gave it to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. Then He said to them, “Today, these prophetic words come true, even as you listen.” All agreed with Him, and were lost in wonder, while He spoke of the grace of God. Nevertheless they asked, “Who is this but Joseph’s Son?”

So He said, “Doubtless you will quote Me the saying : Doctor, heal yourself! Do here, in Your town, what they say You did in Capernaum.” Jesus added, “No prophet is honoured in his own country.” Truly, I say to you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens withheld rain for three years and six months and a great famine came over the whole land.”

“Yet, Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow of Zarephath, in the country of Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha, the prophet; and no one was healed except Naaman, the Syrian.”

On hearing these words, the whole assembly became indignant. They rose up and brought Him out of the town, to the edge of the hill on which Nazareth is built, intending to throw Him down the cliff. But He passed through their midst and went His way.

Monday, 2 September 2019 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 95 : 1 and 3, 4-5, 11-12a, 12b-13

Sing to YHVH a new song, sing to YHVH, all the earth! Recall His glory among the nations, tell all the peoples His wonderful deeds.

How great is YHVH and worthy of praise! Above all gods, He is to be feared. For all other gods are worthless idols, but YHVH is the One Who made the heavens.

Let the heavens be glad, the earth rejoice; let the sea and all that fills it resound; let the fields exult and everything in them.

Let the forest, all the trees, sing for joy. Let them sing before YHVH Who comes to judge the earth. He will rule the world with justice, and the peoples, with fairness.