Tuesday, 20 August 2019 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 19 : 23-30

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you : it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Yes, believe Me : it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than for the one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.”

On hearing this, the disciples were astonished and said, “Who, then, can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and answered, “For human beings it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” Then Peter spoke up and said, “You see, we have given up everything to follow You. What, then, will there be for us?”

Jesus answered, “You, who have followed Me, listen to My words : on the Day of Renewal, when the Son of Man sits on His throne in glory, you, also, will sit, on twelve thrones, to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. As for those who have left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children or property for My Name’s sake, they will receive a hundredfold, and be given eternal life. Many who are now first, will be last, and many who are now last, will be first.”

Tuesday, 20 August 2019 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 84 : 9, 11-12, 13-14

Would, that I hear God’s proclamation, that He promise peace to His people, His saints – lest they come back to their folly.

Love and faithfulness have met; righteousness and peace have embraced. Faithfulness will reach up from the earth while justice bends down from heaven.

YHVH will give what is good, and our land will yield its fruit. Justice will go before Him, and peace will follow along His path.

Tuesday, 20 August 2019 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Judges 6 : 11-24a

The Angel of YHVH came and sat under the sacred tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash, of the family of Abiezer. Gideon, the son of Joash, was threshing the wheat in the wine press to hide it from the Midianites.

The Angel of YHVH said to him, “YHVH be with you, valiant warrior.” Gideon answered, “Please, my lord, if YHVH is with us, why is all this happening to us? Where are the wonders which our fathers recounted to us? Did they not say that YHVH led them up from Egypt? Why has He abandoned us now and given us into the hands of the Midianites?”

YHVH then turned to him and said, “Go, and with your courage, save Israel from the Midianites. It is I Who send you.” Gideon answered : “Pardon me, Lord, but how can I save Israel? My family is the lowliest in my tribe and I am the least in the family of my father.”

YHVH said to him, “I will be with you and you shall defeat the people of Midian with one single stroke.” Gideon said to Him, “Please give me a sign that it is indeed You Who speak. Do not leave until I return with an offering and present it to You.” YHVH responded, “I am going to wait for you here.”

Gideon went and prepared a young goat, took a measure of flour and baked unleavened bread. He put the broth in a pot and the meat in a basket, and went to present them to the Angel under the tree. Then the Angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the bread; put them on this rock, and pour the broth over them.”

Gideon did so. At that moment, the Angel of YHVH extended the staff he was holding and touched the meat and the bread. Suddenly, fire blazed from the rock. The fire consumed the meat and the bread, and the Angel of YHVH disappeared.

Gideon realised that he was the Angel of YHVH and said, “Alas, o Lord YHVH! I have seen the Angel of YHVH face to face.” But YHVH said to him, “Peace be with you. Do not fear for you shall not die.” Gideon built an altar to YHVH in that place and called it YHVH-Peace.

Monday, 19 August 2019 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Eudes, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the words of the Scripture speaking to us on the matter of following God and obeying His will despite the challenges and temptations that we may face throughout our lives. We heard from the Book of Judges as our first reading passage today how God’s people Israel had disobeyed Him and refused to listen to Him after their leaders had passed on, forgetting all that God had done for their sake.

They worshipped and served other gods, the pagan gods whom their forefathers have crushed and destroyed when they came to occupy the land God had given to them. They were swayed by all those false gods and idols, and were not faithful to the promises which their ancestors had made to the Lord as part of their Covenant. The people chose to follow their own desires and embracing the temptations present in this world rather than being faithful to God.

As a result, the Lord allowed their enemies and those who still stayed in the land with them, the pagans around them to rule over them and dominate them, bringing about hardships and challenges for the Israelites. It was not that God did not love His people by doing what He had done, but rather He loved them so much that He wanted to remind them and bring them into line, just like a father disciplining his children who went wayward.

In the same passage then, God sent many of His servants to the midst of His people, those whom He called to be the leaders and guides for the whole nation as He called them to repent from their sins and disobedience. Those were the Judges of Israel, who helped the people of God to rediscover their faith and to lead them back from the path of sin, freeing them at the same time from all those who persecuted them as a sign of God’s providence and faithfulness to His Covenant.

Yet, it was mentioned how every time the Judges passed on, the Israelites fell back again into their old ways, disobeying God and worshipping the pagan idols, disregarding the laws and commandments that God had put in place for them. They were not able to commit themselves to the Lord and His Covenant, and as a result, God had to sent many Judges, again and again to keep them in line, just as how He would also send prophets after prophets later on to remind His people to be faithful.

What we have heard in this first reading passage today is actually linked to what we have also heard in our Gospel passage today, when a man came to approach the Lord Jesus asking how he could receive the grace of eternal life. He said to the Lord how he has obeyed all the commandments and rules in accordance to the laws of Moses. The Lord praised him for what he has done, but then when He asked him to leave everything he had and give them to the poor and the needy, he could not do it and left in sorrow.

What the Lord wanted to show us all through this encounter is not that all of us have to abandon all worldly things and goods as what He has told the man to do, but rather, if we want to be truly faithful to God, then we must not let all those things to distract us and to prevent us from loving Him and dedicating ourselves to Him with all of our hearts and with all of our strength. The people of Israel as described in our first reading today continued to fall into their sinful ways because they did not truly love God with all of their hearts, and they kept on being distracted and tempted as a result.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. John Eudes, a famous and pious saint whose life can be inspiration for us to follow in how we should live our lives with faith that we will not end up falling again and again into sin. St. John Eudes was a French priest who was remembered for his great love and particular devotion to the Lord, especially to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. He performed numerous good works among the people, ministering to them and preaching in their midst, inspiring many to embrace God’s love and holiness.

He established religious orders and congregations for the benefit of the faithful, and in one particular case having seen how many prostitutes had difficulties when they wanted to escape such a destitute condition, and hence St. John Eudes founded a religious order as a refuge for those prostitutes who escaped their previous wicked lives and turned to God. He dedicated his life to serve the people of God and by being faithful and exemplary in all the things he did in his life with faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now, are we able to follow in the footsteps of St. John Eudes? As Christians, all of us are called to live up to our calling as Christians, as those whom God had called and chosen from this world, to be His own. Let us all grow in faith and love the Lord ever more wholeheartedly from now on, embracing the most generous love and compassion which He has constantly shown us all these while.

May the Lord continue to guide us all, and may He continue to empower us all to live ever more worthily in His presence from now on, and strengthened by the Holy Spirit God has given us, may all of us be more committed to the Covenant which God had made with us all, now and always. Amen.