Saturday, 7 September 2019 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of God speaking to us about the need for us to understand fully what God has intended for us through what He has given to us and through what He has done for us all these while. We must not lose focus on what is important just because we are distracted in life by the many temptations and distractions present all around us.

In our Gospel passage today we heard of the encounter and the disagreement between the Lord Jesus and those Pharisees and teachers of the Law who followed Him and questioned Him and His disciples along the way, doubting and refusing to believe in what He has done and in what He has taught the people. And in today’s passage, the focus was on the matter of the Law of the Sabbath.

For the context, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were those who preserved the customs and practices of the Law of Israel, educated and intellectual, and also strove to impose strictly the laws and rules of the Law to the people of God. They were very particular on how the rules and the precepts were to be observed and they took great pride in themselves being supposedly the role models for the people that they showed off their piety publicly.

But the Lord pointed out to the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law when they criticised the actions of His disciples which supposedly broke the strict provisions of the Law, in particular the law of the Sabbath when they picked grains of wheat in a field as they were all hungry at that time. The true purpose of the Sabbath law has been forgotten by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who saw the Sabbath law as merely a letter of law to be obeyed.

In fact, the Sabbath day was meant to be a day kept holy for God, as He Himself revealed in the Ten Commandments, in the third of the ten commandments, ‘Keep holy the day of the Lord’. And the intention of the Sabbath was to remind God’s people that they are truly obliged to spend time for their Lord and Master, and to focus themselves and reorientate themselves from time to time especially when they have been led astray.

The Sabbath day was meant to allow the people to stop themselves from being overly busy and preoccupied, which was easily the case when the people were busy with their daily work, their daily pursuit for worldly glory and power, for fame and influence, for glory and satisfactions of the world, which prevented them from truly being able to focus their attention and hearts on God.

And that is why even in the Church, we have always kept the day of the Lord, the Sundays to be sacred, in the same spirit as how the Sabbath day had been kept sacred. But we must be very clear with the intention and purpose of the rules and regulations pertaining to this because just as the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had done, they misunderstood that the Sabbath was not meant to restrain the people of God with rules and strict ordinances, but rather to redirect them towards God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all remind ourselves that God truly is the focus and the heart of all of our actions, words and deeds. Let us all not be distracted by other things and by all those obstacles that try to keep us away from God. Let us all turn towards God wholeheartedly from now on and seek to glorify Him through our every actions, and grow ever stronger in our faith and dedication towards Him, each and every days of our lives. Amen.

Saturday, 7 September 2019 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 6 : 1-5

At that time, one Sabbath Jesus was going through a field of grain, and His disciples began to pick heads of grain, crushing them in their hands for food. Some of the Pharisees asked them, “Why do you do what is forbidden on the Sabbath?”

Then Jesus spoke up and asked them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his men were hungry? He entered the house of God, took and ate the bread of the offering, and even gave some to his men, though only priests are allowed to eat that bread.”

And Jesus added, “The Son of Man is Lord and rules over the Sabbath.”

Saturday, 7 September 2019 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 53 : 3-4, 6 and 8

By Your Name, o God, save me; You, the Valiant, uphold my cause. Hear my prayer, o God; listen to the words of my mouth.

See, God is my Helper; the Lord upholds my life. Freely will I offer sacrifice to You, and praise Your Name, o YHVH, for it is good.

Saturday, 7 September 2019 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Colossians 1 : 21-23

You, yourselves, were once estranged, and opposed to God, because of your evil deeds, but now, God has reconciled you, in the human body of His Son, through His death, so that you may be without fault, holy and blameless before Him.

Only stand firm upon the foundation of your faith, and be steadfast in hope. Keep in mind the Gospel you have heard, which has been preached to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Friday, 6 September 2019 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us of the importance of following and putting our trust in God in everything, for He is the very reason of our existence and our lives, and He is the One through Whom everything is made possible for us. God is the centre of our lives, whether we realise it or not, and He is the Head of the Church as mentioned in our first reading today.

As St. Paul made it clear in his Epistle to the Colossians, Christ is the Head of the Church, which is His Body, composed of all of us God’s faithful people brought together and united by the common virtue of our Baptism. Through baptism we have been made the members of this Church and are united in Communion with one another, sharing the grace of God which He had given us all through Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

And because of this, we have all been called into a new way of life, a path that God Himself has shown us, to leave behind our old, sinful and wicked way of life and embrace fully His truth and love. And this is made even clearer through what we have heard in our Gospel passage today, in the famous parable that the Lord taught His disciples, the parable of the new and old cloths with their respective new and old patches, and new and old wineskins with the new and old wine.

In that parable, the new and old cloths, as well as the new and old patches, and the wine and wineskins represent our way of life at present and the way that the Lord has shown us. And when I am speaking about our way of life, it is about the way of life as how we commonly know it, as how the world always shows us, and not the way that God wants us to take in our lives. And from what we have heard in the parable, the two ways are not compatible with each other.

The Lord used the parable to bring forth this point clearly to the people, showing that old things cannot be matched with the new or else both items will be spoilt or destroyed. Similarly therefore, the path that the Lord has shown us and which all of us Christians ought to follow is not compatible with the way of life as we commonly know it in this world today. And God is calling on us to turn away from our sinfulness and to embrace His ways.

But are we willing and able to make that commitment, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we committed to walk down the path that God has led us into, or are we instead more comfortable in being distracted by the many temptations present in the world today, all sorts of temptations that have kept us away from God and His path? Are we able to make the sacrifices and take the efforts needed to follow Christ with all of our strength?

Let us all discern carefully our path forward in life, thinking of what we can do in order to serve God with ever more faith and commitment from now on. God has given us all the means for us to follow Him, and now what we need is just the change in our heart and mind, in our orientation and focus as what we have heard in the parable of the Lord, that a new wine needs a new wineskin, and a new cloth piece is needed to patch a new cloth.

It means that each and every one of us need to turn towards God with all of our hearts and minds, and we need to make Him the very purpose and heart of our every words, actions and deeds from now on. Let us no longer be distracted and tempted by all sorts of worldly temptations, of greed for worldly power, for fame and wealth, and for all sorts of things that often mislead us from the path of God’s righteousness. Let us all be truly faithful and be genuine in our love for God from now on, just as He Himself has loved us all with all of His loving heart all these while. Amen.