Wednesday, 25 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Tobit 13 : 2, 3-4a, 4bcd, 5, 8

It is He Who punishes and He Who has mercy; Who makes people go down to the depths off the underworld and rise up again from the great abyss. No one can escape His hand.

Give Him thanks, people of Israel, before all the nations. Though He has dispersed you among them, He now shows you His greatness.

Exalt Him before all the living, because He is our God and Lord, our Father forever.

He punishes us for our wrongdoing but again He will forgive us. He will bring us together again from amongst all the nations among whom we have been dispersed.

I, in the land of my captivity, will return Him thanks and show His strength and greatness to My sinful people. Be converted, you sinners, and live justly before Him, certain that He will be pleased with you and show you mercy.

Wednesday, 25 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Ezra 9 : 5-9

I remained seated and dismayed until the evening sacrifice; and then, at the time for the evening offering, I rose from my fasting, and with my clothes and mantle torn, I knelt down, spreading out my hands to YHVH, my God.

I said, “My God! I am ashamed and confused, my God, I do not dare raise my eyes to You; for our sins have increased over our heads and our crimes reach up to the heavens. From the days of our ancestors to this day, our guilt has been great. We, our kings and priests have been given into the hands of foreign kings because of our crimes; we have been delivered to the sword, to captivity, to plunder, and put to shame as on this day.”

“However, for a brief moment, the mercy of YHVH, our God, has been shown to us. He made a remnant of our people survive, and allowed the survivor to settle once again in His Holy Place. He has given us joy and life, though we are in bondage. We are no more than slaves, but in the midst of our slavery, God has not abandoned us, He has extended a merciful hand over us to support us before the kings of Persia. He has revived our life, enabled us to rebuild the House of our God, and to have walls in Jerusalem and in the other cities of Judah.”

Tuesday, 24 September 2019 : 25th 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 which reminds us of the need for us to follow God’s will and to be righteous and just in all of our actions in life, so that we can be truly reunited and reconciled with Him, and therefore receive the fullness of His love and grace once again. And we heard this being represented in our Scripture passages today, beginning from the account of the Book of Ezra in our first reading which told us about the moment when the Israelites returned from their exile in Babylon.

At that time, the remnants of the Israelites who had been exiled for decades in Babylon after the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah were allowed to return to their homeland by the King of Persia, Cyrus the Great. Many of them went back to the land of their ancestors, led by a priest called Ezra and also by a scribe of the King, Nehemiah. It was this Ezra who was mentioned in our first reading passage today.

Ezra supervised the rebuilding efforts in Jerusalem and Judah, and began the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. That was what we have heard in our first reading today, as the people were organised to work on the rebuilding efforts. In all that we have heard in that passage, the destruction of the society of God’s people were overcome, as the society began to rebuild itself and a semblance of order returned.

After the Temple has been rebuilt, the priests and all those who were in charge of the Temple and worship were reappointed together with the other important roles within the community. This actually symbolised the rejuvenation and restoration of a nation which had been brought low and humbled by their disobedience against God, their sins which had caused them to meet their downfall in the hands of their enemies.

The priest Ezra led the people in the effort to be reconciled with God, as they picked up the pieces left after the destruction of their homeland. The rebuilding and its completion, the sacrifices and celebrations, especially that of the Passover signified a very important event in the reconciliation between God’s people and their Lord and Master. While before the people of Israel have sinned and worshipped pagan idols and disobeyed the Law, afterwards, they were all realigning their lives and way of life, following God from then on.

That is what the Lord in fact also stressed in His message to His disciples in our Gospel passage today, and that is to obey the will of God and for us to follow the path that God has shown to us. It is those who truly believe in God, walking in His path and obeying His will that will be considered as God’s own people. We may have sinned against Him, but as mentioned earlier, God loves us no matter what, and He has always given us many opportunities, one after another to be reconciled with Him.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we willing and able to make the same commitment as what the Israelites had done under the leadership of the priest Ezra? Are we able to rebuild our lives with faith and renewed conviction and love for God? Are we able to turn away from our sins and resist the many temptations in life? We need to think and reflect about this, and find how we can be more faithful to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore draw closer to God, by doing His will and obeying Him in all of our words, actions and deeds. Let our every actions, and let our whole being glorify God in all things. May the Lord continue to guide us and may He bless us all in our endeavours and good works. Amen.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 8 : 19-21

At that time, the mother of Jesus and His relatives came to Him; but they could not get to Him because of the crowd. Someone told Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside and wish to meet You.”

Then Jesus answered, “My mother and My brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”

Tuesday, 24 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 121 : 1-2, 3-4a, 4b-5

I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the House of YHVH!” And now we have set foot within your gates, o Jerusalem!

Jerusalem, just like a city, where everything falls into place! There, the tribes go up, the tribes of YHVH, the assembly of Israel.

To give thanks to YHVH’s Name. There stand the courts of justice, the offices of the house of David.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Ezra 6 : 7-8, 12b, 14-20

Let the governor of the Jews together with their leaders build the House of God on its former site. This is the command I give as to what you should do to help those Jewish leaders rebuild the House of God : pay the expenses in full and without delay, with the income from taxes of the province at the other side of the River which is allotted to the king. I, Darius, give this command. Let it be carried out at once.

And the leaders of the Jews continued to make progress in building, encouraged by what Haggai, the prophet, and Zechariah, the son of Iddo, had said; and they finished the work according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus and Darius. The House was finished on the third day of the month of Adar in the sixth year of the reign of Darius.

The children of Israel, the priests and the Levites, and the rest of those who had returned from exile celebrated the consecration of this House of God with rejoicing, offering on this solemnity one hundred young bulls, two hundred rams and four hundred lambs; and twelve he-goats as a sin-offering for all Israel, according to the number of the tribes of Israel.

Then they installed the priests according to their ranks, and the Levites according to their classes, for the service of the House of God in Jerusalem, as it is written in the Book of Moses. Those who had returned from exile celebrated the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month, for the priests and the Levites had purified themselves together, and all of them were clean. So, they slaughtered the Passover lamb for all who had returned from exile, for their fellow-priests and for themselves.

Monday, 23 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are reminded through the readings of the Scripture we have heard today to become God’s true disciples, to follow Him wholeheartedly and to be free from the bondage and slavery to sin, as symbolically represented in our Scripture passages, beginning from the Book of Ezra in our first reading where we heard about the moment when the Israelites in exile in Babylon were liberated by King Cyrus of Persia.

At that time, the people of Israel have endured many decades of exile after their kingdom of Judah had been destroyed by the Babylonians, having the city of Jerusalem and its Temple, built by King Solomon, destroyed and razed, and their Ark of the Covenant being lost. They were brought into exile, in a humiliating reminder of their slavery in Egypt, and all because of their own refusal to obey God and His will.

But God did not abandon them to suffer and die separated from Him. Rather, His love for them remained strong and true despite their constant rebelliousness and stubborn refusal to believe in Him. He wanted them to be redeemed, forgiven and reconciled with Him, to be liberated from sin and from all things that separated them from Him. And that was how He moved the heart of King Cyrus of Persia to free the Israelites and let them go back to their own homeland.

God has been so kind and loving to His people and He has always been so patient towards them even when they have caused so much trouble. But He does not want them to remain like that forever. He is calling on the people to change their mindset and way of life. He wants them to be His true children, those who are truly righteous and just in their ways, following God with all of their hearts and minds.

God wants us all to have a change in heart, to be holy and good in all the things we do, in walking with Him faithfully. God has always been patient in guiding us all towards Him. In what He has revealed through the parable in our Gospel passage today, God wants us all to be true to our faith and to dedicate ourselves wholeheartedly. He made use of the example of a lamp that ought to be put on a lampstand and not hidden in the darkness.

What does this mean? It means that all of us who have been created by God good and wonderful, as children of the light and as God’s own children should therefore not remain in the darkness of this world, that is sin. We should not allow sin to bind and enslave us any longer. As long as we remain bound to sin, we are not free and we are in danger of being lost from God. That is why we should try our best to free ourselves from this darkness in our lives.

Today, all of us should reflect on our lives and how we should live it better and be more faithful as we should. Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, who was also better known as Padre Pio, a Franciscan priest who lived in the last century and was remembered for his great faith and dedication to the Lord, his holy and pious life, his commitment to the Lord and to the people, hearing confessions and casting out evil spirits from many.

St. Pius of Pietrelcina also suffered a lot throughout his life and his ministry as a priest. He encountered much opposition from various sources, even from the authorities within the Church. He was once restrained and prevented from speaking publicly or exercising his priestly ministry due to doubts over the veracity of his actions. And at that same time, he was also suffering from the miraculous stigmata on his body, in which the wounds of Christ Our Lord appeared on his hands and feet.

But despite the physical, mental and spiritual sufferings and struggles that he had to face constantly all the time, St. Pius of Pietrelcina continued to dedicate himself, his time and effort for the sake of God’s people, for the greater glory of God and for the salvation of many souls. He has shown us exactly what it means for us all to be those who shine the light within us, like that of a lamp being placed on a lampstand.

St. Pius of Pietrelcina has shown us all what it means for us all to be truly faithful to God in all things, and in being role models and examples for our fellow men. Let us all be inspired by his examples and dedicate ourselves thoroughly from now on, and seek to glorify God by our every words, actions and deeds from now on. May God bless us always and may St. Pius of Pietrelcina intercede for us sinners. Amen.