Wednesday, 10 June 2020 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we have listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are reminded that all of us must be committed to God and we must obey His fundamental Law and truth, as revealed and taught to us by the Church, from the revelation of truth that the Lord Himself had revealed to us, and through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit passed down to us and through the Apostles.

In our first reading today, we listened to the story of the prophet Elijah as he went up against the four hundred and fifty priests of Baal at the Mount Carmel, one of the prominent mountains of Israel, as he went up before the king and the people of Israel in a great moment of reckoning, as he confronted king Ahab on his continued defiance against God and his continued worship of the pagan gods and idols such as Baal, openly promoted by the proliferation of so many priests of Baal.

What the prophet Elijah essentially did was that he reminded the king of the need for his obedience to the Law of God, to the laws revealed and handed down through Moses, to the Ten Commandments, first of which, was the obligation for all the faithful to worship and serve only one God, the One and True God of all. The king and the people had not obeyed this and instead chose to follow the false ways of the foreign pagan gods and idols, committing great sin before God.

This was why the prophet chose to stage a great contest before everyone so that all might witness and know Who the True God truly is, whether it was the God of Israel and the One Who brought the Israelites and their ancestors out of their slavery in Egypt and provided them with the Promised Land, or whether it was Baal, the pagan god of the Canaanites who was worshipped by the great majority of the Israelites and their king then.

The prophet Elijah showed before all the Israelites, that it was indeed God Who is the one and only True God, Who ought to be worshipped and loved, when he showed that God was the One Who listened to the prayers of His people, sending down great flame from heaven to burn the entire sacrificial offerings of Elijah, while the sacrificial offerings of the priests of Baal remain untouched, and despite all that they did, even in their desperation, the latter failed to show the presence and the truth of the falsehood of Baal was exposed before all to see.

This was in fact what the Lord in our Gospel passage today has been trying to say and reveal to His followers and all those who listened to Him, how He came into the world in order to reveal to the whole world and His people, what His true Law truly means, and in order to purify the Law to its original meaning, intent and purpose. As He Himself said that, nothing that is in the Law would be overruled or overwritten by Him, not even the smallest iota or part, and He came to fulfil the entire Law and not to destroy it, unlike what some of His enemies accused Him wrongly of.

What really happened then was such that the Law of God had been misinterpreted, misunderstood and misused over the many centuries since it has been revealed to the people of God. The elders and the many preceding guardians of the Law had interpreted the Law as they wished and wanted, and according to their own biases and prejudices. And they ended up becoming too focused and engrossed in the management and the nitty-gritty details of the Law, its execution and enforcement rather than on the true meaning and purpose of the Law itself.

The Lord Jesus, much like the prophet Elijah, reminded the people of God that the Law stipulated that each and every one of us, the faithful ones and beloved people of God must put God first and foremost n our lives, entrusting ourselves completely to His care and loving Him with all of our strength and might. He wanted this to happen, rather than for us mankind to be distracted by the many temptations present in life, the temptation of power and glory, for fame and human praise, as how the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had been afflicted, or for the false promises of the devil, as how the Israelites of old had been swayed to the worship of Baal.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all realise that as Christians, that is as the members of God’s living Church here in this world, each and every one of us are bound to the same fundamental Law that God Himself had revealed to His people Israel, and which His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, had revealed further by His own teachings and by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit that He had sent down to us, to His Church and His faithful ones. Therefore, all of us ought to be true Christians from now on, in our every words, actions and deeds.

May the Lord give us His strength and strengthen our resolve to live faithfully according to His ways from now on. May the Lord bless each and every one of us, and may He empower us all to be true witnesses of His Resurrection and to our own Christian faith. Amen.

Wednesday, 10 June 2020 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 5 : 17-19

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Do not think that I have come to annul the Law and the Prophets. I have not come to annul them but to fulfil them. I tell you this : as long as heaven and earth last, not the smallest letter or dot in the Law will change until all is fulfilled.”

Wednesday, 10 June 2020 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 15 : 1-2a, 4, 5 and 8, 11

Keep me safe, o God, for in You I take refuge. I say to YHVH, “You are my Lord.”

Those who run after foreign gods only have their sorrows multiplied.
Let me not shed blood for them, nor their names be heard on my lips.

O YHVH, my inheritance and my cup, my chosen portion – hold secure my lot. I keep YHVH always before me; for with Him at my right hand, I will never be shaken.

You will show me the path of life, in Your presence, the fullness of joy, at Your right hand, happiness forever.

Wednesday, 10 June 2020 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Kings 18 : 20-39

So Ahab sent for all the people of Israel and gathered the prophets at Mount Carmel. Then Elijah addressed the people and asked, “How long will you follow two ways at the same time? If YHVH is God, follow Him; but if Baal is God then follow him.” The people remained silent.

So Elijah continued, “I am the only prophet of YHVH left here to face Baal’s four hundred and fifty prophets. Get us two bulls. Let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it into pieces and lay it on the wood; and I will do the same with the other bull. But we will not set it on fire. Then you shall call on the name of your gods while I shall call on the Name of YHVH. The God Who answers with fire is the true one.” Then the people answered, “That is right.”

Then Elijah told the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many. Then call on the name of your god lest you are left without fire!” So they took the bull and prepared it, and they called on the name of Baal, “Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice; and no one answered them while they went on, dancing on one foot around the altar they had built.

By noontime, Elijah began to mock them, “Shout out louder. Baal is a busy god; or he may have gone out, or perhaps he has gone on a trip, or he is sleeping and must be wakened.” So they shouted louder gashing their skin with knives, as they are used to doing, until they bled. It was already past noon and they were still raving on, until the time of the evening offering. But still there was no voice. No one answered or gave a sign of life.

Then Elijah said to the people, “Draw closer to me,” and the people drew closer to him. He then repaired the altar of YHVH which had been thrown down. He took twelve stones corresponding to the number of tribes of the sons of Jacob whom YHVH had addressed saying, “Israel shall be your name.” With these stones, he built an altar to the Name of YHVH; and dug a trench around it that would contain about thirty litres.

He then arranged the firewood, cut the bull in pieces and laid them on the wood. Then, he said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the firewood.” He said, “Do it again;” and they did it again; “one more time,” and they did it a third time. The water ran around the altar and filled the trench.

When the time of the evening offering came, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O YHVH, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that You are God in Israel; and that I am Your servant, doing all these things at Your command. Answer me, o YHVH, answer me so that this people may know that You, o YHVH, are God; and that You are turning back their hearts to You.”

Then the fire of YHVH fell and consumed the burnt offering, together with the wood, the stones also, and the dust; the water also dried up in the trench. All the people witnessed this. Then they fell on their faces and said, “YHVH is God! YHVH is God!”