Wednesday, 17 June 2020 : 11th 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 that spoke to us about the need for us to follow the Lord with genuine faith and commitment, and doing everything in our everyday lives with the focus on God and not on our own ego and desire. We live our lives to serve God and to give ourselves to His cause, and in the end, the Lord shall glorify us with eternal life and true joy He has promised us.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord speaking to us about how His followers should pray and practice their faith. In their almsgiving, charity and works, they ought not to show off their actions, to give with genuine intention and compassion, and to pray and fast with the focus centred on God, not for appearances and fame, but rather out of the sincere desire to return to God, to be reconciled with Him and to follow Him.

These comments and words were made in particular in opposition and as criticism against the actions and attitudes of many among the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who often paraded their piety, made a show of their prayers, fasting and rituals, but the Lord Who knew all things saw right through them and their facade of piety, and inside, what He found was not faith and love for God, but rather, ego, pride, desire and the greed for worldly glory, fame and honours.

The Lord therefore reminded all of us not to be swayed and tempted by the temptations and corrupting nature of power, worldly glory and fame, the allure of ambition and the greed for wealth and possessions. Instead, all of us as Christians should seek not for the glory and greatness of the world, but instead, look forward for the eternal and true glory in the life that is to come, as what the Lord has promised us, and which the prophet Elijah showed us all in our first reading today.

In our first reading today, we heard of the account of the moment when the prophet Elijah was taken up into heaven in a great flaming chariot, as witnessed by his successor, the prophet Elisha. For many years, the prophet Elijah had laboured very hard to spread God’s words to the people and called them to repent them from their many sins. He had laboured hard, often suffering from the persecutions and oppressions at the hands of the king and his enemies.

In doing all of his thankless works and labours, risking his life and his own safety for the sake of the Lord, the prophet Elijah had shown us the true meaning of what being Christians and the disciples of the Lord is all about. To follow the Lord, we ought to give of ourselves to the Lord and focus ourselves and our attention on Him. We should not seek personal glory and satisfaction, and neither should we let those things guide our lives’ paths and actions.

We are all called to have deeper faith in God, and that we do not need to worry about things in life that often concern us. Instead, let us all do our best to serve the Lord and be good examples of faithful Christian living in our various respective communities. We ought to do what we can, through our daily living and actions in life to contribute to the greater works of the Church and to glorify God.

In turn, we can be sure that God will know of our faith in Him, and as long as we firmly hold on to this faith, we shall never be disappointed. If we seek worldly satisfaction, glory, power, fame and all these related things, all these things will eventually run out and disappear one day. This year alone, amidst the coronavirus pandemic, economic crisis due to the pandemic and other issues, many people had seen their incomes, savings, their pride and glory wiped out by the troubles that occurred. This is why we need to put our trust instead in the Lord.

And let us all be good and charitable as the Lord had taught us to do. In these difficult times and moments, let us offer helping hands and assistance to our fellow brethren, even if we ourselves are encountering difficulties. After all, there are bound to be people who suffer more than we are suffering. Let us be kind, compassionate, generous and righteous in all of our actions and in our interactions with each other. May the Lord also be our guide and may He strengthen us in the resolve to live faithfully as good and devout Christian from now on, and be the light of hope and strength for our fellow brothers and sisters in these dark times and situations. Amen.

Wednesday, 17 June 2020 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 6 : 1-6, 16-18

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Be careful not to make a show of your righteousness before people. If you do so, you do not gain anything from your Father in heaven. When you give something to the poor, do not have it trumpeted before you, as do those who want to be seen in the synagogues and in the streets, in order to be praised by the people. I assure you, they have already been paid in full.”

“If you give something to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your gift remains really secret. Your Father, Who sees what is kept secret, will reward you. When you pray, do not be like those who want to be seen. They love to stand and pray in the synagogues or on street corners to be seen by everyone. I assure you, they have already been paid in full.”

“When you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father Who is with you in secret; and your Father Who sees what is kept secret will reward you. When you fast, do not put on a miserable face as do the hypocrites. They put on a gloomy face, so that people can see they are fasting. I tell you this : they have already been paid in full.”

“When you fast, wash your face and make yourself look cheerful, because you are not fasting for appearances or for people, but for your Father Who sees beyond appearances. And your Father, Who sees what is kept secret, will reward you.”

Wednesday, 17 June 2020 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 30 : 20, 21, 24

How great is the goodness which You have stored for those who fear You, which You show, for all to see, in those who take refuge in You!

In the shelter of Your presence You hide them from human wiles; You keep them in Your dwelling, safe from the intrigues of wagging tongues.

Love the Lord, all you His saints! The Lord preserves His faithful, but He fully requites the arrogant.

Wednesday, 17 June 2020 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

2 Kings 2 : 1, 6-14

YHVH took Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind. It happened this way : Elijah and Elisha had left Gilgal, and Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here, I beg you, for YHVH is only sending me to the Jordan.” But Elisha answered, “I swear by YHVH and by your life that I will never leave you.” And as they went on their way, fifty fellow prophets of Jericho followed them at a certain distance.

When Elijah and Elisha stood by the Jordan, Elijah took his mantle, rolled it, and struck the water with it. The water parted to both sides and they crossed over on dry ground. After they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “What shall I do for you before I am taken away from you? Ask me.”

Elisha said, “May I receive a double portion of your spirit.” Elijah answered, “Your request is most difficult. Yet if you see me while I am being taken from you, then you shall have it. But if not, you shall not have it.”

As they were talking on the way, a chariot of fire with horses of fire stood between them, and Elijah was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha saw him and cried out, “Father, my father, chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” When Elisha lost sight of him, he took hold of his own clothes and tore them. He then picked up the mantle which had fallen from Elijah and returned to the banks of the Jordan.

He took the cloak that had fallen off Elijah, hit the water with it, and asked, “Where is the YHVH, the God of Elijah?” When he hit the water again, it divided and Elisha crossed over.

Tuesday, 16 June 2020 : 11th 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 by the readings of the Scripture on the need for each and every one of us to be forgiving, to be compassionate and to be merciful and loving as our Lord and God has been kind, compassionate and merciful towards us. We are all called as Christians to be the examples of love, to follow in the love that God Himself has shown us, and which He reminded us again today through the Scriptures.

In our first reading we heard of the story of the king of Israel, Ahab, and his wicked deed in killing Naboth the vineyard owner for his own selfish desires, while in our Psalm today we heard of the famous Psalm of King David, Psalm 50, the Psalm that he himself composed in great sorrow and repentance over his sins, and lastly, in the Gospel today we heard of the exhortation by the Lord Jesus for His disciples and followers to love everyone sincerely and with great tenderness and compassion.

In the account of king Ahab’s sin in killing Naboth, we heard how Ahab’s wickedness would have earned him great tragedy and punishment, as the prophet Elijah came to confront the wicked king and put forth God’s pronouncement of the coming judgment for the king and his whole family. Judgment was also due for his even more wicked wife, queen Jezebel, a pagan whose deeds were even more wicked than the king, and whose persuasions had led to the king deciding to kill Naboth by wicked means.

Yet, we then heard how when king Ahab tore his clothes, humbled himself before God and Elijah, His prophet, and showed great remorse over his actions, God showed His kindness and mercy, His compassion and love, revealing that in truth, He is a loving and compassionate God, Who is ever filled with genuine and tender care for each and every one of us, without exception, even to the worst and most wicked of sinners. The mercy that God had shown to king Ahab was just one of the many examples of this.

God is ever merciful, just as He shows justice to the wicked and the evil ones. To those who are willing to accept and embrace His mercy, God shall extend His loving care and providence, and He will gather them again in His presence. For king Ahab, He was not completely forgiven, likely because his sins were indeed many and too great, and while he humbled himself and was sorrowful, but there was still wickedness in his heart and the unwillingness to repent fully and turn towards the Lord.

This is where then another king of Israel, namely the one who composed our Psalm today, came into the picture. King David was then punished for his immoral behaviour and sin, in plotting for the death of the husband of Bathsheba, Uriah the Hittite. King David desired Bathsheba and eventually made her his wife after Uriah died, much like just how king Ahab plotted and successfully had Naboth killed so that he could own his vineyard. But then, hereafter we can see the difference between the two.

King David was wholeheartedly and completely repentant of his wicked actions, his selfishness and temptation by sin. Psalm 50 which we have used today as our Psalm is the expression of this great regret and desire to be forgiven by God. And as David’s love and faith for God was genuine and great, that was what brought Him to God’s forgiveness and grace once again. That was why, while David and his house remain firm, the house of Ahab crumbled.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord also reminded all of us that we have to love and love sincerely, not just to those who love us, but even to our enemies and those who hated us. And why is this so? That is because the Lord Himself had done so, when He forgave all those who have sinned against Him, those who have betrayed Him by their wicked actions and deeds like king Ahab, by their failure to restrain themselves like king David, among many others.

And each and every one of us have sinned against Him too, whether it be great or small sin, all of us have sinned regardless. Yet, the Lord did not mind at all and chose willingly to pick up His Cross, heavily laden with the mighty burdens of our sins. He bore all of these, and suffered all the worst sufferings, for our sake, because of His enduring and great love for us. And if God has been willing to forgive us and love us again, despite all of our sins and shortcomings, then why don’t we love one another and forgive one another our faults?

Let us all imitate the Lord’s own examples and rediscover once again the strong and genuine love which we ought to have for Him. Let us all seek His forgiveness and mercy for our many sins and faults, and be forgiving and loving ourselves to one another. May the Lord give us the heart to love, the courage to forgive and the faith to always be obedient to Him and to trust in Him all the time, from now on. Amen.