Saturday, 27 June 2020 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Lamentations 2 : 2, 10-14, 18-19

Without pity YHVH has shattered in Jacob every dwelling. He has torn down in His anger the ramparts of Judah’s daughter. He has thrown her rulers and her king to the ground, dishonoured.

The elders of the daughter of Zion sit in silence upon the ground, their heads sprinkled with dust, their bodies wrapped in sackcloth, while Jerusalem’s young women bow their heads to the ground. With weeping, my eyes are spent; my soul is in torment because of the downfall of the daughter of my people, because children and infants faint in the open spaces of the town.

To their mothers they say, “Where is the bread and wine?” as they faint like wounded men in the streets and public squares, as their lives ebb away in their mothers’ arms. To what can I compare you, o daughter of Jerusalem? Who can save or comfort you, o virgin daughter of Zion? Deep as the sea is your affliction, and who can possibly heal you?

Your prophets’ visions were worthless and false. Had they warned of your sins, your fate might have been averted. But what they gave you, instead, were false, misleading signs. Cry out to the Lord, o wall of the daughter of Zion! Oh, let your tears flow day and night, like a river. Give yourself no relief; grant your eyes no respite.

Get up, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches! Pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to Him, for the lives of your children, who faint with hunger at the corner of every street.

Friday, 26 June 2020 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us heard of the story of the destruction of Jerusalem, the downfall of the final kingdom of the Israelites, as the northern kingdom centred in Samaria had been destroyed and conquered by the Assyrians almost a hundred and fifty years earlier on. Then, the city of Jerusalem, its Temple and the southern kingdom of Judah were conquered and destroyed by the Babylonians, most of its population brought into long exile in Babylon and Mesopotamia.

All of these happened because the people and their king consistently and continuously disobeyed God, rejected His mercy and forgiveness, spurned and turned away from His love, worshipping pagan gods and idols, and entrusting themselves in the hands of mortal beings rather than to trust in God. The last king of Judah, Zedekiah, chose to rebel against the Babylonians who at that time was the overlord of Judah, because he counted on the support of allies such as the Egyptians, who in the previous occasions had not intervened in Judah’s sake.

But again and again, the people would not listen to reason and they continued to be stubborn, sinning and sinning, again and again, and all of them have sinned and therefore suffered the consequences of their sins. The whole city of Jerusalem destroyed, the Temple built by king Solomon destroyed and ransacked, its holy vessels used for profane purposes by the Babylonians, and the entire population enslaved and brought into faraway lands. Yet, despite all these, God did not forget about His people.

On the contrary, God has always been patient and He has always remembered the love which He has for His people, and despite their stubborn and persistent disobedience and betrayal, His love for each and every one of them still remained, and that was why, He still yet sent prophets after prophets to remind them, to help them, to guide them and to call them back to Him, and in time, having suffered and realised their mistakes, the people of God were to return to their land once again, and Jerusalem and its Temple were rebuilt by the prophet Ezra and Nehemiah.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the healing of a leper by the Lord, as the leper came to see the Lord and said to Him, ‘Lord, if You want to, You can make me clean.’ Through these words, and linking with what we have heard earlier on in our reading from the Old Testament, we can see just how great and wonderful the power of God’s love and forgiveness are for us. Leprosy had always been feared and even hated by the Israelites, as the disease was considered to be dangerous and contagious, and hideous to the appearance.

That was why people who suffered from leprosy were shunned by the rest of the community, and by Law had to spend their lives away from the community, rejected and left to fend for their own in the wilderness. Was this not just like the Israelites who disobeyed God and sinned, and thereafter had to endure their exile and suffer in the foreign lands for quite some time? This was what they had endured, and yet, God rescued them and brought them back to their homeland in the end, just as the leper was healed by the Lord Jesus.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what is really important for us to take note here is how we can be forgiven from our sins, and how forgiveness itself works. Forgiveness requires us to make the commitment to change ourselves, to turn back towards God once again with all of our hearts and with all of our strength, just as the leper came to the Lord with faith, and knowing with faith that the Lord could heal him and make him better. This is what all of us must have as well, a strong and genuine faith.

Are we able and willing to dedicate ourselves to God and seek Him with a new faith and desire to follow Him? Let us all go and find the path to forgiveness from all of our sins and wickedness, and let us all be wholly committed to follow God with all sincerity and with the genuine desire to be loved by God and to love Him equally in the same way. For God so loved the whole world that He gave us His own only Begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ to be our Saviour.

May the Lord continue to help us to walk faithfully in our path in life, and may He guide us that we will not fall again into the temptations to sin and the allure of worldly desires. May the Lord strengthen us and may He bless us in all of our good endeavours. Amen.

Friday, 26 June 2020 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 8 : 1-4

At that time, when Jesus came down from the mountain, large crowds followed Him. Then a leper came forward. He knelt before Him and said, “Sir, if You want to, You can make me clean.”

Jesus stretched out His hand, touched him, and said, “I want to, be clean again.” At that very moment, the man was cleansed from his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you do not tell anyone; but go to the priest, have yourself declared clean, and offer the gift that Moses commanded as evidence for them.”

Friday, 26 June 2020 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 136 : 1-2, 3, 4-5, 6

By the streams of Babylon, we sat; and then wept, as we remembered Zion. When, on the poplars, we hung our harps.

Our captors asked for song. Our tormentors wanted songs of joy : “Sing to us one of the songs of Zion!”

How could we sing YHVH’s song in a strange and alien land? If I forget you, o Jerusalem, may my right hand fall useless!

May my tongue cleave to my palate if I remember you not, if Jerusalem is not the first of my joys.

Friday, 26 June 2020 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

2 Kings 25 : 1-12

In the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched with his entire army and laid siege to Jerusalem. They camped outside the city and built siege works all around it. The city was under siege up to the eleventh year of the reign of Zedekiah.

On the ninth day of the fourth month famine became a serious problem in the city, and throughout the land there was no bread for the people. When the city was opened by a breach in the wall, the Judean army fled through the gate between the two walls near the king’s garden, while the Chaldeans were still around the city; and they fled towards the Arabah. The Chaldeans followed in hot pursuit of king Zedekiah and caught up with him in the plains of Jericho. All his army deserted him and scattered.

The Chaldeans seized the king and led him away to Riblah in the territory of Hamath and there the king of Babylon passed sentence on him. There at Riblah the king of Babylon slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah in his presence. He then put out the eyes of Zedekiah, bound him with a double bronze chain and took him to Babylon.

On the seventh day of the fifth month in the nineteenth year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan, commander of the captain of the royal guard and servant of the king of Babylon, entered Jerusalem and set fire to the House of YHVH and the royal palace, as well as to all the houses in Jerusalem. The Chaldean army under the commander of the bodyguard completely demolished all the walls around Jerusalem.

Nebuzaradan, commander of the bodyguard, carried off into exile the last of the Jews left in the city, those who had deserted to the king of Babylon and the remainder of the artisans. But he left those among the very poor who were capable of working in vineyards and cultivating the soil.