Monday, 20 July 2020 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Apollinaris, Bishop and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Micah 6 : 1-4, 6-8

Listen to what YHVH said to me, “Stand up, let the mountains hear your claim, and the hills listen to your plea.” Hear, o mountains, YHVH’s complaint! Foundations of the earth, pay attention! For YHVH has a case against His people, and will argue it with Israel.

“O My people, what have I done to you? In what way have I been a burden to you? Answer Me. I brought you out of Egypt; I rescued you from the land of bondage; I sent Moses, Aaron and Miriam to lead you.”

“What shall I bring when I come to YHVH and bow down before God the Most High? Shall I come with burnt offerings, with sacrifices of yearling calves? Will YHVH be pleased with thousands of rams, with an overabundance of oil libations? Should I offer my firstborn for my sins, the fruit of my body for my wrongdoing?”

“You have been told, o man, what is good and what YHVH requires of you : to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

Sunday, 19 July 2020 : Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday we heard very prominently another parable from Our Lord Jesus in which He told His disciples about the kingdom of God. And in fact, this parable is related to what we have heard in last Sunday’s parable, if we still remember it, on the parable of the sower. Today we heard the parable of the mustard seed and the parable of the wheat and the weeds.

The Lord kept on using these parables, with various links to the lives of people living then, as farmers, shepherds, fishermen and others because through these stories and parables, they would come to know more about the truth of God even when most of them were uneducated and illiterate. Had the Lord spoken about concepts and teachings that were intellectual and difficult to grasp, no one would have understood Him. Instead, He used terms and words that most of the people would understand.

In our parable today, we heard first of all the parable of the wheat and weeds in the field. In that parable we heard how a sower sowed seeds of wheat in the field and then an enemy quietly came at night sowing seeds of weeds in between the wheat. The wheat represents the good things that have been brought by the Lord, and as the Lord Himself said, also means those who have obeyed the Lord and were faithful to His Law. Meanwhile, the weeds represent the wickedness and the evil brought by Satan, as well as those who have rejected the love and truth of God.

Wheat grows in the field just as weeds also grow in the field at the same time. And there are a few ways how weeds can harm wheat, some of which involve competition for resources and space, as overcrowding leads to poor crop output and gain, as the wheat would not be able to get sufficient nutrition for their growth. The weeds could also strangle the wheat as they grow or damage their roots and stems when they grow, depending on the type of weed involved.

Ultimately, in the end, only the wheat will be wanted and the weeds will be discarded as the parable showed us, which is something that the farmers and most of the people of Jesus’ time would also understand. But as the parable also showed us, when the servants told the master that the weeds had grown along with the wheat, and their roots intermingled together, then the master told the servants not to take out the weeds until the time of the harvest, lest it might kill the wheat prematurely.

In this, we can see how the Lord is so loving and merciful towards us. One of the symbolic representation and meaning of these turn of events is that, He, the Sower and Master of the field gave us the opportunity and time to grow and develop through life, and as another Scripture passage also said, that the Lord let His rain fall and sun shine on the good and the wicked alike, then, all of us mankind are truly equal before God with equal opportunity and chance to be redeemed and be reconciled before it is too late for us.

That is why, all of us must realise just how blessed and fortunate we are that despite our sins and waywardness, God still cares for us and love us each and every minutes and seconds of our living moments. God has shown us His love and desire to forgive us our sins. But are we willing to accept it? Are we willing to be loved and forgiven by God? Are we able to commit ourselves to follow Him and change our ways, rejecting sin and wickedness from now on?

This is where we then need to take note of our second parable today, the parables of the mustard seed and the yeast and flour. Each of these parables spoke of the building of the kingdom of God, and how a small, minuscule mustard seed when nurtured well and properly, would grow into a large, healthy and mighty tree. And with the yeast, when flour is added with yeast in the right condition, then the dough will rise and become bread, increase in multiples in size.

All of these require the right conditions, or else, for example, for the seed, without proper condition like water, the right temperature or presence of oxygen in the air, the seed will remain dormant and not germinate. And without sunlight and further right conditions further on, the plant will not survive and grow well, less still becoming a large and healthy tree. Similarly, if the dough is never sealed and kept in oxygen-less situation, with the right temperature and condition, the dough will not rise at all.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through all of these things, we are all reminded that God has given us the seeds of faith, the seeds of hope, the seeds of love, the yeast of wisdom, the yeast of justice, the yeast of virtues among others. But if we want all these to grow and bear fruits, then we must give these the right conditions and put the effort in our lives, in our everyday actions and deeds, in our every words and works.

How do we do this, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is by living our lives with faith, by spending the time and effort to make ourselves more attuned to God through prayer. If we do not pray regularly or spend some precious time to be with God, how can we expect to grow in faith and be fruitful? A Christian who does not pray and who does not strive and put the effort to lead a more Christ-like life will not be considered as true Christians.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all keep this in mind as we discern our path going forward in life. We have received God’s wisdom, His truth and His grace, and we have also received His love, all that we need to go forth and be fruitful. Let us all realise that each and every one of us have been called to do our best to provide the best condition in which our faith can flourish, by living our lives with faith, by dedicating ourselves to prayer, and by constant and regular reading of the Word of God in the Scriptures and learning more about the teachings of the Church.

God has called on all of us to act, and now it is really up to us to decide whether we want to be the wheat and bear rich fruits, or whether we want to be the weed of sin. The choice is now in our hands whether we want to be righteous, virtuous and obedient to God, or whether we want to remain in sin, to submit to our desires and the many temptations present all around us. Living in faith is not easy, brothers and sisters in Christ, and require from us that genuine dedication and faith.

Let us all turn towards God with a renewed faith and with new conviction, with the desire to follow Him and love Him with ever greater sincere devotion and commitment, to be the builders of the kingdom of God in this world, that by our good examples, we may inspire many others to also be faithful to God and that many more will be inspired to believe in God because of us. And we may be surprised just how great an impact we can have in our community and world today, no matter how insignificant we may think our actions may be.

Each one of us can inspire others around us, and those whom we inspire and touch, those to whom we have shown God’s love and truth, they will in turn, inspire and touch even more people. And that is how we become the ‘wheat’ in the sight of God, and the ‘mustard seed’, to bear rich and bountiful good fruits for the Lord, bearing as what in the related parable of the sower of the last Sunday said, a thirty-fold, sixty-fold and a hundred-fold return in harvest.

Let us all be truly Christ-like in our every actions, words and deeds, and let us all heed the words of the Lord, and embrace His calling for each and every one of us to follow Him, to be faithful to Him and to be dedicated at all times. May the Lord bless us and all of our efforts and works, and may He guide us to the right path and help us to live our lives from now on fruitfully, and to inspire one another at all times. Amen.