Tuesday, 21 July 2020 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures in which we are being reminded again of God’s amazing and most generous mercy and His desire to forgive all of us our sins. He has always been loving and kind towards us, but unfortunately it has been us who have been constantly stubborn and refused to listen to Him and His truth. We have ignored His reach towards us in love, and we have ignored His compassion and chose to remain enslaved to sin.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Micah, we heard the words of the prophet Micah uttering a prayer before God, the prayer for God’s love and mercy, for Him to show kindness to His people and forgiveness to the trespasses and the mistakes that they had committed. The prophet Micah was particularly known and remembered for his words calling on the Israelites to reevaluate their lives and to be good and righteous once again in their lives.

That is why the prophet Micah reminded the people of just how kind and loving God has been, how patient He had been throughout all of their history even when they have disobeyed Him and rebelled against Him for so many times and on so many occasions. God has always been willing to be reconciled with us. And through all these, His love for us has been unwavering even to the point of giving Himself for our sake.

God has even then given Himself to us, through His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Our Lord, Master and Saviour. He, the Divine Word Incarnate, was conceived and born through His mother Mary into this world, and by that, all of us have shared in His humanity, and we became, through our baptism, His brothers and sisters, and members of His Church, the parts of the same Body of Christ, of which Christ Himself is the Head.

In our Gospel today, we are reminded of this fact further as the Lord mentioned before the disciples and the people, how all those who follow Him, obey Him and His father’s will, are His brothers and sisters, parts of His family. This reminds us again and again how all of us are truly beloved by God, for God Himself had adopted us all as His own sons and daughters through Christ, in Whose death we share the death to our past sins and in Whose resurrection, we share the new life of our resurrection into this new existence in Christ.

However, we need to remember again what the Lord said, that those who have done the will of God are the mothers, brothers and sisters of the Lord. This means that each and every one of us are truly called to walk with God, to go forth with Him in faith, to obey Him and His will, and to be genuine and truthful in how we devote ourselves and commit ourselves to the Lord, in each and every moments of our lives.

However, it is important for us to take note that, there are many obstacles and challenges we are facing in our path, as we encounter many temptations, distractions and pressures in life to disobey God, to follow and conform to the accepted ways and norms of the world, the path of sin, of selfishness and evil, those ways that lead us to seek the pleasures of life and the pursuit of material wealth and goods. It is a challenge for all of us to resist these temptations, and remain focused to walk down the right path.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we can be inspired by the example and faith showed by St. Lawrence of Brindisi, an Italian priest and member of the Capuchin Franciscan religious order. St. Lawrence of Brindisi was remembered for his scholarly work and contributions to the Church that made him to be recognised as one of the Doctors of the Church. He was remembered for his brilliant talent in language learning and his role therefore in diplomacy at that time, as papal nuncio, emissary and diplomat in various occasions.

However, it was often overlooked that the brilliance of his works was also brought about by the amazing sensitivity and care that he showed to his fellow men, the sensitivity and connection which he had towards his fellow brothers and sisters, that in all of his efforts and works, he always had the Lord and his fellow men first and foremost in his minds and thoughts. His role as a diplomat helped to defuse tensions and troubles between nations and peoples.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today, all of us heard all these wonderful reminders of God’s love and kindness, and how all of us have been so blessed to be considered as the Lord’s own sons and daughters. But are we willing to commit ourselves to Him as we should? To walk with Him and to devote ourselves to the path that He has shown us? Are we willing to embrace Him fully and to put Him first and foremost in our lives?

Let us all reflect on these as we continue to progress through life. Let us all seek the Lord with a renewed faith and conviction. May the Lord also be our guide and our strength throughout this difficult and challenging journey, that hopefully, we will be able to remain faithful and remain firm in our love for Him with each and every passing moments in life. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 21 July 2020 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Matthew 12 : 46-50

At that time, while Jesus was talking to the people, His mother and His brothers wanted to speak to Him, and they waited outside. So someone said to Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside; they want to speak with You.”

Jesus answered, “Who is My mother? Who are My brothers?” Then He pointed to His disciples and said, “Look! Here are My mother and My brothers. Whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”

Tuesday, 21 July 2020 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Psalm 84 : 2-4, 5-6, 7-8

You have favoured Your land, o YHVH; You have brought back the exiles of Jacob. You have forgiven the sin of Your people; You have pardoned their offences. You have withdrawn Your wrath and turned from Your burning rage.

But restore us, God our Saviour; put away, altogether, Your indignation. Will Your anger be ever with us, carried over to all generations?

Will You not give us life anew, that Your people may rejoice in You? Show us, o YHVH, Your unfailing love, and grant us Your saving help.

Tuesday, 21 July 2020 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Priest and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Micah 7 : 14-15, 18-20

Shepherd Your people with Your staff, shepherd the flock of Your inheritance that dwells alone in the scrub, in the midst of a fertile land. Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead as in the days of old, in the days when You went out of Egypt. Show us Your wonders.

Who is a God like You, Who takes away guilt and pardons crime for the remnant of His inheritance? Who is like You Whose anger does not last? For You delight in merciful forgiveness. Once again You will show us Your loving kindness and trample on our wrongs, casting all our sins into the depths of the sea.

Show faithfulness to Jacob, mercy to Abraham, as You have sworn to our ancestors from the days of old.

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

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the lamentations of the Lord for the unbelief and the stubbornness of many of His people in them not having faith in Him. The Lord through His prophet Micah spoke out His displeasure at the people who seemingly had forgotten the mighty and wonderful deeds by which He has rescued their ancestors and their predecessors, and instead, betraying Him by siding with the pagan gods and idols.

And in our Gospel today, there is yet another example of this stubbornness and lack of faith, as the Lord was confronted by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who doubted Him and wanted to keep on testing Him, asking Him for miracles, signs and wonders. The fact was that they had seen many such miracles and signs as they followed the Lord persistently throughout His ministry, in their futile yet constant attempts to undermine His good works.

They were the most learned and those considered the most intelligent and wisest among all the people, and yet, ironically, they were the ones who were the most stubborn and resistant to accepting the truth of the Lord. Why is that so, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because they were blinded and impeded by their own ego and pride, their own ambition and sense of superiority, their own worldly attachments and concerns that tied them down.

No matter how many signs and miracles the Lord performed before them, it would be meaningless unless they get rid from themselves the pride and hubris, the ego and ambition in their hearts and minds. People had sinned and fallen into sin from time immemorial just as the Israelites in the past had sinned because of this great fault and sin of pride, which had ensnared so many people and prevented them from attaining salvation in God.

That is why it is worth noting the Lord’s mention of the city of Nineveh and Jonah, as well as that of the Queen of the South and king Solomon, in the same Gospel passage today. The city of Nineveh was the great capital of the mighty Assyrian Empire that had conquered hundreds of nations and peoples, and yet, when the Lord sent the prophet Jonah to their midst to proclaim their upcoming judgment and destruction, the whole city and the mighty king humbled and lowered themselves, putting on sackcloth and mourning before God.

In the same way, the Queen of the South, also known as the Queen of Sheba, who was a powerful ruler of a rich and influential country in the time of king Solomon, with vast wealth and great wisdom of her own, humbled herself before God and His chosen king Solomon, when she came to behold the greatness of God showed through Solomon, his wisdom, glory and kingdom. She paid homage to the king of Israel and praised God for His wondrous deeds.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through what we have heard in our Scripture readings today therefore, we are reminded that pride and ego, ambition and greed, attachments to the world and material goods will earn us nothing but our own failure and downfall. The path to seek the Lord’s salvation and true happiness is by humility and faith, by love for God and by realising that we all need the Lord and need to put Him at the centre of our lives.

This is why we should also seek the Lord and be inspired by one of His faithful servants, our predecessor, namely St. Apollinaris, a bishop and martyr of the Church. St. Apollinaris was one of the earliest Church leaders and was the Bishop of Ravenna in what is today northeastern Italy. St. Apollinaris by tradition was appointed to his position by St. Peter himself and he was remembered chiefly for his leadership of the Christian people during the time when the Church was persecuted by the Roman authorities.

St. Apollinaris remained firm in his faith despite the persecutions and dedicated himself to serve the flock even in situations of danger. He cared for them and continued to minister among them, and his sufferings, arrest and trials, during which he endured many bitter sufferings and persecutions for the sake of the Lord, all these did not hinder him from giving himself to serve the Church and the faithful people of God, even unto martyrdom.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us are reminded by the faithful and good examples of St. Apollinaris and many other faithful servants of God, and through their great inspirations, all of us are called to follow the Lord and to devote ourselves as much as possible, and to entrust ourselves to the Lord, not to be prideful and filled with ego, but rather be humble and to be filled with the multitudes of God’s love and to have genuine faith and commitment towards Him in life.

May the Lord bless each and every one of us, and may He give us all the courage and strength to follow Him faithfully and to devote our time, effort and attention to walk in His path, at all times. May the Lord guide us and lead us into the right path, leading us into His greater glory, now and forevermore. Amen.

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

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Matthew 12 : 38-42

At that time, some teachers of the Law and some Pharisees spoke up, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” Jesus answered them, “An evil and unfaithful people want a sign; but no sign will be given them except the sign of the prophet Jonah. In the same way, as Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of Man spend three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

“At the judgment, the people of Nineveh will rise with this generation, and condemn it; because they reformed their lives at the preaching of Jonah, and here, there is greater than Jonah. At the judgment, the Queen of the South will stand up and condemn you. She came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and here, there is greater than Solomon.”

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

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 49 : 5-6, 8-9, 16bc-17, 21 and 23

I lie prostrate in the midst of lions that greedily devour people; their teeth are pointed spears and arrows; their tongues, sharpened swords. Be exalted, o God, above the heavens! Your glory be over all the earth!

Not for your sacrifices do I reprove you, for your burnt offerings are ever before Me. I need no bull from your stalls, nor he-goat from your pens.

What right have you to mouth My laws, or to talk about My covenant? You hate My commands and cast My words behind you.

Because I was silent while you did these things, you thought I was like you. But now I rebuke you and make this charge against you. Those who give with thanks offerings honour Me, but the one who walks blamelessly, I will show him the salvation of God.