Thursday, 3 September 2020 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 5 : 1-11

At that time, one day, as Jesus stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, with a crowd gathered around Him listening to the word of God, He caught sight of two boats, left at the water’s edge by fishermen, now washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to pull out a little from the shore. There He sat, and continued to teach the crowd.

When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Simon replied, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing. But if You say so, I will lower the nets.” This they did, and caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. They signalled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They came, and they filled both almost to the point of sinking.

Upon seeing this, Simon Peter fell at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Leave me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and his companions were amazed at the catch they had made, and so were Simon’s partners, James and John, Zebedee’s sons. Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. You will catch people from now on.” So they brought their boats to land and followed Him, leaving everything.

Thursday, 3 September 2020 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 23 : 1-2, 3-4ab, 5-6

The earth and its fullness belong to YHVH, the world and all that dwell in it. He has founded it upon the ocean and set it firmly upon the waters.

Who will ascend the mountain of YHVH? Who will stand in His holy place? Those with clean hands and pure heart, who desire not what is vain.

They will receive blessings from YHVH, a reward from God, their Saviour. Such are the people who seek Him, who seek the face of Jacob’s God.

Thursday, 3 September 2020 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Corinthians 3 : 18-23

Do not deceive yourselves. If anyone of you considers himself wise in the ways of the world, let him become a fool, so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s eyes. To this, Scripture says : God catches the wise in their own wisdom. It also says : The Lord knows the reasoning of the wise, that it is useless.

Because of this, let no one boast about human beings, for everything belongs to you; Paul, Apollos, Cephas – life, death, the present and the future. Everything is yours, and you, you belong to Christ, and Christ is of God.

Wednesday, 2 September 2020 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us are reminded through the readings of the Scripture, of the need for each and every one of us to overcome the temptations of pride and greed, and to avoid jealousy and hatred in our lives and within our Christian communities and our larger society in general. For as we heard from the Scriptures, it is very easy for us to be divided against each other because of the various conflicting desires that can lead us astray in our journey of faith.

In our first reading today, we heard about the divisions that existed in the early Christian communities, particularly in what St. Paul addressed in his Epistles to the Corinthians. He spoke of how some among the people were proclaiming themselves as the supporters of St. Paul, while yet others disagreed and proclaimed that they were the followers of Apollos. For the context, Apollos was a very charismatic and influential Jewish preacher mentioned several times across the Acts of the Apostles for his missionary efforts.

As written in the Scriptures, Apollos was a believer in Christ, although at first he did not yet know fully of the Christian faith and teachings, and preached to the people of the teachings and the baptism of St. John the Baptist. And it was also mentioned how the differences and the incomplete nature of the truth and teachings that Apollos propagated led to some Christian disciples to pass on to him the truth of Christ.

Regardless, Apollos’ great charism and influential nature brought him many followers, that considering the slight differences in the teachings and styles, led to divisions among the Christian communities, as some sided with Apollos, while others sided with St. Paul, the other great missionary who spread the message of the Gospel to the many communities of the Mediterranean region and beyond, both to the Jews and the Gentiles alike.

And all of those divisions were caused by human greed and ambition, pride and ego, as well as their failure to look beyond worldly matters. That was exactly why St. Paul chastised them and reminded them that ultimately, St. Paul, Apollos and other Christian leaders and missionaries were merely instruments and servants of God, doing the will of God, and working for the greater glory of God, not for their own glory or for their followers’ glory.

And St. Paul also reminded the Christian faithful that it was because of God that everything had been possible, and all the successes that were achieved by St. Paul, Apollos and other evangelisers and missionaries were because of the grace of God and His guidance. Therefore, all of us as Christians must be vigilant not to be tempted by the devil trying to sow divisions between us by making us focus on our differences, as well as on our own personal and worldly agenda rather than focusing on God as we should have.

In our Gospel passage today, we also heard of the healing of the mother-in-law of St. Peter, who had been very sick, and the Lord made her healthy again. And we were told how the people brought many of their sick to the Lord immediately after hearing about the miracle. But then curiously, after a short while, the Lord said that He would go to another place, to the surprise of His followers and disciples.

He said that there were still many others who were in need of Him, His teachings and to hear the truth and receive the healing that He was bringing into this world. And also most importantly, He showed His disciples that all the work that He has done, was ultimately for the greater glory of God, to serve the will of His Father and not to dwell in adulation and human praise. For it was indeed very easy for us to be tempted with pride and hubris, with ego and greed, in human praise and adoration, in fame and influence.

That was why, the Lord Jesus chose to move on from place to place, that His disciples would learn more about humility and refocus themselves on their purpose of serving God rather than serving their own selfish desires. And at the same time, it did fulfil the Lord’s purpose of reaching out to more people, instead of just staying in the same location and serving the people there while getting the praise and reputation for doing so.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s Scripture readings remind us all as Christians to be Christ-centric in our lives and in how we live out our faith, and we should not allow ourselves to be easily tempted by the temptations of worldly ambitions and desires. St. Paul has reminded us to be careful of these temptations and not to be divided amongst ourselves because of all these matters. Instead, we should remain united in God, and we should remain focused on Him, and not on ourselves and our desires.

Let us all help and remind each other to be faithful at all times, and dedicate ourselves as best as possible, to serve the Lord at all times, and do what we can in order to be good and dutiful Christians, doing everything for the greater glory of God, and not for ourselves. Let us all be God’s most wonderful instruments in bringing His light and truth into our world. May the Lord bless us always, in our every good endeavours. Amen.

Wednesday, 2 September 2020 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 4 : 38-44

At that time, leaving the synagogue, Jesus went to the house of Simon. His mother-in-law was suffering from high fever, and they asked Him to do something for her. Bending over her, He rebuked the fever, and it left her. Immediately, she got up and waited on them.

At sunset, people suffering from many kinds of sickness were brought to Jesus. Laying His hands on each one, He healed them. Demons were driven out, howling as they departed from their victims, “You are the Son of God!” He rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, for they knew He was the Messiah.

Jesus left at daybreak and looked for a solitary place. People went out in search of Him, and finding Him, they tried to dissuade Him from leaving. But He said, “I have to go to other towns, to announce the good news of the kingdom of God. That is what I was sent to do.” And Jesus continued to preach in the synagogues of Galilee.

Wednesday, 2 September 2020 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 32 : 12-13, 14-15, 20-21

Blessed is the nation whose God is YHVH – the people He has chosen for His inheritance. YHVH looks down from heaven and sees the whole race of mortals.

From where He sits, He watches all those who dwell on the earth – He Who fashions every heart, observes all their deeds.

In hope, we wait for YHVH, for He is our help and our shield. Our hearts rejoice in Him, for we trust in His holy Name.

Wednesday, 2 September 2020 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Corinthians 3 : 1-9

I could not, friends, speak to you as spiritual persons but as fleshly people, for you are still infants in Christ. I gave you milk, and not solid food, for you were not ready for it, and, up to now, you cannot receive it, for you are still of the flesh. As long as there is jealousy and strife, what can I say, but that you are at the level of the flesh, and behave like ordinary people.

While one says : “I follow Paul,” and the other : “I follow Apollos,” what are you, but people still at a human level? For what is Apollos? What is Paul? They are ministers; and through them, you believed, as it was given by the Lord, to each of them. I planted, Apollos watered the plant, but God made it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God, Who makes the plant grow.

The one who plants and the one who waters work to the same end, and the Lord will pay each, according to their work. We are fellow-workers with God, but you are God’s field and building.

Tuesday, 1 September 2020 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us heard a very interesting set of readings from the Scripture, relating to the concept of the spiritual life and the Spirit of God working in our midst, and how only the Spirit of God knows the truth of God unlike our feeble and weak human minds, perceptions and understanding.

When we speak of the spirits of God here as described in our first reading by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Corinthians, it is a reference to our Gospel passage today, in which we heard the account of the Lord Jesus casting out demons and evil spirits from a man in the synagogue of Capernaum. The man shouted loudly, proclaiming the Lord Jesus as the Holy One of God, the Messiah promised to the whole world and the Son of God.

It is curious that all these came from the mouth of a man possessed by evil spirits. We would have expected that the evil spirits spoke terribly of the Lord or falsehoods about Him, but on the contrary, they spoke the truth. Why is that so? That is because although they had rebelled against God and disobeyed Him, fell into evil, following the path of Satan, but ultimately, all of them, including Satan, were the Angels of God and spirits that were created by God.

God is still and will always be their true Master and Lord, and those spirits, as fearsome and mighty they might seem or appear, or make themselves to appear, but they have no power over God, and no power therefore over Jesus, the One Whom despite His human appearance, was in truth God Himself incarnate in the human flesh and existence, fully Divine and fully Human, two distinct natures united perfectly in His own Person.

That was why those evil spirits recognised Him and proclaimed Him as He was, first of all, perhaps because they wanted to make it more difficult for the Lord to perform His missions, as the words that He is the Holy One and Son of God would inevitably lead Him to the clash and arguments with the Pharisees and the chief priests. But ultimately, they cannot lie before the presence of God, and they had to speak the truth.

And therefore, as St. Paul mentioned in his Epistle, the spirit knows and understand what are imperceivable and unrecognisable to the world, to the physical world. This also comes after yesterday’s readings, in which we heard how the Lord Jesus was rejected by His own people, His own neighbours and townspeople alike, just because they saw Him and knew Him as the Son of a local carpenter.

We can see the contrast and irony how while the evil spirits recognised the Lord Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God, His own people failed to recognise Him and refused to believe in Him. And this is what happened when we allowed our human prejudices, biases and limited human understanding and ability to perceive to mislead us and misguide us. That is why, we must have strong and genuine faith in God, through our living and good relationship with Him.

We do not recognise something that we do not know or which we are not familiar with. That is why when we do not spend time with God, or have little authentic relationship with Him, then how can we expect to know Him properly? It is through prayer that all of us as Christians come to know God, recognise Him by uniting our spirit to Him, opening our deepest self, our hearts and minds to God.

The sad reality is that so many of us Christians have not put priority for prayer in our lives, and we tend to put God as secondary importance in our lives, as we spent a lot more time in trying to pursue our various worldly aims and desires, our attachments to the world, to all sorts of worldly pleasures and matters, and we pushed God aside and relegated Him to a place of much lesser importance in our lives.

That was exactly why many failed to recognise the Lord’s Presence, even those Pharisees, teachers of the Law and those who have witnessed the Lord performing His wondrous miracles, they refused to believe in Him because they had no strong and genuine connection with Him. For many among the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, although they outwardly seemed pious and faithful, but their piety was rather superficial, and their hearts were not centred on God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all discern these carefully and see how we can be more faithful in words, deeds and actions, be more genuinely committed to God, with all of our hearts. Let us all draw strength from God and let us truly believe in Him and put our full trust in His promise of eternal life and glory, and dedicate ourselves day after day, time from time, to proclaim His glory and truth in our communities, and be the witnesses of His truth and Resurrection. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 1 September 2020 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 4 : 31-37

At that time, Jesus went down to Capernaum, a town of Galilee, and began teaching the people at the Sabbath meetings. They were astonished at the way He taught them, for His word was spoken with authority.

In the synagogue, there was a man possessed by an evil spirit, who shouted in a loud voice, “What do You want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I recognise You : You are the Holy One of God.”

Then Jesus said to him sharply, “Be silent and leave this man!” The evil spirit then threw the man down in front of them, and came out of him without doing him harm. Amazement seized all these people, and they said to one another, “What does this mean? He commands the evil spirits with authority and power. He orders, and you see how they come out!”

And news about Jesus spread throughout the surrounding area.

Tuesday, 1 September 2020 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 144 : 8-9, 10-11, 12-13ab, 13cd-14

Compassionate and gracious is YHVH, slow to anger and abounding in love. YHVH is good to everyone; His mercy embraces all His creation.

All Your works will give You thanks; all Your saints, o Lord, will praise You. They will tell of the glory of Your kingdom and speak of Your power.

That all may know of Your mighty deeds, Your reign and its glorious splendour. Your reign is from age to age; Your dominion endures from generation to generation.

The Lord is true to His promises and lets His mercy show in all He does. The Lord lifts up those who are falling and raises those who are beaten down.