Thursday, 20 August 2020 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 22 : 1-14

At that time, Jesus continued speaking to the people in parables : “This story throws light on the kingdom of heaven : A king gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to call the invited guests to the banquet, but the guests refused to come.”

“Again, He sent other servants, instructing them to say to the invited guests, ‘I have prepared a banquet, slaughtered my fattened calves and other animals, and now, everything is ready. Come to the wedding!’ But they paid no attention and went away, some to their farms, and some to their work. Others seized the servants of the king, insulted them and killed them.”

“The king was furious. He sent his troops to destroy those murderers and burn their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is prepared, but the invited guests were not worthy. Go instead to the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding feast.'”

“The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, good and bad alike, so that the hall was filled with guests. The king came in to see the wedding guests, and he noticed a man not wearing a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in without the wedding clothes?'”

“But the man remained silent. So the king said to his servants, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Thursday, 20 August 2020 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 50 : 12-13, 14-15, 18-19

Create in me, o God, a pure heart; give me a new and steadfast spirit. Do not cast me out of Your presence nor take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Give me again the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will show wrongdoers Your ways and sinners will return to You.

You take no pleasure in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt offering, You would not delight in it. O God, my sacrifice is a broken spirit; a contrite heart You will not despise.

Thursday, 20 August 2020 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ezekiel 36 : 23-28

I will make known the holiness of My great Name, profaned among the nations because of you; and they will know that I am YHVH, when I show them My holiness among you. For I will gather you from all the nations and bring you back to your own land. Then I shall pour pure water over you and you shall be made clean – cleansed from the defilement of all your idols.

I shall give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. I shall remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I shall put My Spirit within you and move you to follow My decrees and keep My laws. You will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you shall be My people and I will be your God.

Wednesday, 19 August 2020 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Eudes, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us heard the Lord and His desire to call all of us to His presence, to care for us and love us wholeheartedly as He has always done, to be reconciled to us, all of His people who had been scattered due to our sins and disobedience, and as a result, became separated from the fullness of His love and grace. God wants each and every one of us to find our way to Him, to be loved again and to be righteous and good once again.

He showed through the prophet Ezekiel how God would take into account all those who have misled the people into sin, into the path of darkness and disobedience, as those who had been entrusted with the well-being and guidance of the people were lax and untrustworthy in their work, and those leaders and guides had instead pleased themselves and sought to fulfil their own selfish desires and wishes, and used their own positions to their own advantage.

All of these together are reminders for us how the Lord loves each and every one of us generously, and He has always cared for each and every one of us without exception. He has always been patient with us and kind towards us all these while. But it is often us who are making it difficult for God to help in the journey and struggle towards salvation and eternal life. The Lord nonetheless still patiently cared for us and showed His care and concern all these while, willing to forgive us and welcome us back if we are sincere in our repentance.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in our Gospel passage today we then heard of the Lord speaking to His disciples regarding the parable of the workers of a vineyard, where the lord and master of the vineyard went out to many places seeking workers for his vineyard, and calling on all whom he encountered to work there. The workers laboured at the vineyard while the master went out again at the sixth hour, ninth hour and even up to the eleventh hour, the last hour before the conclusion of the work day.

And as we heard, those who worked earlier and were called earlier thought and expected that they would receive more pay than those who came later than them, only to be disappointed and grumbled among themselves because every single workers regardless of how long they have worked, all received the same reward of one piece of silver coin. But the Lord then rebuked these ungrateful workers, how he had called them to work and provided them with employment, and also as agreed, he had paid them all as agreed.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, from what we heard in this parable, the Lord wants us all to know that each and every one of us are equally beloved by God, regardless whether we have responded to His call first or heeded His call earlier than others. It does not mean that just because we followed God first then we are better and superior to those who follow Him later, and this definitely do not give us the right to look down on others. Even those whom God called at the last hour, like the ones called on the eleventh hour, have the same right to receive the fullness of God’s grace and forgiveness.

Unfortunately, this is what had happened to the same shepherds of the people of God whom the Lord mentioned in His words to the prophet Ezekiel. The many leaders of the Israelites, and for example, many among the Pharisees and the priests, the elders and the teachers of the Law who looked down on those who they deemed to be not as pious or worthy as they were, in the sense that those people did not follow the strict adherence and observance of the Law as the Pharisees had followed.

And in their ego and hubris they forgot purpose of their existence and responsibility as shepherds of the people. Instead of helping and guiding the lost sheep of the Lord to find their way to return to their loving Master, they closed the gates and prevented them from returning, and misleading them through their own misconceived and misinterpreted version of the Law. This is why the Lord chastised them such and spoke out against all these unfaithful and irresponsible servants.

We are therefore reminded, brothers and sisters in Christ, to be humble in life and to centre our lives and existence on God, and not on ourselves. And instead of trumpeting our own piety and achievements, let us all be aware of just how sinful each and every one of us have been, regardless the seriousness and magnitude of our sins. For sin is sin, and sin, unless forgiven by God, and repented with full sincerity on our part, sin will lead us into eternal suffering and death.

Are we able and willing to follow the Lord wholeheartedly without pride, arrogance, ego and greed, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we able and willing to help one another in faith and in persevering through the many challenges and trials in life, instead of condemning and being judgmental against others? Let us all today look then on the good examples set by the saint whose feast we celebrate this day, namely St. John Eudes, holy and dedicated priest of God.

St. John Eudes dedicated his life to God from early in his life, when he was just fourteen and made his First Holy Communion, and made a vow of chastity to God. He then joined as a religious member of the Oratorians after studying for a moment under the tutelage of the Jesuits. He then dedicated himself for many years as a priest, in ministering to the people and he was noted for his persistent care for the sick and those who were less privileged in the community.

In the years to come, he would come to be noted for his missionary efforts and powerful preaching, which would see him in hundreds of parishes and churches, preaching the word of God to many people, including even nobles and kings throughout Christendom. St. John Eudes was also remembered then for his efforts in reforming the seminaries and the spiritual growth of both the priests and laity alike, helping in championing the reforms of the education of the faithful.

Later on, as St. John Eudes founded the two religious orders of Our Lady of Charity of the Refuge and also the Congregation of Jesus and Mary, known better as the Eudists after their founder, this holy and dedicated man of God continued tirelessly to reach out to many people, especially those who are spiritually troubled and those who are in need of help and assistance in living their faith. Many people would be saved by the efforts of St. John Eudes and the members of his congregations.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us are called to follow in the footsteps of St. John Eudes, the holy priest of God, in his faithfulness and in his love for his fellow brethren, reaching out to those who are in need of help, especially those struggling with their faith. Let us all follow in his footsteps and in the path set by our innumerable holy predecessors, realising that all of us have been called to holiness in God, even the worst of sinners. Let us all seek Him, with all of our hearts from now on, that we may truly glorify Him by our lives. May God bless each and every one of us now and forevermore. Amen.