Wednesday, 9 September 2020 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Claver, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we heard the Scripture passages we received today, some of us might have some questions and we wonder why for example St. Paul spoke of how it seemed that the end of the world and the time of judgment and the Lord’s coming was at hand, and also what the Lord Jesus said to the disciples, in His series of the Eight Beatitudes, blessings to those who have done what the Lord wanted them to do.

In our first reading today, we heard St. Paul in his Epistle to the Corinthians and the Church there, a reminder for all the faithful to remain faithful, to keep the commandments of God, to remain virtuous and good in all things and not be tempted by their worldly desires and other things that can lead them down the path of sin. St. Paul exhorted them to do all these in light of the earlier discourses for the past week from this same Epistle, with regards to the increasingly lax morality and discipline among the faithful.

Thus, as we heard the seemingly strange words from St. Paul, we are reminded that in the context of what he intended for the people, that is to turn away from their sinful ways and increasingly corrupt ways, he reminded them how the Lord Jesus Himself did say that the time of His coming and the time of Judgment and reckoning will come to a surprise to everyone, as no one would have expected the Lord’s moment of truth when it comes.

This, coupled with the general belief among the early Christian communities that the Lord would indeed come again soon, perhaps within a human lifetime, generated that idea among some that it is perhaps best for people to remain chaste and free from sin, for virgins to remain pure rather than to fall into sin, to avoid things that could lead them down the slippery path into eternal suffering.

While this was indeed not accurate, as in the end, no one but God alone knows the time of His coming, but the essence of that call to holiness remains true for all of us. Do we want to allow ourselves to be controlled by sin, by the many temptations that we face in life, and which will lead us to our eventual downfall in exchange for mere momentary pleasure and joy in life? Or do we rather resist and oppose these temptations, and remain firm in faith in God?

And when the Lord spoke of His Beatitudes to His disciples and followers, He was praising those who are persevering in faith and dedicating themselves to serve the Lord with faith. But He was not in fact against or condemning the rich, powerful and mighty. Rather, through His words, He has reminded us to keep ourselves from being too attached to the many comforts we have in life, that we end up falling into immoral and wicked ways, into temptations and sin, and therefore into eternal damnation.

Today, we are called to be more disciplined in life, to be more dedicated and committed in faith, to turn towards God with ever greater faith, with each and every moment. And in doing so, we can draw inspirations from our holy predecessors, especially that of St. Peter Claver, whose feast we are celebrating today. St. Peter Claver was a great priest and missionary who is remembered for his great commitment to the mission among the people he worked with in missionary area.

He was especially remembered for his care and concern for the oppressed, for people who were deprived of their livelihood and even basic human rights and respect, at a time when slavery was still rampant and prejudices among the people for those who were considered lesser races and beings were very common. St. Peter Claver laboured hard in order to oppose all these injustices he saw happening all around him, and protected and cared for the people in the best way he could.

St. Peter Claver spent a lot of time amongst the slaves to whom he ministered to over the years, doing his best to gain them their freedom and their human rights, and at least to give them better livelihood, spreading the faith to them and protecting them from injustices and harassment. He lived among them and stayed with them, and was always humble in heart, in appearance and in deed.

Through all his years of ministry, St. Peter Claver encountered plenty of opposition and challenges, but he did not allow all these from stopping or preventing him in his mission and in his love and compassionate care for the downtrodden and the oppressed. In this way, he is the epitome and example of what the Lord had mentioned in the Beatitudes, as the blessed ones who lived in accordance with the way of the Lord, and are shining beacons of hope and light amidst our darkened world.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all reflect on all these and be better Christians from now on, in deeds and in faith, that we may follow in the footsteps of St. Peter Claver, in serving God with devotion and in obeying Him, in remaining good and righteous, pure and free from the taints of sin and to keep ourselves worthy at all times, that when the Lord comes again as He promised, we will be brought into eternal and true glory with Him. May God bless us always, and help us in our journey of faith. Amen.

Wednesday, 9 September 2020 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Claver, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Luke 6 : 20-26

At that time, looking at His disciples, Jesus said, “Fortunate are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours. Fortunate are you, who are hungry now, for you will be filled. Fortunate are you, who weep now, for you will laugh.”

“Fortunate are you, when people hate you, when they reject you and insult you and number you among criminals, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for a great reward is kept for you in heaven. Remember, that is how the ancestors of the people treated the prophets.”

“But alas for you, who have wealth, for you have been comforted now. Alas for you, who are full, for you will go hungry. Alas for you, who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Alas for you, when people speak well of you, for that is how the ancestors of the people treated the false prophets.”

Wednesday, 9 September 2020 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Claver, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Psalm 44 : 11-12, 14-15, 16-17

Listen, o daughter, pay attention; forget your father’s house and your nation, and your beauty will charm the King, for He is your Lord.

All glorious as she enters is the princess in her gold-woven robes. She is led in royal attire to the King, following behind is her train of virgins.

Amid cheers and general rejoicing, they enter the palace of the King. Forget your fathers and think of your sons, you will make them princes throughout the land.

Wednesday, 9 September 2020 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Claver, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

1 Corinthians 7 : 25-31

With regard to those who remain virgins, I have no special commandment from the Lord, but I give some advice, hoping that I am worthy of trust by the mercy of the Lord.

I think this is good in these hard times in which we live. It is good for someone to remain as he is. If you are married, do not try to divorce your wife; if you are not married, do not marry. He who marries does not sin, nor does the young girl sin who marries. Yet they will face disturbing experiences, and I would like to spare you.

I say this, brothers and sisters : time is running out, and those who are married must live as if not married; those who weep as if not weeping; those who are happy as if they were not happy; those buying something as if they had not bought it, and those enjoying the present life as if they were not enjoying it. For the order of this world is vanishing.

Tuesday, 8 September 2020 : Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, celebrating the moment when Mary, the Mother of Our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, was born into this world. And if we noticed the date and timing, we will realise how it is exactly nine months today, after the eighth day of the month December, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

If on the day of the Immaculate Conception we rejoice in the moment the Mother of God herself was conceived in the womb of her mother, St. Anne, then nine months after that, today, we celebrate her birth into this world, the moment of joy when both her parents, St. Joachim and St. Anne welcomed her into the world although at that time no one would have ever known that this little baby, soon to be a young woman and lady, would be the one to bear the Saviour of the world.

In today’s Scripture readings, we heard of the humanity of Christ that came forth from His descent, through His legal foster-father, St. Joseph, who was the rightful heir of David, the great King of Israel, and He was also descended from king David through His mother Mary, through another lineage also highlighted in the Scripture and according to the sacred traditions of the Church.

We heard through the long lineage how the Lord eventually descended through the kings of Judah and Israel, to king David and through him, from Abraham, the father of many nations, and ultimately from Adam, the very first one of all man. Through this very significant link, we can see that in Christ lays the ultimate culmination of the Lord’s salvation of His people, in Christ as the New Adam, a comparison that was made by St. Paul, the One Who liberated us all from death just as the first, old Adam brought us into death through sin.

Then how does Mary fit in all these, brothers and sisters in Christ? Just as Adam was the first man, and Eve was created by God from the flesh of Adam, then we can surely see the interesting parallel that exists between Adam and Eve, and Christ and His mother, Mary. Yes, exactly, Mary is the new Eve, the new Woman that the Lord Himself had proclaimed at the beginning as the one through whom the final victory of man over Satan and his forces would come from.

When Eve fell to the temptations of Satan and fell into sin, it was Mary’s faith and obedience to God that marked a new beginning for all of us. And while Adam and Eve fell into sin, embracing the temptations of Satan who persuaded them with knowledge and power, to fill themselves up with greatness and in Satan’s own words ‘to be like God’, the new Adam, Christ Himself, although fully Divine, chose to empty Himself from His divinity, and in humble and perfect obedience, destroyed the sins caused by the disobedience of man.

Through Mary and her obedience, her faith and commitment, the love she has for her Son, showed by her dedication through her whole life since birth and through the lifetime and ministry of her Son, she has showed us what it means for us to follow God and to be faithful to Him, and that is why, rightfully, the devil himself fears Mary very, very much, the most of all the children of Adam and Eve, as it was her devotion to God, her perfect love and faith, modelled after her Son, that brought him to his ultimate and complete defeat.

Unlike Eve, Mary was not and could not be tempted by Satan, just as he failed to tempt the Lord Himself. That is why, rightfully, he feared Mary, just almost as much as he had to yield to her Son, his rightful Lord and Master, whom he had rebelled against, lost, and cast out, to face eternity of defeat and destruction, while all of us, who share in the glory of Christ, will be brought out of the clutches of Satan, and with Mary guiding the way for us to her Son, our Lord and Saviour.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we rejoice today in celebration of the birthday of the Mother of Our Lord, let us all therefore look upon the examples of her faith and dedication, her trust in God and how she humbly allowed God to lead her in all things. And indeed, it is by following her examples and being inspired by her faith that we can be closest to God, for ‘through Mary, to Jesus’ should be our rallying cry, in the constant struggle against sin.

Let us all not lose faith and remain strong in our commitment to the Lord, and let us all have faith, that in the end, we will win the struggle over our souls, and by siding with God, with the help of His beloved Mother, Mary, who is also our mother, we will find the surest and best way to reach the salvation in God’s everlasting grace and love.

O Holy Mary, Mother of God, whose birth we celebrate and rejoice today, pray for all of us, your adopted children and sinners, that we may grow ever stronger in faith and love for your Son, by imitating and following your own examples, humility, obedience and faith, in all times and at all moments of our lives. May the Lord be with us always, and may He always bless all of our good endeavours, now and always. Amen.