Thursday, 15 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all reminded to trust ourselves in the Lord and to follow Him, and not to be easily swayed by worldly temptations and pressures, or by sufferings and trials that we may encounter in our path. We should not be easily swayed and distracted by the lies of the devil and all those seeking our downfall, masking their traps and dangers by false promises of comfort and pleasures in life.

In our first reading today, we heard the Lord and His calling of Moses to be His servant and as the leader of His people, the Israelites. God called Moses at Mount Horeb from a miraculously burning bush, calling on him to go to the land of Egypt and to speak to the Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, to let the people of Israel go free. Moses was unsure and he was afraid that the people would reject him. But God reassured him and told him that he must reveal Who He was before the assembly of the people, and they would know that God had sent Moses into their midst.

God also reassured His people through Moses, by telling Moses to proclaim to the people the promises of God’s faithfulness to the Covenant which He had made with their ancestors, with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God would not abandon His people in their hour of need, and He would show His might and power before the Egyptians and their Pharaoh, that if they would not let the people of Israel go free, then they would see the might and power of God, and by His hand, the Israelites would be set free.

That was what eventually happened in history, as the Pharaoh hardened his heart and refused to let the people of Israel go free. As such, God sent ten great plagues to Egypt through Moses, and after enduring all the sufferings and pains, the Pharaoh and the Egyptians finally let the Israelites to go free. And when the Pharaoh attempted at the last hour to try to bring the Israelites back again, God opened the sea before all of His people, and crushed the armies and the chariots of Egypt under the waves of the sea.

God has shown His love and faithfulness to His people, and He has proven, time and again, His love and dedication to them. But at the same time, He also called on them all to embrace His Law and His path, as the Covenant which He made with their ancestors and thereafter renewed, entailed the commitment from both parties in the Covenant. Just as God has been faithful to the Covenant He made, the people of Israel were also expected to be faithful to the Lord in all things. This is the ‘yoke’ that they had to bear, in being faithful and resisting the temptations and pleasures of life.

Thus, this is what has been mentioned in our Gospel passage today, as the Lord Jesus told the disciples and others, to come and seek Him, all those who were weary and heavily burdened, as in Him they would find rest and succour, comfort and true joy in the end. At the same time, the Lord also mentioned that His yoke is easy and light, and His kindness and love prevail over all things. This serves as a very important reminder for us that following God as His faithful ones do not mean that we are not to suffer or to endure sorrow and difficulties.

Instead, just as the Lord Himself often highlighted to His disciples, that being a faithful follower of His would lead to conflict and disagreements, even divisions and plenty of challenges and trials. As they commit themselves to Him and His way, there would be those who refused to align themselves to Him, and therefore, led to persecutions, even violence and hatred against those who believe in the Lord and committed themselves to Him. This is the yoke that we have to bear, that is to be faithful even against the opposition of the world and against the temptations of worldly pleasures.

Today, all of us are reminded of this need for us to be faithful and committed to God, and not to be easily swayed by worldly temptations, so that we may grow ever stronger in our faith. And we can look upon the examples set by St. Bonaventure, our holy predecessor in faith, a great bishop, Cardinal and declared Doctor of the Church for his many important contributions to the Church and the faith, and for his dedication to the Lord and to His people. St. Bonaventure was very much involved in the reforms of the Church of his time.

He was a member of the Franciscan order, one of its earliest members, and a renowned expert on Church teachings and theology. He wrote extensively and had many publications and works attributed to him, and he was also active in the governance of the Church, being also entrusted to be one of the princes of the Church as a Cardinal, supporting the Pope in his efforts to reform the Church and in encouraging the unity and development of the Church. Through his many works and contributions, St. Bonaventure has shown us what it truly means to be a follower and disciple of Christ.

Are we then able to commit ourselves in the same way, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we able and willing to follow the Lord and focus ourselves on Him as we continue to embark on our journey of life? Let us all turn towards Him with renewed faith and conviction from now on, that in all things we will always seek the Lord and bear the burdens and yoke we have to wear as Christians with joy, as we know that in the end, we will triumph with God, and gain eternal glory and true joy with Him. May God bless us always, in our every good works and endeavours. Amen.

Thursday, 15 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 11 : 28-30

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest. For My yoke is easy; and My burden is light.”

Thursday, 15 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 104 : 1 and 5, 8-9, 24-25, 26-27

Give thanks to YHVH, call on His Name; make known His works among the nations. Remember His wonderful works, His miracles and His judgments.

He remembers His Covenant forever, His promise to a thousand generations, the Covenant He made with Abraham, the promise He swore to Isaac.

YHVH made His people fruitful and much stronger than their foes; whose hearts He turned, to hate His people, to deal deceitfully with His servants.

Then He sent Moses His servant and Aaron whom He had chosen. They performed His signs among them, His miracles in the land of Ham.

Thursday, 15 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Exodus 3 : 13-20

Moses answered God, “If I go to the Israelites and say to them : ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ they will ask me : ‘What is His Name?’ What shall I answer them?”

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO AM. This is what you will say to the sons of Israel : ‘I AM sent me to you.” God then said to Moses, “You will say to the Israelites : ‘YHVH, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, has sent me.’ That will be My Name forever, and by this Name they shall call upon Me for all generations to come.”

“Go! Call together the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘YHVH, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob appeared to me and said : I have seen and taken account of how the Egyptians have treated you, and I mean to bring you out of all this oppression in Egypt and take you to the land of the Canaanites, a land flowing with milk and honey.'”

“The elders of Israel will listen to you and, with them, you shall go to the palace of the king of Egypt and say to him : ‘The God of the Hebrews, YHVH, has met with us. Now let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness to sacrifice to YHVH our God.'”

“I well know that the king of the Egyptians will not allow you to go unless he is forced to do so. I will therefore stretch out My hand and strike Egypt in extraordinary ways, after which he will let you go.”

Wednesday, 14 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Camillus de Lellis, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord speaking to us about the revelations of God’s truth and love for His people which He has done throughout history at the time of the Old Testament and then in the New Testament. In our first reading we heard about how Moses was called by the Lord at Mount Horeb through the famous miraculous burning bush, while in our Gospel passage today we heard the Lord Jesus, Who as the Saviour of the world and the Son of God, revealed Himself and His Father to all the people.

In our first reading from the Book of Exodus we heard how Moses was called by God to be the leader of His people, at Mount Horeb in the midst of shepherding his flock in the land of the Midianites. Moses was on the run from the land of Egypt after having killed an Egyptian in defending his fellow Israelite. Back then, he had been adopted by the daughter of the Pharaoh after having been rescued from the River Nile. That incident led Moses to choose to hide in exile away from Egypt, in the land of the Midians, and thereafter married his wife and had a child.

It seemed that Moses would be forever separated from the rest of his people, in exile in Midian. But God had a different plan for him, as He called Moses to follow Him and to do His will, as he was about to be sent back to Egypt, in order to save His whole people, the whole nation of the Israelites, all the hundreds of thousands of them from their enslavement in Egypt. God never forgot about them, and He called Moses back from among the Midians that He might rescue the whole multitude of the people of Israel from their sufferings.

God therefore revealed Himself before Moses at the top of Mount Horeb in the vision of the burning bush, as Moses saw in wonder how a bush was burning with fire and yet, at the same time, was not harmed by the fire. God spoke to Moses from within the flame, and revealed to him all that He would do for the sake of His people, and how Moses would be His instrument in the deliverance of all Israel. Moses was unsure of this, but God reassured him and instructed him on what to be done as he was to go to Egypt and lead God’s people out of their slavery.

In that first reading passage, we heard God’s revelation of His salvation for His people, and then, in the similar way, God revealed His salvation to everyone through none other than Jesus Christ, Saviour of the whole world and Son of God, born into this world to be its Saviour and Light, Hope and Strength. Christ has come into this world to save us all mankind, just as Moses had come into Egypt to save the people of Israel. Hence, we can see how the two stories are related to each other, and how God made known to us His wonders.

In that Gospel passage we heard today, we the Lord revealed Himself before His disciples, more and more of the truth about Himself, Who He was and what He had been sent into the world for. Christ indeed is the Son of God, sent into the world by the will of God the Father, that through Him all the whole world, all of mankind may be saved and delivered from their slavery. What slavery is this, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is the slavery to sin. Just as the Israelites were enslaved by the Egyptians, sin has enslaved us all, every single one of us who have disobeyed God and His will, and therefore sinned against Him.

Hence, we really should be thankful that God has loved us so wonderfully and so generously, that He has ever patiently reached out to us and cared for us, even as we still stubbornly sinned against Him, refusing to listen to Him and time again and again, falling into the many temptations in life. This is why we must be grateful of God’s ever generous love, and we must never take Him for granted. If not for God’s mercy, compassion and love, the Israelites would have suffered much more and much longer at the hands of the Egyptians, and we too would have suffered more and will suffer more in the hands of sin and death.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Camillus de Lellis, whose life and examples can serve as good inspiration for us to follow on how we can be good servants and followers of the Lord. St. Camillus de Lellis was born into a relatively broken family and grew up much neglected due to his father’s relatively frequent absence and his aged mother not being able to control his temper. Joining the military at a young age, he then gave in to gambling and other vices, leading a terrible life after he left the army, still relatively young at the time.

Yet, his encounter with friars at the Capuchin friary he was working in as labourer converted St. Camillus de Lellis, as he began to embrace God’s calling earnestly and turned away from the sinful and wicked ways with which he had lived his life previously. Eventually, he endeavoured to join the priesthood after encountering several obstacles, and gave himself to the care and the service of the poor, dedicating himself to his task, and also establishing the order known as the Order of Clerks Regular, Ministers of the Infirm, also better known after him as their founder, as the Camilians.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we can see here the example of how one’s openness to allow God to enter his life caused a great conversion and change, as what had happened to St. Camillus de Lellis showed us. And through that change, St. Camillus de Lellis had not only changed himself for the better, but also impacted many others, to whom the saint and others he helped to inspire, had pledged to serve, care and show God’s love and compassion on, especially the sick and the dying.

Are we also able to commit ourselves in the same way, brothers and sisters in Christ? We are all called therefore to turn towards the Lord with total faith and conviction, to be free from the chains of slavery of sin, by following Christ, our Lord, and what He has told us about His truth. Let us allow the Lord to lead us out from the slavery of sin into the freedom of eternal life with God, and remain faithful to the Lord to the end. May God also be with us all the time, throughout this journey in life, now and always. Amen.