Friday, 13 August 2021 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Pontian, Pope and Martyr, and St. Hippolytus, Priest and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Matthew 19 : 3-12

At that time, some Pharisees approached Jesus. They wanted to test Him and asked, “Is a man allowed to divorce his wife for any reason he wants?”

Jesus replied, “Have you not read that, in the beginning, the Creator made them male and female? And the Creator said : Therefore, a man shall leave father and mother, and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one body. So, they are no longer two, but one body. Let no one separate what God has joined.”

They asked him, “Then why did Moses command us to write a bill of dismissal in order to divorce?” Jesus replied, “Moses knew the hardness of your hearts, so he allowed you to divorce your wives; but it was not so in the beginning. Therefore, I say to you : whoever divorces his wife, unless it be for immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

The disciples said, “If that is the condition of a married man, it is better not to marry.” Jesus said to them, “Not everybody can accept what you have just said, but only those who have received this gift. There are eunuchs born so, from their mother’s womb. Some have been made that way by others. But there are some who have given up the possibility of marriage, for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who can accept it, accept it.”

Friday, 13 August 2021 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Pontian, Pope and Martyr, and St. Hippolytus, Priest and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 135 : 1, 2, 3, 16, 17, 18, 21, 22, 24

Alleluia! Give thanks to YHVH, for He is good, His kindness endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of gods, His kindness endures forever.

Give thanks to YHVH of Lords, His kindness endures forever.

He led His people through the desert, His kindness endures forever.

He struck down great kings, His kindness endures forever.

And He killed mighty kings, His kindness endures forever.

He gave their land as an inheritance, His kindness endures forever.

A heritage to Israel His servant, His kindness endures forever.

And He freed us from our oppressors, His kindness endures forever.

Friday, 13 August 2021 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Pontian, Pope and Martyr, and St. Hippolytus, Priest and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Joshua 24 : 1-13

Joshua summoned all the tribes of Israel in Shechem, and assembled the elders, leaders, judges and secretaries. And together they presented themselves before God.

Addressing the people, Joshua said to them : “YHVH, the God of Israel, commands me to say to you : Your ancestors lived beyond the Euphrates River – Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor – serving other gods. But I brought Abraham your father from beyond the Euphrates and led him through the whole land of Canaan.”

“Then I gave him a son Isaac, that he might have numerous descendants. And to Isaac, I gave two sons : Esau and Jacob. Esau received the mountains of Seir as his inheritance, while Jacob and his sons went down to Egypt. Then I sent Moses and Aaron to punish Egypt in the way that you know, that you might leave.”

“Then I brought your ancestors out of Egypt and you came to the sea. The Egyptians pursued you with chariots and horses as far as the Red Sea. Then you cried to YHVH, and He put immense darkness between you and the Egyptians. He made the sea go back on them and they were drowned. You have witnessed all the things He did in Egypt, and then you lived in the desert for a long time.”

“Then I brought you to the land of the Amorites who were on the east of the Jordan. You fought them but it was I Who gave them into your hand; you destroyed them and you seized their lands. Balak, the son of Zippor, king of Moab, declared war on Israel and commanded Balaam son of Beor to curse you. But I would not listen to him, so Balaam blessed you and I saved you from the hands of Balak.”

“Then you crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. And the landlords of Jericho fought against you : the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites declared war on you, but I gave them to you. The two Amorite kings fled from you because of the swarm of hornets that attacked them and not because of your sword and bow.”

“I gave you lands which you have not tilled, cities which you did not build but in which you now live. I gave you vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant but from which you now eat.”

Thursday, 12 August 2021 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Frances de Chantal, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us are asked to follow the Lord and embrace His ways, as we continue to proceed through this journey of life. We are reminded that we should follow the path of the Lord, follow Him wholeheartedly and be virtuous in life in accordance to His ways. We have to love one another just as how God has loved each and every one of us, to show kindness and love, true faith and dedication in our every actions.

In our first reading today, we heard from the accounts of the Book of Joshua in which we heard how God led His people, the Israelites, into the land promised to them and their ancestors, the land beyond the River Jordan. Joshua called all the Israelites and reminded them all of God’s love and grace, of His guidance and companionship throughout the Exodus, and brought the Ark of the Covenant, the concrete and real symbol of God’s presence amongst His people, to open the path for them through the River Jordan.

And that was thus how the people of God crossed the River Jordan on the dry seabed, as the Lord held back the river while the Ark of the Covenant was on the riverbed, a reminiscent of how the Lord held back the waters of the sea, when the Israelites crossed the Red Sea just forty years earlier as they made their way out of Egypt. God was with their people throughout their journey, and showed His commitment to the Covenant that He has established with them, guiding them into the land which has been promised to them.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard of the parable of the Lord, on the ungrateful and unforgiving servant. In that parable, we heard the servant who owed a great amount of material and money to his master, and begged for reprieve and time to pay off his debt, which led to the master showing him mercy and not only that, he even forgave that servant’s entire debt, which means that he no longer had to pay anything, all of his great amount of debt, at all. Yet, as we heard, no sooner that the servant was set free of all his debts, than he went to one of his fellow servants and demanded that the debt the other servant owed him be paid in full.

And unlike the master who forgave the servant his debt, that servant refused to listen to the pleas of his fellow servant for patience and mercy. Instead, he acted harshly on the other servant and sent him to the jail until he could pay off his debts. This is where we heard how justice was served, as the master came to hear of the issue, and was very angry against the ungrateful and unforgiving servant, who did not appreciate what love and mercy he has received. Instead of showing the same love and mercy, he has acted without them towards his own fellow brethren, and as we heard, was justly punished for that.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to these words from the Scripture, we are therefore constantly reminded of the need for us to follow the Lord with all of our hearts and with all sincerity in faith. It means that we should follow His examples and show love, compassion and mercy towards one another, to our fellow brothers and sisters in the same Lord and Master. The Lord has shown us what it means for us to be loving and merciful, and we should heed His words and examples in our own lives.

Today, we should also heed the good examples of one of our holy predecessors, namely that of St. Jane Frances de Chantal, a holy woman and religious who dedicated herself to the service of God and for the care of her fellow men, as she established a religious order, named the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary, gathering together like-minded women, especially those who have been rejected or refused from joining other orders due to illness or old age. And in this regard, her efforts were also unique as her order focused on reaching out to others instead of being cloistered as most religious orders for women of her time did.

St. Jane Frances de Chantal married into a noble family and had children with her husband, and during her married life, she was remembered for her great role as a wife and mother to her children, and even more so in her charity and care for her fellow brothers and sisters, as she was known to take care of strangers and neighbours, and provide alms and help to those who were in need. After her husband passed away, she took a vow of chastity and inspired by her encounter and journey with St. Francis de Sales, it inspired her to begin a religious journey and eventually established the aforementioned religious order.

The great sanctity and commitment with which St. Jane Frances de Chantal carried out her efforts and works inspired many, and numerous people flocked to join her congregation, and many came to support her efforts, and the fruits of their labour multiplied, for the great benefits of the people of God. And therefore, we should also be similarly inspired and encouraged to live our lives worthily in the same manner. Are we willing and able to do so, brothers and sisters in Christ? Let us all devote ourselves and do our best to serve God with all of our might and strength, from now on.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He strengthen us all with the resolve and conviction to persevere forward through the many trials and challenges we may face in our journey of faith through life. May God bless us all, now and always, forevermore. Amen.