Saturday, 28 August 2021 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 25 : 14-30

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Imagine someone who, before going abroad, summoned his servants to entrust his property to them. He gave five talents of silver to one servant, two talents to another servant, and one talent to a third, to each, according to his ability; and he went away.”

“He who received five talents went at once to do business with the talents, and gained another five. The one who received two talents did the same, and gained another two. But the one who received one talent dug a hole in the ground, and hid his master’s money.”

“After a long time, the master of those servants returned and asked for a reckoning. The one who had received five talents came with another five talents, saying, ‘Lord, you entrusted me with five talents, but see, I have gained five more.’ The master answered, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant, since you have been faithful in a few things, I will entrust you in charge of many things. Come and share the joy of your master.'”

“Then the one who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you entrusted me with two talents; with them I have gained two more.’ The master said, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant, since you have been faithful in little things, I will entrust you in charge of many things. Come and share the joy of your master.'”

“Finally, the one who had received one talent came and said, ‘Master, I know that you are a hard man. You reap what you have not sown, and gather what you have not scattered. I was afraid, so I hid your money in the ground. Here, take what is yours!’ But his master replied, ‘Wicked and worthless servant, you know that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered. You should have deposited my money in the bank, and given it back to me with interest on my return.'”

“Therefore, take the talent from him, and give it to the one who has ten. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who are unproductive, even what they have will be taken from them. As for that useless servant, thrown him out into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Saturday, 28 August 2021 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 97 : 1, 7-8, 9

Sing to YHVH a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

Let the sea resound and everything in it, the world and all its people. Let rivers clap their hands, hills and mountains sing with joy.

Before YHVH, for He comes to rule the earth. He will judge the world with justice, and the peoples, with fairness.

Saturday, 28 August 2021 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Thessalonians 4 : 9-11

Regarding mutual love, you do not need anyone to write to you, because God, Himself, taught you how to love one another. You already practice it with all the brothers and sisters of Macedonia, but I invite you to do more.

Consider how important it is, to live quietly, without bothering others, to mind your own business, and work with your hands, as we have charged you.

Friday, 27 August 2021 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Monica (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scripture all of us are reminded of the need for all of us to always be faithful and ready for the Lord at all times, and not to be easily swayed by worldly temptations and the desires for worldly glory, fame and other things that can lead us astray and down into the path towards damnation. Instead, we should always be vigilant at all times and do whatever we are expected to do as Christians, as we have heard from our Scripture passages today.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard from the parable that our Lord told to His disciples, the well-known story of the five wise and five foolish maidens who were at a wedding that occurred at night, as the handmaidens to welcome the bridegroom to the celebration. If you are wondering why the wedding banquet was done at night, it is because in the Holy Land, where the story’s setting would have likely taken place, during certain months the temperature and conditions during the day is usually not favourable to conduct a celebration, being often hot and sunny. Hence, the celebrations often happened at night as it would be cooler.

However, at a time when electrical lighting were non-existent, it would have been very dark at night, save for the lights from natural sources such as the moon and the stars. That is why, the handmaidens as the bearers of the oil lamps were important not only to make things more festive, but also to help illuminate the dark surroundings, welcoming the bridegroom to his wedding celebration. This is why, they could definitely not afford to run out of oil at a time when their presence were needed the most.

Those five wise maidens brought with them extra oil and were well-prepared while the five foolish maidens did not. As a result, when the bridegroom delayed in coming, then those foolish maidens ended up running out of oil, and the wise maidens did not have enough oil to share with them, or else all of their lamps might have been snuffed out by the time the bridegroom came to the wedding banquet. And when the bridegroom did come, the foolish maidens were away to buy the oil, and when they returned, they were denied entry to the banquet, all due to their own carelessness and lack of preparation.

What this story in the parable tells us is that God has given us all the wisdom to discern and to think of what our course of life going forward is, and hence, we should be spending the time to discern carefully our path in life going forward, that we do not make the wrong decisions in life which will end up leading us down the wrong way. Yet, many of us have not done what is necessary to commit ourselves to the Lord, and instead, we have idled ourselves in pursuits of worldly pleasures and satisfaction, for the fame and glory of the world. All these will lead us eventually down the path to our downfall if we do not do anything about it.

That is why we should also reflect on the words of the Apostle St. Paul in his Epistle and letter to the Church in Thessalonica in our first reading today, as he reminded the faithful there to follow the Lord faithfully and lead a holy life befitting of their identity as Christians, to be holy as the Lord is holy, and this is the calling which all the faithful have been called to, to do what the Lord had shown them through His Law and His Church, that everyone ought to play their part as members of God’s Church.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we should also be inspired by the great examples set by St. Monica, one of the great saints of the Church, whose life and dedication to both God and to her son, St. Augustine of Hippo, can be source of inspiration for ourselves on how we ought to act and behave as Christians, in answering God’s call and in living our lives faithfully as God’s people and as those who truly and wholeheartedly believe in Him.

St. Monica was the mother of St. Augustine of Hippo, the great Doctor of the Church, and as a loving mother, she was always devoted to her son. St. Monica was married to a pagan nobleman, and gave birth to St. Augustine of Hippo. She was a Christian, but she had to patiently watch and hoped for her husband and son to embrace the Lord and the faith in Him, while she had to see her son falling into the path of sin, as St. Augustine in his youth experimented with various ideologies and philosophies, including the heresy of Manichaeanism.

St. Monica never ceased to pray for the sake of her husband and son, and her fervent prayers, her piety and charitable acts eventually touched first her husband, who accepted the Lord on his dying moment, while St. Augustine also eventually discovered God in his journey of self-discovery, and was received back into the Church, and in the end, became a great servant of God and saint, as one of the four original Doctors of the Church, all of which would not have been possible if it was not for the dedication, prayer and commitment from St. Monica, St. Augustine’s loving mother.

Having seen the faith, dedication and the love by which St. Monica has lived her life, and her love both for God and for St. Augustine, we should also be inspired by her examples, so that we may live our lives more worthily from now on, to be faithful disciples and followers of the Lord in all things, and to be persistent in our commitment to God and love for Him, and in our care and concern for the brothers and sisters and others whom we encounter throughout life.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He strengthen each and every one of us, to be always devoted and true to our faith, so that in each and every moments of our lives, we may always strive to be exemplary in our every actions, words and deeds, that the Lord will always guide us throughout the challenges and trials we may face in our journey in life. May God bless us all, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 27 August 2021 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Monica (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 25 : 1-13

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “This story throws light on what will happen in the kingdom of heaven : Ten bridesmaids went out with their lamps to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were sensible. The careless bridesmaids took their lamps as they were, and did not take extra oil. But those who were sensible, took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom delayed, they all grew drowsy and fell asleep.”

“But at midnight, a cry rang out, ‘The bridegroom is here, come on and meet him!’ All the maidens woke up at once, and trimmed their lamps. Then the foolish ones said to the sensible ones, ‘Give us some oil, for our lamps are going out.’ The sensible ones answered, ‘There may not be enough for us and for you. You had better go to those who sell, and buy some for yourselves.'”

“When the bridegroom came, the foolish maidens were out buying oil, but those who were ready went with him into the wedding feast, and the doors were shut. Later the other bridesmaids arrived and called out, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered, ‘Truly I do not know you.'”

“So stay awake, for you do not know the day nor the hour.”

Friday, 27 August 2021 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Monica (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 96 : 1 and 2b, 5-6, 10, 11-12

YHVH reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the distant islands be glad. Justice and right, are His throne.

The mountains melt like wax before YHVH, the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim His justice, all peoples see His glory.

You who love YHVH, hate evil, for He preserves the lives of His faithful; He delivers them from their foes.

He sheds light upon the upright, and gladness upon the just. Rejoice in YHVH, you, who are blameless; and give praise to His holy Name.

Friday, 27 August 2021 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Monica (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Thessalonians 4 : 1-8

For the rest, brothers, we ask you, in the Name of Jesus, the Lord, and we urge you, to live in a way that pleases God, just as you have learnt from us. This you do, but try to do still more. You know the instructions we gave you on behalf of the Lord Jesus : the will of God for you is to become holy and not to have unlawful sex.

Let each of you behave towards his wife as a holy and respectful husband, rather than being led by lust, as are pagans, who do not know God. In this matter, let no one offend or wrong a brother. The Lord will do justice in all these things, as we have warned and shown you.

God has called us to live, not in impurity but in holiness, and those who do not heed this instruction disobey, not a human, but God, Himself, Who gives you His Holy Spirit.

Thursday, 26 August 2021 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all called to remain true to our faith in the Lord, and to persevere in faith so that we do not easily fall into the temptations to sin, and to disobey against God and His will. We are all called to be faithful at all times and to do our best at every possible opportunities given to us so that we will always be prepared whenever He comes, as He has promised us that He will.

We should always be aware and realise that we ought not to squander whatever opportunities and gifts that God has given us all these while. Yes, God is always ever patient and He is always persisting in His efforts to reach out to us, in each and every moments, but we have also been given the gift of free will and the wisdom to discern the right path, and the outcome of each paths that we encounter in life are often already known, and yet, many among us still hesitated and refused to believe in the Lord wholeheartedly or to trust Him fully.

Instead, we allow ourselves to be swayed by worldly desires, by our hesitation to act or to dedicate ourselves to action for God, and by our sloth and laziness, in remaining comfortable and idle wherever we are, that our lives, especially that of our spiritual lives become stagnant and lacking in vigour, as we allow the devil to tempt us with inaction and with personal comfort and the reluctance to move out of our comfort zone, in pursuit of our own personal happiness and desires, which led us to be like that of the lazy servant as described in our Gospel today.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord speaking in parables to the people, highlighting about servants of a lord and master of the house who were going to a long journey, and who entrusted to those same servants the care and responsibility over his household. The Lord clearly highlighted the two different attitudes of two different servants who acted differently upon what their lord and master had instructed them to do. Then we heard how the lazy servant was caught unprepared and red-handed in his laziness and idleness, in his debauched and wicked attitude towards those entrusted under his care when the master suddenly returned.

Meanwhile, the faithful servant who remained vigilant and did his best as was expected of him received great rewards and joy when he welcomed his master back, and he would be entrusted with far greater things on the account of his hard work and dedication to his duty and responsibilities. And this serves also as a reminder of who we are all expected to be, to walk faithfully in God’s presence, our Lord and Master, with true faith and dedication.

As we heard in that parable, all of us are called to follow the examples of the faithful and diligent servant, and not to be like the lazy and unfaithful servant. All of us have been given and entrusted with many great gifts by the Lord, in all of our various talents, abilities and different opportunities. And yet, many of us have often not used those things, gifts and opportunities as we have been called to do. Instead, we kept them hidden, ignored them, and we acted in ways that were against the Lord and in opposition to His truths.

Are we going to continue walking down that path, brothers and sisters in Christ? We should all know what lies at the end of that path, and if we are not careful, we will end up in eternity of regret, when the judgment is cast on us, and from which we have no further recourse or way out of. God has entrusted to us many things, and He has also given us many opportunities to turn things around, and He has called on us all to fulfil our responsibilities, all these while. Are we willing to listen to the Lord, and are we willing to turn to Him from now on, entrusting ourselves in His care and doing His will from now on?

Let us all therefore strive to be ever more faithful and dedicated with each and every passing opportunities, and do our very best to be worthy servants and disciples of the Lord, so that in everything we say and do, we may always glorify the Lord and praise Him, and as His worthy disciples and followers, we will be worthy of His presence and everlasting life, promised to all those who are faithful to Him. May God bless us always, in all things, and may He guide us in our journey of faith in life, even to the smallest things. Amen.