Wednesday, 22 September 2021 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 9 : 1-6

At that time, Jesus called His Twelve disciples and gave them power and authority to drive out all evil spirits and to heal diseases. And He sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He instructed them, “Do not take anything for the journey, neither staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not even take a spare tunic.”

“Whatever house you enter, remain there until you leave that place. And wherever they do not welcome you, leave the town and shake the dust from your feet : it will be as a testimony against them.”

So they set out, and went through the villages, proclaiming the Good News and healing people everywhere.

Wednesday, 22 September 2021 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Tobit 13 : 2, 3-4a, 4bcd, 5, 8

It is He Who punishes and He Who has mercy; Who makes people go down to the depths off the underworld and rise up again from the great abyss. No one can escape His hand.

Give Him thanks, people of Israel, before all the nations. Though He has dispersed you among them, He now shows you His greatness.

Exalt Him before all the living, because He is our God and Lord, our Father forever.

He punishes us for our wrongdoing but again He will forgive us. He will bring us together again from amongst all the nations among whom we have been dispersed.

I, in the land of my captivity, will return Him thanks and show His strength and greatness to My sinful people. Be converted, you sinners, and live justly before Him, certain that He will be pleased with you and show you mercy.

Wednesday, 22 September 2021 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Ezra 9 : 5-9

I remained seated and dismayed until the evening sacrifice; and then, at the time for the evening offering, I rose from my fasting, and with my clothes and mantle torn, I knelt down, spreading out my hands to YHVH, my God.

I said, “My God! I am ashamed and confused, my God, I do not dare raise my eyes to You; for our sins have increased over our heads and our crimes reach up to the heavens. From the days of our ancestors to this day, our guilt has been great. We, our kings and priests have been given into the hands of foreign kings because of our crimes; we have been delivered to the sword, to captivity, to plunder, and put to shame as on this day.”

“However, for a brief moment, the mercy of YHVH, our God, has been shown to us. He made a remnant of our people survive, and allowed the survivor to settle once again in His Holy Place. He has given us joy and life, though we are in bondage. We are no more than slaves, but in the midst of our slavery, God has not abandoned us, He has extended a merciful hand over us to support us before the kings of Persia. He has revived our life, enabled us to rebuild the House of our God, and to have walls in Jerusalem and in the other cities of Judah.”

Tuesday, 21 September 2021 : Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the Feast of one of great Apostles of Our Lord, one of the Twelve and also one of the four writers of the Holy Gospels, also known as the Evangelists. He was once a tax collector whose task was likely to gather taxes on behalf of the local rulers and the Roman overlords of the then region of Judea, Galilee and the other territories where the Jewish people lived in. He was known as Levi, and heeded the Lord’s call when He came over His place, left everything behind and followed Him, becoming known as Matthew from that moment onwards.

He was one of the several Apostles who have had a change of name upon their calling by the Lord, adopting a new identity upon his conversion, just like St. Peter and St. Paul, who were previously known as Simon and Saul respectively. The Lord called on Levi to follow Him, and he listened, and not only that but he even gathered his fellow tax collectors, who also wanted to know the Lord and speak with Him, and had a dinner in his place, before he was to follow Him fully. While not written or recorded in the Gospel account, it is probable that even there might have been even more among the tax collectors who later on chose to follow the Lord.

Back then, tax collectors were often prejudiced against, hated and reviled by the general society, and especially so by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who saw them in the same light as the prostitutes and those others deemed as great sinners, like those who were possessed by demons and those suffering from debilitating diseases, seen as being cursed and punished by God for their sins. For the tax collectors were often seen as traitors to the country and the people for their collaboration with the Romans who were hated by most of the people.

To that extent, the tax collectors were often ridiculed and dismissed as sinners and unworthy by the Pharisees, who did not even hesitate to mention it bluntly before the Lord’s disciples, when they asked them why their Lord and Master would spend the time in the company and have a meal with sinners. Yet, they all failed to realise one thing, which is that they themselves, were sinners as well. By looking down on the sins of others, they had become blind to their own shortcomings and faults.

And by embracing the Lord and answering His call, Levi who chose the Lord over the glory and wealth, the power and the satisfaction of the world has shown us that, even great sinners can be sanctified and turned into great saints, and that there is no one truly beyond redemption and salvation in God, unless the person himself or herself had rejected the Lord’s most generous offer of mercy and forgiveness. As long as one is willing to listen to the Lord and to repent from their sins, the path to Heaven and everlasting life will be open to them.

St. Matthew for example was credited with his efforts among the Jewish people themselves in Judea and Galilee, and his Gospel in particular was noted for its use of contexts and explanations familiar to the Jews, which served to explain the truth of God to his audience, which were mainly the Jewish people in the region. St. Matthew also went to other places and countries to spread the word of God, before eventually was martyred just like most of the other Apostles in the midst of his missionary works.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what we heard today from the examples shown by St. Matthew, the story of his conversion and later on his contributions and efforts, his works as an Apostle and Evangelist, served as an important reminder to each and every one of us, God’s beloved children and disciples whom He Himself had called and gathered from the world to be His own. We have to ask ourselves this question, whether we have genuinely loved the Lord and had faith in Him, or whether our faith is still being superficial in nature.

We are also called to turn away from the path of sin, and to embrace God’s ever generous offering of mercy and forgiveness. God has always sought sinners and all those who need His help, as He Himself made it clear in our Gospel passage today. Like Levi, who welcomed the Lord and answered His call, we too should follow in his footsteps, and allow the Lord to transform us from the sinners we are, to be great disciples and even perhaps to be future saints, just as Levi the tax collector has been transformed in his life into St. Matthew, a great Apostle and Evangelist.

Let us all therefore discern carefully how we can be ever more dedicated as Christians, in doing the will of God and in committing ourselves to His cause. Let us all seek the Lord and His love, His compassion and kindness, and strive to do our best to glorify Him by our lives and actions. Let us also never be prejudiced anymore against any of our fellow brothers and sisters, and rather than being jealous against the achievements of others or in being proud over own achievements and efforts, while looking down on others, instead let us reflect on how fortunate we have been that God has chosen to forgive us our many sins, and how He has called on us all to be His followers and disciples.

Let us all realise that in each and every one of us there is that potential for greatness and holiness, as we are all called to holiness and to be like the saints. Even great saints were once also great sinners. What matters is that all of them have experienced a change in their hearts and embraced the Lord’s mercy and compassion, turning over a new leaf in their lives, becoming great role models and sources of inspiration themselves for the others who witnessed their works and lives. St. Matthew is one of these great inspiration and role model which we can also aspire to achieve.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore renew our faith in the Lord, and put our trust in Him, devoting our time, effort and attention to Him, and seeking Him with a contrite heart, with a new spirit of faith and obedience, and doing whatever we can to glorify the Lord by our lives. May all of us be true and dedicated disciples of the Lord from now on, doing whatever we can to lead more and more souls towards salvation and eternal life in God. May God bless us all and our efforts and endeavours, now and always. Amen.