Friday, 24 September 2021 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 42 : 1, 2, 3, 4

Make justice, o God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people; deliver me from the wicked and deceitful.

You are my God, my Stronghold, why have You cast me out? Why should I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?

Send forth Your light and Your truth; let them be my guide, let them take me to Your holy mountain, to the place where You reside.

Then will I go to the Altar of God, to God, my gladness and delight. I will praise You with the lyre an harp, o God, my God.

Friday, 24 September 2021 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Haggai 1 : 15b – Haggai 2 : 9

On the twenty-first day of the seventh month, of the second year of the reign of Darius, this word of YHVH was sent through the prophet Haggai, “Give this message to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, and to Joshua, the High Priest, and to all the people : Is there left among you one of those who saw this House long ago, in the time of its glory? What do they think, of what they see now? Is it not a very little thing?”

“But I say to you, Zerubbabel, Joshua and My people : do not be discouraged. Begin to work, for I am with you, says YHVH. Do not be afraid, for My Spirit is in your midst. Thus says YHVH of hosts, within a short while, I will shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the continents. Then I will shake all the nations; and bring in the treasures of the whole world.”

“I will fill this House with glory, says YHVH. I will have as much silver and gold as I wish. The renown of this Temple will be greater than before, and in this place I will give peace,” says YHVH of hosts.

Thursday, 23 September 2021 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio, Priest (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 called to reflect on what we have just heard and discern in how we can be living our lives in a more Christ-like manner, in following the Lord’s call and devoting ourselves wholeheartedly to Him. God calls on us all His faithful ones to follow Him and to do His will, and this is what we should be doing with our lives, to shine forth with the light of God in our lives and be role models for our fellow brothers and sisters.

In our first reading today, taken from either the Book of the prophet Haggai or the Book of the prophet Ezra, we heard of the Lord’s emancipation of His people, as He moved the heart and mind of the Persian King Cyrus to allow the exiled Israelites to return to their homeland and rebuild their country and cities. However this process took some time, as the ancestral lands of the Israelites had been left devastated and in tatters by the Babylonian and Assyrian conquests a century and more earlier on.

Thus, while the people of God had returned to their lands, as mentioned in the Book of Ezra, but that was merely just the beginning of the restoration of their fortunes and their homeland. It was implied in the Book of the prophet Haggai that took place during the reign of King Darius of Persia, which was one of the successors of King Cyrus of Persia, two or so decades after the emancipation of the Israelites, that the Temple of God in Jerusalem had not yet been rebuilt by that time.

Ezra the priest and prophet of God had been instrumental in leading the people and establishing the firm foundation of the faith among the returned exiles. What the prophet Haggai spoke of then was the urging for the people to begin to take their faith seriously, in committing themselves and their resources to complete the rebuilding of the House of God, the Temple in Jerusalem. Although the foundation and preparation must have begun immediately after the exiles had returned to Judah and Jerusalem, but it seemed that many of the people still hesitated to commit themselves wholeheartedly to the Lord, and left His House in ruins for many years.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is then related to what we have heard in our Gospel passage today, as the Lord spoke of the parable of the lamps and the lampstand. He spoke of how no one would put a lamp hidden, for it would have made it useless and meaningless. Instead, at the time when electrical lighting and other sources of light were still scarce, oil lamps were truly precious commodity and items that were very important for the people’s livelihood. As such, by using that parable, the Lord wanted us all to clearly understand that we cannot be idle in our faith and in living our lives.

Just as the Israelites had been idle in dragging their feet and in delaying the building the House of God, the Lord does not want this to be our approach in life and our attitude towards our faith. Instead, we are expected to be more active in living our lives with faith, and we are all expected to do our part in obeying the Lord’s will, His Law and commandments at every possible opportunities. Are we willing and capable of doing this, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we willing to commit ourselves and our efforts to Him from now on?

Today we all celebrate the Feast of a great saint, whose life and actions may serve as great inspiration for all of us in how we live up our own faith. St. Pius of Pietrelcina, also much better known as Padre Pio, was a great priest and a Franciscan who was greatly renowned for his stigmata, or the appearance of the miraculous wounds of Jesus on his hands and feet, as well as for his great piety and love for God.

Padre Pio was born into a deeply religious family, exposed to the faith and its practices from very early on. Even since youth, it was told that he has received mystical visions and experiences, which he would come to experience more and more throughout his life. He joined the Franciscans since the young age of fifteen, becoming a novice and gradually progressing to be ordained a priest. Even during these early years, there had been credible accounts of miraculous events happening to Padre Pio, as he was once seen levitating and other wonders happening around him.

Suffering from ill health throughout his life, nonetheless despite experiencing the stigmata of the Lord, Padre Pio continued to live very simply and led a rigorous discipline of prayer and fasting, and he was soon visited and followed by many people who wanted to see and to seek confession with this miraculous priest and servant of God. Yet, this popularity also drew concern and censure from the Church authorities, who questioned Padre Pio and even for a time, forbade him from publicly celebrating the Sacraments and ordered him to be secluded from others.

Nonetheless Padre Pio obeyed humbly and committed himself even more deeply through prayer and other actions, that as the years went by, more and more people became inspired by the holiness and the exemplary life led by this holy man of God, who suffered constantly from the physical wounds of his stigmata, as well as from other spiritual attacks from the devil, as it was told that the devil and other evil spirits would often strike at Padre Pio from time to time. He endured faithfully and committed his time and effort to the Lord more and more until the end of his life. And even after his passing, numerous people still devote themselves to the Lord through St. Pius of Pietrelcina.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore emulate the good examples and the faith showed by St. Pius of Pietrelcina, in our own daily lives and actions. Let us all strive to be ever more faithful and dedicated at all times, and seek the Lord with ever greater sincerity and conviction from now on, with the intercession of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, the ever faithful holy Padre Pio. May God bless us all, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 23 September 2021 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 9 : 7-9

At that time, king Herod heard of all that Jesus and His disciples had done, and did not know what to think, for people said, “This is John, raised from the dead.”

Others believed that Elijah, or one of the ancient prophets, had come back to life. As for Herod, he said, “I had John beheaded. Who is this Man, about Whom I hear such wonders?” And he was anxious to see Him.

Alternative reading (Lectionary of Saints)

Luke 8 : 16-18

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “No one, after lighting a lamp, covers it with a bowl or puts it under the bed; rather, he puts it on a lamp stand, so that people coming in may see the light.”

“In the same way, there is nothing hidden that shall not be uncovered; nothing kept secret, that shall not be known clearly. Now, pay attention and listen well, for whoever produces, will be given more; but from those who do not produce, even what they seem to have will be taken away from them.”

Thursday, 23 September 2021 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 149 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6a and 9b

Alleluia! Sing to YHVH a new song, sing His praise in the assembly of His saints. Let Israel rejoice in his Maker; let the people of Zion glory in their King!

Let them dance in praise of His Name; and make music for music for Him with harp and timbrel. For YHVH delights in His people; He crowns the lowly with victory.

The saints will exult in triumph; even at night, on their couches, let the praise of God be on their lips. This is the glory of all His saints. Alleluia!

Alternative reading (Lectionary of Saints)

Psalm 125 : 1-2ab, 2cd-3, 4-5, 6

When YHVH brought the exiles back to Zion, we were like those moving in a dream. Then, our mouths were filled with laughter, and our tongues with songs of joy.

Among the nations it was said, “YHVH has done great things for them.” YHVH has done great things for us, and we were glad indeed.

Bring back our exiles, o YHVH, like fresh streams in the desert. Those who sow in tears will reap with songs and shouts of joy.

They went forth weeping, bearing the seeds for sowing, they will come home with joyful shouts, bringing their harvested sheaves.

Thursday, 23 September 2021 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Haggai 1 : 1-8

In the second year of the reign of Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, a word of YHVH was directed to the prophet Haggai, for the benefit of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest.

So says YHVH of hosts : This people claim that the time to rebuild the House of YHVH has not yet come. Well now, hear what I have to say through the prophet Haggai : Is this the time for you to live in your well-built houses while this House is a heap of ruins? Think about your ways : you have sown much but harvested little; you eat and drink, but are not satisfied; you clothe yourselves, but still feel cold; and the labourer puts the money he earned in a tattered purse.

Now think about what you must do : go to the mountain and look for wood to rebuild the House. This will make me happy; and I will feel deeply honoured, says YHVH.

Alternative reading (Lectionary of Saints)

Ezra 1 : 1-6

In the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, YHVH willed to fulfil the word He had said through the prophet Jeremiah. So He moved the spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia, to issue the following command and send it out in writing to be read aloud everywhere in his kingdom : “Thus speaks Cyrus, king of Persia : YHVH, the God of heavens, Who has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, has ordered me to build Him a Temple in Jerusalem, in the land of Judah.”

“To everyone belonging to His people, may his God be with him! Let them go up to Jerusalem with the help of their God and, there, build the House of YHVH, the God of Israel; the God Who is in Jerusalem. In every place where the rest of the people of YHVH live, let the people of those places help them for their journey with silver, gold and all kinds of goods and livestock. Let them also give them voluntary offerings for the House of YHVH which is in Jerusalem.”

Then they rose up – the heads of the families of Judah and Benjamin, the priests and the Levites, and all those whose spirit God had stirred up – and they decided to go and build the House of YHVH. And all their neighbours gave them all kinds of help : gold, silver, livestock and precious objects in great quantity, besides every kind of voluntary offering.