Wednesday, 3 August 2022 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 15 : 21-28

At that time, leaving that area, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from the area, came and cried out, “Lord, Son of David, have pity on me! My daughter is tormented by a demon.”

But Jesus did not answer her, not even a word. So His disciples approached Him and said, “Send her away! See how she is shouting after us.” Then Jesus said to her, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the nation of Israel.”

But the woman was already kneeling before Jesus, and said, “Sir, help me!” Jesus answered, “It is not right to take the bread from the children and throw it to puppies.”

The woman replied, “That is true, Sir, but even puppies eat the crumbs which fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said, “Woman, how great is your faith! Let it be as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

Wednesday, 3 August 2022 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Jeremiah 31 : 10, 11-12ab, 13

Hear the word of YHVH, o nations, proclaim it on distant coastlands : He Who scattered Israel will gather them and guard them as a shepherd guard his flock.

For YHVH has ransomed Jacob and redeemed him from the hand of his conqueror. They shall come shouting for joy, while ascending Zion; they will come streaming to YHVH’s blessings.

Maidens will make merry and dance, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness, I will give them comfort and joy for sorrow.

Wednesday, 3 August 2022 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Jeremiah 31 : 1-7

YHVH declares that when that time comes He will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be His people. Thus says YHVH : The people who survived the sword have found grace in the desert. As Israel was seeking for his rest YHVH appeared from afar saying, I have loved you with a love everlasting, so I have kept for you My mercy. I will restore you again, and you shall be rebuilt, o virgin Israel!”

“You will take up your tambourines and go out dancing joyfully. You will plant vineyards again on the hills of Samaria, and the farmers who plant them will enjoy their fruit. There shall be a day when watchmen will call out on the hills of Ephraim, “Come, let us go to Zion, to YHVH our God!”

For YHVH says this, “Shout with joy for Jacob; rejoice for the greatest of nations. Proclaim your praise and say : ‘YHVH has saved His people, the remnant of Israel!’”

Tuesday, 2 August 2022 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop, and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops and Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are called to believe in God and to trust in Him, despite all the challenges and trials that we may have to face and endure throughout our journeys of faith and life. Each and every one of us are called to devote our time, effort and attention to the Lord, and to put our trust in Him that He will guide us through the ups and downs of this life we have in this world, and in the end, we shall be triumphant with Him, hand in hand. We shall not be disappointed if we have faith in the Lord.

In our first reading today, we heard the words of the Lord speaking to us from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah in which the prophet spoke of God’s words to His people, the Israelites particularly in Judah, a people who had become wayward in their ways, wicked in their deeds and who had fallen away from the path of God’s righteousness. They had abandoned God, His Law and commandments, persecuting all those whom God had sent to them to remind and call them to repentance. As such, God said that by their own wickedness and deeds, they would be judged and would have to suffer the consequences of their sins.

But at the same time, just as the Lord has spoken the ominous words of warning and voicing out His displeasure at the wickedness of His people, He also reaffirmed them in His love, reminding them that while He disapproved of and hated their sins, and would discipline them for their misbehaviours, ultimately, His love for them was still and would still be greater than His disgust for their sins. He would gather them back and be reunited and reconciled with them. Through their sincere repentance and desire to return to Him, God would forgive His people and bring them all back to His loving embrace.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the famous story of how the Lord Jesus appeared to His disciples in the middle of a great storm by the lake, in which the disciples’ boat was travelling in. The storm, the gale, the wind and the waves were so intense that the boat was in real danger of being sunk, and the disciples must have been very terrified. It was then that the Lord miraculously appeared before them, in the flesh, as He walked towards them on the raging waters. As we heard from the Gospel, the disciples were initially frightened and spooked out, thinking that they had seen a ghost.

The Lord reassured His disciples and told them all that it was Him indeed, and St. Peter then jumped into the water, walking towards Him, both with faith and desire to come to the Lord as well as doubt and uncertainties, thinking that if it was indeed the Lord, then he would be able to walk on the water towards Him. St. Peter walked towards the Lord for a few steps, miraculously able to walk on the water. However, it was then told that he wavered, likely overwhelmed by fear and doubt, which made him to begin to sink into the water, and he cried out to the Lord for help. The Lord helped St. Peter out and chided him for his lack of faith in Him and for his doubts.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through the story of Jesus walking in the water to His disciples, and how He made St. Peter walked on the water and how He assisted him afterwards, all of us are reminded that each one of us should not be afraid of the challenges and trials of the world, as the Lord is and will always be by our side, helping us to endure through the many challenges and trials that we may have to face throughout life. The boat represents all of us, God’s people and His Church, while the disciples represent each and every one of us, all of us with our faith and doubts, with our courage and uncertainties.

The storm, the gale, the wind and the waves on the other hand represents the trials and challenges that we have to face in our lives, as we live through the many obstacles that we encounter daily in their various forms. Like St. Peter and the other disciples, sometimes we have no faith in God and we did not trust Him enough to lead us out of harm’s way, and we became doubtful and fearful, worried that we would suffer and lose everything. But today’s story reminded us that God is and will always be there by our side, if we only learn to focus on Him and not be distracted by the many trials and challenges present all around us.

Today, all of us should be strengthened and inspired by the good examples set by our holy predecessors, the holy saints, holy men and women of God, especially that of St. Eusebius of Vercelli and St. Peter Julian Eymard, whose feast we are celebrating this day. St. Eusebius of Vercelli was the Bishop of Vercelli in what is now northern Italy during the tumultuous years of struggle between the true Christian faith and the popular heresy of Arianism. He had to endure many trials and challenges throughout his ministry and work, and was even persecuted, humiliated and made to suffer, dragged through the streets for his continued faith and adherence to the true faith. And yet, all those things did not dampen his faith at all.

St. Eusebius of Vercelli continued to labour hard and gave his energy, time and effort to lead the faithful from the clutches of the heretical teachings. He patiently endured the challenges and trials, all the oppressions and persecutions he faced from those who sided and sympathised with the heretics and their false teachings. St. Eusebius of Vercelli showed us his resolve and what each one of us should do in the face of hardships, and to continue to trust in the Lord at all times and opportunities. Like St. Peter and the other Apostles, and like the prophet Jeremiah and the other prophets, St. Eusebius of Vercelli committed his life to God and entrusting God with that life.

Meanwhile, St. Peter Julian Eymard was a renowned priest who was particularly devoted to the Blessed Sacrament and the Real Presence in the Eucharist, spending a lot of time and effort to popularise the devotion to the Eucharist, the respect and understanding of the Lord’s Real Presence among the people that he ministered to. He dedicated his life and his time to glorify the Lord, reaching out to all those who have been separated from God, calling on them to return to the Lord and to put their faith and trust in Him once again. He spent countless hours in his ministry, and also founded two religious orders to support his mission, the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament and the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we have heard from the great examples of our holy predecessors, let us all therefore turn to the Lord with renewed faith and courage, and not be easily swayed by our fears and temptations anymore, knowing that the Lord, our God and Saviour is always ever by our side, and He will never abandon us in our hour and time of greatest need. May the Lord continue to guide us and give us the courage to live our lives ever more worthily, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 2 August 2022 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop, and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops and Priests)

Matthew 14 : 22-36

At that time, immediately, Jesus obliged His disciples to get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowd away. And having sent the people away, He went up the mountain by Himself, to pray. At nightfall, He was there alone.

Meanwhile, the boat was very far from land, dangerously rocked by the waves, for the wind was against it. At daybreak, Jesus came to them, walking on the sea. When they saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, thinking that it was a ghost. And they cried out in fear. But at once, Jesus said to them, “Courage! Do not be afraid. It is Me!”

Peter answered, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” Jesus said to him, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water to go to Jesus. But seeing the strong wind, he was afraid, and began to sink; and he cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Jesus immediately stretched out His hand and took hold of him, saying, “Man of little faith, why did you doubt?” As they got into the boat, the wind dropped. Then those in the boat bowed down before Jesus, saying, “Truly, You are the Son of God!”

They came ashore at Gennesaret. The local people recognised Jesus and spread the news throughout the region. So they brought to Him all the sick people, begging Him to let them touch just the hem of His cloak. All who touched it became perfectly well.

Tuesday, 2 August 2022 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop, and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops and Priests)

Psalm 101 : 16-18, 19-21, 29 and 22-23

O Lord, the nations will revere Your Name, and the kings of the earth Your glory, when the Lord will rebuild Zion and appear in all His splendour. For He will answer the prayer of the needy and will not despise their plea.

Let this be written for future ages, “The Lord will be praised by a people He will form.” From His holy height in heaven, the Lord has looked on the earth to hear the groaning of the prisoners, and free those condemned to death.”

Your servants’ children will dwell secure; their posterity will endure without fail. Then the Name of the Lord will be declared in Zion, and His praise in Jerusalem, when the peoples and the kingdoms assemble to worship Him.

Tuesday, 2 August 2022 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop, and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops and Priests)

Jeremiah 30 : 1-2, 12-15, 18-22

This is another word that came to Jeremiah from YHVH : YHVH, God of Israel says, “Write in a book all that I have communicated to you.”

“YHVH says, ‘Your wound is incurable, your injury is grievous. There is no one to plead your cause. There is a remedy for an ulcer but no healing for you! All your lovers have forgotten you; they care nothing for you. For I struck you as an enemy does, with a cruel punishment, because of your great guilt and the wickedness of your sin. Why cry now that you are hurt? Is there no cure for your pain? Because of your great crime and grievous sin I have done this to you.’”

“YHVH says, ‘I will restore My people into Jacob’s tents and have pity on his dwellings. The city will be rebuilt over its ruins and the palace restored on its proper place. From them will come songs of praise and the sound of merrymaking. I will multiply them and they shall not be few. I will bestow honour on them and they shall not be despised. Their children will be as before and their community will be established before Me. I will ask their oppressors to account.’”

“‘Their leader will be one of themselves, their ruler shall emerge from their midst. I will bring him close to Me for who would dare to approach Me? You shall be My people and I shall be your God.’”

Monday, 1 August 2022 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Alphonsus Liguori, 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 Scriptures, we are presented with the words of God’s truth and the sufferings that we may have to face as those who faithfully follow and obey God. We are all reminded that the Lord is always and will always be with us, but often we may have to endure difficulties and challenges along the way if we are to follow Him. God shall provide what we need, and if we trust in Him and believe in His providence then in the end, we shall be triumphant with Him, and will share in the glory that He has promised to all of us.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah of the clash and competition between that of Jeremiah and Hananiah, one of the false prophets in the court of the king of Judah. Before the assembly of the people of Judah, Hananiah proclaimed that God would break the yoke of the king of Babylon which the latter had imposed on them, and that God would return everything that the people had lost, a happy resolution of their then predicament. Back then, the kingdom of Judah was in its last days, threatened from all sides, and especially from the forces of the Babylonians.

Jeremiah was the only one who had consistently and persistently spoke the truth of God, reminding the people of the upcoming calamity and destruction, as the sins and disobedience of the people had led them into that fate. Judah and Jerusalem would be destroyed and conquered, and the people would be exiled to Babylon, just as the prophets before Jeremiah had foretold, and which Jeremiah himself had also spoken of. But that did not mean that God did not love His people. Rather, they still had to suffer the just consequences of their own choices and actions, in persistently and continuously disobeying God and living wickedly for so long.

Hananiah was not speaking the truth when he was speaking about what would happen to the kingdom and people of Judah. He was pandering to the popular sentiments and desires, and like that of the many other so-called false prophets and officials, they all tried to please the king and the people as naturally nobody liked to hear any bad or negative news or prophecies. Historically, there was also pressure by those people to push the king and the people to side with the Egyptians in the regional power struggle between Egypt and Babylonia, in which the people and kingdom of Judah were caught right in the middle of.

That was why Jeremiah was sidelined, ostracised and persecuted against as most of the officials and the people favoured siding with the Egyptians in their struggles against Babylon, instead of listening to God and repenting from their sinful ways. They trusted more in man’s ways and worldly means to resolve their problems and troubles. They deluded themselves into thinking that they could do anything they want, and that they could imagine life and everything the way they wanted it to be, and not heeding the Lord’s words and reminders, His constant calling and persistent desire to be reunited and reconciled with His people.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord’s famous miraculous feeding of the five thousand men and thousands of other women and children with merely just five loaves of bread and two fishes. In that occasion, the Lord showed His great providence and love for His people, caring for the needs of those who had chosen to follow Him and devoted themselves to Him, and who had become hungry after following Him. He also wanted to highlight to us that despite our many infidelities and lack of faith in Him, our constant rebelliousness and disobedience, but He has always cared for us and for our well-being.

The Lord fed His people with His own hands, and gave them sustenance both in physical and spiritual manner, strengthening them with miraculously multiplied loaves of bread and fishes, as well as with the words of His wisdom and truth. He calls on us all to follow Him, the Bread of Life and the Hope of all mankind, so that we do not delude ourselves anymore with false expectations and temptations of the world, but instead, turn towards the Lord, our Saviour and King, with full and genuine faith. All of us are called to return towards the Lord and to trust in Him once again, rather than to allow ourselves to be deluded and swayed by worldly temptations and concerns.

Today, all of us should be inspired by the examples of faith and dedication which our holy predecessors had shown us, the saints, the holy men and women of God, and especially that of St. Alphonsus Liguori, whose feast we are celebrating this day. St. Alphonsus Liguori was the famous founder of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, also known as the Redemptorist Order. He was a committed bishop and loving shepherd to his flock and community, who dedicated himself to his mission which he later on shared with his Redemptorist Order, to go and brought the truth of Christ and to teach this to the people, guiding them amidst the heretical teachings and ideas that were rampant at that time.

Much as the prophet Jeremiah had laboured against those who brought about false prophecies and messages in the kingdom of Judah, St. Alphonsus Liguori and his fellow Redemptorists spent a lot of effort in reaching out to the people of God, especially those who have been falling off the path towards God’s redemption, with the particular focus towards the marginalised and all those who had no means to reach out to God and His salvation. The charism and the efforts of the Redemptorists were focused in particular towards revealing God’s most wonderful redemption and His mercy to all His people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having been reminded of God’s ever patient love and His great mercy and compassion towards us, let us all therefore renew our commitment to Him. Let us all draw ever closer to God and seek Him with ever greater conviction and love from now on. May God be with us always and may He bless us always with His love. Amen.

Monday, 1 August 2022 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 14 : 13-21

At that time, when Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, He set out by boat for a secluded place, to be alone. But the people heard of it, and they followed Him on foot from their towns. When Jesus went ashore, He saw the crowd gathered there, and He had compassion on them. And He healed their sick.

Late in the afternoon, His disciples came to Him and said, “We are in a lonely place and it is now late. You should send these people away, so that they can go to the villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” But Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat.” They answered, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fishes.” Jesus said to them, “Bring them here to Me.”

Then He made everyone sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves and the two fishes, raised His eyes to heaven, pronounced the blessing, broke the loaves, and handed them to the disciples to distribute to the people. And they all ate, and everyone had enough; then the disciples gathered up the leftovers, filling twelve baskets. About five thousand men had eaten there, besides women and children.

Monday, 1 August 2022 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 118 : 29, 43, 79, 80, 95, 102

Keep me away from deceitful paths; be gracious and teach me Your Law.

Take not the word of truth from my mouth, for I would also lose my hope in Your word.

Let those who fear You, turn to me; they will understand Your statutes.

May my heart be blameless in Your decrees, that I may not be ashamed.

The wicked lie in wait to destroy me, but I look to Your word for salvation.

I have not departed from Your decrees, for You, Yourself, have instructed me.