Thursday, 7 July 2022 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 10 : 7-15

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Go, and proclaim this message : The kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, bring the dead back to life, cleanse the lepers, and drive out demons. Freely have you received, freely give. Do not carry any gold or silver or money in your purses. Do not take a travelling bag, or an extra shirt, or sandals, or a walking stick : workers deserve to be compensated.”

“When you come to a town or a village, look for a worthy person, and stay there until you leave. When you enter the house, wish it peace. If the people are worthy people, your peace will rest on them; if they are not worthy people, your blessing will come back to you.”

“And if you are not welcomed, and your words are not listened to, leave that house or that town, and shake the dust off your feet. I assure you, it will go easier for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment, than it will for the people of that town.”

Thursday, 7 July 2022 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 79 : 2ac and 3bc, 15-16

Listen, o Shepherd of Israel, You, Who sit enthroned between the Cherubim. Stir up Your might and come to save us.

Turn again, o YHVH of hosts, look down from heaven and see; care for this vine, and protect the stock Your hand has planted.

Thursday, 7 July 2022 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Hosea 11 : 1-4, 8c-9

I loved Israel when he was a child; out of Egypt I called My Son. But the more I have called, the further have they gone from Me – sacrificing to the Baals, burning incense to the idols. Yet, it was I Who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; yet, little did they realise that it was I Who cared for them.

I led them with cords of human kindness, with leading strings of love, and I became for them as One Who eases the yoke upon their neck and stoops down to feed them. My heart is troubled within Me and I am moved with compassion. I will not give vent to My great anger; I will not return to destroy Ephraim, for I am God and not human. I am the Holy One in your midst; and I do not want to come to you in anger.

Wednesday, 6 July 2022 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all presented with the words of the Lord reminding us to distance ourselves from sin and evil, and to embrace His path, and to do what He has called us to do. Each and every one of us are called to be missionaries of our faith and witnesses of God’s truth and love to our fellow men. What we have heard in our Scripture readings today remind us that we are all called to holiness and to be committed to our Christian living and faith, in each and every opportunities and moments provided to us.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Hosea, who ministered to the people of the northern kingdom of Israel during the last years of its existence. The prophet Hosea came to bring forth the word of God to those people who had rejected Him for so many years, refusing to listen to the advice and words of the prophets who had been sent to them to remind them and help them on their way, in rejecting the kindness and compassion that the Lord had extended to them for a long time, all the patience that He had shown them. Hence, through Hosea and other prophets, the Lord made it known that the kingdom of Israel would be crushed and destroyed.

The pride and haughtiness of the kings of Israel in Samaria and the unfaithfulness of the people would become their undoing, and their wickedness and disobedience would lead to them being uprooted from their lands, crushed and conquered by other nations, scattered and exiled to far-off lands. But at the same time, as we heard from the same passage, God still did not give up on them, and still yet called on them to return to Him, to abandon their stubborn attitudes and wicked actions, and called on them all to follow Him once again and heed His ways. He wanted them all to be saved, and to be reconciled to Him.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard the Lord Jesus and His calling of the Twelve Apostles, as He called on each one of them to be the chief ones among His disciples and followers. Each one of them were called from different places and they had different backgrounds and origins, but all of them were called with a mission, to be the ones through Whom God would perform and continue His many good works among the people, and to establish and allow His Church in this worlds to grow and flourish. They were all imperfect men and people with issues and troubles, whom God called to a new existence and holy life, and gave them the strength and guidance to do so.

Through the calling of the Apostles and the other disciples, whom the Lord commanded with the mission to reach out to all the peoples and to preach to them the Good News of salvation and eternal life, the Lord wanted each and every one of us to be active in contributing to the missions and works of the Church. We are all called to be exemplary in our way of life so that by our actions and deeds, we may inspire others all around us to follow our examples and to believe in God as well. Unless we devote ourselves to God wholeheartedly, and live to the best of our abilities to be virtuous in all things, we cannot then truly call ourselves as Christians.

Today all of us should heed the good examples set by St. Maria Goretti, the renowned saint and martyr, who died in her youth in the defence of her purity and faith. St. Maria Goretti was a martyr of purity and she dedicated her life to the Lord through prayer and devotions from a very young age. It was then that one of the tenants who stayed with St. Maria Goretti, whose young teenage son named Alessandro was enamoured with her and in one occasion when he was alone with her, the teenage Alessandro made advances on St. Maria Goretti and tried to rape her. St. Maria Goretti refused persistently and that made the young man angry, and he stabbed her several times before fleeing.

As she was dying, St. Maria Goretti told her mother and others than she forgave her assailant and prayed for him. Alessandro was arrested and imprisoned, and it was told that St. Maria Goretti appeared to him in prison in one occasion, and all that helped the young man to turn over a new leaf. Ever since henceforth, Alessandro, the one who had given in to his desires and killed St. Maria Goretti, resolved to live his life righteously and spent his life in constant penance and in striving for a more holy life and existence, seeking for forgiveness from the martyr’s mother and doing good works for the Church and the community. He eventually lived long enough to see St. Maria Goretti raised to the glory of the Altar in her canonisation as a saint.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today having heard from the Scriptures and from the lives of St. Maria Goretti and Alessandro, her murderer, and how he turned over a new leaf in life, all of us are called to be good Christians, in abandoning and rejecting our sinful way of life, our past wickedness and disobedience, and embrace God, His love, compassion and mercy from now on. Let us all also not be stubborn anymore but instead do our best to proclaim the Good News of God through our lives and examples. May the Lord be with us all and may He give us the strength and the courage to follow Him from day to day, and to give our best in our mission as part of His Church, always and evermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 6 July 2022 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Matthew 10 : 1-7

At that time, Jesus called His Twelve disciples to Him, and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to drive them out, and to heal every disease and sickness.

These are the names of the Twelve Apostles : first Simon, called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew, the tax collector; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon, the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, the man who would betray Him.

Jesus sent these Twelve on mission, with the instruction : “Do not visit pagan territory and do not enter a Samaritan town. Go, instead, to the lost sheep of the people of Israel. Go, and proclaim this message : The kingdom of Heaven is near.”

Wednesday, 6 July 2022 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 104 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7

Sing to the Lord, sing His praise, proclaim all His wondrous deeds. Glory in His holy Name; let those who seek the Lord rejoice.

Look to the Lord and be strong; seek His face always. Remember His wonderful works, His miracles and His judgments.

You descendants of His servant Abraham, you sons of Jacob, His chosen ones! He is the Lord our God; His judgments reach the whole world.

Wednesday, 6 July 2022 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Hosea 10 : 1-3, 7-8, 12

Israel was a spreading vine, rich in fruit. The more his fruit increased, the more altars he built; the more his land prospered, the more he adorned his sacred stones. Their heart is divided! They shall pay for it. Their altars will be thrown down and their sacred stones broken to pieces. Now they say, “We have no king (because we have no fear of God) and what good would a king do us?”

As for the king of Samaria, he has been carried off like foam on water. The idolatrous high places – the sin of Israel – will be destroyed. Thorn and thistle will creep over the altars. Then they will say to the mountains : “Cover us,” and to the hills : “Fall on us.”

Plow new ground, sow for yourselves justice and reap the harvest of kindness. It is the time to go seeking YHVH, until He comes to rain salvation on you.

Tuesday, 5 July 2022 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Zaccaria, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord as contained in the Scriptures, we are presented with the sins that we have often committed in life, as shown in what the people of Israel had done in the past, and how God is freeing us all from the bondage to those attachments to evil, wickedness and sin. Through Christ, His beloved Son, Our Lord and Saviour, God had brought His salvation and grace upon us, and He has shown us the path towards eternal life and joy through Him. Now, the question is for us Christians, is how do we respond then to His call for us?

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Hosea on all the wickedness that the Israelites in the northern kingdom centred at Samaria had done, in their rebellion against God. The kings and the people chose to worship pagan idols, the golden calf of king Jeroboam, the first to mislead the Israelites into sin, and then Baal and Asherah and many other Canaanite gods, on top of persecuting the many prophets and messengers that God had patiently sent into their midst to help them to rediscover the right path in life. They stubbornly refused the Lord and His messengers, and shut the doors of their hearts and minds against Him.

Thus, through what we heard in our reading passage today, we are all reminded that while God’s mercy, compassion and love are truly vast and boundless, and while God is ever patient, but He also wants us to know that sin has no place before Him, and we cannot ignore those sins, or else they will threaten to drag us off the path towards God’s salvation. Sin is a terrible force that corrupts us and makes us defiled and unworthy of God, and God alone can heal us from this affliction through His forgiveness and grace. Yet, it also depends on us accepting and embracing His love and mercy.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord speaking to the Pharisees and to His disciples at the time when He was accused by the Pharisees of colluding with the prince of demons in His miraculous healing and exorcism of the man who was possessed by evil spirits. Those Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were among the most educated and influential members of the community, but they were also those who were the most vocal in their opposition against God, against His works and efforts. Despite everything that the prophets had proclaimed and spoken regarding Him, many of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law failed to see the truth.

And they also refused to open their hearts and minds to believe in God, much as how the people of Israel at the time of the prophet Hosea and before that had been unfaithful, stubborn and wicked in their actions. Much of this can be attributed to pride, ego and greed, all of which had often led mankind to their fall, all throughout history. Nonetheless, the Lord continued to persevere through His mission, reaching out to the people, who were described in our Gospel today, as likened to a flock of sheep without a shepherd. The Lord took pity of them, loving them and showed them His truth, teaching them and guiding them to the right path.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through what we have heard in our Scripture passages today, therefore we are all reminded that all of us must be ever vigilant against sin, and we have to always be wary that we do not fall into the temptations to turn away from God and His path. We should not allow the pressures and the coercions of this world and the allures of sin to force us to embrace the ways of the world. There will be plenty of avenues through which Satan and his followers will try to strike at us, trying to turn us towards the path of sin and evil. We have to resist them and entrust ourselves in the Lord, and follow Him with commitment.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Anthony Zaccaria, a renowned priest and founder of the religious order of the Barnabites, and also a devout and zealous preacher of the faith, ever hard at work to spread the word of God, His truth and love to the people he had ministered to. He cared for the needs of the people, and making popular devotions such as the devotion to the Passion of the Lord, the Holy Eucharist and propagation religious vocations among the people and the greater activity and contribution from the laity. St. Anthony Zaccaria devoted his life to God and showed his fellow brothers and sisters what it truly means to be Christians, to be disciples of the Lord.

Let us all therefore also seek to glorify God and to proclaim His truth and love in our respective communities today. And let us all distance ourselves from sin and wickedness, and let us follow the Lord wholeheartedly from now on, and not be distracted any longer by the worldly temptations, by the idols of desires and worldly glory among other things. Instead, let us all draw ever closer to God and do our very best to be inspiration and role models to one another, so that we may help to bring God’s truth, love and salvation to more and more people out there, as genuine Christians, now and always. Amen.