Wednesday, 13 July 2022 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Matthew 11 : 25-27

At that time, Jesus said, “Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I praise You; because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to simple people. Yes, Father, this was Your gracious will.”

“Everything has been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father; and no one knows the Father except the Son, and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.”

Wednesday, 13 July 2022 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Psalm 93 : 5-6, 7-8, 9-10, 14-15

They crush Your people, o YHVH, they oppress Your inheritance. They murder the widow and the lonely; they massacre the helpless.

“YHVH does not see,” they say, “The God of Jacob does not care.” Remember this, you stupid people; when will you understand, you fools!

He Who made the ear, will He not hear? He Who formed the eye, will He not see? He Who rebukes nations, will He not punish them?

YHVH will not reject His people, nor will He forsake His heritage. Justice will return to the just; and the upright will follow, in its wake.

Wednesday, 13 July 2022 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Isaiah 10 : 5-7, 13-16

Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger, the staff of My fury! Against a godless nation I send him, against a people who provoke My wrath I dispatch him, to plunder and pillage, to tread them down like mud in the streets. But the mind of his king is far from this, his heart harbours other thoughts; what he wants is to destroy, to make an end of all nations.

For the King says : “By my own strength I have done this and by my own wisdom, for I am clever. I have moved the frontiers of people, I have plundered treasures, I have brought inhabitants down to the dust, I have toppled kings from their thrones. As one reaches into a nest, so my hands have reached into nations’ wealth. As one gathers deserted eggs, so have I gathered the riches of the earth. No one flapped a wing or opened its mouth to chirp a protest.”

Does the ax claim more credit than the man who wields it? Does the saw magnify itself more than the one who uses it? This would be like a rod wielding the man who lifts it up; will those not made of wood, be controlled by the cudgel? This is why YHVH Sabaoth, is ready to send a wasting sickness upon the king’s sturdy warriors. Beneath his plenty, a flame will burn like a consuming fire.

Tuesday, 12 July 2022 : 15th 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 Scriptures, we are presented with the need for all of us to believe and trust in the Lord, and not be easily swayed or concerned, worried or afraid because of the threats and challenges that we have to face in life. We have to keep our faith in the Lord firm and strong, or else we will easily fall into the temptations to sin and to do what are against God’s will, His Law and commandments. As Christians, we should entrust ourselves in the Lord and believe that in Him there is always hope and way out of our predicament, and in the end, we shall triumph together with Him.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Isaiah regarding the words that the Lord delivered through Isaiah to king Ahaz of Judah. Back then, at that time, king Ahaz was one of the kings of Judah who was considered as one of the unfaithful and wicked kings, whose lack of faith in God led to the Lord speaking through Isaiah to deliver the famous prophecy of the Virgin who would give birth to a Son, the Saviour of the world, Emmanuel, as a sign for all the people of God to see. King Ahaz’s lack of faith in God made this happen, as God would prove to him and the people that what He said would come true in the end, as we now know it had happened the way the Lord decreed it.

In this occasion mentioned in the first reading today, we heard of the time when the kingdom of Judah was threatened by the combined forces of the northern kingdom of Israel, the forces of the king of the Arameans and all those who worked together to destroy the kingdom of Judah and Jerusalem. Israel and Judah, the two halves of the ancient kingdom of David and Solomon had long been locked in a bitter struggle for dominance and control, and this time, it seemed that Judah was doomed because of the forces arrayed against it. Hence, king Ahaz and the people fell into worry and fear for their fates.

God therefore reassured Ahaz and the people of Judah, and chided them for their lack of trust and faith in Him. They preferred to consult with pagan gods, idols and seers, or settle through worldly means and arrangements rather than to turn towards their Lord and God, Who had helped their ancestors and freed them from the land of their slavery, and God Who had also provided for His people, protected them and guided them. He told them of what He would do in defeating the forces of Israel and Aram on behalf of His faithful ones in Judah, and at the same time also warning them that should they themselves fell into the same path of unfaithfulness, they too would endure the same fate.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard the Lord Jesus proclaiming denunciations and rebuke over several cities and towns of Galilee, namely Capernaum, Chorazin and Bethsaida, and He said how all of those cities and towns were where He had performed many of His works and miracles, and where He had also preached and taught the people, and yet many of them still doubted Him and rejected Him, and some even persecuted Him and His disciples for presenting the truth to their midst. As such, when compared with what happened at the time of the old kingdom of Judah, the unfaithfulness of king Ahaz and the people, we can easily see a clear parallel.

What is the significance of all these Scripture passages to us, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is a reminder that each and every one of us as disciples and followers of Christ, we are all called to believe in God and His truth. All of us have to put our faith and trust in the Lord, and we have to walk ever more carefully and with commitment in His presence. We have to be careful lest we may be distracted and tempted to abandon the Lord’s path because of the efforts and machinations of the devil and his forces, all bent on trying to lead us down the path of ruin and damnation. Each one of us must resist those temptations and always strive to remain true in our faith and love for God.

Let us therefore turn towards God with renewed faith and zeal, and dedicate our whole lives with the aim of serving Him in each and every moments of our lives, in our every words, deeds and actions, so that through them, we may proclaim the truth of God in all things. Let us no longer worry or be afraid of what we will experience and what we will have to endure in our journey, as in the end, God will always be triumphant with us, and if we remain faithful to Him, then we shall share in His glorious inheritance and we shall receive from Him the promise of eternal life and true joy.

May the Lord continue to be with us always, and may He help and guide us to persevere through the many challenges in this world. Let us worry no more and believe in God, and hopefully through our own exemplary faith, many more people will come to believe in God as well. May God bless our every good works, efforts and endeavours, now and always, evermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 12 July 2022 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 11 : 20-24

At that time, Jesus began to denounce the cities in which He had performed most of His miracles, because the people there did not change their ways.

“Alas for you Chorazin and Bethsaida! If the miracles worked in you had taken place in Tyre and Sidon, the people there would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I assure you, for Tyre and Sidon; it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.”

“And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to heaven? You will be thrown down to the place of the dead! For if the miracles which were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would still be there today! But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

Tuesday, 12 July 2022 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 47 : 2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8

Great is YHVH, most worthy of praise in the City of God, His holy mountain. Beautifully elevated, it is the joy of all the earth.

Mount Zion, heavenly mountain, the City of the great King. Here, within her lines of defence, God has shown Himself to be a sure fortress.

The kings assembled together, advanced toward the city. But as soon as they saw it, they were astounded; they panicked and took to flight.

Seized with fear, they trembled, like a woman in travail, or like ships of Tarshish, shattered by a strong wind from the east.

Tuesday, 12 July 2022 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Isaiah 7 : 1-9

When Ahaz son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, was king of Judah, king Rezin of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah, king of Israel, laid siege to Jerusalem but they were unable to capture it. When the news reached the house of David, “Aram’s troops are encamped in Ephraim,” the heart of the king and the hearts of the people trembled as the trees of the forest trembled before the wind.

YHVH then said to Isaiah : “Go with your son A-remnant-will-return, and meet Ahaz at the end of the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Washerman’s Field. Say to him, ‘Stay calm and fear not; do not lose courage before these two stumps of smouldering firebrands – the fierce anger of Rezin the Aramean and the blazing fury of the son of Remaliah.’”

“‘You know that Aram, Ephraim and Remaliah’s son have plotted against Judah, saying : Let us invade and scare it, let us seize it and put the son of Tabeel king over it. But the Lord YHVH says : It shall not be so; it shall not come to pass. For Damascus is only the head of Aram and Rezin the lord of Damascus. Samaria is only the head of Ephraim and Remaliah’s son is only the lord of Samaria. Within fifty-six years, Ephraim will be shattered and will no longer be a people. But if you do not stand firm in faith, you, too, will not stand at all.’”

Monday, 11 July 2022 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Benedict, Abbot (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 all reminded to be truly faithful to the Lord our God, in all of our actions and deeds. Each and every one of us as Christians ought to strive to live our lives and deepen our spirituality, our relationship with God, so that all of us may grow ever better in our Christian living and in our obedience to God. All of us are called and challenged to live our lives full of Christian truth and discipleship, obedience to the Law and commandments of God, in following the Lord wholeheartedly, doing everything as God had told us to. We are all called to be genuine Christians and true disciples of the Lord.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, the words of the Lord to the people through Isaiah, the warning for all those who have committed sins against God. God warned all of them that their sins were known to Him, and those sins would be their undoing unless they turned away from them and repent from them. The Lord was referring to Sodom, which in fact by that time had been a wasteland for a long time since it was destroyed in the rain of brimstone from Heaven, together with Gomorrah. This reference to Sodom was in fact a reference to the sins of the people, which are just like the sins of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah in the past.

Then the Lord also made references to the people’s offerings and sacrifices. This was actually referring to their hypocrisy and lack of faith. They might still be doing their rituals and worship, which they offered at the Temple in Jerusalem, but it had become superficial and lacking in genuine faith and love for God. The people of God had not done what they should have, in loving God wholeheartedly as they had not obeyed His Law and commandments, and merely paid lip service to Him. Their offerings and sacrifices were made with equal sincerity and fervour to God as they did with the pagan idols and gods. They did not truly believe in God with all their heart and might, and were more concerned by worldly matters and desires than to serve God.

Hence, the prophet Isaiah was sent to the people with the message to remind them all to turn back towards God wholeheartedly, and abandon their sinful and lukewarm attitude in following God. This is something that the Lord had always done to His people, giving them reminders and help, encouragement and strength, although He always encountered stiff and stubborn resistance from many of them who were unwilling to walk in the path that the Lord had shown them, and many of His prophets had to suffer rejection and hardships throughout their ministries and lives in the world.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard from the Gospel of St. Matthew in which the Lord told His disciples presenting to them the reality of His coming into the world and how the disciples might have to face sufferings, hardships and persecutions much as how the prophets had faced in the past. This was because contextually at that time, the people generally expected that the coming of the Messiah or the Saviour and Holy One that God had promised to them ought to be accompanied with a lot of rejoicing, happiness and deliverance from the wickedness and evils of the world.

The people often expected that the Messiah, the Son of David would be the One to lead them all in a great campaign and rebellion to free them from the tyranny and dominion of their Roman oppressors and overlords. They expected the Messiah to be a new King over them, ruling over the restored Kingdom of Israel. But the reality is such that, the Lord’s coming would in fact create divisions and tribulations for His followers, all because of the stubbornness and the same resistance that the world had often shown Him and His messengers. The truth that Christ brought with Him to this world would tear even families and friends apart, and that would have caused divisions and struggles, even amongst the most ardent of the faithful.

Hence, through all these each and every one of us are reminded that being Christians is not something that is trivial or easily done. There may often be a lot of sacrifices and efforts needed for us to be truly faithful to God. That is why we are all called to be truly faithful to God and not just merely paying lip service or formality as what the Israelites in Judah had done by the time of the prophet Isaiah. All of us should commit ourselves to a new life dedicated to God, and in our every actions and deeds, we should be genuinely filled with the desire to love God and with the desire to embrace His methods and ways. All of us ought to be exemplary in our lives and actions at all times.

Today, we also can look up upon the examples set by the famous St. Benedict of Nursia, whose feast day we are celebrating this day. St. Benedict of Nursia was the renowned founder of the Benedictine religious order and one of the most prominent proponent of monasticism in Western Christendom. He was renowned for his Rule of St. Benedict and the propagation of monastic life in various parts of Christendom, in which many people were called to a new life and existence, inspiring many people with the search for holiness in life, for prayerful contemplation as one of the many ways to live one’s life faithfully in serving God.

St. Benedict inspired many others through his sincere desire to seek and love the Lord, embracing a life of contemplative prayer and holiness, in a monastic community formed from those who shared the same desire and insight, and hence answered God’s call for them to live their Christian lives most meaningfully and purposefully. St. Benedict and his life examples should therefore also inspire each one of us to seek to live our lives worthily as Christians from now on. We are all called to be faithful witnesses of the Lord and exemplary disciples of His, so that through us many more people may come to believe in God and be saved as well.

May the Lord continue to guide and strengthen us so that each and every one of us may persevere in faith and grow ever closer to Him, through each moments and opportunities we have in life, in serving and glorifying His Name. Amen.