Thursday, 21 July 2022 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Matthew 13 : 10-17

At that time, the disciples of Jesus came to Him and said, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” Jesus answered, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but not to these people. For the one who has will be given more; and he will have in abundance. But the one who does not have will be deprived of even what he has. That is why I speak to them in parables; because they look and do not see; they hear; but they do not listen or understand.”

“In them, the words of the prophet Isaiah are fulfilled : However much you hear, you do not understand; however much you see, you do not perceive. For the heart of this people has grown dull. Their ears hardly hear and their eyes dare not see. If they were to see with their eyes, hear with their ears and understand with their heart, they would turn back, and I would heal them.”

“But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For I tell you, many prophets and righteous people have longed to see the things you see, but they did not see them; and to hear the things you hear, but they did not hear them.”

Thursday, 21 July 2022 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Psalm 35 : 6-7ab, 8-9, 10-11

Your love, o God, reaches the heavens; Your faithfulness, to the clouds. Your justice is like the mighty mountains; Your judgement, like the unfathomable deep.

How precious, o God, is Your constant love! Mortals take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. In Your house they find rich food and they drink from Your spring of delight.

For with You is the fountain of life, in Your light we see light. Bestow on Your faithful, Your love; and give salvation to the upright of heart.

Thursday, 21 July 2022 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Priest and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Jeremiah 2 : 1-3, 7-8, 12-13

A word of YHVH came to me, “Go and shout this in the hearing of Jerusalem. This is YHVH’s word : I remember your kindness as a youth, the love of your bridal days, when you followed Me in the wilderness, through a land not sown. Israel was holy to YHVH, the first fruits of His harvest. All who ate of it had to pay and misfortune fell on them – it is YHVH Who speaks.”

“I brought you to a fertile land to eat of the choicest fruit. As soon as you came you defiled My land and dishonoured My heritage! The priests did not ask, ‘Where is YHVH?’ The masters of My teaching did not know Me; the pastors of My people betrayed Me; the prophets followed worthless idols and spoke in the name of Baal.”

“Be aghast at that, o heavens! Shudder, be utterly appalled – it is YHVH Who speaks – for My people have done two evils : they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living water, to dig for themselves leaking cisterns that hold no water!”

Wednesday, 20 July 2022 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Apollinaris, Bishop 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, all of us are being reminded that each and every one of us have been called in different ways by the Lord, to follow Him and to commit our lives to a faithful and virtuous Christian living, that each and every one of us may bear rich fruits of our faith and actions. Each one of us are challenged and called to follow the Lord in everything we say, act and do, and through Him, we may do truly wonderful things and impact many others in the way that we may never have thought possible before. All these are possible if we let the Lord guide us in our way and journey.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah of the calling of this prophet whom God had called to be His servant and messenger to the people of the kingdom of Judah. At that time, the people of Judah had slipped once again into the path of sin and evil, disobedience and wickedness, and hence, God called Jeremiah to be His instrument and as the one to deliver His will and His words to those same people, and He reassured Jeremiah that He would guide him and show him the way, giving him the wisdom and strength to persevere through whatever challenges that he would have to face when Jeremiah was doubtful and unsure about his calling.

Jeremiah was lacking in confidence because he was still relatively young and inexperienced, but by obeying God’s call and doing what the Lord had told him to do, Jeremiah would go on to become one of the greatest of the prophets, enduring a lot of trials and challenges for the sake of the Lord and His people, and patiently enduring them and continuing to do the work of God despite all that he had to go up against, all because God was with him and that God gave him the strength, wisdom and courage to endure even the worst of persecutions. Through this example, we can see how God was always faithful to the promises He made and how He was always with His faithful ones, and what a faithful servant of God can do with God’s guidance and strength.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the story of the Lord telling His followers the famous parable of the sower. In that parable, the Lord spoke of a sower who sowed seeds that fell on various places, some on the roadside, while others fell amongst the thistles and brambles, and others fell on the dry, rocky ground, while some fell on rich, fertile and good soil. Each of these led to different outcomes in the seeds being sown, as those that fell on the roadside were eaten up by the birds and were destroyed, while those that fell on the rocky ground could not grow roots or gain water and was scorched by the intense sun, while those that fell among the thistles and brambles were choked to death.

Only those seeds that fell on the rich and fertile soil managed to grow well and not only that, produced many more times than its weight and number, as they grew well and bore many fruits, and they became bountiful and great. The Lord would later on explain the meaning and significance of this parable to His disciples, telling them that the seeds represent the Word of God and the gifts that God had given and granted all of the people, such as what He had given to His prophets like Jeremiah and many others, including the Apostles and disciples, the innumerable saints and martyrs, and ultimately, all of us.

In essence, the Lord has given us all the means, the guidance, the gifts and various opportunities that He blessed us with, in our unique circumstances, that through Him and His providence, each and every one of us may find the means to contribute to the good works of the Church, in doing good things and obeying the Law and commandments of God. But this requires active participation on our side, our commitment and time, and our contribution to cultivate the gifts and talents that we have received. If we do not provide the optimal condition for our faith and actions to develop, then just like how the seeds that fell into the wrong places failed to grow, we too shall not be fruitful in faith.

Today, all of us should therefore model ourselves based on the examples set by our holy predecessors, one of whom the feast we are celebrating today, namely St. Apollinaris. St. Apollinaris was the Bishop of Ravenna who was remembered as a very dedicated shepherd to his faithful flock, working tirelessly for the evangelisation of the people, enduring and suffering persecutions for his faith. He suffered several episodes of almost death experience and hardships, and he endured them all with faith. All those did not discourage him from continuing to work hard for the sake of the Lord. His faith and continued dedication became inspiration for many others, including us in the present day.

Let us all therefore heed the good examples set by our holy predecessors, the prophets like Jeremiah and also the many saints and martyrs like that of St. Apollinaris of Ravenna. Let us all dedicate and commit ourselves to the Lord in the same way as our faithful predecessors had done, and strive to be exemplary and inspirational ourselves in our way of life, now and always. Amen.