Saturday, 3 September 2022 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Corinthians 4 : 6b-15

Learn by this example, not to believe yourselves superior by siding with one against the other. How, then, are you more than the others? What have you that you have not received? And if you received it, why are you proud, as if you did not receive it?

So, then, you are already rich and satisfied, and feel like kings, without us! I wish you really were kings, so that we might enjoy the kingship with you! It seems to me, that God has placed us, the Apostles, in the last place, as if condemned to death, and as spectacles for the whole world, for the Angels as well as for mortals.

We are fools for Christ, while you show forth the wisdom of Christ. We are weak, you are strong. You are honoured, while we are despised. Until now we hunger and thirst, we are poorly clothed and badly treated, while moving from place to place. We labour, working with our hands. People insult us and we bless them, they persecute us and we endure everything; they speak evil against us, and ours are works of peace. We have become like the scum of the earth, like the garbage of humankind until now.

I do not write this to shame you, but to warn you, as very dear children. Because, even though you may have ten thousand guardians in the Christian life, you have only one Father; and it was I who gave you life in Christ through the Gospel.

Friday, 2 September 2022 : 22nd 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 Lord in the Scriptures, we are reminded first of all to be wise and thoughtful servants and followers of God, and to treat one another with respect and kindness, not to judge one another with malicious intention and desire, but instead to show true love and concern for one another. We have to heed the Lord’s words and remember to turn towards Him with renewed faith and way of life, committing ourselves to lead each other on the right path instead of trying to bring each other down and in being judgmental in our attitudes and actions.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Corinth, we heard of the words of the Apostle reminding the faithful people of God there to be faithful and put their faith in God and not be judgmental towards one another. This came at a time when there were significant divisions and conflicts among the faithful in Corinth, as was elsewhere due to the differences in opinions among the faithful who were divided between the various missionaries and leaders of the faithful as we have heard in the past few days of readings, between those who followed St. Paul himself, and Apollos, another famous preacher and others who sided with the other Apostles among others.

St. Paul reminded the faithful people of God not to be divided or hostile against each other because of their differences, and instead of judging one another, being hostile and angry against each other, they should work towards resolving their differences, reminding them that after all in the end, all of them are God’s people, the members and parts of His same one Church. There should not be prejudice or distinction henceforth amongst the people of God just because they preferred certain ways of teaching or ideas, unless those ideas were indeed against the truth of God, which in the case of St. Paul, Apollos or the other Apostles were not such, as each one of them were faithful to the Lord and delivered His truth in their own different ways.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard the Lord speaking to the people who compared Him and His disciples with the disciples of St. John the Baptist and the Pharisees, in terms of how they fasted and followed the laws as according to the common laws observed among the people at that time, the Law of Moses. The people wondered why Jesus and His disciples did not fast the way that the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, as well as the disciples of St. John had done. Worse still was that the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law themselves often criticised and even were hostile against the Lord and His ways, His teachings and truths simply because they did not conform to the ways that were endorsed or supported by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law.

Contextually, we also have to understand that the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were the religious and intellectual elites of their time, and they liked to look down on those who disagreed with them, and also those whom they deemed to be inferior, sinful and wicked, worthless or hopeless, treating those people like the tax collectors and prostitutes, the poor and the sick, those who were afflicted with diseases and disabilities, possessed by evil spirits and demons as those who were beyond hope and salvation, and were unworthy of God’s love and grace. They kept the gates of God’s salvation shut for those who came to seek the Lord, and made it difficult for many to approach the Lord by their overly strict and stringent laws and customs.

It is this same attitude that St. Paul and also the Lord Himself had warned us against, the prideful attitude of man who indulged in their sense of superiority and their selfish nature, in seeking personal glory and satisfaction over that of the truth and love of God. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had not faithfully done what the Lord had entrusted them to do, and as such, the Lord pointed out that His way is the true way, and those who follow Him, His truth and way, have to commit themselves to the new path that He Himself will show, the path of God’s righteousness and grace, and renew themselves through listening to God’s words, always ever constantly reminding all of us, all of His people to follow Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now that we have heard these words of the Sacred Scriptures, and kind reminders for us to follow the path that God has set and placed before us, let us all therefore commit ourselves thoroughly at all times, dedicating ourselves, our time and effort to draw ever closer to God, doing whatever we can to be inspiration to one another in the way we live our lives, in our every actions, words and deeds, all of which should be based and focused on the Lord, to show that we are truly God’s people in everything, so that we may help to show God’s truth by the testimony of our faith and lives, in each and every moments we have in this world.

May the Lord continue to be with us always, and may He empower each and every one of us that we may strive to live worthily at every opportunities possible, leading more and more people towards the Lord, and may through our good examples, we can help many others to find out more about the Lord, about His love and path, that more of them may eventually come closer to God, and share with us the joy of our faith in God as well. May God bless us in our every good efforts and endeavours, our every good works, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 2 September 2022 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 5 : 33-39

At that time, some people asked Jesus, “The disciples of John fast often and say long prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees. Why is it, that Your disciples eat and drink?”

Then Jesus said to them, “You cannot make wedding guests fast while the Bridegroom is with them. But later, the Bridegroom will be taken from them; and they will fast in those days.”

Jesus also told them this parable : “No one tears a piece from a new coat to put it on an old one; otherwise the new coat will be torn, and the piece taken from the new coat will not match the old coat. No one puts new wine into old wine skins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and be spilt, and the skins will be destroyed as well.”

“But new wine must be put into fresh skins. Yet, no one who has tasted old wine is eager to drink new wine, but says, ‘The old is good.’”

Friday, 2 September 2022 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 36 : 3-4, 5-6, 27-28, 39-40

Trust in the Lord and do good, dwell in the land and live on it. Make the Lord your delight, and He will grant your heart’s desire.

Commit your way to the Lord; put your trust in Him and let Him act. Then will Your revenge come, beautiful as the dawn, and the justification of your cause, bright as the noonday sun.

Do good and shun evil, so that you will live secure forever. For YHVH loves justice and right, and never forsakes His faithful ones. The wicked, instead, will perish, and their bread will be cut off.

The Lord is the Salvation of the righteous; in time of distress, He is their refuge. The Lord helps them, and rescues them from the oppressor; He saves them for they sought shelter in Him.

Friday, 2 September 2022 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Corinthians 4 : 1-5

Let everyone then see us as the servants of Christ and stewards of the secret works of God. Being stewards, faithfulness shall be demanded of us; but I do not mind if you or any human court judges me. I do not even judge myself; my conscience indeed does not accuse me of anything, but that is not enough for me to be set right with God : the Lord is the One Who judges me.

Therefore, do not judge before the time, until the coming of the Lord. He will bring to light whatever was hidden in darkness and will disclose the secret intentions of the hearts. Then each one will receive praise from God.

Thursday, 1 September 2022 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all called to keep in mind that we should trust in the Lord’s wisdom and allow Him to guide us in our path and journey throughout life. We should not do things in the way that the world often told us to do, or to trust in the wisdom of the world because as Christians, many of the things we learnt through the truth and wisdom of God show us that what the world considers as folly and stupid, irrational or strange, is actually the best path, as God knows all things while we mankind, even in our best intellect and wisdom knew only a part of all things.

In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Corinth, continuing from the discourse earlier this week, we heard of the Apostle mentioning how what is wise in the sight of the world is considered as foolish in the eyes of God. This, together with the reference that was made regarding the leaders of the faithful and evangelisers like St. Paul himself, Apollos, a popular Jewish Christian convert and preacher, Cephas, that is St. Peter, the leader of the Apostles and the Vicar of Christ, among others, all these were meant to remind the faithful in Corinth that they must keep their focus in the Lord and not in their own selfishness and divided nature.

For back then, there had been a rather bitter division amongst the members of the Church and the faithful people of God, as some of the faithful sided with St. Paul while others were siding with Apollos, having differences in their thoughts and preferences. While that would have been natural in any organisation and in our Church even today, but from what St. Paul had elaborated and shared in his Epistle to the Corinthians showed us that the divisions that happened among the faithful seemed to be rather bitter, where that led to the break in the unity of the Church of God, the Body of Christ.

That was why St. Paul appealed to the people of God in Corinth, to stay away from the temptations of their pride and ego, and to be willing to listen to God’s wisdom and truth, rather than to follow the whim of human and worldly wisdom and ways. Otherwise, that would have caused the divisions and disunity to continue even further, leading to further fracture in the unity within God’s Holy Church, the Christian community. Through the words of the Lord, God and His servants kept on reminding us the members of His Church to trust in His wisdom and love, His truth and grace, because in Him alone we can find the sure path to true happiness and salvation.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord and His disciples, as He called on His first disciples by the Lake of Galilee or Gennesaret. There He encountered Simon, the future St. Peter, as well as the other fishermen, who had not been able to get any fishes all night long despite their efforts. The Lord told them to lower their nets according to His instruction, and while Simon told Him that they had done work all night and got nothing, but he still obeyed the Lord and did as He asked of him to do. According to conventional and worldly wisdom, this would have been foolish to do, as all the more that Simon Peter and the others must have been experienced fishermen, who must have known that it was pointless to try more.

Yet, as shown by the Lord’s instructions and what happened afterwards, Simon Peter and the other fishermen immediately got a catch so massive, with so many fishes trapped in their nets that their boats almost sank from the great weight of the fishes. This miracle showed us all that what the world considered foolish, is actually the truth and possible in the sight of God. We must not put our faith in the Lord and His truth on the backbench, but instead, put it at the forefront of our lives. We have to prioritise Him and not to forget that His way and truth is the better way forward. We have to learn to trust in Him more the way that Simon, St. Peter, trusted in Him and humbled himself before the Lord, in listening to and obeying the Lord’s words.

In the same way therefore, each and every one of us as Christians ought to be more trusting in God, putting our faith and trust in Him, and not to pride ourselves on our human achievements and greatness, our wisdom and glory. We have to learn to listen to the Lord and allow Him to lead and guide us down the right path. We should listen to the Lord calling us deep within our hearts and minds, and turn towards Him with full of faith and desire to obey Him and to do His will. And as we heard in our Gospel passage today, through the same event of the miraculous catching of fishes, we see how through God’s guidance, as the Church, all of us can gain so much more from our efforts.

There are still so many opportunities that we as the Church can and should do in our works of evangelisation, as well as in the matter of the caretaking of our world, particularly remembering that today is the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. We are reminded that each and every one of us ought to be good and responsible stewards of creation, and in order to do so, we should be willing to allow God to guide us in our actions through His wisdom and grace. May the Lord continue to show us His wisdom, His truth and strengthen us with great faith, dedication and energy that we may always strive to do our best to glorify God in all things by our lives, now and always, evermore. Amen.

Thursday, 1 September 2022 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 5 : 1-11

At that time, one day, as Jesus stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, with a crowd gathered around Him listening to the word of God, He caught sight of two boats, left at the water’s edge by fishermen, now washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to pull out a little from the shore. There He sat, and continued to teach the crowd.

When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Simon replied, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing. But if You say so, I will lower the nets.” This they did, and caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. They signalled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They came, and they filled both almost to the point of sinking.

Upon seeing this, Simon Peter fell at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Leave me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and his companions were amazed at the catch they had made, and so were Simon’s partners, James and John, Zebedee’s sons. Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. You will catch people from now on.” So they brought their boats to land and followed Him, leaving everything.

Thursday, 1 September 2022 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 23 : 1-2, 3-4ab, 5-6

The earth and its fullness belong to YHVH, the world and all that dwell in it. He has founded it upon the ocean and set it firmly upon the waters.

Who will ascend the mountain of YHVH? Who will stand in His holy place? Those with clean hands and pure heart, who desire not what is vain.

They will receive blessings from YHVH, a reward from God, their Saviour. Such are the people who seek Him, who seek the face of Jacob’s God.

Thursday, 1 September 2022 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Corinthians 3 : 18-23

Do not deceive yourselves. If anyone of you considers himself wise in the ways of the world, let him become a fool, so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s eyes. To this, Scripture says : God catches the wise in their own wisdom. It also says : The Lord knows the reasoning of the wise, that it is useless.

Because of this, let no one boast about human beings, for everything belongs to you; Paul, Apollos, Cephas – life, death, the present and the future. Everything is yours, and you, you belong to Christ, and Christ is of God.

Wednesday, 31 August 2022 : 22nd 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 Lord speaking to us through the Scriptures, we are reminded to distance ourselves from worldly attachments and erroneous ways. We should not allow ourselves to be swayed by worldly pressures and temptations, particularly the temptation of pride and ego, of desire and greed, of worldly attachments and pleasures. That is because all of those things can easily and quickly lead us down the slippery path towards sin and evil, wickedness and damnation. If we are not ever vigilant and careful, we can easily be tempted and turned into this path.

In our first reading today, as we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in the city of Corinth, evidently there was quite a bitter dispute among the people of God regarding the support that they had for the different leaders of the faithful, from those who were siding with St. Paul himself, while there were those who sided with another popular preacher, namely Apollos. According to the Scriptures and Apostolic traditions, Apollos was a popular Jewish Christian preacher who gained a great following because of his great charisma and teachings, and is considered a saint of the Church just like St. Paul.

However, as we heard, unfortunately, although Apollos himself was faithful and devoted to God, and gave himself well to the service and the glory of God, but it was the people who were divided because of their competing allegiances and preferences, as some preferred to follow St. Paul and his way of teaching, while others preferred to follow Apollos and his ways. It is natural for people to have differences in their opinions and ideas, but when things become heated and very divided along various lines and opinions, or groups and viewpoints, that could quickly become very troublesome and hard for the Church and the faithful, who could become violently opposed to each other in bitter factional politics.

This was exactly what St. Paul warned the people against, and what he reminded them to avoid, as he told them that they should not be divided one against another, or be opposed to each other just because they were supporting different schools of thought, or ideologies, or preferences in the Church. He told the faithful in Corinth that whatever the missionaries and the different teachers of the faith like himself and Apollos had done, all of them were working for the greater glory of God and for the sake of His people, and all of them were all the servants of the same God, and hence, every one, every members of the Church and the faithful should be united in truth, love and purpose, and not be easily divided against each other.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard then the account of the Lord healing the mother-in-law of St. Peter, one of His Twelve Apostles. At that time, St. Peter, then known as Simon, asked the Lord to to help his mother-in-law, and immediately, the Lord healed her by His power, and made her completely healthy again. That news spread and soon there were many people who came to the Lord bringing all of their sick ones and those who were troubled in many ways. The Lord ministered to them and cared for them, healed their sick and shown His great power and might, and many believed in Him, that He is truly the Messiah or Saviour Whom God had promised to His people.

But the Lord left that place quietly in the morning of the day after, and His disciples were all wondering why He was doing that. The Lord told all of them that there were still many people who were in need of His work and mercy, and if He were to stay there in that place, then He would not have been able to do so. There would be a lot of temptations as well, in trying to lure the people into forcing Him to be their King, and that would have led to disastrous and unwanted consequences to the detriment of the Lord’s work and ministry. At the same time, the Lord also wanted to highlight and point out that whatever He and His disciples ought to be doing and were doing, those were all done for the greater glory of God, and not for their own glory.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we listened to these words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded that we must not allow those worldly temptations of power, glory, ambition, fame and all sorts of pride, ego, hubris and greed from misleading us down the wrong path. The Lord has reminded us that each and every one of us must always be centred and focused on God, that we will not end up losing sight on the true goal of our lives, that is to be united with God, to be reconciled with Him and to walk in His path towards the salvation and eternal glory, true happiness and joy that we can only find in Him alone. To that end, we should to our best to resist the many temptations found all around us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore strive to do our best to resist those temptations and pressures to conform to worldly ways and manners, and instead, be exemplary and committed to a life filled with virtue and grace from now on. Let us all draw ever closer to God and let us all seek the Lord with all our hearts from now on, dedicating our whole selves and our entire effort to glorify the Lord by our lives. May God be with us always and may He bless us in our every works and deeds, in all the things we say and do. May He empower each and every one of us to be ever faithful in our path towards Him, now and always. Amen.