Wednesday, 17 August 2022 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 20 : 1-16a

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “This story throws light on the kingdom of heaven : A landowner went out early in the morning, to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay each worker the usual daily wage, and sent them to his vineyard.”

“He went out again, at about nine in the morning, and, seeing others idle in the town square, he said to them, ‘You also, go to my vineyard, and I will pay you what is just.’ So they went. The owner went out at midday, and, again, at three in the afternoon, and he made the same offer.”

“Again he went out, at the last working hour – the eleventh – and he saw others standing around. So he said to them, ‘Why do you stand idle the whole day?’ They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ The master said, ‘Go, and work in my vineyard.'”

“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wage, beginning with the last and ending with the first.’ Those who had gone to work at the eleventh hour came up, and were each given a silver coin. When it was the turn of the first, they thought they would receive more. But they, too, received one silver coin. On receiving it, they began to grumble against the landowner.”

“They said, ‘These last, hardly worked an hour; yet, you have treated them the same as us, who have endured the heavy work of the day and the heat.’ The owner said to one of them, ‘Friend, I have not been unjust to you. Did we not agree on one silver coin per day? So take what is yours and go. I want to give to the last the same as I give to you. Do I not have the right to do as I please with what is mine? Why are you envious when I am kind?'”

“So will it be : the last will be first.”

Wednesday, 17 August 2022 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 22 : 1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.

He guides me through the right paths for His Name’s sake. Although I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are beside me : Your rod and Your staff comfort me.

You spread a table before me in the presence of my foes. You anoint my head with oil; my cup is overflowing.

Goodness and kindness will follow me all the days of my life. I shall dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.

Wednesday, 17 August 2022 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Ezekiel 34 : 1-11

The word of YHVH came to me in these terms, “Son of man, speak on My behalf against the shepherds of Israel! Say to the shepherds on My behalf : Woe to the shepherds of Israel, who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock? But you feed on milk and are clothed in wool, and you slaughter the fattest sheep. You have not taken care of the flock; you have not strengthened the weak, cared for the sick or bandaged the injured.”

“You have not gone after the sheep that strayed or searched for the one that was lost. Instead, you ruled them harshly and were their oppressors. They have scattered, for want of a shepherd, and became prey of wild animals. My sheep wander over the mountains and high hills; and when they are scattered throughout the land, no one bothers about them or looks for them.”

“Hear then, shepherds, what YHVH says : As I live – word of YHVH, – because My sheep have been the prey of wild animals and become their food for want of shepherds, because the shepherds have not cared for My sheep, because, you, shepherds have not bothered about them, but fed yourselves, and not the flocks, because of that, hear the word of YHVH.”

“This is what YHVH says : I will ask an account of the shepherds and reclaim My sheep from them. No longer shall they tend My flock; nor shall there be shepherds who feed themselves. I shall save the flock from their mouths; and no longer shall it be food for them.”

“Indeed YHVH says this : I, Myself, will care for My sheep and watch over them.”

Tuesday, 16 August 2022 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Stephen of Hungary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we heard about the sin of pride and all the things that had often prevented man from finding their way back towards God. The Lord is actually warning and reminding us not to give in to the temptations of pride that can lead us down the path of ruin. We have to resist the things that may often come between us and God’s love and grace, our many weaknesses and vulnerabilities, particularly that which involved our ego and pride, which is the same mistake that had misled Satan down the path to destruction.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Ezekiel telling us of God’s proclamation regarding the Prince of Tyre. Contextually, we must understand that Tyre back then was a great city, founded and belonging to the Phoenicians, a race of people who specialised in trade and commerce in the times past, establishing numerous colonies throughout the Mediterranean in ancient times. The city of Tyre therefore became fabulously wealthy and despite the presence of much more powerful neighbours, the city and people of Tyre were often able to have their way and maintain their relative freedom due to their immense economic capacity.

That was why the kings and rulers of Tyre could act with relative impunity, doing whatever they wanted, proudly boasting their influence and power, even when they were militarily inferior compared to the superpowers like the Assyrians and the Babylonians back then. The Lord warned them and all of His people of the danger of pride, ego and hubris, all of which can become our undoing if we leave them unchecked or if we even indulge in them. And the Lord’s proclamations and predictions eventually came true when the city of Tyre eventually, a few centuries later, was razed and destroyed by the Greeks under Alexander the Great, as attested by historical evidences.

In our Gospel passage today we heard of the parable that the Lord Jesus spoke, the well-known story of the camel that passes through the eye of the needle, which the Lord said would be easier to happen rather than for one who is rich and proud, mighty and haughty to enter into the kingdom of heaven. This was a comparison and a point that the Lord made in order to let His disciples and followers know that, just as it would be impossible for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, then it would have been even less likely for a man filled with pride and ego to enter into the kingdom of God and into the Holy Presence of God.

That was exactly how Satan fell too, swayed by the pride that made him to rebel against God, and that same temptations were made and presented by Satan to our ancestors as well, and many people, from generation to generation, had fallen into these same temptations. That is why many people found it difficult to come to the presence of God because they have allowed pride, ego and arrogance to keep themselves from realising that they were sinners and were in need of God’s healing and forgiveness, and instead, they kept on living their lives in delusion thinking that they were doing the right things, and spent most of their lives and efforts in pursuing their own selfish desires and wants.

Today, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Stephen of Hungary, the first King of Hungary. He accepted the Lord as his Saviour and was crucial in establishing Christianity as the sole faith of his kingdom and dominion, advancing the cause of the Lord and His Church. But at the same time, St. Stephen of Hungary was also remembered as a great and dedicated king who spent a lot of time and effort to care for the good and the well-being of his subjects. He devoted much to unite his kingdom and to provide for them, with many efforts and projects to improve their livelihood.

St. Stephen was well-remembered and respected because he was truly a great king who did not allow hubris, ambition and pride to come in between him and his dedication to God. He was humble and committed to the calling which the Lord had given him, and the Lord blessed Him and His people, and he and his kingdom were made secure. He did not crave for power or worldly glory, or boast of his power and greatness, but instead did his best for the genuine improvement and well-being of all those whom the Lord had entrusted to be under his care.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore do whatever we can to resist the temptations of worldly glory, pleasures and other material goods that can mislead us down the wrong path, and let us also make the effort to resist those temptations, and distance ourselves from pride and ego, learning instead to be humble and to be willing to listen to the Lord. Let us all be open to welcome Him into our midst and do whatever we can to follow Him to the best of our abilities, following in the examples of the holy saints, especially that of St. Stephen of Hungary whom we have just discussed earlier on.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He strengthen us with the courage and the desire to follow Him and to serve Him at all times. May He help us to resist the temptations and pressures of pride and ego, so that we may always grow ever more faithful to Him, and be ever closer to Him, now and always, evermore. Amen.