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.

Wednesday, 31 August 2022 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 4 : 38-44

At that time, leaving the synagogue, Jesus went to the house of Simon. His mother-in-law was suffering from high fever, and they asked Him to do something for her. Bending over her, He rebuked the fever, and it left her. Immediately, she got up and waited on them.

At sunset, people suffering from many kinds of sickness were brought to Jesus. Laying His hands on each one, He healed them. Demons were driven out, howling as they departed from their victims, “You are the Son of God!” He rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, for they knew He was the Messiah.

Jesus left at daybreak and looked for a solitary place. People went out in search of Him, and finding Him, they tried to dissuade Him from leaving. But He said, “I have to go to other towns, to announce the good news of the kingdom of God. That is what I was sent to do.” And Jesus continued to preach in the synagogues of Galilee.

Wednesday, 31 August 2022 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 32 : 12-13, 14-15, 20-21

Blessed is the nation whose God is YHVH – the people He has chosen for His inheritance. YHVH looks down from heaven and sees the whole race of mortals.

From where He sits, He watches all those who dwell on the earth – He Who fashions every heart, observes all their deeds.

In hope, we wait for YHVH, for He is our help and our shield. Our hearts rejoice in Him, for we trust in His holy Name.

Wednesday, 31 August 2022 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Corinthians 3 : 1-9

I could not, friends, speak to you as spiritual persons but as fleshly people, for you are still infants in Christ. I gave you milk, and not solid food, for you were not ready for it, and, up to now, you cannot receive it, for you are still of the flesh. As long as there is jealousy and strife, what can I say, but that you are at the level of the flesh, and behave like ordinary people.

While one says : “I follow Paul,” and the other : “I follow Apollos,” what are you, but people still at a human level? For what is Apollos? What is Paul? They are ministers; and through them, you believed, as it was given by the Lord, to each of them. I planted, Apollos watered the plant, but God made it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God, Who makes the plant grow.

The one who plants and the one who waters work to the same end, and the Lord will pay each, according to their work. We are fellow-workers with God, but you are God’s field and building.

Tuesday, 30 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, we are reminded to open ourselves to know the Lord, our Saviour and King, not just superficially but also wholeheartedly in a genuine desire to know Him and to love Him with all of our might. Each and every one of us ought to trust in God’s Wisdom and allow His truth to guide us. We must not let the temptations of worldly glory and other temptations of this world from misleading us down the wrong path, or making us to move further and further away from God and His truth.

In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in the city of Corinth, we heard of the need for all the faithful to embrace the Spirit of God that has been given to them, and to attune themselves to the Spirit, that they may appreciate and understand the truth of God, and not to see things through the spirit and understanding of the world. That is because the ways of the Lord are different from the ways of the world, and unless we see things from the Lord’s perspective, and through His Spirit, then we cannot truly understand the Lord, His ways and His truth.

Then in our Gospel passage today we heard of the moment when the Lord Jesus cast out evil spirits from a man in Capernaum when that possessed man came to Him and began speaking up and revealing the truth about the Lord Himself, how Jesus was truly the Holy One of God, the Son of God and the Messiah or Saviour of the world. The significance of this moment is that when the people of Capernaum failed to recognise the truth spoken by the evil spirits, and especially when the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law often criticised and harassed Him, refusing to listen to Him or to believe in His words, it was ironically the evil spirits who spoke the truth.

Why is that so, brothers and sisters in Christ? First of all, the evil spirits were truly once spirits in the service of God, Angels and other spiritual beings who fell into disobedience and sin, following Satan, the Fallen Angel, who fell into sin because of his prideful rebellion against God. But, although those evil spirits had disobeyed and rebelled against God, they were still nonetheless subject to Him and they could not but speak the truth regarding Him before others. Hence, what the evil spirits spoke through the man was indeed the truth. What the evil spirits however wanted to do by that action, is to sow confusion and make it difficult for the Lord to perform His mission by revealing His true nature before the people.

Then, that was again where we see how the Lord exercised His power, commanding the evil spirits to get out of the man. The man was freed from his predicament and was liberated from the torment of those evil spirits. That the evil spirits had to obey the Lord and His commands was yet another proof that He truly was Who those evil spirits spoke about, that although they were malicious in their intent and mischievous in their actions, but they could not lie regarding the truth of the Lord and His works and mission in this world. Yet, many of the people still refused to believe in the Lord and many still continued to harden their hearts and minds against Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of these then point out to our own attitudes as Christians, as members of the Church of God. Have we allowed God to speak to us through His Spirit and allowed Him to guide us in our journey of faith through life? Or have we instead kept on resisting Him and His truth, and preferred instead to follow the ways and wisdom of this world? Or remaining adamant in our own beliefs and way of thinking, and not willing to listen to the Lord speaking to us in the depths of our hearts and minds? Many of us as Christians we prefer to still follow our own supposedly superior way of thinking and doing things, without realising that this is one major obstacle in our path towards being truly faithful to God.

There is a need for all of us God’s people to be humbler and to be more willing to listen to the Lord, to attune ourselves, our actions and deeds to God, and that requires us to allow the Lord and His Spirit to exercise His works within us and through us. We have to learn to listen and discern the will of God through His words. But one major obstacle is our many attachments and preoccupations in this world, and it will do us well to resist the temptations of these worldly desires as well as the many other pressures of worldly matters and preoccupations, all of which tend to distract us from our path towards the Lord and His salvation and grace.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore strive to do our best in our lives to focus our attention towards the Lord and to be humble and a good listener, in allowing the Lord to lead and guide us in our lives, distancing ourselves from the many temptations and distractions all around us. May the Lord continue to help and guide us in our journey, and may His Spirit continue to guide us with His wisdom and truth, and may His love and grace continue to strengthen us in all things and at all times. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.