Friday, 17 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 12 : 1-8

At that time, it happened that, Jesus walking through the wheat fields on a Sabbath. His disciples were hungry; and they began to pick some heads of wheat, to crush and to eat the grain. When the Pharisees noticed this, they said to Jesus, “Look at Your disciples! They are doing what is prohibited on the Sabbath!”

Jesus answered, “Have you not read what David did, when he and his men were hungry? He went into the House of God, and they ate the bread offered to God, though neither he nor his men had the right to eat it, but only the priests. And have you not read in the law, how, on the Sabbath, the priests in the Temple desecrate the Sabbath, yet they are not guilty?”

“I tell you, there is greater than the Temple here. If you really knew the meaning of the words : It is mercy I want, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the innocent. Besides, the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Friday, 17 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Isaiah 38 : 10, 11, 12abcd, 16

Once I said : In the noontime of my life I go; I am sent to the land of the dead, for the rest of my years.

I said : Never again shall I see YHVH in the land of the living; never again shall I see the inhabitants of the earth.

Like a shepherd’s tent, my dwelling has been pulled down and thrown away; like a weaver, You rolled up my life and cut it from the loom.

O Lord, give me back my health and give me back my life!

Friday, 17 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Isaiah 38 : 1-6, 21-22, 7-8

In those days Hezekiah fell mortally ill and the prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz, went to him with a message from YHVH, “Put your house in order for you shall die; you shall not live.”

Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to YHVH, “Ah YHVH! Remember how I have walked before You in truth and wholeheartedly, and done what is good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

Then the word of YHVH came to Isaiah, “Go and tell Hezekiah what YHVH, the God of his father David, says : I have heard your prayer and I have seen your tears. See! I am adding fifteen years to your life and I will save you and this city from the power of the king of Assyria. I will defend it for My sake and for the sake of David My servant.”

Isaiah then said, “Bring a fig cake to rub on the ulcer and let Hezekiah be cured!” Hezekiah asked, “What is the sign that I shall go up to the House of YHVH?” Isaiah answered, “This shall be for you a sign from YHVH, that He will do what He has promised. See! I shall make the shadow descending on the stairway of Ahaz go back ten steps.”

So the sunlight went back the ten steps it had covered on the stairway.

Thursday, 16 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as all of us gather together to glorify the Lord, we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Patroness of the Carmelite religious order, recalling the vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, to St. Simon Stock, one of the earliest members of the Carmelites. Our Lady of Mount Carmel appeared to St. Simon Stock and showed him the brown scapular, two pieces of cloth with holy image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on one side, and on the other side the promise that all who wear the scapular with devotion will be saved from the eternal fire of hell.

This was the promise that Our Lady of Mount Carmel showed to St. Simon Stock, and became the foundation for the famous devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the brown scapular associated with her. Through His mother Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Lord wants each and every one of us to put our faith and trust in Him through her, and to put ourselves in her comforting embrace and care, as our blessed and loving mother, entrusted to us and given to us to be our guide and consolation.

That so many people came to follow in the devotion of the brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is a sign of mankind’s great desire to be healed from their hurts, problems and troubles, that they came to seek the mother of our Lord, for her guidance, her prayer and intercession, for solace and consolation during times of trouble and difficulties, trials and hardships as we are surely aware of, especially during these recent days, weeks and months when we have encountered so many problems and troubles in life.

But at the same time, we must make sure that through our devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, we are helped in our rejuvenation in faith, our reconciliation with God. We must not fall into blind devotion or merely hoping for miracles and for good things to happen to us because we demand it and want it. Instead, we must once again come back to the essence of this devotion, that is through the brown scapular, we are reminded of the holy life that each and every one of us are called to, and embrace it fully with our hearts.

Let us all remember that all of us are called to turn towards God in these most troublesome and darkest of moments. And we are called to turn to Him to look forward for a new hope that He is going to bring us, and His mother, Our Lady of Mount Carmel is by our side, showing us the way to reach her Son. And we are all called to follow her examples, her dedication and virtues, her commitment and love for her Son that we too may grow in our faith in Him and in our love for Him.

Today, therefore, we have all been reminded that we must neither be afraid or be fearful, for God Himself together with His blessed Mother, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and innumerable saints and Angels are standing by us, amidst the trials and challenges of life, and amidst all the fears, despairs and uncertainties of life. The Lord wants us to put our trust in Him rather than to put our trust in our own strength and in our own designs and powers. And all of us who trust in Him will soon learn that there is truly nothing that we need to fear of.

For in the end, if we are faithful, obedient to the will of God, and have committed our lives to Him, then as the promise of the Blessed Mother of God, Our Lady of Mount Carmel had spoken to St. Simon Stock, that those who have devoutly wore the brown scapular would be safe from the eternal fires of hell. No matter how great the trials and difficulties we may currently be facing and suffering, but nothing can compare to the eternal suffering and punishment to be endured in hell. We must not lose hope in despair of the darkness, but instead be hopeful of the Lord and His light through His mother.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all dedicate ourselves anew to the Lord, and by devoting ourselves to His blessed mother, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, let us all turn ourselves into a new, righteous and virtuous living, rejecting sin and the temptation to sin, persevering in faith and committing ourselves to a new life in God’s grace. Are we able and willing to commit ourselves to this, brothers and sisters in Christ? Let us all discern carefully the path and direction we are going to take in life, that we will not end up in the eternal darkness, but in God’s eternal light and true joy.

May the Lord continue to guide and strengthen us, and may His loving mother Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, our mother, continue to intercede and pray for us sinners, all still struggling in this world, that we may break free of the darkness by her Son’s grace and enter into the wonders of the kingdom of Heaven. Amen.

Thursday, 16 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

Matthew 11 : 28-30

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest. For My yoke is easy; and My burden is light.”

Alternative reading (Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

Matthew 12 : 46-50

At that time, while Jesus was talking to the people, His mother and His brothers wanted to speak to Him, and they waited outside. So someone said to Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside; they want to speak with You.”

Jesus answered, “Who is My mother? Who are My brothers?” Then He pointed to His disciples and said, “Look! Here are My mother and My brothers. Whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”

Thursday, 16 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

Psalm 101 : 13-14ab and 15, 16-18, 19-21

But You, o YHVH, You sit forever; Your Name endures through all generations. Arise, have mercy on Zion. For Your servants cherish her stones, and are moved to pity by her dust.

O YHVH, the nations will revere Your Name, and the kings of the earth Your glory, when YHVH will rebuild Zion and appear in all His splendour. For He will answer the prayer of the needy and will not despise their plea.

Let this be written for future ages, “YHVH will be praised by a people He will form.” From His holy height in heaven, YHVH has looked on the earth to hear the groaning of the prisoners, and free those condemned to death.

Alternative reading (Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

Luke 1 : 46-47, 48-49, 50-51, 52-53, 54-55

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit exults in God, my Saviour!

He has looked upon His servant, in her lowliness, and people, forever, will call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, Holy is His Name!

From age to age, His mercy extends to those who live in His presence. He has acted with power and done wonders, and scattered the proud with their plans.

He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and lifted up those who are downtrodden. He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty.

He held out His hand to Israel, His servant, for He remembered His mercy, even as He promised to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever.

Thursday, 16 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

Isaiah 26 : 7-9, 12, 16-19

Let the righteous walk in righteousness. You make smooth the path of the just, and we only seek the way of Your laws, o YHVH. Your Name and Your memory are the desire of our hearts. My soul yearns for You in the night; for You my spirit keeps vigil. When Your judgments come to earth, the world’s inhabitants learn to be upright.

YHVH, please give us peace; for all that we accomplish is Your work. For they sought You in distress, they cried out to You in the time of their punishment. As a woman in travail moans and writhes in pain, so are we now in Your presence. We conceived, we had labour pains, but we gave birth to the wind. We have not brought salvation to the land; the inhabitants of a new world have not been born.

Your dead will live! Their corpses will rise! Awake and sing, you who lie in the dust! For you will grow like plants drenched with the morning dew, and the earth will bring forth its dead spirits.

Alternative reading (Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

Zechariah 2 : 14-17

Sing and rejoice, o daughter of Zion, for I am about to come, I shall dwell among you,” says YHVH. “On that day, many nations will join YHVH and be My people, but My dwelling is among you.”

The people of Judah will be for YHVH as His portion in His holy land. He will choose Jerusalem again. Keep still in YHVH’s presence, for He comes, having risen from His holy dwelling.

Wednesday, 15 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scriptures all of us are brought to put our attention on God and on the matter of putting our trust in Him rather than to put our trust in worldly strength and powers. Through our Scripture passages today we are all reminded of how all power, glory, fame and matters of this world are illusory and nothing compared to God’s power and might.

In our first reading today from the Book of the prophet Isaiah we heard a very interesting narrative made from the perspective of the king of Assyria, which at that time was a rising superpower. The king of Assyria, which based on historical timeline and evidence is likely to refer to king Sennacherib, had continued the conquests of his predecessors, enlarging the Assyrian Empire and conquered more and more nations.

Earlier on, Assyria was the one that brought down both the kingdoms of northern Israel and also Aram-Damascus. And if we happen to remember yesterday’s first reading passage, also from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, we heard of the plotting by both the kings of Israel and Aram-Damascus to conquer the kingdom of Judah, and God reassured His people in Judah that He would foil the plans of those who plotted harm and evil for His faithful.

That was why Assyria then came, sweeping through the land and the enemies of the faithful were crushed. But then, as mentioned in our first reading today, in the style of monologue, the king of Assyria showed his great pride and hubris, and wanting to go beyond what God had granted him to do. He raised up his mighty army, and went up against Jerusalem and Judah, with the intent to conquer all of them.

And by reading through the account from the Second Book of Kings, this king, Sennacherib, went on to blaspheme against God and spoke in hubris, thinking that for all the power he had, he had no one and nothing to account to, and could do as whatever he liked. This was when the Lord through His prophet Isaiah, strengthened His people and reassured them, revealing to them yet again that He would intervene on their behalf.

Therefore, a great destruction was wrought by God on the Assyrian army, and vast numbers, a hundred and eighty-five thousand men perished according to the Scriptures. And the king of Assyria had to return to his homeland in shame, failing to conquer Jerusalem and Judah and losing such a large army. And not only that, soon after, two of his sons plotted against him and murdered him in attempt to seize power.

Thus, God reminded us all that no power in this world is meaningful in the end, as everything will happen as the Lord wills it. And hubris and pride, as showed by the Assyrian king, will lead us to nowhere else but destruction and failure. The Lord wants us to get rid from ourselves the taint of pride and ambition, the corruption of greed and unhealthy desire and obsessions in this life. And this is why we should look upon the examples of our good and holy predecessors, like that of St. Bonaventure, whose feast we celebrate today.

St. Bonaventure was truly a dedicated and holy servant of God who was remembered for his great piety and dedication to the reform of the Church and the faith in the community. He was a great writer and a great theologian who spent a long time trying to reform both the Church and the community of the faithful, as part of the Franciscan Order. His contributions to the Church and the Franciscan Order helped to make the Franciscans to be renowned for their faith and intellectual depth, reforming the order further to help in their ministry to the faithful.

St. Bonaventure also devoted himself to the Church and helped in the administration of the Church. By his effort in ensuring the smooth election of the Pope at the time, he was made the Cardinal Bishop of Albano, and in his role, in addition to his commitment to the Franciscan Order, St. Bonaventure helped to renew and rejuvenate the faith of many among the faithful, restoring the faith to many among the people. Yet, despite his many positions, titles and responsibilities, St. Bonaventure remained deeply humble in his person.

By his many wise and intellectual writings on broad topics on the faith, St. Bonaventure was made a Doctor of the Church, but more importantly, he inspired many others to follow in his footsteps and be even more faithful to God. Are we able and willing to follow in the footsteps of St. Bonaventure, too, brothers and sisters in Christ? Let us all devote ourselves to God and make good use of whatever gifts, abilities and talents that the Lord had granted us for His greater glory.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He strengthen our resolve and our dedication in serving Him, and may He empower each and every one of us to be ever more faithful and to be great inspirations and guides for one another in the way of faith. Let us all also be humble and virtuous like St. Bonaventure, and do not allow the pride of our hearts and our ambition and greed to ruin us as what happened to the Assyrian king, Sennacherib. Amen.

Wednesday, 15 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

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, 15 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

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.