Friday, 8 July 2022 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we all listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures, in which we are reminded of just how full of love the Lord is for each and every one of us. He has always loved us, patiently, reaching out to us sinners, even though we have consistently and persistently refused His efforts and kindness, all of the compassion that He has shown to us. God still called us, reached out to us, and gave us the opportunities to repent and to turn away from our sins because in the end, His love for us is still greater than His disgust for our sins and wickedness.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Hosea the words of the Lord calling on all the Israelites to return to Him, calling on them to embrace once again His love and receive from Him the assurance of blessings and graces that had been lost by their disobedience and sins. Back then, the prophet Hosea was ministering to a people and a kingdom rampant with many sinful actions, disobedient and wicked attitudes in the people’s way of life, in disregarding the Law and the commandments, in their persecution of the prophets and the messengers sent to remind them of their errors and mistakes.

The prophet Hosea brought the people the words of the Lord’s warning to them on what they would soon endure and suffer from as a consequence of their repeated disobedience and evils, all that they had done to anger the Lord and in rejecting His patient and constant outreach to seek reconciliation between them and Himself. They would be defeated and humiliated, crushed and broken, and they would be brought away in exile to the far-off regions by their enemies, because they had disobeyed and abandoned the Lord. And yet, the Lord still loved them and wanted them all to know that He still desired for them to be reconciled with Him.

But this required them all to turn back towards the Lord with faith, to rediscover the love which they ought to have for Him, the One Who had truly loved them very much and Who had dedicated Himself to care for this race of mankind, despite all of their infidelities and stubborn attitudes. The Lord patiently called on the people to embrace His kindness, His willingness to heal them from their troubles and pains, to enter into the new life and path that He is calling them to follow, and He gave them all many opportunities and means to reach Him, sending His messengers and servants to help and guide them along the way.

That was what the Lord Himself told His disciples to do in our Gospel passage today, as He sent them forth to the world, in His own words, that He was sending them like ‘sheep among wolves’, that is to go to the people whom He willed to call, but who were often still stubborn to resist the call and those who were still attached to their sinful way of life. The Lord told His disciples to do His will and presented to them the reality of being His disciples and missionaries, that they would likely have to face rejection and hardships, even arrest and martyrdom in the process, in proclaiming the truth and love of God among His people.

However, at the same time, the Lord also reassured His disciples that He was not leaving them all alone in this. He would still be with them and He would guide them through their journey, and gave them the strength, the Wisdom and the means to do their mission, through the gifts of the Holy Spirit and more. The Lord has shown His great love and compassion to us, and He reminds us all that each and every one of us are called to a new life as Christian believers, to believe wholeheartedly in His truth and love. As Christians, we are all called to live our lives obeying the laws and commandments that God had given us, and to follow His path of righteousness and virtue.

Then, all of us as Christians are also partakers of the same mission which the Lord has entrusted to all of His disciples and followers. Through our faith, we are all called to live our lives with devotion, and to commit ourselves to be part of the Church’s mission and outreach to our various communities. And we do not have to think hard or to look far in our mission outreach, or to do great and marvellous things. In fact, it is by living our lives well and in accordance with our Christian faith that we shall be doing the will of God and be part of this missionary journey as one Church. Often, it is in doing all the small little things we can in each and every moments of our lives, in our small daily actions that we can inspire others and more people all around us to believe in God as well, through us and our own good examples.

May the Lord continue to inspire and strengthen us all each day, so that by our commitment, hard works and contributions, we may always be exemplary in faith, and we may grow ever closer to God, being more dedicated and faithful as Christians, at all times. May God be with us always and bless our every good works and endeavours, for His greater glory, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 8 July 2022 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 10 : 16-23

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Look, I send you out like sheep among wolves. You must be as clever as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard with people, for they will hand you over to their courts, and they will flog you in their synagogues. You will be brought to trial before rulers and kings because of Me, so that you may witness to them and the pagans.”

“But when you are arrested, do not worry about what you are to say, or how you are to say it; when the hour comes, you will be given what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father, speaking through you.”

“Brother will hand over his brother to death, and a father his child; children will turn against their parents and have them put to death. Everyone will hate you because of Me, but whoever stands firm to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next. I tell you the truth, you will not have passed through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”

Friday, 8 July 2022 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 50 : 3-4, 8-9, 12-13, 14 and 17

Have mercy on me, o God, in Your love. In Your great compassion blot out my sin. Wash me thoroughly of my guilt; cleanse me of evil.

I know You desire truth in the heart; teach me wisdom in my inmost being. Cleanse me, with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, I shall be whiter than snow.

Create in me, o God, a pure heart; give me a new and steadfast spirit. Do not cast me out of Your presence nor take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Give me again the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. O Lord, open my lips, and I will declare Your praise.

Friday, 8 July 2022 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Hosea 14 : 2-10

Return to your God YHVH, o Israel! Your sins have caused your downfall. Return to YHVH with humble words. Say to Him, “Oh You Who show compassion to the fatherless forgive our debt, be appeased. Instead of bulls and sacrifices, accept the praise from our lips. Assyria will not save us : no longer shall we look for horses nor ever again shall we say ‘Our gods’ to the work of our hands.”

I will heal their wavering and love them with all My heart for My anger has turned from them. I shall be like dew to Israel like the lily will he blossom. Like a cedar he will send down his roots; his young shoots will grow and spread. His splendour will be like an olive tree. His fragrance, like a Lebanon cedar.

They will dwell in My shade again, they will flourish like the grain, they will blossom like a vine, and their fame will be like Lebanon wine. What would Ephraim do with idols, when it is I Who hear and make him prosper? I am like an ever-green cypress tree; all your fruitfulness comes from Me.

Who is wise enough to grasp all this? Who is discerning and will understand? Straight are the ways of YHVH : the just walk in them, but the sinners stumble.

Thursday, 7 July 2022 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we all heard from the readings of the Scriptures the words of the Lord proclaiming yet again His love and generous compassion for each and every one of us. The Lord has shown us His generosity and kindness, even though we have often sinned against Him, disobeyed Him and refusing to listen to Him. He still loves us no matter what, but at the same time, is calling us to turn away from our path of sin and evil, and to embrace once again His ways, to return to Him with contrite heart filled with love for Him.

In our first reading today, we heard from the prophet Hosea, the words of the Lord reassuring His people of the love that He has always had for them, and how He would continue to love them and provide for them, as He had done in the past even though they had disobeyed and transgressed against Him. God highlighted the sins and wickedness that the people had done, in worshipping the pagan gods and idols, in persecuting the prophets and servants whom the Lord had sent to their midst to remind them and to guide them back to the right path. Despite all these, God still loved them and desired for them to be reconciled with Him.

However, as I mentioned earlier, the people’s sins and transgressions still had to be addressed and resolved. They could not continue to remain in sin, and as long as they still stubbornly remained on their path, they would have to suffer the consequences. If we remember what the prophet Hosea spoke in the other occasions throughout this week’s passages, in other parts of his book, then we should also remember that God also told His people of the consequences of their continued sins and transgressions, that they would be uprooted from the lands of their ancestors, their cities destroyed and them scattered throughout the nations.

Through what we have heard in our first reading today, we can see that God is indeed like a Father to all of us, His people. As as our Father, He certainly loves us all, just as He showed the Israelites through the words of the prophet Hosea and the actions He had done for their ancestors in the past. But at the same time, as a Father Who truly loves His children, He also does not want any of us His children to fall into the wrong path. Hence, as any fathers should rightly do, at times, there is a need for us to be disciplined and to understand and feel, to experience the consequences for our mistakes.

And God did not do so because He hated us. Instead, it was exactly because of that love He has for us that He has reached out to us with that same love. He loves us such that He wants us all to learn that in order for us to be truly worthy to be called His children and His people, then each and every one of us must do what we can, in our respective areas and capacities, in whatever callings and vocations we have in life, to be active in living up to our faith, and be exemplary in our every words, actions and deeds, in our interactions with one another so that everyone can indeed recognise God being present through us.

That is why all of us are called as we heard in our Gospel passage today, to be His faithful disciples and witnesses, like the ones whom the Lord Jesus Himself sent out before Him, to go forth to the many places that He Himself was to visit, and others, so that they might proclaim the Good News of truth to more and more of the people who have not yet known them. The Lord called on those disciples to do His will, and they went forth, dedicating themselves to their ministry. In the same manner, all of us are also called by God in the same way, to turn our backs against our old ways of sin, and to embrace wholeheartedly His path and righteousness.

The Lord has called on us all, His children and His people to follow Him and to reach out to others who have not yet known Him. And the best way for us to do it, is by living our lives faithfully to the best way we can do it. We have to lead good examples so that we may become inspiration for all others whom we encounter in life, or else, if we do not do so, or worse still, doing things that are contrary to our faith, then we may end up turning people away from God and preventing them from finding their way towards God’s salvation and grace.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore strive to live good Christian lives from now on. Let us all no longer be swayed easily by the corruptions of sin, and by the many temptations of worldly desires. May God help us and strengthen us so that each and every one of us may draw ever closer to Him, and we may grow ever stronger in our faith, now and always, evermore. Amen.

Thursday, 7 July 2022 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 10 : 7-15

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Go, and proclaim this message : The kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, bring the dead back to life, cleanse the lepers, and drive out demons. Freely have you received, freely give. Do not carry any gold or silver or money in your purses. Do not take a travelling bag, or an extra shirt, or sandals, or a walking stick : workers deserve to be compensated.”

“When you come to a town or a village, look for a worthy person, and stay there until you leave. When you enter the house, wish it peace. If the people are worthy people, your peace will rest on them; if they are not worthy people, your blessing will come back to you.”

“And if you are not welcomed, and your words are not listened to, leave that house or that town, and shake the dust off your feet. I assure you, it will go easier for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment, than it will for the people of that town.”

Thursday, 7 July 2022 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 79 : 2ac and 3bc, 15-16

Listen, o Shepherd of Israel, You, Who sit enthroned between the Cherubim. Stir up Your might and come to save us.

Turn again, o YHVH of hosts, look down from heaven and see; care for this vine, and protect the stock Your hand has planted.

Thursday, 7 July 2022 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Hosea 11 : 1-4, 8c-9

I loved Israel when he was a child; out of Egypt I called My Son. But the more I have called, the further have they gone from Me – sacrificing to the Baals, burning incense to the idols. Yet, it was I Who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; yet, little did they realise that it was I Who cared for them.

I led them with cords of human kindness, with leading strings of love, and I became for them as One Who eases the yoke upon their neck and stoops down to feed them. My heart is troubled within Me and I am moved with compassion. I will not give vent to My great anger; I will not return to destroy Ephraim, for I am God and not human. I am the Holy One in your midst; and I do not want to come to you in anger.

Wednesday, 6 July 2022 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Maria Goretti, Virgin 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, we are all presented with the words of the Lord reminding us to distance ourselves from sin and evil, and to embrace His path, and to do what He has called us to do. Each and every one of us are called to be missionaries of our faith and witnesses of God’s truth and love to our fellow men. What we have heard in our Scripture readings today remind us that we are all called to holiness and to be committed to our Christian living and faith, in each and every opportunities and moments provided to us.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Hosea, who ministered to the people of the northern kingdom of Israel during the last years of its existence. The prophet Hosea came to bring forth the word of God to those people who had rejected Him for so many years, refusing to listen to the advice and words of the prophets who had been sent to them to remind them and help them on their way, in rejecting the kindness and compassion that the Lord had extended to them for a long time, all the patience that He had shown them. Hence, through Hosea and other prophets, the Lord made it known that the kingdom of Israel would be crushed and destroyed.

The pride and haughtiness of the kings of Israel in Samaria and the unfaithfulness of the people would become their undoing, and their wickedness and disobedience would lead to them being uprooted from their lands, crushed and conquered by other nations, scattered and exiled to far-off lands. But at the same time, as we heard from the same passage, God still did not give up on them, and still yet called on them to return to Him, to abandon their stubborn attitudes and wicked actions, and called on them all to follow Him once again and heed His ways. He wanted them all to be saved, and to be reconciled to Him.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard the Lord Jesus and His calling of the Twelve Apostles, as He called on each one of them to be the chief ones among His disciples and followers. Each one of them were called from different places and they had different backgrounds and origins, but all of them were called with a mission, to be the ones through Whom God would perform and continue His many good works among the people, and to establish and allow His Church in this worlds to grow and flourish. They were all imperfect men and people with issues and troubles, whom God called to a new existence and holy life, and gave them the strength and guidance to do so.

Through the calling of the Apostles and the other disciples, whom the Lord commanded with the mission to reach out to all the peoples and to preach to them the Good News of salvation and eternal life, the Lord wanted each and every one of us to be active in contributing to the missions and works of the Church. We are all called to be exemplary in our way of life so that by our actions and deeds, we may inspire others all around us to follow our examples and to believe in God as well. Unless we devote ourselves to God wholeheartedly, and live to the best of our abilities to be virtuous in all things, we cannot then truly call ourselves as Christians.

Today all of us should heed the good examples set by St. Maria Goretti, the renowned saint and martyr, who died in her youth in the defence of her purity and faith. St. Maria Goretti was a martyr of purity and she dedicated her life to the Lord through prayer and devotions from a very young age. It was then that one of the tenants who stayed with St. Maria Goretti, whose young teenage son named Alessandro was enamoured with her and in one occasion when he was alone with her, the teenage Alessandro made advances on St. Maria Goretti and tried to rape her. St. Maria Goretti refused persistently and that made the young man angry, and he stabbed her several times before fleeing.

As she was dying, St. Maria Goretti told her mother and others than she forgave her assailant and prayed for him. Alessandro was arrested and imprisoned, and it was told that St. Maria Goretti appeared to him in prison in one occasion, and all that helped the young man to turn over a new leaf. Ever since henceforth, Alessandro, the one who had given in to his desires and killed St. Maria Goretti, resolved to live his life righteously and spent his life in constant penance and in striving for a more holy life and existence, seeking for forgiveness from the martyr’s mother and doing good works for the Church and the community. He eventually lived long enough to see St. Maria Goretti raised to the glory of the Altar in her canonisation as a saint.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today having heard from the Scriptures and from the lives of St. Maria Goretti and Alessandro, her murderer, and how he turned over a new leaf in life, all of us are called to be good Christians, in abandoning and rejecting our sinful way of life, our past wickedness and disobedience, and embrace God, His love, compassion and mercy from now on. Let us all also not be stubborn anymore but instead do our best to proclaim the Good News of God through our lives and examples. May the Lord be with us all and may He give us the strength and the courage to follow Him from day to day, and to give our best in our mission as part of His Church, always and evermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 6 July 2022 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Matthew 10 : 1-7

At that time, Jesus called His Twelve disciples to Him, and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to drive them out, and to heal every disease and sickness.

These are the names of the Twelve Apostles : first Simon, called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew, the tax collector; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon, the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, the man who would betray Him.

Jesus sent these Twelve on mission, with the instruction : “Do not visit pagan territory and do not enter a Samaritan town. Go, instead, to the lost sheep of the people of Israel. Go, and proclaim this message : The kingdom of Heaven is near.”