Sunday, 17 February 2019 : Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday we listened to the words of the Lord through the Scripture passages reminding us all of the need for each and every one of us to trust in the teachings and the ways that the Lord has shown us all, and not in our own human abilities and power, and neither in the matters of the world. All of us heard that we are called to turn towards God with all of our hearts and with all of our strength. God will bless us all greatly and wonderfully if we have done so.

In our first reading today, we heard the sayings of the prophet Jeremiah, in which the prophet cursed all those who trusted in their worldly power and in their own human glory, on how those people would never find true happiness in life as long as they continued to trust in the powers of the world. Instead, all those who trusted in God and in His power would be blessed and would receive all goodness in due time, as God has promised. They would receive true joy and happiness from God Himself.

Then, in the second reading today, we heard from St. Paul in the Epistle he wrote to the Church and the faithful in the city of Corinth, where he spoke of the resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ as the proof of the faith that all of the faithful had believed, that they had not believed in vain in the Lord, Who had overcome even death itself, our greatest enemy of all. Death is the result and consequence of sin, just as sin is caused by our disobedience against the will of God.

This is the proof that it is the faith and trust in God alone that will overcome all sorts of difficulties and challenges. There is no other foundation or any thing in this universe capable of replacing the Lord as the centre, focus and hope of our lives. Any other foundation and trust in other things beyond the Lord is superficial and illusory in nature, and we will not be able to gain true joy, assurance and satisfaction because we will never find true peace unless if we go through God.

Why is that so? Brothers and sisters in Christ, we should look upon the history of our humanity’s past, at all the various actions and things that we mankind had done and which we had experienced throughout time. We see how mankind always tried to do their best, to attain the best for themselves, to gain the most joy, pleasure, happiness, glory, fame, power, and all sorts of good things for themselves, and yet, they were never truly happy and secure in their lives.

On the other hand, instead of experiencing true joy, peace and happiness, our predecessors experienced much sorrow, agony, pain, suffering, despair and lack of peace in their lives, all because of them putting their trust and their focus on the wrong things, as they placed their trust on worldly assurances of money, of human glory, prestige, of pleasure of the body and the temptation of greatness and hubris, ambition and pride.

Everyone suffered, when those who had power, greatness, wealth, prestige and the means of worldliness oppressed those who have less, little or none, in their pursuit to gain more of those worldly desires and temptations for themselves. But they did not gain more happiness, joy and satisfaction among themselves, because by our nature, greed will only lead to even more greed and desire, and when we have something, we naturally desire even more.

That is why, we can never be satisfied by anything of this world, no matter how hard we try it. And we must not forget, just as the Lord Himself said in another parable He taught His disciples, showing the futility of those who sought to enrich themselves with many worldly things, that a rich man who tore down his many barns in order to accommodate even more goods in them, but was told by the Lord of his foolishness, as his own life would be taken away from him that very night, and none of his amassed wealth and glory would be his any longer.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why as I have mentioned earlier, death is our greatest enemy, for death marks the moment when our earthly life and existence ended. And that is why, throughout history and time, men had tried again and again, futilely, in order to try to overcome and cheat death. Many spent much money and resources, efforts and trying various methods in order to attain for themselves eternal life and youth. Many tried to keep themselves alive and appearing good, without success.

People had been spending a lot on beauty products and those things that were claimed to have life-lengthening and rejuvenating effects on the body. But in the end, no one can extend one’s life even by a millionth of a second, for everything is according to God’s will, and when God calls us back, and to give an account of our respective lives, we have no way to refuse this call. And none of our earthly glories and power will follow us through.

That is why, today’s Gospel passage, in which the Lord went through with His disciples and followers a series of blessings and curses for certain groups of people, which we know better as the Sermon on the Mount or the Eight Beatitudes, we heard exactly what we have just been discussing on our search for happiness, our often futile efforts to preserve ourselves from death, by searching and desiring for more worldly things, and allowing ourselves to be tempted by the devil.

In the Beatitudes, the Lord reminded all of us His people, that unless we learn and try to let go of all these wicked desires, and restrain all those thoughts of pride, ambition, and not allowing our ego and pride to overcome us, we will end up falling into sin, deeper and deeper, and eventually, as mentioned, sin leads to death, and not just any death, but eternal death and damnation. For those who sin and does not repent, they have no part in the Covenant that God had made with all those who are faithful to Him.

Those who are proud and ambitious, those who oppress and persecute others just so that they can earn for themselves more worldly glory, power, wealth, riches, majesty, fame and all other things we often desire, all of us who choose to put our trust in all these worldly things, will find ourselves disappointed because even though now we may enjoy what we have, and indulge in the pleasures they provided us, but these things will not last forever.

The time will come when the reckoning of our lives will be upon us, and unless we have done what the Lord has commanded us to do, then we may end up falling into eternal damnation, and has no share in the Covenant, the salvation which the Lord Jesus Christ, Our God and Saviour has brought upon us by His sacrifice on the cross. Only those who are humble, those who are poor in spirit, meaning those who look at themselves not with pride but instead with humility before God, will receive the fullness of God’s glory.

And through the Beatitudes, God is calling us all to follow this path that He had set before us all. He is calling us to be faithful, in all things and in all of our dealings and actions, that we place God as the very core and centre of our lives and existences. We are called to be peacemakers, to be those who bring the love of God to one another, sharing the love and blessings which He has so generously given us, so that each and every one of us may enjoy the fruits of God’s wonderful love.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, from now on, if we have not done so, let us all grow in faith in God, and devote ourselves to love God and to turn ourselves away from the path of sin and wickedness. Let us all strive to overcome our attachment to worldly temptations and goods, and instead, make the effort to put our complete trust in God. Let us all seek the Lord with all of our strength, and let us all grow ever closer to Him, from now on, through the lessons of the Beatitudes, and bear the fruits of the Beatitudes of Christ in our daily living. Amen.

Sunday, 17 February 2019 : Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 6 : 17, 20-26

At that time, coming down the hill with His disciples, Jesus stood in an open plain. Many of His disciples were there, and a large crowd of people, who had come from all parts of Judea and Jerusalem, and from the coastal cities of Tyre and Sidon.

Then, looking at His disciples, Jesus said, “Fortunate are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours. Fortunate are you, who are hungry now, for you will be filled. Fortunate are you, who weep now, for you will laugh.”

“Fortunate are you, when people hate you, when they reject you and insult you and number you among criminals, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for a great reward is kept for you in heaven. Remember, that is how the ancestors of the people treated the prophets.”

“But alas for you, who have wealth, for you have been comforted now. Alas for you, who are full, for you will go hungry. Alas for you, who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Alas for you, when people speak well of you, for that is how the ancestors of the people treated the false prophets.”

Sunday, 17 February 2019 : Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Corinthians 15 : 12, 16-20

Well, then, if Christ is preached as risen from the dead, how can some of you say, that there is no resurrection of the dead? If the dead are not raised, neither has Christ been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith gives you nothing, and you are still in sin.

Also, those who fall asleep, in Christ, are lost. If it is only for this life, that we hope in Christ, we are the most unfortunate of all people. But no, Christ has been raised from the dead, and He comes before all those who have fallen asleep.

Sunday, 17 February 2019 : Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 1 : 1-2, 3, 4 and 6

Blessed is the man who does not go where the wicked gather, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit where the scoffers sit! Instead, he finds delight in the Law of YHVH and meditates day and night on His commandments.

He is like a tree beside a brook producing its fruit in due season, its leaves never withering. Everything he does is a success.

But it is different with the wicked. They are like chaff driven away by the wind. For YHVH knows the way of the righteous but cuts off the way of the wicked.

Sunday, 17 February 2019 : Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Jeremiah 17 : 5-8

This is what YHVH says, “Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings and depends on a mortal for his life, while his heart is drawn away from YHVH!”

He is like a bunch of thistles in dry land, in parched desert places, in a salt land where no one lives and who never finds happiness. Blessed is the man who puts his trust in YHVH and whose confidence is in Him! He is like a tree planted by the water, sending out its roots towards the stream. He has no fear when the heat comes, his leaves are always green; the year of drought is no problem and he can always bear fruit.

(Usus Antiquior) Septuagesima Sunday (II Classis) – Sunday, 17 February 2019 : Offertory, Secret Prayer of the Priest, Communion and Post-Communion Prayer

Liturgical Colour : Violet

Offertory

Psalm 91 : 2

Bonum est confiteri Domino, et psallere Nomini Tuo, Altissime.

English translation

It is good to give praise to the Lord, and to sing to Your Name, o Most High.

Secret Prayer of the Priest

Muneribus nostris, quaesumus, Domine, precibusque susceptis : et caelestibus nos munda mysteriis, et clementer exaudi. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

English translation

With our gifts and prayers accepted, we beseech You, o Lord, both cleanse us by these heavenly mysteries and graciously hear us. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who with You lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

Communion

Psalm 30 : 17-18

Illumina faciem Tuam super servum Tuum, et salvum me fac in Tua misericordia : Domine, non confundar, quoniam invocavi Te.

English translation

Make Your face to shine upon Your servant, and save me in Your mercy. Let me not be confounded, o Lord, for I have called upon You.

Post-Communion Prayer

Fideles Tui, Deus, per Tua dona firmentur : ut eadem et percipiendo requirant, et quaerendo sine fine percipiant. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

English translation

May Your faithful, o God, be strengthened by Your gifts, that receiving them they may still desire them and desiring them may constantly receive them. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who with You lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

(Usus Antiquior) Septuagesima Sunday (II Classis) – Sunday, 17 February 2019 : Holy Gospel

Liturgical Colour : Violet

Sequentia Sancti Evangelii secundum Matthaeum – Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew

Matthew 20 : 1-16

In illo tempore : Dixit Jesus discipulis Suis parabolam hanc : Simile est regnum caelorum homini patrifamilias, qui exiit primo mane conducere operarios in vineam suam. Conventione autem facta cum operariis ex denario diurno, misit eos in vineam suam.

Et egressus circa horam tertiam, vidit alios stantes in foro otiosos, et dixit illis : Ite et vos in vineam meam, et quod justum fuerit, dabo vobis. Illi autem abierunt. Iterum autem exiit circa sextam et nonam horam : et fecit similiter. Circa undecimam vero exiit, et invenit alios stantes, et dicit illis : Quid hic statis tota die otiosi?

Dicunt ei : Quia nemo nos conduxit. Dicit illis : Ite et vos in vineam meam. Cum sero autem factum esset, dicit dominus vineae procuratori suo : Voca operarios, et redde illis mercedem, incipiens a novissimis usque ad primos. Cum venissent ergo qui circa undecimam horam venerant, acceperunt singulos denarios.

Venientes autem et primi, arbitrati sunt, quod plus essent accepturi : acceperunt autem et ipsi singulos denarios. Et accipientes murmurabant adversus patremfamilias, dicentes : Hi novissimi una hora fecerunt et pares illos nobis fecisti, qui portavimus pondus diei et aestus.

At ille respondens uni eorum, dixit : Amice, non facio tibi injuriam : nonne ex denario convenisti mecum? Tolle quod tuum est, et vade : volo autem et huic novissimo dare sicut et tibi. Aut non licet mihi, quod volo, facere? an oculus tuus nequam est, quia ego bonus sum? Sic erunt novissimi primi, et primi novissimi. Multi enim sunt vocati, pauci vero electi.

English translation

At that time, Jesus spoke to His disciples this parable, “The kingdom of heaven is likened to a householder, who went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And having agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

And going out at about the third hour, he saw others standing in the marketplace idle, and he said to them, “You also go into my vineyard, and I will give you what shall be just,” and they went their way. And again he went out at about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did so in the similar manner. But at about the eleventh hour, he went out, and found others standing, and he said to them, “Why did you stand here all the day idle?”

They said to him, “Because no man had hired us.” He said to them, “You also go into my vineyard.” And when evening came, the lord of the vineyard said to his steward, “Call the labourers, and pay them their hire, beginning from the last even to the first.” When therefore those who came at about the eleventh hour, they received a penny for every man.

But when the first also came, they thought that they should receive more, and they also received a penny for every man. And receiving it, they murmured against the master of the house, saying, “These last have barely worked but one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the heat.”

But he answering, said to one of them, “Friend, I did you no wrong, did you not agree with me for a penny? Take what is yours, and go your way. I will also give to the last even as to you. Or, is it not lawful for me to do what I will? Is your eye evil, because I am good? So shall the last be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few are chosen.”