(Usus Antiquior) Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost (II Classis) – Sunday, 24 September 2017 : Epistle

Liturgical Colour : Green

Lectio Epistolae Beati Pauli Apostoli ad Ephesios – Lesson from the Epistle of Blessed Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians

Ephesians 3 : 13-21

Fratres : Obsecro vos, ne deficiatis in tribulationibus meis pro vobis : quae est gloria vestra. Hujus rei gratia flecto genua mea ad Patrem Domini nostri Jesu Christi, ex quo omnis paternitas in caelis et in terra nominatur, ut det vobis secundum divitias gloriae Suae, virtute corroborari per Spiritum Ejus in interiorem hominem.

Christum habitare per fidem in cordibus vestris : in caritate radicati et fundati, ut possitis comprehendere cum omnibus sanctis, quae sit latitudo et longitudo et sublimitas et profundum : scire etiam supereminentem scientiae caritatem Christi, ut impleamini in omnem plenitudinem Dei.

Ei autem, qui potens est omnia facere superabundanter, quam petimus aut intellegimus, secundum virtutem, quae operatur in nobis : ipsi gloria in Ecclesia et in Christo Jesu, in omnes generationes saeculi saeculorum. Amen.

 

English translation

Brethren, I pray that you may not faint at my tribulations for you, which are your glory. For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of Whom all paternity, in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened by His Spirit with might unto the inward man.

That Christ may dwell by faith in your hearts, that being rooted and founded in charity, you may be able to comprehend with all the saints, what is the breadth, and length, and height and depth. To know also the charity of Christ, which surpasses all knowledge, that you may be filled unto all the fullness of God.

Now to Him Who is able to do all things more abundantly than we desire or understand, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the Church, and in Christ Jesus, unto all generations, world without end. Amen.

(Usus Antiquior) Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost (II Classis) – Sunday, 24 September 2017 : Introit and Collect

Liturgical Colour : Green

Introit

Psalm 85 : 3, 5, 1

Miserere mihi, Domine, quoniam ad Te clamavi tota die : quia Tu, Domine, suavis ac mitis es, et copiosus in misericordia omnibus invocantibus Te.

Inclina, Domine, aurem Tuam mihi, et exaudi me : quoniam inops, et pauper sum ego.

Response : Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto, sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper : et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

 

English translation

Have mercy on me, o Lord, for I have cried to You all the day, for You, o Lord, are sweet and mild, and plenty in mercy to all those who call upon You.

Bow down Your ear to me, o Lord, and hear me, for I am needy and poor.

Response : Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

 

Collect

Tua nos, quaesumus, Domine, gratia semper et praeveniat et sequatur : ac bonis operibus jugiter praestet esse intentos. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

 

English translation

Let Your grace, we beseech You, o Lord, ever go before us and follow us, and may it make us to be continually zealous in doing good works. 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.

Saturday, 23 September 2017 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us listened to the word of God, which spoke to us about the parable of the sower, a parable which many of us are likely to be familiar with, in which our Lord Jesus spoke about the sower of seeds, who dispersed his seeds and they fell on various grounds and soils, from the rocky grounds and the road sides, to the thorny bushes and then rich and fertile soil.

In that passage, Jesus our Lord spoke of what can happen to the seeds which the sower have spread, depending on the condition of the soil. If the soil is of poor quality and if it has plenty of obstacles, then it is unlikely to be able to support plant growth, and less still to allow bountiful products of fruits and crops to be realised. Only if the soil is fertile then the plants will grow strong and healthy, and bear many fruits.

In that parable, the seeds are the seeds of faith which God has spread over the whole world, to all of us mankind, as the Sower of the Word, for God has spoken His Word and gave us His truth, through none other than Jesus, the Divine Word made flesh, Who became Man for our sake, and all those who heard the teachings of the Lord Jesus have therefore received the Word, the seeds of faith.

But how those seeds develop then depends on how we live up to our faith in Jesus, our Lord. If we do not provide a conducive and matching environment to have the seeds of faith develop in us, then nothing will happen, and the faith in us will remain dormant. And we all ought to know what is going to happen to all of those who remain barren and fruitless, namely, that they will be cast out and rejected.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, these are constant reminders for us that all of us need to be active in our faith, and to be truly committed to the Lord, for it is only through this commitment that we are providing the fertile and rich ‘soil’ for the ‘seeds’ of faith to grow in us. Otherwise, we are not doing our part in providing the best condition for the growth and development of our faith.

There are many temptations in this world, the temptations of worldly possessions and wealth, the temptation of the pleasures of the flesh and sexual impropriety, the temptation of greed and worldly glory, the temptation of power and fame, all of which are tools used by the devil and his allies in their never-ending attempts to bring about our downfall. The devil is never at rest, always instead ready to snatch us from God’s saving grace.

That is why if we do not let the Word of God, the truths passed down to us through the Church, to be internalised and understood by us, then when trials and difficulties come upon us, we will be tempted to lose our faith and commitment towards God. And then we will end up becoming like the seeds that were eaten by the birds on the roadside, or like the seeds that were unable to grow firm roots on rocky ground, scorched to death, and also like the plants choked by the thorny bushes and brambles.

Is this the fate that we want to happen to us? Is it what we seek in life? It is easier indeed to obey the demands of the devil and this world rather than to walk faithfully in the path of the Lord. Yet, just as farming involves very arduous and tiring labour, thus for us to be faithful Christians it will also require a lot of effort from us. We must be vigilant and ready against all sorts of traps and obstacles the devil is getting ready in our path.

Let us today reflect on the life and examples of the renowned holy saint, whose name may not be foreign to many of us. St. Pius of Pietrelcina, more commonly known by the name of Padre Pio, was a famous and holy Franciscan friar and priest, who was remembered for his many miracles and hard work among the people, his exorcisms of the people possessed by demons, and his stigmata, or the miraculous appearance of the wounds of the Lord on his body.

Thousands and many thousands more flocked to meet Padre Pio, seeking his miracles and prayers. And many were astonished at his miraculous stigmata. Yet, despite all of those, St. Padre Pio remained humble and he distanced himself from any sorts of pride and worldly glory. In fact, Padre Pio was suffering greatly, first of all, physically from the pain of the wounds of the stigmata, and then also through the persecution and difficulties he had to encounter for many years by the skeptics who refused to believe the authenticity of his miraculous signs.

And yet, Padre Pio endured all of these trials and tribulations quietly, with obedience to his superiors and with faith. He placed his trust in the Lord, and continued to work among the people of God despite the criticism and ridicule that many levied upon him, and his piety and perseverance inspired many others who were converted and atoned for their sins because of his examples.

The story of the life of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio should be an inspiration to all of us Christians as well. We must not be complacent or passive in our faith, but instead be active in our commitment like Padre Pio had done in his life. That means, all of us should go beyond our comfort zone and do what we can, in order to do what the Lord wants us to do, so that by our actions we may be fruitful and filled with the good fruits of the Holy Spirit as St. Padre Pio had shown.

May the Lord bless us all, that the seeds of faith He has sowed in us may grow through our loving actions and commitment to Him. May He help us to persevere as St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio had done in his life, that we may not grumble or complain, but accept the suffering with grace, knowing that God Who finds us fruitful will bless us many times more. St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio, holy man of God, pray for us all. Amen.

Saturday, 23 September 2017 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 8 : 4-15

At that time, as a great crowd gathered, and people came to Jesus from every town, He began teaching them with a story : “The sower went out to sow the seed. And as he sowed, some of the seed fell along the way, was trodden on, and the birds of the sky ate it up.”

“Some seed fell on rocky ground; and no sooner had it come up than it withered, because it had no water. Some seed fell among thorns; the thorns grew up with the seed and choked it. But some seed fell on good soil and grew, producing fruit, a hundred times as much!” And Jesus cried out, “Listen then, if you have ears to hear!”

The disciples asked Him, “What does this story mean?” And Jesus answered, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God. But to others it is given in the form of stories, or parables, so that, seeing, they may not perceive; and hearing, they may not understand.”

“Now, this is the point of the parable : The seed is the word of God. Those along the wayside are people who hear it; but immediately, the devil comes and takes the word from their minds, for he does not want them to believe and be saved. Those on the rocky ground are people who receive the word with joy; but they have no root; they believe for a while, and give way in time of trial.”

“Among the thorns are people who hear the word, but, as they go their way, they are choked by worries, riches, and the pleasures of life; they bring no fruit to maturity. The good soil, instead, are people who receive the word, and keep it, in a gentle and generous mind, and, persevering patiently, they bear fruit.”

Saturday, 23 September 2017 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 99 : 2, 3, 4, 5

Serve YHVH with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.

Know that YHVH is God; He created us, and we are His people, the sheep of His fold.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving, His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His Name.

For YHVH is good; His love lasts forever; and His faithfulness, through all generations.

Saturday, 23 September 2017 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Timothy 6 : 13-16

Now, in the presence of God, Who gives life to all things, and of Jesus Christ, Who expressed before Pontius Pilate the authentic expression of faith : preserve the revealed message to all. Keep yourself pure and blameless, until the glorious coming of Christ Jesus, our Lord, Who God will bring about at the proper time : He, the Magnificent Sovereign, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

To Him, alone, immortal, Who lives in unapproachable light, and Whom no one has ever seen or can see, to Him, be honour and power, forever and ever. Amen!

Friday, 22 September 2017 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are reminded by St. Paul through his Epistle to St. Timothy, that all of us ought to remain true to our faith, and keep ourselves in the path of God’s righteousness. It will not be an easy journey for us, as our way will be filled with difficulties, temptations and all sorts of obstacles, as St. Paul had mentioned, in our struggles with money, possessions, worldly ambitions and other tempting pursuits.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, if we are not careful and if we are not vigilant with how we live our lives, we may end up falling for those temptations and slip into sin. It is easier for us to do what the world demanded from us than to walk faithfully in the way of the Lord. And the temptation is always there, pulling us away from God and His righteousness. Now, the question is, what are we going to do about it? Are we going to give in to the temptations, or are we going to stand up for our faith?

To be a good and devoted Christian, therefore, we cannot be a lukewarm disciple of the Lord. We cannot be a passive and inert Christian. That means, we cannot be conforming and be permissive in our actions and deeds in life. We cannot be thrown from side to side, just because we have no strong root of our faith. That is what will exactly happen to us, if we do not have that firm foundation in the Lord. We will be like a ship battered by the winds and the waves, and we will sink.

Nonetheless, for many of us, our faith is not a priority, and we are often distracted by our pursuit of fame, renown, personal and worldly glory, wealth and possessions, trying to gain more for ourselves all those things, which end up causing us to be drifting away from God, because He is not the priority in our minds and hearts. We end up becoming filled up with greed and desires, with ambition and haughtiness.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all reflect upon our lives, and think carefully about how we should proceed with those lives from now on. Are we going to continue living as we have lived, becoming slaves to our desires and human greed, to our ambition and love for the world? For money and for renown? For pleasures of the flesh and for power, glory and worldly goods?

Or do we rather change our ways for the better, discarding all those wickedness we have done, and all of the failures we have made, all the greed and human ambition, and instead we seek the Lord, the true Source of our joy and happiness. For we all have to realise that there is nothing in this world that can truly satisfy us, no matter how enjoyable and pleasurable they may be, as ultimately, all of them are merely temporary.

We should not be so fixated with whatever joys and good things we may find in the world, and become obsessed with gaining more of them for our own selfish gains and wants. If we make these as our treasures, let us all remember that first of all, those things do not last, and can be destroyed by fire, by water, by worldly forces and disasters, by wars and all other human deeds. Yet, if our treasure is in the Lord, we do not need to worry, since that treasure will truly last forever.

The folly of seeking worldly joy and happiness is evident, since no mortal man will bring forth his or her worldly treasures, their money and possessions, and all other things they have when they die. They will leave behind everything, and come before the Lord naked and empty without any status, possessions or wealth, and God will judge them not based on how rich or powerful they are, but rather by how much they have obeyed Him and done what He had taught them to do.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we have heard the message from the Scriptures regarding this matter. Let us all as Christians seek to be ever better disciple of our Lord, persevering through the temptations of this world, and grow ever better and deeper in our commitment and devotion to our Lord. May the Lord give us the strength to continue faithfully living and walking in His path, that eventually we will find our way to His eternal glory. Amen.