Wednesday, 5 October 2022 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Faustina Kowalska, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Holy Virgins)

Galatians 2 : 1-2, 7-14

After fourteen years, I, again, went up to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and Titus came with us. Following a revelation, I went, to lay before them the Gospel that I am preaching to the pagans. I had a private meeting with the leaders – lest I should be working, or have worked, in a wrong way.

They recognised that I have been entrusted to give the Good News to the pagan nations, just as Peter has been entrusted to give it to the Jews. In the same way that God made Peter the Apostle of the Jews, He made me the Apostle of the pagans. James, Cephas and John acknowledged the graces God gave me.

Those men, who were regarded as the pillars of the Church, stretched out their hand to me and Barnabas, as a sign of fellowship; we would go to the pagans, and they, to the Jews. We should only keep in mind, the poor among them. I have taken care to do this.

When, later, Cephas, came to Antioch, I confronted him, since he deserved to be blamed. Before some of James’ people arrived, he used to eat with non-Jewish people. But when they arrived, he withdrew, and did not mingle anymore with them, for fear of the Jewish group. The rest of the Jews followed him in this pretense, and even Barnabas was part of this insincerity.

When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the Gospel, I said to Cephas publicly : If you, who are Jewish, agreed to live like the non-Jews, setting aside the Jewish customs, why do you, now, compel the non-Jews to live like Jews?

Tuesday, 4 October 2022 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all presented with the reminder that each one of us are called to change our ways of life, and to embrace God and His path once again if we have once erred and not adhering to the way of the Lord. Each one of us are reminded that God has kindly reached out to us, calling on us all to embrace His love and mercy, and for us to walk once again in His path. As long as we are willing to listen to the Lord calling on us, then we are likely to be on the right path, and as long as we are willing to open our hearts and minds to welcome Him, we are likely going to find the Lord in the end, waiting for us to return to Him.

In our first reading today we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Church and the faithful in Galatia in which the Apostle spoke about his experiences and conversion from being one of the greatest enemies of the Lord, His Church and the faithful people of God, the great scourge of Christians, to be one of the Lord’s and His Church’s greatest champions and defenders, in his amazing conversion experience and in being called and chosen by God. God Himself had called St. Paul on his way to Damascus, supposedly to crush the Church and persecute the Christians there, but he himself emerged as a Christian in the aftermath, and from then henceforth, this renewed man of God embarked on a faithful mission in obedience to God’s will.

What we have heard in our first reading today through the experiences which St. Paul shared with all of us, we are all reminded that God is calling on us all to follow Him, and He is the One Who is making us worthy and changed us, led us and guided us to the right path. We are reminded that there is hope for everyone, even for the worst sinners and the greatest offenders as long as they are willing to allow God to lead them once again down the right path. Just as St. Paul has shown us, that he listened to the Lord’s call and embraced Him wholeheartedly, learning about the errors of his past ways, and then henceforth, labouring for the glory of God ever after.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the exchanges between the Lord Jesus and His friends, the sisters Mary and Martha, both of whom welcomed Him as He came to visit their house. Martha was busy preparing for the welcome, presumably preparing the meals and other things to properly and hospitably welcome Him. Meanwhile Mary was focused wholly on listening to the Lord as He spoke and taught her of His truth. We know of this story surely where Martha told the Lord to ask her sister to help her out, as she was busy preparing everything by herself, only for the Lord to remind her that what her sister was doing, was right, because she welcomed Him into her heart, and did what she could to welcome Him by focusing her attention on Him and not otherwise.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we heard of the story of Martha and Mary, we are all reminded of the need for all of us to return our focus onto the Lord our God, and for us to refocus our lives upon Him. Each one of us are reminded that we should not end up being so preoccupied and even distracted by our many attachments and by the many temptations all around us that we fail to focus our attention on the Lord, and instead, we may end up intentionally or unintentionally getting further and further, and more distant from the Lord and His path. Martha for example had good intentions, but unfortunately in her desire to satisfy her own desire in serving the Lord, she got lost into it so much that she forgot to welcome the Lord into her own heart.

Today all of us Christians are reminded to change our ways and our hearts and minds, in the manner of St. Paul and how he had a life-changing encounter with the Lord. And there is yet another example that we can follow, in the person of the great and renowned saint, St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscans and the one who inspired the name of our current reigning Pope, Pope Francis. St. Francis is well known and remembered for his dedication to the Lord, his unique commitment to the service of God and in living humbly in poverty, poor in the eyes of the world and yet rich in the sight of God. His examples and life can very well serve as good inspirations for each one of us.

St. Francis of Assisi was born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone as the son of a rich textile merchant in what is today’s Italy, and as the heir of the rich merchant, he was prepared since his early youth with education and the expectation that he would be carrying on his father’s business and legacy. But God had a different plan for the young St. Francis, as He called him to follow Him much as how He had called St. Paul the Apostle. This rich merchant’s son might have been an unlikely candidate for a servant of God living in poverty and in the barest of conditions, and yet that was what St. Francis of Assisi eventually chose to do, abandoning all material and worldly wealth, his status and inheritance.

It was told that the young St. Francis heard God’s call as he passed by a dilapidated chapel, which is today well known as the San Damiano chapel with its distinctive crucifix. St. Francis heard the Lord’s call to restore his Church, and he interpreted it back then that he should help to restore the chapel which was already torn down in condition back then. St. Francis resolved to take part of his father’s precious textile stock to fund the reconstruction and repair of the chapel, which then earned his father’s wrath. It was told then that the young St. Francis fled to a local priest, who then helped him to seek shelter with the bishop. When St. Francis’ father sought to reclaim the property and wealth he lost, and wanted to sue his own son for that, it was told that St. Francis stripped everything he had and renounced both his father, inheritance and everything before everyone assembled.

St. Francis of Assisi henceforth dedicated himself to a life of dedication and ministry for the glory of God, gathering like-minded people over time, and laid the foundation of the Franciscan order, which by today has encompassed countless thousands and more religious, priests and many holy men and women dedicated to the service of the Lord and to the various ministries entrusted to them throughout history, in bringing God’s truth and love ever closer to His people. St. Francis of Assisi has inspired all of these people to seek the Lord with all their heart, refocusing their lives on Him and also to live humbly and simply, and not be swayed or burdened by worldly temptations and attachments.

And to all of us living in this world today, St. Francis of Assisi and his examples remind us not to be easily swayed by those same worldly temptations, and not to have excessive attachments and entanglements with worldly matters and desires. Money, wealth, material possessions and other worldly things themselves are not evil per se, as those can very well be used for good and worthy purposes as well. It is rather our unhealthy attachments and obsessions with them that we must avoid at all costs. That is why we need to reexamine our conscience and our focus in life so that we do not end up walking down the wrong path like so many others had done before us.

Let us all renew our faith and commitment to God, by reorienting ourselves towards the Lord, and refocusing our attention towards Him. Let us all ask St. Francis of Assisi, St. Paul and all the other holy saints of God to intercede for us at all times. May God be with us always and may He empower us all to live ever more faithfully in His presence always, like those faithful saints who have shown us the true Christian virtues and values, putting God as the centre and focus of our lives, and distancing ourselves from wickedness and evil. Amen.

Tuesday, 4 October 2022 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 10 : 38-42

At that time, as Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He entered a village, and a woman called Martha welcomed Him to her house. She had a sister named Mary, who sat down at the Lord’s feet to listen to His words. Martha, meanwhile, was busy with all the serving, and finally she said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the work? Tell her to help me!”

But the Lord answered, “Martha, Martha, you worry and are troubled about many things, whereas only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Tuesday, 4 October 2022 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 138 : 1-3, 13-14, 15

O YHVH, You know me : You have scrutinised me. You know when I sit and when I rise; beforehand, You discern my thoughts. You observe my activities and times of rest; You are familiar with all my ways.

It was You Who formed my inmost part and knit me together in my mother’s womb. I thank You for these wonders You have done, and my heart praises You, for Your marvellous deeds.

Even my bones were known to You when I was being formed in secret, fashioned in the depths of the earth.

Tuesday, 4 October 2022 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Galatians 1 : 13-24

You have heard of my previous activity in the Jewish community; I furiously persecuted the Church of God and tried to destroy it. For I was more devoted to the Jewish religion than many fellow Jews of my age, and I defended the traditions of my ancestors more fanatically.

But one day, God called me, out of His great love, He, Who had chosen me from my mother’s womb; and He was pleased to reveal, in me, His son, that I might make Him known among the pagan nations. Then, I did not seek human advice nor did I go up to Jerusalem, to those who were Apostles before me. I immediately went to Arabia, and from there, I returned, again, to Damascus.

Later, after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to meet Cephas, and I stayed with him for fifteen days. But I did not see any other Apostle except James, the Lord’s brother. On writing this to you, I affirm before God that I am not lying. After that, I went to Syria and Cilicia. The churches of Christ in Judea did not know me personally; they had only heard of me : “He, who once persecuted us, is now preaching the faith he tried to uproot.” And they praised God because of me.

Monday, 3 October 2022 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today each and every one of us as Christians are reminded to be full of love for the Lord and for our fellow brothers and sisters, as we are called to obey the word of God and His commandments, and are reminded to do what He has taught us to do, and even what He Himself had done for our sake. We are reminded of what it truly means for us to be Christians, not just in name only, but also in real deeds and actions. Otherwise, if we do not do as we are supposed to, then we are no better than hypocrites, and our empty and dead faith will avail us not on the day of Judgment.

In our first reading today we heard from the words of the Apostle St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful people of God in Galatia. The Apostle was reminding the people of God that there was the need for them to adhere closely to the truth and the message of the Gospels and whatever that he and the other missionaries of the Lord had delivered to them. At that time, the people were easily swayed by the teachings of the false prophets and messengers, all those who came up with their own interpretations and ideas not inspired by the truth of God and the Holy Spirit, by those who sought to subvert the truth and the message of the Gospels for their own selfish desires and purposes.

That is exactly what would happen to the various communities of the Lord’s faithful across the many centuries afterwards, as the history of the Church can testify to us, how there were various false teachings and heretical thoughts and ideas that sprung forth and not founded upon the truth and the traditions handed down through the Church from the Lord and His Apostles. Those false teachers and preachers spoke of values and teachings contrary to the way of the Lord, and instead following their own worldly and mistaken ways. And thus we heard one of the Lord’s true teachings being highlighted in our Gospel passage today, in the story of the parable of the Good Samaritan, which I am sure many of us are well aware of.

In that parable of the Good Samaritan, we heard of how a man from Jericho, a Jew was beset by bandits and was left to die. A priest and a Levite passed by and ignored the man’s plight while a Samaritan was eventually the one who took care of the man but not only that, as the Samaritan went the extra mile in trying to help the man, and helped the man in his hour of greatest need, caring for him and told the innkeeper to provide extra care as much as needed, and that he would return for him no matter what. This is what I meant by the true Christian values and teachings that each one of us have been called to uphold and proclaim, and to practice and do in our respective lives.

At that time, the priests and the Levites were the elites and the most well-respected within the Jewish community, while on the other hand the Samaritans were greatly despised and hated, and no Jew of good standing at that time would want anything to do with a Samaritan. All of these happened because of the historical enmity and misunderstandings between both the Jewish people and the Samaritans, as each one of them claimed to be the authentic and true heirs of the people of God of old, of the old kingdoms of Israel and Judah in the past. The Jews of course claimed that they were the rightful descendants of Israel, having been descended from the exiles of Israel and Judah, while the Samaritans claimed that they had lived in their lands since the days of the Israelites of old.

These struggles and misunderstandings meant that the Samaritans were deeply mistrusted, prejudiced against and despised as mentioned. And yet, it was the Samaritan man who actually went out of his way to help the Jewish man, in loving and caring for him even when he was not obliged to do so. He went beyond and cared for the man anyway. That is what Christian charity and love is all about, brothers and sisters in Christ, and what we are all called and expected to do as followers and disciples of Christ, our Lord and Saviour. For the Lord Himself did that as well, extending His love to us when He was not obliged to, and cared for us deeply.

He shouldered the burdens of our sins willingly, the punishments and humiliations, the scourges and tortures, and all of that and more, so that through all of them, we may receive the sure guarantee of eternal life and salvation through Him. Christ bore the punishment of sins for us, was beaten, humiliated and scourged for us, so that by His suffering and death, we who believe in Him and put our faith in Him will be freed from our fated eternal damnation because of our sins and disobedience against God. We should have perished as the Jewish man from Jericho should have perished, and yet, our Lord, like the Good Samaritan, came to us, brought us back to new life through Him, and gave us hope and strength.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore today as we listened to these readings from the Scriptures and remembering the great love by which God cared for us and loved us, let us all hence strive to be ever better and more committed disciples and followers of our Lord in all things. Let us all strive to love Him all the more, distancing ourselves from wicked and sinful ways. And most importantly, let us all heed His own examples in loving us, and the story of the Good Samaritan, for us to love one another in the same way, to love without boundaries and prejudices, and to love generously and sincerely without considerations for our backgrounds, origins, status or other things that often shaped our way of interacting with each other.

Let us all be genuine Christians in all things, so that in everything we say and do, we will always proclaim the glory of God through our lives and examples. May all of us remain faithful to our mission and calling in life, and to be ever dedicated and faithful to God and His ways. May God bless us always, in all things, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 3 October 2022 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 10 : 25-37

At that time, then a teacher of the Law came and began putting Jesus to the test. And he said, “Master, what shall I do to receive eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What is written in the Law? How do You understand it?” The man answered, “It is written : You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind. And you shall love your neighbour as yourself.”

Jesus replied, “What a good answer! Do this and you shall live.” The man wanted to justify his question, so he asked, “Who is my neighbour?” Jesus then said, “There was a man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him, beat him and went off, leaving him half-dead.”

“It happened that a priest was going along that road and saw the man, but passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite saw the man, and passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan also was going that way; and when he came upon the man, he was moved with compassion. He went over to him, and cleaned his wounds with oil and wine, and wrapped them in bandages. Then he put him on his own mount, and brought him to an inn, where he took care of him.”

“The next day, he had to set off; but he gave two silver coins to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him, and whatever you spend on him, I will repay when I return.'” Jesus then asked, “Which of these three, do you think, made himself neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The teacher of the Law answered, “The one who had mercy on him.” And Jesus said, “Then go and do the same.”

Monday, 3 October 2022 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 110 : 1-2, 7-8, 9 and 10c

Alleluia! I thank YHVH with all my heart in the council of the just, in the assembly. The works of YHVH are great and pondered by all who delight in them.

The works of His hands are faithful and just, trustworthy are all His precepts, ordained to last forever, bearers of truth and uprightness.

He has sent His people deliverance and made with them a Covenant forever. His holy Name is to be revered! To Him belongs everlasting praise.

Monday, 3 October 2022 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Galatians 1 : 6-12

I am surprised at how quickly you have abandoned God, Who called you, according to the grace of Christ, and have gone to another gospel. Indeed, there is no other Gospel, but some people, who are sowing confusion among you, want to turn the Gospel of Christ upside down.

But even if we, ourselves, were giving you another gospel, different from the one we preached to you, or if it were an Angel from heaven, I would say : let God’s curse be on him! As I have said, I now say again : if anyone preaches the Gospel in a way other than you received it, fire that one! Are we to please humans or obey God? Do you think that I try to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Let me remind you, brothers and sisters, that the Gospel we preached to you is not a human message, nor did I receive it from anyone, I was not taught of it; but it came to me, as a revelation from Christ Jesus.

Sunday, 2 October 2022 : Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday we are reminded to be ever faithful and committed to God, in our daily living, even if we are beset by various troubles and trials, challenges and obstacles. We should not be afraid or be deterred by the opposition and the hardships which we may encounter in our journey of faith through life. We must remain resolute in our faith and dedication to God, believing wholeheartedly in His path and not be easily swayed and tempted by all the traps and the other things that the devil and his wicked allies and forces had placed before us all. We must hold on to that faith which we should have in God.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Habakkuk in which the Lord spoke and interacted with Habakkuk, a prophet who was active in the land of Judah during its final years, and whose life and ministry revolved around the sufferings and oppressions endured by the followers of the Lord at the land where the people refused to believe in God, where the prophets were persecuted. And not only that, Habakkuk was also referring to the sufferings of the people themselves, who at that time were brought under the dominion of the Babylonians and their king, Nebuchadnezzar.

The prophet Habakkuk pleaded before God for His intervention and help, saying that he and the people have suffered, and were in need of God and His help. But God reassured Habakkuk and also the people, by saying that, whatever He would reveal through Habakkuk himself, everything would come in due time, just as whatever He had spoken through His earlier prophets like Amos and Isaiah, among others. Everything will happen as God wills it, and eventually, all those who remain faithful in God will be redeemed and will enjoy the fullness of His grace and love. God will not forget or abandon those who seek Him, even if they themselves had abandoned or forgotten about Him before.

In our Psalm today, we heard the exhortation for us all, God’s beloved people to rejoice in Him, in His faithfulness and love. We are all reminded to focus our attention to Him, to serve and glorify Him, and to praise and worship Him at all times. We are also reminded not to be like those who rebelled against God as at Massah and Meribah. At Massah and Meribah, the very ungrateful Israelites rebelled against God and complained against Him, because they refused to obey Him and follow Him, and complaining that they were deprived of what they wanted to have, when God had taken care of them day after day, month after month, and year after year, feeding them all and guiding them to the Promised Land.

We are all reminded through these that often times, we are ourselves our own greatest opponent and obstacle, especially in our pride, ego and desires. It is our pride and ego which prevented us from seeing how faulty our lives can be, and led us to stubbornness and rebellious attitudes, as we often did not want to admit that we could have been wrong in our ways. We ended up refusing God’s ever generous offer of love and mercy, hardening our hearts against Him as what the Israelites had done in the past, at Massah and Meribah and during the time of the prophets like Habakkuk. Their refusal to abandon their pride and ego led to their downfall.

While their attachments to their desires, to the many pleasures and allures of this world misled them down the wrong path, as they preoccupied themselves with the pursuit of power, knowledge, glory, wealth, affluence and fame, status and many others. They gave themselves to the worship of false idols and false gods to satisfy their own desires and wants, and refused to follow the Law and precepts that God had set before all of them. This is what has happened to us as well, and will continue to happen to us if we are not vigilant in living our lives in our present day world. If we allow ourselves to be swayed by the many concerns and attachments, ambitions and desires we have, we will likely end up being lost from God.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord speaking to His disciples when they asked of Him to increase their faith. The Lord reminded them all that if they truly had genuine faith, even no matter how small it may seem to be, everything will be possible. Again, the Lord was actually reminding all of His disciples that they should not treat faith as a tool for their own self-benefit and ambition. For at that time, the disciples had followed the Lord for various reasons, and likely many of them were also spurred by the desires they had for power, influence and glory, as is common for any groups and movements, just as the history of the world and our Church have shown us.

As the Lord told His disciples that after everything that the servants had done, they were after all just servants of the Master. Any glory they have done and any great things they had performed, all these were due to the Master and not themselves. The Lord reminded His disciples and all of us through this parable, that all of us as the servants and followers of God ultimately live our lives at the command and charge of the Lord, and everything we say and do, all of our achievements and greatness are ultimately not due to ourselves, but due to God, attributed to Him and should have been offered to Him, rather than to make ourselves bloated with pride and ego.

Again, as I mentioned earlier, pride and ego are often obstacles and barriers that kept us away from God. Due to those, we often enclose ourselves in our own cocoon, in our own comfort zones, seeking to attain our own personal comfort and satisfaction rather than to do the will of God. The Lord reminded His disciples to be wary of these temptations that they do not seek for glory and acclaim in life, and whenever they do His will, they should do it because they want to do it for the glory of God and for the good of their fellow brothers and sisters, and not for their own selfish desires and ambitions instead. St. Paul his Epistle to St. Timothy, in our second reading today, also echoed the same thought, that we ought to follow the Lord and His ways, and not to give in to worldly ways and desires.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, having heard all of these, we are now then called to reflect on our lives and discern carefully how each and every one of us should proceed forward in our respective lives. The Lord has called on all of us to follow Him and we should answer His call with faith and commitment. We should do whatever we can in life, even in the smallest and seemingly least significant things so that our lives, our every actions, our words and interactions with one another bear within them the light and truth of God, His hope, His love and His way. Through us, the Lord can touch so many more other people in this world, and this is our calling as Christians, to do God’s will and to live our lives faithfully in the way that He has shown and taught us to do.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in the Church and in our respective involvements, in our Church ministries and organisations, there should be no quarrel, infighting and power-playing that unfortunately often happen because we as fellow Christians, instead of dedicating our works and efforts to serve the Lord and focusing our attention on Him, we focus our attention on ourselves instead, and seeking to satisfy our own personal ambitions and desires. That is why we end up having so many issues and conflicts, factionalism and infighting even among the members of the Church and its various communities and bodies.

Not only that, but even outside the Church, and within our own respective circles of friends and families, we should be the ones to bear forth the goodness of God’s love and truth rather than being the source of division or suffering for others. Too often we have heard how people were being scandalised and turned off by the actions of Christians who did not live their lives as how Christians should, and instead they lived their lives in the manner of the world, and often even worse than how non-Christians behave themselves. This is why, each and every one of us, whenever and wherever we are, we have to do our best to live our lives righteously and worthily in the manner that God has shown us.

May the Lord our most loving God and Master continue to watch over each and every one of us, and may He strengthen us all with the courage and resolve to follow Him and to walk ever always in His path and presence, resisting the many temptations present all around us that we do not end up falling into the traps that the evil ones had intentionally set before us to bring about our downfall. Let us all seek the Lord ever more fervently and spend more of our time and effort to do His will, and to glorify Him by our lives, now and always. May God bless our every good works and endeavours, for His greater glory. Amen.