Wednesday, 1 July 2020 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are reminded by the words of the Sacred Scripture to reject all sorts of evil and wicked behaviours, all sorts of things that can lead us into sin. In our first reading today, the prophet Amos urged the people to turn away from evil and sin, and to seek God’s forgiveness and mercy, while in the Gospel passage today, we heard of the moment when the Lord Jesus performed exorcism on two possessed men in the region of Gadara.

In our first reading today, the prophet Amos delivered the message of God to the people of Israel who had long been disobedient against God and abandoned His precepts and laws, preferring instead the wicked ways of their neighbours, adopting pagan practices and worshipping idols instead of worshipping the one and only true God as they should have. Their sins and their wickedness led them to suffer and unless they repented from their sins, they would be destroyed by those same sins they had committed.

This is where the prophet Amos then reminded the people to turn once again towards God and to have genuine faith once again in Him. The Lord spoke to the people through Amos that what He cared about was not the offerings and sacrifices, but rather the sincerity of faith and the genuineness of the love that each and every one of His people ought to have for Him, just as He has loved them all dearly first.

This means that the laws of God, the offerings of sacrifices and obedience to the law must come with genuine desire to love God and the love for God which leads to this obedience, and not empty and meaningless obedience for the sake of merely fulfilling the law and the words of the law. That was why, the Lord Jesus later on would often be very critical on the actions of the Pharisees, who have pushed for the blind obedience of the law, obeying the tenets and the detailed customs of the law, and yet, failing to understand its true meaning and purpose.

Linking what we have heard to the Gospel passage today, the Lord came by the region of Gadara beyond the Jordan, in the wilderness where He encountered two men possessed by the evil spirits, who lived in that wilderness away from civilisation and from the community, shunned and feared by the other people. The Lord commanded the evil spirits to leave the two men, and the spirits begged to be let to go into the herd of pigs that were in the area.

This healing of the two possessed men was symbolic of the healing of God’s people, the same people who had sinned and disobeyed God, and because of those sins, as warned by the prophet Amos, led to the destruction of their kingdom, their subjugation by their enemies, and enduring shameful long period of exile far away from their homeland, just as the two possessed men had to live in the wilderness away from the community.

Through the Lord’s action, each and every one of us are reminded that no matter how great our sins are, by which we have been separated from God and cast away from His presence and grace, God alone has the power to heal us and to bring us back into His embrace. But at the same time, we must also be willing to welcome the Lord, and to allow Him to heal us, and get rid from ourselves all these taints and corruptions of sin.

The Lord spoke through the prophet Amos highlighting that He wanted His people to be righteous and good, in all of their actions. He wanted all of them to be good and to follow His path, to be good just as He is good. But are we willing and able to commit to Him in this way, brothers and sisters in Christ? We are often tempted and swayed by the many desires we have in life, and as a result, we end up failing to recognise our sinfulness and just how much we need God’s healing and mercy.

Let us all therefore turn wholeheartedly towards God and let us all seek the Lord once again with all of our hearts, with all of our might and strength. May the Lord be with us always, and may He strengthen each and every one of us that we may ever more faithfully walk in the path He has set before us. May God bless us all, and may He guide us to eternal life in Him. Amen.

Wednesday, 1 July 2020 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 8 : 28-34

At that time, when Jesus reached Gadara, on the other side, He was met by two men, possessed by devils, who came out from the tombs. They were so fierce that no one dared to pass that way. They cried out, “Son of God, leave us alone! Have You come here to torment us before the time?”

Some distance away there was a large herd of pigs feeding. So the demons begged Him, “If You drive us out, send us into that herd of pigs.” Jesus ordered them, “Go!” So the demons left the men and went into the pigs. The whole herd rushed down the cliff into the lake and was drowned.

The men in charge of the pigs ran off to the town, where they told the whole story; and also what had happened to the men possessed with the demons. The whole town went out to meet Jesus; and when they saw Him, they begged Him to leave their region.

Wednesday, 1 July 2020 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 49 : 7, 8-9, 10-11, 12-13, 16bc-17

“Hear, o My people, for I am speaking. I will accuse you, o Israel, I am God, your God!”

“Not for your sacrifices do I reprove you, for your burnt offerings are ever before Me. I need no bull from your stalls, nor he-goat from your pens.”

“For I own all the beasts of the forest and the animals of My thousand hills. All the birds of the air I know; all that move in the fields are Mine.”

“I need not tell you if I were hungry, for Mine is the world and all that it contains. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?”

“What right have you to mouth My Laws, or to talk about My Covenant? You hate My commands and cast My words behind you.”

Wednesday, 1 July 2020 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Amos 5 : 14-15, 21-24

Seek good and shun evil, that you may live. Then YHVH, the God of hosts, as you have claimed, will be with you. Hate wickedness and love virtue, and let justice prevail in the courts; perhaps YHVH, the God of hosts, will take pity on the remnant of Joseph.

YHVH said, “I hate, I reject your feasts, I take no pleasure when you assemble to offer Me your burnt offerings. Your cereal offerings, I will not accept! Your offerings of fattened beasts, I will not look upon! Away with the noise of your chanting, away with your strumming on harps. But let justice run its course like water, and righteousness be like an ever-flowing river.”