Sunday, 1 September 2019 : Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday we are contemplating on a topic which many of us often find difficult to practice in our daily lives and as Christians, especially in this world which is often filled with many temptations and desires that prevent us from practicing this very important. Christian virtue that can lead us to be closer to God. And what is this virtue, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is humility.

Humility is something that we often profess to have and preach as Christians. We always like to say that we have humility in us, and yet, very often and more than not, we do not practice humility in our daily lives, and we do not act humbly in how we interact with one another and in how we utter our words and in reaching out to others. On the contrary, we are often tempted by the pride within us, and acted with ego, pride and arrogance.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord Jesus Himself presented to us what is the problem with ourselves in how we act in our daily living. He mentioned how people often jostled and even fought over the places of honour in events and banquets, seeking places of greater honour and exposure, so that one may gain more prestige or satisfaction from having a position of greater honour and esteem than that of another person.

And yet, as the Lord Himself said, there will always be bound to be others who have greater esteem and honour than us, and it is bound that we will be displaced by another who is of greater rank and honour than us, and as Our Lord said, those who want to glorify and honour themselves will end up being humiliated and dejected of having been asked to step aside for those with greater power and honour.

In the end, for all of our pursuits of glory, power, fame and influence, what do we all gain, brothers and sisters in Christ? We gain nothing, and indeed, we end up losing as Satan will have a great time trying to persuade us to take revenge and be angry, to be jealous with one another and to strive to be more powerful and more famous than another person. We spend a lot of time trying to make ourselves more beautiful or handsome, more attractive and more acceptable to others as a result.

In fact, we also cause a lot of sufferings to one another because of our pride and our greed, our inability to resist the many temptations of power, of glory, of fame, of wealth and worldly pleasures. Many conflicts and wars have been caused by the insatiable desires of man who desired more power, more prestige, more wealth and everything else that often corrupted us mankind into the path of sin and wickedness.

The Lord has given us many blessings and good things in life, and yet we mankind are always hard to be satisfied. In truth, we will never be satisfied as long as we try to seek satisfaction in all these worldly things, in all the glory and wealth and riches of the world. The Lord has blessed us with what we need but we seek more than what we need and succumb to the temptations of the flesh, and we therefore fell into sin.

Today, all of us are called as Christians to look deep into our own lives and reflect on every actions, words and deeds we have done and spoken all these while. We are called to contemplate on how we have lived our lives thus far, and most importantly, whether we have truly put God at the very heart and centre of our whole being, and as the whole reason and purpose of our every words, actions and deeds.

Surely, more often than not, as we have discussed just earlier, we have lapsed from this path and fell into the path of pride, the path of greed and the path of sin. We fell into this state because we are weak in the flesh, and temptations are always plenty all around us. And unless we take the concrete action and efforts to resist those temptations and grow stronger in our relationship with God, we will likely end up continuing down this slippery path towards damnation.

Now, let us look at the impetus for all these temptations and for all the wickedness we have committed. In truth, everything leads to one thing, and that is pride or ego. Pride and ego is the greatest and most serious of all forms of sins, just as Satan himself was once the most brilliant and greatest among the Angels of God who was tempted by pride and fell from grace, and ended up in perpetual rebellion against God because of that same pride.

Similarly, pride has entered into our hearts and minds, corrupting our whole being and pushing us deeper towards sin. Pride is the source of all other sins, just as greed and gluttony comes about because of our own pride and ego, that desire to satisfy ourselves and our ego, sloth and lust that come about because of the same desire and want to please ourselves and gain things for ourselves, often at the cost and suffering of others, and many others.

That is why pride and ego are such dangerous enemies that we constantly have within ourselves, which become a great obstacle to us in our journey of faith towards God. How do we then resolve or counter this? The answer lies in what we have discussed earlier today and throughout today’s Scripture readings. It is humility that is the greatest weapon we have in our constant battle against pride and ego within us.

And the Lord wants us all to grow deeper in this humility, a most difficult and rarest of all Christian virtues in my opinion, as it is always very difficult for us to go up against our pride and ego, the ambition and arrogance and the selfishness that are present within us. But humility can be cultivated and it can grow within us, brothers and sisters in Christ, if only that we make the conscious effort to grow in humility and in our relationship and faith in God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all remember what the prophet Sirach mentioned in our first reading passage today, that the greater we become, the more humble we should be, and how we should submit ourselves to the power of God and not seek for things beyond our means, or as I have mentioned, causing even suffering and pain to others in our endless pursuits for power, glory, fame and worldly things.

Then, in the second reading today, I want all of us to remember what the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews pointed out in the passage, that God truly is great and Almighty, far beyond our comprehension, full of power and glory. In how God was shown as the Lord of lords, King of kings, with innumerable Angels glorifying and serving Him, the Master and Lord of all the universe, it serves to remind us all, that no matter how great we are, how glorious we are, how famous and powerful we may be in this world, we are truly nothing before the Lord.

Therefore, for all our pursuits for more power, fame, influence, glory and all worldly things, all of these are truly meaningless and futile because after all, we must realise that all these things do not last, and will not last into eternity. These are the treasures of this world that the Lord has told us to be false treasures, as distractions for us in our pursuit for the true treasure, which is truly found in God alone.

Today, henceforth, all of us as Christians, we are all called to be more humble in our lives and in how we act, in how we interact with one another, in how we live out our lives in this world today. And even more importantly, humility is something very important that we must have in today’s world, especially because today we also mark the occasion of the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.

On this day, we remember our roles as the Lord’s stewards of creation, which means that this world we are living in today, we have been entrusted to its care, just as God entrusted the world in the very first chapters of the Book of Genesis to the first men, the whole world with all of its living creatures and the whole earth itself to our care. And this is truly a very great responsibility for us all to bear.

In this regard, we need to be humble in knowing how God has entrusted with this great responsibility and duty, because He trusts us all to perform our responsibility with the best of our abilities, making use of the many gifts and talents that He has provided us with. Instead of exploiting and bringing harm to this world by our ego, by our greed and insatiable desire for wealth and worldly glory, why don’t we love what God has created for us instead?

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, from now on let us all be truly devoted to God in all things and strive to be faithful always to Him, and show our faith and dedication through our every words, actions and deeds. Let us all be filled with humility in every actions, knowing that we are truly nothing without God, and all the glory and the wonders of this world are nothing and meaningless if we are not in God’s loving grace.

May the Lord continue to bless us all with His love and tender compassion, and may He grant us all the strength and conviction to live our lives faithfully from now on, with all humility and resisting the many temptations of this world, especially that of pride within our hearts. May the Lord bless us all and our good works, now and forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 1 September 2019 : Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 14 : 1, 7-14

At that time, one Sabbath Jesus had gone to eat a meal in the house of a leading Pharisee, and He was carefully watched.

Jesus then told a parable to the guests, for He had noticed how they tried to take the places of honour. And He said, “When you are invited to a wedding party, do not choose the best seat. It may happen that someone more important than you had been invited; and your host, who invited both of you, will come and say to you, ‘Please give this person your place.’ What shame is yours when you take the lowest seat!”

“Whenever you are invited, go rather to the lowest seat, so that your host may come and say to you, ‘Friend, you must come up higher.’ And this will be a great honour for you in the presence of all the other guests. For whoever makes himself out to be great will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be raised.”

Jesus also addressed the man who had invited Him, and said, “When you give a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends, or your brothers and relatives, or your wealthy neighbours. For surely they will also invite you in return, and you will be repaid.”

“When you give a feast, invite instead the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind. Fortunate are you then, because they cannot repay you; you will be repaid at the resurrection of the upright.”

Sunday, 1 September 2019 : Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Hebrews 12 : 18-19, 22-24a

What you have come to, is nothing known to the senses : nor heat of a blazing fire, darkness and gloom and storms, blasts of trumpet or such a voice that the people pleaded, that no further word be spoken.

But you came near to Mount Zion, to the City of the living God, to the heavenly Jerusalem, with its innumerable Angels. You have come to the solemn feast, the assembly of the firstborn of God, whose names are written in heaven.

There is God, Judge of all, with the spirits of the upright, brought to perfection. There is Jesus, the Mediator of the New Covenant, with the sprinkled Blood that cries out more effectively than Abel’s.

Sunday, 1 September 2019 : Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 67 : 4-5ac, 6-7ab, 10-11

But let the righteous be glad and exult before God; let them sing to God and shout for joy. Sing to God, sing praises to His Name; YHVH is His Name. Rejoice in His presence.

Father of orphans and Protector of widows – such is our God in His holy dwelling. He gives shelter to the homeless, sets the prisoners free.

Then You gave a rain of blessings, to comfort Your weary children. Your people found a dwelling, and, in Your mercy, o God, You provided for the needy.

Sunday, 1 September 2019 : Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Sirach 3 : 19-21, 30-31

The greater you are, the more you should humble yourself and thus you will find favour with God. For great is the power of the Lord and it is the humble who give Him glory. Do not seek what is beyond your powers nor search into what is beyond your ability.

As water extinguishes the burning flames, almsgiving obtains pardon for sins. The man who responds by doing good prepares for the future, at the moment of his downfall he will find support.