Thursday, 10 September 2020 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are all reminded by the Lord through the readings of the Scripture that each and every one of us as Christians need to show love in our everyday life and in all of our actions and interactions. Unless we love, and love generously and sincerely, we truly cannot call ourselves as Christians, for a Christian loves in the manner that God Himself has shown us, to love one another and even those who despise and hate us.

In our first reading today, we heard St. Paul who wrote in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Corinth on the matter of eating of food and meal that has been offered to the idols. For the context, when St. Paul mentioned this, it was because there had been debate and disagreements on whether one was allowed to partake in the food that had been offered to the pagan gods and idols. In the society dominated by Greco-Roman, Egyptian, Anatolian, Phoenician and other pagan beliefs and systems, many of which had pantheons of gods and goddesses, and offerings of foods and drinks were often made to them.

Partaking in the food and meals offered to the pagan idols and gods were one of the signs by which one was recognised as a believer, and therefore, as St. Paul mentioned, while he said that technically such meal and offering had no effect in the real and physical way, considering that all those idols and gods were false and unreal, but should any among the faithful partake from those food, what St. Paul meant is that this action might scandalise the faith and lead to the loss of faith in others.

At that time, some among the Christians chose to safeguard themselves and their livelihood by performing pagan rituals and by partaking in the food offered to the pagan idols. Regardless whether they still clung to those old practices, considering how most of them were converts, or whether these had been done purely for the safeguarding of one’s life, the Apostle reminded all of them that they could not and should not do that.

The simple reason is that, the actions of those who did so would cause misunderstandings and divisions among the faithful, and would make those who had to suffer for the sake of their faith to lose faith and wonder why there were those who did such a thing just so that they could live a ‘normal’ life. What St. Paul said was that as Christians, we must strive to be always true to our faith and we must show good examples of that faith to each other.

How does this then relate to the matter of Christian love, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is the fact that each and every one of us must show care and concern for one another, by being careful in our actions, in our deeds and interactions that we do not unnecessarily cause confusion, division and disagreements among the members of the Church and the Christian faithful. In the manner of how we live, we must always show the way of the Lord in all things, so that we may truly love our brethren and not instead lead them to their downfall.

And even more so, in our Gospel today, the Lord then challenged us to do even more than that. If we have already loved and showed care and concern, and helped all those who are dear, close and good to us, to find our way to God, then, we need to do the same to all those who have been difficult with us, those who have persecuted and made our lives terrible, those who consider us their enemies and those who hate us.

Are we able to do this, brothers and sisters in Christ? Indeed, it is easier being said than done, but this is the Christian ideal of love, something that all of us need to look towards and focus our attention on. It is what Christ Himself has shown us, and which He had led us by example, the examples and inspirations of love, to love one another and to love Him, just as much and even more than we love ourselves.

Let us all look at Christ Our Lord, His enduring love for each and every one of us. When so many of us refused to believe in Him, persecuted Him and His disciples, He remained firm in His love and in the dedication to serve us, to help us, to care for us and to guide us to the right path. This is the proof of just how great His love is, which He even showed to those who despised Him. Right from the Cross at Calvary, He looked on all those who have condemned Him to death and crucified Him, and prayed to God His Father, not to hold their sins against them, and to forgive them those sins.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, if Our Lord Himself has shown such mercy, compassion and the ability to forgive, to love tenderly and genuinely, and how His disciples and followers, the innumerable saints and holy men and women of God had done, then can we do the same as well in our own lives? This is what we are all called to do, to be true and committed disciples of the Lord, in deed and in action, filled with genuine and wholesome love for all mankind.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all be shining examples of faith and be filled with God’s love, so that everyone who sees us, witnesses our actions, and interacts with us will truly know that we belong to God, and know of His truth and salvation, and not be stumbling blocks that caused scandal to our faith by our own lack of faith and disobedience as warned by St. Paul. Let us all be ever more faithful, and let us all be ever more loving and forgiving, reaching out to others, and learn to forgive those who have hurt us and made our lives difficult. May God be with us and grant us the strength to carry on in this journey of faith, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 10 September 2020 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 6 : 27-38

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “But I say to you who hear Me : Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you, and pray for those who treat you badly. To the one who strikes you on the cheek, turn the other cheek; from the one who takes your coat, do not keep back your shirt. Give to the one who asks, and if anyone has taken something from you, do not demand it back.”

“Do to others as you would have others do to you. If you love only those who love you, what kind of grace is yours? Even sinners love those who love them. If you do favours to those who are good to you, what kind of grace is yours? Even sinners do the same. If you lend only when you expect to receive, what kind of grace is yours? For sinners also lend to sinners, expecting to receive something in return.

But love your enemies and do good to them, and lend when there is nothing to expect in return. Then will your reward be great, and you will be sons and daughters of the Most High. For He is kind toward the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

“Do not be a judge of others and you will not be judged; do not condemn and you will not be condemned; forgive and you will be forgiven; give and it will be given to you, and you will receive in your sack good measure, pressed down, full and running over. For the measure you give will be the measure you receive back.”

Thursday, 10 September 2020 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 138 : 1-3, 13-14ab, 23-24

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.

Search me, o God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts. See if my steps are going astray, and lead me in Your eternal way.

Thursday, 10 September 2020 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Corinthians 8 : 1b-7, 11-13

We know that all of us have knowledge, but knowledge puffs up, while love builds. If anyone thinks that he has knowledge, he does not yet know as he should know, but if someone loves God, he has been known by God.

Can we, then, eat meat from offering to the idols? We know that an idol is without existence and that there is no God but one. People speak indeed of other gods in heaven and on earth and, in this sense, there are many gods and lords. Yet for us, there is but one God, the Father, from Whom everything comes, and to Whom we go. And there is one Lord, Christ Jesus, through Whom everything exists, and through Him, we exist.

Not everyone, however, has that knowledge. For some persons, who, until recently, took the idols seriously, the food remains linked to the idol, and eating of it stains their conscience, which is unformed. Then, with your knowledge, you would have caused your weak brother or sister to perish, the one for whom Christ died. When you disturb the weak conscience of your brother or sister, and sin against them, you sin against Christ Himself. Therefore, if any food will bring my brother to sin, I shall never eat this food, lest my brother or sister fall.