Saturday, 16 June 2018 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about the calling of the prophet Elisha, who was called by God through His prophet Elijah, to be the one who would carry on the works of Elijah among the people of Israel. Elisha responded to God’s call, and after he said his farewell to his parents and leaving behind everything he had, he followed the prophet Elijah from then on.

Then in the Gospel passage, the Lord Jesus continued His discourse to His disciples about the Law and how to be truly obedient to the Law and the commandments of God. In today’s passage, He focused on the aspect of making promises and vows before God. What He went through with the disciples and the people was that, one should not take vows or make oaths.

But then, how come is it that the Church practices the making of vows and oaths? At the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, a husband makes a solemn vow to be faithful and true to his wife, and vice versa, that the wife also makes the same vow to her husband. And then, for those who were called to Holy Orders of priesthood or consecrated life as a religious brother or sister, they also make solemn vows to the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we must keep in mind what the Lord intended when He said those words to the people. What He was saying must be put in the context that many of the people of Israel, even the priests and the Pharisees, made many grandiose and highly publicised oaths before God and man, and yet, they did not remain true to their faith, either secretly or even openly.

In that manner, whatever oaths or vows they made were meaningless and empty, as they did not mean what they have said. Nobody would believe in those oaths and vows anymore, just as I am reminded of the folktale child story about the young boy who cried wolf. That story, which may be quite familiar to many of us, is about a boy who liked to trick people, many of whom were shepherds, by scaring them with false alarm of wolves coming to hunt their sheep.

The shepherds were angry that the young boy tricked them, and in time to come, no one would believe in him. And when one day, wolves did actually come to the sheep which the boy was guarding, he cried out for help. But all the other shepherds refused to believe in the boy, since he had lied and tricked them many times. Such was the weight of his folly, by making himself untrustworthy.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord Jesus did not actually say that we cannot make vows or solemn oaths. Rather, He is reminding all of us, that as Christians, we must be honest, truthful and good in all of our words and dealings. We cannot be dishonest or wicked, and we cannot be untrustworthy with our words, since after all, do we remember that we follow Christ, Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life?

And because Christ is the Truth, then we must also be truthful. We are called to be truthful in all things, and again, I would like to emphasise the importance of commitment. In the first reading, we heard how the prophet Elisha left everything behind and committed himself to a life of service to the Lord. Thus, we are also called to be committed, be it as husband or wife to one another, or as priests or religious in our dedication to God.

Are we able to give that kind of dedication and commitment in how we live our lives? Let us reflect on this question as we carry on living our lives in this world. May the Lord be with us all, and may He strengthen each and every one of us in our faith, day after day. Amen.

Saturday, 16 June 2018 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Matthew 5 : 33-37

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “You have also heard that people were told in the past : Do not break your oath; an oath sworn to the Lord must be kept. But I tell you this : do not take oaths. Do not swear by the heavens, for they are God’s throne; nor by the earth, because it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King.”

“Do not even swear by your head, because you cannot make a single hair white of black. Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything else you say comes from the evil one.”

Saturday, 16 June 2018 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Psalm 15 : 1-2a and 5, 7-8, 9-10

Keep me safe, o God, for in You I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “O Lord, my inheritance and my cup, my chosen portion – hold secure my lot.”

I bless the Lord Who counsels me; even at night my inmost self instructs me. I keep the Lord always before me; for with Him at my right hand, I will never be shaken.

My heart, therefore, exults, my soul rejoices; my body too will rest assured. For You will not abandon my soul to the grave, nor will You suffer Your Holy One to see decay in the land of the dead.

Saturday, 16 June 2018 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

1 Kings 19 : 19-21

Elijah left. He found Elisha, son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen; he was following the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and cast his cloak over him. Elisha left the oxen, ran after Elijah and said, “Let me say goodbye to my father and mother; then I will follow you.”

Elijah said to him, “Return if you want, do not worry about what I did.” However, Elisha turned back, took the yoke of oxen and slew them. He roasted their meat on the pieces of the yoke and gave it to his people who ate of it. After this, he followed Elijah and began ministering to him.

Friday, 15 June 2018 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the continuation of the passage from the Book of Kings, which saw the prophet Elijah coming into the holy presence of God, at the sacred site of the mountain of God in Sinai. It was probably the same place where the people of Israel made the Covenant with God through Moses, when He gave them His Laws and Commandments.

God reassured Elijah that He would be with His people, despite their constant rebelliousness and their descent into sin. Elijah was one of the few of the people who were still faithful to God, and he suffered greatly at the hands of the pagans who refused to believe in God, and instead chose to worship pagan idols and gods. They have forgotten about God’s love for them, and they had abandoned His laws and commandments.

In the Gospel passage today, we heard about the discourse from the Lord Jesus, Who told His disciples about how to be truly faithful to the Law of God. In that discourse, He told them about the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who on one side appeared to be devout and even fanatical defenders and practitioners of the laws and rules that God had given them.

Why is that so? That is because they did all the observances of the Law and all the works of piety, all because they wanted to be recognised and glorified by other men, for their piety and dedication. But they have forgotten completely that the Law was not given to mankind for that corrupted purpose. Instead, God gave His laws to man so that they may turn away from their wickedness and from their rebellious behaviour, and follow the way of righteousness.

That is why, on the matter of divorce, as the Lord also mentioned in another part of the Gospels, the Lord made it very clear that divorce is something that is sinful and wicked, when it is done for the purpose of adultery, because a man cannot be satisfied with his wife and vice versa, and thus seeking ways to dissolve the sacred and sacramental bond of matrimony, and remarry again.

But the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law taught that the law according to Moses allowed the couple to enter into a divorce once they have completed the necessary administrative proceedings and satisfied the necessary documentations. In reality, it was likely that the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, the priests and all those involved in the process benefitted, as they were able to earn compensation for their work, and it is not surprising that they encouraged such practices to continue.

God made it very clear, that His laws are not for us man to misuse and abuse to our own preferences and desires. He intended it to be a guide for us, showing us the way and the path forward to take, in order to remain true and faithful to Him. This is what the Lord has shown us and taught us to do, and which He has revealed through His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore do our very best to be obedient to God, by truly loving Him and devoting ourselves to Him to the best of our abilities, and not showing merely external piety and devotion as the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had done, but with true love, genuine faith and dedication. After all, the Lord Himself had been ever faithful to His Covenant with us, that He gave everything for our sake, not even withholding Himself from accepting death for us, on the cross.

May the Lord awaken in each and every one of us, the strong desire to love Him, just as He has loved us first, and may He help us to persevere in our faith, so that in everything we do, we will always persevere and strive to resist the temptation of pride, greed, ambition and all other things that have kept us away from God all these while. May God bless us all and our endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 15 June 2018 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 5 : 27-32

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “You have heard that it was said : Do not commit adultery. But I tell you this : anyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent, has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

“So, if your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away! It is much better for you to lose a part of your body, than to have your whole body thrown into hell. If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away! It is better for you to lose a part of your body, than to have your whole body thrown into hell.”

“It was also said : Anyone who divorces his wife, must give her a written notice of divorce. But what I tell you is this : if a man divorces his wife, except in the case of unlawful union, he causes her to commit adultery. And the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

Friday, 15 June 2018 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 26 : 7-8a, 8b-9abc, 13-14

Hear my voice when I call, o Lord, have mercy on me and answer. My heart says to You, “I seek Your face, o Lord.”

Do not hide Your face from me nor turn away Your servant in anger. You are my Protector, do not reject me.

I hope, I am sure, that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Trust in the Lord, be strong and courageous. Yes, put your hope in the Lord!