Saturday, 19 August 2017 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Eudes, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard of the pact which the people of Israel swore before Joshua, the leader appointed by God to lead Israel, on his deathbed, that they would be faithful to the Lord, their God, and they would reject the worship of the pagan gods and idols. They vowed before God Himself that they and their descendants would continue to worship YHVH, their God, forever and would not turn away from Him.

Yet, as history would have proven, the people of Israel did not keep their promise and broke their vow, which they made before God Himself, as they were tempted by worldly pleasures and false promises, the temptations made by the devil to lure them away from the path of salvation towards the Lord. They turned away from God and instead worshipped the pagan idols, and abandoning His laws, they turned to debauchery and wickedness.

We may be wondering what it is that made them to do all those things, turning away from the goodness of God. They blatantly and openly rebelled against God Who had provided for them all their needs, and Who had defended them from their enemies and gave them fertile lands and riches of the land promised to them. God Himself made a Covenant with them, and promised that prosperity, peace and harmony would be their lot forever.

It was their greed, their human and worldly desires that had led them astray from God. The devil manipulated those wicked desires and the greed in their hearts, the ego that he found there, to turn them away from God, by the sweet lies and false promises of power, worldly glory, fame, influence, wealth and more. They were too engrossed in worldly concerns that led them to fall into sin and into rebellion against God.

Then, we come to the Gospel passage which we heard today, when the Lord Jesus rebuked His disciples who prevented the people who wanted to bring their children to Him. He wanted the children to come to Him, to be with Him and to listen to Him, and He even praised those children and asked that His disciples follow their examples, having the same faith as the children had shown to the Lord.

Why is that so, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because the faith of a child is pure and genuine, without the taints and corruptions of our human greed and desires, without the corruptions of our ego and emotions. If we have seen a child before, when the child believe in something, he or she will have pure belief in his or her innocence, before he or she is corrupted by the desires of the world, the desire for worldly goods and pleasures.

Thus, in this manner, God is calling all of us to imitate the faith of the children, who came to Jesus to love Him and to seek Him. He called us to love Him unconditionally and wholeheartedly as the children has loved Him, and not burdened by the desires and the temptations of the world. Otherwise, we might end up like the Israelites who were tempted and swayed to abandon the Lord their God because of those temptations.

Perhaps we should also heed the examples of the life of St. John Eudes, a holy priest and servant of God whose feast day we celebrate today. St. John Eudes was a French priest who was renowned for his preaching and works among the people of God, especially among sinners and prostitutes. He helped to establish the religious congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Refuge to provide for those prostitutes and sinners who desired to be reconciled with God.

In addition, he also established another religious congregation, the Congregation of Jesus and Mary, which would be named after him, as the Eudists, who helped to build up the formation of faith amongst the priests and the seminarians, and through which works, he encouraged the strong devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, together with contemporaries such as St. Margaret Mary Alacoque.

The devotion which those holy saints had to the Lord and His blessed mother Mary should be an inspiration to all of us, that we should also show the same kind of devotion and love, that in all the things we say and do, we will always seek to love God and devote ourselves to Him, rejecting the temptations of worldly power, wealth, fame, glory and all the other things that Satan has placed on our path towards God to make us fall down and falter.

Let us all therefore commit ourselves anew to Him, and seek to love Him with greater zeal and devotion from now on, and let our love be like that of the love which the faithful children have given to the Lord Jesus, that we too may be worthy to be called, the children of God. May God be with us all, always, and may St. John Eudes and the holy saints of God intercede for us always. Amen.

Saturday, 19 August 2017 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Eudes, Priest (Gospel Reading)

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

Matthew 19 : 13-15

At that time, little children were brought to Jesus, that He might lay His hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded those who brought them. Jesus then said, “Let the children be! Do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are humble, like these children.”

Jesus laid His hands on them and went away.

Saturday, 19 August 2017 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Eudes, Priest (Psalm)

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

Psalm 15 : 1-2a and 5, 7-8, 11

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

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

You will show me the path of life, in Your presence, the fullness of joy, at Your right hand, happiness forever.

Saturday, 19 August 2017 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Eudes, Priest (First Reading)

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

Joshua 24 : 14-29

Joshua said to the people of Israel, “So fear YHVH, and be sincere and faithful in serving Him. Set aside those gods your ancestors worshipped in Mesopotamia and Egypt. Serve only YHVH. But if you do not want to serve YHVH, make known this very day whom you shall serve – whether they be the gods your ancestors served in Mesopotamia or the gods of the Amorites who formerly occupied the land in which you now live. As for me, I and my household will serve YHVH.”

The people answered, “May God not permit that we ever abandon YHVH to serve other gods! For it was He Who brought us and our ancestors out of Egypt, the house of slavery. It was He Who did those great wonders that we have seen; He protected us on the way and through all the land where we passed, driving away before us all the nations especially the Amorites who lived in this land. So we shall also serve YHVH : He is our God!”

Joshua asked the people : “Will you be able to serve YHVH? He is a holy God, a jealous God Who does not tolerate wickedness or faults. If you abandon YHVH to serve other gods, He will turn against you and just as He has done you so much good, so shall He punish you and destroy you.”

The people replied, “No, may it not be as you say. We will serve YHVH.” Joshua said, “You yourselves are witnesses that you have chosen YHVH to serve Him.” They answered, “We are witnesses.” Joshua then said, “Remove now from your midst any other gods and serve YHVH, the God of Israel, with all your heart.” The people answered : “We will serve YHVH, our God, and obey His commands.”

On that day at Shechem, Joshua made a Covenant with the people and fixed laws and ordinances. He also wrote down everything expressed in the book of the Law of God; he chose a great stone and put it under the oak tree in the sacred place of YHVH. Then Joshua said to the people : “This stone shall be a witness to all that YHVH said to us, for it heard all these words. It shall be a witness against you, lest you deal falsely with YHVH.”

Joshua immediately sent the people away and everyone returned to his land. After all these deeds, Joshua, son of Nun and servant of YHVH, died at the age of a hundred and ten.

Friday, 18 August 2017 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day the Lord reminds us through the Scripture passages we heard, of the love that God had shown to His people throughout the time when He showed forth His might to care for them and their ancestors, freeing them from the Egyptians, and in how He led them through the desert towards the lands promised to them, destroying their enemies before them and guarding them with love.

Through Joshua, His servant, God reminded His people of His love, and all that He had done for them. He reminded them of the Covenant which He had created with them and their ancestors. Yet, as we know throughout the time of the Exodus people of God had not always been faithful to Him, and have been wayward in multiple occasions, worshipping pagan gods and idols, and disobedient against God. They have indulged in worldly pleasures and forgotten His laws and commandments.

They have hardened their hearts against Him, and refused to listen to Him, preferring to follow their own paths rather than to walk in the path shown to them by God, including in the matter of marriage and family. Ever since the beginning of time, when God first created man, He had created them man and woman, and decreed that man should join with woman, and become therefore united and blessed in a union blessed by God.

But the Israelites could not resist the temptations of worldly pleasures and the flesh, and they succumbed to their desires. That was why they committed acts of adultery and wickedness, of sexual impropriety and aberrations, disregarding the sanctity of the holy marriage in which their families have been bound in and blessed by God. As a result, they have sinned against God, and God wanted to remind them through Joshua what He had done for them, and thus want them to live in accordance with His will, to be righteous and upright in their actions and deeds.

How is this relevant to us, brothers and sisters in Christ? In our world today we are inundated with the temptations of pleasures and worldly allures through which we are swayed and pressured to abandon our faith in God, and instead indulging in the desires of our flesh and bodies. We live at a time when the sanctity of marriage is no longer respected or preserved. And many among us Christians have lost our faith in God and fell into the corruption of sin and worldliness.

All of us are called as Christians to stand up for our faith, and for all that we believe in, including the need to live righteously in accordance with the laws of God. When the world demands that we conform to its ways and customs, we must be ready and willing to be different, to be beacons of light to those who are living in the darkness, so that by our actions and deeds, we will be able to lead others onto the path towards God’s salvation.

And today, we have also heard in the Gospel, that God called some among us to be chosen by Him, to be His servants, abandoning the prospects of marriage, as they chose to follow the Lord and become His priests, the members of the holy order of priests and bishops, all those who have dedicated themselves wholeheartedly to serve the Lord and His people. Their challenges are even greater than ours, the trials and temptations are even more difficult to endure than ours.

Yet, they are the ones whom God had called to be the ones through whom He would work His wonders among His people. They are the ones who have been called and chosen, and while the pains, sorrows and difficulties are aplenty, but their works and labours lay the foundation for the salvation of many souls. Without the hard work and the sacrifices made by our priests, by all those who have dedicated themselves to service to God, there would have been many more souls lost to the damnation in hell.

Let us all therefore pray for our priests, that the Lord will keep them holy and devoted to their missions, and then for we ourselves, we also have the need to live an upright and righteous life, committed to obey the Lord and His will. It is by our working together and commitment to help the good works together as one Church of God, that we will be drawing closer to the Lord, and therefore be worthy of the grace and the blessings which He will bestow on all those who are faithful to Him.

May God bless us all, and may He empower each and every one of us to live in accordance with His will, reminding all of us of the time when He has blessed us generously in this life, and how He has loved us and showed us His mercy and compassion whenever we have fallen into sin and disgrace, that by His persistence, He has endeavoured to make us to turn away from our sins, and to repent from our wickedness, that we may eventually be reunited with Him, to enjoy forever the eternal joy in His presence. Amen.

Friday, 18 August 2017 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 19 : 3-12

At that time, some Pharisees approached Jesus. They wanted to test Him and asked, "Is a man allowed to divorce his wife for any reason he wants?"

Jesus replied, "Have you not read that, in the beginning, the Creator made them male and female? And the Creator said : Therefore, a man shall leave father and mother, and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one body. So, they are no longer two, but one body. Let no one separate what God has joined."

They asked him, "Then why did Moses command us to write a bill of dismissal in order to divorce?" Jesus replied, "Moses knew the hardness of your hearts, so he allowed you to divorce your wives; but it was not so in the beginning. Therefore, I say to you : whoever divorces his wife, unless it be for immorality, and marries another, commits adultery."

The disciples said, "If that is the condition of a married man, it is better not to marry." Jesus said to them, "Not everybody can accept what you have just said, but only those who have received this gift. There are eunuchs born so, from their mother's womb. Some have been made that way by others. But there are some who have given up the possibility of marriage, for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who can accept it, accept it."

Friday, 18 August 2017 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 135 : 1, 2, 3, 16, 17, 18, 21, 22, 24

Alleluia! Give thanks to YHVH, for He is good, His kindness endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of gods, His kindness endures forever.

Give thanks to YHVH of Lords, His kindness endures forever.

He led His people through the desert, His kindness endures forever.

He struck down great kings, His kindness endures forever.

And He killed mighty kings, His kindness endures forever.

He gave their land as an inheritance, His kindness endures forever.

A heritage to Israel His servant, His kindness endures forever.

And He freed us from our oppressors, His kindness endures forever.