Thursday, 16 June 2022 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard from the passages of the Scriptures both the works and deeds of the prophet Elijah, who was taken up from Heaven in a flaming chariot, and also the prayer that the Lord Jesus offered to His heavenly Father, the prayer that we now know and call as the Lord’s Prayer, the Pater Noster. Through these readings from the Scriptures, all of us are reminded that as Christians we have to follow the examples shown to us, in remaining connected to God, in being righteous in all of our actions, words and deeds, and to be faithful to God at all times.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Sirach, we heard of the praise that the prophet Sirach spoke with regards to Elijah, one of the most renowned prophets of Israel, who had laboured and worked hard for many years, in serving the Lord and calling on the people of God to turn away from their wicked deeds and ways. Elijah had to go up against the king and those who opposed him and stubbornly refused to listen to him. Yet, he persevered and continued to work hard for the glory of God.

The prophet Elijah continued to labour for the people of God, and eventually, the Lord called him to Heaven, after He had appointed Elisha to be the successor of Elijah for the ministry to the people of Israel. Elijah was taken up in a flaming chariot into Heaven, and while he has been taken up into Heaven, his story, his courage and hardworking efforts remained and had become great sources of inspiration for many people throughout history. There were many other prophets whose lives and dedication to God can also be our inspirations as well.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the story of the Lord Jesus showing His disciples how they ought to pray to God, His heavenly Father. He told them all that they should not pray in the manner that the pagans liked to pray, who often used many words and invocations, and instead, they should pray in the manner that He Himself showed them, praying to the Lord in a truly Christian manner, as we all have been shown and taught how to do through the Church.

In prayer, many of us often made a mistake of not meaning and appreciating what we were saying. Many of us prayed with the prayers common to the Church and yet, not meaning what we said, because we were merely reciting the prayers instead of actually meaning every single words that we utter from our mouths. We were praying more with our mouths and not internalising those words we said, and not linking our mouths with our hearts and minds. This is one of the mistakes that we often made with prayers.

And then, we also often think of prayers as a way for us to get what we wanted and desired. We often think of prayers as means for us to miraculously gain what we hope the Lord would give us, and as such, many of us made such demands with the expectation that God will do something for us. Then, when we do not get what we wanted or if things do not go according to what we wanted it, we ended up getting angry at God, becoming unhappy at Him and even leaving Him behind. If we do get what we wanted, we often forgot about Him afterwards.

No, brothers and sisters in Christ, these are not how we should be praying to God. The true essence of prayer is communication, and it is the way through which we should communicate with the Lord, our God and Father, and how do we do it? A proper communication should involve listening and understanding, and it is very important that we open our hearts and minds to engage in a proper and meaningful conversation with God. We should dedicate time and effort to prayer, whenever we can, and in not demanding God, but rather, to communicate with God and to know His will for us all.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to these words from the Scriptures, and based on what we had just discussed earlier on, we are all called and reminded to turn back towards the Lord and to be reconciled with Him. We are all called to follow the good examples of the prophet Elijah, the many other prophets and servants of God, the innumerable saints and martyrs who had spent their lives to glorify God by their actions and deeds. And we also have to deepen our spiritual and prayer life, so that we may come to know the Lord and that we may become ever closer to Him.

Let us all hence seek the Lord with renewed hearts and desires, to love Him and to serve Him at all times. May the Lord continue to guide us in our journey, and may He empower us and encourage us to walk ever more faithfully like that of the prophets and the saints. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 16 June 2022 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 6 : 7-15

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “When you pray, do not use a lot of words, as the pagans do; for they believe that, the more they say, the more chance they have of being heard. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need, even before you ask Him.”

“This, then, is how you should pray : Our Father in heaven, holy be Your Name, Your kingdom, come, Your will, be done on earth, as in heaven. Give us today, our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we forgive those who are in debt to us.”

“Do not bring us to the test, but deliver us from the evil one. If you forgive others their wrongdoings, your Father in heaven will also forgive yours. If you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive you.”

Thursday, 16 June 2022 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 96 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7

YHVH reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the distant islands be glad. Clouds and darkness surround Him; justice and right, are His throne.

Fire goes before Him, burning His foes on every side. His lightning lights up the world; the earth watches and trembles.

The mountains melt like wax before YHVH, the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim His justice, all peoples see His glory.

Shame on worshippers of idols, on those proud of their worthless images. Let all spirits bow before Him.

Thursday, 16 June 2022 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Sirach 48 : 1-15 (Greek Septuagint – Sirach 48 : 1-14)

Then came the prophet Elijah, like a fire, his words a burning torch. He brought a famine on the people and in his zealous love had them reduced in number. Speaking in the Name of the Lord he closed down the heavens, and on three occasions called down fire.

How marvellous you were, Elijah, in your wondrous deeds! Who could ever boast of being your equal? By the word of the Most High you brought a dead man back to life; you brought kings to destruction and thrust famous men from their beds. You heard a rebuke at Sinai and sentences of punishment at Horeb; you anointed kings to be avengers and prophets to succeed you.

You were taken up by a whirlwind of flames in a chariot drawn by fiery horses. It was written that you should be the one to calm God’s anger in the future, before it broke out in fury, to turn the hearts of fathers to their sons and to restore the tribes of Jacob.

Happy are those who will see you and those who die in love, for we too shall live. Such was Elijah, taken up in a whirlwind, and Elisha was filled with his spirit. During his life no leader could shake him, no one dominated him. Nothing was too difficult for him and even in death his body prophesied. In life he worked wonders, in death his deeds were amazing.

Despite all this, the people were not converted and did not turn away from sin; not until they were deported far from their country and scattered over the earth.

Wednesday, 15 June 2022 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are reminded of our actions as Christians in responding to God’s call for us to follow Him and dedicating ourselves to Him. Each and every one of us as Christians must be truly faithful and genuine in our way of life so that we are truly deserving of being called as God’s followers and His people. God has always been kind in reaching out to us, and He has shown us the path forward in life. It is then up to us whether we want to follow Him or instead following our own path in life.

In our first reading today, we heard of the transition between the prophets Elijah and Elisha, as Elisha had been appointed to be the successor of the prophet Elisha in the ministry to the people of the northern kingdom of Israel. Elijah had come to the end of his ministry while the Lord had called and appointed Elisha to be the successor to Elijah. Hence, today as we heard in our first reading, Elisha followed Elijah to the place where Elijah was suddenly taken up to Heaven in a flaming chariot, and Elisha was left to continue the good works that Elijah had begun.

Elisha was called by God and he responded to this calling with faith. Elisha dedicated himself henceforth to the works that he had been entrusted with, in labouring among the people of Israel. He continued to work for the greater glory of God, despite the stubbornness of the people and their kings all of whom refused to listen to the Lord and continued to rebel against Him, in their worship of pagan idols and gods, and in their continued disobedience and in all the wicked deeds that they had committed. Elisha had to work hard and labour against the challenges he had to face, but he followed the Lord faithfully and gave his all to his ministry.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord telling His disciples on how each of them ought to behave and act as His followers. The Lord Jesus called on them to be generous in giving and charity, and to do so not because they want to be lauded by others. The Lord told them that as Christians, they ought to do so because they genuinely want to give, and have care and concern to the other person they are giving to. They also ought to do other things and practices like their fasting and observance of other rules, with the right reasons and intentions. Otherwise if they did things with the wrong intentions, then they are no better than hypocrites.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all called through the words of the Scriptures to embrace the call which the Lord had made to us, in calling us to be genuine in our Christian living. We should not be like hypocrites who profess to believe in the Lord and yet did not do things or act in the manner of how they believed in. We have to spend the time and effort to follow the Lord and to commit ourselves to His cause, and we must not allow ourselves to be distracted and swayed by the lies and the falsehoods of the devil, or any other worldly temptations to make us fall deeper and deeper into the wrong path in life.

We are all sharers in the works and efforts of the Church, called to minister to our fellow men and women, to those around us who are perhaps not yet attuned and still ignorant of the way and the truth of Christ. It is through us and our actions that we can bring forth the Lord’s truth and His love to our brethren. Otherwise, if we ourselves did not act and do things in the manner that we have believed, who will then believe in the Lord? In fact, if our actions are contrary to what we believe in, then that will push other people further and further away from the Lord, and we will be fully responsible for having led and pushed them away from the path to salvation.

That is why, we are all reminded of this obligation that we have, that as Christians we cannot be idle anymore in living our faith. We have to be active in living our lives and practicing all that God had revealed and told us to do through His Church. And we should not wait for others to begin doing so, as that may end up causing none of us doing anything in the end. Instead, we have to initiate it from ourselves and from every little things that we do in life. That is how we live our lives as faithful Christians and how we can be good inspiration for each other and help one another in our path and journey towards the Lord and His salvation.

May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us in our respective journeys, that we may faithfully commit ourselves to glorify the Lord by every actions, words and deeds we make. May He empower us and give us the courage to stand up for our faith, and to be His exemplary disciples and followers at all times. May God bless us and all of our good efforts and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Wednesday, 15 June 2022 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 6 : 1-6, 16-18

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Be careful not to make a show of your righteousness before people. If you do so, you do not gain anything from your Father in heaven. When you give something to the poor, do not have it trumpeted before you, as do those who want to be seen in the synagogues and in the streets, in order to be praised by the people. I assure you, they have already been paid in full.”

“If you give something to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your gift remains really secret. Your Father, Who sees what is kept secret, will reward you. When you pray, do not be like those who want to be seen. They love to stand and pray in the synagogues or on street corners to be seen by everyone. I assure you, they have already been paid in full.”

“When you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father Who is with you in secret; and your Father Who sees what is kept secret will reward you. When you fast, do not put on a miserable face as do the hypocrites. They put on a gloomy face, so that people can see they are fasting. I tell you this : they have already been paid in full.”

“When you fast, wash your face and make yourself look cheerful, because you are not fasting for appearances or for people, but for your Father Who sees beyond appearances. And your Father, Who sees what is kept secret, will reward you.”

Wednesday, 15 June 2022 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 30 : 20, 21, 24

How great is the goodness which You have stored for those who fear You, which You show, for all to see, in those who take refuge in You!

In the shelter of Your presence You hide them from human wiles; You keep them in Your dwelling, safe from the intrigues of wagging tongues.

Love the Lord, all you His saints! The Lord preserves His faithful, but He fully requites the arrogant.

Wednesday, 15 June 2022 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

2 Kings 2 : 1, 6-14

YHVH took Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind. It happened this way : Elijah and Elisha had left Gilgal, and Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here, I beg you, for YHVH is only sending me to the Jordan.” But Elisha answered, “I swear by YHVH and by your life that I will never leave you.” And as they went on their way, fifty fellow prophets of Jericho followed them at a certain distance.

When Elijah and Elisha stood by the Jordan, Elijah took his mantle, rolled it, and struck the water with it. The water parted to both sides and they crossed over on dry ground. After they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “What shall I do for you before I am taken away from you? Ask me.”

Elisha said, “May I receive a double portion of your spirit.” Elijah answered, “Your request is most difficult. Yet if you see me while I am being taken from you, then you shall have it. But if not, you shall not have it.”

As they were talking on the way, a chariot of fire with horses of fire stood between them, and Elijah was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha saw him and cried out, “Father, my father, chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” When Elisha lost sight of him, he took hold of his own clothes and tore them. He then picked up the mantle which had fallen from Elijah and returned to the banks of the Jordan.

He took the cloak that had fallen off Elijah, hit the water with it, and asked, “Where is the YHVH, the God of Elijah?” When he hit the water again, it divided and Elisha crossed over.

Tuesday, 14 June 2022 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are presented with the continuation of the story of king Ahab and Naboth, the vineyard owner, who was put to death by the order of the king upon the plotting of his wicked wife, queen Jezebel. Upon committing such a terrible and sinful act, king Ahab, who had seized Naboth’s property as his own, faced the wrath of God that was delivered to him through the prophet Elijah. The Lord knew all that Ahab had done in committing the vile murder of Naboth in order to gain his property and land unlawfully, and God was angry at the great wickedness he had shown.

That was why Elijah proclaimed God’s upcoming retribution and punishment for Ahab and his family. The wickedness that they had committed would result in the extermination of his entire family, by whose actions the entire land of Israel and its people had been led down the path of ruin. Ahab and Jezebel would face terrible deaths, and then his entire family itself would be wiped out and destroyed from the face of the earth. This was the rightful consequences of what wickedness that Ahab and his family had caused, in persecuting all the faithful people of God, and in the efforts they made to impose pagan and idolatrous worship among the Israelites.

Yet, despite all the anger that God had at Ahab and his family, when Ahab himself remonstrated and showed great regret and humility before God, abashing himself and seeking for His mercy, God did not ignore him. In fact, as we ourselves had heard, that God had pity on Ahab, and while everything would still happen as He had said it, but He would postpone the destruction of Ahab’s family until after Ahab himself had passed on, and not immediately. This showed us all that first, sin is something truly serious, and there are grim consequences for our sins, especially the greater they are. But secondly, at the same time, we must not forget God’s love and mercy, which He freely showed all who seek Him with genuine and contrite hearts.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord telling His disciples again how they should behave and act as His followers. They are all called to love and to genuinely show that affection, care and compassion for each other. They should not just only love those who love them back or those who are good to us, as the Lord said that anyone else also could have done that, even those who were wicked. After all, was that not what Jezebel did for Ahab, when she helped him to obtain Naboth’s land unlawfully, at the expense of Naboth? No, that is not what the followers of Christ, that all of us as Christians, should be doing in our lives.

Instead, as Christians, each and every one of us should heed the Lord’s words and follow His examples in how He has reached out to us with perfect and genuine love, love that is unconditional and patient, love that is never-ending and enduring. All of us are encouraged to love one another unconditionally and we are all called to be role models and examples of that unconditional love just as the Lord Himself has shown us His love despite us all having treated Him badly, rejecting Him and betraying Him for various idols and other distractions in life. Each and every one of us are sinners, and yet, God willingly reached out to us in order to heal us and to treat us from our maladies that is our sins.

The Lord Himself showed from His Passion, His suffering and death on the Cross how He loved each one of us regardless of our sins. Each one of us are precious and important to Him, and we have all been very fortunate to have been beloved by God in this way. He forgave even those who have persecuted Him, betrayed Him and handed Him over to be scourged and eventually killed because of His alleged crimes. He loved them patiently and prayed for all of them, that they might also turn away from their sinful ways and embrace once again, God’s righteous ways, His compassionate love and forgiveness.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us are challenged to love as how Christians are expected to love. We are all called to be the bearers of this genuine love of God, love that is selfless and pure, coming from the Lord Himself. We should not allow ourselves to be distracted any further by our desires and the many temptations in this world, the temptations of sin and desire, as what Ahab had done, in failing to resist his greed and desires and leading him to fall deeper and deeper into sin. Instead, we should strive to free ourselves from sin, and to embrace the righteous path of God, doing whatever we can to help one another in this same journey of faith.

Let us all therefore seek the Lord with renewed conviction, dedicating our efforts and works for the greater glory of His Name, and for the greater good of His Church, all the faithful, our fellow brothers and sisters. Let us all be filled with the Christ-like love that each one of us have been expected to have, to love tenderly and to love even those who have made our lives difficult and hated us. Through this love, all will know that we are truly God’s people, and through our love, more will come to believe in God and be saved as well. May God be glorified through our works, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 14 June 2022 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 5 : 43-48

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples and to the people, “You have heard that it was said : Love your neighbour and do not do good to your enemy. But this I tell you : love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in Heaven. For He makes His sun rise on both the wicked and the good, and He gives rain to both the just and the unjust.”

“If you love those who love you, what is special about that? Do not even tax collectors do as much? And if you are friendly only to your friends, what is so exceptional about that? Do not even the pagans do as much? As for you, be righteous and perfect in the way your heavenly Father is righteous and perfect.”