Tuesday, 12 July 2022 : 15th 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 Scriptures, we are presented with the need for all of us to believe and trust in the Lord, and not be easily swayed or concerned, worried or afraid because of the threats and challenges that we have to face in life. We have to keep our faith in the Lord firm and strong, or else we will easily fall into the temptations to sin and to do what are against God’s will, His Law and commandments. As Christians, we should entrust ourselves in the Lord and believe that in Him there is always hope and way out of our predicament, and in the end, we shall triumph together with Him.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Isaiah regarding the words that the Lord delivered through Isaiah to king Ahaz of Judah. Back then, at that time, king Ahaz was one of the kings of Judah who was considered as one of the unfaithful and wicked kings, whose lack of faith in God led to the Lord speaking through Isaiah to deliver the famous prophecy of the Virgin who would give birth to a Son, the Saviour of the world, Emmanuel, as a sign for all the people of God to see. King Ahaz’s lack of faith in God made this happen, as God would prove to him and the people that what He said would come true in the end, as we now know it had happened the way the Lord decreed it.

In this occasion mentioned in the first reading today, we heard of the time when the kingdom of Judah was threatened by the combined forces of the northern kingdom of Israel, the forces of the king of the Arameans and all those who worked together to destroy the kingdom of Judah and Jerusalem. Israel and Judah, the two halves of the ancient kingdom of David and Solomon had long been locked in a bitter struggle for dominance and control, and this time, it seemed that Judah was doomed because of the forces arrayed against it. Hence, king Ahaz and the people fell into worry and fear for their fates.

God therefore reassured Ahaz and the people of Judah, and chided them for their lack of trust and faith in Him. They preferred to consult with pagan gods, idols and seers, or settle through worldly means and arrangements rather than to turn towards their Lord and God, Who had helped their ancestors and freed them from the land of their slavery, and God Who had also provided for His people, protected them and guided them. He told them of what He would do in defeating the forces of Israel and Aram on behalf of His faithful ones in Judah, and at the same time also warning them that should they themselves fell into the same path of unfaithfulness, they too would endure the same fate.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard the Lord Jesus proclaiming denunciations and rebuke over several cities and towns of Galilee, namely Capernaum, Chorazin and Bethsaida, and He said how all of those cities and towns were where He had performed many of His works and miracles, and where He had also preached and taught the people, and yet many of them still doubted Him and rejected Him, and some even persecuted Him and His disciples for presenting the truth to their midst. As such, when compared with what happened at the time of the old kingdom of Judah, the unfaithfulness of king Ahaz and the people, we can easily see a clear parallel.

What is the significance of all these Scripture passages to us, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is a reminder that each and every one of us as disciples and followers of Christ, we are all called to believe in God and His truth. All of us have to put our faith and trust in the Lord, and we have to walk ever more carefully and with commitment in His presence. We have to be careful lest we may be distracted and tempted to abandon the Lord’s path because of the efforts and machinations of the devil and his forces, all bent on trying to lead us down the path of ruin and damnation. Each one of us must resist those temptations and always strive to remain true in our faith and love for God.

Let us therefore turn towards God with renewed faith and zeal, and dedicate our whole lives with the aim of serving Him in each and every moments of our lives, in our every words, deeds and actions, so that through them, we may proclaim the truth of God in all things. Let us no longer worry or be afraid of what we will experience and what we will have to endure in our journey, as in the end, God will always be triumphant with us, and if we remain faithful to Him, then we shall share in His glorious inheritance and we shall receive from Him the promise of eternal life and true joy.

May the Lord continue to be with us always, and may He help and guide us to persevere through the many challenges in this world. Let us worry no more and believe in God, and hopefully through our own exemplary faith, many more people will come to believe in God as well. May God bless our every good works, efforts and endeavours, now and always, evermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 12 July 2022 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 11 : 20-24

At that time, Jesus began to denounce the cities in which He had performed most of His miracles, because the people there did not change their ways.

“Alas for you Chorazin and Bethsaida! If the miracles worked in you had taken place in Tyre and Sidon, the people there would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I assure you, for Tyre and Sidon; it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.”

“And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to heaven? You will be thrown down to the place of the dead! For if the miracles which were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would still be there today! But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

Tuesday, 12 July 2022 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 47 : 2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8

Great is YHVH, most worthy of praise in the City of God, His holy mountain. Beautifully elevated, it is the joy of all the earth.

Mount Zion, heavenly mountain, the City of the great King. Here, within her lines of defence, God has shown Himself to be a sure fortress.

The kings assembled together, advanced toward the city. But as soon as they saw it, they were astounded; they panicked and took to flight.

Seized with fear, they trembled, like a woman in travail, or like ships of Tarshish, shattered by a strong wind from the east.

Tuesday, 12 July 2022 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Isaiah 7 : 1-9

When Ahaz son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, was king of Judah, king Rezin of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah, king of Israel, laid siege to Jerusalem but they were unable to capture it. When the news reached the house of David, “Aram’s troops are encamped in Ephraim,” the heart of the king and the hearts of the people trembled as the trees of the forest trembled before the wind.

YHVH then said to Isaiah : “Go with your son A-remnant-will-return, and meet Ahaz at the end of the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Washerman’s Field. Say to him, ‘Stay calm and fear not; do not lose courage before these two stumps of smouldering firebrands – the fierce anger of Rezin the Aramean and the blazing fury of the son of Remaliah.’”

“‘You know that Aram, Ephraim and Remaliah’s son have plotted against Judah, saying : Let us invade and scare it, let us seize it and put the son of Tabeel king over it. But the Lord YHVH says : It shall not be so; it shall not come to pass. For Damascus is only the head of Aram and Rezin the lord of Damascus. Samaria is only the head of Ephraim and Remaliah’s son is only the lord of Samaria. Within fifty-six years, Ephraim will be shattered and will no longer be a people. But if you do not stand firm in faith, you, too, will not stand at all.’”