Sunday, 23 June 2019 : Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday we listened to the words of the Scriptures and we heard of God’s providence and salvation, which He has fulfilled perfectly and completely through Christ, His own beloved Son, by which He saved the whole world through the suffering and through the sacrifice which He had done on the Cross.

In our first reading today we heard the passage from the Book of the prophet Zechariah which recounted to us the prophecy made about the coming of the day of salvation for the people of God, who had long suffered from their sundering from the love and grace of God, the moment when God would restore to them the glory and the kingdom of David, but not through rejoicing and merrymaking, instead through sorrow and weeping and tears.

This was a prophecy that foretold the coming of the Crucifixion of the Messiah, which was also foretold by the other prophets of God. The Messiah of God, Our Lord Jesus Christ, would suffer and be pierced for us on the Cross, bearing our sins and wickedness, bearing and enduring the pains and the burdens of our disobedience and waywardness. He showed His enduring and great love for each and every one of us.

And in our second reading, in the Epistle that St. Paul wrote to the Galatians, we heard of this salvation which God has freely and generously offered to everyone, not withstanding whether they were Greek or Jews, as salvation was previously thought of being exclusive only for the Jewish people, and neither is salvation reserved for the free people only, as slaves will also have a share, and everyone truly will be free, no longer under any bonds or slavery in the Lord’s day.

God has been so generous with His love, which He reiterated and revealed yet again Himself to His disciples, telling them directly about how He would suffer as the prophet Zechariah and the many other prophets of the Old Testament had made the prophecies about His suffering and death, at the hands of those who rejected Him. And yet, it was through this same suffering and the pain of the Cross that salvation came into our midst.

I want us then now to focus on what the Lord Jesus Himself had said in the end of our Gospel passage today, about being His followers and disciples which requires us to deny ourselves and to carry our crosses with Him. What does this actually mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? What is the significance of what the Lord had said to our own lives in this world?

It means that for us as Christians, meaning as those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, in what He has done for us and acknowledging that He is truly our Lord and Saviour, all of us must be ready to suffer and to endure whatever things that Our Lord Himself had to suffer Himself for our sake at that time. If He has been ridiculed, rejected, oppressed and made to endure all sorts of humiliations, then we too must be ready to suffer the same.

Being Christians is not something that can be easily done without sacrifices and challenges. The Apostles and the disciples of the Lord themselves have experienced all those sufferings and challenges, when they were persecuted for their faith and for their works among the people, their courageous witnessing for the Lord. They have been rejected, cast aside, tortured, imprisoned and had to endure martyrdom for the sake of their faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now are all of us able to follow in the footsteps of the Apostles? Are we able to endure sufferings, persecutions and rejections for the sake of the Lord? We are all called to carry our crosses in life, and these crosses are the daily struggles that we may have to face as those who profess to have faith in God and trying to remain faithful to Him.

Let us all heed the Lord’s call then for us to follow Him wholeheartedly, living our lives righteously and with commitment, regardless of the trials and challenges that we may face along the way. Let us not be disheartened by those troubles and difficulties, knowing that God is always with us along the way. When He asked us to carry our crosses, He did not ask us to carry our crosses on our own. Instead, He is carrying His Cross together with us.

May the Lord continue to guide us and may He bless us all always, giving us the strength that we will need to persevere through the trials and challenges we may encounter in our lives. May He be with us always, and may He lead us all through these difficult moments that we may always remain faithful to Him till the end of days. Amen.

Sunday, 23 June 2019 : Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 9 : 18-24

At that time, one day, when Jesus was praying alone, not far from His disciples, He asked them, “What do people say about Me?” And they answered, “Some say, that You are John the Baptist; others say, that You are Elijah; and still others, that You are one of the prophets of old, risen from the dead.”

Again Jesus asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.” Then Jesus spoke to them, giving them strict orders not to tell this to anyone. And He added, “The Son of Man must suffer many things. He will be rejected by the elders and chief priests and teachers of the Law, and be put to death. Then after three days He will be raised to life.”

Jesus also said to all the people, “If you wish to be a follower of Mine, deny yourself and take up your cross each day, and follow Me! For if you choose to save your life, you will lose it; but if you lose your life for My sake, you will save it.”

Sunday, 23 June 2019 : Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Galatians 3 : 26-29

Now, in Christ Jesus, all of you are sons and daughters of God, through faith. All of you, who were given to Christ through Baptism, have put on Christ. Here, there is no longer any difference between Jew or Greek, or between slave or freed, or between man and woman : but all of you are one, in Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Christ, you are of Abraham’s race and you are to inherit God’s promise.

Sunday, 23 June 2019 : Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 62 : 2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9

O God, You are my God, it is You I seek; for You, my body longs and my soul thirsts, as a dry and weary land without water.

Thus have I gazed upon You in the Sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You.

I will praise You as long as I live, lift up my hands and call on Your Name. As with the richest food, my soul will feast; my mouth will praise You with joyful lips.

For You have been my help; I sing in the shadow of Your wings. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.

Sunday, 23 June 2019 : Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Zechariah 12 : 10-11 and Zechariah 13 : 1

“I will pour out on the family of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of love and supplication. They will look at the One Who was pierced; and mourn for Him, as for an only child, weeping bitterly, as for a firstborn. The mourning in Jerusalem will be as great as the mourning of Haddadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo.”

“On that day, a spring will be opened for the family of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse themselves of sin and defilement,” YHVH, God of hosts says.

Saturday, 30 June 2018 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in the first reading today, we listened about the humiliation of Israel, because of their sins and disobedience, they have been rejected by God, as they have rejected God first. The people of Israel had been uprooted from the land given to their ancestors, and had to endure humiliation in exile, because they were not faithful to the Covenant which God had made with them.

And they therefore had to endure the punishment due for their rebelliousness, and endure the bitter consequences that arise because of their own stubbornness and refusal to repent, despite the many reminders and the constant promptings from the Lord through His messengers and prophets. Instead, they hardened their hearts and persecuted those whom the Lord had sent to call them to return to Him.

Yet, the Lord in His most tender love and gracious mercy, was always ever willing to extend His generous offer of mercy and forgiveness to all of us. Through sin we have been sundered and cut off from His love and cast away from His grace, but through sincere and genuine repentance, all of us have been given the way out of our predicament, that is none other than, following the path that the Lord Jesus Christ, Our God, has shown us.

And in today’s Gospel passage, we heard about how the Lord encountered a faithful army centurion or captain, who came to Him asking for a favour of healing to his very sick servant, who was dear to him. In this passage, we heard the amazing and unusual action of the centurion, who, when the Lord was about to go into his house in order to heal the sick servant, uttered the words that we now utter at every celebrations of the Holy Mass.

‘Lord, I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof.’ These were the words of the centurion, who later then added, ‘Just say the word, and my servant shall be healed.’ In these two sentences alone, were summed up the great profession of faith and sincere prayer made by the centurion to the Lord. Such a great faith amazed the Lord, Who immediately granted all that the centurion had asked for, and the servant was healed.

First of all, we must understand how, as an army centurion, it was likely that the centurion did not belong to the race of the Jewish people, or followed the Jewish traditions and faith. It was likely that he was both a Gentile or non-Jew, and a pagan. According to the customs and practices at that time, it was taboo for a Jew to enter into the house of a pagan and Gentile, as it would, according to the Jewish customs, defile the person.

That was why, the centurion, who was likely aware of this custom, would not want the Lord to be defiled by his non-Jewish and pagan background. And yet, through the words he said, in fact, as the Lord Himself pointed out, the centurion showed a pure and genuine faith, that was not found even among the Jews themselves. First of all, he admitted openly his sinfulness and unworthiness to receive the Lord into his humble abode. This is a trait that many of us did not have with us.

Then, he was filled with such a great faith and trust in the Lord, knowing that even if the Lord did not directly perform miraculous deeds or touch his servant to heal him, just through a word of the Lord, his servant would be immediately healed. The centurion trusted in the Lord so greatly, that he was totally unlike the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who had seen so many of the miracles and deeds performed by the Lord Jesus, but still refused to believe.

How many of us are able to be as humble and as faithful as the centurion? Do we truly love the Lord our God, with all of our heart, and give Him the very best of our attention and focus? Have we been true Christians in all of our actions and dealings? We are all called to follow in the footsteps of the faithful centurion, and truly mean it, every time we say at the Mass, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should enter under My roof.”

Now, today, we also celebrate the feast of the first martyrs of the Holy Roman Church. On this day, we celebrate those courageous members of the faithful who suffered the first great persecution of Christians by the Roman Empire under the reign of the Emperor Nero. This feast is celebrated a day after the Solemnity of St. Peter and St. Paul, as it was likely that the two holy Apostles were martyred in Rome as part of this great persecution.

At that time, the Christian faith was flourishing in every parts of the Empire, despite the challenges they encountered from various origins. Many of the faithful also lived in the city of Rome, the capital of the Empire. And more and more of the faithful were added to the Church with every passing moment, as the fruits of the dedication and hard work shown by the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord.

Then, in the year 64 AD, a great fire engulfed most of the city of Rome, one which, according to historians, was started by the eccentric Emperor Nero himself, who quickly laid the blame of the fire on the growing Christian community. Hence, the first great persecution of the faithful began, and many were forced to choose between abandoning their faith and losing their lives.

Yet, many of the faithful, including St. Peter and St. Paul remained true to their faith, and refused to bend to the demands of those who persecuted them. They remained true to their faith in God, and devoted themselves wholeheartedly, and committed themselves, to the very end, courageously declaring their faith to the One Who has saved them from eternal damnation.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having heard of the examples set by the faithful centurion and the first holy martyrs of the Roman Church, shall we all be inspired by those examples that they have set? Shall we follow in their footsteps, and learn to commit ourselves more wholeheartedly to the Lord, in all the things that we say and do? This is our calling as Christians, and we are all challenged to be ever better Christians, day after day.

May the Lord bless us all, and may He strengthen each and every one of us in our faith. May He continue to watch over us and may He remain with us, on our side, through the challenges and trials of life, that we may remain wholly faithful to Him, at every moments of our life. First Holy Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church, pray for us all, sinners still living in this world. Amen.

Saturday, 30 June 2018 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church (Gospel Reading)

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

Matthew 8 : 5-17

At that time, when Jesus entered Capernaum, an army captain approached Him, to ask His help, “Sir, my servant lies sick at home. He is paralysed and suffers terribly.” Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”

The captain answered, “I am not worthy to have You under my roof. Just give an order and my boy will be healed. For I myself, a junior officer, give orders to my soldiers. And if I say to one, ‘Go!’ he goes; and if I say to another, ‘Come!’ he comes; and if I say to my servant, ‘Do this!’ he does it.”

When Jesus heard this, He was astonished; and said to those who were following Him, “I tell you, I have not found such faith in Israel. I say to you, many will come from east and west and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob at the feast in the kingdom of heaven; but the heirs of the kingdom will be thrown out into extreme darkness; there, they will wail and grind their teeth.”

Then Jesus said to the captain, “Go home now. As you believed, so let it be.” At that moment, his servant was healed. Jesus went to Peter’s house and found Peter’s mother-in-law in bed with fever. He took her by the hand and the fever left her; she got up and began to wait on Him.

Toward evening, they brought to Jesus many people possessed by evil spirits; and with a word, He drove out the spirits. He also healed all who were sick. In this way, what was said by the prophet Isaiah was fulfilled : He bore our infirmities and took on Himself our diseases.