Saturday, 26 June 2021 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are of the Lord’s steadfast love for all of us, His people, the love that He has shown us all the time, as He faithfully kept to the Covenant that He has established with each and every one of us as He made it with our forefather, Abraham. God fulfilled His promise to Abraham and all of us, to be His beloved ones, blessed and protected by His love and care.

In our first reading today we heard about Abraham and how God came by to visit him at his tent, at the moment when He was about to fulfil the promise of a son to Abraham, and Abraham immediately recognised the Lord coming towards his place, welcoming Him and listening to whatever He was about to say to him. The Lord reaffirmed His promises to Abraham and told him that Sarah, his wife would bear a son as foretold, the son through whom God’s blessings would be given, to be the progenitor of many nations.

Sarah who was hidden in the tent wondered if such a thing was possible, considering that she had been barren for so many years and had by then been quite old in age, and contextually, that had also been around more than twenty years since Abraham began to journey from his ancestral lands to Canaan. Since the day of the promised son had not yet come, Sarah perhaps began to wonder if she would ever have any son at all. But the Lord knew what was in her heart and mind, and told her through Abraham, that everything is possible for God. In the end, everything happened as intended by the Lord.

Then in our Gospel passage today we heard about the moment when an army centurion approached the Lord asking Him to heal one of his servants, a most famous encounter which is in fact immortalised within every celebration of the Holy Mass. The army centurion or captain, who was most likely a Roman given the situation at the time, believed in the Lord and had faith in Him that He could save His servant from the brink of death, and sought Him to ask Him for the grace of healing.

And not only that he personally sought the Lord, showing great humility, as being a Roman, he was considered as superior and a man of his rank should not have directly sought the Lord. It was proven that he was a man of great power when later on he himself said that all those who were under him obeyed all of his commands. And yet, he humbled himself before the Lord, and asked Him for the command of healing, effectively putting him at the subordinate position, acknowledging the Lord Jesus as his true Lord and Master.

He also humbly refused to allow the Lord to come into his house, as contextually we need to understand that at that time, to enter the house of a Gentile or non-Jew, a pagan, would be deemed as improper and taboo, and would have made one unclean before the Law. In fact, many would have even stayed away from foreigners and Gentiles altogether. But the Lord reached out to the army centurion and even wanted to go to his place to heal the servant. The army centurion must have been aware of the cultural sensitivities and the issues that would have been created by the visit of the increasingly famous Jesus at that time.

Hence, he humbly asked the Lord to command him and acknowledging His power and authority, put his whole trust in His ability to cure and make his servant whole once again. The Lord was indeed impressed by this faith and made the centurion as an example of one who was often looked down and being prejudiced against by the Jewish people, and yet, showed more faith in the Lord than the supposed children and descendants of Abraham. Contrast the faith of the army centurion with the lack of faith that Sarah had, and we can see how first of all, we need to believe in the Lord and put our faith in Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today let us all be reminded by what we have heard in our Scripture passages, through the words of the Lord and His reassuring promises, that we all need to trust in Him and put our faith in Him. Let us not be worried or be fearful anymore. Instead, let us all seek the Lord with renewed faith and commitment, knowing that He loves each and every one of us, without exception. Just as He has reached out even to the army centurion, He shall also reach out to all of us as well, as His love is universal. But are we humble enough like the centurion to realise just how sinful and wicked we have been?

Let us all remember whenever we are about to receive the Lord in the Eucharist, of the army centurion’s words, ‘Lord, I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof, but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed’. Let these words be truly meant by our lips and our tongue, and not merely left as words alone. Instead, let us all be sincere in seeking the Lord’s love, mercy and forgiveness, and draw ever closer to Him and His grace. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 26 June 2021 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green 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.

Saturday, 26 June 2021 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

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

Luke 1 : 46-47, 48-49, 50 and 53, 54-55

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit exults in God, my Saviour!

He has looked upon His servant, in her lowliness, and people, forever, will call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, Holy is His Name!

From age to age, His mercy extends to those who live in His presence. He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty.

He held out His hand to Israel, His servant, for He remembered His mercy, even as He promised to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever.

Saturday, 26 June 2021 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

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

Genesis 18 : 1-15

YHVH appeared to Abraham near the oaks of Mamre. Abraham was sitting at the entrance to his tent, in the heat of the day, when he looked up and saw three Men standing nearby. When he saw Them he ran from the entrance of the tent to meet Them. He bowed to the ground and said, “My Lord, if I have found favour in Your sight, do not pass Your servant by. Let a little water be brought. Wash Your feet and then rest under the trees. I shall fetch some bread so that You can be refreshed and continue on Your way, since You have come to Your servant.”

They then said, “Do as you say.” Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah and said to her, “Quick, take three measures of flour, knead it and make cakes.” Abraham then ran to the herd, took a fine, tender calf, gave it to the servant who hurried to prepare it. He took butter and milk and together with the calf he had prepared laid it all before Them. And while he remained standing, They ate.

They then asked, “Where is Sarah, your wife?” Abraham answered, “She is in the tent.” And the visitor said, “At this same time next year I will return and Sarah by then will have a son.” Now Sarah was behind him, listening at the entrance to the tent. Abraham and Sarah were old, well on in years, and Sarah no longer had her monthly periods.

Sarah laughed to herself saying, “Now that I am old and worn and my husband is an old man, am I to have this pleasure?” YHVH said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Am I really going to have a child now that I am old?’ Is there anything that is impossible for God? At this same time next year I will return and Sarah by then will have a son.”

Sarah denied saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. But He said, “You did laugh.”

Friday, 25 June 2021 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard of the moments when God revealed to His people just how beloved they are, and how faithful He is to His Covenant with us, as we heard in the first reading today from the Book of Genesis how He reaffirmed Abraham of His promises, that He would give him the son that He has promised to be born of Sarah, his wife. Through that son, Isaac, God would make Abraham the father of many nations, just as He promised, and everything did come true eventually.

At that time, Abraham had also managed to sire a child with Sarah’s slave Hagar, upon the instruction made by Sarah herself, as any child born of the wife’s slave would and could be considered as the legal child of the wife. Sarah as well as Abraham were worried that they would not have a child in the end, and hence resorted to such a way to conceive a child, not waiting for the Lord’s promise wholeheartedly.

Yet, despite this, the child born of Abraham and Hagar, named Ishmael, while not the child promised or sanctioned by God, was still blessed by God as we heard in our reading today, still being a child of Abraham, and would eventually become a father of many nations himself. In the end, God fulfilled the promises He had made to His faithful servant, Abraham, above and beyond what He could and should have done.

In our Gospel passage today, then we heard of the Lord at the moment when a leper came to seek Him to be healed, and asked Him to cure him of his predicament. The Lord cured the man and healed him of his leprosy and told him to follow what Moses had commanded to the Israelites on the matter of leprosy and being healed from it. At that time, the Lord did not yet want to reveal Himself and yet, He has pity and love for the leper.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all realise through all that we had heard today, just how beloved we are and how fortunate we are that God wants to love us and make His Covenant with us. It is not only just that but God had also deemed us to be His own beloved children. While we fell into sin and disobeyed Him again and again, He still loved us and while punishing and chastising us, He still helped us and guided us down to the right path, and patiently helped us along the way.

Yet, many of us are still unaware of this fact and many of us still ignore the Lord and refuse to follow the Lord despite all that He had done for us. Many of us Christians ourselves despite what we profess to believe, we have not genuinely and sincerely loved Him in the way we should have. Instead, like Sarah and Abraham, we resorted to other means besides entrusting ourselves fully to the Lord, preferring to do things our own way instead of remembering His promises and reassurances.

This is not what we should be doing, brothers and sisters in Christ. As God’s chosen people, and those whom He has considered as His own people, and blessed all these while, we should begin to appreciate everything that He had done for us. God has loved us all since the very beginning and we have to remember how fortunate we are. God could have destroyed us and crushed us for our insolence, our disobedience and wicked sins, but He is still patient with us, no matter what.

Let us all therefore turn towards the Lord from now on with a renewed heart and love for Him, and let us be ever closer to Him, seeking Him wholeheartedly and dedicating ourselves ever more to Him with each and every passing moments. May the Lord be with us always, and may He bless us in our every good works and endeavours, always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 25 June 2021 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 8 : 1-4

At that time, when Jesus came down from the mountain, large crowds followed Him. Then a leper came forward. He knelt before Him and said, “Sir, if You want to, You can make me clean.”

Jesus stretched out His hand, touched him, and said, “I want to, be clean again.” At that very moment, the man was cleansed from his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you do not tell anyone; but go to the priest, have yourself declared clean, and offer the gift that Moses commanded as evidence for them.”

Friday, 25 June 2021 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 127 : 1-2, 3, 4-5

Blessed are you who fear YHVH and walk in His ways. You will eat the fruit of your toil; you will be blessed and favoured.

Your wife, like a vine, will bear fruits in your home; your children, like olive shoots, will stand around your table.

Such are the blessings bestowed upon the man who fears YHVH. May YHVH praise you from Zion. May you see Jerusalem prosperous all the days of your life.

Friday, 25 June 2021 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Genesis 17 : 1, 9-10, 15-22

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, YHVH appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty. Walk in My presence and be without blame! For your part, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you, generation after generation. This is My Covenant with you, that you will keep, you and your descendants after you : Every male among you shall be circumcised.”

God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai, your wife, no longer are you to call her Sarai, but Sarah. I will bless her, and I will give you a son by her. I will bless her and from her will come nations; kings and peoples shall come from her.”

Then Abraham fell face down, and he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? And can Sarah who is ninety have a child?” And Abraham said to God, “If only You would accept Ishmael as Yours!” But God said, “Not at all! It is Sarah, your wife, who will give birth to your son and you will name him Isaac. I will establish My Covenant with him and his descendants after him forever.”

“As for Ishmael, I heard you. I will bless him and make him fruitful, and I will multiply his race. He shall be the father of twelve princes and I will make of him a great nation. But My Covenant I will establish with Isaac, the child Sarah will have this time next year.” When He had finished speaking with Abraham, God went away from him.

Thursday, 24 June 2021 : Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the occasion of the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, celebrating the moment when St. John the Baptist, the Herald of the Messiah and the Lord was born into this world, marking the moment when God began to reveal the truth about His plans and designs for all of us. Through St. John the Baptist, God would show Himself and fulfil what He had promised to all of us, the salvation and eternal life that He has in mind for us.

St. John the Baptist had that very crucial role as the one who would reveal the Messiah to the world, and he had been prophesied since the old days of the previous prophets, as we heard in our first reading today from the Book of the prophet Isaiah. That is why his role was so important and why he has been so highly regarded in the Church, honoured as the only saint besides Mary, the Mother of God, to have his nativity or birth celebrated.

St. John the Baptist was the relative of the Lord Jesus, as Elizabeth, his mother was the cousin of Mary, the Mother of the Lord. His birth and in fact conception, was miraculous as Elizabeth was already in her old age, and she had not been able to conceive a child previously. However, to the Lord nothing indeed is impossible, just as He has been able to make Sarah, the wife of Abraham to bear a child in her old age, and how Hannah, the mother of Samuel, was able to bear him after a long time being barren.

But it is not the familial connection which made St. John the Baptist to be such an important figure, but rather his commitment, his conviction and faith, his efforts and all the time that he had spent in fulfilling the most important mission that had been entrusted to him. He dedicated himself to be the one to prepare the path for the coming of the Lord, giving himself to the ministry by which he called so many people to turn away from their sins and to embrace God’s mercy and love.

St. John the Baptist called on the people to abandon their wicked and sinful ways and to embrace God’s mercy, by calling them to be baptised with sincere heart, that through the baptism, they would come to embrace the Lord and commit themselves to abandon their wicked ways. St. John the Baptist even confronted the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who were sent to him to question his actions and his authority, and rebuked them as wicked leaders who misguided the people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, St. John the Baptist gave his all to the Lord, and committed himself to Him, even to stand up against rulers and kings, the powerful Pharisees and others, which cost him his freedom, brought to jail by king Herod for his rebuke of the adulterous behaviour the latter committed, and eventually, as we all know, he would die a martyr of the faith, defending his faith to the very end. This here is a most faithful servant of God, who gave his all to his Lord and Master.

Not only that, but he was also humble and upright, when he willingly let his disciples to go and follow the Lord instead of him, as he was merely the Herald, and when he saw the One Whom he was prophesying and preaching about gaining in stature and popularity, he was happy and elated rather than being jealous, unless what most other people would have done, were they in the same situation faced by St. John the Baptist, showing how he was indeed a servant of God who put God first and foremost in his life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all turn towards the Lord with a renewed faith, conviction and zeal, and with the desire to love Him and serve Him much as St. John the Baptist had done in his life. As we recall the memory of this great saint and rejoice in his Nativity today, we are all called to follow in his footsteps and to be inspired by his faith and dedication in fulfilling the mission entrusted to him by the Lord, his commitment and conviction to do all things for the greater glory of God.

Let us all therefore inspire one another to live our faith and our lives as best as we are able to, in being upright and just, in being faithful and committed in all things, just as we all have our own calling and responsibilities in life as Christians living in our world today. May all of us be good examples and inspirations to one another, that we may help each other in our journey towards the Lord. May God bless us all, in all things, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 24 June 2021 : Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 1 : 57-66, 80

When the time came for Elizabeth, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbours and relatives heard that the merciful Lord had done a wonderful thing for her, and they rejoiced with her. When, on the eighth day, they came to attend the circumcision of the child, they wanted to name him Zechariah after his father.

But his mother said, “Not so; he shall be called John.” They said to her, “But no one in your family has that name!” and they made signs to his father for the name he wanted to give him. Zechariah asked for a writing tablet, and wrote on it, “His name is John;” and they were very surprised. Immediately, Zechariah could speak again, and his first words were in praise of God.

A holy fear came on all in the neighbourhood, and throughout the hill country of Judea and the people talked about these events. All who heard of it, pondered in their minds, and wondered, “What will this child be?” For they understood that the hand of the Lord was with him.

As the child grew up, he was seen to be strong in the Spirit; and he lived in the desert, until the day when he appeared openly in Israel.