Friday, 13 October 2017 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are reminded that as Christians all of us are called to serve the Lord with our devotion and piety, with commitment to obey and follow the laws and commandments in our every actions and deeds. Otherwise, if we do not, we shall fall into the trap of sin and wickedness, and we will end up being condemned by God.

As the Lord Jesus mentioned in the Gospel today, that all those who are not with Him, are against Him, and all those who have walked away from Him and rejected Him, will be lost from Him and be condemned. That is because He is the One and only One focus which we should have in our lives, as the centre of our lives and the pinnacle of our human existence.

And through what we have heard in the Gospel today, the threat of evil spirits and possession by those spirits are truly very real. The devil is our great enemy, and he and his fellow fallen angels are out there, ready to strike against us mankind, and corrupt us into our downfall. And the devil and his allies find it the easiest for them to strike at those who are weak and defenceless, those whose spiritual defence are lacking.

Those who do not believe in God, doubted Him and worked against Him are those who are under the greatest risk of falling into the temptations of the devil, and the evil spirits came to possess them. And as the Lord mentioned, those who do not keep themselves vigilant against the attacks by the devil are at risk, because the devil shall bring forth even more evil spirits to strike at them, and they become even worse.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, appropriately, on this day we celebrate a very special occasion, that is the hundredth anniversary of the Last Apparition of Our Lady of Fatima, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, who had appeared to the three children at Fatima, Jacinta, Francesco and Lucia, every thirteenth day of the month beginning on the thirteenth of May 1917 and lasted until this day, a hundred years ago.

On this day, Our Lady of Fatima appeared to the children for the last time, and she performed a great sign which was seen by many, when the sun seemed to dance around the sky, in a dazzling show of God’s miraculous wonders, known also as the Miracle of the Dancing Sun. And in that occasion, Our Lady of Fatima also mentioned how many sinners were still in need of God’s forgiveness, and that they needed to atone for their sins.

She said, “Let them offend the Lord no more, for He is already much offended.” This is a stark reminder of what we have just heard in the Gospel passage today, that those who do not obey the Lord and stand against Him will be rejected by God, because of their sins and disobedience. We may think that God is a loving and benevolent God, and that much is true, however, we often forget that, while God does not despise us the sinners, but He despises all the sins which we commit in our lives.

Through His mother, God has frequently called upon us mankind to return to Him, to repent and turn away from all of our sins and wickedness, to be forgiven and to be reconciled with Him, so that we will not suffer the fate of the devil and all those who rejected God, that is hell and eternal damnation. That is not what God wants for us, and it is not why He had created us, for He wants each and every one of us to be with Him, to be united with Him perfectly in love.

And how do we do this? It is by deepening our relationship with God, spending time with Him and putting Him as the priority in our lives. For many of us, God has been relegated to the second, third and even to the last place, and we have placed many of our worldly matters and concerns ahead of our love for God. That is why we allow the devil to come into our bodies, corrupting our minds and hearts.

Let us therefore strengthen our relationship with God through prayer and devotion, by allowing God to enter into our hearts and dwell within us, so that we may be strengthened in faith, and therefore, we may draw closer to God. Let us all ask also for the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima, that she may always pray for us, and intercede for our sake, at all times, that all of us sinners may come to reconciliation with God.

May the Lord be with us always, and may through the loving care and intercession of His Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Fatima, we may find the best and most direct path to Him, and be worthy to receive the eternal glory and life He promised to all of us His faithful ones. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 13 October 2017 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 11 : 15-26

At that time, some of the people said, “Jesus drives out demons by the power of Beelzebul, the chief of the demons.” Others wanted to put Him to the test, by asking Him for a heavenly sign.

But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them, “Every nation divided by civil war is on the road to ruin, and will fall. If Satan also is divided, his empire is coming to an end. How can you say that I drive out demons by calling upon Beelzebul? If I drive them out by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons drive out demons? They will be your judges, then.”

“But if I drive out demons by the finger of God; would not this mean that the kingdom of God has come upon you? As long as a man, strong and well armed, guards his house, his goods are safe. But when a stronger man attacks and overcomes him, the challenger takes away all the weapons he relied on, and disposes of his spoils.”

“Whoever is not with Me is against Me, and whoever does not gather with Me, scatters. When the evil spirit goes out of a person, it wanders through dry lands, looking for a resting place; and finding none, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ When it comes, it finds the house swept and everything in order. Then it goes to fetch seven other spirits, even worse than itself. They move in and settle there, so that the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

Friday, 13 October 2017 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 9 : 2-3, 6 and 16, 8-9

The wicked are in power; the weak suffer harassment; the poor become victims of evil schemes. Exploiters boast in their power and greed; the covetous blasphemes and defies God.

All of them saying in their heart, “Nothing will trouble me. I am secure, powerful and happy.” YHVH is King forever and the pagans have vanished from His land.

They lie in ambush near the villages, murdering the innocent and the unfortunate, spying upon their next victim. The evil one lurks in secret, like a lion in its covert, waiting to seize his prey and drag him off in a net.

Friday, 13 October 2017 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Joel 1 : 13-15 and Joel 2 : 1-2

Gird yourselves, o priests, and weep; mourn, o ministers of the altar. Come, spend the night in sackcloth, o ministers of my God! For the house of your God is deprived of grain and drink offering.

Proclaim a fast, call an assembly. Summon the elders, and all who live in the land, into the house of your God, and cry out to YHVH, “What a dreadful day – the day of YHVH, that draws near, and comes as ruin, from the Almighty!”

Blow the trumpet in Zion, sound the alarm on My holy mountain! Let all dwellers in the land tremble, for the day of YHVH is coming. Yes, the day is fast approaching – a day of gloom and darkness, a day of clouds and blackness. A vast and mighty army comes, like dawn spreading over the mountain : such as has never occurred before, nor will happen again in the future.

Monday, 13 October 2014 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Scriptures made a reference to the two sons of Abraham, who was each born of a different mother. Ishmael, the elder son, was born from the union between Abraham and her slave, Hagar, at the insistence of Sarah, his wife, who insisted to Abraham to bear a son with Hagar the slave, who will then legally be known as her own son.

It was common in the past, and even still until today, that a surrogate mother, usually a slave, to produce an heir to a wealthy and influential person, and whose heir will be adopted by the wife of the person, when the wife is unable to bear a child on her own. But in the case of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar the slave, Sarah was taking a shortcut to her problem of not being able to bear a child. God had promised Abraham that He would give him a son through Sarah, for it is nothing impossible for God, even for someone to bear a child at old age.

The younger son, Isaac, born from Abraham and Sarah was the child promised by God, and the blessings which God had given to Abraham in His covenant, was passed on to Isaac and his descendants. Meanwhile, Ishmael, while still blessed by Abraham, he had no part in his inheritance, and both him and his mother Hagar the slave was sent away by Abraham from his house.

The idea here is to separate two occasions in our own lives, the children of God, the children of our father in faith, that is Abraham, the faithful servant of God. The elder son, Ishmael, born of Hagar the slave represented our old lives, the lives of slavery, when we are enslaved by the power of sin and Satan’s works, that we are chained to this world and all of its darkness.

If we think that we are not chained or enslaved, then think about this, how our ancestors were cast out of Eden, the gardens of God filled with all wonderful things and perfections, because they disobeyed the Lord and preferred to follow Satan and their own desires than to listen to God, who had told them and taught them what they need to follow and obey, as well as what they need to avoid.

God did not create us to enslave us, or to make us like His slaves. Rather, we were created in love, for love and for our own good. God who is perfect and complete in everything truly had no need for anyone or anything to satisfy Him, and He did not need anything to be happy or to be joyful, as He is perfect and self-sufficient in everything, in love and joy.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, He created all things, and last and greatest of all, mankind, so that He may share that love He has with all of us. And we were created in perfection, meant to enjoy all the things God had created. He even entrusted all creations on earth to us, that we were meant to be the stewards of all creations, to live our lives in bliss, joy and perfect harmony with God.

But alas, we choose our lot with the evil one, who tempted us, and by accepting his temptations and lies, from our ancestors on, until the coming of the Saviour, all mankind had been enslaved, that is enslaved and chained by sin, the sins of our actions which corrupted us and brought us away from the promise of eternal life and happiness which God freely gave us and intended for us.

And that brought us under the slavery of our sins, that we are no longer free but bound under the consequences of sin, which ultimately is death. Death is the punishment and consequence of disobedience, and that is why mankind suffered from death, which was once without hope, and we feared death. But all was not lost, for God gave His help to us all, through Jesus Christ His Son, who is our Lord and Saviour.

That through Christ, we may be made anew, and transformed from the child of the first generation, represented by Ishmael, the son of the slave woman, to be like the other child, that is Isaac, the son promised by God to Abraham, the son of the free woman, and hence is free. This represents how we mankind had been made free, and through the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ, this was made true by God.

But this freedom is given only to those who want to believe in Christ, and not to those who continue to stubbornly refuse His offers of freedom. Yes, there are many indeed today who continues to refuse to follow the Lord and listen to Him, and they prefer to continue to live under the slavery of sin, and keep their chains of sin, which continue to chain them to death and destruction.

This was exactly the same kind of attitude which Jesus encountered as He taught the people, who were stubborn and persistent in their rebelliousness. They doubted Jesus, even after seeing what He had done, and asking for even more signs and miracles. They were not able to look beyond the veil of their doubt and unfaithfulness, and instead, they languished in sin, refusing to see the light until the day when the judgment comes upon them.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as today we also celebrate the anniversary of the last of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima, let us all look at the examples of the holy saints and martyrs, and chief of all, that of our Lady of Fatima, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. And let us look at the examples of Abraham our father in faith, and finally the examples and the actions of our Lord Jesus Himself.

All of them followed the Lord, obeyed the Lord and listened to His will, as contrasted to Adam and Eve, our ancestors, and the people whom Jesus confronted in the Gospel today. We have a choice, brothers and sisters in Christ. We can choose to follow the Lord and obey all of His commands and will, and walk righteously in His path, or to choose to instead listen to Satan and his lies, and obey our own whim and our own desires. It is up to us to make a difference in our own lives.

Thus, do we all want to choose life or death? Do we all want to be free from sin and its slavery, or do we want to remain bound to sin and be enslaved? Thus, let us all take conscious actions, to show that we want to be indeed free from all forms of the bondage of sin, and rebuke Satan who had enslaved us with them. Let us say courageously to him, that we do not want to have any more part in this slavery of our body and soul, but rather that we may be free in the Lord.

May Almighty God be with us, guide us and bring us into the freedom from our slavery, the slavery of our body and soul to sin, so that we may truly be righteous and just, and be found worthy of His grace and inheritance. God bless us all. Amen.

Monday, 13 October 2014 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 11 : 29-32

At that time, as the crowd increased, Jesus began to speak in this way, “People of the present time are troubled people. They ask for a sign, but no sign will be given to them except the sign of Jonah. As Jonah became a sign for the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be a sign for this generation.”

“The Queen of the South will rise up on Judgment Day with the people of these times and accuse them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and here there is greater than Solomon. The people of Nineveh will rise up on Judgment Day with the people of these times and accuse them, for Jonah’s preaching made them turn from their sins, and here there is greater than Jonah.”

Monday, 13 October 2014 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 112 : 1-2, 3-4, 5a and 6-7

Alleluia! Praise, o servants of the Lord, praise the Name of the Lord! Blessed be the Name of the Lord now and forever!

From eastern lands to the western islands, may the Name of the Lord be praised! The Lord is exalted over the nations, His glory above the heavens.

Who is like the Lord our God, He who bends down to see on earth as in heaven? He lifts up the poor from the dust and the needy from the ash heap.