Saturday, 7 July 2018 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in today’s first reading from the Book of the prophet Amos, in continuation to what we have heard from the earlier days this week, while we heard about the punishment which God had warned for all those who have sinned against Him, because of the wickedness and the disobedience shown by the people of Israel, today, we heard of the love and mercy which God had for His people.

In this, we see how the Lord is truly filled with love for each and every one of us, despite the anger that He has shown at our sins and wickedness. Ultimately, each and every one of us are beloved by God, and it is our sins and wickedness which He has despised. And it is exactly these sins and wickedness that have become obstacles in our journey of faith towards the Lord.

Now, should we continue to let these obstacles to be burdens and obstacles to us, preventing us from finding our way to the Lord Who loves us? Certainly we should not have allowed this to happen right? And yet, many of us, even though we know that what we have done in our lives are sinful and wicked, and we have drifted away from God, but we continue to walk in this path, because we have not been able to resist the many temptations of life.

And this is where we should perhaps heed what the Lord Jesus had mentioned in today’s Gospel passage through a parable, by which He wanted to teach us the importance of internal conversion and transformation of our lives from one that was wicked and sinful, into one that is filled with faith, commitment and devotion to God. And the Lord Jesus used a parable to show this.

He taught the people using the parable of the new cloth and the old cloth, as well as the new and old wineskins and the new and old wine. What does these parables mean? What are their intentions? It was in fact, to show how incompatible our old ways of life are, as compared to the way which Our Lord has shown us. The old cloth and the old wineskins represent our past, filled with sin and wickedness, while the new cloth and the new wineskins represent the way that the Lord want us to walk in.

And as the Lord related how new wine will end up bursting and destroying the old wineskin if it is stored in the old wineskin, and vice versa, as well as when new cloth is patched to close up the tear in an old piece of cloth, this shows how our old, sinful way of life is incompatible to our current status, as Christians, as those whom God has taken away from this world, and called to be His disciples, and His children.

Yet, many of us Christians still live in disobedience against God’s will and His laws and commandments. We do not live a virtuous life and carry out a graceful and and devout attitude in life. This is what it means by us being new wineskins and new cloths, but inside us, we are still filled with old wine and patched with old pieces of cloth. And as the Lord showed what happened to the wineskins and the cloths, we will eventually end up in danger, should we continue to live in this kind of double standard life.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all from now on renew our commitment to live faithfully, truly as Christians in everything we say and do. We should no longer adopt this double standard of being Christians and yet, disobedient and sinful in our attitudes and actions in life. Rather, let us all turn our hearts, minds and all of our being to be devoted to God, from this moment onwards. May the Lord be with us in this journey of faith, and bless us all in our endeavours. Amen.

Saturday, 7 July 2018 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

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

Matthew 9 : 14-17

At that time, the disciples of John came to Jesus with the question, “How is it, that we and the Pharisees fast on many occasions, but not Your disciples?”Jesus answered them, “How can you expect wedding guests to mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The time will come, when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then, they will fast.”

“No one patches an old coat with a piece of unshrunken cloth, for the patch will shrink and tear an even bigger hole in the coat. In the same way, you do not put new wine into old wine skins. If you do, the wine skins will burst and the wine will be spilt. No, you put new wine into fresh skins; then both are preserved.”

Saturday, 7 July 2018 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

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

Psalm 84 : 9, 11-12, 13-14

Would, that I hear God’s proclamation, that He promise peace to His people, His saints – lest they come back to their folly.

Love and faithfulness have met; righteousness and peace have embraced. Faithfulness will reach up from the earth while justice bends down from heaven.

YHVH will give what is good, and our land will yield its fruit. Justice will go before Him, and peace will follow along His path.

Saturday, 7 July 2018 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

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

Amos 9 : 11-15

On that day, I shall restore the fallen hut of David and wall up its breaches, and raise its ruined walls; and so built it as in days of old. They shall conquer the remnant of Edom, and the neighbouring nations, upon which My Name has been called.” Thus says YHVH, the One Who will do this.YHVH says also, “The days are coming when the plowman will overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes overtake the sower.

The mountains shall drip sweet wine and all the hills shall melt. I shall bring back the exiles of My people Israel; they will rebuild the desolate cities and dwell in them.”“They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will have orchards and eat their fruit. I shall plant them in their own country and they shall never again be rooted up from the land which I have given them,” says YHVH your God.

Friday, 6 July 2018 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyr)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the prophet Amos, from the Old Testament, speaking to the people of Israel, to be precise the northern kingdom of Israel to whom he was sent to remind the people of their obligations to worship and follow God. And in today’s reading, he chastised the people for their wicked behaviour.

The people did not follow the Law of God or obeyed His commandments any longer. They have sought to seek personal glory and benefits for themselves, even through cheating and wicked treatments on their fellow men. They cheated the people of their money and their time, for their own benefit. They treated their neighbours badly and made profits out of another’s suffering.

And the prophet Amos warned the people of God’s retribution and justice, which would come for them in time to come, should they continue to walk in their sinful path, and indeed, as time would prove, they were to face all that God had warned them through His prophet. They were scattered and defeated by their enemies, and were forced into exile from the land given to their ancestors.

But God was not without mercy and love for His people, for in fact, He was ever ready to extend His love, mercy and compassion for those who seek Him, and are willing to repent and turn themselves to His merciful love and kindness. Yet, many of the people hardened their hearts and minds, and refused to follow Him or to listen to the words and the calling which He had made to them through His prophets.

That was why many among them failed to recognise Him, when He came in our midst, calling us all to repent from our sins and turn towards Him. They instead, like the Pharisees, questioned Him and doubted Him, and even looked down on Him when He went out to seek the conversion of sinners. But the Lord Jesus spoke out against them and told them, that indeed He came into this world looking for the conversion of sinners, and for those who are willing, He will forgive them.

Today, we should reflect therefore, on the life and death of the faithful servant of God, the renowned St. Maria Goretti, whose feast falls on this day. St. Maria Goretti was a relatively recent saint and martyr, whose tragic story is a remembrance of our own mankind’s sins and inability to resist the temptation to sin. And yet, in that same story, we also see the amazing capacity that we mankind have for repentance and forgiveness.

St. Maria Goretti was just one among the many humble young woman, whose life was ordinary and yet filled with faith and dedication to the Lord. She lived an ordinary and grace filled life, but one of her neighbours, named Alessandro, desired her and wanted to have carnal pleasure with her, outside the bounds of marriage and beyond the appointed time and in disobedience of God’s laws and the laws of the Church.

On one day, Alessandro had St. Maria Goretti cornered, and demanded that she committed the act of great sin with him. St. Maria Goretti refused to do so, remaining committed to her life of chastity and commitment to God. She resisted, even though knowing that she would suffer and even die defending her sacred vow of virginity and devotion to God. Alessandro stabbed her many times out of anger and unfulfilled desire, and St. Maria Goretti met her martyrdom.

But St. Maria Goretti did not blame her murderer, Alessandro. In fact, from her deathbed, she forgave him and prayed for his conversion. And while initially Alessandro was unrepentant in his ways, but constant prayers from St. Maria Goretti, who had, according to Alessandro himself, appeared before him asking him to repent his ways, eventually, the murderer turned away from his sins and repented.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in that example alone, we see both mankind’s capacity for sin and disobedience, as well as their ability to seek forgiveness and repentance. Now, the choice is in our hands, whether we want to remain in the path of sin, disobedience and wickedness, or whether we want to commit to a new path of obedience, faith and devotion to God.

May the Lord help us in this journey of life, so that we may be able to find our way to Him, turning our whole heart, mind, being and existence from now on, to serve Him with all our strength. Let us follow the example of St. Maria Goretti, in her unflinching and courageous obedience to the Lord, and in how forgiving and loving she has been to her murderer, as the sign of our true Christian faith and love. Amen.

Friday, 6 July 2018 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyr)

Matthew 9 : 9-13

At that time, as Jesus moved on from the place where He cured a paralytic man, He saw a man named Matthew, at his seat in the custom house; and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And Matthew got up and followed Him. Now it happened, while Jesus was at table in Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners joined Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is it, that your Master eats with sinners and tax collectors?”

When Jesus heard this, He said, “Healthy people do not need a doctor, but sick people do. Go, and find out what this means : What I want is mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Friday, 6 July 2018 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyr)

Psalm 118 : 2, 10, 20, 30, 40, 131

Blessed are they who treasure His word and seek Him with all their heart.

I seek You with my whole heart; let me not stray from Your commands.

My soul is consumed with desire for Your ordinances at all times.

I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart upon Your laws.

Oh, how I long for Your precepts! Renew my life in Your righteousness.

I gasp in ardent yearning, for Your commandments that I love.