Saturday, 10 July 2021 : 14th 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 Scripture, we are all called to entrust ourselves to the Lord and put our faith in Him, and not be easily worried or swayed by the temptations of worldly comfort and pleasures, or be deterred by challenges and sufferings, for the Lord has always provided for our needs. He has always been faithful to the Covenant He made with us and our ancestors, and we have nothing to fear if we trust in Him.

In our first reading today, we heard of the account of the death of Jacob, or Israel, the forefather of all the Israelites, who had passed on in the land of Egypt after being reunited with his son Joseph, surrounded by all of his extended family. Then, the brothers of Joseph were afraid that the latter would take revenge against them after their father had passed away. They were afraid that Joseph, who was the Regent of Egypt, would use his power to his advantage and take revenge on them.

Yet, Joseph reassured his brothers that he had no such intention at all. Instead, he reminded all of them of God’s most bountiful grace and guidance to all of them, His beloved ones. Joseph reminded his brothers how God had turned their malicious plan on him into a blessing for many others, as He brought Joseph into Egypt, and while initially he suffered, but God made him to be in the position to benefit so many others, all through his position as Regent, by which he saved many during the years of famine.

In the end, therefore God still wanted to reach out to His beloved ones, and be reconciled with them, just as Joseph was reconciled to his brothers. He still blessed them and loved us mankind, despite all that we had done, in our disobedience and refusal to believe in Him. He still believes in us and wants to love us all tenderly, caring for us as He has always done, all these while. It is often we ourselves who refused to trust in Him and preferred to walk our own path.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard of the Lord reassuring His disciples how there is nothing that they need to worry about since each one of them are precious to the Lord, and that mankind should not spend so much time worrying about themselves and their concerns. Instead, they must entrust themselves and their lives to the Lord, believing fully that the Lord will always be with them, and nothing that happens to us which is not known to the Lord. He always has our best interests in mind, and this sometimes leads to scenarios in which we may have to suffer or endure difficulties for a little while. But we have to learn to be patient in facing all these.

Are we going to let little shortcomings and obstacles to stop us in the path towards God and His salvation? This is not what we should be doing, and we should learn to trust in the Lord to guide us rather than worrying about we are to enjoy and experience in our daily living. We have to remove from our hearts and minds those obstacles and barriers of doubt, fear and indecisiveness, and learn to be more courageous in living our lives in accordance to the way of the Lord. We should be courageous and dedicated in being true to our Christian truth and ways that in all things we say and do, we will always be our Lord’s faithful and worthy witnesses.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in this world today, there is already too much darkness and wickedness, and there is not enough faith and hope, and the love of God. As we all carry on our respective journey in life, we are all called to reflect on our actions and our outlook in life, that we may strive to be ever more worthy of the Lord and be ever more committed to walk in His path, so that through us, many more people may come to be inspired by our examples and be strengthened by our resolve, to live faithfully in the same way as we have done it as well.

Let us all be great inspiration for one another, that we may strengthen each other and help support one another in our journey towards the Lord. May He continue to bless us and guide us in our every steps in life, and may He empower each and every one of us to be His most faithful followers and witnesses of this same Christian truth, hope, faith and love that we have received, now and always. Amen.

Saturday, 10 July 2021 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

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

Matthew 10 : 24-33

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “A student is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. A student should be content to become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If the head of the household has been called Beelzebul, how much more, those of his household! So, do not be afraid of them!”

“There is nothing covered that will not be uncovered. There is nothing hidden that will not be made known. What I am telling you in the dark, you must speak in the light. What you hear in private, proclaim from the housetops. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but have no power to kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of Him Who can destroy both body and soul in hell.”

“For a few cents you can buy two sparrows. Yet not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Father knowing. As for you, every hair of your head has been counted. Do not be afraid : you are worth more than many sparrows! Whoever acknowledges Me before others, I will acknowledge before My Father in heaven. Whoever rejects Me before others, I will reject before My Father in heaven.”

Saturday, 10 July 2021 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

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

Psalm 104 : 1-2, 3-4, 6-7

Give thanks to YHVH, call on His Name; make known His works among the nations. Sing to Him, sing His praise, proclaim all His wondrous deeds.

Glory in His holy Name; let those who seek YHVH rejoice. Look to YHVH and be strong; seek His face always.

You descendants of His servant Abraham, you sons of Jacob, His chosen ones! He is YHVH our God; His judgments reach the whole world.

Saturday, 10 July 2021 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

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

Genesis 49 : 29-32 and Genesis 50 : 15-26a

Jacob then gave his sons these instructions : “I am soon to be gathered to my people; bury me near my fathers, in the cave in the field of Ephron, the Hittite; in the cave in the field of Machpelah, to the east of Mamre in Canaan, the field that Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite as a burial place. It was there that Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried. There they buried Leah. The field and the cave in it were purchased from the Hittites.”

When Joseph’s brothers realised that their father was dead they said, “What if Joseph turns against us in hate because of the evil we did him?” So they sent word to Joseph saying, “Before he died your father told us to say this to you : Please forgive the crime and the sin of your brothers in doing evil to you. Forgive the crime of the servants of your father’s God.”

When he was given the message, Joseph wept. His brothers went and threw themselves down before him, “We are your slaves,” they said. But Joseph reassured them, “Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? You intended to do me harm, but God intended to turn it to good in order to bring about what is happening today – the survival of many people. So have no fear! I will provide for you and your little ones.” In this way he touched their hearts and consoled them.

Joseph remained in Egypt together with all his father’s family. He lived for a hundred and ten years, long enough to see Ephraim’s great-grandchildren, and also to have the children of Machir, the son of Manasseh, placed on his knees after their birth.

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am going to die, but God will surely remember you and take you from this country to the land He promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Joseph then made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “When God comes to bring you out from here, carry my bones with you.” Joseph died at the age of one hundred and ten.

Friday, 9 July 2021 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine Zhao Rong, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures we are all reminded of the reassurances of the Lord to all of us, that all who are faithful to Him shall never be left alone, and God will always take good care of those who are beloved and precious to Him. God will be with those who are faithful to Him and will not leave them wanting or in need. This is just as we heard the story of Jacob as he was about to go to Egypt from the Book of Genesis, and the Lord’s words reassuring His disciples regarding the mission they would be taking on.

In our first reading today from the Book of Genesis, we heard about Jacob, the son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham, who in his old age was embarking on the journey to the land of Egypt, as he had just heard the unbelievable news that Joseph, his second youngest son, whom he thought to be long dead, was in fact still alive and was the Regent of all Egypt, the second most powerful person there after the Egyptian Pharaoh himself. Jacob heard all of these from his other sons, who had once told him that Joseph was seized by wild beasts and was killed, a plot they did due to their jealousy to Joseph’s preferential treatment by Jacob.

After all those years, Jacob who had grieved over the loss of one of his beloved sons, heard again the message of hope, and he wanted to see his long-lost son. Yet, at the same time, he was unsure and worried of the journey to come. Joseph had called his father and the rest of the extended family of Israel to move to Egypt, as that time it was still in the midst of the great famine engulfing the whole world, and many years remained in that long famine, while Egypt had plenty of food storage thanks to Joseph and his insight from God.

The Lord therefore spoke to Jacob as we heard in our first reading today, reassuring him that he had nothing to fear from the journey, and that God Himself would accompany him and his family, and continue to bless him and all of his descendants in the land of Egypt. He reassured Jacob that He would always be by his side, no matter what, and provide for the Israelites, as He would prove again and again. Then we heard how Jacob finally encountered Joseph again, and was indeed overcome with great joy of seeing his beloved son.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the moment when the Lord told His disciples that their commitment to Him and the mission which He has entrusted to them would see them facing plenty of obstacles and trials, as they might encounter severe persecutions, oppressions and challenges from the powerful, from the state and the authorities, and all those who were opposed to the Lord and His truth and works. This is the reality which the Lord did not hide but instead, reveal plainly before all of His disciples.

But at the same time, the Lord also reassured them all that they had nothing to be worried about, as they embark on their missionary journey and works, echoing what the Lord had told Jacob many centuries previously. He would be with all of His disciples, followers and all who have professed their faith in Him, and He would journey together with them, suffering with them and helping them to endure all the persecutions and trials that they would face in the midst of their ministry.

These therefore are reminders for all of us that the Lord is always ever faithful to the Covenant which He had made with us, and He will always stand by us no matter what, and He will not abandon us, and we truly have nothing to fear even if we are facing the worst of oppositions and troubles. As Christians, we have to embrace our calling and respective mission in life with faith, and trust the Lord with our lives, at all times. We have to believe in Him and put our faith in Him, and be strengthened with courage and faith.

Today, we remember the glorious memory of the holy saints, St. Augustine Zhao Rong and his companions in martyrdom, the Holy Martyrs of China. Today we recall these multitudes of people, our holy predecessors, who have suffered for their faith in the great country of China. Many of them were converts to the faith who had embraced the Lord and remained firm in their faith despite the persecutions they faced from the local authorities and the challenges they had in various forms, and when forced to abandon their faith, they remained faithful to the Lord and suffered martyrdom as a result.

Many of them suffered grievously and faced great tribulations, prison and torture, death in most painful ways, for their dedication and commitment. But they remained steadfast, all because they believed in the Lord and His faithfulness, that no matter what, they trusted in Him and the love that they had received from Him. To the very end, they persevered and remained true to the Lord. They are our inspirations in life, in how we ourselves can devote ourselves to the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore dedicate ourselves to the Lord in the same way. Let us entrust ourselves to the Lord and give ourselves in the best way possible, that each and every one of us shall be more and more faithful, closer and worthy of the Lord, with each and every passing moments in our lives. May God be with us always, and may He strengthen us with resolve and courage to follow Him wholeheartedly in all things. Amen.

Friday, 9 July 2021 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine Zhao Rong, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Matthew 10 : 16-23

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Look, I send you out like sheep among wolves. You must be as clever as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard with people, for they will hand you over to their courts, and they will flog you in their synagogues. You will be brought to trial before rulers and kings because of Me, so that you may witness to them and the pagans.”

“But when you are arrested, do not worry about what you are to say, or how you are to say it; when the hour comes, you will be given what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father, speaking through you.”

“Brother will hand over his brother to death, and a father his child; children will turn against their parents and have them put to death. Everyone will hate you because of Me, but whoever stands firm to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next. I tell you the truth, you will not have passed through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”

Friday, 9 July 2021 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine Zhao Rong, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 36 : 3-4, 18-19, 27-28, 39-40

Trust in YHVH and do good; dwell in the land and live on it. Make YHVH your delight; and He will grant your heart’s desire.

YHVH watches over the lives of the upright; forever will their inheritance abide. They are not crushed in times of calamity; when famine strikes, they still are satisfied.

Do good and shun evil, so that you will live secure forever. For YHVH loves justice and right, and never forsakes His faithful ones. The wicked, instead, will perish, and their breed will be cut off.

YHVH is the salvation of the righteous; in time of distress, He is their refuge. YHVH helps them, and rescues them from the oppressor; He saves them, for they sought shelter in Him.

Friday, 9 July 2021 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine Zhao Rong, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Genesis 46 : 1-7, 28-30

Israel left with all he owned and reached Beersheba where he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. God spoke to Israel in visions that he had during the night. “Jacob! Jacob!” “Here I am,” he said. “I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. I will go with you to Egypt and I will bring you back again and Joseph’s hand will close your eyes.”

Jacob left Beersheba and the sons of Israel carried Jacob their father with their little children and their wives in the wagons that Joseph had sent to fetch him. They also took their flocks and all that they had acquired in Canaan. And so it was that Jacob came to Egypt and with him all his family, his sons and his grandsons, his daughters and his granddaughters, in short all his children he took with him to Egypt.

Jacob sent Judah ahead to let Joseph know he was coming and that he would soon arrive in the land of Goshen. Joseph got his chariot ready in order to meet Israel his father in Goshen. He presented himself, threw his arms around his father and wept on his shoulder for a long time. Israel said to Joseph, “Now I can die, for I have seen your face and know you are alive.”

Thursday, 8 July 2021 : 14th 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 Scripture, we heard of the moment from the Book of Genesis when Joseph, son of Jacob, was reunited with his brothers in the land of Egypt, in a most unlikely encounter between Joseph, who was then the second most powerful man and Regent over all of Egypt, and his brothers, who had come from the land of Canaan seeking for food and provisions during the great famine that time.

Initially, none of the brothers had recognised Joseph, and since they had thought him long gone after they sold him off to the Midianites, and even probably dead, they did not expect to see Joseph again, after so many years and in such an occasion no less. Joseph, on the other hand, recognised his brothers immediately, and although he could have revealed himself immediately, but he waited and tested his brothers first to see how they were doing.

Eventually, Joseph could not take it anymore and revealed himself before his brothers, saying that it was God’s plan and grace that allowed everything to happen as it was, that their evil plots had been turned to good things as God sent Joseph to Egypt to pave the path for Jacob and his descendants. God sent Joseph ahead of the rest to prepare everything, so that when they would eventually come, they would eventually be taken good care of, as Israel would eventually stay in Egypt for quite many years.

Then in our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord speaking to His disciples regarding the way that they ought to live up to their lives and mission as those whom the Lord had sent to be His servants and witnesses, His disciples to be the ones to proclaim His truth among the peoples of all the nations. The Lord called on them all to turn towards Him and entrust themselves to Him, not worrying about what they were to bring and how they were to survive, for God Himself would be with them.

Those disciples would encounter significant challenges and opposition, trials and problems throughout their ministry, just as almost all the Apostles save for St. John encountered martyrdom along with numerous other saints of the early Church and beyond. Throughout the history of the Church, there were then still so many others who had suffered in the midst of their trials and journeys. Yet, they all persevered and remained faithful.

This is what we have been reminded of through today’s Scripture readings, that each and every one of us as Christians ought to trust in the Lord and to follow Him wholeheartedly, and not to be easily swayed by worldly temptations or our fears. We must never be afraid since we will always be preserved and protected by the Lord Who loves each and every one of us without exception. If only that we all have this great faith in Him and love for His kindness and compassionate Heart, with which He has generously taken care of us as always.

Today, we are all called to refocus our attention and focus on the Lord, and do our very best to glorify His Name by our every actions and commitment in life. Are we capable and willing to commit ourselves to be the true bearers of God’s light and truth, brothers and sisters? If we have not followed Him in the manner that we should have, then we really ought to begin doing so now. God has called us to follow Him and to respond to this calling. He has revealed to us what we all need to do as Christians.

We can no longer be complacent or idle as Christians, ignorant of all that we can and should be doing as those who proclaim to believe in God and His truth. God has called on all of us to walk in His path, and that is what we all should be doing, with great faith and dedication. That is why, we should dedicate our time and effort to serve Him, to be His witnesses to all the whole world. Let us all be good witnesses and servants of God, and let us show our devotion, now and always. May God be with us always, and may He ever strengthen our resolve to walk in His path. Amen.

Thursday, 8 July 2021 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 10 : 7-15

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Go, and proclaim this message : The kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, bring the dead back to life, cleanse the lepers, and drive out demons. Freely have you received, freely give. Do not carry any gold or silver or money in your purses. Do not take a travelling bag, or an extra shirt, or sandals, or a walking stick : workers deserve to be compensated.”

“When you come to a town or a village, look for a worthy person, and stay there until you leave. When you enter the house, wish it peace. If the people are worthy people, your peace will rest on them; if they are not worthy people, your blessing will come back to you.”

“And if you are not welcomed, and your words are not listened to, leave that house or that town, and shake the dust off your feet. I assure you, it will go easier for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment, than it will for the people of that town.”