Saturday, 18 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us we are reminded of just how fortunate we have been to receive the grace and love of God through His Son, Jesus Christ Our Lord and Saviour, Who have come into the world, becoming the salvation and the fulfilment of the many promises and the prophecies that God had spoken to His people. He is the manifestation of God’s infinite and enduring love for each and every one of us.

Sadly, as today’s Scripture readings have also pointed out to us, despite the Lord’s generosity, love and kindness, the people had not been grateful for the generous love and compassion they have received. On the other hand, they had refused to accept God’s love, or that they had instead chosen to follow the path of the devil rather than to follow the Lord’s path. They persecuted His messengers and prophets and continued to live in a state of sin.

In our first reading today, we heard the account from the prophet Micah, one of the many prophets sent to the land of Israel, to remind the people of their God and the need for them to be reconciled with Him. The prophet Micah was among those prophets who had suffered, been rejected and reviled by the people, who refused to listen to them and made it difficult for them to carry out their ministry.

Thus, amidst the call to repentance and the call to walk with God with righteousness as the prophet Micah was famous for, the Lord also warned His people through Micah, that because of their wickedness, their selfishness and sins, they would be punished unless they change their ways, and their lamentations and regret would be as great if not even greater than the voice of their hubris and pride before God.

Unfortunately, as we heard in our Gospel passage today, despite having passed many generations, the descendants of God’s people still had not truly learnt their lesson, as they continued to plot against God and His servants, and that time, they acted against the Lord Jesus, the Messiah and Son of God Himself when they refused to listen to Him and His truth. They had seen the Lord’s many miracles and wonderful works, His great wisdom and the fulfilment of God’s many prophecies, but they hardened their hearts and minds with pride and ego, with greed and worldly desires.

In that same passage, we heard the premonition of what would happen to the Lord, as the rejection of the people who continued to refuse to believe in God, eventually led to them to arrest the Lord, laid false accusations against Him, and betrayed Him over to the Romans to be sentenced to death on the Cross. And yet, then, until the very end, reflecting on all these, we can see just how God is so loving and patient towards each and every one of us, that even from up on the Cross, in great pain and excruciating suffering, He forgave all those who persecuted Him and cried out for His death.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all spend some good quality time to reflect upon what we have heard in the Scriptures today. The Lord has always loved us all dearly and we must consider ourselves very fortunate and blessed to have this opportunity to be loved in such a way, that as sinful, imperfect, and terrible we had been, God has always been willing to welcome us back to Him and be reconciled with us.

However, we must also remember that reconciliation and forgiveness also go hand in hand with our desire to be forgiven, our conviction and resolve to reject the past life of sin, to abandon our disobedience and wicked actions and ways of life, and instead, from now on, embracing anew God’s generous love, mercy and compassion. We have to be open to God’s love and mercy entering our lives and existence, that we may be transformed into people of light and be rid of the darkness of sin that have afflicted us for so long.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all commit ourselves anew to God and let us seek Him with all of our hearts, knowing just how much He loves us and is willing to welcome us back and forgiving us our sins. Let us not take His love, kindness and compassion for granted, as we must also remember that if we remain in sin, then there is nothing left for us but eternal death, and eternal darkness, a suffering in everlasting despair out of which we have no hope of getting out from, because we have consciously rejected God’s love.

May God be with us always, and may He strengthen us with His love. May He continue to bless our work and endeavours, and guide us to the right paths in life. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Saturday, 18 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

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

Matthew 12 : 14-21

At that time, the Pharisees went out, and made plans to get rid of Jesus. As Jesus was aware of their plans, He left that place. Many people followed Him, and He cured all who were sick. But He gave them strict orders not to make Him known.

In this way, Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled : Here is My Servant, Whom I have chosen; the One I love, and with Whom I am pleased. I will put My Spirit upon Him; and He will announce My judgment to the nations. He will not argue or shout, nor will His voice be heard in the streets. The bruised reed He will not crush, nor snuff out the smouldering wick until He brings justice to victory, and in Him, all the nations will put their hope.

Saturday, 18 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

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

Psalm 9 : 22-23, 24-25, 28-29, 35

Why, o YHVH, do You stand afar? Why hide from us in times of distress? 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. In their pride the wicked say, “There is no God.” They see no further.

Their mouths are filled with cursing, deceit and threats; spite and mischief are under their tongues. They lie in ambush near the villages, murdering the innocent and the unfortunate, spying upon their next victim.

But You see those in misery, o God, and You take it in hand. The unfortunate commits himself to You; the orphan turns to You for help.

Saturday, 18 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

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

Micah 2 : 1-5

Woe to those who plot wickedness and plan evil even on their beds! When morning comes they do it, as soon as it is within their reach. If they covet fields, they seize them. Do they like houses? They take them. They seize the owner and his household; both, the man and his property.

This is why YHVH speaks, “I am plotting evil against this whole brood, from which your necks cannot escape. No more shall you walk with head held high, for it will be an evil time.” On that day, they will sing a taunting song against you; and a bitter lamentation will be heard, “We have been stripped of our property in our homeland. Who will free us from the wicked who allots our fields.”

Truly, no one will be found in the assembly of YHVH to keep a field for you.

Friday, 17 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us are reminded through the Scripture readings on the wonders of God’s providence, love and compassion for each and every one of us. Through the Scripture passages, we are reminded how God showed mercy and kindness to His servants, those who asked Him and trusted in Him. He will never abandon those who trust in Him, and He will always be with us no matter what.

In our first reading today we heard of the story of the conversation between king Hezekiah of Judah and the prophet Isaiah, as king Hezekiah suffered from a terrible illness that was incurable and would have led to his death, and king Hezekiah who had been faithful to God and led the people of Judah to return once again to God. King Hezekiah of Judah then begged the Lord to remember what he had done for the sake of His people, His faithfulness and commitment.

God listened to Hezekiah and granted him healing from his supposedly mortal sickness and gave him fifteen more years to live in life. And from then on, king Hezekiah would continue to rule the kingdom of Judah while being faithful in leading the people back towards God. The Lord heard His prayers, and by His will, everything was made good and whole again for the king. And this indeed reminds us of God’s love for each and every one of us.

Then, in the Gospel passage today we heard from the Lord Jesus Who confronted the Pharisees who had criticised Him and His disciples for not obeying and adhering to the laws and customs of the Sabbath. The disciples of Jesus had been walking through a field, picked up the grains in that field and ate them because they were hungry, and the Pharisees immediately took this as an issue and attacked the Lord with accusations.

But the Lord then also immediately rebutted them as He related to them the story of king David when he was still on the run from the authorities as he became King chosen by God in contention with king Saul, his predecessor. David and his men were very hungry and that day was a Sabbath day. Yet, when they sought refuge in the Temple of God, the High Priest did not just give them shelter, but also food in the form of the bread usually reserved only for the priests to eat according to the Law.

What the first reading and the Gospel have told us therefore is that, first of all we must remember that God loves each and every one of us, and this is an undeniable fact and reality which we all must accept. And this love is what made all that we heard in our readings today possible. God’s love for each and every one of us helped King Hezekiah to elude death and extended his life, and God’s love also provided for David and his men when they were in the direst of straits.

That is we must learn from this not to be legalistic over our faith just as the Pharisees had done, as the Pharisees were so engrossed and preoccupied with the text and letter of the Law, the literal meaning and interpretation of the Law of the Sabbath that they had forgotten why the Law was given to us in the first place, that is to help us and remind us to love God and to dedicate ourselves to Him, to direct our hearts and minds to Him just as He has first dedicated Himself to us and loved us.

That is why, first of all, God will never abandon us in the hour of need, and He will definitely always be by our side whenever we need Him, as He has shown to king Hezekiah and king David. We must put our trust in Him and be faithful to Him. We must trust that God’s love for us, His mercy and compassion always endure, and if we keep our faith in Him strong, in the end, we will receive the rich rewards promised to us.

But at the same time, brothers and sisters in Christ, we must then also be careful and take note how the Lord’s will is the reason for everything, and everything occur just as how the Lord wants it to be. We must not think just because king Hezekiah begged the Lord and he got what he wanted then it means that we can bend God to do as we want it. On the contrary, it was by God’s mysterious will, that Hezekiah lived and had his life extended, and perhaps, in the end, that was all already part of God’s design, which we do not know of. We should ask God if there is something we wish, and as long as this is not a wicked desire, but we should not expect to have what we wished or demand that God fulfils what we wanted.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore seek God with a renewed faith and strength, a new commitment and conviction to follow Him and serve Him. Let us all turn towards God with new dedication and desire to love Him, reflecting on just how fortunate we all have been to be beloved by God, to be considered precious in His sight, and to be the ones to whom God will bestow eternal joy and glory, through our faith in Him.

May the Lord bless us all, and may He strengthen us in faith, and help us that we may be ever more filled with love for our Lord, and place Him at the centre of our lives, that from now on, if we have not already done so, we may walk faithfully, righteously and virtuously with God in our respective journey of life, towards His eternal joy and glory. Amen.

Friday, 17 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 12 : 1-8

At that time, it happened that, Jesus walking through the wheat fields on a Sabbath. His disciples were hungry; and they began to pick some heads of wheat, to crush and to eat the grain. When the Pharisees noticed this, they said to Jesus, “Look at Your disciples! They are doing what is prohibited on the Sabbath!”

Jesus answered, “Have you not read what David did, when he and his men were hungry? He went into the House of God, and they ate the bread offered to God, though neither he nor his men had the right to eat it, but only the priests. And have you not read in the law, how, on the Sabbath, the priests in the Temple desecrate the Sabbath, yet they are not guilty?”

“I tell you, there is greater than the Temple here. If you really knew the meaning of the words : It is mercy I want, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the innocent. Besides, the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Friday, 17 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Isaiah 38 : 10, 11, 12abcd, 16

Once I said : In the noontime of my life I go; I am sent to the land of the dead, for the rest of my years.

I said : Never again shall I see YHVH in the land of the living; never again shall I see the inhabitants of the earth.

Like a shepherd’s tent, my dwelling has been pulled down and thrown away; like a weaver, You rolled up my life and cut it from the loom.

O Lord, give me back my health and give me back my life!

Friday, 17 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Isaiah 38 : 1-6, 21-22, 7-8

In those days Hezekiah fell mortally ill and the prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz, went to him with a message from YHVH, “Put your house in order for you shall die; you shall not live.”

Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to YHVH, “Ah YHVH! Remember how I have walked before You in truth and wholeheartedly, and done what is good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

Then the word of YHVH came to Isaiah, “Go and tell Hezekiah what YHVH, the God of his father David, says : I have heard your prayer and I have seen your tears. See! I am adding fifteen years to your life and I will save you and this city from the power of the king of Assyria. I will defend it for My sake and for the sake of David My servant.”

Isaiah then said, “Bring a fig cake to rub on the ulcer and let Hezekiah be cured!” Hezekiah asked, “What is the sign that I shall go up to the House of YHVH?” Isaiah answered, “This shall be for you a sign from YHVH, that He will do what He has promised. See! I shall make the shadow descending on the stairway of Ahaz go back ten steps.”

So the sunlight went back the ten steps it had covered on the stairway.

Thursday, 16 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as all of us gather together to glorify the Lord, we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Patroness of the Carmelite religious order, recalling the vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, to St. Simon Stock, one of the earliest members of the Carmelites. Our Lady of Mount Carmel appeared to St. Simon Stock and showed him the brown scapular, two pieces of cloth with holy image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on one side, and on the other side the promise that all who wear the scapular with devotion will be saved from the eternal fire of hell.

This was the promise that Our Lady of Mount Carmel showed to St. Simon Stock, and became the foundation for the famous devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the brown scapular associated with her. Through His mother Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Lord wants each and every one of us to put our faith and trust in Him through her, and to put ourselves in her comforting embrace and care, as our blessed and loving mother, entrusted to us and given to us to be our guide and consolation.

That so many people came to follow in the devotion of the brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is a sign of mankind’s great desire to be healed from their hurts, problems and troubles, that they came to seek the mother of our Lord, for her guidance, her prayer and intercession, for solace and consolation during times of trouble and difficulties, trials and hardships as we are surely aware of, especially during these recent days, weeks and months when we have encountered so many problems and troubles in life.

But at the same time, we must make sure that through our devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, we are helped in our rejuvenation in faith, our reconciliation with God. We must not fall into blind devotion or merely hoping for miracles and for good things to happen to us because we demand it and want it. Instead, we must once again come back to the essence of this devotion, that is through the brown scapular, we are reminded of the holy life that each and every one of us are called to, and embrace it fully with our hearts.

Let us all remember that all of us are called to turn towards God in these most troublesome and darkest of moments. And we are called to turn to Him to look forward for a new hope that He is going to bring us, and His mother, Our Lady of Mount Carmel is by our side, showing us the way to reach her Son. And we are all called to follow her examples, her dedication and virtues, her commitment and love for her Son that we too may grow in our faith in Him and in our love for Him.

Today, therefore, we have all been reminded that we must neither be afraid or be fearful, for God Himself together with His blessed Mother, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and innumerable saints and Angels are standing by us, amidst the trials and challenges of life, and amidst all the fears, despairs and uncertainties of life. The Lord wants us to put our trust in Him rather than to put our trust in our own strength and in our own designs and powers. And all of us who trust in Him will soon learn that there is truly nothing that we need to fear of.

For in the end, if we are faithful, obedient to the will of God, and have committed our lives to Him, then as the promise of the Blessed Mother of God, Our Lady of Mount Carmel had spoken to St. Simon Stock, that those who have devoutly wore the brown scapular would be safe from the eternal fires of hell. No matter how great the trials and difficulties we may currently be facing and suffering, but nothing can compare to the eternal suffering and punishment to be endured in hell. We must not lose hope in despair of the darkness, but instead be hopeful of the Lord and His light through His mother.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all dedicate ourselves anew to the Lord, and by devoting ourselves to His blessed mother, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, let us all turn ourselves into a new, righteous and virtuous living, rejecting sin and the temptation to sin, persevering in faith and committing ourselves to a new life in God’s grace. Are we able and willing to commit ourselves to this, brothers and sisters in Christ? Let us all discern carefully the path and direction we are going to take in life, that we will not end up in the eternal darkness, but in God’s eternal light and true joy.

May the Lord continue to guide and strengthen us, and may His loving mother Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, our mother, continue to intercede and pray for us sinners, all still struggling in this world, that we may break free of the darkness by her Son’s grace and enter into the wonders of the kingdom of Heaven. Amen.

Thursday, 16 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

Matthew 11 : 28-30

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest. For My yoke is easy; and My burden is light.”

Alternative reading (Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

Matthew 12 : 46-50

At that time, while Jesus was talking to the people, His mother and His brothers wanted to speak to Him, and they waited outside. So someone said to Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside; they want to speak with You.”

Jesus answered, “Who is My mother? Who are My brothers?” Then He pointed to His disciples and said, “Look! Here are My mother and My brothers. Whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”