Saturday, 28 July 2018 : 16th 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 we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures speaking to us about the call which God made to His people through His prophet Jeremiah, in our first reading today. At that time, the people of the kingdom of Judah lived wickedly and were not faithful to the commandments and laws which God had given them. They have profaned themselves and made a mockery of God’s holy Temple, through the idols they have built in the holy place of God and other wicked deeds.

Nonetheless, in what He spoke through the prophet Jeremiah, although God despised the wicked deeds and acts which the people had performed and all of their unfaithfulness, but in the end, He is still a loving Father and God to all of them. For He had chosen them as His people, and He surely loved each and every one of them without exception. But the Lord was not happy with the fact that despite all the reminders and promptings which He had given them, they still stubbornly continued to live in sin.

In the Gospel passage today, we listened to a different but related story, of a parable which the Lord Jesus told to the people, about a sower of seeds, who sowed good seeds in a field, only for an enemy to come in the middle of the night, spreading weeds among the wheat. As a result, the weeds became intermingled with the wheat, and it was impossible to separate the two, as their roots had grown around each other. Killing one plant would have killed the other in that scenario.

As such, the sower who is also the master of the field told his servants that they should not pull out the weeds and let them to grow with the wheat until the day when the harvest comes. It is at the time of the harvest that all the wheat would be gathered into the barn of the owner, and the weeds separated from them, and cast into the fire that will destroy all of them. This parable truly has a deep and symbolic meaning to each and every one of us living in this world.

First of all, the sower represents the Lord, while the enemy represents the devil, the great enemy of all of us. The Lord spreads to all of us His good seeds, that is love, hope, faith and all the good Christian virtues and values. Meanwhile, the devil, Satan spreads out the seeds of evil, that are the weeds mentioned in the Gospel parable, representing hatred, wickedness, all sorts of vices and vile things, pride, greed and arrogance.

And thus, all of us are like wheat entangled with weeds, as those who live our lives and existence in this world, filled with God’s love and grace, but also tainted by the corruption of sin and wickedness, caused by the temptations of Satan and by the lure of sin. But God did not want us all to be destroyed right away, just as the owner did not ask his servants to pluck out the weeds right away, as the wheat would then also be destroyed.

Instead, the Lord gave us all opportunities, chances, one after another, to give us the time to realise how sinful we are and how we are all in need of God’s mercy, healing and forgiveness. The wheat and the weeds are also given the time to grow into full term until the time of the harvest in the Gospel parable, and this represents the many opportunities God has patiently given us, because although He despises our sins, but He still loves us all, His children and His people.

But, brothers and sisters in Christ, we must also be aware that there is indeed a time of reckoning, the time when all will end, the moment of truth, when the Lord will declare His great harvest time, and gather all the wheat to Himself. What does this mean, brethren? All those who are faithful to God and follows His commandments and laws, they will receive their just rewards when God comes again to gather them to His side.

Those who refused to follow the Lord and disobey Him, all of them will suffer because of their conscious rejection of the One Who has loved us. They are to be the weeds that will be thrown into the fire, to suffer eternal anguish, destruction and the ultimate pain of being separated from God. Without God, we cannot live or survive, and without His love, we will end up with nothing.

The choice has been given to us, by the virtue of the free will that God has given us. Do we want to be the wheat or the weed? The choice is ours, and our actions will determine if we are truly made to be wheat or to be weed. Now as Christians, our faith calls us all to be like the wheat, to be filled with God’s love, and to strive to be ever faithful and dedicated to Him. Shall we do our best from now on, dedicating ourselves to God with all of our hearts and with all of our might?

May the Lord continue to guide us in our journey of life, and let us all grow stronger in this faith we have, that we truly can be good Christians, as those who follow the Lord, Our God and Saviour, and fill ourselves with every grace and blessings. May God lead us all into the eternal glory He promised to all who have been true to Him, now and always. Amen.

Saturday, 28 July 2018 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

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

Matthew 13 : 24-30

At that time, Jesus told the people another parable, “The kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a man, who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep, his enemy came, and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the plants sprouted and produced grain, the weeds also appeared. Then, the servants of the owner came, and said to him, ‘Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? Where did the weeds come from?'”

“He answered them, ‘This is the work of an enemy.’ They asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull up the weeds?’ He told them, ‘No, when you pull up the weeds, you might uproot the wheat with them. Let them grow together, until harvest; and, at harvest time, I will say to the workers : Pull up the weeds first, tie them in bundles and burn them; then gather the wheat into my barn.'”

Saturday, 28 July 2018 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

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

Psalm 83 : 3, 4, 5-6a and 8a, 11

My soul yearns; pines, for the courts of YHVH. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young, at Your altars, o YHVH of hosts, my King and my God!

Happy are those who live in Your house, continually singing Your praise! Happy, the pilgrims whom You strengthen, they go from strength to strength.

One day in Your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be left at the threshold in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of the wicked.

Saturday, 28 July 2018 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

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

Jeremiah 7 : 1-11

These words were spoken by YHVH to Jeremiah, “Stand at the gate of YHVH’s House and proclaim this in a loud voice : Listen to what YHVH says, all you people of Judah (who enter these gates to worship YHVH). YHVH the God of Israel says this : Amend your ways and your deeds and I will stay with you in this place. Rely not on empty words such as : ‘Look, Temple of YHVH! Temple of YHVH! This is the Temple of YHVH!’”

“It is far better for you to amend your ways and act justly with all. Do not abuse the stranger, orphan or widow or shed innocent blood in this place or follow false gods to your own ruin. Then I will stay with you in this place, in the land I gave to your ancestors in times past and forever.”

“But you trust in deceptive and useless words. You steal, kill, take the wife of your neighbour; you swear falsely, worship Baal and follow foreign gods who are not yours. Then, after doing all these horrible things, you come and stand before Me in this Temple that bears My Name and say, ‘Now we are safe.’ Is this House on which rests My Name a den of thieves? I have seen this Myself – it is YHVH Who speaks.”

Friday, 27 July 2018 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard of God calling back His people through His prophet Jeremiah, a people who have been lost and separated to Him, that they may be gathered again after they had been scattered due to their rebelliousness and sin. He has called them all to repent from their sins, and therefore, to turn their back to the unfaithfulness they had done before.

To this extent, He gave us all a Saviour, to be the One Who can deliver us out of our predicament, and from the current state of sin that we suffer from, in Jesus Christ, Our Lord and the Son of God. Through the giving of His own beloved Son, God wants each and every one of us to be reconciled to Himself. And indeed, He had done that, by His ultimate sacrifice and perfect love on the cross.

He offered us all salvation and liberation from our sins, bringing the truth about our need for salvation and repentance to us. He is the Word of God, through Whom His will has been revealed to us and made known, that we may know how we should live our lives in this world, in order for us to be receptive to His saving grace, mercy and forgiveness. And the Lord Jesus presented it well through the parable which He said in our Gospel passage today.

In today’s parable, well known as the parable of the sower, we heard about a sower who sowed seeds in a certain place, but the seeds fell on different types of environments. They landed in all sorts of places, from the most unfavourable to the most favourable, with some landing on the roadside, while others landed on rocky ground, or among thistles and brambles, while some others fell on rich and fertile soil.

None of the seeds grew on those places where the conditions were unfavourable for growth, as in the case of the ones that fell on the roadside, they were eaten up by the birds. Those that fell on rocky ground were unable to find firm ground to establish their roots and they perished in the hot sun. And those that fell among thistles and brambles were surrounded and suffocated by those same thistles and brambles, and thus all perished, save for those which fell on rich and fertile soil.

What does this mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? And how is this relevant to us all as the people of God? The Lord explained to His disciples, that the seeds are the Word of God, freely given to all of us, just as the sower spread the seeds in all directions. God does not discriminate in giving His love, mercy and forgiveness for our sins, no matter our background and our origin. He gives to all of us, from the smallest to the greatest of sinners, His love and generous offer of mercy.

That is the seeds of faith which He sowed in us, and which He had hoped that those seeds will eventually grow in each and every one of us who believe in Him. However, as we ourselves have heard, not all the seeds were able to grow, because they fell in greatly differing conditions, which in fact, represent our varying responses to the Lord’s call and offer of love and mercy. If we are not receptive of God’s call and love, how can we then expect to grow in faith in Him?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why today, all of us as Christians are called to rediscover our faith and we are called to let our faith grow strong in a fertile ‘soil’ which is our hearts, our minds, our bodies and indeed, our whole being. And how do we make ourselves fertile? It is by enriching our spiritual life through sincere and devout prayer life, regularly communicating with God and seeking to know His will by listening to Him speaking in our hearts.

If we are able to do so, then just as the Gospel passage mentioned how the seeds grew thirtyfold, sixtyfold and hundredfold in produce, therefore, we too shall gain immeasurably from the richness of our spiritual life, in which our faith in God can grow and prosper. This is what we are called to do, and which we should aspire to be in our Christian life and discipleship.

Let us all therefore, from now on, strive to be ever better and more committed disciples of Christ, no longer closing our hearts and minds from God, but instead, willingly opening ourselves to Him and finding ways through which we can grow ever more devoted to the Lord, Our God and Saviour. May God be our guide and be our strength, that in all the things we do in life, we will always seek His greater glory, and desire to love Him ever more, with each passing day. Amen.

Friday, 27 July 2018 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 13 : 18-23

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Now listen to the parable of the sower. When a person hears the message of the kingdom, but does not take it seriously, the devil comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed that fell along the footpath.”

“The seed that fell on rocky ground stands for the one who hears the word, and accepts it at once with joy. But such a person has no roots, and endures only for a while. No sooner is he harassed or persecuted because of the word, than he gives up.”

“The seed that fell among the thistles is the one who hears the word, but then, the worries of this life and the love of money choke the word; and it does not bear fruit. As for the seed that fell on good soil, it is the one who hears the word and understands it; this seed bears fruit and produces a hundred, or sixty, or thirty times more.”

Friday, 27 July 2018 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Jeremiah 31 : 10, 11-12ab, 13

Hear the word of YHVH, o nations, proclaim it on distant coastlands : He Who scattered Israel will gather them and guard them as a shepherd guard his flock.

For YHVH has ransomed Jacob and redeemed him from the hand of his conqueror. They shall come shouting for joy, while ascending Zion; they will come streaming to YHVH’s blessings.

Maidens will make merry and dance, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness, I will give them comfort and joy for sorrow.