Friday, 17 August 2018 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today through the Scriptures, we listened first of all to the word of God concerning His people, pointing out their sins and wickedness through Ezekiel, the prophet of God in the exile land of Babylon. They have not been faithful and they have abandoned their God, and they have not obeyed the commandments and laws of God.

As a result, they have broken the sacred Covenant which they have made with their God. A Covenant is a sacred and solemn promise which is made between two parties, where both parties are bound by the same promise to be faithful to the Covenant, the terms and conditions that bound them to that very Covenant. In this manner, the people of God had promised to be faithful to God and to be obedient to Him, while God had promised that He would continue to love His people.

The Israelites disobeyed God’s laws and commandments, as what the prophet Ezekiel presented to the people from God’s own words, comparing their attitudes with the attitude of young maiden and woman who had been taken care of by her adoptive father, who represents God, and yet, despite the love that he has shown to her, she has defiled herself and made herself a prostitute among the nations.

But God, as He is ever loving and filled with mercy, continues to love us, as He has never abandoned us and He is always ever loving, even to the greatest of sinners. He continued to care for and to provide for His beloved ones, hoping that one day they may come to realise their mistakes and asking for forgiveness. At that moment, He will reconcile them again and reunite them with Himself, to enjoy His eternal grace and love.

In today’s Gospel passage, we heard about the Lord’s rebuke to the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law with regards to marriage. The latter asked the Lord, trying to test Him with the question, whether divorce is something that is allowed according to the Law. To them, according to the laws of Moses, divorce is allowed as long as the two parties involved settled it with an agreement.

But the Lord Jesus rebuked them because using that practice and argument, it reduced the sanctity of marriage into a mere transactional relationship between two people. Marriage is not just merely a formality but it is in fact a blessed union, which God Himself has made, and is a sacrament in the context of our Church, as the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. All of these are founded upon the sanctity of marriage whereupon two people are joined together by God into one, inseparable unity.

And this unity is also stressed in relation to the strong unity between God and His people, which earlier has been mentioned as a Covenant. And thus, today, all of us are called to reflect on the mistakes made by the Israelites in the past, in how they have not been obedient to the Covenant which they made with God. Have we ourselves lived our lives in accordance with God’s ways?

In today’s Gospel, at the ending of the passage, we heard of the Lord speaking to the people, about what each of His people’s respective obligations and callings are. This is called our vocations in life, and there are indeed many different paths to which we are called by God. Some are called to a married life as mentioned, but there are also those called to a life of celibacy and perpetual virginity, and those who are called to be priests of the Lord.

Each of these pathways and vocations are not less worthy or good than the other, and all of them are ultimately about how we can be holy and devout in the way we carry on with our respective lives and vocations. God has called us all to be holy just as He is holy, and to be righteous just as He is righteous, and be faithful to the Covenant He has made with us all, just as He is always faithful to that Covenant.

May the Lord be on our side always, that He will continue to strengthen us in our faith, encouraging us all to remain committed to the Covenant that God has made with us through His Son, Jesus Christ, by His loving sacrifice on the cross. May all of us strive to remain committed and true in our dedication and faith, that by our every actions and deeds, we will bring greater glory to God. Amen.

Friday, 17 August 2018 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 19 : 3-12

At that time, some Pharisees approached Jesus. They wanted to test Him and asked, “Is a man allowed to divorce his wife for any reason he wants?”

Jesus replied, “Have you not read that, in the beginning, the Creator made them male and female? And the Creator said : Therefore, a man shall leave father and mother, and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one body. So, they are no longer two, but one body. Let no one separate what God has joined.”

They asked him, “Then why did Moses command us to write a bill of dismissal in order to divorce?” Jesus replied, “Moses knew the hardness of your hearts, so he allowed you to divorce your wives; but it was not so in the beginning. Therefore, I say to you : whoever divorces his wife, unless it be for immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

The disciples said, “If that is the condition of a married man, it is better not to marry.” Jesus said to them, “Not everybody can accept what you have just said, but only those who have received this gift. There are eunuchs born so, from their mother’s womb. Some have been made that way by others. But there are some who have given up the possibility of marriage, for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who can accept it, accept it.”

Friday, 17 August 2018 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Isaiah 12 : 2-3, 4bcd, 5-6

He is the God of my salvation; in Him I trust and am not afraid, YHVH is my strength : Him I will praise, the One Who saved me.

You will draw water with joy from the very fountain of salvation. Then you will say : “Praise to the Lord, break into songs of joy for Him, proclaim His marvellous deeds among the nations and exalt His Name.”

“Sing to the Lord : wonders He has done, let these be known all over the earth. Sing for joy, o people of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

Friday, 17 August 2018 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Ezekiel 16 : 1-15, 60, 63

The word of YHVH came to me in these terms, “Son of man, make known to Jerusalem its sins. You say on My behalf : Your beginning was in Canaan; there, you were born. Your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. On the day you were born, your cord was not cut; you were not bathed in water to make you clean; you were not rubbed with salt, nor were you wrapped in cloth.”

“There was no one to look with pity on you; or compassionate enough, to give you any of these attentions. You were left, exposed, in the open fields; because you were looked upon with disgust, on the day you were born. But I passed by; and saw you, immersed in your blood. I said to you, in the midst of your blood, ‘Live!’”

“I made you grow, like a plant of the field. You grew up and became tall; and were becoming of marriageable age. Your breasts were formed and your hair had grown; but you were naked and exposed. I passed by later, and saw, you were at the age of love; and spread part of My garment over you, to cover your nudity. I made a Covenant with you with an oath – word of YHVH – and you were Mine.”

“Then I bathed you in water; I cleansed you of your blood and anointed you with oil. I clothed you with embroidered cloth and put soft leather sandals on your feet. I dressed you in fine linen and covered you with silk. I adorned you with jewelry, putting bracelets on your arms, a necklace around your neck and a ring in your nose. I gave you earrings and a magnificent crown for your head.”

“You were adorned with gold and silver; your clothing was fine linen, silk and embroidered cloth. You were fed on finest flour, honey and oil; you became very beautiful and rose to be queen. Your beauty was perfect; and your renown spread through the nations, because of the splendour I had given you – word of YHVH.”

“But you relied on your beauty; you trusted in your fame; and you began to give yourself to every passerby, like a prostitute. But I will remember My Covenant with you in the days of your youth, and, make in your favour, an eternal Covenant, so that you may remember, be ashamed, and never open your mouth again, because of your humiliation, when I have pardoned you for all you have done,” word of YHVH.

Alternative reading

Ezekiel 16 : 59-63

For thus says YHVH : “I will treat you as you deserve; you, who despised the oath and broke the Covenant. But I will remember My Covenant with you in the days of your youth, and, make in your favour, an eternal Covenant. You will be mindful of your ways and be ashamed, when I take your sisters, both the elder and the younger; and give them to you as daughters, without prejudice to My Covenant with you.”

“For I will uphold My Covenant with you; and you will know that I am YHVH, so that you may remember, be ashamed, and never open your mouth again, because of your humiliation, when I have pardoned you for all you have done,” word of YHVH.