Saturday, 31 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Scriptures reminding us to be faithful to the Lord, in our every day living moments and in all things. We are all called to remember the Lord’s commandments and Law, and the need for all of us as Christians to love God first and foremost, and then to show that same love to our fellow brothers and sisters, to everyone without exception.

In our first reading today we heard of the Lord’s commands to His people as recorded in the Book of Leviticus, detailing the celebration of the fiftieth year or the year of the Jubilee, which was marked as a year of celebration and healing, of reconciliation and love, where people forgave their enemies and those who had been indebted to them from their debts. It is a year set aside to remind the people of God that they ought to give thanks to God and at the same time also show care and love for one another.

Then in our Gospel passage today, we heard of the story of the martyrdom or the death of St. John the Baptist in prison, at the hands of king Herod, and at the instigation of his wife, Herodias, who held deep grudge against St. John the Baptist as the saint did not hesitate to rebuke and criticise both king Herod and her due to the adultery they had committed by their marriage when Herod’s brother, Philip, the legal husband of Herodias was still alive.

We all know how Herodias tricked Herod through her beautiful daughter, tricking Herod into ordering the execution of faithful servant of God as likely under the influence of alcohol during a party, and overcome by his lust and desire for pleasure and human beauty, he made a commitment before all the assembled guests that he could not deny or retract. Hence, through that act, he had condemned himself to an act of great sin in murdering a faithful servant of God, even if he did not intend for it to happen.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through all these we are reminded that it is not easy for us to be faithful as Christians, to live our lives as those who follow the path of the Lord and obey His Law and commandments. Those who have been faithful may encounter the fate of St. John the Baptist, who was imprisoned and killed for his steadfast defence of his faith, and we may be persecuted and face difficulties for all that we have done for the Lord’s sake. Yet, we should not give up just because of the obstacles we may encounter in our journey.

That is why we should follow the examples of our predecessors, one of whom today can show us what it means to be truly devout Christians, in all things, for the greater glory of God. Today we celebrate the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, a faithful servant of God and the famous founder of the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits, which is now the largest of all religious orders and congregations. St. Ignatius of Loyola was once a soldier and nobleman, who had a life-changing experience and decided to follow the Lord wholeheartedly.

Early in his life, St. Ignatius of Loyola sought worldly glory, fame and achievements in life, enrolling as a soldier to get that much sought fame and glory, only to get himself seriously injured during one of the siege battles, where his legs were severely injured in the heat of the battle. During his recuperation period, he had a spiritual encounter with God and a period of discernment, in which he came to realise that the true purpose of his life and true glory came not in the pursuit of worldly glory, fame and ambition.

Instead, from then on, as what would be famously known as his motto and the motto of the Jesuits, St. Ignatius of Loyola would seek nothing else but the greater glory of God, ‘Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam’ or ‘For the Greater Glory of God’. It is with this spirit that St. Ignatius of Loyola gathered like-minded men and sought the Pope’s permission to establish a congregation dedicated to the mission of the Church, to proclaim the greater glory of God in various opportunities, from missionary efforts to involvement in proper Catholic education.

To this end, St. Ignatius of Loyola and his many fellow Jesuits such as St. Peter Canisius and St. Peter Faber were involved deeply in the Counter-Reformation efforts, establishing schools and seminaries, and other faculties involved in the dissemination of the true essence of the Christian faith. Others like St. Francis Xavier and many others involved themselves in missionary work, travelling far all over the world to spread the Good News of God’s salvation and truth, bringing many more people to the Lord. Many Christian communities today could trace their faith to the efforts of those courageous Jesuit missionaries back then.

This year we mark the five hundredth anniversary of the conversion of St. Ignatius of Loyola, marking the moment when St. Ignatius of Loyola left behind his former dream of worldly glory and fame, and embracing fully the Lord’s calling to seek for His greater glory, through which countless graces and wonderful things had come about, not least through St. Ignatius’ foundation of the Jesuits, as well as his hard works and efforts all throughout his life for the betterment of the Church and the faithful.

Let us all be inspired therefore by his examples and learn to commit ourselves to the Lord ever more wholeheartedly, resisting the temptations of worldly vices and ambitions, and instead, learning to love the Lord ever more and commit ourselves with ever greater conviction and commitment from now on. May the Lord be with us all and continue to guide us and bless us in all of our every endeavours and good works. May God bless our every good efforts and remain with us always, that we will always strive to do our best for His greater glory, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 31 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 14 : 1-12

At that time, the reports about Jesus reached king Herod. And he said to his servants, “This Man is John the Baptist. John has risen from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in John.”

Herod had, in fact, ordered that John be arrested, bound in chains and put in prison, because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. For John had said to Herod, “It is not right for you to have her as your wife.” Herod wanted to kill him but he did not dare, because he feared the people, who regarded John as a prophet.

On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced among the guests; she so delighted Herod that he promised under oath to give her anything she asked for. The girl, following the advice of her mother, said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist, here, on a dish.”

The king was very displeased, but because he had made his promise under oath, in the presence of his guests, he ordered it to be given to her. So he had John beheaded in prison, and his head brought on a dish and given to the girl. The girl then took it to her mother.

Then John’s disciple came, took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.

Saturday, 31 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 66 : 2-3, 5, 7-8

May God be gracious and bless us; may He let His face shine upon us; that Your way be known on earth and Your salvation, among the nations.

May the countries be glad and sing for joy, for You rule the peoples with justice; and guide the nations of the world.

The land has given its harvest; God, our God, has blessed us. May God bless us and be revered, to the very ends of the earth.

Saturday, 31 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Leviticus 25 : 1, 8-17

YHVH spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai : “When seven Sabbaths of years have passed, that is, seven times seven years, there shall be the time of the seven weeks of years, that is forty-nine years. Then on the tenth day of the seventh month sound the trumpet loudly. On this Day of Atonement sound the trumpet all through the land.”

“Keep holy the fiftieth year and proclaim freedom for all the inhabitants of the land. It shall be a jubilation year for you when each one shall recover his property and go back to his family. In this fiftieth year, your year of Jubilee, you shall neither sow nor reap the aftergrowth, nor gather the grapes from the uncultivated vines. This Jubilee year shall be holy for you, and you shall eat what the field yields of itself without cultivation.”

“In this year of Jubilee each of you shall recover his own property. When you sell something to your neighbour or buy something from him, do not wrong one another. According to the number of years after the Jubilee, you shall buy it from your neighbour and according to the number of years left for harvesting crops he shall sell to you.”

“When the years are many the price shall be greater and when the years are few the price shall be less, for it is the number of crops that he is selling to you. So you shall not wrong one another but you shall fear your God, for I am YHVH, your God.”

Friday, 30 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are reminded that we have to seek the Lord and love Him with all of our strength and with all of our capabilities, that we focus our lives and our existence in Him. That is why we heard through the Scriptures those words that remind us of our obligations and calling to be faithful Christians at all times, obeying God’s Law and commandments.

In our first reading today, we heard of the numerous feasts and celebrations as dedicated by the Lord and which He told to His people, the Israelites, through Moses that they ought to keep faithfully and celebrate throughout all the years, on the solemn feasts and celebrations, such as the Day of Atonement, in recalling of one’s faults and shortcomings, and regret for them, the great Feast of the Unleavened Bread and the Passover, remembering the time when the Lord saved His people from their slavery in Egypt, and the Feast of the Pentecost, the Feast of the Tents and many others.

All of these feasts and celebrations were all ultimately meant to celebrate the Lord and remind everyone of all the love that God had given to them, and all that they have been so wonderfully blessed with, in everything that they have received, that they do not forget Who it was that had made everything possible for them. It was a reminder for all of them to be faithful and to focus on the Lord and His truth, to abandon their sinful ways and to atone for their sins when they fell to the temptations to sin, so that in the end, they shall always be God’s people and walk ever always in His path.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard how the Lord Jesus was rejected by His own people, by His own townspeople, all those who knew Him and recognised Him in Nazareth, His hometown when He came there to visit and teach in their synagogue. Despite having spoken with authority and delivering the undeniable truth and wisdom of God into their midst, the people of Nazareth hardened their hearts and minds, and refused to believe that such a person, the mere Son of the village carpenter, of a poor village at the very fringe of the Jewish world and community, could be the Messiah and Holy One of God.

That was why they rejected the Lord and refused to believe in Him, ridiculed Him and angrily even sent Him away from their midst, in one account wanting to throw Him off the cliff by the village. The Lord was saddened by the refusal of those whom He had known to listen to His words and the truth and love that He has brought into their midst, and all these happened despite the signs and wonders, all the miracles and other great things that He had done and performed among the people all over Galilee, which doubtlessly the people of Nazareth must have also heard.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of these that we have heard are reminders for us, that if we allow our own ego and pride, our own false judgments and biases to cloud our thoughts and discernment, we can end up being like those who had rejected the Lord. They could not fathom, or appreciate, or even accept the Lord’s truth and revelation, as they were too deeply ingrained and entrenched in their beliefs and prejudices. And this is what we should not be doing, as we live our lives as Christians, and aspire to do our best to serve the Lord in all things.

Instead, we should look upon the examples of our holy predecessors, the holy saints of God, one of whom we celebrate his feast today. Today we mark the memory of St. Peter Chrysologus, a great priest, bishop and holy man of God, who dedicated all of his talents and abilities, his efforts for the greater glory of God. St. Peter Chrysologus. He was the Bishop of Ravenna and remembered as Chrysologus, or the ‘Golden Worded’ because of his amazing skills at oratory and homilies.

Not only that he was remembered for his great and personal piety, his holiness and upright life, but St. Peter Chrysologus was remembered for his great efforts in reaching out to more and more people through his many sermons and homilies, his speeches and works, explaining the texts of the Bible and the Church teachings most clearly and concisely, using simple language to clearly explain the faith to the people while opposing the falsehoods of the many heresies that were then troubling the Church and the faithful communities.

Many people came to believe in the Lord and returned to the Holy Mother Church through the efforts of St. Peter Chrysologus, and still many more were inspired by his examples, his faith and dedication, many years, decades and centuries after his passing, even to this very day. We too should be inspired by the examples set by this holy predecessor of ours, in how we ought to do our best, in our own ways, to glorify the Lord by our lives and to proclaim the Lord in wherever we are and to whoever we interact with, at all times.

May the Lord our loving God continue to watch over us and may He strengthen each and every one of us with the courage to walk ever more faithfully in His path. May God be our guide and may He be our Hope in this journey of faith through life, that we will always be focused on Him and centre our lives and existence on Him alone, always. Amen.

Friday, 30 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Matthew 13 : 54-58

At that time, Jesus went to His hometown and taught the people in their synagogue. They were amazed and said, “Where did He get this wisdom and these special powers? Is He not the carpenter’s Son? Is Mary not His mother and are James, Joseph, Simon and Judas not His brothers? Are not all His sisters living here? Where did He get all these things?” And so they took offence at Him.

Jesus said to them, “The only place where prophets are not welcome is his hometown and in his own family.” And He did not perform many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

Friday, 30 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Psalm 80 : 3-4, 5-6ab, 10-11ab

Start the music, strike the timbrel, play melodies on the harp and lyre. Sound the trumpet at the new moon, on our feast day, when the new moon is full.

This is a decree for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob, a statute He wrote for Joseph when he went out of Egypt.

There shall be no strange god among you, you shall not worship any alien god, for I, YHVH, am your God.

Friday, 30 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Leviticus 23 : 1, 4-11, 15-16, 27, 34b-37

YHVH spoke to Moses, “Then there are appointed feasts of YHVH at the times fixed for them, when you are to proclaim holy assemblies. At twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month is YHVH’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of this month it is YHVH’s feast of Unleavened Bread.”

For seven days you shall eat bread without leaven. On the first day there will be a sacred assembly and no work of a worker shall be done. For seven days you shall present an offering by fire to YHVH and on the seventh day you shall hold a sacred assembly and do no work of a worker.”

YHVH spoke to Moses and said, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them : When you enter the land that I will give you and you reap its harvest, you will bring to the priest a sheaf, the first fruits of your harvest and he shall wave the sheaf before YHVH for you to be accepted; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.”

“From the day after the Sabbath, on which you bring the sheaf of offering, you are to count seven full weeks. The day after the seventh Sabbath will be the fiftieth day and then you are to offer YHVH a new offering. The tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. You are to hold a sacred assembly. You must fast, and you must offer a burnt offering to YHVH.”

“The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of Tents for YHVH, lasting seven days. The first day you shall hold an assembly; you must do no work of a worker. For seven days you must offer a burnt offering to YHVH. On the eighth day you are to hold a sacred assembly and you must offer a burnt offering to YHVH. It is a day of solemn assembly in which you shall do no work of a worker.”

“These are the appointed feasts of YHVH in which you are to proclaim holy assemblies for the purpose of offering offerings by fire, burnt offerings, grain offerings and drink offerings to YHVH, according to the ritual of each day.”

Thursday, 29 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martha, St. Mary and St. Lazarus (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we all celebrate the feast of the three siblings, St. Martha, St. Mary and St. Lazarus, who were featured prominently in the Gospels as friends of the Lord, as well as His close followers and disciples. They were mentioned in various parts of the Gospels, as St. Martha and St. Mary were depicted in the Gospel passage today as having welcomed the Lord to their place, and how both of them later on also had a moment with the Lord when their brother, St. Lazarus passed away from sickness before the Lord resurrected him from the dead.

St. Martha was the one who welcomed the Lord to her place and then made herself busy in preparing all the hospitality, the food and all for the special guest that came to her house, while St. Mary waited by the Lord’s side, listening to Him speaking and teaching her while St. Martha was very busy with her chores and works. When St. Martha saw that her sister was not helping her with her work, and complained to the Lord that St. Mary should be asked to help her in the kitchen with her preparations, the Lord kindly told St. Martha that her sister did the right thing, by choosing to stay by His side and listening to Him.

Both St. Martha and St. Mary loved the Lord and were faithful to Him in their own ways, and it does not mean that each one’s method is better than the other. Rather, the Lord wanted to remind us all through that occasion and example, that we must first and foremost focus our attention to the Lord, to His truth and His love, and then we have to do our labours and work of love for the Lord just as St. Martha had done. But we must be careful not to allow the works and labours to distract us and end up making us fall into the desire for satisfaction and inner pride.

Neither should we allow ourselves forget about the Lord just because we want to do things to glorify Him. This was done to much greater harm by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, as they were outwardly pious and faithful, and yet, they spent most of their time and actions, focusing on praising themselves and indulging in adulation and fame, enjoying their popularity and praises from others. It is because of this that they had forgotten what it is that they were charged with, as the guardians of the Law and the faith of the people. In the end, they became elitist and exclusionists, refusing to admit others to their elite faith and devotion to a fault.

St. Lazarus on the other side showed us all the virtue of having faith and staying true to the Lord, Who is the Master of all and the Lord of all, of the living and the dead. Through his resurrection from the dead, the Lord showed His might before all, and how beloved each and every one of us have been, all these while, that God would not let death to claim all of us and destroy us. From the beginning, we have been destined to destruction and suffering due to our sins, our disobedience against God, and yet, God rescued all of us, and restored us through His love.

He promised us all His salvation, which came true through Christ, His beloved Son, sent into this world to be with us and to dwell among us. He revealed His truth and love to us, and called us all to return to Him, to be reconciled and reunited with Him. He told St. Martha and St. Mary not to be worried and to have faith in Him, when St. Lazarus was sick and eventually died before He reached him. The Lord told the two sisters that He is indeed the Resurrection and the Life, the Master of all, in Whom all of us can trust, and hold firm in.

The wonderful faith and interactions between St. Lazarus and his sisters, St. Mary and St. Martha, as shown by the latter’s great sorrow at his passing and their unsurpassed joy at his resurrection are great model and inspiration for all of us in our own Christian communities, among all the faithful people of God. And their mutual love for the Lord, their dedication and commitment to His cause are also great inspiration for us to follow, as those who believe in the Lord and who should be inspired by their faith and commitment, their love for God above others.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all seek the Lord with a new heart and spirit, strengthened by this love we ought to have for Him, and let us persevere in each and every moments of our lives, that we may glorify Him by our actions and works, and in all things, we may always aspire to the faith showed by St. Martha, St. Mary and St. Lazarus, holy siblings dedicated to the Lord. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 29 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martha, St. Mary and St. Lazarus (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 11 : 19-27

At that time, many Jews had come to Martha and Mary, after the death of their brother, to comfort them. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet Him, while Mary remained sitting in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “If You had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that whatever You ask from God, God will give You.” Jesus said, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha replied, “I know that He will rise in the resurrection, at the last day.” But Jesus said to her, “I am the Resurrection. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, shall live. Whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Martha then answered, “Yes, Lord, I have come to believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, He Who is coming into the world.”

Alternative reading

Luke 10 : 38-42

At that time, as Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He entered a village, and a woman called Martha welcomed Him to her house. She had a sister named Mary, who sat down at the Lord’s feet to listen to His words. Martha, meanwhile, was busy with all the serving, and finally she said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the work? Tell her to help me!”

But the Lord answered, “Martha, Martha, you worry and are troubled about many things, whereas only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken away from her.”