Saturday, 30 July 2022 : 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 or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures we are presented with the realities facing those who are faithful and committed to God, all the more so especially for those who have been called to be shepherds and ministers to the people of God, like that of the prophets and messengers of God. As we heard in our Scripture passages today, the prophets and servants of God often had to suffer a lot of rejection and even persecution unto death, as what many of faithful servants of God had experienced in the past, as well as many other holy men and women of God.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah of the confrontation between the priests and the false prophets of Judah with Jeremiah, who was at that time, the only faithful prophet and servant of God left in Judah, during the last days of that kingdom. Jeremiah had been delivering the words of God to His people in Judah, warning all of them that the city of Jerusalem and the whole of Judah would soon be destroyed because of the continued sins and the wickedness of the people who refused to listen to God or to repent from their sins and evil ways.

As such, Jeremiah was seen as a troublemaker and even a traitor by some among the people, and his messages contradicted those so called false prophets who conveyed their own messages and rhetoric of glory for the kingdom of Judah. Those false prophets told the king of Judah and the people that they would be able to overcome their enemies and they would triumph, when in truth, those words did not come from God. What Jeremiah spoke about would eventually come true when later on the Babylonians came, besieged and destroyed the kingdom of Judah and Jerusalem, and brought the people to exile.

When the priests and the false prophets confronted Jeremiah as we heard in our first reading today, we heard the bitter animosity that existed between them, and how Jeremiah was really alone in his struggle against them, and he was cornered and even had threats against him, as he was accused as a doomsayer and even traitor to the people and the kingdom, with people calling out for his death. But as we heard in our first reading today, Jeremiah made a firm stand before the people, and stating that everything he had said came from the Lord Himself, and saying that the people all needed to repent and turn away from their sins before it was too late for them.

That made some of the people to come to believe in Jeremiah and sided with him, including some of those who would eventually help him in his dire hours of need, and rescued him from his troubles later on. The Lord showed His providence for His faithful servants in this case, while making His will and words known to all. In our Gospel passage today, we also heard yet another one of His servants standing up for the truth, and admonishing those who had been disobedient against God, as was told in the case of St. John the Baptist and him admonishing king Herod and his unlawful, adulterous relationship with Herodias, his own brother’s wife.

St. John the Baptist was arrested and imprisoned because of what he did and said, but that did not dampen his spirit or stop him from continuing to rebuke the king for his continued lack of morality and his disobedience against God. And eventually as we heard in our Gospel passage today, Herodias, who held a deep grudge against St. John the Baptist, plotted his death by making use of her own daughter to seduce Herod during a celebratory party, and ended up in tricking him into ordering the execution of the faithful servant of God. St. John the Baptist was martyred for his commitment and faith in the Lord, for his desire to bring God’s salvation to His people.

Today, we also have yet another example of faith by one of our holy predecessors, namely that of St. Peter Chrysologus, a great priest, preacher and later on named as a Doctor of the Church. He was the Bishop of Ravenna during the heyday of the Roman Empire in the western parts of Europe, and was remembered for his great and very concise homilies and sermons, his great oratorical skills and ability to connect with the people which earned him the epithet, Chrysologus, which literally means, ‘golden-tongued’. St. Peter Chrysologus made such simple yet moving sermons which moved many of the people and turned many into the faith.

St. Peter Chrysologus devoted his life and effort to care for his flock and he was also very committed in combatting and opposing heresies and all false teachings that were rampant back then, guarding his flock against the corrupting forces of those who sought to mislead the people of God. His courage and determination in standing up for the true faith, for God and for his flock of the faithful was just like that of the prophet Jeremiah and that of St. John the Baptist, mentioned earlier today. All of these great saints and servants of God truly showed us what it means for us to be faithful Christians and committed disciples and followers of our God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having heard all of these wonderful and inspiring stories, let us all ourselves be motivated and inspired to live our lives faithfully from now on as Christians, not just in name only, but also through real deeds and actions. Let us all be inspired to walk down the path that God has set before us, to be faithful to Him, and for us to dedicate our time and effort, to glorify Him in all things. May the Lord continue to help and guide us in our journey, now and evermore. Amen.

Saturday, 30 July 2022 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

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

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, 30 July 2022 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

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

Psalm 68 : 15-16, 30-31, 33-34

Rescue me, lest I sink in the mire; deliver me from the storm and the deep waters. Let not the flood engulf me, nor the deep suck me in, let not the pit close its mouth upon me.

But I myself, am humbled and wounded; Your salvation, o God, will lift me up. I will praise the Name of God in song; I will glorify Him with thanksgiving.

Let the lowly witness this, and be glad. You who seek God, may your hearts be revived. For YHVH hears the needy; and does not despise those in captivity.

Saturday, 30 July 2022 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

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

Jeremiah 26 : 11-16, 24

Then the priests and the prophets said to the leaders of the people : “This man must die for he has spoken against the city as you have heard with your own ears!”

Jeremiah replied, “I have been sent by YHVH to prophesy against this House and this city all that you have heard. Hence, reform your ways and your deeds and obey YHVH your God that He may change His mind and not bring upon you the destruction He had intended.”

“As for me I am in your hands; do with me whatever you consider just and right. But know that I am innocent; and if you take my life you commit a crime that is a curse on yourselves, on the city and the people. In truth it was YHVH Who sent me to say all that I said in your hearing.”

Then the leaders, backed by the people, said to the priests and the prophets, “This man does not deserve death; he spoke to us in the Name of YHVH.” As for Jeremiah, he was befriended by Ahikam, son of Shaphan, and was not handed over to those who wanted him put to death.

Friday, 29 July 2022 : 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 as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all presented with the words of wisdom from God on how each one of us can serve and follow Him better, through the inspirations of the saints, St. Martha, St. Mary and St. Lazarus. The three of them were siblings and according to the Scriptures, they were friends of the Lord Jesus. Lazarus was the one whom the Lord raised from the dead, and Mary and Martha were the ones to whom the Lord visited, as we heard from the Scripture passages today. Each one of them brought about inspiration for all of us Christians.

Lazarus, one of the siblings, according to the Scriptures, was very sick at one time and was on the verge of death in Judea, when the news of this came to the Lord and His disciples were in Galilee. Mary and Martha begged Him to come over and help their brother because they believed that the Lord could do something to help and heal their ailing brother. The Lord truly cared for them all, and nonetheless, He abided by His Father’s will, and waited a while as mentioned in the Gospel, until the appointed time, when He came to Judea after Lazarus had passed away from the sickness.

It was there that the Lord revealed His glory and power to all the assembled people, and opened their eyes to His truth, as He raised Lazarus from the dead after affirming both his sisters, Mary and Martha, that He is indeed the Lord and Master of life and death, and that He Himself is the Resurrection. Through Him, Lazarus gained a new lease of life, and God’s Name glorified through what the Lord Jesus had done that day. He showed His love for Lazarus, shown clearly when He even wept publicly for Lazarus, as he had to suffer and experience suffering and death first before God would be glorified through his resurrection.

That showed us just how close Lazarus, Mary and Martha were to the Lord, as very good and close friends, confidants and likely later on, important members of the Church. Meanwhile for Martha and Mary, we knew them more from another occasion in which the Lord visited both of them at their house, which prompted Martha to immediately be busy preparing all that was necessary to welcome the Lord, while Mary spent the time by the Lord’s side, listening to Him teaching and speaking to her. Through those actions, both of them actually showed their love for God in their own way.

Martha, while she was indeed distracted by her hectic and busy preparations to welcome the Lord, she was indeed doing so because she loved the Lord and wanted to care for Him in the way that she knew of doing. Mary on the other hand, also cared for the Lord in her own way, by listening to Him attentively and focusing on everything that He said. We can see from the examples set by the two sisters, as what each one of us as Christians should be doing in our lives in following and serving God. As Martha and Mary had done, we are all called to focus our attention to the Lord and devote ourselves to Him wholeheartedly.

Unfortunately, in our Church and world today, more often than not we encounter a lot of infidelity and lack of commitment to the Lord, because we are always distracted and busy with many other commitments and attachments in life. And unlike Martha, we are busy not because we are preparing to welcome the Lord into our midst. Instead we are busy pursuing our various worldly desires and ambitions, our many desires and concerns, our pursuit for power, fame, glory, wealth, influence among many other things. And we are also often too busy to listen to the Lord speaking to us and calling on us to communicate with Him.

That is why many of us kept on slipping down the path towards damnation and hell. Many people kept on failing to follow the Lord and to dedicate themselves as they should, because they were all too busy serving their own wants and desires, and in ignoring God’s calling and truth. The Lord has always patiently reached out to us in order to help us in our journey towards Him. However, it is up to us whether we are willing to listen to Him or not. If we continue on closing our hearts and minds against Him, then that is why the Lord’s words fell on deaf ears and we may end up getting further and further away from the path to salvation.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, inspired by the good examples of the siblings, St. Martha, St. Mary and St. Lazarus, their love for God and faith in the Lord, in all that they had done in following and obeying God’s will, let us all also do the same in our own lives as well. All of us should do whatever we can to seek the Lord from now on, and do our best to live our lives worthily in all things, committing our time, effort and attention on the Lord. May the Lord continue to guide us in our journey and may He empower and strengthen each and every one of us to live as good and devout Christians, now and always, evermore. Amen.

Friday, 29 July 2022 : 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.”

Friday, 29 July 2022 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martha, St. Mary and St. Lazarus (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 33 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10-11

I will praise YHVH all my days; His praise will be ever on my lips. My soul makes its boast in YHVH; let the lowly hear and rejoice.

Oh, let us magnify YHVH; together, let us glorify His Name! I sought YHVH, and He answered me; from all my fears He delivered me.

They who look to Him are radiant with joy, their faces never clouded with shame. When the poor cry out, YHVH hears and saves them from distress.

YHVH’s Angel encamps and patrols, to keep safe those who fear Him. Oh, see and taste the goodness of YHVH! Blessed is the one who finds shelter in Him!

Revere YHVH, all you, His saints, for those who fear Him do not live in want. The mighty may be hungry and in need; but those who seek YHVH lack nothing.

Friday, 29 July 2022 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martha, St. Mary and St. Lazarus (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 4 : 7-16

My dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves, is born of God and knows God. Those who do not love have not known God, for God is love. How did the love of God appear among us? God sent His only Son into this world, that we might have life, through Him.

This is love : not that we loved God, but that, He first loved us and sent His Son, as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, if such has been the love of God, we, too, must love one another. No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us, and His love comes to its perfection in us.

How may we know that we live in God and He in us? Because God has given us His Spirit. We ourselves have seen, and declare, that the Father sent His Son to save the world. Those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in them, and they in God. We have known the love of God and have believed in it. God is love. The one who lives in love, lives in God, and God in him.

Thursday, 28 July 2022 : 17th 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 Scriptures, we are all called and reminded of the love that God has shown us all, and everything that He has provided for us, in calling on all of us to return to Him, to find Him and to be reconciled with Him, so that we are no longer lost to Him but instead be moulded into a new people, a people who are faithful to God and His path, His truth and ways, and a new people who have embraced wholeheartedly the Law and commandments of God. That is also what each one of us as Christians have been called to do in our lives.

In our first reading today, from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah, we heard the Lord speaking to His people through Jeremiah, using the example of a potter working on his spoilt and broken pottery in delivering His point and truth across. He told them all through Jeremiah that just as the potter reshaped and patiently moulded the potter piece that was misshapen and broken, hence, He, the Lord, God of Israel and all also was like a Potter to the people, moulding and guiding them as a people, leading them down the path of righteousness, and patiently guiding them when they became astray, sending prophets and messengers to remind and help them.

The Lord used that comparison in order to make His people to understand just how patient He was in helping and guiding all of them, even if they were to be stubborn and unflinching in their position and behaviour. The Lord had done that for hundreds of years, kept on reminding the people through many generations of prophets and servants, sending them to both the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel and Judah. In occasions, they succeeded and helped the people to return to the right path, but the people often proved more stubborn, falling back again and again into their sinful ways.

Those who dwell, work and possess pottery especially back then might know just how difficult it is to make, craft and prepare a pottery work. It often requires patience and precision in order for a good quality pottery piece to be made, and sometimes it requires a long time and repeated efforts in order to achieve the desired product and quality. And what is amazing with pottery is that, as they are being made, they are flexible and easily adaptable in shape, and at the hands of a skilled artisan and potter, it can truly become a great piece of art and masterpiece. The Lord is that masterful potter Who moulded His people, His work of art, ever so patiently and kindly.

However, once the piece of work is completed, the result of the product will depend a lot on the pottery piece itself. If they are lacking in certain substances or parts, then it is more likely than not that the final product may be less than desired in terms of quality. That is what happens when the materials used are defective and flawed. And all of these represent us in our current state of life, just as it was for the Israelites, the people of God to whom Jeremiah spoke to. We are all flawed beings, sinful and corrupted by those sins we have committed. Yet, the Lord, our Potter, Guide and Master ceaselessly and continuously guided us on our way and journey to Him.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord spoke to His disciples regarding the kingdom of Heaven, in which He compared to a great net filled with various fishes of all types and sizes. The Angels will gather all of them and eventually sort them out. Those that are good will be gathered and kept, while the bad ones will be discarded. This is something that certainly many of the Lord’s followers and disciples understand, many of them being fishermen themselves or were working closely with them. The Lord told them all that all the faithful should be like the good fishes or else, they would face the consequences of their own evils and wickedness in the end.

How is that so? The net represents the Church of God, God’s kingdom in this world. To His Kingdom, God has called us all and invited us all to enter into His Presence, through His Church. And we have been given the opportunities and the means for us to embrace God and His ways, His truth and love through what we have heard in the Church. But it is really up to us whether we want to embrace God and His ways, or whether we prefer to follow our own paths and disobey God. If we continue to disobey the Lord and walk in the path of sin, then in the end, we are going to be like the bad fishes to be discarded at the end of time.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, while we still have the time and opportunities to do so, let us all discern carefully our path in life, our actions and works, our attitudes so that we may live our lives more worthily of the Lord from now on. Let us all let the Lord to shape and mould our lives, as our loving Potter and Master, so that our lives may be ever more worthy of Him, and that our lives and actions be ever more attuned to His will, in all the things we do, and that we may grow ever closer to Him, now and always, evermore. May God be with us all and bless our every good works, efforts and endeavours. Amen.

Thursday, 28 July 2022 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 13 : 47-53

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a big fishing net, let down into the sea, in which every kind of fish has been caught. When the net is full, it is dragged ashore. Then they sit down and gather the good fish into buckets, but throw the bad away. That is how it will be at the end of time; the Angels will go out to separate the wicked from the just, and to throw the wicked into the blazing furnace, where they will weep and gnash their teeth.”

Jesus asked, “Have you understood all these things?” “Yes,” they answered. So He said to them, “Therefore, every teacher of the Law who becomes a disciple of the kingdom of heaven, is like a householder, who can produce from his store things both new and old.”

When Jesus had finished these parables, He left that place.