Saturday, 19 November 2022 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded of our faith and belief in the Lord, that especially we believe in the resurrection from the dead, which means that there is life and existence after death. Death does not mean the end of our life and existence, but it only marks the end of our physical existence in the way we know it in our present world. What comes after is a greater existence and truth that awaits us in the Lord, just as He has affirmed it and showed us through His own death and resurrection from the dead. It is our core and central tenet and belief as Christians that we believe in the life in the world to come, where we will be raised body and soul, hopefully to enjoy forever the eternal life of bliss and happiness with God.

From our first reading today, taken from the Book of Revelations of St. John the Apostle we heard of the tale of the two witnesses of the Lord, who will be sent by God into this world so that He may let all the whole world to know the truth and love of God, and that all who still want to repent from their sins and turn from their evils may still be able to do so, before it is too late for them. Yet, there are many who are opposed to the Lord, and they refused to listen to those two witnesses and servants of God. The vision of St. John then tells us how the great enemy will rise against those servants of God and will persecute, kill and destroy them. And yet, at the appointed time, much like the Lord Himself, the two witnesses rise again into glory and life, resurrected from the dead by the power of God, and are raised into Heaven.

In that passage, we can see how the belief in the resurrection from the dead forms such a central tenet of our faith, and the resurrection from the dead brings hope to all those who have suffered and been persecuted for the Lord and for their faith in Him, like those two faithful witnesses mentioned in the Book of Revelations. Throughout the history of the Church, from the time of persecutions in the earliest days of the Church, and then followed by the many other examples of bitter and harsh persecutions and oppositions against Christians all over the world, even to the present day, all these showed us how our faith in the Lord and in the Resurrection gave hope even amidst the bleakest darkness and evil in this world.

It is because many of the faithful entrusted themselves wholly in the Lord and trusted in Him, and believed that they shall enjoy forever the fruits of their labour and faith even beyond this world that they were willing to endure such hardships and struggles, torture, pain and humiliation in defending their faith and their trust in God. They also recall and remember how the Lord Himself had suffered and died for their sake, in His enduring and ever patient love for us mankind, that He willingly took upon Himself the burdens of our sins and the weight of the punishments and consequences due to our sins and wickedness. The Lord was with them and with all of us, His beloved children and people, wherever we are and in whatever circumstances we are in. When we are carrying our crosses in life, we must not forget that the Lord is carrying His Cross too, by our side.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard of the encounter between the Lord and the Sadducees, a group of influential and powerful people within the Jewish community who were opposed to the spiritual nature of their Jewish customs and faith, as those were mostly worldly in nature, refusing to believe in matters like the resurrection, life after death, the concept of soul and spirits, or in any spiritual beings like Angels and demons, among many other things. Those Sadducees were often very rich and influential people in the community, who by the nature of their wealth and power, obviously had strong attachments to their worldly life, to their present existence, and naturally, they tend to live their lives as if there is no life and existence after death, as per their beliefs. They lived in excess, enjoying life’s bounty as much as they wanted.

Their questions and responses to the Lord, using the example of the seven brothers and their shared wife showed how much they still desired worldly things, and wanted everything to be the way it is in this world. They did not realise that in the afterlife, all of us mankind are no longer bound by the needs and desires in this imperfect world, for we will be with God Himself, and in His presence and perfection, all of us have nothing lacking, and all of us are in state of perfect harmony and love with God and one another that we no longer need all the things we often fancy and desire in this world, like that of material wealth, money, pleasures of all kind, food or any other things that we often desire and try to accumulate in this world. We have to remember and indeed remind ourselves once again, that we exist to glorify God by our lives, and not for our own personal ambitions and gains.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as Christians let us hence remind ourselves that we live in this world as a fleeting and temporary existence before we are fully reunited once again with God, and hence all of us should live our lives with that realisation found in our minds and hearts. If we realise this, then we should know that God will always be by our side and we have nothing to fear or lose if we entrust ourselves to Him, and do our best in our respective lives to do His will and to carry out whatever He has entrusted us with to do. Let us all inspire and help one another to persevere through our lives in this world, and do our best to be faithful witnesses of our faith, to be the bright beacons of God’s light and truth in our respective communities and places, at all times.

May the Lord be with us always and may He strengthen each and every one of us with the resolve to carry out our lives with faith and dedication from now on. May God bless our every good works and efforts, and empower us to be ever better and more committed disciples and witnesses of His truth in our world today. Amen.

Saturday, 19 November 2022 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

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

Luke 20 : 27-40

At that time, some Sadducees arrived. These people claim that there is no resurrection, and they asked Jesus this question, “Master, in the Law Moses told us, ‘If anyone dies leaving a wife but no children, his brother must take the wife, and any child born to them will be regarded as the child of the deceased.'”

“Now, there were seven brothers; the first married a wife, but he died without children; and the second and the third took the wife; in fact, all seven died leaving no children. Last of all the woman died. On the day of the resurrection, to which of them will the woman be a wife? For all seven had her as a wife.”

And Jesus replied, “Taking a husband or a wife is proper to people of this world, but for those who are considered worthy of the world to come, and of resurrection from the dead, there is no more marriage. Besides, they cannot die, for they are like the Angels. They are sons and daughters of God, because they are born of the resurrection.”

“Yes, the dead will be raised, as Moses revealed at the burning bush, when He called the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. For God is God of the living, and not of the dead, for to Him everyone is alive.”

Some teachers of the Law then agreed with Jesus, “Master, You have spoken well.” They did not dare to ask Him anything else.

Saturday, 19 November 2022 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

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

Psalm 143 : 1, 2, 9-10

Blessed be the Lord, my Rock, Who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle.

My loving God, my Fortress; my Protector and Deliverer, my Shield where I take refuge, Who conquers nations and subjects them to my rule.

I will sing a new song to You, o God, I will make music on the ten-stringed harp, for You Who give victory to kings and deliver David, Your servant.

Saturday, 19 November 2022 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

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

Revelations 11 : 4-12

These are the two olive trees and the two lamps which are before the Lord of the earth. If anyone intends to harm them, fire will come out of their mouths to devour their enemies : this is how whoever intends to harm them will perish. They have the power to close the sky and hold back the rain during the time of their prophetic mission; they also have the power to change water into blood, and punish the earth with a thousand plagues, any time they wish.

But when My witnesses have fulfilled their mission, the beast that comes up from the abyss will make war upon them, and will conquer and kill them. Their dead bodies will lie in the square of the Great City which the believers figuratively call Sodom or Egypt, where their Lord was crucified. And their dead bodies will be exposed for three days and a half to people of all tribes, races, languages and nations who will be ordered not to have them buried.

Then the inhabitants of the earth will rejoice, congratulate one another and exchange gifts among themselves because these two prophets were a torment to them. But after those three and a half days, a Spirit of life coming from God entered them. They them stood up, and those who looked at them were seized with great fear. A loud voice from heaven called them, “Come up here.” So they went up to heaven in the midst of the clouds in the sight of their enemies.