Saturday, 17 August 2019 : 19th 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 through the Scriptures we heard the words of the Lord speaking to us about the matter of loving and serving God as part of the Covenant which He has made with each and every one of us, reminding us of the wonders of His love and caring heart, His kindness and faithfulness to us, despite our countless and endless rebellion and disobedience against Him.

In the first reading passage taken from the Book of Joshua, we heard how the people of Israel made promises before the Lord, renewing their commitment to the Covenant that God had made with them in the presence of Joshua, the appointed leader of the entire nation and with everyone as witness, at the moment when Joshua was about to depart from this earthly existence due to his old age.

Joshua was concerned that the people of Israel would fall again into the same temptations and the same pitfalls of desire, greed and all sorts of things that had caused their forefathers to fall into sin. Joshua had seen how many of the Israelites who went out of Egypt disobeyed God and His commandments, broke the Covenant which He had just made with them by making for themselves a golden calf idol as a false god over them, and for their many other wicked actions.

Thus, Joshua reminded them of God’s wonderful love for the people He cherished and whom He had chosen from among all the nations. And he also reminded them that should they be disobedient and refused to obey the will of God, or to follow His laws, then they would receive the same fate as their forefathers, as they would suffer and would receive nothing other than destruction and damnation.

But if they were faithful, they would receive the fullness of God’s providence and the fullness of His promised inheritance and glory. The people promised to obey the Lord and renewed the Covenant they had made with God. However, as time would prove, the people would end up falling again and again into temptations and abandoned God many times, only for the Lord to guide them yet again by sending His Judges to be the leaders of His people during those times.

Such indeed was God’s great love for His people, for all of us who have sinned against Him. His love for us is truly boundless and His mercy and compassion is always ever generous and good. No one can hide from His loving gaze and merciful heart. But many of us still resist His love and mercy, and refuse to listen to Him or to embrace His ways. We still attach ourselves to the many desires we have in this world, that led us astray from God.

In today’s Gospel passage, we heard then the Lord Jesus Who spoke to His disciples, when they tried to prevent the people from bringing little children to Him. He rebuked them and their behaviour, saying that in fact, they had to be like those little children in their faith, and not to turn them away, instead welcoming them just as they ought to welcome their Master, Lord and Saviour.

And the Lord wanted to show us all through this that we must have true and genuine faith, like those of the little children’s. Little children has that pure faith and ability to believe in something totally, completely and wholeheartedly due to their innocence, and not being clouded, distracted or compounded by the desires and the corruptions or temptations within the heart and the mind.

Are we able to devote ourselves to the Lord in the same way, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we able to love the Lord in the manner that He has first loved us all so tenderly and graciously? Let us all turn towards the Lord with love and let us dedicate ourselves to Him with a renewed zeal and strength from now on. May the Lord continue to love us and guide us throughout this journey of life from now on. May God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 17 August 2019 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

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

Matthew 19 : 13-15

At that time, little children were brought to Jesus, that He might lay His hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded those who brought them. Jesus then said, “Let the children be! Do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are humble, like these children.”

Jesus laid His hands on them and went away.

Saturday, 17 August 2019 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

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

Psalm 15 : 1-2a and 5, 7-8, 11

Keep me safe, o God, for in You I take refuge. I say to YHVH, “O YHVH, my inheritance and my cup, my chosen portion – hold secure my lot.”

I praise YHVH Who counsels me; even at night, my inmost self instructs me. I keep YHVH always before me; for with Him at my right hand, I will never be shaken.

You will show me the path of life, in Your presence, the fullness of joy, at Your right hand, happiness forever.

Saturday, 17 August 2019 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

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

Joshua 24 : 14-29

Joshua said to the people of Israel, “So fear YHVH, and be sincere and faithful in serving Him. Set aside those gods your ancestors worshipped in Mesopotamia and Egypt. Serve only YHVH. But if you do not want to serve YHVH, make known this very day whom you shall serve – whether they be the gods your ancestors served in Mesopotamia or the gods of the Amorites who formerly occupied the land in which you now live. As for me, I and my household will serve YHVH.”

The people answered, “May God not permit that we ever abandon YHVH to serve other gods! For it was He Who brought us and our ancestors out of Egypt, the house of slavery. It was He Who did those great wonders that we have seen; He protected us on the way and through all the land where we passed, driving away before us all the nations especially the Amorites who lived in this land. So we shall also serve YHVH : He is our God!”

Joshua asked the people : “Will you be able to serve YHVH? He is a holy God, a jealous God Who does not tolerate wickedness or faults. If you abandon YHVH to serve other gods, He will turn against you and just as He has done you so much good, so shall He punish you and destroy you.”

The people replied, “No, may it not be as you say. We will serve YHVH.” Joshua said, “You yourselves are witnesses that you have chosen YHVH to serve Him.” They answered, “We are witnesses.” Joshua then said, “Remove now from your midst any other gods and serve YHVH, the God of Israel, with all your heart.” The people answered : “We will serve YHVH, our God, and obey His commands.”

On that day at Shechem, Joshua made a Covenant with the people and fixed laws and ordinances. He also wrote down everything expressed in the book of the Law of God; he chose a great stone and put it under the oak tree in the sacred place of YHVH. Then Joshua said to the people : “This stone shall be a witness to all that YHVH said to us, for it heard all these words. It shall be a witness against you, lest you deal falsely with YHVH.”

Joshua immediately sent the people away and everyone returned to his land. After all these deeds, Joshua, son of Nun and servant of YHVH, died at the age of a hundred and ten.

Friday, 16 August 2019 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Stephen of Hungary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the wonderful love which God has given to His people, as the leader of Israel that time, Joshua, the successor of Moses, gathered the whole nation before him and before the Lord just before he was about to pass away in old age. Joshua recounted before the people of the wonderful things that God had done for their ancestors, in His faithfulness and providence.

Most of the people of Israel at that time were those born after the whole nation had been brought into the land of Canaan and settled there, many of them have not experienced or known the wonderful love of God, His many miracles and providence which their parents and grandparents would have seen and remembered as they were brought out of their slavery in Egypt and journeyed through the desert for forty years.

That was why Joshua gathered the whole people to remind them that it was God Who had made them prosper and grow in the land they then have called their own, given to them by God Who cleared their path before them, Who provided and cared for them and their needs, and Who watched them through their every steps and ways. Based on experience and history, the people of God, the Israelites were quick to forget all that God had done for them.

We all knew how they rebelled against God and disobeyed Him, so far as to make for themselves a false idol and god, a golden calf which they claimed to be the god who had saved them from their enslavement in Egypt. They refused to follow the Lord’s commandments and ways, and they preferred to follow their own thoughts and ideas, their own prejudices and preferences, their own desires and the many temptations of the world.

And in the Gospel passage today we heard about the discussion between the Lord Jesus and the Pharisees regarding the matter of marriage and divorce, as the latter wanted to test the Lord with the question asking why the Law allowed the people of Israel to do divorce with certain conditions. And the Lord reminded the Pharisees and the people that God did not in fact condone such a practice and reminded them all of the sanctity that is inherent in marriage.

But it was because of God’s great love for His people, so great and wonderful that He has been so patient and so compassionate towards them, that He was willing to accommodate them and to guide them towards the right path despite all the rejections, doubts, waywardness and rebelliousness they have shown against Him. When the laws as prescribed and recorded by Moses allowed for the provision of divorce, it was not meant to be taken for granted, and yet the people took it as an excuse to live loosely without regard for holiness and sanctity in life.

God wanted to accommodate His people so as to lead them to Him and allow them to grow more faithful in each and every days of their lives. The Lord has all good intentions and desire for His people and yet, they misused His love and providence, and took for granted what He has lovingly done for their sake. God has continued to love His people regardless, caring for them patiently and revealing to them what He truly wants for them.

Now, all of us ought to reflect on our own lives therefore, on whether we have loved God as we should have, or whether we have been like the people of Israel in the ancient times, in how they constantly disobeyed the Lord and fell into temptations and sin. Have we lived our lives in the way that we should have lived, brothers and sisters in Christ? Have we truly loved God wholeheartedly as the holy saints have done?

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Stephen of Hungary, a holy king and servant of God, the first to be crowned as the King of Hungary by the crown sent to him by the Pope. St. Stephen was remembered for his great many contributions to the Church and to his people, as he strengthened his country and ruled wisely for many years, and also establishing the strong foundations of the Church in the whole of his realm of Hungary.

St. Stephen truly loved God as shown by his great piety, his commitment to the works of God, his personal holiness and faith. And we can see how he also loved Him by loving those whom God has entrusted to be under his care, as those who were in his kingdom prospered under his just and well-managed rule, and his genuine care and generosity towards all of them, especially those who were poor, weak and needy.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to emulate the examples of this holy and devoted servant of God, our holy predecessor who have shown us what it truly means for us to be Christians? Let us all not take the love of God for granted any longer, but instead, appreciating everything that He has done for us, and be thankful of the generous love, compassion and mercy which He has given for us.

May the Lord, through the intercession of St. Stephen of Hungary, grant us the strength and courage to live our lives ever more faithfully from now on, dedicating our whole lives to His service for the greater glory of His Name. May God bless us all and our every endeavours, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 16 August 2019 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Stephen of Hungary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

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, 16 August 2019 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Stephen of Hungary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Psalm 135 : 1, 2, 3, 16, 17, 18, 21, 22, 24

Alleluia! Give thanks to YHVH, for He is good, His kindness endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of gods, His kindness endures forever.

Give thanks to YHVH of Lords, His kindness endures forever.

He led His people through the desert, His kindness endures forever.

He struck down great kings, His kindness endures forever.

And He killed mighty kings, His kindness endures forever.

He gave their land as an inheritance, His kindness endures forever.

A heritage to Israel His servant, His kindness endures forever.

And He freed us from our oppressors, His kindness endures forever.