Saturday, 27 August 2022 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Monica (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, each and every one of us have been reminded that we have been called by God to be His servants, and to follow Him to whatever and wherever He sends us, in our respective and various areas of responsibilities, in whatever opportunities and moments we have been given, to be the evangelising and missionary witnesses of His truth. Each and every one of us have been given by God unique talents, abilities, opportunities and gifts, and it is really indeed up to us whether we want to embrace these gifts from God and do what God had called and commanded us to do.

In our first reading today taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful people of God in Corinth, we heard of the Apostle speaking regarding the Lord and how He called and chose those from the world that might not be in accordance to the expectations of the world. While the world often sought the rich, the powerful and the mighty, the intellectual and those who are considered worthy and good, but the Lord called on all those who are considered ordinary and plain, those whom the world does not consider to be good or worthy, to be the ones to carry out His will and to do His works. God called on all these to be the instruments of His will.

Then, in our Gospel passage today, we heard another story, that of the parable of the silver talents, in which a master gave three of his servants several amounts of silver talents while he was going away for a while. Entrusting those silver talents to them, the master left on his matter, and the three servants acted differently on the silver talents given to them. The one who had only one silver talent chose to hide his silver talent and did nothing to it, while the ones who had received five and two silver talents respectively chose to put their silver to good use, invested in them and made good returns from them.

We heard how then the master chastised and was angry against the servant who was lazy and did not do anything to his one silver talent, while praising those servants who had done what they could to the silver entrusted to them. Through what we heard in our Gospel passage today and linking to what we have also heard in our first reading today earlier, we can see the clear parallel and comparison, between that of the silver talents and the servants with our calling and responsibilities as Christians, in serving the Lord, our Master and King. The Lord entrusted to us various talents, gifts, abilities, opportunities and others just as the master in the parable entrusted the silver talents to his three servants.

Yes, linking with what we heard earlier from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, God called us all to follow Him, and bestowed on us various gifts and talents, opportunities as each one of us have received and experienced throughout our lives. Each one of us have unique experiences and diverse gifts, all of which should be put to good use for the purpose which the Lord had given these to us. Sometimes we may not be sure what we should do with those gifts and blessings, and that is why it is important for us to discern carefully what our respective calling in life as Christians are, as we are all called to different vocations and purposes in life.

God called on us all from our diverse backgrounds, bestowing on us various things, blessings, abilities and more so that we may make good use of them, and be fruitful in our actions throughout life. As Christians, our actions, words and deeds should be life-giving and bear testimony to our Christian faith and to the Lord, our God and Saviour. But sadly, many Christians throughout the world are still lukewarm about their faith, and many did not do anything more than the minimum required obligations and responsibilities placed on us as Christians, and many more are even Christians in name and formality only.

That is why today all of us are reminded of this duty and obligation that each and every one of us as Christians have in being obedient to God and in doing His will, making good use of whatever God has given us to do His will. And unless we make the effort to do so, then we are likely to continue to ignore the Lord and His truth, and may end up falling into the slippery slope of worldliness and sins. We have to remind ourselves to be genuine in our faith and to be truly dedicated to God in all things. We can be inspired today from the story and the life of St. Monica, a great saint and woman, and the mother of St. Augustine of Hippo, one of the most renowned and famous early Church fathers, servant of God and Doctor of the Church.

Back then, St. Monica was married to a Roman pagan nobleman and had a child which was to become St. Augustine. St. Monica had to put up with her husband’s often violent temper and then her son’s immoral behaviour in his youth. St. Augustine was a wayward child and teenager, and spent his life in hedonistic pursuits and also fell into the Manichaean heretical teachings and influence. St. Monica never ceased to pray for her son and continued to patiently care for him, and after her many tearful nights being concerned and worried about him, eventually her prayers and the Lord brought St. Augustine to be converted to the true faith.

St. Monica might have just been an ordinary woman, a normal mother with all the issues that mothers often face even up to this day. Yet, in all of that ordinary living and things, we see how God turned what was ordinary into extraordinary. St. Monica lived her life with faith and righteousness, and did all that she could to obey the Lord and to care for her loved ones, and that led to the conversion of her son, who was to become one of the greatest of the Church fathers, and whose own contributions and works led to the many other good things and the salvation of so many other souls.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, after hearing all that and discerning on the words of the Sacred Scriptures, we are all called to not be afraid to be extraordinary through God, although we may seem to be ordinary in our lives and appearances. It is God in the end Who will make us worthy of Him, as He had done with St. Monica and countless other saints, holy men and women of God who have inspired us with the stories of their great faith and deeds. It was God Who made all those things possible. That is why, we should answer God’s call with faith and conviction, and do our best to invest our time and effort in doing whatever is within our means, in living our lives for the greater glory of God.

May God be with us always, and may He continue to guide us and bless us in all of our good efforts and endeavours, and may He continue to lead us down the path of righteousness, and bestow us His blessings and graces that we may make good use of them to glorify His Name all the more. Amen.

Saturday, 27 August 2022 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Monica (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 25 : 14-30

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Imagine someone who, before going abroad, summoned his servants to entrust his property to them. He gave five talents of silver to one servant, two talents to another servant, and one talent to a third, to each, according to his ability; and he went away.”

“He who received five talents went at once to do business with the talents, and gained another five. The one who received two talents did the same, and gained another two. But the one who received one talent dug a hole in the ground, and hid his master’s money.”

“After a long time, the master of those servants returned and asked for a reckoning. The one who had received five talents came with another five talents, saying, ‘Lord, you entrusted me with five talents, but see, I have gained five more.’ The master answered, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant, since you have been faithful in a few things, I will entrust you in charge of many things. Come and share the joy of your master.'”

“Then the one who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you entrusted me with two talents; with them I have gained two more.’ The master said, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant, since you have been faithful in little things, I will entrust you in charge of many things. Come and share the joy of your master.'”

“Finally, the one who had received one talent came and said, ‘Master, I know that you are a hard man. You reap what you have not sown, and gather what you have not scattered. I was afraid, so I hid your money in the ground. Here, take what is yours!’ But his master replied, ‘Wicked and worthless servant, you know that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered. You should have deposited my money in the bank, and given it back to me with interest on my return.'”

“Therefore, take the talent from him, and give it to the one who has ten. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who are unproductive, even what they have will be taken from them. As for that useless servant, thrown him out into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Saturday, 27 August 2022 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Monica (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 32 : 12-13, 18-19, 20-21

Blessed is the nation whose God is YHVH – the people He has chosen for His inheritance. YHVH looks down from heaven and sees the whole race of mortals.

But YHVH’s eyes are upon those who fear Him, upon those who trust in His loving-kindness; to deliver them from death and preserve them from famine.

In hope, we wait for YHVH, for He is our help and our shield. Our hearts rejoice in Him, for we trust in His holy Name.

Saturday, 27 August 2022 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Monica (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Corinthians 1 : 26-31

Brothers and sisters, look and see whom God has called. Few among you can be said to be cultured or wealthy, and few belong to noble families. Yet God has chosen what the world considers foolish, to shame the wise; He has chosen what the world considers weak to shame the strong.

God has chosen common and unimportant people, making use of what is nothing to nullify the things that are, so that no mortal may boast before God. But, by God’s grace you are in Christ Jesus, Who has become our wisdom from God, and Who makes us just and holy and free. Scripture says : Let the one who boasts boast of the Lord.

Friday, 26 August 2022 : 21st 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, all of us are presented with the need for each and every one of us as Christians to be dedicated to God in all things, and all of us should always trust in the wisdom of God and in His truth, His path and guidance rather than to follow the path of the world or any sorts of worldly means or solutions. All of us are called to be ever prepared and vigilant lest we allow ourselves to be deluded and misled by worldly temptations and false guides. We have to heed the words of today’s Scriptures that we may choose the right path forward in life.

In our first reading today, we listened from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful people of God in Corinth, speaking to us regarding the matter of human wisdom versus God’s wisdom and truth. St. Paul elaborated how the wisdom of God far surpassed the wisdom of mankind, and how the truth and wisdom of God might be seen by man as a form of foolishness, and man by their own conventional way of thinking and wisdom may find the teachings of the Lord, His way and truth as foolishness. And yet, it is by seeking that truth alone and by putting our faith in God alone that we may find the path to eternal life and true joy.

Why is the wisdom and ways of the Lord be considered as folly by mankind? That is because the Lord’s actions, in Him reaching out to us all, flawed as we were, and showing His love, compassion and mercy might be seen as weakness by some who valued legalistic viewpoints such as that those who have erred ought to suffer punishments for their errors without forgiveness or chance of repentance. Then, when He chose to come into our world, being born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, His mother, assuming our humble existence, then that became a source of even greater confusion and consternation by those who kept the wisdom of man.

For the Jews, as we heard St. Paul saying, it was a great scandal, because Christ did not just mention that He is the Son of God Most High, the Saviour of the world, but more importantly, through His crucifixion and death on that Cross, He had suffered the most humiliating and painful death, at the hands of His enemies. By any conventional Jewish understanding and wisdom, such an event would have been utterly unbelievable and disheartening, as they had considered and thought the Messiah as the Mighty One that God would send their way to lead them in a great victory against their enemies and restore the kingdom of Israel.

On the other hand, for the Greeks, the notion of God being incarnate as Man would not have been very strange, as in their own pantheon and mythology, the gods often came down to the world disguising themselves and posing as man. However, what would have also befuddled and confused them is the same fact that this God came willingly to offer His own life, to suffer and die for the sake of mere mankind. That is something that the Greek gods and pantheon would not have done at all. Yet, that was exactly what the Lord had done, by His suffering and death on the Cross, for the sake of our redemption and salvation.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard of the story or parable of the five wise and five foolish maidens, which we may be quite familiar with. Those five wise maidens had backup oil with them together with their oil lamps while they were waiting for the coming of the bridegroom for a late night wedding celebration while the five foolish maidens were bringing with them just enough oil for their lamps, without any backup. Through what we heard regarding this story of the five wise and five foolish maidens, we can clearly see the Lord’s intentions in reminding all of us, His faithful disciples, that we cannot be idle and we have to be ever vigilant in living our lives with faith.

And we have to entrust ourselves in God’s wisdom and providence, and do our best to live our lives in the most worthy, Christian manner. That is because if we follow the ways of the world, and put our trust in our own human wisdom and strength, then we are likely to fall into the wrong path, of self-delusion and self-aggrandisement, which will prevent us from realising that we may be wrong in what we do. Unfortunately, it is quite often that we mankind prefer to follow our own ways and satisfy our own desires and wants, and as a result, we end up doing things that are contrary to the way of the Lord, and we end up choosing the wrong actions that causing us to be more and more distant from God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore dedicate ourselves and our time, our effort and our whole being to God, and entrusting ourselves to His wisdom and guidance. Let us all turn towards Him with faith, and let us allow God to guide us in our journey of faith so that hopefully we may always be true to Him and be committed to His path at all times. Let us all be wise and be filled with the wisdom of God like that of the five wise women in the parable, and not be like the five foolish women and all those who refused to trust in the Lord. May God empower each one of us to walk in His path and to embark on this journey of faith, now and always, to the end of our days and everlasting life with Him. Amen.

Friday, 26 August 2022 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 25 : 1-13

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “This story throws light on what will happen in the kingdom of heaven : Ten bridesmaids went out with their lamps to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were sensible. The careless bridesmaids took their lamps as they were, and did not take extra oil. But those who were sensible, took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom delayed, they all grew drowsy and fell asleep.”

“But at midnight, a cry rang out, ‘The bridegroom is here, come on and meet him!’ All the maidens woke up at once, and trimmed their lamps. Then the foolish ones said to the sensible ones, ‘Give us some oil, for our lamps are going out.’ The sensible ones answered, ‘There may not be enough for us and for you. You had better go to those who sell, and buy some for yourselves.'”

“When the bridegroom came, the foolish maidens were out buying oil, but those who were ready went with him into the wedding feast, and the doors were shut. Later the other bridesmaids arrived and called out, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered, ‘Truly I do not know you.'”

“So stay awake, for you do not know the day nor the hour.”

Friday, 26 August 2022 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 32 : 1-2, 4-5, 10-11

Rejoice in the Lord, you who are just, praise is fitting for the upright. Give thanks to Him on the harp and lyre, making melody and chanting praises.

For upright is the Lord’s word and worthy of trust is His work. The Lord loves justice and righteousness; the earth is full of His kindness.

The Lord frustrates the plans of the nations and brings to nothing the peoples’ designs. But His plan stands forever, and His heart’s design through all generations.

Friday, 26 August 2022 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Corinthians 1 : 17-25

For Christ did not send me to baptise, but to proclaim His Gospel. And not with beautiful words! That would be like getting rid of the cross of Christ. The language of the cross remains nonsense for those who are lost. Yet for us who are saved, it is the power of God, as Scripture says : I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and make fail the foresight of the foresighted. Masters of human wisdom, educated people, philosophers, you have no reply! And the wisdom of this world? God let it fail.

At first, God spoke the language of wisdom, and the world did not know God through wisdom. Then God thought of saving the believers, through the foolishness that we preach. The Jews ask for miracles and the Greeks for a higher knowledge, while we proclaim a crucified Messiah. For the Jews, what a great scandal! And for the Greeks, what nonsense! But He is Christ, the power of God, and the wisdom of God, for those called by God among both Jews and Greeks.

In reality, the “foolishness” of God is wiser than humans, and the “weakness” of God is stronger than humans.

Thursday, 25 August 2022 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Louis, and St. Joseph Calasanz, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints or Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are reminded of the calling for all of us as Christians to remain faithful to the truth, teachings and the way of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. We must always be ready and vigilant, and not to fall into the trap of complacency and sloth, or lukewarmness in faith and mediocracy. Each and every one of us as Christians are expected to live our lives full of faith and to do whatever we can in order to proclaim the truth of God and the glory of God through our daily living, our every words, actions and deeds.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in the city of Corinth, as the Apostle exhorted the faithful there to continue to remain steadfast in their faith and obedience to God through His Son, their Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. He reminded them of the wisdom and the light that they all had received from the Lord Himself, as they received those through the Apostles, from St. Paul himself and the other missionaries, and inspired from the Holy Spirit that has been given to them by the laying of the hands. They had received the wisdom and truth of God, and are therefore called to be faithful witnesses of the Lord and their Christian faith.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord speaking to His disciples with the parable of the faithful and bad servants, through which the Lord wanted to highlight the importance for each one of us, His followers and disciples, to live our lives most worthily at all times, and to do whatever we can in obeying His Law and commandments, and in doing our best to proclaim the truth of God by our exemplary actions. We cannot live our lives the way that hypocrites had done, that we do things contrary to what we profess to believe in. And we can neither neglect our obligations and responsibilities in living a good and faithful Christian life, when we are all called to be leading virtuous and good Christian living.

That is because as the Lord highlighted, the moment of our reckoning, for our actions and deeds, and for our whole lives can come at anytime. Through that parable of the two stewards, the Lord compared their examples with our own lives, reminding us that the moment for us as the stewards of the Lord’s creation, accounting for our lives in this world, can happen at anytime. We all ought to remember and know that while the most certain thing that will happen to each one of us is death, but at the same time, the most uncertain thing for us is to know the time of our death, as no one will ever know when they exactly will reach the end of their worldly existence. God alone knows that detail.

That is why, all of us as Christians ought to prepare ourselves well for the inevitable, and we have to keep in mind what we have heard in today’s Scripture passages so that we can keep ourselves in check and also attuned to the expectations that the Lord has placed on us. If we have been delaying and been lukewarm in our faith, and not doing what the Lord has expected each one of us to do, then we really should spend the time to start doing what we should be doing, in living our lives in accordance with God and His ways from now on, and we can also seek inspiration on how to do so by looking upon the good examples set by our holy predecessors.

Today, we celebrate the feast of two great saints of the Church, whose examples and inspirations can and should inspire all of us to live our lives wholeheartedly full of faith, so that we may truly be good and worthy disciples and followers of the Lord Most High. St. Louis IX was the King of France during the High Middle Ages remembered for his great contributions to the Church both in his support for the Christian faith as well as in his role as the king and guardian of his kingdom and people. Meanwhile, St. Joseph Calasanz was a Spanish priest who was remembered for his efforts in caring for the needs of the poor and for establishing good education for the poor and the uneducated.

St. Louis IX was the King of France during the High Middle Ages, who ruled his kingdom for a long period of several decades during which time he dedicated himself to the advancement of his people and the betterment of his kingdom. He was remembered for his great contributions to the Church and also his zealous and faithful living, as he always dedicated himself to improve both the physical and spiritual well-being of his people, building churches and schools, as well as other institutions that were important in the livelihood of the people and his kingdom. He was also active in his efforts to defend the faithful and Christendom through the Crusades and more, both towards reclaiming the Holy Land and in rooting out the Albigensian heresy.

St. Joseph Calasanz was a courageous and faithful priest, who was remembered for his passion in bringing free education to the poor and the needy, as means to help them to overcome their constant cycle of poverty and suffering. Through education and his many other efforts, St. Joseph Calasanz also revealed God’s truth and love for His people, which he showed by his patient care and ministry in dedicating himself to the betterment of the lives and the education of the poor. He gave much of his time and effort to help those who are in need, and showing us all true Christian charity, love and action, that we should also be inspired to follow in our own lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having heard of the life examples and inspirations from St. Louis IX and also St. Joseph Calasanz, all of us are also called to live our lives faithfully in God’s path, to proclaim His truth and love to all the people whom we encounter in our daily living. All of us are reminded to do our best at every moments such that we may ourselves be inspiration to one another in how we all live our lives in God’s presence. May the Lord continue to bless us all and may He remain with us, by our side, guiding and strengthening us in our journey of faith through life. May God bless us all, now and always, evermore. Amen.

Thursday, 25 August 2022 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Louis, and St. Joseph Calasanz, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints or Priests)

Matthew 24 : 42-51

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Stay awake then, for you do not know on what day your Lord will come. Obviously, if the owner of the house knew at what time the thief was coming, he would certainly stay up and not allow his house to be broken into. So be alert, for the Son of Man will come at the hour you least expect.”

“Imagine a faithful and prudent servant, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give them food at the proper time. Fortunate, indeed, is that servant, whom his master will find at work when he comes. Truly I say to you, his lord will entrust him with everything he has.”

“Not so with the bad servant, who thinks, ‘My master is delayed.’ And he begins to ill-treat his fellow servants, while eating and drinking with drunkards. But his master will come on the day he does not know, and at the hour he least expects. He will punish that servant severely; and place him with the hypocrites. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”