Saturday, 31 August 2019 : 21st 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 the Lord continues to remind us all through the words of the Sacred Scriptures of the need for us to be truly faithful to Him, not just by formality or by empty faith, but through genuine commitment and dedication, through our very actions and deeds, our efforts and all that we do in our daily living that we are truly being faithful to God in all things.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord spoke of the parable of the silver talents in which He spoke of a master who entrusted part of his properties to his servants, giving them varying amounts of silver talents to be made use of and invested so that when he returned from his travel abroad, he could gain back the investment with much returns from the efforts of his servants.

And we saw how the servants who were given five and two silver talents each made use of the wealth entrusted to them and invested them until their master’s return, when they could return him the original five and two silver talents and doubled the original investment. The master was pleased and entrusted them with even more things. And the servant who had one silver talent and hid his silver talent was rebuked by the master for his laziness and unwillingness to make use of his entrusted wealth.

What is the significance of all of these, brothers and sisters in Christ? The silver talents in fact represent the many gifts, talents, abilities, blessings and wonders that God had granted to us all mankind, each one of us having been given unique gifts from God. But many of us have not realised or appreciated these wonderful gifts and in fact many of us even made use of the gifts and blessings in the wrong way.

Take for example the many sufferings present in our world today. Many of us suffer because we have misused the gifts and the talents we have received, in order to satisfy our own selfish desires, our own greed and wants for more of this world’s goods and temptations. Those with power and wealth, influence and achievements became greedy and filled with desire for more of what they already have, and instead of doing what the Lord has asked them to do, they chose to follow their own way, much like what the lazy servant had done.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we must be aware that as Christians, meaning as those whom the Lord had called to be His own and that by our faith we have taken Him as Our Lord and Saviour, we have been entrusted by God with responsibilities and duties over His creation, that is over this world in various capacities. Each and every one of us are stewards of God’s creation, and at the same time we are also charged with the care of one another, our fellow brothers and sisters in faith.

Are we able then to live our lives with good responsibility in our every actions, words and deeds then, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we able to put our effort to be exemplary in our respective capacities and callings in life, and do whatever we can within our power and ability to serve God to the best of our abilities, and do all within our power to bring greater glory to God and to serve Him with love.

Let us all be true and devout Christians from now on, and be inspiration for one another in how we live our faith life. May the Lord continue to guide us through this journey of life, and may He strengthen our resolve and give us the courage and perseverance to endure the difficult challenges we may face, the many temptations that we have to endure, and may He bless all of our good endeavours and works for the greater glory of His Name. Amen.

Saturday, 31 August 2019 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

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

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, 31 August 2019 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

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

Psalm 97 : 1, 7-8, 9

Sing to YHVH a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

Let the sea resound and everything in it, the world and all its people. Let rivers clap their hands, hills and mountains sing with joy.

Before YHVH, for He comes to rule the earth. He will judge the world with justice, and the peoples, with fairness.

Saturday, 31 August 2019 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

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

1 Thessalonians 4 : 9-11

Regarding mutual love, you do not need anyone to write to you, because God, Himself, taught you how to love one another. You already practice it with all the brothers and sisters of Macedonia, but I invite you to do more.

Consider how important it is, to live quietly, without bothering others, to mind your own business, and work with your hands, as we have charged you.

Friday, 30 August 2019 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us and reminding us the importance for us to be ever prepared and ever ready for the Lord, whenever it is and not to take our lives and the many opportunities which God has given us for granted. The Lord has blessed us with numerous chances and opportunities, wanting us all to find our way to Him, and be reconciled with Him fully.

However, many of us chose to remain indifferent and obstinate, refusing to believe in God and in the love and mercy which He has generously given to us, and despite all the reminders which we have received all these while. We gave in to our temptations and to the many allures of the devil and the fallen angels, leading us to be complacent in life and in continuing to live in the state of sin all these while.

And that is why the Lord is reminding us through today’s Gospel passage, when He Himself told His disciples to be prepared and be wise as the five women in the parable He chose to teach them with, the five bridesmaids who were prepared with extra oil for their lamps that when the groom was held up in coming, they still had enough oil for their lamps and unlike the five other bridesmaids who did not prepare beforehand and were caught off-guard.

This parable in fact is a very important reminder to each and every one of us, as the bridesmaids truly represent all of us mankind who are awaiting the coming of the bridegroom, which is none other than Our Lord Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. In the Book of Revelation of St. John the Apostle, God Himself made it very clear that He will come back and claim us all, and He is depicted as the Lamb of God, the Bridegroom of the Church, the bride of the Lamb of God.

And He will come again as He has said, as certain as it can be. However, the timing of His coming will be most unpredictable and most uncertain as it can be uncertain. No one in this world know of the exact moment of His coming, and the Lord Himself had said that the moment will catch many by total surprise and it will end up being too late for those who have always tarried and delayed, and refused to do what they should have done.

How should we all prepare ourselves then, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is by heeding what St. Paul had written to the Church and the faithful in the city of Thessalonica, in which he urged the people to live righteously and to devote themselves to God to the best of their abilities, to follow God’s ways and to walk in His path following what He has taught them and revealed to them through the Holy Spirit.

And the same calling therefore has been made to all of us, to follow God’s path and to obey His will, to listen to Him and to dedicate ourselves to Him as best as we are able to. The Lord has taught us and revealed to us what we should do, as He has passed it on to us through His Church, and therefore, we should follow the teachings of the Church and do our very best to live our lives as how He has taught us.

Let us not wait any longer and be complacent in our lives, but instead be ever vigilant and sincere in living our lives with faith. Let our every actions, our every words, deeds and interactions with one another be filled with true faith, with genuine love for God and with true love for our fellow brothers and sisters, showing care, compassion and concern for all those who are needy and who are suffering.

May the Lord, our loving God, He Who has promised to come again to be reunited perfectly with us, show us His love always, and may He strengthen us all to be able to live courageously in His presence with faith, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 30 August 2019 : 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, 30 August 2019 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 96 : 1 and 2b, 5-6, 10, 11-12

YHVH reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the distant islands be glad. Justice and right, are His throne.

The mountains melt like wax before YHVH, the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim His justice, all peoples see His glory.

You who love YHVH, hate evil, for He preserves the lives of His faithful; He delivers them from their foes.

He sheds light upon the upright, and gladness upon the just. Rejoice in YHVH, you, who are blameless; and give praise to His holy Name.

Friday, 30 August 2019 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Thessalonians 4 : 1-8

For the rest, brothers, we ask you, in the Name of Jesus, the Lord, and we urge you, to live in a way that pleases God, just as you have learnt from us. This you do, but try to do still more. You know the instructions we gave you on behalf of the Lord Jesus : the will of God for you is to become holy and not to have unlawful sex.

Let each of you behave towards his wife as a holy and respectful husband, rather than being led by lust, as are pagans, who do not know God. In this matter, let no one offend or wrong a brother. The Lord will do justice in all these things, as we have warned and shown you.

God has called us to live, not in impurity but in holiness, and those who do not heed this instruction disobey, not a human, but God, Himself, Who gives you His Holy Spirit.

Thursday, 29 August 2019 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Passion of St. John the Baptist (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast of the Passion of St. John the Baptist, remembering the moment when this very important saint suffered and endured martyrdom for his faith, for his never failing zeal and dedication to God to the very end, even at the cost of his life. And St. John the Baptist is one of the few saints in the Scriptures who have more than one feast day celebrated in his honour.

That is because St. John the Baptist played a very important and crucial role in the history of our salvation, as he is the Herald of the Messiah of God, the one who was prophesied to come just before the coming of God’s Saviour, the Promised One, in order to proclaim His coming to the world. St. John the Baptist himself was also a relative of the Lord, having been born to Elizabeth, Mary’s relative, and therefore St. John the Baptist is also a relative of the Lord Jesus.

And since his birth and youth, St. John the Baptist had been called by God to do His will, as he went on his journey and went into the wilderness, and when he was ready, proclaiming God’s imminent coming to His people, calling them all to repentance and to turn away from their sins. He brought the people to the River Jordan and baptised them with water, as a sign of their commitment to change their way of life and rejection of sin.

Then, St. John the Baptist had to go up against those who were powerful and influential in the community, beginning from the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who doubted him and refused to believe in him, and even doubted and questioned the authority by which St. John the Baptist had performed his baptism and works among the people. And then, he also went up against none other than king Herod himself, the ruler of Galilee.

King Herod had led an immoral life as he took the legally married wife of his brother, Philip, who was still alive then and also likely with a daughter with the brother, as his own. Doing so constituted a very serious adultery and sin, and St. John the Baptist fearlessly confronted the king and Herodias, the wife of the king’s brother whom the former had taken as his own. As a result, Herodias in particular held a grudge against the saint and tried very hard to kill the holy man of God. She managed to get the saint imprisoned for what he had courageously spoke up against.

That was exactly how she managed to plot against the saint, by what we have heard in our Gospel passage today, when during a feast, Herodias tricked king Herod into giving in to her demands to have the saint killed and had his head placed on a platter before her, through the means of temptation and through her own beautiful daughter’s seduction before the king’s presence.

And in enduring the suffering, the imprisonment and eventually martyrdom, St. John the Baptist remained true to the mission which God had sent him into this world for, to the very end. He is truly a role model for all of us, God’s faithful people in how we should live out our lives with faith as Christians. All of us have been called by God to look upon the examples of this faithful servant who gave himself totally to God and devoted his life’s effort to glorify God.

Are we able to stand by our faith and our commitment to God in our everyday lives, even at times when the world itself may be against us? That is what St. John the Baptist had done, devoting himself to the cause and the mission God has entrusted to him. He did not give up despite the challenges and oppositions he had, and put his trust completely in the Lord, just as the prophet Jeremiah in our first reading today was reassured by God that He would be with him throughout the entire journey.

Let us all discern carefully and think in what way we can bring ourselves and others closer to God by our own examples and by our dedication to God. The truth is that, the best way to evangelise is through our own examples and our own obedience to God’s will. It is when others see that in our every words, deeds and actions we show our true faith and commitment, and that we mean our every words and actions, then naturally others will follow in our footsteps, just as the courage of St. John the Baptist had inspired many of us in our faith.

May the Lord therefore strengthen us in our faith that we may be courageous in faith and in life just as His faithful servant St. John the Baptist had done, in enduring all sorts of trials and challenges, and even martyrdom for the sake of his faith and dedication to God. Let us all follow his footsteps and be ever more Christian-like in our daily living from now on. May God bless us all and our good works, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 29 August 2019 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Passion of St. John the Baptist (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Mark 6 : 17-29

At that time, this is what had happened : Herod had ordered John to be arrested; and had had him bound and put in prison because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. Herod had married her; and John had told him, “It is not right for you to live with your brother’s wife.”

So Herodias held a grudge against John and wanted to kill him; but she could not, because Herod respected John. He knew John to be an upright and holy man, and kept him safe. And he liked listening to him; although he became very disturbed whenever he heard him.

Herodias had her chance on Herod’s birthday, when he gave a dinner for all the senior government officials, military chiefs, and the leaders of Galilee. On that occasion, the daughter of Herodias came in and danced; and she delighted Herod and his guests.

The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want and I will give it to you.” And he went so far as to say with many oaths, “I will give you anything you ask, even half my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” The mother replied, “The head of John the Baptist.”

The girl hurried to the king and made her request, “I want you to give me the head of John the Baptist, here and now, on a dish.” The king was very displeased, but he would not refuse in front of his guests because of his oaths. So he sent one of the bodyguards, with orders to bring John’s head.

He went and beheaded John in prison; then he brought the head on a dish and gave it to the girl. And the girl gave it to her mother. When John’s disciples heard of this, they came and took his body and buried it.