Tuesday, 22 May 2018 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Rita of Cascia, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day the Lord wants to remind us through the Sacred Scriptures, that the way for us to take if we want to be faithful and committed disciples of His, is for us to embrace humility, to be steeped in faith and love, and to be devoted wholeheartedly to God. We should not be tempted by the many temptations of power and worldly glory.

There are indeed numerous ways by which the devil is trying very hard, in order to bring about our downfall. One way is through the temptation of worldly riches, glory and power. In the first reading today, from the Epistle of St. James, we heard how we crave and desire for things, that even lead to us hurting one another, or even leading to murder and killing.

That is the extent in which we are ready to go, in order to satisfy what we want, to fulfil our desires and to please ourselves, our physical bodies in particular. We bicker without end and strive to gain more things and more pleasures for ourselves, as we cannot be satisfied easily, and our desires will only end up growing more and more, and our ego also end up getting more and more bloated.

And the more we are influenced by our desires, pride and ego, the more likely we will end up hurting and causing harm to others around us. The Lord Jesus rebuked His disciples for precisely this reason, as they were bickering and fighting among themselves for favour and influence in the Lord’s inner circle. They were fighting over who should be the greatest among His disciples, and hence, the greatest in the kingdom of God to come.

But they did not realise that all sorts of worldly power, grandeur, fame, greatness, influence and indulgences are nothing and meaningless in God’s sight. God does not seek or value all these fleeting things, which are merely temporary and which are perishable. None of those things will last forever, and we will not have them with us forever. Instead, the Lord called upon us all to follow His way, that is, to be like little children in our faith.

Why is that so, brothers and sisters in Christ? The Lord Jesus alluded to the children and why we need to be like them in our faith, as those children, at that age, are still innocent, and they will believe with a pure heart, without the taint of ambition, ego, desire, pride and greed. Unlike many of us, we have been tempted with the temptations of power, of fame, of glory, of wealth and all sorts of things that distract us from our faith in God.

Thus, we are all called to resist the temptations of the world, and to believe in God wholeheartedly as a child would have. We should listen to the Lord and purge from ourselves, all sorts of pride and ambition, and all sorts of greed and desire, indulgement in which is unbecoming for us all as Christians. Instead, we are called to a holier life, based on active faith and devotion to God.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Rita of Cascia, a faithful and devout woman, and a dedicated religious, who have given her entire life to the service of the Lord in prayer. St. Rita of Cascia was a prayerful and dedicated woman and mother, who loved her family greatly, and having encountered tragedy in the family, as her husband was assassinated by a rival family, she remained resolute in her faith and commitment to her family.

Her sons wanted to have a revenge at those who have murdered their father. However, St. Rita of Cascia strongly dissuaded them from doing so, with words of love, care and compassion. And when they were at risk of committing sin because of their impulsiveness and desire for vengeance, she prayed to God, asking Him to take them away from this world, rather than to have them commit sin and then fall into hell. Her prayers were heard in the end.

After her family’s passing, she dedicated herself further to the Lord by joining a convent, as a religious woman dedicated to a life of prayer and service to God. St. Rita of Cascia showed such an exemplary life and faith, that she was eventually raised to the Altar as a saint after her passing, and she continued to inspire many generations of the faithful up to this very day.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, perhaps we should reflect on the examples that the faithful St. Rita of Cascia had shown us. Let us all then seek to live a good and devout Christian life, that we endeavour to gain for ourselves, not for the glories and the goodness of this world, that is wealth, fame, pleasures of the body, and all sorts of temptations we often encounter in life, but instead, know how to seek God, and place Him at the very centre of our lives. May the Lord be with us in this journey of faith. Amen.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Rita of Cascia, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Mark 9 : 30-37

At that time, after leaving the place where He cast out evil spirit from a deaf and dumb boy, Jesus and His disciples made their way through Galilee, but He did not want people to know where He was because He was teaching His disciples. And He told them, “The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill Him, but three days after He has been killed, He will rise.”

The disciples, however, did not understand these words and they were afraid to ask Him what He meant. They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, Jesus asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they did not answer, because they had been arguing about who was the greatest.

Then He sat down, called the Twelve and said to them, “If someone wants to be first, let him be last of all and servant of all.” Then He took a little child, placed him in their midst, and putting His arms around him, He said to them, “Whoever welcomes a child such as this in My Name, welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me, welcomes not Me but the One Who sent Me.”

Tuesday, 22 May 2018 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Rita of Cascia, Religious (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Psalm 54 : 7-8, 9-10a, 10b-11a, 23

I said, “If I had wings, like a dove, I would fly away and be at rest; I would seek a home in the desert.”

“I would hurry to find a cave, for shelter from the tempest.” O YHVH, shatter their plans.

In the city, I see strife and violence; day and night, they prowl about its walls.

Place your burden on YHVH, and He will sustain you; for He never allows the upright to fall.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Rita of Cascia, Religious (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

James 4 : 1-10

What causes these fights and quarrels among you? Is it not your cravings, that make war within your own selves? When you long for something you cannot have, you kill for it, and when you do not get what you desire, you squabble and fight. The fact is, you do not have what you want, because you do not pray for it.

You pray for something, and you do not get it, because you pray with the wrong motive, of indulging your pleasures. You adulterers! Do you not know, that making friends with the world makes you enemies of God? Therefore, whoever chooses to be the world’s friend becomes God’s enemy.

Can you not see the point of the saying in the Scripture : “The longing of the Spirit, He sent to dwell in us, is a jealous longing?” But God has something better to give, and Scripture also says, “God opposes the proud but He gives His favour to the humble.” Give in, then, to God; resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Draw close to God and He will come close to you. Clean your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you doubters. Recognise your distress, be miserable and weep. Turn your laughter into tears and your joy into sadness. Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will raise you up.