Saturday, 3 September 2022 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all constantly being reminded as we have been this whole week, to entrust ourselves to God’s wisdom and not to human wisdom and ways, to put our faith in God and His providence and not to depend on human ingenuity, power and strength. The Lord has shown us the path forward in life, and we should believe in Him and commit ourselves to His cause, allowing Him to lead and guide us down the right path, and not to allow ourselves to be distracted by worldly temptations and persuasions, all those that are able to cause us to be drawn away from the path towards God and His truth.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Corinth regarding the importance of remaining vigilant against the temptations of pride and desire, of hubris, ego and ambition that can easily mislead them away from the path towards the Lord. The Apostle spoke against those who were divided against each other, being prejudiced against their fellow brothers and sisters simply because they had differences in opinions and thoughts. At that time, the community of the faithful in Corinth were divided among several groups due to the different preferences they had between following the different missionaries and leaders like St. Paul himself, as well as Apollos, the famous Jewish Christian preacher, and others.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard from the Lord Himself speaking to the Pharisees and others regarding the matter of the Law of the Sabbath which the Pharisees found issue with Him and His disciples when the latter were picking the grains of the field to be eaten as they were very hungry. The Pharisees adopted a very strict and rigid view of the Law and they imposed this view and version of the Law on the people, looking down on those who did not obey the Lord the way that they had done it. They criticised others whom they deemed to be unworthy while praising and looking highly on themselves, considering them as the only ones worthy of God.

It was there that the Lord made the same reminder to all of us, that we must not fall into this temptation of pride and desire, the temptation of our ego and greed which can become the source of our downfall into sin. For through their preoccupation and obsession with their rigorous observation of the Law, that had led to them idolising themselves and being self-centred instead of focusing their attention on God. The Lord and His truth no longer became the focal point of their actions and lives, and as such, they became further and further away from God’s path, and dragged many others into the wrong paths in life.

That is why each and every one of us have been constantly reminded throughout this week to guard ourselves against all sorts of temptations found in our world. We should not easily succumb to the pressures and the temptations found all around us, all of which can drag us deep into the trap of sin and evil. We must constantly be vigilant and ready to resist the pleasures and e allures of wickedness, and strive to do our best to be ever faithful to God at all times and in all things. We are all reminded today that each and every one of us have been called to a new, holy existence through God and His Son. And we can do so by looking upon the examples set by the Lord Himself, His Apostles and our holy predecessors, the saints and martyrs.

Today the Church also celebrates the Feast of Pope St. Gregory the Great, one of the great Popes, a great servant of God and reformer, who dedicated himself to the greater glory of God. Pope St. Gregory the Great reformed the Church in many different ways, reformed the Roman clergy and also influenced the greater Church community, purifying them from the excesses and corruptions of the world, enforcing a new and more rigorous practice and discipline in the Christian community. Pope St. Gregory the Great also spent his time and effort in expanding the reach of the Church and the Christian faith, sending out many missionaries to spread the Good News of God to more and more people all around the world.

Pope St. Gregory the Great spent a lot of time reforming the way the Church worshipped as well, laying the foundations of what would later be known as the Gregorian Chant, and also regulated the liturgy into a more synchronous form, and also brought the Church liturgy both in the West and the East to be more coordinated and laid the foundations of what today would become the Holy Mass as well as the Divine Liturgy in the Eastern Church. He wrote extensively in various letters and also other works, in opposing the various heresies of the day and in helping to guide the members of the faithful to turn back towards the Lord with faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to and remember the words of the Scripture and as we remember the great deeds and works, the faith and dedication with which Pope St. Gregory the Great had committed himself, each and every one of us are reminded to live our lives to the fullest, in the path that God has shown us, obeying Him and focusing our attention on Him and not to ourselves, distancing ourselves from the temptations of worldly glory and greatness, and turning away from the allures of worldly excesses and ambitions, of pride and immorality, of hubris and human greed. All of us should guard ourselves against all those temptations and do our best to inspire one another to remain true in faith in God in the way that Pope St. Gregory the Great himself had inspired us.

Let us all therefore seek the Lord with all our heart, committing ourselves at all times to glorify Him by our lives. Let us all renew our commitment to serve Him with zeal and dedication, that we will always put God as the priority and focus of our lives. May the Lord be with us always and may He empower each one of us to live ever more faithfully in His presence, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 3 September 2022 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 6 : 1-5

At that time, one Sabbath Jesus was going through a field of grain, and His disciples began to pick heads of grain, crushing them in their hands for food. Some of the Pharisees asked them, “Why do you do what is forbidden on the Sabbath?”

Then Jesus spoke up and asked them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his men were hungry? He entered the house of God, took and ate the bread of the offering, and even gave some to his men, though only priests are allowed to eat that bread.”

And Jesus added, “The Son of Man is Lord and rules over the Sabbath.”

Saturday, 3 September 2022 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 144 : 17-18, 19-20, 21

Righteous is YHVH in all His ways, His mercy shows in all His deeds. He is near those who call on Him, who call trustfully upon His Name.

He fulfils the wish of those who fear Him; He hears their cry and saves them. For those who love Him, YHVH has compassion; but the wicked, He will destroy.

Let my mouth speak in praise of YHVH, let every creature praise His holy Name, forever and ever.

Saturday, 3 September 2022 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Corinthians 4 : 6b-15

Learn by this example, not to believe yourselves superior by siding with one against the other. How, then, are you more than the others? What have you that you have not received? And if you received it, why are you proud, as if you did not receive it?

So, then, you are already rich and satisfied, and feel like kings, without us! I wish you really were kings, so that we might enjoy the kingship with you! It seems to me, that God has placed us, the Apostles, in the last place, as if condemned to death, and as spectacles for the whole world, for the Angels as well as for mortals.

We are fools for Christ, while you show forth the wisdom of Christ. We are weak, you are strong. You are honoured, while we are despised. Until now we hunger and thirst, we are poorly clothed and badly treated, while moving from place to place. We labour, working with our hands. People insult us and we bless them, they persecute us and we endure everything; they speak evil against us, and ours are works of peace. We have become like the scum of the earth, like the garbage of humankind until now.

I do not write this to shame you, but to warn you, as very dear children. Because, even though you may have ten thousand guardians in the Christian life, you have only one Father; and it was I who gave you life in Christ through the Gospel.

Friday, 2 September 2022 : 22nd 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 Lord in the Scriptures, we are reminded first of all to be wise and thoughtful servants and followers of God, and to treat one another with respect and kindness, not to judge one another with malicious intention and desire, but instead to show true love and concern for one another. We have to heed the Lord’s words and remember to turn towards Him with renewed faith and way of life, committing ourselves to lead each other on the right path instead of trying to bring each other down and in being judgmental in our attitudes and actions.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Corinth, we heard of the words of the Apostle reminding the faithful people of God there to be faithful and put their faith in God and not be judgmental towards one another. This came at a time when there were significant divisions and conflicts among the faithful in Corinth, as was elsewhere due to the differences in opinions among the faithful who were divided between the various missionaries and leaders of the faithful as we have heard in the past few days of readings, between those who followed St. Paul himself, and Apollos, another famous preacher and others who sided with the other Apostles among others.

St. Paul reminded the faithful people of God not to be divided or hostile against each other because of their differences, and instead of judging one another, being hostile and angry against each other, they should work towards resolving their differences, reminding them that after all in the end, all of them are God’s people, the members and parts of His same one Church. There should not be prejudice or distinction henceforth amongst the people of God just because they preferred certain ways of teaching or ideas, unless those ideas were indeed against the truth of God, which in the case of St. Paul, Apollos or the other Apostles were not such, as each one of them were faithful to the Lord and delivered His truth in their own different ways.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard the Lord speaking to the people who compared Him and His disciples with the disciples of St. John the Baptist and the Pharisees, in terms of how they fasted and followed the laws as according to the common laws observed among the people at that time, the Law of Moses. The people wondered why Jesus and His disciples did not fast the way that the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, as well as the disciples of St. John had done. Worse still was that the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law themselves often criticised and even were hostile against the Lord and His ways, His teachings and truths simply because they did not conform to the ways that were endorsed or supported by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law.

Contextually, we also have to understand that the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were the religious and intellectual elites of their time, and they liked to look down on those who disagreed with them, and also those whom they deemed to be inferior, sinful and wicked, worthless or hopeless, treating those people like the tax collectors and prostitutes, the poor and the sick, those who were afflicted with diseases and disabilities, possessed by evil spirits and demons as those who were beyond hope and salvation, and were unworthy of God’s love and grace. They kept the gates of God’s salvation shut for those who came to seek the Lord, and made it difficult for many to approach the Lord by their overly strict and stringent laws and customs.

It is this same attitude that St. Paul and also the Lord Himself had warned us against, the prideful attitude of man who indulged in their sense of superiority and their selfish nature, in seeking personal glory and satisfaction over that of the truth and love of God. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had not faithfully done what the Lord had entrusted them to do, and as such, the Lord pointed out that His way is the true way, and those who follow Him, His truth and way, have to commit themselves to the new path that He Himself will show, the path of God’s righteousness and grace, and renew themselves through listening to God’s words, always ever constantly reminding all of us, all of His people to follow Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now that we have heard these words of the Sacred Scriptures, and kind reminders for us to follow the path that God has set and placed before us, let us all therefore commit ourselves thoroughly at all times, dedicating ourselves, our time and effort to draw ever closer to God, doing whatever we can to be inspiration to one another in the way we live our lives, in our every actions, words and deeds, all of which should be based and focused on the Lord, to show that we are truly God’s people in everything, so that we may help to show God’s truth by the testimony of our faith and lives, in each and every moments we have in this world.

May the Lord continue to be with us always, and may He empower each and every one of us that we may strive to live worthily at every opportunities possible, leading more and more people towards the Lord, and may through our good examples, we can help many others to find out more about the Lord, about His love and path, that more of them may eventually come closer to God, and share with us the joy of our faith in God as well. May God bless us in our every good efforts and endeavours, our every good works, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 2 September 2022 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 5 : 33-39

At that time, some people asked Jesus, “The disciples of John fast often and say long prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees. Why is it, that Your disciples eat and drink?”

Then Jesus said to them, “You cannot make wedding guests fast while the Bridegroom is with them. But later, the Bridegroom will be taken from them; and they will fast in those days.”

Jesus also told them this parable : “No one tears a piece from a new coat to put it on an old one; otherwise the new coat will be torn, and the piece taken from the new coat will not match the old coat. No one puts new wine into old wine skins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and be spilt, and the skins will be destroyed as well.”

“But new wine must be put into fresh skins. Yet, no one who has tasted old wine is eager to drink new wine, but says, ‘The old is good.’”

Friday, 2 September 2022 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 36 : 3-4, 5-6, 27-28, 39-40

Trust in the Lord and do good, dwell in the land and live on it. Make the Lord your delight, and He will grant your heart’s desire.

Commit your way to the Lord; put your trust in Him and let Him act. Then will Your revenge come, beautiful as the dawn, and the justification of your cause, bright as the noonday sun.

Do good and shun evil, so that you will live secure forever. For YHVH loves justice and right, and never forsakes His faithful ones. The wicked, instead, will perish, and their bread will be cut off.

The Lord is the Salvation of the righteous; in time of distress, He is their refuge. The Lord helps them, and rescues them from the oppressor; He saves them for they sought shelter in Him.

Friday, 2 September 2022 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Corinthians 4 : 1-5

Let everyone then see us as the servants of Christ and stewards of the secret works of God. Being stewards, faithfulness shall be demanded of us; but I do not mind if you or any human court judges me. I do not even judge myself; my conscience indeed does not accuse me of anything, but that is not enough for me to be set right with God : the Lord is the One Who judges me.

Therefore, do not judge before the time, until the coming of the Lord. He will bring to light whatever was hidden in darkness and will disclose the secret intentions of the hearts. Then each one will receive praise from God.

Thursday, 1 September 2022 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all called to keep in mind that we should trust in the Lord’s wisdom and allow Him to guide us in our path and journey throughout life. We should not do things in the way that the world often told us to do, or to trust in the wisdom of the world because as Christians, many of the things we learnt through the truth and wisdom of God show us that what the world considers as folly and stupid, irrational or strange, is actually the best path, as God knows all things while we mankind, even in our best intellect and wisdom knew only a part of all things.

In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Corinth, continuing from the discourse earlier this week, we heard of the Apostle mentioning how what is wise in the sight of the world is considered as foolish in the eyes of God. This, together with the reference that was made regarding the leaders of the faithful and evangelisers like St. Paul himself, Apollos, a popular Jewish Christian convert and preacher, Cephas, that is St. Peter, the leader of the Apostles and the Vicar of Christ, among others, all these were meant to remind the faithful in Corinth that they must keep their focus in the Lord and not in their own selfishness and divided nature.

For back then, there had been a rather bitter division amongst the members of the Church and the faithful people of God, as some of the faithful sided with St. Paul while others were siding with Apollos, having differences in their thoughts and preferences. While that would have been natural in any organisation and in our Church even today, but from what St. Paul had elaborated and shared in his Epistle to the Corinthians showed us that the divisions that happened among the faithful seemed to be rather bitter, where that led to the break in the unity of the Church of God, the Body of Christ.

That was why St. Paul appealed to the people of God in Corinth, to stay away from the temptations of their pride and ego, and to be willing to listen to God’s wisdom and truth, rather than to follow the whim of human and worldly wisdom and ways. Otherwise, that would have caused the divisions and disunity to continue even further, leading to further fracture in the unity within God’s Holy Church, the Christian community. Through the words of the Lord, God and His servants kept on reminding us the members of His Church to trust in His wisdom and love, His truth and grace, because in Him alone we can find the sure path to true happiness and salvation.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord and His disciples, as He called on His first disciples by the Lake of Galilee or Gennesaret. There He encountered Simon, the future St. Peter, as well as the other fishermen, who had not been able to get any fishes all night long despite their efforts. The Lord told them to lower their nets according to His instruction, and while Simon told Him that they had done work all night and got nothing, but he still obeyed the Lord and did as He asked of him to do. According to conventional and worldly wisdom, this would have been foolish to do, as all the more that Simon Peter and the others must have been experienced fishermen, who must have known that it was pointless to try more.

Yet, as shown by the Lord’s instructions and what happened afterwards, Simon Peter and the other fishermen immediately got a catch so massive, with so many fishes trapped in their nets that their boats almost sank from the great weight of the fishes. This miracle showed us all that what the world considered foolish, is actually the truth and possible in the sight of God. We must not put our faith in the Lord and His truth on the backbench, but instead, put it at the forefront of our lives. We have to prioritise Him and not to forget that His way and truth is the better way forward. We have to learn to trust in Him more the way that Simon, St. Peter, trusted in Him and humbled himself before the Lord, in listening to and obeying the Lord’s words.

In the same way therefore, each and every one of us as Christians ought to be more trusting in God, putting our faith and trust in Him, and not to pride ourselves on our human achievements and greatness, our wisdom and glory. We have to learn to listen to the Lord and allow Him to lead and guide us down the right path. We should listen to the Lord calling us deep within our hearts and minds, and turn towards Him with full of faith and desire to obey Him and to do His will. And as we heard in our Gospel passage today, through the same event of the miraculous catching of fishes, we see how through God’s guidance, as the Church, all of us can gain so much more from our efforts.

There are still so many opportunities that we as the Church can and should do in our works of evangelisation, as well as in the matter of the caretaking of our world, particularly remembering that today is the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. We are reminded that each and every one of us ought to be good and responsible stewards of creation, and in order to do so, we should be willing to allow God to guide us in our actions through His wisdom and grace. May the Lord continue to show us His wisdom, His truth and strengthen us with great faith, dedication and energy that we may always strive to do our best to glorify God in all things by our lives, now and always, evermore. Amen.

Thursday, 1 September 2022 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 5 : 1-11

At that time, one day, as Jesus stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, with a crowd gathered around Him listening to the word of God, He caught sight of two boats, left at the water’s edge by fishermen, now washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to pull out a little from the shore. There He sat, and continued to teach the crowd.

When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Simon replied, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing. But if You say so, I will lower the nets.” This they did, and caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. They signalled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They came, and they filled both almost to the point of sinking.

Upon seeing this, Simon Peter fell at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Leave me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and his companions were amazed at the catch they had made, and so were Simon’s partners, James and John, Zebedee’s sons. Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. You will catch people from now on.” So they brought their boats to land and followed Him, leaving everything.