Saturday, 7 September 2019 : 22nd 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 God speaking to us about the need for us to understand fully what God has intended for us through what He has given to us and through what He has done for us all these while. We must not lose focus on what is important just because we are distracted in life by the many temptations and distractions present all around us.

In our Gospel passage today we heard of the encounter and the disagreement between the Lord Jesus and those Pharisees and teachers of the Law who followed Him and questioned Him and His disciples along the way, doubting and refusing to believe in what He has done and in what He has taught the people. And in today’s passage, the focus was on the matter of the Law of the Sabbath.

For the context, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were those who preserved the customs and practices of the Law of Israel, educated and intellectual, and also strove to impose strictly the laws and rules of the Law to the people of God. They were very particular on how the rules and the precepts were to be observed and they took great pride in themselves being supposedly the role models for the people that they showed off their piety publicly.

But the Lord pointed out to the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law when they criticised the actions of His disciples which supposedly broke the strict provisions of the Law, in particular the law of the Sabbath when they picked grains of wheat in a field as they were all hungry at that time. The true purpose of the Sabbath law has been forgotten by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who saw the Sabbath law as merely a letter of law to be obeyed.

In fact, the Sabbath day was meant to be a day kept holy for God, as He Himself revealed in the Ten Commandments, in the third of the ten commandments, ‘Keep holy the day of the Lord’. And the intention of the Sabbath was to remind God’s people that they are truly obliged to spend time for their Lord and Master, and to focus themselves and reorientate themselves from time to time especially when they have been led astray.

The Sabbath day was meant to allow the people to stop themselves from being overly busy and preoccupied, which was easily the case when the people were busy with their daily work, their daily pursuit for worldly glory and power, for fame and influence, for glory and satisfactions of the world, which prevented them from truly being able to focus their attention and hearts on God.

And that is why even in the Church, we have always kept the day of the Lord, the Sundays to be sacred, in the same spirit as how the Sabbath day had been kept sacred. But we must be very clear with the intention and purpose of the rules and regulations pertaining to this because just as the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had done, they misunderstood that the Sabbath was not meant to restrain the people of God with rules and strict ordinances, but rather to redirect them towards God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all remind ourselves that God truly is the focus and the heart of all of our actions, words and deeds. Let us all not be distracted by other things and by all those obstacles that try to keep us away from God. Let us all turn towards God wholeheartedly from now on and seek to glorify Him through our every actions, and grow ever stronger in our faith and dedication towards Him, each and every days of our lives. Amen.

Saturday, 7 September 2019 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

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, 7 September 2019 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 53 : 3-4, 6 and 8

By Your Name, o God, save me; You, the Valiant, uphold my cause. Hear my prayer, o God; listen to the words of my mouth.

See, God is my Helper; the Lord upholds my life. Freely will I offer sacrifice to You, and praise Your Name, o YHVH, for it is good.

Saturday, 7 September 2019 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Colossians 1 : 21-23

You, yourselves, were once estranged, and opposed to God, because of your evil deeds, but now, God has reconciled you, in the human body of His Son, through His death, so that you may be without fault, holy and blameless before Him.

Only stand firm upon the foundation of your faith, and be steadfast in hope. Keep in mind the Gospel you have heard, which has been preached to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Friday, 6 September 2019 : 22nd 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 of the importance of following and putting our trust in God in everything, for He is the very reason of our existence and our lives, and He is the One through Whom everything is made possible for us. God is the centre of our lives, whether we realise it or not, and He is the Head of the Church as mentioned in our first reading today.

As St. Paul made it clear in his Epistle to the Colossians, Christ is the Head of the Church, which is His Body, composed of all of us God’s faithful people brought together and united by the common virtue of our Baptism. Through baptism we have been made the members of this Church and are united in Communion with one another, sharing the grace of God which He had given us all through Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

And because of this, we have all been called into a new way of life, a path that God Himself has shown us, to leave behind our old, sinful and wicked way of life and embrace fully His truth and love. And this is made even clearer through what we have heard in our Gospel passage today, in the famous parable that the Lord taught His disciples, the parable of the new and old cloths with their respective new and old patches, and new and old wineskins with the new and old wine.

In that parable, the new and old cloths, as well as the new and old patches, and the wine and wineskins represent our way of life at present and the way that the Lord has shown us. And when I am speaking about our way of life, it is about the way of life as how we commonly know it, as how the world always shows us, and not the way that God wants us to take in our lives. And from what we have heard in the parable, the two ways are not compatible with each other.

The Lord used the parable to bring forth this point clearly to the people, showing that old things cannot be matched with the new or else both items will be spoilt or destroyed. Similarly therefore, the path that the Lord has shown us and which all of us Christians ought to follow is not compatible with the way of life as we commonly know it in this world today. And God is calling on us to turn away from our sinfulness and to embrace His ways.

But are we willing and able to make that commitment, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we committed to walk down the path that God has led us into, or are we instead more comfortable in being distracted by the many temptations present in the world today, all sorts of temptations that have kept us away from God and His path? Are we able to make the sacrifices and take the efforts needed to follow Christ with all of our strength?

Let us all discern carefully our path forward in life, thinking of what we can do in order to serve God with ever more faith and commitment from now on. God has given us all the means for us to follow Him, and now what we need is just the change in our heart and mind, in our orientation and focus as what we have heard in the parable of the Lord, that a new wine needs a new wineskin, and a new cloth piece is needed to patch a new cloth.

It means that each and every one of us need to turn towards God with all of our hearts and minds, and we need to make Him the very purpose and heart of our every words, actions and deeds from now on. Let us no longer be distracted and tempted by all sorts of worldly temptations, of greed for worldly power, for fame and wealth, and for all sorts of things that often mislead us from the path of God’s righteousness. Let us all be truly faithful and be genuine in our love for God from now on, just as He Himself has loved us all with all of His loving heart all these while. Amen.

Friday, 6 September 2019 : 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, 6 September 2019 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 99 : 2, 3, 4, 5

Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.

Know that the Lord is God; He created us and we are His people, the sheep of His fold.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving, His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and bless His Name.

For the Lord is good; His love lasts forever and His faithfulness through all generations.

Friday, 6 September 2019 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Colossians 1 : 15-20

He is the image of the unseen God, and for all creation, He is the Firstborn, for, in Him, all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible : thrones, rulers, authorities, powers… All was made through Him and for Him. He is before all and all things hold together, in Him.

And He is the Head of the Body, that is the Church, for He is the first, the first raised from the dead, that He may be the first in everything, for God was pleased to let fullness dwell in Him. Through Him, God willed to reconcile all things to Himself, and through Him, through His Blood shed on the cross, God established peace, on earth as in heaven.

Thursday, 5 September 2019 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Kolkata, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day each and every one of us are reminded of our calling as Christians to be involved and to be active in the works and the missions of the Church, in our respective capacities and in whatever way that God has called us to. For God has given each and every one of us distinct and unique gifts and blessings that we can use to glorify God and to serve Him.

However, unfortunately, more often than not, we are reluctant to make good use of the gifts and talents, the abilities and blessings which God has given to each and every one of us. We even ended up misusing them and abusing the gifts and blessings that God has granted us. We often find excuses and reasons how we can avoid our responsibilities and duties as what the Lord has entrusted to us all as Christians.

We are often too preoccupied and too busy with worldly matters that we fail to recognise God’s calling and His words speaking in the depths of our hearts and minds. Our busy schedules, our many concerns and desires in life, our preoccupations prevented us from opening ourselves to God and from listening to the words that He wants each and every one of us to hear and to know. That is why we ended up going down the wrong path in life and making the wrong choices and decisions.

Today, in the Gospel passage we have heard, we listened to the story of the Lord Jesus and His disciples, who were at the Lake of Gennesaret. While the Lord was speaking to the people and taught them, the disciples went fishing on a boat and they did not manage to catch any fish all night long. The Lord came to them and spoke with them, asking them to put out their nets into the deep waters that they would be able to catch the fishes.

Initially, the disciples hesitated and asked the Lord, as they had not caught any fish during the entirety of the night. Thus perhaps they had doubts that they would be able to catch anything if at all if they listened to the Lord and did what He had asked them to do. They obeyed eventually regardless and as soon as they did what the Lord had asked, they caught so many fishes that the nets almost broke.

Through what the Lord has revealed to His disciples, we are therefore reminded of the primary mission that God has entrusted to His Church, and that is the salvation of souls, the souls of mankind, all those who have lived in the darkness of this world, the corruption of sin and the ignorance of God. Those fishes in fact symbolise the people of God and the lake represents the world we are all living in today.

The disciples on the boat represent all of us Christians whom God had called from this world to be His followers and disciples. The boat they were in represents the Church, into which all the people who believe in God are gathered in. That is why the Lord called His disciples to be the ‘fishers of men’, as they were tasked to gather all of God’s people and call them to the salvation through faith and through the Church.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, what is the significance of today’s Scripture readings and what we have discussed thus far? It is the need for us all to realise that as God’s people, as Christians, all of us have also been entrusted by God with the same mission that He has provided for us, the evangelisation and conversion of the world. And just as the disciples listened to the Lord and put out into the deep waters, it is often that we too must ‘put out into the deep’.

What does it mean? It means that often we may have to make sacrifices and extra effort in serving the Lord and in doing what we are supposed to do as Christians, in reaching out to others and all those whom we care for, in how we live our lives with faith and following the examples of the saints. It means that we may have to suffer and endure difficulties along the way, and we may have many obstacles that we will have to overcome.

Today, we also celebrate the feast of a great and renowned saint of recent years whose life certainly embodies this attitude. I am sure we are familiar with St. Teresa of Kolkata, known well as Mother Teresa during her life. Born as an Albanian Catholic by the name of Agnes Bojaxhiu, St. Teresa of Kolkata heard the calling of God and joined the religious life early in her life and went on to India as part of her mission.

And while initially she had a comfortable life as a religious and educator in a missionary run school, she was called to a higher and greater purpose when the terrible poverty being present in the city of Calcutta (or Kolkata) moved her to establish a new religious congregation, the Missionaries of Charity, of those who also want to dedicate themselves to the care of the least fortunate, the least privileged, the ostracised and those who had none to love them.

We have heard how St. Teresa of Kolkata reached out to many of the poorest, those who suffered grievously and treated in many ways less than how a human ought to be treated, and returned human dignity to them in how she cared for them and provided for them. St. Teresa of Kolkata showed us all how she truly lived out her faith in her life, and evangelise the faith through real and concrete actions.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to follow in the footsteps of St. Teresa of Kolkata and many other saints who have shown such great faith and sincerity in following God throughout their lives? Are we able to listen to God and His calling, in how He shows us the path forward that we should take in living our lives with faith? Let us all truly ‘put out into the deep’ and be truly faithful in all things, and do our very best with all of our hearts and with all of our strength to serve God and to love our brethren from now on.

May the Lord continue to guide us and may He bless all of our good works and endeavours, that by our witnesses for our faith and by the sincerity of our words and actions, many more come to believe in God and receive His salvation. Amen.

Thursday, 5 September 2019 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Kolkata, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

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.