Saturday, 23 July 2022 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bridget of Sweden, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are reminded by the words of the Scriptures to rend and discard from ourselves all the traces of sin and evil, of all wickedness and the disobedience we have against God. Today through the words of the prophet Jeremiah and the Lord Jesus Himself, all of us are called to seek what is holy and good, worthy of God and get rid from ourselves the attachments to worldly desires and sins, of all things that kept us away from God and His path. The Lord is calling us to return to Him with righteousness and true love, devotion and commitment to Him.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah of the moment when Jeremiah embarked on his mission to preach the words of the Lord to the people of the kingdom of Judah, which he had been sent to. The people of Judah and their kings and leaders had long disobeyed the Lord and turned back into the path of sin, evil and wickedness, and for that, Jeremiah told them all that they would pay the consequences for their disobedience and sins, but yet at the same time, God still loved His people and wanted to show them His mercy, to forgive them and be reconciled with them.

The Lord called the people to change their ways of life, to abandon their false and pagan gods and idols, all those that had mislead them in the wrong path, and to leave behind their wicked deeds and all their past transgressions. He reminded them of what they ought be doing as His followers and people, to purify themselves and to follow Him once again with faith, to glorify His Name by their deeds, to honour once again the Law of God and all that God has placed in their midst to guide and help them in their journey. The prophet Jeremiah called on them all to atone for their sins and to enter once again into Covenant with God.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord Jesus speaking to His disciples and followers with the parable of the sower of seeds of wheat and the weeds that were sown by the enemy of the sower. Using that parable, the Lord showed how the wheat represents everything good that God had sown in us, with the sower representing God Himself. The enemy on the other hand represents the devil and all of his wicked forces bent on seeing our destruction. The weeds therefore represent the temptations of desire, greed, pride and the many sins that they had sown in us, and in trying to steer us away from the path towards salvation into the path towards damnation instead.

That is why, when the parable stated that the sower did not tell his servants to remove the weeds right away, it can be interpreted in two ways. First, it is representative of how there are both good and bad things within each one of us, and in the end, we will be judged by our good and bad deeds, and those who are found worthy shall enjoy eternal life and true happiness with God, while those who are found lacking in faith and unworthy will be consigned to an eternity of suffering and punishment, all because of their own conscious choice to reject God and to abandon His ways, just as the people of God had often done in the past.

Then another interpretation is that, the wheat represents the righteous while the weed represents those who are wicked, all of whom are living in this world, represented by the field. If we continue to disobey God and refuse to repent from our sinful ways, then we are like the weeds which will be collected in the end and thrown into the fire. Instead, all of us are reminded and called to follow the Lord, to be like the wheat, by our righteous life and actions, by our commitment and obedience to God’s will. We have that choice to make, whether we want to be faithful to God or whether we prefer to walk our own path, which likely leads us down the path of destruction.

Today, we should therefore look upon the good examples set before us by St. Bridget of Sweden, a great and holy woman, faithful servant of God whose feast we are celebrating this day. St. Bridget of Sweden was a renowned mystic and religious, who became a lady-in-waiting for the Queen of Sweden, while being renowned for her many charitable works and activities, in her care for the poor and the needy. After her husband’s passing, her continued desire to serve the sick and the poor inspired her to establish a religious order, which would later on be known after her as the Bridgettines. They were all committed to the care of the sick and the poor in the community.

St. Bridget was known for her pilgrimages across Christendom, partly because of the need for her to validate the foundation of her religious order. Throughout those pilgrimages, she continued to minister to the poor and the sick, even in the midst of the Black Death pandemic that was raging back then. When she was in Rome where she remained until her passing, she continued her many good works, which made her well-remembered by the people, who were touched by her generosity, love and kindness. All of us should also be similarly inspired by the faith and love that St. Bridget had shown, in following the Lord and His commandments.

May the Lord continue to guide us in our path in faith, and may He give us the strength and courage to remain firm in our conviction and commitment to serve Him in each and every moments of our lives. May the inspiration from St. Bridget of Sweden empower us all to walk ever more faithfully in God’s path and may all of us be ever more zealous and dedicated in all things, in being the wheat that is truly worthy of the Lord. Amen.

Saturday, 23 July 2022 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bridget of Sweden, Religious (Gospel Reading)

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

Matthew 13 : 24-30

At that time, Jesus told the people another parable, “The kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a man, who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep, his enemy came, and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the plants sprouted and produced grain, the weeds also appeared. Then, the servants of the owner came, and said to him, ‘Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? Where did the weeds come from?'”

“He answered them, ‘This is the work of an enemy.’ They asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull up the weeds?’ He told them, ‘No, when you pull up the weeds, you might uproot the wheat with them. Let them grow together, until harvest; and, at harvest time, I will say to the workers : Pull up the weeds first, tie them in bundles and burn them; then gather the wheat into my barn.'”

Saturday, 23 July 2022 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bridget of Sweden, Religious (Psalm)

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

Psalm 83 : 3, 4, 5-6a and 8a, 11

My soul yearns; pines, for the courts of YHVH. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young, at Your altars, o YHVH of hosts, my King and my God!

Happy are those who live in Your house, continually singing Your praise! Happy, the pilgrims whom You strengthen, they go from strength to strength.

One day in Your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be left at the threshold in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of the wicked.

Saturday, 23 July 2022 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bridget of Sweden, Religious (First Reading)

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

Jeremiah 7 : 1-11

These words were spoken by YHVH to Jeremiah, “Stand at the gate of YHVH’s House and proclaim this in a loud voice : Listen to what YHVH says, all you people of Judah (who enter these gates to worship YHVH). YHVH the God of Israel says this : Amend your ways and your deeds and I will stay with you in this place. Rely not on empty words such as : ‘Look, Temple of YHVH! Temple of YHVH! This is the Temple of YHVH!’”

“It is far better for you to amend your ways and act justly with all. Do not abuse the stranger, orphan or widow or shed innocent blood in this place or follow false gods to your own ruin. Then I will stay with you in this place, in the land I gave to your ancestors in times past and forever.”

“But you trust in deceptive and useless words. You steal, kill, take the wife of your neighbour; you swear falsely, worship Baal and follow foreign gods who are not yours. Then, after doing all these horrible things, you come and stand before Me in this Temple that bears My Name and say, ‘Now we are safe.’ Is this House on which rests My Name a den of thieves? I have seen this Myself – it is YHVH Who speaks.”