Saturday, 11 September 2021 : 23rd 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 as we listened to the words of the Scripture, hearing the Word of God, we are all reminded to stay true to our faith in God, to believe in Him in all of our lives and committing ourselves to Him in every possible opportunities. We have to be sincere in following God and not just show outwardly our faith and dedication, but rather we must have the right internal orientation and disposition towards God, with a heart that is filled with overflowing love for the Lord.

This is what all of us ought to do as Christians, as those who have been called by God and accepted His call to be His people and dedicated ourselves to be His disciples and witnesses in our communities in these days. We have been entrusted by the Lord with the mission to reach out to those who have not yet known Him and those who have not yet found their way to Him, by showing them the example of true Christian faith and devotion. We should be those who show genuine faith in God in all things, so that who see us and witness our works know that we belong to God.

In our first reading today, from the Epistle of St. Paul to St. Timothy, the Apostle St. Paul in the letter he addressed to his godson, St. Timothy showed his great love and dedication to the Lord, which was the reason why he dedicated himself in such a manner to the Lord, spending much effort and time to reach out to the people of God in various places and communities, in spreading the truth and the word of God to them, and he encouraged St. Timothy in that letter, as he also did with his many other letters to the various communities he had visited.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord Jesus spoke to the people regarding how one ought to follow the Lord and believe in Him as His followers. The Lord reminded the people that they should establish their faith on a firm foundation, based on true love for God and on genuine desire to serve Him and with full understanding of the teachings and ways of the Lord rather than just being outwardly pious and faithful, and yet inside us, we have no true faith and love for God, as how hypocrites have professed their faith and lived their lives.

The Lord stressed to them all that they had to do as they had believed, and act in ways that are according to their faith. Unless they do this, their faith is empty and founded on shaky foundations, as highlighted by the Lord through the well-known parable of the foundations. In that parable, the Lord compared those who had not done as they had believed, or were hypocritical in their faith, as those who built their houses on shaky foundation of sand.

Meanwhile, those who truly loved the Lord and acted upon the faith which they had professed in the Lord are those who built their houses on rock solid foundation, one that will not be easily harmed or affected by the coming waves or winds, and will remain strong and sturdy throughout the test of time. This represents the faith of all those who held firmly to the Lord and His truth, and not only showing their faith by appearances, but through every actions and deeds, in even the smallest things they do in life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is what we are all called to do as Christians, to dedicate ourselves with love and to follow the Lord with all of our strength, to give our time and effort to glorify the Lord. We are all called to live our lives with true faith in our every actions, and commit ourselves by doing whatever we can to practice our faith in our everyday actions, even in the smallest of things, so that we may not just be believers who have empty and meaningless faith, but that we may have faith which is truly genuine and living.

Are we able to commit ourselves to the Lord in this manner, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we willing to follow in the footsteps of our holy predecessors, so that we may ourselves be great role models and sources of inspiration for others? Are we capable of dedicating ourselves to the Lord and establishing for ourselves this firm foundation of our faith? Let us all ponder these things carefully and discern in what way we may contribute ever more to our efforts in being faithful Christians in our world today.

May the Lord continue to guide us and watch over us in our journey, that we may persevere through the challenges and trials of life, and that we may be more willing and courageous to take up the crosses of our calling and mission in life, to lead others to God and to help many more people to know the Lord, by showing them His truth and love through our own exemplary life, just as St. Paul and the innumerable other saints had done with theirs. May God bless us all, in our every good works, efforts and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Saturday, 11 September 2021 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

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

Luke 6 : 43-49

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “No healthy tree bears bad fruit, no poor tree bears good fruit. And each tree is known by the fruit it bears : you do not gather figs from thorns, or grapes from brambles. Similarly, the good person draws good things from the good stored in his heart, and an evil person draws evil things from the evil stored in his heart. For the mouth speaks from the fullness of the heart.”

“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ and do not do what I say? I will show you what the one is like, who comes to Me, and listens to My words, and acts accordingly. That person is like the builder who dug deep, and laid the foundations of his house on rock. The river overflowed, and the stream dashed against the house, but could not carry it off because the house had been well built.”

“But the one who listens and does not act, is like a man who built his house on the ground without a foundation. The flood burst against it, and the house fell at once : and what a terrible disaster that was!”

Saturday, 11 September 2021 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

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

Psalm 112 : 1-2, 3-4, 5a and 6-7

Alleluia! Praise, o servants of YHVH, praise the Name of YHVH! Blessed be the Name of YHVH now and forever!

From eastern lands to the western islands, may the Name of YHVH be praised! YHVH is exalted over the nations; His glory above the heavens.

Who is like YHVH our God, Who also bends down to see on earth as in heaven? He lifts up the poor from the dust and the needy from the ash heap.

Saturday, 11 September 2021 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

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

1 Timothy 1 : 15-17

This saying is true and worthy of belief : Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first. Because of that, I was forgiven; Christ Jesus wanted to display His utmost patience, so that I might be an example for all who are to believe, and obtain eternal life.

To the King of ages, the only God, Who lives beyond every perishable and visible creation – to Him, be honour and glory forever. Amen!

Friday, 10 September 2021 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, reminding all of us to discern carefully our path in life, and to commit ourselves with renewed faith and sincerity in following the Lord, without hypocrisy and other things that can become hindrances and obstacles in our path as we journey on towards the Lord. We are all called to embrace the Lord wholeheartedly and be righteous in our deeds, walking alongside God in our lives, entrusting ourselves to His guidance.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to St. Timothy, as the Apostle wrote to his godson, St. Timothy, who was also renowned as one of the earliest bishops of the Church. St. Paul thanked God for His love and kindness, for His compassion and mercy in calling him, once a great sinner, to be His disciple and to be converted to the truth. The Lord had called St. Paul to follow Him, from a life of disobedience and sin, as St. Paul while he was still young as Saul was notorious for his intense persecution of Christians.

St. Paul embraced the Lord and allowed Him to lead him down the right path. Once, he has misunderstood the Law of God, as a young and zealous but ultimately misguided in his path as a young Pharisee. Through his conversion and turnaround, from the greatest enemy of the Church and the faithful, St. Paul became one of the Lord’s greatest defender instead. He humbled himself before the Lord and having been brought into darkness when he was struck down before Damascus with blindness and then restored to the light, St. Paul allowed the Lord to lead his path and to show him the truth.

That was how God called St. Paul and made him to be a great servant for His cause, and as the Apostle also humbly accepted his role and learnt from the other Apostles, and sought for their guidance throughout his ministry. St. Paul then made use of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that he had received from the Lord, and became the beacon of His light among the people, helping and guiding them and many others throughout their journey of faith, including that of St. Timothy, who was encouraged and strengthened by St. Paul through his letter to him.

St. Paul himself also sent many other letters, the Epistles, to many communities of the faithful, to the Romans, the Corinthians, the Thessalonians, the Ephesians, Colossians, and many other communities of the faithful, encouraging each and every one of them to remain true and faithful to the Lord in faith, and not to give in to worldly temptations, but entrusting themselves to the Lord’s providence and care, to love Him with all of their strength and might so that they may grow ever more wonderfully in His presence, in faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all called to heed the Lord’s call to live our lives ever more faithfully in each and every moments of our lives. All of us have been called to follow Him from the darkness we were in, and to embrace wholeheartedly the truth that He has revealed before all of us. It is now up to us, whether we want to follow Him and commit ourselves to Him, or whether we want to walk in the path of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, whom the Lord criticised in our Gospel passage today, as those who were blind leading the blind, and whose hypocrisy led to them being so focused on the faults of others that they failed to recognise their own shortcomings and faults.

Are we all able and willing to listen to the Lord with gracious heart and with newfound love for Him? Or are we too busy being immersed in our various worldly pursuits and desires, in all the temptations that we experience each day? Are we willing to allow the Lord to come into our hearts and transform us into His great instruments in the same manner that He has done so for St. Paul the Apostle, as well as for so many other holy men and women who had gone before us?

Let us all strive so that our every words, actions and deeds may be worthy of the Lord from now on, and that we may walk ever more faithfully with Him, in His presence, dedicating our time, effort and attention to glorify Him in each and every moments of our lives. Let us all do our very best to be inspiration to each other as good Christians in all things, and be the beacons of God’s light and truth in our respective communities and among all the people of God. May the Lord be with us all, and bless our every good works and endeavours. Amen.

Friday, 10 September 2021 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 6 : 39-42

At that time, Jesus offered this example, “Can a blind person lead another blind person? Surely both will fall into a ditch. A disciple is not above the master; but when fully trained, he will be like the master. So why do you pay attention to the speck in your brother’s eye, while you have a log in your eye, and are not conscious of it?”

“How can you say to your neighbour, ‘Friend, let me take this speck out of your eye,’ when you cannot remove the log in your own? You hypocrite! First remove the log from your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your neighbour’s eye.”

Friday, 10 September 2021 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 15 : 1-2a and 5, 7-8, 11

Keep me safe, o God, for in You I take refuge. I say to YHVH, “O YHVH, my inheritance and my cup, my chosen portion – hold secure my lot.”

I praise YHVH Who counsels me; even at night, my inmost self instructs me. I keep YHVH always before me; for with Him at my right hand, I will never be shaken.

You will show me the path of life, in Your presence, the fullness of joy, at Your right hand, happiness forever.

Friday, 10 September 2021 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Timothy 1 : 1-2, 12-14

From Paul, Apostle of Christ Jesus, by a command of God, our Saviour, and of Christ Jesus, our Hope, to Timothy, my true son in the faith. May God the Father, and Christ Jesus, Our Lord, give you grace, mercy and peace.

I give thanks to Christ Jesus, Our Lord, Who is my strength, Who has considered me trustworthy, and appointed me to His service, although I had been a blasphemer, a persecutor and a fanatical enemy. However, He took mercy on me, because I did not know what I was doing when I opposed the faith; and the grace of Our Lord was more than abundant, together with faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

Thursday, 9 September 2021 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Claver, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures, we are all reminded to be genuine Christians in all things, in our every actions and dealings, in even the smallest things we say and do, so that we will always be the Lord’s faithful witnesses and that by our every words, actions and deeds we may glorify His Name and inspire many others to follow the path that we ourselves are walking down towards the salvation in God.

As Christians, we are all called to be filled with God’s love and to be loving as the Lord Himself has loved us, just as the Apostle St. Paul mentioned in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Colossae, in our first reading today. In that passage, we heard St. Paul encouraging the faithful to ‘clothe themselves’ in the raiments of God’s truth and virtues, to follow the Lord wholeheartedly in all things, to be filled with compassion and love for all, and to be righteous and just in all of their way of life.

Essentially, to be Christians, we have to adopt a total conversion of our hearts and minds, of our whole being and our entire way of life, embracing God and His love, and to immerse ourselves in that love, taking that up to be our own love, and our own compassionate care and concern for others whom we encounter in life and throughout our ministry and calling in this world. St. Paul asked the faithful to do everything for the glory of God, and to allow the Lord to lead them to the right path, that they may be the inspiring examples for one another, in how they remain faithful to God.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord speaking to His disciples regarding how each and every one of them ought to learn how to love one another as Christians, in the most Christ-like way, and in reaching out in love even to all those who have not loved us, and be kind and compassionate even to those who have rejected us and made us to suffer. He has revealed to us that as Christians we ought to love unconditionally, and to show that same genuine love for all of those who need them.

He told the people that loving only those who love us back, is something that even the wicked could easily do, as this kind of love is often found in a transactional and even selfish kind of love, as we desire to be loved back in the same or even greater way than how we have loved others. In that way, our love is not yet one of genuine Christian love, for we love only because we expect something in return, and not truly because we are really moved to love those who have nothing to give back to us, and has nothing to benefit us with.

That is why, as the Lord had Himself said, that true and genuine Christian love, is about a selfless and unconditional love that is rooted in giving and not in expecting returns, in the sharing of oneself and one’s joy and love, to everyone regardless of their background and origins, regardless of their status and preferences. And the best example of this kind of love is none other than the Lord’s own loving example, as He laid down His own life on the Cross for each and every one of us.

When He told the people about giving one’s cheek and offering it to be struck when one has been struck in the face, and praying for and blessing those who have cursed and made us hurt, forgiving those who have brought pain upon us, it is a reminder of how the Lord Himself was bruised and broken during the time of His Passion, as He was whipped and tortured, humiliated and spat against, ridiculed and rejected by the people and their leaders, condemned to death like a criminal and put to bear the burden of the Cross, which He willingly took up for our sake.

The Lord took it all with love, with compassion and mercy, for all those who have wronged Him, abandoned Him and rejected Him. Yes, and that was why He even prayed for all those chief priests and those who have persecuted Him and condemned Him to His death. He prayed for their sake and asked the Father not to hold their sins against them, essentially seeking all of them to be forgiven, and to be reconciled with God, that they might be willing to listen to the truth, despite all that they had done.

The Lord’s self-giving and most selfless love is a great example and He Himself is the great and perfect role model for all of us, in doing what we should do as dedicated Christians, filled with God’s love and compassionate care for others. We are all in fact challenged to love in the same manner as the Lord, and we are all called to be sincere in loving others, and be less self-centred and selfish in our attitudes. Instead, we are all called to do our best to love God first and foremost, and then to love one another just at least as much as we love ourselves.

Certainly, this is something that is much more easily said than done. That is why, we should encourage each other to pick up these crosses of our callings, to be true and faithful disciples of Our Lord, in all things especially in loving one another. And today, we should also be inspired by the examples of our holy predecessor, namely St. Peter Claver, whose feast day we are celebrating on this very day. St. Peter Claver was a truly dedicated servant of God and a great missionary and priest, who spent much of his life in seeking for the betterment of the poor and the marginalised, and whose works and efforts saw the conversion of not just few, but hundreds of thousands of unbelievers into the true Faith.

St. Peter Claver was a Spanish Jesuit priest and missionary who decided to dedicate himself to the mission of the Church and the works of evangelisation, setting for the New World, the American continent, where he dwelled ever since, where he spent many decades working among the poor and the slaves who were aplenty at that time, as they were treated badly and sold to the highest bidder from time to time, treated often less than human beings and having no rights on their own. St. Peter Claver championed their cause and ministered to many of them, an effort which eventually led to more than three hundred thousand people baptised personally by St. Peter Claver throughout his ministry.

St. Peter Claver always treated the slaves with dignity and saw in them as fellow Christians, loving them and caring for them when no one else would love them or even treated them inhumanely. St. Peter Claver dedicated his time and efforts, and through all of those, showed us all truly what true and genuine Christian love is all about, which we ourselves should be inspired to follow and emulate in our own lives. Are we willing and able to do so, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we willing to love one another unconditionally and be as selfless as St. Peter Claver had been?

Let us all discern these things carefully and ponder on the calling that the Lord has given us all, to be loving Christians and to be dedicated to our fellow brothers and sisters, especially to those who are in need of our love, care and compassion. Let us all grow ever more generous in loving and in forgiving one another our faults, and let us be ever more sincere in how we live our lives with true Christian spirit and love. May God bless us always in our every good endeavours and works, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 9 September 2021 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Claver, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Luke 6 : 27-38

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “But I say to you who hear Me : Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you, and pray for those who treat you badly. To the one who strikes you on the cheek, turn the other cheek; from the one who takes your coat, do not keep back your shirt. Give to the one who asks, and if anyone has taken something from you, do not demand it back.”

“Do to others as you would have others do to you. If you love only those who love you, what kind of grace is yours? Even sinners love those who love them. If you do favours to those who are good to you, what kind of grace is yours? Even sinners do the same. If you lend only when you expect to receive, what kind of grace is yours? For sinners also lend to sinners, expecting to receive something in return.

But love your enemies and do good to them, and lend when there is nothing to expect in return. Then will your reward be great, and you will be sons and daughters of the Most High. For He is kind toward the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

“Do not be a judge of others and you will not be judged; do not condemn and you will not be condemned; forgive and you will be forgiven; give and it will be given to you, and you will receive in your sack good measure, pressed down, full and running over. For the measure you give will be the measure you receive back.”