Saturday, 18 September 2021 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard the words of the Lord in the Sacred Scriptures speaking to us with regards to the need for us to follow the Lord with all sincerity and commitment that we should have in obeying His will and commandments. We have to make good use of all the gifts and abilities, the opportunities and blessings that He has given to us. Each and every one of us have been granted the gifts of faith from God, which He had sown in us, awaiting for us to respond to them and to allow them to grow in us.

In our first reading today, the Apostle St. Paul has mentioned in his Epistle to St. Timothy, about the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ, which he and the other Apostles and all the disciples and the followers of the Lord have preserved and stood up for. St. Paul reminded St. Timothy as well as the other members of the Church that all of them ought to remain faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the whole world and the One true King of all, the One Who has come into the world as the perfect manifestation of God’s love for His people, that is all of us.

Then, in our Gospel passage today, we heard from the Gospel of St. Luke on the account of the Lord teaching His disciples and the people using the parable of the sower, the famous parable that I am sure many of us are very familiar with. In that particular parable, a sower came bearing seeds to be sown, and he scattered the seeds randomly in places, and such that the seeds ended up in completely different places and conditions, from the roadside and rocky places unsuitable for any plant growth, to the most fertile soils that yielded many rich returns to the sower.

As the Lord explained it during His discourse as we heard in our Gospel passage today, the parable of the sower is a clear reference to the Lord and His work among us all in this world, the field of the Lord and the place of His toils and labours. The Lord has sowed His seeds among all of us, the seeds of the Word of God, the truth and the faith that He has planted in us, in each and every one of the children of mankind. He has also given us many gifts, talents and abilities, opportunities and other things.

Those seeds that fell by the roadside represent those who did not even allow the Lord to speak to them, or impart His Word of truth to them, and therefore the seeds of faith were snatched from them by the evil one and his agents before they even had the chance to take root and grow in us, just as the birds of the sky in the parable came and eat those seeds. Similarly, those seeds that did land on the rocky ground, although they managed to germinate and grow, but very quickly they dry up and die, as they did not have the right conditions to grow well.

The seeds that fell among the thistles and brambles managed to germinate and grow into young plants, but the thistles and brambles, which are weeds, compete against them for nutrients and water, and other resources, and hence, as the thistles and brambles grow around the saplings, the young plants could not grow and compete against the weeds, which often grow very quickly and can easily outcompete other plants growing together with them.

As the Lord mentioned, that represents those who has allowed the Lord’s Word and truth to come into them, but yet, they allowed the temptations of the world, of worldly desires and glory, among many other things to distract them and to keep them away from the Lord and His salvation and grace. And the same can happen to us if we allow ourselves to be swayed by the temptations of our flesh, of worldly desires, of fame and ambition, glory, wealth, power and many other things.

Instead, all of us are called to be like the case when the seeds fell on rich and fertile soil, where the seeds germinated well, grew well and eventually returned a massive produce manyfold of the original seeds that were sowed there. That is what we are all expected to be, brothers and sisters in Christ, that is to bear rich fruits of our faith, by our every actions and words, by our every deeds and interactions with one another, in our lives that we lead an exemplary life focused on God.

And how do we do that? Often, it does not require us to do amazing or wonderful things. Instead, we should aspire and strive to do our best in even the simplest and most mundane thing in life, in every little things we say and do, in our daily interactions with one another, in our habits and actions, with our relatives and friends, and even with all those whom we encounter throughout life. We are all called to be righteous in all things, and we should be true disciples of the Lord in words just as in deeds. Are we willing then to commit ourselves in this manner, brothers and sisters in Christ?

Let us all discern our path in life and the actions that we ought to take as Christians, as those who believe in the Lord. Let us all ponder on how we can better live our lives as the followers of Christ. May the Lord continue to be with us in our journey and help us to find our way to Him, and may He strengthen us with the courage to remain faithful at all times to the Lord and be fruitful in our lives. May God bless us always, in our every good works and endeavours. Amen.

Saturday, 18 September 2021 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

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

Luke 8 : 4-15

At that time, as a great crowd gathered, and people came to Jesus from every town, He began teaching them with a story : “The sower went out to sow the seed. And as he sowed, some of the seed fell along the way, was trodden on, and the birds of the sky ate it up.”

“Some seed fell on rocky ground; and no sooner had it come up than it withered, because it had no water. Some seed fell among thorns; the thorns grew up with the seed and choked it. But some seed fell on good soil and grew, producing fruit, a hundred times as much!” And Jesus cried out, “Listen then, if you have ears to hear!”

The disciples asked Him, “What does this story mean?” And Jesus answered, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God. But to others it is given in the form of stories, or parables, so that, seeing, they may not perceive; and hearing, they may not understand.”

“Now, this is the point of the parable : The seed is the word of God. Those along the wayside are people who hear it; but immediately, the devil comes and takes the word from their minds, for he does not want them to believe and be saved. Those on the rocky ground are people who receive the word with joy; but they have no root; they believe for a while, and give way in time of trial.”

“Among the thorns are people who hear the word, but, as they go their way, they are choked by worries, riches, and the pleasures of life; they bring no fruit to maturity. The good soil, instead, are people who receive the word, and keep it, in a gentle and generous mind, and, persevering patiently, they bear fruit.”

Saturday, 18 September 2021 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

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

Psalm 99 : 2, 3, 4, 5

Serve YHVH with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.

Know that YHVH 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 praise His Name.

For YHVH is good; His love lasts forever; and His faithfulness, through all generations.

Saturday, 18 September 2021 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

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

1 Timothy 6 : 13-16

Now, in the presence of God, Who gives life to all things, and of Jesus Christ, Who expressed before Pontius Pilate the authentic expression of faith : preserve the revealed message to all. Keep yourself pure and blameless, until the glorious coming of Christ Jesus, our Lord, Who God will bring about at the proper time : He, the Magnificent Sovereign, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

To Him, alone, immortal, Who lives in unapproachable light, and Whom no one has ever seen or can see, to Him, be honour and power, forever and ever. Amen!

Friday, 17 September 2021 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church and St. Hildegard of Bingen, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Holy Virgins)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Sacred Scriptures, we are called to follow the Lord and be His disciples in the most sincere way possible. We should commit ourselves to Him just as His disciples and followers had done, as we heard how the Lord’s disciples, the Twelve and the women who always kept the Lord company followed Him wherever He went, doing His will and all the works for His glory.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to St. Timothy of the reminder that St. Paul the Apostle gave to his godson, St. Timothy, one of the earliest successors of the Apostles as the first of the bishops with regards to the concerns on the false teachings and false guidance from those who had promoted their own distorted ideas, as there were, even then, in the earliest days of the Church, the seeds of divisions and dissensions placed by the devil and his forces, in trying to destroy the Church and the faithful people of God.

St. Paul spoke of how there were those who pursued their own agenda and promoted their own flawed ideas that did not have the fullness of truth or Divine inspiration as the Lord’s disciples, the Apostles and their fellow co-workers had received. They instead caused confusion and divisions for their own glory and worldly pursuit, masquerading as a teacher of the faith while being the agent of the evil one, who used them to spread these divisions and confusion, and strike at the most vulnerable among the Lord’s flock.

Hence, St. Paul through his words reminded us that we have to be vigilant against all those that sowed dissension and divisions among us, and all those who sought to have personal gains over that of the people of God. All of us should be careful and do not easily allow the devil to have his way over us. We must remain true to our faith and understand what we believe in so that we will not be swayed by those false teachings and ideas. And it is also a reminder for us that we should not be tempted by worldly desires and end up corrupting others for the sake of our own personal glory.

Today all of us are called to remember the commitment which all of us are called to make as the disciples and followers of the Lord. Looking upon the examples that the Holy Apostles and disciples of the Lord had shown, we can see how they had given their all in serving the Lord, in preaching the truth of God and in delivering His love to all, even at times disregarding their own safety and comfort. They laboured for many years in proclaiming the words of God and enduring many persecutions, and at times they also had to go against the false teachings and heresies as St. Paul himself had to contend with.

Nonetheless, they persevered and committed themselves to the Lord without hesitation, spending a lot of effort and time, keeping their focus on the Lord throughout. They might falter and fail, but with the help, strength and grace from God, they went up again, and again, never giving up the works and efforts for the greater glory of God and for the salvation of their fellow brothers and sisters. It is this spirit and faith that our holy predecessors had, which we all should also have in our own lives, in our own faith in God.

Today, we also remember the memory of two great saints and Doctors of the Church, whose lives have been exemplary and works great and numerous, in leading so many people towards the Lord. First of all, St. Robert Bellarmine was an Italian Jesuit Cardinal, as a great reformer of the Church, and had a great and immense contribution to the Church teachings and theology. As a great teacher of theology, he inspired and spearheaded a great part of the efforts of the Counter-Reformation against those who divided the Church with their false and heretical teachings.

His great knowledge, wisdom and intellectual understanding of theology and other aspects of the faith were very notable, and the Pope himself took note of his efforts and achievements, making him the Rector of the Roman College and eventually as a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, and as a Cardinal Inquisitor was instrumental in leading through many aspects of Church reforms and in maintaining the integrity of the Magisterium and Sacred Tradition of the Church amidst a period of confusion and division among the faithful.

Then, the other saint whose memory we remember today, namely St. Hildegard of Bingen was canonised just less than a decade ago by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and then declared as a Doctor of the Church in that very same year. Her feast was added definitively to the Roman Calendar this year by Pope Francis, to celebrate her great faith and piety, her deep spiritual relationship with God and numerous works through which she inspired many who came to read of her works in remaining faithful to God.

St. Hildegard of Bingen was remembered as a great mystic and a theologian, who received visions of God throughout her life, as a monastic nun, dedicating her whole life to God. Even since a very young age, St. Hildegard of Bingen had received her visions, and later on in life, she wrote of her visions and experiences, which were widely known later after her passing. In her visions, St. Hildegard experienced the vision of God, in her various senses, experiencing the Light of God, which she described as the Three Shades of the Light of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, each of these two wonderful saints served the Lord in their own unique ways, and they followed in the path set by the Lord before them, and following in the footsteps of the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord. Are we also able to follow in their footsteps and examples, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we willing to embrace the Lord in the same way that they had done, and giving our time, effort and attention wholeheartedly to God? Let us all reflect on this and discern how we can be better disciples of the Lord from now on, in our every words, actions and deeds.

May God be with us always and may He strengthen each and every one of us with His truth that we may always remain true to Him, and remain committed to His truth, and do not fall into the trap of falsehoods and lies that the devil placed all around us. May God bless us all in our every endeavours and good works, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 17 September 2021 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church and St. Hildegard of Bingen, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Holy Virgins)

Luke 8 : 1-3

At that time, Jesus walked through towns and countryside, preaching and giving the Good News of the kingdom of God. The Twelve followed Him, and also some women, who had been healed of evil spirits and diseases : Mary called Magdalene, who had been freed of seven demons; Joanna, wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward; Suzanna; and others, who provided for them out of their own funds.

Friday, 17 September 2021 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church and St. Hildegard of Bingen, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Holy Virgins)

Psalm 48 : 6-7, 8-10, 17-18, 19-20

Why should I fear when evil days come, when wicked deceivers ring me round – those who trust in their wealth and boast of their great riches?

For no ransom avails for one’s life; there is no price one can give to God for it. For redeeming one’s life demands too high a price, and all is lost forever. Who can remain forever alive and never see the grave?

Fear not, when someone grows rich, when his power becomes oppressively great; for nothing will he take when he dies; his wealth and pomp he will leave behind.

Though he praised himself in his lifetime, “All will say that I have enjoyed life,” he will join the generation of his forebears, who will never again see the light.

Friday, 17 September 2021 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church and St. Hildegard of Bingen, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Holy Virgins)

1 Timothy 6 : 2c-12

Teach and stress these things. Whoever teaches in some other way, not following the sound teaching of our Lord Christ Jesus, and true religious instruction, is conceited, and understands nothing. This one is crazy about controversies and discussions, that result in envy, insults, blows and constant arguments between people of depraved minds, and far from the truth. For them, religion is merely for financial gain.

In reality, religion is a treasure, if we are content with what we have. We brought nothing into the world and we will leave it with nothing. Let us, then, be content with having food and clothing. Those who strive to be rich fall into temptations and traps. A lot of foolish and harmful ambitions plunge them into ruin and destruction.

Indeed, the love of money is the root of every evil. Because of this greed, some have wondered away from the faith, bringing on themselves afflictions of every kind. But you, man of God, shun all this. Strive to be holy and godly. Live in faith and love, with endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith and win everlasting life, to which you were called, when you made the good profession of faith, in the presence of so many witnesses.

Thursday, 16 September 2021 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Cornelius, Pope and Martyr, and St. Cyprian, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us are reminded through the readings of the Sacred Scriptures to put our faith and trust in the Lord, seeking Him for His forgiveness and mercy. We must not be afraid or doubtful because we have to know that God has always looked kindly upon us and desiring for us to find our way back to Him, to be reconciled and reunited fully with Him in love.

And that is why we heard the passage from our Gospel reading today, detailing the moment when the Lord had an encounter during a meal hosted by the Pharisees for Him, as a sinful woman, widely known for her vices and sins, came to seek Him and brought an alabaster jar full of perfume before the Lord. She wept and cried on the Lord’s feet, before wiping those feet dry with her own hair, and then she used the perfume to anoint the Lord’s feet.

If we understand her context and background, then we can truly understand how significant this event was to all those who witnessed it. For that sinful woman was likely a prostitute, whom the Pharisees often looked down on and despised. The Pharisees must have been shocked that the Lord Jesus allowed such a sinner to approach Him and less still allowing her to touch Him, as at that time, even coming close to a sinner could be considered as a defilement, and hence people would distance themselves from those considered as sinners.

Yet, that sinful woman humbled herself such before the Lord and everyone present, throwing aside all pride and ego, and using her hair, the crown of her beauty, to wipe the feet of the Lord, using her precious treasure to wipe clean the part of the body considered as dirty. She came to the Lord with tears and sorrow, all because she knew how sinful she had been, and came seeking the Lord for forgiveness and healing. She gave it all to the Lord, anointing His feet with expensive perfume, honouring Him before all who saw it.

Yet, those Pharisees still failed to see the truth of God’s love, and still judged Him based on what they had seen and based on their own prejudices. They refused to see the sinners as their own fellow brethren, and preferred to remain in their arrogant and self-serving attitude, in being proud of their piety and privileged position within the community, looking down on all those who disagreed with them and who did not follow the Law and commandments of God in the manner that they had done.

God told them that He came into this world seeking for sinners, for their redemption and healing, so that they might be reconciled with Him and be forgiven from their sins, saved from the destruction that threatened them. He told the Pharisees the parable highlighting how those who had their debts forgiven more would have been more appreciative of the forgiveness, and that was a way for the Lord to tell them that they must not look down on the prostitutes, or tax collectors, the diseased, those possessed by evil spirits and others they deemed as sinners.

Everyone, after all, were sinners all the same, all equal before God and all deserving the same love from God. God wants us all to know this truth, and as we heard the Scripture passages today, we are again reminded of the grace that we have received from Him, the generous extension of His forgiveness and mercy, the love which He has lavished upon us all. And since we have been loved in such a manner, as God called us all to seek Him and be reconciled with Him, let us all remember what He told the sinful woman, that we ought to go forth in peace and sin no more. In our lives, we have to always be vigilant, resisting the temptations to sin that are always present all around us.

It does not matter how great the sins we have once committed. For as long as we are truly sincere in seeking the Lord, like that of the sinful woman, in being repentant and humble, in allowing God to come and heal us, then we shall be secure in the Lord and in the inheritance that He has promised to us. We should not be afraid to seek Him, as if we seek Him with a genuine heart full of remorse for our sins, and desiring to be reconciled and reunited with Him, God will surely hear us and grant us our longing for Him.

Let us all turn towards the Lord with renewed faith from now on, embracing Him in the manner of our holy predecessors, especially that of Pope St. Cornelius and St. Cyprian, whose feasts we are celebrating today. They were truly great and honourable servants of God who gave themselves wholeheartedly to the missions entrusted to them by the Lord. Pope St. Cornelius was the Bishop of Rome and leader of the Universal Church while St. Cyprian was the Bishop of Carthage during the difficult years of intense persecution of the Church and the Christian faithful by the Roman state. They were both eventually martyred and died defending their faith.

At that time, the Church was not only facing persecution from the pagan authorities but also in fact suffering from internal divisions, particularly by those who adamantly refused to allow the readmission and acceptance of those Christians who had lapsed from their faith, who disagreed with the stand of the Church fathers, on the forgiveness of sinners. Those were lead by a particular priest called Novatian, who led the Church into schism with his followers on one side, and Pope St. Cornelius and St. Cyprian on the other.

Both Pope St. Cornelius and St. Cyprian championed the rights of those who had lapsed from their faith, either by their choice or coercion, pressure or other reasons, having abandoned their faith in God only to return later on back to the Holy Mother Church. Both Pope St. Cornelius and St. Cyprian supported the rights of those Christians to return, against the Novatianists who argued that once they apostatised, there could be no forgiveness or return for them. Those so-called purists were in fact reminiscent of the attitudes showed by the Pharisees in our Gospel passage today.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, those two holy men of God, Pope St. Cornelius and St. Cyprian had done their all to show God’s love and mercy to repentant sinners. Therefore, we too should follow in their footsteps. First of all, are we willing to commit ourselves to the Lord, in turning away from the path of sin and wholeheartedly repenting from our past sins? And are we willing to help one another, our fellow brothers and sisters in seeking God?

Instead of looking down on others and thinking that we are in any way better, holier or more worthy than them, let us all reflect on our own sins and all that we have done in our past, all that we have failed to do in obeying the will of God, and in extending our love to one another, just as the Lord has called us all to do. Let us all reflect on this, and strive to become better Christians from now on. Let us all be exemplary in our way of life and show better care and concern for our fellow brothers and sisters in our every living moments.

May the Lord be with us all and may He guide us in our journey, so that each and every one of us will be more willing to be more committed to God, and strive to abandon our past sinfulness, embracing instead the path of God while inspiring others to turn away from their sins, by our own virtuous life examples, through which God may be glorified, and more may come to know of Him and His love for each and every one of us. Amen.

Thursday, 16 September 2021 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Cornelius, Pope and Martyr, and St. Cyprian, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 7 : 36-50

At that time, one of the Pharisees asked Jesus to share his meal, so He went to the Pharisee’s home, and as usual reclined at the table to eat. And it happened that, a woman of this town, who was known as a sinner, heard that He was in the Pharisee’s house. She brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and stood behind Him, at His feet, weeping. She wet His feet with tears; she dried them with her hair; she kissed His feet and poured the perfume on them.

The Pharisee who had invited Jesus was watching, and thought, “If this Man were a Prophet, He would know what sort of person is touching Him; is this woman not a sinner?” Then Jesus spoke to the Pharisee and said, “Simon, I have something to ask you.” He answered, “Speak, Master.”

And Jesus said, “Two people were in debt to the same creditor. One owed him five hundred silver coins, and the other fifty. As they were unable to pay him back, he graciously cancelled the debts of both. Now, which of them will love him more?”

Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, who was forgiven more.” And Jesus said, “You are right.” And turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? You gave Me no water for My feet when I entered your house; but she dried them with her hair. You did not welcome Me with a kiss; but she has not stopped kissing My feet since she came in. You provided no oil for My head; but she has poured perfume on My feet. This is why, I tell you, her sins, her many sins, are forgiven, because of her great love. But the one who is forgiven little, has little love.”

Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” The others reclining with Him at the table began to wonder, “Now this Man claims to forgive sins!” But Jesus again spoke to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace!”