Saturday, 22 September 2018 : 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 listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about first of all, the resurrection from the dead as St. Paul explained it in his Epistle to the Corinthians. In that Epistle, he was addressing the concerns and the skepticism shown by quite a few people on the matter of the resurrection from the dead, especially from the Jewish people and the pagans alike.

When St. Paul was in Athens, in another occasion, at the moment when he went to the Areopagus, the place where philosophical debates often took place, he preached about the resurrection of the one True God, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who was risen from the dead. And some of the pagan philosophers who were there laughed at St. Paul, mocking him for his belief in the resurrection, while yet, there were also some among them who were intrigued and willing to listen more to what St. Paul was preaching.

And in other cases, some of the people were willing to listen to St. Paul and his fellow disciples of the Lord, as they preached to them the truth about God. There were whole villages and towns, and even those among the influential and powerful members of the society, even among the Romans, who were converted to the true faith. But at the same time, there were also many communities and peoples who rejected the Apostles, and even threw them out out their cities, stoned them and rejected them.

What we heard here were related to what we heard in our Gospel passage today, in which the Lord spoke to His disciples and to the people regarding the parable of the sower. In that famous parable, we heard the Lord speaking about a sower who spread seeds that ended up falling onto several different places, from the roadside, to a rocky ground, to a ground filled with thorns and thistles, and to a rich soil.

In the first example, the seeds that fell on the roadside and got eaten up by the birds represent those who have received the seeds, which represent the word of God, and refused to internalise those words into themselves, and the devil, represented by the birds according to the Lord, went and snatched the word of God and the faith from them. These were the attitudes shown by those who refused to listen to the Apostles and their teachings, such as the Pharisees and some of the pagans who dismissed the Christian faith and truth.

And then, those seeds that fell on the rocky ground, according to the Lord, are those who receive the word of God, listened to them, but they did not allow the word of God, and the faith, to grow deep roots in them. To them, faith is just something that is superficial and even a formality. These are the attitudes shown by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who were rebuked by the Lord for their superficial faith and attention on appearances, but not on the genuine, and true faith that encompasses the whole being.

The seeds that fell on the soil with thistles, brambles and thorns, were those who according to the Lord, who could not resist the temptations of the world, the temptations and pressures of human pride, worldly glory, greed and desires. That was why many people rejected the teachings of Christ and His truth, as they closed themselves, their hearts and minds from the truth of God. They would rather continue to live in their current state of sin.

What the Lord wants is truly, for us to be like the rich soil, in which the seeds that fell grew, not just giving back what its worth in weight has, but rather, thirty, sixty, hundredfold and more. This is what will happen, should we be open to God’s truth and words which He wants to speak in our hearts and minds. But are we allowing God to do so? Are we open enough to accept the Lord speaking to us deep within us?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today, let us all reflect on our lives and our attitudes towards living our lives with faith. How have we believed in God all these while? Have we been actively allowing God to speak to us through His messengers, His disciples and all those whom we encounter in our respective lives? If we have not, then perhaps it is time for us to contemplate on what we can do in order to allow God to enter into our hearts and change our lives?

Let us all turn towards the Lord henceforth, devoting ourselves to Him and committing ourselves anew to His cause. Let us allow God to perform His wonderful works through us, for the good and the salvation of all mankind. May God be with us all, and may He bless us in all of our endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Saturday, 22 September 2018 : 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, 22 September 2018 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

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

Psalm 55 : 10, 11-12, 13-14

My enemies turn back when I call on You for help; now I know, that God is for me.

In God, Whose word I praise; in God I trust, without fear. What can mortals do against me?

I am bound to You by vows, o God; I shall offer my thanksgiving. For You have rescued my soul from death and my feet from stumbling; that I might walk in God’s presence, in the light of the living.

Saturday, 22 September 2018 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

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

1 Corinthians 15 : 35-37, 42-49

Some of you will ask : How will the dead be raised? With what kind of body will they come? You fools! What you sow cannot sprout unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body of the future plant, but a bare grain of wheat or any other seed.

It is the same with the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in decomposition; it will be raised never more to die. It is sown in humiliation, and it will be raised for glory. It is buried in weakness, but the resurrection shall be with power. When buried, it is a natural body, but it will be raised as a spiritual body. For there shall be a spiritual body, as there is, at present, a living body. Scripture says that Adam, the first man, became a living being; but the last Adam has become a life-giving Spirit.

The Spirit does not appear first, but the natural life, and afterward comes the Spirit. The first man comes from the earth and is earthly, while the second One comes from heaven. As it was with the earthly one, so is it with the earthly people. As it is with Christ, so with the heavenly. This is why, after bearing the image of the earthly one, we shall also bear the image of the Heavenly One.

Friday, 21 September 2018 : Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the great feast day of one of the faithful followers of Christ, one of the Twelve Apostles and one of the Four Evangelists, that is St. Matthew, the writer of today’s Gospel passage. He was once a tax collector at the employ of the Roman authorities, tasked to collect the regular taxes from the people of Judea, as Levi, the tax collector.

But the Lord called Levi to a better and higher purpose in life, leaving behind his work as a tax collector, and followed Him for the rest of his life. He was thus called to the life of a disciple and servant of God, leaving behind his past profession. And in the Gospel passage today we can see clearly the kind of prejudice which the society at that time placed on people like tax collectors, especially that which was shown by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law.

The tax collectors at that time were seen as traitors to the nation and the people of Israel, as they were seen as collaborators to the Romans who ruled over Judea. The imposition and payment of taxes were the concrete symbols of Roman authority and dominance over the people, which was resented by the Jewish people and their authorities, many of whom desiring for the freedom and independence from the Romans.

But the Lord looked beyond these biases and prejudices, and called one of His closest assistants and followers from among the ranks of the tax collectors. In fact, if we scrutinise the event more closely, we should see just how the tax collectors, as well as prostitutes, another group often reviled by the society at that time, were actually willing to listen to the Lord and turn themselves over a new leaf, welcoming the Lord into their midst and listening to Him.

This is what the Lord has given to all those who were willing to listen to Him and to turn themselves to Him and trust in His providence and love. He gave them the gift of faith, the encouragement of hope and the wonders of love. He gave them the strength and courage to become His disciples and witnesses among the nations, which they ought to accept by willingly allowing the Lord to perform His works through them.

And by God’s grace and the wisdom which He imparted to St. Matthew, we now have the Gospel of St. Matthew, as one of the four Holy Gospels through which all of us Christians, many years after the actual events surrounding the life and works of Our Lord during His years walking on earth, can have an accurate and true account of what actually happened all those years ago, revealing to us God’s truth through His own words.

St. Matthew himself was also extensively involved in the field of evangelisation beyond his writing of the Holy Gospels, helping to spread the faith and establish the Church in various places, and it was told that according to the tradition of the Church, he died as a martyr like most of the other Apostles of Christ. His examples and dedication remains tangible to this day, in the flourishing and survival of the faith.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, we are called to follow in the footsteps of St. Matthew the Apostle, in his acceptance of what the Lord has called him to do, in his commitment to the calling of Apostleship and service. Are we able to respond positively and with commitment, when the Lord calls us, “Follow Me!”? Or are we going to find excuses and reasons for us not to answer to His call?

To each and every one of us, as St. Paul mentioned in his Epistle today, has been given various gifts and talents, as given by God. But are we making use of these gifts and talents as the Lord has taught us to do? St. Paul mentioned that we are called to different callings in life, to be Apostles, to be teachers, to be evangelisers, pastors, servants of God, and many more, but ultimately, all of us are called to work for the greater glory of God.

Therefore, in our various vocations in life, in our different capacities and areas of responsibility, be it as priests, ordained persons, or as the laity, as married couples and families, as those who have contributed to the Church in one way or another, let us continue to devote ourselves, our time, effort and attention, that we may do ever greater works, for the greater glory of God, and for the advancements of the good works of the Church, for the salvation of mankind.

May God be with us all, and may He continue to guide us in our way, that as we continue living in this world today, we may embrace the Lord’s call with confidence when He calls on us, just as St. Matthew had done with faith. Let us all turn towards Him with courage and hope, with zeal and determination, every single days of our life. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 21 September 2018 : Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Matthew 9 : 9-13

At that time, as Jesus moved on from the place where He cured a paralytic man, He saw a man named Matthew, at his seat in the custom house; and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And Matthew got up and followed Him.

Now it happened, while Jesus was at table in Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners joined Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is it, that your Master eats with sinners and tax collectors?”

When Jesus heard this, He said, “Healthy people do not need a doctor, but sick people do. Go, and find out what this means : What I want is mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Friday, 21 September 2018 : Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 18 : 2-3, 4-5

The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament proclaims the work of His hands. Day talks it over with day; night hands on the knowledge to night.

No speech, no words, no voice is heard – but the call goes on throughout the universe, the message is felt to the ends of the earth.