Saturday, 25 September 2021 : 25th 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 through the readings of the Sacred Scriptures all of us are called to remember God’s love and providence for us, how He cares about us and has always been present for us, loving us dearly and never giving up on us despite our constant stubborn attitudes and our waywardness. He still patiently cared for us and sent to us His Saviour as He has promised, that everything which He has proclaimed and spoken through His prophets and messengers would be fulfilled.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Zechariah, we heard of the Lord speaking through the prophet to His people regarding the Lord Who would protect His people and would not allow harm to come to them, even as the city of Jerusalem back then was in the midst of being rebuilt. Contextually, the prophet Zechariah was active during the reign of the King of Persia, Darius, some time after the Israelites had returned from their exile in Babylon and Assyria.

At that time, the people of Israel were gradually beginning to rebuild their cities and lives anew, and the city of Jerusalem itself was in the midst of reconstruction after having been devastated and razed by the Babylonians many decades previously. The Temple of God in Jerusalem was also then in the midst of rebuilding, as the people turned back towards the Lord under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah, as well as the influence of other prophets including that of Zechariah himself.

Therefore, with this context, we can understand better how the Lord reassured His people of His continued presence in their midst and how He would be the centre and focus of their lives, being their Hope and strength amidst the darkness and evils surrounding them. This He communicated to them, and He later on would make evident and firm His commitment by sending us His Son, Jesus Christ, into this world to be our Saviour, to bring unto us the Light of Hope that we all have been awaiting for.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard the Lord Himself speaking on this matter as He told His disciples how He would be betrayed into the hands of His enemies and how He would be persecuted and made to suffer by the authorities, and eventually, would be condemned to die and to suffer for everyone’s faults and sins. He did all of these because He has patiently loved us and wanted us all to be reconciled to Him, and He wants us to put our trust once again in Him. Yet, despite all that we had done for us, we persecuted Him and rejected Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we listened to the words of the Scripture today, we are all called to reflect on our lives and how we have lived them as Christians thus far. Have we been faithful to the Lord as we should? Have we been committed to Him and loved Him as we should? Have we realised just how fortunate we are to be constantly beloved by God despite of our sins and wickedness? We should spend the time to carefully reflect on our actions in life so that we may not end up in the wrong path.

Today we are all challenged to grow in love and faith towards the Lord, and to leave behind our sinful ways, our disobedience and all the things that had prevented us from being able to reach out to the Lord. Let us all humble ourselves before the Lord and realise just how ungrateful and sinful we have been thus far. Let us follow the Lord with ever greater sincerity and commit ourselves to Him anew with a heart filled with love for Him, with the strong and genuine desire to be a good and committed Christian from now on.

May the Lord be with us always and may He continue to strengthen each and every one of us to walk faithfully in His path so that we may be inspiration and good examples, as great role models for one another. May all of us do in whatever way we can to glorify the Lord by our lives, thankful that He has always loved us and blessed us in each and every one of our activities, and given even His Son for our salvation. May God bless us always, at all times. Amen.

Saturday, 25 September 2021 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

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

Luke 9 : 43b-45

At that time, while all were amazed at everything Jesus did, He said to His disciples, “Listen, and remember what I tell you now : The Son of Man will be betrayed into the hands of men.” But the disciples did not understand this saying; something prevented them from grasping what He meant, and they were afraid to ask Him about it.

Saturday, 25 September 2021 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

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

Jeremiah 31 : 10, 11-12ab, 13

Hear the word of YHVH, o nations, proclaim it on distant coast lands : He Who scattered Israel will gather them and guard them as a shepherd guards his flock.

For YHVH has ransomed Jacob and redeemed him from the hand of his conqueror. They shall come shouting for joy, while ascending Zion; they will come streaming to YHVH’s blessings.

Maidens will make merry and dance, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness, I will give them comfort and joy for sorrow.

Saturday, 25 September 2021 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

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

Zechariah 2 : 5-9, 14-15a

Raising my eyes again, I saw a man with a measuring line in his hand. I asked, “Where are you going?” He answered, “I am going to measure Jerusalem, to find its width and its length.”

As the Angel who spoke to me came forward, another Angel met him and said, “Run and tell this to that young man : ‘Jerusalem will remain unwalled because of its multitude of people and livestock.’ For this is the word of YHVH : I, Myself, will be around her like a wall of fire, and also within her, in glory.”

“Sing and rejoice, o daughter of Zion, for I am about to come, I shall dwell among you,” says YHVH. “On that day, many nations will join YHVH and be My people.”

Friday, 24 September 2021 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all reminded through the readings of the Sacred Scriptures of the great works by which the Lord had done in guiding us through our life’s journey, and all that He has done for our sake, and how He will restore all of us and redeem us. He has always stayed by our side, and He is ever present in our lives, even if we have not realised it. God wants us to know that He shares our sufferings with us, and through this same sharing, we shall share in His eternal glory at the end.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Haggai, we heard of the words of the Lord spoken to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, as the Exilarch of the Israelites being descended from the House of David, as well as to Joshua the then High Priest. The Lord told them that they must not be hesitant to rebuild the House of God in Jerusalem, the Temple that was there in the Holy City, but which had been destroyed many decades earlier by the Babylonians who also destroyed Jerusalem and exiled the people of Israel for many years.

Contextually, at that time, the descendants of Israel had just returned to the land of their ancestors after the long exile, and they were allowed to return with the permission from King Cyrus of Persia who had emancipated them and specifically mentioned that the House of God in Jerusalem ought to be rebuilt again. Yet, after a number of years, by the reign of King Darius of Persia, the Temple of God had not yet been rebuilt and through the prophet Haggai, God spoke to the leaders of the people telling them to trust in Him and to rebuild the Temple as they ought to.

The Lord reassured them that He would always be with them, and His Spirit would dwell in their midst. He told them that they have nothing to worry of be afraid of since He will glorify Himself before all, and all who trust in Him shall be glorified together with Him, and share in the inheritance and true joy that they had been promised. And this would come to fulfilment eventually in Christ, the Saviour of all mankind, Who came to the midst of His people, as God’s Holy Presence in the flesh, no longer hidden but fully manifested, His love fully revealed before all.

And all of that happened because of what Christ would do for our sake, as He Himself foretold it before His disciples and the people, how He would be made to suffer and to endure rejection and ridicule from the people, and from the elders and the chief priests no less, from those most powerful and influential in the community who rejected Him and His truth, and persecuting His followers. But it was there then that the Lord would glorify Himself as the Living Temple of God, as the very Presence of God in the world, even as He laid down His life on the Cross and died.

That is because He rose triumphantly from the dead, overcoming the power of sin and death itself, and winning for all of us mankind the price of our freedom. And He established in this world the Church, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church as the visible symbol of His Presence and the unity that we share with Him. God reassured us through His Church that He is always with us and He will never abandon us, as He will always be with us and His Church, that in His own words, ‘will stand even against the gates of hell’.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, reflecting on what we have heard from the readings of the Sacred Scriptures today, we are all called to put our trust in the Lord even as we have been called out of our exile from the world of sin, just as the Israelites had been brought out of their exile back to their ancestral homeland. And God is now calling us all to do whatever we can and to contribute to the works of His Church, just as He had called on the leaders of Judah to contribute to the rebuilding of the House of God in Jerusalem.

Are we willing and able to commit ourselves to this cause and effort, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we willing to trust in the Lord and to contribute our works and our labours, even in the smallest things to work for the greater glory of God through His Church? We are all called to be the shining examples and role models of our faith, and we should do whatever we can, at all times, to be inspiration for our fellow brothers and sisters, to be good and faithful followers of God by doing His will and obeying His Law and commandments.

Let us all strive to work together as members of this same Church of God, to establish God’s kingdom in this world, and to gather together all the faithful in one united effort to serve our Lord to the best of our abilities, not to be afraid anymore to stand up for our faith and to speak and to show the truth of God in our respective communities. May the Lord continue to guide us and watch over us, and may He bless us in our every endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 24 September 2021 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 9 : 18-22

At that time, one day, when Jesus was praying alone, not far from His disciples, He asked them, “What do people say about Me?” And they answered, “Some say, that You are John the Baptist; others say, that You are Elijah; and still others, that You are one of the Prophets of old, risen from the dead.”

Again Jesus asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.” Then Jesus spoke to them, giving them strict orders not to tell this to anyone. And He added, “The Son of Man must suffer many things. He will be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the teachers of the Law, and be put to death. Then after three days He will be raised to life.”

Friday, 24 September 2021 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 42 : 1, 2, 3, 4

Make justice, o God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people; deliver me from the wicked and deceitful.

You are my God, my Stronghold, why have You cast me out? Why should I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?

Send forth Your light and Your truth; let them be my guide, let them take me to Your holy mountain, to the place where You reside.

Then will I go to the Altar of God, to God, my gladness and delight. I will praise You with the lyre an harp, o God, my God.

Friday, 24 September 2021 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Haggai 1 : 15b – Haggai 2 : 9

On the twenty-first day of the seventh month, of the second year of the reign of Darius, this word of YHVH was sent through the prophet Haggai, “Give this message to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, and to Joshua, the High Priest, and to all the people : Is there left among you one of those who saw this House long ago, in the time of its glory? What do they think, of what they see now? Is it not a very little thing?”

“But I say to you, Zerubbabel, Joshua and My people : do not be discouraged. Begin to work, for I am with you, says YHVH. Do not be afraid, for My Spirit is in your midst. Thus says YHVH of hosts, within a short while, I will shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the continents. Then I will shake all the nations; and bring in the treasures of the whole world.”

“I will fill this House with glory, says YHVH. I will have as much silver and gold as I wish. The renown of this Temple will be greater than before, and in this place I will give peace,” says YHVH of hosts.

Thursday, 23 September 2021 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all called to reflect on what we have just heard and discern in how we can be living our lives in a more Christ-like manner, in following the Lord’s call and devoting ourselves wholeheartedly to Him. God calls on us all His faithful ones to follow Him and to do His will, and this is what we should be doing with our lives, to shine forth with the light of God in our lives and be role models for our fellow brothers and sisters.

In our first reading today, taken from either the Book of the prophet Haggai or the Book of the prophet Ezra, we heard of the Lord’s emancipation of His people, as He moved the heart and mind of the Persian King Cyrus to allow the exiled Israelites to return to their homeland and rebuild their country and cities. However this process took some time, as the ancestral lands of the Israelites had been left devastated and in tatters by the Babylonian and Assyrian conquests a century and more earlier on.

Thus, while the people of God had returned to their lands, as mentioned in the Book of Ezra, but that was merely just the beginning of the restoration of their fortunes and their homeland. It was implied in the Book of the prophet Haggai that took place during the reign of King Darius of Persia, which was one of the successors of King Cyrus of Persia, two or so decades after the emancipation of the Israelites, that the Temple of God in Jerusalem had not yet been rebuilt by that time.

Ezra the priest and prophet of God had been instrumental in leading the people and establishing the firm foundation of the faith among the returned exiles. What the prophet Haggai spoke of then was the urging for the people to begin to take their faith seriously, in committing themselves and their resources to complete the rebuilding of the House of God, the Temple in Jerusalem. Although the foundation and preparation must have begun immediately after the exiles had returned to Judah and Jerusalem, but it seemed that many of the people still hesitated to commit themselves wholeheartedly to the Lord, and left His House in ruins for many years.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is then related to what we have heard in our Gospel passage today, as the Lord spoke of the parable of the lamps and the lampstand. He spoke of how no one would put a lamp hidden, for it would have made it useless and meaningless. Instead, at the time when electrical lighting and other sources of light were still scarce, oil lamps were truly precious commodity and items that were very important for the people’s livelihood. As such, by using that parable, the Lord wanted us all to clearly understand that we cannot be idle in our faith and in living our lives.

Just as the Israelites had been idle in dragging their feet and in delaying the building the House of God, the Lord does not want this to be our approach in life and our attitude towards our faith. Instead, we are expected to be more active in living our lives with faith, and we are all expected to do our part in obeying the Lord’s will, His Law and commandments at every possible opportunities. Are we willing and capable of doing this, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we willing to commit ourselves and our efforts to Him from now on?

Today we all celebrate the Feast of a great saint, whose life and actions may serve as great inspiration for all of us in how we live up our own faith. St. Pius of Pietrelcina, also much better known as Padre Pio, was a great priest and a Franciscan who was greatly renowned for his stigmata, or the appearance of the miraculous wounds of Jesus on his hands and feet, as well as for his great piety and love for God.

Padre Pio was born into a deeply religious family, exposed to the faith and its practices from very early on. Even since youth, it was told that he has received mystical visions and experiences, which he would come to experience more and more throughout his life. He joined the Franciscans since the young age of fifteen, becoming a novice and gradually progressing to be ordained a priest. Even during these early years, there had been credible accounts of miraculous events happening to Padre Pio, as he was once seen levitating and other wonders happening around him.

Suffering from ill health throughout his life, nonetheless despite experiencing the stigmata of the Lord, Padre Pio continued to live very simply and led a rigorous discipline of prayer and fasting, and he was soon visited and followed by many people who wanted to see and to seek confession with this miraculous priest and servant of God. Yet, this popularity also drew concern and censure from the Church authorities, who questioned Padre Pio and even for a time, forbade him from publicly celebrating the Sacraments and ordered him to be secluded from others.

Nonetheless Padre Pio obeyed humbly and committed himself even more deeply through prayer and other actions, that as the years went by, more and more people became inspired by the holiness and the exemplary life led by this holy man of God, who suffered constantly from the physical wounds of his stigmata, as well as from other spiritual attacks from the devil, as it was told that the devil and other evil spirits would often strike at Padre Pio from time to time. He endured faithfully and committed his time and effort to the Lord more and more until the end of his life. And even after his passing, numerous people still devote themselves to the Lord through St. Pius of Pietrelcina.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore emulate the good examples and the faith showed by St. Pius of Pietrelcina, in our own daily lives and actions. Let us all strive to be ever more faithful and dedicated at all times, and seek the Lord with ever greater sincerity and conviction from now on, with the intercession of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, the ever faithful holy Padre Pio. May God bless us all, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 23 September 2021 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 9 : 7-9

At that time, king Herod heard of all that Jesus and His disciples had done, and did not know what to think, for people said, “This is John, raised from the dead.”

Others believed that Elijah, or one of the ancient prophets, had come back to life. As for Herod, he said, “I had John beheaded. Who is this Man, about Whom I hear such wonders?” And he was anxious to see Him.

Alternative reading (Lectionary of Saints)

Luke 8 : 16-18

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “No one, after lighting a lamp, covers it with a bowl or puts it under the bed; rather, he puts it on a lamp stand, so that people coming in may see the light.”

“In the same way, there is nothing hidden that shall not be uncovered; nothing kept secret, that shall not be known clearly. Now, pay attention and listen well, for whoever produces, will be given more; but from those who do not produce, even what they seem to have will be taken away from them.”