Saturday, 3 October 2020 : 26th 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 each and every one of us are reminded of God’s love and His faithfulness to the Covenant which He has made with all of us. From the Book of Job, we heard how the Lord restored Job and blessed him even more than he had been previously blessed after all of his sufferings. And from the Gospel passage we heard the Lord affirming His disciples and followers.

In our first reading today, from the Book of Job we heard how after all the sufferings that Job had to endure, losing everything he possessed and even most of his family members, humiliated and denounced even by his family and close friends, who told him that he must have sinned against God to merit such sufferings. Job remained firm in his faith in God, but through all that he suffered, he did wonder why he had endured all those bitterness, and gave in to despair.

The Lord reminded Job that He has always been by his side even through his darkest moments, and He has always cared for him, and He told Job that it is not right for him to despair and to question His motives, and he needs to put his trust and faith completely in God. As we heard, the Lord opened Job’s perspectives and revealed the magnitude of His plans and works, and how He would bless him for his faith.

Job recognised his errors and repented from his mistakes, and embraced God’s love fully, never having abandoned Him and remaining faithful even through his most difficult days. And God, who brought Job out of his misery, helped and blessed him even much more generously than before. And therefore, God shows us all that those who hold onto Him, despite the trials they may have to endure, will receive eternal glory, true joy and satisfaction in the end.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord proclaimed to His followers and disciples just how blessed and fortunate they were, for having been counted among His followers and how He has been victorious against the forces of Satan, the devil and the great enemy of all the people of God. Satan has been cast down from Heaven and punished with all the other rebel angels. And this is the prelude to the final defeat of Satan and all of his plots and plans against God’s people that will come with the Cross.

Satan and all of his wicked forces have always been trying to crush us and to make our lives difficult. And by the means of many temptations and false promises, they have been working hard in dragging us down with them, as they hoped to turn us against God and to subvert us by persuading us to reject the path of God and embrace instead the seemingly ‘easier’ and ‘better’ path that the devil offered to us. And Satan always makes to think that it is futile to try to oppose him, and he wants us to fear him and to suffer so much that we give in to our temptations and all of his persuasions and coercions.

However, this is where we are all reminded yet again, that no matter what, and no matter how mighty Satan and his forces arrayed against us may seem to be, but they are all nothing compared with the power and the glory of God. And despite all of Satan’s efforts, his power is limited and his might has been crushed, as his rebellion has been defeated, he was cast out and condemned, and his final defeat had been predetermined by God, Who is all powerful and all knowing, revealing before all that we do not need to fear Satan because while he will be cast down into hell for eternity, we, who are God’s people and followers, will be raised to eternal glory and true joy with God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we aware of just how beloved we are by God? We are God’s most beloved ones, and God provides us in everything that we need. As long as we hold strongly to our faith in Him, we shall never be disappointed. Whatever sufferings we may be experiencing now, all these are nothing compared to the joy that is to come for us, in the end and at the conclusion of our faithful journey. But many of us often do not realise this and we are often too busy in trying to get away from fear, all of our insecurities, and we lack the faith in our Lord.

Let us therefore follow the example of Job, and strive to persevere in faith regardless of the challenges and trials that he had faced, and which we are likely to face as well in our own lives. Are we able to persevere in faith the way that our holy and dedicated predecessors had done? We have all been called to follow the path of the Lord, and we are called to entrust ourselves to His cause. And because we have also witnessed and received this faith from the Lord, we are now called to be God’s witnesses among all of our communities in this world today.

Through our actions, our words and our deeds, each and every one of us should become faithful and great inspirations for our fellow brothers and sisters in faith. May the Lord help us and guide us in our journey of faith, and help us in resisting the temptations of all the desires and the coercions by which the devil has always been busy using in trying to drag us into the path of sin, and lead us into our downfall. May the Lord strengthen us all and give us the courage and perseverance to be always faithful in each and every moments of our lives. May God be with us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 3 October 2020 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

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

Luke 10 : 17-24

At that time, the seventy-two disciples returned full of joy. They said, “Lord, even the demons obeyed us when we called on Your Name.” Then Jesus replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. You see, I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the Enemy, so that nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the evil spirits submit to you; rejoice, rather, than your names are written in heaven.”

At that time, Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and made them known to little ones. Yes, Father, such has been Your gracious will. I have been given all things by My Father, so that no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son, and he to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.”

Then Jesus turned to His disciples and said to them privately, “Fortunate are you to see what you see, for I tell you, that many prophets and kings would have liked to see what you see, but did not see it; and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”

Saturday, 3 October 2020 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

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

Psalm 118 : 66, 71, 75, 91, 125, 130

Give me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust in Your commands.

It is good for me to have been afflicted, for I have deeply learnt Your statutes.

I know, o YHVH, that Your laws are just; and there is justice in my affliction.

Your ordinances last to this day, for all things are made to serve You.

Give me knowledge; I am Your servant, who desires to understand Your statutes.

As Your words unfold, light is shed, and the simple-hearted understand.

Saturday, 3 October 2020 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

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

Job 42 : 1-3, 5-6, 12-16 (Hebrew version – Job 42 : 1-3, 5-6, 12-17)

This was the answer Job gave to YHVH : “I know that You are all powerful; no plan of Yours can be thwarted. I spoke of things I did not understand, too wonderful for me to know. My ears had heard of You, but now my eyes have seen You. Therefore I retract all I have said, and in dust and ashes I repent.”

YHVH blessed Job’s latter days much more than his earlier ones. He came to own fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she-donkeys. He was also blessed with seven sons and three daughters. The first daughter he named Dove, the second Cinnamon, and the third Bottle of Perfume. Nowhere in the land was there found any woman who could compare in beauty with Job’s daughters. Their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.

Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation.

Friday, 2 October 2020 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Holy Guardian Angels (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast of the Holy Guardian Angels, which refers to those Angels whom God had set before us, to be our guide and protector, to be at the frontline of our constant struggle and the war that rages on all the time for our souls. For it is at this moment right now and has been going on all these while, that the conflict between the devil and all those seeking our downfall and destruction occurs against our guardians, those faithful Angels God set before us.

In our Gospel today, we heard the Lord Himself affirming this, as He warned His disciples against misleading the little children in their faith or in harming them, as their Angels in heaven, referring to the Guardian Angels, are constantly seeing His heavenly Father, making pleas on their behalf and interceding for them. Thus, those who cause them to fall into sin, lead them down the wrong path or suffer will all face terrible reckoning for their sinful deeds.

God has always provided for us and protected us, and He sent His Angels before His loved ones, just as our first reading today again affirmed this, as in the Book of Exodus, as the Israelites were making the long and arduous journey through the desert towards the land promised to them by the Lord, the Lord sent His Angels to guard and protect them from their enemies, all those who sought to destroy them.

This is a guarantee that showed God’s enduring love and patience for His people, which was unfortunately often disregarded by those same people that God had cared and loved, and many among them fell not because of the attacks by the enemy, but because of their own stubborn disobedience and refusal to believe in God despite everything that He had done for them.

It is actually a clear reminder for us, that just as the Israelites journeyed through for many years, fell again and again into sin, forgiven and cared for by God, so we have also walked through a similar journey that is our life. And just as God rescued the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt and established a Covenant with them, thus, God has also liberated us from the slavery of sin, and led us through the waters of baptism just as the Israelites passed through the Red Sea. And God, through Christ, established a new Covenant with each and every one of us.

That is why, we must keep in mind that our Christian life and journey does not end at baptism, but instead, was just beginning at our baptism. While baptism makes us God’s own beloved people, and promise us salvation and eternal life, but we can still fall if we are not vigilant against the attacks of the evil one and all of his forces. All the more the devil will increase his attacks on us to prevent us from attaining eternal life and Heaven.

We have to trust in the Lord and follow the path that our Guardian Angels had charted before us. They have always been there for us, praying for us constantly, without cease, but we are often distracted by the many ‘noises’ in this world, all that the devil has been using in trying to lead us astray, whenever we give in to the temptation of worldly desires and power, fame and glory, and others.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in a world ever surrounded by darkness, by fears and uncertainties, with attacks and temptations from the forces of evil, we can be overcome by those fears and swallowed by our pride and the greed within us. But we should not be afraid, brethren! Be faithful and fear no more for the Lord and His might is with us, and His Angels are always by our side, guarding us and protecting us in our journey.

Let us pray now, asking for the help of our Guardian Angels, who are always with us, with the words, “Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here. Ever this day be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.”

Friday, 2 October 2020 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Holy Guardian Angels (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 18 : 1-5, 10

At that time, the disciples came to Jesus and asked Him, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Then Jesus called a little child, set the child in the midst of the disciples, and said, “I assure you, that, unless you change, and become like little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble, like this child, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and whoever receives such a child, in My Name, receives Me.”

“See that you do not despise any of these little ones; for I tell you, their Angels in heaven continually see the face of My heavenly Father.”

Friday, 2 October 2020 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Holy Guardian Angels (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 90 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 10-11

You, who dwell in the shelter of the Most High, who rest in the shadow of the Almighty, say to YHVH, “My Stronghold, my Refuge, my God in Whom I trust!”

He will rescue you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions and give you refuge under His wings.

You shall not fear the terror of the night nor the arrows that fly by day, nor the pestilence that stalks by night, and the plague that destroys at noonday.

No harm will come upon you; no disaster will draw near your home. For He will command His Angels to guard you in all your ways.

Friday, 2 October 2020 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Holy Guardian Angels (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Exodus 23 : 20-23

See, I am sending an Angel before you to keep you safe on the way and bring you to the place I have made ready. Be on your guard in his presence and listen to him; do not resist him for he will not pardon your wrongdoing, for My Name is in him.

If you listen to him and do what I say, I will be the enemy to your enemies and the opponent of your opponents. My Angel will go before you and bring you to the land of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites; all these I will destroy.

Thursday, 1 October 2020 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Therese of Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of all Missionaries and the Missions (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the promises of God’s salvation which He made to His servant Isaiah, in our first reading passage today, with the comforting words that God will once again cherish and bless His people, which by the time of Isaiah had faced much difficulty and many trials, and how God will bless them all and make them whole again.

And the fulfilment of these prophecies had been made through Christ, the Saviour of the world, of whom Isaiah spoke extensively about. And God has called on all of us to come to Him and to gather in His presence and receive from Him grace and peace forever. But unfortunately, many of us rejected Him, ignored His call and turned a deaf ear to His pleas to seek our reconciliation with Him.

That is why, in our Gospel today, we heard the Lord gathering little children to Himself and told all of His disciples that unless they were to be like those little children in their faith and in their lives, they would have no place in the kingdom of Heaven. And this came right after the disciples were arguing and debating among themselves on who was the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven and amongst Christ’s disciples and followers.

The Lord therefore reminds them all that to be His followers we must be humble, make ourselves small and insignificant, for it was our hubris and ego that had led us to our downfall. It was our desire for power, influence, worldly glory, fame, wealth that led us to a path of disobedience and wickedness, and thus these made us to commit sin against God.

And it is not easy for us to be faithful as the Lord had called us to be, to be like little children in our faith, whose faith are pure and without strings attached to worldly desires and temptations. Often, we have too much in mind to be able to focus our attention on God, unlike those little children, whose attention can be wholly centred on Him, as they have not yet been affected by all sorts of worldly matters and concerns.

This is where perhaps we should look upon the examples set by our famous saint of the day, whose life and philosophy embody exactly this call for us to be ‘childlike’ in our faith. St. Therese of Lisieux, also known as St. Therese of Child Jesus and as the ‘Little Flower of Carmel’, was a Discalced Carmelite nun who has been very popular during her life and especially more so after her passing. She inspired many people by her virtuous life and was renowned for her ‘Little Way’.

St. Therese certainly did not have an easy life or vocation as a religious, as she was often sickly in her youth, although she was indeed brought up in a loving and devout family. Family tragedy struck early as her mother passed away when she was still a very young child. And St. Therese was also bullied and often suffered in school. She endured all these patiently and with faith.

When one of her elder sister joined the Carmelite nuns, St. Therese was devastated but this in itself led her to desire to join the Carmelites as well. She was often told that she was still too young and her poor health also made it difficult. St. Therese also began to experience spiritual visions which would be more frequent later in her life. It was then on the Christmas Eve of the Year of Our Lord 1886 that she experienced a complete conversion of her soul.

From that point onwards, St. Therese began a new journey of faith, overcoming her sensitivities and self desires, a victory over the desires of the flesh and body, and dedicating herself ever more to God. As she eventually entered the Carmelite monastery after several more years of trials and struggles, and throughout her later time as a postulant and novice religious sister, being devoted and dedicated to the Lord.

And the hallmark of her faith and idea is known as the ‘Little Way’ in which St. Therese put forward the view that in order for us to follow God, what we really ought to do is to be faithful to Him in all things, even in the simplest and smallest of actions. We are called to be faithful through simple and little actions in life. This is what we all need to do, in order to be faithful as Christians.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, from what we have just heard about St. Therese of Lisieux today, and from the reflections of the Scriptures, all of us are reminded to be faithful to God at all times, and to do this through our lives, each and every day of them. Often we have ignored these as we are too busy pursuing worldly ambitions and desires, and by temptations we faced, we have been lured away by desire to walk down the wrong path in life.

This is why we are called to be like little children in our faith, to be genuine in our faith and dedication in God, be more humble and reject all the temptations of ego, pride, ambition, greed and desire among others. This is not something easily done as we are often surrounded by all these every moment of our lives, and unless we make a concerted effort to resist those temptations we will falter and fall into sin.

And in addition to that, we often remain passive and inactive in our Christian life because we thought that we cannot do anything significant in the matter of our faith. And this is where we are wrong, as even little actions and commitments are part of that journey of faith, and all of our little actions and contributions combined together, will become a great effort indeed. That is why we really have to embrace God’s call to be witnesses of our faith and as missionaries to spread the Good News of God by our dedication and actions in life.

Let us all therefore strive to be faithful to God at all times, in every little actions we do in our lives, that by following the examples of St. Therese of Child Jesus, the Little Flower of Carmel, we may indeed become truly committed to God and no longer ensnared by the temptations in life. May God help and guide us in this journey, and bless us in our every good endeavours for His greater glory, now and always. St. Therese of Lisieux, pray for us all! Amen.

Thursday, 1 October 2020 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Therese of Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of all Missionaries and the Missions (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 18 : 1-5

At that time, the disciples came to Jesus and asked Him, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Then Jesus called a little child, set the child in the midst of the disciples, and said, “I assure you, that, unless you change, and become like little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble, like this child, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and whoever receives such a child, in My Name, receives Me.”