Saturday, 5 October 2019 : 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, on this day we listened to the words of God speaking to us about the love which He has for us all His people, and the assurance which He has given to His people that He will bless them and protect them, even if they had fallen into sin and disobeyed Him and suffered because of all of that. God is ever loving, merciful and compassionate, but then at the same time, we should not take this generosity and love for granted.

He has always taken care of us, but we are often too busy and distracted from being able to understand and appreciate this generous love God has given us. Instead, we tried to find our happiness, joy and satisfaction in the many other things in this world, following the temptations and falsehoods spread by the evil one instead of looking for the truth. But we must realise that following the path of the devil will not bring us any good things in the end, only destruction and eternal regret.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord Himself confidently proclaimed before all of His disciples, that He has seen the downfall of Satan, struck down in defeat, falling from Heaven into his downfall. And this is spoken because first of all, the Lord Himself had struck down Satan at the beginning for his prideful rebellion against Him, as mentioned in the Book of Revelations, how he even convinced a third of the Heavenly Hosts in his rebellion, those who would become the fallen angels and demons.

At that time, Satan was unable to achieve his goals and was defeated together with his forces, and were thrown out of Heaven. Knowing that he had no way to defeat God Who is Almighty and All-Powerful, he instead targeted us, the ones whom God loves, by tempting us and trying to pull us away from God and into the damnation and annihilation that Satan and the fallen angels themselves had been sentenced to.

We see just how much his temptations and efforts had led to many souls, throughout the ages, to fall into those temptations and therefore sinned against God. He tempted them with many pleasures of this world, the joy of having many worldly possessions and things, wealth and money, fame and glory, status and standing within the community, among many others. And all these distracted us from being able to find the path towards God.

And we also have certainly heard how the devil even tried to tempt the Lord Jesus, when He came into the world to be our Saviour. The devil likely did not know the full purpose and intention of the Lord’s coming, but he still tried nonetheless, tempting the Lord Jesus with satisfaction of food for the stomach, when he asked Jesus to turn the stone into bread, pandering to the greed in us, and then also with pride and our desire for attention when he brought Jesus up to the Temple’s parapets and asked Him to jump from there, and also when he showed the whole glory and power of the earth’s kingdoms that he would give if only the Lord Jesus worshipped him as god.

We need to see how the Lord Jesus rebuked Satan for his efforts in tempting Him, resisting and rejecting his efforts and advances, staying completely faithful to the mission which His Father has entrusted to Him. The Lord said that God alone should be worshipped as the one and only true God, and we must have trust in His words and obey His will. Ultimately, we have to realise that for all the good things that the devil presents to us, just as he did to the Lord Jesus, all of those things are temporary and illusory.

It means that all those good things of this world, which the world has often tempt us with, in our society obsessed with excessive consumerism and hedonistic lifestyles, they are all distractions that we need to learn to control and resist, to refuse the distractions of the devil, who made his path to look more appealing and good for us, even though the end is nothing less than eternal darkness and despair of damnation.

Instead, let us all spend this day reflecting on our own way of life, and how we can be more committed and faithful to the Lord despite the challenges we may face in this journey of faith, so that we may choose the right course of action in each and every moments of our lives, by choosing the side of the truth and by accepting the cross of Christ as we walk down this journey of faith. Let us all grow ever more faithful and be closer to the Lord and be good inspirations for one another, in strengthening our faith in God and in resisting the temptations and the efforts of the devil to destroy us.

May the Lord continue to guide us in our journey, and may He grant us the strength and commitment to be able to walk courageously and faithfully from now on, to devote our time, effort and attention to serve God with all of our hearts, with all of our minds and all of our strength. Amen.

Saturday, 5 October 2019 : 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, 5 October 2019 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

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

Psalm 68 : 33-35, 36-37

Let the lowly witness this, and be glad. You who seek God, may your hearts be revived. For YHVH hears the needy; and does not despise those in captivity. Let heaven and earth praise Him, the seas and whatever moves in them.

For God will save Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah. His people shall dwell in the land and possess it; the children of His servants shall inherit it, and those who love His Name will dwell in it.

Saturday, 5 October 2019 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

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

Baruch 4 : 5-12, 27-29

Take courage, my people, you who preserve the memory of Israel. You have been sold to the nations but not for your destruction; because you had aroused the anger of God, you were delivered to your enemies. For you displeased your Creator in sacrificing to demons and not to God. You have forgotten the Eternal God, the One Who nourished you.

You have filled Jerusalem with sadness, she who brought you up. For she saw the anger of God fall on you and she said, “Listen, you neighbouring cities of Zion, God has sent me a great sorrow. I have seen the captivity of my sons and daughters, which the Eternal One brought on them. I had nurtured them in joy; with tears and sadness I saw them leave. Let no one rejoice on seeing me a widow and abandoned by all. Because of the sins of my children I am now alone, because they have turned away from the Law of God.”

Take courage, my children, cry out to God, for He Who sent you into exile will remember you. Thus, as you distanced yourself from God, return to Him and seek Him ten times more earnestly. For He Who caused these evils to fall on you will bring you salvation and eternal joy.

Friday, 4 October 2019 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us through the Scripture passages which we have heard today are reminded of what it means for us to be Christians, in that each and every one of us ought to obey the Lord and follow His path, and not to fall into the temptations present in this world and end up therefore falling into sin as what the Scripture passages had presented to us this day.

In our first reading today, we heard the lamentations of the people of God as represented by the prophet Baruch, in which he spoke of the sins which the people of Israel had committed all the many years after God had shown so much love, care and concern for them, after He had brought them out of their slavery and suffering in Egypt into a land overflowing with milk and honey and full of prosperity, making them into a powerful and glorious nation.

And yet, those people rejected God and went to seek the pagan idols and gods instead, abandoning the Law and the commandments God had given them for the wicked ways of the world. They disobeyed God and committed sinful acts and deeds before Him for many, many years, and yet, God still patiently tried to bring them back to Him and to reconcile them to Him through His messengers and prophets.

The lamentations and the words spoken by the prophet Baruch were yet another reminder to the people of God just how much they have erred and lived in a state of sin for all those years. And this is what is also echoed in our Gospel passage today, in which the Lord Jesus spoke up against the cities of Galilee, of Capernaum, Chorazin and Bethsaida, when He rebuked those cities for their lack of faith.

And this rebuke was made in the context of how those cities, which were the ones mainly occupied by the Jewish people in Galilee, had not welcomed the Lord and accepted Him as they should have, and even as the Lord performed miraculous deeds and taught among the people there, they still doubted Him, unlike that of the other places in Galilee and even in Samaria where the Lord were welcomed and the people there listened to His message of truth and believed.

The Lord put it very clearly and bluntly that those who reject Him will only have condemnation in the end for them, and they will suffer because of their conscious abandonment of God’s love and grace. God has done so much, again and again to help them and to provide for them from time to time, because of His enduring love for us that remain strong even when we have disappointed Him so much, because He does not want us to be destroyed.

As we can see, all of us should appreciate just how much God has loved us all, and we should therefore do our best to love Him and to serve Him wholeheartedly by having a conversion of heart, mind, body and soul, so that while once we were deeply rooted in sin and wickedness, now we may turn ourselves into the true and faithful children of God. And today, we should therefore be inspired by the examples and the life of St. Francis of Assisi, the renowned saint and founder of the Franciscan order whose feast we are celebrating today.

St. Francis of Assisi was born as Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, the son of a wealthy merchant Pietro di Bernardone in Middle Ages Italy. At that time, the father of St. Francis wanted him to be the successor of his career and business as a rich silk merchant, and therefore provided the young St. Francis with plenty of good education and excellent worldly upbringing intended to prepare him for the role.

He lived a high life and a life filled with all sorts of luxury, but gradually he became disillusioned with all the wealth, glory and privileges he had, as told by the few encounters he had with the poor, which began to affect St. Francis’ outlook on the world and his own life’s calling. Eventually, he received God’s calling through several occurrences as he began to withdraw himself from the usual worldly indulgences, and began to turn towards the Lord with faith.

It was told that as he passed through an abandoned chapel of San Damiano, he heard God’s calling to restore His church, which the young St. Francis took literally as a calling to repair the abandoned and ruined chapel. St. Francis quietly took some of his father’s wares and sold them to get the necessary funds to repair the chapel, but the priest in charge of the chapel refused to accept the ill-gotten money.

Nonetheless, St. Francis had to hide from his father’s anger and sought protection from the local bishop. When the father of St. Francis demanded that St. Francis returned what he had cost him, and even wanted to make him to renounce his rights to his inheritance, St. Francis surprisingly took off all the garments from his body and returned them back to his father, naked and empty as he was on the day of his birth.

From then on, St. Francis of Assisi embraced fully his faith in God and lived his life as a penitent in Assisi, eventually gathering like-minded men to begin the foundations of what would eventually known as the Order of the Friars Minor or better known after its founder as the Franciscan Order. Through his efforts in founding the Franciscan Order, St. Francis of Assisi inspired countless others to follow the Lord with a renewed zeal and commitment.

St. Francis showed all of us what it means for us to focus our lives’ attention and effort on the Lord, in order for us to become His true disciples. He resisted the temptations of worldly glory, for money and possessions, for fame and for wealth, for glory and for the pleasures of the body, and instead sought for the greatest treasure that can be found in God alone. Are we able to do the same with our own lives, brothers and sisters in Christ?

It does not mean that we should abandon everything we have or sell everything we have and give them to the poor, but rather, we must resist the urge, desire and temptation to focus our lives on the wrong pursuit for more money, glory, fame and worldly things, and instead, make good use of those blessings we have received for the good of others and for the greater glory of God. Let us all reflect on this, and discern how we can better serve God through our lives from now on.

May the Lord continue to bless us all and guide us, and may He empower each and every one of us to become true Christians in the mould of St. Francis of Assisi, our role model in faith. May the Lord be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 4 October 2019 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 10 : 13-16

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Alas for you, Chorazin! Alas for you, Bethsaida! So many miracles have been worked in you! If the same miracles had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would already be sitting in ashes and wearing the sackcloth of repentance.”

“Surely for Tyre and Sidon it will be better on the Day of Judgment than for you. And what of you, city of Capernaum? Will you be lifted up to heaven? You will be thrown down to the place of the dead. Whoever listens to you listens to Me, and whoever rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me, rejects the One Who sent Me.”

Friday, 4 October 2019 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 78 : 1-2, 3-5, 8, 9

O God, the pagans have invaded Your inheritance; they have defiled Your holy Temple and reduced Jerusalem to rubble. They have given Your servants’ corpses to the birds, and the flesh of Your saints, to the beasts of the earth.

They have poured out the blood of Your faithful, like water around Jerusalem, and there was no one to bury them. Mocked and reviled by those around us, we are scorned by our neighbours. How long will this last, o YHVH? Will You be angry forever? Will Your wrath always burn to avenge Your rights?

Do not remember against us the sins of our fathers. Let Your compassion hurry to us, for we have been brought very low.

Help us, God, our Saviour, for the glory of Your Name; forgive us, for the sake of Your Name.

Friday, 4 October 2019 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Baruch 1 : 15-22

You will say : May everyone recognise the justice of our God but, on this day, shame and confusion befit the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem – our kings and princes, our priests, our prophets, and our fathers, because we have sinned before the Lord.

We have disobeyed Him and have not listened to the voice of the Lord our God, nor have we followed the commandments which the Lord had put before us. From the day that the Lord brought our ancestors out of the land of Egypt until this day, we have disobeyed the Lord our God and we have rebelled against Him instead of listening to His voice.

Because of this, from the day on which the Lord brought our ancestors out of the land of Egypt, so as to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, the evils and the curse which the Lord pronounced by Moses, His servant, have dogged our footsteps right down to the present day.

We did not listen to the voice of the Lord our God speaking through the words of the prophets whom He sent to us, but each one of us followed his perverted heart, serving false gods and doing what displeases the Lord our God.

Thursday, 3 October 2019 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the Lord speaking to us through the words of the Scripture in which He told us about the mission which each and every one of us have been entrusted with, in reaching out to the world as witnesses of our faith in God. He has called on each and every one of us to be the bearers of His truth and the best way to do this is through our own actions in our daily life.

And He reassured us all as well that He is always with us throughout the journey of our life, standing by us and providing for us in whatever we need. He will always be with those who have been faithful to Him, and He will certainly remember them and bless them. However, at the same time, He also wants us all to know that our path may not be an easy one, as challenges and difficulties will be inevitable at some point or another.

In the Gospel passage today, as the Lord sent forth His disciples to go before Him in preaching the Good News and delivering His message to the peoples He Himself was to go, He reminded them all firstly of the trials and challenges that they would face, eventually even after the Lord has suffered, died, risen in glory and ascended into Heaven. The disciples of the Lord would face many rejections and oppressions from their enemies and all those who refused to believe.

And yet, He reassured them that while He was sending them like sheep among wolves, but He would be with them, and they would not be alone. He would guide them and protect them, and He advised them on what they ought to do, whether the people welcomed them and the message they brought to them, or whether those people refused to believe and rejected the disciples.

And therefore, we ourselves will also likely encounter moments when we have to endure rejection and persecution for standing up for our faith and for being faithful to God. There will be many moments when we will end up feeling stressed or pressured because of this rejection and the opposition even from those whom we may know or close to us, from our own family members and from among our own friends.

But we must not be disheartened by it, just as the prophet Ezra told the people in our first reading today, in which he read the Law of God to the assembled Israelites after they have returned from exile in Babylon back to their own homeland. The people initially felt bad and terrible, having known how wicked they and their ancestors had been in disobeying God’s laws, and yet, the prophet reminded them that God still loved all of them.

God cares for each and every one of us, His beloved people, without exception. God has always placed us close to His heart and He will not forget us, even after all that we have done, our sins and stubborn disobedience, our constant rebelliousness and refusal to believe in Him. But He wants us to repent from our sinful ways and turn away from those wickedness, and embrace Him wholeheartedly from now on.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to renew our faith and commitment in God? Are we able to trust Him with our whole life and learn to put our faith in Him without hesitation? That is why we need to transform our lives and turn to God with all of our heart from now on, committing ourselves to a new life that is no longer filled with sin and wicked desires of the world, but instead centred on the love of God.

Let us all be genuine and faithful witnesses of our faith in God, by devoting ourselves, our time, effort and attention on Him, and by practicing what we truly believe in, in each and every parts of our daily lives, that is in all of our words, actions and deeds. Let us all be true in our faith in God and trust in Him, and help one another to be more faithful, each and every days of our lives. May God be with us all and may He continue to bless us and our good endeavours. Amen.

Thursday, 3 October 2019 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 10 : 1-12

At that time, the Lord appointed seventy-two other disciples, and sent them, two by two, ahead of Him, to every town and place, where He Himself was to go. And He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. So you must ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers to His harvest.”

“Courage! I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Set off without purse or bag or sandals; and do not stop at the homes of those you know. Whatever house you enter, first bless them, saying, ‘Peace to this house!’ If a friend of peace lives there, the peace shall rest upon that person. But if not, the blessing will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking at their table, for the worker deserves to be paid. Do not move from house to house.”

“When they welcome you to any town, eat what they offer you. Heal the sick who are there, and say to them : ‘The kingdom of God has drawn near to you.’ But in any town where you are not welcome, go to the marketplace and proclaim : ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off and leave with you. But know for a certainty that the kingdom of God has drawn near to you.'”

“I tell you, that on the Day of Judgment it will be better for Sodom than for this town.”