Saturday, 10 October 2020 : 27th 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 as we listened to the words of the Scripture we are reminded yet again by the continuation of St. Paul’s exhortations to the Church in Galatia, of the universal nature of God’s love, and how all of us, every single one of us are beloved by God, and we are precious to God, without any prejudices or biases. And this is why, all of us are called to listen to Him, follow His way, and believe in Him wholeheartedly.

In our first reading, we heard the conclusion of this week’s series of exhortations of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Galatia, which had been wrecked with divisions and confusion because of the differing teachings and disagreements among the members of the Church and the faithful community. St. Paul reminded all of them that their faith in God has surpassed the adherence and especially the blind obedience to the old laws of God, the laws of Moses, particularly in how it was upheld and enforced by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law.

St. Paul revealed that the Law of God as it was revealed through Moses had been useful and had it means in maintaining the people’s faith, especially at the time when they were influenced by so many other corrupting influences of the world. If we read the accounts of the Exodus and journey of the Israelites from the land of Egypt to the Promised Land of Israel, we will know just how stubborn the Israelites were, and how often they had disobeyed the Lord and even broke His commandments and Covenant.

That is why, amidst that as a backdrop and context, the Lord issued a very harsh and restrictive Law to keep the people in check at the time, to keep them disciplined and in line during those crucial early years. We see their lack of faith that is so great, that despite having witnessed God’s miracles and powers, they still disobeyed and lost their faith nonetheless. That is why, to prevent them from committing even more sins and perish because of those sins, God imposed those rules to help and guide them to Himself.

However, as time passed on, this original intent had been forgotten and overlooked, and the people grew to observe the Law and its commandments and rules just because they found it as a formality and something to be fulfilled, or that they were afraid of God’s anger and wrath, as they heard how their ancestors had been punished severely for their sins, without realising that it was because of their own sins that they had suffered, and not because God was angry at them or sought for their destruction.

The truth is that God truly loves each and every one of us, His beloved people. He created us mankind as the crowning jewel of His creation, and God will do everything in order to bring us back and to be reconciled with us. It is we who are often negligent, rebellious and ignorant, and refuse to accept God’s generous love and His compassionate mercy. And this is why we have often erred and wandered off away from the path of God’s grace and salvation.

As the people of God forgot the love with which God has cared for them, and the Law by which He intended to teach them to love Him and to reorganise and redirect their lives to be more loving and faithful to Him, they ended up focusing on all the wrong things, on the unnecessary details on how the rules and regulations of the Law were to be enforced and followed, more than realising how the Law is just a means by which we mankind can better help and discipline ourselves to find the way to the Lord.

That is why today, as we listen to these readings from the Scriptures, we are constantly reminded that we need to appreciate just how much we are beloved, and how God loves everyone equally, without any more label like Jews or Gentiles, but all as God’s people all the same. As Christians, we need to live and bear witness to this love, loving one another equally and generously as much as we can, welcoming others as fellow brothers and sisters.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we willing to listen to God and obey His will from now on? God has called us all to be faithful to Him and to follow Him with all of our hearts, with all of our might. Let us all heed His call, and do our very best, in every opportunities, to walk faithfully in the presence of God, and be ever more faithful to Him, with each and every passing moments. Let us all be the genuine examples and bearers of God’s love in our communities today, be the light of God’s truth in this darkened world.

May God be with us always, and may He bless us all in our every good endeavours, guide us in our journey and lead us to Himself, that we may glorify Him at all times by our lives, our faithful dedication and exemplary lives. Amen.

Saturday, 10 October 2020 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

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

Luke 11 : 27-28

At that time, as Jesus was speaking, a woman spoke from the crowd and said to Him, “Blessed is the one who gave You birth and nursed You!”

Jesus replied, “Truly blessed are those who hear the word of God, and keep it as well.”

Saturday, 10 October 2020 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

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

Psalm 104 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7

Sing to the Lord, sing His praise, proclaim all His wondrous deeds. Glory in His holy Name; let those who seek the Lord rejoice.

Look to the Lord and be strong; seek His face always. Remember His wonderful works, His miracles and His judgments.

You descendants of His servant Abraham, you sons of Jacob, His chosen ones! He is the Lord our God; His judgments reach the whole world.

Saturday, 10 October 2020 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

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

Galatians 3 : 22-29

But the Scriptures have declared, that we are all prisoners of sin. So, the only way to receive God’s promise is to believe in Jesus Christ. Before the time of faith had come, the Law confined us, and kept us in custody, until the time in which faith would show up. The Law, then, was serving as a slave, to look after us until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith.

With the coming of faith, we are no longer submitted to this guidance. Now, in Christ Jesus, all of you are sons and daughters of God, through faith. All of you, who were given to Christ through Baptism, have put on Christ. Here, there is no longer any difference between Jew or Greek, or between slave or freed, or between man and woman : but all of you are one, in Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Christ, you are of Abraham’s race and you are to inherit God’s promise.

Friday, 9 October 2020 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Denis, Bishop and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs, and St. John Leonardi, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today through the Scripture readings all of us are called to embrace God’s love and His path, and to believe in Him wholeheartedly, just as we heard how in the early Church and throughout the Lord’s ministry, there were all those who refused to believe in the Lord and preferred to keep to their old beliefs and their previous ways of the Law, and these disagreements had even led them to accuse the Lord Himself wrongly of a heinous sin and evil.

In our first reading today, we heard of St. Paul continuing with his address to the Church and the faithful in Galatia in Asia Minor, where for the past few days of our Scripture passages, we have heard how St. Paul chastised the faithful for their lack of faith and for believing in the misguided teachings of those who placed the Law above that of faith, and those who sought to divide the Church and lead the faithful astray. This is likely because in Galatia, as were in other cities and places where the first Christian communities appeared, many of the believers were from the Jewish diaspora, the Jewish people scattered throughout the world as they had been for centuries.

And among the Jews, some of whom became converts to the Christian faith, there were those who belonged to the Pharisees and believed in their tenets and way of living the faith. The Pharisees were very rigorous in their enforcement of the many rules and regulations, tenets and all which numbered no less than six hundred and thirteen, if not more, in how the Jewish people ought to live their faith. And the issue lies in the fanaticism in which these people carried on their beliefs, and their attitude in enforcing this belief on others made it problematic for the Christian faithful.

Those same people also held strongly the view that the Jewish people were God’s sole chosen people and that they were far superior to the other peoples and races, and that they alone were worthy of God’s grace and blessings, His salvation and glory. They looked down on the Gentiles or the non-Jewish people, mainly the Greeks, Romans and other local populace that did not follow the laws of Moses preserved by the Jews and especially by the Pharisees.

And they also demanded that the Gentiles who converted to the faith ought to adopt the Jewish laws and customs in their entirety, and that they ought to be circumcised and follow all the cultural traditions of the Jews, which essentially would have forced them to abandon their own customs and culture. And all these became significant source of friction between the members of the Christian community, that St. Paul wanted to resolve.

In our Gospel today, we heard the Pharisee accusing the Lord Himself of colluding with the devil, with the prince of demons Beelzebul when He miraculously drove out evil spirits from a person. Many of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were so adamant in their opposition against the Lord that they were unable to look beyond their narrow-mindedness and stubbornness in insisting that their way was the true way and others like the Lord were wrong and even blasphemous.

The Lord then immediately pointed out the flaw in their argument and said that it did not make sense for the demons and the evil spirits to be divided among themselves and fighting against each other. For if that was the case, then the dominion of Satan and all of his forces would have been torn apart, and the truth was that, the evil one and all of his allies, all those wicked spirits desiring our downfall, are always ever united in their desire and aim to bring about our destruction.

The Lord knew this full well, and just as St. Paul did in his response to the happenings in Galatia, both of them were saddened by what they saw as the divisions sowed by the devil in the community of the faithful. And thus, the Lord used the example of how the devil’s dominion would have collapsed and fallen apart if all of its members were divided against each other to point out that this will happen to us unless we seek to overcome the divisions among us and seek true unity in Christ.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s Scripture readings serve as a powerful reminder for us not to be easily misled by the devil and all of his forces, as they attempted to sow divisions and dissensions among us. We have to keep in mind what St. Paul said, that God has called on all, Jews and non-Jewish people alike, to follow Him, and that there should not be any distinction between them, for everyone is equal before God and is equally beloved.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, our challenge lies in how we should strive for unity in our Christian community, and hold firmly to the faith which we have received from the Church. We must not allow the forces of evil from successfully dividing us and destroying the unity within our Church. And we should be inspired by our holy predecessors, whose feast we are celebrating today. St. Denis and his companions in martyrdom, as well as St. John Leonardi are good examples for us in how we should be faithful to God.

St. Denis was the Bishop of Paris at the time of the late Roman Empire, during the reign of the Roman Emperor Decius, who was infamous for his particularly brutal persecution of Christians, in which even the Pope at the time, Pope St. Fabian, was martyred together with many other Christian faithful. St. Denis himself presided over the Christian population that was targeted by intense persecution, and despite the difficulties, laboured hard to preach the Good News which successfully converted many among the pagans, and which brought opposition against their efforts.

Eventually, St. Denis, the bishop of Paris and two other clergy were arrested and then sentenced to death by the governor. They were executed by beheading, but miraculously, after his head had been cut off, St. Denis was still alive, picking up his severed head and preaching a sermon as he walked down for miles from the place of his martyrdom, and eventually stopped at a place where he died, in which now stood the great St. Denis’ Basilica built and named in his honour.

Meanwhile, St. John Leonardi was a renowned and holy priest, who was the founder of the Order of the Clerks Regular of the Mother of God of Lucca, remembered for his devotion to God and also to Mary, the Blessed Mother of God. Through St. John Leonardi, many people came to be converted, after having been touched and inspired by his tireless efforts in reaching out particularly to sinners. He made popular the Forty Hours Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and was instrumental in the Counter-Reformation effort in deepening the faith and spirituality of many among the faithful.

St. John Leonardi faced difficulties and oppositions in his efforts and works as well, from those who were wary of his works and were skeptical of him, much like how the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law often ridiculed, opposed and went against the Lord and His works. Nonetheless, St. John Leonardi remained firm in his conviction and desire to help others and to lead more and more souls to the salvation in God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all be inspired by their examples, and after discerning the message of our Scripture passages today, let us strive to be more faithful as Christians, in genuinely loving God and devoting our time, effort and attention, in all things to glorify God by our lives. May the Lord, our loving God, bless us all and guide us in our journey, and help us all to remain united in faith, and not be divided and scattered by the falsehoods and dissent planted in our community by the evil one. May God be with us all, His Church, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 9 October 2020 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Denis, Bishop and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs, and St. John Leonardi, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)

Luke 11 : 15-26

At that time, some of the people said, “Jesus drives out demons by the power of Beelzebul, the chief of the demons.” Others wanted to put Him to the test, by asking Him for a heavenly sign.

But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them, “Every nation divided by civil war is on the road to ruin, and will fall. If Satan also is divided, his empire is coming to an end. How can you say that I drive out demons by calling upon Beelzebul? If I drive them out by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons drive out demons? They will be your judges, then.”

“But if I drive out demons by the finger of God; would not this mean that the kingdom of God has come upon you? As long as a man, strong and well armed, guards his house, his goods are safe. But when a stronger man attacks and overcomes him, the challenger takes away all the weapons he relied on, and disposes of his spoils.”

“Whoever is not with Me is against Me, and whoever does not gather with Me, scatters. When the evil spirit goes out of a person, it wanders through dry lands, looking for a resting place; and finding none, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ When it comes, it finds the house swept and everything in order. Then it goes to fetch seven other spirits, even worse than itself. They move in and settle there, so that the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

Friday, 9 October 2020 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Denis, Bishop and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs, and St. John Leonardi, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)

Psalm 110 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6

Alleluia! I thank YHVH with all my heart in the council of the just, in the assembly. The works of YHVH are great and pondered by all who delight in them.

Glorious and majestic are His deeds, His righteousness endures forever. He lets us remember His wondrous deeds; YHVH is merciful and kind.

Always mindful of His Covenant, He provides food for those who fear Him. He shows His people the power of His arm by giving them the lands of other nations.

Friday, 9 October 2020 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Denis, Bishop and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs, and St. John Leonardi, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)

Galatians 3 : 7-14

Understand, then, that those who follow the way of faith are sons and daughters of Abraham. The Scriptures foresaw that, by the way of faith, God would give true righteousness to the non-Jewish nations. For God’s promise to Abraham was this : In you shall all the nations be blessed. So, now, those who take the way of faith receive the same blessing as Abraham, who believed; but those who rely on the practice of the Law are under a curse, for it is written : Cursed is everyone who does not always fulfil everything written in the Law.

It is plainly written that no one becomes righteous in God’s way, by the Law : by faith the righteous shall live. Yet the Law gives no place to faith, for according to it : the one who fulfils the commandments shall have life through them. Now Christ rescued us from the curse of the Law, by becoming cursed Himself, for our sake, as it is written : there is a curse on everyone who is hanged on a tree.

So the blessing granted to Abraham, reached the pagan nations in, and, with Christ, and we received the promised Spirit, through faith.

Thursday, 8 October 2020 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture in which we are reminded of God’s love and His generosity for each and every one of us. The Lord has always loved us generously and He always extends this love and kindness at all times. However, it is often that we do not realise just how much God has loved us, and we do not appreciate just how blessed we are, how fortunate that we have God Who is always by our side.

In our first reading today, we heard St. Paul as he chastised the Christian faithful in Galatia for their recent actions, in embracing the false teachings and ideas promoted by those who did not follow the true teachings of the Church, or following the ideas of the factions of the Church who taught differently, likely from some of the Pharisees who became members of the Church, who wanted to impose their view and the application of the Law of Moses to the whole Church.

This is what St. Paul opposed, as those people followed and believed in the very rigorous and unnecessary emphasis on the details of the Law of Moses, which had steered many among the Pharisees and the Jews at the time from the true way of the Lord. And these laws and obligations had made it difficult for many people, especially from among the Gentiles or the non-Jewish people, who found it hard to keep the entirety of the harsh, and often unnecessary rituals and rules.

The emphasis on obedience of the Law and how one’s holiness is greater, the more they obey the Law, and the superiority of those who were pious over those who have not obeyed the Law in the same manner were things that the Lord Himself had criticised the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law for, and which St. Paul also echoed, calling on the people to follow the true faith and the teachings which he and the other Apostles had given to them.

Instead, the Lord has revealed through His disciples, that rather than a fearsome and angry God as He was often understood and portrayed by the people at the time, He was in fact full of compassion, love, mercy and patience. And He highlighted to us all how beloved we are and how precious we are to Him, that sometimes we just have to ask, and we shall receive what we need, and God will also guide us.

Therefore, through this reminder, we are called to keep in mind that God is One Whom we can always reach out to, communicate with, work with and depend on. However, more often than not, we forget about this, or are ignorant of this, and are too busy with our own preoccupations in life to notice God’s tender love and compassionate care.

We are often too busy with many concerns and our desires for many things in life, with all of our plans and all of our worries, that we try to settle all things by ourselves, by our own power and by our own plans, instead of seeking help from others, even from our own friends and colleagues, and thus, even less likely still, seek God and ask for His help, guidance and assistance.

And sometimes, we are afraid to ask God for help because we are afraid of His anger and thinking that He will punish us for doing so. But this is because we do not know just how vast is God’s love for us, and is likely also because we do not have a close and healthy relationship with Him. And this happens when our relationship with Him is merely superficial and without genuine affection and love.

How do we then cultivate this loving relationship with God, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is by spending quality time with God, through prayer and communicating with Him, spending time to listen to Him speaking in the depth of our hearts. But we often spent too much time being busy with our many preoccupations in life to notice this, and we barely spent even a little time with God amidst our busy lives.

That is why, as Christians, we are now called to renew our relationship with God, to love God and to put our trust in Him wholeheartedly from now on. Let us all realise just how blessed and fortunate we are to be loved such by God, and be the witnesses for His love and compassion in each and every moments of our lives. Let us show the world and all those whom we encounter in life, the face of God’s love by our actions and deeds.

May God bless us all and may He strengthen us all in His grace and love. May He guide us through our daily journey in life, and bless our every good works and endeavours, for His greater glory. Amen.

Thursday, 8 October 2020 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 11 : 5-13

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to his house in the middle of the night and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine who is travelling has just arrived, and I have nothing to offer him.’ Maybe your friend will answer from inside, ‘Do not bother me now; the door is locked, and my children and I are in bed, so I cannot get up and give you anything.'”

“But I tell you, even though he will not get up and attend to you because you are a friend, yet he will get up because you are a bother to him, and he will give you all you need. And so I say to you, ‘Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For the one who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to him who knocks the door will be opened.”

“If your child asks for a fish, will you give him a snake instead? And if your child asks for an egg, will you give him a scorpion? If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.”