Sunday, 28 July 2013 : 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, God who is our Father is kind, and He is loving, because He is love, and true love personified, in all its perfection. The Lord cannot deny Himself, and He loves everyone without exception. This love He had poured down upon the world through the sending of His Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Messiah, our Saviour. And to add to that, the numerous reminders He had sent us and His people, Israel, through the prophets and their prophecies and the visions and revelations He had given them.

He loves us all and He will surely listen to our needs, and He truly knows all that we need. That is why we should never worry, and instead we all should put our full trust in Him, for He is a loving God, who is just and righteous in all the things He does. But remember, brothers and sisters, that He is also an avenging God, just as He is loving, because He hates sin first of all things, and all things evil and abhorring in His eyes. If we sin and do not repent, we will face the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, which were wiped out from the face of the earth for their sins.

But our Father in heaven does not just want empty worship and prayers either, as many of us would certainly had done in the past, paying lip service to the Lord who loves us. He wants from us our hearts, our full attention and dedication, just as He Himself had paid full attention to all of us sinners, all these while. We are like lost sheep to Him, whom He cannot ignore, and He would use all in His power to bring us back, like a shepherd going all out to find even one lost sheep.

So that we would not be lost, like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, who were lost in their debauchery and their sinful lives, where sin had blinded and deafened them to the Lord their God, He had sent us His only Son, Jesus Christ, to be a new light, a new hope for all of us. And one of the things that He had done to make sure that we will not be lost forever was that to teach us how to pray, how to pray to the Lord our God with all our hearts, our minds, and our full attention, that our prayer is indeed truly a prayer, pure and beautiful in the eyes and ears of the Lord.

To pray is to communicate with our Lord, and that is the key essence of what a prayer truly is. To pray is not to bring in endless litanies of requests and wishes, or bugging our Lord for His help whenever we are in dire straits. To pray is not to turn to the Lord only when we are in difficulties and in need of great help, or in the state of danger. Indeed, as the Lord has told us, and Christ His Son has taught us through His disciples, that prayer must be done, at all times, with a sincere and pure heart.

That was why Christ taught His disciples the Lord’s Prayer, the very prayer that came out of the mouth of the Word of God, Christ Himself. This prayer is a perfect prayer, the most sincere and purest of all prayers that are ever be in this world, be it on earth or in heaven. The Lord’s Prayer, which we recite and pray every Mass and most likely pray every day, is the model prayer for all of us. It is a simple yet a clear-cut prayer, straight to the point in its meaning, and pure in its intentions.

Yes, a prayer must always begin with glorifying the Lord our God and praising His Name, and all His love and kindness that He had shown us, all His beloved children. A prayer must never be a litany of requests and petitions, but indeed, it must be a humble prayer, showing our sincerity and humility before the throne of God, for we are nothing and full of sin, and yet He rescued us and made us whole and pure once again, with none other than the Blood of His own Son’s sacrifice on the cross.

In a prayer, we have to listen to God just as God listens to us. A prayer is a two-way communication between God and man, the link between our Creator and us His creations. He speaks to us in mysterious ways and in the depth and the silence of our hearts. If we keep our hearts closed to Him, we will not be able to listen to Him. It is often that we have to cast away our pride and sinfulness, and the deafening noise of the world, so that we will be able to listen to our Lord, and communicate sincerely with Him through prayer.

That is why brothers and sisters, whenever we pray, we should close ourselves from the world, and take away any form of distractions which may distract us and disturb our precious link with the Lord our God. Do it in silence and in the privacy of our rooms, and it is also important that we make use of every opportunity we have to be silent, even at a workplace, to listen to the Lord speaking to us. Even that is prayer, brothers and sisters in Christ!

That is also why in the Mass, it is important to have silent moments, after the readings, during the time after we receive the Lord in the Holy Communion, and even at times before the Mass starts or after the Mass has finished. These are precious moments we can use to communicate with our God, especially if we are busy with our work in any other times. It is important, brothers and sisters, that we respond to the Lord’s calls and know what He wants us to do with our lives. Be like the prophet Samuel, who in his youth was called by the Lord and he answered to it, and listened to the word of God.

As I had mentioned, God is merciful and loving just as He is just and a punishing God. If we ask and knock at His door, He will surely listen to us and consider our repentance. You see, brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord does not take pleasure in seeing the punishment and suffering of His children, and He certainly does not enjoy punishing us for our sins. Indeed, it caused Him great pain to punish mankind for their sins and their rebellions, and it is especially hard for the Lord to punish His own chosen people of Israel, when they erred and preferred the pagan gods and idols, and their constant rebellions during the journey from Egypt and after they had had the Promised Land as their own.

That is why, in our prayer, what is important is for us to recognise our own weaknesses, our own sinfulness, and our own unworthiness, that we lay them all bare before the Lord our God, that the Lord who sees all, will see our sincerity and the sincerity of our repentance, our contrite hearts, the true offering from us that He desires. Open the doors of our heart to Him, just as He opened His doors for us to enter. That we may be in Him just as He is in us.

Do not fear God and His punishment, but be courageous and approach the throne of God, the throne of mercy. For the Lord is the Divine Mercy who will embrace sinners and those who sincerely acknowledge their faults and seek to be healed. For Christ had come to save sinners and those who are sick from sin, and bring them back to health once again, that is a life of grace in God. However, He cannot do much help to us, if we ourselves did not open the doors of our heart for Him to come in.

He knocks at our doors too, brothers and sisters in Christ, just as we knock at His doors in heaven, to give Him our prayers and petitions. In the same way, the Lord too longs to speak to us all in our hearts. That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, harden not our hearts the way the Pharaoh and the people of Israel had once hardened their hearts, but open it, for the Lord who wants to come in and dwell within us. Listen to Him and do what He wants us to do, and our lives will be blessed.

May the Lord who saved us from death deliver us from evil and his corruptions, that we may not suffer the same fate as Sodom and Gomorrah, where not even ten righteous ones could be found. May He protect us from harm and bring us to the life eternal that He had promised us through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. May the Lord who speaks to us in silence helps us to gain greater understanding in the importance of prayer in our lives, so that we will always be attuned to Him, in line with His will, and always ever be in His grace. God bless us all. Amen!

Sunday, 28 July 2013 : 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Luke 11 : 1-13

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” And Jesus said to them, “When you pray, say this :

Father, may Your Name be held holy,

May Your kingdom come;

give us each day the kind of bread we need,

and forgive us our sins, for we also forgive all who do us wrong;

and do not bring us to the test.”

Jesus said to them, “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 brother 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.”

Sunday, 28 July 2013 : 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Colossians 2 : 12-14

I refer to baptism. On receiving it you were buried with Christ; and you also rose with Him for having believed in the power of God who raised Him from the dead.

You were dead. You were in sin and uncircumcised at the same time. But God gave you life with Christ. He forgave all our sins. He cancelled the record of our debts, those regulations which accused us. He did away with all that and nailed it to the cross.

Sunday, 28 July 2013 : 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Psalm 137 : 1-2a, 2bc-3, 6-7ab, 7c-8

I thank You, o Lord, with all my heart, for You have heard the word of my lips. I sing Your praise in the presence of the gods. I bow down towards Your Holy Temple and give thanks to Your Name.

For Your love and faithfulness, for Your word which exceeds everything. You answered me when I called; You restored my soul and made me strong.

From above, the Lord watches over the lowly; from afar, He marks down the haughty. If I walk in the midst of trouble, You give me life. With outstretched am, You save me from the wrath of my foes.

With Your right hand You deliver me. How the Lord cares for me! Your kindness, o Lord, endures forever. Forsake not the work of Your hands.

Sunday, 28 July 2013 : 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Genesis 18 : 20-32

Then YHVH said, “How great is the cry for justice against Sodom and Gomorrah! And how grievous is their sin! I am going down to see if they have done all that they are charged with in the outcry that has reached Me. If it is not so, I will know.”

The men with Him turned away and went towards Sodom, but YHVH remained standing before Abraham. Abraham went forward and said, “Will You really let the just perish with the wicked? Perhaps there are fifty good people in the town. Are You really going to let them perish? Would You not spare the place for the sake of these fifty righteous people?

It would not be at all like You to do such a thing and You cannot let the good perish with the wicked, nor treat the good and the wicked alike. Far be it from You! Will not the judge of all the earth be just?” YHVH said, “If I find fifty good people in Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

Abraham spoke up again, “I know that I am very bold to speak like this to my Lord, I who am only dust and ashes! But perhaps the number of the good is five less than fifty. Will You destroy the town because of the five?” YHVH replied, “I will not destroy the town if I find forty-five good people there.”

Again Abraham said to Him, “Perhaps there will be only forty.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.” Abraham went on, saying, “May my Lord not be angry, but let me speak. Maybe only thirty good people will be found in the town.” YHVH answered, “I will not destroy it if I find thirty there.”

Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to my Lord, what if only twenty can be found?” He said, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy the place.” But Abraham insisted, “May my Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found?” And YHVH answered, “For the sake of ten good people, I will not destroy Sodom.”

Official Hymn of the World Youth Day 2013 : Hope of the Morning (Esperança do Amanhecer)

WYD2013

As the World Youth Day 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is approaching in about ten days time, here is the official hymn of the World Youth Day 2013, titled “Hope of the Morning” in English and “Esperança do Amanhecer” in the original Portuguese language.

 

Portuguese Original Lyric :

Esperança do Amanhecer

Sou marcado desde sempre
com o sinal do Redentor,
que sobre o monte, o Corcovado,
abraça o mundo com Seu amor.

 

(Refrão)
Cristo nos convida:
“Venham, meus amigos!”
Cristo nos envia:
“Sejam missionários!”

Juventude, primavera:
esperança do amanhecer;
quem escuta este chamado
acolhe o dom de crer!
Quem nos dera fosse a terra,
fosse o mundo todo assim!
Não à guerra, fora o ódio,
Só o bem e paz a não ter fim.

 

(Refrão)
Cristo nos convida:
“Venham, meus amigos!”
Cristo nos envia:
“Sejam missionários!”

 

Do nascente ao poente,
nossa casa não tem porta,
nossa terra não tem cerca,
nem limites o nosso amor!
Espalhados pelo mundo,
conservamos o mesmo ardor.
É Tua graça que nos sustenta
nos mantém fiéis a Ti, Senhor!

 

(Refrão)
Cristo nos convida:
“Venham, meus amigos!”
Cristo nos envia:
“Sejam missionários!”

Atendendo ao Teu chamado:
“Vão e façam, entre as nações,
um povo novo, em unidade,
para mim seus corações!”
Anunciar Teu Evangelho
a toda gente é transformar
o velho homem em novo homem
em mundo novo que vai chegar.

 

English Lyric :

 

Hope of the Morning

Under the shadow marked forever

with the Sign of the Redeemer,

On the hilltop, Corcovado,

The whole world is filled with His Love.

 

Refrain :

Christ invites us :

“Come to Me, be My friends”

Christ, He sends us :

“Go! Be missionaries”

 

Can you see it, it is springtime

we have the hope of the dawn

Can you hear Him? He is calling

Receive His gift of faith!

Can you imagine, if every nation

Every tribe and tongue, this generation

saying no to war, no to hatred

Love, peace, and goodness reigns

 

Refrain :

Christ invites us :

“Come to Me, be My friends”

Christ, He sends us :

“Go! Be missionaries”

 

From the East to the West,

our house is open we have no doors,

Our land has no fences,

There are no limits to our love!

We are scattered throughout the world

But we all keep the same zeal

It is Your grace that sustains us

and keeps us faithful to You!

 

Refrain :

Christ invites us :

“Come to Me, be My friends”

Christ, He sends us :

“Go! Be missionaries”

 

We hear You, as You say

“Go make disciples, of all nations”

A new people in unity

Bring their hearts to Me!

Proclaiming Your Gospel

Lives are changed, we’re not the same

A new creation, the old has gone

We know a new world will come

 

Refrain :

Christ invites us :

“Come to Me, be My friends”

Christ, He sends us :

“Go! Be missionaries”