Saturday, 27 October 2018 : 29th 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 from the Scriptures we heard about the gifts that God has given to us all Christians, the gift that He has blessed us with, and which all of us have, in our own distinct gifts and talents, some of which we may have discovered and nurtured, and there are still probably more that we have not yet realised yet. These gifts are God’s gifts for us, which is meant for one purpose, that is for us to bring glory to God.

And how do we do so? How do we bring glory to God? It is by doing what the Lord wants us to do, that is by obedience to His will. Those gifts that God has given us, are meant for us to be used for the greater glory of God through our own actions, as we are ultimately, God’s creations. And when God’s creations are glorified, God too, is glorified. And when we use these gifts for the benefit of one another, fellow brethren in Christ, then we also bring glory to God.

However, unfortunately, many of us have not been able to make use of these gifts for the right purposes and for the right intentions, as we have been influenced and corrupted by sin. All of us are sinners, and that is the reality that affects every single one of us, without exception. Our disobedience against God has caused us to sin, and because of that, we have also allowed our gifts to be ignored, misused or abandoned.

We have made use of our gifts, our abilities, our power and talents for the wrong purpose in many occasions, causing suffering, pain and injustice for others, for our fellow brothers and sisters, all for the sake of satisfying our own personal ambitions, glory and human achievements. That is why, through sin, we are making use of what God has given us, in the wrong manner and in the wrong occasion and for the wrong purpose.

In the Gospel today, we heard of the Lord Jesus Who spoke to the people about what happened at that time, when conflict arose between the Romans and the Galileans, as the latter were killed in the Temple of God, and their blood spilt in that holy place. And it was also mentioned about the accident that happened in the fall of the tower of Siloah. The Lord mentioned how those people who died in such a tragic manner, they did not die because of their greater guilt as compared to those others who did not meet their end in such a way.

Rather, death is a natural end point and consequence for our earthly lives and existences. And death exists because of our disobedience against God and refusal to do His will, which led us to sin. Death is the sting of sin against us, and death is the ending of life as we know it, as it is the gift of life which God has given us, and unless we make good use of this precious gift of life, then the Lord had already forewarned us, that our lot will be that of eternal death, that is hell.

God gives us many gifts and blessings, which we are expected to use in our lives, for the benefit of our fellow brothers and sisters. And this is mentioned in the Gospel passage today by the Lord’s use of the parable of the fig tree and its fruits. The fig tree is in fact a representation of each and every one of us, mankind, who have been given the ability to bear fruits, that is the fruits of the blossoming of the gifts that God has given each one of us.

But if that fig tree was barren and without fruit, then there is no reason for the tree to remain in existence or to be placed on the fertile ground, since that fig tree is essentially useless, not being capable of producing good fruits even though it has been given much in the way of nutrients, provisions and good care. The master of the garden wanted the fig tree to be uprooted and cast out, but the gardener asked for one last chance to be given to the fig tree.

If that fig tree bears fruit, then it will be spared. Otherwise, it will be uprooted and destroyed should it remain barren. This is a reminder for us that we should also bear fruit in our own respective lives, the good fruits of the Lord’s will, through our love for Him and for our fellow men, through our compassion and charity, through our wise ways and understanding of our faith. If our fruits are wicked and bad, because of our sins and continued disobedience against God, then we too shall perish.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, each and every one of us have been given the opportunities in our respective lives, by the Lord, Who wants us to grow well in faith and to bear good fruits of the Holy Spirit, and not the wicked fruits of sin and evil. That is why, all of us must realise this fact and take action, or otherwise, we will end up caught unawares and unprepared, when the Lord suddenly calls us back to His presence, at the time of His own determination.

Let us not waste any more time, brothers and sisters in Christ, or assume that we have plenty of time. At any time, we may be called by God to give an account of our own lives, and should we fail to be true and worthy to Him, then we will suffer nothing less than an eternity of suffering in hell, prepared for those who have not produced the good fruits of love, compassion, hope, justice and integrity, but the wicked fruits of pride, sloth, greed, hatred, jealousy and evil, such as Satan and his fellow fallen angels.

May the Lord be our Help and Guide, and may He continue to lead us to Himself, that each and every one of us may find our way to Him, and not be lost amidst the sway of temptations and allures of the devil and the challenges we face in this life in this world. May we come to bear good fruits of our faith, and be worthy of God’s grace and everlasting life in Him. Amen.

Saturday, 27 October 2018 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

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

Luke 13 : 1-9

At that time, one day, some people told Jesus what had occurred in the Temple : Pilate had had Galileans killed, and their blood mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. Jesus asked them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered this? No, I tell you. But unless you change your ways, you will all perish, as they did.”

“And those eighteen persons in Siloah, who were crushed when the tower fell, do you think they were more guilty than all the others in Jerusalem? I tell you : no. But unless you change your ways, you will perish as they did.” And Jesus continued, “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it, but found none. Then he said to the gardener, ‘Look here, for three years now I have been looking for figs on this tree, and I have found none. Cut it down, why should it continue to deplete the soil?’”

“The gardener replied, ‘Leave it one more year, so that I may dig around it and add some fertiliser; perhaps it will bear fruit from now on. But if it does not, you can cut it down.’”

Saturday, 27 October 2018 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

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

Psalm 121 : 1-2, 3-4a, 4b-5

I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” And now we have set foot within your gates, o Jerusalem!

Jerusalem, just like a city, where everything falls into place! There the tribes go up.

The tribes of the Lord, the assembly of Israel, to give thanks to the Lord’s Name. There stand the courts of justice, the offices of the house of David.

Saturday, 27 October 2018 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

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

Ephesians 4 : 7-16

But to each of us, divine grace is given, according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore, it is said : When He ascended to the heights, He brought captives and gave His gifts to people. He ascended, what does it mean, but, that He had also descended to the lower parts of the world? He, Himself, Who went down, then ascended far above all the heavens, to fill all things.

As for His gifts, to some, He gave to be Apostles; to others, prophets, or even evangelists; or pastors and teachers. So, He prepared those who belong to Him, for the ministry, in order to build up the Body of Christ, until we are all united, in the same faith and knowledge of the Son of God. Thus, we shall become the perfect Man, upon reaching maturity, and sharing the fullness of Christ.

Then, no longer shall we be like children, tossed about by any wave, or wind or doctrine; and deceived by the cunning of people, who drag them along into error. Rather, speaking the truth, in love, we shall grow in every way, toward Him, Who is the Head, Christ. From Him, comes the growth of the whole body, to which a network of joints give order and cohesion, taking into account, and making use of, the function of each one. So, the body builds itself, in love.

Friday, 26 October 2018 : 29th 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 telling us first of all from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in the city of Ephesus, of what is expected from all of us as Christians, in how we live our lives and in our communities. The Christians of that time were urged by St. Paul to look beyond their differences, and work together to find unity in action and in spirit.

In today’s Gospel we heard of the Lord Jesus speaking to us about the superficiality and hypocrisy of the people of God, who knew of the signs of nature and the times, and yet, they did not or fail to know the signs of God. This has to be understood in the context of the history and the dynamics of the community at that time, in which people were often divided, as the people of Ephesus were, along the lines of race, religious and cultural divide, and the differences in outlook and background.

Therefore, at that time, the society was actually very divided against each other and even often, within one’s own racial, religious and cultural groups, where there were also often disagreements, disunity and conflict. All of these were ultimately caused by our own human desires and selfishness, the allures of power, of glory, and of worldly satisfactions and pursuits of vanity, which clashed along each other’s, and therefore, resulting in the disagreements and disunity.

This comment by both St. Paul and the Lord Jesus came at a time when the people often acted very selfishly towards each other, be judgmental on each other, and without hesitation, attacking and striking at their fellow men without any consideration, and less so love or understanding of each other’s actions. This is what, to St. Paul, and to the Lord Jesus, actions that were based on worldly expectations and standards, and which are contrary to our Christian way of life.

This is why through what the Lord Jesus and St. Paul shared with us in today’s Scripture passages, on the need for all of us to embrace true Christian way of life and enact this in our own living. In how we live our lives, in how we act and interact with each other, and in all of our work in the community, we must embody and show true spirit of Christianity, and this means that we need to be filled with love, compassion, concern and care for our fellow men.

We should not act on one another with prejudice, or with hatred or jealousy, or with the intention to hurt or harm the other person. As Christians, we must act with love, to show concern on those who are troubled and injured, sick or in pain, and to learn to forgive, despite the faults that we have done upon the other. It is in the world’s way and in our human nature for us to hate, and to keep grudges against those who have hurt us. But as Christians, we are challenged to overcome this.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it is important that we reflect on this, and think of ways that we can do, so that gradually, we may come to attune ourselves more closely to the way of the Lord. Let us all turn ourselves, our heart, our mind, our body and our whole being, towards the Lord, and seek to devote ourselves, day after day, for the greater glory of God, from now on. May God bless us in this endeavour, and May He continue to be with us and be our Guide. Amen.

Friday, 26 October 2018 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 12 : 54-59

At that time, Jesus said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming’; and so it happens. And when the wind blows from the south, you say, ‘It will be hot’; and so it is. You superficial people! You understand the signs of the earth and the sky, but you do not understand the present times.”

“And why do you not judge for yourselves what is fit? When you go with your accuser before the court, try to settle the case on the way, lest he drag you before the judge, and the judge deliver you to the jailer, and the jail throw you into prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the very last penny.”

Friday, 26 October 2018 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 23 : 1-2, 3-4ab, 5-6

The earth and its fullness belong to YHVH, the world and all that dwell in it. He has founded it upon the ocean and set it firmly upon the waters.

Who will ascend the mountain of YHVH? Who will stand in His holy place? Those with clean hands and pure heart, who desire not what is vain.

They will receive blessings from YHVH, a reward from God, their Saviour. Such are the people who seek Him, who seek the face of Jacob’s God.