Saturday, 3 August 2013 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s Scripture readings urge us to always be righteous and honest in all the things that we do, in all our dealings with others and in our relationship with the Lord our God and our neighbours, our fellow men. We are urged to always take the path of the righteous ones and avoid the path as taken by King Herod and those who try to cheat and be dishonest in all their actions.

For actions like that of King Herod shows not only dishonesty, but also giving up of oneself to the temptations of the world and the power of evil. King Herod followed his lust and desire to take the former wife of his own brother as his own. It is unlawful because it seems that the King had taken her as wife while his brother was yet still alive, and therefore committed adultery with her in the eyes of man and God.

He gave in to the temptations of the devil, the lust for human beauty and pleasures of the world, especially through his privileged position as a king at the time, surrounded by good things and other things enjoyed by the privileged class. The same was warned against the people of Israel by the Lord through Moses, that they do not let themselves be swayed by their positions and privileges so as to cheat on others on their money, their possessions or other related things.

Money, wealth, and possessions are not necessarily bad, and neither does other things that can give us happiness and pleasurable feelings. However, it is important that we do not misuse them for our own selfish purposes and intents, that we end up being controlled by these things. We have to learn to control ourselves, our desires, and our emotions. Learn to control our possessions, and do not let them control us instead.

We must always focus our attention on the Lord, and put our full trust in Him. He is the One who can give us everything that we need in our respective lives. The Lord our God is the source of our true happiness and our true joy. It is not in the world that we can find our true happiness and pleasure, not in sexual relations, human beauty, wealth, or abundance of possessions, but in the love of God, supported by our love of one another. If we do this, we obey the Lord’s commands, that is to love Him and love one another with all our heart, our mind, our soul, and our strength.

If we do not love God with all our hearts and our strength, we will be more prone to the deceptions of the evil one, and eventually lead to scenarios such as the one in the Gospel, where King Herod was literally forced to behead St. John the Baptist and therefore made a great sin in the eyes of God, just because of his complete fascination in his own wife’s daughter’s beauty. Then, the same also can happen as in the scenario highlighted in the First Reading, where temptations can indeed be great for anyone to deal dishonestly with one another, and cheat on one another, particularly in monetary matters.

If we love money and possessions more than our brethren and our Lord, then we will grow to desire to possess them more and more in amount. This will lead to even greater desire, an unending cycle of desire, that will end up with us committing greater and greater sins in the eyes of the Lord. One good example would be gambling, in which many stories tell the same case, that an insatiable desire for more wealth and possessions resulting in major loss of money, and therefore, immense financial problems, which later on, tend to push people to do sinful things such as stealing, crime, or even corruption.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we must stand up for the Lord, and stand up for His love, and we must dare to stand up against the temptations of wealth, material, and worldly pleasures. We have to realise and come to a full understanding, that worldly possessions are not everything for us. What we truly need is the Lord and His love, and the love of our fellow brothers and sisters, and not the love of money or the love of the world. This is what truly can fulfill our needs, especially our need for love. Money and possessions can satisfy us, but it can never satisfy us forever. We have to use it as a tool to bring love to others instead of being controlled by it.

Let us commit ourselves to our Lord and God who loves us so much that He gave us Jesus as the perfect gift, the divine love of God, given to us freely, that we may have a new hope and a new life in us, in perfect reunion with our God and Creator. He is the true love and true happiness that we should all seek in life, and put our focus on. Let us never forget His Passion and His suffering, and ultimately His death on the cross at Calvary. Let us always look at our crucified Lord with pride in our hearts. May God bless all of us, and remain with us at all times. Amen.

Saturday, 3 August 2013 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Matthew 14 : 1-12

At that time the news about Jesus reached King Herod. And he said to his servants, “This man is John the Baptist. John has risen from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in John.”

Herod had, in fact, ordered that John be arrested, bound in chains and put in prison, because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. For John had said to Herod, “It is not right for you to have her as your wife.” Herod wanted to kill him but he did not dare, because he feared the people, who regarded John as a prophet.

On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced among the guests; she so delighted Herod that he promised under oath to give her anything she asked for. The girl, following the advice of her mother, said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a dish.”

The king was very displeased, but because he had made this promise under oath in the presence of his guests, he ordered it to be given to her. So he had John beheaded in prison, and his head brought on a dish and given to the girl. The girl then took it to her mother.

Then John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went away to bring the news to Jesus.

Saturday, 3 August 2013 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Psalm 66 : 2-3, 5, 7-8

May God be gracious and bless us; may He let His face shine upon us, that Your way be known on earth and Your salvation among the nations.

May the countries be glad and sing for joy, for You rule the peoples with justice and guide the nations of the world.

The land has given its harvest; God, our God, has blessed us. May God bless us and be revered, to the very ends of the earth.

Saturday, 3 August 2013 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Leviticus 25 : 1, 8-17

YHVH spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai : “When seven sabbaths of years have passed, that is, seven times seven years, there shall be the time of the seven weeks of years, that is forty-nine years. Then on the tenth day of the seventh month sound the trumpet loudly. On this Day of Atonement sound the trumpet all through the land.”

“Keep holy the fiftieth year and proclaim freedom for all the inhabitants of the land. It shall be a jubilation year for you when each one shall recover his property and go back to his family. In this fiftieth year, your year of Jubilee, you shall neither sow nor reap the aftergrowth, nor gather the grapes from the uncultivated vines. This Jubilee year shall be holy for you, and you shall eat what the field yields of itself without cultivation.”

“In this year of Jubilee each of you shall recover his own property. When you sell something to your neighbour or buy something from him; do not wrong one another. According to the number of years after the Jubilee, you shall buy it from your neighbour and according to the number of years left for harvesting crops he shall sell to you.”

“When the years are many the price shall be greater and when the years are few the price shall be less, for it is the number of crops that he is selling to you. So you shall not wrong one another but you shall fear your God, for I am YHVH, your God.”