Monday, 3 August 2020 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded of the need for us to trust in the Lord, in His promises and in His providence. We must listen to God and hold onto Him, and be careful not to be easily swayed by the words of the false prophets and all those who may attempt to mislead us for their own benefits and selfish gains.

In our first reading today we heard from the story of how the prophet Jeremiah faced tough opposition from all those false prophets that were present during the end days of the kingdom of Judah, as those false prophets tried to mislead the king and the whole nation for their own benefits and gains. For example, when the prophet Jeremiah constantly warned all of them that the Lord’s judgment and day of reckoning would come upon them with the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah, the false prophets tried to speak otherwise.

The false prophet Hananiah spoke to the king before everyone that the Lord would help Judah to crush the Babylonians, and helped to reverse all the losses and humiliations that they had suffered under the latter. But this was not the truth or the words of God, rather, it was the words of opportunism and designed to please its listeners. Hananiah said something that everyone wanted to here, reassurance and hope, but unfortunately it was false reassurance and false hope.

What Hananiah had told the king and everyone was meant to earn him a good standing among the king and his council members, and history had often showed that, sometimes, such people were indeed possible to have been agents of the enemy, placed in the court of the king to sow confusion and to undermine them before the enemy themselves were to strike. Hananiah might not have been an agent of the enemy, but his actions and some among the courtiers and the people might have been hidden agents, supporting what Hananiah said to support their own agenda.

In the end, the kings of Judah rebelled against the Babylonians and wanted to free themselves from subjugation by the latter. They thought that they could free themselves from the bondage and servitude to the kings of Babylon by depending on politicking and support of the world, and their ego filled with the false words of the false prophets like Hananiah among many others. If only that they could see the futility of their efforts and how they would be humiliated and crushed for their lack of faith in God.

Through all of these, we are all reminded and shown that to trust in man and in the world is futile and pointless, as none of these can compare to the Lord, His providence and everything that He has done for our sake. In the Gospel we heard of the story of the Lord coming to His disciples in the middle of a great storm walking on the water, and the disciples were all very afraid that their boat would sink due to the waves and wind hitting and rocking their boat.

But the Lord told them all not to be afraid and to trust in Him. And as unbelievable as it might have been to them to see the Lord walking on the water, even to the point of thinking that they had seen a ghost, the Lord reassured them and said that it was indeed Him that they had seen. St. Peter asked the Lord that if that was truly Him, then he would be able to come to Him walking on the water. But along the way, St. Peter still doubted even as he miraculously walked on the water, proving that the Lord’s words were indeed true.

The Lord helped St. Peter when he doubted and almost sank into the water, rebuking him for his lack of trust and faith in Him that made him doubted. This is why all of us are reminded today of this need to put God first and foremost as our trusted hope and ally in whatever situation and challenges we encounter in life. We must not be like the king of Judah who easily trusted in the falsehoods of Hananiah, in the lies of the false prophets who tried to sell forth untruths and temporary respite and comfort, but one that lasts only for a short while before the reality comes and sets in.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, let us all from now on put more faith and trust in God, putting our trust in Him Who has provided for us and blessed us with His love. And God has proved to be ever faithful even in our darkest moments and hours. Let us all cling to Him and do not fall to the temptation of pleasure and listening to the lies of the devil, all the falsehoods that did not come from God. Instead, although the path forward may be filled with trials and challenges, let us all trust in the Lord, Who has always been faithful to the Covenant He has established with us, all the time.

Just as He lifted St. Peter up from the water and helped him to renew his faith in Him, let us all pray and ask the Lord for the strength and faith to be always ready to persevere in faith, that we may indeed be filled with trust and faith in God, now and always. May God bless us all and guide us through our journey in life. Amen.

Monday, 3 August 2020 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 14 : 22-36

At that time, immediately, Jesus obliged His disciples to get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowd away. And having sent the people away, He went up the mountain by Himself, to pray. At nightfall, He was there alone.

Meanwhile, the boat was very far from land, dangerously rocked by the waves, for the wind was against it. At daybreak, Jesus came to them, walking on the sea. When they saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, thinking that it was a ghost. And they cried out in fear. But at once, Jesus said to them, “Courage! Do not be afraid. It is Me!”

Peter answered, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” Jesus said to him, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water to go to Jesus. But seeing the strong wind, he was afraid, and began to sink; and he cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Jesus immediately stretched out His hand and took hold of him, saying, “Man of little faith, why did you doubt?” As they got into the boat, the wind dropped. Then those in the boat bowed down before Jesus, saying, “Truly, You are the Son of God!”

They came ashore at Gennesaret. The local people recognised Jesus and spread the news throughout the region. So they brought to Him all the sick people, begging Him to let them touch just the hem of His cloak. All who touched it became perfectly well.

Monday, 3 August 2020 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 118 : 29, 43, 79, 80, 95, 102

Keep me away from deceitful paths; be gracious and teach me Your Law.

Take not the word of truth from my mouth, for I would also lose my hope in Your word.

Let those who fear You, turn to me; they will understand Your statutes.

May my heart be blameless in Your decrees, that I may not be ashamed.

The wicked lie in wait to destroy me, but I look to Your word for salvation.

I have not departed from Your decrees, for You, Yourself, have instructed me.

Monday, 3 August 2020 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Jeremiah 28 : 1-17

Early in the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, in the fifth month of the fourth year, the prophet Hananiah spoke to me.

Hananiah son of Azzur from Gibeon proclaimed in YHVH’s house in the presence of the priests and the people, “This is what YHVH the God of Hosts and the God of Israel says : I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon. Within two years I will bring back to this place all the objects that king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took away from YHVH’s house and carried to Babylon.”

“I will likewise bring back Jeconiah son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and all who were taken from Judah and deported to Babylon. For I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon – word of YHVH.”

Then Jeremiah replied to Hananiah in the presence of the priests and all the people, “So be it! May YHVH fulfil the words you have spoken and bring back from Babylon to this place the objects taken from the house of YHVH and all the exiles. Yet hear now what I say in your hearing and the hearing of all the people.”

“The prophets who came before you and me continually prophesied war, disaster and plague to many nations and great kingdoms. So the prophet who prophesies peace will not be recognised as truly sent by YHVH, until his predictions are fulfilled.”

Then Hananiah took the yoke from the neck of Jeremiah and broke it. Hananiah proclaimed in the presence of all the people, “YHVH says this : In the same manner, within two years, will I break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar from the neck of all the nations.” Then Jeremiah the prophet went on his way.

Some time later, a word of YHVH came to Jeremiah, “Go and tell this to Hananiah : This is what YHVH says : You have broken a wooden yoke but in its place you will get a yoke of iron. For this is what YHVH the God of Hosts and the God of Israel says : I am placing a yoke of iron on the neck of all the nations to make them serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and they will serve him. I will even give him control over the wild animals.”

Then Jeremiah said to Hananiah, “Listen, Hananiah, you have not been sent by YHVH and yet you have deceived these people, giving them false hope with your lies. That is why YHVH says with regard to you : I am removing you from the face of the earth. You will die this very year because you have counselled rebellion against YHVH.”

And in the seventh month of that year Hananiah died.