Wednesday, 3 August 2022 : 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 called to put our trust in the Lord again, and to devote ourselves to Him, believing in His love, kindness and compassion because He is calling on all of us sinners to return to Him, and to embrace once again His love and providence. Not only that, but God also reaffirmed His love for each one of us today, that no matter who we are, what our backgrounds are, we are all equally dear and beloved by God, and each one of us are precious to Him. God does not want any of us to be lost to Him.

Hence, as we heard in our first reading passage today from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah, the Lord spoke to His people telling all of them how He would love them once again, leading them all back to His loving embrace and presence. The Lord showed them His patient and enduring love even after they had persistently disobeyed Him and refused to listen to Him. The Lord spoke to His people through Jeremiah at the time when they were down to their lowest, their kingdom, country and cities besieged and were about to be crushed by the overwhelming forces of the Babylonians.

The people of God had suffered as a consequence of their own foolhardy and persistent rebellion against God, in not listening to His prophets and messengers, and in them trusting their own power and other worldly means, in pagan idols and wickedness rather than to follow the Lord, their God. Hence, the prophet Jeremiah foretold to them the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah, how everything that they held dear would be wiped out, and that they had to wander off in shame and humiliation among the nations for a time, as they had to endure the consequences of their many sins.

Yet, the Lord also then reassured His people of His continued love, that despite of their infidelity and lack of faith, the Lord still loved them nonetheless, and desired for all of them to return to Him and to find their way back to Him. The Lord had not abandoned them in the way that they had constantly betrayed and abandoned Him earlier. He was indeed still angry about their sins and wickedness, as after all although He is full of love and mercy, but He is also a just and righteous God, Who despises sins and wickedness, and all forms of evils.

This is a reminder that all of us as God’s people ought to listen to Him and follow Him wholeheartedly, that our way of life should be filled with faith and dedication to Him. We should not let the many temptations present in this world from distracting and pulling us away from the path towards God. God has always been so loving, patient and kind in reaching out to us with love, and the least we can do is to open our hearts and minds to Him, and allow Him to enter into our lives, transforming and strengthening us.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord also reaffirmed His love for us all, and highlighted that He loves everyone, regardless of their backgrounds and origins. The woman who had a sick daughter was according to the Scriptures, a Gentile, a Syro-Phoenician woman who did not belong to the Jewish race and people. Yet, the Lord through His interactions with her showed to all of His disciples, to the people and hence to all of us that God’s love is universal, and those who have faith in Him will receive the fullness of His love and grace. Although initially He might have sounded very rude to the woman, even using words denigrating her likening her to a dog, that was actually the Lord’s way of highlighting the folly of the people’s own prejudices and attitudes back then.

That was because then the Jewish people were often prejudiced against the people who were living all around them, their neighbours like the Samaritans, the Phoenicians, and even the Greeks and the Romans. The Jews saw themselves as the chosen people and race of God, as those who have directly descended from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and from the people of Israel of old. But they forgot that God truly loved all of His people, all of mankind, and is calling on everyone, regardless of their descent, pedigree, race, background or anything else. All men and women are equal before God and are equally beloved by Him.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us should heed God’s calling, remember His ever generous and patient love for us. Let us all regret and repent from all of our sins, our wickedness and evils. Let us no longer disobey Him and devote ourselves to Him from now on. May the Lord be with us all and strengthen us with the courage and hope, with the faith and energy to live our lives ever more worthily of Him, filled with virtue and righteousness, at all times. Amen.

Wednesday, 3 August 2022 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 15 : 21-28

At that time, leaving that area, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from the area, came and cried out, “Lord, Son of David, have pity on me! My daughter is tormented by a demon.”

But Jesus did not answer her, not even a word. So His disciples approached Him and said, “Send her away! See how she is shouting after us.” Then Jesus said to her, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the nation of Israel.”

But the woman was already kneeling before Jesus, and said, “Sir, help me!” Jesus answered, “It is not right to take the bread from the children and throw it to puppies.”

The woman replied, “That is true, Sir, but even puppies eat the crumbs which fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said, “Woman, how great is your faith! Let it be as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

Wednesday, 3 August 2022 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Jeremiah 31 : 10, 11-12ab, 13

Hear the word of YHVH, o nations, proclaim it on distant coastlands : He Who scattered Israel will gather them and guard them as a shepherd guard his flock.

For YHVH has ransomed Jacob and redeemed him from the hand of his conqueror. They shall come shouting for joy, while ascending Zion; they will come streaming to YHVH’s blessings.

Maidens will make merry and dance, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness, I will give them comfort and joy for sorrow.

Wednesday, 3 August 2022 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Jeremiah 31 : 1-7

YHVH declares that when that time comes He will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be His people. Thus says YHVH : The people who survived the sword have found grace in the desert. As Israel was seeking for his rest YHVH appeared from afar saying, I have loved you with a love everlasting, so I have kept for you My mercy. I will restore you again, and you shall be rebuilt, o virgin Israel!”

“You will take up your tambourines and go out dancing joyfully. You will plant vineyards again on the hills of Samaria, and the farmers who plant them will enjoy their fruit. There shall be a day when watchmen will call out on the hills of Ephraim, “Come, let us go to Zion, to YHVH our God!”

For YHVH says this, “Shout with joy for Jacob; rejoice for the greatest of nations. Proclaim your praise and say : ‘YHVH has saved His people, the remnant of Israel!’”