Sunday, 3 July 2022 : Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday as we gather together to celebrate the Eucharist, all of us are reminded through the readings of the Scriptures of the calling of the Lord, Who has told us of His love, grace and kindness, and also called on us to be the witnesses of this same love and compassion to our world today. Through the Scripture passages we have heard today, we are all reminded that as members of the Church of God, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, we are all sharing in the same mission that God has entrusted to us His Church. And that mission is for us to proclaim His truth and love to all the people of all the nations, so that more and more may come to believe in God and be saved.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Isaiah in which God spoke to His people through Isaiah, the prophet who delivered unto them the hopeful words of the coming of God’s salvation, the coming of the Saviour or the Messiah of God, which would later on come true in the coming of Christ into this world. The words of God’s salvation and truth have been revealed to His people, telling them that despite all the trials and challenges they have faced and were going to face, the Lord would one day show His saving help and bring them deliverance much in the same manner as how He had once freed their ancestors from the land of Egypt.

Back then, during the time of the ministry of the prophet Isaiah, the nation of Israel had been long divided into two parts, the northern kingdom, called Israel, centred in Samaria and the southern kingdom, called Judah, centred in Jerusalem, the City of God. And by that time, the northern kingdom had been crushed and utterly destroyed by the Assyrians, who destroyed Samaria and carried off most of its populations to far-off exile in Assyria, Babylon and beyond. And thus, the people of God was scattered all over the world, exiled from and losing their homeland, the land that God had given to their ancestors.

All these were due to the disobedience and infidelity of the people who often hardened their hearts and minds against God. God sent them many prophets and messengers, to remind them, guide them and help them to find their way back so that they might be reconciled with Him. Yet, many of these prophets, messengers and servants of God were persecuted, rejected and killed, all because they told the people of the sins and wickedness that they had committed before God and men alike. The Lord has shown His kindness and mercy, His ever generous love and compassion, and that was met by many of the people with apathy and indifference, or even hostility and stubbornness.

Yet, God never ceased to love His people, and still continued to reach out to them. He called on all of them to return to Him, to repent from their sinful ways and to embrace once again His ways. The Lord called on all to be His disciples and followers, which He had done through His Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, through Whom the prophecies of Isaiah and the many other prophets came true. Through Christ, His Son, God revealed to us how He calls on all of us, not just the Jewish people, who were the direct descendants of the people of Israel and Judah, but also the whole entire world, the entire race of mankind, to be His people.

That was what St. Paul made clear in our second reading today, in the Epistle that he wrote to the Church and the faithful in the region of Galatia in Asia Minor. At that time, during the early Church, one of the common problems facing the Church is the divide and the disagreements existing between the Jewish converts to the Christian faith and those Gentiles who became believers, and each group frequently differed in their understanding of what the Church and the Christian faith is all about. Hence, that led to much controversies and even bitter divisions that hurt the unity of the Church, the Body of Christ, and endangering the fate of many souls.

Hence, St. Paul yet again reminded the people that each and every one of them are members of the same Church, having been called and chosen, and having decided to put their faith in the Lord and in His salvation. They should no longer be divided or be hostile against each other, or be exclusive and stubborn in their attitudes, in thinking that each one of them or their groups were better than the others, or that their way should prevail over that of other different ways and paths of believing in God. St. Paul reminded all the Christian faithful, and hence all of us today, that we are truly one people, one flock in one Church, worshipping the same one only True God.

This truth is what the Lord wanted to propagate to the whole world, as He sent out His disciples as we heard in our Gospel passage today, two by two as they went on their missions, to preach the Good News and to prepare the way for the Lord. In that Gospel passage today, we are reminded yet once again of the primary mission of the Church, which is evangelisation. The Church, composed of all of the faithful people of God, the priesthood and the laity, all alike, all have been entrusted with the same mission, and that is to proclaim the Good News of God, His salvation and to bring all peoples of all the nations to God, that they may all come to believe in God.

However, this cannot happen unless each and every one of us first live our lives well in accordance to the way which the Lord Himself had revealed to us. If we ourselves did not live our lives in the way that the Lord had taught us to do, then how can we proclaim His truth and ways to others? In fact, as it had happened many times throughout the history of the Church, the actions of those who were hypocrites and those who claimed outwardly to be Christians and yet were most un-Christian-like in their actions, words, deeds and way of life, had driven more and more people away from the Lord. That happens even right up to this very day.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through the Scripture readings that we have received and discussed earlier on, we are all called to remember that our lives ought to be reflection of our Lord’s truth and love, and we are all called to build an authentic community of believers, in which each and every one of us from every segments of the Church, in our various communities and groups, all of us are filled with the love of God, and with the desire to spread the Good News and the love of God to all people. And to that extent, all of us have to embody our beliefs in our every words, actions and deeds, to the best of our abilities, so that all who see us and witness our actions and works may believe in God as well through us.

Let us all hence seek the Lord wholeheartedly from now on, doing our best in whatever capacity we have now, and in all the opportunities that God had provided us. May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to guide us all and bless us in our every good efforts and endeavours, and may all of us be ever more worthy to walk in His Presence and to be with Him, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 3 July 2022 : Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 10 : 1-12, 17-20

At that time, the Lord appointed seventy-two other disciples, and sent them, two by two, ahead of Him, to every town and place, where He Himself was to go. And He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. So you must ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers to His harvest.”

“Courage! I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Set off without purse or bag or sandals; and do not stop at the homes of those you know. Whatever house you enter, first bless them, saying, ‘Peace to this house!’ If a friend of peace lives there, the peace shall rest upon that person. But if not, the blessing will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking at their table, for the worker deserves to be paid. Do not move from house to house.”

“When they welcome you to any town, eat what they offer you. Heal the sick who are there, and say to them : ‘The kingdom of God has drawn near to you.’ But in any town where you are not welcome, go to the marketplace and proclaim : ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off and leave with you. But know for a certainty that the kingdom of God has drawn near to you.'”

“I tell you, that on the Day of Judgment it will be better for Sodom than for this town.”

The seventy-two disciples returned full of joy. They said, “Lord, even the demons obeyed us when we called on Your Name.” Then Jesus replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. You see, I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the Enemy, so that nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the evil spirits submit to you; rejoice, rather, than your names are written in heaven.”

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Luke 10 : 1-9

At that time, the Lord appointed seventy-two other disciples, and sent them, two by two, ahead of Him, to every town and place, where He Himself was to go. And He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. So you must ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers to His harvest. Courage! I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Set off without purse or bag or sandals; and do not stop at the homes of those you know.”

“Whatever house you enter, first bless them, saying, ‘Peace to this house!’ If a friend of peace lives there, the peace shall rest upon that person. But if not, the blessing will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking at their table, for the worker deserves to be paid. Do not move from house to house.”

“When they welcome you to any town, eat what they offer you. Heal the sick who are there, and say to them : ‘The kingdom of God has drawn near to you.'”

Sunday, 3 July 2022 : Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Galatians 6 : 14-18

For me, I do not wish to take pride in anything, except in the cross of Christ Jesus, Our Lord. Through Him, the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Let us no longer speak of the circumcised and of non-Jews, but of a new creation. Let those who live according to this rule receive peace and mercy : they are the Israel of God! Let no one trouble me any longer : for my part, I bear in my body the marks of Jesus.

May the grace of Christ Jesus our Lord be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.

Sunday, 3 July 2022 : Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 65 : 1-3a, 4-5, 6-7a, 16 and 20

Shout with joy to God, all you on earth; sing to the glory to His Name; proclaim His glorious praise. Say to God, “How great are Your deeds!”

All the earth bows down to You, making music in praise of You, singing in honour of Your Name. Come and see God’s wonders, His deeds awesome for humans.

He has turned the sea into dry land, and the river was crossed on foot. Let us, therefore, rejoice in Him. He rules by His might forever.

All you who fear God, come and listen; let me tell you what He has done. May God be blessed! He has not rejected my prayer; nor withheld His love from me.

Sunday, 3 July 2022 : Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Isaiah 66 : 10-14c

Rejoice for Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her. Be glad with her, rejoice with her, all you who were in grief over her, that you may suck of the milk from her comforting breasts, that you may drink deeply from the abundance of her glory.

For this is what YHVH says : I will send her peace, overflowing like a river; and the nations’ wealth, rushing like a torrent towards her. And you will be nursed and carried in her arms and fondled upon her lap. As a son comforted by his mother, so will I comfort you. At the sight of this, your heart will rejoice; like grass, your bones will flourish.