Saturday, 31 October 2020 : 30th 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 as we heard the words of the Scriptures, we are reminded of the need for us to be humble as Christians, to humble ourselves before the Lord and to put Him first and foremost above anything else. We must not allow pride, ego, ambition and hubris to be stumbling blocks in our path towards God, as those were often the greatest obstacles in the path many had walked in their journey of faith.

In our Gospel reading, we heard of the Lord using a parable when He came to visit the house of a leading Pharisee for dinner, where He was very carefully watched and observed presumably by the other Pharisees and teachers of the Law who were there. He made this reference as a mild rebuke to them all, related to another occasion when the Lord also spoke about how the Pharisees and those so called intellectual elites of the community always sought to get the most important places in gatherings and events.

Through the simple parable, the Lord used the example of a wedding party celebration where guests who come to the party should not seek to get the best places for themselves, or else, they would likely be embarrassed and humiliated when the host and organiser of the event told them that someone else more important even than them would come to that place and take the place which they had occupied earlier on. In the community at the time, as it is still now, ‘face’ is something that is very important, and many put a lot of emphasis on their appearances and status in comparison with others.

That is why, the Lord was in fact mildly rebuking the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law through the parable, especially criticising their self-righteous, prideful and often self-serving attitudes in their role as the guardians of the Law and the leaders and elders of the people, their guides in the matter of the faith. They sought for their own personal glory and achievement first before all else, seeking praises and adulations from others for their piety and observance of the Law.

And they were often being elitist in their faith, in how they lived their lives and in how they observed the Law. They looked down on those like prostitutes and tax collectors, all those whom they deemed to be unworthy of God, as sinners and as those who have committed sinful deeds, while thinking highly of themselves, that they were great in faith and were examples and paragons for others to follow and obey. Yet, the Lord pointed out to them that their attitude and way of thinking were flawed.

Through the parable, the Lord reminded all of them who were high on their pedestals, thinking that they were great and wonderful, that they must not continue their wretched attitudes and behaviours. This is because there were those who had come, and surpassed them in their faith, all those whom the Pharisees and teachers of the Law dismissed as unworthy and wicked, who had come much closer to God and His salvation than them, all because they were sincere in following God, in recognising their sinfulness and in their desire to abandon their past sins and embrace God’s love fully.

This refers to all those prostitutes, tax collectors, people with infirmities, possessed by evil spirits and all sorts of people whom the society tended to lump together as undesirables. Yet, from among these people, God had called many saints, and many of the saints whom we glorify and venerate today, had once been great sinners. But all of them turned around, and went through conversion of hearts and minds.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s Scriptures reminds us that we cannot allow pride and ego to mislead us down the wrong path, and we should not look down on others whom we may think to be less worthy than ourselves before God. Do not allow pride to make us think that we deserve God’s grace more than others. God loves each and every one of us equally, and each and every one of us are equally important to Him.

Ultimately, only God alone knows what are in the hearts and minds of mankind, in each and every one of us. As it was said, even those who were righteous would be crushed and condemned should they commit sin and refused to abandon all sorts of sin they had committed, and worse still, being proud of those acts. Similarly, those who were wicked and sinful, they would be pardoned and forgiven should they sincerely seek God’s forgiveness and pardon through genuine repentance.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, let us all discern all of these and think of what we can do from now on, that we may turn away from sins and from all the obstacles that prevented us from reaching out to God. Let us all turn towards God, and dedicate ourselves anew to Him, with humility and love, without pride and ego. Let us all therefore seek the Lord with all of our hearts and minds, and also help one another in our journey of faith. May the Lord be with us, and bless us always, in our every good works and endeavours. Amen.

Saturday, 31 October 2020 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

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

Luke 14 : 1, 7-11

At that time, one Sabbath Jesus had gone to eat a meal in the house of a leading Pharisee, and He was carefully watched.

Jesus then told a parable to the guests, for He had noticed how they tried to take the places of honour. And He said, “When you are invited to a wedding party, do not choose the best seat. It may happen that someone more important than you had been invited; and your host, who invited both of you, will come and say to you, ‘Please give this person your place.’ What shame is yours when you take the lowest seat!”

“Whenever you are invited, go rather to the lowest seat, so that your host may come and say to you, ‘Friend, you must come up higher.’ And this will be a great honour for you in the presence of all the other guests. For whoever makes himself out to be great will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be raised.”

Saturday, 31 October 2020 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

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

Psalm 41 : 2, 3, 5bcde

As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for You, o God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I go and see the face of God?

I remember all this – how I used to lead the faithful in procession to the house of God, amid shouts of joy and thanksgiving, among the feasting throng.

Saturday, 31 October 2020 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

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

Philippians 1 : 18b-26

Christ is proclaimed and because of this I rejoice and have no regrets. I know that all this will be a grace for me because of your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Christ. I am hopeful, even certain, that I shall not be ashamed. I feel as assured now, as before, that Christ will be exalted through my person, whether I live or die.

For to me, living is for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I am to go on living, I shall be able to enjoy fruitful labour. Which shall I choose? So I feel torn between the two. I desire greatly to leave this life and to be with Christ, which will be better by far, but it is necessary for you that I remain in this life. And because I am convinced of this, I know that I will stay and remain with you for your progress and happiness in the faith.

I will surely come to you again, and give you more reason for being proud of belonging to Christ Jesus.

Friday, 30 October 2020 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we heard the words of the Lord in the Scriptures today, we are reminded that the Law of God is a guide to help us find our way to the Lord, and is in itself a reminder of God’s ever generous love for each and every one of us. God has loved us all and cared for us, and through His love He gave us the Law to guide us, His people that we may find our way to Him.

God’s Law is not meant to be used to cause sufferings and difficulties for some and at the same time benefitting others. Neither is the Law meant to make it difficult for the people to be faithful to God. And this is why, the Lord Jesus often came head-to-head against the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who enforced a particularly strict and rigid interpretation of the Law on the faithful.

In its long development and use, the Law of God as revealed through Moses had been interpreted, reinterpreted and modified, to suit the purposes and circumstances of the contemporary time. And as these laws were passed down from generations to generations, they came to forget why those laws were enforced and used in the first place. They failed to appreciate the context in which God placed those laws in the very beginning.

God gave His Law at the time when the Israelites and their stubbornness, their constant bickering and complaining, and lack of faith were threatening to lead many, even the whole nation away from God and into the path of rebellion and sin. Had they been allowed to walk down that path, they would have perished and been condemned by those sins they had committed. God’s love for each and every one of His people did not allow Him to let this happen just like that.

That is why, the Law as He described to Moses, and written in the Torah was in fact measures to keep the people in check and to discipline them, to help them to keep themselves in track and not lose their way. And all of these were done with the ultimate goal of reconciling God and His people, to recall all of the people of God back to His loving embrace. As we can see, it was the love of God behind everything, and love is the reason for the Law.

But over time, the Law’s intention and use have been twisted and misunderstood, as showed by how the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law imposing the harsh laws to glorify themselves as those who obeyed those regulations and rules, while excluding, ostracising and being prejudiced against those whom they deemed to be inferior and less worthy of God than themselves, for people like tax collectors and prostitutes, those who were infirm and afflicted with diseases.

They portrayed the image of a fearsome, angry and wrathful God Who was always ready to punish His people for any wrongdoings, and that the grace of God was reserved only for those like the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. And therefore, the Lord’s different approach, set to remind all of the people of the true intention and purpose of the Law, led to great frictions between the Lord and all those who refused to listen to the truth.

The Lord sternly told those Pharisees and the teachers of the Law that their stubbornness and refusal to accept the truth of God that He Himself had brought before them were indeed horrible. He presented before them that the Lord would want to heal the sick, and those who needed His help, even on the Sabbath itself. For many of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, interpreting the Law strictly to the letter out of context, they would rather leave the suffering to suffer and perish rather than to reach out and help.

This is what all of us must not behave like, brothers and sisters in Christ. We must not allow such legalistic thoughts and elitist behaviour to influence or dominate us. Instead, through what St. Paul told to the people in Philippi in our first reading today, all of us ought to live in the love of God, and share that love with one another. God’s love is equally shared with all, even with the most wicked ones, and so long as they are willing to repent and turn away from their sins, they will be forgiven all the same.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, each and every one of us as Christians are called to reflect on this to see how we can live our lives in a more Christ-like manner, to be true Christians in how we live, and in how we interact with one another. Indeed, all of us are called to love in the same way as just how God has loved us. But many of us had not been able to do so. And we must then remember that the Law of God, especially His Ten important Commandments, are all about love, loving God first and foremost, and loving our fellow brothers and sisters in the same way.

Are we able and willing to do this, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we willing to show care, love and compassion on our fellow brethren, especially those who need our love and care? Let us all discern carefully what we can do as Christians, to dedicate ourselves and our efforts for the benefit of our brothers and sisters. When there is need for love, let us show it to them and do what we can to bring God’s love to those who need them.

May the Lord bless us all and may He strengthen us all with the resolve to show care and concern for our fellow brethren, at all times, to love God with all of our hearts and to be faithful always. Amen.

Friday, 30 October 2020 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 14 : 1-6

At that time, on one Sabbath Jesus had gone to eat a meal in the house of a leading Pharisee, and He was carefully watched.

In front of Him was a man suffering from dropsy; so Jesus asked the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?”

But no one answered. Jesus then took the man, healed him, and sent him away. And He said to them, “If your lamb or your ox falls into a well on a Sabbath day, who among you does not hurry to pull it out?” And they could not answer.

Friday, 30 October 2020 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 110 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6

Alleluia! I thank YHVH with all my heart in the council of the just, in the assembly. The works of YHVH are great and pondered by all who delight in them.

Glorious and majestic are His deeds, His righteousness endures forever. He lets us remember His wondrous deeds; YHVH is merciful and kind.

Always mindful of His Covenant, He provides food for those who fear Him. He shows His people the power of His arm by giving them the lands of other nations.

Friday, 30 October 2020 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Philippians 1 : 1-11

From Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to the saints in Philippi, with their bishops and deacons; to you all in Christ Jesus : May grace and peace be yours from God, our Father, and Christ Jesus the Lord.

I give thanks to my God, each time I remember you, and when I pray for you, I pray with joy. I cannot forget all you shared with me in the service of the Gospel, from the first day, until now. Since God began such a good work, in you, I am certain, that He will complete it in the day of Christ Jesus.

This is my hope for you, for I carry you all, in my heart : whether I am in prison, or defending and confirming the Gospel, you are with me and share the same grace. God knows, that I love you dearly, with the love of Christ Jesus, and in my prayers, I ask that your love may lead you, each day, to a deeper knowledge and clearer discernment, that you may have good criteria for everything.

So you may be pure of heart, and come, blameless, to the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of holiness, that comes through Christ Jesus, for the glory and praise of God.

Thursday, 29 October 2020 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day each and every one of us have been reminded to be strong and to be prepared against the attacks and assaults from the evil one and all of its wicked forces. All of us are told to be firm in our faith in God and to be ready to resist those who are going to try to harm us and bring us to our downfall.

St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Ephesus in our first reading today spoke of how through God, we are truly blessed, well-protected and taken care of. We have nothing to fear since God Himself is on our side, protecting us and leading us down the right path. And St. Paul also spoke of how we ought to wear our whole armour of God to struggle in the battle against evil.

This is because we are indeed in the middle of the constant struggle against evil for our souls. We are always struggling to resist the attempts by those who wanted to lead us to harm and downfall, tempting us with false promises and coercion, hoping that we will end up abandoning our faith and fall into sin.

In our Gospel today, we heard of the Lord and how He lamented the wickedness of those who have persecuted the faithful servants of God, and those who have refused to believe in Him despite all the things He Himself has performed before them, all the miraculous healings, all the wonders and the amazing revelations and wisdom that He has shown them all.

Throughout history, many prophets and messengers had been sent to the people of God in order to remind them to be faithful to Him. Yet, the people remained in their stubbornness, refusing to listen to those reminders sent to them. This happened because the people were proud, and refused to admit that their ways could be wrong, and refused to humble themselves before God and His servants, or to seek forgiveness for their faults and shortcomings.

Their greed also led them to seek worldly pleasures and the false joys of the world at the expense of their souls. The devil and his fallen angels had an easy time to lead them down the path of ruin, tempting them with many things that distracted them from the truth, pulled them away from the path of redemption and reconciliation with God. And that is why, the Lord lamented this state of affairs, after all He had done for them.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all constantly reminded to be strong in our faith, and to renew our commitment and dedication to God. Amidst all the pressures and temptations from the devil and all of the excesses of the world he presented before all of us, we must strengthen our defences that we do not falter and slide into the path of sin.

Let us all strengthen our relationship with God, through constant prayer and spending good, quality time with Him. Let us all be genuine and zealous in living up our Christian lives and respective calling in life. As we continue to walk down this path that the Lord has shown us, let us all pray for His guidance and protection that we may persevere faithfully through whatever challenges and trials, difficulties and temptations that are in our paths.

May God be with us always, and may He bless us all, in our everyday lives and actions, that we may ever be more and more attuned to Him and His will, and we may draw ever closer to the fullness of His love and grace. Amen.

Thursday, 29 October 2020 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 13 : 31-35

At that time, some Pharisees came to Jesus and gave Him this warning, “Leave this place and go on Your way, for Herod wants to kill You.”

Jesus said to them, “Go and give that fox My answer : ‘I drive out demons, and I heal today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish My course!’ Nevertheless, I must go on My way today, and tomorrow, and for a little longer; for it would not be fitting for a Prophet to be killed outside Jerusalem.”

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you slay the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often have I tried to bring together your children, as a bird gathers her young under her wings, but you refused! From now on, you will be left with your Temple, and you will no longer see Me, until the time when you will say, ‘Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord.'”