Saturday, 7 November 2020 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all reminded today that we are all as Christians have been called to follow the Lord and devote ourselves to Him wholeheartedly. We should keep this in mind and not to fall into the temptations of money and other worldly pleasures and temptations, all of which are trying to lead us away from God and from His path.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the continuation of yesterday’s parable of the dishonest steward, in which today the Lord explained its meaning and how it can be related to the lives of the people, to whom the Lord told them the parable. The parable showed how the dishonest steward had misused his authority and became corrupt, in his less than honourable dealings, which were discovered by his master and then leading to him being dismissed from service.

What the steward did after that was to try to provide for himself by committing even more dishonesty, unilaterally rewriting the debts of the others who owed his master money. In doing so, he tried to secure for himself favours as he told himself that he was too embarrassed to beg or unable to do other jobs or works. As we can see from this, the dishonest steward doubled down even more on his dishonesty, and committed even more sins in doing so.

What the Lord wanted all of us to know through these parables and teachings is that, first of all, we must be careful and be vigilant not to fall into those temptations. When He mentioned to them about filthy money in today’s Gospel, He was mentioning the money of the world and how it is usually used, but in fact, He was not saying that money itself by nature was intrinsically evil. As ultimately, money is just a means for exchanging goods and possessions, which unfortunately more often than not end up being entangled with greed and human desires.

Yes, it is the attachment and desire for money that ended up making it ‘filthy’, causing us to do things that are contrary to the way of the Lord, wicked and sinful. And what the Lord said by saying that ‘use filthy money to gain friends so that people may welcome you into the eternal homes’, it may seem confusing for us at first, why the Lord was advocating the use of so-called ‘filthy money’. But this is because we have to understand the context in which the Lord said this statement.

Right immediately after that, He said that, ‘if you had been dishonest in handling filthy money, who would entrust you with true wealth?’ And this is a reference to the worldly possessions, money and material goods that we possess, which is God’s blessings to us. If we have not been honest and good in how we handle all these things, then surely, no one will trust us with anything, including God, with the true wealth mentioned, which is eternal life and glory which He has promised to all those who are faithful to Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have to realise that our true wealth and treasure is in Heaven, and not in this world. There is no use in accumulating and gaining more and more of these possessions, and worse still, as what some had done, in persecuting and manipulating others, or even extorting and exploiting those who are weaker, poorer and less fortunate for our own gains. These are what the Lord had referred to as being ‘dishonest in handling filthy money’. If we do all these, then God’s share of His promised inheritance will not be ours, and we will be judged by our selfish and sinful deeds.

On the contrary, as Christians, each and every one of us are called to be dutiful and responsible custodians of whatever blessings and resources we have received from God. Some of us have received more, while others received less. Therefore, what God wants us to do, as He has also taught us through His Church is to be charitable and loving, to be generous in sharing and giving our excess to help those who are in need.

Especially during these difficult and challenging times, when many are struggling and suffering with the effects of the still rampant pandemic, the associated economic downturn and other societal problems, all of us are called to step up to live up our faith more readily and with more dedication. What do I mean is that, we must not close our eyes, ears and hearts to those who cry for help, and do what we can, even in small, little ways, to help.

We do not have to do great things for this, brothers and sisters in Christ. Remember what the Lord said, that ‘Whatever you have done to the least of your brothers and sisters, you have done it unto Me?’. This reminds us that as Christians, we have to reach out to those who are in need and those who have none to care for them, for ultimately, they too are our fellow brothers and sisters. We must do what we can, in our respective capacities to reach out to them and help them, love them and show them true care and compassion.

Let us all discern therefore what we are to do with our lives going from now on forward. Are we going to continue being selfish and be tempted by the various worldly temptations? Or are we going to make a difference in the lives of others by showing God’s sincere love to all those who need more of this love and care? Let us be true disciples of Christ, faithful followers of our God in all things, in all of our actions and dealings with one another. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 7 November 2020 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

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

Luke 16 : 9-15

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “And so I tell you : use filthy money to make friends for yourselves, so that, when it fails, these people may welcome you into the eternal homes. Whoever can be trusted in little things can also be trusted in great ones; whoever is dishonest in slight matters will also be dishonest in greater ones.”

“So if you have been dishonest in handling filthy money, who would entrust you with true wealth? And if you have been dishonest with things that are not really yours, who will give you that wealth which is truly your own? No servant can serve two masters. Either he does not like the one and is fond of the other, or he regards one highly and the other with contempt. You cannot give yourself both to God and to Money.”

The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and sneered at Jesus. He said to them, “You do your best to be considered righteous by people. But God knows the heart, and what is highly esteemed by human beings is loathed by God.”

Saturday, 7 November 2020 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

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

Psalm 111 : 1-2, 5-6, 8a and 9

Alleluia! Blessed is the one who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commands. His children will be powerful on earth; the upright’s offspring will be blessed.

It will be well with him who lends freely, who leads a life of justice and honesty. For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered and loved forever.

His heart is confident, he needs not fear, he gives generously to the poor, his merits will last forever and his head will be raised in honour.

Saturday, 7 November 2020 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

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

Philippians 4 : 10-19

I rejoice in the Lord because of your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me before, but you had no opportunity to show it. I do not say this because of being in want; I have learnt to manage with what I have. I know what it is to be in want and what it is to have plenty. I am trained for both : to be hungry or satisfied, to have much or little. I can do all things in Him Who strengthens me.

However you did right in sharing my trials. You Philippians, remember that in the beginning, when we first preached the Gospel, after I left Macedonia you alone opened for me a debit and credit account, and when I was in Thessalonica, twice you sent me what I needed.

It is not your gift that I value but rather the interest increasing in your own account. Now I have enough and more than enough with everything Epaphroditus brought me on your behalf and which I received as “fragrant offerings pleasing to God.” God Himself will provide you with everything you need, according to His riches, and show you His generosity in Christ Jesus.

Friday, 6 November 2020 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the Lord’s words through the Scriptures reminding all of us that ultimately, our citizenship is in Heaven, which means that regardless of whatever we have in this world, our allegiances and attachments, in the end, we are bound to Heaven, our ultimate and final destination, as how it should be. Yet, many may not make it to Heaven and end up in hell, because they got distracted and chose to live a life that is against God.

That is because we are often tempted by falsehoods of the devil and the temptations of worldly pleasures and desires, living as St. Paul said in our first reading today, as the ‘enemies of Christ’. These are those who have refused to believe in the Lord Jesus and His teachings of truth as well as those who have ignored Him and failed to live up to their faith as they should have. And as St. Paul said, that those are headed to ruin, that is hell.

That is why he mentioned that all of us Christ’s faithful are truly the citizens of Heaven, which we ought to aspire to and seek, as indeed, once we have been destined for the glory of God and Heaven, if not for our sins and iniquities. Through sin we have been separated from God and made to wander in this world and to suffer the consequences for our sins. But the Lord did not wish to see us continuing in this wretched state.

That is why through His servants, He reminded them all that they could be forgiven and return to Him should they choose to repent from their sinful ways and embrace fully His truth. As St. Paul reminded the Philippians, all of us are bound for Heaven, and as such, because we truly belong to God, we should act in manners that are in accordance and congruent with what God has taught to us through His Church.

What we then heard in our Gospel passage today in the parable of the dishonest steward is yet another reminder that we must not be like that dishonest steward who had not been honest and just in his actions and chose to be corrupt in his works. When the master found out about this, the steward was dismissed from service, and as the Lord told His disciples, that steward did things to make sure that he had a guarantee despite having lost his livelihood.

We heard the Lord saying how the master praised the dishonest steward for his astuteness. But in truth, what the Lord was saying to us is that, if we continue on living in ways contrary to the Lord’s ways, in embracing corrupt desires and pride, ambition, greed among others, we will end up getting deeper and even deeper into the trap of sin. That dishonest steward continued to employ dishonest methods to secure for himself a living after his dismissal that he essentially doubled down on his mistake.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through what we have heard in our Gospel passage and related to what we heard in the Epistle of St. Paul to the Philippians, all of us are reminded that we have to live a genuine Christian life, and distance ourselves from sin and all of its corruptions. We have to resist the allures and pressure to sin, and live virtuously at all times. We have to be inspiration for one another in how we live up our faith to the fullest.

As we all know that Heaven is our true destination, let us all therefore do our very best to make our lives to be worthy of Heaven, to be worthy of God and His kingdom. Let us obey the Lord and His commandments, listen to Him and His truth, and commit ourselves to a holy life dedicated to God from here on after. Let us seek the Lord with all our hearts and devote ourselves to Him with ever greater zeal and sincerity, from now onwards. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 6 November 2020 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 16 : 1-8

At that time, Jesus told His disciples, “There was a rich man, whose steward was reported to him for fraudulent service. He summoned the steward and asked him, “What is this I hear about you? I want you to render an account of your service, for it is about to be terminated.'”

“The steward thought to himself, ‘What am I to do now? My master will surely dismiss me. I am not strong enough to do hard work, and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I will do : I must make sure that when I am dismissed, there will be people who will welcome me into their homes.'”

“So he called his master’s debtors, one by one. He asked the first debtor, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ The reply was, ‘A hundred jars of oil.’ The steward said, ‘Here is your bill. Sit down quickly and write fifty.’ To the second debtor he put the same question. ‘How much do you owe?’ The answer was, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ Then the steward said, ‘Take your bill and write eighty.'”

“The master commended the dishonest steward for his astuteness : for the people of this world are more astute, in dealing with their own kind, than are the people of light.”

Friday, 6 November 2020 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 121 : 1-2, 3-4a, 4b-5

I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” And now we have set foot within your gates, o Jerusalem!

Jerusalem, just like a city, where everything falls into place! There the tribes go up.

The tribes of the Lord, the assembly of Israel, to give thanks to the Lord’s Name. There stand the courts of justice, the offices of the house of David.

Friday, 6 November 2020 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Philippians 3 : 17 – Philippians 4 : 1

Unite in imitating me, brothers and sisters, and look at those who walk in our way of life. For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. I have said it to you many times, and now I repeat it with tears : they are heading for ruin; their belly is their god and they feel proud of what should be their shame. They only think of earthly things.

For us, our citizenship is in heaven, from where we await the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Lord. He will transfigure our lowly body, making it like His own Body, radiant in Glory, through the power which is His to submit everything to Himself.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, you my glory and crown, be steadfast in the Lord.

Thursday, 5 November 2020 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we heard the words of the Lord through the Scriptures, we are all reminded of the supreme and amazing love of God that He has shown to each and every one of us. God does not abandon us when we are in need, when we are stranded alone in the darkness, but on the contrary, God will go the extra distance to look for us and find us through the darkness.

In our Gospel today, we heard the Lord using two parables to highlight His intent to His people, telling them the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin to show how the Lord cared for all of His beloved creation, that He would go out of His way just to find that one lost sheep or the one lost coin, leaving everyone else that had already been saved and saving those who need to be saved.

Economically and logically, it is entirely pointless and even befuddling for the Lord to have done so. What was the point of putting effort to go out of one’s way just to get one lost sheep when you already had ninety-nine that were not lost in the first place? But the Lord does not act in ways that are economical or logical, brothers and sisters, as He acts with pure and genuine love towards us.

That was why He willingly looked for us, for those who had been lost to Him, that we may be found and not be lost again. The Lord knew full well what will happen to us if we are not found, and that is we will be lost forever to Him in eternal fire and darkness in hell. No matter how great our sins may have been, as long as it is not too late, the love that God has for each one of us does not permit Him to abandon us.

God Himself has thus laid down His life as He picked up His Cross, suffering for us and went through the most bitter ordeal of the crucifixion, dying for us on the Cross as the perfect sacrifice of love, as the perfect offering for the absolution of all of our sins and our redemption from sin and evil. Through Him, we have been made clean and once again His beloved children.

With all that God had done for us, and by making a New Covenant with us, alluded to in our first reading today by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Philippians, as we Christians are the new and true ‘circumcised’ people, which does not refer to the physical circumcision of the flesh, but the far better ‘circumcision’ of the heart, we have embraced God and been brought back into His grace and love.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now we know just how much God has loved us, that He has called us all from among the nations, then we should really love Him back in the same way, and be appreciative and thankful how He has done so much for us, as our loving Father and as the Good Shepherd Who lays down His life for His sheep, all of us. And He rejoices when we have been found and were lost no longer.

Can we spend more time with God and put more effort into our faith in Him, in doing His will and being good in our actions and deeds? Let us be good Christians from now on, and make good use of the lives and opportunities that He has given to us. Let us devote ourselves and focus our attention on God from now on, living our live in a Christ-centric way from now on. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 5 November 2020 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 15 : 1-10

At that time, tax collectors and sinners were seeking the company of Jesus, all of them eager to hear what He had to say. But the Pharisees and the scribes frowned at this, muttering, “This Man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So Jesus told them this parable :

“Who among you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, will not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and seek the lost one till he finds it? And finding it, will he not joyfully carry it home on his shoulders? Then he will call his friends and neighbours together, and say, ‘Celebrate with me, for I have found my lost sheep!’ I tell you, in the same way, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner, than over ninety-nine decent people, who do not need to repent.”

“What woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one, will not light a lamp, and sweep the house in a thorough search, till she finds the lost coin? And finding it, she will call her friends and neighbours, and say, ‘Celebrate with me, for I have found the silver coin I lost!’ I tell you, in the same way, there is rejoicing among the Angels of God over one repentant sinner.”