Sunday, 4 September 2022 : Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday all of us are reminded and called to recognise the nature of the shortness, fickleness and impermanence of life, as each one of us know and should be aware that our lives whether they be short or long, but in the timescales and span of this world history, it is but a tiny drop amidst the great ocean of time. All of us must be aware that we exist but for just a moment, and yet, in that relatively short existence, each one of us can do so many great and wonderful things should we allow the Lord to lead and guide our path in life.

In our first reading today, we heard from the author of the Book of Wisdom speaking of how the wisdom and truth of God are far beyond the ability of man to fully comprehend, even with their greatest abilities, intellect or wisdom. No one can truly understand the Lord unless they entrust themselves to Him, and allow Him to lead and guide them in their journey, allowing His Holy Spirit to enter into us and dwell within us, inspiring us with His love and truth, and allowing us to understand better the true way of the Lord, as it is only by opening ourselves, our hearts and minds to the Lord that we can know Him more and therefore serve Him better in our lives.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord speaking to His disciples and the people on the matter of following Him and how He also mentioned the parable of a man who wanted to build a house and a king who wanted to wage a war with another kingdom. Through what we heard in that Gospel passage today, we can clearly see that the Lord told all of us how each and every actions we take, all of them should be well thought of and carefully discerned, so that we may take the correct course of actions and not be hasty in making decisions which may end up causing us to take the wrong decisions and doing the wrong things that lead us into troubles.

The Lord highlighted how following Him will mean that we have to endure sufferings and trials at times, and we have to face rejection and opposition, and hence, carrying our crosses just in the same way that the Lord Himself had to carry His Cross and suffer for the sake of all of us. Just as our Lord Himself has been rejected, oppressed and persecuted, many of us may also therefore face the same persecution and oppression by the world and by all those who disagree with the Lord and His ways, and by all those who refused and still refuse to believe in Him. Such is the reality for us being Christians, as we have to dare to be different from the world, to stand by our faith and the path of the Lord against the often corrupt and immoral ways of this world.

In our second reading today, St. Paul in his Epistle to Philemon highlighted how he was returning one called Onesimus to him and the other faithful, and mentioning himself as a prisoner for Christ, and this Onesimus was like a godson to St. Paul. Through this seemingly short passage and message from St. Paul, again we can see the reality of our faith, that we may often face trials and struggles, persecutions and hardships just as St. Paul himself had endured, being in prison and treated badly by many for so many years of his ministry as a great missionary of the Christian faith. And yet, at the same time we can also see the great dedication which this Apostle has shown us as well.

In this, brothers and sisters in Christ, after hearing the words of the Scriptures, we are presented with a clear message and reminder from the Lord, that we have to trust in Him in guiding us throughout our lives in following the right path. We should not depend only on our own human strength, judgment and abilities, or else, very soon we will realise that we face such seemingly insurmountable odds and challenges, and we then quickly tend to withdraw from the trials and choose instead to conform to what is acceptable by the world and by everyone, and essentially therefore abandoning our faith and bringing scandal both to the Lord and to His Church.

Instead, the Lord has called on all of us to carry our crosses in life together with Him. Let us remember how Christ our Lord has suffered for us, and how He willingly endured all of that so that we may be saved and may receive new hope and life, freed from the shackles and bonds of sin and evil. We must remember that while we may carry heavy burdens that is our crosses in life, the difficulties in our Christian journey, our crosses that we carry, but the Lord has done it all earlier on, and He did so for the sake of every single one of us. We have to also realise that our lives in this world, as I mentioned earlier, are short, and we should do whatever we can in this life, to glorify God through them.

The Lord as mentioned also did not leave us alone. He is carrying His Cross with us, suffering with us and strengthening us along the way. He has given to us His Holy Spirit through His Apostles and His Church that the Holy Spirit may show us the way and the wisdom of God. This means that as Christians we should truly entrust ourselves to the Lord, entrusting ourselves in His wisdom and guidance so that in all the things we say and do we will always do what is right and worthy as those called as God’s beloved people and children, namely Christians. We are called and expected to glorify God by our lives and to proclaim Him through everything we say and do, at all times.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now that the Lord has shown us what the path forward for us look like, all of us are reminded to be like the man and the king in the parable mentioned in the Gospel passage today. Knowing what is expected of us and what hardships and trials we may have to endure based on the examples of the past and the history of the Church, we should discern well and carefully on what course of action and path that we want to take. We should resist the temptations to abandon the Lord’s path and to conform to the world and its corruptions. Instead, we should strive to remain ever more faithful in God and allow the Lord to continue to guide our lives and our actions.

Let us all renew our faith and commitment in God, brothers and sisters in Christ, that our every words, actions and deeds may be true testimony of our faith. May all of us always put ourselves in the hands of the Lord, recalling how He has always ever patiently guided us and showed us the way forward. May all of us be motivated and inspired to allow God to lead us down the path of virtue and righteousness, that through Him we may perform ever more wonderful deeds, and be filled with virtuous examples through which many more people may come to believe in the Lord as well, through our faithful testimony of our faith by our lives and actions. May God bless us always in all things, and in all of our good efforts and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Sunday, 4 September 2022 : Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 14 : 25-33

At that time, when large crowds were walking along with Jesus, He turned and said to them, “If you come to Me, unwilling to sacrifice your love for your father and mother, your spouse and children, your brothers and sisters, and indeed yourself, you cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not follow Me, carrying his own cross, cannot be My disciple.”

“Do you build a house without first sitting down to count the cost, to see whether you have enough to complete it? Otherwise, if you, have laid the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone will make fun of you : ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'”

“And when a king wages war against another king, does he go to fight without first sitting down to consider whether his ten thousand can stand against the twenty thousand of his opponent? And if not, while the other is still a long way off, he sends messengers for peace talks. In the same way, none of you may become My disciple, if he does not give up everything he has.”

Sunday, 4 September 2022 : Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Philemon 9b-10, 12-17

The one talking is Paul, the old man, now prisoner for Christ. And my request is on behalf of Onesimus, whose father I have become while I was in prison.

In returning him to you, I am sending you my own heart. I would have liked to keep him at my side, to serve me on your behalf while I am in prison for the Gospel, but I did not want to do anything without your agreement, nor impose a good deed upon you without your free consent.

Perhaps Onesimus has been parted from you for a while so that you may have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but better than a slave. For he is very dear brother to me, and he will be even dearer to you. And so, because of our friendship, receive him as if he were I myself.

Sunday, 4 September 2022 : Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 89 : 3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14 and 17

You turn humans back to dust, saying, “Return, o mortals!” A thousand years in Your sight are like a day that has passed, or like a watch in the night.

You sow them in their time, a dawn they peep out. In the morning they blossom, but the flower fades and withers in the evening.

So make us know the shortness of our life, that we may gain wisdom of heart. How long will You be angry, o YHVH? Have mercy on Your servant.

Fill us at daybreak with Your goodness, that we may be glad all our days. May the sweetness of YHVH be upon us; may He prosper the work of our hands.

Sunday, 4 September 2022 : Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Wisdom 9 : 13-18 (Greek Septuagint – Wisdom 9 : 13-18b)

Indeed, who can know the intentions of God? Who can discern the plan of the Lord? For human reasoning is timid, our notions misleading; a perishable body is a burden for the soul and our tent of clay weighs down the active mind.

We are barely able to know about the things of earth and it is a struggle to understand what is close to us; who then may hope to understand heavenly things? Who has ever known Your will unless You first gave Him Wisdom and sent down Your Holy Spirit to him? In this way You directed the human race on the right path; they learnt what pleases You and were saved by Wisdom.