Saturday, 15 July 2017 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, all of us are reminded yet again that we should not worry about our worldly affairs and about our personal concerns. In the first reading today, Jacob was about to die and join his ancestors, and he was buried in the land of Canaan. The sons of Jacob were worried that Joseph, whom they once had betrayed to the slavers and cast out to Egypt, would seek revenge upon them now that Jacob, their father was dead.

But Joseph dissuaded them from their fears and reaffirmed his forgiveness and mercy, which he had shown them, even though they had caused him much misery and sufferings. Joseph did not seek for vengeance, but instead, he trusted in the Lord, Who had helped him in his time of need and delivered him from the hand of his enemies and dangers. He forgave his brothers just as the Lord our God has also forgiven us all our sins.

In the Gospel today, we heard about how the Lord Jesus told His disciples that the truth will always be unveiled and revealed in its fullness, no matter how one sought to hide it from being uncovered or known. For we have to know, brethren, that the Lord our God knows everything that is inside our hearts and our minds. There is no way we can hide any thoughts or deeds from Him, no matter how well it is that we try to do so.

But at the same time, He also mentioned again that we all should not worry for what could destroy the body but could not harm the soul, and instead, we should fear the One Who is capable of destroying us body and soul. What does the Lord mean with this? He meant that all of us must not fear persecution and challenges, or be worried when even the whole world rose up against us. We should instead be worried if we are to leave behind the Lord for the safety of the world because we are concerned that we will lose everything if we are to go against the world.

No matter how powerful or fearsome the devil may appear to us, and how capable he is in harming us physically through his rule over the world, he has no power over us. All of us who have given ourselves to the Lord and who have been cleansed from our sins are no longer under the dominion of Satan, but God. God our Creator and Master has all the power over us, over our bodies, minds, hearts, and over all of our souls. He is the One Whom we have to fear, should we commit sin that taint our soul and make ourselves unworthy of Him.

And therefore remember this, brothers and sisters in Christ, that if we ignore the Lord, and commit what is wicked in our lives, in order to appease the world and to safeguard ourselves, what we will gain for ourselves will just be a temporary respite from our troubles, and whatever benefits we will receive, will just be temporary, as what they can give us is not true happiness or joy.

The devil is always working very hard in order to persuade us that the way of the Lord is more difficult and challenging, and that his path is an easier and better one, one that is able to satisfy us and fulfil what we need. Yet, let us remember that while the path shown by the devil seems to be easier, but it is in fact leading us to greater sorrow and suffering in the end. And the path of the Lord, while it may seem to be challenging and tough at first, but this path leads to eternal life and true happiness.

As the Lord had said, that what is the point for us to gain the whole world if it causes us to lose our souls to condemnation? And how much better it is indeed for us, even if we do not gain the approval of the world but we are able to gain the salvation for our souls and enjoy forever true happiness and joy which can be found in God alone? This is what all of us really need to think about and reflect on in our lives.

We should also heed the inspiring examples of St. Bonaventure, a renowned holy man and saint, who was a Franciscan religious, eventually becoming a bishop and a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church for his many contributions to the faithful and to the Church as a whole. St. Bonaventure was known well for his great devotion and faith in God, in his dedication to the Franciscans and his numerous works and publications that brought about great intellectual revolution in the Church.

St. Bonaventure did not have it easy though, as he faced opposition for his efforts and works both from within the Franciscans as well as from various other sources. Yet, despite all of these obstacles and challenges, he continued to strive through those difficulties and influenced many others who would also end up being known for their great theology and philosophical works, following the example of St. Bonaventure.

Through this example, all of us Christians should follow the footsteps of St. Bonaventure in his faithful dedication to the Lord despite all the challenges he encountered through his life and his works. Let us all remain strong in our commitment to God even if there may be great temptations for us to do otherwise. Let us never forget that God is ever faithful to His promises, and if we continue to cling on to Him despite the temptations to do otherwise, He will bless us and grant us His grace.

May the Lord awaken in our hearts a strong desire to love Him and to serve Him faithfully in all the things we say and do. May all of our actions bring glory to the Lord, and may our faith in Him continue to flourish despite the challenges we face in life. May God be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 15 July 2017 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Matthew 10 : 24-33

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “A student is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. A student should be content to become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If the head of the household has been called Beelzebul, how much more, those of his household! So, do not be afraid of them!”

“There is nothing covered that will not be uncovered. There is nothing hidden that will not be made known. What I am telling you in the dark, you must speak in the light. What you hear in private, proclaim from the housetops. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but have no power to kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of Him Who can destroy both body and soul in hell.”

“For a few cents you can buy two sparrows. Yet not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Father knowing. As for you, every hair of your head has been counted. Do not be afraid : you are worth more than many sparrows! Whoever acknowledges Me before others, I will acknowledge before My Father in heaven. Whoever rejects Me before others, I will reject before My Father in heaven.”

Saturday, 15 July 2017 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White
Psalm 104 : 1-2, 3-4, 6-7

Give thanks to YHVH, call on His Name; make known His works among the nations. Sing to Him, sing His praise, proclaim all His wondrous deeds.

Glory in His holy Name; let those who seek YHVH rejoice. Look to YHVH and be strong; seek His face always.

You descendants of His servant Abraham, you sons of Jacob, His chosen ones! He is YHVH our God; His judgments reach the whole world.

Saturday, 15 July 2017 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Genesis 49 : 29-32 and Genesis 50 : 15-26a

Jacob then gave his sons these instructions : “I am soon to be gathered to my people; bury me near my fathers, in the cave in the field of Ephron, the Hittite; in the cave in the field of Machpelah, to the east of Mamre in Canaan, the field that Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite as a burial place. It was there that Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried. There they buried Leah. The field and the cave in it were purchased from the Hittites.”

When Joseph’s brothers realised that their father was dead they said, “What if Joseph turns against us in hate because of the evil we did him?” So they sent word to Joseph saying, “Before he died your father told us to say this to you : Please forgive the crime and the sin of your brothers in doing evil to you. Forgive the crime of the servants of your father’s God.”

When he was given the message, Joseph wept. His brothers went and threw themselves down before him, “We are your slaves,” they said. But Joseph reassured them, “Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? You intended to do me harm, but God intended to turn it to good in order to bring about what is happening today – the survival of many people. So have no fear! I will provide for you and your little ones.” In this way he touched their hearts and consoled them.

Joseph remained in Egypt together with all his father’s family. He lived for a hundred and ten years, long enough to see Ephraim’s great-grandchildren, and also to have the children of Machir, the son of Manasseh, placed on his knees after their birth.

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am going to die, but God will surely remember you and take you from this country to the land He promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Joseph then made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “When God comes to bring you out from here, carry my bones with you.” Joseph died at the age of one hundred and ten.

Friday, 14 July 2017 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Camillus de Lellis, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard two reassurances, from two different accounts in the Sacred Scriptures, which God gave to His people, to His faithful ones, telling them not to worry for He would take care of everything, and all would be well since they were under His guidance. In the first reading, from the Book of Genesis we heard how God spoke to Jacob, the father of the nation of Israel, and then in the Gospel we heard about the moment when Jesus sent out His disciples ahead of Him to prepare His way.

In the first reading, Jacob was reassured by God to go to the land of Egypt, bringing his entire family and possessions from the land of Canaan to Egypt. At that time, he was surprised to hear the news that Joseph, one of his beloved sons was actually still alive in the land of Egypt, and not perished as he thought. His elder sons plotted against Joseph and sent him into slavery in Egypt, only for Joseph to be rescued by God and made Regent over all Egypt.

It must have been difficult for Jacob to leave behind his ancestral homeland, the land where Isaac, his father, Rebecca, his mother, and Abraham and Sarah, his grandparents had lived in for many years. But God was telling him not to worry, or be concerned, since He would guide him and his descendants, as He was always faithful to the covenant which He had established with Abraham, His servant, and which He renewed with Isaac, Jacob’s father, and then reaffirmed to Jacob himself.

And thus was Jacob reunited with his long-lost son, Joseph, by God’s love and providence. God reassured that He would be with them, and indeed, that was what the Lord had done. In the same manner, He also reassured His disciples in what we heard in our Gospel passage today. He reassured them that He would be with them no matter what happened, and if they would remain faithful, they would receive the fullness of God’s grace.
Yet, at the same time, we also heard that the Lord reminded His people of what they ought to expect should they choose to follow Him and walk in His ways. There would be strife, rejection, ridicule and even persecution, but we as those who believe in the Lord should not be disheartened or give up our faith in God. As we have just heard, God Himself will guide us on what we ought to do, and He will help us and protect us. He will show us the way to go forward.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, all of us should reflect on this, and ask ourselves honestly, whether we have completely placed our trust in God and walked faithfully in His path. Have we instead been burdened with worries and concerns, so much so that we ended up being blind to the love and care with which God had provided us?

It is often that we worry about our personal well-being, that we ended up turning to other means in order to preserve ourselves, and this often lead us astray from the Lord. But perhaps, we need to learn to trust in the Lord, and to remain strong in our faith, for let us all remember, that while the path of the Lord may seem to be difficult and challenging, but at the end of that path, is the eternal glory and joy which God promised to all of His faithful people.

Let us all also learn from the example of the holy saint, whose feast we celebrate on this day, namely St. Camillus de Lellis, a holy priest of God, who was renowned for his great piety and trust in the Lord. He was especially remembered for his many good works caring for the sick and for all those who suffered from difficulties and challenges in life.

St. Camillus de Lellis was renowned for his many charitable works and works of mercy in caring for all those who are in need of his assistance. He reached out to the sick and gave his care to them, and he even continued his work in a greater scale by gathering together people who were called to the same calling as his, establishing a religious order committed to the service of the poor and the sick.

What St. Camillus de Lellis had done in his life should be an inspiration to all of us, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we are all called to do the same with our lives as well. For instance, rather than worrying and being overly concerned about our well-being in life, we should instead open our eyes and look at all those who are around us. It is often that as we worry about ourselves, we end up turning a blind eye towards all our brethren who are even less fortunate than us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore be trusting in our relationship with God, and knowing that He will provide us all that we need, let us instead turn our efforts in order to assist all those who are indeed not so fortunate as us, all those suffering from illnesses and diseases, all those who are sorrowful in heart, and all those who are persecuted because of their faith in God.

Let us all give them our companionship, and let us comfort them with our presence, so that God may make His good and loving works evident through us, His people. May the Lord help us so that we will always grow stronger in our faith and devotion to Him, and may He continue to empower us all, so that we may grow ever closer to Him and be ever more worthy to receive His grace. Amen.

Friday, 14 July 2017 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Camillus de Lellis, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)
Matthew 10 : 16-23

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Look, I send you out like sheep among wolves. You must be as clever as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard with people, for they will hand you over to their courts, and they will flog you in their synagogues. You will be brought to trial before rulers and kings because of Me, so that you may witness to them and the pagans.”

“But when you are arrested, do not worry about what you are to say, or how you are to say it; when the hour comes, you will be given what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father, speaking through you.”

“Brother will hand over his brother to death, and a father his child; children will turn against their parents and have them put to death. Everyone will hate you because of Me, but whoever stands firm to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next. I tell you the truth, you will not have passed through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”

Friday, 14 July 2017 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Camillus de Lellis, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)
Psalm 36 : 3-4, 18-19, 27-28, 39-40

Trust in YHVH and do good; dwell in the land and live on it. Make YHVH your delight; and He will grant your heart’s desire.

YHVH watches over the lives of the upright; forever will their inheritance abide. They are not crushed in times of calamity; when famine strikes, they still are satisfied.

 Do good and shun evil, so that you will live secure forever. For YHVH loves justice and right, and never forsakes His faithful ones. The wicked, instead, will perish, and their breed will be cut off.

YHVH is the salvation of the righteous; in time of distress, He is their refuge. YHVH helps them, and rescues them from the oppressor; He saves them, for they sought shelter in Him.