Sunday, 6 September 2015 : Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard how God had showed forth His love, care and concern for all of us mankind, by the sending of His Son Jesus into the world, as the real, concrete and perfect manifestation of His love. We heard about God who opened the eyes of the blind, who made lame people and paralysed people to be able to move and walk properly again, and God who made the mute speak and the deaf hear again.

Throughout the Bible, in the Old Testament, and especially in the Gospels, we heard how Jesus performed many miracles healing those who were sick, allowing the blind to see once again, the deaf to hear again, the lame to jump with joy and walk again, and eventually, all these aside, as we all should know, He healed us all from the one affliction that is most dangerous of all of them, that is sin.

For while the diseases and sicknesses of the flesh affect only the flesh, our bodies without harming the mind, the heart and the soul, sin affects everything, both in our bodies, in our heart, mind and soul. And the corruptions that sin caused made us all dirty and unworthy to be in the presence of our Lord, because of all the wickedness that tainted our souls, once pure and immaculate, but because of sin, we all have been afflicted.

And this affliction had affected mankind since the beginning of time, ever since mankind first sinned before the Lord, by disobeying what He had taught us and told us, and preferring to walk in our own path and satisfying our own selfish desires. Satan tempted mankind by playing to our desires and our heart’s wishes and wants, pretending to help us and be good to us, but in reality, he wished for our downfall together with him, that in our disobedience we will also be cast out the love of God just as Satan himself had been cast out.

But God did not create mankind just for nothing or without good reason. God Himself is perfect and all good, and He has no need for anything else save Himself. And in the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, God is united in His Three Divine Persons, in the perfect union of love and harmony, and He truly has no need for anything else. But in that love, He wanted to share the love He has, and thus He created all of us.

And we have to realise how special we are for the Lord. Nothing else in creation was created in the same way we have been created. We were created in the very image of the living God Himself, and our countenance is the image of God personified in each one of us. And God breathed His Spirit into each one of us, that through the Spirit of God we may have life, and no longer be dust where we came from.

But sin and disobedience had sundered us from all the goodness and the life which God had intended for us. In our greed and desire, we fail to look beyond them to find the true meaning of life, that is to be together with the Lord our God in perfect harmony, and instead we would rather listen to the devil and his lies, as he knows the vulnerabilities of our mortal bodies and hearts.

He got us right in our innocence, trying to persuade us that if we just let go of what the Lord had forbidden us to do, and eat of the fruits of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, then we would become like God. Indeed, we were made in the image of God, and His Spirit of life is inside us, but we are like a clean slate, ready to be filled with the love of God, and with God we would have lived forever in perfect harmony and goodness, not knowing any evil, for all that God created was good.

Instead, because of our disobedience, we were tainted with sin, and when we know about the evil we have done, we became ashamed and felt guilty, and we hid from the Lord. Is this not the exact same things as what we often normally do? Whenever we sin, did we not hide in shame for our sins and even pretend as if nothing had happened because we feared the repercussions, or that we were too proud to admit that we were wrong?

We flee away from the Lord out of fear and out of shame, and often, as mentioned, out of pride and hubris. We certainly would like to think that the Lord must have been disgusted by our actions and by our wickedness, but this certainly is a frequent major misconception of who the Lord is and how He looks upon us, each and every day. He despises our sins and wickedness, but He does not despise us as we are.

This is why He came for us, for our sake, and by His own hands, He brought healing, redemption and salvation to all of us sinners and delinquents, who have rebelled against Him. His love for us is greater than all that, and through His works, He had made us all whole. How is this so, brothers and sisters in Christ? It was by His suffering, every wounds inflicted on His flesh and body, as He was stripped from all dignity on the way to Calvary, that our Lord had saved us.

He was willing to suffer for the consequences of our sins and faults, which should have been ours, because of the love He had for us. He created us all out of love, and His desire for us is to share together in His everlasting peace, harmony and joy, and not suffering, pain, death and despair which had been part and parcel of our lives ever since we succumbed to the forces of sin.

To that extent He is willing to come to us and heal us from our sickness. He came to seek those who are sick from the diseases and plagues that afflicted us, primarily of which is our sin. For while bodily sickness and diseases cannot affect beyond our flesh, but sin affects everything. If we continue to dwell and live in sin, then we would risk ourselves to fall into hell, that is the suffering for eternity of not being able to enjoy God’s love and grace anymore, because we are unworthy due to our sins.

God wants us to be saved, brothers and sisters in Christ. He wants to touch us, comfort us and bring us to rest, rest from all the depredations and troubles of sin that we have had thus far. He desires our salvation and freedom from our affliction of sin, and that was what He has done. Whenever we look upon the crucifix and see the Lord Jesus crucified, we see the ultimate love which God shows us all.

Then, ultimately we have to ask ourselves, what have we done to make ourselves worthy of God’s love and mercy? God forgives freely and His mercy is freely available to all, but it depends on us in the end, whether we are willing and are capable of committing ourselves to the Lord’s mercy. We have to remember that when we are sick, we want to find a doctor that we can be healed and return to good health. Should it not be the same for our spiritual health?

Do we seek the Lord for forgiveness, and are we sincere in our desire to be forgiven? Do we make the effort to abandon our past sinfulness and live no longer in sin but in the light of God? If our answers to all these questions are yes, then that means we are ready and prime to receive God’s forgiveness, and then receive the fullness of His grace and love. If our answers are not, then we have a long way to go before us.

Shall we take the concrete step towards salvation in God? God offers us so many good things, and yet mankind, either fearful or prideful, failed to understand His love for them. May Almighty God, our loving God and Master, our loving and merciful Father help us all to understand His love and mercy, so that we may take the necessary steps to be forgiven of our numerous and myriads of sins. May all of us be healed and be made whole, and may our mouth filled with sinful words, hands tainted by wickedness be made clean and whole. God bless us all. Amen.

Sunday, 6 September 2015 : Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 7 : 31-37

At that time, again Jesus set out : from the country of Tyre He passed through Sidon and, skirting the sea of Galilee, He came to the territory of Decapolis. There a deaf man, who also had difficulty in speaking, was brought to Him. They asked Jesus to lay His hand upon him.

Jesus took him apart from the crowd, put His fingers into the man’s ears, and touched his tongue with spittle. Then, looking up to heaven, He groaned and said to him, “Ephphata!” that is, “Be opened!”

And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was loosened, and he began to speak clearly. Jesus ordered them not to tell anyone about it, but the more He insisted, the more they proclaimed it. The people were completely astonished and said, “He has done all things well; He makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.”

Sunday, 6 September 2015 : Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

James 2 : 1-5

My brothers and sisters, if you truly believe in our glorified Lord, Jesus Christ, you will not discriminate between persons. Suppose a person enters the synagogue where you are assembled, dressed magnificently and wearing a gold ring; at the same time, a poor person enters dressed in rags.

If you focus your attention on the well-dressed and say, “Come and sit in the best seat,” while to the poor one you say, “Stay standing or else sit down at my feet,” have you not, in fact, made a distinction between the two? Have you not judged, using a double standard?

Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters, did God not choose the poor of this world to receive the riches of faith and to inherit the kingdom which He has promised to those who love Him?

Sunday, 6 September 2015 : Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 145 : 6c-7, 8-9a, 9bc-10

The Lord is forever faithful; He gives justice to the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free.

The Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord straightens the bent. The Lord protects the stranger.

He sustains the widow and the orphan. The Lord loves the virtuous, but He brings to ruin the way of the wicked. The Lord will reign forever, your God, o Zion, from generation to generation. Alleluia!

Sunday, 6 September 2015 : Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Isaiah 35 : 4-7a

Say to those who are afraid : “Have courage, do not fear. See, your God comes, demanding justice. He is the God who rewards, the God who comes to save you.”

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unsealed. Then will the lame leap as a hart and the tongue of the dumb sing and shout. For water will break out in the wilderness and streams gush forth from the desert. The thirsty ground will become a pool, the arid land springs of water.