Sunday, 7 August 2022 : Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday all of us are called to remember the faithfulness of God to His Covenant and promises which He had made with us and our forefathers. We are reminded of the love that God has for each one of us, and how fortunate we truly are for having received such wonderful blessings and graces from God. All of us are also reminded that at the same time we have the responsibilities and obligations entrusted to us, as servants and stewards of God’s creations, this world and all within it.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of Wisdom, we heard the author speaking about regarding the historic moment of the first Passover which happened in the land of Egypt, before the Lord freed and delivered His people out from slavery into freedom, and before He led them to the Promised Land. The people of God back then had seen nine of the Lord’s ten great plagues which He sent to the land of Egypt to punish the Egyptians and their Pharaoh for enslaving the Israelites, and for the Pharaoh’s stubborn refusal to let the Israelites go free. The Lord had sent Moses to deliver His words and to bring forth the plagues on Egypt, so that the Egyptians would finally let the people of God go free.

The people believed in the Lord and obeyed His instructions for the first Passover, slaughtering the unblemished young lambs and painting the doorposts of their houses with the blood of the lambs, and having the Passover meal together as families and a community, a mark of sanctification and also a symbol of how God had chosen and kept apart His people, as a chosen race and people called to holiness with God and in God’s path. They were the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and therefore were the inheritors of the Covenant which God had established with their forefathers.

The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, from which our second reading was taken from today, spoke of the faith of those same predecessors who had followed the Lord and dedicated themselves to the Lord. The author mentioned Abraham and Sarah, who have followed the Lord from the land of their ancestors, with Abraham entrusting himself completely to the Lord, knowing that the Lord would provide and that He was always faithful to the promises He had made. Abraham and Sarah followed the Lord into a foreign, distant land, and although Abraham was then childless and already relatively old, but he believed in the Lord when He said that Abraham would be the father of many nations.

God made a Covenant with Abraham and his descendants, and He blessed him and all of those descendants, saying that they would be all His people while He would be their God. And He fulfilled that promise to Abraham when He gave him Isaac, the son that He had promised to Abraham and Sarah. And then, earlier on as mentioned, when the descendants of Abraham, the Israelites were suffering in Egypt, they were remembered by God and God sent Moses to guide them out of Egypt, showing His might and power before the Egyptians, and saving them all, as they ate of the Passover, keeping them from harm while the Angels of God were killing the firstborn of the Egyptians, and later on, He also opened the sea before them all, allowing them to escape and also crushing the army and chariots of the Egyptians sent to chase them.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have seen throughout history, as shown in the Scriptures and other traditions of our faith, how God has always been faithful to His Covenant with His beloved people, and He renewed that same Covenant again and again, culminating in the New Covenant which He had made with all of us mankind, all the children and descendants of Adam. He made the New Covenant through His Son, Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, that through Him and the loving sacrifice He had made on His Cross at Calvary, all of us received the sure guarantee of the Lord’s salvation and grace.

In the old and original Covenant, God renewed His promises through the Passover meal, while the people ate of the unblemished Passover lamb, while in the New Covenant, the Lord gave us all the fulfilment of His promises and gave us all His own Precious Body and Blood, in the Eucharist to partake, the Paschal Lamb, our Lord Himself, His Body broken and His Blood poured out for us and for our salvation, delivering us from our enslavement to sin and death just as the Israelites were delivered from their slavery in Egypt. The Lord has again shown us His enduring and powerful love, which He has always given to us freely and generously, and the Covenant that He had made with us always endures.

Now, brothers and sisters, having heard the love that God has shown us, His faithfulness to the Covenant that He had made with us, all of us are then called to remember that a Covenant is a solemn agreement and pact made between two parties, and in this case, it is a Covenant between God and us mankind. God promised Abraham and his descendants of His blessings and providence, which He had fulfilled all the time, but at the same time, much had also been expected of us as partakers of that same Covenant. Each and every one of us have been entrusted by the Lord to be the stewards and caretakers of this world and this life we are living in.

That is why we also heard from our Gospel passage today, the very appropriate parable for today’s theme, that is the parable of the diligent and lazy stewards. The Lord Jesus told His disciples and the people who were listening to Him about this parable in order to show all of them that as God’s followers, one cannot be idle or inactive, ignorant of our mission and calling, as each one of us must embrace the mission and the calling which our Lord had given us. All of us have been given the gifts, talents, opportunities and many more things to help us in our journey, and we all should embrace all these wholeheartedly.

Like what the parable had mentioned earlier on, the stewards were entrusted with care of the properties of the master, who went away for some time, and while the diligent steward did everything as he was told to do, fulfilling his duties and obligations, and perhaps doing even more than what he had been tasked to do, the lazy steward delayed in doing the work and engaged in merrymaking and even abusing his authority and office, and when the master returned suddenly, the diligent and good steward was rewarded wonderfully while the lazy steward faced his just punishment and condemnation.

Through the Covenant God had made with us, God expects us to be active and committed party to His Covenant, and this involves us doing whatever we can to be the good stewards of this world, of our community and of God’s creation. That is why He had taught us all His Law and commandments, telling, teaching and guiding us on how we ought to be living our lives, so that we can be good role models and sources of inspiration for all those who are around us. Each and every one of us are called to show this faith we have, the love that we have for God in concrete ways through how we live our lives, in each and every one of our words and actions.

Otherwise, brothers and sisters in Christ, imagine if we profess to believe in God and yet we act in a manner that is totally contrary to God and His ways? That would have scandalised our faith and the Lord Himself for all those who have witnessed and experienced our actions and interactions with them. God has loved us so much and He had done so much for our sake, and yet more often than not, it is we mankind who had disobeyed Him, distanced ourselves from Him, not listening to His words and advice, ignoring His calling and abandoning the missions which He had entrusted to us.

Today therefore, as we reflect on the messages of the Sacred Scriptures that had been presented to us, and also what we had discussed just earlier, let us all discern carefully what each and every one of us as Christians are expected to do in our lives, so that we may truly live up to the expectations and the commitment that we ought to make as part of the Covenant that God had so kindly formed with us. In Him, we will find assurance and certainty of true joy, happiness and satisfaction as God has always been faithful to us, to the Covenant of love that He made with us. Hence, we are all called to commit ourselves as well, dedicating our time, effort and attention to Him.

May the Lord, our most loving God and Creator, Who has kindly looked upon us, His beloved children, though sinners and disobedient, help us all to find our way back to Him. May all of us rediscover once again the joy in serving and loving the Lord our God, and may we draw ever closer to Him, in each and every moments of our lives. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 7 August 2022 : Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 12 : 32-48

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom. Sell what you have and give alms. Get yourselves purses that do not wear out, and an inexhaustible treasure in the heavens, where no thief comes and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

“Be ready, dressed for service, and keep your lamps lit, like people waiting for their master to return from the wedding. As soon as he comes and knocks, they will open the door to him. Happy are those servants whom the master finds wide-awake when he comes. Truly, I tell you, he will put on an apron, and have them sit at table, and he will wait on them. Happy are those servants, if he finds them awake when he comes at midnight or daybreak!”

“Pay attention to this : If the master of the house had known at what time the thief would come, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man will come at an hour you do not expect.”

Peter said, “Lord, did You tell this parable only for us, or for everyone?” And the Lord replied, “Imagine, then, the wise and faithful steward, whom the master sets over his other servants, to give them wheat at the proper time. Fortunate is this servant if his master, on coming home, finds him doing his work. Truly, I say to you, the master will put him in charge of all his property.”

“But it may be that the steward thinks, ‘My lord delays in coming,’ and he begins to abuse the male servants and the servant girls, eating and drinking and getting drunk. Then the master will come on a day he does not expect, and at an hour he does not know. He will cut him off, and send him to the same fate as the unfaithful.”

“The servant who knew his master’s will, but did not prepare and do what his master wanted, will be soundly beaten; but the one who does unconsciously what deserves punishment, shall receive fewer blows. Much will be required of the one who has been given much, and more will be asked of the one who has been entrusted with more.”

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Luke 12 : 35-40

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Be ready, dressed for service, and keep your lamps lit, like people waiting for their master to return from the wedding. As soon as he comes and knocks, they will open the door to him. Happy are those servants whom the master finds wide-awake when he comes. Truly, I tell you, he will put on an apron, and have them sit at table, and he will wait on them. Happy are those servants, if he finds them awake when he comes at midnight or daybreak!”

“Pay attention to this : If the master of the house had known at what time the thief would come, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man will come at an hour you do not expect.”

Sunday, 7 August 2022 : Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Hebrews 11 : 1-2, 8-19

Faith is the assurance of what we hope for, being certain of what we cannot see. Because of their faith our ancestors were approved. It was by faith that Abraham, called by God, set out for a country that would be given to him as an inheritance; for he parted without knowing where he was going.

By faith he lived as a stranger in that promised land. There he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, beneficiaries of the same promise. Indeed, he looked forward to that city of solid foundation of which God is the Architect and Builder.

By faith Sarah herself received power to become a mother, in spite of her advanced age; since she believed that He Who had made the promise would be faithful. Therefore, from an almost impotent man were born descendants as numerous as the stars of heavens, as many as the grains of sand on the seashore.

Death found all these people strong in their faith. They had not received what was promised, but they had looked ahead and had rejoiced in it from afar, saying that they were foreigners and travellers on earth. Those who speak in this way prove that they are looking for their own country. For if they had longed for the land they had left, it would have been easy for them to return, but no, they aspired to a better city, that is, a supernatural one; so God, Who prepared the city for them is not ashamed of being called their God.

By faith Abraham went to offer Isaac when God tested him. And so he who had received the promise of God offered his only son although God had told him : Isaac’s descendants will bear your name. Abraham reasoned that God is capable even of raising the dead, and he received back his son, which has a figurative meaning.

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Hebrews 11 : 1-2, 8-12

Faith is the assurance of what we hope for, being certain of what we cannot see. Because of their faith our ancestors were approved. It was by faith that Abraham, called by God, set out for a country that would be given to him as an inheritance; for he parted without knowing where he was going.

By faith he lived as a stranger in that promised land. There he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, beneficiaries of the same promise. Indeed, he looked forward to that city of solid foundation of which God is the Architect and Builder.

By faith Sarah herself received power to become a mother, in spite of her advanced age; since she believed that He Who had made the promise would be faithful. Therefore, from an almost impotent man were born descendants as numerous as the stars of heavens, as many as the grains of sand on the seashore.

Sunday, 7 August 2022 : Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 32 : 1 and 12, 18-19, 20 and 22

Rejoice in YHVH, you who are just; praise is fitting for the upright. Blessed is the nation whose God is YHVH – the people He has chosen for His inheritance.

But YHVH’s eyes are upon those who fear Him, upon those who trust in His loving-kindness, to deliver them from death and preserve them from famine.

In hope, we wait for YHVH, for He is our help and our shield. O YHVH, let Your love rest upon us, even as our hope rests in You.

Sunday, 7 August 2022 : Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Wisdom 18 : 6-9

That night had been foretold to our ancestors, and knowing in what promise they trusted, they could rejoice in all surety. Your people waited for both the salvation of the just and the downfall of their enemies, for the very punishment of our enemies brought glory to the people you have called – that is, to us.

The holy race secretly offered the Passover sacrifice and really agreed on this worthy pact : that they would share alike both blessings and dangers. And forthwith they began to sing the hymns of their fathers.