Sunday, 8 November 2015 : Thirty-Second (32nd) Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this sacred and holy day of the Lord, we heard about the Lord our God Who shows great love and concern for us, the providence which He will give to all those who clung themselves strongly to Him, and He will bless all those who have given their all and devoted their all for the sake of the Lord their God.

And we heard about the story of two poor and suffering woman in both the first reading today from the Book of Kings, and in the poor woman from the Gospel of St. Mark, who gave all the possessions she had, despite herself having difficulties to persevere in her own difficult life. But what Jesus wanted to tell us is that, her gifts and offerings, being given out through times of difficulty is truly a genuine gift pleasing to the Lord.

For Jesus showed rightly that those who are rich, when they gave to the poor or donated money to the Temple treasury, they tried to outdo the other man in our giving to all those who needed them. While they gave what they had, they gave from their plenty and had no concerns or qualms about giving what they had, whereas the woman who had so little, still yet gave from her own pocket, whatever she could give to help the Temple building at that time.

In trying to glorify the Lord by her actions and by her dedication, she has shown all of us true and genuine faith, and a courageous and real commitment to the Lord, by giving all she had without worry or concerns for this world and for whatever she had in this world. She placed her trust completely and entirely in the Lord, and in doing so, she will indeed receive eternal and glorious reward of heaven.

But yet, at the same time, we have to take note that Jesus was not condemning the rich and those who have many possessions and things of this world. For we know of the rich people and those who have much with them, who have generously given from their own coffers to help others who are in need, and for various other good purposes and deeds.

The key here is that when we give to others, and we give something that belongs to us to help other who are around us, we have to be sincere and devoted in our giving, and we cannot give with the expectation that whoever we gave to, we demand them to return the gift in the same manner. And when we give something, let us not be too concerned about the loss we incur because of our giving.

Why is this so, brethren? This is important as it is our tendency to grow too attached to what we have, and we do not like it when we need to lose them or to part ways with them, because it is in our human nature to always desire for more things, to accumulate what we already have to get even more of them. It is this attachment that is so harmful and so dangerous for us, as unchecked, they can bring about ruin to our souls.

The wealth and possessions that we have, they are in themselves not evil or wicked in nature, for they are just objects and tools that can indeed be used for the purpose of evil, as well as for good purposes and for the benefit of all those who are around us. It is in how we use them, that we can effect either good or bad things upon others, and it is in how we look at them and treat these that we can use them for good or evil, and in doing so bringing either blessings or disgrace and condemnation upon our souls.

The Lord wanted us all to know that if we want to love Him and if we want to be truly faithful to Him, then there is truly no greater price to pay than our total devotion and commitment, and the full trust that we all should place in Him, our Lord, Master and Saviour. Just like the widow of Zarephath who suffered greatly from the famine that came over Israel because of their disobedience, she had less and less food, and soon enough, her food stock would run out and she and her son would perish.

But the prophet Elijah came to her seeking for help and food, and when she voiced her concerns, Elijah told her not to worry, for the Lord Who is loving and kind to all those who put their trust in Him will provide all that is needed for sustenance and survival, as well as joy and happiness for His people. He will not abandon them to suffer in need without what they need, and He will in His own ways, bless His people and grant them help.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, God proved His love and commitment to help His people, by showing His everlasting providence through the flour jar that never finished, and the jug of oil that never ran out. In this, He wanted the widow of Zarephath and all of us to know that if we put our trust and complete faith in Him, then we truly have nothing to be worried about.

Remember on another occasion Jesus told His disciples and the people about how God blessed the beautiful flowers in the field and the birds with colourful feathers and various raiments of colour with much blessings, and how if He has blessed these with such great blessings then we should not need to worry if we put our trust in Him. In one way or another, in His own way, He will take very good care of us.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us make use of the opportunities that God has given us, and let us use whatever blessings He has graced us with, we may share the goods and the joys we have with one another. Let us not be greedy or be selfish, in selfishly keeping all the wealth, goods and blessings of God to ourselves. May God awaken in all of our hearts the desire to love one another, so that we may realise that even if we are in unfortunate condition, there are always those who are poorer and who are in greater suffering than us.

Let us all act now, and from now on let us all devote ourselves completely to serve the Lord in all the things we do, and let us all commit ourselves to care about each other, and sharing the joys we have received from the Lord. May Almighty God, our Lord bless our endeavours and keep us always in His grace. God bless us all. Amen.

Sunday, 8 November 2015 : Thirty-Second (32nd) Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 12 : 38-44

At that time, as Jesus was teaching, He also said to the people, “Beware of those teachers of the Law, who enjoy walking around in long robes and being greeted in the marketplace, and who like to occupy reserved seats in the synagogues, and the first places at feasts. They even devour the widow’s and the orphan’s goods while making a show of long prayers. How severe a sentence they will receive!”

Jesus sat down opposite the Temple treasury, and watched the people dropping money into the treasury box; and many rich people put in large offerings. But a poor widow also came and dropped in two small coins.

Then Jesus called His disciples and said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all those who gave offerings. For all of them gave from their plenty, but she gave from her poverty, and put in everything she had, her very living.”

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Mark 12 : 41-44

Jesus sat down opposite the Temple treasury, and watched the people dropping money into the treasury box; and many rich people put in large offerings. But a poor widow also came and dropped in two small coins.

Then Jesus called His disciples and said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all those who gave offerings. For all of them gave from their plenty, but she gave from her poverty, and put in everything she had, her very living.”

Sunday, 8 November 2015 : Thirty-Second (32nd) Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Hebrews 9 : 24-28

Christ did not enter some sanctuary made by hands, a copy of the true one, but Heaven itself. He is now in the presence of God on our behalf. He had not to offer Himself many times, as the High Priest does : he who may return every year, because the blood is not his own. Otherwise he would have suffered many times from the creation of the world.

But no; He manifested Himself only now at the end of the ages, to take away sin by sacrifice, and, as humans die only once and afterwards are judged, in the same way Christ sacrificed Himself once to take away the sins of the multitude. There will be no further question of sin when He comes again to save those waiting for Him.

Sunday, 8 November 2015 : Thirty-Second (32nd) 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 loves the virtuous, but He brings to ruin the way of the wicked. The Lord protects the stranger.

He sustains the widow and the orphan. The Lord will reign forever, your God, o Zion, from generation to generation. Alleluia!

Sunday, 8 November 2015 : Thirty-Second (32nd) Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Kings 17 : 10-16

So Elijah went to Zarephath. On reaching the gate of the town, he saw a widow gathering sticks. He called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel that I may drink.”

As she was going to bring it, he called after her and said, “Bring me also a piece of bread.” But she answered, “As YHVH your God lives, I have no bread left but only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am just now gathering some sticks so that I may go in and prepare something for myself and my son to eat – and die.”

Elijah then said to her, “Do not be afraid. Go and do as you have said, but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me; then make some for yourself and your son. For this is the word of YHVH, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of meal shall not be emptied nor shall the jug of oil fail, until the day when YHVH sends rain to the earth.'”

So she went and did as Elijah told her; and she had food for herself, Elijah and her son from that day on. The jar of flour was not emptied not did the jug of oil fail, in accordance with what YHVH had said through Elijah. 

Saturday, 7 November 2015 : 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, on this day in continuation from yesterday’s readings, we are faced yet again with the stark reality and truth about living in this world full of temptations and challenges, and how we ought to make a stand and a clear choice on our conscience and actions, so that we will fully and completely submit ourselves to the will of God and seek to do all of His will.

It was highlighted yet once again, that we cannot be servants to both God and to money. If we serve one and try to please one, then we are very likely going to anger and displease the other. We cannot please and satisfy both God and worldly possessions, just as we cannot please God and Satan at the same time. Either we walk in the path of the Lord and be saved, or we walk in the path of sin with Satan and be together condemned with him for eternity.

Yet, as I have discussed yesterday, many of us are ambivalent and without a clear stand or without the courage to stand up for our faith. Rather than following our Lord and God with zeal and with total devotion, we allow ourselves to be bought over by the world and all of its temptations, all of which are designed, and have indeed been designed by the devil and his angels to lure us away from the salvation in God.

And many of us do not take this seriously, for we think that in small matters or in small faults and sins can be let go and tolerated, for after all those things are indeed small matter, are they not? Unfortunately, Jesus made it very clear through today’s Gospel passage, that those who cannot be trusted with small matters, cannot be entrusted with large matters.

This means that we must not overlook or be ignorant even about small sins and faults that we often do and commit in our daily lives. Even opening ourselves a little to the taste of sin and wickedness would allow the devil to come in and seize an even greater opportunity to corrupt us and our souls. As a result, we commit even more and greater sins, that eventually will threaten to destroy us.

Therefore, it is imperative that we remain vigilant and strong at all times. It is important that we should commit ourselves ever more to the protection of our Lord, and strengthening our own spiritual defences against the assaults of the evil one, his temptations and lies. In order to do so, then we have to really make the effort to bring up the habit of prayer, charity and love in our own respective lives.

Yes, let us all commit ourselves to a life devoted to the Lord, obeying His laws and precepts, and walking faithfully in His path, and showing that faith we have for Him through real and concrete dedication to our fellow brethren. That means if someone is in despair and in condition without hope, let us be the bearers of hope, and when someone is unloved, ostracised and suffering, let us share with them our love.

It is this sharing of love, joy and hope with one another that is the essence of our Christian faith, which requires us to show that love which we ought to have for our Lord, and the same love that we also need to show each other, at least as great as the love, care and concern which we show towards ourselves. And if we have love in us, then we have no need to worry, for that love and genuine faith will shield us from the temptations and challenges presented to us by the devil.

Let us all therefore renew our faith in the Lord, and commit ourselves completely to His love, and from now on, let our every actions and every moments of our lives, we use them for the good of one another, and for the benefit of all mankind, that by our actions, we may bring each other ever closer to the salvation in our God. God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 7 November 2015 : 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 to the people, “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.”