Wednesday, 23 August 2017 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Rose of Lima, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scriptures, speaking to us about the need to follow the will of God, and to do His works, for all of us have been called by God to be His workers in the plentiful and rich field of this world. This is the essence of what we have heard particularly in today’s Gospel passage, when Jesus spoke to His disciples and the people on the parable of the workers in a vineyard.

In that parable, we heard Jesus speaking about how a master of a vineyard needed workers to work in his vineyard, and therefore he went about, seeking for workers in the marketplaces and the other public places, calling the people to work in his place. In that parable, the master of the vineyard is the Lord our God, and the field or the vineyard is this world where we live in, and where the Lord is also constantly at work.

And all of the workers represent none other than each and every one of us whom God has called to be His followers and servants, to become the workers of the faith. All of us have been called to serve the Lord and to work in the rich harvest of this world, just as He Himself said on another occasion, that while the harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few.

Why is that so? That is because while there are indeed lots of opportunities for the works of God through His Church to be fulfilled, and then there are also many souls out there who are still trapped in the darkness of sin and in the temptations and in the preoccupations of this world, but there are not many in the Church who are willing to take up the Lord’s challenge and do what we can in order to help His good works.

Many of us are lukewarm, and many of us are not enthusiastic in living our faith life actively and with devotion. And this is not what we should be doing as Christians. As true Christians, all those who have devoted themselves to the Lord, we should be active in reaching out to others who are in need of the salvation of God and also in need for our care, compassion and love.

And at the same time, many of us have become proud with ourselves, to the point of being dismissive or even looking down on others who are in need of salvation. We become like Abimelech, the son of Gideon the Judge, who was proclaimed king of the people of Israel, after having murdered all the other sons of his father in order to secure power, glory and fame all for himself. Jotham, the only surviving son of Gideon from the massacre thus denounced him in the first reading we heard today from the Book of Judges.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is not how we should conduct ourselves. We should be humble and accept the will of God and what He has planned for us. Indeed, as the Gospel passage showed us today, those workers who were called to work earlier complained against the master when they found out that those who were called to work at the last hour received the same pay as what they had received. They thought it was unfair for the master to have done so.

But the master was not being unfair, just as the Lord has called each one of us according to His plan and time, at the time of His own choosing, and all of us share the same reward, be it that we have been called to God’s salvation earlier or later. We have received the assurance and promise of life everlasting, true joy and happiness which we can find in the Lord alone.

Let us all not be proud, or be afflicted by greed in our life. Let us instead follow the example of the holy woman, St. Rose of Lima, whose feast we celebrate on this day. St. Rose of Lima is the first saint of the New World, the Americas, and was a devout lay member of the Dominican religious order. St. Rose of Lima devoted herself completely and thoroughly to the Lord, rejecting the pursuits of the world and all the temptations it offered to her.

St. Rose of Lima lived a very virtuous life filled with prayer and commitment to God, and wanted to become a nun, if not for her father’s stern opposition. St. Rose of Lima therefore devoted her whole life, until her death, as a layman member of the Dominican order, spending her time in prayer, and it was told that she even wore a crown of thorns as a reminder of the suffering and the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us all commit ourselves to God in the same manner as St. Rose of Lima had done in her life. Let us thoroughly devote ourselves to God through actions, words and deeds, so that in everything we do, we will always be the workers of God’s vineyard and remain faithful to Him in all things. May St. Rose of Lima and her intercession help us on this journey towards the eternal life in God. May God bless us all. Amen.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Rose of Lima, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 20 : 1-16a

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “This story throws light on the kingdom of heaven : A landowner went out early in the morning, to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay each worker the usual daily wage, and sent them to his vineyard.”

“He went out again, at about nine in the morning, and, seeing others idle in the town square, he said to them, ‘You also, go to my vineyard, and I will pay you what is just.’ So they went. The owner went out at midday, and, again, at three in the afternoon, and he made the same offer.”

“Again he went out, at the last working hour – the eleventh – and he saw others standing around. So he said to them, ‘Why do you stand idle the whole day?’ They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ The master said, ‘Go, and work in my vineyard.'”

“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wage, beginning with the last and ending with the first.’ Those who had gone to work at the eleventh hour came up, and were each given a silver coin. When it was the turn of the first, they thought they would receive more. But they, too, received one silver coin. On receiving it, they began to grumble against the landowner.”

“They said, ‘These last, hardly worked an hour; yet, you have treated them the same as us, who have endured the heavy work of the day and the heat.’ The owner said to one of them, ‘Friend, I have not been unjust to you. Did we not agree on one silver coin per day? So take what is yours and go. I want to give to the last the same as I give to you. Do I not have the right to do as I please with what is mine? Why are you envious when I am kind?'”

“So will it be : the last will be first.”

Wednesday, 23 August 2017 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Rose of Lima, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 20 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7

The king rejoices in Your strength, o YHVH, and exults in Your saving help. You have granted him his desire; You have not rejected his request.

You have come to him with rich blessings; You have placed a golden crown upon his head. When he asked, You gave him life – length of days forever and ever.

He glories in the victory You gave him; You shall bestow on him splendour and majesty. You have given him eternal blessings, and gladdened him with the joy of Your presence.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Rose of Lima, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Judges 9 : 6-15

Then all the lords of Shechem and the whole council assembled together by the oak of the pillar in Shechem, and proclaimed Abimelech king. When Jotham was told about this, he went to the top of Mount Gerizim. There he cried out to them, “Listen to me, lords of Shechem, that God may listen to you!”

“The trees once set out to find and anoint a king. They said to the olive tree, ‘Be our king.’ The olive tree answered, ‘Am I going to renounce the oil by which – thanks to me – gods and people are honoured, to hold sway over the trees?'”

“The trees said to the fig tree : ‘Come and reign over us.’ The fig tree answered them, ‘Am I going to renounce my sweetness and my delicious fruit, to hold sway over the trees?'”

“The trees said to the vine : ‘Come and reign over us.’ The vine answered, ‘Am I going to renounce my juice which cheers gods and people to sway over the trees?'”

“Then the trees said to the bramble bush : ‘Come, reign over us.’ The bramble bush answered the trees, ‘If you come in sincerity to anoint me as your king, then come near and take shelter in my shade; but if not, let fire break out of the bramble bush to devour even the cedars of Lebanon.'”

Wednesday, 23 March 2016 : Wednesday of the Holy Week, Memorial of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard again how Judas Iscariot went on to betray the Lord Jesus, bargaining with the chief priests and the Pharisees to hand Him over for the thirty pieces of silver coins they offered to him. Today is the traditional day in the tradition of our Church when it was told that Judas went to deal with the Pharisees about the price he would receive for betraying his Lord and Messiah.

And how is this relevant to all of us, brothers and sisters in Christ? As tomorrow is the beginning of the Easter Triduum, we should enter it with good understanding of what we are celebrating, so that when we go through it, we may find ourselves t benefit far more rather than if we do not understand or are aware of what all the important celebrations of our liturgical year are about, especially that of the upcoming few days.

Judas chose the world and its wealth instead of Jesus, His teachings and truth. He was a thief whom Jesus called to be one of His disciples. God called His disciples from various origins. Some were fishermen, some were zealots and tax collectors, and some were criminals like Judas. But what distinguished him from the others of the Twelve was that, even though the others abandoned their past lives, leaving behind everything to follow the Lord, but Judas did not.

We know how St. Peter, the chief of all the Apostles and the most devoted disciple of Jesus once also betrayed Jesus when out of fear as the Jews arrested his Lord and Master, and under suspicion because he was counted among His disciples, then he denied knowing Him, denying his own Lord, to Whom he had promised that he would even lay down his life for Him.

But what is the difference here? The difference is that, while St. Peter realised the gravity of his sins, and in the same manner, Judas also did, when he regretted having sold out his Master for thirty pieces of silver, but while Judas gave up on himself, and out of despair, hanged himself on a tree, seeking the easy way out of the trouble, but St. Peter began a long path to redemption and greatness.

Judas did not repent from his sins even though he did feel regret for his actions. He had given himself up to the temptations of the world, the temptation of money, which he was not able to resist throughout the time when he was following Jesus. He helped himself to the funds of the group, stealing from the money that should have been used to help the poor and for the common good for his own selfish benefits. And therefore, he was condemned because of his failure to turn himself away from sin, resisting those sins and seeking forgiveness from God.

St. Peter professed one more time his faith to the Lord when He asked of him three times, whether he loved Him. And as St. Peter professed his sincere and genuine love for his Lord, the Lord was happy and pleased with His faith, and entrusted to him the flock which He had established in this world, that he would become the anchor and the core through which the Church of God would grow and encompass all the people who have been saved in Him.

In all these, we have to realise one simple fact, that even all saints were themselves once sinners, and some of them were even great sinners. St. Augustine of Hippo is one of the most prominent and well-cited example, of how even a great sinner can become a great saint, only if he or she would come to realise the gravity of their sins, and know that they need to do something about it, and indeed, take the necessary action.

Today, we commemorate the feast of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, one of the first saints hailing from the New World, or which is now known as the American continent. St. Turibius de Mogrovejo lived a few hundred years ago during the time when the people living in those places lived under slavery and harsh treatment by the Spanish who ruled over them and pressed hard on their lives, exploiting them at every possible opportunity.

St. Turibius de Mogrovejo led the people to live faithfully, and in his actions, he showed his examples to them, and worked among them even though heat, through difficult and challenging times. He helped to build facilities and infrastructures that benefited the indigenous peoples, and therefore helping them to live more comfortably and as a champion of their rights, St. Turibius de Mogrovejo helped the people to rediscover their rights.

In all these, we all should see how even the act of a single man could have such a great impact on many others. It does not need extraordinary works and events in order for us to do something that is good and something that can benefit our brethren around us. What we need to do is that we need to begin doing something and committing ourselves to do things that will bring happiness to others, and begin from small things and taking small steps to help us to become ever more righteous and committed to our Lord.

May God bless us all strengthen us, and may He keep us close to His side, and awaken in us the strong desire to love Him, so that in all the things we do, we will always strive to reach out to Him and to the salvation He offers us all with love and great kindness. God be with us all, now and forever. Amen.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016 : Wednesday of the Holy Week, Memorial of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 26 : 14-25

At that time, one of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “How much will you give me if I hand Him over to you?” They promised to give him thirty pieces of silver, and from then on, he kept looking for the best way to hand Jesus over to them.

On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and said to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare the Passover meal for You?” Jesus answered, “Go into the city, to the house of a certain man, and tell him, ‘The Master says : My hour is near and I will celebrate the Passover with My disciples in your house.'”

The disciples did as Jesus had ordered, and prepared the Passover meal. When it was evening, Jesus sat at table with the Twelve. While they were eating, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you : one of you will betray Me.” They were deeply distressed and they asked Him, one after the other, “You do not mean me, do You, Lord?”

He answered, “The one who dips his bread with Me will betray Me. The Son of Man is going as the Scriptures say He will. But alas for that one who betrays the Son of Man : better for him not to have been born.” Judas, who was betraying Him, also asked, “You do not mean me, Master, do You?” Jesus replied, “You have said it.”

Wednesday, 23 March 2016 : Wednesday of the Holy Week, Memorial of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 68 : 8-10, 21-22, 31 and 33-34

Since I am held in contempt for Your sake, and shame has covered My face. I have become a stranger to My kindred, an alien to My mother’s sons. Zeal for Your house consumes Me as fire and those who insult You insult me as well.

Dishonour has driven Me to despair; I looked for sympathy and there was none, for comforters and there was no one. They gave Me poison for food and vinegar to drink.

I will praise the Name of God in song; I will glorify Him with thanksgiving. Let the lowly witness this and be glad. You who seek God, may your hearts be revived. For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise those in captivity.