Thursday, 23 August 2018 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Rose of Lima, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Virgins)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the Scriptures, with the beautiful and very meaningful passages that are bringing us to contemplate on the importance of our proper internal disposition, in how we believe in God and in how we truly have that genuine faith in Him and not just merely a superficial and illusory commitment.

In the first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Ezekiel, we heard God calling upon His people, the Israelites who have been cast away from their ancestors’ land and went to exile in faraway lands. God wanted to love them again and gather them from their scattered places all around the world. He wanted them to once again become His people and that He become their God.

And this is through a change of attitude and conversion of hearts, that all those whom God called into their midst would have new hearts in them. This change of heart would result in a people whose hearts and minds were hardened and stubborn, always disobedient against God and His will, to be filled with a new love for God, and to be transformed into new beings of light, God’s own beloved ones.

In the Gospel passage today, the Lord alluded to the same intention through the parable which He related to His disciples and to the people listening to Him. He was using the example of a king who invited guests to his feast and yet, many of the people who were invited refused to come to his banquet. This represents those in the past, whom God had called to be with Him and to obey Him, and yet, they refused to believe and chose to rebel instead through sin.

All of them have received their just rewards, and they have been condemned by their own actions. But God is so filled with love for us all, that He desired for us to have the chance fo repent and to turn away from our sins. And that was why, in the parable the Lord used, He compared this with the king who asked his servants to go out and gather all those whom they were able to gather, to be in the banquet that he had prepared.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, each and every one of us have been called by God to be His followers, that is to be partakers in the heavenly banquet He has prepared for each one of us. But are we willing to come and be in the banquet of the Lord? Are we indeed ready to be in the heavenly banquet, to be at the presence of God Himself? Let us all now heed the last part of today’s Gospel passage to remind us that we need to be constantly ready for the Lord.

In the Gospel passage, the king came to one man who was not dressed in the proper garment for the feast, and asked him how he came into the venue. The man was sent out by the king and made to suffer because of his lack of preparation and ignorance of what needed to be done to be present at the banquet. Through this, the Lord reminded each one of us that while the Lord has called us to be part of His heavenly inheritance, but we must be prepared to meet Him and to be with Him.

And that means, all of us must have a genuine and committed faith in God, and we must do our very best to love God and to do our best in our every words and actions, to be worthy of God and to bring greater glory to Him. This is what the Lord wants from us, that is for us to be thoroughly changed and converted in heart, mind, soul and our whole being.

Therefore, we need to be wholly attuned to God and turning ourselves to Him, and in order to do so, we must begin from ourselves, from our actions, resisting the temptations to sin, and doing what is just and righteous in all of the things we say and do. And perhaps, we should model ourselves based on the examples and inspiration of St. Rose of Lima, the holy woman and saint whose feast we celebrate today.

St. Rose of Lima was known as the first saint of the New World, the American continent. St. Rose of Lima was remembered for her great piety, even from a very young age. She spent much time devoting herself through prayer and asceticism, committing herself to prayer and to merciful act of charity towards her brethren. She cared for others and loved God much more than she even loved or cared about herself.

St. Rose of Lima was such an inspiring example of faith that many people throughout the ages modelled themselves after her faith and dedication to the Lord. She has shown us what it means for us to be transformed in the heart, mind and soul, to be those whom the Lord had called to be His disciples. St. Rose of Lima reminds us that a life dedicated to God is our calling in life, and we have to strive our best, each and every day to be ever more faithful to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all no longer harden our hearts or minds, and allow God to enter into our lives, and transform us from our old ways of sin and disobedience to a new way of life. We are called to love God just as God has loved us all, and for us to devote ourselves just as his holy saints, including St. Rose of Lima had done. May the Lord be with us all, and may He continue to guide us in the way of truth. May God bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 23 August 2018 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Rose of Lima, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Virgins)

Matthew 22 : 1-14

At that time, Jesus continued speaking to the people in parables : “This story throws light on the kingdom of heaven : A king gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to call the invited guests to the banquet, but the guests refused to come.”

“Again, He sent other servants, instructing them to say to the invited guests, ‘I have prepared a banquet, slaughtered my fattened calves and other animals, and now, everything is ready. Come to the wedding!’ But they paid no attention and went away, some to their farms, and some to their work. Others seized the servants of the king, insulted them and killed them.”

“The king was furious. He sent his troops to destroy those murderers and burn their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is prepared, but the invited guests were not worthy. Go instead to the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding feast.'”

“The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, good and bad alike, so that the hall was filled with guests. The king came in to see the wedding guests, and he noticed a man not wearing a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in without the wedding clothes?'”

“But the man remained silent. So the king said to his servants, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Thursday, 23 August 2018 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Rose of Lima, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Virgins)

Psalm 50 : 12-13, 14-15, 18-19

Create in me, o God, a pure heart; give me a new and steadfast spirit. Do not cast me out of Your presence nor take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Give me again the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will show wrongdoers Your ways and sinners will return to You.

You take no pleasure in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt offering, You would not delight in it. O God, my sacrifice is a broken spirit; a contrite heart You will not despise.

Thursday, 23 August 2018 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Rose of Lima, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Virgins)

Ezekiel 36 : 23-28

I will make known the holiness of My great Name, profaned among the nations because of you; and they will know that I am YHVH, when I show them My holiness among you. For I will gather you from all the nations and bring you back to your own land. Then I shall pour pure water over you and you shall be made clean – cleansed from the defilement of all your idols.

I shall give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. I shall remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I shall put My Spirit within you and move you to follow My decrees and keep My laws. You will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you shall be My people and I will be your God.

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.