Friday, 30 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are reminded that we have to seek the Lord and love Him with all of our strength and with all of our capabilities, that we focus our lives and our existence in Him. That is why we heard through the Scriptures those words that remind us of our obligations and calling to be faithful Christians at all times, obeying God’s Law and commandments.

In our first reading today, we heard of the numerous feasts and celebrations as dedicated by the Lord and which He told to His people, the Israelites, through Moses that they ought to keep faithfully and celebrate throughout all the years, on the solemn feasts and celebrations, such as the Day of Atonement, in recalling of one’s faults and shortcomings, and regret for them, the great Feast of the Unleavened Bread and the Passover, remembering the time when the Lord saved His people from their slavery in Egypt, and the Feast of the Pentecost, the Feast of the Tents and many others.

All of these feasts and celebrations were all ultimately meant to celebrate the Lord and remind everyone of all the love that God had given to them, and all that they have been so wonderfully blessed with, in everything that they have received, that they do not forget Who it was that had made everything possible for them. It was a reminder for all of them to be faithful and to focus on the Lord and His truth, to abandon their sinful ways and to atone for their sins when they fell to the temptations to sin, so that in the end, they shall always be God’s people and walk ever always in His path.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard how the Lord Jesus was rejected by His own people, by His own townspeople, all those who knew Him and recognised Him in Nazareth, His hometown when He came there to visit and teach in their synagogue. Despite having spoken with authority and delivering the undeniable truth and wisdom of God into their midst, the people of Nazareth hardened their hearts and minds, and refused to believe that such a person, the mere Son of the village carpenter, of a poor village at the very fringe of the Jewish world and community, could be the Messiah and Holy One of God.

That was why they rejected the Lord and refused to believe in Him, ridiculed Him and angrily even sent Him away from their midst, in one account wanting to throw Him off the cliff by the village. The Lord was saddened by the refusal of those whom He had known to listen to His words and the truth and love that He has brought into their midst, and all these happened despite the signs and wonders, all the miracles and other great things that He had done and performed among the people all over Galilee, which doubtlessly the people of Nazareth must have also heard.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of these that we have heard are reminders for us, that if we allow our own ego and pride, our own false judgments and biases to cloud our thoughts and discernment, we can end up being like those who had rejected the Lord. They could not fathom, or appreciate, or even accept the Lord’s truth and revelation, as they were too deeply ingrained and entrenched in their beliefs and prejudices. And this is what we should not be doing, as we live our lives as Christians, and aspire to do our best to serve the Lord in all things.

Instead, we should look upon the examples of our holy predecessors, the holy saints of God, one of whom we celebrate his feast today. Today we mark the memory of St. Peter Chrysologus, a great priest, bishop and holy man of God, who dedicated all of his talents and abilities, his efforts for the greater glory of God. St. Peter Chrysologus. He was the Bishop of Ravenna and remembered as Chrysologus, or the ‘Golden Worded’ because of his amazing skills at oratory and homilies.

Not only that he was remembered for his great and personal piety, his holiness and upright life, but St. Peter Chrysologus was remembered for his great efforts in reaching out to more and more people through his many sermons and homilies, his speeches and works, explaining the texts of the Bible and the Church teachings most clearly and concisely, using simple language to clearly explain the faith to the people while opposing the falsehoods of the many heresies that were then troubling the Church and the faithful communities.

Many people came to believe in the Lord and returned to the Holy Mother Church through the efforts of St. Peter Chrysologus, and still many more were inspired by his examples, his faith and dedication, many years, decades and centuries after his passing, even to this very day. We too should be inspired by the examples set by this holy predecessor of ours, in how we ought to do our best, in our own ways, to glorify the Lord by our lives and to proclaim the Lord in wherever we are and to whoever we interact with, at all times.

May the Lord our loving God continue to watch over us and may He strengthen each and every one of us with the courage to walk ever more faithfully in His path. May God be our guide and may He be our Hope in this journey of faith through life, that we will always be focused on Him and centre our lives and existence on Him alone, always. Amen.

Friday, 30 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Matthew 13 : 54-58

At that time, Jesus went to His hometown and taught the people in their synagogue. They were amazed and said, “Where did He get this wisdom and these special powers? Is He not the carpenter’s Son? Is Mary not His mother and are James, Joseph, Simon and Judas not His brothers? Are not all His sisters living here? Where did He get all these things?” And so they took offence at Him.

Jesus said to them, “The only place where prophets are not welcome is his hometown and in his own family.” And He did not perform many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

Friday, 30 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Psalm 80 : 3-4, 5-6ab, 10-11ab

Start the music, strike the timbrel, play melodies on the harp and lyre. Sound the trumpet at the new moon, on our feast day, when the new moon is full.

This is a decree for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob, a statute He wrote for Joseph when he went out of Egypt.

There shall be no strange god among you, you shall not worship any alien god, for I, YHVH, am your God.

Friday, 30 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Leviticus 23 : 1, 4-11, 15-16, 27, 34b-37

YHVH spoke to Moses, “Then there are appointed feasts of YHVH at the times fixed for them, when you are to proclaim holy assemblies. At twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month is YHVH’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of this month it is YHVH’s feast of Unleavened Bread.”

For seven days you shall eat bread without leaven. On the first day there will be a sacred assembly and no work of a worker shall be done. For seven days you shall present an offering by fire to YHVH and on the seventh day you shall hold a sacred assembly and do no work of a worker.”

YHVH spoke to Moses and said, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them : When you enter the land that I will give you and you reap its harvest, you will bring to the priest a sheaf, the first fruits of your harvest and he shall wave the sheaf before YHVH for you to be accepted; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.”

“From the day after the Sabbath, on which you bring the sheaf of offering, you are to count seven full weeks. The day after the seventh Sabbath will be the fiftieth day and then you are to offer YHVH a new offering. The tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. You are to hold a sacred assembly. You must fast, and you must offer a burnt offering to YHVH.”

“The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of Tents for YHVH, lasting seven days. The first day you shall hold an assembly; you must do no work of a worker. For seven days you must offer a burnt offering to YHVH. On the eighth day you are to hold a sacred assembly and you must offer a burnt offering to YHVH. It is a day of solemn assembly in which you shall do no work of a worker.”

“These are the appointed feasts of YHVH in which you are to proclaim holy assemblies for the purpose of offering offerings by fire, burnt offerings, grain offerings and drink offerings to YHVH, according to the ritual of each day.”

Thursday, 29 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martha, St. Mary and St. Lazarus (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we all celebrate the feast of the three siblings, St. Martha, St. Mary and St. Lazarus, who were featured prominently in the Gospels as friends of the Lord, as well as His close followers and disciples. They were mentioned in various parts of the Gospels, as St. Martha and St. Mary were depicted in the Gospel passage today as having welcomed the Lord to their place, and how both of them later on also had a moment with the Lord when their brother, St. Lazarus passed away from sickness before the Lord resurrected him from the dead.

St. Martha was the one who welcomed the Lord to her place and then made herself busy in preparing all the hospitality, the food and all for the special guest that came to her house, while St. Mary waited by the Lord’s side, listening to Him speaking and teaching her while St. Martha was very busy with her chores and works. When St. Martha saw that her sister was not helping her with her work, and complained to the Lord that St. Mary should be asked to help her in the kitchen with her preparations, the Lord kindly told St. Martha that her sister did the right thing, by choosing to stay by His side and listening to Him.

Both St. Martha and St. Mary loved the Lord and were faithful to Him in their own ways, and it does not mean that each one’s method is better than the other. Rather, the Lord wanted to remind us all through that occasion and example, that we must first and foremost focus our attention to the Lord, to His truth and His love, and then we have to do our labours and work of love for the Lord just as St. Martha had done. But we must be careful not to allow the works and labours to distract us and end up making us fall into the desire for satisfaction and inner pride.

Neither should we allow ourselves forget about the Lord just because we want to do things to glorify Him. This was done to much greater harm by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, as they were outwardly pious and faithful, and yet, they spent most of their time and actions, focusing on praising themselves and indulging in adulation and fame, enjoying their popularity and praises from others. It is because of this that they had forgotten what it is that they were charged with, as the guardians of the Law and the faith of the people. In the end, they became elitist and exclusionists, refusing to admit others to their elite faith and devotion to a fault.

St. Lazarus on the other side showed us all the virtue of having faith and staying true to the Lord, Who is the Master of all and the Lord of all, of the living and the dead. Through his resurrection from the dead, the Lord showed His might before all, and how beloved each and every one of us have been, all these while, that God would not let death to claim all of us and destroy us. From the beginning, we have been destined to destruction and suffering due to our sins, our disobedience against God, and yet, God rescued all of us, and restored us through His love.

He promised us all His salvation, which came true through Christ, His beloved Son, sent into this world to be with us and to dwell among us. He revealed His truth and love to us, and called us all to return to Him, to be reconciled and reunited with Him. He told St. Martha and St. Mary not to be worried and to have faith in Him, when St. Lazarus was sick and eventually died before He reached him. The Lord told the two sisters that He is indeed the Resurrection and the Life, the Master of all, in Whom all of us can trust, and hold firm in.

The wonderful faith and interactions between St. Lazarus and his sisters, St. Mary and St. Martha, as shown by the latter’s great sorrow at his passing and their unsurpassed joy at his resurrection are great model and inspiration for all of us in our own Christian communities, among all the faithful people of God. And their mutual love for the Lord, their dedication and commitment to His cause are also great inspiration for us to follow, as those who believe in the Lord and who should be inspired by their faith and commitment, their love for God above others.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all seek the Lord with a new heart and spirit, strengthened by this love we ought to have for Him, and let us persevere in each and every moments of our lives, that we may glorify Him by our actions and works, and in all things, we may always aspire to the faith showed by St. Martha, St. Mary and St. Lazarus, holy siblings dedicated to the Lord. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 29 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martha, St. Mary and St. Lazarus (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 11 : 19-27

At that time, many Jews had come to Martha and Mary, after the death of their brother, to comfort them. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet Him, while Mary remained sitting in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “If You had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that whatever You ask from God, God will give You.” Jesus said, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha replied, “I know that He will rise in the resurrection, at the last day.” But Jesus said to her, “I am the Resurrection. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, shall live. Whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Martha then answered, “Yes, Lord, I have come to believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, He Who is coming into the world.”

Alternative reading

Luke 10 : 38-42

At that time, as Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He entered a village, and a woman called Martha welcomed Him to her house. She had a sister named Mary, who sat down at the Lord’s feet to listen to His words. Martha, meanwhile, was busy with all the serving, and finally she said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the work? Tell her to help me!”

But the Lord answered, “Martha, Martha, you worry and are troubled about many things, whereas only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Thursday, 29 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martha, St. Mary and St. Lazarus (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 33 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10-11

I will praise YHVH all my days; His praise will be ever on my lips. My soul makes its boast in YHVH; let the lowly hear and rejoice.

Oh, let us magnify YHVH; together, let us glorify His Name! I sought YHVH, and He answered me; from all my fears He delivered me.

They who look to Him are radiant with joy, their faces never clouded with shame. When the poor cry out, YHVH hears and saves them from distress.

YHVH’s Angel encamps and patrols, to keep safe those who fear Him. Oh, see and taste the goodness of YHVH! Blessed is the one who finds shelter in Him!

Revere YHVH, all you, His saints, for those who fear Him do not live in want. The mighty may be hungry and in need; but those who seek YHVH lack nothing.

Thursday, 29 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martha, St. Mary and St. Lazarus (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 4 : 7-16

My dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves, is born of God and knows God. Those who do not love have not known God, for God is love. How did the love of God appear among us? God sent His only Son into this world, that we might have life, through Him.

This is love : not that we loved God, but that, He first loved us and sent His Son, as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, if such has been the love of God, we, too, must love one another. No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us, and His love comes to its perfection in us.

How may we know that we live in God and He in us? Because God has given us His Spirit. We ourselves have seen, and declare, that the Father sent His Son to save the world. Those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in them, and they in God. We have known the love of God and have believed in it. God is love. The one who lives in love, lives in God, and God in him.

Wednesday, 28 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the Scripture passages, we are all reminded of the wonderful ‘treasure’ that all of us have received from the Lord, the truth and the blessings we have received from God, and all the graces we have been given. We have been blessed with generous love from the Lord and we should appreciate this and thank Him for all that He had done for us, all these while, seeking Him with all of our might and abilities.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of Exodus about the moment when Moses returned to the people after having met the Lord face to face within the Holy of Holies of the Holy Tent of Meeting. Moses went into the Holy Tent periodically to meet with God, to converse with Him and to know what it is that the Lord wanted to tell His people. The Lord spoke to Moses directly, and he saw the Lord in person, in all of His glory. Normally, no one would have been able to see the Lord face to face and live, but God gave Moses the special grace to be able to do so.

In that way, the people of God knew that Moses truly spoke God’s words and truth, as the glory of God was reflected and shown on his face whenever he finished speaking with God. That was how God led His people throughout the journey of the Exodus, keeping them in check throughout the many temptations and disobedient attitudes that they had shown Him. God was always ever patient in seeking His people even though they repeatedly again and again abandoned and betrayed Him. He chastised and punished them with justice, but also showed them compassion and guided them to the right path.

That is why we have to consider ourselves so fortunate that God has taken care of us so wonderfully all these time, and He has always ever patiently sought us and wanted us to be reconciled and reunited to Him, and He wants us to be good and to abandon our sinful ways, and that was why He gave us His Law and commandments, and sent us prophets and messengers, one after another in order to work with us, and to reveal to us God’s will and truth, all the truth about His generous love and mercy.

That is why, He sent us in the end, as He promised, the assurance of salvation through Christ, Our Lord, His own only begotten Son. Through Christ, all of us received the fullness of truth, as He revealed to His disciples and to the Church, through the Holy Spirit, the fullness of God’s truth and salvation, which He has brought into this world. And He taught the people through parables and other stories, which He used to explain this truth to them, including what we have also heard in our Gospel passage today.

The Lord told the people about what the kingdom of God is like, likening it to a pearl of great price and value, as well as to a great treasure that lies hidden in a field. The Lord said that just as how one would react upon discovering such a treasure, be it in the sea or on the land, that they would sell everything and leave everything behind and obtain that treasure, therefore it is a reminder to all of us the faithful people of God, that first and foremost, in all things, we have to seek the Lord with all of our strength and might, with all of our efforts and abilities.

The Lord should be the centre and focus of our lives and communities, our actions, activities and interactions. We have to put Him first in all things, and in all that we say and do, we should strive to do His will, in obeying the commandments and the Law which He had clarified and made known to us through the Church. We are all called to follow the Lord with all of our hearts, and today we heard those Scripture readings as reminders for us if we have not done so yet. The Lord has called us a lot of times, but it is often that we have shut ourselves off from Him, all these time.

Let us all therefore learn to trust in the Lord, open ourselves and our hearts and minds to receive the Lord into our midst, speaking with Him and communicating with Him through prayer and silence, just as how Moses once communicated with the Lord. Let us all be thankful of everything God had done for us, in His patience to love us and to forgive us our sins, and His ultimate gift to us in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, that by His suffering and death, He has set us free from the tyranny and bondage to sin and death, and leading us down the path to everlasting life and glory. Amen.

Wednesday, 28 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 13 : 44-46

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure, hidden in a field. The one who finds it, buries it again; and so happy is he, that he goes and sells everything he has, in order to buy that field.”

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a trader, who is looking for fine pearls. Once he has found a pearl of exceptional quality, he goes away, sells everything he has and buys it.”