Sunday, 16 November 2014 : 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Margaret of Scotland and St. Gertrude, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we come together to celebrate this occasion of the holy day of our Lord, and we listened to the good words of the Sacred Scriptures. In today’s readings, the theme is all about who we are, and what we are supposed to do in this life of ours. For we are all the children of God, and therefore we are expected to life according to who the children of God are.

The first reading taken from the Book of Proverbs detailed how a good woman should behave, in the ways and actions she should do in life, and in how she should carry herself in the society of the people of God. However, this does not mean that this applies only to the females, but also to all of us. It is the kind of life that we all should lead, to be upright and just, to be careful in how we use our words, and in loving one another. Do you all remember that these were precisely what Jesus told us to do?

Then the psalm refers to blessings which God will bestow on those who fear the Lord and obey Him, and most importantly, those who do not just fear the Lord but also do His will and walk in His ways. This is a promise which He gave us, and if we are faithful, certainly we will not be disappointed. If we are faithful, then certainly we will need to do something to justify that faith, and not just merely staying idle or being so fearful of the Lord that we do not dare to do anything.

In the second reading, taken from the Letter of St. Paul to the faithful in Thessalonica, a frequent reminder to us is once again uttered. It is to remind us that the coming of the Lord will be totally unpredictable and will catch us all unprepared unless we have taken the necessary steps to make sure that when He comes again into this world as He had promised, He will not find us asleep, and instead find us all worthy, awake and filled with the fruits of our goodness to the brim.

And finally in the Gospel Reading, Jesus our Lord when He first came into this world told His disciples of the parable of the talents. A master of the house gave his ten servants five talents of silver, two talents, one talents and so on and so forth, before he embarked on a journey to become king in another country, and he would return one day to his house to settle matters, especially what he had given and invested in his servants.

The Gospel essentially summarised everything that the entirety of our myriads of readings today. In it, the parable of the silver talents represented exactly what had happened, what is happening now, and what will happen in the near, unpredictable future. The parable’s characters themselves represent the many characters that are present in this world, and who are those servants, to whom the master of the house had entrusted his silver? They are all of us, brothers and sisters.

The house itself is the world, and just as the servants lived in the house, entrusted with the care of the house while the master is gone, we have all been entrusted with this world as its stewards. Remember what the Lord had charged mankind with, at the beginning of time in the Book of Genesis. He made mankind the custodians of creation, giving all things and all creation to be under our stewardship, blessing us to multiply and fill all the earth.

He gave us many things, and for each of us, we are all different and unique. Each of us have different set of skills and abilities, and that is the wonders of our Lord and such is the grace of His creation of all of us, the most precious and beloved of all others He had crafted with His hands. He gave us life and even more, and all these are the food and drink with which the master of the house gave to his servants to sustain them.

The master of the house, is the Lord our God, for He is the Owner of the house that is this world, and He is also our Owner and Lord. And He came to us to grant us His gifts, like the master gave the silver talents to his servants. What are these gifts, brothers and sisters? It is the seeds of faith, the seeds of hope, and the seeds of love which He had planted in each one of us who believe.

Through baptism, we have been born anew and received new life in Christ. However, to all of us also have been given a task, a very important one indeed, that is to sow those seeds on fertile soil and allow them to grow healthy and strong, producing rich and plentiful fruits that will serve as our justification when the Lord comes back to this world at the end of time, at the time of His own choosing.

And the master left the house, to go into the kingdom where he was made the king of. The same happened to our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus was in fact speaking of what would happen in the immediate future at that time. Remember that Jesus went on to suffer in Jerusalem, enduring through His Passion and eventually was crucified at Golgotha and died for our sins?

Remember that after that He was risen from the dead on the third day, appearing to His disciples, and while reaffirming His promises and telling of His coming again at the end of time, He then ascended to heaven in glory? He went there to prepare the places for His servants and His faithful ones, but also to reclaim the Kingship which He had left behind when He chose to come down as a lowly human, to save us.

Thus, like the master of the house who left to be a king in a distant country, Jesus also went to be the King of all kings. Next week, on next Sunday to be precise, we will celebrate the Solemnity of Jesus Christ our Lord, King of the Universe. Therefore, the readings this Sunday, we can see as a prelude leading towards that great feast, the last one of this liturgical year. After that we will begin a new year cycle with the season of Advent.

And the readings for the ending of the liturgical year all have the same theme, that is about the future arrival of our Saviour and Lord, who will come again for the second time, at the end of time, which is a time that we do not know of, to judge all the people living and the dead. And this also ties in perfectly with the parable of the talents in our Gospel reading today.

Remember, that the master came back to the house after a long time for a reckoning. And was there anywhere mentioned that he trumpeted his return or announced it to the servants beforehand? Was there anywhere mentioned that the master sent a message announcing his coming to them? No, and that is indeed what will happen at the end of time for us.

Yes, we do not know when the Lord will come again. And St. Paul warned us in his letter, our second reading, that the Lord’s coming will be like a thief, unannounced, sudden and unexpected. He will come at a time when we least expect it, and whatever we have done in this life, and whatever we have not done in this life, and whatever just things or wicked things we have committed, all have been finalised and set in the book when He comes again.

Thus it is a good time for us to look back into our life, to all what we have done and what we have said. And it is a good time for us to begin to inspect our relationships with others around us, and most importantly, our relationship with our Lord and Master. Why is this so? So that when the time comes suddenly, and the Lord asks us of what we have done, we can proudly show Him and present Him with all the things we have done.

The master asked for all of his ten servants to give an account of what they have done with the silver talents they have been entrusted with. The first two servants gladly showed that they have doubled the silver talents they had been given, and they gave their master the amount they have gained. The master was happy and pleased, and showed his grace and favour upon them.

But the third servant feared his master and hid the silver talent rather than investing it and letting it to grow with profits. It clearly betrayed his contempt for his master and the gift of talent which had been given to him, allowing it to slumber and be hidden in a hiding place. And the master was angry, and casting him out into the darkness, he rebuked that unfaithful and lazy servant, and took what he had, and gave it to those who deserved it more.

It is therefore precisely what will happen when we come to face the Lord in the final judgment. Everything we have said or done in our life on earth will be placed spread out in front of God with nothing that we can hide. After all He knows everything we do, everything we ever thought of, and He can see deep into our hearts. Remember that He has placed the seeds of faith, hope and love within us? He will then ask us to account for those.

If we can show Him that we have allowed those seeds to germinate within us, and to allow them to grow on a rich and fertile soil, then our Lord will certainly praise us, and say to us, ‘Blessed of My Father, welcome into the kingdom which I have prepared for you.’ And we will enjoy the gifts which He had prepared for us. For we have been entrusted with life, and with love and all things, and we have been found worthy, and thus our reward is an immortality in perfect love and harmony with our God, an eternal bliss and happiness.

And some may ask, how do we do this? It is by knowing our faith, learning and understanding what it is about, by listening to the teachings of the Church faithfully and internalise them, so that from there, our understanding may be turned into action, and those actions will then, if we truly understand our faith and commit ourselves to it, represent faith, hope and love.

If we fail to do this, and instead, allow those gifts of God to remain dormant, or worse, to even wither and die, because of our wickedness and our persistence to remain in sin and darkness, then our Lord Jesus will say to us, ‘Begone, cursed and wicked ones! Be forever with Satan and his angels in the lake of eternal fire prepared for them!’ And we shall be forever sundered from the love of God, to suffer for eternity a life without faith, hope and love, an eternal suffering and agony in despair. And that is true hell.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, it is imperative that all of us do not leave this day behind without realising that if we have not done what we ought to do, then we should better start now. Never delay and never postpone anything! For all we know that, the Lord may come anytime, and if He comes when we are not ready, regret will not save us. Do not think that there is still a lot of time, but act as if He may come at this very moment.

How do we then, live our lives? We have to practice our faith as taught by Jesus concretely. First, we should look beyond ourselves and shatter the prison of our ego and selfishness. Look around us! There are many who needs our help, and most importantly our love and attention. Not all those who need help needs money or possessions. Many people remain unloved, ostracised, and hated in the society, and what we can do, is to offer our love for them.

Today’s two saints, St. Margaret of Scotland and St. Gertrude were both very pious and dedicated servants of God whose life examples we can emulate in our own. St. Margaret of Scotland was the Queen of Scotland, and yet she was renowned for her extensive charitable works and activities, and she was also very devoted in prayer, communicating frequently with God.

Meanwhile, St. Gertrude was devoted in her works and writings, through which her faith in the Lord became an inspiration for many who witnessed her life and read those works. Their examples should inspire us to do more for the sake of those around us, leading them ever closer to God through our own actions.

And lastly, of course, after we have loved one another, having hope in one another’s salvation, by knowing that we have done what is right, then we have to love our Lord and God beyond everything else. Yes, we have to love Him even more than we love ourselves. Then, our Lord and Master, at the day of reckoning, the Day of Judgment, will congratulate us, and lead us into His eternal kingdom, for us all to enjoy and be happy forever.

Let us all realise that each of us have been given different gifts, each according to our own abilities. And let us not let these gifts go dormant but rather that may all these benefit one another, through our actions of love. God be with us all, now and forever. Amen.


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Gospel Reading :

Saturday, 25 October 2014 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of our Lady)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s Scripture and Gospel readings are very clear in that they gave us great and precious advice on how to live our lives and how to be faithful to our Lord and God. The readings showed how God is not an unjust and cruel God who is only concerned about punishing us for our sins, nor would He unjustly punish us without good reason.

God is loving and merciful, and He is willing to welcome us back into His love. Indeed, it is not just that He is willing to do so, but He indeed wants to bring us back into His embrace, and thus He sent us Apostles, disciples, messengers, prophets and other helpers endlessly to be our guides and to help us to orientate ourselves, to avoid being recaptured by the hands of Satan and by the power of sin and to help us to live righteously and justly according to the will of God.

But, this is not the only thing we need to know about the Lord. Our Lord and God is indeed loving and merciful, but at the same time, He is also just and a hater of all forms of sins. I have often mentioned this before, and I would like to repeat it again, for the benefit of all the faithful who hear this message. This is because many of us seem to fall under the lie and delusion that God is loving and merciful only, overlooking the other aspects of Him that we need to understand if we are to achieve salvation in God.

We live in a time when our sensitivities towards sin had been diluted and weakened, and the culture of death and wickedness that is in the world, and which is continuing to change the world in accordance to what Satan wishes, is harming us all, brothers and sisters in Christ. Many of our fellow men were ensnared in the web of deception and temptation set up by the devil, who is and will always be active and about to bring about the downfall of as many souls as possible.

While in the past, sin is sin and being sinful brought about great regrets and repentance, now people often no longer regard their sinful acts as something wrong or something to be regretted. Their casual attitude towards sin is harmful, and that was also why they have committed even more and more sin in their lives. Many have the misconception that God understands them and will forgive them no matter what their sins are, but they were really completely wrong, and if they continue in this attitude, they are in great danger, both soul and body.

The lack of apprehension and disgust towards sin by men, especially in the world of our time is truly unbelievable and dangerous. Instead of seeking God’s mercy and repent for even the smallest sins that we have, we continue to commit sin and disregarding God’s laws and commandments, doing as we like in this life, thinking that God will forgive us in the end because of His love.

But we have to remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, that the Lord hates sin in all of its forms and sin is the greatest barrier that separate us from the love of God. As long as the taints of sin remain on our selves, on our body and soul, and we do not repent from those sins, we cannot approach and be one with our Lord and God. That is because, despite of His love and mercy, grace for all of us can only be achieved if we take concrete steps and actions to truly commit ourselves to the Lord.

Thus, that is why the Church, as the guardian of the Faith as it was given to us by Christ through His Apostles, kept the stance on having mercy only when the sinner is truly repentant and desire true forgiveness of sins, not by an easy path, but through gracious devotion to the way of the Lord and by acts of reparation to repay the debts of sin which the sinner had incurred against the Lord.

There are indeed pressures from this world and all who are aligned with Satan and the forces of darkness, as we recently witnessed in the recent Extraordinary Synod on the Family, which had just been concluded at the end of last week. The social media and media in general, in all of their various forms aired their opinions pushing for the agenda to destroy the Faith and the Church, which was advocated by even some within the Church.

Yes, it is the advocation of false and deceiving mercy to sinners, and the notion that the Church tolerates sin, that is most dangerous, not just for those who have committed those grievous sins, but even for the righteous within the Church of God. If we allow this corruption and debauchery of the world to make its way into the Faith and the Church, we are bringing ruin and disaster upon ourselves.

God reminds us through Jesus that He always wants to give us chances and opportunities, as what Jesus told in His parable of the fig tree that did not bear any fruit and was barren. The fig tree was given another chance by the Lord, who gave it another chance to redeem itself, before it is given up for cutting and burning. Thus, in the same way God had given us chance, and even many chances for us to repent and become better, and abandon our sinful ways.

Therefore, it is imperative for all of us to put our complete trust in Jesus Christ our Lord, the root of Faith, the One who is our anchor in our faith and life. Just as St. Paul had written in his letter to the Church and the faithful in the city of Ephesus, he pointed out that the Lord Jesus came to this world to rescue us and to give us new hope, through sincere repentance and humility to seek God’s mercy.

If we do these, then Christ, whose death has washed away our sins and whose resurrection from the dead offer us new hope in life, will bring us from the shadow of death and into the liberated life in God. Mercy cannot be separated from repentance, or otherwise the mercy will be false mercy and bring harm instead of goodness.

Hence, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all detach ourselves from the impurities of this world and purify ourselves in faith. May Almighty God bless us with faith and His love, and may He help us to guard us from the depredations of sin. May all of us get closer to the Lord and put all of our trust to Him, and with Him as our anchor in life, let us all humbly seek His mercy and sincerely offer our repentance to Him, that He may justify us in our repentance and faith. God bless us all. Amen.