Wednesday, 15 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 93 : 5-6, 7-8, 9-10, 14-15

They crush Your people, o YHVH, they oppress Your inheritance. They murder the widow and the lonely; they massacre the helpless.

“YHVH does not see,” they say, “The God of Jacob does not care.” Remember this, you stupid people; when will you understand, you fools!

He Who made the ear, will He not hear? He Who formed the eye, will He not see? He Who rebukes nations, will He not punish them?

YHVH will not reject His people, nor will He forsake His heritage. Justice will return to the just; and the upright will follow, in its wake.

Wednesday, 15 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 10 : 5-7, 13-16

Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger, the staff of My fury! Against a godless nation I send him, against a people who provoke My wrath I dispatch him, to plunder and pillage, to tread them down like mud in the streets. But the mind of his king is far from this, his heart harbours other thoughts; what he wants is to destroy, to make an end of all nations.

For the King says : “By my own strength I have done this and by my own wisdom, for I am clever. I have moved the frontiers of people, I have plundered treasures, I have brought inhabitants down to the dust, I have toppled kings from their thrones. As one reaches into a nest, so my hands have reached into nations’ wealth. As one gathers deserted eggs, so have I gathered the riches of the earth. No one flapped a wing or opened its mouth to chirp a protest.”

Does the ax claim more credit than the man who wields it? Does the saw magnify itself more than the one who uses it? This would be like a rod wielding the man who lifts it up; will those not made of wood, be controlled by the cudgel? This is why YHVH Sabaoth, is ready to send a wasting sickness upon the king’s sturdy warriors. Beneath his plenty, a flame will burn like a consuming fire.

Tuesday, 14 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Camillus de Lellis, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us heard of the account from the Book of the prophet Isaiah relating to us the moment when the kings of the northern kingdom of Israel and the kingdom of Aram-Damascus were allied together to attack the kingdom of Judah in the south. By their larger population and territory, power and combined might, it might seem certain that they would rise up and destroy the kingdom of Judah and Jerusalem.

But the Lord was with His people, and as the king in Judah and the people were then still mostly adherent to the ways of the Lord, obeyed His Law and followed His prophets during the reigns of king Hezekiah and some other righteous kings of Judah, God still stood by His people against the plots of their enemies, those who worshipped the pagan gods and disobeyed God’s will at whim. The Lord would not let His people fall, and He protected them, while speaking of the destruction that would happen to both Israel and Aram-Damascus at the hands of the Assyrians.

This was the same message of hope and consolation which God would later on also give His people through the prophet Isaiah, at that time when Israel and Aram-Damascus plotted against Judah, and when later on the Assyrians under king Sennacherib came up with a very mighty army to conquer Judah and besiege Jerusalem. When the people of God were in great trouble and in despair, God stood by them and reassured them. And the armies of king Sennacherib were destroyed and the Assyrian king returned to his land in shame.

But at the same time, the Lord also warned His people, as He did when He reassured them in their fight against Israel and Aram-Damascus, and later on for the king Hezekiah of Judah when he took lightly the future threat of the Babylonians. He warned them that should they be unfaithful in the future, they too would experience the consequences of their unfaithfulness, wickedness and sins. This was what happened when the Babylonians came and conquered Judah, destroyed Jerusalem and its Temple because then the people had fallen into sin and refused to believe in God.

In our Gospel passage today, peculiarly, we also heard the same warning that the Lord Jesus had spoken against the cities and towns of Galilee, namely Bethsaida, Chorazin and Capernaum. The Lord had performed many works and miracles in those cities and towns, and many of the people there had witnessed His works, miracles and heard His teachings and words. Yet, many among them still refused to believe in Him and in the truth that He had brought to them, hardened their hearts and closed their minds to Him.

They were also representative of the many people, especially many among the Pharisees who frequently opposed the Lord and His works, tailed and confronted Him in many occasions, and these people refused to believe and constantly harassed the Lord and His disciples. Therefore, the Lord’s words and stern warning were addressed to them, as a warning and a kind reminder that all those who persistently refused to believe in God and continued to walk in sin would have their just rewards in judgment by God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all reminded therefore that if we believe in God, and put our trust in Him, then we have that assurance and guarantee of true joy and true satisfaction in Christ. On the other hand, if we are stubborn and constantly and persistently refuse to believe in God, then in the end, we will have no part in Him. God does not want us to suffer that consequences, and this is why He has sent us, again and again, very patiently, many prophets, messengers and helpers to help remind us throughout our lives.

Today, we also have St. Camillus de Lellis as one of our great source of inspiration. And as we celebrate his feast day today, we remember the great piety and dedication by which he has dedicated himself to God. St. Camillus de Lellis was known for his personal piety, great humility in life and ascetic life, and for his great focus on the care for the sick and dying. St. Camillus de Lellis spent much of his life and ministry in this area, establishing the Order of Clerks Regular, Ministers of the Infirm or the Camillans after his name.

Through these efforts, St. Camillus inspired many others to show more care and concern for the sick, those who are suffering, from illness and plague, from warfare injuries and hurts among other things. Through his hard work and the contributions of many others, many of the people were touched by God’s love, and many became stronger in their faith in God. And all of these should be inspiration and good example for us to follow in our own respective life and faith.

May the Lord help us in our journey of faith that each and every one of us may be strengthened and inspired by the dedication shown by St. Camillus de Lellis and innumerable other holy men and women of God. Let us all be righteous in everything we say and do, and strive to be ever closer to God and to be more faithful to Him with every passing moment. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 14 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Camillus de Lellis, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Matthew 11 : 20-24

At that time, Jesus began to denounce the cities in which He had performed most of His miracles, because the people there did not change their ways.

“Alas for you Chorazin and Bethsaida! If the miracles worked in you had taken place in Tyre and Sidon, the people there would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I assure you, for Tyre and Sidon; it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.”

“And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to heaven? You will be thrown down to the place of the dead! For if the miracles which were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would still be there today! But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

Tuesday, 14 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Camillus de Lellis, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Psalm 47 : 2–3ab, 3cd-4, 5-6, 7-8

Great is YHVH, most worthy of praise in the City of God, His holy mountain. Beautifully elevated, it is the joy of all the earth.

Mount Zion, heavenly mountain, the City of the great King. Here, within her lines of defence, God has shown Himself to be a sure fortress.

The kings assembled together, advanced toward the city. But as soon as they saw it, they were astounded; they panicked and took to flight.

Seized with fear, they trembled, like a woman in travail, or like ships of Tarshish, shattered by a strong wind from the east.

Tuesday, 14 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Camillus de Lellis, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Isaiah 7 : 1-9

When Ahaz son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, was king of Judah, king Rezin of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah, king of Israel, laid siege to Jerusalem but they were unable to capture it. When the news reached the house of David, “Aram’s troops are encamped in Ephraim,” the heart of the king and the hearts of the people trembled as the trees of the forest trembled before the wind.

YHVH then said to Isaiah : “Go with your son A-remnant-will-return, and meet Ahaz at the end of the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Washerman’s Field. Say to him, ‘Stay calm and fear not; do not lose courage before these two stumps of smouldering firebrands – the fierce anger of Rezin the Aramean and the blazing fury of the son of Remaliah.’”

“‘You know that Aram, Ephraim and Remaliah’s son have plotted against Judah, saying : Let us invade and scare it, let us seize it and put the son of Tabeel king over it. But the Lord YHVH says : It shall not be so; it shall not come to pass. For Damascus is only the head of Aram and Rezin the lord of Damascus. Samaria is only the head of Ephraim and Remaliah’s son is only the lord of Samaria. Within fifty-six years, Ephraim will be shattered and will no longer be a people. But if you do not stand firm in faith, you, too, will not stand at all.’”

Monday, 13 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the passages of the Sacred Scriptures, we are all reminded of God’s call for us to repent from our sinful ways, to turn away from our wickedness, all the selfish attitudes we have shown all these while we embraced the ways of worldliness and sin. Through His prophets and messengers, His saints and the Church, God has called us and reminded us yet again and again to be faithful to Him.

In our first reading today, we heard from the prophet Isaiah’s words, speaking God’s intentions and will to His people, which can be summarised as such that He sought not the sacrifices and offerings, festivals and customary celebrations from His people, but rather, real love and genuine faith. He essentially wanted His people to be truthful in their faith and dedication to Him, and not be hypocrites who claimed to believe in Him and yet, acted in ways totally contrary to His teachings and ways.

The Lord has told them that what He wanted from them was real love, dedication and commitment, and not merely just empty show of faith, for it is indeed possible for one to obey the precepts of the Law but without the right intentions, or because it was merely done out of obligation and fulfilling what we considered as a mere formality. These are not what the Lord wanted, and He made it clear to His people through His prophet Isaiah, and this was because many among the people still committed sin against God and lived in state of sin despite outwardly obeying the Law.

This is similar to what the Lord Jesus also saw and encountered among the people when He came into the world, bearing the truth and Good News of salvation. Many among the people paid just lip service for God, and some among them like many among the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law became distracted with their role, misunderstanding the intention of God’s will and Law, and they made a show of their faith for praise and respect from the other people, and not because they genuinely and wholly loved God from their hearts.

And the disagreement that rose out of these led to friction and difficulties, challenges and trials facing the followers of God, that had begun even since the time of the ancient prophets, as they faced stubborn people who refused to change their ways, and ended up with them being persecuted and troubled by those who refused to accept them and listen to their truth. The same treatment would be faced and endured by the Lord and His Apostles, His disciples and followers, even as the Lord Jesus performed His ministry, and afterwards as the early Christians continued the Lord’s works.

And the Lord in today’s Gospel passage also told His disciples a kind of jarring message as He told them that whoever loved father, mother, brothers or sisters, or their loved ones and spouses more than they loved God, were not fit to become His followers. Actually what the Lord wanted to tell them and all of us was really that, not that He wanted us to abandon our family and loved ones or to hate them. On the contrary, He definitely wants us all to love our parents, our brethren, our loved ones and family members, our friends and other people. But, what is important that, beyond all these, we must love God even a lot more.

And through what He had explained and revealed, and what we have discussed today, through the readings of the Scripture we can see that being followers of Christ is not necessarily easy for us to do. There will be plenty of challenges and trials ahead, and often we may have to make choices that will put us in quandary of having to choose between God and those whom we know. But if our faith in God is genuine and strong, our commitment to Him and dedication are pure, then we will surely have the right focus and attention, that is on God and not on other things.

Today, all of us celebrate the feast of St. Henry, a great leader and a humble man before God, whom as Emperor Henry II, the Holy Roman Emperor, was the secular leader of Christendom ordained by God, and by influence, power and prestige, were probably second throughout Christendom just after the Pope, the Vicar of Christ himself. He was a great leader who was dedicated to his people and kingdom, and responsibly carried out the duties of Christian leadership placed in his hands.

He generously gave to the poor and strengthened the foundations of his realm, while at the same time, supporting the Church and its works, spreading the Christian faith far and wide, sending missionaries to pagan areas and converting many to the true faith, while consolidating the areas already under Christian rule. He established a strong relationship with the Pope and the Church, and in the meantime remaining humble and virtuous, with strong personal piety and dedication to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, St. Henry the pious and God-loving Holy Roman Emperor is our great inspiration on how we ourselves can also be righteous and just, dedicated and committed to God. Are we willing and able to follow in his footsteps and be dedicated to God through our daily actions and interactions with one another? Let us all reflect on these, and let us be truly faithful from now on, not just merely paying lip service and empty formality, striving to be good and genuine Christians moving on with our lives.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He strengthen us all with our faith, and may He grant us His providence and with much courage to carry on living as good and faithful Christians from now on. May God bless us all and all of our good works and endeavours, inspired by the examples of our holy predecessors, the holy saints of God, especially St. Henry, our role model in faith. Amen.

Monday, 13 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Matthew 10 : 34 – Matthew 11 : 1

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Do not think that I have come to establish peace on earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Each one will have as enemies, those of one’s own family.”

“Whoever loves father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me. And whoever loves son or daughter more than Me, is not worthy of Me. And whoever does not take up his cross and follow Me, is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life, for My sake, will find it.”

“Whoever welcomes you, welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me, welcomes Him Who sent Me. The one who welcomes a prophet, as a prophet, will receive the reward of a prophet; the one who welcomes a just man, because he is a just man, will receive the reward of a just man.”

“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones, because he is My disciple, I assure you, he will not go unrewarded.”

When Jesus had finished giving His twelve disciples these instructions, He went on from there to teach and proclaim His message in their towns.

Monday, 13 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Psalm 49 : 8-9, 16bc-17, 21 and 23

Not for your sacrifices do I reprove you, for your burnt offerings are ever before Me. I need no bull from your stalls, nor he-goat from your pens.

What right have you to mouth My laws, or to talk about My covenant? You hate My commands and cast My words behind you.

Because I was silent while you did these things, you thought I was like you. But now I rebuke you and make this charge against you. Those who give with thanks offerings honour Me, but the one who walks blamelessly, I will show him the salvation of God.

Monday, 13 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Isaiah 1 : 10-17

Hear the warning of YHVH, rulers of Sodom. Listen to the word of God, people of Gomorrah. “What do I care,” says YHVH, “for your endless sacrifices? I am fed up with your burnt offerings, and the fat of your bulls. The blood of fatlings, and lambs and he-goats I abhor, when you come before Me and trample on My courts. Who asked you to visit Me? I am fed up with your oblations. I grow sick with your incense.

Your New Moons, Sabbaths and meetings, evil with holy assemblies, I can no longer bear. I hate your New Moons and appointed feasts. They burden Me. When you stretch out your hands I will close My eyes; the more you pray, the more I refuse to listen, for your hands are bloody.

Wash and make yourselves clean. Remove from My sight the evil of your deeds. Put an end to your wickedness and learn to do good. Seek justice and keep in line the abusers; give the fatherless their rights and defend the widow.