Friday, 15 November 2019 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Albert the Great, 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 God contained in the day’s Scripture passages, again we are further reminded of the future that is to come as the Lord reminded His people, of the day of reckoning and judgment of all creation. He was reminding them all that when the time comes, some will be deemed as righteous while others will be sent to their fated damnation, and while some enter into the glory of God in heaven, others will go to the eternal suffering in hell.

This is a reality for all of us to ponder upon, and it should be a means of check of our own path in life. Have we lived our lives thus far in ways that will see us ending up by the side of God? Or have we instead walked down the path towards darkness and annihilation? The Lord made it clear that by the time of the coming of the judgment, it will be too late for some of us to regret that we have not done better to allow us to enter the glorious kingdom of God.

But unfortunately many of us fall into the temptations of worldly things, of worldly glory and of the false idols of money, possessions, of fame and glory, of renown and affluence, of pleasures of the body and the mind among many others. As a result, we became attached to those that led us down the path of sin, and we become indifferent and ignorant of God’s truth and love for us. We are distracted by our sinful ways.

And we are easily tempted, brothers and sisters in Christ, as the desires, the greed and the pride within our hearts and minds are always ready to overcome us and to lead us into the path of sin. The devil knows this very well, and that is why, seeking our destruction and annihilation, he is always ever ready with all of his wicked forces to try and bring us down through this path, by tempting us with all the distractions of life.

In the Book of Wisdom all of us are reminded that all those worldly things that I have mentioned earlier are nothing more than just mere creations of God, and yet we tend to glorify them and treasure them even more and much more than how we treasure God and His love in our own lives. And these are painfully visible and real through our own daily actions and through the way we have lived our lives.

Let us ask ourselves, brothers and sisters in Christ. How many of us have spent a lot of time trying to accrue for ourselves more of the worldly goods, money, possessions of all sorts, influence and power in the community, and then because we have been so preoccupied and busy with all that, we end up forgetting about God and distancing ourselves from Him in our busy attachments to the world.

That is how we fall into the trap of the devil, and how we end up being dragged ever deeper into the darkness. Let us therefore today look up to the examples of faith set by our saint today, St. Albert the Great, a holy and devout servant of God and bishop, who was truly exemplary and whose life should be a great inspiration to each and every one of us in how we should be living our lives with faith.

St. Albert the Great was a member of the Dominican Order and was renowned for his great intellect and wisdom, and he was a renowned intellectual and teacher in the Church, throughout his many years of teaching and scholarship, research and writing about the many aspects of the faith. One among his students was none other than another great saint, St. Thomas Aquinas, both of them equally well-known for their faith and dedication to God.

Yet, for all his intellect and wonderful knowledge, St. Albert the Great used all of his strength and being to serve God with all of his heart, to minister to the people entrusted to him and leading them down the path of God’s salvation. He was also a humble person who did not seek any glory for himself, and he preferred to remain in the low rather to let himself be known or be glorified for his works and actions.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having seen the great faith and humility shown by St. Albert the Great in his life, of his allowance of God’s grace and wisdom to flow and work through him, let us all follow in his footsteps and walk on God’s path from now on. Let us all seek to trust God with ever more zeal and devotion, and let us all be ever closer to Him and love Him with ever greater faith and fidelity. Let us die to our pride and human desires, and let us grow in humility and faith. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 15 November 2019 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Albert the Great, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Luke 17 : 26-37

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be on the day the Son of Man comes. In those days people ate and drank and got married; but on the day Noah entered the Ark, the flood came and destroyed them all. So it was in the days of Lot : people ate and drank, and bought and sold, and planted and built; but on the day Lot left Sodom, God made fire and sulfur rain down from heaven, which destroyed them all. So will it be on the day the Son of Man is revealed.”

“On that day, if you are on the rooftop, do not go down into the house to get your belongings; and if you happen to be in the fields, do not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to save his life will lose it, but whoever gives his life will be born again. I tell you, though two men are sharing the same bed, it might happen that one will be taken, and the other left; though two women are grinding meal together, one might be taken and the other left.”

Then they asked Jesus, “Where will this take place, Lord?” And He answered, “Where the body is, there too will the vultures gather.”

Friday, 15 November 2019 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Albert the Great, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Psalm 18 : 2-3, 4-5

The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament proclaims the work of His hands. Day talks it over with day; night hands on the knowledge to night.

No speech, no words, no voice is heard – but the call goes on, throughout the universe, the message is felt to the ends of the earth.

Friday, 15 November 2019 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Albert the Great, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Wisdom 13 : 1-9

The natural helplessness of humans is seen in their ignorance of God. The experience of good things did not lead them to the knowledge of Him Who is. They were interested in His works, but they did not recognise the Author of them.

Fire, wind, air, the sphere of the stars, rushing water and the lights in the sky were held as the rulers of the world. If, charmed by such beauty, they took them for gods, let them know how far superior is their sovereign. And if they were impressed by their power and activity, let them understand from this how much mightier is He Who formed them. For the grandeur and beauty of creatures lead us to ponder on their Author, greater and more magnificent.

No doubt these people are not to be blamed severely, for possibly they strayed though they searched for God and desired to find Him. They pondered over the created things that surrounded them and were captivated by the sight of such beauty. Even so they are not to be excused, for if they were able to explore the world, why did they not discover first the world’s Sovereign?

Tuesday, 15 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day the Scripture passages we have heard a very important reminder for us to put our focus and attention on the Lord, our God alone. We must not be distracted by other things in life and follow the foolishness of the people of the past who worshipped and focused their attentions on the created and lesser things of this world than to focus themselves to the One Who created and is the source of all things.

In our first reading today, at the beginning of his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Rome, St. Paul spoke up against all those who have refused to listen to the words of God and rejected the salvation which He has brought into this world through Jesus Christ, His own begotten Son. And he made this to strengthen the faith of the faithful, both Jews and Gentiles alike, amidst a community which was immersed in pagan worship and lifestyle.

St. Paul was reminding the people that for all the glamour and glories of the world, for all the displays of wealth and worldly pleasures that often accompanied pagan worship and celebrations, all of those were mere illusions and cannot be compared to the truth and glory of Christ, the one and only True God. Those people were distracted from the truth because they would not allow God to enter into their hearts and they were too full of the many temptations of worldliness.

And a parallel to this was also mentioned in the Gospel passage today, in the encounter we heard of between the Lord Jesus and a Pharisee who wondered why Jesus did not wash His hands in the prescribed manner according to the Law when the Pharisee invited Him over for a dinner. The Lord then rebuked the Pharisee for his attention to the wrong details, focusing on the external applications of the Law while failing to understand the true intent and purpose of the Law.

Essentially, the Pharisee and the pagans mentioned by St. Paul all shared the same fault, and that is they focused on the wrong focus in life. They became distracted and fell into the worship and focus on worldly things and idols, the worship of the created beings and things rather than the focus and emphasis on the Creator of all things. The Pharisee might indeed believe in God, but his preoccupation and emphasis on the petty details on the observance of the Law made him to idolise that rather than to focus on the true worship of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having heard of the Scripture passages and discussed all these things we have just talked about, we can see that we are all called to find our direction in life and to refocus our attention on God and not on other, worldly things that often distract us in life. We may think that unlike the pagans mentioned by St. Paul, we are Christians and we believe in God and His truth, that we have no idols with us and neither do we worship them.

But we must not forget that whatever it is that can distract us from God can in fact be an idol to us, just as the Pharisee’s example ought to show us. The Pharisee idolised the way that the Law ought to be observed according to the customs of the Pharisees, and in doing so, he was distracted and diverted his attention from truly loving God and from truly having genuine faith in Him. That was why he and many other Pharisees did not and he failed to have faith in the Lord Jesus in the first place.

Let us ask ourselves, brothers and sisters in Christ. How many of us have forgotten about God or ignored Him when we are so preoccupied with our livelihood that we ended up spending lots and lots of time trying to advance our careers, gaining more wealth, glory, fame and all sorts of things that we often desire in life. All of these things are the ‘idols’ of our worldly life that we must be aware of and that we must be careful with lest they distract us and drag us away from the path towards God and His saving grace.

On this day, perhaps, we should look upon the example of one particular saint, a holy woman and religious remembered for her great faith and dedication to God, in how we should also live our lives from now on with faith. St. Teresa of Avila, also known as St. Teresa of Jesus was a Spanish religious sister and member of the Carmelite Order, who together with St. John of the Cross were instrumental in the reform of the Carmelite Order, eventually founding the Discalced Carmelites.

St. Teresa of Avila was concerned with the deterioration and lack of discipline and faith in the Carmelite Order she was in, and therefore together with St. John of the Cross and others, they worked hard for the purification of the intention and the original call of the Order, embracing once again what the founders of the Carmelite Order had intended, living in strict discipline of faith and reemphasising the focus and commitment towards God.

St. Teresa of Avila also wrote extensively on many aspects of the faith, which still continued to inspire many of the faithful through the ages and centuries after her time. That was why Pope Benedict XVI declared her to be one of the Doctors of the Church for her dedication and contributions. We can see the strong and genuine faith in St. Teresa of Avila, her commitment and love for God which each and every one of us should have as well. We should follow in her footsteps and walk in the path she had walked before us in faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore deepen our relationship and faith in God, committing ourselves more and more in each and every passing days, resisting the many temptations present in this world and focusing on God and Him alone. Let us all spend more time and effort in building a living and good relationship with our loving God from now on. May the Lord continue to bless us and guide us, and may through the intercession of St. Teresa of Avila, we are brought ever closer to God. Amen.

Tuesday, 15 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 11 : 37-41

At that time, as Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked Him to have a meal with him. So He went and sat at table. The Pharisee then wondered why Jesus did not wash His hands before the dinner.

But the Lord said to him, “So then, you Pharisees, you clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside yourselves you are full of greed and evil. Fools! He Who made the outside, also made the inside. But according to you, by the mere giving of alms everything is made clean.”

Tuesday, 15 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 18 : 2-3, 4-5

The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament proclaims the work of His hands. Day talks it over with day; night hands on the knowledge to night.

No speech, no words, no voice is heard – but the call goes on, throughout the universe, the message is felt to the ends of the earth.