Tuesday, 28 June 2022 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Irenaeus, Bishop, Martyr and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are reminded that all of us must have trust in God, and believe that in Him we shall be well taken care of, and we have nothing to fear or worry about. We have to believe that in God we shall be triumphant in the end, and not fall into the temptations to abandon Him for other sources of comfort in life. Often times we may be swayed to turn to those distractions that can prevent us from finding our path in God, but this is where our Christian faith should hold us firm in our trust in God.

In our first reading, we heard yet again from the prophet Amos, the prophet whom God had called from the land of Judah to prophesy and proclaim the word and will of God among the people of the northern kingdom of Israel, during the last years of its existence. By that time, the northern kingdom of Israel had already long defied the Lord and its people and king had always committed what is vile and wicked in the sight of God, and the Lord hence proclaimed His judgment on them through Amos.

The Lord told them all that there is nothing that He does not know about the actions and behaviours of the people whose wickedness had been so despicable and unbecoming of those whom God had called to be His own people. He said to them that everything that happened in this world, are known to Him, and by their own actions and deeds hence, they would be judged and crushed by their sins, by their stubbornness and wickedness, and shall be consigned to the eternal darkness and suffering.

The prophet Amos was prophesying of the coming downfall of the kingdom of Israel, which happened just a few decades after the time of the ministry of Amos, proving that everything which the Lord had spoken truly came true, and serve as a good lesson and reminder to us, that if we turn away from God and continue walking down the path of sin, in the end, we will likely fall into ruin and destruction, if we leave the Lord and His assurances behind, and follow the tides and sway of the world instead.

Today, in our Gospel passage, we also heard about the story of when the Lord Jesus and His disciples were travelling a boat in the middle of a great storm, with lots of wind and waves, battering against the boat in which the Lord and His disciples were in. The disciples were afraid and were panicking, worried that the storm and the waves would overcome them, and sink the boat. They woke the Lord up and begged Him to help them, and to save them from their predicament. The Lord rebuked and chided them for their lack of faith, but said then that they truly had nothing to fear about, and they ought to have faith in Him.

The Lord proceeded then to miraculously calm the storm down, and the whole place become calm again, with no trace of the storm, the wind or the waves, in the sight of all the incredulous disciples, who were all astonished at seeing such great miracles occurring before their very own eyes. They were persuaded that truly, the One they were following was the Holy One of God, the Messiah and the Son of God, as they themselves witnessed in many other occasions, of His miraculous deeds, works and great Wisdom.

Now, through what we have heard in that story, there were plenty of symbolisms there, which should serve as a reminder for us in how we are to follow the Lord faithfully. First of all, the boat is a representation of the Church, while the waves, the storm and the wind are representative of the troubles, trials and challenges that the Church and the faithful often face in this world, all the temptations and struggles, the forces of evil and those who seek to sway us to the path towards destruction. And what we must then therefore remember is that the Lord never abandons His Church and His flock, and He is journeying with us through this turbulent world.

If we choose to jump ship and to abandon Him and the Church, then we shall surely perish in the waves and the storm. The disciples, although they were afraid and were panicking, but they at least trusted in the Lord and believed in Him, and called on Him to help them out of their predicament. Contrast this to the Israelites who sought for help from various sources but the Lord, putting their trust in the pagan gods and idols, and believing in the false prophets and leaders who misled them down the path of evil and disobedience against God. The Lord showed us all what those people would experience and how they fell from His grace into suffering.

Today, we should also heed the good examples set by St. Irenaeus, whose feast day we are celebrating today. St. Irenaeus was the renowned bishop of the region of what is today southern France, who hailed from Smyrna in Asia Minor, who was a courageous defender of the faith and was renowned for his many efforts to defend the Christian orthodoxy against the many heretical teachings and efforts to undermine the Church by various groups and peoples. The Lord has called St. Irenaeus to minister to his flock, and he did so amazingly, spending a lot of time and effort to care for them and also in his time spent in his writings and works against the heretical teachings of his day.

In his most famous work, Against Heresies, St. Irenaeus strongly defended Christian truths and orthodox teachings against the numerous fallacies and falsehoods promoted by the supporters of those wicked teachings, and he also persevered and laboured hard against those among the authorities and the people who supported the heretical paths. St. Irenaeus committed himself thoroughly to serve the Lord and to glorify Him by his works and deeds, becoming a great champion of the Christian faithful, and whose dedication earned him the title of Doctor Unitatis or the Doctor of Unity, declared by Pope Francis, our current Pope as the newest Doctor of the Church very recently.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore seek the Lord with renewed faith and commit ourselves thoroughly to Him from now on. Let us no longer be stubborn and be easily swayed by those who sought to lead us down the path of ruin, and remember that through the Lord alone there is salvation, true happiness and grace. May God be with us all and may He bless each and every one of us, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 28 June 2022 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Irenaeus, Bishop, Martyr and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Matthew 8 : 23-27

At that time, Jesus got into the boat and His disciples followed Him. Without warning, a fierce storm burst upon the lake, with waves sweeping the boat. But Jesus was asleep.

The disciples woke Him up and cried, “Lord save us! We are lost!” But Jesus answered, “Why are you so afraid, you of little faith?” Then He stood up and rebuked the wind and sea; and it became completely calm.

The disciples were astonished. They said, “What kind of Man is He? Even the winds and the sea obey Him.”

Tuesday, 28 June 2022 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Irenaeus, Bishop, Martyr and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 5 : 5-6, 7, 8

You are not a God Who delights in wickedness; evil has no place in You. The arrogant cannot stand before You. You hate all who do evil.

You destroy all who speak falsehood, who thirst for blood and live on lies; all of them YHVH detests.

But I, by Your love and grace, may come into Your house. In reverence, I bow down and worship at Your holy Temple.

Tuesday, 28 June 2022 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Irenaeus, Bishop, Martyr and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Amos 3 : 1-8 and Amos 4 : 11-12

Hear this word which YHVH speaks against you, people of Israel, against the whole family which He brought up from the land of Egypt. YHVH said, “Only you have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will call you to account for all your wrongdoings.”

“Do two walk together unless they have agreed? Does a lion roar in the forest when it has no prey? Does a young lion growl in its den unless it has seized something? Does a bird get caught in a snare if the snare has not been baited? Does a tiger spring up from the ground unless it has caught something?”

“If a trumpet sounds in a city, will the people not be frightened? If disaster strikes a city, has not YHVH caused it? Yet YHVH does nothing without revealing His plan to His servants, the prophets. If the lion roars, who will not be afraid? If YHVH speaks, Who will not prophesy?”

“I overthrew you, a divine punishment, as happened to Sodom and Gomorrah; you were like a brand snatched from the blaze, yet you never returned to Me,” says YHVH. “Therefore, I will deal with you in My own way, Israel, and since I will do this to you, prepare, Israel, to meet your God!”

Monday, 27 June 2022 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cyril of Alexandria, 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 all reminded that those who are prideful and mighty are nothing before the Lord, and should they remain in their pride, they shall be destroyed by that same pride. They would be cast down and overcome much as how the Lord overpowered those who rose up against Him and His people in the past. And for all of us to follow the Lord, we are all called to entrust ourselves in Him and live our lives wholeheartedly according to His ways. We have no need to fear or to be worried about anything, for God Himself will provide for us.

In our first reading today, which was taken from the Book of the prophet Amos, we heard of the Lord speaking to the people of Israel, about their wickedness and sins against Him, and how wicked they had been in their behaviour, in their mistreatment of one another especially for the poor and the weak, and God reminded them how He Himself had rescued them when they were struck down and oppressed by the same prideful and wicked people, like the Egyptians who enslaved their ancestors, the Amorites and the Amalekites, the Midianites and many other people who opposed them and oppressed them.

The prophet Amos came from the land of Judah, but he ministered to the people of the northern kingdom of Israel, and the message of the Lord that we heard today, was directed squarely at them. At that time, the people of the northern kingdom of Israel had veered so far off the path of the Lord, with all their wicked deeds and stubborn refusal to embrace God and His forgiveness, that they had also persecuted the prophets that God sent to remind them and to guide them to the right path. Even Amos himself was told off by the king of Israel to go back to his own land and not to give any more trouble by preaching in the land of Israel.

The prophet Amos reminded the people of God that if they continued to walk in the path of sin and continued to disobey God, then they shall face the wrath of God, and although God is truly loving and merciful, but at the same time, He is also good and just, and will not tolerate sin in His presence. If they continue to persist in sin, then God will exact His justice on them, and by their own refusal to follow the Lord and to embrace His love then they would be judged and condemned. This prophecy would eventually come true with the destruction of Samaria, the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel and the destruction of that same kingdom by the Assyrians, who exiled and scattered the people to far-off and distant lands.

The Lord told His people that He is always welcoming for them, always calling them all to return to Him, but at the same time, they all have to be receptive to what He has offered them. Often times for us all to follow the Lord, it requires us to have a fundamental change in our way of life and habits, that we embrace the love of God in our whole lives, the truth and the righteousness of God in our every actions, words and deeds. We cannot be complacent anymore in not following what God had commanded us to do, to be good and holy just as He is all good and holy. We are all His disciples and His people, and rightfully, we have to follow what the Lord had told us to do.

In today’s Gospel reading, we also heard of the Lord speaking to His disciples regarding the matter of following Him and being His servants and in walking down the path that He had set before them. The Lord told them frankly how following Him does not mean having good and pleasant lives, and they may have to endure difficulties and challenges in their path and in being faithful disciples and role models for one another. The Lord did not mince His words and He told them the truth, so that they know that to be Christians, to be His followers and disciples, much are expected of us all.

However, we must not be afraid because as long as we entrust ourselves to the Lord, we will always have Him by our side, and He will always provide for us, especially in our time and hour of need, and we should be assured that God will protect us against those who seek to harm us. Like the prophet Amos and many other prophets who had devoted themselves to God, we too have to have faith in Him, and not to worry, but entrust ourselves ever in His providence and care. The Lord has called us all to be His disciples, and it is up to us to follow Him and to commit our lives to Him, distancing ourselves from the path of vice and sin, and striving to do our best for righteousness.

Today we can also model ourselves based on the examples set by St. Cyril of Alexandria, a great saint and Church father, who was a great defender of the faith and also a great shepherd of his flock, who faced a lot of opposition and hardships for his staunch defence of the true Christian faith. He did not give up the struggle and fight, despite having to endure exile and persecution due to the then Roman Imperial nobles and government support for those who championed the heretical ways of Nestorius, the heresy of Nestorianism, which was supported by some of the most powerful figures of the Empire.

St. Cyril stood up for his faith, committing himself to resist the heretical teachings of the false teachers and prophets, and dedicated his life to his flock, to those whom God had entrusted to his care much as the prophet Amos and many other prophets and saints had done before and after him, and his examples should also serve as inspiration for all of us that we may be good disciples and inspiration ourselves in our own way of life. Each and every one of us should be role model for one another, and be committed disciples of the Lord, in every moments and opportunities of our lives.

May God be with us always, and may He continue to strengthen us in faith, so that we may walk ever more closely in His path and in His grace. May His love continue to watch over us and inspire us that we may ever be His better disciples and Christians, now and always, to be His witnesses and messengers to our world and communities today. Amen.

Monday, 27 June 2022 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Matthew 8 : 18-22

At that time, when Jesus saw the crowd pressing around Him, He gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. A teacher of the Law approached Him; and said, “Master, I will follow You wherever You go.”

Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Another disciple said to Him, “Lord, let me go and bury my father first.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their dead.”

Monday, 27 June 2022 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Psalm 49 : 16bc-17, 18-19, 20-21, 22-23

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

You join a thief when you meet one; you keep company with adulterers. You have a mouth of evil and a deceitful tongue.

You speak ill of your brother, and slander your own mother’s son. 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.

Give this a thought, you, who forget God; lest I tear you to pieces with no one to help you. Those who give with thanks offerings honour Me, but the one who walks blamelessly, I will show him the salvation of God.

Monday, 27 June 2022 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Amos 2 : 6-10, 13-16

YHVH says this, “Because Israel has sinned, not once but three times; and even more, I will not relent; They sell the just for money and the needy for a pair of sandals; they tread on the head of the poor and trample them upon the dust of the earth, while they silence the right of the afflicted; a man and his father go to the same woman to profane My Holy Name; they stretch out upon garments taken in pledge, beside every altar; they take the wine of those they swindle and are drunk in the House of their God.”

“It was I Who destroyed the Amorites before them, whose height was like the height of the cedar; a people as sturdy as an oak. I destroyed their fruit above and their roots below. It was I Who brought you up from the land of Egypt and led you forty years in the wilderness to take possession of the land of the Amorites.”

“Behold, I will crush you to the ground, as a cart does when it is full of sheaves. The swift shall be unable to flee and the strong man shall lose his strength. The warrior shall not save himself nor the bowman stand his ground. The swift of foot shall not escape nor the horseman save himself. Even the most stout-hearted among the warriors shall flee away naked on that day,” says YHVH.

Monday, 13 June 2022 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all reminded that we cannot let the desires in us and greed to bring ruin to ourselves, as the lessons of the past contained in the Scriptures should remind us. Instead, as Christians we have to heed the words that the Lord Himself had told us, that we must not be a people of greed and hatred, of anger and jealousy. Instead, we have to be filled with the same genuine love that God has for each and every one of us, and because of this, we are all called to be righteous, loving and exemplary in all of our actions, words and deeds.

In our first reading today, we heard from the First Book of Kings the account of the encounter between king Ahab of Israel and Naboth, the vineyard owner from whom Ahab wanted to purchase the vineyard from. King Ahab has strongly desired that vineyard, but Naboth refused as that vineyard was on the land that he had inherited from his forefathers. By Law, Naboth was entitled to keep the land of his inheritance, and not even Ahab as king could lawfully force Naboth to sell his land to him. This made Ahab very upset and his wicked wife, Jezebel, plotted and arranged that Naboth was to be falsely accused of blasphemy and of faults that he had not committed.

That was how Ahab managed to unlawfully and illicitly gain ownership of Naboth’s vineyard, and that was a great sin that he committed before God and men alike. That was not what the Lord had told His people to do, and as king, Ahab was expected of an even greater standard and obedience to the ways of the Lord, to His Law and commandments. But Ahab failed it all, and he allowed his wife to mislead and misguide him, and to enforce policies and practices that promoted pagan worship, idolatry, and also the act of tyranny and wickedness as what Jezebel had done in the name of Ahab in persecuting and then seizing the lands of Naboth.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord telling His disciples that while Jewish traditions and customs demanded that ‘an eye is ought to be repaid with an eye, and a tooth repaid with a tooth’, they should not be following that path any longer, as He has shown them the better path, the path that He expected all Christians to follow, the path of His love. The old customs and practices were done in accordance to the principles of divine justice and retribution according to their understanding of the old laws of Moses, which had been misinterpreted and misunderstood by the people of God.

Hence, the Lord came to reveal the true intention of His Law, and to call on everyone to turn once again back to Him, abandoning their sinful ways, their selfish desires and greed, and instead embracing His path and following what He has been revealing and showing to us by His own actions. Through Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Our Lord and Saviour, we have seen the love of God manifested in the flesh, coming into our midst and dwelling among us. He did not just tell His disciples to love one another and to show genuine care and concern, doing more than what had been expected of them, and not to retaliate upon being treated badly, but He Himself did as He told His disciples, in His own actions, in what He had done in loving and forgiving even those who had persecuted Him.

For if we recall what took place during the Lord’s Passion, suffering and death, the Lord Jesus endured bitter rejection and harsh treatment from His enemies, abandoned and betrayed, and was condemned to death and accused of a crime that He was innocent of, and even after all that, He still looked lovingly upon His people, even to all those who had rejected and condemned Him, praying for them and asking His heavenly Father not to hold their actions against them. He showed how a true and genuine Christian love is like, a truly selfless and unconditional love, that does not seek one’s own comfort and benefits, but rather, truly caring for the well-being and the good of the other person.

Compare that love and path of life as compared to what king Ahab and his wife, the wicked Jezebel had plotted and done against Naboth. Then we can obviously see what we are expected to do as Christians, in obeying the will of God, and in following His love, His truth and compassionate ways. Each and every one of us have been called to follow the Lord and to walk in His path in the same manner, and today, we also have the examples of St. Anthony of Padua, the renowned saint and Doctor of the Church, whose faith and commitment to God can be great sources of inspiration for all of us Christians to follow in our own lives. All of us should look upon St. Anthony of Padua, his determination to love his fellow brethren, the poor and the sick, as our examples.

St. Anthony of Padua was a Franciscan friar and priest who was greatly remembered for his eloquent and moving sermons, inspired by the Holy Spirit and by the love that he had for both the Lord and for his fellow brothers and sisters. Many people were touched by his personal sanctity and all the efforts he did in reaching out to those who have been lost to the Lord and His Church, and also for those who were poor, sick and abandoned, ostracised and neglected by the society, and he was remembered for his many works and efforts to bring the people of God back to Him, and to bring the love of God closer to all of His people, wherever he went and ministered to.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, just as St. Anthony of Padua had inspired numerous people to follow in his examples, let us all also walk in his path, and remembering what the Lord Himself had done for our sake, in His selfless love and in His desire to be reconciled and reunited with us. Let us all ourselves be the beacons of God’s light, and the bearers of His truth, showing the genuine love of God, His compassion and kindness to all of mankind, to those whom we encounter in life daily, and doing our best to follow the Lord in all of our lives. May the Lord continue to guide us, that we may not walk down the same path that king Ahab had walked, and instead of succumbing to the temptations of our desires, let us all seek to live a better and more Christ-like lives from now on. May God be with us and bless our every endeavours and good works, now and always. Amen.

Monday, 13 June 2022 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 5 : 38-42

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “You have heard, that it was said : An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you this : do not oppose evil with evil; if someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn and offer the other. If someone sues you in court for your shirt, give him your coat as well.”

“If someone forces you to go one mile, go two miles with him. Give when asked, and do not turn your back on anyone who wants to borrow from you.”