Tuesday, 12 November 2019 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are reminded of just how fortunate all of us are to be the servants and followers of God because each and every one of us are truly precious in His eyes, and we are the most beloved and wonderful of all His creations. As mentioned in the Book of Wisdom from which our first reading was taken from today, although we may have been punished for our sins, but ultimately, immortality and eternal joy is what we have been destined for.

And it is also mentioned how the souls of the just are in the hands of the Lord, and He will surely never let us down, for if He can be so generous in mercy and compassion on all those who have disobeyed and sinned against Him, giving them opportunities one after another and patiently calling on them to return to Him, all the more He will bless and love all more abundantly those who love Him and serve Him. That is why we should really be thankful and grateful for God’s love.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord Jesus used the parable of a servant to illustrate this more succinctly, as He compared the relationship we have with God with that of a servant and his master. At that time, as was common, any servants must obey the commands and expectations of their masters, and they had to do whatever they were told to do, as part of their job and duty, or else they would be punished or fired from their employment.

Therefore as all of us are God’s servants and followers, we ought to do what we are called to do as our obligation and duty to Him, and all the more because our Master is truly a loving and caring Master Who is always ever concerned for our well-being and Who went out of His way to ensure our safety and our salvation from the destruction we should have suffered from because of our sins and wickedness.

Unfortunately, many of us had preferred to remain in sin because we allowed ourselves to be tempted by the many temptations of this world which caused us to fall deeper and deeper into sin and into paths that led us away from God. And the devil and all of his forces are always ever active in trying to strike at us, persuading, coercing, tempting and pressuring us to walk down the path of sin and to disregard and abandon our responsibilities as God’s followers and people.

And amidst all these darkness, we should seek the sources of light, our inspirations in life, by looking at those who have been faithful in their lives and actions, our holy predecessors who showed us the way forward in faith, in their tireless dedication and commitment to God, in their righteousness and in their willingness to suffer and even to die for the sake of their Lord and Master, for their faith in Him.

Today, we have St. Josaphat Kuntsevych, the great martyr of Church and Christian unity, who was a bishop of the Church in what is now Ukraine, during the time when some members of the splintered and divided Church began to seek reconciliation and reunion with the Holy Mother Church. St. Josaphat Kuntsevych was one among those bishops belonging to the Eastern Orthodox communion seeking to return to the embrace of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church under St. Peter and his successors.

Through the Union of Brest which was affirmed in the year of Our Lord 1596, several bishops and their flock rejoined the Mother Church, as what would become eventually the many Eastern Catholic Churches today. Unfortunately, there were quite a few communities and their leaders who were against reunification and reconciliation, and these caused bitter troubles and difficulties for the Christian faithful and their leaders including that of St. Josaphat Kuntsevych.

Regardless of the challenges and the oppositions he had to face, St. Josaphat Kuntsevych worked tirelessly among the people of God, enduring the difficult challenges and committing his time and effort to serve the Lord as a faithful servant and disciple. His efforts managed to gain converts among those who still resisted the efforts at reunion and reconciliation. Nonetheless he still faced significant resistance and eventually, he was murdered by his enemies.

The courage and faith which St. Josaphat Kuntsevych showed us all amidst persecution and challenges of the world both remind us of the obstacles that we as Christians will encounter in life of being faithful to God and also encourages us to follow in his footsteps in serving God just as he has done. Let us all dedicate ourselves anew to God and love Him with ever greater faith and zeal from now on. May God bless us all and be with His Church, and unites all those who believe in Him in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Amen.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 17 : 7-10

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Who among you would say to your servant, coming in from the fields after plowing or tending sheep, ‘Go ahead and have your dinner’? No, you tell him, ‘Prepare my dinner. Put on your apron, and wait on me while I eat and drink. You can eat and drink afterward.'”

“Do you thank this servant for doing what you told him to do? I do not think so. And therefore, when you have done all that you have been told to do, you should say, ‘We are no more than servants; we have only done our duty.'”

Tuesday, 12 November 2019 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 33 : 2-3, 16-17, 18-19

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.

The eyes of YHVH are fixed on the righteous; His ears are inclined to their cries. But His face is set against the wicked, to destroy their memory from the earth.

YHVH hears the cry of the righteous and rescues them from all their troubles. YHVH is close to the brokenhearted and saves the distraught.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Wisdom 2 : 23 – Wisdom 3 : 9

Indeed God created man to be immortal in the likeness of His own nature, but the envy of the devil brought death to the world, and those who take his side shall experience death.

The souls of the just are in the hands of God and no torment shall touch them. In the eyes of the unwise they appear to be dead. Their going is held as a disaster; it seems that they lose everything by departing from us, but they are in peace.

Though seemingly they have been punished, immortality was the soul of their hope. After slight affliction will come great blessings, for God has tried them and found them worthy to be with Him; after testing them as gold in the furnace, He has accepted them as a holocaust.

At the time of His coming they will shine like sparks that run in the stubble. They will govern nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord will be their King forever. Those who trust in Him will penetrate the truth, those who are faithful will live with Him in love, for His grace and mercy are for His chosen ones.

Thursday, 24 July 2014 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Sharbel Makhluf, Priest (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we hear the admonition, almost to the point of lamentation, on why the people of God, whom God had loved so much, did not appreciate that love and refused to budge and listen to the kind words of the Lord, offering hope and comfort. God had done so much for men, as we all may testify and witness in how He cared for His people throughout the Scriptures, and yet they rejected His love.

But the Lord is not someone who would just leave sinners like that once His approach had been spurned. In fact, He tried many times and sent reminders after reminders to tell mankind, both how much He loves us, and also how He gave us chance after chance, which we either ignored or cast aside in our pursuit for the goodness of the world. We have tasted the corruptions of this world, and into sin, where we have fallen into.

Our hearts and minds are corrupted with the darkness of sin, and our beings are filled with darkness that prevents us from seeing the light and living in the light. We are truly the creatures of darkness, unlike the children of the light we all ought to become. And precisely as it had been written in the Scripture reading today, how we trust rather in the leaking faucet and pipes, that is our own flawed strength and feeble foundations, over the strength of the everlasting spring of God’s power.

We are easily tempted, and too easily bribed by Satan who offered the sweetest of his treacherous lies and temptations. He has all of his forces arrayed against us, tempting us daily that we may eventually falter along our path towards salvation, and be dragged together with him into the hellfire. That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, we must be vigilant and be solid in our faith, that we have a strong defense against whatever it is that the devil is using against us.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Sharbel Makhluf or St. Charbel Makhluf, a renowned Maronite saint, who lived just over a hundred years ago in today’s Lebanon. St. Sharbel Makhluf is a holy man and a deeply devoted person to God, who was born to a devout Christian Maronite family, a group of Christians that has dwelled for a very long time in Lebanon area since the days of the early Church, and which remained loyal to the authority of the Apostles even though many others had apostasized.

St. Sharbel Makhluf joined the religious life and devoted his life entirely to God. He was truly a role model for the faithful, and his life was an example for all to see. His life might have been relatively uneventful, and he dedicated all of his time to God. However, upon his passing from this world to the heavens to be with God, miracles came abound from his body and his grave. This is a mark of favour by God, showing how much He blessed those who are with Him and who devoted themselves to Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, should we not follow the examples of this great and yet humble saint of God? In his life, St. Sharbel Makhluf had shown us that it is perfectly possible for us all to be faithful servants of our God, provided that we set our sights, our attention and our hearts on Him alone. If we do these things, certainly God will bless us just as He had once blessed St. Sharbel Makhluf.

Let us all therefore seek God in this life, and devote ourselves ever more to our loving God. God wants nothing other than our love and devotion, just as He Himself had first been devoted to us. Let us no longer spurn His love, but with great humility, ask Him for His grace and forgiveness, that we may once again enjoy the fullness of His love. God be with us all. Amen.

Thursday, 24 July 2014 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Sharbel Makhluf, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Matthew 13 : 10-17

Then Jesus’ disciples came to Him and said, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”

Jesus answered, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but not to these people. For the one who has, will be given more and he will have in abundance. But the one who does not have will be deprived of even what he has.”

“That is why I speak to them in parables, because they look and do not see; they hear, but they do not listen or understand. In them the words of the prophet Isaiah are fulfilled : However much you hear, you do not understand; however much you see, you do not perceive.”

“For the heart of this people has grown dull. Their ears hardly hear and their eyes dare not see. If they were to see with their eyes, hear with their ears and understand with their heart, they would turn back, and I would heal them. But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears, because they hear.”

“For I tell you that many prophets and upright people have longed to see the things you see, but they did not see them, and to hear the things you hear, but they did not hear them.”

Thursday, 24 July 2014 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Sharbel Makhluf, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Psalm 35 : 6-7ab, 8-9, 10-11

Your love, o God, reaches the heavens; Your faithfulness, to the clouds. Your justice is like the mighty mountains; Your judgment like the unfathomable deep.

How precious, o God, is Your constant love! Mortals take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. In Your house they find rich food and they drink from Your spring of delight.

For with You is the fountain of life, in Your light we see light. Bestow on Your faithful Your love and give salvation to the upright of heart.