Thursday, 21 June 2018 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Sirach 48 : 1-15 (Greek Septuagint – Sirach 48 : 1-14)

Then came the prophet Elijah, like a fire, his words a burning torch. He brought a famine on the people and in his zealous love had them reduced in number. Speaking in the Name of the Lord he closed down the heavens, and on three occasions called down fire.

How marvellous you were, Elijah, in your wondrous deeds! Who could ever boast of being your equal? By the word of the Most High you brought a dead man back to life; you brought kings to destruction and thrust famous men from their beds. You heard a rebuke at Sinai and sentences of punishment at Horeb; you anointed kings to be avengers and prophets to succeed you.

You were taken up by a whirlwind of flames in a chariot drawn by fiery horses. It was written that you should be the one to calm God’s anger in the future, before it broke out in fury, to turn the hearts of fathers to their sons and to restore the tribes of Jacob.

Happy are those who will see you and those who die in love, for we too shall live. Such was Elijah, taken up in a whirlwind, and Elisha was filled with his spirit. During his life no leader could shake him, no one dominated him. Nothing was too difficult for him and even in death his body prophesied. In life he worked wonders, in death his deeds were amazing.

Despite all this, the people were not converted and did not turn away from sin; not until they were deported far from their country and scattered over the earth.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

2 Kings 2 : 1, 6-14

YHVH took Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind. It happened this way : Elijah and Elisha had left Gilgal, and Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here, I beg you, for YHVH is only sending me to the Jordan.” But Elisha answered, “I swear by YHVH and by your life that I will never leave you.” And as they went on their way, fifty fellow prophets of Jericho followed them at a certain distance.

When Elijah and Elisha stood by the Jordan, Elijah took his mantle, rolled it, and struck the water with it. The water parted to both sides and they crossed over on dry ground. After they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “What shall I do for you before I am taken away from you? Ask me.”

Elisha said, “May I receive a double portion of your spirit.” Elijah answered, “Your request is most difficult. Yet if you see me while I am being taken from you, then you shall have it. But if not, you shall not have it.”

As they were talking on the way, a chariot of fire with horses of fire stood between them, and Elijah was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha saw him and cried out, “Father, my father, chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” When Elisha lost sight of him, he took hold of his own clothes and tore them. He then picked up the mantle which had fallen from Elijah and returned to the banks of the Jordan.

He took the cloak that had fallen off Elijah, hit the water with it, and asked, “Where is the YHVH, the God of Elijah?” When he hit the water again, it divided and Elisha crossed over.

Saturday, 16 June 2018 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

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

1 Kings 19 : 19-21

Elijah left. He found Elisha, son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen; he was following the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and cast his cloak over him. Elisha left the oxen, ran after Elijah and said, “Let me say goodbye to my father and mother; then I will follow you.”

Elijah said to him, “Return if you want, do not worry about what I did.” However, Elisha turned back, took the yoke of oxen and slew them. He roasted their meat on the pieces of the yoke and gave it to his people who ate of it. After this, he followed Elijah and began ministering to him.

Sunday, 26 June 2016 : 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Kings 19 : 16b, 19-21

YHVH said to Elijah, “And Elisha, son of Shaphat, from Abel Meholah, you shall anoint as prophet in your place.”

So Elijah left. He found Elisha, son of Shaphat, who was plowing a field of twelve acres and was at the end of the twelfth acre. Elijah passed by him and cast his cloak over him. Elisha left the oxen, ran after Elijah and said, “Let me say goodbye to my father and mother; then I will follow you.”

Elijah said to him, “Return if you want, do not worry about what I did.” However, Elisha turned back, took the yoke of oxen and slew them. He roasted their meat on the pieces of the yoke and gave it to his people who ate of it. After this, he followed Elijah and began ministering to him.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

2 Kings 2 : 1, 6-14

YHVH took Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind. It happened this way : Elijah and Elisha had left Gilgal, and Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here, I beg you, for YHVH is only sending me to the Jordan.” But Elisha answered, “I swear by YHVH and by your life that I will never leave you.”

And as they went on their way, fifty fellow prophets of Jericho followed them at a certain distance. When Elijah and Elisha stood by the Jordan, Elijah took his mantle, rolled it, and struck the water with it. The water parted to both sides and they crossed over on dry ground.

After they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “What shall I do for you before I am taken away from you? Ask me.” Elisha said, “Grant that I may have the best of your Spirit.” Elijah answered, “Your request is most difficult. Yet if you see me while I am being taken from you, then you shall have it. But if not, you shall not have it.”

As they were walking on the way, a chariot of fire with horses of fire stood between them, and Elijah was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha saw him and cried out, “Father, my father, chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” When Elisha lost sight of him, he took hold of his own clothes and tore them. He then picked up the mantle which had fallen from Elijah and returned to the banks of the Jordan.

There he struck the water with the mantle, but it did not part. So he asked, “Where is YHVH, the God of Elijah?” And as he struck the water again it parted. Elisha crossed over.

Thursday, 19 June 2014 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Sts. Philip Minh, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listen to how our Lord taught us Himself, how we should pray, and in the first Reading, we also learn how we should become, or what are the things expected from us as the children of God and as His disciples. The two prophets, Elijah and Elisha are the ones mentioned, and they and their actions ought to be our model of the faith.

And in relation to all of that, I would like to bring your attention to the saints whom we are celebrating today, the Saints of the Vietnamese persecution of the faithful, also known as the Vietnamese martyrs, led by the Vietnamese priest, St. Philip Minh. They consisted of the laity and the religious, all thoroughly dedicated to the cause of the faith.

They all faced persecution for their faith and for their work in testifying and proclaiming that faith to others around them. As we know, Elijah and Elisha the prophets faced many difficulties in their mission, as we can read from the two Book of Kings in the Bible, how they had to go from town to town, and even having to exile themselves in foreign lands at times, when their lives were in considerable danger through being opposed to the king and the people’s wickedness.

St. Philip Minh and his companions, the Vietnamese martyrs lived through different periods of time spanning several hundred years, but they all faced similar opposition and persecution against their faith, when many were asked to choose between recanting their faith in Christ and live or to abandon and forsake Christ in exchange for their lives.

The Vietnamese monarchy and the government, ran by strongly Confucian-influenced officials and nobles viewed the faith in Christ as an aberration in the society and as a great and terrible threat to the unity of the nation and to the authority of the Confucian-run government. Hence, the officials and the Vietnamese Emperor officially went on a great persecution and opposition against the faith and the faithful.

Yet, the faith made great progress in Vietnam, and even it still does until this very day. Persecution against the faith and the faithful still continues even to this day, under the atheist and anti-faith Communist government in power, and yet the faithful continued to go on in their daily struggle and remain true to their faith in the Lord.

The Vietnamese martyrs showed us a great example of how we should treasure and live our faith meaningfully, for they had been tortured and forced to recant their faith, and yet they persevered on, and they did not give in to the demands and the offers of their executors and torturers. They chose to remain faithful and continued with their evangelisation of the faith, be it through their work or through their death, that they bring more and more souls into salvation and into knowing God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it does not mean that we should seek martyrdom or be confrontational about the faith, but instead it means that we should not take our faith for granted, and we have to be active and genuine in living our faith. We have to realise that in having and in keeping this faith, we will find ourselves often standing in opposition to the values and ways of the world, because we belong to the Lord. Remember, as Jesus Himself said, that this world hated Him and therefore it would hate us too.

Our faith life will inevitably meet challenges and difficulties along the way, some of which had happened to the prophets Elijah and Elisha, as well as to St. Philip Minh and his companions, the Vietnamese martyrs. The question now is, are we able to follow in their footsteps and remain faithful to the Lord and walking in His ways at all times, despite the challenges and difficulties?

Let us from now on reflect on this, and on the lives and actions of the prophets and the martyrs, that we may reflect on our own lives and actions. Let us hope that we may change for the better, and grow stronger in our faith, that our faith may be genuine and filled with love, both for God and for our fellow men. God bless us all. Amen.

Sunday, 30 June 2013 : 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

1 Kings 19 : 16b, 19-21

God said to Elijah, “Elisha, son of Shaphat, from Abel Meholah, you shall anoint as prophet in your place.”

So Elijah left. He found Elisha, son of Shaphat, who was plowing a field of twelve acres and was at the end of the twelfth acre. Elijah passed by him and cast his cloak over him. Elisha left the oxen, ran after Elijah and said, “Let me say goodbye to my father and mother; then I will follow you.”

Elijah said to him, “Return if you want, don’t worry about what I did.” However, Elisha turned back, took the yoke of oxen and slew them. He roasted their meat on the pieces of the yoke and gave it to his people who ate of it. After this, he followed Elijah and began ministering to him.