Monday, 9 September 2019 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Claver, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture reminding us of the love by which God has reached out to us through Christ, His beloved Son, by Whom He has brought salvation to us all and the whole world. Today we are all reminded that by God’s love and grace, He has willingly embraced us and has wanted us to be reconciled to Him, that we can be truly reunited with Him in perfect love.

God has revealed that first and foremost of all, He is a loving God and Father to all of us, and not some angry and wrathful God Who demanded us to be subservient and to kneel in fear. Instead, what He wants us to do is for us all to realise just how much He has loved us since the very beginning and therefore have the same kind of love within each and every one of us as well. We are all called to be loving just as God is loving.

Unfortunately it is by our own actions that we have failed to appreciate God’s love for us, in how we categorise God and make assumptions about Him, just like how the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law acted in enforcing the observances of the laws of God, particularly the law of the Sabbath as we heard in our Gospel passage today. They questioned the Lord if it was lawful for someone to be healed on the Sabbath.

This is when those people failed to understand the Law of God properly in its meaning, purpose and intention. They focused on the ‘letter’ of the Law but failed to understand the ‘spirit’ of the Law, and the two should not be separated one from the other. The Lord did not intend for the Law to restrict His people and make themselves difficult by imposing the Sabbath observance to prevent people from doing something that is good, as the Lord Jesus Himself plainly revealed.

Instead, we must all understand the purpose of the Sabbath itself in the first place in the historical context of how the Sabbath came to be. The Sabbath was meant to be a day of rest, not from doing good deeds but rather from all the busy schedules, activities and preoccupations of God’s people that had taken them away from God and distracted them from their faith in Him. In their pursuit for more worldly goods and happiness, it was easy for them to be swayed and fall into the temptations to sin.

That is why, the Sabbath was meant to help the people to take a break and stop whatever they were busy and preoccupied with, so that they can reorientate themselves and rethink the purpose and direction of their lives and refocusing their hearts and minds to God’s will. The Sabbath was therefore meant to allow God’s people to grow in their relationship with their loving God, Father and Creator, just as how we ought to honour the Sundays, the days of Our Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are therefore reminded to be genuine in our faith and dedication to the Lord, not just knowing the ‘letter’ of the Law but also the ‘spirit’ of the Law so that we do not end up being misguided like the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who were overly obsessed and focusing on the wrong parts of the Law, as they bickered and argued over the external application and observance of the Law rather than what the Law truly means for the people of God.

Today, all of us ought to observe and follow the example of one saint, whose feast we celebrate today, namely that of St. Peter Claver, a holy and devout priest who was remembered for his dedication to the poor and to the oppressed as a priest serving the faithful and many of the people in the then New World, the Spanish American continent. He ministered to many of the people who have not yet heard of God and baptised many of them into the faith over many decades.

He spent many years working among them all and especially among the slaves, all those who have been exploited for the sake of wealth and glory by those who wanted these things. He championed their rights and ministered among them, touching their hearts and minds as they saw in him the presence of God’s love and mercy in their midst. He reached out to them and many of them turned towards God with great faith as a result.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all heed the good examples of St. Peter Claver, his love for his fellow men, all those whom God had entrusted to his care, and his devotion and love for God throughout his life that he devoted all his time and effort to the care of God’s beloved people. Let us all be ever more faithful to God from now on and let us be true in our live for Him and in our ever stronger devotion to His greater glory. May God bless us all in our every endeavours, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 9 September 2019 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Claver, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Luke 6 : 6-11

At that time, on another Sabbath, Jesus entered the synagogue and began teaching. There was a man with a paralysed right hand, and the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees watched Him : Would Jesus heal the man on the Sabbath? If He did, they could accuse Him.

But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to the man, “Get up, and stand in the middle.” Then He spoke to them, “I want to ask you : what is allowed by the Law on the Sabbath? To do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” And Jesus looked around at them all.

Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored, becoming as healthy as the other. But they were furious, and began to discuss with one another how they could deal with Jesus.

Monday, 9 September 2019 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Claver, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Psalm 61 : 6-7, 9

Find rest in God alone, o my soul; from Him, comes my hope. He alone, is my Rock and my Salvation; with Him as my Stronghold, I shall not be overcome.

Trust in Him at all times, my people; pour out your hearts before Him; God is our refuge.

Monday, 9 September 2019 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Claver, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Colossians 1 : 24 – Colossians 2 : 3

At present, I rejoice when I suffer for you; I complete, in my own flesh, what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the Church. For I am serving the Church since God entrusted to me the ministry to make the word of God fully known.

I mean that mysterious plan that, for centuries and generations, remained secret, and which God has now revealed to His holy ones. God willed to make known to them the riches, and even the glory, that His mysterious plan reserved for the pagan nations : Christ is in you, the hope for glory.

This Christ, we preach. We warn, and teach everyone true wisdom, aiming to make everyone perfect, in Christ. For this cause I labour and struggle, with the energy of Christ working powerfully in me. I want you to know how I strive for you, for those of Laodicea, and for so many who have not met me personally.

I pray, that all may be encouraged. May you be established in love, that you may obtain all the riches of a full understanding, and know the mystery of God, Christ Himself. For, in Him, are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Monday, 12 August 2019 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jane Frances de Chantal, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture reminding us of the love that God has given us all, which He has lovingly reminded His people in the first reading today from the Book of Deuteronomy, of the love which He has shown them in taking care of them like a father taking care of his children, protecting them, guiding them to the right path and treating everyone equally.

And there is a parallel to what we have heard in that passage to what the Lord Jesus mentioned in our Gospel passage today, when the tax collectors of the Temple came to the disciples of the Lord and asked them on the matter of paying the Temple taxes. For the context, all the Jewish people, the descendants of the Israelites living in the land of Judea, Galilee and other parts of the land of Israel at that time, they had to pay the Temple tax as part of their contribution and obligation.

And the Lord mentioned using a comparison, how only strangers and aliens are taxed and obliged to pay a fee, while the sons and daughters of the kings and rulers are free from such fees, as they were considered as the family of those same kings and rulers. How can those kings and rulers expect the members of their own families, those who were dear and beloved to them to pay taxes and to be subjected to the same treatment as strangers?

By using this comparison, in fact, the Lord once again stressed to us how loving and compassionate He has been to all of us, that He has not treated us all like strangers and aliens, but rather, treating us as His own children. For truly, we are children of God, not just because He has created and made us from nothingness, and out of love, but also because through Christ, we all have shared in the relationship that the Lord Jesus has with His heavenly Father.

For the Lord Jesus is the Son of God, but also at the same time the Son of Man, because His Divinity has descended into this world and embracing the fullness of humanity through His mother, Mary, becoming fully Man but yet remaining fully Divine at the same time, having the two distinct natures of Man and God united and being inseparable in His person, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

It was by His act of ultimate sacrifice on the Cross then that Christ has sealed a new Covenant between God and mankind, a new and everlasting Covenant that will never be broken again, for the Precious Blood of the Lord Himself sealed that Covenant, as it poured down from the Cross of our salvation. And through that, He united all of us to Himself, and brought us all together to be reconciled to God, His heavenly Father.

Now, all of us having heard this, we should appreciate just how much God has loved us all as His own children, as those whom He loves very dearly. But many of us have not loved Him as we should have, and we have often wandered off away from His path, many times. And because of that, we have fallen into sin and darkness, and yet, God continues to love us and wants to be reconciled with us.

Today, we celebrate the feast of one of His glorious saints, whose life should become an inspiration for us in how we should live our own lives as well. St. Jane Frances de Chantal was the wife of a wealthy nobleman who became a widow early in her marriage and had to take care of her children on her own. She was known for her great piety and generosity to the poor and the needy.

Initially, she was unable to forgive the person responsible for her husband’s death, but after a life-changing experience of having listened to a sermon on the matter of forgiveness and the love of God, she changed her mind and wanted to devote herself totally to God as a religious nun. Eventually, she did become a religious and established a new religious order especially for those who had not been able to join the religious life due to health or age.

St. Jane Frances de Chantal truly loves God, and she devoted her whole life to serve Him, by loving Him and spending time with Him through prayer, and even more importantly, by loving all those whom the Lord has loved, that is her fellow brothers and sisters, those who were unloved, rejected and unwanted by the society. Are we able to love God in the same way that St. Jane Frances de Chantal had done? And ultimately are we able to love God just as He Himself has loved us first?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all devote ourselves, our time, effort and energy from now on to the Lord with all of our hearts and minds. Let us all turn towards God with love, and let us be ever more faithful to Him from now on. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 12 August 2019 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jane Frances de Chantal, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Matthew 17 : 22-27

At that time, when Jesus was in Galilee with the Twelve, He said to them, “The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. But He will rise on the third day.” The Twelve were deeply grieved.

When they returned to Capernaum, the temple tax collectors came to Peter and asked him, “Does your Master pay the temple tax?” He answered, “Yes.” Peter then entered the house; and immediately, Jesus asked him, “What do you think, Simon? Who pay taxes or tribute to the kings of the earth : their sons or strangers and aliens?”

Peter replied, “Strangers and aliens.” And Jesus told him, “The sons, then, are tax-free. But, so as not to offend these people, go to the sea, throw in a hook, and open the mouth of the first fish you catch. You will find a coin in it. Take the coin and give it to them for you and for Me.”

Monday, 12 August 2019 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jane Frances de Chantal, Religious (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Psalm 147 : 12-13, 14-15, 19-20

Exalt YHVH, o Jerusalem; praise your God, o Zion! For He strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your children within you.

He grants peace on your borders and feeds you with the finest grain. He sends His command to the earth and swiftly runs His word.

It is He, Who tells Jacob His words; His laws and decrees, to Israel. This, He has not done for other nations, so His laws remain unknown to them. Alleluia!