Tuesday, 21 June 2022 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded to entrust ourselves to the Lord and not to be easily swayed by sin, which would lead us down the path towards annihilation and destruction, and we must not let pride and hubris from affecting and influencing us or our actions in life. Instead, we should try our best to humble ourselves before God and heed His calls, listening to His words and reminders for us to turn away from our sins. We are all called to be holy and righteous in all of our words, actions and deeds, and everything ought to begin from our daily living.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of Kings of Israel and Judah the account of the attack on Judah and the siege of Jerusalem by the Assyrians, which happened during the reign of the righteous king Hezekiah of Judah. King Sennacherib of Assyria brought his whole vast army to conquer Judah and Jerusalem, and the people of God and their king were thoroughly outnumbered and no one would have expected them to survive the attack by the Assyrians, least of all from Sennacherib himself, who proudly believed and announced that no god or deity had ever protected any other nations he had destroyed and conquered, and that the same fate would happen to Judah as well.

But Judah and Jerusalem had the Lord, the one and only True God, Who was by the side of His people, Who listened to every single blasphemous words uttered by king Sennacherib in his vain pride and arrogance. The Lord listened to Sennacherib’s prideful words as well as Hezekiah and the people of Judah’s prayers for deliverance, made through the prophet Isaiah, all of whom trusted in the Lord and His providence and help. The Lord therefore delivered His beloved people from harm, and as we heard in our first reading today, sent His Angels to crush the forces of the Assyrians, and caused massive deaths among them, which led to Sennacherib having to retreat back to his land in shame.

The Lord showed that all those who pride in themselves and refused to believe in Him, or persecute those who have faith in Him, will face defeat and destruction in the end. He has always been with those who entrusted themselves to Him, just as He proved to the people of Judah and their king, Hezekiah. Pride is indeed a very grievous and terrible sin, and is something that can easily distract and pull us away from the path towards salvation. We must not be prideful and haughty, arrogant and thinking that we are great and powerful, for as we have heard, the Lord brought low those who were proud and mighty, when they boasted of their power and glory before others.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord speaking to His disciples and followers, calling on all of them to holiness, stating to them how the path to salvation and eternal life is truly one that is narrow and difficult, and unless one makes the effort to enter the narrow gate, then many may end up not being able to enter into that desired path. And why is that so, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is exactly because of pride, hubris and arrogance I mentioned earlier, the downfall of many of our predecessors, as well as many other things such as greed, jealousy, hatred, lust among other things.

That is why as Christians each and every one of us are called and challenged to remove from ourselves, our hearts and minds, all these obstacles of pride, greed, jealousy, hatred, gluttony, wrath, envy, sloth and all other things that often prevented us from finding our way towards God. We cannot allow those things to distract or tempt us to fall into the path of sin, again and again, as many of us had experienced throughout life. We are all called to be better Christians in actions, words and deeds, and we cannot be hypocrites who act in the way contrary to what our faith had shown and revealed to us.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, one of the renowned young saint of the Church, who despite his young age at death and relatively short life, managed to inspire many people who were touched by his dedication to God, his faith and contributions, in his commitment and personal holiness. St. Aloysius Gonzaga can become our inspiration in how we can be better disciples and followers of Christ, as even though he was born into an aristocratic noble family, and as firstborn son was in fact also the heir of his family titles and fortunes, he chose to leave it all behind to become a religious and priest.

Despite his father and family’s resistance and efforts to dissuade him from doing so, St. Aloysius Gonzaga would not be deterred, and after a lot of effort and persistence, he was finally allowed to join the religious life, and he chose to surrender all rights to inheritance, power and glory. He became a member of the Society of Jesus or the Jesuits, and began his instructional period and training. He devoted himself thoroughly to his calling, even serving and caring for the poor and the sick around his community, and which caused him to be falling ill with the disease. Nonetheless that did not stop St. Aloysius Gonzaga, who continued with his labours until he passed away in his good works.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we can see from the example of the faith of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, his commitment and virtuous way of life, his humility and willingness to abandon the pursuit of worldly power and glory, each and every one of us are also called and challenged to be better Christians following his examples, to rid ourselves of unhealthy attachments and obsessions for worldly things and matters, and instead refocusing our attention on the Lord. Let us all seek the Lord from now on with renewed faith and zeal, at all times. May God bless each one of us, now and forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 21 June 2022 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 7 : 6, 12-14

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples and to the people, “Do not give what is holy to the dogs, or throw your pearls before pigs. They might trample on them, and then turn on you and tear you to pieces.”

“So, do to others whatever you would that others do to you : there, you have the Law and the prophets. Enter through the narrow gate : for wide is the gate, and broad is the road, that leads to destruction, and many go that way. How narrow is the gate that leads to life; and how rough, the road; few there are, who find it.”

Tuesday, 21 June 2022 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 47 : 2-3ab, 3cd-4, 10-11

Great is YHVH, most worthy of praise in the City of God, His holy mountain. Beautifully elevated, it is the joy of all the earth.

Mount Zion, heavenly mountain, the City of the great King. Here, within her lines of defence, God has shown Himself to be a sure fortress.

Let us recall Your unfailing love, o God, inside Your Temple. Let Your praise, as does Your Name, o God, reach to the ends of the earth. Your right hand is ever victorious.

Tuesday, 21 June 2022 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

2 Kings 19 : 9b-11, 14-21, 31-35a, 36

Again Sennacherib sent messengers to Hezekiah with these words, “Say to Hezekiah, king of Judah that his God in Whom he trusts may be deceiving him in saying that Jerusalem will not be given into the hands of the king of Assyria. Surely you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the lands they have destroyed! And will you be spared?”

Hezekiah took the letter from the messengers, and when he had read it he went to the house of YHVH; where he unrolled the letter and prayed saying, “O YHVH, God of Israel, enthroned above the Cherubim! You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth; You have made the heavens and the earth. Give ear, YHVH, and hear! Open Your eyes and see! Listen to all the words of Sennacherib who has sent men to insult the living God!”

“It is true, YHVH, that the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the countries of the earth. They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not true gods but gods made of wood and stone by human hands. Now, o YHVH our God, save us from his hand and let all the kingdoms of the earth know that You alone, YHVH, are God.”

Then Isaiah, son of Amoz, sent word to Hezekiah : “You have called upon YHVH and He has heard your prayer regarding Sennacherib, king of Assyria. This is what YHVH has spoken against him : ‘The Virgin Daughter of Zion despises and scorns you; the Daughter of Jerusalem shakes her head behind you.”

“For a remnant will come from Jerusalem and survivors from Mount Zion. The zeal of YHVH of Hosts will accomplish this. That is why YHVH has said this concerning the king of Assyria : ‘He shall not enter this city nor shoot his arrows. He shall not raise a shield to oppose it nor build a siege ramp against it. He shall leave by the way he came and he shall not enter the city, word of YHVH. I will protect this city and so save it for My own sake and for the sake of David, My servant.”

It happened that the Angel of YHVH went out that night and struck one hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. So Sennacherib, king of Assyria, departed, returned home and lived in Nineveh.

Monday, 21 June 2021 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the story of Abraham, our father in faith and the father of many nations, who was the faithful and dedicated servant of the Lord, as we heard how he embarked on the journey from his homeland and followed the Lord’s call, and leaving everything behind, leading a new life entrusted to the Lord alone. He listened to the Lord and obeyed Him, and for his faith and dedication, God blessed him and made His Covenant with him.

Abraham, then named Abram, put his life in the hands of the Lord, and despite all the wealth and power he had, he allowed the Lord to lead the way for him, and to guide him through the challenges that he would face throughout life. He allowed the Lord to make him into His most worthy servant, that through him and his exemplary actions, he might indeed inspire so many people, many among his own descendants and others to believe in the Lord as well, which includes each and every one of us, who can call Abraham as our father in faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the story of Abraham and his faith and dedication to the Lord is a reminder to each and every one of us that as Christians we have to be like our father in faith in the way we carry on our own lives and actions. It means that we should be genuine in how we believe in the Lord and in fully entrusting ourselves to Him, and truly mean what we believe, being wholehearted and sincere in following Him and not being hypocrites as Christians, that is as those who profess to have faith in God.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord Jesus telling His disciples not to be hypocrites in how they lived their faith, and not to be judgmental towards others, in the sense that they sought to look down on others and glorifying oneself just because they thought that they were better than others, superior or more worthy than their fellow brethren. The Lord told them all that often they failed to realise that the same things that they accused others of wrongdoing, these they themselves had been doing, even without them realising it.

It is therefore important for all of us to recognise that we are all sinners, unworthy and wicked, and we have no right to look down on others or to despise others just because we think that we are in any way better than them. Instead, on the contrary, we should seek our fellow brethren and show concern and care for them. If we see someone who is struggling with their faith and life and who is falling into the path of sin, instead of looking down on them or judging them, we should instead help them and support them, showing them care and concern instead of despising them.

Today we also celebrate the feast of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, whose faith and commitment to the Lord should be inspiration to all of us in how we should be role model ourselves in living our faith wholeheartedly in the manner that he and the other saints had done, and in how Abraham, our father in faith had done in his life. Today, we are all called to look upon the examples set by this holy member of the Society of Jesus who devoted himself completely to the Lord even since such a young age.

St. Aloysius Gonzaga was born into a noble family, as the eldest born no less, and he was expected to succeed to his father’s titles and inherit his possessions. However, as he experienced and became exposed to the brutality and wickedness of the society of his time, gradually he turned to the Christian faith and to the life of saints which then slowly began to lead him to walk down a path of commitment to the Lord, abandoning eventually all of his inheritance and status, and joined the Society of Jesus.

He dedicated himself to the Lord and to the ministry of those whom he gave himself, his time and efforts to, such as the sick and the poor, which at that time were particularly affected by a great epidemic spreading in the community. And he kept on doing his best to care for all those people despite himself eventually succumbing to the disease, and dying at a very young age, faithful to the Lord and loving towards his fellow brothers and sisters to the very end.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all be inspired by the examples showed by St. Aloysius Gonzaga that in everything that we say and do, in our every actions in life we will always be exemplary and strive to do our best in loving God, in caring for our fellow brothers and sisters. Let us all trust the Lord more and grow ever deeper in our faith and devotion from now on, that we can become ever more genuine in our Christian faith from now on. May God bless each and every one of us, now and always. Amen.

Monday, 21 June 2021 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 7 : 1-5

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Do not judge; and you will not be judged. In the same way you judge others, you will be judged; and the measure you use for others will be used for you. Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, and not see the plank in your own eye?”

“How can you say to your brother, ‘Come, let me take the speck from your eye,’ as long as that plank is in your own? Hypocrite, remove the plank out of your own eye; then, you will see clearly, to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

Monday, 21 June 2021 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 32 : 12-13, 18-19, 20 and 22

Blessed is the nation whose God is YHVH – the people He has chosen for His inheritance. YHVH looks down from heaven and sees the whole race of mortals.

But YHVH’s eyes are upon those who fear Him, upon those who trust in His loving-kindness; to deliver them from death and preserve them from famine.

In hope, we wait for YHVH, for He is our help and our shield. O YHVH, let Your love rest upon us, even as our hope rests in You.

Monday, 21 June 2021 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Genesis 12 : 1-9

YHVH said to Abram, “Leave your country, your family and your father’s house, for the land I will show you. I will make you a great nation. I will bless you and make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you, I will curse, and in you all people of the earth will be blessed.”

So Abram went as YHVH had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. Abram took Sarai, his wife, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran. They set out for the land of Canaan.

They arrived at Canaan. Abram travelled through the country as far as Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. YHVH appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” There he built an altar to YHVH Who had appeared to him.

From there he went on to the mountains east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel to the west and Ai to the east. There also he built an altar to YHVH and called on the Name of YHVH. Then Abram set out in the direction of Negeb.

Friday, 21 June 2019 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about seeking the true treasures of our life. Are we able to discover this true treasure or are we going to be distracted by the other false treasures of this world that do not lead to true happiness and joy? That is what the Scripture passages today hope to remind us all as Christians in how we live our lives in this world today.

In our first reading passage taken from the Epistle written by St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in the city of Corinth, the Apostle recounted the many difficulties and challenges that he had had to experience throughout his missionary journeys to the many places and cities throughout the Eastern Mediterranean region. He had to endure the rejection from many people, the suffering of imprisonment and torture, almost losing his life on several occasions and others.

And given a choice, he could have a very different life altogether. For the context, St. Paul himself is of a privileged background at a time when people throughout the Roman Empire were classified into many different social status and groupings, from the lowest of all, the slaves, all the way to the wealthiest and the most privileged among the Roman citizens. St. Paul was not just a highly educated and intelligent person, but he was also a Roman citizen, a rare feat accomplished by one of the Jewish people at that time.

In his early life, as a member of the Pharisees, he had wielded great influence and power as a young zealot going about hunting the early Christians and persecuting all those who believed in the Lord Jesus, and he could have enjoyed such a prestigious life, respected and honoured by the people around him, and enjoying the support and respect of those who were in power at that time to have a good and enjoyable life then.

He could have avoided all the sufferings, pains and difficulties that he had mentioned and instead enjoyed all the good things that the world had to offer, in wealth, in fame, in human glory and praise, in prestige and power, all sorts of things that we mankind often seek in the pursuit of happiness and satisfaction in this world. But this was not the path that St. Paul chose to take.

St. Paul instead sought the true treasure that is far more precious and far better than those treasures of the world. For none of the treasures mentioned earlier could last forever, and they were illusory and temporary in nature at best. None of the wealth, fame, glory and praise can bring us true and everlasting happiness, and in fact, if we look throughout our history, we can see so many occasions when all these things brought more sorrow than joy.

Why is that so? That is because we mankind are hard to satisfy, and we are often never satisfied by whatever we already have. We crave for even more of those things we desire, and when our desires collide with that of another, we can cause suffering, pain and unhappiness to others, all because we want to satisfy our own selfish desires for pleasure, joy and happiness in this world.

St. Paul instead sought the true treasure of his life, that is the Lord Himself, the One Who alone can give us true happiness in life. For it is in the Lord alone that we can be made whole again, in our whole existence, the One Who will reward us with true treasures of joy and happiness by our faith in Him. And this promise of true and everlasting joy, of total freedom from the suffering caused by our sins, is what had empowered St. Paul to endure through all the difficult challenges and sufferings he had to endure for so many years.

Today, we also celebrate the feast of another saint, whose life can also be an inspiration and example for us to follow, in how he has dedicated himself to the Lord, in seeking Him as the treasure of his life. St. Aloysius Gonzaga was born into the noble Italian Gonzaga family and therefore was rightfully going to inherit his family’s position and fortune, title and power, only for him to shun them all by choosing the path of commitment and dedication to God.

St. Aloysius Gonzaga’s family tried to dissuade him from his chosen path, trying to persuade him to take a better path, or at least a path that would preserve his status and privileges as a noble. However, none of these could dissuade St. Aloysius Gonzaga, who remained firm in his decision to dedicate himself completely to God as a Jesuit. And in the midst of that pursuit, he died as a dedicated and holy servant of God due to a serious epidemic at that time.

The courage and bravery of St. Aloysius Gonzaga in rejecting the privileges and norms of his time for the sake of glorifying God is something that each and every one of us as Christians should be inspired by, in how we ourselves can live our lives faithfully, dedicating ourselves each and every day with ever more commitment and faith from now on. May the Lord bless us all and may He continue to guide us in our journey, that we too may have the courage of the saints, St. Paul the Apostle, St. Aloysius Gonzaga amongst many others. May God be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 21 June 2019 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 6 : 19-23

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples and to the people, “Do not store up treasures for yourself here, on earth, where moth and rust destroy it; and where thieves can steal it. Store up treasures for yourself with God, where no moth or rust can destroy it, nor thief come and steal it.

For where your treasures are, there, also, will your heart be. The lamp of the body is the eye; if your eyes are sound, your whole body will be full of light. If your eyes are diseased, your whole body will be full of darkness. If, then, the light in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!