Tuesday, 5 June 2018 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Boniface, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the need for us to be good disciples of the Lord, while at the same time, we must also be obedient to the current rules and laws of the land, in the world that we live in today, as the Lord showed us through the parable of the silver coin, which He told His disciples and the Pharisees, on who to obey in the matter of paying taxes and faith.

In the Gospel passage today, we heard how the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law attempted to bring Jesus into their trap, by asking Him a very controversial question and issue during that time. At that time, the matter of paying taxes was a very important one, as the Jewish people lived under the sovereignty and might of the Roman Empire, which had slowly increased their power and sovereignty over the Jews.

The Jews, who had just within a century or two, won their hard-fought independence from the tyranny of the Seleucids, as recorded in the Book of the Maccabees, found themselves to be under another overlord, the Romans, who imposed on them taxes to be paid to the Roman state, that is to the Emperor, as well as certain requirements that were loathed by the Jews.

That is why, the tax collectors were highly reviled and hated at the time of Jesus, and they were treated as equally badly as the prostitutes, as sinners and traitors to the people. Yet, those people did not benefit from what they have done, as they merely had to do what was necessary, to collect money and taxes on behalf of the Roman rulers, a task that was increasingly difficult at that time.

Thus, the Pharisees prepared a well-laid trap for Jesus, as if the Lord answered that the people should not pay taxes to Caesar or the Emperor, then the Pharisees and the elders could have quickly reported Him to the Roman authorities, using His argument and words against Him. How is that so? That is because they would have presented the argument that the Lord Jesus was leading a rebellion against Rome, and His great popularity and large following would have validated that argument in the eyes of the Romans.

On the other hand, should the Lord have said that the people must pay taxes to Caesar, then He would also be in a difficult situation, as the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law would have quickly capitalised on His words and condemned Him just as they condemned the tax collectors. He would have been labelled as a traitor, having betrayed the people by His own support for the Roman taxes.

Therefore, as we can see, by right, the Lord was in a very difficult situation, as it does not matter what He said, He would encounter difficulty and problem either way. But the Lord knew what was in the minds of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. He knew that they were plotting against Him, and He refused to be led into their trap. Instead, He presented to them the power of His divine wisdom, and revealed to them the undebatable truth.

Through the Lord’s own words, He told them all to give what is due to God, and give what is due to Caesar. He based this upon the fact that the silver coins used for the paying of the taxes ultimately were minted and issued by the Roman state. Therefore, what the people had done by paying taxes, were merely returning what the state had loaned out to them. It was not theirs in the first place.

Meanwhile, the Lord reminded them all, especially the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, that we have even more important things that we owe the Lord, much more than all the worldly goods and possessions of this world. And that is, our love and commitment to Him. God does not need anything, as He is all perfect and good, and there is nothing that we have, that did not come from God.

However, God loves each and every one of us dearly, and while in theory He has no need for our love, but as in any loving relationships, love exists between two parties. Thus, if God has loved us all so much, then it is only right that we should love Him in the same manner, and this is what the Lord Jesus said, as ‘give the Lord God, what is due for Him as Our God.’

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law did not love God. Rather, they loved themselves, and tried their best to accumulate for themselves, all power, glory, honour, fame and greatness. That is what God was angry with them for, and He reminded us not to follow in their footsteps. Instead, He has shown us all the example, how to be truly faithful and obedient to Him.

And today, we commemorate the feast of St. Boniface, holy bishop and martyr of the faith. St. Boniface was a great missionary in the region now known as northern Germany, where pagans still lived in large numbers during the time of St. Boniface. He preached to many of the pagans, calling them to repent from their sins, and explained about the faith to many who asked about the Lord.

He encountered difficulties and many challenges during his mission, but many people converted to the faith because of his courageous work and devotion to God. St. Boniface would then encounter his martyrdom when he and his company was attacked by bandits, who sought to plunder the belongings of the group. They thought that those belongings would contain precious treasure, while in fact they were books on Christian teachings.

St. Boniface told his followers not to fight back against the enemies, and they would rather hold back their arms, as according to their faith, the way of violence is not the way to be taken. Rather than treasuring his life over that of his possessions, it was told that St. Boniface defended his faith and the Gospels to the very end. We can see from this, just how devout and committed this holy man of God had been.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all seek to love the Lord with all of our hearts, by giving Him our very best. As St. Boniface had shown us, let us put the Lord as the focus and the centre of our lives, and then, let us also be obedient and good members of the community we are living in, obeying the laws of the land, as long as they are aligned with what God had taught us in our Christian faith. Let us all give to God what God deserves, and give to the worldly authorities what we owe to them. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Boniface, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Mark 12 : 13-17

At that time, the chief priests, the teachers of the Law and the elders sent to Jesus some Pharisees with members of Herod’s party, with the purpose of trapping him by his own words. They came and said to Jesus, “Master, we know that You are truthful; You are not influenced by anyone, and Your answers do not vary according to who is listening to You, but You truly teach God’s way. Tell us, is it against the Law to pay taxes to Caesar? Should we pay them or not?”

But Jesus saw through their trick and answered, “Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a silver coin and let Me see it.” They brought Him one and Jesus asked, “Whose image is this, and whose name?” They answered, “Caesar’s.” Then Jesus said, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” And they were greatly astonished.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Boniface, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 89 : 2, 3-4, 10, 14 and 16

Before the mountains were formed, before You made the earth and the world, from eternity to eternity – You are God.

You turn humans back to dust, saying, “Return, o mortals!” A thousand years in Your sight are like a day that has passed, or like a watch in the night.

Seventy years to our life, or eighty if we are strong; yet, most of them are sorrow and trouble; speeding by, they sweep us along.

Fill us at daybreak with Your goodness, that we may be glad all our days. Let Your work be seen by Your servants and Your glorious power by their children.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Boniface, Bishop and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

2 Peter 3 : 12-15a, 17-18

As you wait for the day of God, and long for its coming, when the heavens will dissolve in fire, and the elements melt away in the heat. We wait for a new heaven and a new earth, in which justice reigns, according to God’s promise.

Therefore, beloved, as you wait in expectation of this, strive, that God may find you rooted in peace, without blemish or fault. And consider, that God’s patience is for our salvation. So then, dearly beloved, as you have been warned, be careful, lest those people who have gone astray, deceive you, in turn, and drag you along, making you stumble, and finally fall away.

Grow in the grace and knowledge of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ : to Him be glory, now, and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Monday, 5 June 2017 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Boniface, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about the person Tobit, an Israeli exile at the time of the Assyrian destruction of the northern kingdom, who was among the many descendants of Israel carried off to the exile in Assyria and in faraway lands. And even though many of the people of the northern kingdom abandoned the Lord and worshipped the pagan gods, but Tobit and his family remained faithful to the Lord God of Israel.

Indeed, Tobit was righteous and just in his actions, obeying the Lord and all of His commandments. He gave alms and cared for his fellow countrymen in exile, many of whom were suffering in poverty and slavery. Yet, in today’s reading, we heard also the reality of life, how people were persecuted and even killed because of their race, or because of they were weak and powerless, as what happened to the Israelites at that time, persecuted and scattered among the nations.

Such was the degree of human greed and desire, that they would even exploit others and made others to suffer in order to satisfy their own selfish needs and wants, and achieve their own personal glory. That is what the Lord Jesus wanted to show through the parable which He taught His disciples, what we heard in our Gospel today about the evil tenants who refused to pay their due to their landlord and master.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the evil tenants represent all those people who were wicked and who were controlled by their desires and greed. They should have paid their due to the landlord and master, who is none other than the Lord our God, Who has given them all the opportunity to live and to prosper from all His graces and blessings. Yet, they disobeyed Him and refused to listen to Him, even hurting and killing all those whom the Master had sent to them to remind them about their obligations.

This is representative of how mankind itself reacted to the Lord, as He constantly reminded them through His messengers and servants, whom He sent to be among His people, in order to call them to repent from all of their sinful ways, from all of their selfish deeds that brought about suffering and difficulties to their fellow men, and from all that they had done which were wicked in the sight of the Lord and men alike.

But many of those people turned a deaf ear and persecuted all those who had been sent to remind them and guide them. And thus the messengers, prophets and servants of God had suffered and died, and last of all, as Jesus Himself prophesied through His parable, they would even kill the son of the master, Who is representative of Jesus, the Son of God.

They rejected Him, ridiculed and mocked Him, and then arrested Him, putting Him under false charges and accusations made by false witnesses. They made Him to bear the burden of the cross, and condemned Him to death, death on the cross. And yet, as we all know, the Lord Jesus had transformed that suffering to grace, by obeying perfectly the will of God, His Father. That means, when the people had been unfaithful, His faith and obedience has become a great light that led the people from the darkness.

That was what the Lord had taught us all, His disciples and followers to do in our own respective lives. The Lord has shown us all by His own example, on how all of us ought to live in accordance with His will, helping to guide all those who have been swayed and corrupted by the evils of greed and desire, by telling them with gentle and yet firm words of reminders.

That means, all of us as Christians ought to do what the holy saints and martyrs had done, as they lived upright life and led an example for the rest of the people, all of whom had been struggling under the weight of their sins and wickedness. All of the saints themselves had been sinners like us as well, for everyone had committed sin at least once in their lives. And yet, they turned towards the Lord, and endeavoured to show others the way to do the same.

St. Boniface, the saint whose memory we remember today, did exactly just that, brothers and sisters in Christ. He was a bishop appointed to serve the people living in the areas and regions which now comprise the northern part of Germany, which at that time had not yet received the words and truth of God, as paganism was still the norm for the people living in those places, living in state of sin and wickedness, and doing what were abhorrent in the sight of God.

Yet, St. Boniface took up the challenge and set out to preach to those people, bearing to them the message of truth, as he patiently and courageously went about from towns to towns, from villages to villages, to proclaim God’s ways and calling on the pagans to repent from their sins and turn towards the Lord, their true God and Master. Yes, he was persecuted and faced many challenges, but he never gave up.

It is his conviction to help all those who were still separated from the love of God, be it because of ignorance or because of the temptations of the world, so that all those people would not end up in hell, damned because of their sins. He called them out of the darkness and into the light, through all of his hard work and commitment. This is what all of us Christians have to do in our own lives, as St. Boniface carried on doing his duty, even until he was martyred in the midst of his ministry, as told that he was attacked by brigands and was martyred defending his faith in God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, all of us are called to be the messengers of God’s truth, that we may not end up becoming like those evil tenants who were swallowed by their greed and desire for personal glory and power. We should help one another, especially our brethren who are still struggling in their journey towards the Lord, not by great and marvellous deeds, but beginning from ourselves, from our own actions and deeds in life.

Brethren, let us all show exemplary actions and deeds in life, so that through all the work that we have done, and through all of our dedication, by loving tenderly and sincerely, and by showing genuine care and concern for all those who have fallen along the way, we may convince more and more people to repent and to turn themselves completely and wholeheartedly towards the Lord, their God. So that, ultimately, all of us will rejoice together in the end, enjoying together as one people, the heavenly glory the Lord promised to all those who keep their faith in Him. May God bless us all. Amen.

Monday, 5 June 2017 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Boniface, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Mark 12 : 1-12

At that time, using parables, Jesus went on to say, “A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a hole for the wine press and built a watch tower. Then he leased the vineyard to tenants and went abroad. In due time he sent a servant to receive from the tenants his share of the fruit. But they seized the servant, struck him and sent him back empty-handed.”

“Again the man sent another servant. They also struck him on the head and treated him shamefully. He sent another and they killed him. In the same way they treated many others : some they beat up and others they killed. One was still left, his beloved son. And so, last of all, he sent him to the tenants, for he said, “They will respect my son.”

“But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the one who is to inherit the vineyard. Let us kill him and the property will be ours.’ So they seized him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. Now what will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.”

And Jesus added, “Have you not read this text of the Scriptures : The stone which the builders rejected has become the keystone; this is the Lord’s doing, and we marvel at it?”

They wanted to arrest Him, for they realised that Jesus meant this parable for them, but they were afraid of the crowd; so they left Him and went away.

Monday, 5 June 2017 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Boniface, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Psalm 111 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6

Alleluia! Blessed is the one who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commands. His children will be powerful on earth; the upright’s offspring will be blessed.

Wealth and riches are for his family, there his integrity will remain. He is for the righteous a light in darkness, He is kind, merciful and upright.

It will be well with him who lends freely, who leads a life of justice and honesty. For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered and loved forever.