Tuesday, 11 August 2020 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us are reminded to be faithful and to be humble in our everyday lives, to be obedient to God and follow His ways. And this is what we need to do so that we may find the path towards the salvation in God, just as the Lord has done plenty in reaching out to us and calling on all of us to return to Him, seeking out for us and guiding us on the path towards reconciliation and redemption.

Unfortunately, we are often too busy with our lives and too proud and filled with ego to be able to live with genuine faith. And this is what we have been reminded through our Gospel passage as well, as we heard of the Lord’s words to His disciples, that unless we have the faith of children, be like them and welcome them into our midst, then we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven and be part of the inheritance and glory promised to all of us.

Why is this so, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because unlike adults and those who have grown up, children are still innocent and pure, blameless and committed in whatever they believe in. When children believe in something, they will believe it wholeheartedly without doubt and without being distracted by various considerations, as what adults often do. When they believe in the Lord therefore, they will believe with all of their hearts, and given the right guidance, they will all be strong in their faith and love for God.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what many of us are lacking, as we live our lives filled with worldly desires and temptations that distract us and prevent us from finding our way towards God. We have often been swayed and tempted by the false promises of glory and pleasure by the devil and his allies, and as a result, we end up being lost from God. We fall into sin and sin led us further astray, away from the right path.

As long as we continue to be stubborn and persist in the path of sin, we will find it difficult to be reconciled with God. In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Ezekiel the words of the Lord that He spoke to His people through Ezekiel, as He called on them all to stop their rebellious ways and return to Him, and how wicked and terrible their rebellion had been. And yet, God still wanted to call on them and reach out to them, and through Ezekiel, He made His salvation known to them, the words of God’s salvation that is sweet as honey against the bitterness of the rebellion of those who have disobeyed God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through today’s Scripture readings all of us are reminded to be faithful, to turn towards God with heart full of faith and love for Him, to seek Him with all of our hearts, and to be dedicated to Him once again, turning away from all forms of sin and disobedience against Him. We are God’s lost sheep, and we are truly fortunate that the Lord, our Good Shepherd, is willing to reach out to us, find us, and call us back towards Him.

And we need to learn to be humble and faithful once again just as the Lord had taught us all to do, and today we can look upon the examples shown to us by the holy servant of God, St. Clare of Assisi, a great example of faith for each and every one of us. St. Clare of Assisi was remembered for her great piety and love for God, was inspired by a life of prayer since early in her life and was called to follow the path showed by St. Francis of Assisi.

St. Clare dedicated herself to God and gave herself to His service, and despite the attempts made by her father to force her to abandon her commitment and new life, she refused to be dissuaded and remained firm in her conviction to lead a holy life dedicated to God. Eventually together with other women who wished to dedicate themselves to God’s service through prayer and holiness, they became the foundation of the religious order of the Poor Clares, as the group established to channel the women who wanted to follow in the charism and life of the Franciscan spirituality and way of life.

Eventually, St. Clare would become the abbess of the community of San Damiano where the sisters of Poor Clares were gathered and established in, and she was essential in maintaining the spiritual rigour of her congregation and inspiring all of them to live in poverty and in commitment and dedication to God. And miraculously, St. Clare also repelled the invasion of armies that tried to ransack the city and the monastery she and her fellow sisters were living in, by praying before the Blessed Sacrament and presenting the monstrance before the invading forces, that fled in fear witnessing great light that shone on them.

From the examples of St. Clare of Assisi, all of us are called to follow her inspiration to live her life filled with virtue and faith, to be pure in our love for God and to be sincere in our commitment, free from the taint of greed and worldly desires, free from the shackles of sin and evil, from pride and ego and worldly ambitions. But this path will not be an easy one for us, and we will need to resist the constant temptations present all around us.

Let us all have the faith of a child, a genuine faith and dedication, filled with love and the desire to seek God at all times. Let us all pray that the Lord will strengthen us and guide us in this journey, and give us the strength and the courage to serve Him wholeheartedly from now on. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 11 August 2020 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 18 : 1-5, 10, 12-14

At that time, the disciples came to Jesus and asked Him, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Then Jesus called a little child, set the child in the midst of the disciples, and said, “I assure you, that, unless you change, and become like little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble, like this child, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and whoever receives such a child, in My Name, receives Me.”

“See that you do not despise any of these little ones; for I tell you, their Angels in heaven continually see the face of My heavenly Father. What do you think of this? If someone has a hundred sheep and one of them strays, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hillside, and go to look for the stray one? And I tell you, when he finally finds it, he is more pleased about it, than about the ninety-nine that did not go astray.”

“It is the same with your Father in heaven. Your Father in heaven does not want even one of these little ones to perish.”

Tuesday, 11 August 2020 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 118 : 14, 24, 72, 103, 111, 131

I delight in following Your laws, more so than in all riches.

Your laws are my delight, my counsellors who uphold me.

Your law is more precious to me than heaps of silver and gold.

How sweet are Your promises to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Your statutes are my heritage forever, they are the joy of my heart.

I gasp in ardent yearning for Your commandments that I love.

Tuesday, 11 August 2020 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ezekiel 2 : 8 – Ezekiel 3 : 4

God said to Ezekiel, “Listen then, son of man, to what I say, and do not be a rebel among rebels. Open your mouth and take in what I am about to say.”

I looked and saw a hand stretched out in front of me holding a scroll. He unrolled it before me; on both sides were written lamentations, groaning and woes. He said to me, “Son of man, eat what is given to you. Eat this scroll and then go; speak to the people of Israel.”

I opened my mouth and He made me eat the scroll; and then He said to me, “Eat and fill yourself with this scroll that I am giving you.” I ate it; and it tasted as sweet as honey. He said, “Son of man, go to the Israelites; speak to them with My words.”

Thursday, 11 August 2016 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the clear theme of today’s Scripture readings is compassion and forgiveness, which God has shown unto us His people, and therefore, we too are expected to show the same compassion and forgiving nature as the Lord had done, in our own dealings with others around us. That is the key message that I want all of us to heed today, especially when we live in a world that is increasingly unforgiving in nature.

In the first reading, taken from the Book of the prophet Ezekiel, God spoke to Ezekiel that he might convey His intention to His people, that because of their sinfulness and wickedness, they have brought ruin upon themselves and brought about their exile and humiliation among the nations. They have been shamed and brought low and their enemies took advantage on them.

At that time, the prophecy would come true, as Ezekiel and his fellow exiles went ahead of the rest when the king of Babylon first ransacked Jerusalem and Judah and brought part of the people to exile. The remainders led by king Zedekiah of Judah and his people held onto Jerusalem for a while longer, and when they rebelled haughtily thinking that they could trust in the power of men rather than God, they were crushed.

Thus ended the glorious kingdom established by Saul and made strong by David and Solomon, the faithful kings who followed the Lord and devoted themselves in faith to lead the people of God. For the waywardness of the people and their kings that followed after, the sins of Jerusalem and Judah piled up to such an extent that in the end, they suffered the consequences of their sins and disobedience.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are called to listen to what Jesus our Lord mentioned in the Gospel. He told His disciples about the servant who was indebted to his master, and who was about to pay the consequences of his debt, by being sold into slavery with all of his family and his possessions. But the servant begged the master for mercy, and the master did have mercy on him, not only forgiving him from all his debts, he also set him free.

Yet, that same servant, after he had been set free and forgiven from his heavy debts, went to another servant who in turn owned him some money, albeit far less than what he himself ever owed his master. And when that servant begged for mercy and forgiveness, for him to be patient while he tried to gather the money to pay him back, the wicked servant refused and sent the other, poor servant to be tortured and to suffer.

In this parable, the master is the Lord our God, Who shows mercy to all those who beg Him to forgive them, as long as they are sincere in desiring the mercy and the forgiveness of God. And the servants represent us all mankind, of all our various needs and kinds, who serve the Lord, and then who committed mistakes and sins in our lives, that is our debt to our true Lord and Master.

And just as that servant did not forgive the debt of those who were indebted to him, we mankind also often keep grudges and vengeance, and we also found that it was not easy to forgive those who have wronged us. We tend to keep our negative judgment and prejudice on others, and that resulted in our inability to appreciate the greatness of God’s love and compassion for us.

We cannot just profess that we believe in God, and yet in our actions, our very deeds and dealings, we have too much ego in us and we have too much pride and hate in us to be able to learn to forgive each other and to love one another without ulterior motive, resulting in the Lord condemning our own actions and deeds because through them we have not followed what our Lord had done to us.

God has forgiven us, but yet we do not forgive our brethren? Let us then take note at what we often pray as we pray the Lord’s Prayer, the Pater Noster. There is that part which mentioned the petition we gave to the Lord, for Him to forgive us our sins and trespasses, just as He has forgiven us first our own sins and trespasses before Him. If we want to be forgiven, then we must forgive those who have sinned against us first, and also to ask for forgiveness if we have wronged someone else.

Today, we commemorate the feast of St. Clare of Assisi, a renowned holy woman and one of the greatest saints of her time. St. Clare was a pious and devoted woman who gave her life to serve the people of God and the Church, as a member of the Franciscan order, as one of the first followers of the renowned St. Francis of Assisi, sharing in his passion and desire to help the poorest and the weakest in the society.

She helped to establish the Order of Poor Ladies, the female counterpart of the Franciscan order, helping to gather like-minded and devoted young ladies who wanted to give their lives in commitment to the service of the people of God, grounded on faith, charity and service. And she led the efforts of the new order, by leading the devout women in the service to the poor, in evangelising the word of God to the sinners, and to serve God in all possible ways.

It was told in what is now a very famous and renowned story that once the army of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II during one of his many wars in Italy, came to the convent where St. Clare and her followers lived and worked. And St. Clare, not fearing for her life in the face of the bloodthirsty and angry soldiers, picked up the holy monstrance bearing inside it the Most Precious Body of our Lord, lifted it high up above her head just as the soldiers barged into the chapel.

And so terrified the soldiers were at the Real Presence of our Lord, that they fled the place and left the city unharmed without striking at the people. And thus, we saw how God showed His love and mercy to His people, for He will care for those who kept their faith in Him, and He will never abandon them. Therefore, let us follow the examples of St. Clare and the other holy saints, and devote ourselves anew to the Lord.

May the Lord bless us and keep us, and may He strengthen our faith that we may find our way to Him, with the strong belief and conviction that He will always be with us to the end, never leaving us in the darkness. May He bring us into the light and bless us forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 11 August 2016 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 18 : 21 – Matthew 19 : 1

At that time, Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how many times must I forgive the offences of my brother or sister? Seven times?” Jesus answered, “No, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

“This story throws light on the kingdom of Heaven : A king decided to settle the accounts of his servants. Among the first was one who owed him ten thousand pieces of gold. As the man could not repay the debt, the king commanded that he be sold as a slave with his wife, his children and all his goods, as repayment.”

“The servant threw himself at the feet of the king and said, ‘Give me time, and I will pay you back everything.’ The king took pity on him, and not only set him free, but even cancelled his debt. When this servant left the king’s presence, he met one of his companions, who owed him a hundred pieces of silver. He grabbed him by the neck and almost choked him, shouting, ‘Pay me what you owe!'”

“His companion threw himself at his feet and begged him, ‘Give me time, and I will pay everything.’ The other did not agree, but sent him to prison until he had paid all his debt. Now his fellow servants saw what had happened. They were extremely upset, and so they went and reported everything to their lord.”

“Then the lord summoned his servant and said, ‘Wicked servant, I forgave you all that you owed when you begged me to do so. Were you not bound to have pity on your companion, as I had pity on you?’ The lord was now angry, so he handed his servant over to be punished, until he had paid his whole debt.”

Jesus added, “So will My heavenly Father do with you, unless you sincerely forgive your brothers and sisters.” When Jesus had finished this teaching, He left Galilee and arrived at the border of Judea, on the other side of the Jordan River.

Thursday, 11 August 2016 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 77 : 56-57, 58-59, 61-62

But they challenged and rebelled against God the Most High, and disobeyed His decrees. They were unfaithful like their ancestors, deceitful and crooked as a twisted bow.

They angered Him with their high places; they aroused His jealousy with their idols. Filled with wrath, God rejected Israel.

He lead His glory into captivity, His Ark into the hand of the enemy. He gave His people over to the sword, so furious was He at His inheritance.

Thursday, 11 August 2016 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ezekiel 12 : 1-12

This word of YHVH came to me, “Son of man, you live in the midst of a house of rebels : they have eyes for seeing but do not see; they have ears for hearing but do not hear, for they are a house of rebels. Because of this, son of man, prepare for yourself an exile’s baggage in their sight as an exile does; and go as in an exile to another place in their sight. Would that they may understand, because they are a house of rebels.”

“You will gather your things, an exile’s baggage, by day to be seen by them, and you will leave in the evening as for a departure of deportees. While they look on, dig a hole in the wall and leave from there. As they look on, shoulder your baggage and leave in the dark. Veil your face and do not look at the land for I have made you a sign for Israel.”

I did as I was ordered, gathering my things by day, an exile’s baggage, and in the evening I made a hole in the wall with my hand. I left in the dark, in their presence, shouldering my baggage. In the morning, the word of YHVH came to me : “Son of man, did not the Israelites, these rebels, ask you, ‘What are you doing there?’ Answer them on behalf of YHVH : This oracle concerns the prince in Jerusalem and all the Israelites remaining in the city.”

“Say, ‘I am a sign for you,’ for what I have done will happen to them : They will be deported, exiled. The prince among them shall shoulder his baggage in the dark and depart. They will dig a hole in the wall to let him leave by it. He will cover his face because he must not see the land with his eyes.”