Friday, 17 November 2017 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us are reminded that all of us must be vigilant at all times, for the coming of the Lord will come suddenly without warning, and even without signs or forewarning. It will catch and surprise many who are not ready for His coming, because all of them have been distracted by the many idols of this world.

In today’s first reading, taken from the Book of Wisdom, it was described how the people who worshipped the idols, pagan idols representing natural forces and wonders, such as worship of the sun, the moon, the stars, the mountains, the seas and the rivers, deserts, and many more of others, prevalent in numerous civilisations and cultures, have been preoccupied with the marvels of creation, and yet fail to recognise the Author of all of them, that is God.

That was why, instead of properly giving thanks or focusing to the One Who deserves all praise and honour, we mankind ended up being distracted by the marvels of the created things. And if we think that all these problems happened only in the past, then we are wrong. In our present day, the same issues still exist. If in the past it was the wonders of nature and creation, now we end up being distracted by our own human creations and worldly goods.

For example, our attachment to money and worldly possessions will end up distracting us from our faith, and turning us into immorality and greed. Many of us are distracted by our career and in that, our pursuit for more money, status, fame, worldly glory and possessions, that we have forgotten about the Lord our God. We spent so much time trying to gather for ourselves all these things that we end up spending little or no time for God.

That, brothers and sisters in Christ, is no different from the way how the people in those days worshipped the pagan idols and forgot about the Lord their God, as was evident in many occasions throughout the Old Testament. And that was why the Lord was angry at His people, because they have abandoned Him for those pagan idols, and many of us did not do any better with our own modern day idols.

What do we all, as Christians, need to do then? All of us need to reflect on each and every one of our lives, and what we have done, and how we have lived every single day. Have we been distracted in our way to the Lord by the many temptations in life? Have we done what we need to do in order to prepare for the Lord? In the Gospel today, we heard about how in the past, many people had been caught unprepared and unaware in sin, from the time of Noah to the time of Lot.

Those people who lived at the time of Noah and Lot lived wickedly, committing sins before God by immoral behaviours and by corrupting themselves with sinful acts, the worship of false and pagan idols, and many more. They rejected the Lord their God and settled for worldly pleasures and corruptions. That was how they met their downfall, when the great flood came at the time of Noah, and when the flames and sulfur rained down upon Sodom and Gomorrah, destroying all who refused to repent.

Having learnt of all these examples, how can we then avoid the fate of those who have gone to their just fate because of their sins? As Christians, all of us must put God first and foremost in our lives, to give our whole heart, love and attention to Him, and to no other. We cannot let the temptations of the idols present in our lives from distracting us in our journey towards God.

That said, money, power, fame and many other things I have mentioned are on their own not wicked or evil by their nature. These can be used for either good or evil purposes. Rather, it is our unhealthy attachment to them, our greed for them that led us to idolise these things and forget about the Lord our God. This is why many of us faltered in our faith, because we were not able to resist those temptations.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us strive to reorientate our lives and rethink our life choices and priorities. We should devote our time and effort towards God, and not to be too attached to worldly temptations of money, possessions, fame, glory and many others. And we should also perhaps follow the example of today’s saint, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, a renowned princess turned into a devout servant of God towards the end of her life.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary led a very virtuous and holy life, dedicated to God and to her family. Yet, she lost her husband at a relatively young age, and she became a widow. She encountered many difficulties and harsh treatments after that, and yet she persevered through all of them and continued to be charitable throughout the remainders of her life, caring for the poor and the sick, building hospitals and care houses for them.

The examples of St. Elizabeth of Hungary should be inspiration to all of us, that no matter what prestige, honour, glory and fame, monetary wealth or other things we have in life, we must first and foremost give our hearts to God, and love Him with all of our strength. Then, we also have to love our fellow brothers and sisters, particularly those who are in need of our help.

Let us all do our best, therefore, to become ever more devoted disciples of Our Lord, by practicing our faith with commitment throughout the rest of our lives. May He empower all of us to live courageously in His presence, and may we draw ever closer to Him. St. Elizabeth of Hungary, pray for us sinners as well. Amen.

Friday, 17 November 2017 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 17 : 26-37

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be on the day the Son of Man comes. In those days people ate and drank and got married; but on the day Noah entered the Ark, the flood came and destroyed them all. So it was in the days of Lot : people ate and drank, and bought and sold, and planted and built; but on the day Lot left Sodom, God made fire and sulfur rain down from heaven, which destroyed them all. So will it be on the day the Son of Man is revealed.”

“On that day, if you are on the rooftop, do not go down into the house to get your belongings; and if you happen to be in the fields, do not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to save his life will lose it, but whoever gives his life will be born again. I tell you, though two men are sharing the same bed, it might happen that one will be taken, and the other left; though two women are grinding meal together, one might be taken and the other left.”

Then they asked Jesus, “Where will this take place, Lord?” And He answered, “Where the body is, there too will the vultures gather.”

Friday, 17 November 2017 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 18 : 2-3, 4-5

The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament proclaims the work of His hands. Day talks it over with day; night hands on the knowledge to night.

No speech, no words, no voice is heard – but the call goes on, throughout the universe, the message is felt to the ends of the earth.

Friday, 17 November 2017 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Wisdom 13 : 1-9

The natural helplessness of humans is seen in their ignorance of God. The experience of good things did not lead them to the knowledge of Him Who is. They were interested in His works, but they did not recognise the Author of them.

Fire, wind, air, the sphere of the stars, rushing water and the lights in the sky were held as the rulers of the world. If, charmed by such beauty, they took them for gods, let them know how far superior is their sovereign. And if they were impressed by their power and activity, let them understand from this how much mightier is He Who formed them. For the grandeur and beauty of creatures lead us to ponder on their Author, greater and more magnificent.

No doubt these people are not to be blamed severely, for possibly they strayed though they searched for God and desired to find Him. They pondered over the created things that surrounded them and were captivated by the sight of such beauty. Even so they are not to be excused, for if they were able to explore the world, why did they not discover first the world’s Sovereign?

Thursday, 17 November 2016 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we listened to the word of God in the Sacred Scriptures, listening to the words of hope given to us by the Lord, Who have triumphed and conquered, defeating the forces of evil and death, by His own death on the cross and then by His glorious resurrection from the dead and ascension in glory into heaven.

Through the readings today, we are reminded yet again that as Christians, persecutions and challenges will be part of our lives, as those who are in power in this world, all those who rely on this world, are against us who believe in the Lord, for the devil wants us all to be lost to the Lord, by disobeying Him and refusing to listen to His laws and commandments, and instead following his lies and temptations.

And that was why throughout history, for the past two millennia, the history of the Church, our Faith and its faithful had been filled with much grievances, sufferings, persecutions and all that had occurred when the faithful were oppressed by those who sought to destroy them and turn them away from the path towards salvation. That was why there were many martyrs and those who suffered and even laid down their lives for the Lord, in the early days of the Church, and even unto this very day.

During the early days of the Church, the faithful had to contend with many oppressions, oppositions to the Lord and to the Church, and they had to hide, hiding in the catacombs and sewers while celebrating the Lord and His Holy Sacrifice, the Holy Mass, or else they would be arrested, put into prison, tortured and even put to death for their faith in God.

If we wonder how they all persevered through all of that without losing hope, it was because of their firm faith in God. They staunchly remained true to their Lord and their faith in Him even when they were faced with the stark option of securing their lives by rejecting the Lord, or to keep their faith and suffer to the extent of painfully losing their lives.

This is a reality that many of our brethren even today, are still living its daily effects. In various parts of the world, from the Middle East, to regions of the Americas, Africa, and in many other parts, being a faithful Christian is increasingly a more and more difficult task for us. Challenges and temptations are abound, and not few of our brethren were tempted and gave up because of various reasons.

But many did not give up because they believe firmly in the Lord Who will be triumphant in the end, as foretold in the Book of Revelations of St. John the Apostle, the content of which we heard today. God will succour all of His faithful ones and bring them into the comfort of His grace and salvation in the end of it all, and death and the forces of evil will not have any power over us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as Christians, many of us are able to help our brethren who are suffering in various ways. We should open our eyes, our ears, our senses, and love them in our heart. We must be generous with our charity and be generous with our love. And in this, perhaps, we should follow in the footsteps and examples of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, the holy saint whose feast we celebrate today.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary is a Hungarian princess who was renowned for her piety and great works of charity. As is the custom of that time, she was married off at an early age to a nobleman, and had a family. But when her husband passed away, during the years of her widowhood, she devoted herself to God and to the poor people around her, contributing a lot to charitable works and helped the weak and those who are in need to meet their needs.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary showed us all what is meant by being a Christian. Being a Christian requires each and every one of us to follow in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus, Who came into this world out of His love for us, and to find those who have lost their way and became stranded and separated from Him, that they may also have a hope of redemption and liberation from the curse of sin and death.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all strive that in this life we have, we may be able to commit ourselves fully to the Lord, renew our faith and commitment to Him, so that through our wholehearted devotion to Him, many others will also be inspired to do the same, and follow our footsteps to seek the Lord and be forgiven from their sins.

May all of us Christians be the bearers of God’s truth and salvation, never fearing what will happen to us if we stay faithful to Him, as we all know that, just as the saints and martyrs had known, that Jesus, the Lamb of God, our Lord, will triumph in the end and bring all those who remain faithful to Him to the glorious eternal life with Him forevermore. May God bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 17 November 2016 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Luke 19 : 41-44

At that time, when Jesus had come in sight of the city of Jerusalem, He wept over it, and said, “If only today you knew the ways of peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Yet days will come upon you, when your enemies will surround you with barricades, and shut you in, and press on you from every side.”

“And they will dash you to the ground and your children with you, and not leave stone upon stone within you, for you did not recognise the time and the visitation of your God.”

Thursday, 17 November 2016 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White
Psalm 149 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6a and 9b

Alleluia! Sing to the Lord a new song, sing His praise in the assembly of His saints. Let Israel rejoice in his Maker, let the people of Zion glory in their King!

Let them dance in praise of His Name and make music for Him with harp and timbrel. For the Lord delights in His people; He crowns the lowly with victory.

The saints will exult in triumph; even at night on their couches. Let the praise of God be on their lips, this is the glory of all His saints. Alleluia!