Wednesday, 17 November 2021 : 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, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all presented with the tale of the seven brothers and their mother who were persecuted for their faith by the Seleucid King, Antiochus IV Epiphanes. They were forced to do things that were against the Law of God. Then in our Gospel passage today we heard the Lord speaking to His disciples and the people using the parable of the silver talents to explain what each of His disciples and followers had to do with their faith.

In our first reading today, we heard of the story from the Book of the Maccabees, continuing with the tale of persecution of the Jewish faithful during King Antiochus’ reign, who was determined in his megalomania and ego to stamp out any dissent and any other religious expressions, set and bound to introduce and enforce Greek customs and practices on the people of his domain and realm, including that of the descendants of the Israelites in the land of Judea, Galilee and elsewhere. This resulted in the great persecution which we had heard for the past few days.

In that particular occasion mentioned today, the seven brothers remained firm in their faith and dedication to the Lord, committed themselves wholeheartedly to Him despite the sufferings and trials that they were then facing, facing certain death and terrible suffering just as they approached martyrdom for the Lord. They all died one by one before their own mother who saw their courage and faith in God. And when the King tried to persuade the last son and asking the mother to ask her son to apostatise, the mother instead encouraged her son to remain faithful.

In any case, all the seven sons and their own mother were all martyred for their great faith, as they committed themselves wholeheartedly to the Lord, and not wishing to corrupt themselves with the corruption of sin and disobedience against God. They chose to suffer and die rather than to commit sin against God, and to stand firm against those who persecuted them, knowing that God was with them and that their sufferings and deaths would not be in vain, as their rewards would be great in Heaven.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the parable of the silver talents as described by the Lord, in which the Lord spoke of a king and master who entrusted his servants some amount of wealth in the form of silver talents that were then invested by two of them, who received ten and five silver talents each, while the last servant who received one talent of silver kept the silver hidden and did not do anything to it at all. At the time of the master’s return, he called for a reckoning from his servants of the silver talents that he had entrusted to them.

And we heard how the master praised the first two servants for having doubled what they had received by investing them, putting their hard work and efforts on the possessions entrusted to them, and therefore he entrusted to them even more things as he knew that those servants could be trusted and were worthy and hardworking. On the contrary, the servant who did not do anything to his silver talent was punished and had his silver taken away from him to be entrusted to the one more trustworthy than he was.

Coupled this with what the master then said, that to those who have been entrusted a lot, a lot will be expected, all of us therefore are reminded that each and every one of us as Christians have to dedicate ourselves and everything that God has blessed and granted us all, we have to commit to action and contributions for the greater glory of God. It means that we cannot be idle or complacent with the way that we live our lives, or else, just like the servant who did nothing to the silver talent entrusted to him, then whatever we have received, will be taken away from us and we will have no part in God’s kingdom.

Today, all of us are reminded that each and every one of us have the responsibility to live faithfully in accordance with the laws and customs, the ways and the many other directions that God has provided for us through His Church and through all the gentle reminders that He has given to us all these while. And we should be inspired today by one of the Lord’s great saints, whose feast we are celebrating, namely that of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, a holy woman and a most devout servant of God.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary was a princess of Hungary who was betrothed and married at a young age to the lord of Thuringia in Germany. She was influenced by St. Francis of Assisi and other contemporary saints and holy people to lead a life that is virtuous and worthy of God. She spent a lot of effort in being charitable and in taking care of the need of the people in her husband’s realm, which the latter approved without much of a problem. She remained truly faithful even after her husband’s early death in the Crusades, in which St. Elizabeth dedicated herself to a celibate, religious life.

Despite the pressures from the people surrounding her and from her family for her to remarry for advancing their political aims, St. Elizabeth of Hungary remained adamant in living a holy and celibate life, dedicating her time and effort to serve the Lord through prayer and charity. She was well remembered and respected for her many contributions to the poor and for her care and love for the less fortunate ones in her community. It was also told that miracles also happened throughout her lives. She died at a young age, and miracles happened soon after.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to commit ourselves faithfully in the same manner as St. Elizabeth of Hungary had done? This wonderful and holy predecessor of ours had committed herself and her life to the Lord and we should do well to do the same with our own, reminding ourselves of the responsibilities that we all have. Let us all turn towards the Lord with a renewed faith and conviction, and dedicate ourselves to work for His greater glory from now on and always. Amen.

Wednesday, 17 November 2021 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 19 : 11-28

At that time, Jesus was now near Jerusalem, and the people with Him thought that God’s reign was about to appear. So as they were listening to Him, Jesus went on to tell them a parable. He said, “A man of noble birth went to a distant country in order to be crowned king, after which he planned to return home. Before he left, he summoned ten of his servants and gave them ten pounds of silver.”

“He said, ‘Put this money to work until I get back.’ But his compatriots, who disliked him, sent a delegation after him with this message, ‘We do not want this man to be our king.’ He returned, however, appointed as king. At once he sent for the servants, to whom he had given the money, to find out what profit each had made. The first came in, and reported, ‘Sir, your pound of silver has earned ten more pounds of silver.'”

“The master replied, ‘Well done, my good servant! Since you have proved yourself faithful in a small matter, I can trust you to take charge of ten cities.’ The second reported, ‘Sir, your pound of silver earned five more pounds of silver.’ The master replied, ‘And you, take charge of five cities!'”

“The third came in, and said, ‘Sir, here is your money, which I hid for safekeeping. I was afraid of you, for you are an exacting person : you take up what you did not lay down, and you reap what you did not sow.’ The master replied, ‘You worthless servant, I will judge you by your own words! So you knew I was an exacting person, taking up what I did not lay down, and reaping what I did not sow? Why, then, did you not put my money on loan, so that, when I got back, I could have collected it with interest?'”

“Then the master said to those standing by, ‘Take from him that pound, and give it to the one with ten pounds.’ But they objected, ‘Sir, he already has ten pounds!’ The master replied, ‘I tell you, everyone who has will be given more; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for my enemies who did not want me to be their king, bring them in, and execute them right here in front of me!'”

So Jesus spoke, and then He passed on ahead of them, on His way to Jerusalem.

Wednesday, 17 November 2021 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 16 : 1, 5-6, 8 and 15

Hear a just cause, o YHVH, listen to my complaint. Give heed to my prayer, for there is no deceit on my lips.

Hold firm my steps upon Your path, that my feet may not stumble. I call on You, You will answer me, o God; incline Your ear and hear my word.

Keep me as the apple of Your eye; under the shadow of Your wings hide me. As for me, righteous in Your sight, I shall see Your face and, awakening, gaze my fill on Your likeness.

Wednesday, 17 November 2021 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

2 Maccabees 7 : 1, 20-31

It happened also that seven brothers were arrested with their mother. The king had them scourged and flogged to force them to eat the flesh of a pig which was prohibited by the Law.

More than all of them, their mother ought to be admired and remembered. She saw her seven sons die in a single day. But she endured it even with joy for she had put her hope in the Lord. Full of a noble sense of honour, she encouraged each one of them in the language of their ancestors. Her woman’s heart was moved by manly courage, so she told them :

“I wonder how you were born of me; it was not I who gave you breath and life, nor I who ordered the matter of your body. The Creator of the world Who formed man in the beginning and ordered the unfolding of all creation shall in His mercy, give you back breath and life, since you now despise them for the love of His laws.”

Antiochus thought she was making fun of him and suspected that she had insulted him. As the youngest was still alive, the king tried to win him over not only with his words, but even promised to make him rich and happy, if he would abandon the traditions of his ancestors. He would make him his Friend and appoint him to a high position in the kingdom.

But as the young man did not pay him any attention, the king ordered the mother to be brought in. He urged her to advise her son in order to save his life. After being asked twice by the king, she agreed to persuade her son. She bent over him and fooled the cruel tyrant by saying in her ancestral language : “My son, have pity on me. For nine months I carried you in my womb and suckled you for three years; I raised you up and educated you until this day.”

“I ask you now, my son, that when you see the heavens, the earth and all that is in it, you know that God made all this from nothing, and the human race as well. Do not fear these executioners, but make yourself worthy of your brothers – accept death that you may again meet your brothers in the time of mercy.”

When she finished speaking, the young man said, “What are you waiting for? I do not obey the king’s order but the precepts of the Law given by Moses to our ancestors. And you who have devised such tortures against the Hebrews, shall not escape the hands of God.”

Tuesday, 17 November 2020 : 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, today all of us through the Scripture passages, all of us are called to reflect on the need for us as Christians to be genuine in our faith and dedication to God. We should not be inactive, lukewarm or dormant any longer in our faith. It is only through real love and faith that we can follow the Lord truthfully and wholeheartedly. Otherwise our faith will be found wanting and empty.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of Revelations of St. John, the vision that St. John received regarding the messages of the Lord sent through His Angels to each of the seven Churches of Asia, the seven most important centres of early Christianity at that time. And in those messages we heard how there were those who have kept the faith fully, not ‘soiling their white robes’ and this means that they had kept themselves pure.

This was contrasted with some others who had been lukewarm and had not been as dedicated in the living of their faith. The Lord reminded how the lukewarmness in faith and lack of effort and dedication in living that same faith has no bearing and meaning. As Christians we cannot be idle and lukewarm, in disregarding the Lord’s teachings and ways in order to pursue our own selfish worldly goals among other things.

In our Gospel passage today we heard of the story of the Lord Jesus and His encounter with Zaccheus, a short man who was also a renowned and rich tax collector at that time. Zaccheus was very excited to see the Lord and tried his best, despite his physical shortcomings and other barriers, climbing up a tree just so that he could catch a glimpse of the Lord. The Lord knew Zaccheus and his thoughts, his faith and desire to seek Him.

Thus, He called Zaccheus and told him that He would grace his house with His presence. Zaccheus publicly declared his faith courageously and with proper dedication to the Lord. This was remarkable as he was a tax collector and was also seemingly a particularly notorious one at that, and tax collector being reviled and hated by most of the people for their actions and greed.

Yet, Zaccheus publicly showed his repentance and committed himself to the path of truth. He did not only disavow his path of evil and greed, but he also promised to undo the damages he had incurred, paying back four times as much to those that he had cheated. Regardless of the amount, it was truly remarkable for Zaccheus to commit publicly to his repentance and showed his faith in God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have seen in today’s Scripture readings what it means for us to be faithful to the Lord as Christians. We should not be lukewarm and passive in our faith like what the Pharisees and many of the people of the Lord’s time, who were outwardly pious but had no real faith or love for God.

All of us should be like Zaccheus, a sinner and yet a sinner who loves God. His desire to seek the Lord, His sincere repentance and commitment to change his life is what each and every one of us should also aspire to as Christians, as God’s chosen and beloved people. And we should also seek inspiration from our holy predecessors on the path going forward in our lives.

Today we commemorate St. Elizabeth of Hungary, a princess of Hungary turned into religious icon and persona, who has been renowned for her great piety throughout her whole life. St. Elizabeth of Hungary grew up in a good and pious Christian environment, and this helped her to be pious and truly faithful as she became one of Christendom’s great persona, in her generosity and charity towards the poor and in her efforts to advance the cause of the Church throughout the kingdom.

In one of the most famous traditions about her, the ‘Miracle of the Roses’, St. Elizabeth, during one of her trip to bring food and sustenance to the poor, which had to be done in secret, happened to encounter her husband and his hunting party. She would not have wanted her secret to be known, as it might have brought opposition and difficulty for her, but miraculously, when she was asked to show what she was carrying in her basket, miraculously red and white roses filled her basket. This story convinced her husband in God’s protection of her, and apparently, led him to support her cause as well.

However, she did encounter trials and challenges through her life, as she lost her husband who went to the Crusade to the Holy Land and passed away along the way. She had difficulties but she remained firmly dedicated to her faith, committing herself to a vow of celibacy and holiness after her husband’s death even as this went against her family’s wishes. Despite their efforts to force her to remarry for political purposes, St. Elizabeth remained firm and strong in her convictions to the end.

The holiness of St. Elizabeth is an inspiration and model for all of us Christians to follow, that we may also be holy like her, and be courageous in living our faith just as Zaccheus and others had done, no longer being lukewarm or inactive in our Christian faith. Let us all discern carefully all of these and strive to commit our efforts and dedicate our lives to serve God from now on with greater zeal and generosity of love. May God bless us all and be with us through this journey of faith. Amen.

Tuesday, 17 November 2020 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 19 : 1-10

At that time, when Jesus entered Jericho and passed through the city, a man named Zaccheus lived there. He was a tax collector and a wealthy man. He wanted to see what Jesus was like, but he was a short man and could not see Him because of the crowd.

So he ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree. From there he would be able to see Jesus, Who was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, Zaccheus, come down quickly, for I must stay at your house today.” So Zaccheus climbed down and received Him joyfully.

All the people who saw it began to grumble, and said, “He has gone as a guest to the house of a sinner.” But Zaccheus spoke to Jesus, “Half of what I own, Lord, I will give to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will pay him back four times as much.”

Looking at him Jesus said, “Salvation has come to this house today, for he is also a true son of Abraham. The Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”

Tuesday, 17 November 2020 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 14 : 2-3ab, 3cd-4ab, 5

Those who walk blamelessly and do what is right, who speak truth from their heart and control their words.

Those who do no harm to their neighbours and cast no discredit on their companions, who look down on evildoers but highly esteem God’s servants.

Those who do not lend money at interest and refuse a bribe against the innocent. Do this, and you will soon be shaken.

Tuesday, 17 November 2020 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Revelations 3 : 1-6, 14-22

Write this to the Angel of the Church in Sardis, “Thus says He Who holds the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars : ‘I know your worth : you think you live but you are dead. Wake up and strengthen that which is not already dead. For I have found your works to be imperfect in the sight of My God.”

“‘Remember what you were taught; keep it and change your ways. If you do not repent I will come upon you like a thief at an hour you least expect. Yet, there are some left in Sardis who have not soiled their robes; these will come with Me, dressed in white, since they deserve it. The victor will be dressed in white and I will never erase his name from the book of life; instead, I will acknowledge it before My Father and His Angels.'”

“‘Let anyone who has ears listen to what the Spirit says to the Churches.'”

Write this to the Angel of the Church in Laodicea, “Thus says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of God’s creation : ‘I know your works : you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! You are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold so I will spit you out of My mouth.'”

“‘You think you are rich and have piled up so much that you need nothing, but you do not realise that you are wretched and to be pitied, poor, blind and naked. I advise you to buy from Me gold that has been tested by fire, so that you may be rich, and white clothes to wear so that your nakedness may not shame you, and ointment for your eyes that you may see. I reprimand and correct all those I love. Be earnest and change your ways.'”

“‘Look, I stand at the door and knock. If you hear My call and open the door, I will come in to you and have supper with you, and you with Me. I will let the victor sit with Me on My throne just as I was victorious and took My place with My Father on His throne. Let anyone who has ears listen to what the Spirit says to the Churches.'”

Saturday, 17 November 2018 : 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 we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the love which each and every one of us as Christians ought to show to our fellow brothers and sisters, even to strangers in our midst, especially if we know that they are in need of our love, care and attention.

In the first reading, we heard the exhortation from St. John in his Epistle, speaking of the care and the love that the Christian believers have to show each other, for everyone who comes to enjoy the hospitality of the followers of Christ. For we have to imitate nothing less than the very examples of Our Lord Himself, Who has shown us the example of perfect love and compassion.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, then in the Gospel passage today, we heard about the parable which the Lord Jesus used in highlighting this love that the Lord has given us. For in that parable, the Lord spoke of an evil judge who had no fear of anyone, and not even of God. And yet, when an old widow came to him repeatedly and incessantly demanding him to fight for her rights, the evil judge eventually caved in to her demands.

The evil judge mentioned in the parable did things as he did not because he cared for the poor, old widow, but because he could not wait to get rid of her incessant demands and desires to see her wishes fulfilled. And this must be understood in the context of how the Lord, Our Father loves each and every one of us so greatly, that if such a wicked man like the evil judge was willing to listen to the wishes of the old widow, then all the more that God, Our loving Father will do for our sake if we ask Him.

That is why, in another part of the Gospels, we heard the Lord speaking to His disciples, “Ask and it shall be given to you, seek and you shall find, and knock, and the door will be opened to you.” The reality is such that many of us are not aware of the great love that God has for each one of us, and as a result, we become ignorant of Him and are getting more and more distant from Him due to our sins.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us need to reflect on our own lives, our actions and deeds, that we may see in each and every one of our actions and deeds, the reality of God’s love and the presence of His compassionate love and care in our midst. Have we been doing what St. John the Apostle had been exhorting the faithful? And have we listened to the Lord’s call for us to do what He wants each one of us to do? To love generously and tenderly every single moments of our lives?

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, a holy woman and devout servant of God, who was once a princess of Hungary married to a nobleman, and whose life remained full of humility, love and compassion for the poor and for the less privileged, despite the status, wealth and position that her noble and royal upbringing and surroundings would have suggested otherwise.

She was very generous with her giving, and many of the poor in the territory her husband ruled as lord benefitted from her generous charity, care and love. St. Elizabeth suffered an early loss of her husband, and was widowed at the age of merely twenty years old. She devoted herself completely to God, entering something akin to a religious life and profession from then on. She continued to live her life with charity and honour, caring for others through prayers and through generosity.

Her sanctity and pious life was noticed by the people, many of whom venerated her and emulated her great examples in life, when she passed away just four years after the passing of her husband. Yet, in such a short span of life, we have seen just how much St. Elizabeth of Hungary had devoted herself in the good works of God.

Let us all follow the Lord, in the footsteps of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, and let us all turn towards Him with a renewed and revitalised faith, devoting ourselves, time, effort and attention towards the Lord from now on. May the Lord help us and bless us in our good works for His sake and in our endeavours, that we will draw ever closer to Him and be ever more worthy to welcome Him into our midst. Amen.

Saturday, 17 November 2018 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 18 : 1-8

At that time, Jesus told His disciples a parable, to show them that they should pray continually, and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain town there was a judge, who neither feared God nor people. In the same town there was a widow, who kept coming to him, saying, ‘Defend my rights against my opponent!'”

“For a time he refused, but finally he thought, ‘Even though I neither fear God nor care about people, this widow bothers me so much, I will see that she gets justice; then she will stop coming and wearing me out.'”

And Jesus said, “Listen to what the evil judge says. Will God not do justice for His chosen ones, who cry to Him day and night, even if He delays in answering them? I tell you, He will speedily do them justice. But, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”