Wednesday, 13 July 2022 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all presented with the works of the Lord as He revealed to us His saving grace. He has given His kindness and love to His people and give justice to them. To those who obey Him and His Laws, He gives blessings and graces, protection and help, while those who haughtily and proudly disobeyed Him, remaining in their way and state of sin, were punished and faced consequences corresponding to their sins and faults, as the Scriptures today had presented to us.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, we heard of the words of the Lord as delivered through Isaiah to the people of God in the kingdom of Judah, speaking about the proud and arrogant king of Assyria, whom God would put in his place, humiliate and remind that all of his glory and power were nothing without God’s approval and help. In order to understand the significance of these words and the passage, we have to know the circumstances during that time, when the king of Assyria came to destroy many nations and conquered many countries, including the wicked people of the kingdoms of Israel and Aram in Syria.

Back then, the king of Assyria became proud and arrogant, and thinking that he had all the power and glory in the world, that he went up against the faithful people of God in Judah and Jerusalem. King Sennacherib of Assyria brought his whole massive army to besiege Jerusalem and conquer Judah. Not only that but Sennacherib also boasted before the whole entire people of Jerusalem and Judah, their king Hezekiah, the prophet Isaiah and all assembled that he had conquered many nations and peoples, and how all of their gods and idols could not protect them against his armies, and therefore, God would not have been able to protect Judah and Jerusalem too.

Sennacherib forgot that whatever he had done, all had been made available by God, and in his moment of folly, pride and arrogance, he blasphemed against God and spoke proudly in great sin against Him. Hence, the Lord through His prophet Isaiah spoke to His people offering reassurance for them that He would be with them, and the Assyrians and their king would be humbled and defeated. The blasphemy and wickedness that king Sennacherib had publicly uttered before the Lord and all the assembled people would become his undoing, as later in the history of this Assyrian invasion, it was told that the entire Assyrian forces were wiped out by the power of God.

These are all reminders for all of us that we should not go up against God or in defying Him by following our own ways and paths. Each and every one of us should follow the truth and the path that Christ Himself, the Son of God, has shown us all through His disciples and His Church. In our Gospel passage today, that was what we heard as the Lord Jesus spoke of Himself having come from the Father, revealing to all of us mankind the truth that God has willingly shared with us, so that through that same truth, all of us may find the path and the way to eternal life and true joy in God.

Today, all of us as Christians are challenged to live our lives more worthily and faithfully as Christians, in which we can become inspiration and role model for each other. Today we have the great example of St. Henry, who was not only the Holy Roman Emperor and hence the chief secular authority throughout Christendom, but he was also a devout man and a man of God who lived his life to the best of his ability as a Christian, in helping the efforts and the works of the Church, and in his good governance of those whom the Lord had entrusted to him as the leader and guide.

St. Henry dedicated his rule to be an exemplary ruler and father figure to his people, caring for their needs and also extensively supported the works and efforts of the Church, through his various donations and support, in advancing the cause of the Lord and the Christian truths and teachings over the opposition of the often corrupt nobles and secular leaders at the time. St. Henry and his equally pious wife, who was also later canonised as St. Cunigunde of Luxembourg, were both committed Christians who served the Lord and followed Him wholeheartedly, and did their best to fulfil their Christian mission and calling in life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, how about us then? Are we also willing to commit and dedicate ourselves to the Lord in the same manner? By reminding ourselves of what had happened to the king of Assyria and his forces, all of us must remind ourselves not to be easily swayed and tempted by worldly desires, pursuits and attachments, and instead, strive to do our best to glorify God by our lives. Let us all be committed to true Christian discipleship and path from now on, in each and every moments of our lives. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 13 July 2022 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Matthew 11 : 25-27

At that time, Jesus said, “Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I praise You; because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to simple people. Yes, Father, this was Your gracious will.”

“Everything has been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father; and no one knows the Father except the Son, and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.”

Wednesday, 13 July 2022 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Psalm 93 : 5-6, 7-8, 9-10, 14-15

They crush Your people, o YHVH, they oppress Your inheritance. They murder the widow and the lonely; they massacre the helpless.

“YHVH does not see,” they say, “The God of Jacob does not care.” Remember this, you stupid people; when will you understand, you fools!

He Who made the ear, will He not hear? He Who formed the eye, will He not see? He Who rebukes nations, will He not punish them?

YHVH will not reject His people, nor will He forsake His heritage. Justice will return to the just; and the upright will follow, in its wake.

Wednesday, 13 July 2022 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Isaiah 10 : 5-7, 13-16

Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger, the staff of My fury! Against a godless nation I send him, against a people who provoke My wrath I dispatch him, to plunder and pillage, to tread them down like mud in the streets. But the mind of his king is far from this, his heart harbours other thoughts; what he wants is to destroy, to make an end of all nations.

For the King says : “By my own strength I have done this and by my own wisdom, for I am clever. I have moved the frontiers of people, I have plundered treasures, I have brought inhabitants down to the dust, I have toppled kings from their thrones. As one reaches into a nest, so my hands have reached into nations’ wealth. As one gathers deserted eggs, so have I gathered the riches of the earth. No one flapped a wing or opened its mouth to chirp a protest.”

Does the ax claim more credit than the man who wields it? Does the saw magnify itself more than the one who uses it? This would be like a rod wielding the man who lifts it up; will those not made of wood, be controlled by the cudgel? This is why YHVH Sabaoth, is ready to send a wasting sickness upon the king’s sturdy warriors. Beneath his plenty, a flame will burn like a consuming fire.

Tuesday, 13 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture we are all reminded of the salvation which God had brought upon His people, as He sent to them deliverers to bring His beloved ones out of their troubles and gather them back into His loving presence and grace. And yet, many did not believe in Him and His servants, and still did not acknowledge Him.

In our first reading today, we heard the story from the Book of Exodus on the coming of the Lord’s promised deliverance to His people through Moses, the one ‘born and raised from the water’ as per his name, as he was rescued from the fated destruction of all the male children of the Israelites. At that time, the Pharaoh or king of Egypt declared that all the male newborn infants of the Israelites were to be killed to prevent the continued growth and spread of the Israelites in the land of Egypt.

The Israelites had been living in Egypt for a few centuries since the days of Jacob and Joseph, and under the reign of the new Pharaoh, they were enslaved and treated horribly, used as forced labour intended to eradicate and subjugate them to the will and desire of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh. But the Lord never forgot about His people and did not abandon them. He remained with them and journeyed with them, and promised them deliverance which He fulfilled through Moses, whose birth and early life was mentioned today.

The Lord sent Moses to His people, and saved him from the waters of the River Nile so that he might be the one to shepherd all of Israel out of the land of their misery and enslavement, into the land of prosperity and true joy as promised by the Lord. God has done this so that He can bring the people all into the fulfilment of the long awaited promise He had made, to their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And yet, they would not welcome him at first, and refused to listen to him. Moses himself also fled to the land of Midian after he killed an Egyptian while protecting one of the Israelites.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard about the Lord speaking up against the cities of the region of Galilee, the cities of Capernaum, Chorazin and Bethsaida. These were the places where the Lord performed many of His works, miracles and wonders, and where He taught in their synagogues and places of gathering. Why did the Lord speak out with such anger against those cities as we heard in our Gospel passage today? That is because they have all seen so many of God’s miracles and wonders, heard His truth and been shown His love and compassion, and yet, still refused to believe and obey Him.

Instead, many among those people living in those cities still doubted and questioned Him, together with members of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who followed Him everywhere and raised doubts against Him among the people. All these amounted to mankind’s stubborn refusal to listen to the truth of the Lord despite the very obvious truth and the love which He has shown before them through Christ. God’s love has been manifested so clearly in the flesh before all of us, and yet, many of us still refused to believe in Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all reminded therefore to listen to the Lord and put our trust in Him. We should be faithful to Him and wholeheartedly commit ourselves to His cause. We can also follow the inspiring examples set by our holy predecessors, the saints and martyrs of the Church. Today in particular we celebrate the memory of St. Henry, a faithful servant of the Lord, also known as Henry II, the Holy Roman Emperor. He was a righteous and just ruler, concerned most with the well-being of his subjects and people, and was committed to the expansion and development of the Church throughout Christendom.

St. Henry spent a lot of time managing his realm with great wisdom and care, and cultivating good relationship between the Church and the state, and he spent a lot of effort improving both the physical and spiritual well-being of his people. For all of these wise and faithful rule as the most powerful ruler of Christendom, and for his faithful dedication and great personal piety, he was the only Holy Roman Emperor to be declared a saint of the Church.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we should also be inspired by the good examples set by St. Henry, his faithfulness and commitment to the Lord, that in all things, we shall always endeavour to be good and faithful to the Lord. Let us all not be easily swayed by worldly temptations and pressures, and instead, strive to walk ever more faithfully in the Lord’s path and serve Him with all of our might and strength, at all times. May the Lord be with us all, and may He strengthen us with the courage and faith to be His good disciples, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 13 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Matthew 11 : 20-24

At that time, Jesus began to denounce the cities in which He had performed most of His miracles, because the people there did not change their ways.

“Alas for you Chorazin and Bethsaida! If the miracles worked in you had taken place in Tyre and Sidon, the people there would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I assure you, for Tyre and Sidon; it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.”

“And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to heaven? You will be thrown down to the place of the dead! For if the miracles which were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would still be there today! But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

Tuesday, 13 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Psalm 68 : 3, 14, 30-31, 33-34

I am sunk in the miry depths, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, swept and engulfed by the flood.

But I pray to You, o YHVH. At a time most favourable to You, in Your great love, o God, answer me, with Your unfailing help.

But I myself, am humbled and wounded; Your salvation, o God, will lift me up. I will praise the Name of God in song; I will glorify Him with thanksgiving.

Let the lowly witness this, and be glad. You who seek God, may your hearts be revived. For YHVH hears the needy; and does not despise those in captivity.

Tuesday, 13 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Exodus 2 : 1-15a

Now a man belonging to the clan of Levi married a woman of his own tribe. She gave birth to a boy and, seeing that he was a beautiful child, she kept him hidden for three months. As she could not conceal him any longer, she made a basket out of papyrus leaves and coated it with tar and pitch. She then laid the child in the basket and placed it among the reeds near the bank of the Nile; but the sister of the child kept at a distance to see what would happen to him.

Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe in the Nile; her attendants meanwhile walked along the bank. When she saw the basket among the reeds, she sent her maidservant to fetch it. She opened the basket and saw the child – a boy, and he was crying! She felt sorry for him, for she thought : “This is one of the Hebrew children.”

Then the sister of the child said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?” Pharaoh’s daughter agreed, and the girl went to call the mother of the child. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take the child and nurse him for me and I will pay you.”

So the woman took the child and nursed him and, when the child had grown, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter who adopted him as her son. And she named him Moses to recall that she had drawn him out of the water. After a fairly long time, Moses, by now a grown man, wanted to meet his fellow Hebrews. He noticed how heavily they were burdened and he saw an Egyptian striking a Hebrew, one of his own people.

He looked around and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. When he went out the next day he saw two Hebrews quarrelling. Moses said to the man in the wrong, “Why are you striking a fellow countryman?” But he answered, “Who has set you prince and judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?”

Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must be known.” When Pharaoh heard about it he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in the land of Midian.

Monday, 13 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the passages of the Sacred Scriptures, we are all reminded of God’s call for us to repent from our sinful ways, to turn away from our wickedness, all the selfish attitudes we have shown all these while we embraced the ways of worldliness and sin. Through His prophets and messengers, His saints and the Church, God has called us and reminded us yet again and again to be faithful to Him.

In our first reading today, we heard from the prophet Isaiah’s words, speaking God’s intentions and will to His people, which can be summarised as such that He sought not the sacrifices and offerings, festivals and customary celebrations from His people, but rather, real love and genuine faith. He essentially wanted His people to be truthful in their faith and dedication to Him, and not be hypocrites who claimed to believe in Him and yet, acted in ways totally contrary to His teachings and ways.

The Lord has told them that what He wanted from them was real love, dedication and commitment, and not merely just empty show of faith, for it is indeed possible for one to obey the precepts of the Law but without the right intentions, or because it was merely done out of obligation and fulfilling what we considered as a mere formality. These are not what the Lord wanted, and He made it clear to His people through His prophet Isaiah, and this was because many among the people still committed sin against God and lived in state of sin despite outwardly obeying the Law.

This is similar to what the Lord Jesus also saw and encountered among the people when He came into the world, bearing the truth and Good News of salvation. Many among the people paid just lip service for God, and some among them like many among the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law became distracted with their role, misunderstanding the intention of God’s will and Law, and they made a show of their faith for praise and respect from the other people, and not because they genuinely and wholly loved God from their hearts.

And the disagreement that rose out of these led to friction and difficulties, challenges and trials facing the followers of God, that had begun even since the time of the ancient prophets, as they faced stubborn people who refused to change their ways, and ended up with them being persecuted and troubled by those who refused to accept them and listen to their truth. The same treatment would be faced and endured by the Lord and His Apostles, His disciples and followers, even as the Lord Jesus performed His ministry, and afterwards as the early Christians continued the Lord’s works.

And the Lord in today’s Gospel passage also told His disciples a kind of jarring message as He told them that whoever loved father, mother, brothers or sisters, or their loved ones and spouses more than they loved God, were not fit to become His followers. Actually what the Lord wanted to tell them and all of us was really that, not that He wanted us to abandon our family and loved ones or to hate them. On the contrary, He definitely wants us all to love our parents, our brethren, our loved ones and family members, our friends and other people. But, what is important that, beyond all these, we must love God even a lot more.

And through what He had explained and revealed, and what we have discussed today, through the readings of the Scripture we can see that being followers of Christ is not necessarily easy for us to do. There will be plenty of challenges and trials ahead, and often we may have to make choices that will put us in quandary of having to choose between God and those whom we know. But if our faith in God is genuine and strong, our commitment to Him and dedication are pure, then we will surely have the right focus and attention, that is on God and not on other things.

Today, all of us celebrate the feast of St. Henry, a great leader and a humble man before God, whom as Emperor Henry II, the Holy Roman Emperor, was the secular leader of Christendom ordained by God, and by influence, power and prestige, were probably second throughout Christendom just after the Pope, the Vicar of Christ himself. He was a great leader who was dedicated to his people and kingdom, and responsibly carried out the duties of Christian leadership placed in his hands.

He generously gave to the poor and strengthened the foundations of his realm, while at the same time, supporting the Church and its works, spreading the Christian faith far and wide, sending missionaries to pagan areas and converting many to the true faith, while consolidating the areas already under Christian rule. He established a strong relationship with the Pope and the Church, and in the meantime remaining humble and virtuous, with strong personal piety and dedication to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, St. Henry the pious and God-loving Holy Roman Emperor is our great inspiration on how we ourselves can also be righteous and just, dedicated and committed to God. Are we willing and able to follow in his footsteps and be dedicated to God through our daily actions and interactions with one another? Let us all reflect on these, and let us be truly faithful from now on, not just merely paying lip service and empty formality, striving to be good and genuine Christians moving on with our lives.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He strengthen us all with our faith, and may He grant us His providence and with much courage to carry on living as good and faithful Christians from now on. May God bless us all and all of our good works and endeavours, inspired by the examples of our holy predecessors, the holy saints of God, especially St. Henry, our role model in faith. Amen.

Monday, 13 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Matthew 10 : 34 – Matthew 11 : 1

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Do not think that I have come to establish peace on earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Each one will have as enemies, those of one’s own family.”

“Whoever loves father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me. And whoever loves son or daughter more than Me, is not worthy of Me. And whoever does not take up his cross and follow Me, is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life, for My sake, will find it.”

“Whoever welcomes you, welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me, welcomes Him Who sent Me. The one who welcomes a prophet, as a prophet, will receive the reward of a prophet; the one who welcomes a just man, because he is a just man, will receive the reward of a just man.”

“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones, because he is My disciple, I assure you, he will not go unrewarded.”

When Jesus had finished giving His twelve disciples these instructions, He went on from there to teach and proclaim His message in their towns.