Friday, 19 August 2022 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Eudes, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Sacred Scriptures, we are all reminded that as Christians each and every one of us are called to a new life and existence in God, one that is filled with love and commitment to God, love for our fellow brothers and sisters, through our obedience to the Law and commandments that God had revealed and passed onto us. We are also reminded that it is through God that we may receive the gift of new life, as He has shown through the vision that He gave to the prophet Ezekiel, a new life through which He reinvigorates each one of us.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Ezekiel, we heard of the great vision of Ezekiel who saw a great valley filled with innumerable bones, spreading throughout the entire valley, representing the bones of man, of God’s people, all those who had died and perished through sin and death. Yet, God showed Ezekiel His great might and power as He pronounced the coming of His salvation, as a premonition and prediction of what was to come, with the resurrection of the dead and the coming of His salvation in Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the whole entire world. This vision of Ezekiel on the valley of bones served to reveal to man that the Lord is the Source and Master of all life.

Through the Lord, our whole beings receive life and meaning, filled with His love and grace. For without love and grace from God, then our bodies and existence would have been empty and meaningless. Without love from God, then no matter how great we are, we cannot truly live our lives as people of God, for it is through God that we have received this blessing and the opportunities we have, all the lives we have gained from God. Without God, we are just indeed like the dry bones without lives, and we are just literally dust from dust, for it is God’s Spirit that He breathed into us, that gave us life and sustenance.

When God showed Ezekiel that great vision of how all the bones were swept by the Spirit of God, and how Ezekiel saw the restoration and rejuvenation of the bones, seeing all of them gradually returning to life, reconstituting themselves part by part, we are all reminded of how God blessed us all with the new life and existence through Him, as He revealed to us His love and truth via Christ His Son, the truth He had delivered to us and the Holy Spirit Whom He imparted upon us all through the Church. A new life has dawned upon us, and all of us who received the gift of baptism have entered into this new life in Christ.

And each one of us are called to enter into this new life with commitment and faith, as we are called to listen to the Lord calling on us to follow His Law and commandments, just as we heard in our Gospel passage today. We are called to abandon our past lives filled with sin and immorality, selfishness and pride, ego and pride, arrogance and wickedness, and we are called to return to God with a heart full of love for Him, remembering how He Himself has loved us all so much from the very beginning, patiently caring for us and calling on us to return to Him, even when we have often ignored Him, rejected Him and refused His love.

The Lord Himself highlighted to us in our Gospel passage today that the Law of God revealed to us is truly a Law of Love, calling on all of us to love Him first and foremost above all else, and then to show that same love to one another as well. We are all made to be children of God through baptism, and all of us as God’s children rightfully therefore should follow the Lord’s examples in love, as He loves us all so dearly. If we do not love the same way that the Lord has done for us, then how can we call ourselves children and people of God then? The Lord has shown us the way for us to love each other, and we should really heed His examples and reflect on what we can do better in being His faithful disciples and loving children in our world today.

As we reflect on our lives and see in what way we can better reflect the love of God in our lives and actions, let us all see the examples shown by one of our holy predecessors, whose feast we are celebrating today, namely that of St. John Eudes. St. John Eudes was a French priest remembered for his role in the foundation of the Order of Our Lady of Charity, who spent a lot of time and effort in reaching out to the poor, the sick and the marginalised within his community. He saw the condition of the prostitutes who were quite common back then, who were shunned by the rest of the community, ostracised against and rejected, and he made the effort and outreach to care for them.

St John Eudes also had a particular devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which he spread and popularised among the people. He brought the knowledge of God’s love, mercy and compassion to the midst of the people, reminding all of them of God’s infinite and enduring love. Through his efforts many people came to find their way to the Lord and repented from their sinful ways. His patience, perseverance and genuine care and love for those whom he ministered to also inspired many people who came to follow his examples and were touched by God’s love and were driven to do the same in their own lives as well.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, can we do the same in our lives as well? Can we also devote our time, energy and attention, our efforts and actions to do the will of God in each and every opportunities in our lives, allowing God to transform us with His love, as how He rejuvenated the field of bones in the vision of Ezekiel? Let us be exemplary and be inspiration for one another in how we live our lives so that more and more people may come to know the Lord through us and may come to believe in Him as well. May God be with us always and may He bless our every good efforts, works and endeavours, in all things. Amen.

Friday, 19 August 2022 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Eudes, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Matthew 22 : 34-40

At that time, when the Pharisees heard how Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they assembled together. One of them, a lawyer, questioned Him to test Him, “Teacher, which commandment of the Law is the greatest?”

Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and the most important of the commandments. The second is like it : You shall love your neighbour as yourself. The whole Law and prophets are founded on these two commandments.”

Friday, 19 August 2022 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Eudes, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Psalm 106 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

Let the redeemed of YHVH say this, those He redeemed from the hand of the foe, those He gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south.

Some strayed in the wilderness and were lost, far away from the city. They wandered about hungry and thirsty, their lives ebbing away.

Then they cried to YHVH in anguish, and He rescued them from their distress. He led them by a straight way, to a city where they could dwell.

Let them thank YHVH for His love and wondrous deeds for humans. He quenches the thirst of the soul and satisfies the hunger of the heart.

Friday, 19 August 2022 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Eudes, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Ezekiel 37 : 1-14

The hand of YHVH was upon me. He brought me out and led me in spirit to the middle of the valley which was full of bones. He made me walk to and fro among them and I could see there was a great number of them on the ground all along the valley and that they were very dry.

YHVH said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live again?” I said, “Lord YHVH, only You know that.” He then said, “Speak on My behalf concerning these bones; say to them : Dry bones, hear the word of YHVH! YHVH says : I am going to put spirit in you and make you live. I shall put sinews on you and make flesh grow on you; I shall cover you with skin and give you My Spirit, that you may live. And you will know that I am YHVH.”

“I prophesied as I had been commanded and then there was a noise and commotion; the bones joined together. I looked and saw that they had sinews, that flesh was growing on them and that He was covering them with skin. But there was no spirit in them.”

So YHVH said to me, “Speak on My behalf and call on the Spirit, son of man! Say to the Spirit : This is the word of YHVH : Spirit, come from the four winds. Breathe into these dead bones and let them live!” I prophesied as He had commanded me and breath entered them; they came alive, standing on their feet – a great, immense army!

He then said to me, “Son of man, these bones are all Israel. They keep saying : ‘Our bones are dry, hope has gone, it is the end of us.’ So prophesy! Say to them : This is what YHVH says : I am going to open your tombs, I shall bring you out of your tombs, My people, and lead you back to the land of Israel.”

“You will know that I am YHVH, o My people! When I open your graves and bring you out of your graves, when I put My Spirit in you and you live. I shall settle you in your land and you will know that I, YHVH, have done what I said I would do.”

Thursday, 19 August 2021 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Eudes, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are called to listen to the Lord and His words, and to trust in Him, that we may follow Him wholeheartedly, and doubt no longer but believe. We have to welcome the Lord into our hearts and devote ourselves to Him in all things. Without genuine love and commitment to the Lord, we may be easily swayed by worldly temptations and many other obstacles by which the devil has attempted to mislead and misguide us, through lies and false pleasures in life.

In our first reading today, we heard of the account of one of the Judge of Israel, namely Jephthah, who made vow before the Lord that if he could defeat the Ammonites, he would offer sacrifices to the Lord whatever it was that would cross the lintels of his door. Little did he know that his own daughter would be the one crossing the threshold of the door. Jephthah, having made the vow before God could not go back on his words and had to do as he had vowed to do. And it is a lesson for all of us as well, brothers and sisters in Christ.

How is that so? That is because we are all reminded not to doubt in the Lord’s providence. Jephthah, while believing in God, he was also filled with doubt as he made such a vow as he did not fully trust the Lord’s providence. The key phrase is that ‘If You make me victorious, I shall sacrifice to You whoever first comes out of my house to meet me when I return from battle. He shall be for YHVH and I shall offer him up through the fire.’ And all these, shows us that Jephthah have not yet fully given his trust to the Lord, that if God gave him his victory then he would offer Him a sacrifice.

God has no need for sacrifices, and He has no need for anything, as after all, is He not the Almighty Lord and Master of all creation? The Lord has everything and is in no need for anything, and He instead provides everything that we need, just as our Gospel passage today highlighted it even further through the parable of the wedding banquet and the wedding garment. God cared for His people, and the master of the wedding banquet, the king depicted in the parable, represents God.

The king invited all his guests to come freely and enjoy his wedding banquet, showing just how much he loved them all and how precious they were. For one to be invited to a king’s banquet, one must have thought that those who were invited have enjoyed such great favour and honour, and yet, as we heard from the parable, the people who were invited refused to come and to listen to the king’s call. They feigned ignorance and busy schedules to refuse the king despite the rich and great honour for them in receiving his invitation.

The king then invited and sought out all the people from all other places, from the streets and elsewhere, to come to his wedding banquet, and many people were indeed gathered and attended that wedding banquet in joy. But one of those who had been brought in did not wear the required wedding garment, and then refused to answer the king’s question when he was asked regarding his lack of proper wear, which resulted in him being cast out.

What we have just heard from that parable is a reminder to all of us that God has provided wonderfully for us, but what is lamentable is our lack of faith and trust in Him. We have not loved Him as much as He has loved us, and we have ignored Him when He called for us to come to Him. Instead, we preferred to linger in our own desires and walk in our own paths, in disobedience against God. We refused to trust in Him even after He has shown us repeatedly His love and dedication.

That is why today, we should spend some time to reflect on our attitude and actions. Have we been truly faithful to God and loved Him as we should have? These are the questions we should ask ourselves now. And today, we should also spend some time to reflect on the examples of our holy predecessors, that can serve as a source of inspiration and as guide on what we can do as Christians to follow the Lord and to obey Him in our daily living.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. John Eudes, a most devout and dedicated servant of God, a holy priest and founder of two great religious orders, the Order of Our Lady of Charity and the Congregation of Jesus and Mary, the latter of which was also known as the Eudists after their founder. He was renowned for his great piety and sanctity, as well as his great love for both God and his fellow men and women, spending a lot of time and effort to reach out to his fellow brethren.

Through his works among the people, and his particular concern for those who had led a wretched lifestyle such as prostitutes, he helped them by establishing the Order of Our Lady of Charity as mentioned to gather those who sought to provide refuge and help to prostitutes who had been caught in unfortunate situations, and helping them at the same time to overcome their issues. And through the Eudists, he also helped to advance proper education and formation of priests and missionaries among other magnificent works.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through the good examples set by St. John Eudes, as well as the many other holy men and women of God, let us all therefore do our very best to follow their examples, to rediscover the love which we all should have for the Lord, and be ever more faithful in our daily lives. Let us all strive to do our best, to be ever more committed to God and to be His ever more dedicated disciples in our respective communities today.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He strengthen each and every one of us in our faith, that we may draw strength from Him and persevere through the challenges of life, and resist the temptations of evil and of our human desires. May God bless us all, now and always, in our every good efforts and endeavours. Amen.

Thursday, 19 August 2021 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Eudes, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Matthew 22 : 1-14

At that time, Jesus continued speaking to the people in parables : “This story throws light on the kingdom of heaven : A king gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to call the invited guests to the banquet, but the guests refused to come.”

“Again, He sent other servants, instructing them to say to the invited guests, ‘I have prepared a banquet, slaughtered my fattened calves and other animals, and now, everything is ready. Come to the wedding!’ But they paid no attention and went away, some to their farms, and some to their work. Others seized the servants of the king, insulted them and killed them.”

“The king was furious. He sent his troops to destroy those murderers and burn their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is prepared, but the invited guests were not worthy. Go instead to the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding feast.'”

“The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, good and bad alike, so that the hall was filled with guests. The king came in to see the wedding guests, and he noticed a man not wearing a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in without the wedding clothes?'”

“But the man remained silent. So the king said to his servants, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Thursday, 19 August 2021 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Eudes, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Psalm 39 : 5, 7-8a, 8b-9, 10

Blessed is the one who relies on YHVH and does not look to the proud, nor go astray after false gods.

Sacrifice and oblation You did not desire; this, You had me understand. Burnt offering and sin offering You do not require. Then I said, “Here I come!”

“As the scroll says of me. To do Your will is my delight, o God, for Your Law is within my heart.”

In the great assembly I have proclaimed Your saving help. My lips, o YHVH, I did not seal – You know that very well.

Thursday, 19 August 2021 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Eudes, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Judges 11 : 29-39a

The Spirit of YHVH came upon Jephthah. He went through Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and then entered the territory of the Ammonites.

Jephthah made a vow to YHVH : “If You make me victorious, I shall sacrifice to You whoever first comes out of my house to meet me when I return from battle. He shall be for YHVH and I shall offer him up through the fire.”

Jephthah crossed the territory of the Ammonites to fight against them, and YHVH gave him victory. He pursued them from the city of Aroer to the entrance of Minnith and Abel Keramim, seizing twenty towns. So he defeated the Ammonites.

When Jephthah returned home to Mizpah, his daughter came out to meet him. She was so happy to see her father that she danced to the sound of her tambourine. She was an only child; besides her he had no other daughter or son. When Jephthah saw her, he tore his clothes and cried out, “My daughter, you have shattered me; you have brought me misfortune. For I have made a foolish vow to YHVH. And now I cannot take it back.”

She answered him, “Father, even if you have made such a foolish vow, you have to do to me just as you promised, for YHVH has avenged you and crushed your enemies. I only beg of you to give me two months to live with my companions in the mountains. There I shall lament because I will never marry.”

Jephthah said to her, “Go then.” And he sent her away for two months. She and her companions went to the mountains and wept because she would never marry. At the end of two months, she returned to her father and he fulfilled the vow he had made.

Wednesday, 19 August 2020 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Eudes, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us heard the Lord and His desire to call all of us to His presence, to care for us and love us wholeheartedly as He has always done, to be reconciled to us, all of His people who had been scattered due to our sins and disobedience, and as a result, became separated from the fullness of His love and grace. God wants each and every one of us to find our way to Him, to be loved again and to be righteous and good once again.

He showed through the prophet Ezekiel how God would take into account all those who have misled the people into sin, into the path of darkness and disobedience, as those who had been entrusted with the well-being and guidance of the people were lax and untrustworthy in their work, and those leaders and guides had instead pleased themselves and sought to fulfil their own selfish desires and wishes, and used their own positions to their own advantage.

All of these together are reminders for us how the Lord loves each and every one of us generously, and He has always cared for each and every one of us without exception. He has always been patient with us and kind towards us all these while. But it is often us who are making it difficult for God to help in the journey and struggle towards salvation and eternal life. The Lord nonetheless still patiently cared for us and showed His care and concern all these while, willing to forgive us and welcome us back if we are sincere in our repentance.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in our Gospel passage today we then heard of the Lord speaking to His disciples regarding the parable of the workers of a vineyard, where the lord and master of the vineyard went out to many places seeking workers for his vineyard, and calling on all whom he encountered to work there. The workers laboured at the vineyard while the master went out again at the sixth hour, ninth hour and even up to the eleventh hour, the last hour before the conclusion of the work day.

And as we heard, those who worked earlier and were called earlier thought and expected that they would receive more pay than those who came later than them, only to be disappointed and grumbled among themselves because every single workers regardless of how long they have worked, all received the same reward of one piece of silver coin. But the Lord then rebuked these ungrateful workers, how he had called them to work and provided them with employment, and also as agreed, he had paid them all as agreed.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, from what we heard in this parable, the Lord wants us all to know that each and every one of us are equally beloved by God, regardless whether we have responded to His call first or heeded His call earlier than others. It does not mean that just because we followed God first then we are better and superior to those who follow Him later, and this definitely do not give us the right to look down on others. Even those whom God called at the last hour, like the ones called on the eleventh hour, have the same right to receive the fullness of God’s grace and forgiveness.

Unfortunately, this is what had happened to the same shepherds of the people of God whom the Lord mentioned in His words to the prophet Ezekiel. The many leaders of the Israelites, and for example, many among the Pharisees and the priests, the elders and the teachers of the Law who looked down on those who they deemed to be not as pious or worthy as they were, in the sense that those people did not follow the strict adherence and observance of the Law as the Pharisees had followed.

And in their ego and hubris they forgot purpose of their existence and responsibility as shepherds of the people. Instead of helping and guiding the lost sheep of the Lord to find their way to return to their loving Master, they closed the gates and prevented them from returning, and misleading them through their own misconceived and misinterpreted version of the Law. This is why the Lord chastised them such and spoke out against all these unfaithful and irresponsible servants.

We are therefore reminded, brothers and sisters in Christ, to be humble in life and to centre our lives and existence on God, and not on ourselves. And instead of trumpeting our own piety and achievements, let us all be aware of just how sinful each and every one of us have been, regardless the seriousness and magnitude of our sins. For sin is sin, and sin, unless forgiven by God, and repented with full sincerity on our part, sin will lead us into eternal suffering and death.

Are we able and willing to follow the Lord wholeheartedly without pride, arrogance, ego and greed, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we able and willing to help one another in faith and in persevering through the many challenges and trials in life, instead of condemning and being judgmental against others? Let us all today look then on the good examples set by the saint whose feast we celebrate this day, namely St. John Eudes, holy and dedicated priest of God.

St. John Eudes dedicated his life to God from early in his life, when he was just fourteen and made his First Holy Communion, and made a vow of chastity to God. He then joined as a religious member of the Oratorians after studying for a moment under the tutelage of the Jesuits. He then dedicated himself for many years as a priest, in ministering to the people and he was noted for his persistent care for the sick and those who were less privileged in the community.

In the years to come, he would come to be noted for his missionary efforts and powerful preaching, which would see him in hundreds of parishes and churches, preaching the word of God to many people, including even nobles and kings throughout Christendom. St. John Eudes was also remembered then for his efforts in reforming the seminaries and the spiritual growth of both the priests and laity alike, helping in championing the reforms of the education of the faithful.

Later on, as St. John Eudes founded the two religious orders of Our Lady of Charity of the Refuge and also the Congregation of Jesus and Mary, known better as the Eudists after their founder, this holy and dedicated man of God continued tirelessly to reach out to many people, especially those who are spiritually troubled and those who are in need of help and assistance in living their faith. Many people would be saved by the efforts of St. John Eudes and the members of his congregations.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us are called to follow in the footsteps of St. John Eudes, the holy priest of God, in his faithfulness and in his love for his fellow brethren, reaching out to those who are in need of help, especially those struggling with their faith. Let us all follow in his footsteps and in the path set by our innumerable holy predecessors, realising that all of us have been called to holiness in God, even the worst of sinners. Let us all seek Him, with all of our hearts from now on, that we may truly glorify Him by our lives. May God bless each and every one of us now and forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 19 August 2020 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Eudes, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Matthew 20 : 1-16a

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “This story throws light on the kingdom of heaven : A landowner went out early in the morning, to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay each worker the usual daily wage, and sent them to his vineyard.”

“He went out again, at about nine in the morning, and, seeing others idle in the town square, he said to them, ‘You also, go to my vineyard, and I will pay you what is just.’ So they went. The owner went out at midday, and, again, at three in the afternoon, and he made the same offer.”

“Again he went out, at the last working hour – the eleventh – and he saw others standing around. So he said to them, ‘Why do you stand idle the whole day?’ They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ The master said, ‘Go, and work in my vineyard.'”

“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wage, beginning with the last and ending with the first.’ Those who had gone to work at the eleventh hour came up, and were each given a silver coin. When it was the turn of the first, they thought they would receive more. But they, too, received one silver coin. On receiving it, they began to grumble against the landowner.”

“They said, ‘These last, hardly worked an hour; yet, you have treated them the same as us, who have endured the heavy work of the day and the heat.’ The owner said to one of them, ‘Friend, I have not been unjust to you. Did we not agree on one silver coin per day? So take what is yours and go. I want to give to the last the same as I give to you. Do I not have the right to do as I please with what is mine? Why are you envious when I am kind?'”

“So will it be : the last will be first.”