Wednesday, 6 June 2018 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Norbert, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishop)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture, telling us about the need for us to stand up for our faith in God, against any opposition that may come our way. In the first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to St. Timothy, we heard how St. Paul reminded St. Timothy of the need for the faithful to testify for their faith before others, even though it may lead them to persecution and troubles.

St. Paul made this comment based on his own real experience, as he encountered many oppositions throughout his journey, and having both Jewish leaders and the Gentile pagans struggling against him and his works, all the time. St. Paul had to endure incarcerations in prison many times, and he had to endure humiliation and persecution in public, suffering even physical injuries and pains for his dedication to God.

Yet, St. Paul did not give up the struggle, and on the contrary, he gave everything for the sake of the Lord, and dedicated himself completely, knowing that all the sufferings he experienced, all the struggles and oppositions he encountered, it was because of his faith in God, and not only that, but he was experiencing what the Lord Himself has experienced. St. Paul knew that for all the pains he had suffered and endured, all of them were nothing compared to the suffering that the Lord Jesus had endured.

In the Gospel passage today, we heard how the Lord encountered opposition from the group called the Sadducees, a very influential and powerful group in the society, who opposed the Lord because of His teachings and the truth He brought, which were against their ideas. The Sadducees were those intellectuals and academics who were pragmatists and progressives in the society.

Just in yesterday’s Gospel passage, we heard how the Lord Jesus encountered difficulties with the Pharisees, another powerful group of priests and intellectuals whose ideas were almost diametrically opposite to that of the Sadducees, with whom they often bickered with. However, both the Sadducees and the Pharisees were united in their opposition against the Lord Jesus and His disciples, because they were great threats against their influence and power.

As mentioned, the Sadducees opposed the Lord because they refused to follow the more mystical and supernatural aspects of the faith, just as they refused to believe in the presence of Angels and spirits, and the concept of resurrection and life after death. They lived for the world and in the world, and they saw the Lord’s promise of a life of eternity after death, as a threat to their authority and beliefs.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, throughout the entire Gospels, and the New Testament, we can see just how there were plenty of opposition against the Lord and His disciples, because of mankind’s refusal to believe in the truth and their refusal to accept what He had taught them. As a result, there were so much difficulty and suffering facing all those who are faithful to God.

Today, we celebrate the feast of one of those faithful servants of God, St. Norbert of Xanten, a renowned German bishop, who was remembered for his great intellect and devotion to the Lord. He devoted himself so thoroughly to the Lord, as an ascetic and holy man, by whose work, many of the people turned towards the Lord.of course, he did not have it easy, and he had to encounter difficulties and troubles, especially from the powerful and influential.

Nonetheless, his dedication, which is similar to the dedication shown by the other Apostles and saints, St. Paul and all those who did the good works of God, is an example for all of us. Now, are we able to dedicate ourselves in the same manner? Are we able to devote our time and attention to God as best as it is within our capabilities? Let us all learn to be ever more faithful, and seek to be ever closer to God, with each and every passing day.

May God be with us, as we walk along this journey of faith, and devote ourselves wholeheartedly, seeking to love Him and our fellow brothers and sisters, following the examples of our holy predecessors. Amen.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Norbert, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishop)

Mark 12 : 18-27

At that time, the Sadducees also came to Jesus. Since they claim that there is no resurrection, they questioned Him in this way, “Master, in the Scriptures Moses gave us this law : if anyone dies and leaves a wife but no children, his brother must take the woman, and with her have a baby, who will be considered the child of his deceased brother.”

“Now, there were seven brothers. The first married a wife, but he died without leaving any children. The second took the wife, and he also died leaving no children. The same thing happened to the third. In fact, all seven brothers died, leaving no children. Last of all the women died. Now, in the resurrection, to which of them will she be wife? For all seven brothers had her as wife.”

Jesus replied, “Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God? When they rise from the dead, men and women do not marry, but are like the Angels in heaven. Now, about the resurrection of the dead, have you never had thoughts about the burning bush in the book of Moses?”

“God said to Moses : I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. He is the God not of the dead but of the living. You are totally wrong.”

Wednesday, 6 June 2018 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Norbert, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishop)

Psalm 122 : 1-2a, 2bcd

To You, I lift up my eyes; to You, Whose throne is in heaven. As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master.

As the eyes of maids look to the hand of their mistress, so our eyes look to YHVH our God, till He shows us His mercy.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Norbert, Bishop (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishop)

2 Timothy 1 : 1-3, 6-12

From Paul, Apostle of Christ Jesus, by the will of God, for the sake of His promise of eternal life, in Christ Jesus, to my dear son Timothy. May grace, mercy and peace be with you, from God, the Father, and Christ Jesus Our Lord.

I give thanks to God, Whom I serve with a clear conscience, the way my ancestors did, as I remember you constantly, day and night, in my prayers. For this reason, I invite you to fan into a flame, the gift of God you received, through the laying on of my hands. For God did not confer on us a spirit of fearfulness, but of strength, love and good judgment.

Do not be ashamed of testifying to Our Lord, nor of seeing me in chains. On the contrary, do your share in labouring for the Gospel, with the strength of God. He saved us and called us – a calling which proceeds from His holiness. This did not depend on our merits, but on His generosity and His own initiative.

This calling, given to us from all time, in Christ Jesus has just been manifested with the glorious appearance of Christ Jesus, Our Lord, Who destroyed death, and brought life and immortality to light, in His Gospel. Of this message, I was made herald, Apostle and teacher.

For its sake, I now suffer this trial, but I am not ashamed, for I know in Whom I have believed, and I am convinced, that He is capable of taking care of all I have entrusted to Him, until that day.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Norbert, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard from the Gospel passage when the Lord Jesus spoke to St. Peter and His Apostles, about the matter of obeying the human laws as created by the rulers of the time, particularly that of the Roman Empire, which collected taxes from all the people who were under its dominion. The matter was whether one should obey such human and civil laws or whether one should obey only the Law of God.

In another separate occasion, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law tried to trap and frame Jesus by using similar example, in order to trap Him with His own words and hopefully to allow them to discredit or arrest Him. They tested Him by asking Him whether one should pay taxes to Caesar, the Roman Emperor or not. In this manner, had the Lord Jesus told them that they must not pay taxes to him, then it would be tantamount to a declaration of rebellion, and the Jewish elders could hand Him over to the Romans citing His desire to defy the will of the Emperor.

On the other hand, had the Lord Jesus told them to pay the taxes to the Roman Emperor, then the elders could also discredit Jesus, for the Roman rule at the time, and particularly the taxes which the Romans imposed on the Jewish people, told to be particularly heavy, was very unpopular. That also explained why the tax collectors were very reviled and hated by the society in general, because the people saw them as traitors to their people and their country.

Thus, if Jesus had told the Pharisees and the people that they should pay taxes to the Emperor, then those enemies of the Lord would then immediately discredit Him and make the people despise and hate Him in the same manner as they hated the tax collectors. But the Lord knew what those people had plotted in their hearts, and He instead gave the perfect answer, which is also a guide for us in how we ourselves as Christians should carry out our lives and responsibilities.

Jesus told them that one should give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God. That was the perfect answer, to which the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had no answer or reply to. That is because, it is indeed true, that all wealth, all worldly possessions, and all gold, silver and the goods of this world belong to this world, and therefore does belong rightly to the rulers of this world. That is why it is perfectly fine to obey such requirements, if they are just and reasonable.

However, it does not mean that we should obey the rules of the world in just about everything. Why is that so? That is because we have to remember that, all of us are obliged to give to God what belongs to God, just as we have to give to the world what belongs to the world. And what is it that we have which belongs to the Lord? It is first and foremost, our life, which is sacred and given to us by the Lord.

Therefore, all of us as Christians must first and foremost, keep all life sacrosanct and holy. When there is threat to the sanctity of life, through such matters as deliberate causing of loss of life, be it murder, or abortion of unborn infants and children, or be it the abuse of children or any other human being, the destruction of the sanctity of marriage and family life, all of us as Christians must be ready to defend what is rightful to God, that what truly belongs to God, belong to Him and not to be taken over by the world.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all do our best to participate actively in our Church life and work, to proclaim to all the truth of God, and give the Lord the best we can of our commitment and devotion. Let us all be inspired by the holy saints who have preceded us, in their commitment and hard work, to ensure that everything that belongs to God, namely all of us, our lives and our souls, will truly belong to the Lord and not snatched away by Satan into damnation.

Let us look at the life of St. Norbert of Xanten, who was a very devout and committed servant of God, a holy bishop thoroughly devoted to his mission as a preacher and a religious, leading an ascetic and pious lifestyle and gathering many more who would also like to lead the same lifestyle. They devoted their lives completely, in prayer and in hard work, and in preaching the good news to the people and leading them in faith to the Lord.

If they were all able to lead such a life devoted to the Lord, all of us should be able to do the same as well. Shall we commit ourselves, brothers and sisters in Christ? Shall we be ever closer to God, in all of our ways? Shall we seek to love Him ever more and do our best to serve Him with love. May the Lord bless us and help us in our good works. Amen.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Norbert, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)
Mark 12 : 13-17

At that time, the chief priests, the teachers of the Law and the elders sent to Jesus some Pharisees with members of Herod’s party, with the purpose of trapping him by his own words. They came and said to Jesus, “Master, we know that You are truthful; You are not influenced by anyone, and Your answers do not vary according to who is listening to You, but You truly teach God’s way. Tell us, is it against the Law to pay taxes to Caesar? Should we pay them or not?”

But Jesus saw through their trick and answered, “Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a silver coin and let Me see it.” They brought Him one and Jesus asked, “Whose image is this, and whose name?” They answered, “Caesar’s.” Then Jesus said, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” And they were greatly astonished.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Norbert, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)
Psalm 111 : 1-2, 7bc-8, 9

Alleluia! Blessed is the one who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commands. His children will be powerful on earth; the upright’s offspring will be blessed.

For his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. His heart is confident, he needs not fear, he shall prevail over his foes at the end.

He gives generously to the poor, his merits will last forever and his head will be raised in honour.