Saturday, 30 July 2022 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures we are presented with the realities facing those who are faithful and committed to God, all the more so especially for those who have been called to be shepherds and ministers to the people of God, like that of the prophets and messengers of God. As we heard in our Scripture passages today, the prophets and servants of God often had to suffer a lot of rejection and even persecution unto death, as what many of faithful servants of God had experienced in the past, as well as many other holy men and women of God.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah of the confrontation between the priests and the false prophets of Judah with Jeremiah, who was at that time, the only faithful prophet and servant of God left in Judah, during the last days of that kingdom. Jeremiah had been delivering the words of God to His people in Judah, warning all of them that the city of Jerusalem and the whole of Judah would soon be destroyed because of the continued sins and the wickedness of the people who refused to listen to God or to repent from their sins and evil ways.

As such, Jeremiah was seen as a troublemaker and even a traitor by some among the people, and his messages contradicted those so called false prophets who conveyed their own messages and rhetoric of glory for the kingdom of Judah. Those false prophets told the king of Judah and the people that they would be able to overcome their enemies and they would triumph, when in truth, those words did not come from God. What Jeremiah spoke about would eventually come true when later on the Babylonians came, besieged and destroyed the kingdom of Judah and Jerusalem, and brought the people to exile.

When the priests and the false prophets confronted Jeremiah as we heard in our first reading today, we heard the bitter animosity that existed between them, and how Jeremiah was really alone in his struggle against them, and he was cornered and even had threats against him, as he was accused as a doomsayer and even traitor to the people and the kingdom, with people calling out for his death. But as we heard in our first reading today, Jeremiah made a firm stand before the people, and stating that everything he had said came from the Lord Himself, and saying that the people all needed to repent and turn away from their sins before it was too late for them.

That made some of the people to come to believe in Jeremiah and sided with him, including some of those who would eventually help him in his dire hours of need, and rescued him from his troubles later on. The Lord showed His providence for His faithful servants in this case, while making His will and words known to all. In our Gospel passage today, we also heard yet another one of His servants standing up for the truth, and admonishing those who had been disobedient against God, as was told in the case of St. John the Baptist and him admonishing king Herod and his unlawful, adulterous relationship with Herodias, his own brother’s wife.

St. John the Baptist was arrested and imprisoned because of what he did and said, but that did not dampen his spirit or stop him from continuing to rebuke the king for his continued lack of morality and his disobedience against God. And eventually as we heard in our Gospel passage today, Herodias, who held a deep grudge against St. John the Baptist, plotted his death by making use of her own daughter to seduce Herod during a celebratory party, and ended up in tricking him into ordering the execution of the faithful servant of God. St. John the Baptist was martyred for his commitment and faith in the Lord, for his desire to bring God’s salvation to His people.

Today, we also have yet another example of faith by one of our holy predecessors, namely that of St. Peter Chrysologus, a great priest, preacher and later on named as a Doctor of the Church. He was the Bishop of Ravenna during the heyday of the Roman Empire in the western parts of Europe, and was remembered for his great and very concise homilies and sermons, his great oratorical skills and ability to connect with the people which earned him the epithet, Chrysologus, which literally means, ‘golden-tongued’. St. Peter Chrysologus made such simple yet moving sermons which moved many of the people and turned many into the faith.

St. Peter Chrysologus devoted his life and effort to care for his flock and he was also very committed in combatting and opposing heresies and all false teachings that were rampant back then, guarding his flock against the corrupting forces of those who sought to mislead the people of God. His courage and determination in standing up for the true faith, for God and for his flock of the faithful was just like that of the prophet Jeremiah and that of St. John the Baptist, mentioned earlier today. All of these great saints and servants of God truly showed us what it means for us to be faithful Christians and committed disciples and followers of our God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having heard all of these wonderful and inspiring stories, let us all ourselves be motivated and inspired to live our lives faithfully from now on as Christians, not just in name only, but also through real deeds and actions. Let us all be inspired to walk down the path that God has set before us, to be faithful to Him, and for us to dedicate our time and effort, to glorify Him in all things. May the Lord continue to help and guide us in our journey, now and evermore. Amen.

Saturday, 30 July 2022 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Matthew 14 : 1-12

At that time, the reports about Jesus reached king Herod. And he said to his servants, “This Man is John the Baptist. John has risen from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in John.”

Herod had, in fact, ordered that John be arrested, bound in chains and put in prison, because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. For John had said to Herod, “It is not right for you to have her as your wife.” Herod wanted to kill him but he did not dare, because he feared the people, who regarded John as a prophet.

On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced among the guests; she so delighted Herod that he promised under oath to give her anything she asked for. The girl, following the advice of her mother, said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist, here, on a dish.”

The king was very displeased, but because he had made his promise under oath, in the presence of his guests, he ordered it to be given to her. So he had John beheaded in prison, and his head brought on a dish and given to the girl. The girl then took it to her mother.

Then John’s disciple came, took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.

Saturday, 30 July 2022 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Psalm 68 : 15-16, 30-31, 33-34

Rescue me, lest I sink in the mire; deliver me from the storm and the deep waters. Let not the flood engulf me, nor the deep suck me in, let not the pit close its mouth upon me.

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.

Saturday, 30 July 2022 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Jeremiah 26 : 11-16, 24

Then the priests and the prophets said to the leaders of the people : “This man must die for he has spoken against the city as you have heard with your own ears!”

Jeremiah replied, “I have been sent by YHVH to prophesy against this House and this city all that you have heard. Hence, reform your ways and your deeds and obey YHVH your God that He may change His mind and not bring upon you the destruction He had intended.”

“As for me I am in your hands; do with me whatever you consider just and right. But know that I am innocent; and if you take my life you commit a crime that is a curse on yourselves, on the city and the people. In truth it was YHVH Who sent me to say all that I said in your hearing.”

Then the leaders, backed by the people, said to the priests and the prophets, “This man does not deserve death; he spoke to us in the Name of YHVH.” As for Jeremiah, he was befriended by Ahikam, son of Shaphan, and was not handed over to those who wanted him put to death.

Friday, 30 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are reminded that we have to seek the Lord and love Him with all of our strength and with all of our capabilities, that we focus our lives and our existence in Him. That is why we heard through the Scriptures those words that remind us of our obligations and calling to be faithful Christians at all times, obeying God’s Law and commandments.

In our first reading today, we heard of the numerous feasts and celebrations as dedicated by the Lord and which He told to His people, the Israelites, through Moses that they ought to keep faithfully and celebrate throughout all the years, on the solemn feasts and celebrations, such as the Day of Atonement, in recalling of one’s faults and shortcomings, and regret for them, the great Feast of the Unleavened Bread and the Passover, remembering the time when the Lord saved His people from their slavery in Egypt, and the Feast of the Pentecost, the Feast of the Tents and many others.

All of these feasts and celebrations were all ultimately meant to celebrate the Lord and remind everyone of all the love that God had given to them, and all that they have been so wonderfully blessed with, in everything that they have received, that they do not forget Who it was that had made everything possible for them. It was a reminder for all of them to be faithful and to focus on the Lord and His truth, to abandon their sinful ways and to atone for their sins when they fell to the temptations to sin, so that in the end, they shall always be God’s people and walk ever always in His path.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard how the Lord Jesus was rejected by His own people, by His own townspeople, all those who knew Him and recognised Him in Nazareth, His hometown when He came there to visit and teach in their synagogue. Despite having spoken with authority and delivering the undeniable truth and wisdom of God into their midst, the people of Nazareth hardened their hearts and minds, and refused to believe that such a person, the mere Son of the village carpenter, of a poor village at the very fringe of the Jewish world and community, could be the Messiah and Holy One of God.

That was why they rejected the Lord and refused to believe in Him, ridiculed Him and angrily even sent Him away from their midst, in one account wanting to throw Him off the cliff by the village. The Lord was saddened by the refusal of those whom He had known to listen to His words and the truth and love that He has brought into their midst, and all these happened despite the signs and wonders, all the miracles and other great things that He had done and performed among the people all over Galilee, which doubtlessly the people of Nazareth must have also heard.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of these that we have heard are reminders for us, that if we allow our own ego and pride, our own false judgments and biases to cloud our thoughts and discernment, we can end up being like those who had rejected the Lord. They could not fathom, or appreciate, or even accept the Lord’s truth and revelation, as they were too deeply ingrained and entrenched in their beliefs and prejudices. And this is what we should not be doing, as we live our lives as Christians, and aspire to do our best to serve the Lord in all things.

Instead, we should look upon the examples of our holy predecessors, the holy saints of God, one of whom we celebrate his feast today. Today we mark the memory of St. Peter Chrysologus, a great priest, bishop and holy man of God, who dedicated all of his talents and abilities, his efforts for the greater glory of God. St. Peter Chrysologus. He was the Bishop of Ravenna and remembered as Chrysologus, or the ‘Golden Worded’ because of his amazing skills at oratory and homilies.

Not only that he was remembered for his great and personal piety, his holiness and upright life, but St. Peter Chrysologus was remembered for his great efforts in reaching out to more and more people through his many sermons and homilies, his speeches and works, explaining the texts of the Bible and the Church teachings most clearly and concisely, using simple language to clearly explain the faith to the people while opposing the falsehoods of the many heresies that were then troubling the Church and the faithful communities.

Many people came to believe in the Lord and returned to the Holy Mother Church through the efforts of St. Peter Chrysologus, and still many more were inspired by his examples, his faith and dedication, many years, decades and centuries after his passing, even to this very day. We too should be inspired by the examples set by this holy predecessor of ours, in how we ought to do our best, in our own ways, to glorify the Lord by our lives and to proclaim the Lord in wherever we are and to whoever we interact with, at all times.

May the Lord our loving God continue to watch over us and may He strengthen each and every one of us with the courage to walk ever more faithfully in His path. May God be our guide and may He be our Hope in this journey of faith through life, that we will always be focused on Him and centre our lives and existence on Him alone, always. Amen.

Friday, 30 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Matthew 13 : 54-58

At that time, Jesus went to His hometown and taught the people in their synagogue. They were amazed and said, “Where did He get this wisdom and these special powers? Is He not the carpenter’s Son? Is Mary not His mother and are James, Joseph, Simon and Judas not His brothers? Are not all His sisters living here? Where did He get all these things?” And so they took offence at Him.

Jesus said to them, “The only place where prophets are not welcome is his hometown and in his own family.” And He did not perform many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

Friday, 30 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Psalm 80 : 3-4, 5-6ab, 10-11ab

Start the music, strike the timbrel, play melodies on the harp and lyre. Sound the trumpet at the new moon, on our feast day, when the new moon is full.

This is a decree for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob, a statute He wrote for Joseph when he went out of Egypt.

There shall be no strange god among you, you shall not worship any alien god, for I, YHVH, am your God.

Friday, 30 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Leviticus 23 : 1, 4-11, 15-16, 27, 34b-37

YHVH spoke to Moses, “Then there are appointed feasts of YHVH at the times fixed for them, when you are to proclaim holy assemblies. At twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month is YHVH’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of this month it is YHVH’s feast of Unleavened Bread.”

For seven days you shall eat bread without leaven. On the first day there will be a sacred assembly and no work of a worker shall be done. For seven days you shall present an offering by fire to YHVH and on the seventh day you shall hold a sacred assembly and do no work of a worker.”

YHVH spoke to Moses and said, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them : When you enter the land that I will give you and you reap its harvest, you will bring to the priest a sheaf, the first fruits of your harvest and he shall wave the sheaf before YHVH for you to be accepted; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.”

“From the day after the Sabbath, on which you bring the sheaf of offering, you are to count seven full weeks. The day after the seventh Sabbath will be the fiftieth day and then you are to offer YHVH a new offering. The tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. You are to hold a sacred assembly. You must fast, and you must offer a burnt offering to YHVH.”

“The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of Tents for YHVH, lasting seven days. The first day you shall hold an assembly; you must do no work of a worker. For seven days you must offer a burnt offering to YHVH. On the eighth day you are to hold a sacred assembly and you must offer a burnt offering to YHVH. It is a day of solemn assembly in which you shall do no work of a worker.”

“These are the appointed feasts of YHVH in which you are to proclaim holy assemblies for the purpose of offering offerings by fire, burnt offerings, grain offerings and drink offerings to YHVH, according to the ritual of each day.”

Thursday, 30 July 2020 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we heard in our Scripture readings today firstly the words of the prophet Jeremiah speaking about the Lord as the Potter, our Potter as One Who moulds us and shapes us as He desires and wills, while in the Gospel passage today we heard about the Lord speaking to His disciples and explaining the kingdom of heaven to them with a parable, the parable of the fishes and the kingdom of God.

In our first reading today, we heard the prophet Jeremiah speaking metaphorically using the example of a potter, a common profession at that time making clay products used for various purposes in the community. Those clay products come in many different shapes and forms, from jugs and drinking cups to basins and containers, as well as decorative pots and vases for many purposes. And the shapes vary widely depending on the fashion at the time.

The prophet used the example of a potter to compare the Lord’s work on His people, as if a potter is not happy with the product he created, he would reshape it and remould it while it was still soft and mouldable. The potter would reshape the clay patiently and change it to suit the intended final product, before heating the completed product in the oven and the clay harden into the final shape due to the heat. But once the clay has already hardened, should there be a mistake or defect, then there is no other way to rectify it other than to crush it and destroy it.

By this symbolism, the Lord is saying to His people how He has been so patient all that while reaching out to them and calling on them to repent and return to Him with faith. The Lord has always been patient in trying to remould and change the hearts and minds of His people, despite all of their stubbornness and rebelliousness. But of course, as with the potter’s clay and pottery works, there will come a time when it will be the end of the line, when it is too late for us, if we constantly refuse to be changed and remoulded by God by continuing to follow down the path of rebellion and sin.

In the Gospel reading today, we heard a related reading in which the Lord used the parable to explain the same intention to His people, by comparing the kingdom of heaven to a large fishing net in which good and bad fishes were all caught and gathered together. Only the good fishes would be gathered and kept, while the bad and poor quality fishes would be thrown away and discarded, unwanted and rejected.

Through this, the Lord wants us all to know that everyone is welcome in His Church, the Church often being symbolised and represented as a boat, and the fishes being all of us. God calls on all of us, whether big or small, good or bad, regardless of our background, our character, our race or origin, all of us are called and welcome in the kingdom of God. And God has given us all many chances to change ourselves and to turn towards Him once again with faith, rejecting all sorts of falsehoods and evil.

Are we going to ignore that, brothers and sisters in Christ? God’s ever great generosity and love for us? Let us not wait until it is too late for us to realise that we have spurned so much of His love and mercy, when we stand by the gates of hell from which there is no hope and escape any longer. Those who end up in hell are those who by their conscious choice, chose sin over good, chose wickedness and evil over righteousness, and chose the path of Satan over God’s path.

Today we also have the inspiration from one of our holy predecessors, whose life and inspiring works can be a role model for us all in how we ourselves ought to live our lives moving on from this point onwards. St. Peter Chrysologus, a renowned preacher and bishop, a great Doctor of the Church has inspired many with his life’s examples and actions, and hopefully he can inspire all of us as well.

He was known by the epithet and name ‘Chrysologus’ meaning the ‘Golden-mouthed’ precisely because of his very inspirational and wise preaching, that drew many people to the Lord and helped to gain salvation for many souls during his ministry as priest and later on as the Bishop of Ravenna in the late Roman Empire era. His inspirational homilies and preaching touched many people deeply, with the style being simple and relatable to the people and yet also rich in theological truth.

He was also renowned for his great and deep piety and devotion to God, that further encouraged many of his listeners to turn towards God and to avoid the falsehoods and heresies that were very rampant at that time. Through his life, obedience to God and faith, St. Peter Chrysologus inspired many to be good and true Christians and to turn to God before it was too late for them. Are we able and willing to do the same too, brothers and sisters in Christ?

Now, let us all discern how we are to proceed in life from now on, keeping in mind that the Lord has given us generously many opportunities to be reconciled to Him, to reject sin and evil, and to embrace His love. Let us all seek the Lord with renewed spirit and vigour from now on, that in the end, we may indeed be worthy to enter into His most glorious kingdom, to enjoy forever the promise of eternal life and happiness, the joy everlasting free from sin and evil.

May the Lord be with us in this journey and may all of us be ever more devoted, and be willing to commit ourselves to be good Christians in all words, actions and deeds. May the Lord strengthen us all in faith that we may persevere through even when we encounter many obstacles and temptations in life preventing and blocking our path and progress forward. St. Peter Chrysologus, holy saint of God, faithful and devout servant of our most loving God and Father, pray for us all sinners, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 30 July 2020 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Matthew 13 : 47-53

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a big fishing net, let down into the sea, in which every kind of fish has been caught. When the net is full, it is dragged ashore. Then they sit down and gather the good fish into buckets, but throw the bad away. That is how it will be at the end of time; the Angels will go out to separate the wicked from the just, and to throw the wicked into the blazing furnace, where they will weep and gnash their teeth.”

Jesus asked, “Have you understood all these things?” “Yes,” they answered. So He said to them, “Therefore, every teacher of the Law who becomes a disciple of the kingdom of heaven, is like a householder, who can produce from his store things both new and old.”

When Jesus had finished these parables, He left that place.