Friday, 15 October 2021 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the word of God calling on all of us to be truly faithful to God in all things, in our actions and deeds, in our every words and interactions, so that we may be good examples for one another, for our fellow brothers and sisters all around us. The Lord has taught us all and revealed to us how to be faithful to Him, and we should do our best to practice what we believe and learn to live our lives for the purpose of glorifying God and for the good of mankind, our fellow brothers and sisters.

In our first reading today, St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Rome spoke of the faith that two prominent figures in history had in the Lord, namely that of Abraham and David. Abraham was the progenitor of the Israelites and many other nations, and he was remembered as a great friend of the Lord and as His most faithful servant, who gained the Lord’s favour and blessings by his righteousness and virtuous life. As St. Paul mentioned, Abraham was blessed and gained God’s grace by his many numerous deeds.

Meanwhile, David was the great and highly respected King of all Israel, the father of Solomon, another great King of Israel, who was looked upon as an inspiration and role model by the Israelites and their descendants as a righteous King, a good man and faithful servant of God, whose good deeds were numerous and who led Israel to an era of great prosperity. This does not mean that David was without fault, for just as with Abraham and other children of man, all were sinners, and David too had his share of faults, such as when he plotted the death of Uriah, his own captain so that he could marry Bathsheba, Uriah’s widow.

However, like Abraham, David was ultimately faithful and full of commitment to God. David was most remorseful over his sins and faults, and sought God’s mercy and forgiveness, which was given to Him after a period of repentance and penance. As we can see, both Abraham and David were great examples how all of us as Christians are expected to be, as those who have listened to God’s call, knew His will and followed Him wholeheartedly and their lives shone with God’s light and truth such that everyone who see them and know them will know that they belong to God.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord again continued to speak out against the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, as part of His discourse to the faithful on how to be true disciples of the Lord, not with just words and empty gestures as what many of the Pharisees had done, but with real love for God and through real actions, grounded in a living and genuine faith. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law observed a very strict interpretation of the Law and enforced them on others to follow and obey. However, they themselves did not stay truly faithful to what they believed in and they did it mostly for appearances.

This is why the Lord wants us all to know that becoming Christians requires us to be truly faithful in all things, that we have to spend our time and effort to follow the Lord and to be active in doing what the Lord had taught us to do in our lives. Just like Abraham and David, all of us will be judged based on our actions and how we have lived our lives, and not by an empty profession of faith, or by being hypocritical in how we carry ourselves and in our actions throughout life. We need to do what we are called to do as Christians and do not hesitate any longer in following Christ and His path.

Today, all of us should reflect and look upon the examples set by our holy predecessor, namely St. Teresa of Jesus, one of the founders of the Discalced Carmelites together with St. John of the Cross. St. Teresa of Jesus, also known as St. Teresa of Avila, was a renowned servant of God and a dedicated religious who was committed to the reform of the Carmelite Order and the Church, at a time of great upheavals, changes and difficulties facing the faithful. St. Teresa of Jesus helped to reform the Carmelites and founded the order of the Discalced Carmelites, together with the aforementioned St. John of the Cross.

St. Teresa of Jesus was remembered for her passionate efforts in changing the corrupt practices of the Church especially those that were espoused by the members of the Carmelites. She worked hard to expunge the buildup of corrupt practices and tried to restore the original intentions of the founders of the Carmelites, in purifying the order and also spread the same reform attitude to the broader Church, in tandem with the then height of the Counter Reformation efforts against the heresy of Protestantism. St. Teresa of Jesus had to go against many who opposed her, but she remained resolute and firm in her beliefs and actions.

St. Teresa of Jesus also wrote extensively and also documented her experiences and mystical visions in her numerous writings, which inspired many people who came after her, inspired by her zeal and sincere faith and love for God. For this, she was declared as one of the great Doctors of the Church after she had been acknowledged and canonised as a saint. Through her many actions, efforts and contributions, St. Teresa of Jesus showed us all what it truly means for us to be Christians, to be active in the living of our faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, following in the footsteps of St. Teresa of Avila, as well as Abraham, our father in faith and David, the great King of Israel, as well as numerous other saints and holy men and women of God, let us all strive to do our best and put our wholehearted effort to seek the Lord with all of our strength. May the Lord continue to guide us in our journey of faith, and may He bless us in our every good efforts and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 15 October 2021 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 12 : 1-7

At that time, such a numerous crowd had gathered that they crushed one another. Then Jesus spoke to His disciples in this way, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered that will not be uncovered; or hidden, that will not be made known. Whatever you have said in darkness will be heard in daylight, and what you have whispered in hidden places, will be proclaimed from housetops.”

“I tell you, My friends, do not fear those who put to death the body and, after that, can do no more. But I will tell you Whom to fear : Fear the One Who, after killing you, is able to throw you into hell. This One you must fear. Do you not buy five sparrows for two pennies? Yet not one of them has been forgotten by God. Even the hairs of your head have been numbered. Do not be afraid! Are you less worthy in the eyes of God than many sparrows?”

Friday, 15 October 2021 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 31 : 1-2, 5, 11

Blessed is the one whose sin is forgiven, whose iniquity is wiped away. Blessed are those in whom YHVH sees no guilt and in whose spirit is found no deceit.

Then I made known to You my sin and uncovered before You my fault, saying to myself, “To YHVH I will now confess my wrong.” And You, You forgave my sin; You removed my guilt.

Rejoice in YHVH, and be glad, You who are upright; sing and shout for joy, You who are clean of heart.

Friday, 15 October 2021 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Romans 4 : 1-8

Let us consider Abraham, our father in the flesh. What has he found? If Abraham attained righteousness because of his deeds, he could be proud. But he cannot be this before God; because Scripture says : Abraham believed God, Who took it into account, and held him to be a just man.

Now, when someone does a work, salary is not given as a favour, but as a debt that is paid. Here, on the contrary, someone who has no deeds to show, but believes in Him, Who makes sinners righteous before Him : such faith is taken into account, and that person is held as righteous.

David congratulates, in this way, those who become righteous, by the favour of God, and not by their actions : Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven and whose offences are forgotten; blessed the one, whose sin God does not take into account!

Monday, 15 October 2018 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Scripture telling us about first of all, what St. Paul told the Church and the faithful in the city of Galatia, about the comparison between the two sons of Abraham, namely Ishmael and Isaac, who were born of two different women. The former was born of the slave woman Hagar, while the latter was born of Abraham’s rightful wife, Sarah.

The birth of Ishmael was caused by the impatience of Abraham, who gave in to the temptation of worldly fear and concern, of the lack of an heir, even though God has promised him many times that an heir would be born to him through his wife. Yet God did bless Ishmael and his descendants, for after all, he and his descendants are still the descendants of Abraham, although not the ones to whom God would give the fullness of His blessings.

St. Paul used this example, as he himself mentioned, in order to represent allegorically, the relationship which the people of God has with their Lord and Creator, in the context of the old Law as revealed imperfectly through Moses, and what He revealed perfectly in the new Law and Covenant of Jesus Christ, Son of God sent into the world to be its Saviour and Redeemer. The old Law was represented by Ishmael while the new Law was represented by Isaac.

In order to understand his intention and meaning fully, we also have to look at the earlier part of the Epistle to the Galatians, in which St. Paul mentioned that the old Law brought about bondage and the new Law brought about freedom. What he meant was that, while the people obeyed the Lord through the old laws of Moses, they were still bound to the chains of sin, for the coming of God’s salvation have not yet been fulfilled.

Meanwhile, the coming of Christ brought about the fulfilment of God’s promise just as Isaac was the fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham. Christ revealed the full truth of God’s love through the Law and the Covenant which He renewed through the loving sacrifice of His Son on the cross. And this was written by St. Paul in rebuking those in Galatia who wanted to impose the Jewish laws and customs, that is the ‘Old Law’ on the people of Christ, Who has received the fullness of God’s Law – the ‘New Law’.

In the Gospel passage today, the Lord Jesus also rebuked the people in the same manner, in how they kept on asking for miracles and signs even though they have seen many miracles when they were with the Lord all those times. They failed to notice God working in their midst even though He had done so many, many times. And that was why the Lord rebuked those people who so hardened their hearts and minds against His truth.

Those who were obsessed with the fulfilment of the old laws and ways as prescribed by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, and refused to accept the truth of God, would be judged according to their refusal and stubbornness, and as long as they continued to refuse to accept God into their midst, they would have no part in the new Covenant and Law which He has brought upon the world.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, we ourselves as Christians are sometimes also suffering from the same condition as the Jews had been. We have not been truly faithful to the Lord as how we should have. We have only been faithful on the outside, like how the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had been, but inside our hearts, many of us do not have that faith and love which we should have for God.

Today, we ought to reflect on our lives, and our actions, and how they have or have not been good and faithful to God. And we should also follow the examples shown by the holy woman, St. Teresa of Jesus, also known by the name of St. Teresa of Avila, a great reformer and model of faith, and also a Doctor of the Church, for her many contributions and wonderful written works, which has inspired generations of the faithful.

St. Teresa of Avila was remembered for her great piety and love for God, dedicating herself into a life of deep and intimate prayerful relationship with Him. She was a great reformer of the Church, both for her contributions during the critical years of the Counter Reformation efforts against the heretics, as well as in her role in establishing the Discalced Carmelites order together with St. John of the Cross, in purifying the religious order from corrupting influences of worldliness.

For her role in the reforms of the Church and for her many other contributions, she was recognised as one of the great saints of the Church, and declared as Doctor of the Church. And her examples should also inspire each one of us, to live according to our faith, and to devote ourselves ever more closely to God and His ways from now on. Let us all turn towards God with a renewed zeal and with a new love, that we no longer live a life that is empty and devoid of love, but instead, have true love for God from now onwards. May God be with us always. St. Teresa of Jesus, pray for us. Amen.

Monday, 15 October 2018 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 11 : 29-32

At that time, as the crowd increased, Jesus spoke the following words : “People of the present time are troubled people. They ask for a sign, but no sign will be given to them except the sign of Jonah. As Jonah became a sign for the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be a sign for this generation.”

“The Queen of the South will rise up on Judgment Day with the people of these times and accuse them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and here, there is greater than Solomon. The people of Nineveh will rise up on Judgment Day with the people of these times and accuse them, for Jonah’s preaching made them turn from their sins, and here, there is greater than Jonah.”

Monday, 15 October 2018 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 112 : 1-2, 3-4, 5a and 6-7

Alleluia! Praise, o servants of YHVH, praise the Name of YHVH! Blessed be the Name of YHVH now and forever!

From eastern lands to the western islands, may the Name of YHVH be praised! YHVH is exalted over the nations; His glory above the heavens.

Who is like YHVH our God, Who also bends down to see on earth as in heaven? He lifts up the poor from the dust and the needy from the ash heap.

Monday, 15 October 2018 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Galatians 4 : 22-24, 26-27, 31 – Galatians 5 : 1

It says, that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman, the other by the free woman, his wife. The son of the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but the son of the free woman was born in fulfilment of God’s promise.

Here we have an allegory and the figures of two Covenants. The first is the one from Mount Sinai, represented through Hagar : her children have slavery for their lot. But the Jerusalem above, who is our mother, is free. And Scripture says of her : Rejoice, barren woman without children, break forth in shouts of joy, you who do not know the pains of childbirth, for many shall be the children of the forsaken mother, more than of the married woman.

Brethren, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman. Christ freed us, to make us really free. So remain firm, and do not submit, again, to the yoke of slavery.

Saturday, 15 October 2016 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are reminded yet again that as Christians, each and every one of us have been made righteous and just in Christ our Lord. Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world has made us whole and liberated us from the sins of our ancestors and that of our own, that is through His great and ultimate love shown through the sacrifice of the cross.

And yet, we mankind have responded to God’s love with scorn and contempt. We refused and rejected God’s love because of our pride, and because of our inability to wrench ourselves away from the temptations of pleasure and the persuasions and lies of the evil one. We are easily tempted by our weaknesses and our vulnerabilities and proneness to sin and to the wickedness of the flesh.

And it is all these which have separated us from the love and grace of our God. And one example was shown by the people of Israel themselves, ever since when they escaped from the land of Egypt. God showed His might to them, liberating them from the hands of the Pharaoh by the Ten Plagues that struck down the Egyptians, from their mighty Pharaoh to the smallest and least of the Egyptians and their animals.

Yet, even though God had rescued them and brought them into freedom, opening the seas and destroying their enemies before them, these people were very stubborn and rebellious. They complained and resisted the authority of Moses and all those whom God had entrusted with their care. They gave in to the temptations of their stomachs, the temptations of pleasure and easy life, and they ditched the Lord on many occasions and instead worshipped the idols.

These were those whom God had punished through death and pestilence, as His anger raged amongst them, and many did die, as the whole rebellious generation of Israelites would show, when they perished in the desert and did not enter into the Promised Land. Only those who obeyed the Lord received His grace and allowance to settle in the land of milk and honey.

It was the same with the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who despite having witnessed the miracles and the healing works, the wondrous deeds of Jesus and His disciples, still refused to believe in Him, doubted Him and tested Him to the very end, when they mocked Him hanging on the cross to rescue Himself if He was truly the Messiah. This attitude of lack of faith and stubbornness are really a characteristic of us mankind.

And as they continuously mocked the One Whom God had sent into the world in order to save it, including these very people, they were not forgiven their sins and they were considered as true sinners, even as they themselves liked to parade around their piety and deeds and looked down on others whom they considered as sinners, the prostitutes and tax collectors. And yet, as Jesus Himself said, that these people were going faster towards the Kingdom of God because they repented from their sins.

In Jesus we have our hope of salvation and liberation, and thus, we should try our best to resist the temptations of this world, so that we may be able to truly accept the Lord in our hearts and not harden our hearts and closed our minds as those Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had done. In His holy Name we shall find our succour and liberation from these darkness and the threats of the devil.

St. Teresa of Jesus, who was also known as St. Teresa of Avila after her birthplace in Avila, Spain, who is our saint of this day, is a strong proponent of renewed faith and commitment to our Lord through strong spirituality and devotion to God. St. Teresa of Jesus was renowned as the founder of the Discalced Carmelite order with St. John of the Cross, and both of them were strong and dedicated reformer of the faith and the Church.

At that time, the Church, the Faith and the faithful people of God were under great threat from the massive heresy of Protestantism, which was called by the heretics as ‘reform’, and yet, in the false teachings it proposed, it has led into many people of God to fall away from the path towards salvation, and through the devil and his works in the false prophets like Martin Luther, John Calvin, Zwingli and many others, many had been cast down into hell for their sins.

It was a time of great distress for the Church and for the faithful. But there were many courageous and devoted servants of God who worked hard to stem the tide of heresy and bring back many thousands and more to the true faith in God. St. Teresa of Jesus was among them, a great visionary and mystic, a great writer and contributor to the teachings of the Church, and a strong proponent of an active spiritual life dedicated to God.

St. Teresa of Jesus devoted her whole life to the Lord, as well as for her religious congregation, persuading many and pushing for reform and change in the way how many of them lived their lives, deepening their spirituality and relationship with the Lord their God. She purged worldly elements and unworthy conduct from amongst her fellow religious, and wrote extensively on the matter, on how to become ever more devoted and holy in the sight and presence of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all devote ourselves wholly to the Lord in the same manner as that of St. Teresa of Avila, St. Teresa of Jesus, as well as the many other saints, holy men and women of God. Let us no longer be stubborn and wicked in our hearts, but be converted thoroughly to the Lord. May the Lord bless us all and keep us in His love at all times. Amen.

Saturday, 15 October 2016 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Luke 12 : 8-12

At that time, Jesus said to the people and to His disciples, “I tell you, whoever acknowledges Me before people, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the Angels of God. But the one who denies Me before others will be denied before the Angels of God.”

“There will be pardon for the one who criticises the Son of Man, but there will be no pardon for the one who slanders the Holy Spirit. When you are brought before the synagogues, and before governors and rulers, do not worry about how you will defend yourself, or what to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you have to say.”