Sunday, 11 September 2016 : 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this holy day of our Lord we heard the very compelling message and reminder from the Scripture passages we have listened to, that is about mercy, forgiveness and God’s everlasting grace and love for all of us, His most beloved ones. That we all should really come to appreciate the vastness of God’s great and boundless mercy, and understand His desire to bring us all into His loving embrace.

In the first reading, this is shown by the exchange that happened between Moses and God, Who was angry at the people of Israel for their sins and disobedience. To put it into context, we have to understand what had transpired and occurred before this event. At that time, the people of Israel had just left the land of their slavery, Egypt after God has freed them with His mighty hand, delivering them from the hands of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh.

They have been delivered with great miracles and wonders. God Himself showed pity on His beloved people who have been made to suffer and labour in great pain for many years, bringing them out and leading them through the desert, even opening up the sea in front of them and destroying the forces of their oppressors, casting the sea itself upon them. And yet, despite all these, the people of God disobeyed Him and spurned His love.

We all know what happened, brethren, how the Israelites rejected God and abandoned Him for the golden calf which they forced Aaron, the brother of Moses to make for them. They worshipped that golden calf as their god, even though God had done so much for them, showing His miraculous deeds in liberating them from their oppressors and casting out their chains.

Is it not thus just for God to be angry at His people? He has given them so much, and that was what He got back in return. Well, if God thinks as we humans do, then probably He would be angry at us, showed His wrath and destroyed us. But no, for God loves us all just as He hates our sins. It is a reminder to us all that, first, God is not happy with our sins, just as He showed His anger to His people through Moses, but it does not mean that He is also considering our destruction without reason either.

Rather, it is we ourselves who have chosen to bring the destruction and the troubles upon ourselves. God gave His people His love unconditionally and yet they refused to obey Him and listen to Him, much like what we also heard in the Gospel passage today, the well-known parable of the lost sheep, the lost silver coin, and finally that of the prodigal son.

Through those parables and stories Jesus our Lord wanted to make it clear to all those who listened to Him, and indeed, to all mankind, how great is God’s love that He is willing to forgive our sins and disobedience, and willing to welcome us back into His loving embrace once again, that is His great and boundless mercy. That great love is shown by the joy that comes about when a shepherd discovered a lost sheep, and when someone found the lost coin, and when someone beloved was thought to be lost, but found again.

It is all too easy for us to think that God is all merciful and ever forgiving, that He will always overlook our sins and wickedness in these lives we are living now in this world. We should not forget that He is our Father and Lord, Who is responsible for us and Who truly cares for us from His heart. Which father will want his children to grow up wrongly or to become a bad and wicked person? A good father will want to guide his children to become good people, and God is no exception to this.

We as God’s children have often become wayward and lost our way. Just as sheep that became distracted by its surroundings, went its own way and became lost, or like that younger son, the prodigal son, who followed his own desires and the wishes of the world, and therefore became lost to his father. And when these are separated, they are in danger, the danger of death and destruction.

Wolves and danger are always around, threatening to strike at the lost sheep, which is without protection and guidance from the shepherd. Alone and separated from the herd, wolves and other predators have an easy time to pick on the lost sheep. Similarly, the prodigal son suffered in the foreign land, having squandered off all of his money on worldly pleasures and desires, and had to even wanting to eat the waste food and scraps that were fed to the pigs.

Let us all think and internalise all of these as we remember the passages which we have just heard. Let us look at our own actions, our own words and how we have interacted with others around us. Have we been acting like that of the prodigal son ourselves? Let us remember all the times when we turned our backs to the Lord and chose to follow our own desires and wants. Let us all remember all the times and moments when we have stumbled in our faith, in our lack of faith and commitment to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s Gospel is a reminder for us all that God is merciful, is kind, loving and compassionate, especially towards each and every one of us. However, if we do not act on His offer of mercy, forgiveness and love, then there is no way forward for us, as God’s mercy and love is a two-way thing, that is between us and Him. After all, let us ask ourselves, if someone loves another and yet another person do not return the same love, then is there real love there?

And accepting God’s mercy and forgiveness require us to make a profound change upon ourselves, on our way of life, on our attitude and interactions with one another, that we are like the prodigal son, who truly did not remain prodigal and lost but instead he chose to return to his father, despite fully knowing the great extent of his unworthiness as he had sinned and committed wickedness against his own father.

Let us all think carefully about this, and think of what we can do from now on if we have not started yet on our path to seek God’s merciful heart. First of all, we must not be afraid to seek out the Lord, for fear and doubt are often what prevented many people from being able to discover that path upon which they ought to walk on in order to attain the salvation in God.

Then, we must be able and we must be ready to commit ourselves a hundred percent into a thorough and complete change of ourselves, our lifestyle and our way of interacting with one another. If we are ready to do all these, then we are on our way to receive the Lord and His mercy. Otherwise, we are still far away, and the danger is there that we will not reach the Lord’s mercy at all, because we ourselves are barring our own path to that salvation.

Mercy without repentance does not exist, as God’s mercy is offered freely to all, but only those who respond to it positively, and with genuine and sincere intention from the heart will receive the grace and the forgiveness from God, and returned to be one in His embrace. Let us all consider these even as we embark on this journey to reach out to the Lord and His mercy.

Then, let us all each and every one of us, members of the Church, through our Christian faith, help one another and devote ourselves to help each other to find our way to the Lord, by showing in our own actions, how we can love instead of hate, how we can forgive instead of keeping grudges and seeking vengeance, and how to bring peace and harmony instead of conflict and war. God is always ready for us, but are we ready for Him? Do our actions show that we are ready?

Today, let us all also spare some thoughts to all those who are victims of violence and conflict. The tragedy of the terrorist attack fifteen years ago today, followed by many other related miseries and sufferings for many should show us all how important it is for us to truly bring ourselves closer to God, seek to bring peace and harmony in all things. Let us all not be swayed by the temptations of the world, but instead renew that special relationship we have with our God.

May God help us and keep us in His love, that His mercy will be extended to us and that we may be ready to welcome that same mercy, willing to be forgiven and to repent from all of our faults and sins. God bless us all. Amen.

Sunday, 11 September 2016 : 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Luke 15 : 1-32

At that time, tax collectors and sinners were seeking the company of Jesus, all of them eager to hear what He had to say. But the Pharisees and the scribes frowned at this, muttering, “This Man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So Jesus told them this parable :”

“Who among you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, will not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and seek the lost one till he finds it? And finding it, will he not joyfully carry it home on his shoulders? Then he will call his friends and neighbours together, and say, ‘Celebrate with me, for I have found my lost sheep!’ I tell you, in the same way, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner, than over ninety-nine decent people, who do not need to repent.”

“What woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one, will not light a lamp, and sweep the house in a thorough search, till she finds the lost coin? And finding it, she will call her friends and neighbours, and say, ‘Celebrate with me, for I have found the silver coin I lost!’ I tell you, in the same way, there is rejoicing among the Angels of God over one repentant sinner.”

Jesus continued, “There was a man with two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Give me my share of the estate.’ So the father divided his property between them. Some days later, the younger son gathered all his belongings and started off for a distant land, where he squandered his wealth in loose living.”

“Having spent everything, he was hard pressed when a severe famine broke out in that land. So he hired himself to a well-to-do citizen of that place, and was sent to work on a pig farm. So famished was he, that he longed to fill his stomach even with the food given to the pigs, but no one offered him anything.”

“Finally coming to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will get up and go back to my father, and say to him, Father, I have sinned against God, and before you. I no longer deserve to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.’ With that thought in mind, he set off for his father’s house.”

“He was still a long way off, when his father caught sight of him. His father was so deeply moved with compassion that he ran out to meet him, threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. The son said, ‘Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.'”

“But the father turned to his servants : ‘Quick!’ he said, ‘Bring out the finest robe and put it on him! Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet! Take the fattened calf and kill it! We shall celebrate and have a feast, for this son of mine was dead, and has come back to life; he was lost, and is found!’ And the celebration began.”

“Meanwhile, the elder son had been working in the fields. As he returned and approached the house he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what it was all about. The servant answered, ‘Your brother has come home safe and sound, and your father is so happy about it that he has ordered this celebration, and killed the fattened calf.'”

“The elder son became angry, and refused to go in. His father came out and pleaded with him. The son, very indignant, said, ‘Look, I have slaved for you all these years. Never have I disobeyed your orders. Yet you have never given me even a young goat to celebrate with my friends. Then when this son of yours returns, after squandering your property with loose women, you kill the fattened calf for him.'”

“The father said, ‘My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But this brother of yours was dead, and has come back to life; he was lost, and is found. And for that we had to rejoice and be glad.'”

Alternative reading (shorter version)


Luke 15 : 1-10

At that time, tax collectors and sinners were seeking the company of Jesus, all of them eager to hear what He had to say. But the Pharisees and the scribes frowned at this, muttering, “This Man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So Jesus told them this parable :”

“Who among you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, will not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and seek the lost one till he finds it? And finding it, will he not joyfully carry it home on his shoulders? Then he will call his friends and neighbours together, and say, ‘Celebrate with me, for I have found my lost sheep!’ I tell you, in the same way, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner, than over ninety-nine decent people, who do not need to repent.”

“What woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one, will not light a lamp, and sweep the house in a thorough search, till she finds the lost coin? And finding it, she will call her friends and neighbours, and say, ‘Celebrate with me, for I have found the silver coin I lost!’ I tell you, in the same way, there is rejoicing among the Angels of God over one repentant sinner.”

Sunday, 11 September 2016 : 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green
1 Timothy 1 : 12-17

I give thanks to Christ Jesus, our Lord, Who is my strength, Who has considered me trustworthy and appointed me to His service, although I had been a blasphemer, a persecutor and a rabid enemy. However He took mercy on me because I did not know what I was doing when I opposed the faith; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, together with faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

This saying is true and worthy of belief : Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first. Because of that I was forgiven; Christ Jesus wanted to display His utmost patience so that I might be an example for all who are to believe and obtain eternal life. To the King of ages, the only God Who lives beyond every perishable and visible creation – to Him be honour and glory forever. Amen!

Sunday, 11 September 2016 : 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Psalm 50 : 3-4, 12-13, 17 and 19

Have mercy on me, o God, in Your love. In Your great compassion blot out my sin. Wash me thoroughly of my guilt, cleanse me of evil.

Create in me, o God, a pure heart; give me a new and steadfast spirit. Do not cast me out of Your presence nor take Your Holy Spirit from me.

O Lord, open my lips, and I will declare Your praise. O God, my sacrifice is a broken spirit; a contrite heart You will not despise.

Sunday, 11 September 2016 : 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Exodus 32 : 7-11, 13-14

Then YHVH said to Moses, “Go down at once, for your people whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have quickly turned from the way I commanded them and have made for themselves a molten calf; they have bowed down before it and sacrificed to it and said : ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you out of Egypt.'”

And YHVH said to Moses, “I see that these people are a stiff-necked people. Now just leave Me that My anger may blaze against them. I will destroy them, but of you I will make a great nation.” But Moses calmed the anger of YHVH, his God, and said, “Why, o YHVH, should Your anger burst against Your people whom You brought out of the land of Egypt with such great power and with a mighty hand?”

“Remember Your servants, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the promise You Yourself swore : I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land I spoke about I will give to them as an everlasting inheritance.”

YHVH then changed His mind and would not yet harm His people.