Friday, 21 July 2017 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard from the first reading we had, from the Book of Exodus, the account of how the Israelites in Egypt celebrated their very first Passover or Pascha, the moment when the Lord liberated them from the tyranny of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh, by sending His Angels to scour the land of Egypt killing all the firstborn ones of the Egyptians while 'passing over' the houses of the Israelites, marked with the blood of the unblemished Passover Lamb.

They have been shown mercy by God, Who looked kindly on them and remembered their suffering and pain in the land of Egypt. He remembered the Covenant which He had established with their forefathers, from the days of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to whom He had promised that their descendants would enjoy the inheritance of the Promised Land, a land of flowing milk and honey, and they would be His people and He would be their God.

He has passed over them from death, as He saw the blood of the lamb which He told them to slaughter on the Passover day on their doorposts. And thus while death reigned throughout Egypt, sorrow and wailing could be heard from the houses of the Egyptians, there was peace and serenity, hope and joy coming from the houses of the Israelites.

God gave His people His laws and commandments, in order to guide them to Him and keep them in good faith towards Him. Yet, in the Gospel we heard today, another account of how Jesus our Lord was confronted by the Pharisees, who accused Him and His disciples of breaking the Law of the Sabbath, which according to them was that no one was supposed to do anything on the day of the Sabbath.

But the Pharisees totally missed the point of the Law and the purpose of the Sabbath. They were so focused on the applications of the Sabbath law that they ended up forgetting what was the intent of that law in the first place. They imposed the Law without understanding that ultimately it was because of God's love for His people, which He had shown to them since those ages ago, as we remembered how He saved His people at the first Passover.

Yes, it was by none other than Jesus Christ, His own Beloved Son, Whom He sent into the world, that God endeavoured to bring His salvation to the whole world. Christ is the new Paschal or Passover Lamb, by which God made His salvation available for everyone, and not just the Israelites. If the people of Israel was brought free from the land of Egypt, having been passed over from death and freed from their enslavement to Pharaoh and the Egyptians, then God sent Jesus His Son, to free all of mankind, His people, from their enslavement to sin.

For it was by His ultimate loving sacrifice on the cross that Jesus had endeavoured to liberate us from sin, by bearing those sins and faults we have committed unto Himself, and offering Himself to the Lord as a perfect sacrifice worthy to absolve us all from the multitudes our sins. Just as the blood of the Passover lamb marked the houses of the people of Israel, we all have been bathed and washed clean by the Blood of the Lamb of God, our Lord Jesus Christ.

This is the love which God had shown each and every one of us, which we ought to appreciate and then apply in our own lives. We must not be shortsighted and conceited as the Pharisees had been, in how they tried to oppose the Lord Jesus and His good works just because He and His disciples were not operating in the manner that they wanted and expected. And in this, perhaps we should also heed the examples of the holy saint, St. Lawrence of Brindisi, whose feast we celebrate today.

St. Lawrence of Brindisi was a Capuchin friar and priest, who was renowned for his devotion to the Lord, and for his works in evangelising the Gospel and spreading the teachings of the Church among the people of God, particularly to those who have fallen to the false teachings and heresies of the Protestant reformation. Through his works, many people have returned to the faith, and were converted to a new life in God.

All of us should also follow the examples of St. Lawrence of Brindisi and the other holy saints, whose lives are holy and committed to God, no longer that they served themselves and their own wants and desires, but they embraced the love that God had showed them, and sharing this love with one another, they bring many souls to the salvation in God.

May the Lord through the intercession of St. Lawrence of Brindisi and all of His holy saints and people, bring us all closer to Him and to His eternal life and glory promised to all the faithful servants of God. Amen.

Friday, 21 July 2017 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Matthew 12 : 1-8

At that time, it happened that, Jesus walking through the wheat fields on a Sabbath. His disciples were hungry; and they began to pick some heads of wheat, to crush and to eat the grain. When the Pharisees noticed this, they said to Jesus, "Look at Your disciples! They are doing what is prohibited on the Sabbath!"

Jesus answered, "Have you not read what David did, when he and his men were hungry? He went into the House of God, and they ate the bread offered to God, though neither he nor his men had the right to eat it, but only the priests. And have you not read in the law, how, on the Sabbath, the priests in the Temple desecrate the Sabbath, yet they are not guilty?"

"I tell you, there is greater than the Temple here. If you really knew the meaning of the words : It is mercy I want, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the innocent. Besides, the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."

Friday, 21 July 2017 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Psalm 115 : 12-13, 15 and 16bc, 17-18

How can I repay YHVH for all His goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the Name of YHVH.

It is painful to YHVH to see the death of His faithful. I am Your servant, truly Your servant, Your handmaid's son. You have freed me from my bonds.

I will offer You a thanksgiving sacrifice, I will call on the Name of YHVH. I will carry out my vows to YHVH in the presence of His people.

Friday, 21 July 2017 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Priest and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Exodus 11 : 10 – Exodus 12 : 14

Moses and Aaron had worked all these marvels in the presence of Pharaoh, but YHVH had made Pharaoh obstinate and he would not let the people of Israel leave his country.

YHVH spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt and said, "This month is to be the beginning of all months, the first month of your year. Speak to the community of Israel and say to them : On the tenth day of this month let each family take a lamb, a lamb for each house. If the family is too small for a lamb, they must join with a neighbour, the nearest to the house, according to the number of persons and to what each one can eat."

"You will select a perfect lamb without blemish, a male born during the present year, taken from the sheep or goats. Then you will keep it until the fourteenth day of the month. On that evening all the people will slaughter their lambs and take some of the blood to put on the doorposts and on top of the doorframes of the houses where you eat."

"That night you will eat the flesh roasted at the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat the meat lightly cooked and boiled in water but roasted entirely over the fire – the head, the legs and the inner parts. Do not leave any of it until the morning. If any is left till morning, burn it in the fire."

"And this is how you will eat : with a belt round your waist, sandals on your feet and a staff in your hand. You shall eat hastily for it is a Passover in honour of YHVH. On that night I shall go through Egypt and strike every firstborn in Egypt, men and animals; and I will even bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt, I, YHVH! The blood on your houses will be the sign that you are there. I will see the blood and pass over you; and you will escape the mortal plague when I strike Egypt."

"This is a day you are to remember and celebrate in honour of YHVH. It is to be kept as a festival day for all generations forever."

Friday, 14 July 2017 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Camillus de Lellis, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard two reassurances, from two different accounts in the Sacred Scriptures, which God gave to His people, to His faithful ones, telling them not to worry for He would take care of everything, and all would be well since they were under His guidance. In the first reading, from the Book of Genesis we heard how God spoke to Jacob, the father of the nation of Israel, and then in the Gospel we heard about the moment when Jesus sent out His disciples ahead of Him to prepare His way.

In the first reading, Jacob was reassured by God to go to the land of Egypt, bringing his entire family and possessions from the land of Canaan to Egypt. At that time, he was surprised to hear the news that Joseph, one of his beloved sons was actually still alive in the land of Egypt, and not perished as he thought. His elder sons plotted against Joseph and sent him into slavery in Egypt, only for Joseph to be rescued by God and made Regent over all Egypt.

It must have been difficult for Jacob to leave behind his ancestral homeland, the land where Isaac, his father, Rebecca, his mother, and Abraham and Sarah, his grandparents had lived in for many years. But God was telling him not to worry, or be concerned, since He would guide him and his descendants, as He was always faithful to the covenant which He had established with Abraham, His servant, and which He renewed with Isaac, Jacob’s father, and then reaffirmed to Jacob himself.

And thus was Jacob reunited with his long-lost son, Joseph, by God’s love and providence. God reassured that He would be with them, and indeed, that was what the Lord had done. In the same manner, He also reassured His disciples in what we heard in our Gospel passage today. He reassured them that He would be with them no matter what happened, and if they would remain faithful, they would receive the fullness of God’s grace.
Yet, at the same time, we also heard that the Lord reminded His people of what they ought to expect should they choose to follow Him and walk in His ways. There would be strife, rejection, ridicule and even persecution, but we as those who believe in the Lord should not be disheartened or give up our faith in God. As we have just heard, God Himself will guide us on what we ought to do, and He will help us and protect us. He will show us the way to go forward.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, all of us should reflect on this, and ask ourselves honestly, whether we have completely placed our trust in God and walked faithfully in His path. Have we instead been burdened with worries and concerns, so much so that we ended up being blind to the love and care with which God had provided us?

It is often that we worry about our personal well-being, that we ended up turning to other means in order to preserve ourselves, and this often lead us astray from the Lord. But perhaps, we need to learn to trust in the Lord, and to remain strong in our faith, for let us all remember, that while the path of the Lord may seem to be difficult and challenging, but at the end of that path, is the eternal glory and joy which God promised to all of His faithful people.

Let us all also learn from the example of the holy saint, whose feast we celebrate on this day, namely St. Camillus de Lellis, a holy priest of God, who was renowned for his great piety and trust in the Lord. He was especially remembered for his many good works caring for the sick and for all those who suffered from difficulties and challenges in life.

St. Camillus de Lellis was renowned for his many charitable works and works of mercy in caring for all those who are in need of his assistance. He reached out to the sick and gave his care to them, and he even continued his work in a greater scale by gathering together people who were called to the same calling as his, establishing a religious order committed to the service of the poor and the sick.

What St. Camillus de Lellis had done in his life should be an inspiration to all of us, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we are all called to do the same with our lives as well. For instance, rather than worrying and being overly concerned about our well-being in life, we should instead open our eyes and look at all those who are around us. It is often that as we worry about ourselves, we end up turning a blind eye towards all our brethren who are even less fortunate than us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore be trusting in our relationship with God, and knowing that He will provide us all that we need, let us instead turn our efforts in order to assist all those who are indeed not so fortunate as us, all those suffering from illnesses and diseases, all those who are sorrowful in heart, and all those who are persecuted because of their faith in God.

Let us all give them our companionship, and let us comfort them with our presence, so that God may make His good and loving works evident through us, His people. May the Lord help us so that we will always grow stronger in our faith and devotion to Him, and may He continue to empower us all, so that we may grow ever closer to Him and be ever more worthy to receive His grace. Amen.

Friday, 14 July 2017 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Camillus de Lellis, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)
Matthew 10 : 16-23

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Look, I send you out like sheep among wolves. You must be as clever as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard with people, for they will hand you over to their courts, and they will flog you in their synagogues. You will be brought to trial before rulers and kings because of Me, so that you may witness to them and the pagans.”

“But when you are arrested, do not worry about what you are to say, or how you are to say it; when the hour comes, you will be given what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father, speaking through you.”

“Brother will hand over his brother to death, and a father his child; children will turn against their parents and have them put to death. Everyone will hate you because of Me, but whoever stands firm to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next. I tell you the truth, you will not have passed through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”

Friday, 14 July 2017 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Camillus de Lellis, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)
Psalm 36 : 3-4, 18-19, 27-28, 39-40

Trust in YHVH and do good; dwell in the land and live on it. Make YHVH your delight; and He will grant your heart’s desire.

YHVH watches over the lives of the upright; forever will their inheritance abide. They are not crushed in times of calamity; when famine strikes, they still are satisfied.

 Do good and shun evil, so that you will live secure forever. For YHVH loves justice and right, and never forsakes His faithful ones. The wicked, instead, will perish, and their breed will be cut off.

YHVH is the salvation of the righteous; in time of distress, He is their refuge. YHVH helps them, and rescues them from the oppressor; He saves them, for they sought shelter in Him.