Friday, 13 July 2018 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture beginning with the book of the prophet Hosea, in which the Lord spoke to His people through the prophet, calling in them to repent from their sinful ways and from their wicked paths. They have abandoned the Lord and His ways, and they have not been faithful, as they chose the pagan idols and the wicked false gods instead of God, Who has loved them and cared for them.

God was indeed angry at His people, and because they abandoned Him and placed their trust in things that did not come from God, they also encountered great sufferings in life, having to endure humiliation and persecution, exile and slavery in foreign lands. But God did not forget about His people, and in truth, He continued to love them regardless of their infidelity and rebelliousness.

That is why, through the prophet Hosea, God wanted to let His people to know that He loved them, and He cared for them very much, so much so that, should they repent from their sins, turn towards Him and embrace Him once again as their Lord and Master, He will bless them again, provide for them again, and return to them all that they had lost, their dignity and their livelihood.

Yet, if we read throughout the entirety of the Old Testament, as well as the New Testament, we can see, just how the people of God have repeatedly disobeyed God, they fell back into their sinful ways many times, again and again. They fell because of their inability to resist the temptations of the flesh and the many allures of worldliness present before them. They were overcome by their unbridled desire and pride.

It is to these people that the Lord Jesus sent His disciples, to do His works among them and to establish the foundations of the good work of salvation, which is now in the Church. He told them that He was sending them like sheep sent to be amidst the wolves. It was an analogy and metaphor for the kind of persecution, rejection and hostility that the Apostles would have to encounter during their mission and work.

But without these courageous people, who served the Lord wholeheartedly and with passion, there would not have been salvation for those many souls who have been lost and misguided into opposing God’s works. Those souls would have been condemned to eternity in hell, and many more would have been lost forever to the Lord. It was thanks to the hard work and perseverance of these faithful Apostles and disciples of the Lord, that this did not happen.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are called to realise that the works of the Apostles have not yet been completed. Instead, it is an ongoing process, as there are always more souls out there waiting to be saved, by receiving the truth and the Good News. And we are the successors of the good works of the Apostles, that by our contributions and works, we may continue to propagate the truth of God and His salvation to many more people.

And as mentioned, just as the Apostles had encountered obstacles, difficulties and opposition throughout their ministry, therefore, we will also likely encounter the same kind of trials and difficulties in our own. But this should not dissuade us from continuing to live our lives with faith, and from caring for those who have been lost and are sundered from God. Rather, it should in fact be an inspiration for us to do even more for the sake of our fellow brethren in need of our help.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today, we celebrate together the feast of St. Henry, Holy Roman Emperor as Henry II, the pinnacle and most supreme ruler of the Christendom aside from the Pope, the Vicar of Christ on earth. St. Henry, although a powerful ruler, but he was also remembered for his great piety and dedication to the Lord, and through his rulership, he helped to introduce important reforms that had far-reaching effects throughout the whole Christendom.

St. Henry lived with great piety, carrying out a celibate lifestyle, and devoted his whole life to the service of God. He supported the good works of the Church and helped in the process of the reform of the Church, particularly in the imposition of clerical celibacy and the enforcement of piety and good conduct among the clergy. He was also instrumental in encouraging missionary activities, leading to the conversion of many to the faith.

St. Henry is truly an inspiration to each and every one of us, showing us how to live honourably in faith, and filled with commitment and devotion to the Lord, even amidst difficulties and challenges, and all the obstacles that we will encounter in life. Even as a mighty Emperor, St. Henry also had to face many opposition, and he did so, with great piety and humility, devoting himself wholeheartedly to God.

Therefore, let us all devote ourselves anew to the Lord, and let us all seek to be ever closer to God and ever more committed every day of our lives, in serving Him through our every words, actions and deeds. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 13 July 2018 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

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, 13 July 2018 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Psalm 50 : 3-4, 8-9, 12-13, 14 and 17

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.

I know You desire truth in the heart; teach me wisdom in my inmost being. Cleanse me, with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, I shall be whiter than snow.

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.

Give me again the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. O Lord, open my lips, and I will declare Your praise.

Friday, 13 July 2018 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Hosea 14 : 2-10

Return to your God YHVH, o Israel! Your sins have caused your downfall. Return to YHVH with humble words. Say to Him, “Oh You Who show compassion to the fatherless forgive our debt, be appeased. Instead of bulls and sacrifices, accept the praise from our lips. Assyria will not save us : no longer shall we look for horses nor ever again shall we say ‘Our gods’ to the work of our hands.”

I will heal their wavering and love them with all My heart for My anger has turned from them. I shall be like dew to Israel like the lily will he blossom. Like a cedar he will send down his roots; his young shoots will grow and spread. His splendour will be like an olive tree. His fragrance, like a Lebanon cedar.

They will dwell in My shade again, they will flourish like the grain, they will blossom like a vine, and their fame will be like Lebanon wine. What would Ephraim do with idols, when it is I Who hear and make him prosper? I am like an ever-green cypress tree; all your fruitfulness comes from Me.

Who is wise enough to grasp all this? Who is discerning and will understand? Straight are the ways of YHVH : the just walk in them, but the sinners stumble.

Friday, 6 July 2018 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyr)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the prophet Amos, from the Old Testament, speaking to the people of Israel, to be precise the northern kingdom of Israel to whom he was sent to remind the people of their obligations to worship and follow God. And in today’s reading, he chastised the people for their wicked behaviour.

The people did not follow the Law of God or obeyed His commandments any longer. They have sought to seek personal glory and benefits for themselves, even through cheating and wicked treatments on their fellow men. They cheated the people of their money and their time, for their own benefit. They treated their neighbours badly and made profits out of another’s suffering.

And the prophet Amos warned the people of God’s retribution and justice, which would come for them in time to come, should they continue to walk in their sinful path, and indeed, as time would prove, they were to face all that God had warned them through His prophet. They were scattered and defeated by their enemies, and were forced into exile from the land given to their ancestors.

But God was not without mercy and love for His people, for in fact, He was ever ready to extend His love, mercy and compassion for those who seek Him, and are willing to repent and turn themselves to His merciful love and kindness. Yet, many of the people hardened their hearts and minds, and refused to follow Him or to listen to the words and the calling which He had made to them through His prophets.

That was why many among them failed to recognise Him, when He came in our midst, calling us all to repent from our sins and turn towards Him. They instead, like the Pharisees, questioned Him and doubted Him, and even looked down on Him when He went out to seek the conversion of sinners. But the Lord Jesus spoke out against them and told them, that indeed He came into this world looking for the conversion of sinners, and for those who are willing, He will forgive them.

Today, we should reflect therefore, on the life and death of the faithful servant of God, the renowned St. Maria Goretti, whose feast falls on this day. St. Maria Goretti was a relatively recent saint and martyr, whose tragic story is a remembrance of our own mankind’s sins and inability to resist the temptation to sin. And yet, in that same story, we also see the amazing capacity that we mankind have for repentance and forgiveness.

St. Maria Goretti was just one among the many humble young woman, whose life was ordinary and yet filled with faith and dedication to the Lord. She lived an ordinary and grace filled life, but one of her neighbours, named Alessandro, desired her and wanted to have carnal pleasure with her, outside the bounds of marriage and beyond the appointed time and in disobedience of God’s laws and the laws of the Church.

On one day, Alessandro had St. Maria Goretti cornered, and demanded that she committed the act of great sin with him. St. Maria Goretti refused to do so, remaining committed to her life of chastity and commitment to God. She resisted, even though knowing that she would suffer and even die defending her sacred vow of virginity and devotion to God. Alessandro stabbed her many times out of anger and unfulfilled desire, and St. Maria Goretti met her martyrdom.

But St. Maria Goretti did not blame her murderer, Alessandro. In fact, from her deathbed, she forgave him and prayed for his conversion. And while initially Alessandro was unrepentant in his ways, but constant prayers from St. Maria Goretti, who had, according to Alessandro himself, appeared before him asking him to repent his ways, eventually, the murderer turned away from his sins and repented.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in that example alone, we see both mankind’s capacity for sin and disobedience, as well as their ability to seek forgiveness and repentance. Now, the choice is in our hands, whether we want to remain in the path of sin, disobedience and wickedness, or whether we want to commit to a new path of obedience, faith and devotion to God.

May the Lord help us in this journey of life, so that we may be able to find our way to Him, turning our whole heart, mind, being and existence from now on, to serve Him with all our strength. Let us follow the example of St. Maria Goretti, in her unflinching and courageous obedience to the Lord, and in how forgiving and loving she has been to her murderer, as the sign of our true Christian faith and love. Amen.

Friday, 6 July 2018 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyr)

Matthew 9 : 9-13

At that time, as Jesus moved on from the place where He cured a paralytic man, He saw a man named Matthew, at his seat in the custom house; and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And Matthew got up and followed Him. Now it happened, while Jesus was at table in Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners joined Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is it, that your Master eats with sinners and tax collectors?”

When Jesus heard this, He said, “Healthy people do not need a doctor, but sick people do. Go, and find out what this means : What I want is mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Friday, 6 July 2018 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyr)

Psalm 118 : 2, 10, 20, 30, 40, 131

Blessed are they who treasure His word and seek Him with all their heart.

I seek You with my whole heart; let me not stray from Your commands.

My soul is consumed with desire for Your ordinances at all times.

I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart upon Your laws.

Oh, how I long for Your precepts! Renew my life in Your righteousness.

I gasp in ardent yearning, for Your commandments that I love.