Saturday, 29 July 2017 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martha (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the feast of St. Martha, one of the close friends and followers of Jesus, the sister of Mary and Lazarus, the man whom the Lord raised from the dead. St. Martha and her siblings followed Jesus and His disciples, and provided for them along their journey. We can witness some of their exploits in several parts of the Gospels.

In one of the accounts, which we heard in the Gospel today, Lazarus the brother of St. Martha was very ill and eventually died while the Lord delayed to come to heal him. St. Martha and her sister Mary were overwhelmed with grief at the loss of their beloved brother. That is just like how many of us are often filled with grief and sorrow because of the death and passing of our beloved ones, be it a member of our families, our relatives or our friends.

And indeed, if we read on beyond the content of today's Gospel passage, we will find the part where Jesus was moved deeply by the love He had for Lazarus, and at how the people, including St. Martha and her sister grieved over the death of Lazarus. And we were told that Jesus wept at the occasion, a proof of just how much God, through Jesus, loves us all mankind.

And it was love which had made everything possible. It was love that had created us, for God is love, and because He wanted to share that love with us, He created us, each and every one of us, and showed us His love. And He intended for us to live with Him in perfect harmony and love. But then, you must be wondering, why is it then that we suffer in this world? Why is it that we have to endure the sorrow of death and separation from those whom we loved?

All of these, brethren, is because of our own disobedience and lack of faith in God. We place our trust in the devil and in his false and empty promises more than we trust the love and providence of God. That is why we end up in such a state of existence, as a consequence for our sins and for our mistakes. But this does not mean that God does not love us, as indeed on the contrary, God has been giving us opportunities after opportunities, chances after chances for us to turn ourselves back to Him and to repent from all of our sins.

If God wanted our destruction, He could easily just annihilate us with the mere slightest effort of His thought and will. Yet, He did not do this. Why? It is simple, because He loves each and every one of us, and although He hates our sins and disobedience, He wants all of us to turn away from those sins and repent from all of our mistakes, therefore going towards God's salvation and grace. And this love God has shown us through none other than, and nothing less than the loving sacrifice which our Lord Jesus suffered on the cross as He died for us.

Through Him, God is willing to make us all His disciples and chosen people, that as we turn away from our sins and as we are absolved from our wickedness, we become worthy of His love, and we may find our peace with Him. He has shown us the perfect and ultimate love, so that we too, who are His disciples, may walk in the same path of love, and show the same love to each other.

How do we love one another, brothers and sisters in Christ? We often think that it is easy to love or show love to another person. However, in reality it is not that simple. We need to show love, care and compassion not just to those who are kind to us and who we know that they can love us back. It is often that in this manner of love, we are expecting to be love back and therefore, we are expecting a return for the love that we give. Our love in this case is a conditional love.

But God did not love us all conditionally. Had He implemented the same standard in showing His love, by expecting all of us to love Him back, He would not have loved us at all, or even gave us any chances. The fact that He was willing to forgive us, and even to lay down His life for us, when we are still sinners and rebels who constantly disobeyed His commands and laws, is proof enough of His unconditional and true love for us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us as Christians are called to love unconditionally as Christ Himself had shown us. Let us not be prejudiced in love, but instead show everyone our love, even to those who have not loved us back or hated us instead. This is something that is easier said and done, and it is often that we will want to hate instead of showing love, especially to those who have caused us much pain and suffering.

Yet, that is exactly what all of us as Christians must do, as all of us are called to give ourselves out of love for others. We must not think that this is difficult to be done, as we should indeed begin from ourselves and start from simple and yet important little acts of love and compassion. If we see anyone around us who are in need of love and care, those who have no one to care for them, those who are ostracised and hated, should we not extend our love to help them?

And should our enemies and those who hate us come to hate us and attack us, should we not tamper their hatred and counter it with love and prayer? The Lord asked us to love our enemies and to pray for those who hate us. And now it is the time for us to do as what the Lord had taught us to do. Let us then be faithful as St. Martha and our holy predecessors had done, and let us emulate the love of God in our own daily lives, through our actions and deeds in life. May God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 29 July 2017 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martha (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 11 : 19-27

At that time, many Jews had come to Martha and Mary, after the death of their brother, to comfort them. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet Him, while Mary remained sitting in the house. Martha said to Jesus, "If You had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that whatever You ask from God, God will give You." Jesus said, "Your brother will rise again."

Martha replied, "I know that He will rise in the resurrection, at the last day." But Jesus said to her, "I am the Resurrection. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, shall live. Whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?"

Martha then answered, "Yes, Lord, I have come to believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, He Who is coming into the world."

Alternative reading

Luke 10 : 38-42

At that time, as Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He entered a village, and a woman called Martha welcomed Him to her house. She had a sister named Mary, who sat down at the Lord's feet to listen to His words. Martha, meanwhile, was busy with all the serving, and finally she said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the work? Tell her to help me!"

But the Lord answered, "Martha, Martha, you worry and are troubled about many things, whereas only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken away from her."

Saturday, 29 July 2017 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martha (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 33 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10-11

I will praise YHVH all my days; His praise will be ever on my lips. My soul makes its boast in YHVH; let the lowly hear and rejoice.

Oh, let us magnify YHVH; together, let us glorify His Name! I sought YHVH, and He answered me; from all my fears He delivered me.

They who look to Him are radiant with joy, their faces never clouded with shame. When the poor cry out, YHVH hears and saves them from distress.

YHVH's Angel encamps and patrols, to keep safe those who fear Him. Oh, see and taste the goodness of YHVH! Blessed is the one who finds shelter in Him!

Revere YHVH, all you, His saints, for those who fear Him do not live in want. The mighty may be hungry and in need; but those who seek YHVH lack nothing.

Saturday, 29 July 2017 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martha (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 4 : 7-16

My dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves, is born of God and knows God. Those who do not love have not known God, for God is love. How did the love of God appear among us? God sent His only Son into this world, that we might have life, through Him.

This is love : not that we loved God, but that, He first loved us and sent His Son, as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, if such has been the love of God, we, too, must love one another. No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us, and His love comes to its perfection in us.

How may we know that we live in God and He in us? Because God has given us His Spirit. We ourselves have seen, and declare, that the Father sent His Son to save the world. Those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in them, and they in God. We have known the love of God and have believed in it. God is love. The one who lives in love, lives in God, and God in him.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martha (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of an important persona in the Bible, a woman by the name of Martha, sister to Mary and Lazarus, and a good friend and companion of our Lord Jesus Christ. She and her siblings followed Jesus and helped Him many times during His journey, as the companions to His disciples.

St. Martha showed us by what she had interacted with the Lord at that time, when she was very busy preparing for dishes and things for the guests, including Jesus Himself, that she forgot the most important thing which she should have remembered. And that most important thing is to love and treasure our Lord and God, who has first loved us all beyond any compare.

God has shown us the ultimate love of all, by sending His own Son into the world, that through Him, all people may be saved from their fate of certain death. This was because of our own rebelliousness that had sundered us away from the Lord and His love, which caused us to suffer the consequences of sin that is death and hell. But God is love Himself, and He does not wish to see us suffer that fate, and thus, He offers us another chance through His Son, Jesus.

Jesus showed St. Martha how she is busying herself with the many things she thought to be important, but truly these are none other than distractions that keeps us away from the Lord and His teachings and ways, which truly should be our one and only true treasure in life. After all, if we reflect on this, we should know how many of us in our own lives fail to look at the real treasure that is our Lord.

How many of us seek instead the comfort of wealth, worldly pleasures and joys? How many of us worry about what we are to eat, what we are to have on every single day, what we are to wear on this day and on the other days, what we are going to do and what we are going to give another and what we are going to receive? All these are certainly constantly in our minds, filling up our minds with endless concerns.

All these are tools of the evil one to keep us away from God and to keep us from paying attention to His words and teachings. The example of Mary and Martha can give us a clue in this, as Mary listened attentively to the Lord, while her sister Martha was busied by her many chores to even pay attention to a single word or utterance of Jesus, which Mary kept close attention to and kept in her heart.

Let us look into ourselves, in terms of how many times we have placed our worldly concerns in front of the Lord? How many of us placed our worldly desires first ahead of all else? This is surely what many of us have often done, sometimes even without realising it. Do we not know that our Lord cares for us greatly in all things? He provides for us in all things so that we truly do not have to worry at all, as those who worry truly have no life in them.

May Almighty God strengthen our faith in Him, that we may grow ever more devoted to Him in all things, so that in all things we may always put our trust in Him, look up to Him and no longer be distracted by the many temptations that is present in the world. May God bless us all and be with us always. Amen.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martha (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 11 : 19-27

At that time, many Jews had come to Martha and Mary, after the death of their brother, to comfort them. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet Him, while Mary remained sitting in the house. And she said to Jesus, “If You had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that whatever You ask from God, God will give You.” Jesus said, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha replied, “I know that he will rise in the resurrection, at the last day.” But Jesus said to her, “I am the Resurrection. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, shall live. Whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Martha then answered, “Yes, Lord, I have come to believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, He who is coming into the world.”

Alternative reading

Luke 10 : 38-42

At that time, as Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He entered a village, and a woman called Martha welcomed Him to her house. She had a sister named Mary, who sat down at the Lord’s feet to listen to His words. Martha, meanwhile, was busy with all the serving, and finally she said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the work? Tell her to help me!”

But the Lord answered, “Martha, Martha, you worry and are troubled about many things, whereas only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Wednesday, 29 July 2015 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martha (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 33 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10-11

I will bless the Lord all my days; His praise will be ever on my lips. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the lowly hear and rejoice.

Oh, let us magnify the Lord, together let us glorify His Name! I sought the Lord, and He answered me; from all my fears He delivered me.

They who look to Him are radiant with joy, their faces never clouded with shame. When the poor cry out, the Lord hears and saves them from distress.

The Lord’s angel encamps and patrols to keep safe those who fear Him. Oh, see and taste the goodness of the Lord! Blessed is the one who finds shelter in Him!

Revere the Lord, all you His saints, for those who fear Him do not live in want. The mighty may be hungry and in need, but those who seek the Lord lack nothing.