Sunday, 13 June 2021 : Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we heard the very obvious reference to the kingdom of God, or the kingdom of Heaven throughout today’s Scripture readings, that try to give us a glimpse and understanding of what the Kingdom of God is all about. God had made it known and revealed to all of us the truth about His kingdom, where all of His beloved people are truly welcome.

In our first reading today we heard of the vision of the prophet Ezekiel who received the Lord’s message of hope and encouragement for His people, that He would restore them and bless them again, with the example of the cedar used to represent the people of God, restored and allowed to prosper once again. This message of hope and encouragement must be understood especially given the context that the prophet Ezekiel lived during the period of great humiliation and trials for the people of God, who have been scattered, crushed and driven away from their homeland.

And all these were caused by their own disobedience against God, their sinful and wicked ways, disregarding the Law and the commandments that God had given them, and instead, giving themselves to the worship of pagan idols and gods, and committing acts that were in violation of the Law and the Covenant that God has established with them. As a result, they had to suffer the consequences of their lack of faith and disobedience, and they were humiliated and uprooted from their ancestral lands, their cities destroyed and the Temple overturned.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through the vision of the prophet Ezekiel, God wanted us all to see and know that He wants us to be reconciled with us, although we may have been sundered and separated from Him through sin. God’s love ultimately will overcome even the darkest sin and the greatest of obstacles and challenges, as long as we are willing to embrace the Lord and accept His love and compassionate mercy. Unfortunately, more frequently than not, we close ourselves off to the Lord and refuse to accept His generous love and mercy.

St. Paul mentioned this same truth when he spoke in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Corinth, our second reading passage today, reiterating how all of us although living in the body but we are separated from the Lord. And as long as we are separated and distant from Him, we will not be able to gain true joy, happiness and satisfaction that we can gain in the Lord alone. He also reminded us all the faithful that our every actions and deeds will be held against us if they have been contrary to the will of God, and these will determine our fate on the day of judgment.

That is why through today’s Scripture readings, God revealed to us just how wretched and pitiful our situation is being separated from Him and His love. That is why, just like the Israelites of old, who had suffered the consequences of their disobedience and sins, He reminded us all that ultimately, He still loves each and every one of us and wants us to be fully reconciled to Him, and to be restored to the graceful life that we all have been intended to enjoy and which is part of our assured inheritance.

Hence, He gave us all His own Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to be His best and most perfect gift to all of us, to be the source of all of our Hope and to be our guiding Light in this world darkened by sin. Through Him, God has brought His kingdom into this world, to be ruled by His own Son, Our Lord and King, Who brought and gathered all of us together to Himself, and Who has united all of us to Himself by assuming our own human nature. That is why He has also established God’s kingdom in this world, by establishing the Church, that manifestation of the kingdom of God on Earth.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, what the prophet Ezekiel heard from the Lord regarding the cedar that the Lord picked to grow on a high mountain is fulfilled through Christ in His Church, our very own One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, the one and only true Church that God Himself has established in this world, as the real and tangible representation of His reign and kingdom, as what the Lord explained in our Gospel today through the parable, of a great tree with its vast branches, upon which many animals and birds perched and made as its home.

The Church blessed and sanctified by Christ, has been established as the symbol of unity among all of us, God’s beloved people, who share through Him and with Him a bond of unity and love, by our shared faith and love for God, and by our partaking of the New Covenant that God Himself has established with us. All of us are members of His Body, the visible Body of Christ, the kingdom of God manifested in this world as the proof of God’s reign and His love for the whole entire world, and His desire to see all of us mankind reunited and reconciled with Him.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we listened to the words of the Scripture today, we have to remind ourselves the important aspects of the Church, that is we are all One Church, all united in a common faith and love for God, a Holy Church that is always focused on the Lord and always obeying His will, His Law and commandments, a Catholic Church that is Universal in our reach and coverage, in welcoming all peoples regardless of their background, their race and origin, to come towards the Lord just as the great tree in the parable became a haven for all living beings.

And lastly, we have to be an Apostolic Church, that means we have to be a Church that is always reaching out and speaking up the truth of God, in being missionary and faithful, in being genuine in our way of life and faith, so that all those who see us, hear us and witness our actions and works will then come to know the Lord through us, and they may then also come to believe in Him through us. This is a calling and mission that all of us as Christians have, as part of our shared, common baptism, that as members of God’s Church, His kingdom on earth, we ought to glorify Him and made Him known to all.

Let us all not forget the Great Commission that the Lord has given to all of His Apostles and disciples in the end of His earthly journey, that we all ought to go forth to the nations, proclaiming His truth and love, and make all to be believers and faithful just as we believe in Him, to make disciples of all the peoples of all the nations and to baptise them in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is so that more and more people may come to be part of the ever growing and ever expanding Church, God’s kingdom on Earth.

Let us ask ourselves then, brothers and sisters in Christ, whether we have done our part and done as we should as members of this wonderful kingdom of God? Or have we instead turned people away from the Lord and His Church by our own actions, filled with sin and wickedness, with selfishness and evil? These are the things that we really need to question ourselves and discern as we consider our path going forward in life. Are we going to continue living our lives walking in the path of sin and evil? Or are we going to allow the Lord to transform our lives to be His faithful servants and disciples?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all renew our faith to the Lord and commit ourselves wholeheartedly from now on, that we may be ever closer to Him and be ever more devoted and faithful to Him in all things. And as part of His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, let us all do whatever we can as part of His kingdom in this world, to call and bring ever more and more of our other brothers and sisters, to come to the Lord and be reconciled with Him, that everyone may come to know of God’s love and embrace Him as their Lord and Saviour, and be worthy together with all of us, to share in the divine and eternal banquet in Heaven.

May God bless us all and our every good works and endeavours, and may He strengthen each and every one of us with the courage and resolve to live ever more faithfully from now on, being good role models and inspirations of faith to one another. Amen.

Sunday, 13 June 2021 : Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 4 : 26-34

At that time, Jesus also said, “In the kingdom of God it is like this : a man scatters seed upon the soil. Whether he is asleep or awake, be it day or night, the seed sprouts and grows, he knows not how. The soil produces of itself : first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when it is ripe for harvesting, they take the sickle for the cutting : the time for the harvest has come.”

Jesus also said, “What is the kingdom of God like? To what shall we compare it? It is like a mustard seed which, when sown, is the smallest of all the seeds scattered upon the soil. But once sown, it grows up and becomes the largest of the plants in the garden, and even grows branches so big, that the birds of the air can take shelter in its shade.”

Jesus used many such stories, in order to proclaim the word to them in a way that they would be able to understand. He would not teach them without parables; but privately to His disciples He explained everything.

Sunday, 13 June 2021 : Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

2 Corinthians 5 : 6-10

So we feel confident always. We know, that, while living in the body, we are exiled from the Lord, living by faith, without seeing; but we dare to think, that we would rather be away from the body, to go and live with the Lord. So, whatever we have to keep this house or lose it, we only wish to please the Lord.

Anyway, we all have to appear before the tribunal of Christ, for each one to receive what he deserves, for his good or evil deeds in the present life.

Sunday, 13 June 2021 : Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 91 : 2-3, 13-14, 15-16

It is good to give thanks to YHVH, to sing praise to Your Name, o Most High, to proclaim Your grace in the morning, to declare Your faithfulness at night.

The virtuous will flourish, like palm trees, they will thrive, like the cedars of Lebanon. Planted in the house of YHVH, they will prosper, in the courts of our God.

In old age, they will still bear fruit; they will stay fresh and green, to proclaim that YHVH is upright, “He is my Rock,” they say, “He never fails.”

Sunday, 13 June 2021 : Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Ezekiel 17 : 22-24

Thus says YHVH : “At the top of the cedar, I will take one of its uppermost branches, a tender twig, and plant it. On a lofty, massive mountain, on a high mountain of Israel I will plant it. It will produce branches and bear fruit and become a magnificent cedar. Birds of all kinds will nest in it and find shelter in its branches.”

“And all the trees of the field shall know that I am YHVH : I, Who bring down the lofty tree and make the lowly tree tall. I will make the tree that is full of sap, wither, and the dry tree, bloom. I, YHVH, have spoken and this will I do.”

Friday, 11 June 2021 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the great Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, celebrating the most wonderful love that God has shown to all of us, to each and every one of us from His Most Sacred Heart, the heart being the representative of one’s love and emotions, feelings and thoughts. Thus, we remember today the great love that God has for each and every one of us, the love that comes outpouring from His most loving heart.

In our first reading today, we heard of the passage from the Book of the prophet Hosea, in which we heard the Lord speaking to His people through Hosea, referring to Ephraim as the son whom God had brought up and led out of Egypt. This was a reference to the Israelites in the northern kingdom of Israel, which capital of Samaria is in the land of the tribe of Ephraim. The prophet Hosea has been sent to the people of the northern kingdom, to remind them of God and to repent from their wicked ways.

However, the people of the northern kingdom continued to sin against God as they had done multiple times previously, and this is what was referred by the prophet Hosea as ‘Ephraim’ having forgotten about God Who had done so much wonders for them and Who had cared for them all those while. And yet, God would not destroy them, as He truly loved them more than He despised their sins and wickedness. He still loved them, and the fact that He sent them the prophet Hosea, it was proof that He still wanted them to be saved.

God loves every single one of us, and He created us all because He loves us all and wants us to share in this love. Unfortunately, due to our disobedience we fell into sin, as we listened to the falsehood and lies of the devil rather than to trust in the Lord. The Lord could have annihilated us and crushed us there and then, willing us out of existence just as easily as He willed creation into being. Yet, He did not do that, and why? That is because He loves us, from His heart.

It is this same love that St. Paul referred to in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Ephesus, our second reading today, how God has revealed to all of us, His most generous and wonderful love. And He revealed this love in the person of Jesus Christ, His own Beloved Son, sent into this world to reveal before all of us the full extent of that love, and it was that same love which St. Paul and the other Apostles and disciples had preached about, and testified, for all the wonderful love He has shown to everyone.

They themselves had witnessed and seen the Lord’s ultimate expression of true love for each and every one of us, as He picked up His Cross and bore it upon His own shoulders, bearing upon them all of the punishments and the sufferings that are due for our sins and disobedience. He willingly laid down His own life, and was tortured and suffered for us that all of us may live. This action of Our Lord’s Most Holy Passion reminds us all that His love for us is truly vast and boundless, and enduring even despite our constant disobedience and refusal to believe in Him.

God’s most loving Heart continue to ache because of all of us being distanced from Him, separated by the chasm of sin. He wants to reach out to us and to embrace us with His mercy and compassion. However, unless we embrace that same mercy and compassion, by turning wholeheartedly towards Him, then we will still remain sundered from Him. That is why, He has always sent us reminders and His servants to call us to embrace Him and His loving Heart, to repent from our faults and sins, and to be forgiven from those sins.

As He lay dying on the Cross, He showed us all the most compassionate and loving face of God, a reminder of just how blessed and fortunate each and every one of us are. Through Him, we have received the assurance of eternal life and true joy, and we are all called to devote ourselves to this most loving aspect of Our Lord, His love being outpoured from His wounded and bleeding Heart, a vision seen by one of the most famous visionaries of the Church, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque saw a vision of the Lord and His Most Sacred Heart, calling on all mankind to turn towards Him and to seek Him, to be forgiven their sins and to find refuge in Him. Through this, the Lord wants us all to know just how wonderful His love for us is, and how blessed we are to be so beloved in such a manner by the Lord, Who generously showered us with His love and kindness despite us having betrayed Him, abandoned Him and refused to listen to Him and obey Him all these while.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we still going to be stubborn and refuse to believe in Him, although He has shown us all of His love? Do not forget that He has died for all of us, the testimony of which has been made by the pouring of blood and water from His pierced heart at the moment of His death, as mentioned in our Gospel passage today. Scientifically and medically, that is the sign that someone has truly died, and hence, the soldier who pierced the side of the Lord showed that the Lord died, on the Cross, all for our sake.

And through His Precious Blood, we have been washed clean from the taints of our sins and evils. We have been cleansed and purified from those wickedness and impurities that tainted our hearts, the taints of our sins. Yet, many of us remain in the stranglehold of sin, because we still allow sin reign over us, and we allow ourselves to be swayed by its many temptations. This is why we are all called to put our trust in the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, to come to Him and to open our own hearts, and to find Him that we may enjoy the fullness of His love and mercy.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we also celebrate the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests. As all of our priests have been called to be in the person of Christ ‘Alter Christus – in persona Christi’ in the celebration of the Eucharist and the Sacraments, they have been called to model themselves after the one Eternal High Priest, Christ Himself. We therefore pray that just as we all trust in the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, they too shall always trust in the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and model themselves and their hearts after Him.

We pray for holy and dedicated priests, who is as enthusiastic and passionate in reaching out to the people of God as the Lord has tirelessly sought each and every one of us for such a very long time. We pray that they will all be as patient and loving as the Lord has been patient and loving towards us. And last of all, we pray that we ourselves may be ever more faithful to the Lord and that we may be ever closer to His Most Holy and Sacred Heart, to be forgiven by Him and to be filled with His love and grace.

May God be with us all, and may He strengthen each and every one of us to live faithfully in love, and may He empower all of us to remain faithful despite the challenges and trials we may encounter in life. May God bless us all in each and every one of our good endeavours, in our every good works and efforts, for the love of His Most Sacred Heart. Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us! Amen.

Friday, 11 June 2021 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 19 : 31-37

At that time, as it was Preparation Day, the Jews did not want the bodies to remain on the cross during the Sabbath, for this Sabbath was a very solemn day. They asked Pilate to have the legs of the condemned men broken, so that the bodies might be taken away.

The soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man and of the other man, who had been crucified with Jesus. When they came to Jesus, they saw that He was already dead, so they did not break His legs. One of the soldiers, however, pierced His side with a lance, and immediately there came out blood and water.

The one who saw that, has testified to it, and his testimony is true; he knows he speaks the truth, so that you also might believe. All this happened to fulfil the words of Scripture : Not one of His bones shall be broken. Another text says : They shall look on Him Whom they have pierced.

Friday, 11 June 2021 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ephesians 3 : 8-12, 14-19

This grace, was given to me, the least, among all the holy ones : to announce to the pagan nations, the immeasurable riches of Christ, and to make clear to all, how the mystery, hidden from the beginning, in God, the Creator of all things, is to be fulfilled.

Even the heavenly forces and powers will now discover, through the Church, the wisdom of God in its manifold expression, as the plan is being fulfilled, which God designed from the beginning, in Christ Jesus, Our Lord. In Him, we receive boldness and confidence to approach God.

And, now, I kneel in the presence of the Father, from Whom, every family in heaven and on earth has received its name. May He strengthen in you, the inner self, through His Spirit, according to the riches of His glory; may Christ dwell in your hearts, through faith; may you be rooted and founded in love.

All of this, so that you may understand, with all the holy ones, the width, the length, the height and the depth – in a word, that you may know the love of Christ, that surpasses all knowledge, that you may be filled, and reach the fullness of God.

Friday, 11 June 2021 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 12 : 2-3, 4bcd, 5-6

He is the God of my salvation; in Him I trust and am not afraid, YHVH is my strength : Him I will praise, the One Who saved me.

You will draw water with joy from the very fountain of salvation. Then you will say : “Praise to the Lord, break into songs of joy for Him, proclaim His marvellous deeds among the nations and exalt His Name.”

“Sing to the Lord : wonders He has done, let these be known all over the earth. Sing for joy, o people of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

Friday, 11 June 2021 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Hosea 11 : 1, 3-4, 8c-9

I loved Israel when he was a child; out of Egypt I called My Son. Yet, it was I Who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; yet, little did they realise that it was I Who cared for them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with leading strings of love, and I became for them as One Who eases the yoke upon their neck and stoops down to feed them.

My heart is troubled within Me and I am moved with compassion. I will not give vent to My great anger; I will not return to destroy Ephraim, for I am God and not human. I am the Holy One in your midst: and I do not want to come to you in anger.