Friday, 30 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are reminded that we have to seek the Lord and love Him with all of our strength and with all of our capabilities, that we focus our lives and our existence in Him. That is why we heard through the Scriptures those words that remind us of our obligations and calling to be faithful Christians at all times, obeying God’s Law and commandments.

In our first reading today, we heard of the numerous feasts and celebrations as dedicated by the Lord and which He told to His people, the Israelites, through Moses that they ought to keep faithfully and celebrate throughout all the years, on the solemn feasts and celebrations, such as the Day of Atonement, in recalling of one’s faults and shortcomings, and regret for them, the great Feast of the Unleavened Bread and the Passover, remembering the time when the Lord saved His people from their slavery in Egypt, and the Feast of the Pentecost, the Feast of the Tents and many others.

All of these feasts and celebrations were all ultimately meant to celebrate the Lord and remind everyone of all the love that God had given to them, and all that they have been so wonderfully blessed with, in everything that they have received, that they do not forget Who it was that had made everything possible for them. It was a reminder for all of them to be faithful and to focus on the Lord and His truth, to abandon their sinful ways and to atone for their sins when they fell to the temptations to sin, so that in the end, they shall always be God’s people and walk ever always in His path.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard how the Lord Jesus was rejected by His own people, by His own townspeople, all those who knew Him and recognised Him in Nazareth, His hometown when He came there to visit and teach in their synagogue. Despite having spoken with authority and delivering the undeniable truth and wisdom of God into their midst, the people of Nazareth hardened their hearts and minds, and refused to believe that such a person, the mere Son of the village carpenter, of a poor village at the very fringe of the Jewish world and community, could be the Messiah and Holy One of God.

That was why they rejected the Lord and refused to believe in Him, ridiculed Him and angrily even sent Him away from their midst, in one account wanting to throw Him off the cliff by the village. The Lord was saddened by the refusal of those whom He had known to listen to His words and the truth and love that He has brought into their midst, and all these happened despite the signs and wonders, all the miracles and other great things that He had done and performed among the people all over Galilee, which doubtlessly the people of Nazareth must have also heard.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of these that we have heard are reminders for us, that if we allow our own ego and pride, our own false judgments and biases to cloud our thoughts and discernment, we can end up being like those who had rejected the Lord. They could not fathom, or appreciate, or even accept the Lord’s truth and revelation, as they were too deeply ingrained and entrenched in their beliefs and prejudices. And this is what we should not be doing, as we live our lives as Christians, and aspire to do our best to serve the Lord in all things.

Instead, we should look upon the examples of our holy predecessors, the holy saints of God, one of whom we celebrate his feast today. Today we mark the memory of St. Peter Chrysologus, a great priest, bishop and holy man of God, who dedicated all of his talents and abilities, his efforts for the greater glory of God. St. Peter Chrysologus. He was the Bishop of Ravenna and remembered as Chrysologus, or the ‘Golden Worded’ because of his amazing skills at oratory and homilies.

Not only that he was remembered for his great and personal piety, his holiness and upright life, but St. Peter Chrysologus was remembered for his great efforts in reaching out to more and more people through his many sermons and homilies, his speeches and works, explaining the texts of the Bible and the Church teachings most clearly and concisely, using simple language to clearly explain the faith to the people while opposing the falsehoods of the many heresies that were then troubling the Church and the faithful communities.

Many people came to believe in the Lord and returned to the Holy Mother Church through the efforts of St. Peter Chrysologus, and still many more were inspired by his examples, his faith and dedication, many years, decades and centuries after his passing, even to this very day. We too should be inspired by the examples set by this holy predecessor of ours, in how we ought to do our best, in our own ways, to glorify the Lord by our lives and to proclaim the Lord in wherever we are and to whoever we interact with, at all times.

May the Lord our loving God continue to watch over us and may He strengthen each and every one of us with the courage to walk ever more faithfully in His path. May God be our guide and may He be our Hope in this journey of faith through life, that we will always be focused on Him and centre our lives and existence on Him alone, always. Amen.

Friday, 30 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Matthew 13 : 54-58

At that time, Jesus went to His hometown and taught the people in their synagogue. They were amazed and said, “Where did He get this wisdom and these special powers? Is He not the carpenter’s Son? Is Mary not His mother and are James, Joseph, Simon and Judas not His brothers? Are not all His sisters living here? Where did He get all these things?” And so they took offence at Him.

Jesus said to them, “The only place where prophets are not welcome is his hometown and in his own family.” And He did not perform many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

Friday, 30 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Psalm 80 : 3-4, 5-6ab, 10-11ab

Start the music, strike the timbrel, play melodies on the harp and lyre. Sound the trumpet at the new moon, on our feast day, when the new moon is full.

This is a decree for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob, a statute He wrote for Joseph when he went out of Egypt.

There shall be no strange god among you, you shall not worship any alien god, for I, YHVH, am your God.

Friday, 30 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Leviticus 23 : 1, 4-11, 15-16, 27, 34b-37

YHVH spoke to Moses, “Then there are appointed feasts of YHVH at the times fixed for them, when you are to proclaim holy assemblies. At twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month is YHVH’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of this month it is YHVH’s feast of Unleavened Bread.”

For seven days you shall eat bread without leaven. On the first day there will be a sacred assembly and no work of a worker shall be done. For seven days you shall present an offering by fire to YHVH and on the seventh day you shall hold a sacred assembly and do no work of a worker.”

YHVH spoke to Moses and said, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them : When you enter the land that I will give you and you reap its harvest, you will bring to the priest a sheaf, the first fruits of your harvest and he shall wave the sheaf before YHVH for you to be accepted; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.”

“From the day after the Sabbath, on which you bring the sheaf of offering, you are to count seven full weeks. The day after the seventh Sabbath will be the fiftieth day and then you are to offer YHVH a new offering. The tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. You are to hold a sacred assembly. You must fast, and you must offer a burnt offering to YHVH.”

“The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of Tents for YHVH, lasting seven days. The first day you shall hold an assembly; you must do no work of a worker. For seven days you must offer a burnt offering to YHVH. On the eighth day you are to hold a sacred assembly and you must offer a burnt offering to YHVH. It is a day of solemn assembly in which you shall do no work of a worker.”

“These are the appointed feasts of YHVH in which you are to proclaim holy assemblies for the purpose of offering offerings by fire, burnt offerings, grain offerings and drink offerings to YHVH, according to the ritual of each day.”

Tuesday, 20 July 2021 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Apollinaris, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are called to reflect on our faith in the Lord and what it means to be Christians, as those whom God had called and chosen to be His own people. He has called us to walk in His path and to trust in Him, and as long as we are faithful, we have nothing to fear, for God Himself will always be by our side. If God has always been faithful even when we have been unfaithful, then how much more blessed we shall be then, if we are faithful?

In our first reading today, we heard the moment when the Lord delivered His people, the people of Israel, from the hands of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh, as He led them through the Red Sea, safe and sound, walking on the dry seabed as He opened the sea before them. And we heard from the Book of Exodus today, the moment of the final triumph as the Lord delivered the Egyptian chariots and armies into the sea, crushing them before Him.

The sea engulfed and destroyed all those who had pursued the Israelites across the sea, and finally the people of Israel were truly free, as they would no longer be under the tyranny or rule of the Egyptians and the Pharaoh. The Lord Who loved them and had compassion on them had shown them the undeniable truth and proof of His enduring and ever generous love for them. He rescued them from their great sufferings and restored hope to them.

Through this, all of us are yet again reminded of all the great and wonderful things that the Lord had done for our sake. Just as He has blessed and taken good care of the Israelites, thus, He has done the same for us, and will continue to do the same for us. However, it is we ourselves who often disobey Him and disregard Him, ignoring Him and preferring to follow our own paths rather than to trust in the Lord and His path. And in this day’s Gospel passage, we heard the Lord reminding all of us that those who follow the Lord and obey His will, they are all beloved and blessed by God, as those considered to be His own brothers and sisters, as intimate part of the family of the faithful.

All of us are therefore reminded of the need for us all to have faith in the Lord and to walk courageously and faithfully in His path, remembering all that He had done for the sake of His beloved people. We have to keep this faith alive in us, and grow ever stronger in our commitment to the Lord, and be role models for one another in how we are living our lives so that we may help more and more people to turn towards the Lord with renewed faith. Let us all not be easily swayed by doubt or fear, or by any other temptations that often prevented us from truly finding our way to the Lord.

Today, we also celebrate the feast of St. Apollinaris, a famous bishop and martyr of the faith, who was the Bishop of Ravenna in today’s Italy. According to Church tradition, he was made the Bishop of Ravenna by none other than St. Peter himself, the Bishop of Rome and first Pope. St. Apollinaris of Ravenna was appointed as the shepherd of the growing flock of the faithful in Ravenna, caring for their spiritual well-being and needs, and leading them through the challenging times of the earliest days of the Church there. St. Apollinaris laboured hard for the sake of the Lord and His Church, establishing firm foundation for the Church and the population of Christians under his care grew rapidly.

It was told that the miracles he performed during his ministry inspired many to turn towards the Lord and became Christians. This however also led to fierce opposition by the pagans who viewed the growth in the Christian faith and Church as great threat to themselves. As such, St. Apollinaris and his flock were persecuted, with the bishop himself attacked and made to suffer, enduring difficult trials and challenges, suffering from wounds and torture, sent into exile and prison. Yet, St. Apollinaris endured all these obstacles and strove to do his best to remain firmly faithful to the Lord.

Through to his eventual martyrdom, St. Apollinaris inspired many Christians that came after him, and many others who chose to turn to the Lord because of his examples, which strengthened and encouraged many other Christians to do the same, and become beacons of God’s light among the people of this world. How about us then, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we not inspired in the same way as well? Are we not ashamed that while so many others had been inspired and moved by the Lord’s love and by the faith showed from His faithful servants, yet we are still unfaithful and lacking in commitment and love for the Lord?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore turn towards the Lord with renewed vigour and zeal, and rediscover that love and faith that we ought to have in the Lord, and for the Lord. May the Lord bless us all and may He guide us all in our journey, efforts and good endeavours that we may ever be closer to God and conform ever more to the path that He has set before us all. May God be with us all, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 20 July 2021 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Apollinaris, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Matthew 12 : 46-50

At that time, while Jesus was talking to the people, His mother and His brothers wanted to speak to Him, and they waited outside. So someone said to Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside; they want to speak with You.”

Jesus answered, “Who is My mother? Who are My brothers?” Then He pointed to His disciples and said, “Look! Here are My mother and My brothers. Whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”

Tuesday, 20 July 2021 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Apollinaris, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Exodus 15 : 8-9, 10 and 12, 17

At the blast of Your nostrils the waters piled up, the surging waters stood firm in a heap; the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea. The enemy said, “I will give chase and overtake, I will divide the spoil and make a feast of it. I shall draw my sword and my hand will destroy them.”

A breath of Yours and the sea covered them; they sank like lead in the mighty waters. You stretched out Your right hand; the earth swallowed them.

You will bring them in and plant them on the mountain of Your inheritance, the place You chose to dwell in, o YHVH, the sanctuary prepared by Your hands.

Tuesday, 20 July 2021 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Apollinaris, Bishop and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Exodus 14 : 21 – Exodus 15 : 1

Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. At daybreak the sea returned to its place. As the Egyptians tried to flee, YHVH swept them into the sea. The waters flowed back and engulfed the chariots and horsemen of the whole army of Pharaoh that had followed Israel into the sea. Not one of them escaped. As for the Israelites they went forward on dry ground in the middle of the sea, the waters forming a wall on their right and their left.

On that day YHVH delivered Israel from the power of the Egyptians and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the seashore. They understood what wonders YHVH had done for them against Egypt, and the people feared YHVH. They believed in YHVH and in Moses, His servant. Then Moses and the people sang this song to YHVH : “I will sing to YHVH, the Glorious One, horse and rider He has thrown into the sea.”

Thursday, 15 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all reminded to trust ourselves in the Lord and to follow Him, and not to be easily swayed by worldly temptations and pressures, or by sufferings and trials that we may encounter in our path. We should not be easily swayed and distracted by the lies of the devil and all those seeking our downfall, masking their traps and dangers by false promises of comfort and pleasures in life.

In our first reading today, we heard the Lord and His calling of Moses to be His servant and as the leader of His people, the Israelites. God called Moses at Mount Horeb from a miraculously burning bush, calling on him to go to the land of Egypt and to speak to the Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, to let the people of Israel go free. Moses was unsure and he was afraid that the people would reject him. But God reassured him and told him that he must reveal Who He was before the assembly of the people, and they would know that God had sent Moses into their midst.

God also reassured His people through Moses, by telling Moses to proclaim to the people the promises of God’s faithfulness to the Covenant which He had made with their ancestors, with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God would not abandon His people in their hour of need, and He would show His might and power before the Egyptians and their Pharaoh, that if they would not let the people of Israel go free, then they would see the might and power of God, and by His hand, the Israelites would be set free.

That was what eventually happened in history, as the Pharaoh hardened his heart and refused to let the people of Israel go free. As such, God sent ten great plagues to Egypt through Moses, and after enduring all the sufferings and pains, the Pharaoh and the Egyptians finally let the Israelites to go free. And when the Pharaoh attempted at the last hour to try to bring the Israelites back again, God opened the sea before all of His people, and crushed the armies and the chariots of Egypt under the waves of the sea.

God has shown His love and faithfulness to His people, and He has proven, time and again, His love and dedication to them. But at the same time, He also called on them all to embrace His Law and His path, as the Covenant which He made with their ancestors and thereafter renewed, entailed the commitment from both parties in the Covenant. Just as God has been faithful to the Covenant He made, the people of Israel were also expected to be faithful to the Lord in all things. This is the ‘yoke’ that they had to bear, in being faithful and resisting the temptations and pleasures of life.

Thus, this is what has been mentioned in our Gospel passage today, as the Lord Jesus told the disciples and others, to come and seek Him, all those who were weary and heavily burdened, as in Him they would find rest and succour, comfort and true joy in the end. At the same time, the Lord also mentioned that His yoke is easy and light, and His kindness and love prevail over all things. This serves as a very important reminder for us that following God as His faithful ones do not mean that we are not to suffer or to endure sorrow and difficulties.

Instead, just as the Lord Himself often highlighted to His disciples, that being a faithful follower of His would lead to conflict and disagreements, even divisions and plenty of challenges and trials. As they commit themselves to Him and His way, there would be those who refused to align themselves to Him, and therefore, led to persecutions, even violence and hatred against those who believe in the Lord and committed themselves to Him. This is the yoke that we have to bear, that is to be faithful even against the opposition of the world and against the temptations of worldly pleasures.

Today, all of us are reminded of this need for us to be faithful and committed to God, and not to be easily swayed by worldly temptations, so that we may grow ever stronger in our faith. And we can look upon the examples set by St. Bonaventure, our holy predecessor in faith, a great bishop, Cardinal and declared Doctor of the Church for his many important contributions to the Church and the faith, and for his dedication to the Lord and to His people. St. Bonaventure was very much involved in the reforms of the Church of his time.

He was a member of the Franciscan order, one of its earliest members, and a renowned expert on Church teachings and theology. He wrote extensively and had many publications and works attributed to him, and he was also active in the governance of the Church, being also entrusted to be one of the princes of the Church as a Cardinal, supporting the Pope in his efforts to reform the Church and in encouraging the unity and development of the Church. Through his many works and contributions, St. Bonaventure has shown us what it truly means to be a follower and disciple of Christ.

Are we then able to commit ourselves in the same way, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we able and willing to follow the Lord and focus ourselves on Him as we continue to embark on our journey of life? Let us all turn towards Him with renewed faith and conviction from now on, that in all things we will always seek the Lord and bear the burdens and yoke we have to wear as Christians with joy, as we know that in the end, we will triumph with God, and gain eternal glory and true joy with Him. May God bless us always, in our every good works and endeavours. Amen.

Thursday, 15 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 11 : 28-30

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest. For My yoke is easy; and My burden is light.”