Tuesday, 26 September 2017 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Luke 8 : 19-21

At that time, the mother of Jesus and His relatives came to Him; but they could not get to Him because of the crowd. Someone told Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside and wish to meet You.”

Then Jesus answered, “My mother and My brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”

Tuesday, 26 September 2017 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 121 : 1-2, 3-4a, 4b-5

I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the House of YHVH!” And now we have set foot within your gates, o Jerusalem!

Jerusalem, just like a city, where everything falls into place! There, the tribes go up, the tribes of YHVH, the assembly of Israel.

To give thanks to YHVH’s Name. There stand the courts of justice, the offices of the house of David.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Ezra 6 : 7-8, 12b, 14-20

Let the governor of the Jews together with their leaders build the House of God on its former site. This is the command I give as to what you should do to help those Jewish leaders rebuild the House of God : pay the expenses in full and without delay, with the income from taxes of the province at the other side of the River which is allotted to the king. I, Darius, give this command. Let it be carried out at once.

And the leaders of the Jews continued to make progress in building, encouraged by what Haggai, the prophet, and Zechariah, the son of Iddo, had said; and they finished the work according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus and Darius. The House was finished on the third day of the month of Adar in the sixth year of the reign of Darius.

The children of Israel, the priests and the Levites, and the rest of those who had returned from exile celebrated the consecration of this House of God with rejoicing, offering on this solemnity one hundred young bulls, two hundred rams and four hundred lambs; and twelve he-goats as a sin-offering for all Israel, according to the number of the tribes of Israel.

Then they installed the priests according to their ranks, and the Levites according to their classes, for the service of the House of God in Jerusalem, as it is written in the Book of Moses. Those who had returned from exile celebrated the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month, for the priests and the Levites had purified themselves together, and all of them were clean. So, they slaughtered the Passover lamb for all who had returned from exile, for their fellow-priests and for themselves.

Saturday, 23 September 2017 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us listened to the word of God, which spoke to us about the parable of the sower, a parable which many of us are likely to be familiar with, in which our Lord Jesus spoke about the sower of seeds, who dispersed his seeds and they fell on various grounds and soils, from the rocky grounds and the road sides, to the thorny bushes and then rich and fertile soil.

In that passage, Jesus our Lord spoke of what can happen to the seeds which the sower have spread, depending on the condition of the soil. If the soil is of poor quality and if it has plenty of obstacles, then it is unlikely to be able to support plant growth, and less still to allow bountiful products of fruits and crops to be realised. Only if the soil is fertile then the plants will grow strong and healthy, and bear many fruits.

In that parable, the seeds are the seeds of faith which God has spread over the whole world, to all of us mankind, as the Sower of the Word, for God has spoken His Word and gave us His truth, through none other than Jesus, the Divine Word made flesh, Who became Man for our sake, and all those who heard the teachings of the Lord Jesus have therefore received the Word, the seeds of faith.

But how those seeds develop then depends on how we live up to our faith in Jesus, our Lord. If we do not provide a conducive and matching environment to have the seeds of faith develop in us, then nothing will happen, and the faith in us will remain dormant. And we all ought to know what is going to happen to all of those who remain barren and fruitless, namely, that they will be cast out and rejected.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, these are constant reminders for us that all of us need to be active in our faith, and to be truly committed to the Lord, for it is only through this commitment that we are providing the fertile and rich ‘soil’ for the ‘seeds’ of faith to grow in us. Otherwise, we are not doing our part in providing the best condition for the growth and development of our faith.

There are many temptations in this world, the temptations of worldly possessions and wealth, the temptation of the pleasures of the flesh and sexual impropriety, the temptation of greed and worldly glory, the temptation of power and fame, all of which are tools used by the devil and his allies in their never-ending attempts to bring about our downfall. The devil is never at rest, always instead ready to snatch us from God’s saving grace.

That is why if we do not let the Word of God, the truths passed down to us through the Church, to be internalised and understood by us, then when trials and difficulties come upon us, we will be tempted to lose our faith and commitment towards God. And then we will end up becoming like the seeds that were eaten by the birds on the roadside, or like the seeds that were unable to grow firm roots on rocky ground, scorched to death, and also like the plants choked by the thorny bushes and brambles.

Is this the fate that we want to happen to us? Is it what we seek in life? It is easier indeed to obey the demands of the devil and this world rather than to walk faithfully in the path of the Lord. Yet, just as farming involves very arduous and tiring labour, thus for us to be faithful Christians it will also require a lot of effort from us. We must be vigilant and ready against all sorts of traps and obstacles the devil is getting ready in our path.

Let us today reflect on the life and examples of the renowned holy saint, whose name may not be foreign to many of us. St. Pius of Pietrelcina, more commonly known by the name of Padre Pio, was a famous and holy Franciscan friar and priest, who was remembered for his many miracles and hard work among the people, his exorcisms of the people possessed by demons, and his stigmata, or the miraculous appearance of the wounds of the Lord on his body.

Thousands and many thousands more flocked to meet Padre Pio, seeking his miracles and prayers. And many were astonished at his miraculous stigmata. Yet, despite all of those, St. Padre Pio remained humble and he distanced himself from any sorts of pride and worldly glory. In fact, Padre Pio was suffering greatly, first of all, physically from the pain of the wounds of the stigmata, and then also through the persecution and difficulties he had to encounter for many years by the skeptics who refused to believe the authenticity of his miraculous signs.

And yet, Padre Pio endured all of these trials and tribulations quietly, with obedience to his superiors and with faith. He placed his trust in the Lord, and continued to work among the people of God despite the criticism and ridicule that many levied upon him, and his piety and perseverance inspired many others who were converted and atoned for their sins because of his examples.

The story of the life of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio should be an inspiration to all of us Christians as well. We must not be complacent or passive in our faith, but instead be active in our commitment like Padre Pio had done in his life. That means, all of us should go beyond our comfort zone and do what we can, in order to do what the Lord wants us to do, so that by our actions we may be fruitful and filled with the good fruits of the Holy Spirit as St. Padre Pio had shown.

May the Lord bless us all, that the seeds of faith He has sowed in us may grow through our loving actions and commitment to Him. May He help us to persevere as St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio had done in his life, that we may not grumble or complain, but accept the suffering with grace, knowing that God Who finds us fruitful will bless us many times more. St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio, holy man of God, pray for us all. Amen.

Saturday, 23 September 2017 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 8 : 4-15

At that time, as a great crowd gathered, and people came to Jesus from every town, He began teaching them with a story : “The sower went out to sow the seed. And as he sowed, some of the seed fell along the way, was trodden on, and the birds of the sky ate it up.”

“Some seed fell on rocky ground; and no sooner had it come up than it withered, because it had no water. Some seed fell among thorns; the thorns grew up with the seed and choked it. But some seed fell on good soil and grew, producing fruit, a hundred times as much!” And Jesus cried out, “Listen then, if you have ears to hear!”

The disciples asked Him, “What does this story mean?” And Jesus answered, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God. But to others it is given in the form of stories, or parables, so that, seeing, they may not perceive; and hearing, they may not understand.”

“Now, this is the point of the parable : The seed is the word of God. Those along the wayside are people who hear it; but immediately, the devil comes and takes the word from their minds, for he does not want them to believe and be saved. Those on the rocky ground are people who receive the word with joy; but they have no root; they believe for a while, and give way in time of trial.”

“Among the thorns are people who hear the word, but, as they go their way, they are choked by worries, riches, and the pleasures of life; they bring no fruit to maturity. The good soil, instead, are people who receive the word, and keep it, in a gentle and generous mind, and, persevering patiently, they bear fruit.”

Saturday, 23 September 2017 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 99 : 2, 3, 4, 5

Serve YHVH with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.

Know that YHVH is God; He created us, and we are His people, the sheep of His fold.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving, His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His Name.

For YHVH is good; His love lasts forever; and His faithfulness, through all generations.

Saturday, 23 September 2017 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Timothy 6 : 13-16

Now, in the presence of God, Who gives life to all things, and of Jesus Christ, Who expressed before Pontius Pilate the authentic expression of faith : preserve the revealed message to all. Keep yourself pure and blameless, until the glorious coming of Christ Jesus, our Lord, Who God will bring about at the proper time : He, the Magnificent Sovereign, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

To Him, alone, immortal, Who lives in unapproachable light, and Whom no one has ever seen or can see, to Him, be honour and power, forever and ever. Amen!