Wednesday, 21 August 2019 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Pius X, Pope (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture showing us the parable which the Lord Jesus used in teaching His disciples, on the workers in a vineyard, whom the landowner called in various times throughout the day. Some of the workers worked right from the beginning of the day while others started their work later and some still worked just at the very last hour.

This parable in fact shows us how the Lord works with us and through us, and how in our lives each and every one of us have been called by God to serve Him and to be with Him doing His will and walking in the path that He has shown us. And that is why in the parable, each and every workers mentioned in fact represent all of us mankind, the people of God whom He had called to follow Him, just as the vineyard owner, representing God, called all the workers to his field.

That vineyard is representing the world we are living in today, the world that God has created and is His dominion. When the owner of the vineyard called on the workers to work in his field, that is representative of how God called us all as Christians to be His stewards and representatives in this world, doing our good works and committing ourselves to the care of this wonderful creation He has given and blessed us with.

That is because as Christians, all of us have been called by God and entrusted with many things, especially to bear witness of the truth of God in this world, among His people, the people of many nations and races. We are called to be witnesses of our faith in God through our everyday actions and deeds, through our words and interactions with one another, especially with those who have not yet known God.

God has called us all at different points of time in our lives, and He never ceases to call on us even if we have not responded well to His call. That is why just as the vineyard owner went again and again into the town calling on more people to work in his vineyard, thus the Lord also called on us mankind to follow Him, again and again without cease, wanting us to follow Him and to walk in the path He has prepared for us.

And with regards to the ending of that work, when the vineyard owner gave each workers the same amount of pay, a silver coin, regardless of the time when each worker started their job or how long they have done the job, this is in fact showing us all that God has called us all to share in the same inheritance and glory which He has promised us and treated us all equally without distinction or being biased. All of us are equally beloved by Him.

That is why the workers who grumbled because they expected to receive more payment for their longer working hours were mistaken, because they did not work for genuine reasons but rather with the expectation to receive more than others. They were looking for the earthly rewards and not for the true reward of God, that is immeasurable. This is why the Lord Jesus mentioned about this matter as part of His parable, to remind us all His disciples that we do not seek for earthly glory, happiness and treasures in God, but rather the true happiness of life, that is our salvation and graceful existence with God.

Today we celebrate the feast of a holy, dedicated and courageous servant of God whose life and examples can be great inspiration for us all as Christians in how we should live out our lives with faith and how we ought to commit ourselves and dedicate ourselves to God’s service for each and every moments of our lives. Pope St. Pius X lived and reigned as Pope and leader of the Church just over a century ago but his passion in loving the Lord and in serving the Church and the faithful was truly inspirational.

He was born into a poor peasant family background, as Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, in a large and poor family in northern Italy. Young Giuseppe felt the calling of God during his formation and education years, and eventually became a priest with the support of his family. As a priest, the future Pope worked hard in the parishes and in the community of the faithful, patiently ministering to the needs of the poor and the underprivileged in the midst of the community. He ministered to the sick and the dying and all the faithful, caring for them spiritually and physically.

Eventually he was made the Bishop of Mantua in northern Italy and then as a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, signifying the great contributions which this holy man of God had done over the many years of his courageous and dedicated service for the greater glory of God and for the benefit of the faithful. Then, in the year of Our Lord 1903, he was elected the Supreme Pontiff, Pope and leader of the Church, and during the eleven years of his pontificate, Pope St. Pius X vigorously laboured to serve the people of God.

He was remembered as the Pope of the Eucharist for his determination to push the practice of frequent Holy Communion for the faithful and for the age of the First Communion to be earlier, so that the faithful may become more attuned to the Lord and grow to be more faithful through the more regular reception of the Holy Eucharist. He also worked hard in opposing the heresy and sin of modernism among the faithful, persevering against the forces trying to subvert and lead the people of God into sin through the temptation of worldliness.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to live our lives with faith as what Pope St. Pius X had shown us? Are we able to love God and to do His will with all of our hearts as we should? There will be challenges and difficulties along the way, but rest assured that the Lord will reward us in the end for our faith, not with the glory and happiness of this world, but with true happiness and joy of His saving grace that surpasses all earthly joy and pleasures. May the Lord continue to guide us in our path, and may He strengthen us to live ever more courageously in faith as Pope St. Pius X and many other saints had done. Amen.

Wednesday, 21 August 2019 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Pius X, Pope (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 20 : 1-16a

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “This story throws light on the kingdom of heaven : A landowner went out early in the morning, to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay each worker the usual daily wage, and sent them to his vineyard.”

“He went out again, at about nine in the morning, and, seeing others idle in the town square, he said to them, ‘You also, go to my vineyard, and I will pay you what is just.’ So they went. The owner went out at midday, and, again, at three in the afternoon, and he made the same offer.”

“Again he went out, at the last working hour – the eleventh – and he saw others standing around. So he said to them, ‘Why do you stand idle the whole day?’ They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ The master said, ‘Go, and work in my vineyard.'”

“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wage, beginning with the last and ending with the first.’ Those who had gone to work at the eleventh hour came up, and were each given a silver coin. When it was the turn of the first, they thought they would receive more. But they, too, received one silver coin. On receiving it, they began to grumble against the landowner.”

“They said, ‘These last, hardly worked an hour; yet, you have treated them the same as us, who have endured the heavy work of the day and the heat.’ The owner said to one of them, ‘Friend, I have not been unjust to you. Did we not agree on one silver coin per day? So take what is yours and go. I want to give to the last the same as I give to you. Do I not have the right to do as I please with what is mine? Why are you envious when I am kind?'”

“So will it be : the last will be first.”

Wednesday, 21 August 2019 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Pius X, Pope (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 20 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7

The king rejoices in Your strength, o YHVH, and exults in Your saving help. You have granted him his desire; You have not rejected his request.

You have come to him with rich blessings; You have placed a golden crown upon his head. When he asked, You gave him life – length of days forever and ever.

He glories in the victory You gave him; You shall bestow on him splendour and majesty. You have given him eternal blessings, and gladdened him with the joy of Your presence.

Wednesday, 21 August 2019 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Pius X, Pope (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Judges 9 : 6-15

Then all the lords of Shechem and the whole council assembled together by the oak of the pillar in Shechem, and proclaimed Abimelech king. When Jotham was told about this, he went to the top of Mount Gerizim. There he cried out to them, “Listen to me, lords of Shechem, that God may listen to you!”

“The trees once set out to find and anoint a king. They said to the olive tree, ‘Be our king.’ The olive tree answered, ‘Am I going to renounce the oil by which – thanks to me – gods and people are honoured, to hold sway over the trees?'”

“The trees said to the fig tree : ‘Come and reign over us.’ The fig tree answered them, ‘Am I going to renounce my sweetness and my delicious fruit, to hold sway over the trees?'”

“The trees said to the vine : ‘Come and reign over us.’ The vine answered, ‘Am I going to renounce my juice which cheers gods and people to sway over the trees?'”

“Then the trees said to the bramble bush : ‘Come, reign over us.’ The bramble bush answered the trees, ‘If you come in sincerity to anoint me as your king, then come near and take shelter in my shade; but if not, let fire break out of the bramble bush to devour even the cedars of Lebanon.'”

Monday, 19 August 2019 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Eudes, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the words of the Scripture speaking to us on the matter of following God and obeying His will despite the challenges and temptations that we may face throughout our lives. We heard from the Book of Judges as our first reading passage today how God’s people Israel had disobeyed Him and refused to listen to Him after their leaders had passed on, forgetting all that God had done for their sake.

They worshipped and served other gods, the pagan gods whom their forefathers have crushed and destroyed when they came to occupy the land God had given to them. They were swayed by all those false gods and idols, and were not faithful to the promises which their ancestors had made to the Lord as part of their Covenant. The people chose to follow their own desires and embracing the temptations present in this world rather than being faithful to God.

As a result, the Lord allowed their enemies and those who still stayed in the land with them, the pagans around them to rule over them and dominate them, bringing about hardships and challenges for the Israelites. It was not that God did not love His people by doing what He had done, but rather He loved them so much that He wanted to remind them and bring them into line, just like a father disciplining his children who went wayward.

In the same passage then, God sent many of His servants to the midst of His people, those whom He called to be the leaders and guides for the whole nation as He called them to repent from their sins and disobedience. Those were the Judges of Israel, who helped the people of God to rediscover their faith and to lead them back from the path of sin, freeing them at the same time from all those who persecuted them as a sign of God’s providence and faithfulness to His Covenant.

Yet, it was mentioned how every time the Judges passed on, the Israelites fell back again into their old ways, disobeying God and worshipping the pagan idols, disregarding the laws and commandments that God had put in place for them. They were not able to commit themselves to the Lord and His Covenant, and as a result, God had to sent many Judges, again and again to keep them in line, just as how He would also send prophets after prophets later on to remind His people to be faithful.

What we have heard in this first reading passage today is actually linked to what we have also heard in our Gospel passage today, when a man came to approach the Lord Jesus asking how he could receive the grace of eternal life. He said to the Lord how he has obeyed all the commandments and rules in accordance to the laws of Moses. The Lord praised him for what he has done, but then when He asked him to leave everything he had and give them to the poor and the needy, he could not do it and left in sorrow.

What the Lord wanted to show us all through this encounter is not that all of us have to abandon all worldly things and goods as what He has told the man to do, but rather, if we want to be truly faithful to God, then we must not let all those things to distract us and to prevent us from loving Him and dedicating ourselves to Him with all of our hearts and with all of our strength. The people of Israel as described in our first reading today continued to fall into their sinful ways because they did not truly love God with all of their hearts, and they kept on being distracted and tempted as a result.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. John Eudes, a famous and pious saint whose life can be inspiration for us to follow in how we should live our lives with faith that we will not end up falling again and again into sin. St. John Eudes was a French priest who was remembered for his great love and particular devotion to the Lord, especially to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. He performed numerous good works among the people, ministering to them and preaching in their midst, inspiring many to embrace God’s love and holiness.

He established religious orders and congregations for the benefit of the faithful, and in one particular case having seen how many prostitutes had difficulties when they wanted to escape such a destitute condition, and hence St. John Eudes founded a religious order as a refuge for those prostitutes who escaped their previous wicked lives and turned to God. He dedicated his life to serve the people of God and by being faithful and exemplary in all the things he did in his life with faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now, are we able to follow in the footsteps of St. John Eudes? As Christians, all of us are called to live up to our calling as Christians, as those whom God had called and chosen from this world, to be His own. Let us all grow in faith and love the Lord ever more wholeheartedly from now on, embracing the most generous love and compassion which He has constantly shown us all these while.

May the Lord continue to guide us all, and may He continue to empower us all to live ever more worthily in His presence from now on, and strengthened by the Holy Spirit God has given us, may all of us be more committed to the Covenant which God had made with us all, now and always. Amen.

Monday, 19 August 2019 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Eudes, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Matthew 19 : 16-22

At that time, it was then, that a young man approached Him and asked, “Master, what good work must I do to receive eternal life?” Jesus answered, “Why do you ask Me about what is good? One, only, is good. If you want to enter eternal life, keep the commandments.”

The young man said, “Which commandments?” Jesus replied, “Do not kill; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not bear false witness; honour your father and mother. And love your neighbour as yourself.” The young man said to Him, “I have kept all these commandments. What do I still lack?”

Jesus answered, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell all that you possess, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come back and follow Me.” On hearing this, the young man went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.

Monday, 19 August 2019 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Eudes, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Psalm 105 : 34-35, 36-37, 39-40, 43ab and 44

They dared not destroy the pagans, as YHVH commanded; they mingled with these nations and learnt to do as they did.

In serving the idols of the pagans, they were trapped into sacrificing children to demons.

They defiled themselves by what they did, playing the harlot in their worship. The anger of YHVH grew intense and He abhorred His inheritance.

He delivered them many a time, but they went on defying Him and sinking deeper into their sin. But He heard their cry of affliction and looked on them with compassion.