Saturday, 27 August 2022 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Monica (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, each and every one of us have been reminded that we have been called by God to be His servants, and to follow Him to whatever and wherever He sends us, in our respective and various areas of responsibilities, in whatever opportunities and moments we have been given, to be the evangelising and missionary witnesses of His truth. Each and every one of us have been given by God unique talents, abilities, opportunities and gifts, and it is really indeed up to us whether we want to embrace these gifts from God and do what God had called and commanded us to do.

In our first reading today taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful people of God in Corinth, we heard of the Apostle speaking regarding the Lord and how He called and chose those from the world that might not be in accordance to the expectations of the world. While the world often sought the rich, the powerful and the mighty, the intellectual and those who are considered worthy and good, but the Lord called on all those who are considered ordinary and plain, those whom the world does not consider to be good or worthy, to be the ones to carry out His will and to do His works. God called on all these to be the instruments of His will.

Then, in our Gospel passage today, we heard another story, that of the parable of the silver talents, in which a master gave three of his servants several amounts of silver talents while he was going away for a while. Entrusting those silver talents to them, the master left on his matter, and the three servants acted differently on the silver talents given to them. The one who had only one silver talent chose to hide his silver talent and did nothing to it, while the ones who had received five and two silver talents respectively chose to put their silver to good use, invested in them and made good returns from them.

We heard how then the master chastised and was angry against the servant who was lazy and did not do anything to his one silver talent, while praising those servants who had done what they could to the silver entrusted to them. Through what we heard in our Gospel passage today and linking to what we have also heard in our first reading today earlier, we can see the clear parallel and comparison, between that of the silver talents and the servants with our calling and responsibilities as Christians, in serving the Lord, our Master and King. The Lord entrusted to us various talents, gifts, abilities, opportunities and others just as the master in the parable entrusted the silver talents to his three servants.

Yes, linking with what we heard earlier from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, God called us all to follow Him, and bestowed on us various gifts and talents, opportunities as each one of us have received and experienced throughout our lives. Each one of us have unique experiences and diverse gifts, all of which should be put to good use for the purpose which the Lord had given these to us. Sometimes we may not be sure what we should do with those gifts and blessings, and that is why it is important for us to discern carefully what our respective calling in life as Christians are, as we are all called to different vocations and purposes in life.

God called on us all from our diverse backgrounds, bestowing on us various things, blessings, abilities and more so that we may make good use of them, and be fruitful in our actions throughout life. As Christians, our actions, words and deeds should be life-giving and bear testimony to our Christian faith and to the Lord, our God and Saviour. But sadly, many Christians throughout the world are still lukewarm about their faith, and many did not do anything more than the minimum required obligations and responsibilities placed on us as Christians, and many more are even Christians in name and formality only.

That is why today all of us are reminded of this duty and obligation that each and every one of us as Christians have in being obedient to God and in doing His will, making good use of whatever God has given us to do His will. And unless we make the effort to do so, then we are likely to continue to ignore the Lord and His truth, and may end up falling into the slippery slope of worldliness and sins. We have to remind ourselves to be genuine in our faith and to be truly dedicated to God in all things. We can be inspired today from the story and the life of St. Monica, a great saint and woman, and the mother of St. Augustine of Hippo, one of the most renowned and famous early Church fathers, servant of God and Doctor of the Church.

Back then, St. Monica was married to a Roman pagan nobleman and had a child which was to become St. Augustine. St. Monica had to put up with her husband’s often violent temper and then her son’s immoral behaviour in his youth. St. Augustine was a wayward child and teenager, and spent his life in hedonistic pursuits and also fell into the Manichaean heretical teachings and influence. St. Monica never ceased to pray for her son and continued to patiently care for him, and after her many tearful nights being concerned and worried about him, eventually her prayers and the Lord brought St. Augustine to be converted to the true faith.

St. Monica might have just been an ordinary woman, a normal mother with all the issues that mothers often face even up to this day. Yet, in all of that ordinary living and things, we see how God turned what was ordinary into extraordinary. St. Monica lived her life with faith and righteousness, and did all that she could to obey the Lord and to care for her loved ones, and that led to the conversion of her son, who was to become one of the greatest of the Church fathers, and whose own contributions and works led to the many other good things and the salvation of so many other souls.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, after hearing all that and discerning on the words of the Sacred Scriptures, we are all called to not be afraid to be extraordinary through God, although we may seem to be ordinary in our lives and appearances. It is God in the end Who will make us worthy of Him, as He had done with St. Monica and countless other saints, holy men and women of God who have inspired us with the stories of their great faith and deeds. It was God Who made all those things possible. That is why, we should answer God’s call with faith and conviction, and do our best to invest our time and effort in doing whatever is within our means, in living our lives for the greater glory of God.

May God be with us always, and may He continue to guide us and bless us in all of our good efforts and endeavours, and may He continue to lead us down the path of righteousness, and bestow us His blessings and graces that we may make good use of them to glorify His Name all the more. Amen.

Saturday, 27 August 2022 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Monica (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 25 : 14-30

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Imagine someone who, before going abroad, summoned his servants to entrust his property to them. He gave five talents of silver to one servant, two talents to another servant, and one talent to a third, to each, according to his ability; and he went away.”

“He who received five talents went at once to do business with the talents, and gained another five. The one who received two talents did the same, and gained another two. But the one who received one talent dug a hole in the ground, and hid his master’s money.”

“After a long time, the master of those servants returned and asked for a reckoning. The one who had received five talents came with another five talents, saying, ‘Lord, you entrusted me with five talents, but see, I have gained five more.’ The master answered, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant, since you have been faithful in a few things, I will entrust you in charge of many things. Come and share the joy of your master.'”

“Then the one who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you entrusted me with two talents; with them I have gained two more.’ The master said, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant, since you have been faithful in little things, I will entrust you in charge of many things. Come and share the joy of your master.'”

“Finally, the one who had received one talent came and said, ‘Master, I know that you are a hard man. You reap what you have not sown, and gather what you have not scattered. I was afraid, so I hid your money in the ground. Here, take what is yours!’ But his master replied, ‘Wicked and worthless servant, you know that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered. You should have deposited my money in the bank, and given it back to me with interest on my return.'”

“Therefore, take the talent from him, and give it to the one who has ten. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who are unproductive, even what they have will be taken from them. As for that useless servant, thrown him out into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Saturday, 27 August 2022 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Monica (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 32 : 12-13, 18-19, 20-21

Blessed is the nation whose God is YHVH – the people He has chosen for His inheritance. YHVH looks down from heaven and sees the whole race of mortals.

But YHVH’s eyes are upon those who fear Him, upon those who trust in His loving-kindness; to deliver them from death and preserve them from famine.

In hope, we wait for YHVH, for He is our help and our shield. Our hearts rejoice in Him, for we trust in His holy Name.

Saturday, 27 August 2022 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Monica (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Corinthians 1 : 26-31

Brothers and sisters, look and see whom God has called. Few among you can be said to be cultured or wealthy, and few belong to noble families. Yet God has chosen what the world considers foolish, to shame the wise; He has chosen what the world considers weak to shame the strong.

God has chosen common and unimportant people, making use of what is nothing to nullify the things that are, so that no mortal may boast before God. But, by God’s grace you are in Christ Jesus, Who has become our wisdom from God, and Who makes us just and holy and free. Scripture says : Let the one who boasts boast of the Lord.

Friday, 27 August 2021 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Monica (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scripture all of us are reminded of the need for all of us to always be faithful and ready for the Lord at all times, and not to be easily swayed by worldly temptations and the desires for worldly glory, fame and other things that can lead us astray and down into the path towards damnation. Instead, we should always be vigilant at all times and do whatever we are expected to do as Christians, as we have heard from our Scripture passages today.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard from the parable that our Lord told to His disciples, the well-known story of the five wise and five foolish maidens who were at a wedding that occurred at night, as the handmaidens to welcome the bridegroom to the celebration. If you are wondering why the wedding banquet was done at night, it is because in the Holy Land, where the story’s setting would have likely taken place, during certain months the temperature and conditions during the day is usually not favourable to conduct a celebration, being often hot and sunny. Hence, the celebrations often happened at night as it would be cooler.

However, at a time when electrical lighting were non-existent, it would have been very dark at night, save for the lights from natural sources such as the moon and the stars. That is why, the handmaidens as the bearers of the oil lamps were important not only to make things more festive, but also to help illuminate the dark surroundings, welcoming the bridegroom to his wedding celebration. This is why, they could definitely not afford to run out of oil at a time when their presence were needed the most.

Those five wise maidens brought with them extra oil and were well-prepared while the five foolish maidens did not. As a result, when the bridegroom delayed in coming, then those foolish maidens ended up running out of oil, and the wise maidens did not have enough oil to share with them, or else all of their lamps might have been snuffed out by the time the bridegroom came to the wedding banquet. And when the bridegroom did come, the foolish maidens were away to buy the oil, and when they returned, they were denied entry to the banquet, all due to their own carelessness and lack of preparation.

What this story in the parable tells us is that God has given us all the wisdom to discern and to think of what our course of life going forward is, and hence, we should be spending the time to discern carefully our path in life going forward, that we do not make the wrong decisions in life which will end up leading us down the wrong way. Yet, many of us have not done what is necessary to commit ourselves to the Lord, and instead, we have idled ourselves in pursuits of worldly pleasures and satisfaction, for the fame and glory of the world. All these will lead us eventually down the path to our downfall if we do not do anything about it.

That is why we should also reflect on the words of the Apostle St. Paul in his Epistle and letter to the Church in Thessalonica in our first reading today, as he reminded the faithful there to follow the Lord faithfully and lead a holy life befitting of their identity as Christians, to be holy as the Lord is holy, and this is the calling which all the faithful have been called to, to do what the Lord had shown them through His Law and His Church, that everyone ought to play their part as members of God’s Church.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we should also be inspired by the great examples set by St. Monica, one of the great saints of the Church, whose life and dedication to both God and to her son, St. Augustine of Hippo, can be source of inspiration for ourselves on how we ought to act and behave as Christians, in answering God’s call and in living our lives faithfully as God’s people and as those who truly and wholeheartedly believe in Him.

St. Monica was the mother of St. Augustine of Hippo, the great Doctor of the Church, and as a loving mother, she was always devoted to her son. St. Monica was married to a pagan nobleman, and gave birth to St. Augustine of Hippo. She was a Christian, but she had to patiently watch and hoped for her husband and son to embrace the Lord and the faith in Him, while she had to see her son falling into the path of sin, as St. Augustine in his youth experimented with various ideologies and philosophies, including the heresy of Manichaeanism.

St. Monica never ceased to pray for the sake of her husband and son, and her fervent prayers, her piety and charitable acts eventually touched first her husband, who accepted the Lord on his dying moment, while St. Augustine also eventually discovered God in his journey of self-discovery, and was received back into the Church, and in the end, became a great servant of God and saint, as one of the four original Doctors of the Church, all of which would not have been possible if it was not for the dedication, prayer and commitment from St. Monica, St. Augustine’s loving mother.

Having seen the faith, dedication and the love by which St. Monica has lived her life, and her love both for God and for St. Augustine, we should also be inspired by her examples, so that we may live our lives more worthily from now on, to be faithful disciples and followers of the Lord in all things, and to be persistent in our commitment to God and love for Him, and in our care and concern for the brothers and sisters and others whom we encounter throughout life.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He strengthen each and every one of us, to be always devoted and true to our faith, so that in each and every moments of our lives, we may always strive to be exemplary in our every actions, words and deeds, that the Lord will always guide us throughout the challenges and trials we may face in our journey in life. May God bless us all, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 27 August 2021 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Monica (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 25 : 1-13

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “This story throws light on what will happen in the kingdom of heaven : Ten bridesmaids went out with their lamps to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were sensible. The careless bridesmaids took their lamps as they were, and did not take extra oil. But those who were sensible, took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom delayed, they all grew drowsy and fell asleep.”

“But at midnight, a cry rang out, ‘The bridegroom is here, come on and meet him!’ All the maidens woke up at once, and trimmed their lamps. Then the foolish ones said to the sensible ones, ‘Give us some oil, for our lamps are going out.’ The sensible ones answered, ‘There may not be enough for us and for you. You had better go to those who sell, and buy some for yourselves.'”

“When the bridegroom came, the foolish maidens were out buying oil, but those who were ready went with him into the wedding feast, and the doors were shut. Later the other bridesmaids arrived and called out, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered, ‘Truly I do not know you.'”

“So stay awake, for you do not know the day nor the hour.”

Friday, 27 August 2021 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Monica (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 96 : 1 and 2b, 5-6, 10, 11-12

YHVH reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the distant islands be glad. Justice and right, are His throne.

The mountains melt like wax before YHVH, the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim His justice, all peoples see His glory.

You who love YHVH, hate evil, for He preserves the lives of His faithful; He delivers them from their foes.

He sheds light upon the upright, and gladness upon the just. Rejoice in YHVH, you, who are blameless; and give praise to His holy Name.

Friday, 27 August 2021 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Monica (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Thessalonians 4 : 1-8

For the rest, brothers, we ask you, in the Name of Jesus, the Lord, and we urge you, to live in a way that pleases God, just as you have learnt from us. This you do, but try to do still more. You know the instructions we gave you on behalf of the Lord Jesus : the will of God for you is to become holy and not to have unlawful sex.

Let each of you behave towards his wife as a holy and respectful husband, rather than being led by lust, as are pagans, who do not know God. In this matter, let no one offend or wrong a brother. The Lord will do justice in all these things, as we have warned and shown you.

God has called us to live, not in impurity but in holiness, and those who do not heed this instruction disobey, not a human, but God, Himself, Who gives you His Holy Spirit.

Thursday, 27 August 2020 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Monica (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us heard of the exhortation for us to be holy, to be good and ever righteous in the presence of God, to be ready to welcome the Lord when He comes again as He has promised. And that is why we must dedicate our whole lives in His service and to be ever committed in our faith, not to be lax or complacent in living that faith, or else, we may regret it when the time of reckoning comes.

In our Gospel passage today, this is very well illustrated with the parable of the faithful servant and the bad servant, using the example of those servants to highlight what will happen to us should we take the Lord’s words seriously, or if we choose instead to ignore Him and continue to reject what He has called us to do in our lives. Unless we listen wholeheartedly to God’s words calling us and speaking to us in the depth of our hearts, we will be easily swayed and tempted to abandon His path.

The parable highlighted first of all, the two types of servants, one that is diligent and conscientious of all that he had been entrusted with, while the other servant was lazy and thought that the master would not come back so soon, and did not do as he had been tasked to, and instead abused his authority and treated his fellow workers and those under his authority badly for his own selfish desires.

The servants represent us, brothers and sisters in Christ, all the sons and daughters of man. All of us have been entrusted by God for our various tasks and callings in life. And this passage is a reminder that whatever we do in life, whatever we say and act, and how we interact with one another, all of these are significant and they will count on the moment of our reckoning, be it at the end of our lives or when the Lord finally comes again into this world.

The faithful and diligent servant represent those who have listened to the Lord, obeyed His commandments, and did everything as he or she had been told and taught through the teachings and laws of the Church. Meanwhile, the lazy and bad servant are those who ignored the teachings and laws of the Lord as held by His Church, and those who preferred to live their lives their own way, without regards for the path that the Lord had set before us.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we heard in our readings today, as St. Paul highlighted in our first reading today that, for all of us the faithful people of God, we have been assured of the glory of God and the eternal joy that will be ours. However, we need to trust in God and put our faith in Him, or else, because of our lack of faith, we are the ones who make ourselves stumble in rejecting the surety of the glory of God and instead, exchange it for the temporary pleasures and glory of the world.

Do we want to be like that lazy and bad servant who slacked and took it for granted that his master had granted him so much and so good a life, that he disobeyed and did things to satisfy his own selfish desires? We see how it all ends, when the master came back suddenly and the bad servant was caught unaware by it. Do we want to be caught unaware also in our vices and sins, and then be cast out into the eternal darkness, from where no regret can do anything for us anymore?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we should follow the examples set by St. Monica, whose feast day we celebrate today. St. Monica was a pious and devout woman, who was remembered especially as the mother of St. Augustine of Hippo, the great bishop and Doctor of the Church, one of the finest saints of the early Church. And the role of St. Monica in making St. Augustine to be who he was cannot be underestimated, as it was her persistent faith and commitment, her love for her son and her refusal to give up on him that eventually led St. Augustine to return to the faith.

St. Augustine was born to St. Monica, a Christian woman, and Patricius, a Roman pagan, his father, who led a dissolute and wicked lifestyle, which would eventually also be followed by St. Augustine in his younger days. But despite being surrounded by all sorts of wickedness and vices of the world, St. Monica patiently and faithfully lived her life as a wife and mother, and she also acted with virtue, often giving alms and charities for the poor and the needy.

St. Monica definitely wanted her husband and son to be turned to the light, but the path would indeed be long, arduous and can be heartbreaking at times. Not just that she had to endure her husband, who although respected her, but lived wickedly, St. Monica also had to endure seeing her own son falling into sinful path, as he grew up and began to seek the truth, in a long journey, during which time, he would dwell into false ways like Manichaeism and also various hedonistic ways.

It was so bad that St. Augustine even caused a woman to be pregnant out of wedlock, meaning that he made the woman pregnant while not being married to her. This amongst others, such as his pursuit of pagan philosophical pursuits, must have hurt St. Monica badly, seeing her family like that. Yet, St. Monica patiently put her faith in God and dedicated herself to pray for her family’s conversion.

Eventually, by her patient faith and endurance, her care and concern for her loved ones, St. Monica managed to turn the heart first of her husband, who was said to have converted to the Christian faith and repented from all his sinful ways when he was dying. And when St. Augustine and St. Monica were divided by the former’s adoption of Manichaean heresy and his wicked way of life, St. Monica patiently endured and followed her son, eventually leading her to find St. Ambrose of Milan, the influential and charismatic man who eventually together, managed to turn St. Augustine back into the truth of Christ after many years of resistance.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we see in St. Monica the example of a true and virtuous Christian, who remained committed to God despite the challenges and pains that she had to endure. St. Monica showed true Christian virtues and patiently persevered, continuing to pray and to do what she could, just as the faithful and diligent servant had done, in dedicating her efforts to the greater glory of God.

And you see just how much impact that had caused, as through St. Augustine and the many people whom he inspired and touched, countless peoples and souls had been saved thanks to the perseverance and faith of St. Monica, his loving mother. Are we able and willing to follow in her footsteps, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we willing to make the sacrifices required at times to be faithful to God, in all things?

May the Lord be with us always, and may He strengthen us and encourage us to be always faithful despite the challenges, trials and tribulations we may encounter in life. May God bless us all, and may St. Monica pray and intercede for each and every one of us, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 27 August 2020 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Monica (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 24 : 42-51

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Stay awake then, for you do not know on what day your Lord will come. Obviously, if the owner of the house knew at what time the thief was coming, he would certainly stay up and not allow his house to be broken into. So be alert, for the Son of Man will come at the hour you least expect.”

“Imagine a faithful and prudent servant, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give them food at the proper time. Fortunate, indeed, is that servant, whom his master will find at work when he comes. Truly I say to you, his lord will entrust him with everything he has.”

“Not so with the bad servant, who thinks, ‘My master is delayed.’ And he begins to ill-treat his fellow servants, while eating and drinking with drunkards. But his master will come on the day he does not know, and at the hour he least expects. He will punish that servant severely; and place him with the hypocrites. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”