Tuesday, 23 August 2016 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Rose of Lima, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Virgins)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are reminded that whatever it is we face in life, and no matter all that we experience through our earthly existence, we should keep our focus firmly on the Lord and not to be distracted by the many things and temptations that will keep us away and pull us away from the path to attain the salvation found only in our God alone.

In the first reading, the Lord reminded us through St. Paul His Apostle, that we should be wary and be vigilant of the false prophets and all the lies which they spread around us, as these would become obstacles and hindrances on our path as we walk towards the Lord. There are many of those opposed to us being saved in the Lord, not least of which is the forces of the devil and his allies.

It is the ultimate objective of the evil one in trying to subvert our attempt to find our way to the Lord, and it is imperative for him to try to make us stumble on our journey, for in his great pride and jealousy against God, as well as against the love and honour which God had accorded to us from the very beginning, he has declared war against Adam and all of his descendants.

Indeed, our Lord Jesus Christ has already come and died for our sake, that we might be freed and be liberated from our sins. However, it does not mean that we who still live in this world should then be complacent and be lax in our way of life that we may fall into the traps set upon our path by those who do not take kindly seeing us all be freed from our troubles and proceeding towards our salvation and life in God.

We should heed what our Lord Jesus told us in the Gospel, when He spoke out against the wickedness and the lack of faith among the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, which led to the people being misled in their life and in their faith, by the obsession with appearances and with worldliness, as the emphasis on God and on our relationship with Him was lost, and instead was replaced with the emphasis on human and worldly status.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, when we worship the Lord, it is important that our interior orientation is properly attuned to the Lord, or else, we may lose our focus and instead of focusing on God, we become inappropriately focused on ourselves and on our own human frailties and all the things that led us to sin. It is important therefore that we spend some time to think about how we live our lives in order to be truly faithful to the Lord.

Let us all look at the examples of St. Rose of Lima, the holy saint whose feast we are celebrating today. She was an ordinary woman whose extraordinary life and devotion to God elevated her to the glory of heaven, and we all can learn from her life examples. She is the first saint from the Americas, then known as the New World, a woman of astounding beauty and charm.

Many young men, both rich and poor, influential and powerful tried to woo her and get her into marriage with them, but she turned away from all of them, because since her youth, she had promised that she would live a holy and chaste life devoted to God alone. Her parents opposed that decision, but she continued to persevere on despite the challenges.

She was well known for her great piety and devotion, often engaged in self-mortification and resisting the temptations of the flesh and the world. She was known to wear a heavy silver crown with spikes that pierced into the skin and the flesh of her head to remind her of her mortality and the futility of human fame, glory and all the false lies and promises that Satan tempted us with in this world.

Certainly the examples of St. Rose of Lima should inspire us to devote our lives in a similar manner. We should resist those temptations of the flesh, and all the things that have become obstacles on our path, that is our unrestrained desires, the pulling force of greed and human frailties, and instead, push on through, inspired by St. Rose of Lima and the other holy saints, to lead an ever more devoted life, not just by appearances alone, but also through real action, through charity and love, by caring for all those who are less fortunate around us.

May God see in us the light of the love which He had shown us, and may He bless us and our endeavours, so that through our good works, we may be justified in our faith and draw ever closer to His presence. May God be with us all, now and forever. Amen.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Rose of Lima, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Virgins)

Matthew 23 : 23-26

At that time, Jesus said to the crowd and to His disciples, “Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You do not forget the mint, anise and cumin seeds when you demand the tenth of everything, but then you forget what is most fundamental in the Law : justice, mercy and faith. These you must practice, instead of neglecting them. Blind guides! You strain out a mosquito, but swallow a camel.”

“Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You fill the plate and the cup with theft and violence, and then pronounce a blessing over them. Blind Pharisee! Purify the inside first, then the outside too will be purified.”

Tuesday, 23 August 2016 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Rose of Lima, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Virgins)

Psalm 95 : 10, 11-12a, 12b-13

Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!” He will judge the peoples with justice.

Let the heavens be glad, the earth rejoice; let the sea and all that fills it resound; let the fields exult and everything in them.

Let the forest, all the trees, sing for joy. Let them sing before the Lord Who comes to judge the earth. He will rule the world with justice and the peoples with fairness.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Rose of Lima, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Virgins)

2 Thessalonians 2 : 1-3a, 14-17

Brothers and sisters, let us speak about the coming of Christ Jesus, our Lord, and our gathering to meet Him. Do not be easily unsettled. Do not be alarmed by what a prophet says or by any report, or by some letter said to be ours, saying the day of the Lord is at hand.

Do not let yourselves be deceived in any way. To this end He called you through the Gospel we preach, for He willed you to share the glory of Christ Jesus our Lord. Because of that, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold to the traditions that we taught you by word or by letter.

May Christ Jesus our Lord Who has loved us, may God our Father, Who in His mercy gives us everlasting comfort and true hope, strengthen you. May He encourage your hearts and make you steadfast in every good work and word.

Friday, 12 August 2016 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jane Frances de Chantal, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about God Who told His people through His prophet Ezekiel, how He was disappointed at them for having broken their covenant with Him, not having been faithful despite having been blessed and taken care of for many years, the nourishing and the caring love with which God had patiently provided for through many, many years.

But the people of God were incapable of remaining firm and faithful to the covenant which they have established with God. Instead, they became wayward and gave themselves to the temptations of the world. They prostituted themselves and put themselves into the temptation of money and the pleasures of the flesh. And thus, in the Gospel today, Jesus offered a scathing rebuke of what they and their ancestors had done.

And it is a particular topic which many of us have been found wanting, lacking knowledge in, or be totally indifferent in, while it is a very important of our faith. And what is it I was referring to, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is about the sanctity and indissolubility of marriage. And we know that marriage and the institution of the family has come under many attacks in the recent years and decades.

The reason why our resolution to keep marriage holy and good is that as Jesus had said that we are all obstinate people, easily swayed by persuasion and by temptations of the devil. We give in easily to the pleasures of the flesh, so much so that we ended up being distracted and becoming unfaithful and wayward. The people sought for divorces and annulment of their marriages and committed many other wicked sins because of their inability to resist such advances.

If we have not been faithful even to our own spouse, and thus to our own families, and seek to break those bonds, then how can we be faithful to the Lord our God? That is why it is not surprising that we have been unfaithful and wayward in our lives. If we cannot be entrusted with small and simple matters, how can we be expected to be trusted with larger and greater matters? That was exactly what Jesus said to His disciples as well.

It is important to remember this, as the family and the institution of marriage are the bedrock foundations of our Faith and our Church. Take away those foundations, and the whole edifice, the whole structure will fall down and be destroyed. And that is why the enemies of the Church are so adamant in trying to undermine those important foundations of our faith and our Church.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore heed the examples of the holy saints, especially the saint whose feast we are celebrating today, St. Jane Frances de Chantal, a holy woman whose faith was exemplary, who devoted her entire life serving the Lord and His people, committing herself to holiness and to a life of piety, free from the temptations of sin, and free from the wickedness of the world.

Once, she was married to a loving husband and had a wonderful family and married life. But disease and other things took many of her families from her, including her husband and children. But instead of being drowned and being incapacitated with sorrow, and rather than giving herself into the ways of debauchery, or by committing adultery through remarriage, she devoted herself to the Lord and joined a prayerful life committed to Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, St. Jane Frances de Chantal showed the great example of how one ought to be faithful and be devoted towards the Lord. She served the Lord and the poor, the weak and the downtrodden of the society, even founding a religious order composed of like-minded women who wanted to devote themselves to a life of chastity.

May the Lord help us and guide us so that we may find our way to Him, that we may be able to follow in the footsteps of St. Jane Frances de Chantal, keeping us holy and committed to the sanctity of life designed for us by the Lord. God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 12 August 2016 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jane Frances de Chantal, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Matthew 19 : 3-12

At that time, some Pharisees approached Jesus. They wanted to test Him and asked, “Is a man allowed to divorce his wife for any reason he wants?”

Jesus replied, “Have you not read that in the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and He said : Man has now to leave father and mother, and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one body? So they are no longer two, but one body. Let no one separate what God has joined.”

They asked Him, “Then why did Moses command us to write a bill of dismissal in order to divorce?” Jesus replied, “Moses knew the hardness of your hearts, so he allowed you to divorce your wives; but it was not so in the beginning. Therefore I say to you : whoever divorces his wife, unless it be for prostitution, and marries another, commits adultery.”

The disciples said, “If that is the condition of a married man, it is better not to marry.” Jesus said to them, “Not everybody can accept what you have just said, but only those who have received this gift. There are eunuchs born so from their mother’s womb. Some have been made that way by others. But there are some who have given up the possibility of marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who can accept it, accept it.”

Friday, 12 August 2016 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jane Frances de Chantal, Religious (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

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.

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.