Tuesday, 15 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day the Scripture passages we have heard a very important reminder for us to put our focus and attention on the Lord, our God alone. We must not be distracted by other things in life and follow the foolishness of the people of the past who worshipped and focused their attentions on the created and lesser things of this world than to focus themselves to the One Who created and is the source of all things.

In our first reading today, at the beginning of his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Rome, St. Paul spoke up against all those who have refused to listen to the words of God and rejected the salvation which He has brought into this world through Jesus Christ, His own begotten Son. And he made this to strengthen the faith of the faithful, both Jews and Gentiles alike, amidst a community which was immersed in pagan worship and lifestyle.

St. Paul was reminding the people that for all the glamour and glories of the world, for all the displays of wealth and worldly pleasures that often accompanied pagan worship and celebrations, all of those were mere illusions and cannot be compared to the truth and glory of Christ, the one and only True God. Those people were distracted from the truth because they would not allow God to enter into their hearts and they were too full of the many temptations of worldliness.

And a parallel to this was also mentioned in the Gospel passage today, in the encounter we heard of between the Lord Jesus and a Pharisee who wondered why Jesus did not wash His hands in the prescribed manner according to the Law when the Pharisee invited Him over for a dinner. The Lord then rebuked the Pharisee for his attention to the wrong details, focusing on the external applications of the Law while failing to understand the true intent and purpose of the Law.

Essentially, the Pharisee and the pagans mentioned by St. Paul all shared the same fault, and that is they focused on the wrong focus in life. They became distracted and fell into the worship and focus on worldly things and idols, the worship of the created beings and things rather than the focus and emphasis on the Creator of all things. The Pharisee might indeed believe in God, but his preoccupation and emphasis on the petty details on the observance of the Law made him to idolise that rather than to focus on the true worship of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having heard of the Scripture passages and discussed all these things we have just talked about, we can see that we are all called to find our direction in life and to refocus our attention on God and not on other, worldly things that often distract us in life. We may think that unlike the pagans mentioned by St. Paul, we are Christians and we believe in God and His truth, that we have no idols with us and neither do we worship them.

But we must not forget that whatever it is that can distract us from God can in fact be an idol to us, just as the Pharisee’s example ought to show us. The Pharisee idolised the way that the Law ought to be observed according to the customs of the Pharisees, and in doing so, he was distracted and diverted his attention from truly loving God and from truly having genuine faith in Him. That was why he and many other Pharisees did not and he failed to have faith in the Lord Jesus in the first place.

Let us ask ourselves, brothers and sisters in Christ. How many of us have forgotten about God or ignored Him when we are so preoccupied with our livelihood that we ended up spending lots and lots of time trying to advance our careers, gaining more wealth, glory, fame and all sorts of things that we often desire in life. All of these things are the ‘idols’ of our worldly life that we must be aware of and that we must be careful with lest they distract us and drag us away from the path towards God and His saving grace.

On this day, perhaps, we should look upon the example of one particular saint, a holy woman and religious remembered for her great faith and dedication to God, in how we should also live our lives from now on with faith. St. Teresa of Avila, also known as St. Teresa of Jesus was a Spanish religious sister and member of the Carmelite Order, who together with St. John of the Cross were instrumental in the reform of the Carmelite Order, eventually founding the Discalced Carmelites.

St. Teresa of Avila was concerned with the deterioration and lack of discipline and faith in the Carmelite Order she was in, and therefore together with St. John of the Cross and others, they worked hard for the purification of the intention and the original call of the Order, embracing once again what the founders of the Carmelite Order had intended, living in strict discipline of faith and reemphasising the focus and commitment towards God.

St. Teresa of Avila also wrote extensively on many aspects of the faith, which still continued to inspire many of the faithful through the ages and centuries after her time. That was why Pope Benedict XVI declared her to be one of the Doctors of the Church for her dedication and contributions. We can see the strong and genuine faith in St. Teresa of Avila, her commitment and love for God which each and every one of us should have as well. We should follow in her footsteps and walk in the path she had walked before us in faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore deepen our relationship and faith in God, committing ourselves more and more in each and every passing days, resisting the many temptations present in this world and focusing on God and Him alone. Let us all spend more time and effort in building a living and good relationship with our loving God from now on. May the Lord continue to bless us and guide us, and may through the intercession of St. Teresa of Avila, we are brought ever closer to God. Amen.

Tuesday, 15 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 11 : 37-41

At that time, as Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked Him to have a meal with him. So He went and sat at table. The Pharisee then wondered why Jesus did not wash His hands before the dinner.

But the Lord said to him, “So then, you Pharisees, you clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside yourselves you are full of greed and evil. Fools! He Who made the outside, also made the inside. But according to you, by the mere giving of alms everything is made clean.”

Tuesday, 15 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 18 : 2-3, 4-5

The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament proclaims the work of His hands. Day talks it over with day; night hands on the knowledge to night.

No speech, no words, no voice is heard – but the call goes on, throughout the universe, the message is felt to the ends of the earth.

Tuesday, 15 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Romans 1 : 16-25

For I am not ashamed at all, of this Good News; it is God’s power, saving those who believe, first, the Jews, and then, the Greeks. This Good News shows us the saving justice of God; a justice that saves, exclusively by faith, as the Scripture says : The upright one shall live by faith.

For the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven, against all ungodliness, and injustice, of those who have silenced the truth by their wicked ways. For everything that could have been known about God, was clear to them : God Himself made it plain. Because His invisible attributes – His everlasting power and divinity – are made visible to reason, by means of His works, since the creation of the world.

So they have no excuse, for they knew God, and did not glorify Him, as was fitting; nor did they give thanks to Him. On the contrary, they lost themselves in their reasoning, and darkness filled their minds. Believing themselves wise, they became foolish : they exchanged the glory of the Immortal God, for the likes of mortal human beings, birds, animals and reptiles. Because of this, God gave them up to their inner cravings; they did shameful things and dishonoured their bodies.

They exchanged God’s truth for a lie; they honoured and worshipped created things, instead of the Creator, to Whom be praise forever. Amen!

Thursday, 5 September 2019 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Kolkata, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day each and every one of us are reminded of our calling as Christians to be involved and to be active in the works and the missions of the Church, in our respective capacities and in whatever way that God has called us to. For God has given each and every one of us distinct and unique gifts and blessings that we can use to glorify God and to serve Him.

However, unfortunately, more often than not, we are reluctant to make good use of the gifts and talents, the abilities and blessings which God has given to each and every one of us. We even ended up misusing them and abusing the gifts and blessings that God has granted us. We often find excuses and reasons how we can avoid our responsibilities and duties as what the Lord has entrusted to us all as Christians.

We are often too preoccupied and too busy with worldly matters that we fail to recognise God’s calling and His words speaking in the depths of our hearts and minds. Our busy schedules, our many concerns and desires in life, our preoccupations prevented us from opening ourselves to God and from listening to the words that He wants each and every one of us to hear and to know. That is why we ended up going down the wrong path in life and making the wrong choices and decisions.

Today, in the Gospel passage we have heard, we listened to the story of the Lord Jesus and His disciples, who were at the Lake of Gennesaret. While the Lord was speaking to the people and taught them, the disciples went fishing on a boat and they did not manage to catch any fish all night long. The Lord came to them and spoke with them, asking them to put out their nets into the deep waters that they would be able to catch the fishes.

Initially, the disciples hesitated and asked the Lord, as they had not caught any fish during the entirety of the night. Thus perhaps they had doubts that they would be able to catch anything if at all if they listened to the Lord and did what He had asked them to do. They obeyed eventually regardless and as soon as they did what the Lord had asked, they caught so many fishes that the nets almost broke.

Through what the Lord has revealed to His disciples, we are therefore reminded of the primary mission that God has entrusted to His Church, and that is the salvation of souls, the souls of mankind, all those who have lived in the darkness of this world, the corruption of sin and the ignorance of God. Those fishes in fact symbolise the people of God and the lake represents the world we are all living in today.

The disciples on the boat represent all of us Christians whom God had called from this world to be His followers and disciples. The boat they were in represents the Church, into which all the people who believe in God are gathered in. That is why the Lord called His disciples to be the ‘fishers of men’, as they were tasked to gather all of God’s people and call them to the salvation through faith and through the Church.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, what is the significance of today’s Scripture readings and what we have discussed thus far? It is the need for us all to realise that as God’s people, as Christians, all of us have also been entrusted by God with the same mission that He has provided for us, the evangelisation and conversion of the world. And just as the disciples listened to the Lord and put out into the deep waters, it is often that we too must ‘put out into the deep’.

What does it mean? It means that often we may have to make sacrifices and extra effort in serving the Lord and in doing what we are supposed to do as Christians, in reaching out to others and all those whom we care for, in how we live our lives with faith and following the examples of the saints. It means that we may have to suffer and endure difficulties along the way, and we may have many obstacles that we will have to overcome.

Today, we also celebrate the feast of a great and renowned saint of recent years whose life certainly embodies this attitude. I am sure we are familiar with St. Teresa of Kolkata, known well as Mother Teresa during her life. Born as an Albanian Catholic by the name of Agnes Bojaxhiu, St. Teresa of Kolkata heard the calling of God and joined the religious life early in her life and went on to India as part of her mission.

And while initially she had a comfortable life as a religious and educator in a missionary run school, she was called to a higher and greater purpose when the terrible poverty being present in the city of Calcutta (or Kolkata) moved her to establish a new religious congregation, the Missionaries of Charity, of those who also want to dedicate themselves to the care of the least fortunate, the least privileged, the ostracised and those who had none to love them.

We have heard how St. Teresa of Kolkata reached out to many of the poorest, those who suffered grievously and treated in many ways less than how a human ought to be treated, and returned human dignity to them in how she cared for them and provided for them. St. Teresa of Kolkata showed us all how she truly lived out her faith in her life, and evangelise the faith through real and concrete actions.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to follow in the footsteps of St. Teresa of Kolkata and many other saints who have shown such great faith and sincerity in following God throughout their lives? Are we able to listen to God and His calling, in how He shows us the path forward that we should take in living our lives with faith? Let us all truly ‘put out into the deep’ and be truly faithful in all things, and do our very best with all of our hearts and with all of our strength to serve God and to love our brethren from now on.

May the Lord continue to guide us and may He bless all of our good works and endeavours, that by our witnesses for our faith and by the sincerity of our words and actions, many more come to believe in God and receive His salvation. Amen.

Thursday, 5 September 2019 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Kolkata, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Luke 5 : 1-11

At that time, one day, as Jesus stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, with a crowd gathered around Him listening to the word of God, He caught sight of two boats, left at the water’s edge by fishermen, now washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to pull out a little from the shore. There He sat, and continued to teach the crowd.

When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Simon replied, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing. But if You say so, I will lower the nets.” This they did, and caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. They signalled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They came, and they filled both almost to the point of sinking.

Upon seeing this, Simon Peter fell at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Leave me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and his companions were amazed at the catch they had made, and so were Simon’s partners, James and John, Zebedee’s sons. Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. You will catch people from now on.” So they brought their boats to land and followed Him, leaving everything.

Thursday, 5 September 2019 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Kolkata, Religious (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Psalm 97 : 2-3ab, 3cd-4, 5-6

YHVH has shown His salvation, revealing His justice to the nations. He has not forgotten His love, nor His faithfulness to Israel.

The farthest ends of the earth all have seen God’s saving power. All you, lands, make a joyful noise to YHVH, break into song and sing praise.

With melody of the lyre and with music of the harp. With trumpet blast and sound of the horn, rejoice before the King, YHVH!