Sunday, 1 August 2021 : Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday we listened to the words of the Lord speaking to us about the love which God has shown to all of us, His generosity and compassion towards each and every one of us that He had revealed and delivered. From the very beginning God had always loved us and cared for us, and we really ought to be thankful for everything that He had done for us, as without Him and His love for us, we should have been cast to oblivion and fall into damnation, for all the terrible things and deeds we have done.

I refer to the sins our forefathers have committed, in abandoning the Lord and in refusing to believe in Him throughout history ever since the days of Adam and Eve, when mankind first fell into sin. They had refused to follow the Lord and instead chose to listen to the devil and his lies, his false promises and allowed themselves to fall into the temptations of human desires and wants, as we heard in our first reading today with the story of the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. In that story, we heard how the people of Israel ungratefully rebelled against the Lord and complained against Him for having freed them from the Egyptians.

At that time, despite having themselves seen God’s power and might repeatedly, again and again as God rained down plague after plague on the Egyptians and their Pharaoh, and saved them from the whole might of the Egyptian armies and their chariots, opening the sea before their very own eyes, the people of Israel still refused to believe in God, and still disobeyed Him and doubted Him. Again and again, God had proven His steadfastness and commitment to His people, and yet the people still complained and grumbled, saying that God was leading them to their deaths in the desert from hunger.

They had such little faith in the Lord, but the Lord still loved them all in the end. He Himself showed this as proof, as He sent to the whole nation, every day’s providence and supply, in the form of the manna, the bread from heaven, which appeared every morning without fail except on every Sabbath day. That was how the Lord provided for the people and made them to have enough each and every day for the entire forty years that they were journeying through the desert towards the Promised Land.

And not just that, He also sent them flocks of birds every evening for them to complement their food, and provided crystal clear and good tasting water to drink from the rocks, that the whole multitudes of the Israelites, God’s people, could survive throughout their journey in the desert without the need to worry about their sustenance and survival. For God has always taken care of them and took care of them all the time that they had no need to be worried at all, every single moments of their lives. Those things we have heard and which our predecessors had witnessed in the past were proofs of God’s love for us all.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard about the Lord Who spoke to His people after He had performed the wondrous miracle of the feeding of the five thousand people, in which the large number of people assembled before the Lord all were satisfied and filled with food after they were hungry for many days, having followed the Lord and hearing His teachings. He took the few loaves of bread and little fishes present, gave thanks and blessed the food, and miraculously, out of the little food available, a vast multitudes of supply came about, feeding everyone and made them fully satisfied with plenty of leftovers.

Having heard of all these stories of the Scriptures on how God provided for the need of His people, we are actually reminded that God provides and He is always caring towards us, ever knowing what we truly need in life, be it for sustenance or for guidance and help. God is always ever there, with us and journeying with us. We are all never alone, no matter what. But we must not allow ourselves to be overcome by despair and our human desires, by the temptations of worldly pleasures among other things.

That is why we have to trust in the Lord and to grow in love towards Him, He Who has given Himself so completely towards us, that by giving Himself to us, we may all be saved and gathered together from all the ends of the Earth, and find justification in God. This is what the Lord Himself referred to in our Gospel passage today, as He referred to Himself as the Bread of Life, far greater than the manna that the people of Israel once consumed during the entirety of their Exodus journey. Far greater also than the bread and fishes that the people at the time of Jesus consumed and ate until they were all full.

For the Lord Himself provided all of us with not any form of worldly sustenance, or even any provisions in the manner of the manna of the time of the Exodus. Instead, He did what was unthinkable, and seemingly impossible, that is to give us His own Most Precious Body and Blood, to be shared, shattered and broken for us all. When He spoke to the assembled multitudes as recorded in our Gospel passage today, He gave a premonition and advance revelation of what He would do for the sake of all of us, God’s beloved people.

For it was by His later suffering, rejection, torture, pain and eventually death on the Cross that the Lord had given to us His own Body and Blood, as the sacrificial offering on the Altar of the Cross, and which we then share with one another, as we partake in the Eucharist. The Eucharist, the Most Holy Eucharist, that we celebrate in the Holy Mass, is this very gift of Our Lord, as the Bread of Life, giving us all His own Body and Blood as spiritual and real sustenance.

All of us who have been blessed to receive this gift of the Bread of Life, the Communion in the Eucharist, are those who have received the assurance from the Lord that they will share in the eternal life that has been promised, as long as we partake faithfully in this sharing of the Body of Christ. Through our conscious love for God and for one another, for our fellow brothers and sisters in the same Lord, we have been called to follow the Lord wholeheartedly.

Are we able and willing to trust the Lord in all things, to give everything to Him, and focus our attention on Him from now on? Let us all be thankful for how beloved and cared we have been by God, all these while, and how He has always watched over us without cease. God Who has given us even His own beloved Son, and offering His own Most Precious Body and Blood for our sake is truly a most wonderful and magnificent Lord and Master. Let us all commit ourselves to the Lord and to His will and commandments, doing our very best in our every moments in life to be exemplary in all things so that we may inspire many others to follow the Lord as well.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He strengthen each and every one of us in faith, that we may be ever more courageous in embracing our Lord with ever greater love and devotion. May we all walk in God’s path and strive for His greater glory, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 1 August 2021 : Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

John 6 : 24-35

At that time, when the people saw that neither Jesus nor His disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. When they found Him on the other side of the lake, they asked Him, “Master, when did You come here?”

Jesus answered, “Truly, I say to you, you look for Me, not because of the signs which you have seen, but because you ate bread and were satisfied. Work then, not for perishable food, but for the lasting food which gives eternal life. The Son of Man will give it to you, for He is the One on Whom the Father has put His mark.”

Then the Jews asked Him, “What shall we do? What are the works that God wants us to do?” And Jesus answered them, “The work God wants is this : that you believe in the One Whom God has sent.” They then said, “Show us miraculous signs, that we may see and believe You. What sign do You perform? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert; as Scripture says : They were given bread from heaven to eat.”

Jesus then said to them, “Truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven. My Father gives you the True Bread from heaven. The Bread God gives is the One Who comes from heaven and gives life to the world.” And they said to Him, “Give us this Bread always.”

Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of Life; whoever comes to Me shall never be hungry, and whoever believes in Me shall never be thirsty.”

Sunday, 1 August 2021 : Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Ephesians 4 : 17, 20-24

I say to you, then, and with insistence I advise you, in the Lord : do not imitate the pagans, who live an aimless kind of life. But it is not for this, that you have followed Christ. For, I suppose, that you have heard of Him, and received His teaching, which is seen in Jesus Himself. You must give up your former way of living, the old self, whose deceitful desires bring self-destruction.

Renew yourselves, spiritually, from inside, and put on the new self, or self, according to God, that is created in true righteousness and holiness.

Sunday, 1 August 2021 : Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 77 : 3 and 4bc, 23-24, 25 and 54

Mysteries which we have heard and known, which our ancestors have told us. We will announce them to the coming generation : the glorious deeds of the Lord, His might and the wonders He has done.

Yet, He commanded the skies above, and opened the doors of heaven; He rained down manna upon them, and fed them with the heavenly grain.

They ate and had more than their fill of the bread of Angels. He brought them to His holy land, to the mountain His right hand had won.

Sunday, 1 August 2021 : Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Exodus 16 : 2-4, 12-15

In the desert the whole community of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron and said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of YHVH in Egypt when we sat down to caldrons of meat and ate all the bread we wanted, whereas you have brought us to this desert to let the whole assembly die of starvation!”

YHVH then said to Moses, “Now I am going to rain down bread from heaven for you. Each day the people are to gather what is needed for that day. In this way I will test them to see if they will follow My teaching or not.”

“I have heard the complaints of Israel. Speak to them and say : Between the two evenings you will eat meat, and in the morning you will have bread to your heart’s content; then you shall know that I am YHVH, your God!”

In the evening quails came up and covered the camp. And in the morning, dew had fallen around the camp. When the dew lifted, there was on the surface of the desert a thin crust like hoarfrost. The people of Israel upon seeing it said to one another, “What is it?” for they did not know what it was. Moses told them, “It is the bread that YHVH has given you to eat.”

Sunday, 25 July 2021 : Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Feast of St. James, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today this Sunday as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures, we are all reminded of the most wonderful love of God which He has shown us by sharing with us His blessings and graces, His kindness and providence by the sharing of food and sustenance for His people, as highlighted in our Scripture readings today. The Lord also wants to unite His people through the same breaking and sharing of the bread that is in essence, at the centre of our Christian faith.

In our first reading today we heard the account of the activity of the prophet Elisha from the Book of Kings during his ministry in the land of the northern kingdom of Israel. The prophet Elisha was followed by a large number of people, about a hundred in total, and a man they encountered brought them offering of bread from barley and wheat, about twenty loaves all in all. Those bread were nowhere near enough to sustain the whole multitude of people, and hence, the follower of the prophet asked him how he could get enough food to feed all of them.

The prophet reminded that follower and told him to do what he asked him to do, to give all the offered bread and food to everyone, and that God would provide for His beloved ones and they would not be lacking. True enough, everyone miraculously had enough to eat, and everyone had their fill just as the prophet had said, as God miraculously multiplied the bread for them all, and gave them all the share of bread and food to eat in the midst of their ministry and works.

This is a close parallel to what we know even better in the Lord’s miraculous feeding of the five thousand men and thousands of others in the Gospel as we heard earlier today. In that occasion, the Lord fed the whole multitudes of thousands assembled before Him, with even much fewer food, only five loaves of bread and two fishes offered by a young boy. The Apostles, especially St. Philip wondered how they were to go and obtain the food and sustenance to provide for all those people when the Lord asked them to provide the whole multitudes with food.

The Lord prayed and broke the loaves of bread, and also did the same with the fish, distributing them to the disciples who then gave the food to the assembled multitudes, all of whom received enough food and things to eat, had their fill, and still, twelve basket-full of leftovers were gathered. Everyone had enough and were happy, and the Lord showed to all of them, as well as to all of us again how wonderful God’s love and grace is, how He cared for each one of us. He did not send the people away, but fed them from the food which had been offered to Him, and provided for them in their hour of need.

How is this significant for us, brothers and sisters in Christ? This is exactly how it is like at every time we celebrate the Holy Mass, at the Liturgy of the Eucharist. At the offertory, we bring the bread and the wine as offerings to the Lord, which the priests gathered and took, giving thanks to the Lord just in the same manner as the Lord Jesus having given thanks to His Father, and then gave the bread for all of us to partake and share. But even much more so than what had happened in the past, at the Eucharist, which the Lord Jesus Himself instituted at the Last Supper, He gave Himself, His own Precious Body and Blood to all.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, at the pinnacle of our faith, at its very core, is our belief in the Real Presence of the Lord in the Most Holy Eucharist, that in miracle that surpasses any other miracles, not only that God feeds us and gave us all food to eat, but He Himself came down upon us, to be in our midst and to be with us. He has given us all Himself as the sustenance and food, to be partaken and shared among us that we truly become part of that One and united Body of Christ, the Church of God, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

The Church of God of which we are part of is united through this Communion, by the sharing of the Body and Blood of Christ, as we gather together to celebrate the Holy Mass and the Eucharist. Through the Eucharist, God did not just provide for us in our physical needs, but even more importantly, He shared with us the spiritual nourishment, His true and Real Presence that comes to dwell within us, and we become the Temple of His Presence, as He dwells in us with the Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen us in our path in life.

And as we therefore reflect on all these words of the Scripture we received this Sunday, then we should spend some time to discern and reflect on our attitude in the Church as one united community in Christ. Unfortunately, in the past few years and decades, especially in recent years, there have been those who wanted to harm the unity of the Church, either by being exclusive and Pharisaical, extremist and hardline in their ideologies and way of thinking, or by disrespecting and disobeying the core tenets and teachings of the Church.

I refer to those fundamentals and extreme groups who sought to either change the Church teachings or to adapt activities and ways that are not in accordance with our faith or sacred tradition, as well as those who have taken in to the extremes ideas such as being against the reforms of the Second Vatican Council that had been legitimate and inspired by the Holy Spirit through the assembly and discussion of all the bishops and the assembled prelates of the Church.

All these things caused divisions within the Church, as it had happened previously in the long history of the Church. It set brothers against fellow brothers, families against others, and segments of the faithful against other segments, groups against groups. And because of this, we ended up losing sight on the true calling we have as Christians, to keep the unity among us and to live together with faith, celebrating and sharing together the Eucharist, the Sacrament of Unity in the Holy Mass.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we recall and reflect on the love which God has shown to all of us, His faithful and beloved people, let us all therefore strive to put aside our differences, and abandon our illogical and unhealthy ideologies, especially those based not on the truth of the Gospel and the teachings of the Church, but on the basis of human prejudices, ambition, and even selfishness and evil. Let us all put aside all the things that divide us, and instead, focus our attention on the Lord, our God.

Through Him we have received this new life, for He Who is the Bread of Life, has given us all new life, that we receive, partake and share not just mere bread alone, but in truth, we have received nothing less than His own Most Precious Body and Blood, that we who partake worthily of Him, become one Body and one Church, and through this unity and the sharing of this holy union with God, we are made whole once again, and receive the assurance of eternal glory and true joy in Him.

Let us all remember what St. Paul mentioned in his Epistle to the Ephesians, part of which is our second reading today, that we all have to strive for unity of the Church, through the Holy Spirit, and nurture a spirit of charity and love, of generosity and kindness towards one another, that we share this blessing and grace of God we have received with each other, that we remind ourselves of the need to build a truly united and harmonious community of the faithful and Church, that we do not only love the Lord with all of our might and strength, but also our fellow brethren, as part of the same Body of Christ, the Church of God.

Let us all therefore grow ever more in our faith in the Lord, deepen our relationships with Him, and entrust ourselves to Him with ever greater commitment and devotion, with greater trust and desire to seek Him in each and every moments of our lives. May the Lord be with us all, and may He empower each and every one of us to live together as one united Church, one united community of the faithful. May God bless us all and our every good works and good endeavours. Amen.

Sunday, 25 July 2021 : Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Feast of St. James, Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

John 6 : 1-15

At that time, Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, near Tiberias, and large crowds followed Him, because of the miraculous signs they saw, when He healed the sick. So He went up into the hills and sat down there with His disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand.

Then lifting up His eyes, Jesus saw the crowds that were coming to Him, and said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread so that these people may eat?” He said this to test Philip, for He Himself knew what He was going to do. Philip answered Him, “Two hundred silver coins would not buy enough bread for each of them to have a piece.”

Then one of Jesus’ disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass there, so the people, about five thousand men, sat down. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were seated. He did the same with the fish, and gave them as much as they wanted.

And when they had eaten enough, He told His disciples, “Gather up the pieces left over, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with bread, that is, with pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

When the people saw the miracle which Jesus had performed, they said, “This is really the Prophet, the One Who is to come into the world.” Jesus realised that they would come and take Him by force to make Him King; so He fled to the hills by Himself.

Sunday, 25 July 2021 : Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Feast of St. James, Apostle (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Ephesians 4 : 1-6

Therefore, I, the prisoner of Christ, invite you, to live the vocation you have received. Be humble, kind, patient and bear with one another in love. Make every effort to keep among you, the unity of spirit, through bonds of peace. Let there be one body, and one Spirit, just as one hope is the goal of your calling by God. One Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God, the Father of all, Who is above all, and works through all, and is in all.

Sunday, 25 July 2021 : Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Feast of St. James, Apostle (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 144 : 10-11, 15-16, 17-18

All Your works will give You thanks; all Your saints, o Lord, will praise You. They will tell of the glory of Your kingdom and speak of Your power.

All creatures look to You to be fed in due season; with open hand, You satisfy the living, according to their needs.

Righteous is YHVH in all His ways, His mercy shows in all His deeds. He is near those who call on Him, who call trustfully upon His Name.

Sunday, 25 July 2021 : Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Feast of St. James, Apostle (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

2 Kings 4 : 42-44

A man came from Baal-shal-ishah bringing bread and wheat to the man of God. These were from the first part of the harvest, twenty loaves of barley and wheat. Elisha told him, “Give the loaves to these men that they may eat.”

His servant said to him, “How am I to divide these loaves among one hundred men?” Elisha insisted, “Give them to the men that they may eat, for YHVH says : ‘They shall eat and have some left over.’” So the man set it before them; and they ate and had some left, as YHVH had said.