Wednesday, 12 September 2018 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Most Holy Name of Mary)

1 Corinthians 7 : 25-31

With regard to those who remain virgins, I have no special commandment from the Lord, but I give some advice, hoping that I am worthy of trust by the mercy of the Lord.

I think this is good in these hard times in which we live. It is good for someone to remain as he is. If you are married, do not try to divorce your wife; if you are not married, do not marry. He who marries does not sin, nor does the young girl sin who marries. Yet they will face disturbing experiences, and I would like to spare you.

I say this, brothers and sisters : time is running out, and those who are married must live as if not married; those who weep as if not weeping; those who are happy as if they were not happy; those buying something as if they had not bought it, and those enjoying the present life as if they were not enjoying it. For the order of this world is vanishing.

Alternative reading (Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary)

Galatians 4 : 4-7

But when the fullness of time came, God sent His Son. He came born of woman and subject to the Law, in order to redeem the subjects of the Law, that we might receive adoption as children of God.

And because you are children, God has sent into your hearts the Spirit of His Son which cries out : Abba! That is, Father! You yourself are no longer a slave but a son or daughter, and yours is the inheritance by God’s grace.

Alternative reading (Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary)

Ephesians 1 : 3-6

Blessed be God, the Father of Christ Jesus our Lord, Who, in Christ, has blessed us from heaven, with every spiritual blessing. God chose us, in Christ, before the creation of the world, to be holy, and without sin in His presence.

From eternity He destined us, in love, to be His adopted sons and daughters, through Christ Jesus, thus fulfilling His free and generous will. This goal suited Him : that His loving-kindness, which He granted us His beloved might finally receive all glory and praise.

Thursday, 23 August 2018 : 20th 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, today we listened to the Scriptures, with the beautiful and very meaningful passages that are bringing us to contemplate on the importance of our proper internal disposition, in how we believe in God and in how we truly have that genuine faith in Him and not just merely a superficial and illusory commitment.

In the first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Ezekiel, we heard God calling upon His people, the Israelites who have been cast away from their ancestors’ land and went to exile in faraway lands. God wanted to love them again and gather them from their scattered places all around the world. He wanted them to once again become His people and that He become their God.

And this is through a change of attitude and conversion of hearts, that all those whom God called into their midst would have new hearts in them. This change of heart would result in a people whose hearts and minds were hardened and stubborn, always disobedient against God and His will, to be filled with a new love for God, and to be transformed into new beings of light, God’s own beloved ones.

In the Gospel passage today, the Lord alluded to the same intention through the parable which He related to His disciples and to the people listening to Him. He was using the example of a king who invited guests to his feast and yet, many of the people who were invited refused to come to his banquet. This represents those in the past, whom God had called to be with Him and to obey Him, and yet, they refused to believe and chose to rebel instead through sin.

All of them have received their just rewards, and they have been condemned by their own actions. But God is so filled with love for us all, that He desired for us to have the chance fo repent and to turn away from our sins. And that was why, in the parable the Lord used, He compared this with the king who asked his servants to go out and gather all those whom they were able to gather, to be in the banquet that he had prepared.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, each and every one of us have been called by God to be His followers, that is to be partakers in the heavenly banquet He has prepared for each one of us. But are we willing to come and be in the banquet of the Lord? Are we indeed ready to be in the heavenly banquet, to be at the presence of God Himself? Let us all now heed the last part of today’s Gospel passage to remind us that we need to be constantly ready for the Lord.

In the Gospel passage, the king came to one man who was not dressed in the proper garment for the feast, and asked him how he came into the venue. The man was sent out by the king and made to suffer because of his lack of preparation and ignorance of what needed to be done to be present at the banquet. Through this, the Lord reminded each one of us that while the Lord has called us to be part of His heavenly inheritance, but we must be prepared to meet Him and to be with Him.

And that means, all of us must have a genuine and committed faith in God, and we must do our very best to love God and to do our best in our every words and actions, to be worthy of God and to bring greater glory to Him. This is what the Lord wants from us, that is for us to be thoroughly changed and converted in heart, mind, soul and our whole being.

Therefore, we need to be wholly attuned to God and turning ourselves to Him, and in order to do so, we must begin from ourselves, from our actions, resisting the temptations to sin, and doing what is just and righteous in all of the things we say and do. And perhaps, we should model ourselves based on the examples and inspiration of St. Rose of Lima, the holy woman and saint whose feast we celebrate today.

St. Rose of Lima was known as the first saint of the New World, the American continent. St. Rose of Lima was remembered for her great piety, even from a very young age. She spent much time devoting herself through prayer and asceticism, committing herself to prayer and to merciful act of charity towards her brethren. She cared for others and loved God much more than she even loved or cared about herself.

St. Rose of Lima was such an inspiring example of faith that many people throughout the ages modelled themselves after her faith and dedication to the Lord. She has shown us what it means for us to be transformed in the heart, mind and soul, to be those whom the Lord had called to be His disciples. St. Rose of Lima reminds us that a life dedicated to God is our calling in life, and we have to strive our best, each and every day to be ever more faithful to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all no longer harden our hearts or minds, and allow God to enter into our lives, and transform us from our old ways of sin and disobedience to a new way of life. We are called to love God just as God has loved us all, and for us to devote ourselves just as his holy saints, including St. Rose of Lima had done. May the Lord be with us all, and may He continue to guide us in the way of truth. May God bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 23 August 2018 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Rose of Lima, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Virgins)

Matthew 22 : 1-14

At that time, Jesus continued speaking to the people in parables : “This story throws light on the kingdom of heaven : A king gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to call the invited guests to the banquet, but the guests refused to come.”

“Again, He sent other servants, instructing them to say to the invited guests, ‘I have prepared a banquet, slaughtered my fattened calves and other animals, and now, everything is ready. Come to the wedding!’ But they paid no attention and went away, some to their farms, and some to their work. Others seized the servants of the king, insulted them and killed them.”

“The king was furious. He sent his troops to destroy those murderers and burn their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is prepared, but the invited guests were not worthy. Go instead to the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding feast.'”

“The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, good and bad alike, so that the hall was filled with guests. The king came in to see the wedding guests, and he noticed a man not wearing a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in without the wedding clothes?'”

“But the man remained silent. So the king said to his servants, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Thursday, 23 August 2018 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Rose of Lima, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Virgins)

Psalm 50 : 12-13, 14-15, 18-19

Create in me, o God, a pure heart; give me a new and steadfast spirit. Do not cast me out of Your presence nor take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Give me again the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will show wrongdoers Your ways and sinners will return to You.

You take no pleasure in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt offering, You would not delight in it. O God, my sacrifice is a broken spirit; a contrite heart You will not despise.

Thursday, 23 August 2018 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Rose of Lima, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Virgins)

Ezekiel 36 : 23-28

I will make known the holiness of My great Name, profaned among the nations because of you; and they will know that I am YHVH, when I show them My holiness among you. For I will gather you from all the nations and bring you back to your own land. Then I shall pour pure water over you and you shall be made clean – cleansed from the defilement of all your idols.

I shall give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. I shall remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I shall put My Spirit within you and move you to follow My decrees and keep My laws. You will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you shall be My people and I will be your God.

Saturday, 11 August 2018 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us heard the readings of the Scriptures beginning with the Book of the prophet Habakkuk, in which we listened to God speaking to Habakkuk about how everything will happen just as the Lord wills it, in His own time and not in our time. It is God’s will that will be done and not ours, as God alone has the power and authority over the fate of all of us, and also over time and workings of this world.

The prophet Habakkuk pointed out something that many among us also often to question in our own hearts and minds, especially when we see injustice and wicked things happening around us. We may come to wonder why the Lord seems to be doing nothing when an injustice occurs to us, and when especially the poor and the weak are oppressed, ostracised and being persecuted, while the rich and the powerful had their way as they wanted.

Some of us even come to doubt that God is really actually present in our midst, or if He is present, whether He cares for us at all, if we see these kind of injustices and wicked deeds being performed in our midst. But what the Lord told the prophet Habakkuk is a reminder to each one of us is that, when we make this kind of question and statement on the Lord’s presence and action in our lives, we are actually putting a condition and demand on what we want to have in Our God.

God works in His own time and acts according to His own will, and not subject to our demands and desires. On the other hand, as a loving God and Father to all of us, He also hears our prayers and all of our requests that we made in those prayers. He is not ignorant or unaware of them at all, but in fact, He wants to help us and provide us with as much as He could give us.

But in the end of the day, we cannot put restrain or demand on what we want God to do for us. It is simply not right for us as the creature to demand what we want from our Creator. Rather, what we must have, is trust, and with trust, comes faith in the Lord, Our God. This is what the Lord Himself told the people, and also all of us, in our Gospel passage today.

At that occasion, the Lord told the people off because of their lack of faith. They were saying that they came to His disciples with the intention of having their sick ones healed from their diseases and bodily complaints such as epilepsy and paralysis, but the disciples were not able to do so. Why is that so? That is likely because they came to the disciples expecting them to heal their sick ones, but they did not have faith.

It was not the disciples who had the power and ability to heal the sick people, but rather God working through them, performing His work and miracles, that made those who were sick to be whole again. Probably the disciples themselves did not have enough faith and doubted the Lord, as St. Thomas, one of the Twelve Apostles had shown on several occasions in how he doubted the Lord’s truth and resurrection from the dead.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord Jesus used the example of a mustard seed in comparing the faith that the people had in God’s power and in His truth. Why is that so? That is because a mustard seed is a very small seed, which is very insignificant in size, but it can grow into a very large tree once grown. The Lord Jesus used this as a comparison to show how even a small amount of genuine faith that we have in Him, is sufficient, and with enough encouragement and guidance, this faith can grow greatly into one that is vibrant and exemplary.

But many of us are often lacking in faith, and we do not have trust in God. Instead, we trust in our own human abilities, powers, in our wealth and worldly possessions. We place a lot of focus on worldly achievements and prestige, that many of us end up putting God aside and sidelining Him in our pursuit for worldly achievements and glories. And that is also why we often judge things based on how successful they are in terms of worldly matters, rather than to see them from the eyes of faith.

That is why we end up being angry with God for apparently not answering our pleas or giving us what we desires and wants. That is because we are limiting God into our criteria of worldly success and achievements, and we judge things based on our perception of affluence and success. But this is not how God works, and He did what He had done, not because He wanted to please our desires and wants, but rather because it is His will to do so.

Now, let us all look at the example of St. Clare of Assisi, the saint whose feast we commemorate today. St. Clare of Assisi was remembered for her great piety and dedication to the Lord, giving her whole life to God and to the service of others through prayer and charitable works. She was particularly remembered for one miraculous occasion, when the place she was living in was under attack by the marauding forces of an army that came to invade that region.

The armies ransacked the whole place, looting and causing destruction everywhere, and they did not want to spare even the convent where St. Clare of Assisi was in. She was without any weapons or any means to defend herself, but she entrusted herself completely to the Lord, reaching out to the Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament, and as the enemies came barging into the place St. Clare was in, she lifted up the monstrance in which the Lord’s Real Presence was contained, up high, and immediately, all the enemy forces were brought to their knees.

They were brought to a great fear of the Lord’s Presence, and immediately left the whole place and town, one of the many proofs of God’s divine providence and the protection which He gives to all those who have been faithful to Him. Now, having heard of such a wondrous story of faith, are we able to do the same in our lives, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we able to show the same kind of complete trust and faith as St. Clare of Assisi had done?

May the Lord continue to strengthen our faith in our hearts, and may He continue to inspire us all to live with ever more commitment to walk in His path and to do His will, in every actions and deeds we do in life. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 11 August 2018 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 17 : 14-20

At that time, when Jesus and His disciples came to the crowd, a man approached Him, knelt before Him and said, “Sir, have pity on my son, who is an epileptic and suffers terribly. He has often fallen into the fire, and at other times into the water. I brought him to Your disciples but they could not heal him.”

Jesus replied, “O you people, faithless and misled! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus commanded the evil spirit to leave the boy, and the boy was immediately healed. Later, the disciples approached Jesus and asked Him privately, “Why could we not drive out the spirit?”

Jesus said to them, “Because you have little faith. I say to you : if only you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could tell that mountain to move from here to there, and the mountain would obey. Nothing would be impossible for you.”