Monday, 1 October 2018 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the account of the suffering of Job, in which this Biblical Job was a very rich man who was also very devoted to God, as an exemplary and righteous servant. Although according to Biblical scholars and studies, it is likely that Job was a fictional character, but the examples shown by Job, his sufferings and how he dealt with the suffering and eventually overcome it, is an archetype and example for our own respective lives.

We may have lots of questions on why God let Job to be crushed by Satan’s power and manipulations, as what we heard from the conversations between Satan and God in the beginning of the Book of Job. But if we look deeper at the real intention of God through this story of the Bible, and by looking at the entirety of the Book of Job from the beginning towards the end, when Job was vindicated by God, and given double the blessings he once had, we can see that it was never God’s intention to make us to suffer.

Instead, God loves each and every one of us so greatly, that He was willing to do whatever He could in order to bring us to salvation and liberation from all of our troubles. It was through sin that suffering has entered into our lives and into our beings. And sin came from the disobedience against the will of God, which began from the rebellion of Satan, because of his pride and greed, desiring to be like God, and then, through temptations, coming to us mankind.

It was the misuse of the freedom which God has given us which led us to experience suffering, because we do not follow the path which God has shown us. Suffering is caused by the desires and the pride that is within us, which often prevent us from truly being able to experience and realise God’s love and goodness present within us, that caused us to act in ways which lead us into disharmony, infighting, bickering, unhappiness and even anger and hatred against one another.

That is also in fact, the source of the unhappiness which was present in what we heard in the Gospel passage today, when the disciples of the Lord were arguing among themselves who was the most important and the best among them. They bickered and disagreed with each other and became unhappy at one another because of their own personal desires and wishes to be acknowledged as the better one, the superior disciple.

That was why they were also unhappy that someone else besides the disciples of the Lord were preaching and healing the people in His Name. It was because of their pride and their desire, that ended up causing them to be self-centred, exclusive and showing all the unbecoming attitudes that the Lord had to quickly address, by pointing out to them, that unless they become like a little child in their attitude and faith, they would not have any place with Him.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus also known as St. Therese of Lisieux, who was remembered for her famous ‘Little Way’, which she promoted as the way to reach out to the Lord and His salvation. This ‘Little Way’ of St. Therese is exactly what will cure us from the troubles facing us and our world today, and is in harmony with what Job in his account did before the Lord, that is to humble himself and accept his own mortality and insignificance.

As mentioned, suffering came about because of our inability to let go of our human and worldly desires and emotions. Through temptations, we always seek to find more gains for ourselves, and to place ourselves and our desires before anything else. But this is in fact a distraction that prevents us from being able to find our way to the Lord, and has caused many of us to falter and fail in our journey of life.

Job remained faithful through his long period of suffering and pain, because he trusted the Lord completely and did not think of himself and his possessions and things to be greater than the love which God Himself had given him. He said in the midst of his suffering, ‘Naked I have come from my mother’s womb, and therefore naked too shall I return.’, a clear show of his great humility and commitment to love God with all of his heart.

St. Therese of Lisieux was remembered for his great piety and prayerful life, through which she persevered the many challenges and sickness that troubled her for much of her life. St. Therese of Lisieux placed God before everything else, committing her whole life entirely to God. Through her ‘Little Way’, she sought to do and obey God’s will, one little thing and part for a time, for the greater glory of God.

St. Therese of Lisieux made herself small and insignificant before the Lord, but knowing that the Lord will pay attention to even the very smallest and least significant of His followers and disciples. Are we able to make ourselves small and insignificant before the Lord as well? If we want to do so, then we should follow in the footsteps of Job and St. Therese of the Child Jesus in their faith and in how they lived their lives with complete love for God.

May the Lord help us that we may be able to live our lives filled with zeal and renewed dedication to Him. May He empower us all to be inspired by the faith which Job has shown to Him, despite the challenges and suffering He encountered in life. Let us all shun pride and greed in our hearts, and seek to turn to God from now on, with a new faith and commitment. May God bless us all, now and evermore. Amen.

Monday, 1 October 2018 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 9 : 46-50

At that time, one day, the disciples were arguing about which of them was the most important. But Jesus knew their thoughts, so He took a little child and stood him by His side. Then He said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in My Name, welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me, welcomes the One Who sent Me. And listen : the one who is found to be the least among you all, is the one who is the greatest.”

Then John spoke up, “Master, we saw someone who drives out demons by calling upon Your Name, and we tried to forbid him, because he does not follow You with us.” But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him. He who is not against you is for you.”

Monday, 1 October 2018 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 16 : 1, 2-3, 6-7

Hear a just cause, o YHVH, listen to my complaint. Give heed to my prayer, for there is no deceit on my lips.

Let my defence come forth from You; Your eyes see what is right. You have probed my heart, searched me at night, tested me by fire, and You have seen no wickedness in me.

I call on You, You will answer me, o God; incline Your ear and hear my word. For You do wonders for Your faithful, You save those fleeing from the enemy as they seek refuge at Your right hand.

Monday, 1 October 2018 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Job 1 : 6-22

One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before YHVH, and Satan came with them. YHVH asked Satan, “Where have you been?” Satan answered, “Going up and down the earth, roaming about.”

YHVH asked again, “Have you noticed My servant Job? No one on earth is as blameless and upright as he, a man who fears God and avoids evil.” But Satan returned the question, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not built a protective wall around him and his family and all his possessions? You have blessed and prospered him, with his livestock all over the land. But stretch out Your hand and strike where his riches are, and I bet he will curse You to Your face.”

YHVH said to Satan, “Very well, all that he has is in your power. But do not lay a finger upon the man himself.” So Satan left the presence of YHVH. One day, while his sons and daughters were feasting in the house of their eldest brother, a messenger came to Job and said, “Your oxen were plowing, and your donkeys were grazing nearby when the Sabaeans came and carried them off. They killed the herdsmen. I alone escaped to tell you.”

While he was still speaking, another messenger came, “God’s fire fell from the sky and burnt all your sheep and the shepherds as well. I alone have escaped to tell you.” He had hardly finished speaking when another messenger arrived, “Three raiding teams of Chaldeans have killed your servants and carried off your camels. I alone have escaped to tell you.”

He was still speaking when another messenger came and said to Job, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking in the house of their eldest brother when suddenly a great wind blew across the desert and struck the house. It collapsed on the young people and they all died. I alone have escaped to tell you.”

In grief Job tore his clothes and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground and worshipped, saying, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, naked shall I return. YHVH gave, YHVH has taken away. Blessed be His Name!”

In spite of this calamity, Job did not sin by blaspheming God.

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.”