Wednesday, 16 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Virgins)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the matter of having genuine faith in God and to give judgment with the right intention in mind, so that as Christians we are truly filled with love, first of course for God and then secondly for our fellow brothers and sisters, and not to love ourselves above these as what many of us have often done.

It is our nature that we are selfish and self-loving, as the desires in our hearts and the ego and pride within us made us to seek our own satisfaction and the sense of fulfilment. And that is why we seek for all these worldly pleasures and comfort, desiring to be pleased and filled with all sorts of joy for our own benefits. And this often led us into causing, either intentionally or unintentionally, the sufferings of others.

That was what St. Paul spoke of as he wrote in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in the city of Rome. He spoke of those who put their own interests ahead of their obligation to serve God faithfully and justly, in their responsibility to be just and righteous in all of their actions. And this is related to what we have heard in our Gospel passage today as well, as we heard of the Lord rebuking the Pharisees for their inappropriate actions especially considering their very important position as the custodians of the Law and as teachers of the faith.

Many of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law took great pride in their privileged and highly respected status in the community, and they often looked down on those whom they deemed to be less worthy and more sinful than they were, such as the tax collectors and prostitutes, disabled and people with evil spirits and diseases in particular, seeing those people as being cursed by God and therefore were unworthy.

They judged others because they saw themselves as superior and in doing so they wanted to prove just how good they were in comparison to those whom they despised and had judged against. And this was why the Lord was unhappy with them because they failed to realise just how they themselves were sinners too. They should not act as if they were superior or better for in reality, they actually were equally sinful and unworthy.

The Lord wants us all to know that all of us are equally beloved by Him, and we should not be prejudiced or be biased in our attitudes and opinions towards others, but instead treat one another with love and genuine compassion from our hearts. For if God Himself has loved us so wonderfully and blessed us so greatly with His mercy and love no matter how great our sins had been, then how can we not love one another in the same way?

Today all of us are called to be humble and to get rid of our pride and ego, all the obstacles that often come in our way, in our faith journey and life. Unless we get rid off ourselves all these obstacles and wickedness in us, it may be difficult for us to be true disciples of Our Lord, as in the end, we will end up loving ourselves and being concerned about ourselves more than we love God and our fellow brethren as we should have.

That is why, on this day perhaps we should spend some time to reflect on the life of two saints whose lives can be inspiration for us how we should carry on living our lives from now on with genuine faith, love and devotion towards God. They are St. Hedwig of Silesia and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. St. Hedwig of Silesia was the Duchess of Silesia and later of Poland who was known for her great piety and devotion to God, her charitable acts and faithful life, while St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was renowned as the one who helped to make the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus to be as popular as it is today.

St. Hedwig of Silesia was a pious and dedicated wife, who had to endure many struggles in the noble courts and numerous plots against her family, both from external and internal sources. She was remembered for her many charitable actions and generosity to the poor and those who were suffering throughout the realm of her husband. Her personal piety and great humility in life were well known. She remained faithful and true to her faith, and after she was widowed, she entered into a monastery and devoted the rest of her life as a religious dedicated entirely to God.

Meanwhile, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was known for her visions of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, through which she received the revelation about the Lord and His love through His Most Sacred Heart, by which eventually the ever popular Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus came to be. St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was also known for her great piety and dedication to God throughout her life, despite of the many difficulties and challenges she herself had to face.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have here the example of two pious and holy women of God who devoted their lives to the Lord and have become inspiration for many others to follow. Are we then able to follow their examples as well and dedicate ourselves to God from now on with renewed zeal, faith and love? Let us all turn away from our sinful ways in our past and embrace from now on a renewed holiness in God, living our lives filled with love for God and for our fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord.

May the Lord continue to bless us all and guide us in our journey, and may He continue to be with us through our journeys in life, that through the intercessions of St. Hedwig of Silesia and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, we may be brought closer to God’s ever present love and compassionate mercy. Amen.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Virgins)

Luke 11 : 42-46

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “A curse is on you, Pharisees! To the Temple you give a tenth of all, including mint and rue and other herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. These ought to be practiced, without neglecting the other obligations.”

“A curse is on you, Pharisees, for you love the best seats in the synagogues and to be greeted in the marketplace. A curse is on you, for you are like tombstones of the dead which can hardly be seen; people do not notice them, and make themselves unclean by stepping on them.”

Then a teacher of the Law spoke up and said, “Master, when You speak like this, You insult us, too.” And Jesus answered, “A curse is on you also, teachers of the Law. For you prepare unbearable burdens and load them on the people, while you yourselves do not move a finger to help them.”

Wednesday, 16 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Virgins)

Psalm 61 : 2-3, 6-7, 9

My soul finds rest in God alone; from Him, comes my salvation. He alone, is my rock and salvation; with Him as my stronghold, I shall not be overcome.

Find rest in God alone, o my soul; from Him, comes my hope. He alone, is my rock and my salvation; with Him as my stronghold, I shall not be overcome.

Trust in Him at all times, my people; pour out your hearts before Him; God is our refuge.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Virgins)

Romans 2 : 1-11

Therefore, you have no excuse, whoever you are, if you are able to judge others. For, in judging your neighbour, you condemn yourself, for you practice what you are judging. We know, that the condemnation of God will justly reach those who commit these things, and do you think that by condemning others, you will escape from the judgment of God, you, who are doing the same?

This would be taking advantage of God, and His infinite goodness, patience and understanding; and not to realise that, His goodness is in order to lead you to conversion. If your heart becomes hard and you refuse to change, then you are storing for yourself a great punishment on the day of judgment, when God will appear as just Judge.

He will give each one his due, according to his actions. He will give everlasting life to those who seek glory, honour and immortality, and persevere in doing good. But anger and vengeance will be the lot of those who do not serve truth, but injustice. There will be suffering and anguish, for everyone committing evil, first the Jew, then the Greek.

But God will give glory, honour and peace to whoever does good, first, the Jew, then, the Greek, because one is not different from the other before God.

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.