Friday, 17 November 2017 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us are reminded that all of us must be vigilant at all times, for the coming of the Lord will come suddenly without warning, and even without signs or forewarning. It will catch and surprise many who are not ready for His coming, because all of them have been distracted by the many idols of this world.

In today’s first reading, taken from the Book of Wisdom, it was described how the people who worshipped the idols, pagan idols representing natural forces and wonders, such as worship of the sun, the moon, the stars, the mountains, the seas and the rivers, deserts, and many more of others, prevalent in numerous civilisations and cultures, have been preoccupied with the marvels of creation, and yet fail to recognise the Author of all of them, that is God.

That was why, instead of properly giving thanks or focusing to the One Who deserves all praise and honour, we mankind ended up being distracted by the marvels of the created things. And if we think that all these problems happened only in the past, then we are wrong. In our present day, the same issues still exist. If in the past it was the wonders of nature and creation, now we end up being distracted by our own human creations and worldly goods.

For example, our attachment to money and worldly possessions will end up distracting us from our faith, and turning us into immorality and greed. Many of us are distracted by our career and in that, our pursuit for more money, status, fame, worldly glory and possessions, that we have forgotten about the Lord our God. We spent so much time trying to gather for ourselves all these things that we end up spending little or no time for God.

That, brothers and sisters in Christ, is no different from the way how the people in those days worshipped the pagan idols and forgot about the Lord their God, as was evident in many occasions throughout the Old Testament. And that was why the Lord was angry at His people, because they have abandoned Him for those pagan idols, and many of us did not do any better with our own modern day idols.

What do we all, as Christians, need to do then? All of us need to reflect on each and every one of our lives, and what we have done, and how we have lived every single day. Have we been distracted in our way to the Lord by the many temptations in life? Have we done what we need to do in order to prepare for the Lord? In the Gospel today, we heard about how in the past, many people had been caught unprepared and unaware in sin, from the time of Noah to the time of Lot.

Those people who lived at the time of Noah and Lot lived wickedly, committing sins before God by immoral behaviours and by corrupting themselves with sinful acts, the worship of false and pagan idols, and many more. They rejected the Lord their God and settled for worldly pleasures and corruptions. That was how they met their downfall, when the great flood came at the time of Noah, and when the flames and sulfur rained down upon Sodom and Gomorrah, destroying all who refused to repent.

Having learnt of all these examples, how can we then avoid the fate of those who have gone to their just fate because of their sins? As Christians, all of us must put God first and foremost in our lives, to give our whole heart, love and attention to Him, and to no other. We cannot let the temptations of the idols present in our lives from distracting us in our journey towards God.

That said, money, power, fame and many other things I have mentioned are on their own not wicked or evil by their nature. These can be used for either good or evil purposes. Rather, it is our unhealthy attachment to them, our greed for them that led us to idolise these things and forget about the Lord our God. This is why many of us faltered in our faith, because we were not able to resist those temptations.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us strive to reorientate our lives and rethink our life choices and priorities. We should devote our time and effort towards God, and not to be too attached to worldly temptations of money, possessions, fame, glory and many others. And we should also perhaps follow the example of today’s saint, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, a renowned princess turned into a devout servant of God towards the end of her life.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary led a very virtuous and holy life, dedicated to God and to her family. Yet, she lost her husband at a relatively young age, and she became a widow. She encountered many difficulties and harsh treatments after that, and yet she persevered through all of them and continued to be charitable throughout the remainders of her life, caring for the poor and the sick, building hospitals and care houses for them.

The examples of St. Elizabeth of Hungary should be inspiration to all of us, that no matter what prestige, honour, glory and fame, monetary wealth or other things we have in life, we must first and foremost give our hearts to God, and love Him with all of our strength. Then, we also have to love our fellow brothers and sisters, particularly those who are in need of our help.

Let us all do our best, therefore, to become ever more devoted disciples of Our Lord, by practicing our faith with commitment throughout the rest of our lives. May He empower all of us to live courageously in His presence, and may we draw ever closer to Him. St. Elizabeth of Hungary, pray for us sinners as well. Amen.

Friday, 17 November 2017 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 17 : 26-37

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be on the day the Son of Man comes. In those days people ate and drank and got married; but on the day Noah entered the Ark, the flood came and destroyed them all. So it was in the days of Lot : people ate and drank, and bought and sold, and planted and built; but on the day Lot left Sodom, God made fire and sulfur rain down from heaven, which destroyed them all. So will it be on the day the Son of Man is revealed.”

“On that day, if you are on the rooftop, do not go down into the house to get your belongings; and if you happen to be in the fields, do not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to save his life will lose it, but whoever gives his life will be born again. I tell you, though two men are sharing the same bed, it might happen that one will be taken, and the other left; though two women are grinding meal together, one might be taken and the other left.”

Then they asked Jesus, “Where will this take place, Lord?” And He answered, “Where the body is, there too will the vultures gather.”

Friday, 17 November 2017 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious (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.

Friday, 17 November 2017 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Wisdom 13 : 1-9

The natural helplessness of humans is seen in their ignorance of God. The experience of good things did not lead them to the knowledge of Him Who is. They were interested in His works, but they did not recognise the Author of them.

Fire, wind, air, the sphere of the stars, rushing water and the lights in the sky were held as the rulers of the world. If, charmed by such beauty, they took them for gods, let them know how far superior is their sovereign. And if they were impressed by their power and activity, let them understand from this how much mightier is He Who formed them. For the grandeur and beauty of creatures lead us to ponder on their Author, greater and more magnificent.

No doubt these people are not to be blamed severely, for possibly they strayed though they searched for God and desired to find Him. They pondered over the created things that surrounded them and were captivated by the sight of such beauty. Even so they are not to be excused, for if they were able to explore the world, why did they not discover first the world’s Sovereign?

Monday, 16 October 2017 : 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 being called by God and believing in Him, through what we have heard and witnessed. In the Gospel passage today, Jesus the Lord compared the people of Israel at the time of His coming with the people of the city of Nineveh, to whom the prophet Jonah had been sent.

In the past week, we have been listening to the story of the prophet Jonah and how he initially was reluctant to follow God’s orders telling him to declare to the people of Nineveh the message, but eventually he obeyed and went to Nineveh. He told the city and the people of Nineveh that the entire city would be destroyed because of the sins and wickedness committed by them.

The entire city believed in the message of the prophet Jonah, and repented from their sins, turning from their wickedness, sincerely showing forth their repentance. And God forgave them their sins. He spared their city and the entire people from destruction. When the prophet Jonah was angry at God’s seemingly sudden turnaround and change of mind, He explained that after all, He loved each and every one of them, regardless of their sins.

The key message here is that, if only that they are willing to repent from their sins, then God will forgive them. But if they refused to repent and believe in the Lord’s message, and continued to walk in the path of sin, then God will reject them because of those sins. It was due to sins unconfessed and unrepented that many had fallen into damnation and into the fires of hell.

And why did Jesus make the comparison with the people of Nineveh? That is because while the people of Nineveh believed and repented. On the other hand, the people of Israel at the time of Jesus and their ancestors refused to believe in God, either through the prophets sent to remind the Israelites, or through the Lord Jesus Himself. They hardened their hearts and closed their minds against God.

That is why God was angry at the people of Israel, for not following the examples what the people of Nineveh had done. The people of Israel always took pride in themselves being the chosen people of God, and as the descendants of Abraham and Israel, and yet, the people of Nineveh, often considered as a pagan and unbeliever, belonging to the Assyrians who were often reviled in the history of Israel as the destroyer of the northern kingdom, in fact believed in God and repented.

What the Lord wants each and every one of us to know is that, for all of us, God has given the equal chance for redemption and forgiveness, to be reconciled with Him and to be transformed from the creatures of darkness and sin that we were once, into the creatures of the light. But it is ultimately up to us to make the conscious choice between obeying and following God, or to abandon God and walk in the path of sin.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us should heed the examples of our holy predecessors who have gone before us, devoting their lives for the sake of God and His people, loving God their Lord through all of their actions. St. Hedwig or St. Hedwig of Silesia was the wife and widow of the Duke of Silesia in what is now Poland, renowned for her great piety and love for her people, while St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was a holy woman renowned for her devotion to God, particularly to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

St. Hedwig was renowned for her great piety and exemplary religious life, devoting her time to care for her people, and she spent much of her time for charitable purposes and in the proper upbringing of her children. In fact, one of her sons and daughters is now considered as a candidate for sainthood himself, as two years ago the case for the beatification of Henry II the Pious, son of St. Hedwig was opened. St. Hedwig devoted herself completely to God after she was widowed, and joined religious life, to live in a life filled with prayer and commitment to God.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque meanwhile was a nun and mystic who received many visions from the Lord, showing her particularly the aspect of His Most Sacred Heart. It was through her visions that the now popular devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus was propagated and promoted among the faithful. She wrote extensively about her experiences and all that the Lord Jesus told her.

In her own way, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, as well as St. Hedwig had inspired countless numbers among the faithful and those who did not believe in the Lord alike, calling all of us to the salvation and reconciliation with God. Through these holy saints, God wants to call us and to give us a chance at redemption, and now the choice falls upon us. Are we willing to listen to God’s words speaking to us in the depths of our hearts?

May the Lord bless us with strength, courage and the ability to devote ourselves anew to our God, listening to Him and following Him in our lives. Let us turn our backs from sins and from all the wickedness that we have committed in this life. May the Lord be with us always, and may He empower us to be ever better disciples of His. Amen.

Monday, 16 October 2017 : 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 : 29-32

At that time, as the crowd increased, Jesus spoke the following words : “People of the present time are troubled people. They ask for a sign, but no sign will be given to them except the sign of Jonah. As Jonah became a sign for the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be a sign for this generation.”

“The Queen of the South will rise up on Judgment Day with the people of these times and accuse them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and here, there is greater than Solomon. The people of Nineveh will rise up on Judgment Day with the people of these times and accuse them, for Jonah’s preaching made them turn from their sins, and here, there is greater than Jonah.”

Monday, 16 October 2017 : 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 97 : 1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4

Sing to YHVH a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

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.