Wednesday, 21 June 2017 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture, which in essence is calling us to be sincere and true in our faith, that is not by putting a farce or falsehood in our devotion to God in our life. It is telling us that unless we are sincere in our devotion, by genuine actions that came from the heart, we cannot call ourselves as true Christians.

In the Gospel today, Jesus told the people to do their good deeds for the right intentions, that is to really serve the people of God, our fellow brethren, and therefore to glorify God and serve Him, and not our own personal desires and interests. He used the examples of prayers and fasting, which the Jewish people according to the laws of Moses were obliged to do, especially during certain times and periods in the year.

However, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who strictly enforced the application of the rules on prayers and fasting, they themselves did so not because they truly do them for the sake of God, but instead, it was to fulfil their own vanity, their own desire to be praised and adored for their piety and commitment to the laws of Moses. They showed their prayers and fasting in order to be looked favourably upon by other men and women.

That was why Jesus rebuked them and were angry at these people, who made their faith as if they were showpieces for their own personal benefits. He was angry because the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were not doing what they preached, and yet, they burdened the people to obey the same rules to the suffering of the people. They misled the people by their actions, and were not showing true discipleship as those whom the Lord had entrusted with the leadership and guidance over His people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, the same response of the Lord will be ours if we ourselves do not love Him, serve Him and be faithful to Him in a way that is much more than the way the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had done. That is, if we live our lives in this world, but we do not do what we believe, we do not act in the manner that we have preached and claimed to have faith in.

What are some of the examples, brethren? First of all, many of us Christians go to the Mass in the Church, not because we want to really be with the Lord and spend our time with Him. Rather, some of us wanted to outdo each other in piety, and showing our fellow friends or relatives just how devout we are, by our prayers and devotions. We turn our focus inwards upon ourselves, upon our ego and desires instead of what we need to focus on, that is our love and devotion for the Lord our God.

And then, we grumble and we put up grumpy faces when we fast, because we do not truly understand what it is that we fast for, or that as the Pharisees had done, we wanted to be praised for our piety. This is not what the Lord wants from us, brothers and sisters in Christ. What He wants from us is our sincere and genuine love, devotion and commitment, through our prayers and fasting, as well as through many other ways of how we can love Him, but which must be done with true desire from our hearts.

Let us all look at the examples of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, the holy saint whose feast we are commemorating today. St. Aloysius Gonzaga was born into a noble, rich and powerful family of the Gonzagas in the late Renaissance era Italy, a few hundred years ago. He was born as the firstborn of the noble family, a position of extreme honour, as the rule was that he was to inherit all the titles, prestige, wealth and properties that his father as an influential nobleman had possessed.

But as he grew up, even though he received numerous education and preparation of a typical nobleman of his era, St. Aloysius Gonzaga slowly grew to seek and long for the Lord, by all the experiences and the readings he had done, especially on the missionary activities of the Jesuits in the faraway lands. As his desire to serve the Lord grew, eventually, things came to the point when he openly declared his intention to become a Jesuit and thus, had to renounce all that he stood to inherit.

He encountered stiff opposition from his family, particularly from his father, who tried all he could to dissuade him and stop him from joining the religious order. Nevertheless, St. Aloysius Gonzaga remained firm in his commitment and was adamant in his desire to serve the Lord through what He had called him to be. In the end, he prevailed and he became a Jesuit.

He lived his life with devotion and commitment, serving the people of God through words and action, caring for the poor, the sick and the dying, even in the midst of a deadly plague which eventually took his life. St. Aloysius Gonzaga, his strong devotion and desire to love the Lord and to serve Him by serving His people, as well as his ability to resist the temptation of human glory, desire and all the other obstacles should be our inspiration in how we ourselves ought to live our lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all now therefore renew our commitment to live our lives full of faith, genuine faith to the Lord, just in the same manner as St. Aloysius Gonzaga and the many other holy saints and martyrs of God had done. May the Lord help us in our journey, so that we will be able to give our all to serve Him with all of our lives, with all of our might and all of our commitment. May the Lord bless us all. Amen.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Matthew 6 : 1-6, 16-18

At that time, “Be careful not to make a show of your good deeds before people. If you do so, you do not gain anything from your Father in heaven. When you give something to the poor, do not have it trumpeted before you, as do those who want to be noticed in the synagogues and in the streets, in order to be praised by people. I assure you, they have their reward.”

“If you give something to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your gift remains really secret. Your Father, Who sees what is kept secret, will reward you. When you pray, do not be like those who want to be noticed. They love to stand and pray in the synagogues or on street corners, in order to be seen by everyone. I assure you, they have their reward.”

“When you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father Who is with you in secret; and your Father Who sees what is kept secret will reward you. When you fast, do not put on a miserable face, as do the hypocrites. They put on a gloomy face, so that people can see they are fasting. I tell you this : they have been paid in full already.”

“When you fast, wash your face and make yourself look cheerful, because you are not fasting for appearances or for people, but for your Father, Who sees beyond appearances. And your Father, Who sees what is kept secret, will reward you.”

Wednesday, 21 June 2017 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White
Psalm 111 : 1-2, 3-4, 9

Alleluia! Blessed is the one who fears YHVH, who greatly delights in His commands. His children will be powerful on earth; the upright’s offspring will be blessed.

Wealth and riches are for his family; there, his integrity will remain. He is for the righteous a light in darkness; he is kind, merciful and upright.

He gives generously to the poor; his merits will last forever; and his head will be raised in honour.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
2 Corinthians 9 : 6-11

Remember : the one who sows meagerly will reap meagerly, and there shall be generous harvests for the one who sows generously. Each of you should give as you decided personally, and not reluctantly, as if obliged. God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to fill you with every good thing, so that you have enough of everything, at all times, and may give abundantly for any good work.

Scripture says : He distributed, he gave to the poor, his good works last forever. God, Who provides the sower with seed, will also provide him with the bread he eats. He will multiply the seed for you and also increase the interest on your good works. Become rich in every way, and give abundantly. What you give will become, through us, a thanksgiving to God.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in today’s Gospel, we heard the famous parable of our Lord Jesus Christ, the parable of the salt and the light, which He used in comparison to all of us His people, in how we ought to live our lives, filled with faith and commitment to Him, or else, we will be like those who claim to hold the faith, and yet have nothing in us to prove it.

Salt and light are two very important commodities at the time of Jesus, just as they are still important today. We may primarily know salt as a substance that gives our food its saltiness and good taste, but do you know that in the past, before refrigerators and electricity are available, salt is also a very important commodity used in the preservation of food products? Its saltiness preserves the food and kills any bacteria or dangerous pathogens that would otherwise grow in the food.

Similarly, light is very important for us, because without light, we cannot see anything. Our eyes can see the world and all the things around us simply because light is reflected off them and gets into our eyes, which is then processed by our brain and seen as a vision. Without light, vision is impossible. In our world today, inundated with various artificial light sources due to electricity and technology, it is often that we take light for granted.

But do you know that in the past, after the sun had set, which is our main source of light, there is really total darkness? There is no electricity or lightbulbs, or any artificial light source by whatever means? The only source of light at that time, was fire, and the ability of mankind in using fire was recognised as being very crucial in the development of our human societies.

Without the light, and also the heat, provided by the flame, using lighted candles, mankind could not do much at night time, when there was no sunlight. It was the light which allowed them to see in the darkness, dispelling the darkness and providing them with vision. It allowed people to travel safely at night and not veering off the road or falling into a ravine or into danger.

Therefore, Jesus our Lord used these two examples because they were very, very important to the people living at that time, referring to their usefulness. If they became useless by losing their prized properties, saltiness for the salt and light for the flame of the lighted candle, then they would be of no use and would be thrown away and discarded.

Thus, as Christians, as all those who believe in the Lord Jesus as our God and Saviour, all of us must not be complacent, or be ignorant of what we are supposed to do in our respective lives. We must not be found lacking of Christian virtues and live as if we are not Christian at all. Otherwise, we will indeed be like salt that has lost its saltiness, and light that no longer dispels darkness.

As Christians, we must be truly devoted to the Lord, in actions, words and deeds, so that in everything that we say and do, we glorify the Lord through them. Today, as we also celebrate the feast of St. Anthony of Padua, let us all also learn from his examples, as he was well known for his dedication and love to the people of God, especially to the poor, the downtrodden and all those who have lost hope.

He preached among the people, calling them to repent from their sinful ways, and he was so eloquent in his teachings that people came to him in droves, and believed in the Lord through him. He worked hard throughout his life, serving the poor and the sick, all those who have been suffering in this world. He did his best, in whatever way he could, to help the people of God, his fellow brothers and sisters.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, by looking at the examples of St. Anthony of Padua, all of us ought to be following his examples in our own lives. Let us all be true Christians in actions and deeds, doing whatever we can to love our God, and to love our brethren in the same way, as He had commanded us to do. Let us all be truly salt of the earth and light of the world, as our Lord called us to be.

May the Lord bless us all, and may He guide us all through in our actions, so that in everything that we say and do, we will always glorify the Lord and His holy Name, and will always be found worthy of His grace and love. Amen.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Matthew 5 : 13-16

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples and to the people, “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt has lost its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It has become useless. It can only be thrown away and people will trample on it.”

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a mountain cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and covers it; instead it is put on a lampstand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine before others, so that they may see the good you do and praise your Father in heaven.”

Tuesday, 13 June 2017 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White
Psalm 118 : 129, 130, 131, 132, 133, 135

Wonderful are Your decrees; my soul cannot but keep them.

As Your words unfold, light is shed, and the simple-hearted understand.

I gasp in ardent yearning for Your commandments that I love.

Turn to me then and be gracious as to those who love Your Name.

You promised to direct my steps; free my path from evil.

Favour me with Your smile and teach me Your statutes.