Wednesday, 25 August 2021 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Louis, and St. Joseph Calasanz, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints and Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are always ever reminded of the Lord’s calling on us to be righteous and good, to be faithful and committed to Him, no matter what happens and in what circumstances. We have to resist the temptations to follow our desires and to fall into the traps set by the evil ones, all the those seeking to mislead us in our journey of faith and life.

That is why as we heard the words of St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in the city of Thessalonica in our first reading today, we are called to reflect on our nature as Christian to be holy and good, to be obedient to God’s will and to follow Him in all of our ways. The Apostle reminded the faithful there to be righteous and to adopt a life that is becoming of their identity and nature as Christians, and we are therefore called to do the same as well.

St. Paul’s words echoed clearly together with the words of the Lord in our Gospel today, as we heard the continuation of the Lord’s laments against the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, as He rebuked them for their hypocrisy and lack of genuine faith in God. The Lord spoke in this way as those Pharisees who had imposed their version of the Law and its harsh and uncompromising nature on the people of God had misled the faithful into thinking that it is the right way of obeying God’s Law.

And all these happened while they themselves did not truly obey the Lord’s commandments in their hearts, as their obedience and observance of the Law was merely superficial and with the desire and intention to be praised for their actions and piety. Their preoccupation with vanity and worldly greatness led them astray, and thus the Lord rebuked those leaders who had failed to appreciate the true nature of the Law and who refused to listen to the truth that God Himself has brought into the world, through Christ.

All in all, as we heard these words of the Scripture, we are all called to follow the Lord with sincere devotion and genuine love for Him, and not just merely paying lip service or treating our faith as merely a formality. Instead, we should integrate our faith in our lives, within our every actions and deeds, in every words we speak, and in every interactions we made with our fellow men, we should show that we are God’s people, His faithful ones, as Christians through and through in all things.

Are we able and willing to do this, brothers and sisters in Christ? God has called on us all to follow Him, and we should respond to Him with faith, and we should strive to be exemplary in our way of life, that our interior disposition and not just our external appearance show that we truly belong to Him. In all things, let us be inspiration for one another, and help our fellow brothers and sisters to walk faithfully in the path that God has shown us. And we should also look up to inspiration ourselves, from the two great saints whose feasts we are celebrating today.

First of all, St. Louis, also known as St. Louis IX, King of France was one of the great Medieval kings of Christendom, and one of the few kings that were canonised as a saint. St. Louis was remembered during his long reign as a great and holy king, as a ruler who was always caring for the well-being of his people, always doing his best to improve their livelihood and strengthening the foundations of the state while reforming the society and governance of the nation.

And as a most faithful Christian King, St. Louis also dedicated a lot of effort to support the Church and its growth, ensuring the unity of the faithful, the eradication of heresies and divisions within the Church, encouragement of missionaries to lead the people to the truth, establishment of parishes and monasteries among many others. And the King himself led a great Crusade to the Holy Land which he unfortunately was unable to complete, as he passed away on the way in Tunis.

Nonetheless, we have seen the great dedication with which St. Louis had given himself, for the betterment of the people entrusted to him and for the benefit of the Church. Then, the other saint whose feast we are celebrating today, namely St. Joseph Calasanz similarly also showed us all what it means to be a dedicated Christian in all things, as he was remembered for his commitment to the poor and the needy, in his work in establishing free education to the poor, and as a priest who founded the Order of the Poor Clerics Regular, also known as the Piarists.

St. Joseph Calasanz and his role in founding the Piarists contributed immensely to the establishment of free education and better schools and opportunities for the poor children, and many of these were helped by the loving care showed by the Piarist priests and others who had contributed, inspired by the examples set by St. Joseph Calasanz. This saint had done things that were not well accepted at his time, and nonetheless, he still did his best, giving his all to the mission and calling he has embraced.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we willing to follow the examples set by these two most faithful saints of God? Are we willing to listen to the Lord and walk ever more devotedly in His path from now on? This is our calling as Christians, and we should embrace it most wholeheartedly, and not to give in to the temptations of our desires and pride, or to give in to fears, doubts or uncertainties. Let us all trust in the Lord always, and be His genuine and loving witnesses in our world today, in everything we say and do, even in the smallest of things. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 25 August 2021 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Louis, and St. Joseph Calasanz, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints and Priests)

Matthew 23 : 27-32

At that time, Jesus said to the people and to His disciples, “Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, beautiful in appearance; but, inside, there are only dead bones and uncleanness. In the same way, you appear religious to others, but you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness within.”

“Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets, and decorate the monuments of the righteous. You say : Had we lived in the time of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the blood of the prophets. So, you, yourselves, confess to be the descendants of those who murdered the prophets.”

“And now, finish off what your ancestors began!”

Wednesday, 25 August 2021 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Louis, and St. Joseph Calasanz, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints and Priests)

Psalm 138 : 7-8, 9-10, 11-12ab

Where else could I go from Your Spirit? Where could I flee from Your presence? You are there, if I ascend the heavens; You are there, if I descend to the depths.

If I ride on the wings of the dawn, and settle on the far side of the sea, even there, Your hand shall guide me, and Your right hand shall hold me safely.

Shall I say, “Let darkness hide me, I prefer the night as my light?” But darkness, for You, is not dark.

Wednesday, 25 August 2021 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Louis, and St. Joseph Calasanz, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints and Priests)

1 Thessalonians 2 : 9-13

Remember our labour and toil; when we preached the Gospel, we worked day and night, so as not to be a burden to you. You are witnesses, with God, that we are holy, just and blameless toward all of you who now believe. We warned each of you, as a father warns his children; we encouraged you, and urged you to adopt a way of life worthy of God, Who calls you to share His own glory and kingdom.

This is why we never cease giving thanks to God for, on receiving our message, you accepted it, not as human teaching, but as the word of God. That is what it really is, and, as such, it is at work in you who believe.

Tuesday, 25 August 2020 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Louis, and St. Joseph Calasanz, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints and Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today through the Scripture passages all of us are reminded to keep our hope and focus on the faithfulness and the promises of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the eternal glory and new life He has promised us, and to remain firm in our path, called as Christians to walk in God’s path, not to be deterred by fear and uncertainty, or by false teachings and erroneous ideas.

Instead, we must adhere closely to what the Lord had taught us through His Church, obeying the Law with our hearts and minds, with sincerity and honesty, that we are truly faithful in all things according to God’s will. And through our Gospel passage today, we have also been reminded not to be like the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law in how they acted and in how they practiced their faith.

Contextually, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were those that were very particular on the way the Law of God was practiced by the people, and many of them were mostly concerned with the way the Law was obeyed, as they held a very strict way of interpreting the Law and followed the Law to the letter, enforcing others to follow the Law and obey its tenets in the manner that they prescribed.

But the Lord criticised and rebuked these among the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law with the woes He pronounced to them, reminding all of us that this is not the way that we ought to follow or practice the Law of God in our lives. The Law of God is not to be practiced by the letter only, but by both the letter and the spirit of the Law. And what does this exactly mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means we do not just pay lip service and blindly obey the Law without even understanding the meaning, purpose and significance of the Law of God.

For example, many of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law enforced a very strict interpretation and obedience to the Law, to the smallest details in how they were to be obeyed, but in their obsession with the way how the Law is to be lived and observed, they forgot and misunderstood the Law’s true purpose and meaning. The observance became for many, mostly a formality and even a chore, as they were focused on the petty details of the Law rather than why they ought to be faithful and obey the Law.

That is exactly what happened if we just focus on the ‘letter’ of the Law and not understanding or appreciating the ‘spirit’ of the Law. And in the end, such observance of the Law and actions are meaningless if not accompanied properly with the desire and understanding from the heart, mind and soul. What it means is that, for us to be truly obedient to God and to be faithful, is to follow the Lord wholeheartedly and to love Him with all of our heart, such as is the purpose and intention of the Law of God.

In our first reading today, St. Paul told the faithful in Thessalonica exactly this point, that every one of us should remain firm in our faith in God, and not be swayed by worldly temptations and false leads from those who wanted to achieve their own ambitions and mislead us from the path of truth. That is why, we must not follow the misguided path of many of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, many of whom used the Law as means to promote themselves and their own agenda rather than genuine dedication to God.

How do we then live our lives with faith, brothers and sisters in Christ? This is where then we should look at the examples set by our predecessors, those who have been deemed authoritatively by the Church as being worthy of praise and veneration as saints and blesseds. And today in particular, we remember the memory of two saints, in their lives and dedication to the Lord, namely St. Louis, King of France, and St. Joseph Calasanz, a holy priest of God.

St. Louis, also known as King Louis IX of France, was one of the greatest Medieval kings of France, remembered for his great piety and dedication to God, his righteous and good rule over his people. St. Louis was committed to the betterment of his people’s livelihood, exercising justice and prudence over his rule and actions, and helped to strengthen his country in faith as well as in prosperity through his long and just reign as king.

St. Louis was pious and dedicated to God, and he showed his subjects and people true Christian leadership, leading the people down the right path, reforming the government and the Church, and making everyone closer to God through their renewed faith. St. Louis also participated in the Crusades to reclaim the Holy Land from infidels and those who persecuted Christians and pilgrims. Throughout his life, St. Louis has shown us what it means to be exemplary in faith.

Meanwhile, St. Joseph Calasanz was a renowned and dedicated pries who spent much of his ministry in reaching out to the homeless and those who were hungry and suffering, those who were without education and care. It was not easy as there were many challenges that St. Joseph Calasanz had to overcome during all of his efforts. He continued to serve the people with dedication and also spent a lot of time to rejuvenate many people in the faith.

St. Joseph Calasanz was particularly remembered for his efforts in extending education to all people, including especially the poor and those who usually had not been able to attain any education previously, as at that time in particular, education was mainly available only for the rich and privileged members of the community. To this extent, St. Joseph Calasanz taught many people on various matters, helping them to gain the important knowledge and make a difference to their lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, both St. Louis and St. Joseph Calasanz have shown us how we as Christians can live our lives and realising the Law of God through genuine commitment and the spending of efforts to love God, first and foremost before all else, and then to love our fellow brothers and sisters in the same manner. They have shown us what we ourselves can do in serving the Lord as good and committed Christians.

Now, are we willing and able to commit ourselves, our time and effort to do this? God has called on each and every one of us to follow Him, and therefore, let us all respond to His call with faith, and do what we can in our lives to serve Him, to glorify Him and to draw ever closer to Him through righteousness and justice, through obedience and understanding of God’s Law and commandments. May God be with us always and guide us through life. Amen.

Tuesday, 25 August 2020 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Louis, and St. Joseph Calasanz, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints and Priests)

Matthew 23 : 23-26

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You do not forget the mint, anise and cumin seeds when you demand the tenth of everything; but then, you forget what is most fundamental in the Law : justice, mercy and faith! You should have done these things without neglecting the others. Blind guides! You strain out a mosquito, but swallow a camel.”

“Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You fill the plate and the cup, with theft and violence, and then pronounce a blessing over them. Blind Pharisee! Purify the inside first, then the outside, too, will be purified.”

Tuesday, 25 August 2020 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Louis, and St. Joseph Calasanz, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints and Priests)

Psalm 95 : 10, 11-12a, 12b-13

Say among the nations, “YHVH reigns!” He will judge the peoples with justice.

Let the heavens be glad, the earth rejoice; let the sea and all that fills it resound; let the fields exult and everything in them.

Let the forest, all the trees, sing for joy. Let them sing before YHVH Who comes to judge the earth. He will rule the world with justice, and the peoples, with fairness.

Tuesday, 25 August 2020 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Louis, and St. Joseph Calasanz, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints and Priests)

2 Thessalonians 2 : 1-3a, 14-17

Brothers and sisters, let us speak about the coming of Christ Jesus, Our Lord, and our gathering to meet Him. Do not be easily unsettled. Do not be alarmed by what a prophet says, or by any report, or by some letter said to be ours, saying, the day of the Lord is at hand. Do not let yourselves be deceived, in any way.

To this end He called you, through the Gospel we preach, for He willed you, to share the glory of Christ Jesus, Our Lord. Because of that, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold to the traditions that we taught you, by word or by letter. May Christ Jesus, Our Lord, Who has loved us, may God Our Father, Who, in His mercy, gives us everlasting comfort and true hope, strengthen you.

May He encourage your hearts and make you steadfast in every good work and word.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Louis, and St. Joseph Calasanz, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the Lord rebuking the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law of their lack of true faith and devotion to the Lord as well as their hypocrisy, acting as if they were just and faithful, whereas in fact, they were rotten on the inside, maintaining only good appearances and reputation to be praised and honoured by men, for their supposed good faith.

The clear message which all of us should take note of is that, true faith comes from the inside, and it comes with genuine and sincere dedication of oneself to the Lord, and not just maintaining good appearances and good facade for the sake of viewing, so that others may see us and praise us. That indeed is not something bad, and indeed, it is necessary that we too show the faith in us through how we behave and how we live our lives, but if we have no goodness and faith inside of us, then we truly have nothing.

The first reading today showed us how St. Paul in his interactions with the faithful in the city of Thessalonica explained how he and his fellow disciples of the Lord ministered to the people of God in various means, ministering to them in body and spirit, providing especially consolation and care for the soul, tendering care and provided for them that thy have enough in everything.

We cannot be truly faithful if we do not truly love God in our hearts, and if have no love for one another, which is the essence of the Law which God had given to us all mankind, for us to emulate and to follow. The Law of God should not be misinterpreted, misunderstood and worse, misused, to be a tool of oppression or something of mere monotony by those who fail to understand the true importance of the Law.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law during Jesus’ time professed to be faithful because they deemed themselves as the only ones who were able to commit themselves to obey the entirety of the so-called laws of Moses, which is the entirety of the laws and commandments that God had given, but then on top of those, there were many other laws decided and added through the ages to complement what had been given.

But they were so obsessed and focused on those laws that eventually many if not most of them enforced such laws and observed them because they thought that they had to do so. In the end, many of them did not understand what they were doing, and they were blindly following the law as they deemed fit. And worse still, they condemned others when they saw that these others did not follow what they had done.

That is not true faith, and we indeed should take note not to fall into the same situation. Let us all learn from the examples of the two saints whose life and memory we are celebrating today on their feast day. They are St. Louis, King of France, also known as St. Louis IX, one of the few canonised kings, and St. Joseph Calasanz, a holy priest hailing from Spain, known for his dedication to Catholic education.

St. Louis IX was known to be a very good and dedicated king, who put his people above everything else, and who led an exemplary life in faith, supporting the Church and the institutions of the faith, building churches and schools to help the people and especially the poor to be closer to the Lord their God. St. Louis IX helped to strengthen the Church and the faith, opposing many forms of vices and oppositions to the ways of the Lord.

St. Louis IX prohibited sinful and worldly activities such as prostitution, gambling, simony and many other vices that had penetrated deep into the society and even within the Church. He also ensured that justice was upheld in the society, ensuring those who were innocent did not receive unjust punishment and those who were to be blamed, received their just punishment.

St. Louis IX was also deeply devoted in the advancement of the cause of the Faith, and he devoted himself to a faithful Crusade against the godless and the faithless, to help liberate the Holy Land and the Holy City of Jerusalem after he was healed from an illness and made a vow to launch a Crusade should he be healed. Nevertheless, God had other plans, and He called St. Louis IX to His side while he was out there fighting in the Name of God, a faithful servant to the end.

Meanwhile, St. Joseph Calasanz was a Spanish priest who went on to spend most of his time in Rome, the heart of Christendom, where he ministered to the faithful and many of the poor and the less fortunate of the society there. He opened schools and many other institutions designed to help the destitute and all those who had no opportunity at education and those who were ostracised by the society.

St. Joseph Calasanz showed by his numerous works and devotions to the people of God, that there are so many things that we all can do to help our brethren who are suffering around us, and there are even more things we can do to help them in their lives so that they can have a better life. Together with St. Louis IX, they have shown us the way to live as a faithful disciple of the Lord.

Let us all therefore from now on dedicate ourselves anew, to be true followers of our Lord, by showing it in our action and showing deep and genuine faith to the Lord, because we love Him and all that He created, and not just because we seek good appearances or human praise, or because we obey as we were told to do so. Let us all be truly faithful and devoted to the Lord our God in all things. God bless us all. Amen.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Louis, and St. Joseph Calasanz, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Matthew 23 : 23-26

At that time, Jesus said to the crowds and to His disciples, “Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You do not forget the mint, anise and cumin seeds when you demand the tenth of everything, but then you forget what is most fundamental in the Law : justice, mercy and faith. These you must practice, instead of neglecting them. Blind guides! You strain out a mosquito, but swallow a camel.”

“Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You fill the plate and the cup with theft and violence, and then pronounce a blessing over them. Blind Pharisee! Purify the inside first, then the outside too will be purified.”