Sunday, 19 September 2021 : Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 9 : 30-37

At that time, after leaving the place where He cast out evil spirit from a deaf and dumb boy, Jesus and His disciples made their way through Galilee, but He did not want people to know where He was because He was teaching His disciples. And He told them, “The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill Him, but three days after He has been killed, He will rise.”

The disciples, however, did not understand these words and they were afraid to ask Him what He meant. They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, Jesus asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they did not answer, because they had been arguing about who was the greatest.

Then He sat down, called the Twelve and said to them, “If someone wants to be first, let him be last of all and servant of all.” Then He took a little child, placed him in their midst, and putting His arms around him, He said to them, “Whoever welcomes a child such as this in My Name, welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me, welcomes not Me but the One Who sent Me.”

Sunday, 19 September 2021 : Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

James 3 : 16 – James 4 : 3

Wherever there is jealousy and ambition, you will also find discord, and all that is evil. Instead, the wisdom that comes from above is pure and peace-loving. Persons with this wisdom show understanding, and listen to advice; they are full of compassion and good works; they are impartial and sincere. Peacemakers, who sow peace, reap a harvest of justice.

What causes these fights and quarrels among you? Is it not your cravings, that make war within your two selves? When you long for something you cannot have, you kill for it, and when you do not get what you desire, you squabble and fight. The fact is, you do not have what you want, because you do not pray for it.

You pray for something, and you do not get it, because you pray with the wrong motive, of indulging your pleasures.

Sunday, 19 September 2021 : Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 53 : 3-4, 5, 6 and 8

By Your Name, o God, save me; You, the Valiant, uphold my cause. Hear my prayer, o God; listen to the words of my mouth.

Strangers are against me – the ruthless seek my life; they have no regard for God.

See, God is my Helper; the Lord upholds my life. Freely will I offer sacrifice to You, and praise Your Name, o YHVH, for it is good.

Sunday, 19 September 2021 : Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Wisdom 2 : 12a, 17-20

Let us set a trap for the Righteous, for He annoys us and opposes our way of life. Let us see the truth of what He says and find out what His end will be. If the Righteous is a Son of God, God will defend Him and deliver Him from His adversaries.

Let us humble and torture Him to prove His self-control and test His patience. When we have condemned Him to a shameful death, we may test His words.

Saturday, 18 September 2021 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard the words of the Lord in the Sacred Scriptures speaking to us with regards to the need for us to follow the Lord with all sincerity and commitment that we should have in obeying His will and commandments. We have to make good use of all the gifts and abilities, the opportunities and blessings that He has given to us. Each and every one of us have been granted the gifts of faith from God, which He had sown in us, awaiting for us to respond to them and to allow them to grow in us.

In our first reading today, the Apostle St. Paul has mentioned in his Epistle to St. Timothy, about the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ, which he and the other Apostles and all the disciples and the followers of the Lord have preserved and stood up for. St. Paul reminded St. Timothy as well as the other members of the Church that all of them ought to remain faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the whole world and the One true King of all, the One Who has come into the world as the perfect manifestation of God’s love for His people, that is all of us.

Then, in our Gospel passage today, we heard from the Gospel of St. Luke on the account of the Lord teaching His disciples and the people using the parable of the sower, the famous parable that I am sure many of us are very familiar with. In that particular parable, a sower came bearing seeds to be sown, and he scattered the seeds randomly in places, and such that the seeds ended up in completely different places and conditions, from the roadside and rocky places unsuitable for any plant growth, to the most fertile soils that yielded many rich returns to the sower.

As the Lord explained it during His discourse as we heard in our Gospel passage today, the parable of the sower is a clear reference to the Lord and His work among us all in this world, the field of the Lord and the place of His toils and labours. The Lord has sowed His seeds among all of us, the seeds of the Word of God, the truth and the faith that He has planted in us, in each and every one of the children of mankind. He has also given us many gifts, talents and abilities, opportunities and other things.

Those seeds that fell by the roadside represent those who did not even allow the Lord to speak to them, or impart His Word of truth to them, and therefore the seeds of faith were snatched from them by the evil one and his agents before they even had the chance to take root and grow in us, just as the birds of the sky in the parable came and eat those seeds. Similarly, those seeds that did land on the rocky ground, although they managed to germinate and grow, but very quickly they dry up and die, as they did not have the right conditions to grow well.

The seeds that fell among the thistles and brambles managed to germinate and grow into young plants, but the thistles and brambles, which are weeds, compete against them for nutrients and water, and other resources, and hence, as the thistles and brambles grow around the saplings, the young plants could not grow and compete against the weeds, which often grow very quickly and can easily outcompete other plants growing together with them.

As the Lord mentioned, that represents those who has allowed the Lord’s Word and truth to come into them, but yet, they allowed the temptations of the world, of worldly desires and glory, among many other things to distract them and to keep them away from the Lord and His salvation and grace. And the same can happen to us if we allow ourselves to be swayed by the temptations of our flesh, of worldly desires, of fame and ambition, glory, wealth, power and many other things.

Instead, all of us are called to be like the case when the seeds fell on rich and fertile soil, where the seeds germinated well, grew well and eventually returned a massive produce manyfold of the original seeds that were sowed there. That is what we are all expected to be, brothers and sisters in Christ, that is to bear rich fruits of our faith, by our every actions and words, by our every deeds and interactions with one another, in our lives that we lead an exemplary life focused on God.

And how do we do that? Often, it does not require us to do amazing or wonderful things. Instead, we should aspire and strive to do our best in even the simplest and most mundane thing in life, in every little things we say and do, in our daily interactions with one another, in our habits and actions, with our relatives and friends, and even with all those whom we encounter throughout life. We are all called to be righteous in all things, and we should be true disciples of the Lord in words just as in deeds. Are we willing then to commit ourselves in this manner, brothers and sisters in Christ?

Let us all discern our path in life and the actions that we ought to take as Christians, as those who believe in the Lord. Let us all ponder on how we can better live our lives as the followers of Christ. May the Lord continue to be with us in our journey and help us to find our way to Him, and may He strengthen us with the courage to remain faithful at all times to the Lord and be fruitful in our lives. May God bless us always, in our every good works and endeavours. Amen.

Saturday, 18 September 2021 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Luke 8 : 4-15

At that time, as a great crowd gathered, and people came to Jesus from every town, He began teaching them with a story : “The sower went out to sow the seed. And as he sowed, some of the seed fell along the way, was trodden on, and the birds of the sky ate it up.”

“Some seed fell on rocky ground; and no sooner had it come up than it withered, because it had no water. Some seed fell among thorns; the thorns grew up with the seed and choked it. But some seed fell on good soil and grew, producing fruit, a hundred times as much!” And Jesus cried out, “Listen then, if you have ears to hear!”

The disciples asked Him, “What does this story mean?” And Jesus answered, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God. But to others it is given in the form of stories, or parables, so that, seeing, they may not perceive; and hearing, they may not understand.”

“Now, this is the point of the parable : The seed is the word of God. Those along the wayside are people who hear it; but immediately, the devil comes and takes the word from their minds, for he does not want them to believe and be saved. Those on the rocky ground are people who receive the word with joy; but they have no root; they believe for a while, and give way in time of trial.”

“Among the thorns are people who hear the word, but, as they go their way, they are choked by worries, riches, and the pleasures of life; they bring no fruit to maturity. The good soil, instead, are people who receive the word, and keep it, in a gentle and generous mind, and, persevering patiently, they bear fruit.”

Saturday, 18 September 2021 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Psalm 99 : 2, 3, 4, 5

Serve YHVH with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.

Know that YHVH is God; He created us, and we are His people, the sheep of His fold.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving, His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His Name.

For YHVH is good; His love lasts forever; and His faithfulness, through all generations.

Saturday, 18 September 2021 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

1 Timothy 6 : 13-16

Now, in the presence of God, Who gives life to all things, and of Jesus Christ, Who expressed before Pontius Pilate the authentic expression of faith : preserve the revealed message to all. Keep yourself pure and blameless, until the glorious coming of Christ Jesus, our Lord, Who God will bring about at the proper time : He, the Magnificent Sovereign, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

To Him, alone, immortal, Who lives in unapproachable light, and Whom no one has ever seen or can see, to Him, be honour and power, forever and ever. Amen!

Friday, 17 September 2021 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church and St. Hildegard of Bingen, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Holy Virgins)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Sacred Scriptures, we are called to follow the Lord and be His disciples in the most sincere way possible. We should commit ourselves to Him just as His disciples and followers had done, as we heard how the Lord’s disciples, the Twelve and the women who always kept the Lord company followed Him wherever He went, doing His will and all the works for His glory.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to St. Timothy of the reminder that St. Paul the Apostle gave to his godson, St. Timothy, one of the earliest successors of the Apostles as the first of the bishops with regards to the concerns on the false teachings and false guidance from those who had promoted their own distorted ideas, as there were, even then, in the earliest days of the Church, the seeds of divisions and dissensions placed by the devil and his forces, in trying to destroy the Church and the faithful people of God.

St. Paul spoke of how there were those who pursued their own agenda and promoted their own flawed ideas that did not have the fullness of truth or Divine inspiration as the Lord’s disciples, the Apostles and their fellow co-workers had received. They instead caused confusion and divisions for their own glory and worldly pursuit, masquerading as a teacher of the faith while being the agent of the evil one, who used them to spread these divisions and confusion, and strike at the most vulnerable among the Lord’s flock.

Hence, St. Paul through his words reminded us that we have to be vigilant against all those that sowed dissension and divisions among us, and all those who sought to have personal gains over that of the people of God. All of us should be careful and do not easily allow the devil to have his way over us. We must remain true to our faith and understand what we believe in so that we will not be swayed by those false teachings and ideas. And it is also a reminder for us that we should not be tempted by worldly desires and end up corrupting others for the sake of our own personal glory.

Today all of us are called to remember the commitment which all of us are called to make as the disciples and followers of the Lord. Looking upon the examples that the Holy Apostles and disciples of the Lord had shown, we can see how they had given their all in serving the Lord, in preaching the truth of God and in delivering His love to all, even at times disregarding their own safety and comfort. They laboured for many years in proclaiming the words of God and enduring many persecutions, and at times they also had to go against the false teachings and heresies as St. Paul himself had to contend with.

Nonetheless, they persevered and committed themselves to the Lord without hesitation, spending a lot of effort and time, keeping their focus on the Lord throughout. They might falter and fail, but with the help, strength and grace from God, they went up again, and again, never giving up the works and efforts for the greater glory of God and for the salvation of their fellow brothers and sisters. It is this spirit and faith that our holy predecessors had, which we all should also have in our own lives, in our own faith in God.

Today, we also remember the memory of two great saints and Doctors of the Church, whose lives have been exemplary and works great and numerous, in leading so many people towards the Lord. First of all, St. Robert Bellarmine was an Italian Jesuit Cardinal, as a great reformer of the Church, and had a great and immense contribution to the Church teachings and theology. As a great teacher of theology, he inspired and spearheaded a great part of the efforts of the Counter-Reformation against those who divided the Church with their false and heretical teachings.

His great knowledge, wisdom and intellectual understanding of theology and other aspects of the faith were very notable, and the Pope himself took note of his efforts and achievements, making him the Rector of the Roman College and eventually as a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, and as a Cardinal Inquisitor was instrumental in leading through many aspects of Church reforms and in maintaining the integrity of the Magisterium and Sacred Tradition of the Church amidst a period of confusion and division among the faithful.

Then, the other saint whose memory we remember today, namely St. Hildegard of Bingen was canonised just less than a decade ago by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and then declared as a Doctor of the Church in that very same year. Her feast was added definitively to the Roman Calendar this year by Pope Francis, to celebrate her great faith and piety, her deep spiritual relationship with God and numerous works through which she inspired many who came to read of her works in remaining faithful to God.

St. Hildegard of Bingen was remembered as a great mystic and a theologian, who received visions of God throughout her life, as a monastic nun, dedicating her whole life to God. Even since a very young age, St. Hildegard of Bingen had received her visions, and later on in life, she wrote of her visions and experiences, which were widely known later after her passing. In her visions, St. Hildegard experienced the vision of God, in her various senses, experiencing the Light of God, which she described as the Three Shades of the Light of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, each of these two wonderful saints served the Lord in their own unique ways, and they followed in the path set by the Lord before them, and following in the footsteps of the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord. Are we also able to follow in their footsteps and examples, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we willing to embrace the Lord in the same way that they had done, and giving our time, effort and attention wholeheartedly to God? Let us all reflect on this and discern how we can be better disciples of the Lord from now on, in our every words, actions and deeds.

May God be with us always and may He strengthen each and every one of us with His truth that we may always remain true to Him, and remain committed to His truth, and do not fall into the trap of falsehoods and lies that the devil placed all around us. May God bless us all in our every endeavours and good works, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 17 September 2021 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church and St. Hildegard of Bingen, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Holy Virgins)

Luke 8 : 1-3

At that time, Jesus walked through towns and countryside, preaching and giving the Good News of the kingdom of God. The Twelve followed Him, and also some women, who had been healed of evil spirits and diseases : Mary called Magdalene, who had been freed of seven demons; Joanna, wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward; Suzanna; and others, who provided for them out of their own funds.