Monday, 17 October 2022 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, all of us are reminded of the immense love and mercy of God through which each and every one of us have received the assurance of eternal life and salvation, all of us who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. All of us must remember how the Lord cares for us and how He treats us as truly precious people, as His own children, so that we will remember that we should remain focused on Him and not on worldly things and all else which can easily distract us in our way and journey towards His salvation and eternal life.

In our first reading today from the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Church and the faithful in Ephesus, we heard of the words of St. Paul reminding all the people of God there of everything that the Lord had done for them, in their great fortune in having been rescued and redeemed by their Lord, Master, Saviour and Redeemer. All of them have deserved death and destruction, damnation and hell, and yet, God had mercy on them and because He is so full of love, and to all of us this reminder serves the same purpose, because God’s love, compassion and mercy are extended to all of us, regardless of our background and how great a sinner we have been in our respective lives.

St. Paul himself highlighted just how fallen and wretched our human nature and existence were, and yet, because of God’s love and mercy, all of us have received a new lease of life, a new hope and liberation from our downwards path towards destruction. St. Paul encouraged all of us just as he did to the faithful in Ephesus, reminding us of just how great and rich God’s mercy and compassion truly are. But at the same time, we must also not take His love and mercy for granted, or else, we will end up spurning these advances of love and mercy by the Lord, as what had happened to many of our predecessors, who were so caught up in their pride, ego and greed that they ignored the Lord and His love and mercy.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, that was precisely the reason why so many had faltered in their journey towards the Lord. They all failed to appreciate and embrace the Lord’s approach of love and compassion towards them. They took His love and generosity for granted and ignored and abandoned Him at their own convenience. In the end, they were all condemned not because God did not love them, but because they had little to no faith in Him, and they rejected Him by their own conscious effort and accord. They refused to embrace God’s love and mercy, and preferring to remain in the state of sin, although God has so generously given them His loving compassion and has always offered them His forgiveness.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard about the words of the Lord speaking to His disciples using the example of a rich man who asked Him to judge and support him for his part of the inheritance against his own brethren. The Lord then also mentioned a parable about a rich man who was consumed with worry and preoccupied with his greed and desires, thinking of how he could accumulate more of whatever wealth that he had been gathering up to that point. The Lord concluded that parable and story with the warning of how even that rich man would meet his end, because if God so wills it, his life could end there and then, and nothing of what he had accumulated would accompany him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what does the Lord want us to learn from these passages today? Through His Church and the Scriptures today, the Lord wants us to know that we should be vigilant with ourselves and with the many temptations ever present all around us, lest we may be tempted to abandon Him and His love for the sake of worldly glory, material wealth, fame, possessions, human praise, status and many other things in this world which often distracted us and dragged us away from the path of God and into the path towards damnation and destruction. We have often indulged in these worldly desires and ended up forgetting about God, about His love and mercy.

Today, we celebrate the Feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch, one of the great early Church fathers whose life and works, whose actions and faith can become sources of inspiration for all of us in how each one of us can become ever better and more committed Christians in life. St. Ignatius of Antioch was one of the early Church fathers and bishops as the successors of the Apostles in the ministry of the Church, and he was the successor of St. Peter in the See of Antioch that the Apostle founded, who was dedicated to his flock and the expansion of the Church, for the care and salvation of souls among others.

St. Ignatius of Antioch was and is still greatly revered for his piety and faith in God, for his immense contribution and commitment to the Lord and His Church, as he wrote extensively to the Church, and corresponded actively with Pope St. Clement, the Bishop of Rome and St. Peter’s successor as the Vicar of Christ, and with the other Church fathers, on top of his work and passionate dedication to his local Christian flock. He faced hardships and challenges just as many of the early Christians and the Apostles themselves had faced, and died as a martyr in defending his faith and love for God.

Let us all therefore follow the good examples set by our holy predecessors, by St. Ignatius of Antioch and the innumerable other saints and martyrs, who have shown us what it truly means for us to become Christians, in becoming the holy people of God, called and chosen from this darkened and wretched world. We have been called to a greater and holier existence, to be like our loving and good Father, our Lord and Saviour Himself. Therefore, each and every one of us should strive to purify our lives and to align ourselves to His path and teachings, and reject all the corruptions and other things which sin had brought unto us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, may the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us in life, that we may ever persevere through the challenges and trials of life, especially when our faith in Him are tested and when we face hardships in life. We should remain firm in our faith and commitment to God, remembering His faithfulness to the Covenant that He had made with us, the love which He had generously given us and the compassion by which He willingly forgives us our sins. Let us all therefore commit ourselves to the Lord anew and endeavour and strive to lead a new life from now on, without sin any more. May God bless us and remain with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 17 October 2022 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 12 : 13-21

At that time, someone in the crowd spoke to Jesus, “Master, tell my brother to share with me the family inheritance.” He replied, “My friend, who has appointed Me as your Judge or your Attorney?” Then Jesus said to the people, “Be on your guard and avoid every kind of greed, for even though you have many possessions, it is not that which gives you life.”

And Jesus continued, “There was a rich man, and his land had produced a good harvest. He thought, ‘What shall I do, for I am short of room to store my harvest? Alright, I know what I shall do : I will pull down my barns and I will build bigger ones, to store all this grain, which is my wealth. Then I will say to myself : My friend, you have a lot of good things put by for many years. Rest, eat, drink and enjoy yourself.'”

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be taken from you. Tell Me, who shall get all you have put aside?’ This is the lot of the one who stores up riches for himself and is not wealthy in the eyes of God.”

Monday, 17 October 2022 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 99 : 2, 3, 4, 5

Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.

Know that the Lord 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 bless His Name.

For the Lord is good; His love lasts forever and His faithfulness through all generations.

Monday, 17 October 2022 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Ephesians 2 : 1-10

You were dead, through the faults and sins. Once, you lived through them, according to this world, and followed the Sovereign Ruler Who reigns between heaven and earth, and Who goes on working, in those who resist the faith.

All of us belonged to them, at one time, and we followed human greed; we obeyed the urges of our human nature and consented to its desires. By ourselves, we went straight to the judgment, like the rest of humankind.

But God, Who is rich in mercy, revealed His immense love. As we were dead through our sins, He gave us life, with Christ. By grace, you have been saved! And He raised us to life, with Christ, giving us a place with Him in heaven.

In showing us such kindness, in Christ Jesus, God willed to reveal, and unfold in the coming ages, the extraordinary riches of His grace. By the grace of God, you have been saved, through faith.

This has not come from you : it is God’s gift. This was not the result of your works, so you are not to feel proud. What we are, is God’s work. He has created us, in Christ Jesus, for the good works He has prepared, that we should devote ourselves to them.

Thursday, 17 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day through the Sacred Scriptures all of us are reminded of the salvation which God has brought into this world through His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Whom He sent into the world to be its Saviour as He Himself has promised and which promises had been renewed again and again, from time to time, through the many prophets that God sent to His people.

God has loved us all from the beginning of time, even when we have gone astray and fell into sin, by the temptations of the world. God wants us all to be forgiven and healed, made whole and reconciled with Him. But it is us mankind who often refused to listen to Him and preferred to continue walking down our wrong and mistaken path which ended up in us getting ever more and more distant from Him. And one way of how this has happened is because we mankind misunderstood the Law He has given us.

God gave the Law to His people and revealing His love to them because through the Law He wanted them all to order their lives and to return to righteousness, abandoning all that are sinful and wicked, embracing only what is right and true in God’s eyes. The Law of God is a guide through which God wanted His people to be able to discover His love and to love Him wholeheartedly, and therefore, share that same love with their fellow brothers and sisters.

The essence of that love for God and for our fellow men is enshrined in the Ten Commandments, the heart and focal point of the Law which God has revealed through Moses. But the people failed to understand this and the meaning of the Law, and instead, they were preoccupied with the other matters and details of the Law, the rules and regulations and prescriptions which according to the Jewish tradition number some six hundred and thirteen.

And the Pharisees at that time took great pride in supposedly obeying and adhering strictly to all those rules and regulations, customs and practices, looking down on the rest of the people whom they thought to be less pious and less worthy than they were. And they also imposed the strict observance and practices on the rest of the people, persecuting all those who did not comply with their preferences.

But in doing so, they have in fact forgotten about the true intent and purpose of the Law, and of all things, they were the ones who were supposed to be custodians and teachers of the Law, and therefore guide the people to the truth of God. Their failure to embody the Law as it should have been was the reason why the Lord rebuked and criticised the Pharisees and their actions, which were done mostly for self-preservation and glory rather than for responsible and for the right intentions.

That is why today we are all called to reflect on our lives thus far and how we have lived them. Have we been truly faithful to God in all things and at all times? Or have we instead allowed our pride, ego and desire to corrupt us and to make us to sin as the Pharisees had done? Let us recall God’s great love for each and every one of us, and His willingness to forgive us and to be reconciled with us so that we may indeed find our way to be worthy again of God.

And let us all be inspired by the examples shown by a courageous man of God and disciple of the Lord, who was one of the early Church fathers, namely St. Ignatius of Antioch whose feast day we are celebrating today. St. Ignatius of Antioch was one of the early leaders of the Church, being the successor of St. Peter who founded the See of Antioch prior to his establishment of the See of Rome. St. Ignatius would continue the good works that St. Peter had started.

St. Ignatius dedicated his life to his ministry and spent much effort in caring for his flock even amidst terrible and brutal persecutions against the Church and the faithful, writing extensively to the larger Church community encouraging them to keep the faith. He was eventually arrested and brought to Rome, where according to Apostolic tradition, he was brought into the Colosseum with other Christians and had ravenous beasts released at them. Nonetheless he remained steadfast and welcomed his martyrdom with faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we should also devote ourselves to God, love Him and be faithful to Him just as St. Ignatius of Antioch had done. Let us ask for the intercession of St. Ignatius that God will continue to strengthen our faith so that we may draw closer to Him and grow deeper in our love and relationship with Him. May God bless us all and remain with us always. Amen.

Thursday, 17 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 11 : 47-54

At that time, Jesus said to the teachers of the Law, “A curse is on you, for you build monuments to the prophets your ancestors killed. So you approve and agree with what your ancestors did. Is it not so? They got rid of the prophets, and you build monuments to them!”

“For that reason the wisdom of God also said : I will send prophets and Apostles and these people will kill and persecute some of them. But the present generation will have to answer for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was murdered between the altar and the Sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, the people of this time will have to answer for them all.”

“A curse is on you, teachers of the Law, for you have taken the key of knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you prevented others from entering.”

As Jesus left that place, the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees began to harass Him, asking Him endless questions, setting traps to catch Him in something He might say.

Thursday, 17 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 129 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-7a

Out of the depths I cry to You, o YHVH, o YHVH, hear my voice! Let Your ears pay attention to the voice of my supplication.

If You should mark our evil, o YHVH, who could stand? But with You, is forgiveness, and for that You are revered.

I waited for YHVH, my soul waits; and I put my hope in His word. My soul expects YHVH more than watchmen, the dawn. O Israel, hope in YHVH.

Thursday, 17 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Romans 3 : 21-30a

But, now it has been revealed, altogether apart from the Law, as it was already foretold in the Law and the prophets : God makes us righteous by means of faith in Jesus Christ, and this is applied to all who believe, without distinction of persons.

Because all have sinned and all fall short of the glory of God; and all are graciously forgiven and made righteous, through the redemption effected in Christ Jesus. For God has given Him to be the Victim, Whose Blood obtains us forgiveness, through faith.

So God shows us, how He makes us righteous. Past sins are forgiven, which God overlooked till now. For, now, He wants to reveal His way of righteousness : how He is just, and how He makes us righteous, through faith in Jesus. Then, what becomes of our pride? It is excluded. How? Not through the Law and its observances, but through another Law, which is faith. For we hold, that people are in God’s grace, by faith, and not because of all the things ordered by the Law.

Otherwise, God would be the God of the Jews; but is He not God of pagan nations as well? Of course He is, for there is only one God.