Monday, 15 October 2018 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Scripture telling us about first of all, what St. Paul told the Church and the faithful in the city of Galatia, about the comparison between the two sons of Abraham, namely Ishmael and Isaac, who were born of two different women. The former was born of the slave woman Hagar, while the latter was born of Abraham’s rightful wife, Sarah.

The birth of Ishmael was caused by the impatience of Abraham, who gave in to the temptation of worldly fear and concern, of the lack of an heir, even though God has promised him many times that an heir would be born to him through his wife. Yet God did bless Ishmael and his descendants, for after all, he and his descendants are still the descendants of Abraham, although not the ones to whom God would give the fullness of His blessings.

St. Paul used this example, as he himself mentioned, in order to represent allegorically, the relationship which the people of God has with their Lord and Creator, in the context of the old Law as revealed imperfectly through Moses, and what He revealed perfectly in the new Law and Covenant of Jesus Christ, Son of God sent into the world to be its Saviour and Redeemer. The old Law was represented by Ishmael while the new Law was represented by Isaac.

In order to understand his intention and meaning fully, we also have to look at the earlier part of the Epistle to the Galatians, in which St. Paul mentioned that the old Law brought about bondage and the new Law brought about freedom. What he meant was that, while the people obeyed the Lord through the old laws of Moses, they were still bound to the chains of sin, for the coming of God’s salvation have not yet been fulfilled.

Meanwhile, the coming of Christ brought about the fulfilment of God’s promise just as Isaac was the fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham. Christ revealed the full truth of God’s love through the Law and the Covenant which He renewed through the loving sacrifice of His Son on the cross. And this was written by St. Paul in rebuking those in Galatia who wanted to impose the Jewish laws and customs, that is the ‘Old Law’ on the people of Christ, Who has received the fullness of God’s Law – the ‘New Law’.

In the Gospel passage today, the Lord Jesus also rebuked the people in the same manner, in how they kept on asking for miracles and signs even though they have seen many miracles when they were with the Lord all those times. They failed to notice God working in their midst even though He had done so many, many times. And that was why the Lord rebuked those people who so hardened their hearts and minds against His truth.

Those who were obsessed with the fulfilment of the old laws and ways as prescribed by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, and refused to accept the truth of God, would be judged according to their refusal and stubbornness, and as long as they continued to refuse to accept God into their midst, they would have no part in the new Covenant and Law which He has brought upon the world.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, we ourselves as Christians are sometimes also suffering from the same condition as the Jews had been. We have not been truly faithful to the Lord as how we should have. We have only been faithful on the outside, like how the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had been, but inside our hearts, many of us do not have that faith and love which we should have for God.

Today, we ought to reflect on our lives, and our actions, and how they have or have not been good and faithful to God. And we should also follow the examples shown by the holy woman, St. Teresa of Jesus, also known by the name of St. Teresa of Avila, a great reformer and model of faith, and also a Doctor of the Church, for her many contributions and wonderful written works, which has inspired generations of the faithful.

St. Teresa of Avila was remembered for her great piety and love for God, dedicating herself into a life of deep and intimate prayerful relationship with Him. She was a great reformer of the Church, both for her contributions during the critical years of the Counter Reformation efforts against the heretics, as well as in her role in establishing the Discalced Carmelites order together with St. John of the Cross, in purifying the religious order from corrupting influences of worldliness.

For her role in the reforms of the Church and for her many other contributions, she was recognised as one of the great saints of the Church, and declared as Doctor of the Church. And her examples should also inspire each one of us, to live according to our faith, and to devote ourselves ever more closely to God and His ways from now on. Let us all turn towards God with a renewed zeal and with a new love, that we no longer live a life that is empty and devoid of love, but instead, have true love for God from now onwards. May God be with us always. St. Teresa of Jesus, pray for us. Amen.

Monday, 15 October 2018 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

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, 15 October 2018 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 112 : 1-2, 3-4, 5a and 6-7

Alleluia! Praise, o servants of YHVH, praise the Name of YHVH! Blessed be the Name of YHVH now and forever!

From eastern lands to the western islands, may the Name of YHVH be praised! YHVH is exalted over the nations; His glory above the heavens.

Who is like YHVH our God, Who also bends down to see on earth as in heaven? He lifts up the poor from the dust and the needy from the ash heap.

Monday, 15 October 2018 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Galatians 4 : 22-24, 26-27, 31 – Galatians 5 : 1

It says, that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman, the other by the free woman, his wife. The son of the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but the son of the free woman was born in fulfilment of God’s promise.

Here we have an allegory and the figures of two Covenants. The first is the one from Mount Sinai, represented through Hagar : her children have slavery for their lot. But the Jerusalem above, who is our mother, is free. And Scripture says of her : Rejoice, barren woman without children, break forth in shouts of joy, you who do not know the pains of childbirth, for many shall be the children of the forsaken mother, more than of the married woman.

Brethren, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman. Christ freed us, to make us really free. So remain firm, and do not submit, again, to the yoke of slavery.

Monday, 8 October 2018 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture, reminding us that we must stay rooted and true to the core message of what the Lord has taught us to do. Our faith is about believing in God and in doing what He has showed us to do, and the core of our faith, is in truth, about love. Loving God and loving one another are the two most important commandments of the Law, which the Lord Jesus mentioned to the teacher of the Law who asked Him what is the most important commandment of the Law.

In the Gospel passage today, we listened to the parable of the Good Samaritan, in which the Lord Jesus told us about a person who was attacked as he was on his way to Jericho, and left for dead by the roadside. No one bothered to help him or to assist him, even the priest and the Levites, who were those considered to be good and worthy among the members of the community. Instead, it was a Samaritan who stopped by and helped the man.

This parable today served as a reminder at the time of the Lord Jesus, in a community which was bitterly divided among themselves and with their neighbours, that is between the Jewish people, descendants of those Israelites especially of the southern kingdom of Judah who returned from the exile in Babylon, and the Samaritans, who were descended from the people of the northern kingdom of Israel, who intermarried with some of the local people of Canaan.

The two people were bitterly divided among themselves and accused each other of not having the faith in the One Lord in Whom they each believed in their own ways. In another occasion in the Gospels, when the Lord spoke with a Samaritan woman by the well of Jacob in Samaria, the Samaritan woman explained clearly what divided and made the Jews and the Samaritans, that is, their differing views on how they ought to believe in God and on where they should worship God, a prejudice and bias that lasted hundreds of years.

That was why they were so much against each other, and refused to listen to reason in their dealings with one another. In fact, it was so bad that the Samaritans would not have anything to do with a Jew and likewise, a Jew would also ignore and not have anything to do with a Samaritan. The Samaritan woman was genuinely surprised when she was greeted by the Lord Jesus, as it was not something which was common or acceptable at the time.

Now, the Lord Jesus used the example of the Good Samaritan, in order to break down these barriers and unfortunate divisions that have kept the people of God separated, and even bitter and angry against each other for so long, for so many years. God wanted His people to come together and overcoming their differences, and all the negative emotions and balances accumulated for those years, and changing them all with love.

That is after all, what God has made it clear, as He revealed it to us through His own Son, that love, is the heart and the centre of the Law, which He has given to us. There is no more important commandment of God other than first and foremost, for us to love God with all of our strength and abilities. If we do not love God, then we cannot have faith in Him or have anything to do with Him, and then, if we love God, then we must also love our brothers and sisters in our midst, for if we love God, we must then also love our fellow men.

Why is that so? That is because, all of us have been created by God out of His great love for us, and not just a few among us, but for every single one of us. If God loves everyone, even to the greatest of sinners, then who are we to hate one another, or to condemn those who we think are less worthy than us just because of their faults and sins to us? God wants us to abandon this mentality which the Jews and the Samaritans used to have for one another, in their hatred and refusal to come together and love each other.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, many of us have plenty of blame in this regard as well, in how we live our lives as Christians and therefore as the members of the one Church of God. How many of us have often been prejudiced against others, even within our Church groups and ministries. We ended up gossiping and talking badly, or even treating others in manners which if we look back and think carefully about it, are not Christian at all in nature.

Now, let us all contemplate on this, and remember all the shortcomings we have committed thus far, all the prejudices and biases which we often have, as well as our failures to love one another as the Lord has taught us to do. Let us all overcome our human pride, our prejudices and all the other wicked behaviours within us, that we may turn away from sin, and from all the wayward attitudes we have shown in life thus far. Let us turn from now on, wholeheartedly towards God, our Lord and Saviour. Amen.

Monday, 8 October 2018 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 10 : 25-37

At that time, then a teacher of the Law came and began putting Jesus to the test. And he said, “Master, what shall I do to receive eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What is written in the Law? How do You understand it?” The man answered, “It is written : You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind. And you shall love your neighbour as yourself.”

Jesus replied, “What a good answer! Do this and you shall live.” The man wanted to justify his question, so he asked, “Who is my neighbour?” Jesus then said, “There was a man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him, beat him and went off, leaving him half-dead.”

“It happened that a priest was going along that road and saw the man, but passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite saw the man, and passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan also was going that way; and when he came upon the man, he was moved with compassion. He went over to him, and cleaned his wounds with oil and wine, and wrapped them in bandages. Then he put him on his own mount, and brought him to an inn, where he took care of him.”

“The next day, he had to set off; but he gave two silver coins to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him, and whatever you spend on him, I will repay when I return.'” Jesus then asked, “Which of these three, do you think, made himself neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The teacher of the Law answered, “The one who had mercy on him.” And Jesus said, “Then go and do the same.”

Monday, 8 October 2018 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 110 : 1-2, 7-8, 9 and 10c

Alleluia! I thank YHVH with all my heart in the council of the just, in the assembly. The works of YHVH are great and pondered by all who delight in them.

The works of His hands are faithful and just, trustworthy are all His precepts, ordained to last forever, bearers of truth and uprightness.

He has sent His people deliverance and made with them a Covenant forever. His holy Name is to be revered! To Him belongs everlasting praise.