Sunday, 11 September 2016 : 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this holy day of our Lord we heard the very compelling message and reminder from the Scripture passages we have listened to, that is about mercy, forgiveness and God’s everlasting grace and love for all of us, His most beloved ones. That we all should really come to appreciate the vastness of God’s great and boundless mercy, and understand His desire to bring us all into His loving embrace.

In the first reading, this is shown by the exchange that happened between Moses and God, Who was angry at the people of Israel for their sins and disobedience. To put it into context, we have to understand what had transpired and occurred before this event. At that time, the people of Israel had just left the land of their slavery, Egypt after God has freed them with His mighty hand, delivering them from the hands of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh.

They have been delivered with great miracles and wonders. God Himself showed pity on His beloved people who have been made to suffer and labour in great pain for many years, bringing them out and leading them through the desert, even opening up the sea in front of them and destroying the forces of their oppressors, casting the sea itself upon them. And yet, despite all these, the people of God disobeyed Him and spurned His love.

We all know what happened, brethren, how the Israelites rejected God and abandoned Him for the golden calf which they forced Aaron, the brother of Moses to make for them. They worshipped that golden calf as their god, even though God had done so much for them, showing His miraculous deeds in liberating them from their oppressors and casting out their chains.

Is it not thus just for God to be angry at His people? He has given them so much, and that was what He got back in return. Well, if God thinks as we humans do, then probably He would be angry at us, showed His wrath and destroyed us. But no, for God loves us all just as He hates our sins. It is a reminder to us all that, first, God is not happy with our sins, just as He showed His anger to His people through Moses, but it does not mean that He is also considering our destruction without reason either.

Rather, it is we ourselves who have chosen to bring the destruction and the troubles upon ourselves. God gave His people His love unconditionally and yet they refused to obey Him and listen to Him, much like what we also heard in the Gospel passage today, the well-known parable of the lost sheep, the lost silver coin, and finally that of the prodigal son.

Through those parables and stories Jesus our Lord wanted to make it clear to all those who listened to Him, and indeed, to all mankind, how great is God’s love that He is willing to forgive our sins and disobedience, and willing to welcome us back into His loving embrace once again, that is His great and boundless mercy. That great love is shown by the joy that comes about when a shepherd discovered a lost sheep, and when someone found the lost coin, and when someone beloved was thought to be lost, but found again.

It is all too easy for us to think that God is all merciful and ever forgiving, that He will always overlook our sins and wickedness in these lives we are living now in this world. We should not forget that He is our Father and Lord, Who is responsible for us and Who truly cares for us from His heart. Which father will want his children to grow up wrongly or to become a bad and wicked person? A good father will want to guide his children to become good people, and God is no exception to this.

We as God’s children have often become wayward and lost our way. Just as sheep that became distracted by its surroundings, went its own way and became lost, or like that younger son, the prodigal son, who followed his own desires and the wishes of the world, and therefore became lost to his father. And when these are separated, they are in danger, the danger of death and destruction.

Wolves and danger are always around, threatening to strike at the lost sheep, which is without protection and guidance from the shepherd. Alone and separated from the herd, wolves and other predators have an easy time to pick on the lost sheep. Similarly, the prodigal son suffered in the foreign land, having squandered off all of his money on worldly pleasures and desires, and had to even wanting to eat the waste food and scraps that were fed to the pigs.

Let us all think and internalise all of these as we remember the passages which we have just heard. Let us look at our own actions, our own words and how we have interacted with others around us. Have we been acting like that of the prodigal son ourselves? Let us remember all the times when we turned our backs to the Lord and chose to follow our own desires and wants. Let us all remember all the times and moments when we have stumbled in our faith, in our lack of faith and commitment to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s Gospel is a reminder for us all that God is merciful, is kind, loving and compassionate, especially towards each and every one of us. However, if we do not act on His offer of mercy, forgiveness and love, then there is no way forward for us, as God’s mercy and love is a two-way thing, that is between us and Him. After all, let us ask ourselves, if someone loves another and yet another person do not return the same love, then is there real love there?

And accepting God’s mercy and forgiveness require us to make a profound change upon ourselves, on our way of life, on our attitude and interactions with one another, that we are like the prodigal son, who truly did not remain prodigal and lost but instead he chose to return to his father, despite fully knowing the great extent of his unworthiness as he had sinned and committed wickedness against his own father.

Let us all think carefully about this, and think of what we can do from now on if we have not started yet on our path to seek God’s merciful heart. First of all, we must not be afraid to seek out the Lord, for fear and doubt are often what prevented many people from being able to discover that path upon which they ought to walk on in order to attain the salvation in God.

Then, we must be able and we must be ready to commit ourselves a hundred percent into a thorough and complete change of ourselves, our lifestyle and our way of interacting with one another. If we are ready to do all these, then we are on our way to receive the Lord and His mercy. Otherwise, we are still far away, and the danger is there that we will not reach the Lord’s mercy at all, because we ourselves are barring our own path to that salvation.

Mercy without repentance does not exist, as God’s mercy is offered freely to all, but only those who respond to it positively, and with genuine and sincere intention from the heart will receive the grace and the forgiveness from God, and returned to be one in His embrace. Let us all consider these even as we embark on this journey to reach out to the Lord and His mercy.

Then, let us all each and every one of us, members of the Church, through our Christian faith, help one another and devote ourselves to help each other to find our way to the Lord, by showing in our own actions, how we can love instead of hate, how we can forgive instead of keeping grudges and seeking vengeance, and how to bring peace and harmony instead of conflict and war. God is always ready for us, but are we ready for Him? Do our actions show that we are ready?

Today, let us all also spare some thoughts to all those who are victims of violence and conflict. The tragedy of the terrorist attack fifteen years ago today, followed by many other related miseries and sufferings for many should show us all how important it is for us to truly bring ourselves closer to God, seek to bring peace and harmony in all things. Let us all not be swayed by the temptations of the world, but instead renew that special relationship we have with our God.

May God help us and keep us in His love, that His mercy will be extended to us and that we may be ready to welcome that same mercy, willing to be forgiven and to repent from all of our faults and sins. God bless us all. Amen.

Sunday, 11 September 2016 : 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Luke 15 : 1-32

At that time, tax collectors and sinners were seeking the company of Jesus, all of them eager to hear what He had to say. But the Pharisees and the scribes frowned at this, muttering, “This Man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So Jesus told them this parable :”

“Who among you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, will not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and seek the lost one till he finds it? And finding it, will he not joyfully carry it home on his shoulders? Then he will call his friends and neighbours together, and say, ‘Celebrate with me, for I have found my lost sheep!’ I tell you, in the same way, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner, than over ninety-nine decent people, who do not need to repent.”

“What woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one, will not light a lamp, and sweep the house in a thorough search, till she finds the lost coin? And finding it, she will call her friends and neighbours, and say, ‘Celebrate with me, for I have found the silver coin I lost!’ I tell you, in the same way, there is rejoicing among the Angels of God over one repentant sinner.”

Jesus continued, “There was a man with two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Give me my share of the estate.’ So the father divided his property between them. Some days later, the younger son gathered all his belongings and started off for a distant land, where he squandered his wealth in loose living.”

“Having spent everything, he was hard pressed when a severe famine broke out in that land. So he hired himself to a well-to-do citizen of that place, and was sent to work on a pig farm. So famished was he, that he longed to fill his stomach even with the food given to the pigs, but no one offered him anything.”

“Finally coming to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will get up and go back to my father, and say to him, Father, I have sinned against God, and before you. I no longer deserve to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.’ With that thought in mind, he set off for his father’s house.”

“He was still a long way off, when his father caught sight of him. His father was so deeply moved with compassion that he ran out to meet him, threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. The son said, ‘Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.'”

“But the father turned to his servants : ‘Quick!’ he said, ‘Bring out the finest robe and put it on him! Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet! Take the fattened calf and kill it! We shall celebrate and have a feast, for this son of mine was dead, and has come back to life; he was lost, and is found!’ And the celebration began.”

“Meanwhile, the elder son had been working in the fields. As he returned and approached the house he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what it was all about. The servant answered, ‘Your brother has come home safe and sound, and your father is so happy about it that he has ordered this celebration, and killed the fattened calf.'”

“The elder son became angry, and refused to go in. His father came out and pleaded with him. The son, very indignant, said, ‘Look, I have slaved for you all these years. Never have I disobeyed your orders. Yet you have never given me even a young goat to celebrate with my friends. Then when this son of yours returns, after squandering your property with loose women, you kill the fattened calf for him.'”

“The father said, ‘My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But this brother of yours was dead, and has come back to life; he was lost, and is found. And for that we had to rejoice and be glad.'”

Alternative reading (shorter version)


Luke 15 : 1-10

At that time, tax collectors and sinners were seeking the company of Jesus, all of them eager to hear what He had to say. But the Pharisees and the scribes frowned at this, muttering, “This Man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So Jesus told them this parable :”

“Who among you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, will not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and seek the lost one till he finds it? And finding it, will he not joyfully carry it home on his shoulders? Then he will call his friends and neighbours together, and say, ‘Celebrate with me, for I have found my lost sheep!’ I tell you, in the same way, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner, than over ninety-nine decent people, who do not need to repent.”

“What woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one, will not light a lamp, and sweep the house in a thorough search, till she finds the lost coin? And finding it, she will call her friends and neighbours, and say, ‘Celebrate with me, for I have found the silver coin I lost!’ I tell you, in the same way, there is rejoicing among the Angels of God over one repentant sinner.”

Sunday, 11 September 2016 : 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green
1 Timothy 1 : 12-17

I give thanks to Christ Jesus, our Lord, Who is my strength, Who has considered me trustworthy and appointed me to His service, although I had been a blasphemer, a persecutor and a rabid enemy. However He took mercy on me because I did not know what I was doing when I opposed the faith; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, together with faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

This saying is true and worthy of belief : Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first. Because of that I was forgiven; Christ Jesus wanted to display His utmost patience so that I might be an example for all who are to believe and obtain eternal life. To the King of ages, the only God Who lives beyond every perishable and visible creation – to Him be honour and glory forever. Amen!

Sunday, 11 September 2016 : 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Psalm 50 : 3-4, 12-13, 17 and 19

Have mercy on me, o God, in Your love. In Your great compassion blot out my sin. Wash me thoroughly of my guilt, cleanse me of evil.

Create in me, o God, a pure heart; give me a new and steadfast spirit. Do not cast me out of Your presence nor take Your Holy Spirit from me.

O Lord, open my lips, and I will declare Your praise. O God, my sacrifice is a broken spirit; a contrite heart You will not despise.

Sunday, 11 September 2016 : 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Exodus 32 : 7-11, 13-14

Then YHVH said to Moses, “Go down at once, for your people whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have quickly turned from the way I commanded them and have made for themselves a molten calf; they have bowed down before it and sacrificed to it and said : ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you out of Egypt.'”

And YHVH said to Moses, “I see that these people are a stiff-necked people. Now just leave Me that My anger may blaze against them. I will destroy them, but of you I will make a great nation.” But Moses calmed the anger of YHVH, his God, and said, “Why, o YHVH, should Your anger burst against Your people whom You brought out of the land of Egypt with such great power and with a mighty hand?”

“Remember Your servants, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the promise You Yourself swore : I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land I spoke about I will give to them as an everlasting inheritance.”

YHVH then changed His mind and would not yet harm His people.

Full official schedule of the Pope Francis’ visit to Cuba and the United States of America (19-27 September 2015)

Full schedule of the Pope’s visit to Cuba and the US (September 19-27):

September 19 (Rome, Havana)

10.15am Departure from Rome’s Fiumicino airport for Havana.
4.05pm Arrival ceremony at Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport. Speech by pope.

 

September 20 (Havana)

9am Mass in Havana’s Revolution Square. Homily by Pope. Recitation of the Angelus.
4pm Courtesy visit with Cuba’s President Raul Castro in Havana’s Palace of the Revolution.
5.15pm Celebration of vespers with priests, religious and seminarians in Havana’s cathedral. Homily by Pope.
6.30pm Greeting to young people at the Father Felix Varela cultural center in Havana. Remarks by Pope.

 

September 21 (Havana, Holguin, Santiago de Cuba, El Cobre)

8am Departure by air for Holguin, Cuba.
9.20am Arrival at Holguin’s Frank Pais International Airport.
10.30am Mass in Holguin’s Revolution Square. Homily by pope.
3.45pm Blessing of the city of Holguin from Cross Hill (Loma de la Cruz).
4.40pm Departure by air for Santiago de Cuba.
5.30pm Arrival at Santiago de Cuba’s Antonio Maceo International Airport.
7pm Meeting with bishops at the seminary of St. Basil the Great in El Cobre.
7.45pm Prayer to Our Lady of Charity with bishops and the papal entourage in the Minor Basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre.

 

September 22 (El Cobre, Santiago de Cuba, Washington DC)

8am Mass in the Minor Basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre. Homily by pope.
11am Meeting with families in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Assumption in Santiago de Cuba. Speech by pope. Blessing of the city from the outside of the cathedral.
12.15pm Farewell ceremony at Santiago de Cuba’s International Airport.
12.30pm Departure for Washington, United States
4pm Arrival at Andrews Air Force Base. Official welcome.

 

September 23 (Washington DC)

9.15am Meeting with President Obama at the White House
11.30am Midday Prayer with the bishops of the United States, St. Matthew’s Cathedral
4.15pm Mass of Canonisation of Junipero Serra, Basilicia of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

 

September 24 (Washington DC, New York City)

9.20am Address to Joint Session of the United States Congress
11.15am Visit to St. Patrick in the City and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington
4pm Depart from Joint Base Andrews
5pm Arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport
6.45pm Evening Prayer (Vespers) at St. Patrick’s Cathedral

 

September 25 (New York City)

8.30am Visit to the United Nations and Address to the United Nations General Assembly
11.30am Multi-religious service at 9/11 Memorial and Museum, World Trade Centre
4pm Visit to Our Lady Queen of Angels School, East Harlem
6pm Mass at Madison Square Garden

 

September 26 (New York City, Philadelphia)

8.40am Departure from John F. Kennedy International Airport
9.30am Arrival at Atlantic Aviation, Philadelphia
10.30am Mass at Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul, Philadelphia
4.45pm Visit to Independence Mall
7.30pm Visit to the Festival of Families Benjamin Franklin Parkway

 

September 27 (Philadelphia)

9.15am Meeting with bishops at at St Martin’s Chapel, St Charles Borromeo Seminary
11am Visit to Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility
4pm Mass for the conclusion of the World Meeting of Families, Benjamin Franklin Parkway
7pm Visit with organisers, volunteers and benefactors of the World Meeting of Families, Atlantic Aviation
8pm Departure for Rome

Names to watch out for at Habemus Papam announcement : Angelum, Petrum, Odilonem, Marcum, Aloisium, Christophorum

Whose names to watch out for when Cardinal Protodeacon Jean-Louis Tauran reads out the Habemus Papam (We have a Pope) announcement?

http://wdtprs.com/blog/2013/03/latin-names-of-cardinals-well-hear-one-of-these-from-the-loggia-of-st-peters/ (Thanks to Fr. Z’s blog for the latin names he provided for all the Cardinal-electors – I focused into some of them considered papabili/frontrunner)

 

Here is the announcement text :

 

Annuntio vobis Gaudium magnum. Habemus Papam! Eminentissimum ac Reverendissimum Dominum.

Dominum (First Name) Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem (Surname).

Qui sibi nomen imposuit (regnal name) (number)

 

At the point when we listen the ‘First Name’ in fact we may already know who is the new Pope.

 

1. Angelum (Angelo) :

Cardinal Angelo Scola, Metropolitan Archbishop of Milan

Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, Metropolitan Archbishop of Genoa

Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect for the Congregation of the Causes of Saints

Cardinal Angelo Comastri, Vicar General of the Diocese of Rome

As there are several Angelo considered as Papabili, for Angelum, there is a need to wait for the surname before confirmation. Similarly with Petrum.

 

2. Petrum (Peter) :

Cardinal Peter Erdo, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest

Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace

 

But other names are straightforward :

 

3. Odilonem (Odilo) :

Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, Metropolitan Archbishop of Sao Paulo

 

4. Marcum (Marc) :

Cardinal Marc Ouellet : Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops

 

5. Aloisium (Alois/Luis) :

Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle : Metropolitan Archbishop of Manila

 

6. Christophorum (Christoph) :

Cardinal Christoph Schonborn : Metropolitan Archbishop of Vienna

 

7. Ioannem Franciscum (Gianfranco) :

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi : President of the Pontifical Council for Culture

 

8. Timotheum (Timothy) :

Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan : Metropolitan Archbishop of New York