Thursday, 1 October 2020 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Therese of Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of all Missionaries and the Missions (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the promises of God’s salvation which He made to His servant Isaiah, in our first reading passage today, with the comforting words that God will once again cherish and bless His people, which by the time of Isaiah had faced much difficulty and many trials, and how God will bless them all and make them whole again.

And the fulfilment of these prophecies had been made through Christ, the Saviour of the world, of whom Isaiah spoke extensively about. And God has called on all of us to come to Him and to gather in His presence and receive from Him grace and peace forever. But unfortunately, many of us rejected Him, ignored His call and turned a deaf ear to His pleas to seek our reconciliation with Him.

That is why, in our Gospel today, we heard the Lord gathering little children to Himself and told all of His disciples that unless they were to be like those little children in their faith and in their lives, they would have no place in the kingdom of Heaven. And this came right after the disciples were arguing and debating among themselves on who was the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven and amongst Christ’s disciples and followers.

The Lord therefore reminds them all that to be His followers we must be humble, make ourselves small and insignificant, for it was our hubris and ego that had led us to our downfall. It was our desire for power, influence, worldly glory, fame, wealth that led us to a path of disobedience and wickedness, and thus these made us to commit sin against God.

And it is not easy for us to be faithful as the Lord had called us to be, to be like little children in our faith, whose faith are pure and without strings attached to worldly desires and temptations. Often, we have too much in mind to be able to focus our attention on God, unlike those little children, whose attention can be wholly centred on Him, as they have not yet been affected by all sorts of worldly matters and concerns.

This is where perhaps we should look upon the examples set by our famous saint of the day, whose life and philosophy embody exactly this call for us to be ‘childlike’ in our faith. St. Therese of Lisieux, also known as St. Therese of Child Jesus and as the ‘Little Flower of Carmel’, was a Discalced Carmelite nun who has been very popular during her life and especially more so after her passing. She inspired many people by her virtuous life and was renowned for her ‘Little Way’.

St. Therese certainly did not have an easy life or vocation as a religious, as she was often sickly in her youth, although she was indeed brought up in a loving and devout family. Family tragedy struck early as her mother passed away when she was still a very young child. And St. Therese was also bullied and often suffered in school. She endured all these patiently and with faith.

When one of her elder sister joined the Carmelite nuns, St. Therese was devastated but this in itself led her to desire to join the Carmelites as well. She was often told that she was still too young and her poor health also made it difficult. St. Therese also began to experience spiritual visions which would be more frequent later in her life. It was then on the Christmas Eve of the Year of Our Lord 1886 that she experienced a complete conversion of her soul.

From that point onwards, St. Therese began a new journey of faith, overcoming her sensitivities and self desires, a victory over the desires of the flesh and body, and dedicating herself ever more to God. As she eventually entered the Carmelite monastery after several more years of trials and struggles, and throughout her later time as a postulant and novice religious sister, being devoted and dedicated to the Lord.

And the hallmark of her faith and idea is known as the ‘Little Way’ in which St. Therese put forward the view that in order for us to follow God, what we really ought to do is to be faithful to Him in all things, even in the simplest and smallest of actions. We are called to be faithful through simple and little actions in life. This is what we all need to do, in order to be faithful as Christians.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, from what we have just heard about St. Therese of Lisieux today, and from the reflections of the Scriptures, all of us are reminded to be faithful to God at all times, and to do this through our lives, each and every day of them. Often we have ignored these as we are too busy pursuing worldly ambitions and desires, and by temptations we faced, we have been lured away by desire to walk down the wrong path in life.

This is why we are called to be like little children in our faith, to be genuine in our faith and dedication in God, be more humble and reject all the temptations of ego, pride, ambition, greed and desire among others. This is not something easily done as we are often surrounded by all these every moment of our lives, and unless we make a concerted effort to resist those temptations we will falter and fall into sin.

And in addition to that, we often remain passive and inactive in our Christian life because we thought that we cannot do anything significant in the matter of our faith. And this is where we are wrong, as even little actions and commitments are part of that journey of faith, and all of our little actions and contributions combined together, will become a great effort indeed. That is why we really have to embrace God’s call to be witnesses of our faith and as missionaries to spread the Good News of God by our dedication and actions in life.

Let us all therefore strive to be faithful to God at all times, in every little actions we do in our lives, that by following the examples of St. Therese of Child Jesus, the Little Flower of Carmel, we may indeed become truly committed to God and no longer ensnared by the temptations in life. May God help and guide us in this journey, and bless us in our every good endeavours for His greater glory, now and always. St. Therese of Lisieux, pray for us all! Amen.

Thursday, 1 October 2020 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Therese of Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of all Missionaries and the Missions (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 18 : 1-5

At that time, the disciples came to Jesus and asked Him, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Then Jesus called a little child, set the child in the midst of the disciples, and said, “I assure you, that, unless you change, and become like little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble, like this child, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and whoever receives such a child, in My Name, receives Me.”

Thursday, 1 October 2020 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Therese of Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of all Missionaries and the Missions (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 131 : 1-3

O YHVH, my heart is not proud nor do I have arrogant eyes. I am not engrossed in ambitious matters, nor in things too great for me.

I have quieted and stilled my soul, like a weaned child, on its mother’s lap; like a contented child is my soul.

Hope in YHVH, o Israel, now and forever.

Thursday, 1 October 2020 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Therese of Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of all Missionaries and the Missions (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 66 : 10-14

Rejoice for Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her. Be glad with her, rejoice with her, all you who were in grief over her, that you may suck of the milk from her comforting breasts, that you may drink deeply from the abundance of her glory.

For this is what YHVH says : I will send her peace, overflowing like a river; and the nations’ wealth, rushing like a torrent towards her. And you will be nursed and carried in her arms and fondled upon her lap. As a son comforted by his mother, so will I comfort you. At the sight of this, your heart will rejoice; like grass, your bones will flourish.

For it shall be known that YHVH’s hand is with His servant, but His fury is upon His enemy.

Monday, 1 October 2018 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the account of the suffering of Job, in which this Biblical Job was a very rich man who was also very devoted to God, as an exemplary and righteous servant. Although according to Biblical scholars and studies, it is likely that Job was a fictional character, but the examples shown by Job, his sufferings and how he dealt with the suffering and eventually overcome it, is an archetype and example for our own respective lives.

We may have lots of questions on why God let Job to be crushed by Satan’s power and manipulations, as what we heard from the conversations between Satan and God in the beginning of the Book of Job. But if we look deeper at the real intention of God through this story of the Bible, and by looking at the entirety of the Book of Job from the beginning towards the end, when Job was vindicated by God, and given double the blessings he once had, we can see that it was never God’s intention to make us to suffer.

Instead, God loves each and every one of us so greatly, that He was willing to do whatever He could in order to bring us to salvation and liberation from all of our troubles. It was through sin that suffering has entered into our lives and into our beings. And sin came from the disobedience against the will of God, which began from the rebellion of Satan, because of his pride and greed, desiring to be like God, and then, through temptations, coming to us mankind.

It was the misuse of the freedom which God has given us which led us to experience suffering, because we do not follow the path which God has shown us. Suffering is caused by the desires and the pride that is within us, which often prevent us from truly being able to experience and realise God’s love and goodness present within us, that caused us to act in ways which lead us into disharmony, infighting, bickering, unhappiness and even anger and hatred against one another.

That is also in fact, the source of the unhappiness which was present in what we heard in the Gospel passage today, when the disciples of the Lord were arguing among themselves who was the most important and the best among them. They bickered and disagreed with each other and became unhappy at one another because of their own personal desires and wishes to be acknowledged as the better one, the superior disciple.

That was why they were also unhappy that someone else besides the disciples of the Lord were preaching and healing the people in His Name. It was because of their pride and their desire, that ended up causing them to be self-centred, exclusive and showing all the unbecoming attitudes that the Lord had to quickly address, by pointing out to them, that unless they become like a little child in their attitude and faith, they would not have any place with Him.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus also known as St. Therese of Lisieux, who was remembered for her famous ‘Little Way’, which she promoted as the way to reach out to the Lord and His salvation. This ‘Little Way’ of St. Therese is exactly what will cure us from the troubles facing us and our world today, and is in harmony with what Job in his account did before the Lord, that is to humble himself and accept his own mortality and insignificance.

As mentioned, suffering came about because of our inability to let go of our human and worldly desires and emotions. Through temptations, we always seek to find more gains for ourselves, and to place ourselves and our desires before anything else. But this is in fact a distraction that prevents us from being able to find our way to the Lord, and has caused many of us to falter and fail in our journey of life.

Job remained faithful through his long period of suffering and pain, because he trusted the Lord completely and did not think of himself and his possessions and things to be greater than the love which God Himself had given him. He said in the midst of his suffering, ‘Naked I have come from my mother’s womb, and therefore naked too shall I return.’, a clear show of his great humility and commitment to love God with all of his heart.

St. Therese of Lisieux was remembered for his great piety and prayerful life, through which she persevered the many challenges and sickness that troubled her for much of her life. St. Therese of Lisieux placed God before everything else, committing her whole life entirely to God. Through her ‘Little Way’, she sought to do and obey God’s will, one little thing and part for a time, for the greater glory of God.

St. Therese of Lisieux made herself small and insignificant before the Lord, but knowing that the Lord will pay attention to even the very smallest and least significant of His followers and disciples. Are we able to make ourselves small and insignificant before the Lord as well? If we want to do so, then we should follow in the footsteps of Job and St. Therese of the Child Jesus in their faith and in how they lived their lives with complete love for God.

May the Lord help us that we may be able to live our lives filled with zeal and renewed dedication to Him. May He empower us all to be inspired by the faith which Job has shown to Him, despite the challenges and suffering He encountered in life. Let us all shun pride and greed in our hearts, and seek to turn to God from now on, with a new faith and commitment. May God bless us all, now and evermore. Amen.

Monday, 1 October 2018 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 9 : 46-50

At that time, one day, the disciples were arguing about which of them was the most important. But Jesus knew their thoughts, so He took a little child and stood him by His side. Then He said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in My Name, welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me, welcomes the One Who sent Me. And listen : the one who is found to be the least among you all, is the one who is the greatest.”

Then John spoke up, “Master, we saw someone who drives out demons by calling upon Your Name, and we tried to forbid him, because he does not follow You with us.” But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him. He who is not against you is for you.”

Monday, 1 October 2018 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 16 : 1, 2-3, 6-7

Hear a just cause, o YHVH, listen to my complaint. Give heed to my prayer, for there is no deceit on my lips.

Let my defence come forth from You; Your eyes see what is right. You have probed my heart, searched me at night, tested me by fire, and You have seen no wickedness in me.

I call on You, You will answer me, o God; incline Your ear and hear my word. For You do wonders for Your faithful, You save those fleeing from the enemy as they seek refuge at Your right hand.

Monday, 1 October 2018 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Job 1 : 6-22

One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before YHVH, and Satan came with them. YHVH asked Satan, “Where have you been?” Satan answered, “Going up and down the earth, roaming about.”

YHVH asked again, “Have you noticed My servant Job? No one on earth is as blameless and upright as he, a man who fears God and avoids evil.” But Satan returned the question, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not built a protective wall around him and his family and all his possessions? You have blessed and prospered him, with his livestock all over the land. But stretch out Your hand and strike where his riches are, and I bet he will curse You to Your face.”

YHVH said to Satan, “Very well, all that he has is in your power. But do not lay a finger upon the man himself.” So Satan left the presence of YHVH. One day, while his sons and daughters were feasting in the house of their eldest brother, a messenger came to Job and said, “Your oxen were plowing, and your donkeys were grazing nearby when the Sabaeans came and carried them off. They killed the herdsmen. I alone escaped to tell you.”

While he was still speaking, another messenger came, “God’s fire fell from the sky and burnt all your sheep and the shepherds as well. I alone have escaped to tell you.” He had hardly finished speaking when another messenger arrived, “Three raiding teams of Chaldeans have killed your servants and carried off your camels. I alone have escaped to tell you.”

He was still speaking when another messenger came and said to Job, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking in the house of their eldest brother when suddenly a great wind blew across the desert and struck the house. It collapsed on the young people and they all died. I alone have escaped to tell you.”

In grief Job tore his clothes and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground and worshipped, saying, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, naked shall I return. YHVH gave, YHVH has taken away. Blessed be His Name!”

In spite of this calamity, Job did not sin by blaspheming God.

Sunday, 1 October 2017 : Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday, we heard the Word of God from the Sacred Scriptures, speaking to us about doing the will of God and obeying Him, in all the things we say and we do, following the examples of none other but the Lord Jesus Himself, as the example of perfect obedience. All of us as Christians have to devote ourselves to the Lord wholeheartedly, and be righteous in all of our deeds.

In the first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Ezekiel, God reminded His people that it was not based on our status or prejudices that we are being judged or will be judged by Him. Rather, it is by our every actions that we will be judged by the Lord. For our every righteous deeds we do, we shall be judged to be worthy of God, while for every wicked and sinful deeds we do, we shall be judged to be unworthy of God and instead worthy of condemnation.

Even if the righteous were to commit sins and wickedness, they shall be judged on the accord of their righteous actions and their sins. Should their sins outweighs their righteous deeds, and their faith be found wanting in the presence of God, they will be condemned like all the other sinners. Equally, should the wicked and great sinners commit what is good and righteous, and their good deeds and righteousness be found worthy over all the wickedness they have committed, they may be considered worthy of God’s glory, and that is also why many souls are now in purgatory.

That was precisely what the Lord Jesus also alluded to in His parable to the people, telling them about two sons who said and did differently to his father’s will and orders. One son who voiced out his obedience to the father’s orders, and yet did not do as he had said, and another son who objected and made excuses against the orders, but in the end, did what the father wanted him to do. The son who actually did what the father wanted him to do, is the one who is righteous in the end.

That means, the readings today presented each and every one of us with both a warning and an opportunity each. The passages warned us that should we be lax in the practice of our faith, even those who are good and pious may end up falling into temptations and sins, and through those sins and scandals, they will end up being condemned instead of attaining salvation as they should have.

On the other hand, an opportunity has also been given to all of us, who are sinners and wicked people, to forge for ourselves a new pathway to God, to turn back on our sins and to be righteous, that through our sincere repentance and desire to be forgiven, all of us may be forgiven and be absolved from our sins, for Christ had died for all of us on the cross, and by His loving sacrifice, He has offered each and every one of us the forgiveness for our sins.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it is often that many of us find this difficult to be done, especially because we encounter many temptations of this world, the temptations to do what we want in life, to do what is easier to be done, what is more convenient for us, rather than to obey the Lord and to follow what His will is for each and every one of us. We tend to take it easy and follow the easier path, and in many of our actions, we often think of the potential profits and benefits for ourselves.

But that is not the path we should be taking, brethren. We may think the path of the Lord is a tough and challenging one, but in the end, through our perseverance and righteousness, we will gain honour and eternal glory from our God, Who sees and knows all that we say and do. And by doing all that He wants each one of us to do, with full sincerity and desire to love Him, we will gain true righteousness and grace from God.

Let us all follow the examples of the holy saint whose feast we celebrate on this day, the saint whose life is an inspiration for each one of us on how we should be good in our lives and be obedient to God’s will. St. Therese of the Child Jesus or St. Therese of Lisieux was a renowned saint, most famously known as the ‘The Little Flower of Jesus’, and in the ‘Little Way’ she propagated.

St. Therese was a sickly young girl who encountered great difficulties early on in her life, having had to constantly grapple with her frail health and physique. Yet, her piety and devotion to God had been noted from a very early age, and as she grew in age, her piety and commitment to God only grew stronger. She experienced many amazing experiences of faith and moments of closeness with God, and wanted to join the Carmelites religious order.

She encountered many difficulties and challenges in entering the congregation, but eventually she was accepted as a Carmelite nun. She wrote extensively and lived a very pious life centred in strong devotion to God. She discovered the ‘Little Way’, in which she explained that she would get to Heaven by the little way, short and straight, through which by little and simple actions, we may discover the path to sanctity.

Many of us think that in order to be good and righteous we have to do great things in order to receive sanctity and approval from God. Yet, that is not true, as St. Therese of Lisieux showed us that even little and seemingly insignificant actions made based on faith, and with full sincerity, will have massive impact altogether towards our salvation and grace. What matters is that we do them sincerely, and devote ourselves wholeheartedly to God.

It is important that we do our deeds out of devotion to God, and not to seek human praise and approval. What will be the benefit for us, if we do what God wants us to do, but because we want to be praised by others, and not for the right intentions? Is that not vanity instead? And the pampering of our human ego and greed for fame? Rather, we should be humble, to be as little and meaningless as possible, so that in our humility and love for God, God may uplift us and glorify us in the end.

Ultimately, we should see the examples of the Lord Jesus Himself, Whom in the second reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Philippians mentioned as the One Who had obeyed perfectly the will of His Father, despite the great difficulties, pain and suffering that would have caused Him. He was tempted by the devil three times in the desert, in the pursuit of human and worldly glory, but He resisted all of them.

He was also tempted to abandon His mission as He prayed in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, the night before His Passion, suffering and death. But He accepted willingly and completely what God His Father has planned for Him and for all mankind, with the words ‘Let Your will be done and not Mine.’ This is the kind of faith and commitment that all of us Christians are called to make, following the example of Christ Himself.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, in conclusion, all of us must make the conscious effort to avoid sin and to repent wholeheartedly and sincerely from all the wicked and unfaithful actions we have done in our lives, for just as small and little acts of faith can bring us on the way to Heaven, even a small little sin can become a great obstacle to our salvation.

Let us all follow in the footsteps of the holy saint, St. Therese of Lisieux, and follow her ‘Little Way’ on our way to the Lord, doing whatever we can, even in small little things we can do in our daily lives, by caring for the needy, by showing love for our fellow brethren, and by forgiving those who have wronged us and caused us discomfort. Let us not keep grudges against one another, but follow the example of Christ, Who forgave His enemies and prayed for their sake.

Let us also follow the Lord Jesus and His example in His perfect obedience to the will of God His Father. Let us pray to God, with this prayer : ‘Lord, I know that I am a sinner and I am unworthy of You, but guide me so that I may not fall any further into the way of sin, but through the Little Way of Your holy saint, St. Therese of Lisieux, and through the perfect obedience of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, we may find the most straight and surest path to You. May we be made worthy through our actions, all made out of our love for You, and out of our love for our brothers and sisters. Amen.’

Sunday, 1 October 2017 : Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 21 : 28-32

At that time, Jesus went on to say, “What do you think of this? A man had two sins. He went to the first and said to him, ‘Son, go and work today in my vineyard.’ And the son answered, ‘I do not want to.’ But later he thought better of it and went. Then the father went to his other son and said the same thing to him. This son replied, ‘I will go, sir,’ but he did not go.”

“Which of the two did what the father wanted?” They answered, “The first.” And Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you : the publicans and the prostitutes are ahead of you on the way to the kingdom of heaven. For John came, to show you the way of goodness, and you did not believe him; but the publicans and the prostitutes did. You were witnesses of this, but you neither repented nor believed him.”