Monday, 2 August 2021 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop, and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops and Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened again to the love and kindness of God in providing for the needs of His people, as we heard the stories of God feeding and providing for them in the desert during their Exodus as described in our first reading today, and then the similar story in the well-known miracle of the feeding of the five thousand men and more by mere five loaves of bread and two fishes by the Lord Jesus, Who multiplied the food for them.

In that first reading passage today, we heard how the people were so ungrateful about the love and attention which the Lord had given them. They were complaining that they could not have the cucumber, leeks, garlic and other things that they used to eat in Egypt, a land that was fertile and bountiful, with all available produces, even when they were enslaved by the Egyptians and the Pharaoh. They were complaining that what they had was just the manna, which they detested.

In truth, the manna itself tasted quite fine, but the people were biased against it, despite the truth that it had been an immense honour and grace for all of them to even have any food at all throughout their journey throughout the desert. Instead of being appreciative of how the Lord had sent them manna, and not only just manna, but even flocks of birds daily to supplement their diet, as well as bountiful amount of water in the midst of the dry and lifeless desert, they chose to complain and refuse to obey the Lord.

They gave in to the temptations of their desires, their desire for good and pleasant life, a decadent and free life without restraint, which led them to wander off from the path that the Lord had shown them. They fell into sinful ways, and committed those sins against God. Moses himself, as the leader of the Israelites, was under great pressure all the time, as we can clearly see his distress as we heard in our first reading passage today.

And yet, the Lord was still ever patient with His people, providing for them ceaselessly and guiding them throughout their forty years of journey, even as He chastised and punished them for their sins, excesses and disobedience. God still loved His people very much, and this was why He showed love and compassion to them, and by feeding them as a very tangible and visible proof of this love, providing them with their essential physical and bodily needs.

As therefore we then heard in our Gospel passage today, how the Lord miraculously fed a multitude of five thousand men and many thousands of other women and children, with just five loaves of bread and two fishes, a story that many of us are surely very familiar with. God cared for all of them as they were hungry and were in need of sustenance after following Him and listening to His teachings for many days.

Through all of these, we are reminded that we are truly fortunate to have been beloved by God, Who wants to love us and care for us. Indeed, if it had not been for His love, we would have been crushed, destroyed and thrown into hellfire for our disobedience and sins. That the Lord still patiently tries, even to this day, in calling us to return to Him, sending countless prophets and messengers, and ultimately His own beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus to come and save us, are the ultimate proofs and signs of His everlasting love.

Therefore, all of us should be grateful for the Lord, and strive to do whatever we can to follow Him and obey His Law and commandments, which we can do by following the inspiring examples of the saints whose memories we recall and venerate today, namely St. Eusebius of Vercelli and St. Peter Julian Eymard. St. Eusebius of Vercelli was the bishop of Vercelli and a ardent defender of the true faith against the falsehoods of heresies which were plenty at his time. Meanwhile, St. Peter Julian Eymard was a holy and devoted priest well renowned for his piety and devotion to the Lord.

St. Eusebius of Vercelli was dedicated to his flock and endeavoured to keep them safe and faithful throughout the various challenges facing them, and he dedicated his time and effort to care for the spiritual needs of the people, living among them and showing true and genuine love for them. He endured trials and difficulties when persecutions and troubles come for the faithful, especially from those who believed in the heresies and followed the tenets of the heretics, and led to the persecution of those who remained true to the true faith. He endured exile and humiliations throughout his ministry, but those things did not deter him from his best for the sake of the Lord and His people.

St. Eusebius of Vercelli worked hard to reconcile the various divided factions of the Church, reaching out to the many people who had been feuding and been separated from one another due to misunderstandings and lack of guidance in faith. He visited many communities, and many were touched by his efforts, which brought the Lord to His people and helped many to turn away from their wrong paths and to be reconciled with their loving God and Father. His dedication and faith are things that we should be inspired to follow.

St. Peter Julian Eymard meanwhile was a faithful and dedicated priest whose devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and to Mary, the Mother of God inspired many to follow his examples, as he popularised the Forty Hours devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and established several congregations dedicated to the ministry of the Lord among the people of God. Many followed in his footsteps and committed themselves to the Lord in the same manner, abandoning their previous, sinful ways of life and embracing the path that St. Peter Julian Eymard has shown them. St. Peter Julian Eymard should be our inspiration in how we lived our own lives with faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore follow in the footsteps of our holy predecessors, and be worthy in all of our dealings and deeds, and do our best in all things, to glorify the Lord and His Name at all times. May God be with us all and may He bless us and all of our good endeavours, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 2 August 2021 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop, and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops and Priests)

Matthew 14 : 13-21

At that time, when Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, He set out by boat for a secluded place, to be alone. But the people heard of it, and they followed Him on foot from their towns. When Jesus went ashore, He saw the crowd gathered there, and He had compassion on them. And He healed their sick.

Late in the afternoon, His disciples came to Him and said, “We are in a lonely place and it is now late. You should send these people away, so that they can go to the villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” But Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat.” They answered, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fishes.” Jesus said to them, “Bring them here to Me.”

Then He made everyone sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves and the two fishes, raised His eyes to heaven, pronounced the blessing, broke the loaves, and handed them to the disciples to distribute to the people. And they all ate, and everyone had enough; then the disciples gathered up the leftovers, filling twelve baskets. About five thousand men had eaten there, besides women and children.

Monday, 2 August 2021 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop, and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops and Priests)

Psalm 80 : 12-13, 14-15, 16-17

But My people did not listen; Israel did not obey. So I gave them over to their stubbornness and they followed their own counsels.

If only My people would listen, if only Israel would walk in My ways, I would quickly subdue their adversaries and turn My hand against their enemies.

Those who hate YHVH would cringe before Him, and their panic would last forever. I would feed you with the finest wheat and satisfy you with honey from the rock.

Monday, 2 August 2021 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop, and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops and Priests)

Numbers 11 : 4b-15

The Israelites wept and said, “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish we ate without cost in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions and garlic. Now our appetite is gone; there is nothing to look at, nothing but manna.”

Now the manna was like coriander seed and had the appearance of bedellium. The people went about gathering it up and then ground it between millstones or pounded it in a mortar. They boiled it in a pot and made cakes with it which tasted like cakes made with oil. As soon as dew fell at night in the camp, the manna came with it.

Moses heard the people crying, family by family at the entrance to their tent and YHVH became very angry. This displeased Moses. Then Moses said to YHVH, “Why have You treated Your servant so badly? Is it because You do not love me that You burdened me with this people? Did I conceive all these people and did I give them birth?”

“And now You want me to carry them in my bosom as a nurse carries an infant, to the land You promised on oath to their fathers? Where would I get meat for all these people, when they cry to me saying :’Give us meat that we may eat?'”

“I cannot, myself alone, carry all these people; the burden is too heavy for me. Kill me rather than treat me like this, I beg of You, if You look kindly on me, and let me not see Your anger.”

Thursday, 2 August 2018 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the word of God in the Scriptures, beginning with the passage from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah, where God told the people through the prophet, what His intentions are for us all, His beloved ones, those whom He had created. God had created each and every one of us, and He gave us the life that we now have.

He compared Himself to a potter, who created, moulded and reshaped the earthwork according to his own desires. Each potter has a vision of how the potter wants the earthwork and ceramic to end up like, be it the shape or the function. It is entirely in the hands of the potter that the fate of the earthwork is decided. Thus, God was saying that, He alone has the power over all of us mankind, as He is the Potter of us all, His masterpieces.

And in the Gospel passage today, all of us have heard about the Lord Jesus speaking to the people and to His disciples about a parable likening the kingdom of God to a large fishing net spread to capture many fishes in the sea. Many of the fishes are gathered and then later on sorted, with the good ones being kept while the bad quality ones are thrown away and discarded.

The Lord Himself explained briefly the meaning of this parable as He said of the coming of the end of times when all the souls of man will be judged, with those who are deemed to be good and worthy to be brought into eternal life and glory with God, sorted out by the Angels whom the Lord sent to gather His faithful people from among the wicked. Meanwhile the wicked will be cast out to utter darkness and eternal suffering.

But God did not intend for the wicked to perish or die, as ultimately every single one of us, be it good or wicked at this moment, are beloved to Him. Remember that God is always ever faithful despite the disobedience that we showed to Him. He will never abandon us even though we have abandoned Him. He will continue to give us opportunity after opportunity, chance after chance to change our ways and to repent from our sins.

The Lord therefore wants to mould us and change us in accordance with His will and desire. He wants each and every one of us to be transformed in body, mind, heart and soul into people of the light. All of us who have lived in the darkness, we are called to this new existence, that is existence in the light of God. We have to abandon our past darkness, the sinfulness that have kept us away from God.

That is why today, the second day of August is also known in the Church as the day of the Portiuncula Indulgence, when the Lord revealed to St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscans of the special grace and mercy which He offers freely to all those who devoutly visit the House of God, confessing their sins and being part of the celebration of the Holy Mass, along with the intention of repentance and turning away from God.

But are we willing to allow ourselves to be forgiven our sins? God indeed freely offers Himself His mercy, but are we open to welcome Him to come into our hearts and to heal us from all the sickness and corruption caused by our sins? We need to allow God to enter into our lives and perform His wonders in our midst, and the way is for us to cooperate with God and not to harden our hearts.

Again comparing to a potter and his pottery works, if a piece of pottery is to harden before its shape is completed, then the pottery is very likely to break and shatter into pieces when the potter exerts force in order to change its shape. That is why normally potters will work on the pottery pieces while they are still soft and mouldable. Therefore, in a similar way, if we harden our hearts and minds, and are not receptive to God’s works in our midst, it is likely that we will end up harming only ourselves.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we should instead look upon the examples set by the holy saints of God, particularly those of St. Eusebius of Vercelli and St. Peter Julian Eymard, the two saints whose feast we are celebrating today. St. Eusebius of Vercelli was a devout and committed servant of God, who as the bishop and one of the leaders of the early Church, strove courageously against the dangerous threat of heresies, especially that of the Arian heresy.

St. Eusebius was among the many defenders of the true orthodox faith, against all those who tried to subvert it and against all those who sought to turn the faithful people of God into false paths. He was persecuted, had his life threatened, and faced all sorts of insults and even troubles, to the point of being imprisoned under the authority of those who were sympathetic to the cause of the heretics and the pagans. Yet, St. Eusebius remained true to his faith in God and to his cause, and eventually, the true faith triumphed.

Meanwhile, St. Peter Julian Eymard was a devout priest who was the initiator and founder of congregation of religious and the faithful dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament, the Real and True Presence of the Lord amidst us all in this world. He was renowned for his great faith and for his immense commitment and piety, which inspired many others to also follow in his footsteps and to strive to have the same faith in God.

Through the examples of these two holy and devout saints, all of us can see how each and every one of us as Christians can also be like them, in how we live our lives as faithful and dedicated servants of God. The Lord has called us all to Him, to be reconciled with Him, and to be transformed completely, from beings engulfed and corrupted by sin, into people truly worthy of God as His beloved children. Let us allow ourselves to be moulded into worthy vessels of His presence in our lives.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He continue to guide us and watch over us in our journey. May He continue to bless us and to keep us in His providence, that in all the things, the challenges and difficulties, the trials and tribulations we encounter in life, we will always strive to be ever more faithful to the Lord, our God. May the Lord bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 2 August 2018 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Priests)

Matthew 13 : 47-53

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a big fishing net, let down into the sea, in which every kind of fish has been caught. When the net is full, it is dragged ashore. Then they sit down and gather the good fish into buckets, but throw the bad away. That is how it will be at the end of time; the Angels will go out to separate the wicked from the just, and to throw the wicked into the blazing furnace, where they will weep and gnash their teeth.”

Jesus asked, “Have you understood all these things?” “Yes,” they answered. So He said to them, “Therefore, every teacher of the Law who becomes a disciple of the kingdom of heaven, is like a householder, who can produce from his store things both new and old.”

When Jesus had finished these parables, He left that place.

Thursday, 2 August 2018 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Priests)

Psalm 145 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6ab

Alleluia! Praise YHVH, my soul! I will sing to YHVH all my life; I will sing praise to God while I live.

Do not put your trust in princes, in a great one, who cannot save. Not sooner his spirit has left, that he goes back to the earth; on that very day, any plan comes to nothing.

Blessed are they whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in YHVH their God, Maker of heaven and earth, the sea and all they contain.

Thursday, 2 August 2018 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Priests)

Jeremiah 18 : 1-6

This is the word of YHVH that came to Jeremiah : “Go down to the potter’s house and there you will hear what I have to say.”

So I went to the potter’s house and found him working at the wheel. But the pot he was working on was spoilt in his hands, so he reworked it all over again into another pot that suits his desire.

Meanwhile YHVH sent me His word, “People of Israel, can I not do with you what this potter does? As clay in the potter’s hand so are you in My hands.”

Sunday, 2 August 2015 : Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we heard about the readings from the Scriptures, both from the Old and New Testament, on how God fed His people and made them satisfied. We heard first how the people of Israel during their Exodus from Egypt was fed with manna, or the bread from heaven, so that even in the middle of the desert they would not go hungry.

Every morning, the Lord would bring manna to them in the morning mist together with the dew, and all had enough manna for themselves to eat. And every evening, the Lord sent huge flocks of birds for the people to catch and eat. And through Moses, God gave His people crystal clear and sweet water to drink, and all these He had done, so that His people may know of His love, and may be filled with good things to satisfaction.

Yet in the Gospel today, Jesus rebuked the people who followed Him, because He knew that He had fed them and they saw that He could feed them and therefore they followed Him. Why is this so, brethren? That is because what Jesus wanted the people to know, and by extension for all of us to know is that, true faith is not about believing just because we saw what had happened and be amazed at it, and neither can we have faith that is just as much as our stomach is, that is our desires.

A good lesson for us can be gained by observing exactly what happened to the people of Israel in the desert. They were fed with manna, with large birds and other food otherwise not to be found in a desert, and were supplied with rich water and ample provisions, but see what had happened to them. They did not remain faithful to the Lord who loved them and cared for them so much.

Firstly they were mesmerised by gold, by the wealth of this world, which the Egyptians had provided them amply with as they left Egypt, when the Egyptians wanted to have nothing nothing else to do with them and gave them whatever they wanted. All these gold got into their hearts, blinding them against God’s love and made them very, very proud of themselves and greed grew in their hearts.

And we know what happened next, when at the mountain of God at Horeb, as Moses went up the mountain to establish covenant between the people of God and their Lord, they whored themselves and sold themselves to the pagan gods, making a golden calf as their idol and their god, claiming that it was that golden calf that led them out of Egypt, even though they had seen the glory and might of God.

Then, throughout their journey across the desert itself, did the people of God remain faithful and did they thank the Lord for the food which God had given them? The very bread that the angels eat and share in the bliss of heaven, of which among men, they were the only ones to have a taste of? No, they were not thankful, and instead, they bickered among themselves and made complaints after complaints, and even complaining that their lives in bondage in Egypt was better than whatever God had given them.

These people had followed the call of their stomach rather than the call of their heart. They followed and submitted to their earthly and worldly desires rather than trying to find the true joy and happiness which only God can give. They placed their trust in earthly things and seek worldly approval and trying to sustain and satisfy their wants and wishes.

And this, coupled with whatever they have done in wickedness have made them to be judged as unworthy and as people rejected by God. They ate the bread from heaven and they died, because they had no life in them, and they did not try to find what true life is about, for life lies with God alone, and they did not find what they need in God, for their worldly concerns and occupations prevented them to find the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in the Gospel we heard the truth, that Jesus Christ our Lord, who came down from heaven, God Himself, His Word who had taken up the flesh of man, had made Himself an offering worthy of our redemption and brought about our salvation, by giving us freely, the true bread of heaven, the true Bread of Life, that is He Himself. He is the Bread of Life, for whoever partake in His Body and drink His Blood, shall have life in them, and death shall no longer reign over them.

This does not mean that those who share in the Body and Blood of our Lord shall not die, but this instead mean that death has no longer any dominion over them. While previously we ought to fear death for it is a consequence and punishment for our sins, we now know that because of Christ, our Lord, we have a new opportunity, a new chance given to us, and a new path to our complete victory and triumph against sin and death is before us.

And all these is again because of God’s love and care which He had shown us freely. Just as He had fed His beloved people with manna, the bread from heaven, with large birds and with sweet and crystal-clear water from rocks itself, therefore now, He feeds us with the true Bread and Wine of Life, that is His own Flesh and Blood. Which God cares for us so much that He would give us this to eat? And especially who would love us so much so as to suffer and bear the burden of all our sins?

It is God who loves us so much, that He would provide for us, feed us and satisfy us with care, and most important of all, to have all of us to have a share in Him, by giving His own Body and Blood through the bread and wine, which our priests transformed completely into the very substance and matter of our Lord Himself. We who partake in the Eucharist worthily therefore, share with one another the true life and salvation which comes from God alone.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, shall we all look deep into ourselves and reflect, and use this opportunity to think about whether we have found the Lord who is really present in the Eucharist, and whether we have understood and realised the love which He had for all of us, whom He had cared for since the beginning of time, and whether we have sincerely sought for Him and desired to find Him in our lives.

May we all grow to love the Lord all the more, and may we strive to make ourselves worthy of Him as we live our lives in this world. Let us shun all forms of worldliness and wickedness in our behaviours, so that by our virtues and good works, we may detach ourselves from the desires and wants we have in our hearts, be no longer oppressed and controlled by them, and in all things may we grow ever more grateful for all the things and blessings God had given us. Lord Jesus Christ, Bread of Life, be with us all always. Amen.

Sunday, 2 August 2015 : Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

John 6 : 24-35

At that time, when the people saw that neither Jesus nor His disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. When they found Him on the other side of the lake, they asked Him, “Master, when did You come here?”

Jesus answered, “Truly, I say to you, you look for Me, not because of the signs which you have seen, but because you ate bread and were satisfied. Work then, not for perishable food, but for the lasting food which gives eternal life. The Son of Man will give it to you, for He is the One on whom the Father has put His mark.”

Then the Jews asked Him, “What shall we do? What are the works that God wants us to do?” And Jesus answered them, “The work God wants is this : that you believe in the One whom God has sent.” Then they said, “Show us miraculous signs, that we may see and believe You. What sign do You perform? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert; as Scripture says : They were given bread from heaven to eat.”

Jesus then said to them, “Truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven. My Father gives you true bread from heaven. The bread God gives is the One who comes from heaven and gives life to the world.” And they said to Him, “Give us this bread always.”

Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of Life; whoever comes to Me shall never be hungry, and whoever believes in Me shall never be thirsty.”