Sunday, 23 July 2017 : Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday, all of us heard the message of the Scriptures, telling us all to be righteous in all of our ways, heeding all that the Lord had taught us to do, by obeying the laws and rules of the Church, and by living a genuine life of faith, filled with love for God and with love for our fellow men. This is what all of us as Christians have been called to do, to be true disciples of our Lord in all of our words and deeds alike.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we heard how Jesus our Lord spoke to His disciples in parables, and then revealed to them the meaning of those parables. Through those parables, God through His Son, Jesus, wanted to reveal to us, the truth about Himself and how we all ought to strive to achieve our salvation through Him, that is by obeying Him and by walking righteously in His path. This is where we should indeed take heed of what we have heard from the Word of God in the Scriptures today, that we may know how we ought to go forward from now on.

First of all, we heard about the parable of the weeds, in which a sower sowed good seeds in a field, and hoped to see good plants and crops growing in due time, only to see weeds growing amongst the good crops because an enemy had come in the dark and sowed the seeds of the weeds amongst the crops. The enemy surely wanted the crops to fail, and the weeds were scattered among the crops in order to compete against the crops for nutrients, and for the whole crop to be less desirable as a whole.

This parable showed us the works of God amongst us mankind, for God Himself is the sower, who sowed good seeds, that is the seeds of faith in our hearts. The field itself is the world, encompassing all of us mankind, in whom God planted His goodness, His Spirit and presence in all. However, the enemy, that is the devil, is out there, actively trying to undermine the good works of God, by spreading the weeds among us, that is sin and the temptations to sin.

But did God in the parable of the sower immediately ordered all of the wheat crops to be thrown away with the weeds? No, He did not do so. He allowed the wheat to grow first, and mature into mature wheat crops with bountiful fruits, and the weeds also grew alongside them. That is because all of us mankind, who have been tainted by sin ever since our forefathers disobeyed God and His commandments, are still ultimately beloved by God, our Lord and Creator.

He wanted to give us all a second chance, the opportunity for us to redeem ourselves, and that was why, He allowed us to continue to grow and develop in this world, with all of our imperfections in us, all the good and evil within us. What we all need to take note of, is then, what the Lord Jesus then continued to tell His disciples, comparing His heavenly kingdom with the parable of the mustard seed and the rising bread.

The Lord mentioned that the kingdom of Heaven is like that of a mustard seed, very small compared to the other seeds and fruits of more noticeable trees and crops. However, that very small seed, when planted in a good soil, will grow into a large tree, larger than many other trees and scrubs, certainly much larger than what people would normally think such a small seed would grow into.

There are many symbolisms in this particular parable, as the mustard seed represents the faith in all of us. The faith might have begun as a small seed, which we ourselves often do not realise that we have with us. However, given the right conditions, when planted in a good soil, meaning that when we realise that gift of faith present in each one of us, and then doing what we can to cultivate that faith, through our actions in life, through the love which we show to God and to our fellow men, and through our justice and righteousness, we will allow the faith to grow in us.

And indeed, as in the other parable not mentioned in today's readings, the parable of the sower, the seed that fell onto the rich and good soil bear its fruits a thirtyfold, a sixtyfold and even a hundredfold and more! That means, if we are truly faithful to the Lord, and truly practice what we believe in our lives, we are allowing ourselves to grow in the sight of the Lord, like a growing stalk of wheat that is healthy and bountiful.

Otherwise, if we do not do what the Lord had told us to do, but instead preferring to follow the temptations of the devil, we are like those wheat crops that were outcompeted by the weeds and whose life is choked out of it by the wheat. That is the reality of sin, brothers and sisters in Christ. The devil is always trying to tempt us with sin, and indeed sin can often feel very pleasurable and enjoyable. It is easier to do what is considered as sin before God, rather than to obey the will of the Lord.

But if we do not make an active effort to resist the encroaching allures of sin, we will often end up falling into those temptations and commit sin before God, and in the end, as the sower and master of the field ordered his servants to collect all the weeds and burn them in the fire, He will also collect all the unworthy wheat, all those corrupted and destroyed by the weeds, and throw them into the fire, for they are useless and meaningless as a harvest.

We need to ask ourselves, and look deep into our lives, brothers and sisters in Christ. Are we doing what the Lord wants us to do? Or are we instead too busy with our wants and desires, with our busy daily schedules and preoccupations in life to take note of what it is that God really wants us to do with our lives? If we are not providing the best condition for God's good works to be realised in us, then how will our faith in God grow and develop?

Just like in the parable of the flour rising as a dough when yeast is added to the flour and mixed in it. All those who have baked before will know that yeast cannot cause the rising of the dough into a fluffy and soft, spongy bread without the proper condition. It requires a seal from outside air, since yeast will only cause fermentation of the flour and creating the fluffy texture of the bread in the absence of oxygen.

Similarly, if our lives are not devoid of all of its wickedness and all of the sins which we have committed, and if we do not make the conscious and active effort in order to turn ourselves away from those sins, how will we then grow closer and more devoted to God? We will only draw further and further away from Him, and when the time of judgment comes upon us, we shall end up on the wrong side of the judgment. Do we want to end up in the eternal torment prepared for the devil and all of his fellow fallen angels? Do we want to be counted among those rejected by God?

Now, indeed, it is the right time for us to do something with our lives. Many of us often like and prefer to delay and to put off doing what we can in fact do now, at this very moment, beginning from this minute. But, do we realise that our lives are at the mercy of God? Do we all realise that we may just meet the end of our lives at any moment that God wishes it? Should we wait until it is too late for us and then regret about it?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all begin from this moment on, in every little things we do in our respective lives, to be faithful to God in all of our ways. In this manner, slowly we are providing for ourselves a rich and fertile soil for the seeds of faith inside each one of us to germinate and to grow, providing rich fruits of the Spirit inside us. And the Lord, Who knows all that we are thinking and doing, will reward us in the end.

Let us all make it a habit to do what is good according to God's will, by loving our brethren, by showing mercy and forgiveness to those who have caused us hurt and suffering. Let us all show our faith by example, and not just by mere words alone. Let us all be ever more devoted and committed disciples of the Lord, so that in the end, all of us will share the eternal joy and glory of our Lord in His kingdom in Heaven. May God bless us all forever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, 22 July 2017 : Feast of St. Mary Magdalene (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene, a woman who was prominently featured and mentioned in the Holy Gospels, as one of the women who accompanied Jesus our Lord in His earthly ministry. It was told through the accounts of the Scriptures and by tradition, that St. Mary Magdalene was the woman from whom our Lord Jesus cast out seven demons, and who was also often associated with a former life as a prostitute and sinner.

In the story of St. Mary Magdalene, we saw the great story of conversion, from her former life filled with sin, wickedness and evil, into a new life filled with faith, devotion and commitment to God. As we can see and witness for ourselves, St. Mary Magdalene was henceforth after her conversion, a true disciple of the Lord, often accompanying Him on His journeys, and even walking alongside Mary, the Mother of our God, to the foot of the cross at Calvary.

She was also the one who witnessed the Lord's Resurrection firsthand, being the first one to whom Jesus our Lord revealed Himself after He had risen from the dead. St. Mary Magdalene therefore occupied a great position of honour among the saints and the disciples of the Lord, for her dedication to the Lord and for her faith. She is for us, an example and inspiration, of how all of us mankind, the people of God, can become, if we are truly changed by our interactions with the Lord.

All of us often forget this simple fact, as we reflect on the life and works of St. Mary Magdalene, that God wants from us conversion and change, a sincere repentance and turning back, away completely from our sins and from all of our past failures. We often thought that God is loving and merciful, and that He would forgive us all our sins. But is that the truth? No, God is indeed loving and merciful towards us, because He loves us, but He despises our sins, wickedness and disobedience.

He wants us to be wholly and thoroughly changed, by our conversion and change in attitude, as exemplified by St. Mary Magdalene in how God transformed her life. Jesus our Lord has also often mentioned to the sinners He had healed and encountered, to 'sin no more' and also to obey the Lord from then on. This is what many of us often overlooked, that in order for us to be thoroughly healed from our sins and to be reconciled with God perfectly, we must embark on the painful and difficult path of conversion, where effort is needed for us to remain true to the Lord in faith.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us spend some time to reflect on ourselves, on our lives and on how we have lived our lives thus far. Are we walking in the same path that St. Mary Magdalene had walked through? Or are we instead distancing ourselves further from God because of our sins and our refusal to turn away from those sins? It is time for us to realise that unless we do something with our lives, we are always at risk of falling into eternal damnation and the suffering prepared for the devil and all those who have been deemed unworthy by God.

God has given us many opportunities in order to redeem ourselves and find our way back to Him. He has shown Himself to St. Mary Magdalene first before all other of His disciples, in a very deeply symbolic meaning of the resurrection, which He shares with all of us who have decided to leave behind our life of sin and darkness behind, and embrace the new light of Christ, His love and mercy.

Through our baptism, we have been made to share in the death of Christ, as our old and past selves are forever cast away through water that destroyed our old lives filled with sin, and then the same water of baptism bring with it a new life, as life-giving water which God gives to us, sharing in the resurrection of our Lord as we receive this new life granted to us. St. Mary Magdalene had accepted her part, and we should also do the same as well.

We should find in ourselves the courage and the strength to do as St. Mary Magdalene had done, in her desire to love and to follow the Lord with all of her heart. We should be sincere and genuine in our faith, not just through mere words alone, but indeed through actions and deeds. We must seek out the Lord with all of our hearts and with all of our efforts.

Let us all draw therefore, closer to God and to His love. Let us embrace the loving sacrifice with which God had endeavoured to save us, through the ultimate sacrifice on the cross. And let us not forget, that there are many more people around us, who are also like Mary Magdalene before she was rescued by the Lord. Let us, through our faithful actions, bring the light of God and His salvation to them. May God bless us and remain with us always. Amen.

Friday, 21 July 2017 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard from the first reading we had, from the Book of Exodus, the account of how the Israelites in Egypt celebrated their very first Passover or Pascha, the moment when the Lord liberated them from the tyranny of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh, by sending His Angels to scour the land of Egypt killing all the firstborn ones of the Egyptians while 'passing over' the houses of the Israelites, marked with the blood of the unblemished Passover Lamb.

They have been shown mercy by God, Who looked kindly on them and remembered their suffering and pain in the land of Egypt. He remembered the Covenant which He had established with their forefathers, from the days of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to whom He had promised that their descendants would enjoy the inheritance of the Promised Land, a land of flowing milk and honey, and they would be His people and He would be their God.

He has passed over them from death, as He saw the blood of the lamb which He told them to slaughter on the Passover day on their doorposts. And thus while death reigned throughout Egypt, sorrow and wailing could be heard from the houses of the Egyptians, there was peace and serenity, hope and joy coming from the houses of the Israelites.

God gave His people His laws and commandments, in order to guide them to Him and keep them in good faith towards Him. Yet, in the Gospel we heard today, another account of how Jesus our Lord was confronted by the Pharisees, who accused Him and His disciples of breaking the Law of the Sabbath, which according to them was that no one was supposed to do anything on the day of the Sabbath.

But the Pharisees totally missed the point of the Law and the purpose of the Sabbath. They were so focused on the applications of the Sabbath law that they ended up forgetting what was the intent of that law in the first place. They imposed the Law without understanding that ultimately it was because of God's love for His people, which He had shown to them since those ages ago, as we remembered how He saved His people at the first Passover.

Yes, it was by none other than Jesus Christ, His own Beloved Son, Whom He sent into the world, that God endeavoured to bring His salvation to the whole world. Christ is the new Paschal or Passover Lamb, by which God made His salvation available for everyone, and not just the Israelites. If the people of Israel was brought free from the land of Egypt, having been passed over from death and freed from their enslavement to Pharaoh and the Egyptians, then God sent Jesus His Son, to free all of mankind, His people, from their enslavement to sin.

For it was by His ultimate loving sacrifice on the cross that Jesus had endeavoured to liberate us from sin, by bearing those sins and faults we have committed unto Himself, and offering Himself to the Lord as a perfect sacrifice worthy to absolve us all from the multitudes our sins. Just as the blood of the Passover lamb marked the houses of the people of Israel, we all have been bathed and washed clean by the Blood of the Lamb of God, our Lord Jesus Christ.

This is the love which God had shown each and every one of us, which we ought to appreciate and then apply in our own lives. We must not be shortsighted and conceited as the Pharisees had been, in how they tried to oppose the Lord Jesus and His good works just because He and His disciples were not operating in the manner that they wanted and expected. And in this, perhaps we should also heed the examples of the holy saint, St. Lawrence of Brindisi, whose feast we celebrate today.

St. Lawrence of Brindisi was a Capuchin friar and priest, who was renowned for his devotion to the Lord, and for his works in evangelising the Gospel and spreading the teachings of the Church among the people of God, particularly to those who have fallen to the false teachings and heresies of the Protestant reformation. Through his works, many people have returned to the faith, and were converted to a new life in God.

All of us should also follow the examples of St. Lawrence of Brindisi and the other holy saints, whose lives are holy and committed to God, no longer that they served themselves and their own wants and desires, but they embraced the love that God had showed them, and sharing this love with one another, they bring many souls to the salvation in God.

May the Lord through the intercession of St. Lawrence of Brindisi and all of His holy saints and people, bring us all closer to Him and to His eternal life and glory promised to all the faithful servants of God. Amen.

Thursday, 20 July 2017 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Apollinaris, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us heard about the calling of Moses by God, Who called him at the mountain of Horeb in Sinai, calling him to be His servant before Pharaoh, the King of Egypt, in order to free His people Israel from slavery and bondage. God told Moses what to say and do before Pharaoh, and before the people of Israel, that He would deliver them from the slavery in Egypt and bringing them into the land of their forefathers, a land flowing with milk and honey.

In the Gospel today, then we heard about the Lord Jesus speaking the well-known words, ‘Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.’ And then He continued with, ‘Take My yoke and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.’ These words of encouragement are reminders of the time when the people of Israel were enslaved under heavy burdens, the yoke of their slavery.

A yoke is the object placed on top of bulls and buffaloes, or horses and other beasts of burden in order to be the piece that holds up the burdens which are to be carried by those animals. The yoke is placed such that the animals would not be able to easily get rid of it, and it is indeed a heavy burden placed on the back of the animal. It is therefore a symbol of enslavement and burden, which had been placed on God’s people.

God wants to remove the heavy burden from His people, just as He had removed the burden of their slavery in Egypt, where the people of Israel was crushed and persecuted under the Pharaohs who forced them into slave labour, building up his cities and monuments under the worst of conditions. They were tortured and treated badly, their rights were ignored and the Pharaohs even wanted to exterminate Israel as a people, ordering the male Hebrew newborns to be thrown into the Nile River.

God rescued His people, by sending Moses to deliver the people from the hands of Pharaoh and the Egyptians, and through Moses God sent ten great plagues that heavily crushed the Egyptians and forced the Pharaoh to relent and let the Israelites go free from slavery. And when the Pharaoh reneged on his words and chased after the Israelites, God destroyed the chariots and the armies of Egypt in the middle of the Red Sea while His people walked through the sea unharmed.

But what most people would have missed out is the fact that when God brought His people to freedom, He was not bringing them to an unbridled freedom or a life where they could just do whatever it was they wanted. No, in fact, this is what Jesus our Lord mentioned in the Gospel, when He said that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. This means that the people of God were given a new burden, and this burden was for them to be obedient to God and follow all of His ways.

This happened as God established a new Covenant with His people, renewing the one which He had made with Abraham their forefathers. And through that Covenant, God gave His people a set of ten commandments and laws, which He relayed to them through Moses. The people were obliged to obey those laws and commandments, and when they refused to do so, and as they disobeyed the Lord, they perished in the desert.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is a reminder to all of us that in order for us to walk faithfully upon God’s path, it will not be a painless or easy process for us. There will be challenges and difficulties, all the things that will be obstacles in our way to the Lord. There will be times when we have the temptations to give up and to turn away from God. There will be times when we will falter and prefer the comforts of the world, just as the Israelites had done before.

But let us remember, brethren, that if we turn away from the Lord and are not faithful to Him, even though we may gain a brief respite in this world, and enjoy acceptance from the world, the Lord will reject us and the consequences for us will be catastrophic. That is why the burden of this world, while it may seem to be lighter and easier, but in reality, it is far worse than the burden of becoming a faithful disciple of the Lord.

Let us not give up, brothers and sisters in Christ, but instead commit ourselves to a new life blessed with faith, following in the example of what St. Apollinaris, a holy bishop and martyr of the Church had done in his life. As we celebrate his feast day today, let us take heed of what he had committed, as he led his flock, the faithful people of God as the bishop of Ravenna in the earliest days of the Church.

St. Apollinaris propagated the faith with zeal among the people, helping to establish the Church foundations in the city of Ravenna and beyond. When the faithful were persecuted by the Roman Emperor and its administration, St. Apollinaris did not give up but continued to labour hard for the sake of the faithful people of God. It was told that he was arrested, exiled from Ravenna with many of his faithful, and as he was faithful to the end, he gladly received martyrdom.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, St. Apollinaris and the many other holy saints and martyrs of God have lived their lives filled with sincere devotion and commitment, knowing that God will free them all from their slavery to sin and from their fated destruction. Yes, brethren, God has freed us all and He has promised us all eternal life and glory with Him, if only that we are also faithful to Him and to the Covenant He has made with us all through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Let us all therefore renew our faith in the Lord, and let us all seek to be closer to the Lord, by doing what is right and just, and what is according to God’s will in our lives. May the Lord also help us in our journey towards Him, and may He help us to persevere through the challenges and obstacles we may face on our way. May God bless us all. Amen.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us heard how Moses was called by God to be His servant and as the one through whom God would liberate His people Israel. At that time, Moses was in exile from Egypt, having fled from there because he killed an Egyptian officer who struck at one of his fellow Israelite, enslaved in Egypt.

God called Moses through the burning bush, from which He spoke to him, calling him and revealing to him Who He truly was. When Moses asked Him for His identity, He simply answered, ‘I AM WHO AM’, the Name by which God was known to the people of Israel and to their ancestors, as the One Who established the covenant with Abraham and which He renewed to his descendants.

And thus, even though Moses was unsure at first, and was filled with doubt on his ability to lead the people of God out of Egypt, but God did not stop calling him, instead encouraging him and giving him the strength to carry on what would be an arduous task of facing the ruler of Egypt, the Pharaoh and demanding from him to release the people of Israel from their bondage and allow them to return to their land in Canaan.

The Lord revealed Himself to Moses, who then in turn, revealed Him to the people of Israel. It is by this revelation that God made Himself evident to those who believe in Him, and consequently they were saved. Meanwhile, the Pharaoh continued to harden his heart and refused to let the people of Israel go, because in his pride and his trust for worldly power, he refused to bend down to the will of God, and instead, continued to oppress God’s people.

But God broke the power of the mighty, including that of the Pharaoh, and gave help to those who are weak and are burdened, since these people believed in Him and called on Him in their time of need. God protected them and gave them His assistance through various means, including what we have heard and known about how He liberated the Israelites through Moses, His faithful servant.

How are all of these relevant to us, brothers and sisters in Christ? First of all, we have to realise that all of us, who belong in the Church, have received that privilege of knowing the truth, truth which has been passed down to us through the Church, and which ultimately came from the Lord Himself, Who revealed to us about His most loving deeds, by which He wanted to save us from damnation.

Yet, what is it that many of us Christians have done? It is often that even though we knew the truth, and even though we are aware of just how much God has loved us, but we pretend as if we do not know about all of that. We pretend to be ignorant or indeed we are ignorant of this truth. We have heard the Word of God, and yet the Word of God did not take roots in us, and we continued with our lives as if nothing has changed.

Many of us also did not realise just how much it is that God had done for our sake, since although we know the Lord, but we are so preoccupied and busy with our daily occupations, works and whatever it is, that we ended up forgetting about Him and not paying attention to whatever it is that He had done for us. We are so busy that we fail to realise that God is always there guiding us in our path and actively working to bring us back to Him, to be reconciled with Him.

This is where all of us need to take a step back and reflect on what it is that we can do in order to be more faithful to the Lord, and to realise more what we can do in order to bring ourselves closer to God and His love. He is always there for us, and He will guide us to the right paths, but we need to learn to trust in Him, and obey Him as Moses had obeyed Him, and walked in His paths.

May the Lord strengthen our faith, and may He continue to reveal to us His everlasting and wonderful love, the love which He had showered us with from the time when He created each and every one of us. May He empower us and give us the courage to continue living as faithful and devoted people of the Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the continuation of yesterday’s passage from the Book of Exodus, in which we heard how Moses, the one whom God had chosen to lead His people out of Egypt, was born and was saved from death due to Pharaoh’s orders that all newborn boys of Israel must be killed. In this, God showed just how He guided His people and never stopped taking care of them, through the many deeds He had performed among His people.

And yet, many of His people continued to refuse to believe in Him, and even having doubts about Him, even when He had done all those amazing deeds for their very own sake. Take for example, how the Israelites responded to the Lord for having brought them out of the land of Egypt through mighty deeds and great plagues, with which He forced the Pharaoh to let His people go free from slavery. When He fed them with manna in the desert and gave them sweet and clear water to drink, they complained of not having enough food and water to be consumed.

They even said that they would rather suffer in slavery in Egypt but having enough food or drinks to be consumed. They would rather live as a slave rather than to die as a free man. But that is precisely because they had no faith in God, and their hearts were closed against God’s love and grace. He had given them so much, and yet, they spurned His love and even abandoned Him for pagan gods and idols, the most well-known one of which was their making of the golden calf just right after God brought them out of Egypt.

Eventually God punished all those who continued to rebel against Him and refused to repent from their unfaithfulness and stubbornness. However, God is ever loving and ever merciful. He would not stop loving us all, for after all, He created us all out of love, and He loved each and every one of us as His own beloved children. He gave them chances after chances, and opportunities after opportunities, and yet they still often doubted Him and rebelled against Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why Jesus our Lord was right to be angry in what we heard in the Gospel passage today, in which He rebuked the cities of Capernaum, Chorazin and Bethsaida for their stubbornness and lack of faith. In many occasions throughout the Gospels and surely in many others unrecorded in the Gospels, Jesus had performed many amazing miracles and taught the people living in those cities about God, but they had not turned themselves completely towards Him.

Many of them did not follow Him because they had genuine faith in Him, but instead because they were awed and wishing to benefit personally from what they saw as a Wonder-Maker, and as One Who can fulfil all that they wished and wanted. But this is not what the Lord Jesus wanted from them. He did not come to satisfy all their needs and wishes, but instead, to tell them the truth of what they need to do in order to attain salvation and liberation from their slavery to sin.

This is what each and every one of us must take heed of us well, because all of us are called to a true faith in God, in which we should live our lives filled with sincere and genuine devotion to the Lord. God is calling us to a real faith, and to turn ourselves fully and completely towards Him. If we have sinned and disobeyed Him, God wants us to be wholly converted and changed, that we ought to unbind the shackles of those sins that had burdened us all these while.

He has given us many opportunities and means through which we can accomplish this. God gave us His Son to be our Saviour, to be the Redeemer Who liberated us from our shackles. What we now need to do in our lives therefore, is for us to believe and not just believe superficially, but embody our faith through our actions and deeds. That means, we must strive that in all the things we say, in the things we do, we always make sure that we obey the Lord and walk in His ways.

God loves each and every one of us, brothers and sisters in Christ, but many of us are yet unaware of this fact, primarily because many of us are closing our hearts to Him, and did not allow Him to enter into our lives. We are too busy with our daily preoccupations and works for us to notice just how much God cares for each and every one of us. What we need to do, is for us to spend some time, every day, in quiet communication with God, spending time with Him, asking Him, what it is that He wants us to do in our life today, tomorrow, and hereafter.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all from now on renew our commitment to God, and be ever more sincere and true in our faith in Him, doing whatever it is that we can do in order to be more committed and closer to God. May the Lord help each and every one of us in our endeavours, and may He awaken in each one of us, a strong desire and love for the Lord. Amen.

Monday, 17 July 2017 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the beginning of the tale of Israel in Egypt as told through the Book of Exodus. After we have completed the discourse from the Book of Genesis, about how God established His covenant with Abraham and his descendants, now we read about how Israel first thrived in Egypt and then they were persecuted by the Pharaoh, King of Egypt, who feared that the Israelites were becoming more powerful and thriving by the day.

Thus, the Pharaoh made them to be slave labours to build his cities and monuments, and he placed heavy works and burdens on their shoulders. He punished them heavily and even ordered for the extermination of all the newborn male children of the Hebrews, the people of Israel, as he hoped that through these means, he would be able to exterminate the entire people of Israel and got rid of the potential trouble they might bring to him and his kingdom.

But God was with His people, and He provided for them in their time of greatest need. Even though they were beset with troubles and the Pharaoh ordering all the newborn sons of the Israelites to be thrown into the Nile River, yet their numbers continued to increase and somehow God’s providence rescued His people. And that was also when He sent to His people, the promised deliverance through His servant, Moses, who was also thrown into the River Nile, and yet saved by the daughter of Pharaoh to become a Prince of Egypt.

This was what God has planned for His people, and nothing could undo His good works no matter how they tried to do so. The Pharaoh tried to destroy Israel and enslave them, but as we all know, God sent Moses to His people and to Pharaoh, and through ten great plagues and His other deeds, including opening the Red Sea and allowing His people in front of them, God saved His people from their slavery in Egypt and from their suffering.

Thus, this is a reminder of God’s love and faithfulness to His Covenant with us. All those who are faithful to God have nothing to fear, for God will reward them justly for their faith and dedication to Him. This is what we also heard in our Gospel passage today, in which the Lord reminded that His coming into this world would not herald immediate peace and harmony as some would otherwise be mistaken, thinking that God came to bring eternal peace and happiness, and no more suffering or sorrow would exist.

No, brothers and sisters in Christ, the reality is that, indeed God will do all that, but in time to come, at the time of His own choosing. As He came into this world bearing His truth, dispelling the lies and the falsehoods of the devil, it immediately and definitively attracting a serious reaction from the devil, the author of all those lies and falsehoods, with which he has seduced and tempted many in the world for long ages. Surely he will not just sit still allowing those whom he had seduced and tempted to be freed from his clutches.

No, indeed, the devil and all of his forces will be busy at work trying to prevent this from happening. And that is why as Jesus our Lord mentioned, there will be discord and trouble brewing all around us, if we choose to remain faithful to the Lord and walk in His ways. There will be temptation, opposition and challenges from even our loved ones and those whom we trusted, our friends, families and relatives. And there will be times when we really rather give up and surrender to whatever it is that the devil wants us to do, that is to sin and to disobey God.

Remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, what we have heard from the Scriptures today, about God Who loves all of His people, and Who gave His tender mercy and compassion to them when they were in trouble and when they were suffering from persecution. He liberated them from their enslavement in Egypt and fulfilled His promises to them in His due time. This is what all of us need to think about and understand, how God loves us and how He will always be with us, no matter what happens.

Let us therefore spend some time to reflect and to think what are the things that we can do in our lives to be more devoted and committed to the Lord. Let us find a way for us to continue to devote our lives to God’s cause and to remain faithful to Him. Let us all help one another, especially if we see our brethren suffering for his faith, and do whatever we can do to help, so that eventually together, all of us may continue to walk in the path of God and receive salvation together as one faithful people. May God be with us always, now and forever. Amen.