Sunday, 29 September 2019 : Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Feast of the Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday, all of us are all called to live a holy and virtuous life that is centred not on worldly possessions and the many temptations present in this world, but rather on God alone. We have to remember this at all times, lest those same temptations pull us into the wrong path, as the evil one is always ever ready and ever busy to strike at us with all of his capabilities.

In our first reading today, we heard the words of the prophet Amos being directed at the Israelites conveying the anger of God at those people because of their refusal to believe in Him and His prophet, their refusal to listen to those whom God had sent into their midst to remind them to follow His path. They have hardened their hearts and closed their minds to God, and they preferred to live in sin and worshipped pagan idols and gods instead of the One and only True God they should have been worshipping.

The prophet Amos worked and ministered to the people during the last years of the northern kingdom of Israel, which was referred to in the first reading passage today as ‘Samaria’, which was the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel. It was a foreboding and warning to those people that should they continue to live in sin and refused to change their ways, they would see the end of their kingdom and had to endure exile, as how it actually happened in the end.

And this is related to what we have heard in our Gospel passage today, in which the Lord Jesus used the parable of Lazarus and the rich man to highlight how important it is for us to live a truly God-centric life and resist the many temptations found in this world. In that well-known parable we heard how the Lord Jesus told His disciples the story of a rich man and a poor man named Lazarus, who was always by the gate of the house of the rich man, hungry and suffering while the rich man feasted and dressed well every single day.

Through this parable, the Lord wanted us all to know that it is not that He is against us having wealth or that being wealthy is something that is sinful and wrong, but rather, it is our unhealthy and dangerous attachment to those worldly possessions, be it wealth in any forms, in money and other goods of pleasures, even in matter of dress and food that we must be wary of. Those goods on their own are not evil or bad by nature.

In fact, having greater wealth and possessions is actually a blessing from God, that God has given us more and provided us with greater blessings in our own unique way. However, we must also remember what the Lord Himself also said in another different occasion, that ‘To those who have been given a lot, a lot is also then expected from them’. This means that the more blessings we have received from God, the more that we are actually challenged to make good use of them.

The very fact that Lazarus, the poor man stayed at the gate of the rich man’s house day after day, again and again showed just how oblivious the rich man and his household had been to the plight of Lazarus. The rich man and his household partied and celebrated without end, with all the goodness the world could have offered, enjoying to the fullest all of earth’s wonderful pleasures, satisfying themselves in great excess.

That poor man did not ask for much, just for food to alleviate his hunger and basic human needs and dignity. Yet, no one would give him what he deserved, and left him all alone to suffer until the day he died and went into heaven in the presence of God and Abraham, his forefather. Then as mentioned, the rich man also died, and he went into the eternal suffering in hell, suffering as the Lord said because during life, he had done what is wicked and enjoyed life as it was, while Lazarus suffered so greatly.

Being rich is truly not something that is inherently evil or bad. God does not despise the rich and the powerful as I have just mentioned. But when we misuse what God has given to us and blessed us with for our own selfish purposes, just as the prophet Amos spoke against the Israelites for their wicked and unjust actions towards one another, then we have committed a great sin against God.

But this is something that each and every one of us must always be wary about, as the temptations are always there, pulling us into the path of disobedience and sin. By our exposure to sin, and by the frailty of our body, mind and flesh, we are naturally predisposed to various desires, be it for wealth, money, for worldly things and possessions, for glory and power, for other pleasures of this world, to satisfy our own selfish desires.

This is where we must always stand ready to resist those temptations, which Satan and all the evil forces ever present around us are always ready to push onto us, trying to lure us away from the path of righteousness. And this is where in our second reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to St. Timothy, the Apostle reminded us that each and every one of us must strive to be holy and godly, and strive to resist all the negative emotions and temptations that threaten to take us away from God.

And looking again at the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, let us remember and realise just how futile our pursuits for worldly things and glories have been. For all of his wealth and power, his popularity and all the fame he had, the rich man was left with nothing when he entered into death and thrown into hell. In the end, he was just left by himself, in despair and total hopelessness, and no matter what he is doing and how he want to get out, once he is in hell, there is absolutely no hope for him, for he has rejected God completely and refused His love totally.

Satan purposely wants us to indulge in all those wicked things, and to be tempted to sin so that we will in the end lose everything, and he will never cease to tempt us and to push us into sin, and we should resist his efforts and seek for help in this constant battle raging daily for our souls. And today, as it happens, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Archangels, St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael.

Today, let us all ask for the help and protection from the three Holy Archangels, who is always ready to help us with the legions of Angels and our own Guardian Angels to protect us all from the attacks of the evil ones. But we also have to make the conscious effort to resist those temptations and realise that we have to hold onto the right things in life, that is not the false joys and happiness in worldly things, but rather to trust in God.

Let us all therefore make best use of whatever God has blessed us with, for the benefit of our fellow men and not be selfish like the rich man or the Israelites of the time of prophet Amos, who put themselves, their ego and pride ahead of their love for God and for their fellow men. Let us seek to be humble in all things and love God and place Him at the very centre of our lives and our existences. Let us not be ignorant of the needs and the plight of those who are less fortunate than us, but instead, let us be generous in sharing whatever happiness, joy and blessings we have received from God.

May the Holy Archangels, St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael protect us all and may they intercede for us and be our guardians in this constant, daily spiritual warfare that we may emerge triumphant, keeping ourselves away from unworthy and wicked attachments to false pleasures, joys and temptations of this world so that in all things we may become ever closer to God and be worthy of His promised inheritance and glory. Amen.

Sunday, 29 September 2019 : Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Feast of the Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 16 : 19-31

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Once there was a rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen and feasted every day. At his gate lay Lazarus, a poor man covered with sores, who longed to eat just the scraps falling from the rich man’s table. Even dogs used to come and lick his sores.”

“It happened that the poor man died, and Angels carried him to take his place with Abraham. The rich man also died, and was buried. From hell where he was in torment, the rich man looked up and saw Abraham afar off, and with him Lazarus at rest. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me, and send Lazarus, with the tip of his finger dipped in water, to cool my tongue, for I suffer so much in this fire.'”

“Abraham replied, ‘My son, remember that in your lifetime you were well-off, while the lot of Lazarus was misfortune. Now he is in comfort, and you are in agony. But that is not all. Between your place and ours a great chasm has been fixed, so that no one can cross over from here to you, or from your side to us.'”

“The rich man implored once more, ‘Then I beg you, Father Abraham, to send Lazarus to my father’s house, where my five brothers live, let him warn them, so that they may not end up in this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.'”

“But the rich man said, ‘No, Father Abraham; but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced, even if someone rises from the dead.'”

Sunday, 29 September 2019 : Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Feast of the Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Timothy 6 : 11-16

But you, man of God, shun all this. Strive to be holy and godly. Live in faith and love, with endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith and win everlasting life, to which you were called, when you made the good profession of faith, in the presence of so many witnesses.

Now, in the presence of God, Who gives life to all things, and of Jesus Christ, Who expressed before Pontius Pilate the authentic profession of faith : preserve the revealed message to all. Keep yourself pure and blameless, until the glorious coming of Christ Jesus, Our Lord, Who God will bring about at the proper time; He, the magnificent Sovereign, King of Kings and Lord of lords. To Him, alone, immortal, Who lives in unapproachable light, and Whom no one has ever seen or can see, to Him, be honour and power, forever and ever. Amen!

Sunday, 29 September 2019 : Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Feast of the Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 145 : 6c-7, 8-9a, 9bc-10

The Lord is forever faithful; He gives justice to the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free.

The Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord straightens the bent. The Lord loves the virtuous, but He brings to ruin the way of the wicked. The Lord protects the stranger.

The Lord sustains the widow and the orphan. The Lord will reign forever, your God, o Zion, from generation to generation. Alleluia!

Sunday, 29 September 2019 : Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Feast of the Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Amos 6 : 1a, 4-7

Woe to those proud people, who live overconfident, on the hill of Samaria! You lie on beds inlaid with ivory and sprawl on your couches; you eat lamb from the flock and veal from calves fattened in the stall.

You strum on your harps, and like David, try out new musical instruments. You drink wine by the bowlful and anoint yourselves with the finest oils; but you do not grieve over the ruins of Joseph. Therefore, you will be the first to go into exile; and the feast of sprawlers will be over.

Friday, 29 September 2017 : Feast of the Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Daniel 7 : 9-10, 13-14

I looked and saw the following : Some thrones were set in place and One of Great Age took His seat. His robe was white, as snow, His hair, white as washed wool. His throne was flames of fire with wheels of blazing fire. A river of fire sprang forth and flowed before Him. Thousands upon thousands served Him and a countless multitude stood before Him.

Those in the tribunal took their seats and opened the book. I continued watching the nocturnal vision : One like a Son of Man came on the clouds of heaven. He faced the One of Great Age and was brought into His presence. Dominion, honour and kingship were given Him, and all the peoples and nations of every language served Him. His dominion is eternal and shall never pass away; His kingdom will never be destroyed.

Alternative reading

Revelations 12 : 7-12a

War broke out in heaven, with Michael and his Angels battling with the dragon. The dragon fought back with his angels, but they were defeated, and lost their place in heaven. The great dragon, the ancient serpent, known as the devil, or Satan, seducer of the whole world, was thrown out. He was hurled down to earth, together with his angels.

Then, I heard a loud voice from heaven : Now has salvation come, with the power and the kingdom of our God, and the rule of His Anointed. For our brothers’ accuser has been cast out, who accused them night and day, before God. They conquered him, by the Blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, for they gave up their lives, going to death.

Rejoice, therefore, o you heavens, and you who dwell in them.

Thursday, 29 September 2016 : Feast of the Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the great feast of the Holy Archangels, of which there are seven in the holy presence of God, the greatest of all of God’s Angels, the servants whom He sent into the world to carry out His will and be His agents to relate to us all His beloved creation, mankind, who had fallen on our way and were lost to Him.

And among these seven Archangels, three of them were named in the Sacred Scriptures. Michael, the Prince and leader of the Heavenly Host, the leader of the armies of Heaven was one of them, who appeared to Joshua when he was about to lead the people of Israel into the Promised Land. He was sent to Joshua to bring God’s assurance to the people that He was with them and He would guide their path.

And we also heard Michael as the leader of the Heavenly hosts who resisted Satan and his rebel angels, he who was once Lucifer, the greatest and brightest of the Angels created by God, but by whose pride, ambition and haughtiness had fallen into disgrace and rebellion against God. It was told that Michael was chosen by God to lead His faithful Angels against the forces of darkness and end Satan’s hubris of taking over the Throne of Heaven.

The name of Michael meant ‘Who is like God?’ and that very name is a rebuke towards Lucifer, Satan, who in his pride thought that he could rival God in terms of power and majesty while he was a mere creation, as mighty and great as he was. It was told that he trembled in the presence of God, awed by the greatness and the majesty of God. And thus, it was how Michael was chosen to lead the entire host of Heaven, not because of pride and greatness, but because of his devotion and commitment to God.

Meanwhile, the Archangel Gabriel was the bearer of the Good News to Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, proclaiming to her that the Messiah and Saviour of the world would come through her, and she would become the Mother of the Saviour, and as He is the Son of God, she would therefore be also the Mother of God, a privilege accorded to no one else among us mankind.

It was told that the Archangel Gabriel was a great warrior of God among His Angels, and He came to bear news of war and bad tidings of conflict and destruction. But rightly, when the Archangel appeared to Mary, what seemed to us to be good tidings and joyful news, to the devil and all of his forces, that news came like a death knell and a pronouncement of ultimate judgment, for they know that their time was up.

And last of all, the Archangel Raphael was the one who appeared to the distressed Tobit and his son, Tobias, both of whom had troubles in their lives. Tobit and his family was an exile in the land of the Assyrians, and troubles often came for him and his family. And one day he was blinded because bird’s droppings entered into his eyes. Meanwhile, Tobias went to help his father by visiting his relative and found that Sara, the daughter of his father’s relative, was beset by a demon, Asmodeus.

That was when God sent His Archangel Raphael, the healer of the body and the soul, bringing about God and His healing to His beloved people. Archangel Raphael disguised himself as a young man who advised Tobias on how he could help both Sara and his father, Tobit. And eventually, the Archangel chased away the demon that troubled Sara and brought healing upon Tobit, bringing on him the blessing of God for his many years of faithful life and service.

Through these examples and stories we have heard, on how God sent His Angels and Archangels to assist mankind, as He wants us all to find our way to His salvation and therefore not be lost to damnation. The forces of the devil, and the devil himself are always out there constantly trying to lure us into the darkness, tempting us and pressurising us to follow their desires instead of obeying God.

On our side, what is it that we can do, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is our responsibility therefore to live our lives in accordance with God’s ways and listen to the advice and guidance given to us by the Holy Angels and the Archangels of God. We are always locked in this constant spiritual warfare and battles over our souls, where the Lord sends us His Angels and Archangels to guide us and to protect us from the harm intended upon us by the devil.

It is our part therefore to lead a faithful life, filled with true devotion and commitment to the Lord, sin no more, and follow wholeheartedly the whole Christian teachings which had been revealed to us through His Church. May the Lord help us in this endeavour, and may He and His holy Archangels, Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, and the other holy Archangels serving at His presence watch over us always. Amen.

Thursday, 29 September 2016 : Feast of the Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
John 1 : 47-51

At that time, when Jesus saw Nathanael coming, He said of him, “Here comes an Israelite, a true one; there is nothing false in him.” Nathanael asked Him, “How do You know me?” And Jesus said to him, “Before Philip called you, you were under the fig tree, and I saw you.”

Nathanael answered, “Master, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” But Jesus replied, “You believe because I said, ‘I saw you under the fig tree.’ But you will see greater things than that. Truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened, and the Angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

Thursday, 29 September 2016 : Feast of the Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White
Psalm 137 : 1-2a, 2bcd-3, 4-5

I thank You, o Lord, with all my heart, for You have heard the word of my lips. I sing Your praise in the presence of the gods. I bow down towards Your holy Temple and give thanks to Your Name.

For Your love and faithfulness, for Your word which exceeds everything. You answered me when I called; You restored my soul and made me strong.

O Lord, all kings on earth will give You praise, when they have heard Your words. They will celebrate the ways of the Lord, “great is the glory of the Lord!”

Thursday, 29 September 2016 : Feast of the Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Daniel 7 : 9-10, 13-14

I looked and saw the following : Some thrones were set in place and One of Great Age took His seat. His robe was white as snow, His hair white as washed wool. His throne was flames of fire with wheels of blazing fire. A river of fire sprang forth and flowed before Him. Thousands upon thousands served Him and a countless multitude stood before Him.

Those in the tribunal took their seats and opened the book. I continued watching the nocturnal vision : One like a Son of Man came on the clouds of heaven. He faced the One of Great Age and was brought into His presence. Dominion, honour and kingship were given Him, and all the peoples and nations of every language served Him. His dominion is eternal and shall never pass away; His kingdom will never be destroyed.

Alternative reading
Revelations 12 : 7-12a

War broke out in heaven with Michael and his Angels battling with the dragon. The dragon fought back with his angels, but they were defeated and lost their place in heaven. The great dragon, the ancient serpent known as the devil or Satan, seducer of the whole world, was thrown out. He was hurled down to earth, together with his angels.

Then I heard a loud voice from heaven : Now has salvation come, with the power and the kingdom of our God, and the rule of His Anointed. For our brothers’ accuser has been cast out, who accused them night and day, before God. They conquered him by the Blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.