Saturday, 23 June 2018 : Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 1 : 5-17

In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there lived a priest named Zechariah, belonging to the priestly clan of Abiah. Elizabeth, Zechariah’s wife also belonged to a priestly family. Both of them were upright in the eyes of God, and lived blamelessly, in accordance with all the laws and commands of the Lord, but they had no child. Elizabeth could not have any and now they were both very old.

Now, while Zechariah and those with him were fulfilling their office, it fell to him by lot, according to the custom of the priests, to enter the Sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. At the time of offering incense, all the people were praying outside; it was then, that an Angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. On seeing the Angel, Zechariah was deeply troubled and fear took hold of him.

But the Angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, be assured that your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son and you shall name him John. He will bring joy and gladness to you, and many will rejoice at his birth. This son of yours will be great in the eyes of the Lord. Listen : he shall never drink wine or strong drink; but he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb.”

“Through him, many of the people of Israel will turn to the Lord their God. He, himself, will open the way to the Lord, with the spirit and power of the prophet Elijah; he will reconcile fathers and children; and lead the disobedient to wisdom and righteousness, in order to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Saturday, 23 June 2018 : Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Peter 1 : 8-12

You have not, yet, seen Him, and, yet, you love Him; even without seeing Him, you believe in Him, and experience a heavenly joy beyond all words, for you are reaching the goal of your faith : the salvation of your souls.

This was the salvation for which the prophets so eagerly looked when, in days past, they foretold the favour of God, with regard to you. But they could only investigate when the Spirit of Christ present within them, pointed out the time and the circumstances, of this – the sufferings of Christ, and the glories which would follow.

It was revealed to them, that they were working, not for themselves, but for you. Thus, in these days, after the Holy Spirit has been sent from heaven, the Gospel’s preachers have taught you these mysteries, which even the Angels long to see.

Saturday, 23 June 2018 : Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 70 : 1-2, 3-4a, 5-6ab, 15ab and 17

In You, o Lord, I seek refuge; let me not be disgraced. In Your justice help me and deliver me, turn Your ear to me and save me!

Be my Rock of refuge, a Stronghold to give me safety, for You are my Rock and my Fortress. Rescue me, o my God, from the hand of the wicked.

For You, o Lord, have been my Hope, my Trust, o God, from my youth. I have relied on You from birth : from my mother’s womb You brought me forth.

My lips will proclaim Your intervention and tell of Your salvation all day, little though it is what I can understand. You have taught me from my youth and until now I proclaim Your marvels.

Saturday, 23 June 2018 : Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Jeremiah 1 : 4-10

A word of YHVH came to me, “Even before I formed you in the womb I have known you; even before you were born I had set you apart, and appointed you a prophet to the nations!”

I said, “Ah, Lord YHVH! I do not know how to speak; I am still young!” But YHVH replied, “Do not say; ‘I am still young’, for now you will go, whatever be the mission I am entrusting to you, and you will speak of whatever I command you to say. Do not be afraid of them, for I will be with you to protect you – it is YHVH Who speaks!”

Then YHVH stretched out His hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now I have put My words in your mouth. See! Today I give you authority over nations and over kingdoms to uproot and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”

Saturday, 23 June 2018 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture, beginning with the Second Book of Chronicles, detailing what happened during the reign of king Joash of Judah, the son of king Ahaziah of Judah and his queen Athaliah. In yesterday’s reading, we heard how Athaliah seized power after her husband Ahaziah died, and she tried to eradicate the entirety of the house of David, to secure the rulership and the kingdom for herself.

But by the grace of God, one of the scions of David survived, namely Joash, saved by his own nurse, who helped to hide him away in the Temple of God under the tutelage and protection of the High Priest Jehoiada. High Priest Jehoiada was an upright man, and was a devout person, who committed himself to God, unlike the kings and rulers, and many of the people of Judah.

Jehoiada himself had a son, Zechariah, who was mentioned in today’s first reading as well. When Joash was young, it was likely that he and Zechariah would have grown up together, and were probably good friends to each other. Then, when Joash was of age, and ready to take up the rightful kingship belonging to him, Jehoiada arranged with the military leaders and the people to overthrow the usurper, Athaliah.

That was how Joash rose to power as king, and it was told that as long as the High Priest Jehoiada was alive, the king and the people followed the Lord and turned towards Him with faith, repenting from the sins of their ancestors and predecessors. However, the moment the High Priest Jehoiada passed away, the king began to turn the people back to their old, sinful ways.

That was the background of how the situation came to the condition described in the first reading passage today. The king and his people had turned to pagan idols and worshipped those idols which the High Priest Jehoiada and the righteous faithful had thrown away and put aside, and the people began to sin once again to God through their disobedience of His laws and commandments.

Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada protested against the king, to remind him of the sins he had committed, and chastised Joash for turning away from the righteous path that his father Jehoiada had guided him into. But the king would not listen to reason, and instead, he continued doing what was wicked in God’s sight, and even, in the end, killed Zechariah who kept on criticising him.

And we heard how king Joash met his end at the hands of the Arameans, as God handed him over to his enemies, for his sins and lack of repentance. That was the fate that awaited all those who have not been faithful to God and His ways, and instead succumb to the temptations of the world, as the Lord Jesus mentioned in today’s Gospel Reading passage.

In that Gospel passage, the Lord chastised all those who worry about material goods, about food and about all things of the world which they desire and want in life. They worry and think a lot about all these things every day and every moment, and they forget that all of them are merely transient and temporary. God will surely, in His own way, and through those who are around us, provide for all that we need.

But we mankind are often easily tempted, tempted by the many temptations of worldly pleasures, of power, of wealth, of fame, of influence, of worldly glory and all other things that prevent us from being truly faithful to the Lord. We fall into those temptations just as king Joash also fell into his temptations. When the High Priest Jehoiada was still alive, there was a strong authority that kept the king’s mind and actions in check, but the moment he was gone, the king became uncontrollable and fell into sin.

Especially those who were entrusted with power, authority, wealth and influence are most vulnerable to the temptations that always come our way. But that does not necessarily mean that all those with power, authority, wealth and influence are wicked and evil. Rather, it means that the greater the blessings we receive, the greater indeed is the responsibility that we have in order to keep faithfully in us, the faith we have in God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all spend some time to think about our own lives. Have we been faithful to the Lord all these days? Or have we instead been so preoccupied with our own busy dealings and all the tempting things, that we worry about all those things, and forget that our primary objective in life is to serve God and to do our best through our actions to glorify Him?

Let us all turn towards the Lord wholeheartedly from now on, and devote ourselves, our time, effort and attention to serve Him and to love all of His people, by being true Christians, truly faithful in all of our actions, words and deeds. May the Lord bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 23 June 2018 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Matthew 6 : 24-34

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “No one can serve two masters, for he will either hate one and love the other; or he will be loyal to the first and look down on the second. You cannot, at the same time, serve God and money.”

Therefore, I tell you, not to be worried about food and drink for yourself, or about clothes for your body. Is not life more important than food; and is not the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow, they do not harvest, and do not store food in barns; and yet, your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more worthy than they are?”

“Can any of you add a day to your life by worrying about it? Why are you so worried about your clothes? Look at how the flowers in the fields grow. They do not toil or spin. But I tell you, that not even Solomon, in all his glory, was clothed like one of these. If God so clothes the grass in the field, which blooms today and is to be burnt in an oven tomorrow, how much more will He clothe you? What little faith you have!”

“Do not worry, and say : What are we going to eat? What are we going to drink? or : What shall we wear? The pagans busy themselves with such things; but your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. Set your heart, first, on the kingdom and righteousness of God; and all these things will also be given to you. Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Saturday, 23 June 2018 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Psalm 88 : 4-5, 29-30, 31-32, 33-34

I have made a Covenant with David, My chosen one; I have made a pledge to My servant. I establish his descendants forever; I build his throne for all generations.

I will keep My Covenant firm forever, and My love for him will endure. His dynasty will last forever; and his throne, as long as the heavens.

If his sons forsake My law and fail to follow My decrees, if they violate My statutes and do not keep My commandments.

I will punish their crime with the rod, and their offences, with the scourge; yet, I will not withdraw My love from him, nor will I withdraw My faithfulness.