Sunday, 24 September 2017 : Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 20 : 1-16a

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “This story throws light on the kingdom of heaven : A landowner went out early in the morning, to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay each worker the usual daily wage, and sent them to his vineyard.”

“He went out again, at about nine in the morning, and, seeing others idle in the town square, he said to them, ‘You also, go to my vineyard, and I will pay you what is just.’ So they went. The owner went out at midday, and, again, at three in the afternoon, and he made the same offer.”

“Again he went out, at the last working hour – the eleventh – and he saw others standing around. So he said to them, ‘Why do you stand idle the whole day?’ They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ The master said, ‘Go, and work in my vineyard.'”

“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wage, beginning with the last and ending with the first.’ Those who had gone to work at the eleventh hour came up, and were each given a silver coin. When it was the turn of the first, they thought they would receive more. But they, too, received one silver coin. On receiving it, they began to grumble against the landowner.”

“They said, ‘These last, hardly worked an hour; yet, you have treated them the same as us, who have endured the heavy work of the day and the heat.’ The owner said to one of them, ‘Friend, I have not been unjust to you. Did we not agree on one silver coin per day? So take what is yours and go. I want to give to the last the same as I give to you. Do I not have the right to do as I please with what is mine? Why are you envious when I am kind?'”

“So will it be : the last will be first.”

Sunday, 24 September 2017 : Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Philippians 1 : 20c-24, 27a

Christ will be exalted through my person, whether I live or die. For to me, living is for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I am to go on living, I shall be able to enjoy fruitful labour. Which shall I choose?

So I feel torn between the two. I desire greatly to leave this life and to be with Christ, which will be better by far, but it is necessary for you that I remain in this life. Try, then, to adjust your lives according to the Gospel of Christ.

Sunday, 24 September 2017 : Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 144 : 2-3, 8-9, 17-18

I will praise You, day after day; and exalt Your Name forever. Great is YHVH, most worthy of praise; and His deeds are beyond measure.

Compassionate and gracious is YHVH, slow to anger and abounding in love. YHVH is good to everyone; His mercy embraces all His creation.

Righteous is YHVH in all His ways, His mercy shows in all His deeds. He is near those who call on Him, who call trustfully upon His Name.

Sunday, 24 September 2017 : Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Isaiah 55 : 6-9

Seek YHVH while He may be found; call to Him while He is near. Let the wicked abandon his way, let him forsake his thoughts, let him turn to YHVH for He will have mercy, for our God is generous in forgiving.

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, My ways are not your ways, says YHVH. For as the heavens are above the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts above your thoughts.

Saturday, 23 September 2017 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us listened to the word of God, which spoke to us about the parable of the sower, a parable which many of us are likely to be familiar with, in which our Lord Jesus spoke about the sower of seeds, who dispersed his seeds and they fell on various grounds and soils, from the rocky grounds and the road sides, to the thorny bushes and then rich and fertile soil.

In that passage, Jesus our Lord spoke of what can happen to the seeds which the sower have spread, depending on the condition of the soil. If the soil is of poor quality and if it has plenty of obstacles, then it is unlikely to be able to support plant growth, and less still to allow bountiful products of fruits and crops to be realised. Only if the soil is fertile then the plants will grow strong and healthy, and bear many fruits.

In that parable, the seeds are the seeds of faith which God has spread over the whole world, to all of us mankind, as the Sower of the Word, for God has spoken His Word and gave us His truth, through none other than Jesus, the Divine Word made flesh, Who became Man for our sake, and all those who heard the teachings of the Lord Jesus have therefore received the Word, the seeds of faith.

But how those seeds develop then depends on how we live up to our faith in Jesus, our Lord. If we do not provide a conducive and matching environment to have the seeds of faith develop in us, then nothing will happen, and the faith in us will remain dormant. And we all ought to know what is going to happen to all of those who remain barren and fruitless, namely, that they will be cast out and rejected.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, these are constant reminders for us that all of us need to be active in our faith, and to be truly committed to the Lord, for it is only through this commitment that we are providing the fertile and rich ‘soil’ for the ‘seeds’ of faith to grow in us. Otherwise, we are not doing our part in providing the best condition for the growth and development of our faith.

There are many temptations in this world, the temptations of worldly possessions and wealth, the temptation of the pleasures of the flesh and sexual impropriety, the temptation of greed and worldly glory, the temptation of power and fame, all of which are tools used by the devil and his allies in their never-ending attempts to bring about our downfall. The devil is never at rest, always instead ready to snatch us from God’s saving grace.

That is why if we do not let the Word of God, the truths passed down to us through the Church, to be internalised and understood by us, then when trials and difficulties come upon us, we will be tempted to lose our faith and commitment towards God. And then we will end up becoming like the seeds that were eaten by the birds on the roadside, or like the seeds that were unable to grow firm roots on rocky ground, scorched to death, and also like the plants choked by the thorny bushes and brambles.

Is this the fate that we want to happen to us? Is it what we seek in life? It is easier indeed to obey the demands of the devil and this world rather than to walk faithfully in the path of the Lord. Yet, just as farming involves very arduous and tiring labour, thus for us to be faithful Christians it will also require a lot of effort from us. We must be vigilant and ready against all sorts of traps and obstacles the devil is getting ready in our path.

Let us today reflect on the life and examples of the renowned holy saint, whose name may not be foreign to many of us. St. Pius of Pietrelcina, more commonly known by the name of Padre Pio, was a famous and holy Franciscan friar and priest, who was remembered for his many miracles and hard work among the people, his exorcisms of the people possessed by demons, and his stigmata, or the miraculous appearance of the wounds of the Lord on his body.

Thousands and many thousands more flocked to meet Padre Pio, seeking his miracles and prayers. And many were astonished at his miraculous stigmata. Yet, despite all of those, St. Padre Pio remained humble and he distanced himself from any sorts of pride and worldly glory. In fact, Padre Pio was suffering greatly, first of all, physically from the pain of the wounds of the stigmata, and then also through the persecution and difficulties he had to encounter for many years by the skeptics who refused to believe the authenticity of his miraculous signs.

And yet, Padre Pio endured all of these trials and tribulations quietly, with obedience to his superiors and with faith. He placed his trust in the Lord, and continued to work among the people of God despite the criticism and ridicule that many levied upon him, and his piety and perseverance inspired many others who were converted and atoned for their sins because of his examples.

The story of the life of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio should be an inspiration to all of us Christians as well. We must not be complacent or passive in our faith, but instead be active in our commitment like Padre Pio had done in his life. That means, all of us should go beyond our comfort zone and do what we can, in order to do what the Lord wants us to do, so that by our actions we may be fruitful and filled with the good fruits of the Holy Spirit as St. Padre Pio had shown.

May the Lord bless us all, that the seeds of faith He has sowed in us may grow through our loving actions and commitment to Him. May He help us to persevere as St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio had done in his life, that we may not grumble or complain, but accept the suffering with grace, knowing that God Who finds us fruitful will bless us many times more. St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio, holy man of God, pray for us all. Amen.

Saturday, 23 September 2017 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 8 : 4-15

At that time, as a great crowd gathered, and people came to Jesus from every town, He began teaching them with a story : “The sower went out to sow the seed. And as he sowed, some of the seed fell along the way, was trodden on, and the birds of the sky ate it up.”

“Some seed fell on rocky ground; and no sooner had it come up than it withered, because it had no water. Some seed fell among thorns; the thorns grew up with the seed and choked it. But some seed fell on good soil and grew, producing fruit, a hundred times as much!” And Jesus cried out, “Listen then, if you have ears to hear!”

The disciples asked Him, “What does this story mean?” And Jesus answered, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God. But to others it is given in the form of stories, or parables, so that, seeing, they may not perceive; and hearing, they may not understand.”

“Now, this is the point of the parable : The seed is the word of God. Those along the wayside are people who hear it; but immediately, the devil comes and takes the word from their minds, for he does not want them to believe and be saved. Those on the rocky ground are people who receive the word with joy; but they have no root; they believe for a while, and give way in time of trial.”

“Among the thorns are people who hear the word, but, as they go their way, they are choked by worries, riches, and the pleasures of life; they bring no fruit to maturity. The good soil, instead, are people who receive the word, and keep it, in a gentle and generous mind, and, persevering patiently, they bear fruit.”

Saturday, 23 September 2017 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 99 : 2, 3, 4, 5

Serve YHVH with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.

Know that YHVH is God; He created us, and we are His people, the sheep of His fold.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving, His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His Name.

For YHVH is good; His love lasts forever; and His faithfulness, through all generations.