Tuesday, 1 August 2017 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day from the Gospel passage we heard the famous parable of the sower, which reminds us all of the obligation that we need to do in our respective lives, to lead a faithful and righteous life, filled with faith and commitment to God, by our actions, words and deeds in this life. We are called to a life that is fruitful and blessed by God.

In that parable, we heard about what happened to the various seeds sowed by the sower, which fell on different types of soils. Some fell on the roadside and were eaten up by the birds of the sky, while some others fell on rocky ground, and were unable to grow deep roots and thus were scorched by the hot sun. And still some others fell among thistles and brambles, which grew around the budding plant and choked the life out of it.

And lastly, some seeds fell onto the rich and fertile soil, which then allowed the seeds to grow healthy and strong into good plants that bore fruits in many multiples of what had been planted. This is what the Lord Jesus had told His disciples, so that all of us who have heard it as well, may know of what we need to do in our lives so that we will be found to be filled with the good fruits of our faith.

For you see, brothers and sisters in Christ, that the seeds mentioned in the Gospel today are the seeds of faith which have been given to us all. All of us have heard the words of the Lord, through the Gospels we read, through the Scripture passages we have spent time going through, through the Church teachings and catechism, through the homilies, sermons and teachings by the priests and other faith educators alike.

However, as the Gospel showed us, even though all of us received the same seeds of faith, but the outcome of the seeds can greatly differ from one situation to another, and from one person to another. And it depends greatly on whether we provide the optimum condition and environment for the seeds to grow healthy and strong, just as the rich and fertile soil allowed the seeds to grow and produce huge returns in fruits and products.

If we do not actively try to cultivate and grow in our faith, then we will end up failing to achieve what it is that God wants us to be, to be fruitful people of God. Yet, that is the reality for many of us, who are tempted by many things in this world, the temptations of power, wealth, fame and worldly glory, which Satan is actively putting in our path, hoping to prevent us from attaining the salvation which God promised to all those who are faithful to Him.

It is often that we are too busy with ourselves and with our worldly preoccupations that we fail to do what we need to do in order to become fruitful in the sight of God. We spend our time worrying about our lives and we prioritise our work and busy life schedules over that of the Lord. We put God aside and often ignore Him and His attempts to reach out to us. We usually remember Him only when we are in trouble and in need of help, and we tend to be angry at Him when He apparently does not answer our prayers.

But that is because we are still yet putting our own needs, our own desires ahead of the Lord's will for us. We are often so concerned about ourselves, and thinking solely about ourselves in our selfishness, that we end up becoming like those seeds that failed to grow and produce their crops. Satan then has been successful in his attempts to turn us away from God and ensure our downfall because of our sins.

Remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, that as Christians all of us have the obligation to do God's will in our lives. We must be sincere and true in our faith, and that means, all of us will need to show genuine love to our brethren, even to those who are strangers and even those who hated us. We must lead by example in our life, beginning from even the smallest things that we do in our everyday life. And let us not forget to spend time with the Lord, seeking Him through prayer that comes from our hearts that we may know what His will is for us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we also celebrate the feast of St. Alphonsus Liguori, a holy bishop and religious, who is the founder of the Redemptorist order, also known as the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. St. Alphonsus Liguori was renowned for his great devotion and his missionary work among the poor, and even when he was made a bishop, he continued to devote his time and effort to care for the least and the weakest in the society.

St. Alphonsus Liguori founded the Redemptorist order to gather more people who also wanted to show God's loving mercy to His people, calling more people who were out of reach from the Church and who had distanced themselves from the Church to come back to the loving embrace of God. Through his hard work and exemplary life, he inspired many others to follow his footsteps, and many, countless souls were saved from the damnation in hell.

All of us should also imitate the good examples of St. Alphonsus Liguori, by practicing our faith through our actions, filled no longer with selfishness or the desire to satisfy our personal ambitions and greed, but instead through humility and real commitment, that we all do what is asked of us by the Lord. May God help us all in this endeavour, and may the intercession of St. Alphonsus Liguori be our help in providing us the courage to do what we must do as Christ's disciples. Amen.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 13 : 36-43

At that time, Jesus sent the crowds away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field." Jesus answered them, "The One Who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world; the good seed are the people of the kingdom; the weeds are those who follow the evil one. The enemy who sows the weeds is the devil; the harvest is the end of time, and the workers are the Angels."

"Just as the weeds are pulled up and burnt in the fire, so will it be at the end of time. The Son of Man will send His Angels, and they will weed out of His kingdom all that is scandalous and all who do evil. And these will be thrown into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the just will shine, like the sun, in the kingdom of their Father. If you have ears, then hear."

Tuesday, 1 August 2017 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 102 : 6-7, 8-9, 10-11, 12-13

YHVH restores justice and secures the rights of the oppressed. He has made known His ways to Moses; and His deeds, to the people of Israel.

YHVH is gracious and merciful, abounding in love and slow to anger; He will not always scold nor will He be angry forever.

He does not treat us according to our sins, nor does He punish us as we deserve. As the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His love for those fearing Him.

As far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove from us our sins. As a father has compassion on his children, so YHVH pities those who fear Him.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Exodus 33 : 7-11 and Exodus 34 : 5b-9, 28

Moses then took the Tent and pitched it for himself outside the camp, at a distance from it, and called it the Tent of Meeting. Whoever sought YHVH would go out to the Tent of Meeting outside the camp. And when Moses went to the Tent all the people would stand, each one at the entrance to his tent and keep looking towards Moses until he entered the Tent.

Now, as soon as Moses entered the Tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and remain at the entrance to the Tent, while YHVH spoke with Moses. When all the people saw the pillar of cloud at the entrance to the Tent, they would arise and worship, each one at the entrance to his own tent. Then YHVH would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his neighbour, and then Moses would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua, son of Nun, would not leave the Tent.

And Moses called on the Name of YHVH. Then YHVH passed in front of him and cried out, "YHVH, YHVH is a God full of pity and mercy, slow to anger and abounding in truth and loving kindness. He shows loving kindness to the thousandth generation and forgives wickedness, rebellion and sin; yet He does not leave the guilty without punishment, even punishing the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation."

Moses hastened to bow down to the ground and worshipped. He then said, "If You really look kindly on me, my Lord, please come and walk in our midst and even though we are a stiff-necked people, pardon our wickedness and our sin and make us Yours."

Moses remained there with YHVH forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. He wrote on the tablets the words of the Covenant – the Ten Commandments.

Friday, 1 August 2014 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened how the very people of Nazareth, the hometown of Jesus, rejected Him and had a serious prejudice against Him. They talked of Him being a carpenter’s son, as in their mind, He was nothing more than the son of Joseph, the simple carpenter of the town. To them it was absolutely impossible that the son of a carpenter could be the One to bring the salvation of God to them.

Yes, within their hearts they had been blinded by their own sense of jealousy and human desire. They thought of evil in their heart when they see someone whom they considered inferior to themselves, gaining the ultimate glory and honour. And this is a problem which had plagued mankind for ages. Mankind had the tendency to envy and to want from others what we do not have.

The people of God at the time of the prophet Jeremiah had also rejected the Lord and opted to walk in their own paths in rebellion against God. And instead of following the Lord, they followed their own heart’s desire. That was why the prophet Jeremiah was called from among them, so that God might speak with these wayward children of His, and hopefully to call some of them back into His fold.

These people acted like just how the people of Nazareth acted against Jesus. In fact, the priests and the educated elite, the leaders of the people were the ones who were ganging up against Jeremiah, the chosen prophet of God. They refused to listen to the truth, because they thought they were better than others, and thinking that what they had done were right, while in fact what they had done were wicked in the sight of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today God wants us to know that we ought to listen to Him speaking to us in the depths of our hearts. We should throw far, far away our pride and learn how to humbly follow the Lord. This is important if we are to gain salvation in God and avoid the fate of those who had rejected the Lord, both those who lived in the time of Jeremiah, and those who lived in the time of Jesus.

Today we celebrate the feast day of St. Alphonsus Mary Liguori, a bishop and doctor of the Church, as well as the founder of the renowned Redemptorist religious order. As the founder of the Redemptorists, or also known in their official name as the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, St. Alphonsus Liguori is renowned for his devotion to the Lord as the Redeemer of all mankind.

You see, brothers and sisters, that God desires nothing but our salvation and redemption from sin that separates us from Him. He wants us to be brought out from the pit of darkness we have fallen into. God has sent us nothing less than His own Son to be our Saviour. Yes, Jesus our Lord and Saviour. And it is on this salvation that God had provided us that St. Alphonsus Liguori and his Redemptorists had tried to bring us closer to.

St. Alphonsus Liguori himself had a bright career in life as a lawyer and working in the field of legal studies, before he decided to give it up and devote his life entirely to God, and to help his fellow men to come closer to the redeeming love of our God. Through his writings and numerous works, we come to realise the love that God has for us, as well as the need for us to draw from His love and mercy in our lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, shall we all renew our pledge and commitment of love towards Jesus our Lord and Redeemer? St. Alphonsus Liguori had shown us the way, and he had given us a guide. Through his congregation and brethren in the Redemptorist order that we have amongst us even today, we are brought ever closer to the salvation and the mercy of God whom we had rejected, like the people of Israel of old, and like the people of Nazareth to whom Jesus Himself had come.

Let us not be like them, and let us welcome the Lord with open hands and open hearts, just as He Himself opens up His hand to welcome us back. May God forgive us our sins and trespasses, and may His light shine upon our path, that we may find our way back to His love. God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 1 August 2014 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 13 : 54-58

Jesus went to His hometown and taught the people in their synagogue. They were amazed and said, “Where did He get this wisdom and these special powers? Is He not the carpenter’s Son? Is Mary not His mother and are James, Joseph, Simon and Judas not His brothers? Are not all His sisters living here? How did He get all this?” And so they took offense at Him.

Jesus said to them, “The only place where prophets are not welcome is their hometown and in their own family.” And He did not perform many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

Friday, 1 August 2014 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 68 : 5, 8-10, 14

More than the hairs of my head are those who hate me for no reason; mighty are those who attack me, many are my enemies without cause. What I did not steal I am forced to restore.

Since I am held in contempt for Your sake, and shame has covered my face. U have become a stranger to my kindred, an alien to my mother’s sons. Zeal for Your House consumes me as fire and those who insult You insult me as well.

But I pray to You, o Lord, at a time most favourable to You. In Your great love, o God, answer me with Your unfailing help.