Thursday, 1 August 2019 : 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 we heard the message of the Sacred Scriptures speaking to us about the establishment of the Holy Tent of Meeting, as prescribed by the Law of God and instructed by God Himself. The Holy Tent of Meeting was the precursor of the Temple of God, which was the centre of the entire community of the faithful, where the Altar of God was placed at, and where the whole community revolved around.

The Lord was with His people at all times, gathering them all together, guiding them along the entire journey in the form of the great pillar of cloud at daytime and as a great pillar of fire at night. He was the focal point of the entire journey, and Moses acted as the mediator between God and His people, as he went into the Tent of Meeting to speak with God and to deliver His will and revelations to the people of Israel.

This Holy Tent of Meeting and the community of the people of Israel, if we also then recall what we have heard in our Gospel passage today, on the parable of the kingdom of God represented as a great fishing net gathering many fishes of various kinds, are in fact representations and prefigurements of how our Church today looks like. For the Church of God is just like Israel of old, the community of the entire faithful people of God.

Just as the entire community of Israel was gathered around the Holy Tent and were included within the boundary of the entire camp, thus the whole Church of God is centred and focused on the Holy Presence of God in Jesus Christ, Our Lord, Who is truly present in our midst in His own Most Precious Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist, as the tangible focus of our whole lives, the very centre of our Christian faith.

There is also parallel to what happened in the old times of Israel and our Church today, as while in those days, people who were deemed to be unclean were cast out of the camp into the wilderness until they were able to prove themselves to be clean before they were allowed to join the camp once again, in the Church, we also have what is called excommunication, when this most severe of penalties is reserved for those who have acted in a most unfaithful way, with the intention of helping the person to reflect on his or her errors and repent from his or her sins.

The significance of what we have heard in today’s readings cannot be understated, as the Gospel parable also reminds us that those who are wicked and unjust, unfaithful and evil shall have no part in God’s kingdom and inheritance. They will be rejected and cast out forever just as they have willingly and consciously rejected God and refused to follow His laws and commandments.

Do we want to be included or counted among those who will be condemned to eternal damnation? Or do we rather stay on the Lord’s good side? The choice is completely in our hands, and indeed we have been given many opportunities to make our conscious choice. God has given us the free will to choose between good and evil, between obedience to God and disobedience against Him, between righteousness and wickedness.

Today, all of us celebrate together the feast of the Founder of the Redemptorist religious order, or the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. St. Alphonsus Liguori is a great figure filled with faith, sincerity and devotion to God, who can be a great example to each and every one of us in how we ought to live out our lives with faith, and not just any faith, but a living and genuine faith in God.

St. Alphonsus Liguori was once a great lawyer, but after having spent quite a few years in that profession, he found his true calling in serving God and chose to abandon his former life and embraced the call to priesthood and service. And as a priest, he reached out to the poor and the marginalised in the society, gathering all of them and managed to gain many people to return to the faith.

St. Alphonsus Liguori, his dedication and hardwork, his dedication to the Lord and to the people, his efforts to bring the lost souls and sheep of the Lord are things that can inspire us all to live ever more faithfully as true Christians from now on. Are we able to follow in his footsteps in being good examples of faith for one another? All of us have been given the same mission from the Lord, that is to gather His people, our fellow brethren, in the Church that He has established in this world.

Let us all together as one people, one community of the faithful people of God, one Church, serve the Lord with all of our hearts and believe in Him wholeheartedly from now on. May the Lord bless us all and may He continue to guide us all throughout this journey of life. May St. Alphonsus Liguori also intercede for us all sinners. Amen.

Thursday, 1 August 2019 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 13 : 47-53

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a big fishing net, let down into the sea, in which every kind of fish has been caught. When the net is full, it is dragged ashore. Then they sit down and gather the good fish into buckets, but throw the bad away. That is how it will be at the end of time; the Angels will go out to separate the wicked from the just, and to throw the wicked into the blazing furnace, where they will weep and gnash their teeth.”

Jesus asked, “Have you understood all these things?” “Yes,” they answered. So He said to them, “Therefore, every teacher of the Law who becomes a disciple of the kingdom of heaven, is like a householder, who can produce from his store things both new and old.”

When Jesus had finished these parables, He left that place.

Thursday, 1 August 2019 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 83 : 3, 4, 5-6a and 8a, 11

My soul yearns; pines, for the courts of YHVH. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young, at Your altars, o YHVH of hosts, my King and my God!

Happy are those who live in Your house, continually singing Your praise! Happy, the pilgrims whom You strengthen, they go from strength to strength.

One day in Your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be left at the threshold in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of the wicked.

Thursday, 1 August 2019 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Exodus 40 : 16-21, 34-38

Moses did this; he did exactly as YHVH had commanded him. The Holy Tent was set up on the first day of the first month in the second year. Moses set up the Holy Tent. He fixed the bases for it, put up its frames, put its crossbars in position, set up its posts. He spread the tent over the Holy Tent and on top of this the covering for the Tent, as YHVH had commanded Moses.

He took the Covenant and placed it inside the Ark. He set the poles to the Ark in place and put the mercy seat on it. He brought the Ark into the Holy Tent and put the screening veil in place; thus he screened the Ark of YHVH, as YHVH had commanded Moses.

Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting and the Glory of YHVH filled the Holy Tent. Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because of the Glory of YHVH that filled the Holy Tent. At every stage of their journey, whenever the cloud rose from the Holy Tent, the people of Israel would continue their march. If the cloud did not rise, they waited and would not move their camp until it did.

For the cloud rested on the Holy Tent by day, and a fire shone within the cloud by night for all the house of Israel to see. And so it was for every stage of their journey.

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.