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.

Monday, 1 August 2016 : 18th 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 messages from the Holy Scriptures, from the first reading taken from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah, where Jeremiah was up against the false prophets trying to obtain the favour of the king of Judah by trying to satisfy him and made him happy by providing him with false prophecies.

Those false prophets tried to discredit Jeremiah, plotting against him by portraying him as a doom-bringer and as a pariah, who kept telling bad news one after another, while they portrayed a less negative picture of what was to come. But the prophet Jeremiah did not back down, and instead, he continued to persist to show the people who have disobeyed God about just how much they have erred.

And despite the opposition and the stubbornness of the people, the prophet did not give up. For it was God’s love that drove him to work harder for the sake of the people who had been lost in the darkness, that they might be able to find their way back to the Lord, their loving God. God so loved the world, that even though they have sinned and committed such wickedness before Him, He was still willing to love them and to show His care for them.

And this is visible in the Gospel today, where we heard that famous story of how Jesus our Lord fed the entirety of the five thousand men and likely even many more thousands of women and children in that great crowd which had followed Him to listen to Him. In this, we saw how great is the love and compassion that the Lord has for us all, His beloved people.

He showed pity and compassion, seeing how many of those people who followed Him and were hungry and without food. He provided for them, cared for them, and thus showed the infinite greatness and the endless breadth of His wonderful love and mercy. And yet, it was the same people who also called for Him to be crucified. Yes, the very same people who hailed Jesus as King and Lord, also called for Him to be crucified.

Why is this so, brothers and sisters in Christ? God has loved us so much, and yet why was it that in many occasions, from the time of Jeremiah to the time of Jesus our Lord, that they had done so much to bring God’s anger upon themselves? Not only that they refused His love and grace, but they also continued to live in a state of sin and disgrace. They have not listened to the Lord and continued to live in the darkness because of the absence of God from their hearts.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all ask ourselves, how do we then stand in this matter? Where do we find ourselves in this issue? Is God truly in our hearts? Are His laws and precepts ours, and did we do all that we can to obey them? If the answers we have to all of these is no, then perhaps we should look at what the holy servant of God, St. Alphonsus Liguori had done.

St. Alphonsus Liguori, our saint of the day, was a holy bishop and a devoted servant of God. He was known around the world as the founder of the religious order now known as the Redemptorists, who devoted themselves to the redemption of mankind, and to the salvation of the many people who had lived in the darkness of sin, by bringing God’s light and truth upon them.

St. Alphonsus Liguori devoted himself to God’s service, giving himself to the poorest, weakest and the least fortunate ones in the society. He worked hard among the sick and the dying, and knowing that he alone could not do much to help the many people who have suffered, he founded that Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, known now as the Redemptorist order, to gather together all those who have similar minds and goals to him, that all of them may work together for the sake of God’s people.

Let us all follow his examples, and seek the Lord with all of our might. Our hearts should be turned to God and should be attuned to Him. We should do our best so that we may be ever closer to God, and leave behind our doubts, our fears and our lack of faith, which were the obstacles that had prevented many from following the Lord in the past. May St. Alphonsus Liguori intercede for us, and may he help us to keep ourselves faithful in this journey towards the Lord our saving God. Amen.

Monday, 1 August 2016 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 14 : 13-21

At that time, on hearing the news about the death of John the Baptist, Jesus set out by boat for a secluded place, to be alone. But the people heard of it, and they followed Him on foot from their towns. When Jesus went ashore, He saw the crowd gathered there and He had compassion on them. And He healed their sick.

Late in the afternoon, His disciples came to Him and said, “We are in a lonely place and it is now late. You should send these people away, so they can go to the villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” But Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat.”

They answered, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fishes.” Jesus said to them, “Bring them here to Me.” Then He made everyone sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves and the two fishes, raised His eyes to heaven, pronounced the blessing, broke the loaves, and handed them to the disciples to distribute to the people.

And they all ate, and everyone had enough; then the disciples gathered up the leftovers, filling twelve baskets. About five thousand men had eaten there, besides women and children.

Monday, 1 August 2016 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 118 : 29, 43, 79, 80, 95, 102

Keep me away from deceitful paths; be gracious and teach me Your law.

Take not the word of truth from my mouth, for I would also lose my hope in Your word.

Let those who fear You turn to me, they will understand Your statutes.

May my heart be blameless in Your decrees, that I may not be ashamed.

The wicked lie in wait to destroy me, but I look to Your word for salvation.

I have not departed from Your decrees for You Yourself have instructed me.