Saturday, 18 August 2018 : 19th 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 are reminded by the Lord through His words passed through Ezekiel, His prophet, that all of us shall be judged justly and rightfully by the Lord in the end, by none other than our own actions and by our own words and deeds. If a person is righteous and just in his or her actions, then the Lord will bless the person for all the good things he has done.

God will not take into account of someone’s relatives’ actions in deciding the fate of that person. Everyone are responsible for their own individual actions, and in the end of the day, it is our refusal to obey the Lord, our rebelliousness, and our succumbing to the temptations of the world that become the sources of our condemnation, and what had dragged many among us into the fires of hell.

In the Gospel passage today, the Lord Jesus severely rebuked His disciples for scolding the people who were bringing young children to Him. He told them that unless they had the same faith and act in the manner of the little children, they would have no part in the kingdom of God. Essentially, the Lord is calling all of us to be pure and true in our faith, just as the children are pure and blameless.

If we have seen children in how they act and do things, they are still very impressionable and teachable, as they are essentially blank slate awaiting to receive guidance and examples that they will grow to follow in life. When they believe in something, they will hold on to what they believe without any reservation, for they have not been corrupted by the many temptations and concerns in life.

This is ought to be contrasted with our own faith and how we carry out our Christian living. Many of us lived our lives and followed the Christian faith because we have ulterior motives in doing so, in desiring something or reward out of our faith and how we lived our lives. We even expect that God will do work for us and give us His blessings, and this attitude is prevalent among many of us Christians.

But, brothers and sisters in Christ, is this true faith? Is this what the Lord wants us to have in us? Certainly it is not. The Lord wants us to love Him just as He has loved us, and this requires us to have a pure faith and pure intention in living our lives. There are many temptations in life that can threaten this objective, and which many of us have fallen into, the traps that the devil has set up in our path.

Many of us fell into the temptations of pride and greed. We are too proud and think of ourselves, selfishly and arrogantly, thinking that the world revolves around us. That is why even within the Church and among us Christians, we often hear so many unfortunate stories and tales of people bickering and disagreeing with each other, sometimes even violently in Church, just because they cannot let go of their pride, ambition and desires of the world that pushed them to act in such a way.

But then, linking it back to our first reading passage today, from the prophet Ezekiel, we should be reminded that our every actions will have consequences and repercussions. For our righteousness and obedience to the Lord’s will we shall be praised and glorified, while for our refusal to obey, by our pride and arrogance, and all the wicked things we have done in life, we shall be found wanting and unworthy by God.

Now, are we willing to make the commitment to live our lives from now on, with greater effort to resist the temptations found in this world? Let us all learn from little children, in how they believe in something with a pure and true intention, without any ulterior motives or considerations that can prevent them from truly believing with all of their hearts, minds and souls.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to strengthen each and every one of us in our faith, so that we may come ever closer to Him and be transformed in our actions and deeds, so that when once we acted in ways that sought only our own self-preservation and glory, we will from now on, seek only the greater glory of God and the well-being of our fellow brethren in the Lord. May God bless us all, and all of our endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Saturday, 18 August 2018 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

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

Matthew 19 : 13-15

At that time, little children were brought to Jesus, that He might lay His hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded those who brought them. Jesus then said, “Let the children be! Do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are humble, like these children.”

Jesus laid His hands on them and went away.

Saturday, 18 August 2018 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

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

Psalm 50 : 12-13, 14-15, 18-19

Create in me, o God, a pure heart; give me a new and steadfast spirit. Do not cast me out of Your presence nor take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Give me again the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will show wrongdoers Your ways and sinners will return to You.

You take no pleasure in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt offering, You would not delight in it. O God, my sacrifice is a broken spirit; a contrite heart You will not despise.

Saturday, 18 August 2018 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

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

Ezekiel 18 : 1-10, 13b, 30-32

The word of YHVH came to me in these terms, “Why are you applying this proverb to the land of Israel : ‘The parents have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge?’ As I live, word of YHVH, this proverb will no longer be quoted in Israel. All life is in My hands, the life of the parent and the life of the child are Mine. The lives of both are in My hands; so, the one who sins will die.”

“Imagine a man who is righteous and practices what is just and right. He does not eat at the mountain shrines, or look towards the filthy idols of Israel, does not defile his neighbour’s wife, or have intercourse with a woman during her period; he molests no one, pays what he owes, does not steal, gives food to the hungry and clothes to the naked, demands no interest on a loan and does not lend for interest, refrains from injustice, practices true justice, man to man, follows My decrees and obeys My laws in acting loyally. Because such a man is truly righteous, he will live, word of YHVH.”

“But perhaps this man has a son, who steals and sheds blood, committing crimes which his father never did. Will such a man live? No, he will not! Because he has committed all these abominations he will die : his guilt will fall upon him. That is why I will judge you, Israel, each one according to his ways, word of YHVH. Come back, turn away from your offences, that you may not deserve punishment.”

“Free yourselves from all the offences you have committed and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why should you die, Israel? I do not want the death of anyone, word of YHVH, but that you be converted and live!”

Saturday, 11 August 2018 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us heard the readings of the Scriptures beginning with the Book of the prophet Habakkuk, in which we listened to God speaking to Habakkuk about how everything will happen just as the Lord wills it, in His own time and not in our time. It is God’s will that will be done and not ours, as God alone has the power and authority over the fate of all of us, and also over time and workings of this world.

The prophet Habakkuk pointed out something that many among us also often to question in our own hearts and minds, especially when we see injustice and wicked things happening around us. We may come to wonder why the Lord seems to be doing nothing when an injustice occurs to us, and when especially the poor and the weak are oppressed, ostracised and being persecuted, while the rich and the powerful had their way as they wanted.

Some of us even come to doubt that God is really actually present in our midst, or if He is present, whether He cares for us at all, if we see these kind of injustices and wicked deeds being performed in our midst. But what the Lord told the prophet Habakkuk is a reminder to each one of us is that, when we make this kind of question and statement on the Lord’s presence and action in our lives, we are actually putting a condition and demand on what we want to have in Our God.

God works in His own time and acts according to His own will, and not subject to our demands and desires. On the other hand, as a loving God and Father to all of us, He also hears our prayers and all of our requests that we made in those prayers. He is not ignorant or unaware of them at all, but in fact, He wants to help us and provide us with as much as He could give us.

But in the end of the day, we cannot put restrain or demand on what we want God to do for us. It is simply not right for us as the creature to demand what we want from our Creator. Rather, what we must have, is trust, and with trust, comes faith in the Lord, Our God. This is what the Lord Himself told the people, and also all of us, in our Gospel passage today.

At that occasion, the Lord told the people off because of their lack of faith. They were saying that they came to His disciples with the intention of having their sick ones healed from their diseases and bodily complaints such as epilepsy and paralysis, but the disciples were not able to do so. Why is that so? That is likely because they came to the disciples expecting them to heal their sick ones, but they did not have faith.

It was not the disciples who had the power and ability to heal the sick people, but rather God working through them, performing His work and miracles, that made those who were sick to be whole again. Probably the disciples themselves did not have enough faith and doubted the Lord, as St. Thomas, one of the Twelve Apostles had shown on several occasions in how he doubted the Lord’s truth and resurrection from the dead.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord Jesus used the example of a mustard seed in comparing the faith that the people had in God’s power and in His truth. Why is that so? That is because a mustard seed is a very small seed, which is very insignificant in size, but it can grow into a very large tree once grown. The Lord Jesus used this as a comparison to show how even a small amount of genuine faith that we have in Him, is sufficient, and with enough encouragement and guidance, this faith can grow greatly into one that is vibrant and exemplary.

But many of us are often lacking in faith, and we do not have trust in God. Instead, we trust in our own human abilities, powers, in our wealth and worldly possessions. We place a lot of focus on worldly achievements and prestige, that many of us end up putting God aside and sidelining Him in our pursuit for worldly achievements and glories. And that is also why we often judge things based on how successful they are in terms of worldly matters, rather than to see them from the eyes of faith.

That is why we end up being angry with God for apparently not answering our pleas or giving us what we desires and wants. That is because we are limiting God into our criteria of worldly success and achievements, and we judge things based on our perception of affluence and success. But this is not how God works, and He did what He had done, not because He wanted to please our desires and wants, but rather because it is His will to do so.

Now, let us all look at the example of St. Clare of Assisi, the saint whose feast we commemorate today. St. Clare of Assisi was remembered for her great piety and dedication to the Lord, giving her whole life to God and to the service of others through prayer and charitable works. She was particularly remembered for one miraculous occasion, when the place she was living in was under attack by the marauding forces of an army that came to invade that region.

The armies ransacked the whole place, looting and causing destruction everywhere, and they did not want to spare even the convent where St. Clare of Assisi was in. She was without any weapons or any means to defend herself, but she entrusted herself completely to the Lord, reaching out to the Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament, and as the enemies came barging into the place St. Clare was in, she lifted up the monstrance in which the Lord’s Real Presence was contained, up high, and immediately, all the enemy forces were brought to their knees.

They were brought to a great fear of the Lord’s Presence, and immediately left the whole place and town, one of the many proofs of God’s divine providence and the protection which He gives to all those who have been faithful to Him. Now, having heard of such a wondrous story of faith, are we able to do the same in our lives, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we able to show the same kind of complete trust and faith as St. Clare of Assisi had done?

May the Lord continue to strengthen our faith in our hearts, and may He continue to inspire us all to live with ever more commitment to walk in His path and to do His will, in every actions and deeds we do in life. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 11 August 2018 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 17 : 14-20

At that time, when Jesus and His disciples came to the crowd, a man approached Him, knelt before Him and said, “Sir, have pity on my son, who is an epileptic and suffers terribly. He has often fallen into the fire, and at other times into the water. I brought him to Your disciples but they could not heal him.”

Jesus replied, “O you people, faithless and misled! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus commanded the evil spirit to leave the boy, and the boy was immediately healed. Later, the disciples approached Jesus and asked Him privately, “Why could we not drive out the spirit?”

Jesus said to them, “Because you have little faith. I say to you : if only you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could tell that mountain to move from here to there, and the mountain would obey. Nothing would be impossible for you.”

Saturday, 11 August 2018 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 9 : 8-9, 10-11, 12-13

But YHVH reigns forever, having set up His throne for judgment. He will judge the nations with justice and govern the peoples in righteousness.

YHVH is a rampart for the oppressed, a refuge in times of distress. Those who cherish Your Name, o YHVH, can rely on You, for You have never forsaken those who look to You.

Sing praises to YHVH, enthroned in Zion; proclaim His deeds among the nations. For He Who avenges blood remembers, He does not ignore the cry of the lowly.