Sunday, 1 February 2015 : Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Septuagesima Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Violet (Septuagesima Sunday – Usus Antiquior)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Septuagesima Sunday, which literally means ‘seventy’. This is to remind us that as this is the ninth Sunday before Easter, we are about seventy days away from the great feast and celebration of our Lord’s Passion, death and ultimately, the most important of all, the Resurrection through which He made whole all mankind and bring hope into the world engulfed in the darkness.

As is appropriate, the Gospel today from the Gospel of St. Mark spoke about time and works that men take up, to fulfill the Lord’s call for all of us. The parable of the vineyard workers and the owner is speaking about how we mankind, the people of God are called by the Lord to be His servants and to do the good works which He had initiated in this world.

The Gospel from the readings for the Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time spoke of how Jesus our Lord exercised His power and authority to cast out demons and heal all those afflicted by the physical and spiritual sickness and diseases. And that is just how our Lord does His work to liberate us all from the clutches of Satan, and ti show the way for us all to seek the Lord our God.

And in the first reading of the Ordinary Time readings, from the Book of Deuteronomy, the Lord had promised His people that He would send them a Prophet, that is the One who would bear His will and His words of truth to the people. Jesus is that Prophet, who taught the people and His own disciples through stories and parables which bore the truth of God inside them. He is the Word of God made flesh.

In the parable told by Jesus in the Gospel for Septuagesima Sunday, the vineyard owner is truly the Lord our God, who is the Lord of all. The vineyard itself is the world that is saved, that is the Church of God, and the workers are all of us, the race of men. God seeks out all of us at different times, and He sought us in the darkened world outside the Church, that is everything else beyond the vineyard. Like the owner who went out to seek more workers for his field at various hours, the Lord too seeks us at all the time, desiring to find us and bring us to salvation.

There are therefore three main things I want and I hope all of us will take away from the readings of today, that we may reflect on them and understand the necessity for us to know what the Lord wants from us. First, it is that we should not wait until it is too late and then only then we desire to seek the Lord. The Lord always wants to seek us, but if we ourselves refuse to listen to His call, then we will be forever damned in the darkness.

And we do not know when death will come for us. All of us will die one day, at the time and place that only the Lord our God knows. There are many who continue to ignore the Lord’s heedings for us, and they wait, thinking that there is still time for them. But death may claim them on the next day, and even on the next minute or second! And when that happens, no matter how we beg or how we plead with the Lord, He will refuse us for we have ourselves refused the generous and repeated offer of mercy which He had given us.

And then secondly, the Lord invites us to enter His Church, to be saved with all those who have been saved earlier. The Church of God is represented in the Gospel with the vineyard and all the workers inside it. All those whom the Lord calls and accepted His call and worked in His Church are saved. Thus, we ought to rejoice indeed, for we have received baptism that initiated us to be the members of the Church, the children of God and thus the partakers of God’s saving works and grace.

And last of all, as we see, that all the workers received equal pay of one denarius or silver coin, regardless of how long they have worked in the vineyard. Thus, the same applies to all of us the children of God. Regardless of what we have in this life, our possessions, our abilities and talents, our works and contributions, as long as we are all faithful to God and keep His commandments, we are all equal before the Lord.

This does not mean literally that everyone should be equal. As we can see, that different workers work at different hours and for different lengths of time. This means that each of us in the Church of God have distinct roles, each according to his or her own abilities. We should not be jealous that others had done less, or be proud that we have attained salvation earlier because He called us earlier than others.

This means that we should not be proud of our justification and look down on others who have yet to be saved. After all, as long as we receive His salvation and agree to become part of His Church, we shall receive the same reward, represented by the equal pay of one denarius for each worker, that is our salvation and eternal life, to live together in perfect bliss and happiness without end, with the Lord our God.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all realise that we all have much to do in order to bring others into the salvation in God. We should help one another, and as part of the Church, to be examples and role models for all those who have yet to find their way to the Lord, so that they too may be saved. And we have to realise as well, that the vineyard of the Lord, that is His Church, still require many people to help as the servants of the works of God.

May all of us be awakened to follow the Lord and to righteously walk in His way. Let us all seek the Lord and harken to His call. Do not wait until it is too late for us, but let us stir ourselves from our slumber and walk from now on, only in the path of the Lord. God bless us all. Amen.

Sunday, 1 February 2015 : Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Septuagesima Sunday (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 1 : 21b-28

Jesus taught in the synagogue on the sabbath day. The people were astonished at the way He taught, for He spoke as One having authority and not like the teachers of the Law.

It happened that a man with an evil spirit was in their synagogue, and he shouted, “What do You want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are : You are the Holy One of God.”

Then Jesus faced him and said with authority, “Be silent, and come out of this man!” The evil spirit shook the man violently and, with a loud shriek, came out of him. All the people were astonished, and they wondered, “What is this? With what authority He preaches! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey Him!”

And Jesus’ fame spread throughout all the country of Galilee.

Alternative reading (Gospel of Septuagesima Sunday – Usus Antiquior)

Matthew 20 : 1-16

At that time, Jesus spoke to His disciples this parable, “The kingdom of heaven is like to a householder, who went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And having agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

And going out about the third hour, he saw others standing in the marketplace idle, and he said to them, “Go all of you also into my vineyard, and I will give you what shall be just.” And they went their way. And again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did in like manner. But at about the eleventh hour, he went out, and found others standing, and he said to them, “Why do you stand there all the day idle?”

They said to him, “Because no man has hired us.” He said to them, “You all also go to my vineyard.” And when evening came, the lord of the vineyard said to his steward, “Call the labourers, and pay them their hire, beginning from the last even to the first.” When therefore they came, those who came at about the eleventh hour, they received for every person a penny.

But when the first also came, they thought that they should receive more, and they also received for every person a penny. And receiving it, they murmured against the master of the house, saying, “These last have worked barely for one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the heat.”

But he answered and said to one of them, “Friend, I did you no wrong, did you not agree with me for a penny? Take what is yours, and go your way. I will also give to this last even as to you. Or, is it not lawful for me to do what I will? Is your eye evil, because I am good? So shall the last be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Sunday, 1 February 2015 : Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Septuagesima Sunday (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Corinthians 7 : 32-35

I would like you to be free from anxieties. He who is not married is concerned about the things of the Lord and how to please the Lord. While he who is married is taken up with the things of the world and how to please his wife, and he is divided in his interests.

Likewise, the unmarried woman and the virgin are concerned with the service of the Lord, to be holy in body and spirit. The married woman, instead, worries about the things of the world and how to please their husband.

I say this for your own good. I do not wish to lay traps for you but to lead you to a beautiful life, entirely united with the Lord.

Alternative reading (Epistle for Septuagesima Sunday – Usus Antiquior)

1 Corinthians 9 : 24-27 and 1 Corinthians 10 : 1-5

Brethren, do you not know that those who run in the race, all run indeed, but only one received the prize? So run, that you may obtain. And everyone who strives for the mastery, refrains himself from all things, and they indeed so that they may receive a corruptible crown, but we receive an incorruptible one.

I therefore so run, not as at an uncertainty, I so fight, not as one beating the air but I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection, lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway.

For I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all in Moses were baptised, in the cloud and in the sea, and all did eat the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink, (and they drank of the spiritual drink that followed them, and the Rock was Christ). But with the most of them God was not well pleased.

Sunday, 1 February 2015 : Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Septuagesima Sunday (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 94 : 1-2, 6-7, 8-9

Come, let us sing to the Lord, let us make a joyful sound to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before Him giving thanks, with music and songs of praise.

Come and worship; let us bow down, kneel before the Lord, our Maker. He is our God, and we His people; the flock He leads and pastures. Would that today You heard His voice!

Do not be stubborn, as at Meribah, in the desert, on that day at Massah, when your ancestors challenged Me, and they put Me to the test.

Sunday, 1 February 2015 : Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Septuagesima Sunday (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Deuteronomy 18 : 15-20

God will raise up for you a Prophet like myself from among the people, from your brothers, to whom you shall listen. Remember that in Horeb, on the day of the Assembly, you said : “I am afraid to die and I do not want to hear the voice of YHVH again or see again that great fire.”

So YHVH said to me : “They have spoken well. I shall raise up a Prophet from their midst, One of their brothers, who will be like you. I will put My words into His mouth and He will tell them all that I command. If someone does not listen to My words when the Prophet speaks on My behalf, I Myself will call Him to account for it.”

“But any prophet who says in My Name anything that I did not command, or speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.”

Usus Antiquior) Septuagesima Sunday (II Classis) – Sunday, 1 February 2015 : Offertory, Secret Prayer of the Priest, Communion and Post-Communion Prayer

Liturgical Colour : Violet

Offertory

Psalm 91 : 2

Bonum est confiteri Domino, et psallere Nomini Tuo, Altissime.

English translation

It is good to give praise to the Lord, and to sing to Your Name, o Most High.

Secret Prayer of the Priest

Muneribus nostris, quaesumus, Domine, precibusque susceptis : et caelestibus nos munda mysteriis, et clementer exaudi. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, Qui Tecum vivis et regnas in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

English translation

With our gifts and prayers accepted, we beseech You, o Lord, both cleanse us by these heavenly mysteries and graciously hear us. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Your Son, who with Your lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

Communion

Psalm 30 : 17-18

Illumina faciem Tuam super servum Tuum, et salvum me fac in Tua misericordia : Domine, non confundar, quoniam invocavi Te.

English translation

Make Your face to shine upon Your servant, and save me in Your mercy. Let me not be confounded, o Lord, for I have called upon You.

Post-Communion Prayer

Fideles Tui, Deus, per Tua dona firmentur : ut eadem et percipiendo requirant, et quaerendo sine fine percipiant. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, Qui Tecum vivis et regnas in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

English translation

May Your faithful, o God, be strengthened by Your gifts, that receiving them they may still desire them and desiring them may constantly receive them. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Your Son, who with You lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

(Usus Antiquior) Septuagesima Sunday (II Classis) – Sunday, 1 February 2015 : Holy Gospel

Liturgical Colour : Violet

Sequentia Sancti Evangelii secundum Matthaeum – Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew

Matthew 20 : 1-16

In illo tempore : Dixit Jesus discipulis Suis parabolam hanc : Simile est regnum caelorum homini patrifamilias, qui exiit primo mane conducere operarios in vineam suam. Conventione autem facta cum operariis ex denario diurno, misit eos in vineam suam.

Et egressus circa horam tertiam, vidit alios stantes in foro otiosos, et dixit illis : Ite et vos in vineam meam, et quod justum fuerit, dabo vobis. Illi autem abierunt. Iterum autem exiit circa sextam et nona, horam : et fecit similiter. Circa undecimam vero exiit, et invenit alios stantes, et dicit illis : Quid hic statis tota die otiosi?

Dicunt ei : Quia nemo nos conduxit. Dicit illis : Ite et vos in vineam meam. Cum sero autem factum esset, dicit dominus vineae procuratori suo : Voca operarios, et redde illis mercedem, incipiens a novissimis usque ad primos. Cum venissent ergo qui circa undecimam horam venerant, acceperunt singulos denarios.

Venientes autem et primi, arbitrari sunt, quod plus essent accepturi : acceperunt autem et ipsi singulos denarios. Et accipientes murmurabant adversus patremfamilias, dicentes : Hi novissimi una hora fecerunt et pares illos nobis fecisti, qui portavimus pondus diei et aestus.

At ille respondens uni eorum, dixit : Amice, non facio tibi injuriam : nonne ex denario convenisti mecum? Tolle quod tuum est, et vade : volo autem et huic novissimo dare sicut et tibi. Aut non licet mihi, quod volo, facere? an oculus tuus nequam est, quia ego bonus sum? Sic erunt novissimi primi, et primi novissimi. Multi enim sunt vocati, pauci vero electi.

English translation

At that time, Jesus spoke to His disciples this parable, “The kingdom of heaven is like to a householder, who went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And having agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

And going out about the third hour, he saw others standing in the marketplace idle, and he said to them, “Go all of you also into my vineyard, and I will give you what shall be just.” And they went their way. And again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did in like manner. But at about the eleventh hour, he went out, and found others standing, and he said to them, “Why do you stand there all the day idle?”

They said to him, “Because no man has hired us.” He said to them, “You all also go to my vineyard.” And when evening came, the lord of the vineyard said to his steward, “Call the labourers, and pay them their hire, beginning from the last even to the first.” When therefore they came, those who came at about the eleventh hour, they received for every person a penny.

But when the first also came, they thought that they should receive more, and they also received for every person a penny. And receiving it, they murmured against the master of the house, saying, “These last have worked barely for one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the heat.”

But he answered and said to one of them, “Friend, I did you no wrong, did you not agree with me for a penny? Take what is yours, and go your way. I will also give to this last even as to you. Or, is it not lawful for me to do what I will? Is your eye evil, because I am good? So shall the last be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few are chosen.”