Monday, 13 June 2022 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all reminded that we cannot let the desires in us and greed to bring ruin to ourselves, as the lessons of the past contained in the Scriptures should remind us. Instead, as Christians we have to heed the words that the Lord Himself had told us, that we must not be a people of greed and hatred, of anger and jealousy. Instead, we have to be filled with the same genuine love that God has for each and every one of us, and because of this, we are all called to be righteous, loving and exemplary in all of our actions, words and deeds.

In our first reading today, we heard from the First Book of Kings the account of the encounter between king Ahab of Israel and Naboth, the vineyard owner from whom Ahab wanted to purchase the vineyard from. King Ahab has strongly desired that vineyard, but Naboth refused as that vineyard was on the land that he had inherited from his forefathers. By Law, Naboth was entitled to keep the land of his inheritance, and not even Ahab as king could lawfully force Naboth to sell his land to him. This made Ahab very upset and his wicked wife, Jezebel, plotted and arranged that Naboth was to be falsely accused of blasphemy and of faults that he had not committed.

That was how Ahab managed to unlawfully and illicitly gain ownership of Naboth’s vineyard, and that was a great sin that he committed before God and men alike. That was not what the Lord had told His people to do, and as king, Ahab was expected of an even greater standard and obedience to the ways of the Lord, to His Law and commandments. But Ahab failed it all, and he allowed his wife to mislead and misguide him, and to enforce policies and practices that promoted pagan worship, idolatry, and also the act of tyranny and wickedness as what Jezebel had done in the name of Ahab in persecuting and then seizing the lands of Naboth.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord telling His disciples that while Jewish traditions and customs demanded that ‘an eye is ought to be repaid with an eye, and a tooth repaid with a tooth’, they should not be following that path any longer, as He has shown them the better path, the path that He expected all Christians to follow, the path of His love. The old customs and practices were done in accordance to the principles of divine justice and retribution according to their understanding of the old laws of Moses, which had been misinterpreted and misunderstood by the people of God.

Hence, the Lord came to reveal the true intention of His Law, and to call on everyone to turn once again back to Him, abandoning their sinful ways, their selfish desires and greed, and instead embracing His path and following what He has been revealing and showing to us by His own actions. Through Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Our Lord and Saviour, we have seen the love of God manifested in the flesh, coming into our midst and dwelling among us. He did not just tell His disciples to love one another and to show genuine care and concern, doing more than what had been expected of them, and not to retaliate upon being treated badly, but He Himself did as He told His disciples, in His own actions, in what He had done in loving and forgiving even those who had persecuted Him.

For if we recall what took place during the Lord’s Passion, suffering and death, the Lord Jesus endured bitter rejection and harsh treatment from His enemies, abandoned and betrayed, and was condemned to death and accused of a crime that He was innocent of, and even after all that, He still looked lovingly upon His people, even to all those who had rejected and condemned Him, praying for them and asking His heavenly Father not to hold their actions against them. He showed how a true and genuine Christian love is like, a truly selfless and unconditional love, that does not seek one’s own comfort and benefits, but rather, truly caring for the well-being and the good of the other person.

Compare that love and path of life as compared to what king Ahab and his wife, the wicked Jezebel had plotted and done against Naboth. Then we can obviously see what we are expected to do as Christians, in obeying the will of God, and in following His love, His truth and compassionate ways. Each and every one of us have been called to follow the Lord and to walk in His path in the same manner, and today, we also have the examples of St. Anthony of Padua, the renowned saint and Doctor of the Church, whose faith and commitment to God can be great sources of inspiration for all of us Christians to follow in our own lives. All of us should look upon St. Anthony of Padua, his determination to love his fellow brethren, the poor and the sick, as our examples.

St. Anthony of Padua was a Franciscan friar and priest who was greatly remembered for his eloquent and moving sermons, inspired by the Holy Spirit and by the love that he had for both the Lord and for his fellow brothers and sisters. Many people were touched by his personal sanctity and all the efforts he did in reaching out to those who have been lost to the Lord and His Church, and also for those who were poor, sick and abandoned, ostracised and neglected by the society, and he was remembered for his many works and efforts to bring the people of God back to Him, and to bring the love of God closer to all of His people, wherever he went and ministered to.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, just as St. Anthony of Padua had inspired numerous people to follow in his examples, let us all also walk in his path, and remembering what the Lord Himself had done for our sake, in His selfless love and in His desire to be reconciled and reunited with us. Let us all ourselves be the beacons of God’s light, and the bearers of His truth, showing the genuine love of God, His compassion and kindness to all of mankind, to those whom we encounter in life daily, and doing our best to follow the Lord in all of our lives. May the Lord continue to guide us, that we may not walk down the same path that king Ahab had walked, and instead of succumbing to the temptations of our desires, let us all seek to live a better and more Christ-like lives from now on. May God be with us and bless our every endeavours and good works, now and always. Amen.

Monday, 13 June 2022 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 5 : 38-42

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “You have heard, that it was said : An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you this : do not oppose evil with evil; if someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn and offer the other. If someone sues you in court for your shirt, give him your coat as well.”

“If someone forces you to go one mile, go two miles with him. Give when asked, and do not turn your back on anyone who wants to borrow from you.”

Monday, 13 June 2022 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 5 : 2-3, 5-6, 7

O YHVH, listen to my words and hear my complaint, give heed to my sighs, my King and my God.

You are not a God Who delights in wickedness; evil has no place in You. The arrogant cannot stand before You. You hate all who do evil.

You destroy all who speak falsehood, who thirst for blood and live on lies; all of them YHVH detests.

Monday, 13 June 2022 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Kings 21 : 1-16

Now Naboth, a man from Jezreel, owned a vineyard just beside the palace of Ahab, king of Samaria. Ahab asked Naboth, “Give me your vineyard which is near my house that I may use it for a vegetable garden. I will give you a better vineyard in exchange. Or, if you prefer, I will pay you its price.”

But Naboth said to Ahab, “YHVH forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.” So Ahab went home angry and sad because of what Naboth had told him, that he would not give him the inheritance of his fathers. So he lay down on his bed with his face turned toward the wall and refused to eat.”

His wife Jezebel came to him and said, “Why are you so angry that you refuse to eat?” He answered, “I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and asked him to sell me his vineyard or to exchange it for another one in exchange; but he answered : I will not give you my vineyard.”

His wife Jezebel said to him, “Are you not king of Israel? Get up and eat and be joyful, for I will give you the vineyard of Naboth of Jezreel.” So Jezebel wrote letters using Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters to the elders and important persons living near Naboth. This is what she wrote in the letters : “Declare a fast and put Naboth on trial. Get two scoundrels to accuse him in this way : ‘You have cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out and stone him to death.”

The people, the elders and the important persons who lived in his city did as Jezebel had instructed them in the letters she sent to them. They declared a fast and put Naboth on trial. The two worthless fellows came in and sat facing him, accusing Naboth before the people, “Naboth cursed God and the king!” So the people took him outside the city and stoned him to death. They then sent word to Jezebel that Naboth had been stoned and was dead.

As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, she told Ahab, “Now take possession of the vineyard of Naboth, the man of Jezreel who refused to sell it to you, for Naboth is now dead.” As soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he went down to the vineyard of Naboth and took possession of it.

Saturday, 13 June 2020 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us are reminded to be sincere in faith, to be true to the Lord in all things, in following Him and dedicating ourselves and our efforts to serve Him, in whatever He has called us to, in whatever vocations He has shown us, the paths that He has laid out before us. We heard the Lord telling us through our Scripture passages today to be genuinely faithful and to be filled with real, living and true faith in us at all times.

In our first reading today, we heard from the First Book of Kings the story of the calling of the prophet Elisha, whom the Lord had appointed and chosen to be the successor for the prophet Elijah. The prophet Elijah found Elisha tending to the farm and the oxen, and he revealed to Elisha what God had planned with him, and almost immediately, Elisha told the prophet Elijah that he would follow him, and abandoned everything he had, saying his farewells to his family, and left, following Elijah to serve God.

Elisha had everything he needed, family, property, a sure guarantee of a good and settled life, with land and house of his own family, and yet, he chose to abandon everything and follow the Lord in whatever designs He had for him, and he obeyed the Lord entrusting his life to His care and providence. He embraced his calling fully and later on would become a great prophet much like his mentor, Elijah, performing many great works and miracles among the people of God.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord spoke to His disciples with regards to the matter of making oaths and vows. He told them all not to go around making vows and oaths, and base those oaths on either heaven or earth, or on their own body, even the smallest part of their body. And yet, we know that vows are an integral part of our Christian faith, with religious congregations and the order of priesthood making vows and oaths before the Lord, as with many other examples.

How do we then reconcile these facts? It is actually quite simple, and first of all, we need to understand that what the Lord truly wanted us to know is not to make vows and oaths that are merely gestures and empty in meaning, as when we make oaths and vows, and do not fulfil them, as what many of the people living during the time of the Lord had done, then what they did was actually very wicked, as they dishonoured and tarnished the name and identity of what they used to base their oaths on, including, the Holy Name of God.

What the Lord wants us to know is that, we need to mean what we say, and do as what we have said that we would do. That is why He said, ‘said yes when you mean yes, and said no when you mean no.’ Otherwise, we become hypocrites and liars. That is why, we have been reminded of the example of the prophet Elisha in our first reading today. When he responded to Elijah and the Lord that he would leave everything behind, and follow the Lord, he really meant what he said, and did everything as he said.

As Christians, all of us are thus called to mean and live through what we have promised to the Lord upon our baptism and entry as members of the Church. We have promised to reject Satan and all of his false promises, and we believe in the Lord and in His teachings and truth. And this is why, we need to truly live our faith actively, commit ourselves to the path that the Lord has shown us. Today, we can also then look upon the good examples of one of our holy predecessors to help and inspire us.

St. Anthony of Padua is one of the most famous saints within our Christian faith and Church. He was a renowned priest and Franciscan friar, who dedicated much of his life to the service of the people, especially those who were sick and abandoned. He spent much time to reach out to the people and called many to repentance. St. Anthony of Padua was also deeply honoured and remembered for his deep and extensive knowledge of the Scriptures, his eloquence and great ability in teaching and preaching the faith.

Through his many writings and his many works, St. Anthony of Padua dedicated his whole life to the service of God. Many were inspired by these and many believed in God because of his efforts and hard work, much like the prophets Elijah and Elisha in the old days. And through this, we are shown what it means for us to be genuine and sincere in our faith, that we live up to our faith as Christians, and truly mean what we say and what we believe in.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to do this in our own lives? Are we able and willing to commit ourselves to the cause of the Lord and to live ever more faithfully from now on, not just in words, but also in every actions and deeds, at all times? Are we willing to follow the good examples of St. Anthony of Padua, and of the prophets Elijah and Elisha, among many other inspiring examples we know of? To each and every one of us, God has given wonderful gifts, talents, abilities and opportunities, and it is up to us whether we want to use them for the greater glory of God, or whether we want to ignore them instead.

Let us all discern carefully our path in life from now on, keeping in mind that each and every one of us have been called to follow the Lord through the various avenues by which we can contribute. Those of us who are called to be holy through raising good and faithful Christian families, let us do our best, and to those who have been called to serve the people of God as priests and religious brothers and sisters, let us all also embrace God’s calling and do as what the Lord has told us to do.

May the Lord be with us in our respective journeys of faith, and may He strengthen each and every one of us that we may truly devote ourselves, our time, effort and attention as good and faithful Christians, living a meaningful and good Christian living from now on. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 13 June 2020 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 5 : 33-37

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “You have also heard that people were told in the past : Do not break your oath; an oath sworn to the Lord must be kept. But I tell you this : do not take oaths. Do not swear by the heavens, for they are God’s throne; nor by the earth, because it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King.”

“Do not even swear by your head, because you cannot make a single hair white of black. Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything else you say comes from the evil one.”

Saturday, 13 June 2020 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 15 : 1-2a and 5, 7-8, 9-10

Keep me safe, o God, for in You I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “O Lord, my inheritance and my cup, my chosen portion – hold secure my lot.”

I bless the Lord Who counsels me; even at night my inmost self instructs me. I keep the Lord always before me; for with Him at my right hand, I will never be shaken.

My heart, therefore, exults, my soul rejoices; my body too will rest assured. For You will not abandon my soul to the grave, nor will You suffer Your Holy One to see decay in the land of the dead.

Saturday, 13 June 2020 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Kings 19 : 19-21

Elijah left. He found Elisha, son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen; he was following the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and cast his cloak over him. Elisha left the oxen, ran after Elijah and said, “Let me say goodbye to my father and mother; then I will follow you.”

Elijah said to him, “Return if you want, do not worry about what I did.” However, Elisha turned back, took the yoke of oxen and slew them. He roasted their meat on the pieces of the yoke and gave it to his people who ate of it. After this, he followed Elijah and began ministering to him.

Thursday, 13 June 2019 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the importance for us to be truly faithful in our lives, in how we carry on with our lives and actions, in everything that we say and do, so that we truly show our faith not just in words, but in our every actions, in every parts of our beings, that everyone who see us, will see God being present in our lives.

As what St. Paul wrote to the Church and the faithful in Corinth in our first reading passage today, all of us reflect the glory of God and the truth of God has been revealed to us, His faithful ones, like light shining in the darkness, illuminating everything by the wonders of God’s light. And through us, God’s wonderful love and truth is reflected unto the world, just as He has done so through His saints, all those holy men and women who had been obedient to God and lived their lives virtuously.

In conjunction with this, I would like to compare all these to the stained glasses in our churches and parishes, where we see the stained glasses beautifully adorned and arranged with the imageries of the life of Our Lord and the imageries of the saints and martyrs, the lives of all those who have given themselves to the service of God. And all these stained glasses are truly the epitome of what we have been discussing so far today, as stained glasses gain their beauty not from themselves but from the light that illuminates them.

Without light, the stained glass will remain dark and invisible, as the stained glass does not produce light on its own. Similarly, the saints did not glorify their own power and greatness, they did not proclaim their own wisdom or understanding, or their own ways and paths, but instead, they glorified the Lord by their lives, devoting their whole lives and their whole entire being to be the hands, the feet, the living examples of the Lord’s glory and good works among His people.

That is what the saints had done, making use of their examples and their whole lives to bring glory to God, and by all their actions, their dedications, their tireless giving of their time and effort, everyone who have seen them, witnessed their good works, listened to them and followed them came to know of God and His truth, His love and care for each and every one of them. Truly, like the beautiful stained glass illuminated by the light, the Light of Christ illuminates His saints like wonderful beacons for us all to see.

Today, we celebrate the feast of one of those saints, namely St. Anthony of Padua, a renowned saint whose life is truly an example for each and every one of us. St. Anthony of Padua was born into a wealthy Portuguese family who entered into the priesthood and eventually became one of the Franciscans. He wanted to be a missionary but a serious sickness changed the course of his life. Instead, he worked and preached among the people.

St. Anthony of Padua made wonderful speeches and preached eloquently, teaching numerous people about the faith. And many were moved and inspired by his sermons, as well as his generous and caring nature, in how he spent many hours and days taking care of them and also the younger members of his own Franciscan community. The people of God came to be inspired by the life of this saint, whose life has become an embodiment of God’s glory.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we inspired by the good examples of St. Anthony of Padua? Are we capable of devoting our lives in the same way as St. Anthony had done with his? Let us all therefore from now on strive to be good reflections of God’s truth and love, by our own exemplary and faithful actions in life. Let us devote our whole effort and time from now on, for the greater glory of God. May the Lord bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 13 June 2019 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 5 : 20-26

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “I tell you, if your sense of right and wrong is not keener than that of the Lawyers and the Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

“You have heard, that it was said to our people in the past : Do not commit murder; anyone who murders will have to face trial. But now I tell you : whoever gets angry with a brother or sister will have to face trial. Whoever insults a brother or sister is liable, to be brought before the council. Whoever calls a brother or sister ‘Fool!’ is liable, of being thrown into the fire of hell.”

“So, if you are about to offer your gift at the altar, and you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there, in front of the altar; go at once, and make peace with your brother, and then come back and offer your gift to God.”

“Do not forget this : be reconciled with your opponent quickly when you are together on the way to court. Otherwise he will turn you over to the judge, who will hand you over to the police, who will put you in jail. There, you will stay, until you have paid the last penny.”