Tuesday, 5 July 2022 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Zaccaria, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord as contained in the Scriptures, we are presented with the sins that we have often committed in life, as shown in what the people of Israel had done in the past, and how God is freeing us all from the bondage to those attachments to evil, wickedness and sin. Through Christ, His beloved Son, Our Lord and Saviour, God had brought His salvation and grace upon us, and He has shown us the path towards eternal life and joy through Him. Now, the question is for us Christians, is how do we respond then to His call for us?

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Hosea on all the wickedness that the Israelites in the northern kingdom centred at Samaria had done, in their rebellion against God. The kings and the people chose to worship pagan idols, the golden calf of king Jeroboam, the first to mislead the Israelites into sin, and then Baal and Asherah and many other Canaanite gods, on top of persecuting the many prophets and messengers that God had patiently sent into their midst to help them to rediscover the right path in life. They stubbornly refused the Lord and His messengers, and shut the doors of their hearts and minds against Him.

Thus, through what we heard in our reading passage today, we are all reminded that while God’s mercy, compassion and love are truly vast and boundless, and while God is ever patient, but He also wants us to know that sin has no place before Him, and we cannot ignore those sins, or else they will threaten to drag us off the path towards God’s salvation. Sin is a terrible force that corrupts us and makes us defiled and unworthy of God, and God alone can heal us from this affliction through His forgiveness and grace. Yet, it also depends on us accepting and embracing His love and mercy.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord speaking to the Pharisees and to His disciples at the time when He was accused by the Pharisees of colluding with the prince of demons in His miraculous healing and exorcism of the man who was possessed by evil spirits. Those Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were among the most educated and influential members of the community, but they were also those who were the most vocal in their opposition against God, against His works and efforts. Despite everything that the prophets had proclaimed and spoken regarding Him, many of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law failed to see the truth.

And they also refused to open their hearts and minds to believe in God, much as how the people of Israel at the time of the prophet Hosea and before that had been unfaithful, stubborn and wicked in their actions. Much of this can be attributed to pride, ego and greed, all of which had often led mankind to their fall, all throughout history. Nonetheless, the Lord continued to persevere through His mission, reaching out to the people, who were described in our Gospel today, as likened to a flock of sheep without a shepherd. The Lord took pity of them, loving them and showed them His truth, teaching them and guiding them to the right path.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through what we have heard in our Scripture passages today, therefore we are all reminded that all of us must be ever vigilant against sin, and we have to always be wary that we do not fall into the temptations to turn away from God and His path. We should not allow the pressures and the coercions of this world and the allures of sin to force us to embrace the ways of the world. There will be plenty of avenues through which Satan and his followers will try to strike at us, trying to turn us towards the path of sin and evil. We have to resist them and entrust ourselves in the Lord, and follow Him with commitment.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Anthony Zaccaria, a renowned priest and founder of the religious order of the Barnabites, and also a devout and zealous preacher of the faith, ever hard at work to spread the word of God, His truth and love to the people he had ministered to. He cared for the needs of the people, and making popular devotions such as the devotion to the Passion of the Lord, the Holy Eucharist and propagation religious vocations among the people and the greater activity and contribution from the laity. St. Anthony Zaccaria devoted his life to God and showed his fellow brothers and sisters what it truly means to be Christians, to be disciples of the Lord.

Let us all therefore also seek to glorify God and to proclaim His truth and love in our respective communities today. And let us all distance ourselves from sin and wickedness, and let us follow the Lord wholeheartedly from now on, and not be distracted any longer by the worldly temptations, by the idols of desires and worldly glory among other things. Instead, let us all draw ever closer to God and do our very best to be inspiration and role models to one another, so that we may help to bring God’s truth, love and salvation to more and more people out there, as genuine Christians, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 5 July 2022 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Zaccaria, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Matthew 9 : 32-38

At that time, as the two blind men were going away, some people brought to Jesus a man who was dumb, because he was possessed by a demon. When the demon was driven out, the dumb man began to speak. The crowds were astonished and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.”

But the Pharisees said, “He drives away demons with the help of the prince of demons.”

Jesus went around all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom; and He cured every sickness and disease. When He saw the crowds, He was moved with pity; for they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are only few. Ask the Master of the harvest to send workers to gather His harvest.”

Tuesday, 5 July 2022 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Zaccaria, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Psalm 113B : 3-4, 5-6, 7ab-8, 9-10

There in heaven is our God; whatever He wishes, He does. Not so the hand-made idols, crafted in silver and gold.

They have mouths that cannot speak, eyes that cannot see, ears that cannot hear, noses that cannot smell.

They have hands but cannot feel, feet, but cannot walk. Their makers will be like them; so will all who trust in them.

O Israel, trust in YHVH; He is your Help and your Shield! You, family of Aaron, trust in YHVH; He is your Help and your Shield!

Tuesday, 5 July 2022 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Zaccaria, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Hosea 8 : 4-7, 11-13

Without My approval they set up kings and without My blessing appointed leaders. With their silver and gold they fashioned idols to their own ruin. To Me, Samaria, your calf is loathsome; and My anger blazes against you. How long will you remain defiled? The calf is yours, Israel, a craftsman has made it; it is not God and will be broken into pieces. As they sow the wind, they will reap the whirlwind. Stalk without flower, it will never yield flower, or if they do, foreigners will devour it.

Ephraim built many altars; but his altars made him more guilty. I wrote out for him the numerous precepts of My law; but they look on them as coming from foreigners. They offer sacrifices to Me because they are those who eat the meat; but YHVH does not accept their sacrifices, for He is mindful of their sin and remembers their wickedness. They will return to Egypt.

Monday, 5 July 2021 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Zaccaria, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are called to trust in the Lord and His words and promises to us, as He gave us all His reassurances, as He has given to His servants and people, such as what He has told Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, as He watched over him and guided him in his journey, and as He has done to the woman who was suffering from haemorrhages and the official synagogue whose daughter has passed away.

In our first reading today, we heard of the story of Jacob, the younger son of Isaac, son of Abraham, who was at Bethel in the midst of fleeing from the wrath of his elder brother Esau. At that time, Esau who was the elder brother of Jacob was supposed to be the one to inherit Isaac’s blessings and grace as the heir of Abraham, but Jacob took those blessings and inheritance from Esau. Jacob flee away from Esau, fearing his wrath, but God was with Jacob, and He showed this reassurance as he lay sleeping in Bethel.

As we heard in our first reading today, Jacob received a vision of heaven as he lay sleeping, and God spoke to him, reassuring him that He would be with him and also with his descendants, remembering the same Covenant and promise which He had made with Abraham and Isaac. Jacob promised God that if He would guide him and help him to return to the land one day, he would raise a great altar in His honour and stay faithful to Him, he and his descendants altogether. And God did guide Jacob and eventually He brought Jacob and his family back to the land promised to him and his descendants.

In our Gospel passage today we heard of the moment when the Lord healed two people from their troubles. There was a woman who had been suffering from bleeding and haemorrhages, and had sought for treatments without any success. She sought the Lord as she believed that the Lord would be able to to help her from her troubles. She touched the Lord’s cloak and was instantly healed. The Lord also reassured the woman for her faith, and strengthened her, reassuring her that she has been healed and made whole by her trust in Him.

Then, the Lord also raised the dead daughter of the synagogue official, who initially sought Him to heal her from her sickness. When she had passed on while the Lord was delayed on the way, the Lord reassured her father, the official, that he had nothing to worry about, and despite the ridicule and laughter from all others there who laughed at the Lord’s suggestion that the girl was only sleeping. The Lord raised the girl from the dead and restored her to life, showing to all the power and love of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having heard these things, are we still doubting the Lord and all that He can do for our sake, on our behalf? Are we still not sure of the things that we shall receive from Him, and all that we shall gain by putting our trust and faith in Him? We are all called to reflect on this, as we ought to consider what we can do in order to commit ourselves as good and faithful Christians in life. We should not just pay Him a lip service and live in manner that is against His laws and commandments.

Today therefore, we should follow the examples set by St. Anthony Zaccaria, a holy priest and dedicated servant of God, known as one of the leaders of the Counter-Reformation efforts and as the founder of the Barnabites order, who was remembered for his commitment and service to the people, especially to those who are poor and needy in the community, devoting much of his time and effort to serve the community of the faithful and encouraging devotions to the Lord such as the increasingly popular Forty Hours Devotion, among others.

St. Anthony Zaccaria did not live long as he passed away relatively young from the ravages of a disease, but he was credited with the foundation of several religious orders, through which his works and passion were continued on by all those who shared the same calling and missionary zeal. This is why we should also follow the examples and be inspired by the faith and dedication of St. Anthony Zaccaria, in how he spent his time and effort to serve the Lord, and to glorify the Name of the Lord among His people. After all, He has loved us so very much and given so much for our sake.

Let us all therefore do our very best and commit ourselves, to serve the people of God, to be inspiration to our fellow brothers and sisters, by entrusting ourselves wholeheartedly to the Lord from now on. Let us all turn towards Him and be the bearers of His light and truth in our community today, that through us, many more people may come to believe in the Lord as well. May God be with us and bless us all in our every efforts and good endeavours. Amen.

Monday, 5 July 2021 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Zaccaria, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Matthew 9 : 18-26

At that time, while Jesus was speaking to the disciples of John and the Pharisees, an official of the synagogue came up to Him, bowed before Him and said, “My daughter has just died, but come and place Your hands on her, and she will live.”

Jesus stood up and followed him with His disciples. Then a woman, who had suffered from a severe bleeding for twelve years, came up from behind and touched the edge of His cloak; for she thought, “If I only touch His cloak, I will be healed.”

Jesus turned, saw her and said, “Courage, my daughter, your faith has saved you.” And from that moment, the woman was cured. When Jesus arrived at the official’s house and saw the flute players and the excited crowd, He said, “Get out of here! The girl is not dead. She is only sleeping!” And they laughed at Him.

But once the crowd had been turned out, Jesus went in and took the girl by the hand, and she stood up. The news of this spread through the whole area.

Monday, 5 July 2021 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Zaccaria, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Psalm 90 : 1-2, 3-4, 14-15ab

You, who dwell in the shelter of the Most High, who rest in the shadow of the Almighty, say to YHVH, “My Stronghold, my Refuge, my God in Whom I trust!”

He will rescue you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions and give you refuge under His wings.

“Because they cling to Me, I will rescue them,” says YHVH. “I will protect those who know My Name. When they call to Me, I will answer; in time of trouble, I will be with them.”

Monday, 5 July 2021 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Zaccaria, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Genesis 28 : 10-22a

Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. When he reached a certain place the sun had set and he spent the night there. He took one of the stones that were there and using it as a pillow, he lay down to sleep.

While Jacob was sleeping, he had a dream in which a ladder stood on the earth with its top reaching to heaven and on it were Angels of God going up and coming down. And YHVH was standing there near him and said, “I am YHVH, the God of your father, Abraham, and the God of Isaac. The land on which you sleep, I give to you and your descendants.”

“Your descendants will be numerous like the specks of dust of the earth and you will spread out to the west and the east, to the north and the south. Through you and your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed. See, I am with you and I will keep you safe wherever you go. I will bring you back to this land and not leave you until I have done what I promised.”

Jacob woke from his dream and said, “Truly YHVH was in this place and I was not aware of it.” He was afraid and said, “How full of awe is this place! It is nothing less than a house of God; it is the Gate to Heaven!” Then Jacob rose early and took the stone he had put under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He named that place Bethel although before that it was called Luz.

Then Jacob made a vow, “If YHVH will be with me and keep me safe during this journey I am making, if He gives me bread to eat and clothes to wear, and if I return in peace to my father’s house, then YHVH will be my God. This stone which I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house.”

Friday, 5 July 2019 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Zaccaria, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are called to reflect on the love and dedication which God has shown each and every one of us, as we are reminded of the great love with which He reached out to us sinners, as what we have heard in our Gospel reading today ought to remind us of this fact. In that passage, we heard how the Lord Jesus called a tax collector named Levi, who would later on become one of his chief disciples, St. Matthew the Apostle.

In order to appreciate better the significance of what we have heard in today’s reading, we should understand the context and the historical norms of that time, when the tax collectors were in particular seen as people who were sinners and unworthy of God, looked down and reviled upon, often ridiculed and hated because they were seen as willing agents of the conquering Romans who then ruled over Judea.

They were even treated like traitors, as those who were considered to have sold out the Jewish people and nation to the Romans. And this compounded by the fact that no one likes to pay taxes for their living and land, makes the tax collectors truly among the most hated group of people at that time. They were considered as people who were greedy and wicked, sinful and selfish, and therefore were shunned by the general society.

Yet, the Lord reached out to them and called to them, as what He had done to Levi, calling him to be His follower, not withstanding his occupation as a tax collector. He reached out to Levi and to the other tax collectors, just as He had done with the prostitutes, who were another group of people reviled and rejected by the society as they were cast out and considered as lost cause and terrible sinners.

The Lord made it plainly clear to the teachers of the Law who doubted and criticised Him and His actions, that He did what He had done because He was seeking those who had been sick and afflicted by the dangerous sickness of sin. And yes, sin is a form of sickness that affects the body and the mind, and unless the people afflicted by these sins are cured from their sins, they will be lost forever from God.

And we must always remember that God loves each and every single one of us without exception, mankind great or small, whether their sins were significant or insignificant, whether they were great or small, He loves each and every one of us without exception, to the best that He has given us all. And this great love He has shown us, He gave to us through nothing less than His own ultimate sacrifice on the Cross.

He cared for us all, that He provided for all, including what we heard in today’s first reading, from the Book of Genesis, relating to us of the time when Sarah, the wife of Abraham and mother of Isaac passed away. God took good care of Isaac by providing him someone to love despite the grief that he must have endured and faced at that time, giving him Rebecca to be his wife, and at the same time, fulfilling the promise that He has given to him and his father Abraham, that their descendants will be great and numerous.

God has been so loving and so generous to us, and He wants to love us all the more, and today, we celebrate the feast of one of His saints, who have embraced this love which God has given him, and became a great role model for many of the faithful through the ages. St. Anthony Zaccaria, was a renowned priest and hardworking servant of God, who worked extensively among the people, and was known in particular for the Forty Hours Devotion that he popularised among the people.

Through this popular devotion, the Blessed Sacrament is exposed before the faithful and including other practices that St. Anthony restored and encouraged, such as the ringing of bells at 3 pm on Fridays to remind the people of the moment of Crucifixion, of God’s ultimate love, St. Anthony Zaccaria had made tremendous impact on the faith and the salvation of many souls throughout the years of his works and beyond.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, after we have heard of the extent of Our Lord’s great and vast love for each and every one of us, and of the commitment and dedication shown by St. Anthony Zaccaria, let us all follow in his footsteps and dedicate ourselves ever more to God, for His great love and merciful compassion towards us. Let us all abandon our old ways of sin, and seek to be reconciled to Him, just as He reaches out to us, regardless of how great a sinner we are.

May the Lord continue to love us and may He show His generous mercy at all times, and may all of us draw ever closer to Him and be worthy to receive the salvation which He has promised to all of us, who are faithful to Him. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 5 July 2019 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Zaccaria, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Matthew 9 : 9-13

At that time, as Jesus moved on from where He healed the paralytic man, He saw a man named Matthew, at his seat in the custom-house; and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And Matthew got up and followed Him.

Now it happened, while Jesus was at table in Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners joined Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is it, that your Master eats with sinners and tax collectors?”

When Jesus heard this, He said, “Healthy people do not need a doctor, but sick people do. Go, and find out what this means : What I want is mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”