Thursday, 11 July 2019 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Benedict, Abbot (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 exchange between Joseph and his brothers, as the former wanted to keep Benjamin as a hostage as part of a ploy he planned to test his brothers. Judah spoke up passionately in defence of his brothers and also Benjamin, pleading for Joseph to release Benjamin. At that time, they did not know yet who Joseph actually was.

The brothers defended Benjamin who was accused of stealing from the Regent of Egypt, that is Joseph, and they showed concern that their father Israel would die if Benjamin was to be arrested and taken away, and they also kind of showed regret having sent Joseph off earlier on, abandoning him to the hands of the slavers of Midian. And Joseph was touched by all the love that the brothers showed to each other, so much so that he was overwhelmed by his emotions and eventually revealed himself to his brothers.

And in the end, the twelve brothers were united once again, and Joseph, the brother once thought lost, was reunited with his other brothers, and eventually this good news came to Israel who was left behind in Canaan. Ut was a happy ending for the bitter pain that the family had to endure, especially for Israel, who had to accept the painful fact of his beloved son’s death earlier on.

It is then for this same reason that God in our Gospel passage today, through His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, sent out His disciples to the many places He was about to visit, to prepare His way for him and to call on the people to repent from their sins and to be willing to accept the Good News and the truth of God. Through this, the Lord wanted to reconcile His people to Himself, and to gather them back from being scattered away in the darkness of the world.

However, at the same time, just as it was difficult for the sons of Israel to be reunited, the Lord also revealed to His disciples that they would encounter challenges and difficulties along the way, people who would reject them and refuse to believe in them, those who were stubborn and hardened in heart. But at the same time, He also reassured them that He would be with them, and those who refused to believe essentially had rejected salvation on their own volition.

All of us are therefore also called to go forth and be witnesses of the truth of God, by virtue of our Christian baptism and therefore membership of the Church. As members of God’s Church, all of us are called to be examples and role models in faith so that by our good examples and living faith, many others will also come to believe in God through us and our actions. There will indeed be challenges along the way, but we should not easily give up our efforts just because of those.

Today, let us be inspired by the good and faithful example of St. Benedict of Nursia, also known as St. Benedict the Abbot, who was famous for his inspiration for what would eventually become the Benedictine religious order, and also for his rigorous and disciplined rule, the Rule of St. Benedict, which became a model for many other religious orders and faithful communities in how they lead a life of faith.

St. Benedict of Nursia was a Roman noble who was intelligent and bright, and yet, was disappointed with the immorality he discovered when he went to Rome to further his studies. Eventually, he retired away from the city and found a place of solitude, where gradually he developed a hermit-like lifestyle of solitude and prayer, and more and more people came to join him. That was how the Benedictines first came to be, a gathering of men who wanted to seek God through prayer and internal peace.

The faith, piety and love which St. Benedict had for God is truly an inspiration to each and every one of us as Christians, for through his examples, many have been inspired to follow a better and holier way of life, turning away from sin and the temptations to sin, embracing instead the noble and true path of the Lord. Let us also be inspired by their examples and lead a better, more Christian way of life from now on in our own lives.

May the Lord be with us, and may He continue to guide us, through the inspiration and examples of St. Benedict, that we may grow ever closer to God and we may be more faithful in all things we say and do. May God bless us all and our good endeavours, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 11 July 2019 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Benedict, Abbot (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 10 : 7-15

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Go, and proclaim this message : The kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, bring the dead back to life, cleanse the lepers, and drive out demons. Freely have you received, freely give. Do not carry any gold or silver or money in your purses. Do not take a travelling bag, or an extra shirt, or sandals, or a walking stick : workers deserve to be compensated.”

“When you come to a town or a village, look for a worthy person, and stay there until you leave. When you enter the house, wish it peace. If the people are worthy people, your peace will rest on them; if they are not worthy people, your blessing will come back to you.”

“And if you are not welcomed, and your words are not listened to, leave that house or that town, and shake the dust off your feet. I assure you, it will go easier for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment, than it will for the people of that town.”

Thursday, 11 July 2019 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Benedict, Abbot (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 104 : 16-17, 18-19, 20-21

Then YHVH sent a famine and ruined the crop that sustained the land; He sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave.

His feet in shackles, his neck in irons; till what he foretold came to pass, and YHVH’s word proved him true.

The king sent for him; set him free; the ruler of the peoples released him. He put him in charge of his household and made him ruler of all his possessions.

Thursday, 11 July 2019 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Benedict, Abbot (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Genesis 44 : 18-21, 23b-29 and Genesis 45 : 1-5

Judah then went forward and said, “My lord, allow your servant to speak. Do not be angry with your servant, although you are equal to Pharaoh himself. The last time you questioned your servants saying : ‘Have you a father or a brother?’ We said to my lord : ‘We have an aged father who had a child in his old age. His brother is dead and he is the only one left of his mother’s children. And his father loves him.'”

“Then you said to us : ‘Bring him down so that I can see him for myself, if your youngest brother did not come with you, you would not be admitted to my presence.’ All this we said to our father on returning there. So when he told us to come back and buy a little food, we said : ‘We cannot go down again unless our youngest brother is with us. We shall not be admitted to the lord’s presence unless our brother is with us.'”

“Then my father said : ‘You know that my wife had two children. One went away from me and has surely been torn to pieces since I have not seen him anymore. If you take this one from me and something happens to him you will bring my gray hair in sorrow to the grave.'”

Now Joseph could no longer control his feelings in the presence of all those standing by and he called out, “Leave my presence, everyone!” And only his brothers were with him when Joseph made himself known to them. He wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard and the news spread through Pharaoh’s house.

Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” And his brothers could not answer because they were terrified at seeing him. Joseph said, “Come closer,” and they drew nearer. “I am Joseph your brother, yes, it is me, the one you sold to the Egyptians. Now do not grieve or reproach yourselves for selling me, because God has sent me before you to save your lives.”

Monday, 11 July 2016 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Benedict, Abbot (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the great feast day of one of the most renowned holy saints of Christendom, one known for his great piety and discipline in faith, the one who made religious life to be such a devout and popular profession in his days. St. Benedict of Nursia, the founder and first Abbot of the Benedictine religious order had a great role in the history of the Church, in helping many to find their calling and vocations in God, and advance the cause of the Lord.

St. Benedict of Nursia was born five centuries after the birth of Christ at a time when Christianity has become the majority faith for the people in the then known world. The Christian faith has become the faith followed by the people from the lowest to the greatest in the society, and the Church was still growing rapidly and developing its structure and practices. However, it was very often that heresies and all other false teachings arose in the Church, and people were also often lukewarm about their faith.

They have become complacent about their faith, just as what we heard in the Scriptures today, in the Book of the prophet Isaiah, where God rebuked His people for their empty offerings and sacrifices which were not made in real and genuine faith and devotion for Him. The people had come to see those sacrifices as obligations and as merely a process, and they had no real love for the Lord.

And in the Gospel Jesus also rebuked the people who followed Him, all those thinking that His coming into the world would usher an era of eternal peace where there would be no more suffering or difficulties, where being a follower of the Lord would entail one to a life of complacency and enjoyment, and where no more work is needed. Being a Christian in fact means a life of challenges and difficulties, as the world of darkness from which we have been rescued from would not remain silent even as we approach the salvation in our God.

Jesus Himself warned that His coming would bring about conflict and struggle, even among the closest of friends, among the inner circles of the families themselves, where one member of the family, being a Christian might be pitted against the other members of the family and even be persecuted. There had been many examples in the history of our Faith and the Church, where the faithful had been torn between their families and the faith, their friends and the Lord. And those who chose the Lord often faced suffering and even martyrdom.

And thus, St. Benedict who founded several communities of the faithful who chose to devote themselves and their whole lives to God in a life of seclusion and prayer. St. Benedict was renowned for his famous Rule of St. Benedict, which became the foundation of the order which he helped to establish, as those communities which he had established eventually grew to become what we know as the Benedictine order.

The Rule of St. Benedict encompassed the rules put in place to ensure that the lives of those who chose to join the religious order of St. Benedict are filled with devotions and prayers, and filled with hard work to cultivate their faith in the Lord. They lived together and worked together in harmony, and in the challenges and the difficulties that they faced, they have nothing better and greater than God Himself Who stood by them.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it does not mean that all of us should abandon our current lives and devote ourselves to become monks and religious like St. Benedict and his followers had done. Of course if there are some among us who had been called and chosen, and if they had chosen to follow the fullness of the examples of St. Benedict, then it is in fact a great thing, and we should give our support and encouragement to them.

But for the rest of us, each and every one of us have also been called to give our best effort to live as true and devout Christians, as those who do not just profess the faith on paper or with mere words alone, but also through hard work and dedication. Indeed, the path forward for us will be challenging, but at least then if we remain faithful to the end, then our way forward is clear, and God rewards all those who keep their faith in Him despite all the difficulties and the challenges faced.

Let us all therefore imitate the examples of St. Benedict of Nursia and his Benedictine followers, devoting ourselves in each of our own way, but most importantly be sincere in our faith and devotion, and commit ourselves wholly to God, not just with our mouth or gestures, but from the deepest depths inside our hearts and our minds. May God help us and strengthen us. Amen.

Monday, 11 July 2016 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Benedict, Abbot (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 10 : 34 – Matthew 11 : 1

At that time, Jesus spoke to the people and to His disciples, “Do not think that I have come to establish peace on earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Each one will have as enemies those of one’s own family.”

“Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And whoever loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And whoever does not take up His cross and come after Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”

“Whoever welcomes you welcomes Me, and whoever welcomes Me welcomes Him Who sent Me. The one who welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive the reward of a prophet; the one who welcomes a just man, because he is a just man, will receive the reward of a just man. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones, because he is My disciple, I assure you, he will not go unrewarded.”

When Jesus had finished giving His twelve disciples these instructions, He went on from there to teach and to proclaim His message in their towns.

Monday, 11 July 2016 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Benedict, Abbot (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 49 : 8-9, 16bc-17, 21 and 23

Not for your sacrifices do I reprove you, for your burnt offerings are ever before Me. I need no bull from your stalls, nor he-goat from your pens.

What right have you to mouth My laws, or to talk about My covenant? You hate My commands and cast My words behind you.

Because I was silent while you did these things, you thought I was like you. But now I rebuke you and make this charge against you. Those who give with thanks offerings honour Me, but the one who walks blamelessly, I will show him the salvation of God.