Saturday, 23 July 2022 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bridget of Sweden, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are reminded by the words of the Scriptures to rend and discard from ourselves all the traces of sin and evil, of all wickedness and the disobedience we have against God. Today through the words of the prophet Jeremiah and the Lord Jesus Himself, all of us are called to seek what is holy and good, worthy of God and get rid from ourselves the attachments to worldly desires and sins, of all things that kept us away from God and His path. The Lord is calling us to return to Him with righteousness and true love, devotion and commitment to Him.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah of the moment when Jeremiah embarked on his mission to preach the words of the Lord to the people of the kingdom of Judah, which he had been sent to. The people of Judah and their kings and leaders had long disobeyed the Lord and turned back into the path of sin, evil and wickedness, and for that, Jeremiah told them all that they would pay the consequences for their disobedience and sins, but yet at the same time, God still loved His people and wanted to show them His mercy, to forgive them and be reconciled with them.

The Lord called the people to change their ways of life, to abandon their false and pagan gods and idols, all those that had mislead them in the wrong path, and to leave behind their wicked deeds and all their past transgressions. He reminded them of what they ought be doing as His followers and people, to purify themselves and to follow Him once again with faith, to glorify His Name by their deeds, to honour once again the Law of God and all that God has placed in their midst to guide and help them in their journey. The prophet Jeremiah called on them all to atone for their sins and to enter once again into Covenant with God.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord Jesus speaking to His disciples and followers with the parable of the sower of seeds of wheat and the weeds that were sown by the enemy of the sower. Using that parable, the Lord showed how the wheat represents everything good that God had sown in us, with the sower representing God Himself. The enemy on the other hand represents the devil and all of his wicked forces bent on seeing our destruction. The weeds therefore represent the temptations of desire, greed, pride and the many sins that they had sown in us, and in trying to steer us away from the path towards salvation into the path towards damnation instead.

That is why, when the parable stated that the sower did not tell his servants to remove the weeds right away, it can be interpreted in two ways. First, it is representative of how there are both good and bad things within each one of us, and in the end, we will be judged by our good and bad deeds, and those who are found worthy shall enjoy eternal life and true happiness with God, while those who are found lacking in faith and unworthy will be consigned to an eternity of suffering and punishment, all because of their own conscious choice to reject God and to abandon His ways, just as the people of God had often done in the past.

Then another interpretation is that, the wheat represents the righteous while the weed represents those who are wicked, all of whom are living in this world, represented by the field. If we continue to disobey God and refuse to repent from our sinful ways, then we are like the weeds which will be collected in the end and thrown into the fire. Instead, all of us are reminded and called to follow the Lord, to be like the wheat, by our righteous life and actions, by our commitment and obedience to God’s will. We have that choice to make, whether we want to be faithful to God or whether we prefer to walk our own path, which likely leads us down the path of destruction.

Today, we should therefore look upon the good examples set before us by St. Bridget of Sweden, a great and holy woman, faithful servant of God whose feast we are celebrating this day. St. Bridget of Sweden was a renowned mystic and religious, who became a lady-in-waiting for the Queen of Sweden, while being renowned for her many charitable works and activities, in her care for the poor and the needy. After her husband’s passing, her continued desire to serve the sick and the poor inspired her to establish a religious order, which would later on be known after her as the Bridgettines. They were all committed to the care of the sick and the poor in the community.

St. Bridget was known for her pilgrimages across Christendom, partly because of the need for her to validate the foundation of her religious order. Throughout those pilgrimages, she continued to minister to the poor and the sick, even in the midst of the Black Death pandemic that was raging back then. When she was in Rome where she remained until her passing, she continued her many good works, which made her well-remembered by the people, who were touched by her generosity, love and kindness. All of us should also be similarly inspired by the faith and love that St. Bridget had shown, in following the Lord and His commandments.

May the Lord continue to guide us in our path in faith, and may He give us the strength and courage to remain firm in our conviction and commitment to serve Him in each and every moments of our lives. May the inspiration from St. Bridget of Sweden empower us all to walk ever more faithfully in God’s path and may all of us be ever more zealous and dedicated in all things, in being the wheat that is truly worthy of the Lord. Amen.

Saturday, 23 July 2022 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bridget of Sweden, Religious (Gospel Reading)

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

Matthew 13 : 24-30

At that time, Jesus told the people another parable, “The kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a man, who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep, his enemy came, and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the plants sprouted and produced grain, the weeds also appeared. Then, the servants of the owner came, and said to him, ‘Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? Where did the weeds come from?'”

“He answered them, ‘This is the work of an enemy.’ They asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull up the weeds?’ He told them, ‘No, when you pull up the weeds, you might uproot the wheat with them. Let them grow together, until harvest; and, at harvest time, I will say to the workers : Pull up the weeds first, tie them in bundles and burn them; then gather the wheat into my barn.'”

Saturday, 23 July 2022 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bridget of Sweden, Religious (Psalm)

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

Psalm 83 : 3, 4, 5-6a and 8a, 11

My soul yearns; pines, for the courts of YHVH. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young, at Your altars, o YHVH of hosts, my King and my God!

Happy are those who live in Your house, continually singing Your praise! Happy, the pilgrims whom You strengthen, they go from strength to strength.

One day in Your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be left at the threshold in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of the wicked.

Saturday, 23 July 2022 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bridget of Sweden, Religious (First Reading)

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

Jeremiah 7 : 1-11

These words were spoken by YHVH to Jeremiah, “Stand at the gate of YHVH’s House and proclaim this in a loud voice : Listen to what YHVH says, all you people of Judah (who enter these gates to worship YHVH). YHVH the God of Israel says this : Amend your ways and your deeds and I will stay with you in this place. Rely not on empty words such as : ‘Look, Temple of YHVH! Temple of YHVH! This is the Temple of YHVH!’”

“It is far better for you to amend your ways and act justly with all. Do not abuse the stranger, orphan or widow or shed innocent blood in this place or follow false gods to your own ruin. Then I will stay with you in this place, in the land I gave to your ancestors in times past and forever.”

“But you trust in deceptive and useless words. You steal, kill, take the wife of your neighbour; you swear falsely, worship Baal and follow foreign gods who are not yours. Then, after doing all these horrible things, you come and stand before Me in this Temple that bears My Name and say, ‘Now we are safe.’ Is this House on which rests My Name a den of thieves? I have seen this Myself – it is YHVH Who speaks.”

Friday, 23 July 2021 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bridget of Sweden, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today from the passages of the Scriptures that we have received, we have heard how the Lord revealed and passed down His Law to the people of Israel during the time of their Exodus from Egypt, in what we now know well as the Ten Commandments. Then, we also heard from the Gospel passage on the explanations that the Lord gave on His own parable of the sower, as He explained to His disciples what He meant by each of the symbolisms found in that parable.

In our first reading today, we heard of the Lord speaking to Moses on the details of the Commandments which He was giving them, as He made His Covenant anew with them. Those set of Ten Commandments served as the basis and the core of the Law which He gave to His people as the foundation and solid bedrock of faith, and as the guide for them all to follow so that they would not lose their way and remain true to the path that He has shown to them. Those commandments reminded them and also all of us first and foremost, that God is our Lord and Master, and as the One and only One to Whom we ought to give honour and glory, and love with all of our might.

That in essence is the meaning and purpose of the first three Commandments, from the First to the Third one, to love the Lord with all of our heart and with all of our strength, and then to have no other god or idol beside Him, and honouring His Name and His holy day, as God’s beloved people and as those who truly had faith in Him. Then, the other seven Commandments refer to the love that each and every one of us then ought to have for our fellow brothers and sisters, our fellow men and women, all those who we encounter in life, even strangers and acquaintances.

All of these God has given to us so that by our faith and dedication, by our actions and commitments to the Lord, through our righteous deeds, we may grow ever stronger in our love for God, and that the seeds of faith, the Law and Commandments of God, that have been sown in us may grow wonderfully and bountifully on the rich and fertile ‘soil’ that is our souls. This is what the Lord had referred to in our Gospel passage today, as He explained the meaning of the parable of the sower to all of them.

The Lord is reminding all of us just as He reminded His disciples at that time, of the great importance for us to be open to the words of the Lord, to His Law and Commandments being spoken and delivered to us, and placed within our hearts. And we cannot forget that each and every one of us are the recipients of God’s most generous gifts of love, of faith and of hope. He has given us all these so that we may grow ever stronger in our devotion and commitment to the way of the Lord. We have to nurture and cultivate this faith we have, and allow ourselves to be guided by the Lord in walking down this path.

We are all called to resist the temptations of the world, all those things that kept us away from the Lord, from His truth and love, as those seeds that landed by the roadside, amongst the thistles and brambles, and on the rocky grounds had shown us, and which the Lord said that all those cases were due to people having failed to resist the many temptations present in the world, and all the allures and false promises made by the devil that led us further away from the Lord and His salvation. As long as we lack the true faith in the Lord, we shall falter and fail to bear rich fruits in the Lord.

How do we then become fruitful and bountiful in the Lord? It is by internalising and truly understanding the Law of God, His Commandments and all that He had taught us and revealed to us. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law have all claimed to uphold the Law and in zealously defending them and imposing its strict rules and regulations on the people, and yet, they failed to realise how they had not been able to understand the true meaning and intention of the Law, and instead, being enslaved by their own desires and ambitions for power, fame and worldly glory.

Today, all of us are called to follow the examples of one of our holy predecessors in faith, namely that of St. Bridget of Sweden, a holy woman and religious whose faith and commitment to the Lord was truly renowned throughout Christendom. She was remembered for her deep piety and devotion to the Lord, while at the same time, showing great compassion to the poor and the needy, and did her best to establish a congregation of like-minded people, to serve the people of God and care for the poor, those who would eventually be known as the Brigittines, after their founder, the Order of the Most Holy Saviour.

It was told that St. Bridget of Sweden went on several pilgrimages to Rome, the Holy See, caring for others in need along the way, at the time when much of Christendom were suffering from the Black Death pandemic that claimed numerous lives. She led a group of priests and others who went about doing the works of the Lord and His Church in the various communities of the faithful they encountered. It is through all these that we can see what it means to bear rich and bountiful fruits of our Christian faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all reflect therefore on our lives, in how we have walked in the path we have trodden thus far. Let us all be ever more faithful, and be ever more attuned to the Lord’s will, obeying His Law and Commandments, not just for the sake of obeying them, but rather, understanding and appreciating them fully, with all of our strength and might, that we may bear rich spiritual fruits and be ever closer to God. May the Lord strengthen us and give us the courage to follow Him with all of our commitment, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 23 July 2021 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bridget of Sweden, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Matthew 13 : 18-23

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Now listen to the parable of the sower. When a person hears the message of the kingdom, but does not take it seriously, the devil comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed that fell along the footpath.”

“The seed that fell on rocky ground stands for the one who hears the word, and accepts it at once with joy. But such a person has no roots, and endures only for a while. No sooner is he harassed or persecuted because of the word, than he gives up.”

“The seed that fell among the thistles is the one who hears the word, but then, the worries of this life and the love of money choke the word; and it does not bear fruit. As for the seed that fell on good soil, it is the one who hears the word and understands it; this seed bears fruit and produces a hundred, or sixty, or thirty times more.”

Friday, 23 July 2021 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bridget of Sweden, Religious (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Psalm 18 : 8, 9, 10, 11

The law of YHVH is perfect : it gives life to the soul. The word of YHVH is trustworthy : it gives wisdom to the simple.

The precepts of YHVH are right : they give joy to the heart. The commandments of YHVH are clear : they enlighten the eyes.

The fear of YHVH is pure, it endures forever; the judgments of YHVH are true, all of them just and right.

They are more precious than gold – pure gold of a jeweller; they are much sweeter than honey which drops from the honeycomb.

Friday, 23 July 2021 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bridget of Sweden, Religious (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Exodus 20 : 1-17

God spoke all these words. He said, “I am YHVH your God Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. Do not have other gods before Me. Do not make yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything in heaven, or on the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them.”

“For I, YHVH your God, am a jealous God; for the sin of the fathers, when they rebel against Me, I punish the sons, the grandsons and the great-grandsons; but I show steadfast love until the thousandth generation for those who love Me and keep My commandments.”

“Do not take the Name of YHVH your God in vain for YHVH will not leave unpunished anyone who takes His Name in vain. Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. For six days you will labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath for YHVH your God.”

“Do not work that day, neither you, nor your son, nor your daughter nor your servants, men or women, nor your animals, nor the stranger who is staying with you. For in six days YHVH made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that is in them, but on the seventh day He rested; that is why YHVH has blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

“Honour your father and your mother that you may have a long life in the land that YHVH has given you. Do not kill. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not give false witness against your neighbour. Do not covet your neighbour’s house. Do not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his servant, man or woman, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is his.”

Thursday, 23 July 2020 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bridget of Sweden, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we heard just how the Lord had loved us mankind so dearly and yet, He had to face rejection and stubbornness from His people, from those to whom He had tirelessly and constantly sent messengers one after another, servants and prophets to proclaim to them the love of God and His faithfulness.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah the words of the Lord’s sadness and anger at His people for their ingratitude and lack of faith, their constant disobedience and sinfulness, as they proved again and again to be rebellious and unwilling to embrace God’s love and His path, right up to the end of the kingdom in Judah, as how it was in the time of the prophet Jeremiah, who ministered to the people at the end of the southern kingdom just before its downfall.

God has ever shown His patience and kindness, His mercy and compassion through the generations, but the people abandoned Him, betrayed Him and left Him for the comfort and the false allures and pleasures of worldliness, putting their trust instead in the pagan idols and foreign gods like Baal, Ashtaroth among others. They had forgotten the wonders and the love that God had showed their ancestors, and allowed the devil to tempt them and sway them to the false paths.

Thus then it was also how the Lord Jesus as mentioned in our Gospel today stated that even till then, the people were still stubborn in refusing to believe in God, and held on to their flawed and sinful ways. This was when the Lord’s disciples asked Him on why He was often teaching them in parables and speaking in metaphorical terms especially when describing and explaining many of the concepts of the truth He had revealed.

And the Lord told them essentially how the people’s stubbornness and closed hearts and minds truly prevented them from being able to listen, appreciate and understand the love and the truth of God, blinding them to that truth and reason and made them to harden their stance against the Lord and His followers, as showed by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, the chief priests and the Sadducees, many of whom often confronted and opposed the Lord in His works.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today through all of these each and every one of us are reminded of just how pride, ego, stubbornness, hubris and greed, all of these can be very great stumbling blocks and obstacles in our journey of faith towards God, His love and salvation. As all these prevented our ancestors from seeing reason and listening to the truth, and instead, leading many of them further down the path towards damnation.

Today, all of us are therefore reminded to turn away from this same path, and instead, embrace the path of renewal and forgiveness, the path of being loved by God and accept wholeheartedly the Lord’s compassionate mercy, and to grow ever more faithful in Him with each and every moments of our lives. And we should therefore look upon the good examples of our good and holy predecessors to help and guide us in our journey.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Bridget of Sweden, a great and renowned holy woman and servant of God, known as one of the Patron Saints of Europe remembered for her great piety and commitment to the Lord. And although she was born into one of the richest noble families and could count kings and nobles among her relatives, but she remained humble and committed to the Lord.

Throughout her life, St. Bridget of Sweden worked tirelessly to care for the poor and the sick, and also championed life of prayer and purity, establishing religious orders and congregations that inspired many people to follow her example and faith. By her dedication and commitment, St. Bridget inspired many to turn once again to God and abandon their past, sinful way of life, and this is something that all of us can also aspire towards.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able and willing to follow the good examples of St. Bridget of Sweden in our own lives? Are we willing to seek not for the pleasures of the world and for the glory of this human existence, but rather to grow ever stronger in faith, charity and hope, in our devotion towards God and in our virtues in life? Let us all discern these and think carefully of how we should proceed forward in life, especially in how we are going to act towards one another.

May the Lord, through the intercession of St. Bridget of Sweden and innumerable other holy saints, martyrs and holy servants of God, constantly bless us all and strengthen us, that each and every one of us may grow ever stronger in faith and in our commitment to follow Him and to serve Him with all of our strength. May the Lord be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 23 July 2020 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bridget of Sweden, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Matthew 13 : 10-17

At that time, the disciples of Jesus came to Him and said, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” Jesus answered, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but not to these people. For the one who has will be given more; and he will have in abundance. But the one who does not have will be deprived of even what he has. That is why I speak to them in parables; because they look and do not see; they hear; but they do not listen or understand.”

“In them, the words of the prophet Isaiah are fulfilled : However much you hear, you do not understand; however much you see, you do not perceive. For the heart of this people has grown dull. Their ears hardly hear and their eyes dare not see. If they were to see with their eyes, hear with their ears and understand with their heart, they would turn back, and I would heal them.”

“But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For I tell you, many prophets and righteous people have longed to see the things you see, but they did not see them; and to hear the things you hear, but they did not hear them.”