Thursday, 11 August 2022 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Sacred Scriptures, we are called to turn away from our sins and our wickedness, and once again face the Lord with faith. All of us should do what we can to distance ourselves from the sinful things present in our world today, and resist the temptations to commit such sins and other deplorable actions that are unbecoming and unworthy of us being Christians, God’s own beloved people and children. God also willingly extends to us His forgiveness and grace, but it is really up to us to accept His mercy and forgiveness, and commit ourselves to a new life free from evil and sin.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Ezekiel, we heard of the Lord telling Ezekiel to do His will, in proclaiming His message to the exiles of Israel in Babylon, regarding the fate of their homeland, Judah and Jerusalem, which at that time was in the last days of their existence. Ezekiel and the other exiles were among those whom the Babylonians had brought to exile in that region in an earlier attack on Judah, and back then, the other king that the Babylonians installed on the throne of Judah was rebelling against them, and therefore, the Babylonians came to besiege Jerusalem once again.

The Lord revealed all that those in Judah and Jerusalem would experience, all because of their disobedience, wickedness and sins. The people of Judah had depended on themselves and on worldly powers, on pagan idols and gods rather than on the Lord their God. All these despite whatever God had done for them and their ancestors for a very long time, in taking good care of them and their needs, in protecting them and providing for them. The Lord has been very patient in showing His people His love and kindness, but the people often refused to listen to Him, rejected Him and His offer of kindness and mercy, His compassion and patience in loving them.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard about the parable that the Lord spoke to His disciples regarding the servant who was forgiven from his debts and then refusing to forgive another fellow servant the debt that this fellow servant had owned him. The Lord used this parable to highlight first of all, the nature of the Lord’s kindness and mercy, His generosity and love, in His willingness to forgive us all our sins and wickedness, in His desire to reach out to us and to find the way for us to return to Him. The Lord used this parable to also highlight to us the need for us to forgive one another our sins and mistakes to each other, just as God Himself has forgiven us ours.

Related to what we have heard in our first reading today, the Lord has forgiven His people time and time again, as He continued to reach out to them ceaselessly, sending out messengers, servants and prophets to help guide His people on their way back towards Him. He patiently waited on them, hoping that they would repent from their many sins and wickedness, and He called on all of them to turn back towards Him with faith. Although their sins were many and uncountable, but when the people willingly and genuinely wanted to be reconciled with Him, their prayers and petitions would be heard, just as in the parable the master forgave the massive debt of the ungrateful servant.

However, more often than not the people of God had not appreciated or understood the depth of God’s love and mercy for them. The Lord had always been faithful to the Covenant which He had made and established with His people and their descendants, but the people were ungrateful like that of the ungrateful servant in the parable. The ungrateful servant did not follow his master’s example, and chose to persecute one of his fellow servants who owed him a debt much smaller than what he himself had owed his master, much as the people of God chose to walk their own path and lived in wicked ways after the Lord had repeatedly forgiven them their sins.

Today, all of us are therefore called to turn back towards the Lord and reorientate ourselves and our lives once again towards Him. And each and every one of us can do well to follow the example of our holy predecessors that we may better know how we should walk in our path of life, that we do not end up falling down the wrong paths that those people in the past had done. Today in particular, we celebrate the feast of St. Clare of Assisi, one of the early members of the Franciscan religious movement, as a contemporary of St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscans. St. Clare was the founder of the Order of Poor Ladies, a monastic order founded upon the Franciscan charism and way of life.

St. Clare devoted herself to God from an early age, dedicating herself to pious works and charitable actions from her youth. She was born from a rich and noble family, but she endeavoured to leave everything behind to follow the Lord after encountering St. Francis of Assisi and listening to his sermons. St. Clare left everything behind and her family, and despite her father’s attempt to force her to return home, St. Clare persisted and remained firm in her conviction, and eventually continued with her calling and religious life, establishing the Order of Poor Ladies as mentioned and led her community with great dedication and faith.

It was also told that in one occasion, during the time when tumultuous conflicts caused war and much devastation to ravage throughout the land, in what is now the Italian peninsula, an invading army of the Holy Roman Emperor came to the town and the monastery that St. Clare was living in, and ransacked the town before heading to the monastery itself to do the same as well. According to the same tradition, St. Clare defended the monastery, praying before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and holding up the monstrance containing the Real Presence of the Lord when the soldiers came into the monastery, when a great blinding light terrified the soldiers so much that they immediately retreated and left the town in haste.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, from the story of St. Clare’s examples and life we can clearly see how God was always with those who are faithful to Him, and how each one of us should live our lives in the manner that St. Clare had done, in being committed to God in all things we say and do. Each and every one of us should do whatever we can to glorify God by our lives and to remain faithful to Him, and to the Covenant which He had generously made with us all. May God be with us always and may He empower us to live ever more devoutly in His presence, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 11 August 2022 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 18 : 21 – Matthew 19 : 1

At that time, Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how many times must I forgive the offences of my brother or sister? Seven times?” Jesus answered, “No, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

“This story throws light on the kingdom of Heaven : A king decided to settle accounts with his servants. Among the first of them was one who owed him ten thousand pieces of gold. As the man could not repay the debt, the king commanded that he be sold as a slave with his wife, his children and all his goods, as repayment.”

“The servant threw himself at the feet of the king and said, ‘Give me time, and I will pay you back everything.’ The king took pity on him, and not only set him free, but even cancelled his debt. When this servant left the king’s presence, he met one of his fellow servants, who owed him a hundred pieces of silver. He grabbed him by the throat and almost choked him, shouting, ‘Pay me what you owe!'”

“His fellow servant threw himself at his feet and begged him, ‘Give me time, and I will pay everything.’ But the other did not agree, and sent him to prison until he has paid all his debt. Now the servants of the king saw what had happened. They were extremely upset, and so they went and reported everything to their lord.”

“Then the lord summoned his servant and said, ‘Wicked servant, I forgave you all that you owed me when you begged me to do so. Were you not bound to have pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’ The lord was now angry. He handed the wicked servant over to be punished, until he had paid the whole debt.”

Jesus added, “So will My heavenly Father do with you, unless you sincerely forgive your brothers and sisters.” When Jesus had finished these sayings, He left Galilee and arrived at the border of Judea, on the other side of the Jordan River.

Thursday, 11 August 2022 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 77 : 56-57, 58-59, 61-62

But they challenged and rebelled against God the Most High, and disobeyed His decrees. They were unfaithful, like their ancestors, deceitful and crooked, as a twisted bow.

They angered Him with their high places; they aroused His jealousy with their idols. Filled with wrath, God rejected Israel.

He lead His glory into captivity, His Ark, into the hand of the enemy. He gave His people over to the sword, so furious was He at His inheritance.

Thursday, 11 August 2022 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ezekiel 12 : 1-12

This word of YHVH came to me, “Son of man, you live in the midst of a house of rebels : they have eyes for seeing but do not see; they have ears for hearing but do not hear; for they are a house of rebels. Because of this, son of man, prepare for yourself an exile’s baggage in their sight, as an exile does; and go as an exile, to another place, in their sight. Would that they might understand, because they are a house of rebels.”

“You will gather your things, an exile’s baggage, by day, to be seen by them; and you will leave in the evening, as for a departure of deportees. While they look on, dig a hole in the wall and leave from there. As they look on, shoulder your baggage and leave in the dark. Veil your face and do not look at the land, for I have made you a sign for Israel.”

I did as I was ordered, gathering my things by day, an exile’s baggage, and, in the evening, I made a hole in the wall with my hand. I left in the dark, in their presence, shouldering my baggage. In the morning, the word of YHVH came to me : “Son of man, did not the Israelites, these rebels, ask you, ‘What are you doing there?’ Answer them on behalf of YHVH : This oracle concerns the prince in Jerusalem and all the Israelites remaining in the city.”

“Say, ‘I am a sign for you,’ for what I have done will happen to them : They will be deported, exiled. The prince among them shall shoulder his baggage in the dark and depart. They will dig a hole in the wall to let him leave by it. He will cover his face because he must not see the land with his eyes.”

Wednesday, 11 August 2021 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all called to remember our duties as Christians, to be wholeheartedly faithful to the Lord in all things. We are all called to be genuine in our faith and devotion to God, and to seek harmony and peace among us all, as members of the same Body of Christ, the Church of God.

In our first reading today we heard the account of the passing of Moses, God’s most faithful servant who was sent to the people of Israel in order to lead them out from the land of Egypt and into the land of their ancestors, the lands promised to them as the descendants of Jacob, or Israel. Moses had faithfully led the people of Israel for the entire forty years of their Exodus through the desert, enduring much sorrow and sufferings from all the stubbornness and rebelliousness of the Israelites, who repeatedly disobeyed the Lord again and again.

It was Moses who repeatedly brought peace and reconciliation to the people of God, calling on them to turn away from their sins and wickedness, to abandon their rebelliousness and stubborn attitude, and be reconciled with God, their loving Lord and Master. Moses pleaded before God not just once, but many times, to spare the Israelites when their waywardness led them to abandon the Lord and committed sins and evil deeds in God’s sight.

Moses made peace between God and His people, and exhorted the people to remain faithful to the Lord, and to be committed to the Law and the commandments of God. He reminded the people, both young and old, of the need to obey and trust in the Lord, and this is the same reminder that the Lord then told to all the people as we heard it in our Gospel passage today, when the Lord told all of them to seek peace with one another and then with God, to be reconciled in love and peace, to be forgiven their sins and trespasses.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord, we are all called to contemplate on our lives and our attitudes, on whether we have truly been faithful to Him all these while. Have we lived our lives in disobedience against God by our refusal to follow His Law and commandments? Have we allowed the temptations of our desires and the allures of worldly pleasures to misguide and mislead us down the wrong path in life, as they had done to the Israelites?

That is why today we are all called to reflect on all these, and think of how we can better live our lives that we may truly be faithful to the Lord in all things and at all times as we should. And perhaps we should also model ourselves on the inspiration and examples of the saints, one of whom whose feast day we celebrate today is a great example to follow. St. Clare of Assisi was a renowned saint and devout servant of God, who committed herself and her life thoroughly to a life dedicated to God.

At that time, St. Clare was one of the first followers of St. Francis of Assisi, as a member of the associates of the Franciscans, as she founded the Order of Poor Ladies, the female counterpart of the Franciscan order established by St. Francis of Assisi, committed to the same principles and ideals of St. Francis, and dedicating themselves to the Lord and leading a holy and virtuous life. St. Clare has been pious since early in her life, and when she gave herself fully to the Lord, she had no hesitation, embracing together with other women, a life of poverty and charity, and dedication to God.

St. Clare then became the Abbess of the monastery of San Damiano, in charge of the other religious sisters who have committed themselves to the life and the way of St. Francis. She showed exemplary leadership and faith, and inspired her fellow sisters and others by her dedication to God. And in a miraculous event often remembered about her, St. Clare defended her monastery through the Blessed Sacrament when a rogue army of the Holy Roman Emperor attacked the town of Assisi and the convent where St. Clare lived in. She prayed before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, and as the soldiers came in, she lifted the Blessed Sacrament up, and it was told that great light came forth, blinding and making the soldiers to flee in fear.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having listened to the story of St. Clare, all of us should learn to commit ourselves to the Lord in the same manner as well. We are all called to follow the Lord wholeheartedly, and we should turn towards Him with genuine faith and dedication, from now on. Let us all seek the Lord with ever greater zeal and desire to love Him and to serve Him to the best of our abilities. And may the Lord bless us all and keep us in His love, and may He guide us through the challenges and persevere through this journey of our faith in life. Amen.

Wednesday, 11 August 2021 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 18 : 15-20

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “If your brother has sinned against you, go and point out the fault to him, when the two of you are alone; and if he listens to you, you have won back your brother. If he does not listen to you, take with you one or two others, so that the case may be decided by the evidence of two or three witnesses.”

“And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the assembled Church. But if he does not listen to the Church, then regard him as a pagan, or a tax collector. I say to you : whatever you bind on earth, heaven will keep bound; and whatever you unbind on earth, heaven will keep unbound.”

“In like manner, I say to you, if, on earth, two of you agree in asking for anything, it will be granted to you by My heavenly Father; for where two or there are gathered in My Name, I am there, among them.”

Wednesday, 11 August 2021 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 65 : 1-3a, 5 and 16-17

Shout with joy to God, all you on earth; sing to the glory of His Name; proclaim His glorious praise. Say to God, “How great are Your deeds!”

Come, and see God’s wonders; His deeds, awesome for humans. All you, who fear God, come, and listen; let me tell you what He has done. I cried aloud to Him, extolling Him with my tongue.

Wednesday, 11 August 2021 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Deuteronomy 34 : 1-12

From the barren plain of Moab, Moses went up to Mount Nebo, to the summit of Pisgah, opposite Jericho. And YHVH showed him all the Land : from Gilead to Dan, the whole of Naphtali, the land of Ephraim, and of Manasseh, the whole land of Judah, as far as the Western Sea, the Negeb, the Plains, the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar.

And YHVH said to him : “This is the land about which I swore to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, promising it to their descendants. I have let you see it with your own eyes, but you shall not enter it.”

Moses, the servant of God, died there in the land of Moab, according to the will of YHVH. They buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but to this very day, no one knows where his tomb is. Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died. He did not lose his vigour and his eyes still saw clearly.

The children of Israel mourned for him in the plains of Moab for thirty days. But Joshua, son of Nun, was full of the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands upon him. The children of Israel obeyed him and did as YHVH had commanded Moses.

No prophet like Moses has appeared again. YHVH conversed with him face to face. What signs and wonders he worked in Egypt against Pharaoh, against his people and all his land! He displayed great power and awesome might in view of all Israel!

Tuesday, 11 August 2020 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us are reminded to be faithful and to be humble in our everyday lives, to be obedient to God and follow His ways. And this is what we need to do so that we may find the path towards the salvation in God, just as the Lord has done plenty in reaching out to us and calling on all of us to return to Him, seeking out for us and guiding us on the path towards reconciliation and redemption.

Unfortunately, we are often too busy with our lives and too proud and filled with ego to be able to live with genuine faith. And this is what we have been reminded through our Gospel passage as well, as we heard of the Lord’s words to His disciples, that unless we have the faith of children, be like them and welcome them into our midst, then we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven and be part of the inheritance and glory promised to all of us.

Why is this so, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because unlike adults and those who have grown up, children are still innocent and pure, blameless and committed in whatever they believe in. When children believe in something, they will believe it wholeheartedly without doubt and without being distracted by various considerations, as what adults often do. When they believe in the Lord therefore, they will believe with all of their hearts, and given the right guidance, they will all be strong in their faith and love for God.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what many of us are lacking, as we live our lives filled with worldly desires and temptations that distract us and prevent us from finding our way towards God. We have often been swayed and tempted by the false promises of glory and pleasure by the devil and his allies, and as a result, we end up being lost from God. We fall into sin and sin led us further astray, away from the right path.

As long as we continue to be stubborn and persist in the path of sin, we will find it difficult to be reconciled with God. In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Ezekiel the words of the Lord that He spoke to His people through Ezekiel, as He called on them all to stop their rebellious ways and return to Him, and how wicked and terrible their rebellion had been. And yet, God still wanted to call on them and reach out to them, and through Ezekiel, He made His salvation known to them, the words of God’s salvation that is sweet as honey against the bitterness of the rebellion of those who have disobeyed God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through today’s Scripture readings all of us are reminded to be faithful, to turn towards God with heart full of faith and love for Him, to seek Him with all of our hearts, and to be dedicated to Him once again, turning away from all forms of sin and disobedience against Him. We are God’s lost sheep, and we are truly fortunate that the Lord, our Good Shepherd, is willing to reach out to us, find us, and call us back towards Him.

And we need to learn to be humble and faithful once again just as the Lord had taught us all to do, and today we can look upon the examples shown to us by the holy servant of God, St. Clare of Assisi, a great example of faith for each and every one of us. St. Clare of Assisi was remembered for her great piety and love for God, was inspired by a life of prayer since early in her life and was called to follow the path showed by St. Francis of Assisi.

St. Clare dedicated herself to God and gave herself to His service, and despite the attempts made by her father to force her to abandon her commitment and new life, she refused to be dissuaded and remained firm in her conviction to lead a holy life dedicated to God. Eventually together with other women who wished to dedicate themselves to God’s service through prayer and holiness, they became the foundation of the religious order of the Poor Clares, as the group established to channel the women who wanted to follow in the charism and life of the Franciscan spirituality and way of life.

Eventually, St. Clare would become the abbess of the community of San Damiano where the sisters of Poor Clares were gathered and established in, and she was essential in maintaining the spiritual rigour of her congregation and inspiring all of them to live in poverty and in commitment and dedication to God. And miraculously, St. Clare also repelled the invasion of armies that tried to ransack the city and the monastery she and her fellow sisters were living in, by praying before the Blessed Sacrament and presenting the monstrance before the invading forces, that fled in fear witnessing great light that shone on them.

From the examples of St. Clare of Assisi, all of us are called to follow her inspiration to live her life filled with virtue and faith, to be pure in our love for God and to be sincere in our commitment, free from the taint of greed and worldly desires, free from the shackles of sin and evil, from pride and ego and worldly ambitions. But this path will not be an easy one for us, and we will need to resist the constant temptations present all around us.

Let us all have the faith of a child, a genuine faith and dedication, filled with love and the desire to seek God at all times. Let us all pray that the Lord will strengthen us and guide us in this journey, and give us the strength and the courage to serve Him wholeheartedly from now on. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 11 August 2020 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 18 : 1-5, 10, 12-14

At that time, the disciples came to Jesus and asked Him, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Then Jesus called a little child, set the child in the midst of the disciples, and said, “I assure you, that, unless you change, and become like little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble, like this child, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and whoever receives such a child, in My Name, receives Me.”

“See that you do not despise any of these little ones; for I tell you, their Angels in heaven continually see the face of My heavenly Father. What do you think of this? If someone has a hundred sheep and one of them strays, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hillside, and go to look for the stray one? And I tell you, when he finally finds it, he is more pleased about it, than about the ninety-nine that did not go astray.”

“It is the same with your Father in heaven. Your Father in heaven does not want even one of these little ones to perish.”