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.”

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

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 118 : 14, 24, 72, 103, 111, 131

I delight in following Your laws, more so than in all riches.

Your laws are my delight, my counsellors who uphold me.

Your law is more precious to me than heaps of silver and gold.

How sweet are Your promises to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Your statutes are my heritage forever, they are the joy of my heart.

I gasp in ardent yearning for Your commandments that I love.

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

Liturgical Colour : White

Ezekiel 2 : 8 – Ezekiel 3 : 4

God said to Ezekiel, “Listen then, son of man, to what I say, and do not be a rebel among rebels. Open your mouth and take in what I am about to say.”

I looked and saw a hand stretched out in front of me holding a scroll. He unrolled it before me; on both sides were written lamentations, groaning and woes. He said to me, “Son of man, eat what is given to you. Eat this scroll and then go; speak to the people of Israel.”

I opened my mouth and He made me eat the scroll; and then He said to me, “Eat and fill yourself with this scroll that I am giving you.” I ate it; and it tasted as sweet as honey. He said, “Son of man, go to the Israelites; speak to them with My words.”

Saturday, 11 August 2018 : 18th 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 heard the readings of the Scriptures beginning with the Book of the prophet Habakkuk, in which we listened to God speaking to Habakkuk about how everything will happen just as the Lord wills it, in His own time and not in our time. It is God’s will that will be done and not ours, as God alone has the power and authority over the fate of all of us, and also over time and workings of this world.

The prophet Habakkuk pointed out something that many among us also often to question in our own hearts and minds, especially when we see injustice and wicked things happening around us. We may come to wonder why the Lord seems to be doing nothing when an injustice occurs to us, and when especially the poor and the weak are oppressed, ostracised and being persecuted, while the rich and the powerful had their way as they wanted.

Some of us even come to doubt that God is really actually present in our midst, or if He is present, whether He cares for us at all, if we see these kind of injustices and wicked deeds being performed in our midst. But what the Lord told the prophet Habakkuk is a reminder to each one of us is that, when we make this kind of question and statement on the Lord’s presence and action in our lives, we are actually putting a condition and demand on what we want to have in Our God.

God works in His own time and acts according to His own will, and not subject to our demands and desires. On the other hand, as a loving God and Father to all of us, He also hears our prayers and all of our requests that we made in those prayers. He is not ignorant or unaware of them at all, but in fact, He wants to help us and provide us with as much as He could give us.

But in the end of the day, we cannot put restrain or demand on what we want God to do for us. It is simply not right for us as the creature to demand what we want from our Creator. Rather, what we must have, is trust, and with trust, comes faith in the Lord, Our God. This is what the Lord Himself told the people, and also all of us, in our Gospel passage today.

At that occasion, the Lord told the people off because of their lack of faith. They were saying that they came to His disciples with the intention of having their sick ones healed from their diseases and bodily complaints such as epilepsy and paralysis, but the disciples were not able to do so. Why is that so? That is likely because they came to the disciples expecting them to heal their sick ones, but they did not have faith.

It was not the disciples who had the power and ability to heal the sick people, but rather God working through them, performing His work and miracles, that made those who were sick to be whole again. Probably the disciples themselves did not have enough faith and doubted the Lord, as St. Thomas, one of the Twelve Apostles had shown on several occasions in how he doubted the Lord’s truth and resurrection from the dead.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord Jesus used the example of a mustard seed in comparing the faith that the people had in God’s power and in His truth. Why is that so? That is because a mustard seed is a very small seed, which is very insignificant in size, but it can grow into a very large tree once grown. The Lord Jesus used this as a comparison to show how even a small amount of genuine faith that we have in Him, is sufficient, and with enough encouragement and guidance, this faith can grow greatly into one that is vibrant and exemplary.

But many of us are often lacking in faith, and we do not have trust in God. Instead, we trust in our own human abilities, powers, in our wealth and worldly possessions. We place a lot of focus on worldly achievements and prestige, that many of us end up putting God aside and sidelining Him in our pursuit for worldly achievements and glories. And that is also why we often judge things based on how successful they are in terms of worldly matters, rather than to see them from the eyes of faith.

That is why we end up being angry with God for apparently not answering our pleas or giving us what we desires and wants. That is because we are limiting God into our criteria of worldly success and achievements, and we judge things based on our perception of affluence and success. But this is not how God works, and He did what He had done, not because He wanted to please our desires and wants, but rather because it is His will to do so.

Now, let us all look at the example of St. Clare of Assisi, the saint whose feast we commemorate today. St. Clare of Assisi was remembered for her great piety and dedication to the Lord, giving her whole life to God and to the service of others through prayer and charitable works. She was particularly remembered for one miraculous occasion, when the place she was living in was under attack by the marauding forces of an army that came to invade that region.

The armies ransacked the whole place, looting and causing destruction everywhere, and they did not want to spare even the convent where St. Clare of Assisi was in. She was without any weapons or any means to defend herself, but she entrusted herself completely to the Lord, reaching out to the Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament, and as the enemies came barging into the place St. Clare was in, she lifted up the monstrance in which the Lord’s Real Presence was contained, up high, and immediately, all the enemy forces were brought to their knees.

They were brought to a great fear of the Lord’s Presence, and immediately left the whole place and town, one of the many proofs of God’s divine providence and the protection which He gives to all those who have been faithful to Him. Now, having heard of such a wondrous story of faith, are we able to do the same in our lives, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we able to show the same kind of complete trust and faith as St. Clare of Assisi had done?

May the Lord continue to strengthen our faith in our hearts, and may He continue to inspire us all to live with ever more commitment to walk in His path and to do His will, in every actions and deeds we do in life. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 11 August 2018 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 17 : 14-20

At that time, when Jesus and His disciples came to the crowd, a man approached Him, knelt before Him and said, “Sir, have pity on my son, who is an epileptic and suffers terribly. He has often fallen into the fire, and at other times into the water. I brought him to Your disciples but they could not heal him.”

Jesus replied, “O you people, faithless and misled! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus commanded the evil spirit to leave the boy, and the boy was immediately healed. Later, the disciples approached Jesus and asked Him privately, “Why could we not drive out the spirit?”

Jesus said to them, “Because you have little faith. I say to you : if only you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could tell that mountain to move from here to there, and the mountain would obey. Nothing would be impossible for you.”

Saturday, 11 August 2018 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 9 : 8-9, 10-11, 12-13

But YHVH reigns forever, having set up His throne for judgment. He will judge the nations with justice and govern the peoples in righteousness.

YHVH is a rampart for the oppressed, a refuge in times of distress. Those who cherish Your Name, o YHVH, can rely on You, for You have never forsaken those who look to You.

Sing praises to YHVH, enthroned in Zion; proclaim His deeds among the nations. For He Who avenges blood remembers, He does not ignore the cry of the lowly.

Saturday, 11 August 2018 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Habakkuk 1 : 12 – Habakkuk 2 : 4

But You, are You not YHVH from past ages? You, my holy God, You cannot die. You have set these people to serve Your justice and You have made them firm as a rock, to fulfil Your punishment. YHVH, Your eyes are too pure to tolerate wickedness and You cannot look on oppression. Why, then, do You look on treacherous people and watch in silence while the evildoer swallows up one better than himself?

You treat human beings like the fish in the sea, like reptiles who are nobody’s concern. This nation catches all on its hook, pulls them out with its net and piles them up in its dragnet. Pleased and delighted at their catch, they offer sacrifices to their net and burn incense to their dragnets, since these supplied them with fish in plenty and provided them with food in abundance. Will they continue, then, to constantly empty their nets, slaughtering nations without mercy?

I will stand in my watchtower and take up position on my battlements; I will see what He replies, if there is an answer to my question. Then YHVH answered me and said, “Write down the vision, inscribe it on tablets so it can be easily read, since this is a vision for an appointed time; it will not fail but will be fulfilled in due time. If it delays, wait for it, for it will come, and will not be deferred. Look : I do not look with favour on the one who gives way; the upright, on the other hand, will live by his faithfulness.”

Friday, 11 August 2017 : 18th 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 we listened to the words of the Scripture passages, beginning with the Book of Deuteronomy, from which a passage was taken out as our first reading today. In that passage, we listened as Moses told the people of Israel during their journey towards the Promised Land, as they endured the long period of waiting, forty years, about how God had cared for them and provided for them all those while, despite all of their lack of faith in Him.

Moses was reminding the people with a long exhortation, telling them just how fortunate they have been, for them to have been loved by God, to be chosen by Him to be His people. For indeed, what Moses said was true, as there was never anything like what the Lord had done for His people, Israel, in how He had personally done wonders to free His people through the works of His mighty hands, by the ten great plagues that oppressed the Egyptians and forcing them to let the Israelites go.

And God had opened the Red Sea before His people, a deed never done before by any, allowing them to pass through safely and destroyed their enemies behind them. He established a Covenant with them, renewing the Covenant which God had made with Abraham, their forefather. He gave them His own Laws and commandments, with which He wanted to guide them to live faithfully according to His will, and then delivered these to them through Moses, His servant.

He fed His people with the bread from heaven itself, the manna, which He gave them daily except on the Sabbath day, before which He gave them twice the amount to fend for the day of the Sabbath. Everything was taken care of for them, and God loved them day after day. He destroyed their enemies, the Midianites and the Amalekites as they journeyed through the desert. However, the Israelites refused to believe in God wholeheartedly, and repeatedly, they betrayed Him for other gods, and made constant complaints against Him.

They demanded more and more things, even though God had been so generous with them. They complained that they had not enough to eat or drink, even though God had given them and provided them with what they needed. And that is precisely what the Lord Jesus mentioned in the Gospel today. We may not immediately see the link between the two passages, but what the people of Israel had done, was that they seek to preserve themselves and settle their personal desires and interests, above that of the interests of God.

Jesus our Lord said that those who would preserve their lives and refuse to take up their crosses in life will perish, while those who are willing to accept and take up the crosses of their lives, following the Lord Jesus, while they would suffer and be threatened with destruction, they will triumph in the end, and eternal life and grace will forever be theirs. This is the promise which God had made to all those who are faithful to Him.

Sadly, however, the attitudes shown by the Israelites can be found too often among us mankind, as many of us often succumb to the temptations of worldly goods, pleasures and wealth, and we often think of ourselves first, and how we can advance our own power, prestige and status in the society, ahead of our obligations to the Lord. And that is why so many of us have fallen into sin, because we are incapable of letting go of all these human desires that we have.

We put our desires for pleasure, for money, for worldly fame and glory, for recognition and renown ahead of our obligation to love and serve the Lord with all of our hearts. And that was what happened to the Israelites, who have been swayed away from their faith in God, and what had also happened to our predecessors throughout the ages.

Satan is always ever active, seeking for new preys to hound upon. He is actively seeking our downfall, by putting in our path many obstacles and hurdles, all sorts of temptations, persuasions and pressure, in order to force us to walk down the path of sin. This is where we truly must be careful, lest we are dragged down to the fires of hell with him, as we disobey God through sin.

We should instead seek and strive to do our best, to overcome those temptations and pressures, and follow what the holy saint, St. Clare of Assisi had shown in her life. Today we mark her memorial and feast day, and all of us Christians should learn from her examples. St. Clare was among those who sought to join the society founded by St. Francis of Assisi, when she was moved by his preaching and works.

It was told that St. Clare gave up everything and followed the Lord, joining the religious nuns in their convent. And when her family tried to force her to return with them, she refused to do so, as she had committed her whole life to the Lord, and adamantly holding fast to her commitment to God. And eventually she continued in her life in the secluded convent, dedicating herself entirely to God through prayer.

And it was told that in one occasion, when the armies of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II came upon the city with the intent of pillaging, St. Clare took up the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance and held it up high above her. Amidst the rushing and the terror of an invading army, one should have run away in fear, but not for St. Clare. She placed her trust in God, her Protector. It was told that the armies who wanted to pillage the city fled away in fear because of what St. Clare had done.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all follow in the footsteps of St. Clare of Assisi, and emulate her in her deeds and choices in life. She had decided to give herself completely and wholeheartedly to the Lord, and it is that dedication and commitment which we ourselves should imitate in our own lives, and in how we live our faith to the Lord.

Let us all renew our commitment to Him, and let us no longer be swayed or be tempted by worldly temptations, but instead from now on, let us live in accordance with the will of God, and obey all of His laws. May the Lord bless us all, and may He be with us throughout this journey of our faith. Amen.

Friday, 11 August 2017 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 16 : 24-28

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, "If you want to follow Me, deny yourself. Take up your cross and follow Me. For whoever chooses to save his life will lose it, but the one who loses his life, for My sake, will find it. What will one gain by winning the whole world, if he destroys his soul? Or what can a person give, in exchange for his life?"

"Know, that the Son of Man will come, in the glory of His Father with the holy Angels, and He will reward each one according to his deeds. Truly, I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death, before they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom."