Tuesday, 16 November 2021 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Margaret of Scotland, and St. Gertrude, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints or Holy Virgins)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures all of us are called to reflect on what it means for us to have faith in the Lord and how we should live our lives so that they may be truly reflective of who we are as Christians, as those who believe in the Lord, and as those who are loving Him and seeking Him in our lives, and always ever striving to walk in His presence worthily.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the Maccabees of the continuation of the great persecution of the faithful Jewish people under the reign of King Antiochus IV Epiphanes, King of the Seleucid Empire that at that time had dominion over the land of Judea and Galilee where most of the Jews were living in. As I mentioned yesterday, this king was renowned in history for his great ambition and megalomania, and in how he tried to suppress local customs and way of life in favour of his own Greek culture.

Today we heard how in his persecution, the king persecuted a holy and devout old man, a revered elder of the Jewish community named Eleazar. As per the king’s orders, everyone had to abandon their Jewish customs and practices, the teachings of their faith and embraced Greek traditions, which included the things and actions that were considered as against the Law of God as passed down through Moses and preserved by the Jewish people.

Eleazar’s friends and the king’s men, not wishing to see the old man suffer and die from refusing to obey the king’s commands, tried very hard to persuade him to at least make a show of compliance and obedience, so that he could be spared and then still practiced his faith and beliefs in private. However, Eleazar firmly refused to do that, and he reasoned well saying that as an elder of the people, all the more that he should show example to others, in his faith in God. To publicly show that he was abandoning his faith would cause scandal so great that would have lead many others to abandon their faith too. Thus, Eleazar chose to remain faithful and die for his faith.

In our Gospel passage today we then heard from the story of the Lord Jesus and Zaccheus, a short man and an infamous tax collector. I am sure many of us know of this story, in which Zaccheus was curious about the Lord and wanted to see Him, but because of his height, he actually had to climb a tree just in order to be able to see Him. The Lord then responded to Zaccheus’ vigour and desire to see Him, and told him that He would want to go to his house and stay there.

The Lord did this even though many people there witnessing the events grumbled and gossiped about the Lord spending time in the house of a sinner, as tax collectors back then were very much hated and even treated not just as terrible sinners but also the traitors to the nation. All the more, Zaccheus was a notorious and particularly wealthy tax collector at that. For the Lord Jesus to associate Himself with such a person must have been truly puzzling and scandalous to the people, and yet the Lord still pushed on, telling all of them that there was a sinner who desired to seek the Lord and for His forgiveness.

What this means to all of us is that all of us are called to seek the Lord with all of our heart and strength, and we should have the same faith as our holy predecessors, like that of Eleazar and Zaccheus, to be meek and humble before the Lord, recognising that we are sinners while at the same time striving to do our best to live our lives with holiness and virtues. We should not be discouraged to live our lives with commitment and devotion to God.

Today, all of us can also be inspired by the examples showed by another two saints, namely St. Margaret of Scotland and St. Gertrude the Great. St. Margaret of Scotland was the Queen of Scotland during the Medieval era who was remembered well for her great piety and personal holiness and devotion to God. She was exemplary in fulfilling her duties as queen of the realm, while positively influencing her husband, the king of Scotland, in the management of the realm, and was very much involved in charity outreach to the poor and those who suffer.

St. Margaret of Scotland cared for the poor throughout her kingdom and spent a lot of effort in providing for them, while also helping the kingdom to grow spiritually in faith, through her works and reforms. She also inspired many others through her great personal piety, spirituality and devotion, which she showed not just publicly, but also in her intense personal devotion, her prayerful life before God. She dedicated her life to God and to her kingdom, a truly great role model for us all.

Meanwhile, St. Gertrude was a great and renowned German mystic, religious nun and theologian, who was also a member of the Benedictines. She devoted her whole life to God in prayer, as part of her religious community, while writing extensively on the matters of the faith, so much so that her writings and works still influence many theologians and other great saint theologians to this very day. She also had a great piety and dedication to God, receiving many visions that she also recorded in her works.

Today, having heard the courageous examples from so many of our dedicated and holy predecessors, all of us are therefore reminded of what we ourselves as Christians should be doing with our lives. Are we able and willing to commit ourselves to the Lord with all of our might and strength, that we may always persevere against even trials and persecutions for the sake of the Lord? All of us are reminded to walk always ever in the path that the Lord has set before us. Can we commit ourselves to God from now on, with all of our strength?

May the Lord be with us all and may He strengthen each and every one of us to have the faith required to persevere through the trials and challenges present in our path in this world. May God bless us all in our every efforts and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 16 November 2021 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Margaret of Scotland, and St. Gertrude, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints or Holy Virgins)

Luke 19 : 1-10

At that time, when Jesus entered Jericho and passed through the city, a man named Zaccheus lived there. He was a tax collector and a wealthy man. He wanted to see what Jesus was like, but he was a short man and could not see Him because of the crowd.

So he ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree. From there he would be able to see Jesus, Who was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, Zaccheus, come down quickly, for I must stay at your house today.” So Zaccheus climbed down and received Him joyfully.

All the people who saw it began to grumble, and said, “He has gone as a guest to the house of a sinner.” But Zaccheus spoke to Jesus, “Half of what I own, Lord, I will give to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will pay him back four times as much.”

Looking at him Jesus said, “Salvation has come to this house today, for he is also a true son of Abraham. The Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”

Tuesday, 16 November 2021 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Margaret of Scotland, and St. Gertrude, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints or Holy Virgins)

Psalm 3 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7

O YHVH, how great in number are my foes! How numerous are they who rise against me! How many are they who say of my soul : “There is no help for him in God!”

But You are my Shield, o YHVH, my Glory; You lift up my head. Aloud I cry to YHVH, and from His holy hill He answers me.

If I lie down to sleep, again I awake, for YHVH supports me; no fear of the thousands standing against me.

Tuesday, 16 November 2021 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Margaret of Scotland, and St. Gertrude, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints or Holy Virgins)

2 Maccabees 6 : 18-31

Eleazar, one of the prominent teachers of the Law, already old and of noble appearance, was forced to open his mouth to eat the flesh of a pig. But he preferred to die honourably than to live in disgrace, and voluntarily came to the place where they beat him to death. He spat out bravely the piece of meat, as should be done by those who do not want to do things prohibited by the Law, even to save their life.

Those in charge of this impious banquet took him aside, since they had known him for a long time, and tried to convince him to pretend to be eating the meat, but in reality, to eat something allowed by the Law and prepared by himself. In this way, he could escape death, and be treated with humanity for the sake of their long-time friendship.

But he preferred to make a noble decision worthy of his age, of his noble years, of his shining white hair, and of the irreproachable life he had led from childhood. Above all, showing respect for the holy laws established by God, he answered that he would rather be sent to the place of the dead. And he added, “It would be unworthy to pretend at our age, and to lead many young people to suppose that I, at ninety years, have gone over to the pagan customs. If I led them astray for the sake of this short life I would bring disgrace to my old age.”

“Even if I could now be saved from mortals, I cannot – whether living or dead – escape from the hands of the Almighty. I prefer to bravely sacrifice my life now, as befits my old age. So I shall leave an excellent example to the young, dying voluntarily and valiantly for the sacred and holy laws.” Having said this, he gave himself over to death.

Those who escorted him considered his words foolishness, so their previous gentleness turned into harshness. When he was almost at the point of death, he said groaning, “The Holy Lord, Who sees all, knows that though I could have saved myself from death, I now endure terrible sufferings in my body. But in my soul, I suffer gladly because of the respect I have for Him.”

In his death, he left a noble example and a memorial of virtue and strength, not only to the young but to the whole nation.

Sunday, 16 November 2014 : 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Margaret of Scotland and St. Gertrude, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we come together to celebrate this occasion of the holy day of our Lord, and we listened to the good words of the Sacred Scriptures. In today’s readings, the theme is all about who we are, and what we are supposed to do in this life of ours. For we are all the children of God, and therefore we are expected to life according to who the children of God are.

The first reading taken from the Book of Proverbs detailed how a good woman should behave, in the ways and actions she should do in life, and in how she should carry herself in the society of the people of God. However, this does not mean that this applies only to the females, but also to all of us. It is the kind of life that we all should lead, to be upright and just, to be careful in how we use our words, and in loving one another. Do you all remember that these were precisely what Jesus told us to do?

Then the psalm refers to blessings which God will bestow on those who fear the Lord and obey Him, and most importantly, those who do not just fear the Lord but also do His will and walk in His ways. This is a promise which He gave us, and if we are faithful, certainly we will not be disappointed. If we are faithful, then certainly we will need to do something to justify that faith, and not just merely staying idle or being so fearful of the Lord that we do not dare to do anything.

In the second reading, taken from the Letter of St. Paul to the faithful in Thessalonica, a frequent reminder to us is once again uttered. It is to remind us that the coming of the Lord will be totally unpredictable and will catch us all unprepared unless we have taken the necessary steps to make sure that when He comes again into this world as He had promised, He will not find us asleep, and instead find us all worthy, awake and filled with the fruits of our goodness to the brim.

And finally in the Gospel Reading, Jesus our Lord when He first came into this world told His disciples of the parable of the talents. A master of the house gave his ten servants five talents of silver, two talents, one talents and so on and so forth, before he embarked on a journey to become king in another country, and he would return one day to his house to settle matters, especially what he had given and invested in his servants.

The Gospel essentially summarised everything that the entirety of our myriads of readings today. In it, the parable of the silver talents represented exactly what had happened, what is happening now, and what will happen in the near, unpredictable future. The parable’s characters themselves represent the many characters that are present in this world, and who are those servants, to whom the master of the house had entrusted his silver? They are all of us, brothers and sisters.

The house itself is the world, and just as the servants lived in the house, entrusted with the care of the house while the master is gone, we have all been entrusted with this world as its stewards. Remember what the Lord had charged mankind with, at the beginning of time in the Book of Genesis. He made mankind the custodians of creation, giving all things and all creation to be under our stewardship, blessing us to multiply and fill all the earth.

He gave us many things, and for each of us, we are all different and unique. Each of us have different set of skills and abilities, and that is the wonders of our Lord and such is the grace of His creation of all of us, the most precious and beloved of all others He had crafted with His hands. He gave us life and even more, and all these are the food and drink with which the master of the house gave to his servants to sustain them.

The master of the house, is the Lord our God, for He is the Owner of the house that is this world, and He is also our Owner and Lord. And He came to us to grant us His gifts, like the master gave the silver talents to his servants. What are these gifts, brothers and sisters? It is the seeds of faith, the seeds of hope, and the seeds of love which He had planted in each one of us who believe.

Through baptism, we have been born anew and received new life in Christ. However, to all of us also have been given a task, a very important one indeed, that is to sow those seeds on fertile soil and allow them to grow healthy and strong, producing rich and plentiful fruits that will serve as our justification when the Lord comes back to this world at the end of time, at the time of His own choosing.

And the master left the house, to go into the kingdom where he was made the king of. The same happened to our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus was in fact speaking of what would happen in the immediate future at that time. Remember that Jesus went on to suffer in Jerusalem, enduring through His Passion and eventually was crucified at Golgotha and died for our sins?

Remember that after that He was risen from the dead on the third day, appearing to His disciples, and while reaffirming His promises and telling of His coming again at the end of time, He then ascended to heaven in glory? He went there to prepare the places for His servants and His faithful ones, but also to reclaim the Kingship which He had left behind when He chose to come down as a lowly human, to save us.

Thus, like the master of the house who left to be a king in a distant country, Jesus also went to be the King of all kings. Next week, on next Sunday to be precise, we will celebrate the Solemnity of Jesus Christ our Lord, King of the Universe. Therefore, the readings this Sunday, we can see as a prelude leading towards that great feast, the last one of this liturgical year. After that we will begin a new year cycle with the season of Advent.

And the readings for the ending of the liturgical year all have the same theme, that is about the future arrival of our Saviour and Lord, who will come again for the second time, at the end of time, which is a time that we do not know of, to judge all the people living and the dead. And this also ties in perfectly with the parable of the talents in our Gospel reading today.

Remember, that the master came back to the house after a long time for a reckoning. And was there anywhere mentioned that he trumpeted his return or announced it to the servants beforehand? Was there anywhere mentioned that the master sent a message announcing his coming to them? No, and that is indeed what will happen at the end of time for us.

Yes, we do not know when the Lord will come again. And St. Paul warned us in his letter, our second reading, that the Lord’s coming will be like a thief, unannounced, sudden and unexpected. He will come at a time when we least expect it, and whatever we have done in this life, and whatever we have not done in this life, and whatever just things or wicked things we have committed, all have been finalised and set in the book when He comes again.

Thus it is a good time for us to look back into our life, to all what we have done and what we have said. And it is a good time for us to begin to inspect our relationships with others around us, and most importantly, our relationship with our Lord and Master. Why is this so? So that when the time comes suddenly, and the Lord asks us of what we have done, we can proudly show Him and present Him with all the things we have done.

The master asked for all of his ten servants to give an account of what they have done with the silver talents they have been entrusted with. The first two servants gladly showed that they have doubled the silver talents they had been given, and they gave their master the amount they have gained. The master was happy and pleased, and showed his grace and favour upon them.

But the third servant feared his master and hid the silver talent rather than investing it and letting it to grow with profits. It clearly betrayed his contempt for his master and the gift of talent which had been given to him, allowing it to slumber and be hidden in a hiding place. And the master was angry, and casting him out into the darkness, he rebuked that unfaithful and lazy servant, and took what he had, and gave it to those who deserved it more.

It is therefore precisely what will happen when we come to face the Lord in the final judgment. Everything we have said or done in our life on earth will be placed spread out in front of God with nothing that we can hide. After all He knows everything we do, everything we ever thought of, and He can see deep into our hearts. Remember that He has placed the seeds of faith, hope and love within us? He will then ask us to account for those.

If we can show Him that we have allowed those seeds to germinate within us, and to allow them to grow on a rich and fertile soil, then our Lord will certainly praise us, and say to us, ‘Blessed of My Father, welcome into the kingdom which I have prepared for you.’ And we will enjoy the gifts which He had prepared for us. For we have been entrusted with life, and with love and all things, and we have been found worthy, and thus our reward is an immortality in perfect love and harmony with our God, an eternal bliss and happiness.

And some may ask, how do we do this? It is by knowing our faith, learning and understanding what it is about, by listening to the teachings of the Church faithfully and internalise them, so that from there, our understanding may be turned into action, and those actions will then, if we truly understand our faith and commit ourselves to it, represent faith, hope and love.

If we fail to do this, and instead, allow those gifts of God to remain dormant, or worse, to even wither and die, because of our wickedness and our persistence to remain in sin and darkness, then our Lord Jesus will say to us, ‘Begone, cursed and wicked ones! Be forever with Satan and his angels in the lake of eternal fire prepared for them!’ And we shall be forever sundered from the love of God, to suffer for eternity a life without faith, hope and love, an eternal suffering and agony in despair. And that is true hell.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, it is imperative that all of us do not leave this day behind without realising that if we have not done what we ought to do, then we should better start now. Never delay and never postpone anything! For all we know that, the Lord may come anytime, and if He comes when we are not ready, regret will not save us. Do not think that there is still a lot of time, but act as if He may come at this very moment.

How do we then, live our lives? We have to practice our faith as taught by Jesus concretely. First, we should look beyond ourselves and shatter the prison of our ego and selfishness. Look around us! There are many who needs our help, and most importantly our love and attention. Not all those who need help needs money or possessions. Many people remain unloved, ostracised, and hated in the society, and what we can do, is to offer our love for them.

Today’s two saints, St. Margaret of Scotland and St. Gertrude were both very pious and dedicated servants of God whose life examples we can emulate in our own. St. Margaret of Scotland was the Queen of Scotland, and yet she was renowned for her extensive charitable works and activities, and she was also very devoted in prayer, communicating frequently with God.

Meanwhile, St. Gertrude was devoted in her works and writings, through which her faith in the Lord became an inspiration for many who witnessed her life and read those works. Their examples should inspire us to do more for the sake of those around us, leading them ever closer to God through our own actions.

And lastly, of course, after we have loved one another, having hope in one another’s salvation, by knowing that we have done what is right, then we have to love our Lord and God beyond everything else. Yes, we have to love Him even more than we love ourselves. Then, our Lord and Master, at the day of reckoning, the Day of Judgment, will congratulate us, and lead us into His eternal kingdom, for us all to enjoy and be happy forever.

Let us all realise that each of us have been given different gifts, each according to our own abilities. And let us not let these gifts go dormant but rather that may all these benefit one another, through our actions of love. God be with us all, now and forever. Amen.

 

First Reading : 

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/11/14/sunday-16-november-2014-33rd-sunday-of-ordinary-time-memorial-of-st-margaret-of-scotland-and-st-gertrude-virgin-first-reading/

 

Psalm : 

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/11/14/sunday-16-november-2014-33rd-sunday-of-ordinary-time-memorial-of-st-margaret-of-scotland-and-st-gertrude-virgin-psalm/

 

Second Reading : 

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/11/14/sunday-16-november-2014-33rd-sunday-of-ordinary-time-memorial-of-st-margaret-of-scotland-and-st-gertrude-virgin-second-reading/

 

Gospel Reading : 

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/11/14/sunday-16-november-2014-33rd-sunday-of-ordinary-time-memorial-of-st-margaret-of-scotland-and-st-gertrude-virgin-gospel-reading/

Sunday, 16 November 2014 : 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Margaret of Scotland and St. Gertrude, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 25 : 14-30

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Imagine someone who, before going abroad, summoned his servants to entrust his property to them. He gave five talents of silver to one servant, two talents to another servant, and one talent to a third, to each according to his ability; and he went away.”

“He who received five talents went at once to do business with the money, and gained another five. The one who received two talents did the same, and gained another two. But the one who received one talent dug a hole, and hid his master’s money.”

“After a long time, the master of those servants returned and asked for a reckoning. The one who had received five talents came with another five talents, saying, ‘Lord, you entrusted me with five talents, but see, I have gained five more.’ The master answered, ‘Very well, good and faithful servant, since you have been faithful in a few things, I will entrust you with much more. Come and share the joy of your master.”

“Then the one who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you entrusted me with two talents; with them I have gained two more.’ The master said, ‘Well, good and faithful servant, since you have been faithful in little things, I will entrust you with much more. Come and share the joy of your master.'”

“Finally, the one who had received one talent came and said, ‘Master, I know that you are a hard man. You reap what you have not sown, and gather what you have not scattered. I was afraid, so I hid your money in the ground. Here, take what is yours!'”

“But his master replied, ‘Wicked and worthless servant, you know that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered; so you should have deposited my money in the bank, and on my return you would have given it back to me with interest.”

“Therefore, take the talent from him, and give it to the one who has ten. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who are unproductive, even what they have will be taken from them. As for that useless servant, throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

 

Alternative reading (Shorter version)

Matthew 25 : 14-15, 19-21

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Imagine someone who, before going abroad, summoned his servants to entrust his property to them. He gave five talents of silver to one servant, two talents to another servant, and one talent to a third, to each according to his ability; and he went away.”

“After a long time, the master of those servants returned and asked for a reckoning. The one who had received five talents came with another five talents, saying, ‘Lord, you entrusted me with five talents, but see, I have gained five more.’ The master answered, ‘Very well, good and faithful servant, since you have been faithful in a few things, I will entrust you with much more. Come and share the joy of your master.”

 

Homily and Reflection : 

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/11/14/sunday-16-november-2014-33rd-sunday-of-ordinary-time-memorial-of-st-margaret-of-scotland-and-st-gertrude-virgin-homily-and-scripture-reflections/

Sunday, 16 November 2014 : 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Margaret of Scotland and St. Gertrude, Virgin (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Thessalonians 5 : 1-6

You do not need anyone to write to you about the delay and the appointed time for these events. You know that the Day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When people feel secure and at peace, the disaster will suddenly come upon them as the birth pangs of a woman in labour, and they will not escape.

But you, beloved, are not in darkness; so that day will not surprise you like a thief. All of you are citizens of the light and the day; we do not belong to night and darkness. Let us not, therefore, sleep as others do, but remain alert and sober.

 

Homily and Reflection : 

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/11/14/sunday-16-november-2014-33rd-sunday-of-ordinary-time-memorial-of-st-margaret-of-scotland-and-st-gertrude-virgin-homily-and-scripture-reflections/

Sunday, 16 November 2014 : 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Margaret of Scotland and St. Gertrude, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 127 : 1-2, 3, 4-5

Blessed are you who fear the Lord and walk in His ways. You will eat the fruit of your toil; you will be blessed and favoured.

Your wife, like a vine, will bear fruits in your home; your children, like olive shoots will stand around your table.

Such are the blessings bestowed upon the man who fears the Lord. May the Lord bless you from Zion. May you see Jerusalem prosperous all the days of your life.

 

Homily and Reflection : 

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/11/14/sunday-16-november-2014-33rd-sunday-of-ordinary-time-memorial-of-st-margaret-of-scotland-and-st-gertrude-virgin-homily-and-scripture-reflections/

Sunday, 16 November 2014 : 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Margaret of Scotland and St. Gertrude, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Proverbs 31 : 10-13, 19-20, 30-31

The woman of character, where is she to be found? She is more precious than any jewel. Her husband has complete confidence in her; she will be of great benefit to him. She brings him only good and not evil, all the days of her life. She has obtained wool and flax, and works them with skillful hands.

She puts her hand to the distaff and her fingers hold the spindle. She reaches out her hand to the helpless and gives to the poor. Charm is deceptive and beauty useless; the woman who is wise is the one to praise. May she enjoy the fruits of her labour and may all praise her for her works.

 

Homily and Reflection : 

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/11/14/sunday-16-november-2014-33rd-sunday-of-ordinary-time-memorial-of-st-margaret-of-scotland-and-st-gertrude-virgin-homily-and-scripture-reflections/