Friday, 31 July 2015 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard from the Book of Leviticus, how the Lord charged Moses and therefore His people, with the keeping of the observance of festivals, feasts and important holy days, such as the sabbath days. We heard how the Lord charged the people to keep the observance of the Festival of the Unleavened Bread, to remember the days when they were brought out of Egypt by the mighty power of God.

All of these feasts and festivals, rites and celebrations truly are for a single purpose, that is to remind the people of God of God’s great glory and power, and even more importantly, that is to remind them of the love which He has for them, and therefore, to remind them yet again of the love and dedication which they have to have for Him. Yet over time, people seemed to forget this, and focused more on the exterior aspect of the celebrations rather than on the substance.

In the Gospel today, we heard how Jesus was not well received in His own hometown of Nazareth, where the people doubted Him and questioned His teachings and authority, because they thought that they knew Him as a mere carpenter’s Son. This is exactly the same problem that had been faced by many other prophets and messengers that God had sent to His people as well.

They were not well received because these people had become a superficial people, who cared just for their appearances and external outlook. Inside them, within their hearts, there is truly a void not filled by the love of God, but by their love for themselves. This is why they rejected the prophets and ultimately Jesus Himself as well, for they challenged the people and their way of thinking as well as their way of life.

We should not think that this is an issue that is confined only to the past. In fact, throughout history, mankind had been affected by the very same issue that caused us to be captivated and mesmerised by the multitudes of goodness and temptations that lie in this world, the pleasures of the flesh and the many concerns of this world. We then end up forgetting about God and our obligation and need to serve Him and to give all of our attention to Him.

Then, we truly should learn from the example of a great saint whose feast we are celebrating on this day, namely that of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, also known as the Society of Jesus, one of the most renowned and important religious order in the history of our Church. St. Ignatius of Loyola, through his life, would show us the way to the Lord and how to find it amidst the challenges and temptations of this world.

St. Ignatius of Loyola was born in a noble family in what is now Spain a few hundred years ago, where conflicts and wars were regular parts of people’s life. He was born into the caste of society which believed that glory and power, or gold and wealth, or fame and affluence, or all of them are the way to go in life. And so did St. Ignatius of Loyola, who believed all these as integral parts of his life.

But one day, after he was injured during a battle and siege of a castle, he got a revelation in life, that the way which he had pursued all the while might not be the right way to go. He found that all the things which he had pursued for himself and his own glory were truly meaningless, and he began to seek a true and real purpose in his life, and it was there that he found the Lord and turned himself and his life to serve Him.

He abandoned all the worldliness that had been part of his early life, abandoning everything and devoted all of the rest of his life and his works to the greater glory of God, ‘Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam’ which was his motto and which became the motto of the Jesuits as a whole. He dedicated his time and his life to the glory of God and laboured hard to help the people of God finding their way to Him.

St. Ignatius of Loyola was a champion and great defender of the Faith, who spearheaded and led the Church’s great effort to counter the great heresy of Protestantism in what was so-called ‘reformation’. He was one of the great heroes of the Church’s effort to reconvert back countless thousands of people to the true faith, together with his fellow Jesuits, which would soon prove to be very essential to the salvation of many lost souls.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all follow in the footsteps of St. Ignatius of Loyola, walk in his ways, and follow him as he leads us towards the Lord our God. May we be able to shun all sorts of temptations and pleasures of the flesh and instead of focusing on appearances and our external outlook, may all of us be able to find our inner beauty, by devoting ourselves ever more to the Lord and practicing our faith, so that we may be found worthy by He who will reward us. God be with us all. Amen.

Friday, 31 July 2015 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 13 : 54-58

At that time, Jesus went to His hometown and taught the people in their synagogue. They were amazed and said, “Where did He get this wisdom and these special powers? Is He not the carpenter’s Son? Is Mary not His mother and are James, Joseph, Simon and Judas not His brothers? Are all His sisters not living here? How did He get all this?” And so they took offence at Him.

Jesus said to them, “The only place where prophets are not welcome is their hometown and in their own family.” And He did not perform many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

Friday, 31 July 2015 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 80 : 3-4, 5-6ab, 10-11ab

Start the music, strike the timbrel, play melodies on the harp and lyre. Sound the trumpet at the new moon, on our feastday when the moon is full.

This is a decree for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob, a statute He wrote for Joseph when he went out of Egypt.

There shall be no strange god among you, you shall not worship any alien god, for I the Lord am your God, who led you forth from the land of Egypt.

Friday, 31 July 2015 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Leviticus 23 : 1, 4-11, 15-16, 27, 34b-37

YHVH spoke to Moses, “Then there are the appointed feasts of YHVH at the times fixed for them, when you are to proclaim holy assemblies. At twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month is YHVH’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of this month it is YHVH’s feast of Unleavened Bread.”

“For seven days you shall eat bread without leaven. On the first day there will be a sacred assembly and no work of a worker shall be done. For seven days you shall present an offering by fire to YHVH and on the seventh day you shall hold a sacred assembly and do no work of a worker.”

YHVH spoke to Moses and said, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them : When you enter the land that I will give you and you reap its harvest, you will bring to the priest a sheaf, the firstfruits of your harvest and he shall wave the sheaf before YHVH for you to be accepted; on the day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.”

“From the day after the sabbath, on which you bring the sheaf of offering, you are to count seven full weeks. The day after the seventh sabbath will be the fiftieth day and then you are to offer YHVH a new offering. The tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. You are to hold a sacred assembly. You must fast, and you must offer a burnt offering to YHVH.”

“The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of Tents for YHVH, lasting seven days. The first day you shall hold an assembly; you must do no work of a worker. For seven days you must offer a burnt offering to YHVH. On the eighth day you are to hold a sacred assembly and you must offer a burnt offering to YHVH. It is a day of solemn assembly in which you shall do no work of a worker.”

“These are the appointed feasts of YHVH in which you are to proclaim holy assemblies for the purpose of offering offerings by fire, burnt offerings, grain offerings and drink offerings to YHVH, according to the ritual of each day.”

Thursday, 31 July 2014 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius Loyola, Priest (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast day of a great saint of the Church, namely that of St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus or also more commonly known as the Jesuit order, the largest and the most prominent religious order in the Church. This order had been at the forefront of the Church’s confrontation with the world and the forces of evil, and at the forefront of evangelisation efforts.

St. Ignatius Loyola and his fellow Jesuits worked hard to bring the word of God and the revelations of truth in God to many people across the entire world. He lived during a time of great difficulty both for the Church of God and for the faithful. The corruption of Satan and the evils of the world had entered into the Church, and the unintended consequence of that is how many people became disillusioned with the faith, but instead of trying to resolve the problem, they chose to take the shortcut out.

That was the Protestant ‘reformation’, a truly sad and difficult time for the Church and for all the faithful ones of God. So many of the faithful were led astray by the agents of the dark one into damnation and were lost forever. This was a defining moment when the unity of the Church and much of the opportunity to reunite the various segments of the faithful may be lost forever.

Yet, St. Ignatius Loyola and his faithful Jesuits fought hard to preserve the sanctity of mankind’s souls from the assault of the devil and the wicked. Tirelessly he worked so that countless peoples would be caught and snared back into the Church and into God’s hands, the same meaning meant by Jesus when He told of how the kingdom of heaven is like a fishing net with various fishes inside it.

St. Ignatius Loyola himself when he was young was an impetuous and hot-headed, wishing to seek glory and honour for himself as a knight. St. Ignatius Loyola was born from a noble and rich family in the Kingdom of Spain of that time, and decided to find glory and honour for himself by joining in wars and campaigns as a knight and mercenary in the employ of the king of Spain in his battles.

He was wounded in battle, and had to spend some time to recuperate from his health. During this time, he contemplated about his life and about his goal of glory and honour, and he found that it is not the way that he ought to take in life. Following this thoughts, and hearing God’s call, he decided to devote his life to a new cause, that is no longer for his personal glory and honour, but for the glory and honour of God alone.

This is therefore reflected in the motto of the Jesuits, which he founded together with several other saints, including the help of St. Francis Xavier the missionary. This motto is Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam, which literally means, ‘For the greater glory of God’. Therefore, St. Ignatius Loyola was determined that in his actions and in the actions of his brother Jesuits, all of them must be done for the greater glory of God, and no longer for the glory of self.

We too, brothers and sisters, are called like St. Ignatius Loyola and many other holy men and women of God. We too are called to be the workers of God’s glory and honour in this world. We should no longer be so concerned about our own glory and personal triumph, less than what we should indeed do to bring greater glory to our Lord’s Name.

We should let our Lord guide us in our lives, like a potter who moulds the shape of the pottery. Let the Lord shape us in our lives, that in all of our words, actions and deeds we may truly proclaim the Lord, and to all those who listen and see it, they know that we belong to God. St. Ignatius Loyola had shown us the way, and what remains is whether we do something to walk in the same way as he had done.

Let us all ask for the intercession of St. Ignatius Loyola, that we may also follow his examples and work together, giving ourselves wholly to what the Lord wants from us, and become the extensions of His hands in bringing His love and grace into this world. May God bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 31 July 2014 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius Loyola, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 13 : 47-53

Jesus said, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a big fishing net let down into the sea, in which every kind of fish has been caught. When the net is full, it is dragged ashore. Then they sit down and gather the good fish in buckets, but throw the worthless ones away.”

“That is how it will be at the end of time; the angels will go out to separate the wicked from the just, and to throw the wicked into the blazing furnace, where they will weep and gnash their teeth.”

Jesus asked, “Have you understood all these things?” “Yes,” they answered. So He said to them, “You will see that every teacher of the Law, who becomes a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a householder, who can produce from his store things both new and old.”

When Jesus had finished these parables, He left that place.

Thursday, 31 July 2014 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius Loyola, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 145 : 2abc, 2d-4, 5-6

I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to God while I live.

Do not put your trust in princes, in a great one who cannot save. Not sooner his spirit has left, that he goes back to the earth; on that very day, any plan comes to nothing.

Blessed are they whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God, Maker of heaven and earth, the sea and all they contain. The Lord is forever faithful.