Monday, 16 October 2017 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Virgins)

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about being called by God and believing in Him, through what we have heard and witnessed. In the Gospel passage today, Jesus the Lord compared the people of Israel at the time of His coming with the people of the city of Nineveh, to whom the prophet Jonah had been sent.

In the past week, we have been listening to the story of the prophet Jonah and how he initially was reluctant to follow God’s orders telling him to declare to the people of Nineveh the message, but eventually he obeyed and went to Nineveh. He told the city and the people of Nineveh that the entire city would be destroyed because of the sins and wickedness committed by them.

The entire city believed in the message of the prophet Jonah, and repented from their sins, turning from their wickedness, sincerely showing forth their repentance. And God forgave them their sins. He spared their city and the entire people from destruction. When the prophet Jonah was angry at God’s seemingly sudden turnaround and change of mind, He explained that after all, He loved each and every one of them, regardless of their sins.

The key message here is that, if only that they are willing to repent from their sins, then God will forgive them. But if they refused to repent and believe in the Lord’s message, and continued to walk in the path of sin, then God will reject them because of those sins. It was due to sins unconfessed and unrepented that many had fallen into damnation and into the fires of hell.

And why did Jesus make the comparison with the people of Nineveh? That is because while the people of Nineveh believed and repented. On the other hand, the people of Israel at the time of Jesus and their ancestors refused to believe in God, either through the prophets sent to remind the Israelites, or through the Lord Jesus Himself. They hardened their hearts and closed their minds against God.

That is why God was angry at the people of Israel, for not following the examples what the people of Nineveh had done. The people of Israel always took pride in themselves being the chosen people of God, and as the descendants of Abraham and Israel, and yet, the people of Nineveh, often considered as a pagan and unbeliever, belonging to the Assyrians who were often reviled in the history of Israel as the destroyer of the northern kingdom, in fact believed in God and repented.

What the Lord wants each and every one of us to know is that, for all of us, God has given the equal chance for redemption and forgiveness, to be reconciled with Him and to be transformed from the creatures of darkness and sin that we were once, into the creatures of the light. But it is ultimately up to us to make the conscious choice between obeying and following God, or to abandon God and walk in the path of sin.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us should heed the examples of our holy predecessors who have gone before us, devoting their lives for the sake of God and His people, loving God their Lord through all of their actions. St. Hedwig or St. Hedwig of Silesia was the wife and widow of the Duke of Silesia in what is now Poland, renowned for her great piety and love for her people, while St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was a holy woman renowned for her devotion to God, particularly to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

St. Hedwig was renowned for her great piety and exemplary religious life, devoting her time to care for her people, and she spent much of her time for charitable purposes and in the proper upbringing of her children. In fact, one of her sons and daughters is now considered as a candidate for sainthood himself, as two years ago the case for the beatification of Henry II the Pious, son of St. Hedwig was opened. St. Hedwig devoted herself completely to God after she was widowed, and joined religious life, to live in a life filled with prayer and commitment to God.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque meanwhile was a nun and mystic who received many visions from the Lord, showing her particularly the aspect of His Most Sacred Heart. It was through her visions that the now popular devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus was propagated and promoted among the faithful. She wrote extensively about her experiences and all that the Lord Jesus told her.

In her own way, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, as well as St. Hedwig had inspired countless numbers among the faithful and those who did not believe in the Lord alike, calling all of us to the salvation and reconciliation with God. Through these holy saints, God wants to call us and to give us a chance at redemption, and now the choice falls upon us. Are we willing to listen to God’s words speaking to us in the depths of our hearts?

May the Lord bless us with strength, courage and the ability to devote ourselves anew to our God, listening to Him and following Him in our lives. Let us turn our backs from sins and from all the wickedness that we have committed in this life. May the Lord be with us always, and may He empower us to be ever better disciples of His. Amen.

Monday, 16 October 2017 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Virgins)

Luke 11 : 29-32

At that time, as the crowd increased, Jesus spoke the following words : “People of the present time are troubled people. They ask for a sign, but no sign will be given to them except the sign of Jonah. As Jonah became a sign for the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be a sign for this generation.”

“The Queen of the South will rise up on Judgment Day with the people of these times and accuse them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and here, there is greater than Solomon. The people of Nineveh will rise up on Judgment Day with the people of these times and accuse them, for Jonah’s preaching made them turn from their sins, and here, there is greater than Jonah.”

Monday, 16 October 2017 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Virgins)

Psalm 97 : 1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4

Sing to YHVH a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

YHVH has shown His salvation, revealing His justice to the nations. He has not forgotten His love, nor His faithfulness to Israel.

The farthest ends of the earth all have seen God’s saving power. All you, lands, make a joyful noise to YHVH, break into song and sing praise.

Monday, 16 October 2017 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Virgins)

Romans 1 : 1-7

From Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, an Apostle, called and set apart for God’s Good News, the very promises He foretold through His prophets in the sacred Scriptures, regarding His Son, Who was born in the flesh a descendant of David, and has been recognised as the Son of God, endowed with Power, upon rising from the dead, through the Holy Spirit.

Through Him, Jesus Christ, our Lord, and for the sake of His Name, we received grace, and mission in all the nations, for them to accept the faith. All of you, the elected of Christ, are part of them, you, the beloved God in Rome, called to be holy : May God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, give you grace and peace.

Sunday, 16 October 2016 : 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this holy day of our Lord, we listened to several different discourses from the Holy Scriptures, telling us firstly from the Book of Exodus, the tale of the time when the Israelites defeated the people of Amalek, the greatest enemy of the people of God by the guidance of the Lord through Moses, His servant.

Then, we heard about how inspiration and true wisdom comes from God in the form of the Scriptures itself, as St. Paul mentioned in his correspondence letter to St. Timothy. The Scriptures are the words of the Lord, His servants and His prophets who all delivered the word of God to us all and made known to us all His will. By reading through the Scriptures we will then come to understand the way that God wants us to walk and tread on.

In the Gospel then we also heard about Jesus our Lord Who taught the people using the parable of an evil judge and a widow who harassed him day and night, from time to time, so that the evil judge who did not bother about anyone, would come to her rescue by giving what she righteously desired for, the protection and guarantee over her share of inheritance.

In the end we heard how the evil judge acquiesced to her demands and fulfilled what she had asked him, just so that he might be spared from her constant nagging and demands. In all these three readings and the Psalm which we heard, we can see a theme that is arising to us, telling us to look towards the One and the only One indeed Who can be the freedom and the liberation from our troubles.

God stood by His people on that day when Amalek unexpectedly and unprovoked launched an attack on the people of God, Israel. He stood by them faithfully as they fought against this ferocious and dangerous enemy, and eventually they triumphed, not by the might of their own arms, but because God was with them. This was shown to us through Moses who was told to raise his hand holding the staff of God in his hands. Whenever he lifted up his arms, the people of God would be winning, and when he became tired and lowered his arms, the people of God were losing against the Amalekites.

How is this relevant to us, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is relevant because we ourselves are always in a constant struggle and conflict, not just within our own lives in this world, with all of its goods and troubles, but even more importantly, the battle and conflict over our souls, the eternal soul within us that will determine our fate for eternity, whether it will be in glory with our God or in agony suffering torment for the consequences of our wickedness.

And we are not in this conflict alone, brethren. Satan is more than willing, and indeed wanting and desiring to claim us all, our souls, and bring all of these with him as he descends into hell with all of his fellow rebel angels. But on the other side, we have our guardian Angels, whom God had sent together with His many other Angels, all the servants and holy men and women He had called and inspired to lead us to the right path and to resist the pull of evil.

God protects us from the depredations of these demons and all those seeking to destroy us with themselves. However, it does not mean that we do not have to do anything and just wait patiently and quietly for salvation to come to us. In that same second reading, St. Paul as mentioned earlier on told St. Timothy about the importance of the Holy Scriptures for us.

It is therefore that by adhering and understanding the Word of God in the Holy Scriptures that we are able to appreciate better what our Lord wants from us, and which is the way that we need to take as we embark on this life. Otherwise we may lose our path and ended up committing ever more sins and wickedness that will eventually be held accountable against us.

How many of us spend time to read the Bible and its contents, trying to understand the Word of God contained inside it? How many of us attempted to comprehend the examples of the holy saints and the servants of God as written and recorded in the Old Testament, and the Apostles and the other disciples of the Lord in the New Testament? There are truly many examples of their courageous faith, and also some other examples of wickedness that we should avoid.

But we must also be careful lest we fall into another trap of the devil. Never think that the devil cannot use the Word of God as contained in the Scriptures against us, as he had shown when he used the Word and twisted its meaning against Jesus Who was fasting in the desert just after He was baptised in order to test Him and made Him fall. But he did not meet any success at all.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have to spend time reading through the Scriptures, for the Word of God is key to our ability to keep the faith and understand the Lord and His will, His commandments and ways. But we have to understand it and read it through the guidance and help from the Church and from our Faith. That is why we should not allow ourselves to have our own interpretation of the meaning of the Word if these are not in accordance with the teachings of the Church.

Let us all from now on devote ourselves to be ever more devoted and committed people and servant of our God, spending time to read the Scriptures and then commit ourselves to do what the Lord had told us to do through His words in the Scriptures, loving our brethren who are in need, be charitable and be loving to our unloved, hated and ostracised brethren, being merciful and forgiving to all those who have slighted or angered us whether intentionally or unintentionally.

May the Lord bless us all and keep us always in His grace, that we may draw ever closer to Him and at the end of our days, He may bless us and strengthen us, and consider us all worthy of His salvation and eternal life. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 16 October 2016 : 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Luke 18 : 1-8

At that time, Jesus told His disciples a parable, to show them that they should pray continually, and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain town there was a judge, who neither feared God nor people. In the same town there was a widow, who kept coming to him, saying, ‘Defend my rights against my opponent!'”

“For a time he refused, but finally he thought, ‘Even though I neither fear God nor care about people, this widow bothers me so much, I will see that she gets justice; then she will stop coming and wearing me out.'”

And Jesus said, “Listen to what the evil judge says. Will God not do justice for His chosen ones, who cry to Him day and night, even if He delays in answering them? I tell you, He will speedily do them justice. But, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”

Sunday, 16 October 2016 : 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green
2 Timothy 3 : 14 – 2 Timothy 4 : 2

As for you, continue with what you have learnt and what has been entrusted to you, knowing from Whom you received it. Besides, you have known the Scriptures from childhood; they will give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, refuting error, for correcting and training in Christian life. Through Scripture the man of God is made expert and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

In the presence of God and Christ Jesus, Who is to judge the living and the dead, and by the hope I have of His coming and His kingdom, I urge you to preach the Word, in season and out of season, reproving, rebuking or advising, always with patience and providing instruction.

Sunday, 16 October 2016 : 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Psalm 120 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8

I lift up my eyes to the mountains – from where shall come my help? My help comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth.

Will He let your foot slip, the One watching over you? Will He slumber? No, the Guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps.

The Lord is your Guardian, the Lord is at your side and you in His shade; Sunstroke will not be for you by day, nor the spell of the moon by night.

The Lord guards you from every evil; He will protect your life. The Lord watches over your coming and going both now and forever.

Sunday, 16 October 2016 : 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Exodus 17 : 8-13

When the Israelites were at Rephidim, the Amalekites came and attacked them. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites in the morning. As for me, I will stand with God’s staff in my hand at the top of the hill.”

Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had directed, while Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. It happened that when Moses raised his hands, the Israelites would win but when he lowered them, the Amalekites would have the advantage.

As Moses’ arms grew weary, they placed a stone for him to sit on while Aaron and Hur on either side held up his arms which remained steadily raised until sunset. For his part Joshua mowed down Amalek and his people with the sword.