Wednesday, 6 July 2022 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all presented with the words of the Lord reminding us to distance ourselves from sin and evil, and to embrace His path, and to do what He has called us to do. Each and every one of us are called to be missionaries of our faith and witnesses of God’s truth and love to our fellow men. What we have heard in our Scripture readings today remind us that we are all called to holiness and to be committed to our Christian living and faith, in each and every opportunities and moments provided to us.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Hosea, who ministered to the people of the northern kingdom of Israel during the last years of its existence. The prophet Hosea came to bring forth the word of God to those people who had rejected Him for so many years, refusing to listen to the advice and words of the prophets who had been sent to them to remind them and help them on their way, in rejecting the kindness and compassion that the Lord had extended to them for a long time, all the patience that He had shown them. Hence, through Hosea and other prophets, the Lord made it known that the kingdom of Israel would be crushed and destroyed.

The pride and haughtiness of the kings of Israel in Samaria and the unfaithfulness of the people would become their undoing, and their wickedness and disobedience would lead to them being uprooted from their lands, crushed and conquered by other nations, scattered and exiled to far-off lands. But at the same time, as we heard from the same passage, God still did not give up on them, and still yet called on them to return to Him, to abandon their stubborn attitudes and wicked actions, and called on them all to follow Him once again and heed His ways. He wanted them all to be saved, and to be reconciled to Him.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard the Lord Jesus and His calling of the Twelve Apostles, as He called on each one of them to be the chief ones among His disciples and followers. Each one of them were called from different places and they had different backgrounds and origins, but all of them were called with a mission, to be the ones through Whom God would perform and continue His many good works among the people, and to establish and allow His Church in this worlds to grow and flourish. They were all imperfect men and people with issues and troubles, whom God called to a new existence and holy life, and gave them the strength and guidance to do so.

Through the calling of the Apostles and the other disciples, whom the Lord commanded with the mission to reach out to all the peoples and to preach to them the Good News of salvation and eternal life, the Lord wanted each and every one of us to be active in contributing to the missions and works of the Church. We are all called to be exemplary in our way of life so that by our actions and deeds, we may inspire others all around us to follow our examples and to believe in God as well. Unless we devote ourselves to God wholeheartedly, and live to the best of our abilities to be virtuous in all things, we cannot then truly call ourselves as Christians.

Today all of us should heed the good examples set by St. Maria Goretti, the renowned saint and martyr, who died in her youth in the defence of her purity and faith. St. Maria Goretti was a martyr of purity and she dedicated her life to the Lord through prayer and devotions from a very young age. It was then that one of the tenants who stayed with St. Maria Goretti, whose young teenage son named Alessandro was enamoured with her and in one occasion when he was alone with her, the teenage Alessandro made advances on St. Maria Goretti and tried to rape her. St. Maria Goretti refused persistently and that made the young man angry, and he stabbed her several times before fleeing.

As she was dying, St. Maria Goretti told her mother and others than she forgave her assailant and prayed for him. Alessandro was arrested and imprisoned, and it was told that St. Maria Goretti appeared to him in prison in one occasion, and all that helped the young man to turn over a new leaf. Ever since henceforth, Alessandro, the one who had given in to his desires and killed St. Maria Goretti, resolved to live his life righteously and spent his life in constant penance and in striving for a more holy life and existence, seeking for forgiveness from the martyr’s mother and doing good works for the Church and the community. He eventually lived long enough to see St. Maria Goretti raised to the glory of the Altar in her canonisation as a saint.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today having heard from the Scriptures and from the lives of St. Maria Goretti and Alessandro, her murderer, and how he turned over a new leaf in life, all of us are called to be good Christians, in abandoning and rejecting our sinful way of life, our past wickedness and disobedience, and embrace God, His love, compassion and mercy from now on. Let us all also not be stubborn anymore but instead do our best to proclaim the Good News of God through our lives and examples. May the Lord be with us all and may He give us the strength and the courage to follow Him from day to day, and to give our best in our mission as part of His Church, always and evermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 6 July 2022 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Matthew 10 : 1-7

At that time, Jesus called His Twelve disciples to Him, and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to drive them out, and to heal every disease and sickness.

These are the names of the Twelve Apostles : first Simon, called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew, the tax collector; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon, the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, the man who would betray Him.

Jesus sent these Twelve on mission, with the instruction : “Do not visit pagan territory and do not enter a Samaritan town. Go, instead, to the lost sheep of the people of Israel. Go, and proclaim this message : The kingdom of Heaven is near.”

Wednesday, 6 July 2022 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 104 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7

Sing to the Lord, sing His praise, proclaim all His wondrous deeds. Glory in His holy Name; let those who seek the Lord rejoice.

Look to the Lord and be strong; seek His face always. Remember His wonderful works, His miracles and His judgments.

You descendants of His servant Abraham, you sons of Jacob, His chosen ones! He is the Lord our God; His judgments reach the whole world.

Wednesday, 6 July 2022 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Hosea 10 : 1-3, 7-8, 12

Israel was a spreading vine, rich in fruit. The more his fruit increased, the more altars he built; the more his land prospered, the more he adorned his sacred stones. Their heart is divided! They shall pay for it. Their altars will be thrown down and their sacred stones broken to pieces. Now they say, “We have no king (because we have no fear of God) and what good would a king do us?”

As for the king of Samaria, he has been carried off like foam on water. The idolatrous high places – the sin of Israel – will be destroyed. Thorn and thistle will creep over the altars. Then they will say to the mountains : “Cover us,” and to the hills : “Fall on us.”

Plow new ground, sow for yourselves justice and reap the harvest of kindness. It is the time to go seeking YHVH, until He comes to rain salvation on you.

Tuesday, 6 July 2021 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scriptures we are presented with the story of Jacob who encountered the Lord and struggled with Him, and survived, as he made his way back to the land of Canaan to be reunited with his family. God reassured Jacob that he would be always blessed and protected by Him, and God would never abandon him and his descendants.

We heard then in our Gospel passage today, of the moment when the Lord healed His people, healing the blind and the sick, and casting out demons from those who had been possessed. And yet, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law among the crowd were quick to criticise Him and even accused Him of colluding and working together with the prince of demons in order to deceive the people.

This is the same struggle that Jacob had as he was still doubting the Lord when he was on his way back to Canaan. As he returned to the land of Canaan, he was still worried and fearful that his elder brother Esau still held great grudge and anger against him and wanted him and his family dead. Yet, that was not to be the case. Nonetheless, God came to Jacob and made him to see reason, and turn away from his doubts and fears.

The Lord therefore did the same as He came among His people, bearing His truth and salvation, healing His people from their sickness and troubles. And yet, some among them still refused to believe in Him and hardened their hearts and minds, as the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had done. Nonetheless, God never ceased in trying to reach out to even the most stubborn among His people.

And that was when He also said to His disciples, that while the harvest was plentiful, but the labourers were few. He asked them all to pray and ask the Lord, the Master of the harvest, to send labourers to work and gather the harvest that has been waiting to be harvested. And this means that, all of us as Christians, we have been given this very task to be the labourers of the vineyard and the harvest of the Lord.

He has entrusted to us the mission to evangelise the whole world, to make disciples of all the peoples of all the nations of the world, to be the witnesses of His Resurrection, the bearers of His light, hope and truth to all and every peoples. But how are we going to do this, if we ourselves have not been truly faithful to Him yet, brothers and sisters in Christ? Many of us are still stubborn much like the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law in refusing to commit ourselves to the Lord and believe in His truth.

That is why today all of us should be inspired by the examples set by St. Maria Goretti, the famous saint and martyr of the faith, a young girl who was martyred while she was but a young teenager, in defence of her faith and chastity. The story of St. Maria Goretti and her martyrdom was well known, how she was about to be raped by Alessandro, a neighbour’s boy, who wanted to do indecent things with her.

St. Maria Goretti refused his advances, and persisted in maintaining her purity and virginity before God, which caused the older boy to be angered and stabbed the young girl many times, and leaving her for death. Yet, this courageous and brave young girl and servant of God forgave her assailant even to her last breath and prayed for his conversion. Later on, she was to appear to her assailant, and according to accounts, led him down the path of repentance, as he turned a new leaf of life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we also able to follow in the path set by St. Maria Goretti and many other of our holy predecessors? God has called us all to be holy and to be dedicated to Him, doing His works and be His faithful labourers in all things. Let us all strive to do our very best in glorifying God, in every little things we do, and commit ourselves, each and every moments of our lives, to be the bearers of God’s truth and love. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 6 July 2021 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Matthew 9 : 32-38

At that time, as the two blind men were going away, some people brought to Jesus a man who was dumb, because he was possessed by a demon. When the demon was driven out, the dumb man began to speak. The crowds were astonished and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.”

But the Pharisees said, “He drives away demons with the help of the prince of demons.”

Jesus went around all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom; and He cured every sickness and disease. When He saw the crowds, He was moved with pity; for they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are only few. Ask the Master of the harvest to send workers to gather His harvest.”

Tuesday, 6 July 2021 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 16 : 1, 2-3, 6-7, 8 and 15

Hear a just cause, o YHVH, listen to my complaint. Give heed to my prayer, for there is no deceit on my lips.

Let my defence come forth from You; Your eyes see what is right. You have probed my heart, searched me at night, tested me by fire, and You have seen no wickedness in me.

I call on You, You will answer me, o God; incline Your ear and hear my word. For You do wonders for Your faithful, You save those fleeing from the enemy as they seek refuge at Your right hand.

Keep me as the apple of Your eye; under the shadow of Your wings hide me. As for me, righteous in Your sight, I shall see Your face and, awakening, gaze my fill on Your likeness.

Tuesday, 6 July 2021 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Genesis 32 : 23-33

Jacob took his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven sons, and sent them across the stream and likewise everything he had. And Jacob was left alone. Then a Man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the Man saw that He could not get the better of Jacob, He struck him in the socket of his hip and dislocated it as He wrestled with him.

The Man said, “Let Me go, for day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let You go until you have given me Your blessing.” The Man then said, “What is your name?” “Jacob” was the reply. He answered, “You will no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have been strong-with-God as you have been with men and have prevailed.”

Then Jacob asked Him, “What is Your Name?” He answered, “Why do you ask My Name?” And He blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Penuel, saying, “I have seen God face to face and survived.” The sun rose as he passed through Penuel, limping because of his hip. That is why to this day the Israelites do not eat the sciatic nerve which is in the hip socket because the sciatic nerve in Jacob’s hip had been touched.

Monday, 6 July 2020 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us are brought to pay attention and place our focus on God’s loving mercy, His generous forgiveness and the compassion with which He has taken great care over each and every one of us. And we are reminded that each and every one of us are truly blessed to have the opportunity to embrace God’s loving grace and rich mercy. But have we been appreciative of His love for us all these while?

In our first reading today all of us heard from the words of the prophet Hosea, the proclamation of God’s love and upcoming salvation for His people, a very significant promise made at that time when the people of God were already on the verge of destruction and defeat, as the prophet Hosea performed his ministry among the people of the northern kingdom of Israel just within twenty years or so from the downfall of Samaria and the kingdom under the conquest of the Assyrians.

For a people and kingdom who had deviated from the Lord’s path for so long, many decades and centuries, it might have sounded so amazing that even after everything that they had done, the Lord was still so patient with them that He was willing to welcome them back, to love them and to show them His care despite every kind of sorrow and sadness that they had given to Him by their persistent disobedience and sins, their betrayal of the Lord for the pagan idols and gods.

The prophet Hosea brought forth the prophecy that God would once again restore His people, gather them once again and allow them to live in peace and harmony together with Him, and they would no longer worship the pagan idols and Baal, the chief god of the Canaanites, but instead, they would only worship the Lord, the one and only true God. The Lord desired for the reconciliation with His people and He was willing to forgive them their sins, but provided that they were willing to turn away from their sins.

In our Gospel passage today, then we heard yet another amazing story, of the healing of a woman who was suffering from haemorrhage or bleeding for twelve long years. The woman was hesitant and afraid to come to the Lord, as bleeding such as what she had suffered from was something considered unclean according to the Law, and she must have tried her best to hide her condition for all those years. There was certainly a mixture of shame and uncertainty in her mind that day.

But she gathered her courage and whatever strength she had to come towards the Lord, with faith that if she could even just touch the fringe of the Lord’s cloak, then she would be healed from her bleeding troubles. And sure enough, the very moment she touched the Lord’s cloak, her troubles were ended, and her body was made whole again. In all of these, and linking to what we have heard earlier on in our first reading, we heard the amazing story of God’s mercy, love and compassion for each and every one of us.

For the woman was actually a representative of us sinners, also much like the people of Israel of old, those who have disobeyed God and committed sins against Him. Her bleeding was just like how the people had sinned and disobeyed God therefore became defiled and unworthy of God. And by God’s power and grace, He will heal all of us just as He has healed the woman from all of her troubles. But all these, as we have heard, required faith, and strong, genuine faith.

Are we able to seek God with faith, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we able to follow the examples of the woman, who although fearful and uncertain, but her faith helped her to overcome those fears and she stepped forward, seeking the Lord with that faith? And that is what we need, brothers and sisters in Christ, that faith with the genuine desire to seek the Lord, to love Him and to turn away from all of our evil and sins, and embrace God’s ever great and bountiful forgiveness and mercy.

Today, we also celebrate the memory of the renowned saint, St. Maria Goretti, whose faith and devotion to God, her commitment and love for God, her love and patience, her forgiveness even for someone who had caused her so much hurt can be a great inspiration for ourselves, in how we ought to live our lives with faith. St. Maria Goretti was still a young girl and in her early teenage years, from a poor but loving family, as her parent worked and lived with another family.

The son of that family with whom St. Maria Goretti stayed with, named Alessandro, desired her and wanted to commit what was sinful in the eyes of God. St. Maria Goretti resisted his advances when he made it during one opportune moment as she did not want to do what was against God’s will and Law, and her, being a pious and God-fearing person, also did not want Alessandro to fall into evil. In his moment of anger of being rejected by St. Maria Goretti, Alessandro stabbed the girl many times.

On her deathbed, St. Maria Goretti forgave her assailant and murderer, and prayed for him, and asked for clemency for Alessandro. And with that, this young girl who chose death rather than to blemish herself with the taint of sin, entered into heavenly glory through martyrdom. And through the testimony of Alessandro himself, when he was in prison, he saw St. Maria Goretti coming to him and told him how she had forgiven him and that she prayed for his conversion of heart.

That was how Alessandro was converted and turned away from his earlier, sinful in his youthful years. When he was released from prison, he begged for forgiveness from the mother of St. Maria Goretti, who promptly forgave him, saying that how she ought to have forgiven him if her own daughter herself had forgiven him and prayed for him so much from heaven. Alessandro spent his remaining years doing his best in penance and also living righteously in prayer.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having heard all of these, we can see just how wonderful and amazing God’s healing and reconciliation can be for us. Are we willing to commit ourselves to the Lord and seek His forgiveness just as Alessandro had? And are we willing to commit ourselves to God and reject sin and the temptation to sin just as St. Maria Goretti had done? Let us all be righteous and good, and embrace God’s love and forgiveness from now on.

May God bless us all, and may He show us all His mercy, lovingly embracing us and taking good care of us, and help us in our journey towards righteousness, guiding us in repentance and giving us the necessary strength and patience to overcome all the temptations and sins present in our lives, that we may be healed from all these sickness of sin, and be purified by God’s ever wonderful mercy and love. Amen.

Monday, 6 July 2020 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Matthew 9 : 18-26

At that time, while Jesus was speaking to the disciples of John and the Pharisees, an official of the synagogue came up to Him, bowed before Him and said, “My daughter has just died, but come and place Your hands on her, and she will live.”

Jesus stood up and followed him with His disciples. Then a woman, who had suffered from a severe bleeding for twelve years, came up from behind and touched the edge of His cloak; for she thought, “If I only touch His cloak, I will be healed.”

Jesus turned, saw her and said, “Courage, my daughter, your faith has saved you.” And from that moment, the woman was cured. When Jesus arrived at the official’s house and saw the flute players and the excited crowd, He said, “Get out of here! The girl is not dead. She is only sleeping!” And they laughed at Him.

But once the crowd had been turned out, Jesus went in and took the girl by the hand, and she stood up. The news of this spread through the whole area.