Thursday, 30 July 2020 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we heard in our Scripture readings today firstly the words of the prophet Jeremiah speaking about the Lord as the Potter, our Potter as One Who moulds us and shapes us as He desires and wills, while in the Gospel passage today we heard about the Lord speaking to His disciples and explaining the kingdom of heaven to them with a parable, the parable of the fishes and the kingdom of God.

In our first reading today, we heard the prophet Jeremiah speaking metaphorically using the example of a potter, a common profession at that time making clay products used for various purposes in the community. Those clay products come in many different shapes and forms, from jugs and drinking cups to basins and containers, as well as decorative pots and vases for many purposes. And the shapes vary widely depending on the fashion at the time.

The prophet used the example of a potter to compare the Lord’s work on His people, as if a potter is not happy with the product he created, he would reshape it and remould it while it was still soft and mouldable. The potter would reshape the clay patiently and change it to suit the intended final product, before heating the completed product in the oven and the clay harden into the final shape due to the heat. But once the clay has already hardened, should there be a mistake or defect, then there is no other way to rectify it other than to crush it and destroy it.

By this symbolism, the Lord is saying to His people how He has been so patient all that while reaching out to them and calling on them to repent and return to Him with faith. The Lord has always been patient in trying to remould and change the hearts and minds of His people, despite all of their stubbornness and rebelliousness. But of course, as with the potter’s clay and pottery works, there will come a time when it will be the end of the line, when it is too late for us, if we constantly refuse to be changed and remoulded by God by continuing to follow down the path of rebellion and sin.

In the Gospel reading today, we heard a related reading in which the Lord used the parable to explain the same intention to His people, by comparing the kingdom of heaven to a large fishing net in which good and bad fishes were all caught and gathered together. Only the good fishes would be gathered and kept, while the bad and poor quality fishes would be thrown away and discarded, unwanted and rejected.

Through this, the Lord wants us all to know that everyone is welcome in His Church, the Church often being symbolised and represented as a boat, and the fishes being all of us. God calls on all of us, whether big or small, good or bad, regardless of our background, our character, our race or origin, all of us are called and welcome in the kingdom of God. And God has given us all many chances to change ourselves and to turn towards Him once again with faith, rejecting all sorts of falsehoods and evil.

Are we going to ignore that, brothers and sisters in Christ? God’s ever great generosity and love for us? Let us not wait until it is too late for us to realise that we have spurned so much of His love and mercy, when we stand by the gates of hell from which there is no hope and escape any longer. Those who end up in hell are those who by their conscious choice, chose sin over good, chose wickedness and evil over righteousness, and chose the path of Satan over God’s path.

Today we also have the inspiration from one of our holy predecessors, whose life and inspiring works can be a role model for us all in how we ourselves ought to live our lives moving on from this point onwards. St. Peter Chrysologus, a renowned preacher and bishop, a great Doctor of the Church has inspired many with his life’s examples and actions, and hopefully he can inspire all of us as well.

He was known by the epithet and name ‘Chrysologus’ meaning the ‘Golden-mouthed’ precisely because of his very inspirational and wise preaching, that drew many people to the Lord and helped to gain salvation for many souls during his ministry as priest and later on as the Bishop of Ravenna in the late Roman Empire era. His inspirational homilies and preaching touched many people deeply, with the style being simple and relatable to the people and yet also rich in theological truth.

He was also renowned for his great and deep piety and devotion to God, that further encouraged many of his listeners to turn towards God and to avoid the falsehoods and heresies that were very rampant at that time. Through his life, obedience to God and faith, St. Peter Chrysologus inspired many to be good and true Christians and to turn to God before it was too late for them. Are we able and willing to do the same too, brothers and sisters in Christ?

Now, let us all discern how we are to proceed in life from now on, keeping in mind that the Lord has given us generously many opportunities to be reconciled to Him, to reject sin and evil, and to embrace His love. Let us all seek the Lord with renewed spirit and vigour from now on, that in the end, we may indeed be worthy to enter into His most glorious kingdom, to enjoy forever the promise of eternal life and happiness, the joy everlasting free from sin and evil.

May the Lord be with us in this journey and may all of us be ever more devoted, and be willing to commit ourselves to be good Christians in all words, actions and deeds. May the Lord strengthen us all in faith that we may persevere through even when we encounter many obstacles and temptations in life preventing and blocking our path and progress forward. St. Peter Chrysologus, holy saint of God, faithful and devout servant of our most loving God and Father, pray for us all sinners, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 30 July 2020 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Matthew 13 : 47-53

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “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 into buckets, but throw the bad 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, “Therefore, 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, 30 July 2020 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Psalm 145 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6ab

Alleluia! Praise YHVH, my soul! I will sing to YHVH 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 YHVH their God, Maker of heaven and earth, the sea and all they contain.

Thursday, 30 July 2020 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Jeremiah 18 : 1-6

This is the word of YHVH that came to Jeremiah : “Go down to the potter’s house and there you will hear what I have to say.”

So I went to the potter’s house and found him working at the wheel. But the pot he was working on was spoilt in his hands, so he reworked it all over again into another pot that suits his desire.

Meanwhile YHVH sent me His word, “People of Israel, can I not do with you what this potter does? As clay in the potter’s hand so are you in My hands.”

Tuesday, 30 July 2019 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the we listened yet again to the wonderful love of God being ever present in our midst, reminding us of what we have received through these ages and throughout our history, in God’s faithfulness and commitment to the Covenant which He had made with each and every one of us.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of Exodus we heard about God Who led His people Israel through a long and arduous journey in the desert as they made their way towards the land promised to them. God led them on the journey as He followed them along in the form of a large pillar of cloud at daytime and a large pillar of fire at nighttime. And He instructed His people through Moses, in passing to them His laws and commandments, precepts and regulations to help them to remain true to Him.

And Moses humbled himself before God and petitioned Him for the sake of the people, admitting the sins that the people had committed, all the sins and wickedness that they have committed throughout their journey. Their refusal to obey the Lord’s words and commandments have caused them to sin against Him, and as a result, many have perished along their journey by their own choice and refusal to follow the Lord.

Still, as Moses mentioned, how God is truly a loving and forgiving God, He is truly full of compassion and mercy, He still continued to love His people nonetheless, despite all the wickedness they have committed, and despite all the disobedience and rebelliousness that they have displayed throughout those years and even beyond, after they have reached the promised land and dwelled there.

On this day, we listened in our Gospel passage another story, that of the explanation of the parable of the weeds by the Lord when His disciples asked Him to explain the meaning of that parable to them. And the Lord explained how the weeds represent the people who have not obeyed the Lord and followed Satan instead of Him. The weeds were sown in the field by the enemy, Satan himself, amidst the good and healthy wheat, representing the faithful people of God.

But the Lord, represented by the owner of the field, did not want to pull out the weeds right away, but instead, allowed the weeds to grow alongside the wheat. In this way, the Lord showed His mercy and compassion, His magnanimity and great love for all of His people. How is that so? That is because God’s love for each and every one of us is unchanging, despite of all of our sins and wickedness.

He always loves us all, even when we have not listened to Him, even when we have disobeyed Him and sinned against Him, even when we have chosen other paths beyond and away from the path that He has led and guided us into in our lives. But we must remember that although God loves us all very dearly, as long as sin is present in our midst, sin will become a great obstacle that will prevent us from truly being able to reach God and be reunited with Him.

We must not forget that God is all good and perfect, and no imperfection and corruption can stand in His presence. If we continue to disobey the Lord and refuse His constant and generous offer of forgiveness and mercy, eventually, it will be by our own rejection and stubbornness that we will fall into eternal damnation, because while God is ever generous with His mercy and ever sincere with His love, our hearts and minds are closed to all of these.

Do we want to end up like the weeds at the end of time, according to the parable? Those weeds shall be gathered and burnt, and destroyed, while only the wheat will be collected and stored. If we continue to sin, we are the only ones who will reap the sufferings and pains in the end. Do not let the temptations to sin and our stubbornness to bring about our downfall, brethren!

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Peter Chrysologus, a holy and devout servant of God, whose life examples can be good inspiration to each and every one of us in how we ought to live up our lives from now on, that we truly can be worthy of being God’s faithful people. St. Peter Chrysologus was named such, with the term ‘Chrysologus’ meanings ‘Golden Tongued’ because of his very eloquent and inspiring sermons, by which he called many lost souls back to the faith.

St. Peter Chrysologus was a very holy and devout man, who dedicated himself as the Bishop of Ravenna during the later days of the Roman Empire, ministering to the people of God and calling on them to turn away from their sinful ways, explaining the faith clearly to them and showing them how they ought to live their lives through simple terms and simple actions, by his own personal holiness and exemplary life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, each and every one of us are also called to be like St. Peter Chrysologus in our faith and in how we live our lives. Are we willing to follow in his footsteps and make the concrete effort to be real and living witnesses of Christ in our own communities and families? We should therefore do our best in our own respective lives to be exemplary, to be faithful even in the little things and actions we do that everyone who witness us will know that we truly belong to God.

Let us all reorientate ourselves and refocus our attention on God from now on, He Who is so loving and compassionate towards us despite of our sins and disobedience. Let us all devote ourselves to Him through prayer and by spending more of our time and effort. May the Lord bless us all and our good endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 30 July 2019 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Matthew 13 : 36-43

At that time, Jesus sent the crowds away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” Jesus answered them, “The One Who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world; the good seed are the people of the kingdom; the weeds are those who follow the evil one. The enemy who sows the weeds is the devil; the harvest is the end of time, and the workers are the Angels.”

“Just as the weeds are pulled up and burnt in the fire, so will it be at the end of time. The Son of Man will send His Angels, and they will weed out of His kingdom all that is scandalous and all who do evil. And these will be thrown into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the just will shine, like the sun, in the kingdom of their Father. If you have ears, then hear.”

Tuesday, 30 July 2019 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Psalm 102 : 6-7, 8-9, 10-11, 12-13

YHVH restores justice and secures the rights of the oppressed. He has made known His ways to Moses; and His deeds, to the people of Israel.

YHVH is gracious and merciful, abounding in love and slow to anger; He will not always scold nor will He be angry forever.

He does not treat us according to our sins, nor does He punish us as we deserve. As the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His love for those fearing Him.

As far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove from us our sins. As a father has compassion on his children, so YHVH pities those who fear Him.

Tuesday, 30 July 2019 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Exodus 33 : 7-11 and Exodus 34 : 5b-9, 28

Moses then took the Tent and pitched it for himself outside the camp, at a distance from it, and called it the Tent of Meeting. Whoever sought YHVH would go out to the Tent of Meeting outside the camp. And when Moses went to the Tent all the people would stand, each one at the entrance to his tent and keep looking towards Moses until he entered the Tent.

Now, as soon as Moses entered the Tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and remain at the entrance to the Tent, while YHVH spoke with Moses. When all the people saw the pillar of cloud at the entrance to the Tent, they would arise and worship, each one at the entrance to his own tent. Then YHVH would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his neighbour, and then Moses would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua, son of Nun, would not leave the Tent.

And Moses called on the Name of YHVH. Then YHVH passed in front of him and cried out, “YHVH, YHVH is a God full of pity and mercy, slow to anger and abounding in truth and loving kindness. He shows loving kindness to the thousandth generation and forgives wickedness, rebellion and sin; yet He does not leave the guilty without punishment, even punishing the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.”

Moses hastened to bow down to the ground and worshipped. He then said, “If You really look kindly on me, my Lord, please come and walk in our midst and even though we are a stiff-necked people, pardon our wickedness and our sin and make us Yours.”

Moses remained there with YHVH forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. He wrote on the tablets the words of the Covenant – the Ten Commandments.

Monday, 30 July 2018 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the word of God in the Scriptures, first beginning with the anger which God had shown His people, those living in the kingdom of Judah, for their refusal to listen to Him and their hardened hearts and minds, which could not allow them to love their God. They had instead persecuted the prophets and killed them, and continued to live in their sinful state.

God was angry with His people because despite all the good things and love He had done to them, they had turned away from Him, abandoned Him and forgot about Him, and threw away all of His laws and commandments. And despite all the miraculous deeds and powers He had shown them, they had instead chosen to put their trust in idols made from wood, stone and gold.

But the Lord did not give up on His people, for He still loved them dearly, each and every one of them. And that is why He sent us all Jesus, His own beloved Son, to be the One through Whom He would bring about salvation to all of His people. And in the Gospel today, all of us heard Him speaking to the people and to His disciples, about the kingdom of heaven, which has come into this world.

The Lord used the parable of the mustard seed to teach the people about the coming of God’s kingdom, telling them what they need to do in order to be faithful and to be committed to God’s ways. He used the mustard seed to show them the example of what the coming of the kingdom of God means to the people who are willing to embrace God and His kingdom.

The mustard seed is a very small seed, one that is insignificant and often overlooked. However, as the Lord mentioned and as those who have grown mustard greens before, we will realise just how wrong our perception can be, as mustard seed when grown into a full-fledged plant, is a large and bountiful tree filled with many branches and leaves. It is a wonderful and often overlooked transformation that accompanied a mustard seed’s growth.

Then the Lord Jesus also told the story of a person who placed three measures of flour and mixed them together with some yeast. The yeast is a crucial component in this process, as without yeast, the flour and mixture will just remain as it is. But with the yeast, as all those who have used them to make bread should know, the flour and mixture will rise as the yeast use the flour material and produce gases as it ferments the bread mixture.

And that is how the ordinary flour and yeast mixture are transformed into wonderful, delicious and nourishing leavened bread. Without yeast and the right conditions, this would never have happened. And the same applies to the mustard seed, as without proper care and the right conditions, the mustard seed as with other plants, would never have grown healthy and strong into a full-fledged plant.

What is the significance of these things to us, brothers and sisters in Christ? If we look back at the despicable and shameful deeds of the people of God in the first reading passage today, and comparing that to the time of the Lord Jesus, when many of the people listened to Him and became His followers, experiencing profound and even total change in their respective lives, therefore, we can see how the same applies to us as well.

This means that each and every one of us must take in and make the word of God, the revelations of God’s truth, all of His laws, commandments and teachings as preserved and taught to us through the Church, as the centre of our lives. And that is how we can grow in our faith and in our dedication to God. Our lives will surely experience change and transformation by God performing His work in us and through us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we also celebrate the feast of St. Peter Chrysologus, a renowned orator and teacher of the faith, who was also a great bishop and committed servant of God. St. Peter Chrysologus was known as such, as ‘Chrysologus’, the Golden-Worded due to his great charism in his homilies, through which he explained in great clarity and detail the meaning and importance of the Word of God to the people.

Many people at that time adhered to various versions of the teachings of faith, even those which were deemed as heresies and improper. But St. Peter Chrysologus patiently and devoutly taught the true teachings of the faith through his carefully and wisely worded homilies and preachings, by which many of the people came to repentance because they listened to him and came to regret their sinful lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, if this has happened before to our predecessors, surely we can also do the same with our own lives. We must not wait any longer, for if we continue to wait and continue to disobey God through sin, we may end up finding that it is too late for us, and we may end up in eternal damnation and suffering in hell. What is at stake for us, is nothing less than the fate of our eternal soul.

Therefore, let us all, from now on, put God as the priority and the focus of our life and our existence, and do our very best to serve Him, resisting the temptation to sin and always listening to His will. Let us all deepen our spirituality and prayerful relationship with God, that each and every one of us may draw ever closer to God, our loving Father. May God bless us all. Amen.

Monday, 30 July 2018 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Matthew 13 : 31-35

At that time, Jesus offered His disciples another parable : “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is smaller than all other seeds, but once it is fully grown, it is bigger than any garden plant; like a tree, the birds come and rest in its branches.”

He told them another parable, “The kingdom of heaven is like the yeast than a woman took, and hid in three measures of flour, until the whole mass of dough began to rise.” Jesus taught all these things to the crowds by means of parables; He did not say anything to them without using a parable. This fulfilled what was spoken by the Prophet : ‘I will speak in parables. I will proclaim things kept secret since the beginning of the world.’