Monday, 9 September 2019 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Claver, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture reminding us of the love by which God has reached out to us through Christ, His beloved Son, by Whom He has brought salvation to us all and the whole world. Today we are all reminded that by God’s love and grace, He has willingly embraced us and has wanted us to be reconciled to Him, that we can be truly reunited with Him in perfect love.

God has revealed that first and foremost of all, He is a loving God and Father to all of us, and not some angry and wrathful God Who demanded us to be subservient and to kneel in fear. Instead, what He wants us to do is for us all to realise just how much He has loved us since the very beginning and therefore have the same kind of love within each and every one of us as well. We are all called to be loving just as God is loving.

Unfortunately it is by our own actions that we have failed to appreciate God’s love for us, in how we categorise God and make assumptions about Him, just like how the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law acted in enforcing the observances of the laws of God, particularly the law of the Sabbath as we heard in our Gospel passage today. They questioned the Lord if it was lawful for someone to be healed on the Sabbath.

This is when those people failed to understand the Law of God properly in its meaning, purpose and intention. They focused on the ‘letter’ of the Law but failed to understand the ‘spirit’ of the Law, and the two should not be separated one from the other. The Lord did not intend for the Law to restrict His people and make themselves difficult by imposing the Sabbath observance to prevent people from doing something that is good, as the Lord Jesus Himself plainly revealed.

Instead, we must all understand the purpose of the Sabbath itself in the first place in the historical context of how the Sabbath came to be. The Sabbath was meant to be a day of rest, not from doing good deeds but rather from all the busy schedules, activities and preoccupations of God’s people that had taken them away from God and distracted them from their faith in Him. In their pursuit for more worldly goods and happiness, it was easy for them to be swayed and fall into the temptations to sin.

That is why, the Sabbath was meant to help the people to take a break and stop whatever they were busy and preoccupied with, so that they can reorientate themselves and rethink the purpose and direction of their lives and refocusing their hearts and minds to God’s will. The Sabbath was therefore meant to allow God’s people to grow in their relationship with their loving God, Father and Creator, just as how we ought to honour the Sundays, the days of Our Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are therefore reminded to be genuine in our faith and dedication to the Lord, not just knowing the ‘letter’ of the Law but also the ‘spirit’ of the Law so that we do not end up being misguided like the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who were overly obsessed and focusing on the wrong parts of the Law, as they bickered and argued over the external application and observance of the Law rather than what the Law truly means for the people of God.

Today, all of us ought to observe and follow the example of one saint, whose feast we celebrate today, namely that of St. Peter Claver, a holy and devout priest who was remembered for his dedication to the poor and to the oppressed as a priest serving the faithful and many of the people in the then New World, the Spanish American continent. He ministered to many of the people who have not yet heard of God and baptised many of them into the faith over many decades.

He spent many years working among them all and especially among the slaves, all those who have been exploited for the sake of wealth and glory by those who wanted these things. He championed their rights and ministered among them, touching their hearts and minds as they saw in him the presence of God’s love and mercy in their midst. He reached out to them and many of them turned towards God with great faith as a result.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all heed the good examples of St. Peter Claver, his love for his fellow men, all those whom God had entrusted to his care, and his devotion and love for God throughout his life that he devoted all his time and effort to the care of God’s beloved people. Let us all be ever more faithful to God from now on and let us be true in our live for Him and in our ever stronger devotion to His greater glory. May God bless us all in our every endeavours, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 9 September 2019 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Claver, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Luke 6 : 6-11

At that time, on another Sabbath, Jesus entered the synagogue and began teaching. There was a man with a paralysed right hand, and the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees watched Him : Would Jesus heal the man on the Sabbath? If He did, they could accuse Him.

But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to the man, “Get up, and stand in the middle.” Then He spoke to them, “I want to ask you : what is allowed by the Law on the Sabbath? To do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” And Jesus looked around at them all.

Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored, becoming as healthy as the other. But they were furious, and began to discuss with one another how they could deal with Jesus.

Monday, 9 September 2019 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Claver, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Psalm 61 : 6-7, 9

Find rest in God alone, o my soul; from Him, comes my hope. He alone, is my Rock and my Salvation; with Him as my Stronghold, I shall not be overcome.

Trust in Him at all times, my people; pour out your hearts before Him; God is our refuge.

Monday, 9 September 2019 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Claver, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Colossians 1 : 24 – Colossians 2 : 3

At present, I rejoice when I suffer for you; I complete, in my own flesh, what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the Church. For I am serving the Church since God entrusted to me the ministry to make the word of God fully known.

I mean that mysterious plan that, for centuries and generations, remained secret, and which God has now revealed to His holy ones. God willed to make known to them the riches, and even the glory, that His mysterious plan reserved for the pagan nations : Christ is in you, the hope for glory.

This Christ, we preach. We warn, and teach everyone true wisdom, aiming to make everyone perfect, in Christ. For this cause I labour and struggle, with the energy of Christ working powerfully in me. I want you to know how I strive for you, for those of Laodicea, and for so many who have not met me personally.

I pray, that all may be encouraged. May you be established in love, that you may obtain all the riches of a full understanding, and know the mystery of God, Christ Himself. For, in Him, are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Saturday, 9 September 2017 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Claver, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we heard in the readings today from particularly the Gospel, that we cannot be like the Pharisees, who refused to believe in Jesus simply because according to them, Jesus had disobeyed the laws of God as revealed through Moses because He often performed His healing miracles on the Sabbath day.

In fact, sometimes the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law purposely placed sick and possessed men or women, at the places where Jesus were teaching the people during the Sabbath day so that they hoped they could trap Jesus in His own actions and they then could accuse Him of disobeying the Sabbath law, thus allowing them to charge Him.

However, Jesus countered their argument, by citing the historical example of king David, the well-known and highly respected king of the nation of Israel. At the time of his great need, hungry and chased by his enemies, David and his men took the bread of offering normally reserved only for the priests, also on the Sabbath day, which was normally forbidden. But in that case, they were under difficult situation and help was greatly needed.

Through all these, we see how the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law failed to understand the true meaning and intention of God’s laws and commandments. They thought that everyone ought to obey the Law as God is a fearsome God Who imposed His laws and commandments on His people, and therefore, all the laws including the law of the Sabbath was treated as inviolable and they persecuted those who did not obey.

But God did not give us all His laws so that He could burden us or pressure us to do all that He has commanded us to do, that we ended up fearing Him and trembling before Him. No, His main intention is love, and He wants each and every one of us to be able to love Him wholeheartedly just as He Himself has loved us first. The Law of God is the Law of love, designed to keep us faithful in His ways, and to help us to learn about God and to devote ourselves ever more closely to Him.

Thus, in the same manner, the law of the Sabbath was instituted, because by setting aside one day when the people might stop their daily business and work, and when they may cease their constant worries and attention on the worldly matters, they might be able to spend that time with God, and strengthen their relationship with Him through prayer and devotion. But, this has been forgotten by the people, and the Pharisees enforced the Law of the Sabbath for the sake of doing it, and not with the purpose of allowing the people to love God more.

That was why Jesus pointed out the errors in their teachings and ways, since they even abhorred good deeds and works that were done on the day of the Sabbath. They did their sacrifices and prayers on one hand, but on the other hand, they discouraged the people from doing what the Lord wants each one of us to do, that is to be loving and to be gracious in how we love, towards both God and to our fellow men and women.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us remember that the Lord Jesus Himself said that when we show our love, care and attention to the least among our brethren, we have done it for none other than the Lord Himself. Therefore, let us all Christians devote ourselves, our time and effort to show love and genuine care for others, especially those who are in need.

Perhaps we should also follow in the footsteps of St. Peter Claver, a devout and holy priest, whose dedication to the slaves in the New World, now the Americas became renowned and remembered by many, who looked up to his examples and commitment. He was a Jesuit priest who worked among the poor and the slaves in that area, converting them and teaching them about the faith.

And he did not hesitate to stand up for their sake when they were poorly and unfairly treated, and St. Peter Claver showed us therefore an example of how we as Christians should live, not through hypocrisy and arrogance like that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, but through genuine love and devotion, via our care for those around us who are in need of our help.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all from now on devote ourselves in the same manner as St. Peter Claver had done. Let us love one another and love the Lord, devoting ourselves more wholeheartedly from now on. May the Lord bless our loving works and continue to strengthen in us the desire to love Him and to serve Him through all that we say and do. Let us all also ask for St. Peter Claver to intercede for us. Amen.

Saturday, 9 September 2017 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Claver, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Luke 6 : 1-5

At that time, one Sabbath Jesus was going through a field of grain, and His disciples began to pick heads of grain, crushing them in their hands for food. Some of the Pharisees asked them, “Why do you do what is forbidden on the Sabbath?”

Then Jesus spoke up and asked them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his men were hungry? He entered the house of God, took and ate the bread of the offering, and even gave some to his men, though only priests are allowed to eat that bread.”

And Jesus added, “The Son of Man is Lord and rules over the Sabbath.”

Saturday, 9 September 2017 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Claver, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Psalm 53 : 3-4, 6 and 8

By Your Name, o God, save me; You, the Valiant, uphold my cause. Hear my prayer, o God; listen to the words of my mouth.

See, God is my Helper; the Lord upholds my life. Freely will I offer sacrifice to You, and praise Your Name, o YHVH, for it is good.