Tuesday, 23 August 2022 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Rose of Lima, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Holy Virgins)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all reminded to distance ourselves from the taints of hypocrisy and all sorts of temptations to sin, especially the temptation of worldly desires and pleasures, worldly glory, fame and renown, all of which can distract us in our journey towards the Lord. Through our Scripture readings today we are all reminded how there had been many people who were entrusted with the faith and the responsibility to guide their fellow faithful ones, and yet they failed to do their duties and responsibilities appropriately.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord rebuking the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law for their behaviour and way of living their faith lives, and especially in how they misused their authority as well as their hypocrisy and their imposition of very strict and harsh rules and regulations pertaining to the Law on the entire people of Israel. They demanded their portion and for the people to respect and to support them, and yet at the same time, they looked down on all those whom they deemed to be less worthy, the ones like the tax collectors, the prostitutes and all those who were inflicted with various diseases and illnesses, and many others.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law demanded an external application of the Law, and they paraded themselves in doing all the things that people could witness and see them doing, praying aloud in the synagogues and in the streets, and they similarly imposed this bias and preferences in what they taught the people of God through their actions and words. But they had failed to realise that obeying the words of the letter of the Law is empty and meaningless unless one also understands and appreciates the meaning and the Spirit of the same Law. One can easily obey the Law to the letter but without understanding the importance and significance of why one has done so.

That is why the Lord was so critical on them and their actions. Their actions and irresponsible behaviour had made it difficult for many to seek the Lord and not only that, but it likely also turned many people away from God and His salvation, since the conditions and requirements which they imposed on everyone were so difficult, tough and yet unnecessary, that many people simply did not make the effort to come closer to God and instead remained in their state of sin. That way, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law whom God had entrusted with His people, had not done as they were supposed to do, and in their obedience to the Law, they were also selective and focused more on the externals rather than a wholesome application of the Law of God.

The Lord told His people that in order for us to truly love and serve the Lord, we have to have that proper understanding of His truth and love, and obey His Law wholeheartedly instead of just obeying blindly or paying lip service or only seeking for external application or holding up appearances only. Each one of us must live our lives with faith and practice our faith with genuine dedication and commitment, at every available opportunities and at every moments, or else we may end up causing scandal on the Lord and His Church, and we may have to be responsible for making people to be more distant from God just as the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had done.

That is why today we are all called to reflect on our way of life and see carefully how we can better commit ourselves from now on with faith, in following the Lord in all the path of our lives, and at all times. Each one of us have been called to reflect on the path that we should be taking moving forward in life, so that our actions and words, our deeds and everything may always be aligned with God and His will, with His teachings and with His revelation of truth. We are all presented with the opportunities and the many circumstances through which we will be able to find our way to do things in accordance to our calling and God’s will.

Today, one of such ways and opportunities is for us to follow the good examples and inspiration from St. Rose of Lima, the first saint to be proclaimed from the New World. She was born in what is today Peru in the New World, the Americas, and was acquainted with another saint of the New World, St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, who was then Archbishop of the area and administered to St. Rose of Lima the Sacrament of Confirmation. St. Rose of Lima began to grow closer to God and despite her father’s efforts to force her to marry against her will and desire, St. Rose of Lima resisted and remained faithful to her commitment to God.

St. Rose of Lima had wanted to join the Dominicans as a nun, however her father’s opposition prevented that, and she instead became a third order member of the Dominicans. She took a vow of perpetual virginity and lived a life of great holiness and grace, and was famously remembered of her wearing of a heavy silver crown with spikes and thorns to emulate the Crown of Thorns of Our Lord and Saviour, in keeping up to her commitment to God and in self-mortification, living her life full of prayer, inspiring many others to be more faithful to God themselves, and many were inspired even long after she passed away at the rather young age of thirty-one.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore be inspired by the great examples showed by St. Rose of Lima and many other holy saints, holy men and women of God so that we may always do our best to resist the temptations of worldly glory and ambitions, the temptations and desire for human praise and other worldly pleasures. Let us all instead strive to become ever closer to the Lord and to His salvation, and may St. Rose of Lima intercede for us all, helping us sinners to come ever closer to God, now and always, evermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 23 August 2022 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Rose of Lima, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Holy Virgins)

Matthew 23 : 23-26

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You do not forget the mint, anise and cumin seeds when you demand the tenth of everything; but then, you forget what is most fundamental in the Law : justice, mercy and faith! You should have done these things without neglecting the others. Blind guides! You strain out a mosquito, but swallow a camel.”

“Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You fill the plate and the cup, with theft and violence, and then pronounce a blessing over them. Blind Pharisee! Purify the inside first, then the outside, too, will be purified.”

Tuesday, 23 August 2022 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Rose of Lima, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Holy Virgins)

Psalm 95 : 10, 11-12a, 12b-13

Say among the nations, “YHVH reigns!” He will judge the peoples with justice.

Let the heavens be glad, the earth rejoice; let the sea and all that fills it resound; let the fields exult and everything in them.

Let the forest, all the trees, sing for joy. Let them sing before YHVH Who comes to judge the earth. He will rule the world with justice, and the peoples, with fairness.

Tuesday, 23 August 2022 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Rose of Lima, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Holy Virgins)

2 Thessalonians 2 : 1-3a, 14-17

Brothers and sisters, let us speak about the coming of Christ Jesus, Our Lord, and our gathering to meet Him. Do not be easily unsettled. Do not be alarmed by what a prophet says, or by any report, or by some letter said to be ours, saying, the day of the Lord is at hand. Do not let yourselves be deceived, in any way.

To this end He called you, through the Gospel we preach, for He willed you, to share the glory of Christ Jesus, Our Lord. Because of that, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold to the traditions that we taught you, by word or by letter. May Christ Jesus, Our Lord, Who has loved us, may God Our Father, Who, in His mercy, gives us everlasting comfort and true hope, strengthen you.

May He encourage your hearts and make you steadfast in every good work and word.

Thursday, 23 August 2018 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Rose of Lima, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Virgins)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the Scriptures, with the beautiful and very meaningful passages that are bringing us to contemplate on the importance of our proper internal disposition, in how we believe in God and in how we truly have that genuine faith in Him and not just merely a superficial and illusory commitment.

In the first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Ezekiel, we heard God calling upon His people, the Israelites who have been cast away from their ancestors’ land and went to exile in faraway lands. God wanted to love them again and gather them from their scattered places all around the world. He wanted them to once again become His people and that He become their God.

And this is through a change of attitude and conversion of hearts, that all those whom God called into their midst would have new hearts in them. This change of heart would result in a people whose hearts and minds were hardened and stubborn, always disobedient against God and His will, to be filled with a new love for God, and to be transformed into new beings of light, God’s own beloved ones.

In the Gospel passage today, the Lord alluded to the same intention through the parable which He related to His disciples and to the people listening to Him. He was using the example of a king who invited guests to his feast and yet, many of the people who were invited refused to come to his banquet. This represents those in the past, whom God had called to be with Him and to obey Him, and yet, they refused to believe and chose to rebel instead through sin.

All of them have received their just rewards, and they have been condemned by their own actions. But God is so filled with love for us all, that He desired for us to have the chance fo repent and to turn away from our sins. And that was why, in the parable the Lord used, He compared this with the king who asked his servants to go out and gather all those whom they were able to gather, to be in the banquet that he had prepared.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, each and every one of us have been called by God to be His followers, that is to be partakers in the heavenly banquet He has prepared for each one of us. But are we willing to come and be in the banquet of the Lord? Are we indeed ready to be in the heavenly banquet, to be at the presence of God Himself? Let us all now heed the last part of today’s Gospel passage to remind us that we need to be constantly ready for the Lord.

In the Gospel passage, the king came to one man who was not dressed in the proper garment for the feast, and asked him how he came into the venue. The man was sent out by the king and made to suffer because of his lack of preparation and ignorance of what needed to be done to be present at the banquet. Through this, the Lord reminded each one of us that while the Lord has called us to be part of His heavenly inheritance, but we must be prepared to meet Him and to be with Him.

And that means, all of us must have a genuine and committed faith in God, and we must do our very best to love God and to do our best in our every words and actions, to be worthy of God and to bring greater glory to Him. This is what the Lord wants from us, that is for us to be thoroughly changed and converted in heart, mind, soul and our whole being.

Therefore, we need to be wholly attuned to God and turning ourselves to Him, and in order to do so, we must begin from ourselves, from our actions, resisting the temptations to sin, and doing what is just and righteous in all of the things we say and do. And perhaps, we should model ourselves based on the examples and inspiration of St. Rose of Lima, the holy woman and saint whose feast we celebrate today.

St. Rose of Lima was known as the first saint of the New World, the American continent. St. Rose of Lima was remembered for her great piety, even from a very young age. She spent much time devoting herself through prayer and asceticism, committing herself to prayer and to merciful act of charity towards her brethren. She cared for others and loved God much more than she even loved or cared about herself.

St. Rose of Lima was such an inspiring example of faith that many people throughout the ages modelled themselves after her faith and dedication to the Lord. She has shown us what it means for us to be transformed in the heart, mind and soul, to be those whom the Lord had called to be His disciples. St. Rose of Lima reminds us that a life dedicated to God is our calling in life, and we have to strive our best, each and every day to be ever more faithful to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all no longer harden our hearts or minds, and allow God to enter into our lives, and transform us from our old ways of sin and disobedience to a new way of life. We are called to love God just as God has loved us all, and for us to devote ourselves just as his holy saints, including St. Rose of Lima had done. May the Lord be with us all, and may He continue to guide us in the way of truth. May God bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 23 August 2018 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Rose of Lima, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Virgins)

Matthew 22 : 1-14

At that time, Jesus continued speaking to the people in parables : “This story throws light on the kingdom of heaven : A king gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to call the invited guests to the banquet, but the guests refused to come.”

“Again, He sent other servants, instructing them to say to the invited guests, ‘I have prepared a banquet, slaughtered my fattened calves and other animals, and now, everything is ready. Come to the wedding!’ But they paid no attention and went away, some to their farms, and some to their work. Others seized the servants of the king, insulted them and killed them.”

“The king was furious. He sent his troops to destroy those murderers and burn their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is prepared, but the invited guests were not worthy. Go instead to the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding feast.'”

“The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, good and bad alike, so that the hall was filled with guests. The king came in to see the wedding guests, and he noticed a man not wearing a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in without the wedding clothes?'”

“But the man remained silent. So the king said to his servants, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Thursday, 23 August 2018 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Rose of Lima, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Virgins)

Psalm 50 : 12-13, 14-15, 18-19

Create in me, o God, a pure heart; give me a new and steadfast spirit. Do not cast me out of Your presence nor take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Give me again the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will show wrongdoers Your ways and sinners will return to You.

You take no pleasure in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt offering, You would not delight in it. O God, my sacrifice is a broken spirit; a contrite heart You will not despise.

Thursday, 23 August 2018 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Rose of Lima, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Virgins)

Ezekiel 36 : 23-28

I will make known the holiness of My great Name, profaned among the nations because of you; and they will know that I am YHVH, when I show them My holiness among you. For I will gather you from all the nations and bring you back to your own land. Then I shall pour pure water over you and you shall be made clean – cleansed from the defilement of all your idols.

I shall give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. I shall remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I shall put My Spirit within you and move you to follow My decrees and keep My laws. You will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you shall be My people and I will be your God.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Rose of Lima, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Virgins)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are reminded that whatever it is we face in life, and no matter all that we experience through our earthly existence, we should keep our focus firmly on the Lord and not to be distracted by the many things and temptations that will keep us away and pull us away from the path to attain the salvation found only in our God alone.

In the first reading, the Lord reminded us through St. Paul His Apostle, that we should be wary and be vigilant of the false prophets and all the lies which they spread around us, as these would become obstacles and hindrances on our path as we walk towards the Lord. There are many of those opposed to us being saved in the Lord, not least of which is the forces of the devil and his allies.

It is the ultimate objective of the evil one in trying to subvert our attempt to find our way to the Lord, and it is imperative for him to try to make us stumble on our journey, for in his great pride and jealousy against God, as well as against the love and honour which God had accorded to us from the very beginning, he has declared war against Adam and all of his descendants.

Indeed, our Lord Jesus Christ has already come and died for our sake, that we might be freed and be liberated from our sins. However, it does not mean that we who still live in this world should then be complacent and be lax in our way of life that we may fall into the traps set upon our path by those who do not take kindly seeing us all be freed from our troubles and proceeding towards our salvation and life in God.

We should heed what our Lord Jesus told us in the Gospel, when He spoke out against the wickedness and the lack of faith among the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, which led to the people being misled in their life and in their faith, by the obsession with appearances and with worldliness, as the emphasis on God and on our relationship with Him was lost, and instead was replaced with the emphasis on human and worldly status.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, when we worship the Lord, it is important that our interior orientation is properly attuned to the Lord, or else, we may lose our focus and instead of focusing on God, we become inappropriately focused on ourselves and on our own human frailties and all the things that led us to sin. It is important therefore that we spend some time to think about how we live our lives in order to be truly faithful to the Lord.

Let us all look at the examples of St. Rose of Lima, the holy saint whose feast we are celebrating today. She was an ordinary woman whose extraordinary life and devotion to God elevated her to the glory of heaven, and we all can learn from her life examples. She is the first saint from the Americas, then known as the New World, a woman of astounding beauty and charm.

Many young men, both rich and poor, influential and powerful tried to woo her and get her into marriage with them, but she turned away from all of them, because since her youth, she had promised that she would live a holy and chaste life devoted to God alone. Her parents opposed that decision, but she continued to persevere on despite the challenges.

She was well known for her great piety and devotion, often engaged in self-mortification and resisting the temptations of the flesh and the world. She was known to wear a heavy silver crown with spikes that pierced into the skin and the flesh of her head to remind her of her mortality and the futility of human fame, glory and all the false lies and promises that Satan tempted us with in this world.

Certainly the examples of St. Rose of Lima should inspire us to devote our lives in a similar manner. We should resist those temptations of the flesh, and all the things that have become obstacles on our path, that is our unrestrained desires, the pulling force of greed and human frailties, and instead, push on through, inspired by St. Rose of Lima and the other holy saints, to lead an ever more devoted life, not just by appearances alone, but also through real action, through charity and love, by caring for all those who are less fortunate around us.

May God see in us the light of the love which He had shown us, and may He bless us and our endeavours, so that through our good works, we may be justified in our faith and draw ever closer to His presence. May God be with us all, now and forever. Amen.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Rose of Lima, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Virgins)

Matthew 23 : 23-26

At that time, Jesus said to the crowd and to His disciples, “Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You do not forget the mint, anise and cumin seeds when you demand the tenth of everything, but then you forget what is most fundamental in the Law : justice, mercy and faith. These you must practice, instead of neglecting them. Blind guides! You strain out a mosquito, but swallow a camel.”

“Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You fill the plate and the cup with theft and violence, and then pronounce a blessing over them. Blind Pharisee! Purify the inside first, then the outside too will be purified.”