Sunday, 19 August 2018 : Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday, we continue for the third week, the discourse of the Body and Blood of Christ, which in the Gospel passage today, was mentioned by the Lord Jesus Himself, as the food and drink which He would give His people. The Jews, especially the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were both skeptical and even furious at such a revelation. To them, a Man such as Jesus could not have given Himself for them to eat and drink.

Why is that so? First of all, we have to understand clearly that the Jews understood what they heard from the Lord, from a completely worldly and materialistic perspective. They thought that it was completely disgusting that the Lord Jesus, as someone Who they thought as a Prophet and Holy Man of God, could have said something so unimaginable, as to say that He would give them His own flesh and blood.

But little did they realise that the Lord Jesus was not mincing His words, saying the very truth of what He would do. And this is also the very core and centre of our Christian faith, as we believe in God Who has willingly offered Himself, sacrificed Himself and allowed Himself to be lifted up high on the Cross at Calvary, so that by that offering of Himself, a perfect offering, He may become the worthy absolution for all of our sins.

In the first reading today, taken from the book of Proverbs, we heard about the gift of Wisdom to those who have none, and how Wisdom, personified as a woman, called upon the senseless and all those without wisdom and understanding to share and partake in the food and drink she has prepared. This is a premonition of what the Lord would ultimately reveal, that is the gift of His own true Wisdom, by the giving and sharing of Himself, through Jesus Christ, Our Lord.

In the first place, all of us do not have true wisdom in us, unless it came to us from the Lord. God alone knows everything, and He alone has all knowledge, of what is to come for us. He revealed to us all that for all that we have achieved in this world, all the glory and power we have gathered and attained, all of these are nothing without God. For we have to remember, first and foremost, that our lives came from God, and this life we owe it to the Lord alone.

Unfortunately, because of our disobedience, which led us to sin, have sundered us from this source of life. That is why, although once we have been intended to enjoy forever the wonders of the world in perfect bliss and joy, but due to sin, we have been cast out of Eden, and ended up suffering in this world. And we are made to suffer this mortal existence, having to meet with death at the end of our lives.

Because of our sins, we have been made unworthy of God’s grace and love, and we have been made unworthy of God’s holy Presence, as due to our sins, we have been defiled and corrupted. Nothing wicked and evil can stand before God and do not perish, and therefore, death and damnation are our just punishment and consequence for our failure to obey His will. But as we can see, God does not intend this to be our fate.

Instead, God loves each and every one of us so much that He Who has created us out of nothing, wants all of us to be reconciled and reunited with Him. God knows that without Him, all of us will eventually wither and perish, and separated from Him, we will suffer eternal anguish, pain and despair. That is what hell is, brothers and sisters in Christ, the state of existence, where those who have willingly and consciously rejected God, and therefore suffer for eternity the effects of their decision.

Although we mankind have been disobedient and rebellious in our actions, from time to time, day after day, but God is always patient, and He always remembers His love, the same love He has for us ever since the beginning of time. So great is His love, that He has given us the perfect means through which we may gain this reconciliation and reunion with God, and that is through Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

It is by the perfect and selfless giving of Himself, the perfect offering of His own Body and Blood, on the Altar of the Cross at Calvary, that He has given us the one and only means to be saved from our fated destruction and damnation in hell. He revealed this for the first time to the people in the beginning of His ministry, by what He told them in our Gospel passage today, of Him being the Bread of Life, the Source of our salvation.

But the people and the disciples would not come understand the true meaning of these words until after the Lord has already brought everything to its full and perfect completion. It was only later on that they would realise, through the Holy Spirit, that the Lord has truly done everything He could to save us mankind, even to the point of laying down His life on the cross, and giving us the best gift of all, the Most Holy Eucharist, the proof of His perfect love for us.

And the Eucharist is the centre and heart of all of our faith and belief in God. Why is that so? That is because we believe that, in the Eucharist, which is celebrated at every occasions of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, is the Real Presence of the Lord, truly present in His Most Precious Body and Blood. He is truly present in the flesh, both fully Man and fully Divine as He is.

The bread and the wine offered at the Mass has been transformed completely into the substance, essence and reality of the Lord, Master and God of all. That means, although what we see is still the bread and the wine in appearance, but truthfully and we truly believe, as the core tenet of our Christian faith, that we have received nothing less than Our Lord Himself, present in Body and Blood.

Yet, there are many among us Christians who through our actions or through the way we live our faith, we have not shown appreciation, understanding and the urge as well as desire for the Lord truly present in His Body and Blood in the Eucharist. We have not shown the proper respect or reverence in welcoming Him into our lives. Remember, brothers and sisters, that God Himself has given His own Flesh for us to eat, and His own Blood for us to drink, that by partaking them, we may come to share in both His humanity and divinity.

That means, all of us are dwellings of the Lord, and our bodies, minds, hearts and souls are the Temples of God’s Holy Presence. Yet, many of us treat our body, mind, heart and soul as if without care, corrupting them with sins and wickedness through our actions. How can we then be worthy of God, Who comes to us directly and dwelling in us through His Most Precious Body and Blood?

Let us all reflect on this, and think of how we can correct our attitude and actions, that we may come to be truly faithful to God, and show sincerely, our faith and belief in God, Who is truly present in Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist. Let us turn to Him wholeheartedly, He Who has given us Himself that by sharing in His death, we may die to our sins, and share in His glorious resurrection as well.

The Lord has revealed this wonderful truth to us, showing us His great and boundless love. Are we able to love Him in the same manner, giving Him all of our attention, focus and our love? Let us all adore Him in the Most Holy Eucharist, His Real Presence among us on earth, and appreciate the fact that He has chosen to come into us, unworthy sinners, that we may be transformed by His Presence, and through the Holy Spirit He has sent us, we may all find true Wisdom, and turn therefore away from the false temptations of the world, and find our true treasure, that is God, and God alone.

May God bless us all, and may He empower each and every one of us, through the most wonderful spiritual sustenance we have received, the Bread of Life, that while once we were sinners doomed to die and perish, we now have the sure hope and assurance of eternal life with our loving God. Amen.

Sunday, 19 August 2018 : Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

John 6 : 51-58

Jesus said to His disciples and to the people, “I am the Living Bread from heaven; whoever eats of this Bread will live forever. The Bread I shall give is My Flesh, and I will give it for the life of the world.”

The Jews were arguing among themselves, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” So Jesus replied, “Truly, I say to you, if you do not eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, you have no life in you. The one who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood lives eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

“My Flesh is really food, and My Blood is truly drink. Those who eat My Flesh and drink My Blood, live in Me, and I in them. Just as the Father, Who is Life, sent Me, and I have life from the Father, so whoever eats Me will have life from Me. This is the Bread from heaven; not like that of your ancestors, who ate and later died. Those who eat this Bread will live forever.”

Sunday, 19 August 2018 : Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Ephesians 5 : 15-20

Pay attention to how you behave. Do not live as the unwise do, but as responsible persons. Try to make good use of the present time, because these days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Do not get drunk : wine leads to levity; but be filled with the Holy Spirit. Gather together to pray, with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing, and celebrate the Lord in your heart, giving thanks to God, the Father, in the Name of Christ Jesus, our Lord, always, and for everything.

Sunday, 19 August 2018 : Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 33 : 2-3, 10-11, 12-13, 14-15

I will praise YHVH all my days; His praise will be ever on my lips. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the lowly hear and rejoice.

Revere YHVH, all you, His saints, for those who fear Him do not live in want. The mighty may be hungry and in need; but those who seek YHVH lack nothing.

Come, listen to me, my children; I will show you how to fear YHVH. If you desire long life; if you want to enjoy prosperity.

Keep your tongue from falsehood, keep your lips from deceit; turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

Sunday, 19 August 2018 : Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Proverbs 9 : 1-6

Wisdom has built her house set upon seven pillars; she has slaughtered her beasts, prepared her wine and laid her table. Next, she sent her servants to call from the central square of the city, “Pass by here, you who are fools.”

To the senseless she says, “Come, eat and drink of the bread and wine I have prepared. Give up your foolishness and you will live; take the straight path of discernment.”

Sunday, 12 August 2018 : Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday we continue the discourse we had from the previous Sunday, on the Lord’s words to the people of Him being the Bread of Life, giving His own Flesh and Body to all of them to share and eat. But we heard how the people refused to believe in Him and even uttered disgustingly at such a suggestion, saying, how can such a Man give them something to eat from His own Body?

That is because they did not have faith in them, and they did not believe that Jesus is more than just a mere Man like them, even when they have seen all the miracles that He had performed in their midst and despite all that He had taught them, just as the prophets had written that the Saviour would have done. They have hardened their hearts and minds and refused to believe in the Lord’s truth.

In today’s first reading, taken from the Book of Kings, we heard about the prophet Elijah who at that time was fleeing the harsh persecutions he had endured for quite a long time under the wicked kings of Israel and their idol-worshipping followers. The prophet Elijah was at the end of his wits and was in great despair, wanting the Lord to end his suffering there and then right away. It is quite understandable considering the kind of treatment that Elijah had received at the hands of his enemies.

But the Lord sent His Angel to provide food for Elijah to eat, and He commanded the prophet to eat through the Angel, for the upcoming journey He had to take would be a perilous one. Elijah was likely still hesitant, but in the end, he obeyed the Lord’s commands, and ate the bread and food given to Him. The food gave him sustenance and strength to go on a long journey of forty days and nights towards the mountain of God, Mount Horeb, where Moses once received God’s laws.

It was there that God met Elijah, and spoke to him, and strengthened his faith. And ever since then, Elijah continued his ministry, braving through persecutions and trials, carrying out what God wanted him to do, faithfully and with great zeal. This is also a reminder of God’s sustenance and care for His entire people, when He gave them manna, bread from heaven to eat for the entire period of forty years of their journey to the Promised Land of Canaan.

But as the Lord Jesus said in the Gospel passage highlighted the fact that those bread that God gave, while they gave sustenance to the physical body and made them all satisfied and filled, with strength to carry on the long journey, to the Promised Land for the Israelites and to Mount Horeb for the prophet Elijah, but eventually those bread are food that sustains only our physical flesh and body, and ultimately, they are nothing compared to the True Bread and Food from heaven that God would come to give His people, that is His own Flesh and Blood.

And brothers and sisters in Christ, speaking about going in a journey, are we all aware that each and every one of us are also currently in a journey? Our lives are journeys for each one of us, and we embark on this journey of life, with the ultimate destination of being reconciled with God and being in full union with Him, at the end of our lives, when we may be reunited with Him in full grace and love.

We have to make this journey in life because of our sins, the original sin of Adam and Eve, our forefathers, and all of our own mortal and venial sins that have caused us to be separated and sundered from God’s love and grace. Our life on earth, in this world, and all of the sufferings we encounter is this journey of life that we are taking, and we are all on our way towards God.

But on the way, many of us will be distracted and fall off the path, going to the wrong way and direction, and there are many other offerings out there that may seem to be more attractive to us than our original intended destination. That is the devil at work, together with all of his forces and allies, bound on making us to fall into temptation and therefore fall into the eternal damnation in hellfire.

That is why, just as all those who are going on a journey need food to sustain themselves, and not just any type of food, but good, nourishing and hygienic food, not rotten or useless for us in terms of nutrition. Let us imagine if one were to bring perishable food to places like a desert, where there is no way for us to preserve those food. In that case, the food will spoil and if we eat this food, we will be in trouble.

And what is the right food for this kind of journey? It is none other than the Holy Eucharist, the Most Holy Body and Blood of Our Lord Himself, the Bread of Life, Who has promised all of us who share in His Body, of everlasting life and union with God. We may see that it is just a mere bread and mere wine, as others in the world would also have seen them, but what is different for us, is that we have faith.

The most important part of our faith is our belief that the priest in the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass, by the power and authority given to him, has turned and transformed the bread and the wine into the very essence and material of the Lord Himself, His Real Presence in the Eucharist. It was not bread or wine that we receive during the Holy Communion, and neither have we received just a mere symbol of His Body and Blood.

Though by appearance it may seem to remain as bread and wine, but in reality, the Eucharist is the Lord Himself, fully present in our midst and within us, as the physical Body and Blood of Our Lord that has dwelled within us. The Eucharist is the sustenance which the Lord Himself has given us, to share in His Body and Blood, that we may share in His death and resurrection, dying to our past sins and rising to our new life in Him.

The Lord sustains us through the Eucharist, which is eternally linked to the same sacrifice which Our Lord had performed at Calvary, and this sustenance give us the strength and the power to go on in our faith and in how we lived our lives. But have we often taken our reception of the Eucharist for granted? Many of us have, in our attitude towards the Eucharist and in our understanding of its significance.

We still received the Eucharist when we are in a state of sin, and have not repented from our sins and confessed them, and we did not show proper deference and respect for the Lord, even though in our faith, we know that it is Him truly present in our midst. This is the attitude which we must avoid, and discard immediately should we have it with us at the moment.

Therefore, let us be sincere in our faith in the Lord’s ultimate gift in His own Body and Blood, in the Eucharist that He has bestowed upon us through the Church and the holy priests He has appointed to be our shepherds. Let us all love Him with all of our hearts, with all of our minds, and with all of our strength. Let us all turn back towards Him, with a heart that is filled with love for Him, and the desire to be reconciled and reunited with Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore realise what it is that we need to do in order to reach out to the Lord from the way that He has shown us all. It is by receiving the sustenance of the Eucharist, Most Precious and Holy Body of Christ, worthily and with faith in Him. Let us grow ever stronger in our commitment to love God and to follow His path, despite the challenges and difficulties we may encounter. May the Lord bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 12 August 2018 : Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

John 6 : 41-51

At that time, the Jews murmured because Jesus had said, “I am the Bread Which comes from heaven.” And they said, “This Man is the Son of Joseph, is He not? We know His father and mother. How can He say that He has come from heaven?”

Jesus answered them, “Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless he is drawn by the Father Who sent Me; and I will raise him up on the last day. It has been written in the Prophets : They shall all be taught by God. So whoever listens and learns from the Father comes to Me. For no one has seen the Father except the One Who comes from God; He has seen the Father. Truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.”

“I am the Bread of Life. Though your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, they died. But here you have the Bread from heaven, so that you may eat of It, and not die. I am the living Bread from heaven; whoever eats of this Bread will live forever. The Bread I shall give is My Flesh, and I will give It for the life of the world.”