Saturday, 7 November 2015 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day in continuation from yesterday’s readings, we are faced yet again with the stark reality and truth about living in this world full of temptations and challenges, and how we ought to make a stand and a clear choice on our conscience and actions, so that we will fully and completely submit ourselves to the will of God and seek to do all of His will.

It was highlighted yet once again, that we cannot be servants to both God and to money. If we serve one and try to please one, then we are very likely going to anger and displease the other. We cannot please and satisfy both God and worldly possessions, just as we cannot please God and Satan at the same time. Either we walk in the path of the Lord and be saved, or we walk in the path of sin with Satan and be together condemned with him for eternity.

Yet, as I have discussed yesterday, many of us are ambivalent and without a clear stand or without the courage to stand up for our faith. Rather than following our Lord and God with zeal and with total devotion, we allow ourselves to be bought over by the world and all of its temptations, all of which are designed, and have indeed been designed by the devil and his angels to lure us away from the salvation in God.

And many of us do not take this seriously, for we think that in small matters or in small faults and sins can be let go and tolerated, for after all those things are indeed small matter, are they not? Unfortunately, Jesus made it very clear through today’s Gospel passage, that those who cannot be trusted with small matters, cannot be entrusted with large matters.

This means that we must not overlook or be ignorant even about small sins and faults that we often do and commit in our daily lives. Even opening ourselves a little to the taste of sin and wickedness would allow the devil to come in and seize an even greater opportunity to corrupt us and our souls. As a result, we commit even more and greater sins, that eventually will threaten to destroy us.

Therefore, it is imperative that we remain vigilant and strong at all times. It is important that we should commit ourselves ever more to the protection of our Lord, and strengthening our own spiritual defences against the assaults of the evil one, his temptations and lies. In order to do so, then we have to really make the effort to bring up the habit of prayer, charity and love in our own respective lives.

Yes, let us all commit ourselves to a life devoted to the Lord, obeying His laws and precepts, and walking faithfully in His path, and showing that faith we have for Him through real and concrete dedication to our fellow brethren. That means if someone is in despair and in condition without hope, let us be the bearers of hope, and when someone is unloved, ostracised and suffering, let us share with them our love.

It is this sharing of love, joy and hope with one another that is the essence of our Christian faith, which requires us to show that love which we ought to have for our Lord, and the same love that we also need to show each other, at least as great as the love, care and concern which we show towards ourselves. And if we have love in us, then we have no need to worry, for that love and genuine faith will shield us from the temptations and challenges presented to us by the devil.

Let us all therefore renew our faith in the Lord, and commit ourselves completely to His love, and from now on, let our every actions and every moments of our lives, we use them for the good of one another, and for the benefit of all mankind, that by our actions, we may bring each other ever closer to the salvation in our God. God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 7 November 2015 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

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

Luke 16 : 9-15

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples and to the people, “And so I tell you : use filthy money to make friends for yourselves, so that, when it fails, these people may welcome you into the eternal homes. Whoever can be trusted in little things can also be trusted in great ones; whoever is dishonest in slight matters will also be dishonest in greater ones.”

“So if you have been dishonest in handling filthy money, who would entrust you with true wealth? And if you have been dishonest with things that are not really yours, who will give you that wealth which is truly your own? No servant can serve two masters. Either he does not like the one and is fond of the other, or he regards one highly and the other with contempt. You cannot give yourself both to God and to Money.”

The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and sneered at Jesus. He said to them, “You do your best to be considered righteous by people. But God knows the heart, and what is highly esteemed by human beings is loathed by God.”

Saturday, 7 November 2015 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

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

Psalm 144 : 2-3, 4-5, 10-11

I will praise You day after day and exalt Your Name forever. Great is the Lord, most worthy of praise; and His deeds are beyond measure.

Parents commend Your works to their children and tell them Your feats. They proclaim the splendour of Your majesty and recall Your wondrous works.

All Your works will give You thanks; all Your saints, o Lord, will praise You. They will tell of the glory of Your kingdom and speak of Your power.

Saturday, 7 November 2015 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

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

Romans 16 : 3-9, 16, 22-27

Greetings to Prisca and Aquilas, my helpers in Christ Jesus. To save my life, they risked theirs; I am very grateful to them, as are all the churches of the pagan nations. Greetings also to the church that meets in their house. Greetings to my dear Epaenetus, the first in the province of Asia to believe in Christ. Greet Mary, who worked so much for you.

Greetings to Andronicus and Junias, my relatives and companions in prison; they are well known Apostles and served Christ before I did. Give greetings to Ampliatus, whom I love so much in the Lord. Greetings to Urbanus, our fellow worker, and to my dear Stachys.

Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send their greetings. I, Tertius, the writer of this letter, send you greetings in the Lord. Greetings from Gaius, who has given me lodging and in whose house the church meets. Greetings from Erastus, treasurer of the city and from our brother Quartus.

Glory be to God! He is able to give you strength, according to the Good News I proclaim, announcing Christ Jesus. Now is revealed the mysterious plan kept hidden for long ages in the past. By the will of the Eternal God it is brought to light, through the prophetic books, and all nations shall believe the faith proclaimed to them.

Glory to God, Who alone is wise, through Christ Jesus, forever! Amen.

Friday, 6 November 2015 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard about the parable that Jesus our Lord taught His disciples on the wicked and dishonest servant that cheated his master of some money through his works. And we listened to how the master who knew and found out about the dishonesty fired the wicked and untrustworthy steward, who then resorted yet again to dishonesty in order to save himself from trouble.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s Gospel passage indeed can intrigue us, as the Lord seemingly approved what the wicked steward was doing, by stating how the master commended the steward for the actions he had done, in securing for himself a security and safety by his master’s debtors, by making themselves indebted to him for his assistance in reducing their debts unilaterally.

But the fact and truth is that the Lord stated clearly that those who walked and followed in the path of the world, will also act in ways that also suit and follow the ways and norms of this world. And on the other hand, those who devote themselves to the Lord, will walk in His ways and act in ways that conform to His will and His desires.

This is a reminder for all of us, on choosing whether we should live righteously according to the will of God our Lord, or to live in accordance with ways acceptable and suitable to the world and to our society. The choice is ours, and we ought to ask ourselves, shall we obey the call of the Lord and His teachings, even though this world may reject them and ridicule us for following God and for remaining obedient to Him?

The way of the Lord is mostly and very often is diagonally opposed and contrasted to the ways acceptable to the world. And St. Paul reiterated this in his letter to the Church and the faithful in Rome, a reminder to them that as those who belong to the Lord and His Church ought to do what is righteous and just in the sight of God, and thus show forth His righteousness and truth to others, to all mankind.

This is important, as we should realise how scandal can easily rock the Church and shake its pillars and foundations if the faithful people of God were to commit and act in ways that are contrary to the ways of the Lord. And yet, this is what we have seen and what we are now also seeing in the Church and among the faithful. Regrettably, there are many faithful who proclaim themselves as Christians and yet did nothing that the Church had taught them.

For example, there are many Christians who participate in heinous acts such as adultery, divorce and remarriage, all which showed the disrespect and contempt for the holiness and sanctity of marriage, the holy union blessed by God. And many showed lack of understanding and knowledge of what the truth is about what God had taught us through His Church.

And there are also many of those who engaged in the culture of death, disrespecting life and its sanctity, showing no mercy and care for life, and also engaging in acts such as murder, abortion and torture, that result in pain, suffering and death, the loss of life, where many of us succumb to our own desire and greed for more at the cost of others, and to protect ourselves and satisfy our own needs over and above that of the rest and others around us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we cannot be servants to both the world and its ways, and as servants of the Lord. Indeed, we may try to please and satisfy both, but sooner or later, there will come a time where our actions and deeds will satisfy one and displease the other. For the opposition and the contrasts between both sides are truly great.

Therefore, let us all, beloved and blessed children of God, His beloved people and members of His Church, devote ourselves anew to commit deeds and to embark on actions and works that declare the glory of our Lord, and let us shun our own personal pride and desire for glory and pleasures of the world. Let us discipline ourselves and resist the temptation of this world, that is none other than the lies of the devil.

May Almighty God bless us all, forgive us all our sins and lead us into His eternal glory. May He reunite us all and bring all of us back from all the ends and corners of the world, and gather us just like a shepherd gathering his sheep. May He be with us always and guide us in all of our endeavours. Amen.

Friday, 6 November 2015 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 16 : 1-8

At that time, Jesus told His disciples, “There was a rich man, whose steward was reported to him for fraudulent service. He summoned the steward and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? I want you to render an account of your service, for it is about to be terminated.'”

“The steward thought to himself, ‘What am I to do now? My master will surely dismiss me. I am not strong enough to do hard work, and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I will do : I must make sure that when I am dismissed, there will be people who will welcome me into their homes.'”

“So he called his master’s debtors, one by one. He asked the first debtor, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ The reply was, ‘A hundred jars of oil.’ The steward said, ‘Here is your bill. Sit down quickly and write fifty.'”

“To the second debtor he put the same question, ‘How much do you owe?’ The answer was, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ Then the steward said, ‘Take your bill and write eighty.'”

“The master commended the dishonest steward for his astuteness : for the people of this world are more astute, in dealing with their own kind, than are the people of light.”

Friday, 6 November 2015 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 97 : 1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4

Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

The Lord has shown His salvation, revealing His justice to the nations. He has not forgotten His love nor His faithfulness to Israel.

The farthest ends of the earth all have seen God’s saving power. All you lands, make a joyful noise to the Lord, break into song and sing praise.

Friday, 6 November 2015 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Romans 15 : 14-21

As for me, brothers and sisters, I am convinced that you have goodwill, knowledge and the capacity to advise each other; nevertheless I have written boldly in some parts of this letter to remind you of what you already know.

I do this according to the grace God has given to me when I was sent to the pagan nations. I dedicated myself to the service of the Good News of God as a minister of Christ Jesus, in order to present the non-Jews to God as an agreeable offering consecrated by the Holy Spirit. This service of God is for me a cause of pride in Christ Jesus.

Of course, I would not dare to speak of other things but what Christ Himself has done through me, my words and my works, with miracles and signs, by the power of the Holy Spirit – so that non-Jews may obey the faith. In this way I have extended the Good News to all parts, from Jerusalem to Illyricum.

I have been very careful, however, and I am proud of this, not to preach in places where Christ is already known, and not to build upon foundations laid by others. Let it be as Scripture says : Those not told about Him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.

Thursday, 5 November 2015 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we heard about the important message that we all should take heed of, that we must not judge or condemn others around us, and thinking that we are more worthy, just or righteous as compared to another one beside us. We must not fall into this trap of pride and arrogance, which had brought so many to fall and perish in their own pride and hubris.

Condemning others for their actions and shortcomings, and judging others based on their background, attitude or any other parameters does not bring us any good, but instead damnation and destruction, for it is often that those who judges and condemns the most, are unaware of their own shortcomings, misdeeds and wickedness, and as a result, they too fell the most and they perish in the most ignoble manner.

Yet, this does not mean that we should then just mind our own business and care nothing about the rest and all others who are around us. If we do this, then we too are to be blamed, and now not because of our pride and arrogance, but because of our own refusal to act when it is in our power and ability to bring good and grace to others who are around us.

We are all once lost to the Lord, He Who is our Shepherd, Guide and Master. That is because we preferred to follow our own path, even though knowing that such a path would have led us to our downfall and to suffering. It is through disobedience of men that sin entered into the world, and darkness shrouded this world, so that many of God’s flock, God’s own beloved people, became lost in that encompassing darkness.

And rather than condemning others whom we thought as those who had been lost, let us all help one another, following the examples of our Lord, Who had told us of His love for us all, as our Lord and Shepherd. If He, as our one and only Good Shepherd, went out all the way and gave His very best to look for even one lost sheep, to bring that sheep back from the brink of disaster into a renewed and blessed life, then truly, all of us should also do the same.

There is indeed much rejoicing in heaven, among the angels and the saints for one soul that was lost, and then repented and was found again. That is because the alternative would have been eternal damnation and hell, and forever, that soul will be lost to God, and to all of God’s beloved ones. But if that soul is found, then it will have the chance to receive the fullness of God’s redemption and salvation.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, how is this then relevant to all of us? It is very relevant because all of us are essentially the ones who have been entrusted by our Lord to be shepherds for one another, to keep each other together and to prevent anyone from being lost. If any of us fall into the darkness and into the trap of sin, then truly it is our responsibility and duty to guide one another, just like a shepherds guiding their sheep.

Therefore, while we do not condone the sins and wickedness that others had done, and rightfully, we should censure them for these, but let us not prevent them or discourage them from seeking God’s mercy and salvation through our judgmental attitude or condemnation. Rather, we should try our best to call them to repentance and to change.

Do take note, that we do not subscribe to what is called false mercy, as what some in the Church today propose that we adopt this stance. This means that the sinners and those who have erred cannot be allowed to continue in their sinfulness and wickedness, and we do not tolerate these sins to continue. Rather, we welcome them back, and help guide them on the path of true and genuine repentance, that in the end, the lost sheep truly finds their way back to the Lord, their Shepherd.

May Almighty God be with us in all these endeavours, and may He bless us in all of our works and efforts, and may He gather all of us, His flock, together as one people, into the eternal life and glory He has prepared for us all. Amen.

Thursday, 5 November 2015 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 15 : 1-10

At that time, tax collectors and sinners were seeking the company of Jesus, all of them eager to hear what He had to say. But the Pharisees and the scribes frowned at this, muttering, “This Man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So Jesus told them this parable :

“Who among you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, will not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and seek the lost one till he finds it? And finding it, will he not joyfully carry it home on his shoulders? Then he will call on his friends and neighbours together, and say, ‘Celebrate with me, for I have found my lost sheep!'”

“I tell you, in the same way, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner, than over ninety-nine decent people, who do not need to repent. What woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one, will not light a lamp, and sweep the house in a thorough search, till she finds the lost coin?”

“And finding it, she will call her friends and neighbours, and say, ‘Celebrate with me, for I have found the silver coin I lost!’ I tell you, in the same way, there is rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.”