Thursday, 19 July 2018 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the prophet Isaiah mentioning both prayer to God and also the revelation of God’s promises in the book he wrote, which recounted what happened at that time during the life of the prophet. The prophet Isaiah lived during a time of uncertainty for the people of Israel, for at that time, the northern kingdom of Israel, the ten tribes of Jacob, had just been conquered by the Assyrians.

The Assyrians destroyed the Israelite kingdom and carried off most of its people into exile in faraway lands. And an Assyrian army led by its king also came up to Jerusalem, besieging it and almost captured it, if not for the great intervention by God, Who destroyed most of the Assyrian army through His Angel. In that event, what we heard in the passage from the prophet Isaiah’s book came to reality. When the people of God was in need of help and assistance, God came to their help and answered their needs.

That was the promise that the Lord gave to His people, that should they turn towards Him, filled with remorse for their sins and wickedness, and with renewed zeal and commitment to live their lives in accordance to His laws, then He would once again bless them and be with them, rejuvenating them and making them a great nation and a prosperous people once again. He would be their God and they would be His people once again.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we should also listen to the words of the Lord in the Gospel passage today, when He told the people, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” The Lord showed His reassurance for us, telling us that it is in Him alone that we can find complete and total happiness, joy and satisfaction. The Lord alone can provide this satisfaction and nothing else in this world can do the same.

The Lord has shown us this great favour, and He wants us all to know of His love and mercy, the compassion which He shows to all those who sincerely seek His forgiveness and those who want to be reconciled to Him. He does not turn away those who are in need of His help, and He always makes Himself available to those who come seeking His forgiveness. This is our loving God, and this is just how much He loves all of us.

But at the same time, we also have to remember that as mentioned in the Gospel today, that the yoke and burden of the Lord is light, lighter than that of the world. This goes on to say that to be a follower and disciple of the Lord, as Christians, we must be ready to face trials, challenges and difficulties, and we cannot expect to be just bystanders or let the Lord to do everything for us while we just enjoy the fruits of His labour.

And often, we will find that the burden of the Lord, the crosses that we have to bear, are indeed heavy, heavier and less appealing than the burdens and the yoke that the world tempts us with. Why is that so? That is because, while the burdens of the world, of sin and its temptations are deceiving in their appearance, so that we fall for its sweet falsehoods and later on suffer the eternal consequences and sufferings, the Lord’s cross is something painful but rewarding in time to come.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, the choice is on our hands. The Lord has given us the free will to choose which path we want to take. But we must very well know the consequence of our choice. Do we want to enjoy our lives now and suffer later for eternity because we chose the wrong path? Or do we rather suffer now for a while, but through our perseverance gain the eternal glory from God?

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to guide us in our path, so that in all the things we do, we will seek not the glory of the world, which is temporary, just as the mighty Assyrians was utterly humiliated and defeated by God. Instead, let us go forth, glorifying the Lord by our lives, as mentioned in every conclusion and dismissal of the Holy Mass.

Let us go forth with courage and faith, knowing that God is always with us, and that with Him alone, lies true and eternal happiness. May God bless us all and our endeavours. Amen.

Thursday, 19 July 2018 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 11 : 28-30

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest. For My yoke is easy; and My burden is light.”

Thursday, 19 July 2018 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 101 : 13-14ab and 15, 16-18, 19-21

But You, o YHVH, You sit forever; Your Name endures through all generations. Arise, have mercy on Zion. For Your servants cherish her stones, and are moved to pity by her dust.

O YHVH, the nations will revere Your Name, and the kings of the earth Your glory, when YHVH will rebuild Zion and appear in all His splendour. For He will answer the prayer of the needy and will not despise their plea.

Let this be written for future ages, “YHVH will be praised by a people He will form.” From His holy height in heaven, YHVH has looked on the earth to hear the groaning of the prisoners, and free those condemned to death.

Thursday, 19 July 2018 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Isaiah 26 : 7-9, 12, 16-19

Let the righteous walk in righteousness. You make smooth the path of the just, and we only seek the way of Your laws, o YHVH. Your Name and Your memory are the desire of our hearts. My soul yearns for You in the night; for You my spirit keeps vigil. When Your judgments come to earth, the world’s inhabitants learn to be upright.

YHVH, please give us peace; for all that we accomplish is Your work. For they sought You in distress, they cried out to You in the time of their punishment. As a woman in travail moans and writhes in pain, so are we now in Your presence. We conceived, we had labour pains, but we gave birth to the wind. We have not brought salvation to the land; the inhabitants of a new world have not been born.

Your dead will live! Their corpses will rise! Awake and sing, you who lie in the dust! For you will grow like plants drenched with the morning dew, and the earth will bring forth its dead spirits.

Thursday, 12 July 2018 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are all yet again reminded of the great love and kindness which God has shown each and every one of us, His beloved ones. This He has done despite our constant disobedience and rebellion, which we have done regardless of the love God has shown us in so many situations and circumstances.

In the Old Testament, we can see how the people of Israel, having received so great a bounty and grace from God, having been rescued from slavery in Egypt, being protected and provided by God throughout their long journey in the desert, and having God as their Guide and Lord for so many years, and yet, they still betrayed Him and abandoned Him for other, false gods and idols.

But God never gave up on His people. Instead, He constantly and persistently sent to His people, prophets after prophets, and messengers after messengers, all with the same message, that is, repent and turn away from sin, and turn your attention to the Lord, your God, and follow Him with all of your hearts.

To that end, as St. John wrote in his Gospel, the famous quote, ‘For God so loved the world, that He sent us all His only Begotten Son, that through Him, all may be saved and have life in them’, that is why He sent us all Jesus Christ, His Son, into our midst, to reconcile us all with Him and to gather us all, His people, who have been scattered and lost due to our sins.

Yet as we have seen from what the Lord told His disciples in today’s Gospel passage and based on what we have known from the life and experiences of Our Lord, we see the same opposition which the Lord and His disciples had to face, in the midst of their good and dedicated work for the sake of the salvation of the very people who have rejected Him.

But that said, although there were those who rejected Him, there were also many more who listened to the Lord and accepted Him as their Lord and Saviour. That is the hope which the Lord wanted to bring to the world, that more and more will come to believe in His truth, and through reconciliation with God, find a new existence in Him and be worthy to receive the eternal grace and life from God.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, what each and every one of us as Christians must realise is that we are called by God to be the instruments through which He will perform His good works among His people, just as He had once called and sent out His disciples, especially the Twelve Apostles in their mission to bring the Good News to all the people of all nations.

Have we been living as ambassadors and messengers of the Lord as we are called to be? Have we lived our lives in accordance with God’s ways and followed the examples that He had shown us? Or have we instead scandalised our faith by our lack of action and genuine faith, and by our double standards in life, professing to believe in God on one hand, but then doing what is against God’s ways and abhorrent in His sight on the other?

Let us all today reflect on our way of life thus far, and discern in what manner we can be ever more faithful and committed to the Lord, by our every actions in life. May the Lord be with us, and may He strengthen each and every one of us in our faith, so that we may be able to find our way to Him, and that we can dedicate ourselves ever more to His cause, day after day. Amen.

Thursday, 12 July 2018 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 10 : 7-15

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Go, and proclaim this message : The kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, bring the dead back to life, cleanse the lepers, and drive out demons. Freely have you received, freely give. Do not carry any gold or silver or money in your purses. Do not take a travelling bag, or an extra shirt, or sandals, or a walking stick : workers deserve to be compensated.”

“When you come to a town or a village, look for a worthy person, and stay there until you leave. When you enter the house, wish it peace. If the people are worthy people, your peace will rest on them; if they are not worthy people, your blessing will come back to you.”

“And if you are not welcomed, and your words are not listened to, leave that house or that town, and shake the dust off your feet. I assure you, it will go easier for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment, than it will for the people of that town.”

Thursday, 12 July 2018 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 79 : 2ac and 3bc, 15-16

Listen, o Shepherd of Israel, You, Who sit enthroned between the Cherubim. Stir up Your might and come to save us.

Turn again, o YHVH of hosts, look down from heaven and see; care for this vine, and protect the stock Your hand has planted.