Thursday, 15 November 2018 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Albert the Great, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture telling us about the love which each and every one of us as Christians ought to have for one another. This is shown in the first reading of today, taken from the Epistle written by St. Paul to Philemon. In that correspondence, St. Paul spoke of the request which he made of Philemon to take good care of Onesimus, his godson.

This happened at the time when St. Paul was already imprisoned for his activities in preaching the Gospel to the people both the Jews and Gentiles alike. He faced much opposition and endured many rejections from his enemies and from those who refused to believe in the message he preached. He was imprisoned together with Onesimus and many other fellow Christians, and it was likely that Onesimus was released earlier than St. Paul from the prison.

Therefore, what happened was that, St. Paul sent Onesimus back to the community where he met him, the community which Philemon also belonged to. He asked Philemon and the community to accept Onesimus back and to take care of him well, without prejudice and with true love, as if Onesimus was St. Paul himself. This was made likely because St. Paul knew that his time was almost up, and he wanted to make sure everything was well taken care of.

It was likely that St. Paul was about to go forth to his last journey to Rome, where he would eventually meet his martyrdom, and therefore, he sent forth Onesimus, that the community might be able to take good care of him in Christian love. And this is indeed, what the Lord had told His people, by the coming of His kingdom into this world. Not by wonderful and miraculous signs, but through concrete building of a thriving and loving community of the people of God.

In the Gospel passage today, the suffering of Christ was foretold by none other than the Lord Himself, Who told the people and His disciples of His coming passion and suffering. He mentioned how He, the Son of Man, would be rejected and cast out, and would be handed over to the Romans to be crucified for the sake of all the people. And similarly, the Lord had reminded His disciples on various occasion, how they too shall suffer as He has suffered.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, there were many of those who opposed the works and efforts of the Lord, who refused to allow the coming of the kingdom of God into our midst. Instead, they trusted more in the providence of worldly powers, goods and abilities. They hardened their hearts and minds against the Lord, and proudly sought to advance their own causes and desires, and in doing so, they failed to realise the potential of the kingdom of God in each one of us.

Today we are called to look once again upon our lives and actions. Have we been truly Christian in our attitudes and interactions with one another? Have we showed love, care and concern for our fellow brethren, especially those who are in need and those who have none to love them? These are the things that we should be doing as Christians, as those who follow the teachings and the examples of Christ, Our Lord and God.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Albert the Great, a truly devoted servant of God and bishop of the Church, who was renowned for his many contributions to the developing and growing Church and its communities in the region now known as Germany. St. Albert the Great was also a member of the Dominican religious order, and wrote very extensively on various matters of the faith. He helped to develop the theology and philosophical teachings of the Church, and his many works inspired many people through the centuries.

At the same time, besides his numerous contributions in the literary and teaching areas of the Church, St. Albert the Great was also remembered for his roles in defusing many conflicts and tensions between various factions of the Church, travelling from places to places, calling the people to righteousness and to abandon their sinful and wrong paths. He devoted himself to the good works of the Church and to the building of Christian communities to the very end.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we should emulate the examples which had been shown by St. Paul and the other disciples of the Lord, and also St. Albert the Great, and the many other holy men and women of God, who have strived to bring God’s kingdom into our midst, to exist in reality through our Church and how its members exist in love with each other and with God.

Let us all embody this faith and belief which we have in God, in our own actions and deeds throughout life. And let us all turn wholeheartedly towards the Lord from now on, being role models for one another in faith, and in how we show our love to our fellow brethren, especially those who have need of our love. May God be with us always, and may He bless us all in our good works of faith. Amen.

Thursday, 15 November 2018 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Albert the Great, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Luke 17 : 20-25

At that time, the Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God was to come. He answered, “The kingdom of God is not like something you can observe, and say of it, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘See, there it is!’ for the kingdom of God is within you.”

And Jesus said to His disciples, “The time is at hand, when you will long to see one of the glorious days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. Then people will tell you, ‘Look there! Look here!’ Do not go with them, do not follow them. As lightning flashes from one end of the sky to the other, so will it be with the Son of Man; but first He must suffer many things, and be rejected by this generation.”

Thursday, 15 November 2018 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Albert the Great, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Psalm 145 : 6c-7, 8-9a, 9bc-10

The Lord is forever faithful; He gives justice to the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free.

The Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord straightens the bent. The Lord loves the virtuous, but He brings to ruin the way of the wicked. The Lord protects the stranger.

The Lord sustains the widow and the orphan. The Lord will reign forever, your God, o Zion, from generation to generation. Alleluia!

Thursday, 15 November 2018 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Albert the Great, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Philemon 7-20

I had great satisfaction and comfort on hearing of your charity, because the hearts of the saints have been cheered by you, brother. Because of this, although in Christ I have the freedom to command what you should do, yet I prefer to request you in love. The one talking is Paul, the old man, now prisoner for Christ. And my request is on behalf of Onesimus, whose father I have become while I was in prison.

This Onesimus has not been helpful to you, but now he will be helpful both to you and to me. In returning him to you, I am sending you my own heart. I would have liked to keep him at my side, to serve me on your behalf while I am in prison for the Gospel, but I did not want to do anything without your agreement, nor impose a good deed upon you without your free consent.

Perhaps Onesimus has been parted from you for a while so that you may have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but better than a slave. For he is very dear brother to me, and he will be even dearer to you. And so, because of our friendship, receive him as if he were I myself.

And if he has caused any harm, or owes you anything, charge it to me. I, Paul, write this and sign it with my own hand : I will pay it…. without further mention of your debt to me, which is you yourself. So, my brother, please do me this favour for the Lord’s sake. Give me this comfort in Christ.

Thursday, 8 November 2018 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the word of God in the Scriptures reminding us of our mission as Christians, as those who have been called and have responded to the truth which the Lord revealed to us through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. We are called to be missionaries to reach out to those who have not yet seen the light of Christ and therefore, still lost to Him.

In the first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Philippi, we listened to the Apostle speaking about the matter of circumcision and true circumcision in Christ. This must be understood in the context of the historical practices of the time, when circumcision was something that became a distinctive mark of being a member of the people of Israel.

Ever since the time of the Covenant established between God and Israel through Moses, all of the Israelites’ males have to be circumcised, all the newborn males ever since then had to be circumcised on the eighth day after they were born, as the sign of the Covenant which they make with God. If someone was not circumcised, that person was considered to be not an Israelite, and therefore a pagan and unbeliever.

The Covenant of God was considered as something that was exclusive, and no other people could be saved outside the Covenant, meaning if someone was not circumcised and did not believe in YHVH, the God of Israel, they were condemned and doomed, as those who have no part in the salvation which was thought to belong to the Israelites alone. But this is what St. Paul wanted to overturn, by saying that salvation belongs to all the children of God.

St. Paul was bringing with him the New Covenant which Christ has made with His people, with all mankind, through the loving sacrifice that He made on the cross. This New Covenant supersedes the old Covenant, and the Lord Himself revealed what being His followers and His disciples mean, and that is no longer the exclusive attitude and mentality of the old faith, but the new and inclusive nature of the new Covenant.

This meant that the old physical circumcision no longer serves its purpose as a sign to the nation of those who have been chosen by God. Instead, as St. Paul mentioned, the nobler and better spiritual circumcision of our heart and mind, is what the Lord expects from each and every one of us. And this means that as Christians, we cannot live in ways that are not in accordance to what the Lord wants us to do with our lives.

First of all, to be Christians, we must love, and love generously and tenderly. We cannot act in ways that are egoistic, individualistic, selfish and filled with jealousy and hatred, with exclusivist attitudes. Instead, we should reflect on the parables that the Lord Jesus taught to the people in our Gospel passage today. Through those parables, the parable of the lost sheep and the parable of the lost coin, the Lord wants us to know that we must reach out to those who are lost, who are in still darkness and those who have not yet received the truth of God and His salvation.

The Lord mentioned how a shepherd who had a hundred sheep lost one of his sheep, which wandered off into the wilderness. And the shepherd went forth in search of the lost sheep until he found it and rejoiced with the discovery of the lost one. The same went with the lost coin, and the owner of the coin rejoiced greatly when the lost coin was discovered. That is exactly the attitude that all of us Christians must have.

In our society today, we must be filled with love, and all of our actions must stem forth from our love, care and concern for those who in our society, are the most needy, the weakest, and the most ignorant of God’s truth. And we all need to reach out to them, to help them and to nourish them, in the case of those who are poor and suffering, materially, and for those who have not known God or refused to believe in His truth, spiritually.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all turn towards God and commit ourselves anew to Him, and serve Him with ever greater commitment, day after day, by loving our fellow men, and by reaching out to those who still live in the darkness of ignorance of the faith and salvation in God, through our own actions, showing what being a Christian is, through our direct witnessing, in our actions and deeds.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to guide us in our journey, day after day, that we may be ever more faithful to Him, and be ever more devoted, be truly and spiritually circumcised and dedicated to Him in our hearts, minds and in our whole being. May God bless us all and may He bless all of our good works and endeavours. Amen.

Thursday, 8 November 2018 : 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 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.”

Thursday, 8 November 2018 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 104 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7

Sing to the Lord, sing His praise, proclaim all His wondrous deeds. Glory in His holy Name; let those who seek the Lord rejoice.

Look to the Lord and be strong; seek His face always. Remember His wonderful works, His miracles and His judgments.

You descendants of His servant Abraham, you sons of Jacob, His chosen ones! He is the Lord our God; His judgments reach the whole world.