Tuesday, 27 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard from the Scriptures a reminder for each and every one of us to be truly faithful to God and to be righteous in our way of life and deeds, so that we are truly worthy of being Christians, as God’s chosen and beloved people. We have heard the story of Moses from our first reading today, proclaiming God’s love for His people, and all the obligations and commitment that they all need to make as part of the Covenant which God has lovingly made with them, as they were chosen and affirmed as God’s precious ones. And then we also heard the words of the Lord Jesus explaining the meaning of His parable of the weeds which I will elaborate a bit more later on.

In our first reading, we heard of the moment when Moses before the assembled people of Israel as they gathered before the Lord at the Holy Tent, entered the Tent to meet with God, Whose Presence came to reside within the Holy Tent, and Moses came to see God face to face, a privilege which few would ever have. God came to dwell among His people and Moses came to be the one to bear God’s will and commandments, words and advice to His people, a people who have often been wayward and disobedient, who preferred to follow their own paths rather than to follow the Lord and His Law.

We heard Moses then supplicating on behalf of the entire people, proclaiming the regret the people had for their sins, and sought God to be merciful and to forgive the people all of their sinful and wayward actions, which had angered Him and made them to be punished for their intransigence. The whole people were with Moses and worshipped the Lord, all bowing down themselves before Him, after what they had done in past events, as earlier in the week we have heard how the Israelites betrayed the Lord for the golden calf idol, abandoned His Covenant and walked in the path of sin. It was not just once that they did this, but many times, repeatedly over the years, again and again.

Yet, throughout all of that, God was most patient in His love and mercy for His people, as while He did admonish them and punish them to keep them in check and to remind them of what they ought to be doing as God’s chosen ones, He sent them numerous prophets and messengers to guide them and lead them down the right path, prophets such as Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos among many others. That God was so patient in dealing with His people and leading them to Him despite their rebellious and wayward attitude revealed just how beloved and fortunate all of us have been.

That is why we have to appreciate our blessings and the opportunities we have been given, all these while. The Lord Himself spoke to His disciples, telling them all the meaning of His parable of the wheat and the weeds, as that parable spoke of an enemy who sowed weeds among the wheat, growing together and cannot be separated until the day of harvest. It is a reminder for us all that we have to persevere and resist the temptations to sin, the pressure to conform to worldly desires and wickedness, the allures of evils and sins all around us.

Those things are the ‘weeds’ that are part of our lives and which often cannot be avoided as we live our lives daily. There will be lots of times when we will feel surrounded and even helpless in the face of all the opposition, temptations and evils, and that we may be discouraged and disheartened, weakened and have that wish to give up the struggle. However, the Lord wanted to reassure us all that He is with us, and He dwells among us, being with us, journeying with us. We are never alone throughout the journey, and just as He had been with the Israelites through thick and thin, through hardships and good times, He is also with us too.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all turn towards the Lord and see in Him a great love and compassion which He has shown to each and every one of us, out of the desire to be reconciled and reunited with us. And therefore, are we all willing to live our lives from now on in a more worthy manner, filled with faith and filled with ever greater love for God? Are we willing to let God guide us and show us the way going forward that we will not end up on the wrong path, and that we may be strengthened and encouraged to keep faithfully the way of the Lord?

Let us all discern these things carefully and consider how we can live our lives in a more Christ-like manner, as genuine and faithful Christians in all things. Let us all turn towards the Lord with renewed faith and with zeal, doing whatever we can, even in our smallest ways, to do the will of God and to be exemplary as best as we can in each and every moments of our lives and be inspiration to one another to remain truly faithful to God. May the Lord be with us all and may He give us the strength and courage to remain faithful at all times. May God bless us all, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 27 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 13 : 36-43

At that time, Jesus sent the crowds away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” Jesus answered them, “The One Who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world; the good seed are the people of the kingdom; the weeds are those who follow the evil one. The enemy who sows the weeds is the devil; the harvest is the end of time, and the workers are the Angels.”

“Just as the weeds are pulled up and burnt in the fire, so will it be at the end of time. The Son of Man will send His Angels, and they will weed out of His kingdom all that is scandalous and all who do evil. And these will be thrown into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the just will shine, like the sun, in the kingdom of their Father. If you have ears, then hear.”

Tuesday, 27 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 102 : 6-7, 8-9, 10-11, 12-13

YHVH restores justice and secures the rights of the oppressed. He has made known His ways to Moses; and His deeds, to the people of Israel.

YHVH is gracious and merciful, abounding in love and slow to anger; He will not always scold nor will He be angry forever.

He does not treat us according to our sins, nor does He punish us as we deserve. As the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His love for those fearing Him.

As far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove from us our sins. As a father has compassion on his children, so YHVH pities those who fear Him.

Tuesday, 27 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Exodus 33 : 7-11 and Exodus 34 : 5b-9, 28

Moses then took the Tent and pitched it for himself outside the camp, at a distance from it, and called it the Tent of Meeting. Whoever sought YHVH would go out to the Tent of Meeting outside the camp. And when Moses went to the Tent all the people would stand, each one at the entrance to his tent and keep looking towards Moses until he entered the Tent.

Now, as soon as Moses entered the Tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and remain at the entrance to the Tent, while YHVH spoke with Moses. When all the people saw the pillar of cloud at the entrance to the Tent, they would arise and worship, each one at the entrance to his own tent. Then YHVH would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his neighbour, and then Moses would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua, son of Nun, would not leave the Tent.

And Moses called on the Name of YHVH. Then YHVH passed in front of him and cried out, “YHVH, YHVH is a God full of pity and mercy, slow to anger and abounding in truth and loving kindness. He shows loving kindness to the thousandth generation and forgives wickedness, rebellion and sin; yet He does not leave the guilty without punishment, even punishing the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.”

Moses hastened to bow down to the ground and worshipped. He then said, “If You really look kindly on me, my Lord, please come and walk in our midst and even though we are a stiff-necked people, pardon our wickedness and our sin and make us Yours.”

Moses remained there with YHVH forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. He wrote on the tablets the words of the Covenant – the Ten Commandments.

Tuesday, 20 July 2021 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Apollinaris, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are called to reflect on our faith in the Lord and what it means to be Christians, as those whom God had called and chosen to be His own people. He has called us to walk in His path and to trust in Him, and as long as we are faithful, we have nothing to fear, for God Himself will always be by our side. If God has always been faithful even when we have been unfaithful, then how much more blessed we shall be then, if we are faithful?

In our first reading today, we heard the moment when the Lord delivered His people, the people of Israel, from the hands of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh, as He led them through the Red Sea, safe and sound, walking on the dry seabed as He opened the sea before them. And we heard from the Book of Exodus today, the moment of the final triumph as the Lord delivered the Egyptian chariots and armies into the sea, crushing them before Him.

The sea engulfed and destroyed all those who had pursued the Israelites across the sea, and finally the people of Israel were truly free, as they would no longer be under the tyranny or rule of the Egyptians and the Pharaoh. The Lord Who loved them and had compassion on them had shown them the undeniable truth and proof of His enduring and ever generous love for them. He rescued them from their great sufferings and restored hope to them.

Through this, all of us are yet again reminded of all the great and wonderful things that the Lord had done for our sake. Just as He has blessed and taken good care of the Israelites, thus, He has done the same for us, and will continue to do the same for us. However, it is we ourselves who often disobey Him and disregard Him, ignoring Him and preferring to follow our own paths rather than to trust in the Lord and His path. And in this day’s Gospel passage, we heard the Lord reminding all of us that those who follow the Lord and obey His will, they are all beloved and blessed by God, as those considered to be His own brothers and sisters, as intimate part of the family of the faithful.

All of us are therefore reminded of the need for us all to have faith in the Lord and to walk courageously and faithfully in His path, remembering all that He had done for the sake of His beloved people. We have to keep this faith alive in us, and grow ever stronger in our commitment to the Lord, and be role models for one another in how we are living our lives so that we may help more and more people to turn towards the Lord with renewed faith. Let us all not be easily swayed by doubt or fear, or by any other temptations that often prevented us from truly finding our way to the Lord.

Today, we also celebrate the feast of St. Apollinaris, a famous bishop and martyr of the faith, who was the Bishop of Ravenna in today’s Italy. According to Church tradition, he was made the Bishop of Ravenna by none other than St. Peter himself, the Bishop of Rome and first Pope. St. Apollinaris of Ravenna was appointed as the shepherd of the growing flock of the faithful in Ravenna, caring for their spiritual well-being and needs, and leading them through the challenging times of the earliest days of the Church there. St. Apollinaris laboured hard for the sake of the Lord and His Church, establishing firm foundation for the Church and the population of Christians under his care grew rapidly.

It was told that the miracles he performed during his ministry inspired many to turn towards the Lord and became Christians. This however also led to fierce opposition by the pagans who viewed the growth in the Christian faith and Church as great threat to themselves. As such, St. Apollinaris and his flock were persecuted, with the bishop himself attacked and made to suffer, enduring difficult trials and challenges, suffering from wounds and torture, sent into exile and prison. Yet, St. Apollinaris endured all these obstacles and strove to do his best to remain firmly faithful to the Lord.

Through to his eventual martyrdom, St. Apollinaris inspired many Christians that came after him, and many others who chose to turn to the Lord because of his examples, which strengthened and encouraged many other Christians to do the same, and become beacons of God’s light among the people of this world. How about us then, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we not inspired in the same way as well? Are we not ashamed that while so many others had been inspired and moved by the Lord’s love and by the faith showed from His faithful servants, yet we are still unfaithful and lacking in commitment and love for the Lord?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore turn towards the Lord with renewed vigour and zeal, and rediscover that love and faith that we ought to have in the Lord, and for the Lord. May the Lord bless us all and may He guide us all in our journey, efforts and good endeavours that we may ever be closer to God and conform ever more to the path that He has set before us all. May God be with us all, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 20 July 2021 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Apollinaris, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Matthew 12 : 46-50

At that time, while Jesus was talking to the people, His mother and His brothers wanted to speak to Him, and they waited outside. So someone said to Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside; they want to speak with You.”

Jesus answered, “Who is My mother? Who are My brothers?” Then He pointed to His disciples and said, “Look! Here are My mother and My brothers. Whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”

Tuesday, 20 July 2021 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Apollinaris, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Exodus 15 : 8-9, 10 and 12, 17

At the blast of Your nostrils the waters piled up, the surging waters stood firm in a heap; the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea. The enemy said, “I will give chase and overtake, I will divide the spoil and make a feast of it. I shall draw my sword and my hand will destroy them.”

A breath of Yours and the sea covered them; they sank like lead in the mighty waters. You stretched out Your right hand; the earth swallowed them.

You will bring them in and plant them on the mountain of Your inheritance, the place You chose to dwell in, o YHVH, the sanctuary prepared by Your hands.

Tuesday, 20 July 2021 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Apollinaris, Bishop and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Exodus 14 : 21 – Exodus 15 : 1

Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. At daybreak the sea returned to its place. As the Egyptians tried to flee, YHVH swept them into the sea. The waters flowed back and engulfed the chariots and horsemen of the whole army of Pharaoh that had followed Israel into the sea. Not one of them escaped. As for the Israelites they went forward on dry ground in the middle of the sea, the waters forming a wall on their right and their left.

On that day YHVH delivered Israel from the power of the Egyptians and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the seashore. They understood what wonders YHVH had done for them against Egypt, and the people feared YHVH. They believed in YHVH and in Moses, His servant. Then Moses and the people sang this song to YHVH : “I will sing to YHVH, the Glorious One, horse and rider He has thrown into the sea.”

Tuesday, 13 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture we are all reminded of the salvation which God had brought upon His people, as He sent to them deliverers to bring His beloved ones out of their troubles and gather them back into His loving presence and grace. And yet, many did not believe in Him and His servants, and still did not acknowledge Him.

In our first reading today, we heard the story from the Book of Exodus on the coming of the Lord’s promised deliverance to His people through Moses, the one ‘born and raised from the water’ as per his name, as he was rescued from the fated destruction of all the male children of the Israelites. At that time, the Pharaoh or king of Egypt declared that all the male newborn infants of the Israelites were to be killed to prevent the continued growth and spread of the Israelites in the land of Egypt.

The Israelites had been living in Egypt for a few centuries since the days of Jacob and Joseph, and under the reign of the new Pharaoh, they were enslaved and treated horribly, used as forced labour intended to eradicate and subjugate them to the will and desire of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh. But the Lord never forgot about His people and did not abandon them. He remained with them and journeyed with them, and promised them deliverance which He fulfilled through Moses, whose birth and early life was mentioned today.

The Lord sent Moses to His people, and saved him from the waters of the River Nile so that he might be the one to shepherd all of Israel out of the land of their misery and enslavement, into the land of prosperity and true joy as promised by the Lord. God has done this so that He can bring the people all into the fulfilment of the long awaited promise He had made, to their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And yet, they would not welcome him at first, and refused to listen to him. Moses himself also fled to the land of Midian after he killed an Egyptian while protecting one of the Israelites.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard about the Lord speaking up against the cities of the region of Galilee, the cities of Capernaum, Chorazin and Bethsaida. These were the places where the Lord performed many of His works, miracles and wonders, and where He taught in their synagogues and places of gathering. Why did the Lord speak out with such anger against those cities as we heard in our Gospel passage today? That is because they have all seen so many of God’s miracles and wonders, heard His truth and been shown His love and compassion, and yet, still refused to believe and obey Him.

Instead, many among those people living in those cities still doubted and questioned Him, together with members of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who followed Him everywhere and raised doubts against Him among the people. All these amounted to mankind’s stubborn refusal to listen to the truth of the Lord despite the very obvious truth and the love which He has shown before them through Christ. God’s love has been manifested so clearly in the flesh before all of us, and yet, many of us still refused to believe in Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all reminded therefore to listen to the Lord and put our trust in Him. We should be faithful to Him and wholeheartedly commit ourselves to His cause. We can also follow the inspiring examples set by our holy predecessors, the saints and martyrs of the Church. Today in particular we celebrate the memory of St. Henry, a faithful servant of the Lord, also known as Henry II, the Holy Roman Emperor. He was a righteous and just ruler, concerned most with the well-being of his subjects and people, and was committed to the expansion and development of the Church throughout Christendom.

St. Henry spent a lot of time managing his realm with great wisdom and care, and cultivating good relationship between the Church and the state, and he spent a lot of effort improving both the physical and spiritual well-being of his people. For all of these wise and faithful rule as the most powerful ruler of Christendom, and for his faithful dedication and great personal piety, he was the only Holy Roman Emperor to be declared a saint of the Church.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we should also be inspired by the good examples set by St. Henry, his faithfulness and commitment to the Lord, that in all things, we shall always endeavour to be good and faithful to the Lord. Let us all not be easily swayed by worldly temptations and pressures, and instead, strive to walk ever more faithfully in the Lord’s path and serve Him with all of our might and strength, at all times. May the Lord be with us all, and may He strengthen us with the courage and faith to be His good disciples, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 13 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Matthew 11 : 20-24

At that time, Jesus began to denounce the cities in which He had performed most of His miracles, because the people there did not change their ways.

“Alas for you Chorazin and Bethsaida! If the miracles worked in you had taken place in Tyre and Sidon, the people there would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I assure you, for Tyre and Sidon; it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.”

“And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to heaven? You will be thrown down to the place of the dead! For if the miracles which were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would still be there today! But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”