Tuesday, 17 October 2017 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the Lord Who rebuked the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law because of their behaviour, in how they were so engrossed with the purity of the exterior and maintaining their appearances that they ended up forgetting the purpose of their faith. They focused on the exterior applications of the faith, and all the details that they forgot what it is that they need to do in their lives as followers of God.

In order to give us all some perspective and background on what happened, we must understand how the social class and group of the Pharisees came about. At that time, as the kings of of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah were long gone, and ever since the Jewish people returned from their exile in Babylon, the most influential members of the community were the priests and all those who were devoted in maintaining the laws and customs of the Jews.

They preserved the laws and customs as passed down to them through the many generations of the Israelites ever since the days of Moses, when God first gave the Law to His people. But, as time passed, the laws and customs have lost its true meaning and purpose, as they became things of formality and intertwined with the many worldly concerns and regulations.

And the Pharisees were those who believed that the people of God must live strictly according to those laws, as in the earlier times, many of the people had abandoned the Law and lived immorally, as we can read in the Book of the Maccabees, detailing what happened approximately one hundred and fifty years before the birth of Our Lord Jesus, when many Jews followed the Greek customs and those who obeyed the Lord were persecuted.

While the intention was initially good, but in its implementation, the Pharisees lost the focus of their actions, and they ended up, by the time of Jesus, doing their activities, their prayers and public exposition of their faith, not for the greater glory of God, and neither for the good of the people, but rather, for their own self-aggrandisement and glory, and to be praised by the people for their piety.

Therefore, that was why the Lord was angry at them and rebuked them, because while outwardly they might appear to be good and faithful, yet, in their interior, in their hearts and minds, God did not have a place, for they were filled with pride, with desire and greed for fame, for worldly glory, and all the other things that God told us, we should not have with us.

Let us all reflect on our own lives and actions, and think if we have been truly faithful thus far. Have our faith been greater than that of the Pharisees? Not in terms of the outward expressions, but rather in the greater picture, in the entirety of our faith. If we do not have God at the centre of our lives, and do everything for the sake of God and not for our own self-benefit, or for our own glory, then no matter how much it is that we do, it is useless and meaningless.

Ultimately, all of our words, deeds and actions should be made for the greater glory of God, for the purpose of serving Him and His people. And in this manner, we should learn from the faith and commitment of St. Ignatius of Antioch, the holy saint and martyr whose feast we celebrate today. St. Ignatius of Antioch was the second bishop of Antioch, succeeding St. Peter the Apostle who founded the diocese at Antioch, and was one of the important early Church fathers.

St. Ignatius of Antioch was crucial in his role of developing the early Church structures both in Antioch, within his diocese, as well as beyond. He led the people of God through difficult times, when being Christians equate suffering and challenges from the Roman state. He was arrested by the Roman authorities and was sent to Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire, where he was placed into the Colosseum, facing great beasts.

Yet, through all these suffering and the martyrdom at the hands of the lions and beasts, St. Ignatius of Antioch remained strong in his faith, and rather than surrendering himself and abandoning his faith to God, he remained true to the faith he held, and inspired many others to do the same, despite the persecutions and tortures he faced. God is always first and foremost in his heart and mind.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all devote ourselves anew to the Lord, following in the footsteps of St. Ignatius of Antioch and the other holy saints. May the Lord help us and guide us in our path, by sending His Spirit to empower us and to give us the courage, to remind us that He is truly the Centre of our lives, and that we should do our best to commit ourselves, through our actions, every single days of our lives, to the Lord, our loving God. Amen.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 11 : 37-41

At that time, as Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked Him to have a meal with him. So He went and sat at table. The Pharisee then wondered why Jesus did not wash His hands before the dinner.

But the Lord said to him, “So then, you Pharisees, you clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside yourselves you are full of greed and evil. Fools! He Who made the outside, also made the inside. But according to you, by the mere giving of alms everything is made clean.”

Tuesday, 17 October 2017 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 18 : 2-3, 4-5

The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament proclaims the work of His hands. Day talks it over with day; night hands on the knowledge to night.

No speech, no words, no voice is heard – but the call goes on, throughout the universe, the message is felt to the ends of the earth.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Romans 1 : 16-25

For I am not ashamed at all, of this Good News; it is God’s power, saving those who believe, first, the Jews, and then, the Greeks. This Good News shows us the saving justice of God; a justice that saves, exclusively by faith, as the Scripture says : The upright one shall live by faith.

For the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven, against all ungodliness, and injustice, of those who have silenced the truth by their wicked ways. For everything that could have been known about God, was clear to them : God Himself made it plain. Because His invisible attributes – His everlasting power and divinity – are made visible to reason, by means of His works, since the creation of the world.

So they have no excuse, for they knew God, and did not glorify Him, as was fitting; nor did they give thanks to Him. On the contrary, they lost themselves in their reasoning, and darkness filled their minds. Believing themselves wise, they became foolish : they exchanged the glory of the Immortal God, for the likes of mortal human beings, birds, animals and reptiles. Because of this, God gave them up to their inner cravings; they did shameful things and dishonoured their bodies.

They exchanged God’s truth for a lie; they honoured and worshipped created things, instead of the Creator, to Whom be praise forever. Amen!

Tuesday, 10 October 2017 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the continuation of the discourse from the book of the prophet Jonah, in which today we are focused on the actions of prophet Jonah in Nineveh, when he carried out what the Lord had asked him to do, to proclaim the fated destruction of Nineveh because of their wickedness.

Almost immediately however, the entire city of Nineveh, from its king and all the way to its inhabitants, to the lowest among the slaves, all repented from their sins and showed great remorse for their wickedness, dressing up in sackcloth and ashes, the most visible outward sign of a penitent at that time. Knowing very well their sins and wickedness, they turned away from those before they were to face destruction.

And thus God spared the city of Nineveh, by not carrying out the destruction He had planned out for the city. The people of Nineveh could have ignored the Lord’s words and continued on with their daily business as usual, and they would end up being destroyed. Yet, as we heard, they sided with the Lord and placed themselves on His side.

In the Gospel today, we heard the Lord Jesus Who came to the house of Mary and Martha, the close friends and disciples of Jesus, who were also the sisters of Lazarus that the Lord resurrected from the dead. Mary and Martha welcomed the Lord, but each of them then acted differently. Mary listened attentively to the Lord while Martha was busy preparing the kitchen and ensuring a hospitable welcome for the Lord.

But in her busy activities, Martha forgot the one most important thing that she should have done, and that is to listen to the Lord, to His truths and teachings. She was too preoccupied and busy with her other concerns that she forgot about the Lord, while Mary placed her focus in the right place and time. Martha’s intention might be good, that she wanted to serve the Lord well, but in her hurry and business, she forgot the purpose of her intention.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us reflect on ourselves and our own lives, as we heard these readings from the Scriptures. Many of us Christians in fact have acted in the same way as Martha had done. We are often too preoccupied and too busy with our schedules that we ended up forgetting about God and our obligations to Him. We are distracted by all these worldly concerns that we end up distancing ourselves from Him.

Let us all no longer be hesitant, but clear our minds and put our priorities right. Let us not be distracted by all the sorts of temptations and pressures which are pulling us away from God. Let us remember that the devil and his fallen angels are always active and on the prowl, waiting for us to fall into their clutches, tempting us, pulling at us to abandon the Lord, by the loss of our faith.

May God empower each and everyone of us with faith, that our commitment and devotion to Him will be ever stronger day by day. May the Lord bless us all and remain with us, so that we will draw ever closer to Him, and become as dedicated as Mary, listening intently to the word of God, that we may know what is God’s will for us. Amen.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 10 : 38-42

At that time, as Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He entered a village, and a woman called Martha welcomed Him to her house. She had a sister named Mary, who sat down at the Lord’s feet to listen to His words. Martha, meanwhile, was busy with all the serving, and finally she said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the work? Tell her to help me!”

But the Lord answered, “Martha, Martha, you worry and are troubled about many things, whereas only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Tuesday, 10 October 2017 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 129 : 1-2, 3-4, 7bc-8

Out of the depths I cry to You, o YHVH, o YHVH, hear my voice! Let Your ears pay attention to the voice of my supplication.

If You should mark our evil, o YHVH, who could stand? But with You, is forgiveness, and for that, You are revered.

For with Him, is unfailing love and with Him full deliverance. He will deliver Israel from all its sins.