Wednesday, 20 October 2021 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Sacred Scriptures, all of us are called as Christians to pay attention to our lives and how we live them. We are all reminded not to give in to the temptations of the world and the pressure to commit sin against God in whatever forms they may be, and we have to be always vigilant in ensuring that in all things we do in life, we will always strive to be exemplary in faith, in our every words, deeds and actions.

In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Rome, St. Paul exhorted the faithful to distance themselves from sin and all those things that could lead them to sin, reminding them how God had brought them out of the slavery of sin, liberated them and made them free. God had claimed them as His own people and made them to be His own children. Yet, many of them had not yet fully dedicated themselves to God and still allowed the corruptions of the world to affect and influence them.

That is why, St. Paul presented to them the reality, that if they were to choose sin over God and His grace, then they are heading towards death and destruction, while if they choose to walk with God in the path that He has shown them, then they shall inherit His rich inheritance and receive the fullness of His grace and promises. But they must therefore not allow the temptations of sin to distract and mislead them down the wrong path, which will end up bringing them towards the path of destruction and damnation.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard the Lord speaking to His disciples using the parable of stewards, as He related to them the story of a master who entrusted his household to a steward that was empowered and put in charge of the properties while the master was away. Then He told them how a good and responsible steward would be dutiful in discharging his duties and not be idle or complacent, while the lazy and unfaithful steward would squander away his time and even abuse his authority and power for his own benefits.

Then the Lord also spoke of how the master could suddenly just return unannounced, and He told His disciples how terrible it would be for the lazy steward to be caught unprepared and unaware, in the midst of misusing and wasting his talents and time for his own selfish purposes. And then on the other hand, how blessed it would be for the steward who is found to be hardworking and committed to his work by the master when he suddenly returns, as this one would be blessed and entrusted with even more, as is his just reward for his efforts.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to these words from the Scriptures, all of us are therefore reminded to be vigilant and ready in living our lives with faith at all times. We must not allow ourselves to be lulled and caught unprepared by the coming of the day of reckoning, but must always be ready to live our lives to the fullest and as faithful and dedicated Christians at all times. We have to exercise prudent judgment in deciding our course of action in life from now on, and why is that so? That is because like the stewards in our Lord’s parable, we have been entrusted this world as its stewards.

Let us all discern carefully our path in life and see what we can do in order to live our lives ever more worthily as Christians, as those whom God had called to be His own and to follow Him in the path that He has shown us. God has given us the opportunities and the talents, the capacity to do what we ought to be doing in serving His cause, and now it is really up to us to pick up our crosses and answer to His call, and to follow Him wholeheartedly, that we may be inspiration to one another in how we live our lives. We should do our best to commit ourselves to this mission entrusted to us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, may the Lord continue to guide us and be with us throughout our journey in life. May He constantly strengthen us and empower us all to live ever courageously in His presence, and to walk always in His path, not swayed and tempted by sin and by the pressures and allures of desire in our hearts. May God bless our many good works and efforts, in all things, and may He lead us into His loving presence. Amen.

Wednesday, 20 October 2021 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 12 : 39-48

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Pay attention to this : If the master of the house had known at what time the thief would come, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man will come at an hour you do not expect.”

Peter said, “Lord, did You tell this parable only for us, or for everyone?” And the Lord replied, “Imagine, then, the wise and faithful steward, whom the master sets over his other servants, to give them wheat at the proper time. Fortunate is this servant if his master, on coming home, finds him doing his work. Truly, I say to you, the master will put him in charge of all his property.”

“But it may be that the steward thinks, ‘My lord delays in coming,’ and he begins to abuse the male servants and the servant girls, eating and drinking and getting drunk. Then the master will come on a day he does not expect, and at an hour he does not know. He will cut him off, and send him to the same fate as the unfaithful.”

“The servant who knew his master’s will, but did not prepare and do what his master wanted, will be soundly beaten; but the one who does unconsciously what deserves punishment, shall receive fewer blows. Much will be required of the one who has been given much, and more will be asked of the one who has been entrusted with more.”

Wednesday, 20 October 2021 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 123 : 1-3, 4-6, 7-8

Had not YHVH been on our side – let Israel say – had not YHVH been on our side, when people rose up against us, then, they would have swallowed us alive; such was their anger against us.

A bit more, and the flood would have engulfed us; the torrent would have swept over us; the raging waters would have swept us away. Blessed be YHVH, Who did not let us be devoured.

Like a bird, our soul escaped from the snare of the fowler; the snare was broken and we were freed. Our help is in the Name of YHVH, Who made heaven and earth.

Wednesday, 20 October 2021 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Romans 6 : 12-18

Do not allow sin any control over your mortal bodies; do not submit yourselves to its evil inclinations, and do not give your members over to sin, as instruments to do evil. On the contrary, offer yourselves, as persons returned from death to life, and let the members of your body be as holy instruments, at the service of God. Sin will not lord it over you again, for you are not under the Law, but under grace.

I ask again : are we to sin because we are not under the Law, but under grace? Certainly not. If you have given yourselves up to someone as his slave, you are to obey the one who commands you, are you not? Now, with sin, you go to death, and by accepting faith, you go the right way.

Let us give thanks to God, for, after having sin as your master, you have been given to another, that is, to the doctrine of faith, to which you listen willingly. And being free from sin, you began to serve true righteousness.

Wednesday, 13 October 2021 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all called to reflect on them and realise that there are so much that each and every one of us can do to remain faithful to God. All of us are called to focus on the Lord and turn towards Him with sincere love and devotion, and not just showing empty and meaningless faith. This is what our Scripture passages today have been telling us, that to be good Christians, we must not do what many of the people at that time had done.

For at that time, as the Christian faith began to spread across the Mediterranean and throughout the world, more and more Gentiles or the non-Jewish people such as the Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, Africans, Persians and many others who came to believe in the Lord and His truth, and gave themselves to be baptised by the Apostles, the many missionaries and messengers that had been sent by God to those people to spread the Good News of God’s salvation and His truth and love to them.

However, there were also many Jews who converted to the faith, in Jerusalem and Judea, as well as in the various diaspora communities around the world. And in various occasions, some of those Jewish Christians brought with them the same opinion and view of the Pharisees and the elders who were adopting a very hardline approach in the interpretation, application and enforcement of the Law of God which had been revealed through Moses. They advocated for the wholesome adoption of the entire Judaic traditions and customs, many of which were excessive and inappropriate additions accumulated over the centuries of its practices.

To apply such a rigid and harsh application of the Jewish customs and practices would be exceedingly difficult for the Gentiles who have converted to Christianity, as there were quite a few cultural practices of the Jewish people which were not acceptable or even frowned upon and disliked by the Romans and the Greeks. Therefore, St. Paul worked hard together with the other Apostles and leaders of the Church to standardise the approach of the Christian faith and practices, in which they all agreed at the First Council of Jerusalem not to enforce the excesses of Judaic laws on all Christians, and less still on the Gentile converts.

The Gospel passage today echoed this same sentiment as we heard how the Lord strongly rebuked the members of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who had corrupted and misused the Law for their own purposes and benefits, and as hypocrites who claimed to believe in God and yet in their hearts and minds, God was not the primary focus and emphasis of their lives. Instead, it was their pride, ego and ambition that drove them forward in life, and as the main impetus behind their preoccupation and obsession with their very strict version of the Law.

The Lord did not mince His words and spoke plainly, as the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law consistently tried to oppose Him and made His works difficult, claiming to be on the side of orthodoxy and faithful teachings, and claiming to be better and more pious, and yet, behind all of that facade was that of incredible hypocrisy and stubbornness, as they continued to harden their hearts and minds against the Lord and His truth. They acted so also because they were jealous of the Lord, and this proved that much of their actions were based on self-serving and selfish desires for power and influence in the world.

That is why He spoke regarding this matter, and His servant, St. Paul the Apostle also echoed the same message to all of us Christians, that we must avoid this kind of selfish attitude and learn to be more genuine in our faith, and distance ourselves from the many temptations of worldly power and glory, resisting the temptations of our desires and the other things that often lead us to our downfall, by luring us away from the true path towards the Lord. We must not indulge in self-serving and selfish attitudes, but must learn to be humble to listen to God and allow Him to lead us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore today, let us all pray that the Lord will continue to watch over us and guide us, helping us to remain firm in our faith. Let us also pray that we will always grow ever stronger in our love for Him, and let us help one another in being faithful to God rather than to condemn or judge one another or thinking that we are in any way better than others or more deserving of God’s salvation. May God bless each and every one of us, now and always. Amen.

Wednesday, 13 October 2021 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 11 : 42-46

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “A curse is on you, Pharisees! To the Temple you give a tenth of all, including mint and rue and other herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. These ought to be practiced, without neglecting the other obligations.”

“A curse is on you, Pharisees, for you love the best seats in the synagogues and to be greeted in the marketplace. A curse is on you, for you are like tombstones of the dead which can hardly be seen; people do not notice them, and make themselves unclean by stepping on them.”

Then a teacher of the Law spoke up and said, “Master, when You speak like this, You insult us, too.” And Jesus answered, “A curse is on you also, teachers of the Law. For you prepare unbearable burdens and load them on the people, while you yourselves do not move a finger to help them.”

Wednesday, 13 October 2021 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 61 : 2-3, 6-7, 9

My soul finds rest in God alone; from Him, comes my salvation. He alone, is my rock and salvation; with Him as my stronghold, I shall not be overcome.

Find rest in God alone, o my soul; from Him, comes my hope. He alone, is my rock and my salvation; with Him as my stronghold, I shall not be overcome.

Trust in Him at all times, my people; pour out your hearts before Him; God is our refuge.

Wednesday, 13 October 2021 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Romans 2 : 1-11

Therefore, you have no excuse, whoever you are, if you are able to judge others. For, in judging your neighbour, you condemn yourself, for you practice what you are judging. We know, that the condemnation of God will justly reach those who commit these things, and do you think that by condemning others, you will escape from the judgment of God, you, who are doing the same?

This would be taking advantage of God, and His infinite goodness, patience and understanding; and not to realise that, His goodness is in order to lead you to conversion. If your heart becomes hard and you refuse to change, then you are storing for yourself a great punishment on the day of judgment, when God will appear as just Judge.

He will give each one his due, according to his actions. He will give everlasting life to those who seek glory, honour and immortality, and persevere in doing good. But anger and vengeance will be the lot of those who do not serve truth, but injustice. There will be suffering and anguish, for everyone committing evil, first the Jew, then the Greek.

But God will give glory, honour and peace to whoever does good, first, the Jew, then, the Greek, because one is not different from the other before God.

Wednesday, 6 October 2021 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bruno, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Sacred Scriptures we are all called to seek the mercy of God, our loving Father and to rebuild the relationship we have with Him, just a child seeking and asking for his or her father’s forgiveness. The father who loves his children will forgive them after he has chastised and disciplined them, and he will reunite them to himself, guiding them down the right path.

In our first reading today, as we listened to the words of the Lord speaking to us regarding the conversation that God has with Jonah, the prophet that He has chosen, called and sent to the people of Nineveh, the great capital of the Assyrian Empire which at that time had conquered many countries and peoples, razed multiple cities and settlements, enslaving innumerable people across the known world then. They committed great sins before God and their fellow men alike, and for that, they should have been destroyed and crushed.

That was what God told them through the prophet Jonah, who was sent to Nineveh to proclaim the imminent destruction of that city and its people. Upon hearing that, the people of Nineveh, from its great King, all the nobles, to all the people to the lowest status ones, all listened to the words of the Lord and sought to appease the wrath of God, humbling themselves from their previous pride and haughtiness, stripping themselves from their regal and proud appearances, and wore the penitential sackcloth as a sign of their regret and penitence before God and mankind alike.

The Lord then did not carry out what He intended to do to Nineveh, as He saw their sincerity in humbling themselves and in asking for His forgiveness, that He forgave them and spared them their destruction. But this angered Jonah in turn, for he has earlier on tried to escape from the Lord and His calling for him to go to Nineveh to speak the judgment for Nineveh. For Jonah, he was angry probably because he has laboured for the Lord and went through a great many things to come to Nineveh and speak of God’s words, only for whatever he had spoken to not have come true, as God spared Nineveh its destruction.

But God in truth never desired the destruction of Nineveh or any of its people at all. That is because ultimately, He still loves each and every one of His children equally, and every single one of them are precious to Him. Although the people of Nineveh and its king had committed great sins against Him, just as a father with prodigal and naughty children, he still desired their conversion and return to righteousness. Is this not the same as the attitude showed by the elder son in the famous parable of the prodigal son? Jonah was acting exactly the way the elder son behaved, while the younger son was representative of the people of Nineveh.

Just as in that parable, the Lord, Who is our loving Father rejoiced at the conversion of hearts of the people of Nineveh just as the younger son was welcomed with great joy by his father. Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is our God, our loving Father, Who truly desired to be reconciled with us and for us to find our way back to His love and embrace, to be filled once again with His grace and blessings, and to walk once again in the path of His truth and to be righteous and good just as He is righteous and good.

And therefore, as the Lord Himself has taught us the Lord’s Prayer in our Gospel passage today, we ought to deepen our relationship with our heavenly Father through prayer, and not just any prayer that merely passes through our mouth, but prayers that are made with genuine love and desire to commit ourselves wholeheartedly to the Lord, to spend precious time with Him and to know Him more in each and every available opportunities. Through deepening ourselves in prayer and devotion to Him, and through a more genuine living of our Christian faith, all of us are called to be ever more faithful children of our Father in Heaven.

Today, let us all also be inspired by the faith and examples showed by St. Bruno, whose feast day we are celebrating today. St. Bruno was a priest of Cologne in Germany, who is also the founder of the renowned Carthusian Order. St. Bruno was a longtime educator and theologian, credited with the upbringing and development of numerous students who became great priests and servants of God. He was humble and dedicated to God, and when he was about to be appointed as a bishop, he renounced secular glory and privileges, choosing to leave behind his position and assuming the simple life of a priest.

He was a close confidant of the Pope and through his contributions by the foundation of the Carthusian Order, St. Bruno inspired many others to follow in his footsteps in being ever faithful to God, to be humble in one’s ways and to put God ahead of everything else in one’s life. St. Bruno is truly a great example that all of us ought to be inspired to follow, and today, we are all reminded and called, to reflect on our lives and to ask ourselves if we can commit ourselves to the Lord with sincerity and genuine love for Him.

May the Lord continue to guide us in our journey and may He strengthen each and every one of us that we will always persevere through whatever challenges we may encounter throughout life. May God bless us in our every endeavours and efforts to live our lives ever more worthily in His Name. Amen.

Wednesday, 6 October 2021 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bruno, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Luke 11 : 1-4

At that time, Jesus was praying in a certain place; and when He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught His disciples.”

And Jesus said to them, “When you pray, say this : Father, may Your Name be held holy, may Your kingdom come; give us, each day, the kind of bread we need, and forgive us our sins; for we also forgive all who do us wrong; and do not bring us to the test.”