Wednesday, 21 October 2020 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, through today’s Scripture readings, all of us are reminded that God has revealed His love and truth, His salvation to each and every one of us through His Church that has been passed down to us from the Apostles who heard all these from the Lord Himself. The Lord has shown us His love and grace, and He has revealed to us how much He cared for each and every one of us and He will entrust all things to us. But we must not take all these for granted.

First of all, in our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Ephesus, of the Lord Who has called all of us mankind to Himself, extending His grace and salvation to all, to both Jewish and non-Jewish people alike. Contextually, we need to understand that at that time, the Jews believed that they, as God’s chosen people, the descendants of the Israelites, were those whom God had favoured and no one else had the right and privilege like theirs.

That was why many of the Jews, especially the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law among them, held the view that the Gentiles, a term used to describe the non-Jewish people, being pagans, were wicked and unworthy of God, sinners and they would perish and be destroyed. Those who wished to be saved must abandon their identity and embrace the Law of Moses, and became one of the Jewish community, severing their ties to their previous culture and identity.

But what St. Paul said was that, God did not intend for this to happen. And as a matter of fact, God called all of His people, loved them equally, whether they were culturally Jews or descended from the Israelites or not. God has revealed His love and His Good News to all, and sent His disciples, St. Paul and all the others, to be witnesses of this truth and love, to all the nations and to all peoples. We have therefore also heard these from the Lord and been called to be part of His Church.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we should also take heed of what we heard in our Gospel passage today, as we listened to the parable that the Lord Jesus used to explain to His disciples the need for all of them to live a virtuous and responsible Christian life. He used the example of stewards appointed and entrusted by their master to bring forward His point to them.

Each and every one of us are those stewards, entrusted by God with the care of this world and its people. God has blessed us and He has given us the means and the abilities to carry out these responsibilities in these lives we have, in our respective areas of responsibility. However, are we willing to embrace these with faith and commitment?

We have been called, and unfortunately, many of us were too busy to respond to the Lord’s call, and we slackened and waited, refusing to do what we were supposed to do in our lives to be committed and good Christians. In this manner, we were just like that lazy and wicked steward mentioned in the Lord’s parable in our Gospel today.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all discern carefully our path going forward in life. May the Lord continue to guide us as we proceed on in life, in following His will and in obeying His commandments and living our faith life with sincere and firm devotion. Let us seek the Lord’s guidance in all things, and walk with Him in the path that He has set before us. Let us embrace wholeheartedly the mission which the Lord has entrusted to us. Amen.

Wednesday, 21 October 2020 : 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, 21 October 2020 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Isaiah 12 : 2-3, 4bcd, 5-6

He is the God of my salvation; in Him I trust and am not afraid, YHVH is my strength : Him I will praise, the One Who saved me.

You will draw water with joy from the very fountain of salvation. Then you will say : “Praise to the Lord, break into songs of joy for Him, proclaim His marvellous deeds among the nations and exalt His Name.”

“Sing to the Lord : wonders He has done, let these be known all over the earth. Sing for joy, o people of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

Wednesday, 21 October 2020 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Ephesians 3 : 2-12

You may have heard of the graces God bestowed on me for your sake. By a revelation He gave me the knowledge of His mysterious design, as I have explained in a few words. On reading them, you will have some idea of how I understand the mystery of Christ. This mystery was not made known to past generations but only now, through revelations given to holy Apostles and prophets.

Now the non-Jewish people share the Inheritance; in Christ Jesus the non-Jews are incorporated and are to enjoy the Promise. This is the Good News, of which I have become a minister, by a gift of God; a grace He gave me, when His power worked in me.

This grace, was given to me, the least, among all the holy ones : to announce to the pagan nations, the immeasurable riches of Christ, and to make clear to all, how the mystery, hidden from the beginning, in God, the Creator of all things, is to be fulfilled.

Even the heavenly forces and powers will now discover, through the Church, the wisdom of God in its manifold expression, as the plan is being fulfilled, which God designed from the beginning, in Christ Jesus, Our Lord. In Him, we receive boldness and confidence to approach God.

Wednesday, 14 October 2020 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Callixtus I, Pope and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scriptures we are reminded to follow the Christian virtues in life, to be filled with the fruits of the Holy Spirit in all things and in all of our words, actions and deeds. God has called us all to be truly faithful and to devote ourselves to Him, to be spiritually active and genuine in our faith. We must not be superficial in faith or just focused on appearances like the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law.

That is what the Lord spoke against the Pharisees for in our Gospel passage today, as a stern warning to all of us that we ought not to follow their lead or imitate their way of life, using even strong words like ‘curse’ to the Pharisees and woe to them. All these signified the seriousness of the matter which the Lord presented before His people, showing them how the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law in their influential positions, had dangerously misled the people into the wrong paths by their actions.

Through what the Lord said in today’s Gospel, we heard how He criticised the Pharisees for their wicked behaviour and irresponsibility as those who had been chosen to be the guardians and leaders of the people. And this is significant because if we remember what St. Paul said about the corruptions of the flesh, many of those were exhibited and acted on by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law.

For example, the opposition of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were often driven by the anger and jealousy in them, seeing their influence and power within the community threatened by the Lord and His disciples. And their greed, desire and want for power and worldly satisfactions led to them to stray from their path and their obedience to God. They succumbed to the temptations of those desires and emotions that led them down the wrong path.

This is why the Lord reminded all of us to be vigilant and be wary of the temptations of these worldly desires and all that threatened to lead us down the path of sin. We have to instead embrace the Lord and bear the fruits of His Holy Spirit, of faith, love, humility, temperance among other things. And we are all called to be shining examples and inspirations of our faith to one another, that we may lead more and more people on the way to the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we should be inspired by the examples of our own holy predecessors, one of them whose feast day we celebrate today. Pope St. Callixtus I was the Pope and Bishop of Rome during the difficult years of frequent persecutions by the Roman governments and their Emperor, who eventually was martyred for his faith. Pope St. Callixtus I was also once a slave according to the Church traditions, who had been enduring many punishments, from prison to prison, before eventually being freed, and becoming deacon of the Church.

Eventually he was elected as Pope and Successor of St. Peter as the Vicar of Christ, in which he began to admit to the Church the converts from schisms and sects, in contrast to the earlier practice of denying admission to these people. His policy and decision to allow these new converts did not have universal support, and it led to the division in the Church, with St. Hippolytus being elected as an opposing or Antipope by those clergy and members of the Church who were against accepting converts from such origins.

Yet, all those who opposed the policies of Pope St. Callixtus I forgot that the Lord Himself would have embraced the repentant sinners and welcomed them back into His embrace, should they all sincerely repent from their faults and sins. The Lord Himself had extended His mercy and love to the worst of sinners, and many had come to be reconciled with Him. To close the doors of the Church to those sinners would just indeed be acting like the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who looked down on sinners from their high pedestals, not realising that they themselves were in need of forgiveness and healing.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, inspired by the courageous decision of Pope St. Callixtus I to embrace those who have sinned and separated themselves from the Church and the love of God, provided that they embraced God with repentance, all of us are reminded that we are also ourselves in need of the same healing and forgiveness from God. We are all called to be the witnesses of God’s love, His mercy and forgiveness towards us. Let us all extend His love to our fellow brothers and sisters, all those whom we encounter in our daily living.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He empower us to live faithfully in His presence, dedicating our time, effort and attention for His greater glory. May the Lord bless us all and our good endeavours, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 14 October 2020 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Callixtus I, Pope and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

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, 14 October 2020 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Callixtus I, Pope and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 1 : 1-2, 3, 4 and 6

Blessed is the one who does not go where the wicked gather, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit where the scoffers sit! Instead, he finds delight in the law of the Lord and meditates day and night on His commandments.

He is like a tree beside a brook producing its fruit in due season, its leaves never withering. Everything he does is a success.

But it is different with the wicked. They are like chaff driven away by the wind. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous but cuts off the way of the wicked.

Wednesday, 14 October 2020 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Callixtus I, Pope and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Galatians 5 : 18-25

But when you are led by the Spirit you are not under the Law. You know what comes from the flesh : fornication, impurity and shamelessness, idol worship and sorcery, hatred, jealousy and violence, anger, ambition, division, factions, and envy, drunkenness, orgies and the like. I again say to you what I have already said : those who do these things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is charity, joy and peace, patience, understanding of others, kindness and fidelity, gentleness and self-control. For such things there is no Law or punishment. Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its vices and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us live in a spiritual way.

Wednesday, 7 October 2020 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, commemorating with joy this month in which we are encouraged to pray the rosary, asking for the prayers and intercessions of Our Blessed Mother, Mary. But the origins of this feast day came from the famous victory of the forces of the Christian faithful against the enemies of the Church in the Battle of Lepanto.

Originally this Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary was known as the Feast of Our Lady of Victory from this battle, in which, at the time, as the growing power of the Ottoman Empire and its forces began to threaten Christendom, having subjugated quite a few Christian populations under its rule, the situation of the Christian faith and Church were truly dire, as the Christians themselves were bitterly divided by the various heresies and splinter groups appearing at the time due to the reformation movement.

As the day of the decisive battle and conflict comes close, the Pope then, Pope St. Pius V called all of Christendom to pray the rosary fervently, asking for the intercession of the Mother of God that her Son would be with the forces of the faithful fighting for the survival of the Christian faith under persecution and trials. And through the efforts of all those who dedicated the prayers of the rosary, through the power of their prayer, God was moved to intervene on the side of His faithful people.

Although the forces arrayed by the enemy forces at Lepanto were extensive and immense, outnumbering the forces of the faithful, but the Lord was with those who were faithful to Him, fighting by their side against the enemy. And through the intercession of Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary and Our Lady of Victory, the forces of the Christian faithful triumphed against the enemy forces, defeating them utterly and showing the power of God’s providence.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that was the historical origin of the celebration of this Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, and the dedication of the month of October as the month of the Holy Rosary. But even more significantly, brothers and sisters, do you all know that our prayers, when made with devotion and genuine faith, are powerful tools and weapons against the attacks and insidious plans of the evil one and all of his forces? A genuine prayer is feared more by Satan than the clang of weapons and swords.

We heard in our first reading today from the Acts of the Apostles, on the Apostles and disciples of the Lord after the Lord ascended into Heaven, in how they continued to gather and pray together, spending their time as they awaited the coming of the Helper, the Holy Spirit that has been promised by God to them. And even after the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles and the Christian faithful often gathered together and pray as a community, and even when they were on their own, they also often spent their time in prayer.

And rosary is truly a special form of prayer, as the prayers often associated with the rosary help to remind us of the important events in the history of our faith and in the story of our salvation by God. And through the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God, our prayers will be raised even closer to God’s Throne, for Mary is at the side of her Son in Heaven, praying and interceding for our sake, at each and every moment. The rosary is indeed like its name, implying a ‘rose’ or flower, a bouquet of prayers that we offer to God through His mother, who is also our beloved mother, Mary.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in these particularly difficult times and challenging moments in life, as we faced so many bitter trials and difficulties in these past few months this year, we need to deepen our spiritual and prayer life, and the rosary is one way how we can deepen our prayer life and spirituality. Are we willing to commit ourselves to be more prayerful Christians, in each and every moments of our lives? The choice is ours to make, and as God has called us all, let us devote ourselves ever more faithfully to Him, from now on, with the guidance from His blessed Mother, Our Lady of the Rosary.

Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us all sinners, just as we make our prayers of the rosary dedicated to you, out of our love for you, our blessed and ever loving Mother. Pray and intercede for us, and help us to follow your examples, and be faithful to God as you have been faithful yourself, in all things. Amen.

Wednesday, 7 October 2020 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 1 : 26-38

In the sixth month, the Angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth. He was sent to a young virgin, who was betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the family of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

The Angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” Mary was troubled at these words, wondering what this greeting could mean. But the Angel said, “Do not fear, Mary, for God has looked kindly on you. You shall conceive and bear a Son, and you shall call Him Jesus. He will be great, and shall rightly be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the kingdom of David, His ancestor; He will rule over the people of Jacob forever, and His reign shall have no end.”

Then Mary said to the Angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” And the Angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the Holy Child to be born of you shall be called Son of God. Even your relative Elizabeth is expecting a son in her old age, although she was unable to have a child; and she is now in her sixth month. With God nothing is impossible.”

Then Mary said, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said.” And the Angel left her.