Wednesday, 17 October 2018 : 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 listened to the Scriptures through which we first heard of the contrasting fruits of the flesh and the fruits of the Spirit. The fruits of the flesh were that of fornication, evil, wickedness, greed, desires for worldly pleasures and the corruption of the body, heart, mind and soul. While the fruits of the Spirit were those of love, hope, kindness, fidelity and more good fruits that came from the Lord.

And then we heard from the Gospel of the rebuke which the Lord Jesus made upon the Pharisees, in harsh terms, with regards to their attitude and way of living their faith, which were hypocritical in nature, when they showed their external acts of piety, their devotions and prayers, not for the love which they had for God, but rather because of their self-serving attitude and desire to gain human praise and worldly glory.

The Lord also criticised the way they handled certain matters of the faith, and in how they enforced and carried out the laws of the Lord as according to Moses. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were supposed to be the guardians of the Law and those who were entrusted with the judgment and the leadership of the people, as those who showed the way for the people to live in accordance with God’s will.

However, in reality, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were corrupt in their judgment and in their faith. They were arbitrary in their judgment, and bent to human desires and worldly concerns in the way they enforce their version of the Law of God. They were bent by the sway of money, just as in how they gave in to the temptation of receiving monetary benefits from having many merchants selling their wares and goods in the courtyard of the Temple of Jerusalem.

What is the reason for all these unbecoming and wicked attitudes of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law? As mentioned in the first reading today, they are actually due to the evil and wicked fruits of the flesh, caused by the temptations of wealth, of worldly pleasures, of glory, of fame, of influence and prestige, of ambition and other forms of worldly indulgences. When these things came into the equation of one’s faith, it ends up causing the corruption of one’s own mind, heart and soul.

That is why, today we are called to discern carefully our path in life, that we should not fall into the same traps into which the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had fallen. We should not let these temptations to corrupt us and to turn us away from the path of the Lord. Instead, we should seek to purify our faith, and follow in the examples shown to us by God’s holy servants, especially that of St. Ignatius of Antioch, holy men and holy servant of God, the second bishop of Antioch.

St. Ignatius of Antioch was one of the disciples of Jesus, who was among the earliest of the Church fathers. He helped to establish the Church in the community of the faithful in the city of Antioch, where it was known that the first community of Christians outside of Judea was formed. He helped to steer the Church, both in Antioch and beyond, during difficult times of persecution and troubles, when they were persecuted by both the Jewish authorities and later on, the Romans.

St. Ignatius of Antioch suffered from the same persecution, and it was told that he was brought to Rome as part of the persecution. He wrote many letters to the faithful during that period, and these letters inspired the faithful, and became central part of the teachings of the Church as preserved by the Church fathers. He was martyred in Rome, but not before becoming beacon of faith and hope, an example for many Christians of his time.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we can see in St. Ignatius of Antioch, the flame of passion and love for the Lord, the genuine commitment which he showed before all of the people, including his tormentors and executioners. He put the Lord before all things, including that of his own desires and wishes. And in doing so, he did not allow the temptations of the evil one to enter into his heart, unlike that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law.

Now, are we able to follow the Lord in the same manner as that of St. Ignatius of Antioch? Surely, we can do so, if we put our heart and mind into it. Let us therefore turn ourselves thoroughly and completely to the Lord, from now on, that in all things, we may, glorify the Lord by our words, actions and deeds. May the Lord be our Guide, and may He help us to find our way to Him. Amen.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

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, 17 October 2018 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

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, 17 October 2018 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

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, 10 October 2018 : 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 Scripture passage, in which we continued the story told by St. Paul the Apostle to the Church and the faithful in Galatia. St. Paul told them how he came to be the Apostle of Christ, and how he conducted his ministry during the early years of his mission. He met with the other Apostles in Judea and Jerusalem, and he was affirmed in the mission by those Apostles who supported his efforts.

Yet, St. Paul did not have it easy throughout his mission, as he encountered difficult moments when he had to even go against the other Apostles at times, for their indecisiveness regarding the matter of the obligations for Christians to follow and obey the old law of the Jewish people, that is the laws of Moses. There were many among the Jews, especially among the Pharisees and the teachers who became believers of Christ, who wanted the imposition of Jewish traditions and practices in its entirety on the Christian faithful, even among those who were of non-Jewish or Gentile origin.

St. Paul disagreed with those who wanted such an imposition, and argued with them, and also with the some of the Apostles and elders of the Church who did not take a firm action against those who wanted such an irresponsible action and un-Christian attitudes to go on. The disciples and the Apostles therefore argued among themselves, and yet, whatever disagreements they must have had at that time, eventually through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, they overcame those differences.

What is the key, brothers and sisters in Christ? How did they overcome their issues and troubles? It is because they discerned carefully the will of God, and took into consideration their weaknesses and the challenges they encountered through prayer, that is through intimate and close relationship with God. They are in close relationship with God, following the example set before them by none other than the Lord Jesus Himself.

In the Gospel passage today, we heard how the Lord Jesus taught His disciples the prayer that He Himself made, directed to God His Father. Although He is indeed the Son of God, but this prayer is in fact the proof of the amazing love and closeness which He enjoyed with His Father in heaven. In His prayer, the Lord’s Prayer or Pater Noster, we are reminded of the special relationship which we have with God, Who is our loving Father.

Through prayer, we help ourselves by quietening our minds and hearts, our senses and our entire being, and indeed, making ourselves closer to God. This is when we will be able to discern well what it is that God is willing to tell us in the depths of our hearts and in the deepest recesses of our minds. Otherwise, if we allow the noise of this world to overcome us, that is why we end up placing our own selfish needs and desires before our obligation to God.

We should instead reflect on the words of the Lord’s Prayer, which we may have uttered frequently both during the Holy Mass and in our own devotions and prayers, but perhaps failed to understand or say it meaningfully. If we look through the words of the prayer, we will realise that first of all, our focus in this life, should be to centre ourselves on God and to put God’s will above all else, and thank Him for all the good things He has done for us.

Are we able to refocus our attention to the Lord in this manner? In the same prayer, the Lord Jesus also asked His Father to forgive us mankind our sins, just as we have forgiven others who have sinned against us. This is how the Apostles were able to forgive one another their faults and return their focus to serve the greater glory of God. That is why we also need to do the same in our own lives, and in how we live up our own Christian lives.

Let us all turn our attention towards the Lord, and renew our commitment to live from now on, in the way and the path that God has shown us, and that we may become ever closer to Him, through prayer and through quality time spent with Him. May the Lord be with us and may He continue to guide us through this journey of life, that we may continue to glorify Him by our deeds, day after day. Amen.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

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.”

Wednesday, 10 October 2018 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 116 : 1, 2

Alleluia! Praise the Lord, all you nations; all you peoples, praise Him.

How great is His love for us! His faithfulness lasts forever.