Monday, 2 August 2021 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop, and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops and Priests)

Matthew 14 : 13-21

At that time, when Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, He set out by boat for a secluded place, to be alone. But the people heard of it, and they followed Him on foot from their towns. When Jesus went ashore, He saw the crowd gathered there, and He had compassion on them. And He healed their sick.

Late in the afternoon, His disciples came to Him and said, “We are in a lonely place and it is now late. You should send these people away, so that they can go to the villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” But Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat.” They answered, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fishes.” Jesus said to them, “Bring them here to Me.”

Then He made everyone sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves and the two fishes, raised His eyes to heaven, pronounced the blessing, broke the loaves, and handed them to the disciples to distribute to the people. And they all ate, and everyone had enough; then the disciples gathered up the leftovers, filling twelve baskets. About five thousand men had eaten there, besides women and children.

Monday, 2 August 2021 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop, and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops and Priests)

Psalm 80 : 12-13, 14-15, 16-17

But My people did not listen; Israel did not obey. So I gave them over to their stubbornness and they followed their own counsels.

If only My people would listen, if only Israel would walk in My ways, I would quickly subdue their adversaries and turn My hand against their enemies.

Those who hate YHVH would cringe before Him, and their panic would last forever. I would feed you with the finest wheat and satisfy you with honey from the rock.

Monday, 2 August 2021 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop, and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops and Priests)

Numbers 11 : 4b-15

The Israelites wept and said, “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish we ate without cost in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions and garlic. Now our appetite is gone; there is nothing to look at, nothing but manna.”

Now the manna was like coriander seed and had the appearance of bedellium. The people went about gathering it up and then ground it between millstones or pounded it in a mortar. They boiled it in a pot and made cakes with it which tasted like cakes made with oil. As soon as dew fell at night in the camp, the manna came with it.

Moses heard the people crying, family by family at the entrance to their tent and YHVH became very angry. This displeased Moses. Then Moses said to YHVH, “Why have You treated Your servant so badly? Is it because You do not love me that You burdened me with this people? Did I conceive all these people and did I give them birth?”

“And now You want me to carry them in my bosom as a nurse carries an infant, to the land You promised on oath to their fathers? Where would I get meat for all these people, when they cry to me saying :’Give us meat that we may eat?'”

“I cannot, myself alone, carry all these people; the burden is too heavy for me. Kill me rather than treat me like this, I beg of You, if You look kindly on me, and let me not see Your anger.”

Sunday, 1 August 2021 : Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday we listened to the words of the Lord speaking to us about the love which God has shown to all of us, His generosity and compassion towards each and every one of us that He had revealed and delivered. From the very beginning God had always loved us and cared for us, and we really ought to be thankful for everything that He had done for us, as without Him and His love for us, we should have been cast to oblivion and fall into damnation, for all the terrible things and deeds we have done.

I refer to the sins our forefathers have committed, in abandoning the Lord and in refusing to believe in Him throughout history ever since the days of Adam and Eve, when mankind first fell into sin. They had refused to follow the Lord and instead chose to listen to the devil and his lies, his false promises and allowed themselves to fall into the temptations of human desires and wants, as we heard in our first reading today with the story of the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. In that story, we heard how the people of Israel ungratefully rebelled against the Lord and complained against Him for having freed them from the Egyptians.

At that time, despite having themselves seen God’s power and might repeatedly, again and again as God rained down plague after plague on the Egyptians and their Pharaoh, and saved them from the whole might of the Egyptian armies and their chariots, opening the sea before their very own eyes, the people of Israel still refused to believe in God, and still disobeyed Him and doubted Him. Again and again, God had proven His steadfastness and commitment to His people, and yet the people still complained and grumbled, saying that God was leading them to their deaths in the desert from hunger.

They had such little faith in the Lord, but the Lord still loved them all in the end. He Himself showed this as proof, as He sent to the whole nation, every day’s providence and supply, in the form of the manna, the bread from heaven, which appeared every morning without fail except on every Sabbath day. That was how the Lord provided for the people and made them to have enough each and every day for the entire forty years that they were journeying through the desert towards the Promised Land.

And not just that, He also sent them flocks of birds every evening for them to complement their food, and provided crystal clear and good tasting water to drink from the rocks, that the whole multitudes of the Israelites, God’s people, could survive throughout their journey in the desert without the need to worry about their sustenance and survival. For God has always taken care of them and took care of them all the time that they had no need to be worried at all, every single moments of their lives. Those things we have heard and which our predecessors had witnessed in the past were proofs of God’s love for us all.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard about the Lord Who spoke to His people after He had performed the wondrous miracle of the feeding of the five thousand people, in which the large number of people assembled before the Lord all were satisfied and filled with food after they were hungry for many days, having followed the Lord and hearing His teachings. He took the few loaves of bread and little fishes present, gave thanks and blessed the food, and miraculously, out of the little food available, a vast multitudes of supply came about, feeding everyone and made them fully satisfied with plenty of leftovers.

Having heard of all these stories of the Scriptures on how God provided for the need of His people, we are actually reminded that God provides and He is always caring towards us, ever knowing what we truly need in life, be it for sustenance or for guidance and help. God is always ever there, with us and journeying with us. We are all never alone, no matter what. But we must not allow ourselves to be overcome by despair and our human desires, by the temptations of worldly pleasures among other things.

That is why we have to trust in the Lord and to grow in love towards Him, He Who has given Himself so completely towards us, that by giving Himself to us, we may all be saved and gathered together from all the ends of the Earth, and find justification in God. This is what the Lord Himself referred to in our Gospel passage today, as He referred to Himself as the Bread of Life, far greater than the manna that the people of Israel once consumed during the entirety of their Exodus journey. Far greater also than the bread and fishes that the people at the time of Jesus consumed and ate until they were all full.

For the Lord Himself provided all of us with not any form of worldly sustenance, or even any provisions in the manner of the manna of the time of the Exodus. Instead, He did what was unthinkable, and seemingly impossible, that is to give us His own Most Precious Body and Blood, to be shared, shattered and broken for us all. When He spoke to the assembled multitudes as recorded in our Gospel passage today, He gave a premonition and advance revelation of what He would do for the sake of all of us, God’s beloved people.

For it was by His later suffering, rejection, torture, pain and eventually death on the Cross that the Lord had given to us His own Body and Blood, as the sacrificial offering on the Altar of the Cross, and which we then share with one another, as we partake in the Eucharist. The Eucharist, the Most Holy Eucharist, that we celebrate in the Holy Mass, is this very gift of Our Lord, as the Bread of Life, giving us all His own Body and Blood as spiritual and real sustenance.

All of us who have been blessed to receive this gift of the Bread of Life, the Communion in the Eucharist, are those who have received the assurance from the Lord that they will share in the eternal life that has been promised, as long as we partake faithfully in this sharing of the Body of Christ. Through our conscious love for God and for one another, for our fellow brothers and sisters in the same Lord, we have been called to follow the Lord wholeheartedly.

Are we able and willing to trust the Lord in all things, to give everything to Him, and focus our attention on Him from now on? Let us all be thankful for how beloved and cared we have been by God, all these while, and how He has always watched over us without cease. God Who has given us even His own beloved Son, and offering His own Most Precious Body and Blood for our sake is truly a most wonderful and magnificent Lord and Master. Let us all commit ourselves to the Lord and to His will and commandments, doing our very best in our every moments in life to be exemplary in all things so that we may inspire many others to follow the Lord as well.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He strengthen each and every one of us in faith, that we may be ever more courageous in embracing our Lord with ever greater love and devotion. May we all walk in God’s path and strive for His greater glory, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 1 August 2021 : Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

John 6 : 24-35

At that time, when the people saw that neither Jesus nor His disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. When they found Him on the other side of the lake, they asked Him, “Master, when did You come here?”

Jesus answered, “Truly, I say to you, you look for Me, not because of the signs which you have seen, but because you ate bread and were satisfied. Work then, not for perishable food, but for the lasting food which gives eternal life. The Son of Man will give it to you, for He is the One on Whom the Father has put His mark.”

Then the Jews asked Him, “What shall we do? What are the works that God wants us to do?” And Jesus answered them, “The work God wants is this : that you believe in the One Whom God has sent.” They then said, “Show us miraculous signs, that we may see and believe You. What sign do You perform? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert; as Scripture says : They were given bread from heaven to eat.”

Jesus then said to them, “Truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven. My Father gives you the True Bread from heaven. The Bread God gives is the One Who comes from heaven and gives life to the world.” And they said to Him, “Give us this Bread always.”

Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of Life; whoever comes to Me shall never be hungry, and whoever believes in Me shall never be thirsty.”

Sunday, 1 August 2021 : Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Ephesians 4 : 17, 20-24

I say to you, then, and with insistence I advise you, in the Lord : do not imitate the pagans, who live an aimless kind of life. But it is not for this, that you have followed Christ. For, I suppose, that you have heard of Him, and received His teaching, which is seen in Jesus Himself. You must give up your former way of living, the old self, whose deceitful desires bring self-destruction.

Renew yourselves, spiritually, from inside, and put on the new self, or self, according to God, that is created in true righteousness and holiness.

Sunday, 1 August 2021 : Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 77 : 3 and 4bc, 23-24, 25 and 54

Mysteries which we have heard and known, which our ancestors have told us. We will announce them to the coming generation : the glorious deeds of the Lord, His might and the wonders He has done.

Yet, He commanded the skies above, and opened the doors of heaven; He rained down manna upon them, and fed them with the heavenly grain.

They ate and had more than their fill of the bread of Angels. He brought them to His holy land, to the mountain His right hand had won.

Sunday, 1 August 2021 : Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Exodus 16 : 2-4, 12-15

In the desert the whole community of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron and said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of YHVH in Egypt when we sat down to caldrons of meat and ate all the bread we wanted, whereas you have brought us to this desert to let the whole assembly die of starvation!”

YHVH then said to Moses, “Now I am going to rain down bread from heaven for you. Each day the people are to gather what is needed for that day. In this way I will test them to see if they will follow My teaching or not.”

“I have heard the complaints of Israel. Speak to them and say : Between the two evenings you will eat meat, and in the morning you will have bread to your heart’s content; then you shall know that I am YHVH, your God!”

In the evening quails came up and covered the camp. And in the morning, dew had fallen around the camp. When the dew lifted, there was on the surface of the desert a thin crust like hoarfrost. The people of Israel upon seeing it said to one another, “What is it?” for they did not know what it was. Moses told them, “It is the bread that YHVH has given you to eat.”

Saturday, 31 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Scriptures reminding us to be faithful to the Lord, in our every day living moments and in all things. We are all called to remember the Lord’s commandments and Law, and the need for all of us as Christians to love God first and foremost, and then to show that same love to our fellow brothers and sisters, to everyone without exception.

In our first reading today we heard of the Lord’s commands to His people as recorded in the Book of Leviticus, detailing the celebration of the fiftieth year or the year of the Jubilee, which was marked as a year of celebration and healing, of reconciliation and love, where people forgave their enemies and those who had been indebted to them from their debts. It is a year set aside to remind the people of God that they ought to give thanks to God and at the same time also show care and love for one another.

Then in our Gospel passage today, we heard of the story of the martyrdom or the death of St. John the Baptist in prison, at the hands of king Herod, and at the instigation of his wife, Herodias, who held deep grudge against St. John the Baptist as the saint did not hesitate to rebuke and criticise both king Herod and her due to the adultery they had committed by their marriage when Herod’s brother, Philip, the legal husband of Herodias was still alive.

We all know how Herodias tricked Herod through her beautiful daughter, tricking Herod into ordering the execution of faithful servant of God as likely under the influence of alcohol during a party, and overcome by his lust and desire for pleasure and human beauty, he made a commitment before all the assembled guests that he could not deny or retract. Hence, through that act, he had condemned himself to an act of great sin in murdering a faithful servant of God, even if he did not intend for it to happen.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through all these we are reminded that it is not easy for us to be faithful as Christians, to live our lives as those who follow the path of the Lord and obey His Law and commandments. Those who have been faithful may encounter the fate of St. John the Baptist, who was imprisoned and killed for his steadfast defence of his faith, and we may be persecuted and face difficulties for all that we have done for the Lord’s sake. Yet, we should not give up just because of the obstacles we may encounter in our journey.

That is why we should follow the examples of our predecessors, one of whom today can show us what it means to be truly devout Christians, in all things, for the greater glory of God. Today we celebrate the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, a faithful servant of God and the famous founder of the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits, which is now the largest of all religious orders and congregations. St. Ignatius of Loyola was once a soldier and nobleman, who had a life-changing experience and decided to follow the Lord wholeheartedly.

Early in his life, St. Ignatius of Loyola sought worldly glory, fame and achievements in life, enrolling as a soldier to get that much sought fame and glory, only to get himself seriously injured during one of the siege battles, where his legs were severely injured in the heat of the battle. During his recuperation period, he had a spiritual encounter with God and a period of discernment, in which he came to realise that the true purpose of his life and true glory came not in the pursuit of worldly glory, fame and ambition.

Instead, from then on, as what would be famously known as his motto and the motto of the Jesuits, St. Ignatius of Loyola would seek nothing else but the greater glory of God, ‘Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam’ or ‘For the Greater Glory of God’. It is with this spirit that St. Ignatius of Loyola gathered like-minded men and sought the Pope’s permission to establish a congregation dedicated to the mission of the Church, to proclaim the greater glory of God in various opportunities, from missionary efforts to involvement in proper Catholic education.

To this end, St. Ignatius of Loyola and his many fellow Jesuits such as St. Peter Canisius and St. Peter Faber were involved deeply in the Counter-Reformation efforts, establishing schools and seminaries, and other faculties involved in the dissemination of the true essence of the Christian faith. Others like St. Francis Xavier and many others involved themselves in missionary work, travelling far all over the world to spread the Good News of God’s salvation and truth, bringing many more people to the Lord. Many Christian communities today could trace their faith to the efforts of those courageous Jesuit missionaries back then.

This year we mark the five hundredth anniversary of the conversion of St. Ignatius of Loyola, marking the moment when St. Ignatius of Loyola left behind his former dream of worldly glory and fame, and embracing fully the Lord’s calling to seek for His greater glory, through which countless graces and wonderful things had come about, not least through St. Ignatius’ foundation of the Jesuits, as well as his hard works and efforts all throughout his life for the betterment of the Church and the faithful.

Let us all be inspired therefore by his examples and learn to commit ourselves to the Lord ever more wholeheartedly, resisting the temptations of worldly vices and ambitions, and instead, learning to love the Lord ever more and commit ourselves with ever greater conviction and commitment from now on. May the Lord be with us all and continue to guide us and bless us in all of our every endeavours and good works. May God bless our every good efforts and remain with us always, that we will always strive to do our best for His greater glory, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 31 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 14 : 1-12

At that time, the reports about Jesus reached king Herod. And he said to his servants, “This Man is John the Baptist. John has risen from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in John.”

Herod had, in fact, ordered that John be arrested, bound in chains and put in prison, because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. For John had said to Herod, “It is not right for you to have her as your wife.” Herod wanted to kill him but he did not dare, because he feared the people, who regarded John as a prophet.

On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced among the guests; she so delighted Herod that he promised under oath to give her anything she asked for. The girl, following the advice of her mother, said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist, here, on a dish.”

The king was very displeased, but because he had made his promise under oath, in the presence of his guests, he ordered it to be given to her. So he had John beheaded in prison, and his head brought on a dish and given to the girl. The girl then took it to her mother.

Then John’s disciple came, took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.