Thursday, 31 January 2013 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Bosco, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Mark 4 : 21-25

Jesus also said to them, “When the light comes, is it put under a tub or a bed? Surely it is put on a lampstand. Whatever is hidden will be disclosed, and whatever is kept secret will be brought to light. Listen then, if you have ears!”

And He also said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear. In the measure you give, so shall you receive, and still more will be given to you. For to the one who produces something, more will be given, and from him who does not produce anything, even what he has will be taken away from him.”

Thursday, 31 January 2013 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Bosco, Priest (Psalm)

Psalm 23 : 1-2, 3-4ab, 5-6

The earth and its fullness belong to the Lord, the world and all that dwell in it. He has founded it upon the ocean and set it firmly upon the waters.

Who will ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who will stand in His holy place? Those with clean hands and pure heart, who desire not what is vain, and never swear to a lie.

They will receive blessings from the Lord, a reward from God, their saviour. Such are the people who seek Him, who seek the face of Jacob’s God.

Thursday, 31 January 2013 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Bosco, Priest (First Reading)

Hebrews 10 : 19-25

So, my friends, we are assured of entering the Sanctuary by the Blood of Jesus, who opened for us this new and living way passing through the curtain, that is, His Body. Because we have a High Priest in charge of the House of God, let us approach with a sincere heart, with full faith, interiorly cleansed from a bad conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Let us hold fast to our hope without wavering, because He who promised is faithful. Let us consider how we may spur one another to love and good works. Do not abandon the assemblies as some of you do, but encourage one another, and all the more since the Day is drawing near.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflection)

In today’s Gospel, Christ taught the people of Israel who followed Him, the parable of the sower, which is truly a well-known parable to us. This parable tells us about how the faith that we have, is not to be taken for granted. Indeed, we should not just let the faith that we have to go stagnant and remain just within us. If we cultivate the faith that is in us, through our good works in the name of the Lord, we can put our faith into practice, and truly, just as Christ said, we will bear fruits of our faith, thirty, sixty, and hundredfold.

Why does then Jesus teach in parables? It is because, for those who truly have the faith, and have the faith rooted in them through their actions and love, these parables will truly be meaningful to them, and by listening to these parables, their faith is strengthened. Then, to those who does not even have the faith, even if Christ is to explain the parables clearly to them, they still would not believe.

To all of us, therefore, who has been baptised in Christ, we are privileged to have been part of God’s redemption, and we also receive the mystery of the kingdom of God as given to the Apostles, and we have the Scripture, through which, we can understand more on the mystery of God and the salvific mission of Christ. We also have our priests and fellow brothers and sisters in the Faith, who can further teach us and make us understand even more. Nevertheless, through the parable, Christ also warned us of what can happen if our faith remain stagnant and does not take root in our hands, we too can fall in our path towards Christ.

Those seeds that were eaten by the birds, are like those of us who are tempted by Satan and sin, who in his various attractive ways, he could steer even the holy ones into sin and therefore death. Satan has many ways to detract ourselves from the path to God, especially by offering worldly things and goods, that if we are not strong in our faith, we can be easily led astray, similar to those seeds who are choked by the thorns. These distractions and temptations are the ‘thorns’ that choke the faith that is present in us. Therefore, we have to ensure that our faith is deeply rooted in Christ. How to do so? Simply by striving to read the Scripture every day, reading the Word of God, which fulfill our spiritual hunger, and strengthen the anchor of faith we have in Christ. We should also spend some time in prayer every day, and indeed in all things that we do, we should pray before and after, before to ask the Lord for strength, courage, and guidance; and after to give thanks to the Lord for His blessing and company.

Let the faith takes deep root in us, or else we would become like those seeds that withered because they have no roots. In happiness or sadness, in times of joy and in times of sorrow, we should hold on fast to our faith in God. Do not just seek God when we are sorrowful, but share our joy too with the Lord, and never forget the Lord when we are in trouble. Just because we are in trouble it does not mean that the Lord is not with us. He is with us, and He carried us through the tribulations and troubles, and with His aid, we shall prevail. No matter what evil throws at us, if we remain strongly anchored in Christ, and do God’s will through our dedication to our brothers and sisters in need, we will not be harmed by the evil one.

Then, let us also strive to participate fully in the celebration of the Mass, through which the Lord comes down to us in the form of His Precious Body and Blood. This is no separate sacrifice, unlike those sacrifices of animals and grains as prescribed in the Book of Leviticus for the people of Israel in the Old Testament, where those sacrifices must be repeated continuously for the sake of the sins of the people.

The Sacrifice of the Mass, is the same Sacrifice Jesus Christ, our Lord made on Calvary, on the cross, through which He gave up Himself that all of us are saved. In the Mass, the priest, in persona Christi, or representing Christ, offer Himself to the Lord, through the bread and wine, which is converted into the very Precious Body and Blood of our Lord, the only worthy sacrifice, worthy of all our sins, that through them, our sins are forgiven.

Therefore, receive the Lord often, and prepare for Him a worthy and holy Temple in your heart, worthy of Him, and this will deepen our faith in God, such that indeed, the seed of faith planted in us, will not just stay dormant, but will bear fruit, thirty, sixty, hundred, and even thousandfold and more. Amen.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Mark 4 : 1-20

Again Jesus began to teach by the lake; but such a large crowd gathered about Him, that He got into a boat and sat in it on the lake, while the crowd stood on the shore. He taught them many things through parables. In His teaching, He said, “Listen! The sower went out to sow. As he sowed, some of the seed fell along a path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some of the seed fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil; it sprang up immediately because it had no depth, but when the sun rose and burned it, it withered because it had no roots.”

“Other seed fell among thornbushes, and the thorns grew and choked it, so it didn’t produce any grain. But some seed fell on good soil, grew and increased and yielded grain; some seed produced thirty times as much, some sixty, and some one hundred times as much.” And Jesus added, “Listen then, if you have ears.”

When the crowd went away, some who were around Him with the Twelve asked about the parables. He answered them, “The mystery of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But for those outside, everything comes in parables, so that the more they see, they don’t perceive; the more they hear, they don’t understand; otherwise they would be converted and pardoned.”

Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any of the parables? What the sower is sowing is the Word. Those along the path, where the seed fell, are people who hear the Word, but as soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the Word that was sown in them.”

“Other people receive the Word like rocky ground. As soon as they hear the Word, they accept it with joy, but they have no roots, so it lasts only a little while. No sooner does trouble or persecution come because of the Word, than they fall.”

“Others receive the seed, as seed among thorns. After they hear the Word, they are caught up in the worries of this life. false hopes of riches and other desires. All these come in and choke the Word, so that finally it produces nothing.”

“And there are others who receive the Word as good soil. They hear the Word, take it to heart, and produce : some thirty, some sixty, and some one hundred times as much.”

Wednesday, 30 January 2013 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Psalm 109 : 1, 2, 3, 4

The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand till I make Your foes Your footstool.”

From Zion the Lord will extend Your mighty sceptre, and You will rule in the midst of Your enemies.

Yours is royal dignity from the day You were born in holy majesty. Like dew from the womb of the dawn, I have begotten You.

The Lord has sworn, and He will not take back His word : “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”

Wednesday, 30 January 2013 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Hebrews 10 : 11-18

So, whereas every priest stands daily by the altar offering repeatedly the same sacrifices that can never take away sins, Christ has offered for all times a single sacrifice for sins and has taken His seat at the right hand of God, waiting until God puts His enemies as a footstool under His feet. By a single sacrifice He has brought those who are sanctified to what is perfect forever.

This also was testified by the Holy Spirit. For after having declared : “This is the covenant that I will make with them in the days to come – says the Lord – I will put My Laws in their hearts and write them on their minds.” He says : “Their sins and evil deeds I will remember no more.”

So, if sins are forgiven, there is no longer need of any sacrifice for sins.