Tuesday, 5 February 2013 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Agatha, Virgin and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Mark 5 : 21-43

Jesus then crossed to the other side of the lake, and while He was still on the shore, a large crowd gathered around Him. Jairus, an official of the synagogue, came up and, seeing Jesus, threw himself at His feet, and begged Him earnestly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay Your hands on her, so that she may get well and live.”

Jesus went with him, and many people followed, pressing from every side. Among the crowd was a woman, who had suffered from bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a lot at the hands of many doctors, and had spent everything she had, but instead of getting better, she was worse. Because she had heard about Jesus, this woman came up behind Him and touched His cloak, thinking, “If I just touch His clothing, I shall get well.” Her flow of blood dried up at once, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her complaint.

But Jesus was conscious that healing power had gone out from Him, so He turned around in the crowd, and asked, “Who touched My clothes?” His disciples answered, “You see how the people are crowding around You. Why do You ask who touched You?” But He kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, aware of what had happened, came forward trembling and afraid. She knelt before Him, and told Him the whole truth.

Then Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be free of this illness.”

While Jesus was still speaking, some people arrived from the official’s house to inform him, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Master any further?” But Jesus ignored what they said, and told the official, “Do not fear, just believe.” And He allowed no one to follow Him, except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James.

When they arrived at the house, Jesus saw a great commotion, with people weeping and wailing loudly. Jesus entered, and said to them, “Why all this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead, but asleep.”

They laughed at him. So Jesus sent them outside, and went with the child’s father and mother and his companions into the room. where the child lay. Taking her by the hand, He said to her, “Talitha kumi!” which means, “Little girl, get up!”

The girl got up at once and began to walk around. She was twelve years old. The parents were amazed, greatly amazed. Jesus strictly ordered them not to let anyone know about it; and He told them to give her something to eat.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Agatha, Virgin and Martyr (Psalm)

Psalm 21 : 26b-27, 28 and 30, 31-32

I will fulfill my vows before all who revere You. The lowly will eat and be satisfied. Those who seek the Lord will praise Him. May Your hearts live forever!

The whole earth will acknowledge and turn to the Lord; the families of nations will worship Him. Before Him all those who rest in the earth will bow down, all who go down to the dust. My soul will live for Him.

My descendants will serve Him and proclaim the Lord to the coming generations; they will announce His salvation to a people yet unborn, “These are the things that He has done.”

Tuesday, 5 February 2013 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Agatha, Virgin and Martyr (First Reading)

Hebrews 12 : 1-4

What a cloud if innumerable witnesses surround us! So let us be rid of every encumbrance, and especially of sin, to persevere in running the race marked out before us.

Let us look to Jesus the founder of our faith, who will bring it to completion. For the sake of the joy reserved for Him, He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and then sat at the right hand of the throne of God.

Think of Jesus who suffered so many contradictions from evil people, and you will not be discouraged or grow weary. Have you already shed your blood in the struggle against sin?

Chinese New Year message from the Archbishop of Singapore, Archbishop Nicholas Chia

As the Chinese New Year is approaching (Sunday, 10 February 2013), Chinese people throughout the world are preparing for the festive season, which is most important in the rich Chinese culture.

However, let us all, especially Chinese Christians, remember that the season of Lent is also approaching (Ash Wednesday on 13 February 2013), and therefore, do not forget that, in all our joys, let us also remember the poor and unfortunate ones around us, and make sure to give some of our joys to them to share together in true joy in the Lord.

And do not forget to pray always for our brethren in faith in China, that they will be strong in their faith despite active persecution by those who hates the Lord and His faithful.

 

http://www.catholicnews.sg/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=8345%3Aarchbishops-chinese-new-year-message&catid=329%3Afebruary-10-2013-vol-63-no-03&Itemid=79

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we celebrate the Lunar New Year during this Year of Faith, I would like to express my best wishes to all Chinese Singaporeans that this feast may bring about an increase of faith and love for you and your families.

Faith is an expression of believing in God, even when we do not always understand God’s will in our lives.

To truly live faith-filled lives, we must rediscover a greater understanding of our Catholic faith. It is through a re-evangelisation of our own Catholic faith that we can reach out to our family members and to others in our society.

Faith never travels alone, it is always accompanied by hope and love. By focusing on strengthening our faith this Chinese New Year and the year ahead, we will also increase our hope in attaining heavenly glory, as well as sharing our love to those we most need it. 

Let the red packets and gifts we give out at this happy time not only signify the sharing of temporal goods, but also the generous giving of our lives and talents in the service of others.

Let us also continue to offer together our fervent prayers for the Church in China, that Chinese Catholics may be steadfast witnesses of faith to the love that Jesus has shown us and to the Universal Church.

Wishing you all a faith-filled and blessed Chinese New Year!

Yours in Christ

Archbishop Nicholas Chia

Monday, 4 February 2013 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflection)

Jesus healed the evil-possessed man in today’s Gospel reading, and He showed that He has the authority over all, even over all the evil spirits. These evil spirits are actually once holy angels who served the Lord in Heaven. This is why they perfectly know who Jesus is when they see Him, even when He appear in human form. No demon will not tremble before the presence of the Lord, not even Lucifer, the leader of the angelic rebellion against God, who we now know as the great evil, or Satan. It is because of their rebellion against God, and man’s weakness that led to the fall of Adam and Eve to the temptation of the evil one.

Just like the man who was possessed by the evil spirits, all of us also have evil in ourselves, and we are chained and constrained by this evil that also ‘possess’ us the way it possessed the man.  But the Lord is truly merciful, and never are we forgotten by Him who love us with all of His heart. God listened to our prayers and pleas for mercy, but especially only if we are truly sorry and repentant from our sinful ways. Only if we humbly ask Him for forgiveness, He will justify us and welcome us back into His loving embrace.

Those who are proud and refuse to reject their sins, and refuse to ask God for His mercy, are those whom God rejects, and to have no part in His inheritance. Pride is the greatest of all sins, as it cause our hearts to be hardened against God, and perpetuate our rebellion from God’s love. Such pride brought down Lucifer, who was the brightest and mightiest of all angels created by God. Such is his beauty that in his vanity he, as told in the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, tried to make himself equal to God, and there came his fall. He brought down with him many of the angels of heaven, who followed him in his pride and rebellious ways. These are the evil spirits that possessed the man, legion they were called because they were many.

But Jesus wanted to show us that, not even these evil spirits, mighty as they are, have permanent hold on us. And that not even the greatest sinners are without hope. Why does the evil spirits fear Jesus? Because they know that He, as the Son of God, God Himself, has authority over all, including themselves. It is in Christ that they met their greatest undoing. For ultimately, Christ’s Sacrifice for us on the cross deliver us forever from their hands, and by His act in becoming the bridge between us and God, we have hope of life eternal in Him, while they languish in darkness and hell, for their rebellion against God, which inadvertantly brought mankind down with them.

We humans are weak in flesh, and many are also weak in the Spirit. Nevertheless, just as it was in the past with the heroes, the judges, and the king David himself, if we believe in God, and put our trust in Him, He can grant us strength to persevere and do things that we normally would not be able to do. While these heroes of Israel fought physical warfare against the enemies of Israel who were bound to destroy the people of God, in our present day world, we are involved in spiritual warfare against evil and sin.

Many of our fellow brethren are still under the thrall of evil and chained by the slavery of sin. We, who are already freed by God from the subjugation under evil through baptism in Him, therefore should do our part to help these brethren of ours, to bring them out of darkness, back into the light. Our priests and missionaries are involved in the great mission on the spreading of the Good News of the Lord, but this does not mean that we cannot have a part to play in this mission. We have all been called to the mission when we were baptised, which is to spread the Good News to all peoples, and to baptise them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.

It will not be easy to bring God to all peoples, as mentioned in the first reading, that there would be great persecution against those who believe in Christ. Many would have to face even death in defending their faith. This had happened during the early years of the Church, when the pagan Roman Empire tried to crush Christianity through numerous and intense persecutions. But persecution did not end that day, as even in our modern world, we also have a different kind of persecution. Christians today are ridiculed for their faith, especially by those who do not believe in God and His love. Those who, like Lucifer, believed fully in their own greatness and ability, as surpassing those of the Lord, and many believe that they do not need God, and assert that we, who believe in Him, are backward and superstitious.

However, let us not be confrontational, but instead approach them with love. Just like Christ, who with His great love purged the evil spirit out of the possessed man, we can also bring God’s love to those in our world that is spiritually hungry and empty of God’s divine love. Let us embrace them and show that God is Love, and in God only, we can find true peace and fulfillment. Let us pray for one another, that our faith will be strong, and we will be given great courage, to be able to deliver the Good News of our Lord to all peoples. May God bless us all, and bless our holy Church in our mission. Amen.