Thursday, 7 February 2013 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Mark 6 : 7-13

He called the Twelve to Him, and began to send them out two by two, giving them authority over evil spirits. And He ordered them to take nothing for the journey, except a staff : no food, no bag, no money in their belts. They were to wear sandals and were not to take an extra tunic.

And He added, “In whatever house you are welcomed, stay there until you leave the place.” If any place doesn’t receive you, and the people refuse to listen to you, leave after shaking the dust off your feet. It will be a testimony against them.”

So they set out to proclaim that this was the time to repent. They drove out many demons and healed many sick people by anointing them.

Thursday, 7 February 2013 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Psalm 47 : 2-3a, 3b-4, 9, 10-11

Great is the Lord, most worthy of praise in the city of God, His holy mountain. Beautifully elevated, it is the joy of all the earth.

Mount Zion, heavenly mountain, the city of the great King. Here within her lines of defense, God has shown Himself to be a sure fortress.

As we have heard, so have we seen, in the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God, the city God founded forever.

Let us recall Your unfailing love, o God, inside Your temple. Let Your praise as does Your Name, o God, reach to the ends of the earth. Your right hand is ever victorious.

Thursday, 7 February 2013 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Hebrews 12 : 18-19,21-24

What you have come to is nothing known to the senses : nor heat of a blazing fire, darkness and gloom and storms, blasts of trumpets or such a voice that the people pleaded that no further word be spoken.

The sight was so terrifying that Moses said : I tremble with fear. But you came near to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, to the heavenly Jerusalem with its innumerable angels. You have come to the solemn feast, the assembly of the firstborn of God, whose names are written in heaven. There is God, Judge of all, with the spirits of the upright brought to perfection.

There is Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant, with the sprinkled blood that cries out more effectively than Abel’s.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Sts. Paul Miki and Companions, Martyrs (Scripture Reflection)

Today we learn that the Lord loves and cares for us, just like a father to all of us. He can be strong and demanding, especially when we go astray from the right path, just like a father disciplining his children. However, God can indeed also be kind and loving as a father is, for God’s love is true and pure, and unfathomable in its extent.

We do not have to literally shed blood in the struggle against sin, as the question in the first reading from the letter to the Hebrews mentioned. But we have to always remember that, Christ Himself had shed His Precious Blood in the ultimate struggle against evil and sin. It is through this Blood in the Sacrifice, that all of us are set free from the chains of sin and slavery of evil.

Through Christ as well, all of us become God’s children, since by becoming human Himself like all of us, Christ the Lord became the most beloved of God’s creation. Since Christ is a brother to all of us, through Him, God is no longer distant, but God is just like our Father. This is why Jesus taught us the perfect prayer, the Pater Noster, which refers to God as our Father.

God is evidently fatherlike in His dealings with His chosen people, the people of Israel. Whenever they disobeyed Him and even abandoned Him for the other gods, you may think that the Bible seemed to show that the Lord has also abandoned Israel. But no, in fact, God remains faithful as He is always, even when His beloved children were always unfaithful. In the end, God loves all His children so much, that He gave Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ, who is one with Him in the Trinity to redeem us from our rebellious ways and our sinful nature, in order to be reunited with all of us again at the end of time, for all time.

To all who have families, and who are parents, you should aim to follow the example of the Lord in being the parent of your children, through masterful balance between discipline and love. Even all acts of discipline and tough measures ultimately must be based in love, for all these that we do, are all because we love the children, not because we despise or hate the children.

Parents, love your children; and children, love your parents. Let us all imitate the love that the Lord has for all of us, and the love that Jesus has for God, His Father in Heaven. It is through Christ’s full obedience to the Father that all of us are saved. Therefore, let us also be obedient to our own parents and to our Father in heaven, God who loves all.

Today we commemorate the feast of Saints Paul Miki and his companions who were Japanese Christians martyred for their faith, and until the end, they stay strong in their faith, and was crucified in Nagasaki in 1597, during the time when persecution of Christians began in Japan. Christians were forced to abandon their faith or be killed by crucifixion, in the parody of the Christian faith.

Those who abandoned the faith and chose life were made to trample on the crosses and the images of the faith, and in that way, they saved their lives, but lost their soul. St. Paul Miki and his companions in Christ did not falter, and when forced to march hundreds of kilometres from the capital Kyoto to Nagasaki, they sing the Te Deum, a hymn which glorifies the Lord and praises Him for His kindness. And most importantly, St. Paul Miki forgave all his executioners and those who tortured him and his companions, just as Christ did on the cross.

Can we also have the courage and spirit to forgive those who has inflicted pain and suffering on us, instead of hating and creating even more violence? Let us therefore follow the example of St. Paul Miki and his martyred companions, and also follow the example of the Lord as a good shepherd and a good Father to all of us, that we can make our families, holy families in Christ, a loving and caring family, which will ultimately will lead to a loving and wonderful society, and a loving world. Pray for us St. Paul Miki and Companions! Amen.