Wednesday, 29 May 2013 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Mark 10 : 32-45

They were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead. The Twelve were anxious, and those who followed were afraid. Once more Jesus took the Twelve aside to tell them what was to happen to Him.

“You see we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be given over to the chief priests and the teachers of the Law. They will condemn Him to death, and hand Him over to the foreigners, who will make fun of Him, spit on Him, scourge Him, and finally kill Him; but three days later He will rise.”

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to Him, “Master, we want You to grant us what we are going to ask of You.” And He said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They answered, “Grant us to sit, one at Your right hand and one at Your left, when You come in Your glory.”

But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I drink, or be baptised in the way I am baptised?” They answered, “We can.” And Jesus told them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and you will be baptised in the way that I am baptised; but to sit at My right hand or at My left is not Mine to grant. It has been prepared for others.”

On hearing this, the other ten were angry with James and John. Jesus then called them to Him and said, “As you know, the so-called rulers of the nations act as tyrants, and their great ones oppress them. But it shall not be so among you; whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you shall make himself slave of all.”

“Think of the Son of Man, who has not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life to redeem many.”

Wednesday, 29 May 2013 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Psalm 78 : 8, 9, 11 and 13

Do not remember against us the sins of our fathers. Let Your compassion hurry to us, for we have been brought very low.

Help us, God, our Saviour, for the glory of Your Name; forgive us for the sake of Your Name.

Listen to the groans of the prisoners; by the strength of Your arm, deliver those doomed to die. Then we, Your people, the flock of Your pasture, will thank You forever. We will recount Your praise from generation to generation.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Sirach 36 : 1-2a, 5-6, 13-19

Have mercy on us, Master, God of all, and look on us; make every nation stand in fear of You. Take action against pagan nations.

Give new signs, do fresh wonders, stretch out Your hand and be glorified in Your strength. Kindle Your fury and rouse Your anger, destroy Your opponents, crush Your enemy.

Fill Zion with the fame of Your wonders, and Your people with Your glory. Confirm the promises made to Your people long ago and fulfill the promises made in Your Name. Reward those who wait for You and fulfill the words of Your prophets.

Hear the prayer of Your servants, Lord; hear Your priests giving Aaron’s blessing to Your people. So that all on earth may acknowledge that You are Lord and everlasting God.

The stomach takes in all kinds of food but one food is better than another. Just as the tongue can distinguish the flavour of meat, so does the alert mind detect lies.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflection)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, God wants us, Christ wants all of us, God’s children, to be truly His own. He wants us to give of ourselves, fully and entirely to God, in love. He wants us to follow Him, and follow His teachings of love, the commandments of love He had given to all of us, through His apostles, whom He first called to follow Him and became His disciples.

God loves all of us, and God wants our love to Him too. That was why, in the Book of the prophet Sirach, we were told that the best offerings are the offering of our hearts, and our full dedication of ourselves to God, in love. This offering of pure love from our hearts is what the Lord truly wants from all of us. Not the animal burnt offerings and fragrant offerings of fats and meat that had been offered by the people of Israel in the past.

God asked the people of Israel to offer animals and their fats to Him, with all the various regulations and types of sacrifice, because He wanted to teach them the need to offer thanksgiving and praise to Him who created all things and who made all life possible. But His true intention is not the offering itself, because an offering given to God, out of ignorance and indifference will not be accepted by God. Rather, it is the love that accompanies the offerings, the true and pure love for God that God desires from all His children.

Remember the earliest record of sacrifice ever made by mankind, in the sacrifice of Cain and Abel to God. Cain and Abel offered their products of the world to God, the fruits of their labour. Cain, a farmer, offered the first fruits of his harvest from his farm, and Abel, who was a shepherd, offered the offering of his best lamb. The offering of Abel was accepted while the offering of Cain was rejected by God. Why? It is because Abel simply offered the very best to the Lord, and was sincere in his offering to God, while Cain did not offer his very best, and kept the best to himself, showing that he is insincere in his love for God.

That shows that God desires exactly not what is being offered by man, but the hearts of the people who offer those gifts themselves, their love for Him, is what He truly desires. That we love Him just as He has loved us, ever since He created us, and saw the perfection that was in us, but was lost because of our rebellion.

But He did not give us up to damnation with Satan in hell. He gave us His salvation, through Christ His own Son, whom He sent into the world to be our Saviour. Through His death on the cross, He redeemed all mankind and brought us into a new hope for salvation, if we accept the ultimate love He had offered us from that cross in Calvary.

Just as Christ had offered Himself in love, and out of His pure and perfect love for all of us, even the greatest of sinners among us, so then we too should love Him who loves us, and who gave up even His life for us that all of us may be saved, and be reunited with Him in the bliss of eternal life with Him. Offer our hearts and our pure, unadulterated love for Him, and show our love for God who has given so much for us, our lives, and our hope.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, do not hesitate, and do not be afraid! Bare ourselves and our heart and let God see within us, the love that we have for Him. Even if we have nothing of value to give to Him, our love for Him is good enough for Him, and in fact is priceless. Strive to always love God with all our hearts, and our whole beings. Do not forget to also love our brothers and sisters, those who are least among us, because by doing that, we also show our love for God. God bless us all. Amen.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Mark 10 : 28-31

Peter spoke up and said, “We have given up everything to follow You.” Jesus answered, “Truly, there is no one who has left house, or brothers or sisters, or father or mother, or children, or lands, for My sake and for the Gospel, who will not receive his reward.”

“I say to you : even in the midst of persecution, he will receive a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and lands in the present time, and in the world to come eternal life. Do pay attention : many who now are the first will be last, and the last, first.”

Tuesday, 28 May 2013 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Psalm 49 : 5-6, 7-8, 14 and 23

Gather before Me, My faithful ones, who made a covenant with Me by sacrifice. The heavens will proclaim His sentence, for God Himself is the judge.

Hear, o My people, for I am speaking. I will accuse you, o Israel, I am God, your God! Not for your sacrifices do I reprove you, for your burnt offerings are ever before Me.

Yet offer to God a sacrifice of thanks, and fulfill your vows to the Most High. Those who give with thanks offerings honour Me, but the one who walks blamelessly, I will show him the salvation of God.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Sirach 35 : 1-15

Keeping the Law is worth many offerings. Being faithful to the commandments is like a peace offering. Returning kindness is an offering of fine flour; giving alms is a sacrifice of praise.

Renouncing sin pleases the Lord, and shunning injustice is a sacrifice of atonement. Do not appear before the Lord with empty hands. The commandment requires that you bring an offering.

When the offering of the righteous is burnt on the altar, the fat drips down and a fragrant aroma rises to the Most High. The sacrifice of the just man pleases God and will not be forgotten. Honour the Lord with a generous heart and do not be stingy with the first fruits of your harvest.

Offer your gifts with a smiling face and when you pay your tithes do it gladly. Give to the Most High as He has given to you; give generously to the Lord according to what you have; the Lord will repay, He will reward you sevenfold.

If you attempt to bribe Him with gifts He will not accept them; do not rely on offerings from dishonest gain. The Lord is judge and shows no partiality. He will not disadvantage the poor, He who hears the prayer of the oppressed.

He does not disdain the plea of the orphan, nor the complaint of the widow. When tears flow down her cheeks, is she not crying out against the one who caused her to weep?