Thursday, 22 January 2015 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent, Deacon and Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Mark 3 : 7-12

At that time, Jesus and His disciples withdrew to the lakeside, and a large crowd from Galilee followed Him. A great number of people also came from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, Transjordan, and from the region of Tyre and Sidon, for they had heard of all that He was doing.

Because of the crowd, Jesus told His disciples to have a boat ready for Him, to prevent the people from crushing Him. He healed so many, that all who had diseases kept pressing towards Him to touch Him. Even the people who had evil spirits, whenever they saw Him, they would fall down before Him and cry out, “You are the Son of God.”

But He warned them sternly not to tell anyone who He was.

Thursday, 22 January 2015 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent, Deacon and Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 39 : 7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 17

Sacrifice and oblation You did not desire; this You had me understand. Burnt offering and sin offering You do not require. Then I said, “Here I come!”

As the scroll says of me, to do Your will is my delight, o God, for Your Law is within my heart.

In the great assembly I have proclaimed Your saving help. My lips, o Lord, I did not seal – You know that very well.

But may all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; and may all who love Your saving grace continually say, “The Lord is great.”

Thursday, 22 January 2015 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent, Deacon and Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Hebrews 7 : 25 – Hebrews 8 : 6

Consequently Jesus is able to save for all time those who approach God through Him. He always lives to intercede on their behalf. It was fitting that our High Priest be holy, undefiled, set apart from sinners and exalted above the heavens; a Priest who does not first need to offer sacrifice for Himself before offering for the sins of the people, as high priests do. He offered Himself in sacrifice once and for all.

And whereas the Law elected weak men as high priests, now, after the Law, the word of God with an oath appointed the Son, made perfect forever. The main point of what we are saying is that we have a High Priest. He is seated at the right hand of the Divine Majesty in heaven, where He serves as Minister of the true temple and sanctuary, set up not by any mortal but by the Lord.

A high priest is appointed to offer to God gifts and sacrifices, and Jesus also has to offer some sacrifice. Had He remained on earth, He would not be a Priest, since others offer the gifts according to the Law. In fact, the ritual celebrated by those priests is only an imitation and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary. We know the word of God to Moses with regard to the construction of the holy tent. He said : “You are to make everything according to the pattern shown to you on the mountain.”

Now, however, Jesus enjoys a much higher ministry in being the Mediator of a better covenant, founded on better promises.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the tone and the meaning of the readings of today are not that different from the readings of yesterday, as they all talked about the understanding of the Law, and what is the true meaning of the Law, that is truly about the love of God. For the Law was meant not to oppress us mankind or to purposely make our lives difficult, but it was meant to lead the people of God and to help them to find their ways to Him.

And in the first reading we read about the Man named Melchizedek, who was written in the Book of Genesis as the King of Salem, or also known as the King of Peace, as the King of justice, which are indeed curiously, the titles which our Lord Jesus also holds, namely the King of Peace, and the Lord God of all, the Great Judge of all creation, who would judge all of creation.

This is to show once again, as often reiterated throughout the entire Epistle to the Hebrews, of the nature of Jesus Christ our Lord as the High Priest of all creation, of us all mankind, just as Melchizedek was the High Priest of God of old, at the time of Abraham. We do not have much info on who exactly Melchizedek was, based on what we know from the Book of Genesis, but in the Epistle to the Hebrews, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, it was made clearer, that Melchizedek was probably another manifestation of God in the world, just like Jesus.

But Jesus was beyond even Melchizedek in deeds, for He did not just offer an offering of the tenth of the wealth of the world, as Abraham had given to Melchizedek, but He offered none other than Himself, the Body and Blood of the Lamb of God, the one and only perfect sacrifice who through that sacrifice justified the entire human race.

And indeed, as I have mentioned at the beginning of today’s discourse, that the Lord had done this out of a single and clear purpose, that is out of His great and everlasting love for us all, that He does not want even a single one of us to be lost to Him. The Lamb of God offered Himself as the perfect and sweet sacrifice for our liberation, the liberation from the clutches of sin. Because of what He has done, all of us have been offered the freedom from the hands of Satan.

He is the High Priest who gathers all of us to Himself, and by His offering cleanses all of us from all of our sins with the singular act of His death on the cross. And this is our faith, what we believe in fully in our hearts. He died for us so that we may have life in us, and this is what the entire revelations God had made through the prophets, and all His laws are truly about, that is about the love of God made real by His sacrifice on the cross for us.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Agnes, the holy martyr of the Faith and one of the holy virgins, who maintained the purity of their bodies in defense of their faith and courageously defending the Faith against the corruption of the world. St. Agnes, also known as St. Agnes of Rome, lived during the most difficult years for the Church and the faithful, that is during the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocleatian, infamous for his great persecution of the Church and the faithful, where St. Agnes also met her end in a holy martyrdom in the defense of her faith.

St. Agnes was a young Christian maiden born to a noble family, who died at a very young age in her early teenager years during the aforementioned persecution by Emperor Diocletian, as she openly declared that she was a Christian to the authorities. St. Agnes went through many sufferings and different forms of torture meant to force her and persuade her to abandon her faith, none of which succeeded to do so.

Miracles happened even while she was tortured, and her persecutors grew ever more desperate and grew even more vicious in their persecution of her as the miracles continued to happen. Eventually she was martyred for her faith as such a young age, a defiant symbol to the Emperor who had persecuted the faithful so much, that whatever he had done to harm their bodies, they did not fear at all, for they put their trust in the Lord in whom they received great rewards for their faith.

One of the symbol often used on St. Agnes is the lamb, for her name very closely resembled the word lamb in Latin, that is ‘Agnus’, and this should be a reminder to all of us, of the suffering that St. Agnes had undergone in defending her faith, and even more importantly, the sacrifice which our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, had done to save us from the hands of death and bring us into life, as I have mentioned earlier in today’s discourse.

Let us all therefore renew our commitments to the Lord, so that all of us will grow ever closer to our Lord. Reject and resist all forms of temptations by Satan and let us strive to keep ourselves holy and pure, that when the Lord comes again, or when we see Him in heaven, He will praise us for our way of following Him, just as St. Agnes had done. God bless us all. Amen.