Monday, 1 February 2016 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 5 : 1-20

At that time, Jesus and His disciples arrived at the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gerasenes. No sooner did Jesus leave the boat than He was met by a man with evil spirits, who had come from the tombs. He lived among the tombs, and no one could restrain him, even with a chain.

He had often been bound with fetters and chains, but he would pull the chains apart and smash the fetters, and no one had the strength to control him. Night and day he stayed among the tombs on the hillsides, and was continually screaming, and beating himself with stones.

When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell at His feet, and cried with a loud voice, “What do You want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? For God’s sake, I beg You, do not torment me!” He said this, because Jesus had commanded, “Come out of the man, evil spirit!”

And when Jesus asked the evil spirit, “What is your name?” It replied, “Legion is my name, for we are many.” And it kept begging Jesus, not to send them out of that region. Now a great herd of pigs was feeding on a hillside, and the evil spirits begged Him, “Send us to the pigs, and let us go into them.”

So Jesus let them go. The evil spirits came out of the man and went into the pigs, and immediately the herd rushed down the cliff, and all were drowned in the lake. The herdsmen fled, and reported this in the town and in the countryside, so all the people came to see what had happened.

They came to Jesus, and saw the man freed of evil spirits sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the same man who had been possessed by the legion. They were afraid. And when those who had seen it, told what happened to the man and to the pigs, the people begged Jesus to leave their neighbourhood.

When Jesus was getting into the boat, the man, who had been possessed, begged to stay with Him. Jesus would not let him, and said, “Go home to your people, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you.”

So he went throughout the country of Decapolis, telling everyone how much Jesus had done for him, and all the people were astonished.

Monday, 1 February 2016 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 3 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7

O Lord, how great in number are my foes! How numerous are they who rise against me! How many are they who say of my soul : “There is no help for him in God!”

But You are my Shield, o Lord, my Glory, You lift up my head. Aloud I cry to the Lord, and from His holy hill He answers me.

If I lie down to sleep, again I awake, for the Lord supports me; no fear of the thousands standing against me.

Monday, 1 February 2016 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

2 Samuel 15 : 13-14, 30 and 2 Samuel 16 : 5-13a

A messenger came to report to David that the Israelites were siding with Absalom. Then David said to all his servants who were with him in Jerusalem, “Let us flee, for we cannot resist Absalom. Go quickly, lest he come hurriedly and overtake us. Surely he will put the city to the sword if he can bring disaster upon us.”

David himself went up the Mount of Olives, weeping. He was barefooted and had his head covered, and all the people who were with him had their heads covered and wept as they went.

When king David came to Bahurim, a man from the clan of Saul’s family named Shimei, son of Gera, came out cursing him. He threw stones at David and his officers although the king’s men and warriors flanked the king on the right and left.

Shimei said as he cursed, “Go away! Go away! You bloodthirsty good-for-nothing! YHVH has brought down on your head all the blood of the family of Saul. You became king in his place, but God has now placed the kingdom in the hands of your son Absalom. Ruin has come upon you because you are a bloodthirsty man.”

Then Abishai, son of Zeruiah, said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go and cut his head off.” But the king said, “Why should I listen to you, sons of Zeruiah? If YHVH has ordered him to curse me, who shall ask him why he acts like this?”

Then David said to Abishai and his officers, “If my own son wants to kill me, how much more this Benjaminite! Leave him alone and let him curse me if YHVH has ordered him to do so. Perhaps YHVH will look on my affliction and turn to good things the curses heaped on me today.”

So David and his men went their way while Shimei, following on the hillside opposite him, continued to curse as he threw stones and flung dust at him.

Sunday, 31 January 2016 : Fourth (4th) Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Bosco, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the passages from the Sacred Scriptures, which message is very clear to us. Today we are all reminded and also called to service, to the service of our brethren, our brothers and sisters around us, in our neighbourhood and society, and foremost of all, to serve the Lord our God with all of our might and strength.

In our first reading today, we heard about the calling of the prophet Jeremiah, a great prophet who preached the word of God to the people of the kingdom of Judah during the last days of that kingdom, just before the time when the Babylonian exile happened. The prophet Jeremiah was called from a humble origin, and he was called to serve the Lord even amidst the challenges.

And he did not have an easy task, as those to whom he was sent to by the Lord refused to listen to him and rebelled against the Lord all the more. They refused to abandon their wickedness and repent in sincerity to the Lord, and as a result, their fate was sealed, that is to be bereft of their rights to dwell in the land promised to their ancestors, they were scattered to the foreign lands and their properties seized by their conquerors.

In the Gospel today, we heard about our Lord Jesus Who went back to His native village of Nazareth in Galilee, where He lived and where His family lived. But the people there were also indignant and refused to believe in Him, despite certainly having heard of the great deeds that Jesus had done with the people of the surrounding towns and countryside as He ministered to the people of God there.

They did so because they thought that their human wisdom, power and intellect were better than the wisdom of God, and thinking that Jesus Who once lived among them, the Son of a simple carpenter Who now preached the Good News of God, healing the sick and performing miracles was too much for them to believe in. They preferred to remain in their preconception and their prejudice against Him, thinking that He was a nobody as He was before.

Carpenters were not highly regarded as it was seen as a menial labour, a hard job that brought about little recognition, glory and income. And many looked down on such professions, just as prophets themselves during the time of Jeremiah and the time before and after that had been treated. Many of them were thought as madmen and as crazy people who talked nonsense.

Why was this so? This is because they often spoke of doom and bad times to come, because of the failure of the people of God to obey the commandments of the Lord. We in our human nature always prefer to think of good times and we do not like to suffer or to face the ugly truth about ourselves. The truth is that all of us are sinners, and we need some help for ourselves, but many of us deny this truth.

So today, the message from the Sacred Scriptures is that all of us are also called like the prophet Jeremiah, and like the other holy prophets, saints and servants of God, to also walk in the same path, to proclaim God’s Good News to His people, and to bring His salvation closer to them all. And it does not require much for us to do, but starting from faith and from love, that is the faith and the love that we need to have for the Lord our God.

All of us who believe in God should also understand that we all have a responsibility to be witnesses for our Lord, that through our words, deeds and actions we show to the world, to all others around us, that we believe in God, in Whom alone there is truth and salvation. We have been called to be bearers of God’s salvation, so that just after we have been saved through our faith, many more will also be saved.

We have been called today to become the modern day disciples, prophets and servants of the Lord, walking with Him in faith and proclaiming His good deeds to the people, so that through our examples and works, we may help to bring many people at the edge of the precipice of darkness and damnation into salvation and eternal life in God. This is our mission, the mission which our Lord had entrusted to His Apostles, and which has been passed down to us even to this day.

There will indeed be challenges and difficulties on our path, just as our Lord Himself and His Apostles had encountered rejection and ridicule, contempt and persecution. But if we remain faithful and carry out our duties to the end with faith, our rewards in God will be truly great indeed. Let us all not be fearful or be afraid of the rejection of the world, but be courageous always in faith, carrying out the Lord’s good works to all the peoples through our own lives.

May God bless us all in our endeavours, and may He keep us in His grace, blessing us and giving us the strength and courage in heart, that we may always remain true to our mission and be committed always to our cause. May God be with us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 31 January 2016 : Fourth (4th) Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Bosco, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 4 : 21-30

Then, at that time, Jesus said to the people of Nazareth, “Today these prophetic words come true, even as you listen.”

All agreed with Him, and were lost in wonder, while He spoke of the grace of God. Nevertheless they asked, “Who is this but Joseph’s Son?” So He said, “Doubtless you will quote Me the saying : ‘Doctor, heal Yourself! Do here in Your town what they say You did in Capernaum.'”

Jesus added, “No prophet is honoured in his own country. Truly, I say to you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens withheld rain for three years and six months and a great famine came over the whole land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow of Zarephath, in the country of Sidon.”

“There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha, the prophet, and no one was healed except Naaman, the Syrian.”

On hearing these words, the whole assembly became indignant. They rose up and brought Him out of the town, to the edge of the hill on which Nazareth is built, intending to throw Him down the cliff. But He passed through their midst and went His way.

Sunday, 31 January 2016 : Fourth (4th) Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Bosco, Priest (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Corinthians 12 : 31 – 1 Corinthians 13 : 13

Be that as it may, set your hearts on the most precious gifts, and I will show you a much better way. If I could speak all the human and angelic tongues, but had no love, I would only be sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, knowing secret things with all kinds of knowledge, and had faith great enough to remove mountains, but had no love, I would be nothing.

If I gave everything I had to the poor, and even give up my body to be burnt, if I am without love, it would be of no value to me. Love is patient, kind, without envy. It is not boastful or arrogant. It is not ill-mannered nor does it seek its own interest. Love overcomes anger and forgets offences. It does not take delight in wrong, but rejoices in truth. Love excuses everything, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love will never end. Prophecies may cease, tongues be silent and knowledge disappear. For knowledge grasps something of the truth and prophecy as well. And when what is perfect comes, everything imperfect will pass away. When I was a child I thought and reasoned like a child, but when I grew up, I gave up childish ways.

Likewise, at present we see dimly as in a mirror, but then it shall be face to face. Now we know in part, but then I will know as I am known. Now we have faith, hope and love, these three, but the greatest of these is love.

Alternative reading (shorter version)

1 Corinthians 13 : 4-13

Love is patient, kind, without envy. It is not boastful or arrogant. It is not ill-mannered nor does it seek its own interest. Love overcomes anger and forgets offences. It does not take delight in wrong, but rejoices in truth. Love excuses everything, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love will never end. Prophecies may cease, tongues be silent and knowledge disappear. For knowledge grasps something of the truth and prophecy as well. And when what is perfect comes, everything imperfect will pass away. When I was a child I thought and reasoned like a child, but when I grew up, I gave up childish ways.

Likewise, at present we see dimly as in a mirror, but then it shall be face to face. Now we know in part, but then I will know as I am known. Now we have faith, hope and love, these three, but the greatest of these is love.

Sunday, 31 January 2016 : Fourth (4th) Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Bosco, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 70 : 1-2, 3-4a, 5-6ab, 15ab and 17

In You, o Lord, I seek refuge; let me not be disgraced. In Your justice help me and deliver me, turn Your ear to me and save me!

Be my Rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety, for You are my Rock and my Fortress. Rescue me, o my God, from the hand of the wicked.

For You, o Lord, have been my Hope, my Trust, o God, from my youth. I have relied on You from birth : from my mother’s womb You brought me forth.

My lips will proclaim Your intervention and tell of Your salvation all day. You have taught me from my youth and until now I proclaim Your marvels.