Wednesday, 8 February 2017 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome Emiliani and St. Josephine Bakhita, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints or Virgins)
Mark 7 : 14-23

At that time, Jesus then called the people to Him again and said to them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and try to understand. Nothing that enters a person from the outside can make that person unclean. It is what comes from within that makes a person unclean. Let everyone who has ears listen.”

When Jesus got home and was away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him about this saying, and He replied, “So even you are dull? Do you not see that whatever comes from outside cannot make a person unclean, since it enters not the heart but the stomach, and is finally passed out?” Thus Jesus declared that all foods are clean.

And He went on, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him, for evil designs come out of the heart : theft, murder, adultery, jealousy, greed, maliciousness, deceit, indecency, slander, pride and folly. All these evil things come from within and make a person unclean.”

Wednesday, 8 February 2017 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome Emiliani and St. Josephine Bakhita, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints or Virgins)
Psalm 103 : 1-2a, 27-28, 29bc-30

Bless the Lord my soul! Clothed in majesty and splendour; o Lord, my God, how great You are! You are wrapped in light as with a garment.

They all look to You for their food in due time. You give it to them, and they gather it up; You open Your hand, they are filled with good things.

You take away their breath, they expire and return to dust. When You send forth Your Spirit, they are created, and the face of the earth is renewed.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome Emiliani and St. Josephine Bakhita, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints or Virgins)
Genesis 2 : 4b-9, 15-17

On the day that YHVH God made the earth and the heavens, there was not yet on earth any shrub on the fields, nor had any plant yet sprung up, for YHVH God had not made it rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the earth, but a mist went up from the earth and watered the surface of the earth.

Then YHVH God formed Man, dust drawn from the clay, and breathed into his nostrils a breath of life and Man became alive with breath. God planted a garden in Eden in the east and there He placed Man whom He had created. YHVH God caused to grow from the ground every kind of tree that is pleasing to see and good to eat, also the tree of life on the middle of the garden and the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

YHVH God took Man and placed him in the garden of Eden to till it and to take care of it. Then YHVH God gave an order to Man saying, “You may eat of every tree in the garden, but of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, you will not eat, for on the day you eat of it, you will die.”

Tuesday, 7 February 2017 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we continue to hear the discourse on the creation of the world, in which we heard how in the Book of Genesis it was describe, the process involved when God created this world with all of its living creatures, from plants to animals, from the smallest to the greatest of living things, just as He had created all the non-living objects, and the crowning moment in which that He created above all things in this world, He created mankind.

Man has been created as the last of God’s creation, as the crowning glory of all of His wondrous creations, because no one and nothing else was created in the very image of God Himself. All of us have been created in God’s own image, and in our faces, we bear within ourselves, the very Image of God. God Himself breathed life into us, turning mere dust and earth into a living being, namely Man.

But why God created all of us in the first place? It was because of His love. God is perfectly fine with Himself, a perfect being with a perfect love, needing nothing else. But He wants to share the love He has inside Him, and that was why, He created all of us. He loves all that He has created, and in particular He loves each and every one of us mankind, whom He had made to be even His own children.

Indeed, He has not intended for us to suffer in this world, or to suffer the pain of death. If we read through the first chapters of the Book of Genesis, we would realise just how wonderful and perfect was the world that was before the entry of sin into our hearts. Before sin came into mankind’s hearts, all things were good, and indeed were very good because God created all things perfect and good. All that men ever needed were there, and our first ancestors Adam and Eve had been given great privileges, having been given command over all other things on earth.

But mankind disobeyed the Lord, following rather their own greed and desire, tempted by the devil, instead of listening to God’s ways. And when we sinned, that was when we were sundered and separated from God’s love and grace. And by right, we would have been doomed to destruction, as a result of our own folly. But God did not give up on us, and He continued to love us all nonetheless, even as He punished our ancestors and banished them from the Garden of Eden.

To that extent of His great love, that God had given us all His laws and commandments, His precepts and ways to be followed and to be obeyed. That was what the Ten Commandments and all the laws given to Moses was about. The Law of God was meant to be a guide for us to find our way back to Him, and to repent our sins and be saved in the state of grace, having been reconciled with Him.

Yet, the reason why in the Gospel today Jesus was very angry at the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, as He also did in various other parts of the four Holy Gospels was that, the Law which God had given to men, had been misinterpreted, misunderstood, and worst of all, misused, that in the end, instead of helping to bring mankind closer to God, they ended up being used otherwise, either as means to bring glory instead to man, or to shut people out from salvation.

What do I mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? I mean that those elders and leaders of the Israelites had not been faithful in their duties and responsibilities. They had not been using the Law of God in the right manner, but instead, continued the mistakes of their ancestors. The laws which God had given to Moses had become a formality, and they had been twisted in meaning and purpose, becoming instead a series of laws that were done without understanding of its real purpose, that is for mankind to know God, to love God and to find their way to Him.

Instead, they became a burden to the people, for the Pharisees and the elders insisted that all of the people must obey the commandments and laws in its entirety, in its application, from the smallest details to the greatest. And they themselves did obey the laws, but not because they loved God, but because they were concerned about their own image, enjoying being praised and lauded for their obedience and adherence to the laws of God.

This was what Jesus meant when He criticised the Pharisees because they first criticised Him and His disciples for not washing their hands in the manner prescribed in the laws they had formulated, where the people ought to wash their hands in a certain manner, that is to wash thoroughly the entire hand and arms before they could eat or drink. But in doing so, if they did so without having God in all the things they did, then whatever they were doing would not benefit them at all.

They were also arbitrary in their judgments, allowing people to contravene the laws and commandments where they liked it, as long as they were able to benefit from it. It was just like how they allowed the Temple of God to be defiled with the presence of merchants and money changers, selling goods and even tricking people, many of them honest people and indeed poor, in order to gain profits, not just for the merchants but also for themselves.

In all that we had heard today, brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all reminded that all the things we do, we must do it with the love of God in everything. God must be the reason that we do every single thing and action in our lives, or else we are bound to do things as the Pharisees had done. Instead of bringing us closer to God, we would end up doing things that keeping us further away from Him.

We must remember always that God created us all out of love, and all that He had done for us is because of His love. He does not need anything else from us except for our obedience, and most importantly for our love. We ought to love Him in the same manner and intensity just as He had first loved us all. We must not see what God had done unto us as a matter of punishment, that God ought to be feared and obeyed without understanding that all He had done, He did it out of love for us.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all strive that each and every one of us will be able to appreciate the grace of life that all of us have received from God, the love which He had showered us with, so that we may come to the realisation that we need to repent from our sinful and wicked ways, and draw closer to God’s mercy and love. God wants to forgive us, brethren, but do we realise that we need to do something in order to be forgiven?

And that is by opening the doors of our hearts to welcome His love and His mercy. Let us all let the Lord enter into our hearts, and destroy the pride, greed, apathy, hatred, and all the things that had kept us away from being able to love God with all of our strength. May the Lord help us in this journey and strengthen our faith that we will persevere through the challenges and the difficulties that will come our way, that in the end, we will be found righteous and worthy to receive the inheritance promised to us by the Lord, but once lost because of our sins. God bless us all. Amen.