Saturday, 11 February 2017 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, World Day of the Sick (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes)
Mark 8 : 1-10

At that time, soon afterwards Jesus was in the midst of another large crowd, that obviously had nothing to eat. So He called His disciples and said to them, “I feel sorry for these people, because they have been with Me for three days and now have nothing to eat. If I send them to their homes hungry, they will faint on the way; some of them have come a long way.”

His disciples replied, “Where, in a deserted place like this, could we get enough bread to feed these people?” He asked them, “How many loaves have you?” And they answered, “Seven.” Then He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. Taking the seven loaves and giving thanks, He broke them, and handed them to His disciples to distribute. And they distributed them among the people. They also had some small fish, so Jesus said a blessing, and asked that these be shared as well.

The people ate and were satisfied. The broken pieces were collected, seven wicker baskets full of leftovers. Now those who had eaten were about four thousand in number. Jesus sent them away, and immediately got into the boat with His disciples, and went to the region of Dalmanutha.

Alternative reading (Mass of Our Lady of Lourdes)
John 2 : 1-11

At that time, three days after Jesus called Nathanael, there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus was also invited to the wedding with His disciples. When all the wine provided for the celebration had been served, and they had run out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”

Jesus replied, “Woman, what concern is that to you and Me? My hour has not yet come.” However His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.” Nearby were six stone water jars, set there for ritual washing as practiced by the Jews; each jar could hold twenty or thirty gallons.

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them to the brim. Then Jesus said, “Now draw some out and take it to the steward.” So they did. The steward tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing from where it had come; for only the servants who had drawn the water knew. So, he called the bridegroom to tell him, “Everyone serves the best wine first, and when people have drunk enough, he serves that which is ordinary. Instead you have kept the best wine until the end.”

This miraculous sign was the first, and Jesus performed it at Cana in Galilee. In this way He let His glory appear, and His disciples believed in Him.

Saturday, 11 February 2017 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, World Day of the Sick (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes)
Psalm 89 : 2, 3-4, 5-6, 12-13

Before the mountains were formed, before You made the earth and the world, from eternity to eternity – You are God.

You turn humans back to dust, saying, “Return, o mortals!” A thousand years in Your sight are like a day that has passed, or like a watch in the night.

You sow them in their time, at dawn they peep out. In the morning they blossom, but the flower fades and withers in the evening.

So make us know the shortness of our life, that we may gain wisdom of heart. How long will you be angry, o Lord? Have mercy on Your servant.

Alternative reading (Mass of Our Lady of Lourdes)
Judith 13 : 18bcde, 19

My daughter, may the Most High God bless you more than all women on earth. And blessed be the Lord God, the Creator of heaven and earth, Who has led you to behead the leader of our enemies.

Never will people forget the confidence you have shown; they will always remember the power of God.

Saturday, 11 February 2017 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, World Day of the Sick (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes)
Genesis 3 : 9-24

YHVH God called the man saying to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard Your voice in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.” God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree I ordered you not to eat?”

The man answered, “The woman You put with me gave me fruit from the tree and I ate it.” God said to the woman, “What have you done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me and I ate.”

YHVH God said to the serpent, “Since you have done that, be cursed among all the cattle and wild beasts! You will crawl on your belly and eat dust all the days of your life. I will make you enemies, you and the woman, your offspring and her offspring. He will crush your head and you will strike his heel.”

To the woman, God said, “I will increase your suffering in childbearing, and you will give birth to your children in pain. You will be dependent on your husband and he will lord it over you.” To the man, He said, “Because you have listened to your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I forbade you to eat, cursed be the soil because of you! In suffering you will provide food for yourself from it, all the days of your life.”

“It will produce thorn and thistle for you and you will eat the plants of the field. With sweat on your face you will eat your bread, until you return to clay, since it was from clay that you were taken, for you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

The man called his wife by the name of Eve, because she was the mother of all the living. YHVH God made garments of skin for the man and his wife, and with these He clothed them. Then YHVH God said, “Man has now become like one of Us making himself judge of good and evil. Let him not stretch out his hand to take and eat from the tree of life as well, and live forever.”

So God cast him from the garden of Eden to till the soil from which he had been made. And after having driven the man out, God posted Cherubim and a flaming sword that kept turning at the east of the garden of Eden to guard the way to the tree of Life.

Alternative reading (Mass of Our Lady of Lourdes)
Isaiah 66 : 10-14c

Rejoice for Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her. Be glad with her, rejoice with her, all you who were in grief over her, that you may suck of the milk from her comforting breasts, that you may drink deeply from the abundance of her glory.

For this is what YHVH says : I will send her peace, overflowing like a river; and the nations’ wealth, rushing like a torrent towards her. And you will be nursed and carried in her arms and fondled upon her lap. As a son comforted by his mother, so will I comfort you. At the sight of this, your heart will rejoice; like grass, your bones will flourish.

Friday, 10 February 2017 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Scholastica, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, in the first reading all of us heard the well-known story of how Satan, the devil, disguised as a serpent tricked our first ancestors, Adam and Eve, into eating the forbidden fruit of the Tree of knowledge of Good and Evil, which caused them to sin before God, and therefore, were cast out of the Gardens of Eden, and came under the thrall of sin and death.

It was a very important and defining moment in all of the history of humanity, as the moment when mankind turned away from God and sin entered into their hearts, making them defiled and wicked in the sight of God. It was the moment when darkness overcame us and we became rebels, delinquents, all those who have not obeyed the Lord and therefore would not have had any part in the inheritance originally promised to us by God.

Our fate would have been destruction, death, and damnation in hell, together to suffer the eternity of pain and despair with Satan and his fellow rebel angels, those who have not obeyed the Lord and instead chose to follow their own paths, succumbing to the temptations of their desires, their greed and their pride. But this was not what God intended for us when He created us, because He loved us all, and wanted us all to be freed from this fate.

That is why He sent us the deliverance through His only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. He came into this world in order to deliver us from our troubles, as we witnessed in the Gospel today, in how He went around, healing the sick and those who were beset by the evil spirits, and lifting up the hearts and minds of those who were in despair and who were downtrodden.

He came to heal us all, of all our bodily complaints and diseases, all of our human and worldly afflictions, but even more importantly, He is the only One Who can heal us of our troubles in our soul, that is our sins. While all the medicines and the cures in this world are able to heal us and make us better after we take them, capable of curing even the most difficult and deadly of diseases, and new cures being discovered from time to time, nothing will ever be able to cure us from our sins, save by the grace of God.

God came offering us mercy and forgiveness, to heal us from the taints of original sin that had corrupted our hearts, minds, bodies and souls. He came offering us this healing through Christ, Who went around healing us and bringing us the revelation of His truth, God’s ways which He offers to all those who live in sin, that they may find the folly and the mistake in their current path, and therefore, hoping that they will change their ways and repent their sins.

But the problem lies in the fact that we often resist the forgiveness of God. We often run away from God’s mercy, either because we are too afraid of Him that He will be angry at us and punish us, or because we are too proud to admit that we have been wrong, and therefore, we persisted in our ways of sin, and did not repent from our faults.

All these are the common reasons why mankind often slipped further and further into sin. These are the reasons why many people were lost forever from God, because of their own reluctance, refusal and stubbornness to reject the offer of God’s mercy and love. This is what all of us Christians must take note about, and what we need to reflect on, lest we ourselves also fall to the same trap.

We should now heed the examples of the holy saint whose feast we celebrate today, namely that of St. Scholastica, a holy and devout woman, who lived in the early days of the Church. She was the twin sister of another holy saint, St. Benedict of Nursia, the founder of the Benedictine religious order. St. Scholastica herself led a faithful and pious life just as her brother had.

St. Scholastica dedicated her whole life to God, living in prayerful existence and it was told that she practiced many acts of charity to her neighbours and peers, and also helped many others who are in need of help, both physically and spiritually. She was an exemplary woman, whose holiness and deeds were matched by her own brother, St. Benedict, whose dedications and faith became a beacon of light leading many others to God.

As Christians, all of us should follow the example of St. Scholastica, learning to be upright and just in all of our dealings and actions. We should become examples for each other, reminding one another to remain true to the teachings of our faith in the Church, and devote ourselves day after day to the works of charity, and dedicate ourselves to those who are in need.

May the Lord help us in all of our endeavours, and may He strengthen in us our faith, and awaken the love and devotion we ought to have for Him in our hearts. May the Lord bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 10 February 2017 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Scholastica, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Mark 7 : 31-37

At that time, again Jesus set out : from the country of Tyre He passed through Sidon and, skirting the sea of Galilee, He came to the territory of Decapolis. There a deaf man, who also had difficulty in speaking, was brought to Him. They asked Jesus to lay His hand upon him.

Jesus took him apart from the crowd, put His fingers into the man’s ears, and touched his tongue with spittle. Then, looking up to heaven, He groaned and said to him, “Ephphata!” that is, “Be opened!”

And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was loosened, and he began to speak clearly. Jesus ordered them not to tell anyone about it, but the more He insisted, the more they proclaimed it. The people were completely astonished and said, “He has done all things well; He makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.”

Friday, 10 February 2017 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Scholastica, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White
Psalm 31 : 1-2, 5, 6, 7

Blessed is the one whose sin is forgiven, whose iniquity is wiped away. Blessed are those in whom the Lord sees no guilt and in whose spirit is found no deceit.

Then I made known to You my sin and uncovered before You my fault, saying to myself, “To the Lord I will now confess my wrong.” And You, You forgave my sin, You removed my guilt.

So let the faithful ones pray to You in time of distress; the overflowing waters will not reach them.

You are my refuge; You protect me from distress and surround me with songs of deliverance.

Friday, 10 February 2017 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Scholastica, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Genesis 3 : 1-8

Now the serpent was the most crafty of all the wild creatures that YHVH God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say : You must not eat from any tree in the garden?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees in the garden, but of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden God said : You must not eat, and you must not touch it or you will die.”

The serpent said to the woman, “You will not die, but God knows that the day you eat it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil.” The woman saw that the fruit was good to eat, and pleasant to the eyes, and ideal for gaining knowledge. She took its fruit and ate it and gave some to her husband who was with her. He ate it.

Then their eyes were opened and both of them knew they were naked. So they sewed leaves of a fig tree together and made themselves loincloths. They heard the voice of YHVH God walking in the garden, in the cool of the day, and they, the man and his wife, hid from YHVH God among the trees of the garden.