Wednesday, 10 January 2018 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 39 : 2 and 5, 7-8a, 8b-9, 10

With resolve I waited for YHVH; He listened and heard me beg. Blessed is the one who relies on YHVH and does not look to the proud, nor go astray after false gods.

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 YHVH, I did not seal – You know that very well.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Samuel 3 : 1-10, 19-20

The boy Samuel ministered to YHVH under Eli’s care in a time in which the word of YHVH was rarely heard. Visions were not seen. One night Eli was lying down in his room, half blind as he was. The lamp of God was still lighted and Samuel also lay in the house of YHVH near the Ark of God.

Then YHVH called, “Samuel! Samuel!” Samuel answered, “I am here!” and ran to Eli saying, “I am here, did you not call me?” But Eli said, “I did not call. Go back to sleep.” So he went and lay down. Then YHVH called again, “Samuel!” and Samuel stood up and went to Eli saying, “You called me; I am here.” But Eli answered, “I did not call you, my son. Go back to sleep.”

Samuel did not yet know YHVH; and the word of YHVH had not yet been revealed to him. But YHVH called Samuel for the third time; and he went again to Eli saying, “I am here for you have called me.” Eli realised that it was YHVH calling the boy. So he said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if He calls you again, answer : ‘Speak, YHVH, Your servant listens.’”

Then YHVH came and stood there calling “Samuel! Samuel!” as He did before. And Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant listens.” Samuel grew. YHVH was with him and made all his words become true. All Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, knew that Samuel was really YHVH’s prophet.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the moment when Hannah, the mother of the judge and prophet Samuel, prayed to the Lord and asked Him to grant her wish to have a child. As some background information, Hannah was one of the two wives of Elkanah, as mentioned in the Book of the prophet Samuel. While Penninah, the other wife had many children with Elkanah, but Hannah had none, and Penninah often ridiculed Hannah and bullied her.

In order to understand the full gravity of what had happened at that time, we have to understand that for the Jewish people, marriage and family is considered a blessing from God. And having children through marriage is an obligation, as according to the Book of Genesis, God Himself commanded mankind to go forth and multiply, through marriage and by giving birth to their children.

Therefore, there was a great prejudice against those who were barren and without children, as a kind of social stigma, which partly explained why Penninah gloated over Hannah, and why Hannah was so upset that she was not able to bear a child to Elkanah, while Penninah bore many children in return. And Hannah prayed sincerely to God, begging Him to listen to her pleas, and God, Who knew all that He would do through her, answered Hannah’s prayer and gave her a son, Samuel.

Then, in the Gospel today, we heard of how Jesus Our Lord cast out demons and evil spirits from a man who was possessed by them. He commanded with great authority and power, and the evil spirits had no choice but to obey Him. They went out from the man and the possessed man was thus healed completely from his troubles. God showed His loving and tender care through the power and authority of His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

In each of the stories that we heard today, both regarding Hannah and the man who was possessed by the evil spirits, we heard of people who were downtrodden and suffering. One of them suffered from humiliation and constant bullying, while the other one suffered from possession by the evil spirits, and God rescued all of them by His mighty deeds, bringing them into His saving grace.

We can see through what we have witnessed in the Sacred Scriptures, that God is always loving and faithful to the Covenant which He had made with us mankind. He will protect the weak, the lowly and the downtrodden, while bringing down and destroying the plans of the proud, the wicked, the haughty and all those who had no concern for their fellow brothers and sisters.

He has released us mankind from the chains of sin which prevented us from truly being able to reunite with Him, just as He has released Hannah from the chains of her humiliation and barrenness, and how He has released the possessed man from the chains imposed on him by the evil spirits. He has given us a new hope and light, where there was once darkness and despair. He has given us a new love, where there was once bitter hatred and anger.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, today each and every one of us are called to follow the Lord, and to learn to put our complete trust in Him. For it is in Him alone that we will receive true satisfaction and perfect fulfilment of all that we will ever need in life. Let us pray fervently to the Lord, like what Hannah had done, and give all of our heart to Him, opening ourselves to receive His love and grace.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to love us as He has always done, and guide us on our journey of faith towards Him. May He give us the strength and courage that we need, in order to persevere through the difficult moments and challenges we will surely encounter on our way. May God bless us always and be with all of our endeavours. Amen.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 1 : 21b-28

At that time, Jesus taught in the synagogue on the Sabbath day. The people were astonished at the way He taught, for He spoke as One having authority, and not like the teachers of the Law. It happened that, a man with an evil spirit was in their synagogue, and he shouted, “What do You want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are : You are the Holy One of God.”

Then Jesus faced him and said with authority, “Be silent, and come out of this man!” The evil spirit shook the man violently and, with a loud shriek, came out of him. All the people were astonished, and they wondered, “What is this? With what authority He preaches! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey Him!”

And Jesus’ fame spread throughout all the country of Galilee.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Samuel 2 : 1, 4-5, 6-7, 8abcd

My heart exults in YHVH, I feel strong in my God. I rejoice and laugh at my enemies for You came with power to save me.

The bow of the mighty is broken, but the weak are girded with strength. The well-fed must labour for bread, but the hungry need work no more. The childless wife has borne seven children, but the proud mother is left alone.

YHVH is Lord of life and death. He brings down to the grave and raises up. YHVH makes poor and makes rich, He brings low and He exalts.

He lifts up the lowly from the dust, and raises the poor from the ash heap; they will be called to the company of princes, and inherit a seat of honour.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Samuel 1 : 9-20

After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah stood up not far from Eli, the priest whose seat was beside the doorpost of YHVH’s House. Deeply distressed she wept and prayed to YHVH and made this vow : “O YHVH of Hosts, if You will have compassion on Your maidservant and give me a son, I will put him in Your service for as long as he lives and no razor shall touch his head.”

As she prayed before YHVH, Eli observed the movement of her lips. Hannah was praying silently; she moved her lips but uttered no sound and Eli thought Hannah was drunk. He, therefore, said to her : “For how long will you be drunk? Let your drunkenness pass.”

But Hannah answered : “No, my lord, I am a woman in great distress, not drunk. I have not drunk wine or strong drink, but I am pouring out my soul before YHVH. Do not take me for a bad woman. I was so afflicted that my prayer flowed continuously.”

Then Eli said, “Go in peace and may the God of Israel grant you what you asked for.” Hannah answered, “Let Your maidservant deserve Your kindness.” Then she left the Temple; and when she was at table she seemed a different woman. Elkanah rose early in the morning and worshipped before YHVH with his wives. Then they went back home to Ramah.

When Elkanah slept with his wife, Hannah, YHVH took compassion on her, and she became pregnant. She gave birth to a son and called him Samuel because she said : “I have asked YHVH to give him to me.”