Thursday, 11 January 2018 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 43 : 10-11, 14-15, 24-25

Yet now, You have rejected and humbled us; You no longer go forth with our armies. You have let our enemies drive us back and our adversaries plunder us.

You have made us the butt of our neighbours’ insult, the scorn and laughingstock of those around us. You have made us a byword among the nations; they look at us and shake their heads.

Awake, o Lord! Why are You asleep? Arise! Reject us not forever. Why hide Your face from us? Why forget our misery and woes?

Thursday, 11 January 2018 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Samuel 4 : 1-11

At that time Samuel was a prophet of Israel. The Israelites went out to battle against the Philistines. They encamped at Ebenezer, while the Philistines encamped at Aphek. The Philistines then drew up in battle formation. They attacked Israel and after a fierce fighting, Israel was defeated, leaving about four thousand men dead on the battlefield.

When the troops retreated to their camp, the elders of Israel asked, “Why has YHVH allowed us to be defeated by the Philistines? Let us take the Ark of God from Shiloh and bring it here so that YHVH may be with us and save us from our enemies.” So the people sent messengers to Shiloh to take the Ark of YHVH Who is seated on the Cherubim. Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, accompanied the Ark.

As soon as the Ark of YHVH entered the camp, the Israelites began to cheer so loudly that the earth resounded. The Philistines heard the shouting and asked, “What does this loud shout in the camp of the Hebrews mean?” And they were told that the Ark of YHVH had been brought to the camp.

The Philistines were overcome with fear. They exclaimed, “A God has come into the camp. Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before. Woe to us! Who can save us from the power of these mighty Gods? These are the Gods Who struck the Egyptians with all sorts of plagues – and in the desert. Take courage and conduct yourselves like men, o Philistines, lest you become slaves to the Hebrews in the same way they have been slaves to you. Be manly and fight.”

So the Philistines fought and Israel was defeated. Everyone fled to his home. It was a disastrous defeat; thirty thousand foot soldiers of Israel were killed. The Ark of God was captured and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we continue to hear about the story of the prophet and judge Samuel, during his early years, when he began to stay with Eli the judge, after having been dedicated to God’s service by his mother Hannah. Samuel did not really know God yet, as he was still very young, and he was called by Him, hearing the words, “Samuel! Samuel!” in the middle of the night.

Samuel asked Eli if he had called him, but at first Eli also did not know that it was God who called Samuel. This happened three times, until Eli recognised the truth. And Eli instructed Samuel to respond to the Lord’s call. And Samuel responded to the Lord by saying, “Lord, speak, for Your servant is listening.” And God told Samuel all that He wanted to tell him, and His grace and favour rested upon Samuel.

In the Gospel passage we heard today, we heard about the ministry of Our Lord Jesus Christ, after He had healed the mother-in-law of St. Peter, who was quite ill. He cured her from her fever and illness, and she was restored to good health. Many others brought their own sick relatives, and also those who were possessed by evil spirits and those who were afflicted in one way or another.

And the Lord healed all of them, and ministered to them. Many more came to Him and wanted to be healed by Him, and naturally they would want Him to stay with them at their place, and not to depart for any other place. Yet, the Lord Jesus chose to depart from that place to go to other places, and when His disciples asked Him, He explained that He was called to serve the people of God, not just in that one place, and many others needed Him as well.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s Scripture passages remind us about the value and the importance of discipleship and following the Lord, Our God. Each and every one of us as Christians are called and indeed have been called by the Lord, just as He has called Samuel to do His will, in the capacity he was led and taught to be, as the judge of the people of Israel and as His prophet.

Similarly therefore, as St. Paul mentioned in his Epistle to the Corinthians, that there are many kinds of spiritual gifts and talents which God has given to all of us His people. We are then called to embrace and to make use of these gifts, following on the path which He has shown us, or which He will show us in the future, that through us and our good works, we may glorify the Lord’s Name ever more.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now, let us all reflect on our own lives and actions. What have we done in response to the Lord’s call? Have we responded positively to His call and listened to Him, just as His servant Samuel had done? Or have we instead turned a deaf ear to His call and closed our hearts from Him? He has given us the free will and the choice to choose between obedience and disobedience, and between listening and not listening. It is then our choice to choose between the two.

Let us all as Christians seek to devote ourselves ever more wholeheartedly to the Lord, by first of all, answering His call and listening to Him speaking in the deepest parts of our being, that we may truly be able to understand and perceive what He has willed for us, and what He wants us to use our talents and spiritual gifts, in each and our own way.

Let us all work together, as members of God’s one and holy Church, that we will be able to actively participate in the good works of the Church, for the good of all men and women, and to glorify the Lord at all times. May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to strengthen our faith, so that we will be able to respond His call with courage and hope. May God bless us all. Amen.

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

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 1 : 29-39

At that time, on leaving the synagogue, Jesus went to the home of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. As Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with fever, they immediately told him about her. Jesus went to her and, taking her by the hand, raised her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

That evening, at sundown, people brought to Jesus all the sick and those who had evil spirits : the whole town was pressing around the door. Jesus healed many who had various diseases, and drove out many demons; but He did not let them speak, for they knew Who He was.

Very early in the morning, before daylight, Jesus went off to a lonely place where He prayed. Simon and the others went out also, searching for Him; and when they found Him, they said, “Everyone is looking for You.” Then Jesus answered, “Let us go to the nearby villages so that I may preach there too; for that is why I came.”

So Jesus set out to preach in all the synagogues throughout Galilee; He also cast out demons.