Saturday, 13 January 2018 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hilary, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Mark 2 : 13-17

At that time, when Jesus went out again, beside the lake, a crowd came to Him, and He taught them. As He walked along, He saw a tax collector sitting in his office. This was Levi, the son of Alpheus. Jesus said to him, “Follow Me!” And Levi got up and followed Him.

And it so happened that, when Jesus was eating in Levi’s house, tax collectors and sinners sat with Him and His disciples; there were a lot of them, and they used to follow Jesus. But Pharisees, men educated in the Law, when they saw Jesus eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to His disciples, “Why does your Master eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

Jesus heard them, and answered, “Healthy people do not need a doctor, but sick people do. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Saturday, 13 January 2018 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hilary, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Psalm 20 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7

The king rejoices in Your strength, o YHVH, and exults in Your saving help. You have granted him his desire; You have not rejected his request.

You have come to him with rich blessings; You have placed a golden crown upon his head. When he asked, You gave him life – length of days forever and ever.

He glories in the victory You gave him; You shall bestow on him splendour and majesty. You have given him eternal blessings, and gladdened him with the joy of Your presence.

Saturday, 13 January 2018 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hilary, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

1 Samuel 9 : 1-4, 17-19 and 1 Samuel 10 : 1a

There was a man from the tribe of Benjamin whose name was Kish. He was the son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, a valiant Benjaminite. Kish had a son named Saul, a handsome young man who had no equal among the Israelites, for he was a head taller than any of them.

It happened that the asses of Kish were lost. So he said to his son Saul, “Take one of the boys with you and go look for the asses.” They went all over the hill country of Ephraim and the land of Shalishah but did not find them. They passed through the land of Shaalim and the land of Benjamin, but the asses were nowhere to be found.

So, when Samuel saw Saul, YHVH told him, “Here is the man I spoke to you about! He shall rule over My people.” Saul approached Samuel in the gateway and said, “Tell me, where is the house of the seer?” Samuel answered Saul, “I am the seer. Go up ahead of me to the high place, for today you shall eat with me. In the morning, before you leave, I will tell you all that is in your heart.”

Then Samuel took a vial of oil and poured it on Saul’s head.

Friday, 12 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 Scripture passages, telling us about what had happened at the time when the people of Israel asked Samuel, prophet and judge of Israel, to ask God to give them a king to rule over them. And then, in the Gospel passage, we heard about the time when Jesus healed a paralytic man who was brought to him, and how He confronted the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who disapproved of His actions.

In the first reading, to provide us with the historical contexts of what happened during the time of the judge Samuel, Israel had been led by the judges appointed by the Lord, to be the leaders of His people, between the time when they arrived in the Promised Land after their Exodus from Egypt, to the time of the judge Samuel, the last one of the judges.

The people wanted to have a king to rule over them, much as their neighbours had, as each of those peoples were ruled by their own kings. The judges differ from the traditional kingship in that, they did not pass on their rule as judge to their descendants, unlike the traditional kingship and monarchy where the ruler passes on his or her rule to the descendant in a dynasty.

And ultimately, a judge was appointed by God Himself, called from among His people and granted the strength and wisdom to lead the people of Israel. They were not perfect or blameless, as some of the judges did fall astray from their intended mission, for example, Samson as well as Gibeon and his family. But they remained true to the mission entrusted to them to the very end.

They gained their authority from God, and they ruled over the people as the representatives or vicars of God’s will. Ultimately, that is also what a king ought to be doing, as the rule of the judges made way for the rule of the kings. However, eventually, as is evident in the Book of Kings and the Book of Chronicles, mentioning the kings that followed after Saul, David and Solomon, the first kings of Israel, we can see how the kings grew to be corrupt and wicked, and disobedient against God.

That is because they gradually placed their own interest, the interest of their families and clans, their personal ambitions and worldly desires ahead of their obligations and responsibilities as the kings and leaders of Israel, as those whom the Lord had entrusted to lead His people Israel to the right path. As a result, they misled the people into sin, and many sorrowful events happened because of the disobedience of the people of God.

And that is linked to what happened in the Gospel today, as we listened to how the Lord Jesus healed the paralytic man because of his faith, and the faith of those men who had braved climbing up to the roof to bring the paralytic man towards Jesus. He forgave him his sins, and he was healed at once. Yet, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law criticised Jesus severely, and rebuking Him for claiming to be like God, as according to them, only God is capable of forgiving sins.

They have been entrusted with the leadership and guidance over the people, and they ended up misleading the people due to their narrow-minded and prejudiced attitude, in their flawed interpretation of God’s laws. They ended up resisting and challenging the good works of the Lord, which He performed before the sight of many people, in order to reconcile them to Himself. They refused to accept and acknowledge Him, and they even persecuted Him and His disciples.

What is the lesson that each and every one of us can learn from this? All of us are called to serve the Lord with all of our hearts and with all of our strengths and capabilities. And we have to learn to put our trust in God and in His plans for us. Our predecessors have erred because they have allowed worldly temptations of power, glory and many other forms of persuasions, which became distractions for us.

Let us all learn from the mistakes of our predecessors, and begin to put our trust in God, and renew our faith in Him. Let us not harden our hearts against Him as they had done, but instead let us all seek to follow His examples in mercy, by showing our brethren the same love and compassion which God has shown to His people, by His healing of the sick and the downtrodden, and by His constant companionship for each one of us, in our daily living.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to bless us and all of our works, each and every day, that we may draw ever closer to Him, and continue to walk faithfully in His path, all along towards eternal life and salvation in Him. Amen.