Friday, 19 January 2018 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking unto us a very wonderful and amazing act of mercy and forgiveness which David, the faithful servant of God performed, when he was given the perfect opportunity to get what he wanted. At that time, as we heard in the first reading today from the Book of the prophet Samuel, king Saul had been searching many places for David, his rival to the throne.

David was a fugitive and a rebel, in the eyes of the king and his people, not because of what he himself had done, as David had been very loyal to the king, even though he knew that he was to be the one to replace Saul as king, as God Himself had decreed. He certainly had many opportunities to rise up against Saul and install himself as king, overthrowing his predecessor. His popularity after his victory against Goliath and his many other victories in battle made him enormously popular amongst the people, even more so than Saul.

But David did not do all that, and even as in today’s Scripture passage we heard of a perfect opportunity for him to overthrow Saul, he refused to take the chance. At that time, king Saul was resting after he was feeling tired going around many places to hunt for David. And it happened that David was in that same cave as well. Even his compatriots and advisers persuaded him to go forth and slay Saul who was sleeping, unaware of the great danger he was in.

Instead, David rebuked them and said that they must not touch the one who have been anointed by God as king. David himself had been anointed by Samuel to be king over Israel, but so did Saul, and in David’s sight, only God alone has the right to decide when Saul would die and meet his end, and not by any human hands. In fact, if we read on the next Book of the prophet Samuel, when king Saul killed himself to avoid capture or humiliation at the battle against the Philistines, and a man tried to capitalise on that by claiming that he had killed Saul before David, David had the man executed for high treason.

David showed all of us the example of good discipleship, obeying the Lord and walking righteously in His path. While he was not perfect as he also committed some crucial errors during his later reign as king, but even as he committed those sinful acts, he recognised them and was very remorseful for all that he had done, which was against the Lord’s will. In several of David’s psalms, including the one which is used for today’s Mass, he highlighted the importance of penance and regret for one’s sins in looking for God’s mercy and forgiveness.

In today’s Gospel, we then heard about the Lord Jesus and His calling of the Twelve Apostles. He chose twelve from among the disciples to be His principle disciples and servants, through whom He would bring to mankind the fullness of His Good News and good works. He called them from among the people, from various backgrounds, and many of them were illiterate and ordinary people.

Yet, He empowered them and showed them with His truth and teachings, guiding them and preparing them for a lifetime of service. Not everything went perfectly well of course, as we knew how Judas Iscariot betrayed the Lord and fell off from grace. Judas Iscariot did not obey the Lord but instead he followed his own corrupted desires, and this is the path which we should not be following.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us as Christians are also called to be like the Apostles, and to be like king David, to be like all of them in their obedience to the Lord, their surrender to the Lord’s will, and their commitment to live their lives wholeheartedly out of love for God and for their fellow men. It is important that we should not just live a life empty of faith, as without doing all that we are supposed to be doing as those who follow the Lord, our faith is empty and meaningless.

Therefore, let us all reevaluate our lives and think of the ways in which we can live our lives with greater commitment, by not turning away from our brothers and sisters, should they be in need of help and love. There are many in our world today who are suffering from neglect, abandonment, and even persecution. It is up to us then, to reach out to them in various ways available to us, and love them.

Then, all of us will be considered worthy to be counted among the good servants of God, including king David and the Apostles of the Lord. Let us all strive towards this goal in our respective lives, that eventually, we will share the eternal glory and joy which God has promised to all of us, His faithful people. Amen.

Friday, 19 January 2018 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 3 : 13-19

At that time, Jesus went up into the hill country, and called those He wanted, and they came to Him. He appointed Twelve to be with Him, and He called them ‘Apostles.’ He wanted to send them out to preach; and He gave them authority to drive out demons.

These are the Twelve : Simon, to whom He gave the name Peter; James, son of Zebedee, and John his brother, to whom He gave the name Boanerges, which means ‘men of thunder’; Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alpheus, Thaddeus, Simon the Canaanean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him.

Friday, 19 January 2018 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 56 : 2, 3-4, 6 and 11

Have mercy on me, o God, have mercy; for my soul takes refuge in You; I will find shelter in the shadow of Your wings, till the disaster has passed.

I call on God the Most High; on God, Who has done everything for me : may He send from heaven, a Saviour, and put my oppressors to shame. May God send me His love and faithfulness.

Be exalted, o God, above the heavens! Your glory be over all the earth! For Your love reaches to the heavens, and Your faithfulness, to the clouds.

Friday, 19 January 2018 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Samuel 24 : 3-21

So Saul took three thousand picked men from all Israel and went in search of David and his men to the east of the Wild Goat crags. When he came to the sheepfolds along the way, he entered a cave to relieve himself.

Now David and his men were far back in the cave. David’s men said to him, “This is the day which YHVH spoke of : ‘Look I will deliver your enemy into your hands and you will do with him as you see fit.’” So David moved up and stealthily cut off an end of Saul’s robe. But afterward, David regretted having cut off an end of Saul’s robe, and he said to his men, “Let me not lay my hands on my master, for he is YHVH’s anointed.”

With these words, David restrained his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. Saul then left the cave and went on his way. Then David himself stepped out of the cave and called after Saul, “My master, the king!” When Saul looked back, David knelt and then bowed to the ground in homage and asked him, “Why do you listen to those who say that I want to harm you?”

“Look, today you have seen that YHVH delivered you into my hands in the cave. I was told to kill you but I held myself back and said : ‘I will not lift my hands against my master who is YHVH’s anointed.’ My father, look at this end of your robe which I am holding! I cut off the end of your robe but did not kill you.”

“Now you may know that I mean you no harm or treason. I have done you no wrong and yet you are hunting me down to kill me. May YHVH be judge between you and me; and may He exact justice from you in my case. But I shall do you no harm. As the saying goes, ‘From the wicked comes wickedness’; as for me, my hand shall not harm you.”

“But who is it you are after, o king of Israel? Are you pursuing a dead dog? A flea? May YHVH be Judge between you and me. May He see and uphold my cause and deliver me from your hands.”

After David had spoken these words, Saul asked, “Is that your voice, my son David?” He wept aloud and said to David, “You are right and I am wrong, for you have repaid with kindness the harm I have inflicted on you. This day you have shown your righteousness to me by not taking my life when YHVH put me into your hands. For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go unharmed?”

“May YHVH reward you for what you have done for me today. Now I know for certain that you shall reign and the kingdom of Israel will be firm in your hand.”

Thursday, 18 January 2018 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us first of all about what happened between king Saul of Israel and David, whom God had chosen to be the successor and replacement of Saul due to his disobedience. And then, in the Gospel passage, we heard about the Lord Jesus and His ministry among the people, drawing many people who came to Him to listen to His words and to be healed.

In the first reading we heard, king Saul became increasingly jealous of David, because his achievements were more celebrated than his, and he knew that the Lord has chosen David to become his successor and replacement. Therefore, in his jealousy and refusal to obey God’s will, Saul wanted to eliminate David so as to preserve his kingdom to himself and to his own family even if that was to go against God’s will.

But Saul’s son, Jonathan, was David’s good friend, and he knew of what his father was planning against David. Thus, he went out of his way to warn David and to help him escape from Saul’s intended wicked plans for him. And Jonathan also spoke on behalf of David before his father Saul, asking the king to rethink his decision to move against David. Through his arguments and words, he managed to prevent the king from achieving his intended plans.

It was Saul’s pride and ambition which caused him to do all the things that led him further down the path of sin and disobedience against God. He was blinded by his pride which prevented him from obeying and recognising the fact that he was disobedient, and that was why he was overlooked, to be replaced by David, who was more faithful and committed than he was, in the leadership of the people of Israel.

Saul instead doubled down on his wickedness, and tried to have David killed so as to remove this threat to his kingship and authority. But that was not what God intended to happen with David. Regardless of all that Saul had planned, none of them materialised, and God’s will was still to be done. Then, we heard from the Gospel about the time when Jesus went about from place to place to teach the people and to heal them.

Many people came to Him and believed in Him. He made Himself available to them, as the Saviour King Who came to save His beloved ones. He came to serve and not to be served. He showed all by His examples, by His own dedication and commitment to His Father’s will, and by this, He was glorified. This is the same example that each and every one of us should follow as Christians, as those who believe in the Lord and profess our faith in Him.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us reflect on these Scripture passages which we have just heard. Let us reflect on our own individual lives, our every actions and deeds. Have we been obedient to the Father’s will as the Lord Jesus had done, and as His servant David had done? Or have we instead allowed ourselves to be swayed and turned asunder by worldly ambitions and desires as what king Saul had done?

There are still many things which each one of us as Christians are able to do in living our lives faithfully and with commitment. We need to look beyond the concerns of this world, and learn to let go of our pride and human desires, which have so often caused us to fall into sin and causing the divisions and intrigues among ourselves. That is in fact, part of the reason which caused so many divisions in the Church.

Today, as we begin the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, let us all pray sincerely and earnestly, that all of those who have been misguided and swayed by false teachings and untruths may rediscover the true faith in God, which can be found in the Church alone, the one and indivisible Church, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church under the leadership of the Pope, the Vicar of Christ, the one who was entrusted by the Lord with the governance over His entire people.

May the Lord be with us all, that all of us may live our lives ever more faithfully, day after day, that in everything we say and do, we will draw ever closer to Him and to His salvation. May He bless us all, and bring us closer to true unity in the Church, that one day we will be completely reunited again, as God’s One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Amen.

Thursday, 18 January 2018 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 3 : 7-12

At that time, Jesus and His disciples withdrew to the lakeside, and a large crowd from Galilee followed Him. A great number of people also came from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, Transjordan, and from the region of Tyre and Sidon, for they had heard of all that He was doing.

Because of the crowd, Jesus told His disciples to have a boat ready for Him, to prevent the people from crushing Him. He healed so many, that all who had diseases kept pressing toward Him to touch Him. Even the people who had evil spirits, whenever they saw Him, they would fall down before Him and cry out, “You are the Son of God.” But He warned them sternly not to tell anyone Who He was.