Tuesday, 30 January 2018 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 5 : 21-43

At that time, Jesus then crossed to the other side of the lake; and while He was still on the shore, a large crowd gathered around Him. Jairus, an official of the synagogue, came up and, seeing Jesus, threw himself at His feet; and begged Him earnestly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay Your hands on her, so that she may get well and live.”

Jesus went with him, and many people followed, pressing around Him. Among the crowd was a woman who had suffered from bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a lot at the hands of many doctors and had spent everything she had, but instead of getting better, she was worse. Because she had heard about Jesus, this woman came up behind Him and touched His cloak, thinking, “If I just touch His clothing, I shall get well.”

Her flow of blood dried up at once, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her complaint. But Jesus was conscious that healing power had gone out from Him, so He turned around in the crowd, and asked, “Who touched My clothes?” His disciples answered, “You see how the people are crowding around You. Why do You ask who touched You?”

But He kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, aware of what had happened, came forward, trembling and afraid. She knelt before Him, and told Him the whole truth. Then Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be free of this illness.”

While Jesus was still speaking, some people arrived from the official’s house to inform him, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Master any further?” But Jesus ignored what they said, and told the official, “Do not fear, just believe.” And He allowed no one to follow Him except Peter, James and John, the brother of James.

When they arrived at the house, Jesus saw a great commotion, with people weeping and wailing loudly. Jesus entered, and said to them, “Why all this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead, but asleep.” They laughed at Him. So Jesus sent them outside, and went with the child’s father and mother and His companions into the room, where the child lay.

Taking her by the hand, He said to her, “Talitha kumi!” which means, “Little girl, get up!” The girl got up at once and began to walk around. (She was twelve years old.) The parents were amazed, greatly amazed. Jesus strictly ordered them not to let anyone know about it; and He told them to give her something to eat.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 85 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6

Listen, o YHVH, and answer me, for I am afflicted and needy. Preserve my life, for I am God-fearing; save Your servant who trusts in You.

Have mercy on me, o YHVH, for I cry to You all day. Bring joy to the soul of Your servant; for You, o YHVH, I lift up my soul.

You are good and forgiving, o YHVH, caring for those who call on You. Listen, o YHVH, to my prayer, hear the voice of my pleading.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

2 Samuel 18 : 9-10, 14b, 24-25a, 30 – 2 Samuel 19 : 3

Absalom was riding a mule and happened to meet the guards of David. As the mule passed under the thick branches of a big oak tree, his head was caught in the oak tree and he was left hanging between heaven and earth, while the mule has was riding went its way. Someone reported to Joab, “I saw Absalom hanging from an oak tree.”

So Joab took three spears in his hand and thrust them into Absalom’s heart while he was still alive in the oak tree. David was sitting between the two gates. The watchman posted at the roof of the gate, on the wall, saw a man running alone. So he called out and reported to the king who said, “Move away and stand here.” He moved aside and stayed there.

The Cushite arrived and said, “Good news for my lord the king! YHVH has done you justice today and saved you from all those who rebelled against you.” The king asked the Cushite, “How is the young Absalom?” The Cushite answered, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rebel against you end up like that young man.”

The king was greatly disturbed and, going up to the room over the gate, he wept and said, “O, my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! Would that I had died instead of you, o Absalom, my son, my son!”

It was reported to Joab, “The king is weeping and mourning for Absalom.” So the victory that day turned into mourning for all the people, when they heard that the king was grieving over his son.

Monday, 29 January 2018 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we heard about the story in which David and his loyal retainers and followers went away from the city of Jerusalem, the royal capital of the kingdom of Israel, because of a great rebellion and civil war that raged at that time, led by Absalom, the eldest son of king David, and therefore, the natural heir to the throne.

The rebellion of Absalom was supported by many people, and according to historical research, he was supported by many of the disenchanted nobles and local rulers who were against the reforms carried out by David, to strengthen his royal authority and in his strong adherence to the laws of God. Those rebels supported Absalom who had an ambition of his own.

And what is that ambition? The ambition of gaining worldly power and wealth, authority and prestige. He was to be his father’s successor, only if he waited for the right time, and following the normal order of succession, meaning that he would be king upon his father’s death. But it was likely that Absalom was impatient and he seized upon the opportunity presented to him to rebel against his father David.

Then we heard how Shimei, a member of the tribe of Benjamin, cursed David and his family, and he cursed him due to the possible feud between David and some of the Benjaminites, from whom Saul, David’s predecessor as king, hailed from. He could have done that in earlier time period, in the many years since David replaced Saul and his son as king over Israel. However, he must have taken the opportunity presented by Absalom’s rebellion, and thinking that David was about to meet his downfall, Shimei used the chance to ridicule David and curse him.

After having heard and discussed all that happened during that time of civil war in David’s kingdom, let us all remember what we heard in the Gospel passage today. In that passage, we heard about Jesus’ encounter with a man possessed by evil spirits in the area called the Gerasenes, in the wilderness. No one dared to come close to him because of his affliction. No one could control him because of the demons, and he was enslaved by those evil spirits.

And the Lord cast the demons and evil spirits out of the possessed man, freeing him from his predicament. All those evil spirits feared the Lord, because they knew Who He was, and they still had to obey Him even though they had rebelled against Him. He was after all, their Lord, Master and Creator. He freed the man from the slavery to Satan, to all those who have chained him to unjust treatments.

This is related to what we have witnessed throughout the history of God’s people, in the example of David and Absalom’s bitter feud, the civil war which engulfed his kingdom. While they might not have been afflicted in the manner the possessed man had been, but many of the people were obsessed with worldly temptations of power, wealth, influence and many more, which I am sure are quite familiar to all of us.

In the history of mankind, there had been many occasions in which people would go to a great extent, even to cause suffering to others, even death, just so that they can get what they wanted. That has been the cause of many conflicts and troubles in our world, all because of the greed and the desires of man, enslaved by their attachment to the world, and therefore, easily swayed by the devil to follow the wrong path towards their downfall.

I am sure that even many among us Christians have experienced this, and indeed, have been doing these for a while. Are we able to resist that temptation to follow the devil’s ways and resist that pull for us to sin? Are we able to try to say no to his temptations and persuasions? Are we able to call on the Lord and ask Him for mercy, to be freed from the chains that bound us, just as the Lord Jesus healed the man at Gerasenes?

Let us all put our trust in God, no longer trusting in our own human abilities. Let us all overcome the temptations of the flesh, the temptations of power and human ambitions, the temptation for glory and worldly prestige. Instead, let us all look towards the Lord and see in Him, the true hope of our life. Let us be liberated from all of our past attachments and let us be truly free from all bondage to sin, and instead be worthy of the kingdom of God, as those whom God has chosen from among this world. May God be with us always. Amen.