Friday, 2 February 2018 : Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 2 : 22-40

When the day came for the purification according to the law of Moses, they brought the Baby up to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord, as it is written in the law of the Lord : Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to God. And they offered a sacrifice, as ordered in the law of the Lord : a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

There lived in Jerusalem at this time a very upright and devout man named Simeon; the Holy Spirit was in him. He looked forward to the time when the Lord would comfort Israel, and he had been assured, by the Holy Spirit, that he would not die before seeing the Messiah of the Lord. So he was led into the Temple by the Holy Spirit at the time the parents brought the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the Law.

Simeon took the Child in his arms, and blessed God, saying, “Now, o Lord, You can dismiss Your servant in peace, for You have fulfilled Your word and my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You display for all the people to see. Here is the Light You will reveal to the nations, and the glory of Your people Israel.”

His father and mother wondered at what was said about the Child. Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary, His mother, “Know this : your Son is a Sign, a Sign established for the falling and rising of many in Israel, a Sign of contradiction; and a sword will pierce your own soul, so that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.”

There was also a prophetess named Anna, daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. After leaving her father’s home, she had been seven years with her husband, and since then she had been continually about the Temple, serving God as a widow night and day in fasting and prayer. She was now eighty-four. Coming up at that time, she gave praise to God, and spoke of the Child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.

When the parents had fulfilled all that was required by the law of the Lord, they returned to their town, Nazareth in Galilee. There the Child grew in stature and strength, and was filled with wisdom: the grace of God was upon Him.

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Luke 2 : 22-32

When the day came for the purification according to the law of Moses, they brought the Baby up to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord, as it is written in the law of the Lord : Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to God. And they offered a sacrifice, as ordered in the law of the Lord : a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

There lived in Jerusalem at this time a very upright and devout man named Simeon; the Holy Spirit was in him. He looked forward to the time when the Lord would comfort Israel, and he had been assured, by the Holy Spirit, that he would not die before seeing the Messiah of the Lord. So he was led into the Temple by the Holy Spirit at the time the parents brought the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the Law.

Simeon took the Child in his arms, and blessed God, saying, “Now, o Lord, You can dismiss Your servant in peace, for You have fulfilled Your word and my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You display for all the people to see. Here is the Light You will reveal to the nations, and the glory of Your people Israel.”

Friday, 2 February 2018 : Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Hebrews 2 : 14-18

And because all those children share one same nature of flesh and blood, Jesus, likewise, had to share this nature. This is why His death destroyed the one holding the power of death, that is the devil, and freed those who remained in bondage all their lifetime, because of the fear of death.

Jesus came, to take by the hand, not the Angels but the human race. So, He had to be like His brothers and sisters, in every respect, in order to be the High Priest, faithful to God and merciful to them, a Priest, able to ask pardon, and atone for their sins. Having been tested through suffering, He is able to help those who are tested.

Friday, 2 February 2018 : Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 23 : 7, 8, 9, 10

Lift up, o gateways, your lintels, open up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may enter!

Who is the King of glory? YHVH, the Strong, the Mighty, YHVH, valiant in battle.

Lift up your lintels, o gateways, open up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may enter!

Who is the King of glory? YHVH of Hosts, He is the King of glory!

Friday, 2 February 2018 : Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Malachi 3 : 1-4

Now I am sending My messenger ahead of Me to clear the way; then suddenly the Lord for Whom you long will enter the sanctuary. The Envoy of the covenant which you so greatly desire already comes, says YHVH of hosts. Who can bear the day of His coming and remain standing when He appears? For He will be like fire in the foundry and like the lye used for bleaching.

He will be as a refiner or a fuller. He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver. So YHVH will have priests who will present the offering as it should be. Then YHVH will accept with pleasure the offering of Judah and Jerusalem, as in former days.

Thursday, 1 February 2018 : 4th 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 kingdom of Israel, as we pass on from David, the faithful king and servant of God to his son, Solomon, whom the Lord had confirmed to be on the throne succeeding his father, as his father laid dying. David reminded his son Solomon, that he must remain faithful to God as his father had been faithful, and continued to walk in the righteous path, or else, God would withdraw from him His favour.

David reminded his son that God would always be with all those who have kept their faith in Him, and He would not leave them without guidance and protection. Those who trusted God would be blessed by Him, and He would provide them with what they needed, despite all the challenges and difficulties they might face. And this is also what the Lord Jesus told His disciples in our Gospel passage today.

In that Gospel passage, we heard how the Lord Jesus sent the Twelve Apostles ahead of Him, two by two, and gave them the authority to heal the sick and to cast out evil spirits. He told them not to bring anything with them, except for what is the absolute minimum. They could only bring with them a staff and a sandal, and they were not allowed to bring even a spare change of clothes.

What do all these mean, brethren? It means that all of us as the followers of God must learn to put our trust in the Lord, completely and wholeheartedly. We should not be divided in our attention towards other things, such as worldly possessions, wealth, influence, power and glory. We should not be swayed by these things and end up falling away from God’s righteousness and justice, into sin and disobedience.

And it was such that, in the history of mankind, many times we have fallen into sin, because of our attachments to money, to worldly power and glory, to all the temptations of the flesh, many of which are pulling away at us, trying to drag us down the slippery path of sin. And king David himself was not immune to those things. He fell a few times, being drawn by the temptations of lust and pride, plotted the murder of the husband of a woman he desired, and also the prideful census of his people, as he was drunk with power.

Later on, king Solomon, David’s son, would also err in his life and reign as king. He did not remain faithful to the Lord as his father had, but instead, falling into the temptations and pressures of his many foreign wives, giving in to their demands and wishes, erecting pagan idols and altars against the commands of the Lord, and therefore led the people of Israel into sin.

In all of these examples, we have fallen because we trusted too much in our own human power, ability, capacity and wealth, all the things which cause us to shift away from our obedience to God and our adherence to His ways. That was why the Lord told His Apostles to obey His strict guidelines as He sent them on their way to minister to the people and to preach His teachings among them. All of these are meant so that they would not be tempted to think that it was by their own power that they have done all the wonders and miracles among the people.

Jesus wanted them all to put their complete trust in God, and to trust in Him that He would guide their way, and that He would lead them in the right way, and not to worry about any other worldly concerns or having any doubts. And therefore, God called them to a life of total commitment and surrender, a wholehearted dedication and effort to live their lives and carry out their missions according to God’s will.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, each and every one of us as Christians are also called to dedicate ourselves to God in the same way. We should do nothing less in our respective lives than an undivided attention and focus on God, and do everything we can, in order to walk in His ways, and resist the temptations to sin and to do what is wrong and wicked in His sight.

Let us all do our best to serve the Lord ever more faithfully, day after day, so that we will grow ever closer to the Lord, and that we will be ever more devoted to Him, walking in the footsteps of our great and holy predecessors, those who have given their lives in the service of the Gospel and to the Lord, the Apostles and their successors, our bishops and priests. Let us pray for all of them, and also participate in the good works of the Church ourselves, that all of us may truly be living and genuine Christians, not in name alone, but in reality, truth and action. May God bless us all. Amen.