Saturday, 3 February 2018 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Blaise, Bishop and Martyr, and St. Ansgar, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Bishops)

Mark 6 : 30-34

At that time, the Apostles returned and reported to Jesus all they had done and taught. Then He said to them, “Let us go off by ourselves into a remote place and have some rest.” For there were so many people coming and going that the Apostles had no time even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a secluded area by themselves.

But people saw them leaving, and many could guess where they were going. So, from all the towns, they hurried there on foot, arriving ahead of them. As Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He had compassion on them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd. And He began to teach them many things.

Saturday, 3 February 2018 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Blaise, Bishop and Martyr, and St. Ansgar, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Bishops)

Psalm 118 : 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

How can young people remain pure? By living according to Your word.

I seek You with my whole heart; let me not stray from Your commands.

In my heart I have kept Your word, that I may not sin against my YHVH.

Praise to You, o YHVH; instruct me in Your statutes.

That, with my lips, I may declare all Your spoken decrees.

I delight in following Your laws, more so than in all riches.

Saturday, 3 February 2018 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Blaise, Bishop and Martyr, and St. Ansgar, Bishop (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Bishops)

1 Kings 3 : 4-13

The king used to sacrifice at Gibeon, the great high place; on the altar there he had offered a thousand burnt offerings. It was in Gibeon, during the night, that YHVH appeared to Solomon in a dream and said, “Ask what you want Me to give you.”

Solomon answered, “You have shown Your servant David my father a great and steadfast love because he served You faithfully and was righteous and sincere towards You. You have given him proof of Your steadfast love in making a son of his sit on his throne this day.”

“And now, o YHVH my God, You have made Your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a young boy who does not know how to undertake anything. Meantime, Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen – a people so great that they can neither be numbered nor counted.”

“Give me, therefore, an understanding mind in governing Your people that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to govern this multitude of people of Yours?”

YHVH was pleased that Solomon had made this request. And He told him, “Because you have requested this rather than long life or wealth or even vengeance on your enemies; indeed, because you have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, I shall grant you your request. I now give you a wise and discerning mind such as no one has had before you nor anyone after you shall ever have.”

“I will also give you what you have not asked for, both wealth and fame; and no king shall be your equal during your lifetime.”

Friday, 2 February 2018 : Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we marked a great occasion with celebration the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord Jesus Christ at the Temple of God in Jerusalem. This day marks the fortieth day since the Solemnity of Christmas Day and traditionally marked the end of the Christmas season. This brings us another reminder that as the liturgical year moves on from the celebration of Christ’s birth towards His Passion and suffering and death during the Holy Week, we should reflect more deeply on His life and His actions.

On this day we remember the moment when the Lord was brought to the Temple in Jerusalem, to be presented and consecrated to God, in accordance to the laws of Moses, as St. Joseph and Mary were law-abiding and devout believer in God. All the firstborn sons of Israel must be offered to God and consecrated to Him, as a sign of the continuing covenant between Him and His people.

Jesus is the firstborn Son of Mary and St. Joseph, and although St. Joseph might have had another child from a previous marriage, or that St. Joseph was not the biological father of the Lord Jesus but merely His foster-father, yet legally he is the father of the Lord Jesus, and for that, Jesus was, in accordance of the law, to be consecrated to God in the Temple.

Jesus was presented to the Lord as the perfect and worthy sacrificial victim, presaging His sacrifice on the cross, by which He was to save the whole world and bring all those who believed in Him into eternal life and salvation. The prophet Simeon and the seer Anna, the prophetess were there at the Temple, and they welcomed the Lord Who came to His people, fulfilling His promises to them.

They told Mary and St. Joseph all that the Baby Jesus would come to do in due time, to save the people by His wondrous deeds, ultimately His loving sacrifice on the cross. It must have been hard for them to believe in all these at first, but they, particularly Mary, treasured all these things in her heart and kept their faith in what God had planned for all of them.

In the second reading today, St. Paul in his Epistle to the Hebrews, or the Jewish Christians spoke about Jesus as the High Priest of all the people. This is a common recurring theme he used throughout that Epistle to the Hebrews, referring to the Lord Jesus as the one and true High Priest, through Whom God willed to bring His people to salvation and liberation from all of their sins and to rescue them from their downfall.

In the past, the priests of Israel offered regular sacrifices of animal offerings, the offerings of blood, fats and others for the purpose of the reconciliation between God and His people, as the blood of the animals outpoured would symbolise the cleansing of the sins of the people, supposedly paid for by the blood of the offerings and also marked the renewal of the Covenant between God and His people.

However, those priests needed to offer the gifts and sacrificial offerings again and again because those offerings of bulls, rams and goats cannot have brought about the liberation of us mankind from all of our sins. The only One with the authority, power and ability to liberate us from the multitudes of our sins is none other than the Lord Jesus Himself, Son of God and Saviour of the whole world.

That is because He offered not the blood of animals and creatures, but rather His own Precious and Divine Blood, offered on the altar of sacrifice at Calvary. He willingly and voluntarily surrendered Himself to suffering and death, so that by His death, and later on, glorious resurrection, He could save all the people, and redeem all of them from their sins and wickedness.

That is His loving gift to all of us, which we commemorate every time we celebrate the Holy Mass. The Lord Himself has become our eternal High Priest, offering for our sake the oblations for the purification of our souls, bodies, hearts and minds. There is nothing more worthy or precious than the selfless offering of love, made by none other than Jesus, the Saviour of all mankind.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day it is good for us to pray for all those who have dedicated their lives to serve the Lord and to serve His people in the same way as those who live a consecrated life, the religious priests, brothers and sisters and all those who have devoted their whole lives to serve the Lord as a member of the religious orders and also institutes of consecrated life.

They have answered the Lord’s call to a life dedicated to Him, following the examples set by none other than the Lord Jesus Himself. Just as Jesus has been consecrated and presented to God, dedicating His whole earthly life and existence to follow and obey His Father’s will, all the way to the cross and to Calvary, where He obeyed His Father’s will and died for all of us, our courageous religious brothers and sisters and all who lived a consecrated life have sacrificed a lot for the sake of us all and for the Church.

Let us all pray for them and give them our support and encouragement, our fullest backing and prayers, that they may continue to persevere in doing what the Lord had called them to do, be it in the ministry to God’s people in various capacities, in the Catholic education and evangelisation, in prayerful life in cloisters and monasteries, and many more. Let us all give our support to them, and from among us, those who among us whom the Lord has called, let us all discern carefully and thoughtfully what God wants us to do with our lives.

Let us all, each and every one of us renew our commitment to the Lord, each and every days of our life. May the Lord empower each one of us to live faithfully in whichever vocations and directions which He has led us to. May the Lord, Whose presentation and consecration at the Temple we remember today, will always bless us and strengthen us in our resolve to live ever more committed and devoutly in God. Amen.