Tuesday, 15 January 2019 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 1 : 21b-28

At that time, Jesus taught in the synagogue on the sabbath day. The people were astonished at the way He taught, for He spoke as One having authority and not like the teachers of the Law.

It happened that a man with an evil spirit was in their synagogue, and he shouted, “What do You want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know Who You are : You are the Holy One of God.”

Then Jesus faced him and said with authority, “Be silent, and come out of this man!” The evil spirit shook the man violently and, with a loud shriek, came out of him. All the people were astonished, and they wondered, “What is this? With what authority He preaches! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey Him!” And Jesus’ fame spread throughout all the country of Galilee.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 8 : 2a and 5, 6-7, 8-9

O Lord, our Lord, how great is Your Name throughout the earth! What is man that You be mindful of him, the Son of Man, that You should care for Him?

Yet You made Him a little lower than the Angels; You crowned Him with glory and honour and gave Him the works of Your hands; You have put all things under His feet.

Sheep and oxen without number and even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, the fish of the sea, and all that swim the paths of the ocean.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Hebrews 2 : 5-12

The Angels were not given dominion over the new world of which we are speaking. Instead someone declared in Scripture : What is man, that You should be mindful of him, what is the Son of Man that You should care for Him? For a while You placed Him a little lower than the Angels, but You crowned Him with glory and honour. You have given Him dominion over all things.

When it is said that God gave Him dominion over all things, nothing is excluded. As it is, we do not yet see His dominion over all things. But Jesus Who suffered death and for a little while was placed lower than the Angels has been crowned with honour and glory. For the merciful plan of God demanded that He experience death on behalf of everyone.

God, from Whom all come and by Whom all things exist, wanted to bring many children to glory, and He thought it fitting to make perfect through suffering the Initiator of their salvation. So He Who gives and those who receive holiness are one. He Himself is not ashamed of calling us brothers and sisters, as we read : Lord, I will proclaim Your Name to My brothers; I will praise You in the congregation.

Monday, 14 January 2019 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we begin the time of the Ordinary Time, which will take place between now and the beginning of the season of Lent on Ash Wednesday. And although this period of time is called the Ordinary Time, but we must not think of it as a time when things are ordinary and nothing special is commemorated or observed. On the other hand, we should reflect on the flow of the liturgical year in order for us to understand what we need to do as Christ’s followers.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this period of time between Christmas and the season of Lent was marked at the beginning yesterday by the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which commemorated the baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ in the River Jordan, at the age of approximately thirty years, marking the beginning of His earthly ministry, when He began to teach the people and proclaim the truth of God to them.

And this is significant because, all of us as Christians have shared in the same baptism that He has received, marked by the Holy Name of the Trinity, as God’s own children. At the baptism of Our Lord, the Holy Trinity was also present, the Father’s voice that proclaimed the Sonhood of Christ, Christ Himself as the Son, and the dove descending upon Him as the Holy Spirit, three Divine Persons, One God all present then, just as at the baptism of each and every one of us.

As such, we can see that we share in the same ministry and work the Lord Himself has taken up at His baptism, to obey the will of God and to do the good works of God. He began His works, as we heard in the Gospel passage today, calling upon those whom He had chosen, to become His disciples and followers, to be the fishers of men. And from then on, the works of God begun and His Church grew.

We are also therefore called to follow in the footsteps of the Apostles and the disciples, to continue the many good works they have begun. The Lord has commanded them all to go forth to the nations, and to baptise them in the Name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, as the Church had done for the past two millennia and more, and also to proclaim the truth of the Lord as written in the Scriptures and as preserved in the Apostolic Tradition of the Church.

But the works are far from being done and completed. In fact, there are still many avenues and opportunities available for us to provide our talents and abilities, our time and effort in bringing the truth of God, His love and His promise of salvation to more people among all the nations and races. And it is through us, those who belong in the Church in the modern day, those who have received the Sacrament of Baptism, to continue the mission that God had entrusted to us, His disciples.

Now, are we able and willing to commit our effort and time to serve the Lord and to do what we are supposed to do as Christians, as those who believe in God and walk in His ways? Are we able to practice our faith daily, in each and every actions we do, and in everything we say, so that those who see us may truly know that we belong to God, and that hopefully they too may come to believe in God and be saved?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let these time of grace, although named the Ordinary Time of the year, give us a new direction in life, to make a new ‘ordinary’ moments of our life, that doing the will of God become something that is ordinary for us, meaning that it becomes a habit and something we really look forward to at all times. Let us therefore commit ourselves in this manner, and dedicate ourselves to serve Him from now on, as what each and every one of us need to do. May God bless us all and our every endeavours. Amen.

Monday, 14 January 2019 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 1 : 14-20

At that time, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee and began preaching the Good News of God. He said, “The time has come; the kingdom of God is at hand. Change your ways and believe the Good News.”

As Jesus was walking along the shore of Lake Galilee, He saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fish for people.” At once, they abandoned their nets and followed Him.

Jesus went a little farther on, and saw James and John, the sons of Zebedee; they were in their boat mending their nets. Immediately, Jesus called them and they followed Him, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men.

Monday, 14 January 2019 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 96 : 1 and 2b, 6 and 7c, 9

YHVH reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the distant islands be glad. Justice and right, are His throne.

The heavens proclaim His justice, all peoples see His glory. Let all spirits bow before Him.

For You are the Master of the universe, exalted far above all gods.

Monday, 14 January 2019 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Hebrews 1 : 1-6

God has spoken in the past to our ancestors through the prophets, in many different ways, although never completely; but in our times He has spoken definitively to us through His Son. He is the one God appointed Heir of all things, since through Him He unfolded the stages of the world.

He is the Radiance of God’s Glory and bears the stamp of God’s hidden being, so that His powerful Word upholds the universe. And after taking away sin, He took His place at the right hand of the Divine Majesty in heaven. So He is now far superior to Angels just as the Name He received sets Him apart from them.

To what Angel did God say : You are My Son, I have begotten You today? And to what Angel did He promise : I shall be a Father to Him and He will be a Son to Me? On sending His Firstborn to the world, God says : “Let all the Angels adore Him.”

Sunday, 13 January 2019 : Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which is liturgically marking the last day of the current season of Christmas before we enter the Ordinary Time prior to the coming of the season of Lent in early March this year. On this day we commemorate the moment when the Lord Jesus was baptised at the River Jordan by St. John the Baptist, marking the occasion when the Lord finally began His ministry in this world after approximately thirty years since His birth.

St. John the Baptist was apprehensive at first when the Lord came up tp him asking to be baptised by him. He recognised Jesus as the One Whom he had been working all the while for, in order to prepare a straight path for His coming, and of Whom he had testified before the people, that not even he was worthy of untying the straps of His sandals, and how although he baptised with water, but the Lord would baptise them with the fire and the Holy Spirit.

But the Lord insisted despite St. John the Baptist’s reluctance, for everything was to be done in accordance with God’s will. The baptism of Our Lord Jesus was a momentous occasion, in which, the Lord Himself, God Incarnate in the flesh of Man, went through the same rite of passage as all of us the faithful people of God, just as by Him assuming His humanity has united His humanity to our own human existence.

The act of baptism itself, as St. John the Baptist performed it at the Jordan River, is a powerful symbol and reminder, that the people of God have been saved and liberated from slavery, as the Israelites in the ancient times were brought out of the land of Egypt where they were enslaved by the Egyptians and their Pharaoh. When the Pharaoh sent his army and chariots to chase after the Israelites, God opened the Red Sea before them and allowed them to pass through the sea unharmed.

Therefore, by the passing through the waters of the Red Sea, God’s people had been brought by the great power of God from slavery into freedom. And this is linked to another slavery by which not just the sons of Israel, but all mankind suffer from, that is the slavery to our sins. Sin is born out of disobedience and unwillingness to obey the will of God, and its consequence for us is death. Unless we are freed from the slavery of sin, we will surely perish.

This is where God revealed the great wonders of His love for each and every one of us, that even when we have sinned against Him, disobeyed His commandments and disregarded His will, but because God still loves us regardless of these wicked things we have done, He gives us a new hope and deliverance, just as He has once liberated His people from the tyranny of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh.

This time, He is liberating us from the greatest slavery that has enslaved all of us mankind, that is sin and death. And the symbolism of water that is used at baptism is indeed very profound, for water is both the symbol of death and life, as it can cause destruction by its powerful force, and yet, it is also necessary for the presence and propagation of life. Without water, life cannot exist, and water is essential for the maintenance of life.

By this symbolism of water, which is both used at the baptism of the Lord at the River Jordan, and in our own Christian baptism, the Holy Sacrament of Baptism, the Lord unites us all who have received this blessed and holy Sacrament, to His own experience of suffering and death, as well as to His glorious resurrection and triumph over sin and death itself. We share in the same redemptive experience that the people of Israel had experienced by the Red Sea and throughout the Exodus, and now we have even much more than that.

For God Himself has willingly endeavoured to save us, by His mighty deeds, in leading us out of the tyranny and enslavement by sin, through none other than His own beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Who is God incarnate, the Word of God made Man, through Whom God has given us our salvation. The Lord unites our own mortality to His own humanity, and gathers all of our unworthiness, our sufferings and pains, our sins and all the defilements present in us, and placing them upon Himself on the cross He bore, He became the source of our salvation and eternal life.

That is why, on the celebration of the Easter Vigil, on which day most people who are baptised as adults receive this blessed Sacrament of Baptism, we have the reading of the passage from Exodus on the salvation of Israel crossing through the Red Sea. Just as the Israelites passed on from their old life of slavery and suffering into a new life of blessing and grace with God, thus, we too, have passed on from our old life of sin and disobedience against God, into a new existence and life that is blessed and holy.

That is why, the Sacrament of Baptism is the first of the Sacraments to be received by any Christians. We received it either as a small infant, if we had been born into faithful, Christian families, or as someone who have desired and sought conversion to the true faith, and went through a period of instruction, after which we were baptised just as the Lord Himself was baptised in the Jordan.

At the moment of baptism, our old life and our old iniquities and sins are washed away and cleansed, and our existence is renewed and made blessed by God. Our old life and sin have been destroyed just as we share in the death of Christ on the cross. And through baptism, God made us all His adopted sons and daughters, just as at Baptism of the Lord Jesus, the voice of the Father was heard, “This is My Son, My Beloved. My favour rests on Him.”

This is why we have also been made the sons and daughters of God, by virtue of our shared humanity with Christ. If Christ is the Son of God, and if we are His brothers and sisters by our shared humanity, then we too can be called children of God. And because God has taken us to be His children, the fullness of His love and grace are slated to be ours. But we must also remember at the same time, that baptism is not the end of the journey for us.

Although baptism has erased the taints of original sin and the sins we have committed previous to our baptism, but this does not mean that we cannot sin anymore after our baptism. We are surely aware how many of us Christians keep on falling back again and again into sin, not listening to the will of God, our loving Father, and instead, preferring to follow the lies and falsehoods of Satan, the deceiver.

Satan knows that through baptism, he has lost his hold on us, and sin and death no longer has their grip on us. But, he still does not want to let us go, and as long as we still continue living in this world, our earthly existence, our bodies and our beings are still vulnerable to sin, and this is where the devil is trying very hard to try to pull us back into sin. And we must be careful lest we fall back into the same predicament, for if we live in a state of sin, we may yet fall into eternal damnation.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today, as we commemorate the glorious and wonderful moment of the baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ, let us all remember the moment of our own baptism. If we cannot remember it because we have been baptised as infants, then the least we can do is, try to remember the date and time of our baptism, by asking our godparents or parents, who surely can remember the time of that very crucial event in our life.

Let us today give thanks to God for the gift of baptism, in His willingness to take us as His adopted sons and daughters, and for the love which He has shown us, day after day. Baptism is only the beginning of a new journey in which we must make sure that we listen to the will of God. Baptism is the beginning of the time of grace and yet also struggle in which we must often face divisions and even persecutions for standing up to our faith.

May the Lord bless each and every one of us always, and may He allow us to remember the joy of our baptism, and that we may know what we need to do in our lives now that we have been made God’s own beloved children. Let us love Him more and more, each and every days of our life. Let our life and existence glorify God and let us proclaim the wonders of His love by our own loving actions to our fellow brethren. Amen.