Wednesday, 23 January 2019 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 3 : 1-6

At that time, again Jesus entered the synagogue. A man, who had a paralysed hand, was there and some people watched Jesus : would He heal the man on the sabbath? If He did, they could accuse Him.

Jesus said to the man with the paralysed hand, “Stand here in the centre.” Then He asked them, “What does the Law allow us to do on the Sabbath? To do good or to do harm? To save life or to kill?” But they were silent.

Then Jesus looked around at them with anger and deep sadness, because they had closed their minds. And He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was healed. As soon as the Pharisees left, they met with Herod’s supporters, looking for a way to destroy Jesus.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 109 : 1, 2, 3, 4

The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand till I make Your foes Your footstool.”

From Zion the Lord will extend Your mighty sceptre and You will rule in the midst of Your enemies.

Yours is royal dignity from the day You were born in holy majesty. Like dew from the womb of the dawn, I have begotten You.

The Lord has sworn, and He will not take back His word : “You are a Priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”

Wednesday, 23 January 2019 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Hebrews 7 : 1-3, 15-17

Scripture says that Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, came out to meet Abraham who returned from defeating the kings. He blessed Abraham and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything.

Let us note that the name Melchizedek means King of Justice, and that king of Salem means king of Peace. There is no mention of father, mother or genealogy; nothing is said about the beginning or the end of his life. In this he is the figure of the Son of God, the Priest Who remains forever.

All this, however, becomes clear if this Priest after the likeness of Melchizedek has in fact received His mission, not on the basis of any human law, but by the power of an immortal life. Because Scripture says : You are a Priest forever in the priestly order of Melchizedek.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent, Deacon and Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture that reminded us of the need to understand what God wants each and every one of us to do as His followers and disciples, in particular given the context of today’s Scripture passages. We are called to love Him and to serve Him, as part of the Covenant which He has made for us. But ultimately, God also desires for our well-being and salvation.

In the first reading today we heard of the many favours and wonders that He has bestowed on those who have been faithful to Him, focusing on the persona of Abraham, the righteous man who has devoted himself to the Lord such that God Himself made a Covenant between Himself and all of his descendants. And the Covenant He made was such that, He has been faithful to what He has promised to Abraham, that He will bless his descendants and make them His own beloved people.

As Abraham became the father of many nations, and by virtue of our Christian faith, we have also become the spiritual children of Abraham, all of us are part of the same Covenant that God has established with him, and which He has renewed again and again throughout the centuries and ages past. He has always been faithful even though many of us mankind have been wayward and disobedient.

That was why He also gave us His laws and commandments, all with the purpose of getting us all to love Him and to put our focus on Him, and not on all the various distractions we often have in life. And one such law, as mentioned in our Gospel passage today, is the law of the Sabbath, which regulated the way the people of God should act and behave on the seventh day in the week, the Sabbath day, a day that the Lord had made holy.

The Scriptural basis of the law of the Sabbath is related to the works of the Lord Himself, Who created the universe and all the world, only to rest on one of the days, at the last day. Thus, the same day in the Jewish law and tradition is meant for the people of God to ‘rest’ from their various activities and to focus their attention on God, and God alone. That is the true intention and purpose of the Sabbath day and its related laws.

Unfortunately, the purpose and the intention of the Law had been forgotten and misunderstood by the people and their elders, as the Gospel passage had shown us. What had been given with the good intention of realigning men and their focus and attention towards God, instead became a source of great obstacle and suffering for many among the people, as the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law enforced them on the people.

Those people enforced a very strict observation of the Sabbath law to the point that the people could not do anything, even anything good and productive, and even in the matter of feeding oneself, as the disciples of the Lord did when they were hungry and picked on the grains of the wheat in the field. They have forgotten that by doing so, what they did was in fact observing the Law in the letter, but not in the spirit.

This means that they knew what the Law is, but they failed to understand and appreciate what the Law is truly about, its meaning and purpose. The Law of God is meant to bring us closer to God, to help us to focus on Him and His way, and not to distance us and make it difficult for us to follow Him. This is why, the Lord rebuked the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law for their shortsightedness.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we should turn towards the Lord with a new spirit and commitment to love and to serve Him with all of our strength, obeying Him by understanding that all of His laws and commandments are meant to redirect our attention and focus on Him, and away from all things that can end up causing us to fall into temptation and damnation. And today, we should model ourselves based on the examples shown by the holy servant of God, St. Vincent, holy deacon and martyr.

St. Vincent was a deacon who served the people of God in what is today Spain, in the city of Saragossa, during the difficult years of terrible persecution by the Roman Emperor Diocletian. He dedicated himself so much to his service and his faith, that even when he was arrested and forced to reject his faith, he refused to do so. His defence of his faith was so resolute and strong that it made his enemies even angrier and he suffered grievously for his dedication.

Nonetheless, St. Vincent continued to be faithful and dedicated himself to the service of God. He remained firm in his dedication, and was martyred in good faith. His examples and his courage continued to inspire many of the faithful throughout the ages. And we can also follow his good examples, by devoting our own lives to the Lord, and by knowing how much love He has given to each and every one of us.

Let us all from now on, turn towards the Lord, spending day after day of our lives with faith, doing our very best to serve the Lord. Let us devote ourselves with a new spirit and strength, from now on, each and every days of our life. May God bless us all. Amen.