Wednesday, 30 January 2019 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 4 : 1-20

At that time, Jesus began to teach by the lake; but such a large crowd gathered about Him, that He got into a boat and sat in it on the lake, while the crowd stood on the shore. He taught them many things through parables. In His teaching, He said, “Listen! The sower went out to sow. As he sowed, some of the seed fell along a path; and the birds came and ate it up.”

“Some of the seed fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil; it sprang up immediately, because it had no depth; but when the sun rose and burnt it, it withered, because it had no roots. Other seed fell among thorn bushes; and the thorns grew and choked it; so it did not produce any grain.”

“But some seed fell on good soil, grew and increased and yielded grain; some seed produced thirty times as much, some sixty, and some one hundred times as much.” And Jesus added, “Listen then, if you have ears.”

When the crowd went away, some who were around Him with the Twelve asked about the parables. He answered them, “The mystery of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But for those outside, everything comes in parables, so, that, the more they see, they do not perceive; the more they hear, they do not understand; otherwise they would be converted and pardoned.”

Jesus said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How, then, will you understand any of the parables? What the sower is sowing is the word. Those along the path, where the seed fell, are people who hear the word, but as soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.”

“Other people receive the word like rocky ground. As soon as they hear the word, they accept it with joy. But they have no roots, so it lasts only a little while. No sooner does trouble or persecution come because of the word, than they fall. Others receive the seed, as seed among thorns. After they hear the word, they are caught up in the worries of this life, false hope of riches and other desires. All these come in and choke the word, so that finally it produces nothing.”

“And there are others who receive the word as good soil. They hear the word, take it to heart and produce : some thirty, some sixty, and some one hundred times as much.”

Wednesday, 30 January 2019 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (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, 30 January 2019 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Hebrews 10 : 11-18

So, whereas every priest stands, daily, by the Altar, offering, repeatedly, the same sacrifices, that can never take away sins, Christ has offered, for all times, a single sacrifice for sins, and has taken His seat at the right hand of God, waiting, until God puts His enemies as a footstool under His feet. By a single sacrifice He has brought those who are sanctified to what is perfect forever.

This also was testified by the Holy Spirit. For after having declared : This is the Covenant that I will make with them in the days to come – says the Lord – I will put My Laws in their hearts and write them on their minds. He says : Their sins and evil deeds I will remember no more. So, if sins are forgiven, there is no longer need of any sacrifice for sin.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the essence of today’s Scripture passages is very clear, that is a reminder for each one of us of what we need to do as Christians in our own lives, to be committed and dedicated to God in all things, to listen to Him and to know His will, and then to do His will each and every single moment of our existence in this world. We are reminded of this important obligation, so that we may grow ever deeper in faith in God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, our first reading today taken from the Epistle to the Hebrews mentioned the reality of what the practices and customs of the Jewish people had become, in the observation of the Law of God as revealed through Moses and the prophets. The people and especially their priests, all those who preserved the traditions and the laws followed what their ancestors had practiced, in offering animal sacrifices, of fats and blood, on the altar of the Temple of God.

But all of that are just temporary measures, as no blood or fats of animals will be able to wipe out all the sins and disobedience of men, in all of its vast multitudes and variety, throughout all time. Nothing in this world is worthy enough to do so, and that is why the priests had to continuously offer the sacrifices daily from time to time, for the sake of all those who have fallen into sin again and again. And the priests themselves also need to offer those sacrifices for themselves, as they were sinners too.

Yet, God revealed that this would not last forever, as He would send the One through Whom all of us would be brought to our eternal joy and redeemed from the snares of sin. The Divine Word Incarnate, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Man, also the Lamb of God and Eternal High Priest of all creation, has come into this world, to take up the role as our High Priest, as the One Who offered the sacrificial offering, and not many times, but once and for all, for the forgiveness of mankind’s sins, past, present and future till the end of time.

By linking what the Lord Jesus would do with the actions of the priests in accordance with the old laws of Moses, the Lord highlighted the redemptive nature of His mission, that is to bring all of mankind back to His loving embrace, to forgive them from their sins, that they may not perish because of those sins, but instead, become worthy to be present in His kingdom, and to receive the fullness of the graces and blessings that He has promised to them.

But Christ did all of these through painful suffering, by bearing the heavy cross that is burdened not so by the physical weight of the wood, but by the vast mountain of our sins, accumulated from every single human beings that has ever lived, living and will live, to the end of time. All the wounds that were inflicted on Him, were actually our sins and our disobedience, which Christ, as our High Priest, bore upon Himself, even as He offered the most worthy and precious offering of all, the slain Lamb of God on the altar, His Most Precious and Holy Body and Blood.

God has loved us so much, that He was willing to go through and endure all the sufferings, no matter how painful it was, in order to save us from the destructions due because of our sins. And most importantly, He showed us all the perfect obedience, the Lord Jesus obeying the will of His heavenly Father. At the Gardens of Gethsemane, Jesus agonised over this great burden He was to bear, all the painful wounds and sufferings He had to go through, but He submitted so completely that His prayers were heard and sacrifices were accepted, and our salvation came forth.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us are called to look once again deep into our own lives, asking ourselves if we have loved the Lord our God just as He has loved us so much and so dearly that He was willing to endure so much pain and suffering for our sake. Have we spent the time to be with Him and to listen to Him speaking in the depth of our hearts and minds? If we have not done all these, then I am afraid that our faith is no better than those Pharisees and teachers of the Law whom the Lord criticised for their hypocrisy and superficial faith, as they demanded very strict obedience to the Law and yet failed to understand it and had no place for God in their hearts and minds.

We are called today to turn once again towards the Lord in faith, committing ourselves anew and renewing the zeal that each and every one of us should have, in loving God and in walking in the path that He has shown to all of us. Are we ready to commit ourselves to the Lord in this manner? Or are we too distracted by the many temptations in life to be able to take note of the Lord’s presence and love in our midst?

Let us all be strengthened in faith and grow deep in our love for the Lord, from this day onwards. May God be with us always, and may His presence continue to inspire us each and every days of our life to love and serve Him with zeal, at all times. Amen.