Wednesday, 6 February 2019 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Paul Miki and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Mark 6 : 1-6

At that time, leaving the place where He resurrected the daughter of Jairus, Jesus returned to His own country, and His disciples followed Him. When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue, and most of those who heard Him were astonished.

But they said, “How did this come to Him? What kind of wisdom has been given to Him, that He also performs such miracles? Who is He but the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? His sisters, too, are they not here among us?” So they took offence at Him.

And Jesus said to them, “Prophets are despised only in their own country, among their relatives, and in their own family.” And He could work no miracles there, but only healed a few sick people, by laying His hands on them. Jesus Himself was astounded at their unbelief.

Jesus then went around the villages, teaching.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Paul Miki and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 102 : 1-2, 13-14, 17-18a

Bless the Lord, my soul; all my being, bless His holy Name! Bless the Lord, my soul, and do not forget all His kindness.

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.

But the Lord’s kindness is forever with those who fear Him; so is His justice, for their children’s children, for those who keep His covenant and remember His commands.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Paul Miki and Companions, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Hebrews 12 : 4-7, 11-15

Have you already shed your blood in the struggle against sin? Do not forget the comforting words that Wisdom addresses to you as children : My son, pay attention when the Lord corrects you and do not be discouraged when He punishes you. For the Lord corrects those He loves and chastises everyone He accepts as a son.

What you endure is in order to correct you. God treats you like sons and what son is not corrected by his father? All correction is painful at the moment, rather than pleasant; later it brings the fruit of peace, that is, holiness to those who have been trained by it.

Lift up, then, your drooping hands, and strengthen your trembling knees; make level the ways for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but healed. Strive for peace with all and strive to be holy, for without holiness no one will see the Lord. See that no one falls from the grace of God, lest a bitter plant spring up and its poison corrupt many among you.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Agatha, Virgin and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the word of God speaking to us about the wonderful deeds of the Lord, which He performed before all the people and witnesses to show the great wonders of God’s glory and His loving attention to His people, to whom He has sent the Saviour and Deliverer. It was through Christ that God wants to save all of us mankind, and He fulfilled all of His long promised salvation through Him.

That is why we heard all of the wonderful things He performed during His ministry, including the healing of the sick woman with haemorrhage and the rising of the dead daughter of Jairus, the synagogue official. He healed all of them from their problems and sicknesses, because He loved each and every one of them, and had pity on them when they suffered and were asking Him for help and mercy. And He also saw the great faith in each one of them.

All of these things the Lord will do for all those who have faith in Him. He will not abandon all those who have put their trust in Him, and will provide for the needs of those who have strong love for Him in their hearts and minds. God knows the depth of our thoughts and hearts, just as He knew the faith of the woman who was suffering from the haemorrhage. God knew her faith and healed her because of the faith she had in Him.

Today, all of us are called to look deep into our own lives, into our hearts and minds, to see more carefully into our own actions and deeds, our direction in life, our attitudes and behaviours, on whether by these, we have been exemplary in living our lives with faith, or whether we have not had faith in our minds and hearts. Too many of us put our trust first in our worldly provisions and abilities, and God took a secondary and less important role among us.

And yet, for all the lack of faith, disobedience and wickedness that we have committed thus far in our respective lives, we are called to remember just how the Lord continued to love us, despite our stubborn attitude and refusal to walk in His ways. He willingly endured all the suffering and pain, which were supposed to be our burden, just so that we may be saved through our faith in Him.

Many of us think that we have faith in God, but in reality few of us only have that true commitment and devotion to God, that comes from within our hearts. Having faith in God often does not just mean to come and attend Mass regularly as stipulated by the Church teachings and regulations. In reality, for us to have faith in God often means that we must suffer and face rejection, just as the Lord Himself has suffered all the humiliation and rejection before.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, many of those who have gone before us showed us that the reality of this world is such that many of us have not had that deep devotion to God, in times of good and bad, in times of prosperity and in times of hardship and suffering. Many of us remember God only when things turn downhill and we expect Him to come and help us with a quick fix so that we do not need to suffer. And when we continue to suffer, we often become angry at God, thinking that He was not there with us.

That is why today, brothers and sisters in Christ, we should be inspired by the good examples shown to us by our holy predecessors, those holy and devoted men and women who had stood by the Lord in good times and in bad times, suffering persecution and troubles, challenges and pain, all sorts of difficulties just because of their commitment and belief in God. And today, we commemorate the feast of one of those saints, namely St. Agatha, holy woman and good martyr of the faith.

St. Agatha was born in what is now Sicily in southern Italy, and lived during the years of the tumultuous second century Roman Empire, when many Christians suffered various persecutions by the Roman authorities. But St. Agatha together with the many other holy men and women of God did not easily give up their faith, even under the pain of suffering and oppression. St. Agatha made a holy vow of virginity, committing herself to a life of perpetual virginity dedicated to the Lord.

In doing that, she went up against the advances and efforts of some pagan Roman nobles who were enamoured by her beauty and tried to get her to marry them. Despite all of their advances and efforts to get her to change her mind, St. Agatha remained true to her faith and did not give in to their demands. For her dedication, she was arrested and put to suffer for her Christian faith, as her persecutors hoped that by the sufferings she endured, she would give in to their demands and give up her faith in God.

Nonetheless, St. Agatha remained firm in her commitment, and none that her persecutors did could dissuade or force her to abandon her dedication. She was tortured and suffered grievously, and was forced to endure the tremendous pain of having her breasts cut. But to the very end, St. Agatha did not give up her faith and remained true in her commitment. She was in fact showing the same faith, effort and attitude as the woman who was suffering from the haemorrhage and the synagogue official, who went out all of their way to seek healing and to love the Lord, their God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, how about us then? Are we able and are we willing to commit ourselves and to be truly faithful as all those people which we have mentioned and discussed earlier had done? Are we able to spend our time, and give our effort and attention to the Lord? For after all, He has loved us so much, that He was in fact willing to endure such unimaginable pain and suffering for our sake, that by bearing our sins on the cross He bore, He brought us our salvation.

Let us all spend some time to reflect on all these, and think of ways how we can be better Christians, through all our everyday actions and deeds, by our every living moments. May the Lord be our guide, and may through the intercession of St. Agatha, holy virgin and martyr, we will draw ever closer to the Lord, our loving God. Amen.