Friday, 8 February 2019 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome Emiliani and St. Josephine Bakhita, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints and Virgins)

Mark 6 : 14-29

At that time, king Herod also heard about Jesus, because His Name had become well-known. Some people said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in Him.” Others thought, “He is a prophet like the prophets of times past.” When Herod was told of this, he thought, “I had John beheaded, yet he has risen from the dead!”

For this is what had happened : Herod had ordered John to be arrested, and had had him bound and put in prison because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. Herod had married her, and John had told him, “It is not right for you to live with your brother’s wife.”

So Herodias held a grudge against John; and wanted to kill him, but she could not, because Herod respected John. He knew John to be an upright and holy man, and kept him safe. And he liked listening to him, although he became very disturbed, whenever he heard him.

Herodias had her chance on Herod’s birthday, when he gave a dinner for all the senior government officials, military chiefs, and the leaders of Galilee. On that occasion the daughter of Herodias came in and danced; and she delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want and I will give it to you.”

And he went so far as to say with many oaths, “I will give you anything you ask, even half my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” The mother replied, “The head of John the Baptist.” The girl hurried to the king and made her request, “I want you to give me the head of John the Baptist, here and now, on a dish.”

The king was very displeased, but he would not refuse in front of his guests because of his oaths. So he sent one of his bodyguards with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded John in prison; then he brought the head on a dish and gave it to the girl. And the girl gave it to her mother.

When John’s disciples heard of this, they came and took his body and buried it.

Friday, 8 February 2019 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome Emiliani and St. Josephine Bakhita, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints and Virgins)

Psalm 26 : 1, 3, 5, 8b-9abc

The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the rampart of my life; I will not be afraid.

Though an army encamp against me, my heart will not fail; though war break out against me, I will still be confident.

For He will keep me safe in His shelter in times of misfortune; He will hide me beneath His roof, and set me high upon a rock.

I seek Your face, o Lord. Do not hide Your face from me nor turn away Your servant in anger. You are my Protector, do not reject me.

Friday, 8 February 2019 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome Emiliani and St. Josephine Bakhita, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints and Virgins)

Hebrews 13 : 1-8

Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to offer hospitality; you know that some people have entertained Angels without knowing it. Remember prisoners as if you were with them in chains, and the same for those who are suffering. Remember that you also have a body.

Marriage must be respected by all and husband and wife faithful to each other. God will punish the immoral and the adulterous. Do not depend on money. Be content with having enough for today for God has said : I will never forsake you or abandon you, and we shall confidently answer : The Lord is my Helper, I will not fear; what can man do to me?

Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Consider their end and imitate their faith. Christ Jesus is the same today as yesterday and forever.

Thursday, 7 February 2019 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the word of God in the Scriptures reminding each and every one of us of the mission which we have been given by the Lord, as mentioned in the first reading and the Gospel passage today. We heard of the moment when the Lord sent His disciples, seventy-two of them in total, ahead of Him on the journey to prepare the way for His coming and for His teaching among the people.

Those disciples were sent to reach out to the people to whom the Lord Himself was about to minister, to prepare the hearts and minds of the people that they may be receptive to God’s truth and salvation that were about to come into their midst. They were like the farmers who tilled the land and prepared it, softening it with the hoe, in order to increase the fertility of the soil, that when the seeds are sown, they will grow far better and produce much more crops.

Through all that we have heard especially in our Gospel passage today, we are reminded of the role which the Church is taking upon in our world today, that is to be the medium by which God exercised His power in this world, delivering His truth and love to all mankind, to bring the truth of God’s salvation and love especially to all those who have yet to hear and know of what God has made available to all.

Yet, this task that the Lord has entrusted upon His Church and commanded His disciples and followers to do, is not an easy one, for there are plenty of challenges and difficulties that are present in our journey, as the Lord Himself has warned His disciples, that they would encounter many challenges and opposition, and there would be instances when the people and the communities they were sent to, would reject them and refuse to listen to the message that they brought with them.

This is not surprising because some of the people have closed their hearts and minds, their senses to the truth of God, for various reasons. Some of them were proud and filled with ego, and thus refused to listen to the truth of God because they thought that there was no way that they could have been mistaken in their way of thinking and in their action. Thus they turned against the Lord and His teachings, even persecuting Him and His disciples.

That is the reality of the challenges and difficulties that we may encounter if we choose to follow the Lord and walk in His path. But should these challenges then deter us from following Him and having faith in Him? They should not. God gives us His reassurance, that whoever has dedicated themselves to Him and does his or her best to serve and love Him, those shall not be disappointed, for God always fulfils His words and promises.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, the question that awaits us is that, are we willing to dedicate ourselves to walk down the path that the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord had walked, looking at the examples of all those holy men and women who had gone before us. Many of them were persecuted and had to endure all sorts of troubles and challenges, but because of their determination and commitment, many souls of the faithful had been saved from certain damnation.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we as the members of the Church must play our part to obey God’s will and to listen to His commandments. And we must also have within each one of us, the desire to love God and to serve Him, by the selfless giving of ourselves, just as Christ Himself has shown us, and not be swayed by worldly temptations of power, ambition, greed, selfishness, material well-being and excesses and more.

Let us all renew our faith and commitment to God, from now on, that we may be worthy and be willing to follow the calling that the Lord has given to us, and walk down the same path on which the holy Apostles and disciples of the Lord had walked before. Let us all be exemplary in how we live our faith, and devote ourselves ever more to the Lord with each and every passing days. May God be with us always, and may He bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 7 February 2019 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 6 : 7-13

At that time, Jesus called the Twelve to Him, and began to send them out two by two, giving them authority over evil spirits, and He ordered them to take nothing for the journey, except a staff : no food, no bag, no money on their belts. They were to wear sandals and were not to take an extra tunic.

And He added, “In whatever house you are welcomed, stay there until you leave the place. If any place does not receive you, and the people refuse to listen to you, leave after shaking the dust off your feet. It will be a testimony against them.”

So they set out to proclaim that this was the time to repent. They drove out many demons and healed many sick people by anointing them.

Thursday, 7 February 2019 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 47 : 2-3ab, 3cd-4, 9, 10-11

Great is YHVH, most worthy of praise in the City of God, His holy mountain. Beautifully elevated, it is the joy of all the earth.

Mount Zion, heavenly mountain, the City of the great King. Here, within her lines of defence, God has shown Himself to be a sure fortress.

As we have heard, so have we seen, in the City of YHVH of hosts, in the City of Our God, the City God founded forever.

Let us recall Your unfailing love, o God, inside Your Temple. Let Your praise, as does Your Name, o God, reach to the ends of the earth. Your right hand is ever victorious.

Thursday, 7 February 2019 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Hebrews 12 : 18-19, 21-24

What you have come to, is nothing known to the senses : nor heat of a blazing fire, darkness and gloom and storms, blasts of trumpet or such a voice that the people pleaded, that no further word be spoken.

The sight was so terrifying, that Moses said : I tremble with fear. But you came near to Mount Zion, to the City of the living God, to the heavenly Jerusalem, with its innumerable Angels. You have come to the solemn feast, the assembly of the firstborn of God, whose names are written in heaven.

There is God, Judge of all, with the spirits of the upright, brought to perfection. There is Jesus, the Mediator of the New Covenant, with the sprinkled Blood that cries out more effectively than Abel’s.