Monday, 11 February 2019 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, World Day of the Sick (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Lourdes)

Mark 6 : 53-56

At that time, having crossed the lake, Jesus and His disciples came ashore at Gennesaret, where they tied up the boat. As soon as they landed, people recognised Jesus, and ran to spread the news throughout the countryside.

Wherever He was, they brought to Him the sick lying on their mats; and wherever He went, to villages, towns or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplace, and begged Him to let them touch just the fringe of His cloak. And all who touched Him were cured.

Alternative reading (Mass of Our Lady of Lourdes)

John 2 : 1-11

At that time, three days after Jesus called Nathanael, there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus was also invited to the wedding with His disciples. When all the wine provided for the celebration had been served, and they had run out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”

Jesus replied, “Woman, what concern is that to you and Me? My hour has not yet come.” However His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.” Nearby were six stone water jars, set there for ritual washing as practiced by the Jews; each jar could hold twenty or thirty gallons.

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them to the brim. Then Jesus said, “Now draw some out and take it to the steward.” So they did. The steward tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing from where it had come; for only the servants who had drawn the water knew. So, he called the bridegroom to tell him, “Everyone serves the best wine first, and when people have drunk enough, he serves that which is ordinary. Instead you have kept the best wine until the end.”

This miraculous sign was the first, and Jesus performed it at Cana in Galilee. In this way He let His glory appear, and His disciples believed in Him.

Monday, 11 February 2019 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, World Day of the Sick (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Lourdes)

Psalm 103 : 1-2a, 5-6, 10 and 12, 24 and 35c

Bless the Lord my soul! Clothed in majesty and splendour; o Lord, my God, how great You are! You are wrapped in light as with a garment.

You set the earth on its foundations, and never will it be shaken. You covered it with the ocean like a garment, and waters spread over the mountains.

You make springs gush forth in valleys winding among mountains and hills. Birds build their nests close by and sing among the branches of trees.

How varied o Lord, are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all – the earth full of Your creatures. Bless the Lord, my soul!

Alternative reading (Mass of Our Lady of Lourdes)

Judith 13 : 18bcde, 19

My daughter, may the Most High God bless you more than all women on earth. And blessed be the Lord God, the Creator of heaven and earth, Who has led you to behead the leader of our enemies.

Never will people forget the confidence you have shown; they will always remember the power of God.

Monday, 11 February 2019 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, World Day of the Sick (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Lourdes)

Genesis 1 : 1-19

In the beginning, when God began to create the heavens and the earth, the earth had no form and was void; darkness was over the deep and the Spirit of God hovered over the waters.

God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good and He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light ‘Day’ and the darkness ‘Night’. There was evening and there was morning : the first day.

God said, “Let there be a firm ceiling between the waters and let it separate waters from waters.” So God made the ceiling and separated the waters below it from the waters above it. And so it was. God called the firm ceiling ‘Sky’. There was evening and there was morning : the second day.

God said, “Let the waters below the sky be gathered in one place and let dry land appear. And so it was. God called the dry land ‘Earth’, and the waters gathered together he called ‘Seas’. God saw that it was good.

God said, “Let the earth produce vegetation, seed-bearing plants, fruit trees bearing fruit with seed, each according to its kind, upon the earth.” And so it was. The earth produced vegetation : plants bearing seed according to their kind and trees producing fruit which has seed, according to their kind. God saw that it was good. There was evening and there was morning : the third day.

God said, “Let there be lights in the ceiling of the sky to separate day from night and to serve as signs for the seasons, days and years; and let these lights in the sky shine above the earth.” And so it was. God therefore made two great lights, the greater light to govern the day and the smaller light to govern the night; and God made the stars as well. God placed them in the ceiling of the sky to give light on the earth and to separate the light from the darkness. God saw that it was good. There was evening and there was morning : the fourth day.

Alternative reading (Mass of Our Lady of Lourdes)

Isaiah 66 : 10-14c

Rejoice for Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her. Be glad with her, rejoice with her, all you who were in grief over her, that you may suck of the milk from her comforting breasts, that you may drink deeply from the abundance of her glory.

For this is what YHVH says : I will send her peace, overflowing like a river; and the nations’ wealth, rushing like a torrent towards her. And you will be nursed and carried in her arms and fondled upon her lap. As a son comforted by his mother, so will I comfort you. At the sight of this, your heart will rejoice; like grass, your bones will flourish.

Sunday, 10 February 2019 : Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday, the message from the Scripture readings that we have heard is very clear, and that is, for us all as Christians, each and every one of us have been called by God to be His followers and disciples, as those whom He has willingly bestowed His love and grace to, and we have been called with a purpose and mission given to us, to become His witnesses and messengers among the nations.

But as we heard from the Scripture passages today, we saw how many of those whom God had called, felt that they were unworthy to be called by God, feeling that as they have committed sins before God, they would not be considered clean and worthy enough to become the ones through whom God would perform His many wonderful works among the people. In the Old Testament, we heard this in the calling of the prophet Isaiah as a prophet, and then in the Gospel in the calling of the Apostles.

But it was exactly for this reason that the Lord has called and chosen those whom He deemed to be worthy to become His servants and messengers, witnesses and champions among the people. Instead of boasting of their might and greatness, their abilities and their talents, they humbly admitted their imperfections, their corrupted nature due to sin, and their weak selves, as mere men amidst the Holy One of God, Jesus Christ, Lord and Saviour of all.

This is why the Lord chose them, although they were sinners and imperfect, because they were willing to admit humbly of that fact, and not putting their own selfish desires and ego above their commitment and desire to love the Lord, their God. And that was why the Apostles, the prophets of old, and the many other faithful servants and messengers of God were able to give their whole life in commitment to the works of God, despite the challenges that they had to encounter throughout their lives and respective ministries.

Many of them had to labour hard and endured hardships throughout their ministries. The prophet Isaiah had to withstand the stubbornness and rejection of the wicked pagans and idol worshippers among the people of the kingdom of Judah, especially early during his ministry. In one occasion, he had to confront the king of Judah, Ahaz for his lack of faith, and openly proclaimed God’s words before him, promising the coming of the Messiah, as Ahaz showed false humility and doubt in the power of God.

And as what the Apostles themselves, St. Peter and the other of the Twelve, with the many other disciples of the Lord, St. Paul the Apostle, the many other holy men and women, many of them martyrs of the Church, had shown us through the many accounts of their works throughout the New Testament and as told to us through the tradition of the Church and the story of the lives of those saints and martyrs, we have heard how in those numerous occasions, those faithful predecessors of ours have given their all to God.

This is contrasted to the attitude of those who claimed themselves to be great and pious during the history of the people of Israel. During the time of Isaiah and the other prophets, especially that of Jeremiah, who came after the former, who had to contend with many who claimed themselves to be the Lord’s prophets and accused Jeremiah of falsehoods and lying to the king, when in truth Jeremiah prophesied the truth about the coming of the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem by the Babylonians. The false prophets meanwhile wanted to gain more power, influence and glory for themselves, by trying to please the king and his nobles with false promises and lies.

And at the time of the Lord Jesus, we heard of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, two groups of people among whom, many rose up to oppose the works of the Lord and His disciples, because they saw the Lord and His disciples as rivals to their own teaching authority and positions of privilege and honour within the community of the Jewish people. They did not want to lose all that they have gained in privilege and power.

That was why they allowed their ego and pride to overcome them and to get in the way of their faith and obedience to God. In essence, they put their own ego, pride, ambition and desire at the centre of their existence, and set God aside. And when this happened, that is why they did not allow God’s truth to enter into their hearts and minds, and although they have seen and witnessed His miracles and power for themselves, they refused to believe because of their stubborn hearts and closed minds.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, for each and every one of us, we have been called to reflect on what we have heard in today’s Scripture passages, to know what it means for us to be called by God to be His servants. If we can understand our direction in life and our purpose in following and serving God, then surely we will be able to follow the Lord, and serve and love Him better than what we may have been doing all these while.

First of all, there are two important lessons that we must take from today’s words of the Lord. It is the lesson on humility and commitment, that each and everyone of us must heed in becoming God’s followers and servants. By following the examples of the prophets, the Apostles and the holy saints who have gone before us, we can find ways to be better in our faith life and devotion to God.

To follow the Lord, we must learn to trust Him with all of our hearts and with all of our effort. And this often requires us to have that humility of heart and willingness to listen, to have an open mind ready for receiving His words and listening to His will for us. Otherwise, we will be easily swayed by worldly temptations and concerns, just as the false prophets, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had shown us, in their refusal to listen to God because of their own sense of pride, ego and the greed in their hearts.

And then, we also need commitment, because a lot of the work and missions that the Lord has given and entrusted to us require us to put our hearts and minds to them, devoting our whole effort and abilities to do what the Lord has commanded us to do. And often, as the Lord Jesus said to the Apostles, as they were fishing in the lake, that they need to ‘put out into the deep’, and this means that more effort is required for us to do what we are supposed to do as God’s servants. A fisherman who could not find any more fishes to catch in the waters near the coast need to go further in order to catch more fishes in the deeper waters. And hence, it is often that we need to challenge ourselves beyond the ordinary to do the good works of God.

We often think that we are unworthy and that we are incapable of such deeds, or that the challenges that we have to face are too great to be overcome. Then we need to remember that God did not call the perfect and those who considered themselves as great and mighty ones to do His will. He called imperfect and sinful people, many of them were poor, uneducated, brash and also ambitious, filled with wickedness and unworthiness.

It was God Who made all those whom He called worthy, as we heard how the Seraph touched the lips of Isaiah with the burning charcoal from the altar of heaven, symbolically showing the divine providence by which Isaiah would speak, with the authority of God. And then the Holy Spirit was sent to the Apostles and the disciples, and the same Holy Spirit came to dwell in the faithful in the Church, the fullness of His many gifts, that revealed the truth of God and guided the disciples of the Lord in their ministry.

This is a reminder to all of us as Christians, that each and every one of us have been called by God to follow Him and to do what He has commanded us to do. He will give us the necessary strength and abilities in order to be able to do what we are supposed to do, and He will be with us, guiding us on our way through the challenges and the difficulties we may encounter along the journey. We have to put our trust in the Lord and give our very best in our service to Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all turn towards the Lord with faith, and love Him with greater fidelity and learn to commit ourselves more thoroughly and wholeheartedly from now on, that our every words and actions, everything we say and do, will be for the greater glory and honour of God, and not for ourselves and our selfish desires and ambition. May the Lord be our guide, and may He strengthen us all in our faith, from now on, and always. Amen.