Wednesday, 13 February 2019 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 7 : 14-23

At that time, Jesus then called the people to Him again and said to them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and try to understand. Nothing that enters a person from the outside can make that person unclean. It is what comes from within that makes a person unclean. Let everyone who has ears listen.”

When Jesus got home and was away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him about this saying, and He replied, “So even you are dull? Do you not see that whatever comes from outside cannot make a person unclean, since it enters not the heart but the stomach, and is finally passed out?” Thus Jesus declared that all foods are clean.

And He went on, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him, for evil designs come out of the heart : theft, murder, adultery, jealousy, greed, maliciousness, deceit, indecency, slander, pride and folly. All these evil things come from within and make a person unclean.”

Wednesday, 13 February 2019 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 103 : 1-2a, 27-28, 29bc-30

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.

They all look to You for their food in due time. You give it to them, and they gather it up; You open Your hand, they are filled with good things.

You take away their breath, they expire and return to dust. When You send forth Your Spirit, they are created, and the face of the earth is renewed.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Genesis 2 : 4b-9, 15-17

On the day that YHVH God made the earth and the heavens, there was not yet on earth any shrub on the fields, nor had any plant yet sprung up, for YHVH God had not made it rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the earth, but a mist went up from the earth and watered the surface of the earth.

Then YHVH God formed Man, dust drawn from the clay, and breathed into his nostrils a breath of life and Man became alive with breath. God planted a garden in Eden in the east and there He placed Man whom He had created. YHVH God caused to grow from the ground every kind of tree that is pleasing to see and good to eat, also the tree of life on the middle of the garden and the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

YHVH God took Man and placed him in the garden of Eden to till it and to take care of it. Then YHVH God gave an order to Man saying, “You may eat of every tree in the garden, but of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, you will not eat, for on the day you eat of it, you will die.”

Tuesday, 12 February 2019 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture reminding us all about the obligations that each and every one of us ought to have for the Lord, our loving Father and Creator, the One Who has created everything that are within this existence and universe. In the first reading today, we heard from the Book of Genesis, the continuation of yesterday’s account on the creation of the world by the Lord, culminating with the creation of all those whom God has created in His own image, that is all of us mankind.

He created each and every one of us out of love, because He wants to share the perfect and boundless love present within Himself, for He is love Himself. He did not create us to cause us to be troubled and enslaved unnecessarily to man-made laws and regulations that did not have their roots in God’s divine Law. The Law of God is perfect and filled with love, and it is a delight for us all to follow His Law.

Unfortunately, as what the society of the Israelites had experienced during the time of the Lord, there was the societal elite in the form of the Pharisees, the teachers of the Law, all those who held the knowledge of the Torah, that is the Scriptures and the Law, those who held the influence and power within the community, all of those who guided and led the people of God with their laws and rules, regulations and enforcements. And they enforced laws and rules that were unfortunately against the true meaning and intention of the Law of God.

The Lord criticised the way that those leaders had followed and enforced the rules and demanded the people to obey what they have imposed to the people. They imposed a very strict and rigid interpretation of the Law, and instead of truly understanding the significance and importance of the Law that God has given us, they took to nitpick the details of the Law and enforced them as external profession of faith.

That was why many among the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were not internally oriented correctly towards the Lord in their way of life and in their actions. Outwardly they might appear to be faithful and committed, exemplary in their prayerful life and deeds, but as the Lord Jesus Himself rebukingly pointed out to the people, that those people did so because of the desire to glorify themselves and to gain influence and worldly approval.

And they allowed, as mentioned in the Gospel passage today, the people to overrule the precepts of the commandments and the Law, with regards to care for the family and parents, as well as in matters of marriage and in offering sacrificial offerings, to the point that it invalidated the whole meaning and intention of the Law. They did this with certain arrangements that brought about profit and advantage to the Pharisees, the teachers of the Law and the priests involved.

That was why the Lord was often critical at those people, who have not only misunderstood the Law of God and its application, but even worse still, manipulated the Law for their own advantage and personal ambitions and desires, and misguided the people into the wrong path. They showed each and every one of us, the path that we must not take, in our journey towards becoming a better and more faithful servant of God.

Instead, brothers and sisters in Christ, we should grow stronger in our love for God, and place Him at the centre and as the main and sole focus of our life’s attention. Everything that we say, we act and we do in this world should be aimed for the greater glory of God, and in everything we do, we should show our love for God, by truly spending quality time with Him, and more importantly, by listening to Him and knowing what it is that He has called each and every one of us to do in our respective lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today let us all renew our commitment and our desire to love God through our actions, words and deeds. He Who loved each and every one of us created us with love, so that we may share in His love. Let us therefore share that love which God has given us, with one another, so that all of us will grow stronger in love, be more gentle towards our fellow brethren, and grow more caring and compassionate, especially when we see our brethren who are in need of help.

May the Lord continue to sow in us, the seeds of His love, that He may continue to help us to grow better in faith, in our love for Him and in our fellow men, so that day after day, each one of us may grow ever closer to Him, and in time to come, we will be worthy to receive the eternal and true glory that He has promised us all who have been faithful to Him. May God bless us all, in all of our works and endeavours. Amen.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 7 : 1-13

One day the Pharisees gathered around Jesus, and with them were some teachers of the Law who had just come from Jerusalem. They noticed that some of His disciples were eating their meal with unclean hands, that is, without washing them.

Now the Pharisees, and in fact all the Jews never eat without washing their hands, for they follow the tradition received from their ancestors. Nor do they eat anything, when they come from the market, without first washing themselves. And there are many other traditions they observe; for example, the ritual washing of cups, pots and plates.

So the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders, but eat with unclean hands?” Jesus answered, “You shallow people! How well Isaiah prophesied of you when he wrote : This people honours Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. The worship they offer Me is worthless, for what they teach are only human rules. You even put aside the commandment of God to hold fast to human tradition.”

And Jesus commented, “You have a fine way of disregarding the commandments of God in order to enforce your own traditions! For example, Moses said : Do your duty to your father and your mother, and : Whoever curses his father or his mother is to be put to death. But according to you, someone could say to his father or mother, ‘I already declared Corban (which means “offered to God”) what you could have expected from me.'”

“In this case you no longer require him to do anything for his father or mother, and so you nullify the word of God through the tradition you have handed on. And you do many other things like that.”

Tuesday, 12 February 2019 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 8 : 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

When I observe the heavens, the work of Your hands, the moon and the stars You set in their place – what is man that You be mindful of him, the Son of Man that You should care for Him?

Yet You made Him a little lower than the Angels; You crowned Him with glory and honour and gave Him the works of Your hands; You have put all things under His feet.

Sheep and oxen without number and even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, the fish of the sea and all that swim the paths of the ocean.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Genesis 1 : 20 – Genesis 2 : 4a

God said, “Let the water teem with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth under the ceiling of the sky.” God created the great monsters of the sea and all living animals, those that teem in the waters, according to their kind, and every winged bird, according to its kind. God saw that it was good. God blessed them saying, “Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the waters of the sea, and let the birds increase on the earth.” There was evening and there was morning : the fifth day.

God said, “Let the earth produce living animals according to their kind : cattle, creatures that move along the ground, wild animals according to their kind. So it was. God created the wild animals according to their kind, and everything that creeps along the ground according to its kind. God saw that it was good.

God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, to Our likeness. Let them rule over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, over the cattle, over the wild animals, and over all creeping things that crawl along the ground.” So God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it, rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky, over every living creature that moves on the ground.” God said, “I have given you every seed bearing plants which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree that bears fruit with seed. It will be for your food. To every wild animal, to every bird of the sky, to everything that creeps along the ground, to everything that has the breath of life, I give every green plant for food.” So it was.

God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. There was evening and there was morning : the sixth day. That was the way the sky and earth were created and all their vast array. By the seventh day the work God had done was completed, and He rested on the seventh day from all the work He had done.

And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on that day He rested from all the work He had done in His creation. These are the successive steps in the creation of the heavens and the earth.

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

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

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast of oUr Lady of Lourdes, the aspect of Mary, the Blessed Mother of Our God, Jesus Christ, who appeared to a young peasant girl in the remote village of Lourdes in southern France, over a hundred and fifty years ago. At that time, the Blessed Virgin appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous, the young woman, a few times, revealing to her the messages calling for the repentance of mankind, and also showed her the nature of her Immaculate Conception, asking her to build a chapel in that place where she had appeared to her.

St. Bernadette Soubirous faced much opposition and ridicule from all those who refused to believe in the truth and the credibility of her accounts, but she persevered nonetheless, and continued to visit the Blessed Virgin despite having been told not to, and there were those who even had barriers and obstacles installed in order to prevent her from returning to the grotto of Lourdes where the Blessed Virgin appeared to her. Through the miraculous appearance of a spring of clear and healing water at the grotto, the place gradually became more and more popular and the truth about St. Bernadette Soubirous’ account on the apparition was verified as the truth.

That was how the grotto of Lourdes became one of the most famous places in the world for pilgrimages, where millions came down every year, bringing their sick ones in particular, seeking for miraculous healing that came with the holy water that St. Bernadette Soubirous discovered upon the instruction of Our Lady of Lourdes. They wanted to be healed from their bodily and physical troubles, all the sicknesses and illnesses they suffered from.

Through today’s Scripture readings we heard the many wonderful deeds that the Lord has performed in our midst, beginning with His creation of the world and all the good things found in creation. He has loved us all and provided us with all that we need despite our rebelliousness and stubbornness in refusing to love Him, and in continuing to sin against Him, again and again. And the Lord showed pity and mercy when His people asked for Him to forgive them.

That was why, He sent into this world, the fulfilment of the promise of His deliverance and healing, in His Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, Who came into our midst, healing people who were sick, casting out demons and evil spirits from all those who have been possessed, helping all those who were distressed and loving all those who have been rejected and ostracised by the society, reaching out to the poor, the condemned, the sinners and the ostracised, those who were looked down upon.

And in this, the role of the Blessed Mother of Our Lord and Saviour cannot be understated, for it was her love for each and every one of us, her adopted children, that helped us to link to the compassion and mercy that her Son shows to each and every one of us. Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes showed us her compassion, by appearing to St. Bernadette, calling on her children to return to the loving embrace of God and repent from their sins.

That was why she appeared to us, providing with us the means to seek the help of her Son, Our Lord and Saviour, for is she not our mother, just as she is the mother of Christ? From the cross, Our Lord entrusted her to us, and also each and every one of us to her, when He entrusted Mary, His mother to the care of His disciple, St. John the Apostle, and vice versa. Since then, each and every one of us have also had Mary as our mother.

And as she looked out for our well-being and salvation through her Son, are we making the conscious effort to keep ourselves away from the corruption of sin? Today, as we pray for the sake of all those who suffer illnesses and enduring from various diseases, we have to also look deep into ourselves, and discover the state of our sickness in sin. For we may be free from physical ailment and problems, but sin may be corrupting us and causing us to be sick spiritually, which is even more than physically being sick.

Let us all therefore seek the healing in God, putting our trust and faith in the providence and the love of our Lord and Saviour, in His healing grace, and in being forgiven from our many sins. Let us all turn towards our loving God, through the help and tender care from His blessed mother Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes, who constantly prays for us and intercedes for our sake at every moments. May the Lord be with us, and may Our Blessed mother, Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes continue to pray for us sinners. Amen.