Tuesday, 26 February 2019 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Scriptures speaking to us about the importance for us to remain focused on our path as we progress in this life with faith. The first reading taken from the Book of the prophet Sirach mentioned what we must do in our service towards God, in remaining humble and committed to the Lord’s will, and in enduring the difficulties and challenges that we may encounter on our way to Him.

In the Gospel passage today, we also heard the same message, as the Lord Jesus spoke to His disciples yet again of the impending moment of His suffering and death. The disciples who heard Him speaking of such things for a few times were surprised and confused, even as they themselves continued to debate and argue among themselves, on who was the greatest among them all. In essence, the disciples did not yet fully understand what following the Lord truly means for them.

At that time, the people of God thought that the Messiah or the Saviour that would come into their midst, would be the One to liberate them all from their earthly oppressors, and that the Messiah would restore the Kingdom of Israel, and gathered back the whole separated nations and tribes of the Israelites. He would become their King, and the whole nation of Israel would be glorious and beloved by the Lord once again, as it was in the days of David and Solomon.

Therefore, many expected the Lord Jesus to become the liberator and Saviour for the whole nation of Israel, hoping that He would be the liberator that they have long awaited for, to free them from the power and the tyranny of their Roman overlords and masters. They resented the fact that they had to work for the sake of their overlords, paying heavy taxes and giving part of their hard-earned income to the Romans.

They expected the Lord Jesus to become their King, and they hoped that those who followed Him closely would gain the advantage and influence, power and glory with Christ, their Lord and King, much in the same way as how the worldly rulers were often surrounded by greedy and power-hungry courtiers and nobles, all seeking to gain more influence and power, wealth and fame for themselves. The disciples therefore acted in this manner as we heard in our Gospel passage today.

But little did they know that in reality, for us to be true disciples and followers of the Lord, it requires our commitment and readiness to surrender everything to God, and to humble ourselves even to the point of being ready to be humiliated, and to die to our ego and pride, for indeed, following the Lord and becoming His disciples do not provide us with any forms of earthly glory, fame and power, but rather, the promise of true and everlasting glory with God in the world that is to come.

When the disciples bickered for power and for influence, for position and fame, they failed to understand that the path that the Lord has called them to, would be filled with opposition and difficulties, with challenges and obstacles, that as the disciples proceeded in following Jesus and His path, they gradually came to understand and know. Many of them would suffer themselves for the Lord’s sake, suffer martyrdom and painful death, defending their faith in Christ their Lord and Saviour.

And the perfect example of obedience was shown by none other than Christ Himself, Who as the Son perfectly obeyed the will of His heavenly Father, fulfilling the long promised salvation which God has willed and promised His people. Christ showed His perfect obedience, taking up His cross and walking up the painful path of suffering to the hill of Calvary. And in dying on the cross, Christ redeemed all of us from the tyranny of sin, and bring us all to the new hope of eternal life He brought to us all.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are called to imitate the examples of Christ, His obedience to the will of His Father, His perfect humility in assuming the position of a slave, and to suffer in the way that totally and completely humiliated Himself, and yet, all of that He did for the sake of our salvation. And He Himself said that all those who follow Him must share in His cross, pick up their crosses and follow Him.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we willing and are we able to dedicate ourselves to the Lord, obeying His will and commandments, as the Apostles themselves had done? Are we able to love God wholeheartedly and dedicate ourselves thoroughly to Him just as Jesus, our Lord has loved His heavenly Father so perfectly? Let us all reflect on this today, and think deep in our hearts and minds, what are the things that we can do in order to grow ever more faithful to God.

May the Lord continue to bless us all and may He continue to love us, just as we ourselves also grow more in our love and devotion to Him. May God bless all of our endeavours and good works, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 9 : 30-37

At that time, after leaving the place where He cast out evil spirit from a deaf and dumb boy, Jesus and His disciples made their way through Galilee, but He did not want people to know where He was because He was teaching His disciples. And He told them, “The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill Him, but three days after He has been killed, He will rise.”

The disciples, however, did not understand these words and they were afraid to ask Him what He meant. They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, Jesus asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they did not answer, because they had been arguing about who was the greatest.

Then He sat down, called the Twelve and said to them, “If someone wants to be first, let him be last of all and servant of all.” Then He took a little child, placed him in their midst, and putting His arms around him, He said to them, “Whoever welcomes a child such as this in My Name, welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me, welcomes not Me but the One Who sent Me.”

Tuesday, 26 February 2019 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 36 : 3-4, 18-19, 27-28, 39-40

Trust in the Lord and do good, dwell in the land and live on it. Make the Lord your delight, and He will grant your heart’s desire.

The Lord watches over the lives of the upright; forever will their inheritance abide. They are not crushed in times of calamity; when famine strikes, they still are satisfied.

Do good and shun evil, so that you will live secure forever. For the Lord loves justice and right, and never forsakes His faithful ones. The wicked instead will perish and their breed will be cut off.

The Lord is the salvation of the righteous; in time of distress, He is their refuge. The Lord helps them, and rescues them from the oppressor; He saves them for they sought shelter in Him.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Sirach 2 : 1-13 (Greek Septuagint version – Sirach 2 : 1-11)

My son, if you have decided to serve the Lord, prepare yourselves for trials. Keep your heart upright and remain resolute; do not be upset in the time of adversity. Hold fast to the Lord, do not separate yourself from Him so that you may be successful to the end of your days.

Accept all that happens to you, be patient when you are humbled, for as gold is tested in the fire, so those acceptable to God are tested in the crucible of humiliation. Have confidence in Him and He will take care of you; follow the right path and hope in Him.

You who fear the Lord, wait for His mercy and do not turn away lest you fall. You who fear the Lord, trust Him and you will not lose your reward. You who fear the Lord, hope for all good things; hope for eternal joy and mercy. Remember what happened to your ancestors. Who has ever trusted in the Lord and been confounded? Who has persevered in fear of the Lord and been abandoned? Who has called upon Him and not been heard?

For the Lord is compassion and loving kindness; He forgives our sins and saves us in time of distress.

Monday, 25 February 2019 : 7th 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 God through the Scriptures, speaking to us about the faith that we should have in the Lord, the Source of all our hope, from Whom we gained all wisdom and truth. As long as we place our trust in God, we shall never be disappointed. Challenges and difficulties may come our way, but by the strength that God has given us, we shall persevere in the end.

In the Gospel passage today, we heard of the account of the healing of a man who was possessed by evil spirits. The father of the man brought him to the Apostles, but the Apostles were unable to cast out the evil spirit, and the evil spirit continued to possess the man. The Lord essentially rebuked His disciples to whom He made clear that they lacked the faith necessary for them to perform the miracles that He has given them the power to do.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all called to remember that we must have true and genuine faith in God, or else, without faith, whatever it is that God has blessed us with, everything will be meaningless and empty. And for us to have faith does not just mean that we say that we believe in God, or act in a manner to show others that we are God’s believers, but rather, we must be thoroughly attuned with God’s will, that deep within our hearts, we truly are united with God, knowing His will and loving Him.

That was why the Apostles were unable to cast the evil spirit from the man, because even though God has given them all the power and authority over the evil spirits and to heal physical illnesses of the flesh, when He commissioned them, but without a strong and real faith in them, those power and authority given to them meant nothing. Faith connects us to God, and faith is the link that undoubtedly unites us to the Lord and He is truly present within us when we are faithful to Him.

Indeed, it is easy for us to say that we believe in God, but it is totally a different case about having true faith in Him. Having a true, genuine faith often requires us to devote ourselves from the deepest part of our hearts, and we often have to make sacrifices and commitment of ourselves, in ways that require us to put God at the very centre of our existence. God must be the reason and the focus of all of our actions, otherwise, our faith in Him is not complete.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we may have all the gifts and talents given to us by God, but unless we have that faith which we should have within us, we shall not be able to utilise those gifts for the right purpose and for the right intention. And that is why, within the Church today, there are so many people present within our communities of the faithful, and yet, there are so few among us who have made use of our talents and capabilities to serve the Lord in a meaningful and sincere way.

And many of us do not have a good and healthy spiritual life, that is a life filled with prayer and communication with God. Prayer is not meant for us to make a litany of requests and demands as what many of us frequently have done, but rather for us to quieten ourselves down, and refocus our attention on God alone. It is when we are attuned in such a way with God, that truly meaningful conversation between us and Him can take place.

Today, all of us are called to rediscover our faith in God, and not just any kind of faith, but faith that is genuine, true and steadfast at all times, that we may truly serve God faithfully in all occasions, and give our very best, out of love for Him. Let us all grow stronger in our love for Him, dedicating ourselves to the good works that He had entrusted to us. Let us also deepen our relationship with God through prayer, that we may know better what His will is for each and every one of us.

May the Lord continue to strengthen in each and every one of us, the faith that we have in Him, that we may grow ever more committed and dedicated in obeying His will and in doing whatever it is that He has taught and commanded us to do with our lives. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 25 February 2019 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 9 : 14-29

At that time, when Jesus and His disciples, Peter, James and John came to the place where they had left the disciples, they saw many people around them and some teachers of the Law arguing with them. When the people saw Jesus, they were astonished and ran to greet Him.

He asked, “What are you arguing about with them?” A man answered Him from the crowd, “Master, I brought my son to You, for he has a spirit, deaf and mute. Whenever the spirit seizes him, it throws him down and he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth and becomes stiff all over. I asked Your disciples to drive the spirit out, but they could not.”

Jesus replied, “You faithless people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him to Me.” And the brought the boy to Him. As soon as the spirit saw Jesus, it shook and convulsed the boy, who fell on the ground, and began rolling about, foaming at the mouth.

Then Jesus asked the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” He replied, “From childhood. And it has often thrown him into the fire and into the water to destroy him. If You can do anything, have pity on us and help us.”

Jesus said to him, “Why do you say, ‘If You can?’ All things are possible for the one who believes.” Immediately the father of the boy cried out, “I do believe, but help the little faith I have.” Jesus saw that the crowd was increasing rapidly, so He ordered the evil spirit, “Dumb and deaf spirit, I command you : Leave the boy and never enter him again.”

The evil spirit shook and convulsed the boy and with a terrible shriek came out. The boy lay like a corpse and people said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him and the boy stood up. After Jesus had gone indoors, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not drive out the spirit?”

And He answered, “Only prayer can drive out this kind, nothing else.”

Monday, 25 February 2019 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 92 : 1ab, 1c-2, 5

The Lord reigns, robed in majesty; the Lord is girded with strength.

The world now is firm, it cannot be moved. Your throne stands from long ago, o Lord, from all eternity You are.

Your decrees can be trusted; holiness dwells in Your house day after day without end, o Lord.