Friday, 1 March 2019 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 10 : 1-12

At that time, Jesus then left that place and went to the province of Judea, beyond the Jordan River. Once more crowds gathered around Him and once more He taught them as He always did. Some (Pharisees came and) put Him to the test with this question, “Is it right for a husband to divorce his wife?”

He replied, “What law did Moses give you?” They answered, “Moses allowed us to write a certificate of dismissal in order to divorce.” Then Jesus said to them, “Moses wrote this law for you, because you are stubborn. But in the beginning of creation God made them male and female, and because of this, man has to leave father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one body. So they are no longer two but one body. Therefore let no one separate what God has joined.”

When they were indoors at home, the disciples again asked Him about this, and He told them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against his wife, and the woman who divorces her husband and marries another also commits adultery.”

Friday, 1 March 2019 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 118 : 12, 16, 18, 27, 34, 35

Praise to You, o Lord; instruct me in Your statutes, that with my lips I may declare all Your spoken decrees.

In Your laws I will rejoice and will not neglect Your words.

Open my eyes that I may see the marvellous truths in Your law.

Explain to me all Your ordinances, and I will meditate on Your wondrous deeds.

Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law with all my heart.

Guide me in obeying Your instructions, for my pleasure lies in them.

Friday, 1 March 2019 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Sirach 6 : 5-17

A gentle word makes many friends, an agreeable tongue calls forth gracious replies. Let your friends be many; but your counsellors, one in a thousand! If you would gain a friend, begin by testing him and do not put your confidence in him too quickly. For there is the friend who is such when it suits him but he does not remain faithful in the time of your adversity.

There is the friend who becomes an enemy and, to your confusion, makes known why you quarrelled. There is the friend who shares your table but does not remain faithful when things go against you. In times of prosperity he will be like your shadow and he will speak freely to those of your household. But if you are humiliated, he will turn against you and will avoid meeting you.

Distance yourself from your enemies and be careful about your friends. The faithful friend is a secure refuge; whoever has found one has found a treasure. A faithful friend is beyond all price; hold him as priceless. A faithful friend is a life-saving remedy, and those who fear the Lord will find one.

Whoever fears the Lord will make true friends for, as a man is, such will his friend be.

Thursday, 28 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 need for us to realise at first, just how sinful we have been all these while, in our actions and deeds, in our words and in how we deal with one another in our respective lives. And we must realise how sin can be very dangerous for us, if we do not do anything in order to resist the temptation to sin, and to keep ourselves free from those sins.

In the first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Sirach, we heard about the reminder that sin is truly our great enemy, and how each and every one of us are sinners, whether it be great or small, significant or minute, but each one of us have sinned, and sin has corrupted our hearts, minds, and our very existence. Sin is disobedience against God, and because of sin, we have been sundered and separated from God’s grace.

But in the same reading we also heard how it was said that God’s compassion and mercy were indeed very great. This in fact is not wrong, as God’s love and compassion for each and every one of us is indeed very great, that He patiently waited and tried to reconcile us to Himself, through His many prophets and messengers, all those whom He has sent into our midst to call us back to Him, that we may repent from our sinful ways.

Yet, what the prophet Sirach reminded each one of us is that, we must never test God, by trying out His patience and by continuously being disobedient through our constant sins before Him. We also should not think that sin has no consequence for us, as perhaps at the moment when we sin without having any repercussions, doing what are wicked and sinful in the sight of God and men, no one may seem to hold us to account for our sins, but the time of reckoning will come for us, at the time that we least expect.

Why is that so, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because it does not matter what status, power, glory or wealth we have in life, but all of us will eventually have to face death in the face, and death is the ultimate equaliser for all, as whether we are rich or poor, strong or weak, intelligent or not so intelligent, influential or nobody, we are all bound to die because of our sins. Just as sin came because of our disobedience, thus death came because of sin.

The Lord reminded us as well in the Gospel passage today, that each and every one of us must be wary of sin, in all of the things that we say and do, that we do not end up falling deeper and deeper into this trap of sin that has ensnared many of those who have gone before us. He used such dramatic expressions and language, telling the people to chop of their hands, their legs, plucking off their eyes if those have caused them to fall into sin, not for them to listen and obey to His words literally, but rather, for us all to understand that sin truly is dangerous.

Sin is like a terrible and dangerous disease that can easily and rapidly spread unless we do something about it. Our hands, legs and limbs, our eyes and all our organs are all without blame by themselves, and they are all capable of both good and wicked deeds alike. By themselves they are neither good nor wicked, for it is our hearts and minds that are filled with either things that are holy or unholy in nature.

What God wants each and every one of us to do is that we must make the conscious effort to cut ourselves off from sin, not by mere external actions, but through total internal and wholesome conversion, of our hearts, minds and souls, so that while once we may have lived in darkness and filled with sin, now we should begin anew, in a journey that is filled with a new purpose, that is to serve God with all of our strength.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today let us all awaken ourselves from our long slumber, and realise how fortunate each and every one of us to have been given these opportunities by God. He has given us chances after chances to bring our lives into order, and to turn our sinfulness back into a life of faith and dedication. Let us all not wait any moment longer, for none of us can know the exact moment of our death, and when it comes, it may already be too late for us.

May God be with us always, and may He strengthen us throughout our journey in life. May He grant us the courage to live faithfully according to His ways, and help us all to refocus our lives on Him, that we may gradually move away from our sinful past, and enter into a new and more meaningful existence in faith. Amen.

Thursday, 28 February 2019 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 9 : 41-50

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone gives you a drink of water because you belong to Christ and bear His Name, truly, I say to you, he will not go without reward. If anyone should cause one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble and sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a great millstone around his neck.”

“If your hand makes you fall into sin, cut it off! It is better for you to enter life without a hand, than with two hands to go to hell, to the fire that never goes out. And if your foot makes you fall into sin, cut it off! It is better for you to enter life without a foot, than with both feet to be thrown into hell.”

“And if your eye makes you fall into sin, tear it out! It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, keeping both eyes, to be thrown into hell, where the worms that eat them never die, and the fire never goes out. The fire itself will preserve them.”

“Salt is a good thing; but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another.”

Thursday, 28 February 2019 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 1 : 1-2, 3, 4 and 6

Blessed is the one who does not go where the wicked gather, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit where the scoffers sit! Instead, he finds delight in the law of the Lord and meditates day and night on His commandments.

He is like a tree beside a brook producing its fruit in due season, its leaves never withering. Everything he does is a success.

But it is different with the wicked. They are like chaff driven away by the wind. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous but cuts off the way of the wicked.

Thursday, 28 February 2019 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Sirach 5 : 1-10 (Greek Septuagint version – Sirach 5 : 1-8)

Do not rely on your wealth. Do not say, “I am self-sufficient.” Do not let yourself be carried away by greed and violence; they would make you their slave.

Do not say, “Who can stop me?” For the Lord has power to punish you. Do not say, “I have sinned and nothing has happened!” For the Lord bides His time.

Do not be so sure of pardon when you are heaping sin upon sin. Do not say, “His compassion is great! He will forgive the vast number of my sins!” For with Him is mercy but also anger; His fury will be poured out on sinners.

Do not delay your return to the Lord, do not put it off from day to day. For suddenly the anger of the Lord will blaze forth and you will perish on the day of reckoning. Do not rely on riches wrongfully acquired for they will be of no use to you on the day of wrath.

Wednesday, 27 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 Scripture speaking to us about the wisdom of God, and how each and every one of us ought to have this wisdom in us, and indeed, not just to have the wisdom, but to practice that wisdom in our own lives, in our every actions and deeds, so that we may truly walk in the righteous path of the Lord, and be worthy in the sight of God.

The disciples in today’s Gospel reading came up to Jesus and complained about the person who tried to do what the disciples had done, by calling upon the Name and therefore, the power of Jesus Christ, God’s Saviour, to cast out demons. They did not want the person to be able to claim to work in the Name of God, seeing the person as a rival to their own works and influence, even probably as a threat to their own position.

This is caused by their trust in the wisdom of man, in the understanding of how things work in this world. This world is filled with jealousy and conflicting human desires, with human ego, ambition and pride. This world is filled with the ambitions and desires of men, who wants more things for themselves, more glory for their own, more pleasure for their own bodies and minds, that ends up causing pain and suffering for others.

That was also why the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were opposed to the Lord and His many works among the people. They clearly saw how the Lord performed His miraculous deeds, His healing miracles and the powers He has shown before them, that could not have come from any other sources beside that of God. They have also listened to His teachings and all of His words, all filled with the revelations of truth, and yet, they still refused to believe.

In fact, they opposed the good works of God and persecuted the Lord and His disciples, making their lives and their works very difficult as they opposed them at every possible opportunities. Why is that so, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is because they think not in the way the Lord thinks, and they did not put their trust in divine wisdom, but in their own limited and corrupted human wisdom and understanding, clouded by their own ego and pride, human greed and desires.

They thought that they could not have been wrong with the way they lived up their faith, and when the Lord apparently criticised and rebuked them before the people in their presence, they became agitated and were angry, refusing to listen to the words of wisdom, and instead, drawing even more from the hatred and jealousy, the greed and desires found within their hearts and minds. As a result, they failed to recognise the truth that Christ has brought upon them.

They were all trusting too much upon their own human wisdom, power and understanding. And as a result, they were not able to comprehend God’s actions and will, and they acted in ways that were contrary to the wisdom of God. God desired that all of us put our trust in Him, in His wisdom and power, for all the actions and deeds we have done all these while, we did them out of self-preservation and self-glorification rather than to live in accordance to the will of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are called to reflect on our own lives, and think carefully about our course of actions. Are we able to focus our trust and attention to the Lord from now on, instead of being filled with ego, pride and human desire? It is not easy for us to do the former actions, and it will require us to make the effort to commit ourselves to a new way and outlook of life. And we have to put God truly to be at the centre of our lives.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He strengthen us in our conviction to live ever more faithfully in accordance with His will. May He guide us on our journey of faith, that we may grow ever deeper in our love for Him and that we may dedicate ourselves ever more to Him. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.