Thursday, 16 January 2020 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Samuel 4 : 1-11

At that time Samuel was a prophet of Israel. The Israelites went out to battle against the Philistines. They encamped at Ebenezer, while the Philistines encamped at Aphek. The Philistines then drew up in battle formation. They attacked Israel and after a fierce fighting, Israel was defeated, leaving about four thousand men dead on the battlefield.

When the troops retreated to their camp, the elders of Israel asked, “Why has YHVH allowed us to be defeated by the Philistines? Let us take the Ark of God from Shiloh and bring it here so that YHVH may be with us and save us from our enemies.” So the people sent messengers to Shiloh to take the Ark of YHVH Who is seated on the Cherubim. Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, accompanied the Ark.

As soon as the Ark of YHVH entered the camp, the Israelites began to cheer so loudly that the earth resounded. The Philistines heard the shouting and asked, “What does this loud shout in the camp of the Hebrews mean?” And they were told that the Ark of YHVH had been brought to the camp.

The Philistines were overcome with fear. They exclaimed, “A God has come into the camp. Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before. Woe to us! Who can save us from the power of these mighty Gods? These are the Gods Who struck the Egyptians with all sorts of plagues – and in the desert. Take courage and conduct yourselves like men, o Philistines, lest you become slaves to the Hebrews in the same way they have been slaves to you. Be manly and fight.”

So the Philistines fought and Israel was defeated. Everyone fled to his home. It was a disastrous defeat; thirty thousand foot soldiers of Israel were killed. The Ark of God was captured and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us of the works that the Lord has done among His people, and how He calls all those whom He has chosen to be His disciples to be His instruments through which He performed His many wonders in this world. In our first reading we have the calling of the prophet Samuel in his youth, while in the Gospel we heard how the Lord Jesus embarked on His ministry, healing many of the sick who came to Him, and also healed the mother-in-law of St. Peter.

Beginning from what we have heard in our first reading today, the young prophet Samuel heard the call of the Lord at night three times, calling him to follow Him and to listen to what He wanted to tell him. The prophet Samuel listened to the Lord and obeyed the Lord, who called him to be His worker in leading the people of God back to Him, guiding them through the many difficult years under the Philistine dominance, and eventually anointed two kings of Israel, Saul and David.

The prophet Samuel responded to the Lord as his mentor, the Judge Eli told him to, that when the Lord called, he was to reply with, ‘Speak Lord, Your servant is listening’. And this response marked the beginning of the ministry that the Lord had entrusted to Samuel and which he embraced wholeheartedly for the rest of his life. He did a lot for the Lord and sacrificed much of his time and energy to do the many works he has done.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord Jesus healing the mother-in-law of St. Peter who was very sick with high fever. And after He healed her, many came to hear about His miraculous healing powers, and they all brought their sick ones to the Lord. The Lord healed them all and more and more came to seek healing from the Lord. He and His disciples could have just stayed there and be in their comfort zone, but what the Lord did next was that He went off to another place to minister to the other people there.

In this manner, the Lord also did what the prophet Samuel had done. He obeyed the will of His Father, and did what He has been entrusted to do, following where His Father has commanded Him to go, in serving the needs of the people of God in many places. He and His disciples moved from places to places, often not even having a shelter over their heads, and they had to endure challenges and trials along the journey, while ministering to the people.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, what is the significance of all these to all of us? It is that all of us have been called to the same ministry as the prophet Samuel and which the Lord had done with His disciples. We are called to follow in the footsteps of Christ and His Apostles in ministering to the people of God. We are called to follow Christ and to be witnesses of His truth to the nations, and the works He has entrusted to His disciples are still ongoing and not yet done.

Are we willing to make the effort and give our best to serve the Lord? Are we willing to commit our time and our energy for the greater glory of God as te prophet Samuel and as the Lord and His disciples had done? Let us all reflect on this today, and look back at how we have lived our lives thus far. Have we been truly faithful to God all these while? Or have we instead been serving our own selfish interests and desires all these while?

God has called us all to follow Him. If we have not done so, then let us embrace Him and endeavour to begin this journey of faith with Him. Let us all seek Him with all of our hearts and with all of our strength, and listen to His will intently rather than listening to our own desires and selfish thoughts. May the Lord be with us always throughout this journey, that all of us may remain steadfast throughout our own respective vocations in the Church, that we may do our very best for the greater glory of God at all times. May God bless us all and our good works. Amen.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 1 : 29-39

At that time, on leaving the synagogue, Jesus went to the home of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. As Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with fever, they immediately told him about her. Jesus went to her and, taking her by the hand, raised her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

That evening, at sundown, people brought to Jesus all the sick and those who had evil spirits : the whole town was pressing around the door. Jesus healed many who had various diseases, and drove out many demons; but He did not let them speak, for they knew Who He was.

Very early in the morning, before daylight, Jesus went off to a lonely place where He prayed. Simon and the others went out also, searching for Him; and when they found Him, they said, “Everyone is looking for You.” Then Jesus answered, “Let us go to the nearby villages so that I may preach there too; for that is why I came.”

So Jesus set out to preach in all the synagogues throughout Galilee; He also cast out demons.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 39 : 2 and 5, 7-8a, 8b-9, 10

With resolve I waited for YHVH; He listened and heard me beg. Blessed is the one who relies on YHVH and does not look to the proud, nor go astray after false gods.

Sacrifice and oblation You did not desire; this, You had me understand. Burnt offering and sin offering You do not require. Then I said, “Here I come!”

As the scroll says of me. To do Your will is my delight, o God, for Your Law is within my heart.

In the great assembly I have proclaimed Your saving help. My lips, o YHVH, I did not seal – You know that very well.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Samuel 3 : 1-10, 19-20

The boy Samuel ministered to YHVH under Eli’s care in a time in which the word of YHVH was rarely heard. Visions were not seen. One night Eli was lying down in his room, half blind as he was. The lamp of God was still lighted and Samuel also lay in the house of YHVH near the Ark of God.

Then YHVH called, “Samuel! Samuel!” Samuel answered, “I am here!” and ran to Eli saying, “I am here, did you not call me?” But Eli said, “I did not call. Go back to sleep.” So he went and lay down. Then YHVH called again, “Samuel!” and Samuel stood up and went to Eli saying, “You called me; I am here.” But Eli answered, “I did not call you, my son. Go back to sleep.”

Samuel did not yet know YHVH; and the word of YHVH had not yet been revealed to him. But YHVH called Samuel for the third time; and he went again to Eli saying, “I am here for you have called me.” Eli realised that it was YHVH calling the boy. So he said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if He calls you again, answer : ‘Speak, YHVH, Your servant listens.’”

Then YHVH came and stood there calling “Samuel! Samuel!” as He did before. And Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant listens.” Samuel grew. YHVH was with him and made all his words become true. All Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, knew that Samuel was really YHVH’s prophet.