Wednesday, 5 February 2020 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Agatha, Virgin and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Mark 6 : 1-6

At that time, leaving the place where He raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead, Jesus returned to His own country, and His disciples followed Him. When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue, and most of those who heard Him were astonished.

But they said, “How did this come to Him? What kind of wisdom has been given to Him, that He also performs such miracles? Who is He but the Carpenter, the Son of Mary, and the Brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? His sisters, too, are they not here among us?” So they took offence at Him.

And Jesus said to them, “Prophets are despised only in their own country, among their relatives, and in their own family.” And He could work no miracles there, but only healed a few sick people, by laying His hands on them. Jesus Himself was astounded at their unbelief. Jesus then went around the villages, teaching.”

Wednesday, 5 February 2020 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Agatha, Virgin and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 31 : 1-2, 5, 6, 7

Blessed is the one whose sin is forgiven, whose iniquity is wiped away. Blessed are those in whom YHVH sees no guilt and in whose spirit is found no deceit.

Then I made known to You my sin and uncovered before You my fault, saying to myself, “To YHVH I will now confess my wrong.” And You, You forgave my sin; You removed my guilt.

So let the faithful ones pray to You in time of distress; the overflowing waters will not reach them.

You are my Refuge; You protect me from distress and surround me with songs of deliverance.

Wednesday, 5 February 2020 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Agatha, Virgin and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

2 Samuel 24 : 2, 9-17

The king said to Joab and the commanders of the army who were with him, “Go through all the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba and count the people that I may know how many they are.”

Joab gave the total count of the people to the king : eight hundred thousand warriors in Israel and five hundred thousand men in Judah. But after he had the people counted, David felt remorse and said to YHVH, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done, but now, o YHVH, I ask You to forgive my sin for I have acted foolishly.”

The following day, before David awoke, YHVH’s word had come to the prophet Gad, David’s seer, “Go, and give David this message : I offer you three things and I will let one of them befall you according to your own choice.”

So Gad went to David and asked him, “Do you want three years of famine in your land? Or do you want to be pursued for three months by your foes while you flee from them? Or do you want three days’ pestilence in your land? Now, think and decide what answer I shall give Him Who sent me.”

David answered Gad, “I am greatly troubled. Let me fall into the hands of YHVH Whose mercy is abundant; but let me not fall into human hands.” So YHVH sent a pestilence on Israel from morning until the appointed time, causing the death of seventy thousand men from Dan to Beersheba. When the Angel stretched forth his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, YHVH would punish no more and said to the Angel who was causing destruction among the people, “It is enough, hold back your hand.”

The Angel of YHVH was already at the threshing floor of Araunah, the Jebusite. When David saw the Angel striking the people, he spoke to YHVH and said, “I have sinned and acted wickedly, but these are only the sheep; what have they done? Let Your hand strike me and my father’s family.”

Tuesday, 4 February 2020 : 4th 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 speaking to us about the matter of life and death, and how all of us as Christians must truly believe that our lives are in the hands of the Lord, Who is the Lord and Master of all life. He loves all of us as His own children and cares for each and every one of us without exception. We heard of one example of this precious love as what we have heard in our first reading today of what happened between king David of Israel and his son, Absalom.

At that time, Absalom rose up in rebellion against king David, his own father, with the intention of seizing power and the kingdom for himself. Absalom had always been proud of himself and behaved haughtily since he was young, and as described in the Scriptures, he always pretended and dressed as if he was already a king since his youth, acted and behaved with ambition and pride, and when opportunities presented itself, after period of possible conflict and disagreement with his father, Absalom took the chance and launched his rebellion.

But God was with David, and the rebellion was destroyed when the armies of Absalom were defeated by the supporters of David. And as mentioned in our Gospel passage today, Absalom himself was killed by Joab, David’s chief commander when he was fleeing and was unfortunately trapped by a tree. Hearing the news of Absalom’s death from a Cushite, David broke down in great sorrow and showed his still great love and affection for Absalom despite his rebelliousness.

It was this love with which God our Father loves us all, His beloved children, that He wants us all to know that He is with us and He will not abandon us to our sufferings. He listens to our prayers and knows all of our needs, and He will provide for us when we ask. In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the many miracles which Our Lord Jesus performed, beginning from the healing of the woman with bleeding or haemorrhage, who was healed when she touched the cloak of Jesus, and then the daughter of the Temple official who died of sickness and then raised back to life by the Lord.

We have sinned by our disobedience against God, and because of that we should have been destroyed and suffered. And yet, because of the great love that God has for each and every one of us, He gave us Christ, His own beloved Son, to be our Saviour. All those who believe in Him and have placed their trust in Him will be saved, as the woman with bleeding proved to us. She had complete faith in the Lord’s providence, and she was healed.

We contrast this with the attitude of the many people who laughed at Jesus when He said that the daughter of the Temple official was just sleeping and not dead. Despite most likely knowing the Lord Jesus and His miracles beforehand, those people did not believe in Him and did not put their trust in Him. They preferred to trust in their own judgment and gave in to their prejudices and pride like that of Absalom, David’s prideful son. It was this pride and hubris that first of all led him into his path of rebellion that ended in tragedy.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what is the important lesson that all of us should take heed of today? It is that our rebellion and disobedience against God lead only to suffering and destruction, to be antagonised against God, our loving Father. Yet, He still loves us all regardless of this and wants us to be reconciled to Him. He has given us the perfect gift of Christ, His Son to us to reconcile us to Himself. If we turn our hearts and minds away from sin, and put our trust and faith once again in God through Christ, salvation in guaranteed for us.

But are we able to make that commitment? There are plenty of challenges and temptations that will threaten to keep us away from being able to recognise God’s love and desire to forgive us. Either we are too proud to accept and acknowledge God’s forgiveness and mercy, or that we think that we are too unworthy and sinful to deserve to be forgiven. And the devil will try his best to persuade us all to think in these manner, to prevent us from being reunited with God.

Let us all reflect on the messages of the Scripture passages and the words of God given to us today. Let us renew our faith in God and deepen our relationship with Him, putting our trust in Him and in His forgiveness and mercy, by throwing ourselves with repentance and sincere desire to love Him into His embrace. Let us all sin no longer and devote ourselves, our time, effort and attention from now on to be good disciples and followers of God in all things. May God be with us all and bless us, now and forevermore. Amen.