Saturday, 8 February 2020 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome Emiliani, and St. Josephine Bakhita, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints, Holy Virgins or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Mark 6 : 30-34

At that time, the Apostles returned and reported to Jesus all they had done and taught. Then He said to them, “Let us go off by ourselves into a remote place and have some rest.” For there were so many people coming and going that the Apostles had no time even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a secluded area by themselves.

But people saw them leaving, and many could guess where they were going. So, from all the towns, they hurried there on foot, arriving ahead of them. As Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He had compassion on them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd. And He began to teach them many things.

Saturday, 8 February 2020 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome Emiliani, and St. Josephine Bakhita, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints, Holy Virgins or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Psalm 118 : 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

How can young people remain pure? By living according to Your word.

I seek You with my whole heart; let me not stray from Your commands.

In my heart I have kept Your word, that I may not sin against my YHVH.

Praise to You, o YHVH; instruct me in Your statutes.

That, with my lips, I may declare all Your spoken decrees.

I delight in following Your laws, more so than in all riches.

Saturday, 8 February 2020 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome Emiliani, and St. Josephine Bakhita, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints, Holy Virgins or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

1 Kings 3 : 4-13

The king used to sacrifice at Gibeon, the great high place; on the altar there he had offered a thousand burnt offerings. It was in Gibeon, during the night, that YHVH appeared to Solomon in a dream and said, “Ask what you want Me to give you.”

Solomon answered, “You have shown Your servant David my father a great and steadfast love because he served You faithfully and was righteous and sincere towards You. You have given him proof of Your steadfast love in making a son of his sit on his throne this day.”

“And now, o YHVH my God, You have made Your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a young boy who does not know how to undertake anything. Meantime, Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen – a people so great that they can neither be numbered nor counted.”

“Give me, therefore, an understanding mind in governing Your people that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to govern this multitude of people of Yours?”

YHVH was pleased that Solomon had made this request. And He told him, “Because you have requested this rather than long life or wealth or even vengeance on your enemies; indeed, because you have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, I shall grant you your request. I now give you a wise and discerning mind such as no one has had before you nor anyone after you shall ever have.”

“I will also give you what you have not asked for, both wealth and fame; and no king shall be your equal during your lifetime.”

Friday, 7 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 the Scripture comparing two kings, namely David and Herod, in how they acted in their reign and life. One was faithful to God and committed himself to serve his Lord and Master, although he did fall at times and faltered but he remained true to his commitment and was righteous and just as a king. On the other hand, the other one was unfaithful, placed himself and his interests above that of his own people and did not follow God’s laws and commandments.

King David was the epitome of a faithful servant, who although a powerful and mighty, successful king, but he did not allow himself to be swayed by the temptations of his pride and desires. It was only rare occasions that he did fall into those temptations, but in all those occasions, David knew that he was at fault and repented deeply for his sins. God was always foremost in his mind and he devoted much of his reign in leading the people of Israel to be closer to God.

On the other hand, we have king Herod who succumbed to the many temptations he had, especially that of power and lust. First of all, as mentioned in our Gospel passage today, king Herod took his own brother’s wife, Herodias to be his own wife. This happened when Philip, Herod’s brother was still in fact well and alive, and then, Herodias and Philip already had a daughter from that earlier marriage, who was likely the daughter of Herodias mentioned in our Gospel passage today.

In that manner, the action of Herod constituted a serious adultery, as Herod embraced a relationship that was not approved or sanctioned by the Law of God. And in his position as king over the people of Judea, to embrace such an action so blatantly and publicly would equate to a terrible role model for the people he was king over. His actions brought scandal and wickedness, and St. John the Baptist rightly rebuked him before the people for his refusal to obey God and live righteously as he should have.

Then, we heard an even greater mistake that king Herod had done in our same Gospel passage today, when he allowed himself to be tempted even more by his desire and lust, when he was tempted even by his own stepdaughter, the one that Herodias had with Philip, Herod’s daughter. When Herod was immersed in the party he conducted and became enamoured with desire even for his own stepdaughter, Herod showed us how dangerous it is for us to allow the devil to tempt us and to twist us with all those wicked thoughts and desires.

In the end, because of that, king Herod caused the death of St. John the Baptist, God’s faithful servant, although he did not intend to do it. Herodias took the opportunity to strike a revenge at St. John the Baptist for having insulted her with his rebuke of the adulterous relations between her and Herod. All these happened ultimately because Herod and all the parties involved allowed themselves to be swayed by their desires and the temptations to sin.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us are called to reflect on these matters and consider how each and every one of us should be careful in living our lives that we do not end up like Herod who gave in to the temptations in life and sinned against God by his actions and deeds. Instead, we should look upon the good examples set by king David, just as Solomon, his son looked up to him for example and thanked God for all that his father had done in righteously serving God all his life.

It will not be easy for us to serve the Lord as there will indeed be plenty of temptations in life, and there will be lots of challenges we may have to face along the way. Are we able to resist those temptations and desires that are making us go astray from God and His path? Are we willing to commit ourselves to the Lord with faith from now on, knowing that as Christians this is our obligation and calling in life? Let us all be inspired to live as how God’s faithful servants had lived, like king David and many other saints and holy men and women, whose lives are readily available for us to emulate and follow.

May the Lord be with us and may He guide us all to live courageously with faith from now on. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.