Thursday, 20 February 2020 : 6th 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 Scriptures, we are reminded that we should be careful not to indulge in ourselves and our desires, that is to indulge in our desires and pride, so that we will not end up being swallowed by them and fall therefore into sin. We are reminded that as Christians we should instead be humble and allow God to work His wonders through us and our lives, opening ourselves to His truth and love.

In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. James, St. James mentioned how as Christians we should not seek worldly glory and attention, hubris and ambition, ego and desires. St. James made a mention of the discrimination that people often make based on status, wealth, prestige, fame and all sorts of parameters by which we classify and categorise people. We tend to look down on those whom we deem to be inferior to us, while we honour and praise those whom we deem to be powerful and mighty.

And all of that were because we ourselves sought acceptance, recognition and status. We honour and welcome those who are rich and those who have important status because we want to gain benefit and satisfaction from the relationship we build with those who can benefit us and provide us with material sustenance and worldly benefits. Those who are of no status and importance in the eyes of the world are often ostracised and put aside because we perhaps think that we can gain nothing from them.

We need then to take note that St. James was not against the rich or the powerful, but rather our prejudices and our bias against those who are weak, poor and those who we are often judgmental against. And all these are caused by our own inability to resist the temptation of power, of wealth, of fame, glory and renown, of pleasure and many other worldly desires that often lead us down the path of sin.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what St. James wrote in his Epistle is a kind reminder to all of us Christians to be charitable in our words, actions and deeds. In everything we say and do, we should reach out to everyone, and love everyone equally without discrimination. We should also resist those temptations of power, of glory, wealth and fame, praise and vanity, all the things that will lead us astray from God and from His path.

We have to look at the example set by Christ Himself, as described in our Gospel passage today. The Lord Jesus asked His disciples Who they think or say He was, and while some said that He was a prophet and the One promised by God to come, St. Peter spoke firmly that he believed that Jesus was the Messiah and Holy One of God. What St. Peter spoke was the truth, but then we see just how cunning the devil can be, as he used that opportunity to strike and tempt Christ Our Lord.

St. Peter immediately rebuked the Lord when He mentioned how He would have to suffer and die at the hands of His enemies, which was indeed part of His ministry in this world. St. Peter rebuked the Lord saying that He should not have said such things and that He would not die as He had said. In fact, the devil tried to tempt Jesus again, by saying that because He is the Son of God and King of Kings, He should not have to suffer and die in such a manner, which befitted a slave more than a King.

Yet, that was what the Lord had exactly done, in accepting humbly His mission to save us all, out of His great compassion and love for each and every one of us. He resisted that temptation to leave His mission and be spared of the suffering that He was about to undertake for our sake. Although He was great and mighty, the Divine Lord and God, King of all kings, He willingly humbled and emptied Himself, so that by offering to His heavenly Father, His own worthy offering of His Most Precious Body and Blood, on the Altar of the Cross, He could save all of us mankind from our sins and from certain annihilation.

As Christians, all of us are called to imitate the love which Christ has shown to all of us, His ever generous love and compassion by which He has touched each one of us, calling us to repent from our sins and to embrace His wonderful mercy. We are called to love everyone equally, for we must also not forget how Christ loved us all even when we are still sinners, wicked and unworthy, disgusting and terrible because of all of our sins. Christ is still willing to forgive us despite all of that, provided that we make the commitment to change our way of life and follow Him with all of our heart.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore deepen our faith and grow further in our spiritual relationship with God. Let us all spend more time with God and do our best in our lives to serve Him and to glorify Him by our actions at all times. Let us resist the temptations put in our path by the devil, who sought our downfall by appealing to our pride, ego and desire. May the Lord be with us always and may He bless us in our every good works and endeavours. Amen.

Thursday, 20 February 2020 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 8 : 27-33

At that time, Jesus set out with His disciples for the villages around Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He asked them, “Who do people say I am?” And they told Him, “Some say You are John the Baptist; others say You are Elijah or one of the prophets.”

Then Jesus asked them, “But you, who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.” And He ordered them not to tell anyone about Him. Jesus then began to teach them that the Son of Man had to suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the Law. He would be killed, and after three days rise again.

Jesus said all this quite openly, so that Peter took Him aside and began to protest strongly. But Jesus turning around, and looking at His disciples, rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are thinking not as God does, but as people do.”