Saturday, 13 February 2021 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Genesis 3 : 9-24

YHVH God called the man saying to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard Your voice in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.” God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree I ordered you not to eat?”

The man answered, “The woman You put with me gave me fruit from the tree and I ate it.” God said to the woman, “What have you done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me and I ate.”

YHVH God said to the serpent, “Since you have done that, be cursed among all the cattle and wild beasts! You will crawl on your belly and eat dust all the days of your life. I will make you enemies, you and the woman, your offspring and her offspring. He will crush your head and you will strike his heel.”

To the woman, God said, “I will increase your suffering in childbearing, and you will give birth to your children in pain. You will be dependent on your husband and he will lord it over you.” To the man, He said, “Because you have listened to your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I forbade you to eat, cursed be the soil because of you! In suffering you will provide food for yourself from it, all the days of your life.”

“It will produce thorn and thistle for you and you will eat the plants of the field. With sweat on your face you will eat your bread, until you return to clay, since it was from clay that you were taken, for you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

The man called his wife by the name of Eve, because she was the mother of all the living. YHVH God made garments of skin for the man and his wife, and with these He clothed them. Then YHVH God said, “Man has now become like one of Us making himself judge of good and evil. Let him not stretch out his hand to take and eat from the tree of life as well, and live forever.”

So God cast him from the garden of Eden to till the soil from which he had been made. And after having driven the man out, God posted Cherubim and a flaming sword that kept turning at the east of the garden of Eden to guard the way to the tree of Life.

Friday, 12 February 2021 : 5th 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, we heard of the unfortunate moment when mankind was first tempted by Satan in the Gardens of Eden as recorded in the Book of Genesis. In that occasion, the devil tempted our ancestors, Adam and Eve, and persuaded them to eat of the fruit of the forbidden Tree of knowledge of good and evil, using their curiosity and desires against them.

Through that act of disobedience, mankind had fallen into sin and evil ways, and they had been sundered off away from God’s grace. Thus they fell and had to wander the world, as the consequences of their sin. But the Lord did not abandon them, for indeed, had He wanted to destroy them for their sins He could have done it really easily, willing them out of existence immediately and condemning them together with Satan and other wicked demons into hell for eternity.

Instead, the Lord patiently sought to be reconciled with us mankind, and He went to great lengths to seek us and sent helpers and reminders one after another to lead us on the way back to Him, as He has shown through how He guided the people of Israel, those whom He has first called and chosen among the children of mankind. God wants to be reconciled with us and He wants us to be gathered back once again in His loving embrace, no longer separated by sin.

Therefore, He sent us all the ultimate gift of all, the perfect manifestation of His boundless, timeless and enduring love for us. This is the gift of Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, God Himself incarnate in the flesh and walking amongst us, that we may remember that we are truly beloved by God and are precious in His eyes. And as we heard in our Gospel passage today, God willingly healed a man who was deaf, putting His hands on the man and opened his ears with the words ‘Ephphata!’ which means, ‘Be opened!’

This action by the Lord might not be very significant to us or we may just think of it as another miracle that the Lord performed, if we do not know that in the past, and as it is still presently practiced by those who use the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, the Ephphata Rite is a part of the Sacrament of Baptism, in which the priest symbolically opened the ears and mouth of the person to be baptised to mark the opening of the mind and the heart of the person to receive God into them.

Yes brothers and sisters in Christ, thanks to our disobedience and sin, we have allowed sin to corrupt us and cloud our judgments, our minds and hearts. The Lord as He healed the deaf man showed that not only that He could heal us from our physical infirmities but in fact also from our spiritual problems and the root of all evil and suffering, which is sin. God alone can heal us and forgive us our sins.

Now, as Christians what then is our attitude towards the Lord? Is it one of willingness to listen to Him and to welcome Him into our hearts and our minds? Or have we allowed the devil to tempt us and to sway us such that we place our desires, our pride, ambition and ego above our love for the Lord and our loyalty and faith in Him? Shall we repeat the mistakes made by our predecessors, all those who have chosen to follow the devil’s lead instead of the Lord and His path?

God has given us all the free will to choose the path we are to take in these lives He has granted us. Now, let us all discern carefully how we are to proceed from now on, moving forward and embracing the challenges and the opportunities that we have received, remembering always the love that God has for each and every one of us, and the great patience that He has in never giving up on any one of us.

Let us all turn towards the Lord with a new heart and with a new faith, and let us all appreciate all that He has done for us, welcoming Him into our midst and allowing Him to touch our lives, to heal us and to make us whole once again, purging from within us all traces of stubbornness and faithlessness. May God bless us all, and be with us always. Amen.

Friday, 12 February 2021 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 7 : 31-37

At that time, again Jesus set out : from the country of Tyre He passed through Sidon and, skirting the sea of Galilee, He came to the territory of Decapolis. There, a deaf man, who also had difficulty in speaking, was brought to Him. They asked Jesus to lay His hand upon him.

Jesus took him apart from the crowd, and put His fingers into the man’s ears, and touched his tongue with spittle. Then, looking up to heaven, He said with a deep sigh, “Ephphata!” that is, “Be opened!”

And immediately, his ears were opened, his tongue was loosened, and he began to speak clearly. Jesus ordered them not to tell anyone about it; but the more He insisted, the more they proclaimed it. The people were completely astonished and said, “He has done all things well; He makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.”

Friday, 12 February 2021 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

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.

Friday, 12 February 2021 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Genesis 3 : 1-8

Now the serpent was the most crafty of all the wild creatures that YHVH God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say : You must not eat from any tree in the garden?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees in the garden, but of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden God said : You must not eat, and you must not touch it or you will die.”

The serpent said to the woman, “You will not die, but God knows that the day you eat it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil.” The woman saw that the fruit was good to eat, and pleasant to the eyes, and ideal for gaining knowledge. She took its fruit and ate it and gave some to her husband who was with her. He ate it.

Then their eyes were opened and both of them knew they were naked. So they sewed leaves of a fig tree together and made themselves loincloths. They heard the voice of YHVH God walking in the garden, in the cool of the day, and they, the man and his wife, hid from YHVH God among the trees of the garden.

Thursday, 11 February 2021 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, World Day of the Sick (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, celebrating one of the most well-known Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, which happened over a century and half ago at the small town in southern France, now renowned all over the whole world for its miraculous spring water, the water of the grotto of Lourdes.

Every year, millions of pilgrims came to Lourdes to visit the sacred site of the Apparition remembering the moment when Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous at the grotto of Massabielle in Lourdes. Our Lady of Lourdes revealed herself to St. Bernadette as the Immaculate Conception and proved that she was indeed genuine and not a false apparation. Mary came to show herself to call her adopted sons and daughters, all of mankind back towards her Son, their Lord and Saviour.

At that time, as was with many other occurrences of the Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, there had been degradation and decline of the faith in many of the communities of the faithful. Just as the other famous Apparition at Fatima, which happened when the world was engulfed in the Great War and Russia was about to begin many decades of persecution of the faithful by the atheist Communists, thus at Lourdes at that time, the Blessed Mother of God appeared to warn all those who have veered away from the path of the Lord.

For at that time, the influence and hold of the faith over many of the people decline precipituously and rapidly, as many rebelled against the authority and the teachings of the Church, preferring to follow the ways of the world. The Lord was no longer the centre and the focus of the lives of many among the people as the tide of secularism and infidelity continued to take root within the community. Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes appeared to remind the people to be faithful towards the Lord and to listen to Him.

After all, it was what she herself had told the servants at the time of the wedding at Cana, when the Lord Jesus first performed a miracle publicly. Although initially the Lord did not want to help the wedding couple then in dire straits and in the verge of major humiliation due to them running out of wine in their own wedding celebration, but Mary insisted to help, and she told the servants to do whatever the Lord told them to do.

We can see even there at that moment how Mary had shown so much concern and care for the needs of others, reaching out for others who are in need and helping them, acting as intercessors and guide for them on the way to her Son, Jesus Our Lord and Saviour. She wants us to follow the Lord and to listen to Him, to trust in Him and allow Him to lead us, and she herself is the perfect and best of all the disciples and followers, following her Son throughout His ministry.

Now, all those people who came to Lourdes, all of them came beaten and broken, diseased and weak, either in the body and physique or in the spiritual and in the mind. They came seeking God’s mercy, love and kindness as He expressed it through His mother, Our Lady of Lourdes who helped and guided so many souls of people back towards her Son. She made available God’s wonderful graces through her constant intercession and by leading us all to the right path.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we celebrate this feast of Our Lady of Lourdes therefore, let us all look towards the Lord with a renewed faith and commitment, guided, led and inspired by His mother, Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes, ever immaculate in life, dedicated and committed to God, our wonderful role model and inspiration. Let us all be exemplary in our own actions as well, so that we may be inspiration to our fellow brothers and sisters ourselves.

Can we be the guiding light for so many others who are still seeking the Lord and wanting to listen to Him and know Him? We are all called to a life of genuine discipleship and faith, and each and every one of us can play our part in actively leading a good and virtuous Christian living at all times. May God bless us always in our good endeavours and efforts, and may He, through His mother, Our Lady of Lourdes, continue to reach out to us and seek us. Amen.