Thursday, 13 January 2022 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hilary, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Mark 1 : 40-45

A leper came to Jesus and begged Him, “If You want to, You can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I do want to; be clean.”

The leprosy left the man at once and he was made clean. As Jesus sent the man away, He sternly warned him, “Do not tell anyone about this, but go and show yourself to the priest; and for the cleansing, bring the offering ordered by Moses in this way, you will give to them your testimony.”

However, as soon as the man went out, he began spreading the news everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter any town. But even though He stayed in the rural areas, people came to Him from everywhere.

Thursday, 13 January 2022 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hilary, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Psalm 43 : 10-11, 14-15, 24-25

Yet now, You have rejected and humbled us; You no longer go forth with our armies. You have let our enemies drive us back and our adversaries plunder us.

You have made us the butt of our neighbours’ insult, the scorn and laughingstock of those around us. You have made us a byword among the nations; they look at us and shake their heads.

Awake, o Lord! Why are You asleep? Arise! Reject us not forever. Why hide Your face from us? Why forget our misery and woes?

Thursday, 13 January 2022 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hilary, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

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, 12 January 2022 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all reminded of God’s call in our lives to be His followers and to serve Him in our lives, in our daily living and at every place we are in, as genuine Christians. In this world we are living in, in our communities, all of us are expected to follow in the examples of our holy predecessors, and that of the Lord Himself, in obeying the will of God and doing whatever we can to contribute to the greater glory of His Name.

In our first reading today we heard the continuation of the story of the prophet Samuel from the Book of Samuel, as the young Samuel had been offered to the Lord’s service by his grateful parents. Samuel was still very young back then and he was under the care and tutelage of Eli, the High Priest and Judge of the people of Israel. Eli was then the leader and the guide of the people of God, but as he was growing old, his two sons had been misusing their influence and authority, becoming corrupt and wicked.

Samuel was called by God to follow Him even from those early days, when he did not fully know about the Lord yet. Nonetheless, he listened and obeyed, and when Eli told him to respond to the Lord, he did just as he was told to do. God would guide him and protect him, and eventually he would grow on to become a great prophet and leader of the Israelites during the difficult years of the Philistine invasions and raids over all of Israel.

Samuel would come to be the one who anointed both King Saul and King David as king over the people of Israel, handing over the leadership of the people to them, while retaining his spiritual leadership and guidance over the people of God. He was a truly faithful servant of God, and a bastion of fidelity and truth, when King Saul began to veer off from the path of the Lord. Samuel remained truly faithful to God even amidst all the challenges he faced during his ministry.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard about the Lord Jesus and His works among the people of God. The Gospel passage detailed how the Lord healed the mother-in-law of Simon, later known as St. Peter the Apostle, and how that quickly became known among the people who began to bring their sick and those who were suffering from ailments for Him to heal. He performed many miracles and many people were healed by His hands. He worked with the help of the disciples throughout the night, but then slipped away and disappeared even though there were still many who were looking for Him.

The Lord told His disciples away from the crowd that He ought to go to many other places, and He still had a lot of other work to do. He would not stay in one place and revel in the glory and all the fame that He would have gained from staying there and letting all the people come to Him. It would have been much more convenient for Him to stay in one place, but in doing His Father’s work and will, the Lord Jesus did all as He has been sent to do, and not to do things for His convenience. After all, He came into this world not to be served but to serve.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we listened to these words of the Scripture and heed its message, let us all reflect on our own lives. Are we all able to do the will of God and obey Him in our lives in the same way as the prophet Samuel, the other prophets, and the Lord Himself had done? As Christians, all of us are called to be the true and dedicated disciples of Our Lord, or else, we are no better than hypocrites who believe one thing and yet act in a different manner, or even act in ways contrary to our faith.

This time, as we progress through this Ordinary season of the year, in between Christmas and Lent, let us make good use of the time and opportunities that have been given to us, for us to embark on a journey of faith, to be faithful in all things, in our every words and actions. Let our exemplary actions be the source of inspiration for all of those whom we encounter in life, that through us, more may come to know the Lord and be inspired to follow in our footsteps, in believing in Him and His salvation. May God be with us all and may He bless us all in our every endeavours, always and evermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 12 January 2022 : 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, 12 January 2022 : 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, 12 January 2022 : 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.

Tuesday, 11 January 2022 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are reminded of the Lord’s compassion and love for us, which He has shown us from time to time, again and again. He has provided for us in our time of need, listened to our prayers and pleas for help, and He gave us all ultimately, the gift of His own beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Lord and Saviour, through Whom we have been liberated from the tyranny of sin and death.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Samuel, we heard how the Lord helped Hannah, Samuel’s mother as she sought the Lord’s help after she had always been teased and bullied by her husband’s other wife, Peninnah in her barrenness and inability to bear a child for her beloved husband Elkanah. The Lord has heard Hannah’s prayers and answered her with the gift of a son. That son was to be the great prophet and the last Judge over the people of God before the days of the Kings.

That was how God showed His love and kindness to us, all of His beloved people. He is always listening to our prayers and He knows everything about us. But He will do things according to His will and all in His good time. He will do what is best for us, and He is always watching over us even when we ourselves have not always been faithful to Him, doubting Him and refusing to believe in Him wholeheartedly. And to us sinners, God has sent us His own beloved Son to save us from certain destruction.

That is what we have heard in our Gospel passage today, of the time when the Lord Jesus, Our Lord and Saviour, came to midst of the people of God, revealing the truth and love of God and teaching them all that God wanted to reveal to the people. And not only that, He also confronted a man possessed by evil spirits, and He cast out those evil spirits and demons from that man, showing the power and authority of God to free us from the bondage and tyranny of sin. In Him, we find the truth of God’s grace and salvation.

Through all that God had done for us, we have been truly so fortunate to have been beloved in such a way by our Lord and God. He has always loved us since the beginning and even as we have sinned against Him, we still have been given one chance after another, as He sent reminders, messengers, prophets and then lastly, even His own Son to help us to find our way back to Him, to be reconciled with Him so that we do not end up in everlasting death and destruction.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, have we appreciated all that the Lord had done for our sake all these while? God has shown us the path to follow Him and what we can do to be His good disciples and followers. But we have to make the conscious effort and the dedication to embark on that path which God had shown us. Are we willing to do that, brothers and sisters? Are we willing to do this, knowing all that God had done for our sake?

As we enter into this Ordinary Time, let us all not make our lives be truly ordinary or even mundane. This time of the Ordinary season is not meant for us to excuse ourselves from any actions befitting of being good and faithful followers of Christ. Instead, this is the time for us to do whatever we can to show our love for Him, to be exemplary in our actions and deeds, in the smallest of things so that all those who witness our actions and interact with us may come to know more of the Lord.

That is our calling as Christians, brothers and sisters, as those whom God had called and chosen from this world. And as Christians, let us all be courageous in sharing our faith to the others, and do whatever we can to glorify the Holy Name of God. May God be with us all, and may He empower us all to remain faithful to Him, always and at all times. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.