Wednesday, 19 January 2022 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are reminded to trust in the Lord and to believe in His love. We should not depend solely only on our own power and abilities. For with God everything is possible, and He will always be with us, guiding us and strengthening us, as He has repeatedly shown again and again throughout our history. As we listened and remembered again the words of the Scripture, we should reflect on how fortunate we are to have been beloved by God in this way.

In our first reading today, we heard the famous account of the battle and struggle between David and Goliath, the former being the champion of the Israelites and the one who have been chosen and anointed by God to be the one to succeed King Saul as the King of Israel, while the latter was the great champion of the Philistines, the people who oppressed the Israelites at that time and attacked the people of God. When the Israelites made a stand against the Philistines, they put the battle to be decided by the single combat between the champions.

Given the stature and physique of David and Goliath, it was apparent to any observers that David should have lost the struggle, as he was a lot smaller and looked less experienced than the mighty Goliath, who was not just an experienced soldier but was also a giant in body. Yet, behind that relatively smaller body of his, David hid a heart burning full of love for God, as when Goliath uttered profanities and curses against God, and when the king himself and all others were afraid, David stood up and answered the giant’s challenge.

When David was chosen as the new King of Israel as we heard in the earlier part of the Book of the prophet Samuel preceding today’s readings, he was neither the mightiest and greatest in stature amongst his brothers. Yet, with his youth and his heart full of faith and zeal, he has wrested lions and bears before to protect his flock of sheep. He killed them with his bare hands and risked his life to protect those that were precious to him. These were the qualities that made God to choose him as his chosen one, through whom the Kingship of Israel would dwell on, and eventually from which the Saviour, God’s own Son would be born.

In our Gospel reading today, the Lord confronted the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who tried to use a sick and paralytic man to trap the Lord and find an excuse or reason to accuse Him of wrongdoing. The Lord stood up for the sick man and rebuked those who tried to use that man to harm Him. He told them the truth and the folly of their constant stubborn arguments, as those people still refused to believe in the Lord even after He had repeatedly explained to them and showed them the truth. They still insisted on their rigid interpretation and understanding of the Law, which was elitist and lacking in compassion towards the marginalised.

Similar to David and Goliath case, the Lord also went up against a powerful opponent as the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law represented a powerful force in the Jewish community at that time. Yet, the Lord spoke up the truth and was not deterred at all, just like how David was not afraid to stand up against Goliath, all because of his faith in God and because in the end, God and His way will be triumphant against all others. We do not have to be afraid despite challenges that we may have to face in our respective journeys in life.

That is why we should inspire one another to remain faithful to God, by reminding each other of the presence of God in our lives. Sometimes many of us are often too busy and distracted to realise the presence of God in our midst and therefore, we fall into the temptation of sin, and we give in to despair because we thought that we have no more hope in life, and we are alone in whatever journey and struggles we are going through. We have to believe that the Lord is always by our side, so that no matter what tough challenges and trials we may have to endure in our journey, everything is possible because God is with us.

Let us therefore be inspired today by the words of the Scriptures that we have heard, reminding ourselves constantly how the Lord has guided us and journeyed with us, just as when He helped and guided David in his courageous stand against Goliath, and when He Himself stood up for those who were sick and ostracised, as He reached out to all of them without worry or fear of repercussions from those with the authorities and power to make His works difficult. Let us not easily give in to despair but do whatever we can to do God’s will and do our best in life to be exemplary in life as good and devoted Christians.

May the Lord be with us all and may He empower each and every one of us to follow Him in each and every actions we take. May He also strengthen us and the Church with true unity this week as we celebrate this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity this week. Amen.

Wednesday, 19 January 2022 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 3 : 1-6

At that time, again, Jesus entered the synagogue. A man, who had a paralysed hand, was there; and some people watched Jesus : would He heal the man on the Sabbath? If He did, they could accuse Him.”

Jesus said to the man with the paralysed hand, “Stand here, in the centre.” Then He asked them, “What does the Law allow us to do on the Sabbath? To do good or to do harm? To save life or to kill?” But they were silent. Then Jesus looked around at them with anger and deep sadness at their hardness of heart. And He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”

He stretched it out, and his hand was healed. As soon as the Pharisees left, they met with Herod’s supporters, looking for a way to destroy Jesus.

Wednesday, 19 January 2022 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 143 : 1, 2, 9-10

Blessed be YHVH, my Rock, Who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle.

My loving God, my Fortress; my Protector and Deliverer, my Shield; Where I take refuge; Who conquers nations and subjects them to my rule.

I will sing a new song to You, o God; I will make music on the ten-stringed harp, for You, Who give victory to kings and deliver David, Your servant.

Wednesday, 19 January 2022 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Samuel 17 : 32-33, 37, 40-51

David said to Saul, “Let no one be discouraged on account of this Philistine, for your servant will engage him in battle.” Saul told David, “You cannot fight with this Philistine for you are still young, whereas this man has been a warrior from his youth.”

David continued, “YHVH, Who delivered me from the paws of lions and bears, will deliver me from the hands of the Philistine.” Saul then told David, “Go, and may YHVH be with you!”

David took his staff, picked up five smooth stones from the brook and dropped them inside his shepherd’s bag. And with his sling in hand, he drew near to the Philistine. The Philistine moved forward, closing in on David, his shield-bearer in front of him. When he saw that David was only a lad, (he was of fresh complexion and handsome) he despised him and said, “Am I a dog that you should approach me with a stick?”

Cursing David by his gods, he continued, “Come, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the field!” David answered the Philistine, “You have come against me with sword, spear and javelin, but I come against you with YHVH, the God of the armies of Israel whom you have defied. YHVH will deliver you this day into my hands and I will strike you down and cut off your head.”

“I will give the corpses of the Philistine army today to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, and all the earth shall know that there is a God of Israel. All the people gathered here shall know that YHVH saves not by sword or spear; the battle belongs to YHVH, and He will deliver you into our hands.”

No sooner had the Philistine moved to attack him, than David rushed to the battleground. Putting his hand into his bag, he took out a stone, slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead; it penetrated his forehead and he fell on his face to the ground. David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, felling him without using a sword.

He rushed forward, stood over him, took the Philistine’s sword and slew him by cutting off his head. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they scattered in all directions.

Tuesday, 18 January 2022 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures, we are called to remember the Lord’s love for each and every one of us, and how He had endeavoured to do everything for our sake. He sent us His faithful servants to help lead and guide us in our journey through life. He won’t let us to walk down the wrong path without guidance, and for that, He gave us all leaders and kings, and ultimately, His own Son, Who came into our world to be our Shepherd and King.

In our first reading today, we heard the story from the Book of the prophet Samuel, as a continuation of what we have heard earlier this and last week regarding the actions of Samuel and how Saul, the first king that God had appointed to lead the people of Israel had disobeyed Him and led the people into the wrong path through sin. Therefore, God told Samuel to find the one whom He had chosen to be the successor of Saul as the King of Israel.

David was one of the many sons of Jesse, and in fact he was the youngest among all the sons of Jesse. The prophet Samuel came to pay Jesse a visit and he came to call out all of Jesse’s sons in order to see whom among them had been chosen by God to be the new King of Israel. Initially, he thought that the oldest one among them would be the one chosen by God due to his appearance and stature, but God said to Samuel that He did not choose by appearances, but by heart.

Eventually, Samuel anointed David as the King of Israel, as God’s chosen leader for His people, and David would later on prove to be a most faithful servant of God, and while he did make mistakes and erred in several occasions, yet, he still loved God first and foremost, and he ruled over the people of God with justice and virtue. He regretted his sins, mistakes and faults, and repented from them, making the efforts to make amends for those mistakes, often humbling himself before God.

David truly loved God, and he also loved the companions who was travelling with him. As mentioned in our Gospel passage today, during the confrontation between the Lord Jesus and the Pharisees regarding the Law of the Sabbath, the Lord Jesus mentioned how during his time on the run from King Saul with some of his companions, David took of the bread from the bread of offering that were reserved only for the High Priest, and even also gave some of them for his men to eat, as they were all very hungry.

At that time, during the Sabbath day, the Lord’s disciples who had been travelling with Him during His ministry and works must have been hungry, and therefore, they picked some grains of wheat along the way. To the Pharisees, who often interpreted the Law very strictly, this would be a violation of the Law, and in particular, given the tensions existing between the Lord and the Pharisees in quite a few occasions, it was not surprising that they would have made such an issue over the disciples’ actions.

What the Lord then highlighted to the Pharisees is then a reminder that what is important for us is not to worry about the way we should follow the Law and all the details, just as how the Pharisees were too fixated on those things that they failed to understand the true intention and purpose of the Law. They made use of the Law to elevate themselves above others as well as imposing their will and ideas on everyone they have been entrusted to lead and guide.

As Christians all of us are called to have genuine faith and love for God, in the manner how King David had lived his life, in love and obedience to God, as well as in his love for his fellow brothers and sisters. We should not be like many of the Pharisees who failed to love their fellow brethren, ignored the plight of the hungry and the needy, and ostracised those whom they deemed to be sinners and wicked, while praising themselves and placing themselves on a pedestal to gain fame and glory for their own benefits. This is not what it means for us to be Christians.

Let us all therefore renew our faith in the Lord, and do our very best to serve the Lord in our own capacities and in making use of the opportunities that God has given us. Remember, brothers and sisters, that our faith requires us to go out there and be inspiration to others in faith, to show genuine charity and love, concern and compassion for those who need our help and companionship. Let us be truly faithful in all things, and follow the Lord not just for appearances and formality, but dedicate ourselves thoroughly to Him. May God bless us all, now and always, evermore. Amen.