Monday, 24 January 2022 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

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 love that God has shown upon us, His beloved people that He raised for us His Saviour, born of the House of David, the great King of Israel just as He has promised and revealed through the various prophecies, in Jesus Christ, Son of God and Heir of David. We are reminded from the Scripture readings today what it means for us to follow the Lord and to be faithful to Him.

In our first reading today, we heard from the the second book of the prophet Samuel regarding the time when David was elected and affirmed as the King over all of the Israelites. For the context, David had earlier on been chosen by God as the new King over all Israel to replace Saul, the first and previous King of Israel. But Saul and David ended up in conflict and rivalry, in which Saul attempted in several occasions to kill David and remove him as a threat to his rule.

When later on King Saul was killed at Mount Gilboa during a battle with the Philistines, the people were divided between those who supported David to be King of Israel and those who supported Ishbaal, Saul’s son. The conflict lasted for a while in a brief civil war before finally the whole nation was united under the leadership of David. The elders and the whole people asked David to be their king, and he finally led the Israelites to many years of glory.

He built his kingdom and the great city of Jerusalem, to be the place where God would dwell, as he himself planned for the House of God, that would eventually be built by his son, Solomon. The Lord provided for His people and guided them, and gave them great prosperity and happiness so long as they obeyed him and listened to Him and His words, as they did during the reigns of David and Solomon, and other good kings. But the people fell again and again into sin and disobedience against God.

Yet, the Lord still patiently loved His people, all of us His beloved children and creation. He Who created us all out of love would not want to see us destroyed and crushed under the sins and evils we have committed, and therefore just as He has chosen David to be the leader, shepherd and King over His people, thus, He sent His own Son, the Divine Word, to be born and incarnate in the flesh, born into the House of David to fulfil the promises He had made to His people and to David long ago.

Through Christ, God had endeavoured to lead us all out of the misery of evil and darkness, and provided us all with a sure and certain path into the light of His presence. He revealed His truth and love to us, and yet, as we have heard in the Gospel passage today, there were still people who hardened their hearts against Him, despite everything that He had done for them all. We heard how the teachers of the Law were accusing the Lord of colluding with Beelzebul, the prince of demons in order to perform His miracles.

That was something that happened due to the pride, ego and arrogance of the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, who thought that they knew it better, and they could not accept the fact that someone not from within their ranks could have gotten such great popularity, spoke with such great wisdom, truth and authority, that they felt threatened and they gave in to their desires and temptations which resulted in them foolishly opposing the good works of the Lord.

Many of us are often like that too, brothers and sisters in Christ. Many of us often hardened our hearts against the Lord and ignored Him and His love, and many of us had done things to spite the Lord, rejecting His compassion and kindness for worldly things and ambitions, for other things that distracted us from the truth about just how much God has loved us and how precious all of us are to Him.

Today, all of us should be inspired by the faith and the good examples set by St. Francis de Sales, a great saint, bishop and Doctor of the Church, whose life and dedication to the Lord can inspire us to be better Christians and better followers and witnesses of His truth and love. St. Francis de Sales was the Bishop of Geneva during the height of the Counter Reformation efforts in countering the divisions in the Church and among the Christian faithful due to the reformation earlier on.

He was born a noble, but encounters with the Lord and some questions about the faith eventually led him to seek the Lord more closely and he then chose to become a priest. Against initial family opposition, St. Francis de Sales finally gave up his rights and inheritance and became a priest. He dedicated himself a lot for the people he was working with, and in everything he had been entrusted to do. And later on as the Bishop of Geneva, he tirelessly involved himself in reaching out to many Christians and including those who have separated themselves from the Church.

St. Francis de Sales also wrote extensively about the faith which influenced and impacted many even long after his passing. His enormous contributions eventually led him to be declared a saint and a Doctor of the Church. Through his dedication and lifetime of service to God, all of us ought to be inspired to follow his great examples in walking the path of God faithfully ourselves.

Let us all therefore renew our commitments to be faithful to the Lord. Let us be committed and full of love for Him, and do whatever we can to glorify the Lord and His Name through our every acts, words and deeds, in every opportunities in our lives. Let us glorify our Lord and King, He Who has chosen and raised David to be King over His people, and Who has come down upon us Himself, to be our King forever. Amen.

Monday, 24 January 2022 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 3 : 22-30

At that time, the teachers of the Law, who had come from Jerusalem, said, “He is the power of Beelzebul : the chief of the demons helps Him to drive out demons.”

Jesus called them to Him, and began teaching them by means of stories, or parables, “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a nation is divided by civil war, that nation cannot stand. If a family divides itself into groups, that family will not survive. In the same way, if Satan has risen against himself and is divided, he will not stand; he is finished.”

“No one can break into the house of a strong man in order to plunder his goods, unless he first ties up the strong man. Then indeed, he can plunder his house. Truly, I say to you, every sin will be forgiven humankind, even insults to God, however numerous. But whoever slanders the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. He carries the guilt of his sin forever.”

This was their sin when they said, “He has an unclean spirit in Him.”

Monday, 24 January 2022 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 88 : 20, 21-22, 25-26

In the past, You spoke in a vision; You said of Your faithful servant : “I have set the crown upon a mighty one; on one chosen from the people.”

I have found David My servant, and, with My holy oil, I have anointed him. My hand will be ever with him; and My arm will sustain him.

My faithfulness and love will be with him; and, by My help, he will be strong. I will set his hand over the sea, his right hand over the rivers.

Monday, 24 January 2022 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

2 Samuel 5 : 1-7, 10

All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “We are your bone and flesh. In the past, when Saul was king over us, it was you who led Israel. And YHVH said to you, ‘You shall be the shepherd of My people Israel and you shall be commander over Israel.’”

Before YHVH, king David made an agreement with the elders of Israel who came to him at Hebron, and they anoint him king of Israel. David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned for forty years : he reigned over Judah, from Hebron, seven and a half years; and over Israel and Judah, from Jerusalem, for thirty-three years.

The king and his men set out for Jerusalem to fight the Jebusites who lived there. They said to David, “If you try to break in here, the blind and the lame will drive you away,” which meant that David could not get in. Yet David captured the fortress of Zion that became the “city of David.”

And David grew more powerful, for YHVH, the God of Hosts, was with him.