Wednesday, 26 January 2022 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Timothy and St. Titus, Bishops (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 95 : 1-2a, 2b-3, 7-8a, 10

Sing to YHVH a new song, sing to YHVH, all the earth! Sing to YHVH, praise His Name.

Proclaim His salvation, day after day. Recall His glory among the nations, tell all the peoples His wonderful deeds.

Give to YHVH, you families of nations, give to YHVH glory and strength. Give to YHVH the glory due His Name.

Say among the nations, “YHVH reigns!” He will judge the peoples with justice.

Wednesday, 26 January 2022 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Timothy and St. Titus, Bishops (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

2 Timothy 1 : 1-8

From Paul, Apostle of Christ Jesus, by the will of God, for the sake of His promise of eternal life, in Christ Jesus, to my dear son Timothy. May grace, mercy and peace be with you, from God, the Father, and Christ Jesus our Lord.

I give thanks to God, Whom I serve with a clear conscience, the way my ancestors did, as I remember you constantly, day and night, in my prayers. I recall your tears, and I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, so like the faith of your grandmother Lois and of your mother Eunice, which I am sure you have inherited.

For this reason, I invite you to fan into a flame, the gift of God you received, through the laying on of my hands. For God did not confer on us a spirit of fearfulness, but of strength, love and good judgment. Do not be ashamed of testifying to our Lord, nor of seeing me in chains. On the contrary, do your share in labouring for the Gospel, with the strength of God.

Alternative reading

Titus 1 : 1-5

From Paul, servant of God, Apostle of Christ Jesus, at the service of God’s chosen people, so that they may believe, and reach the knowledge of truth and godliness. The eternal life we are waiting for was promised from the very beginning, by God, Who never lies, and as the appointed time had come, He made it known, through the message entrusted to me by a command of God, our Saviour.

Greetings to you, Titus, my true son in the faith we share. May grace and peace be with you from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I left you in Crete because I wanted you to put right, what was defective, and appoint elders in every town, following my instructions.

Tuesday, 25 January 2022 : Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle, marking that significant moment in the history of the Church when Saul, one of the greatest bane and enemy of the faithful, its arch-persecutor turned to become one of the Church’s greatest champion and the Lord’s greatest and most passionate defender, from a man who could not stop in his zeal to destroy the Christian faith and persecute all Christians who followed the Lord to a man who courageously stood up against the world in the defence of his true faith in God.

In our first reading we heard the account of what happened when St. Paul was converted, the moment when the young and overzealous Pharisee, Saul of Tarsus, came to be a follower of Christ. Saul of Tarsus was a member of the elite among the Jewish community as he was not only just a member of the Pharisees, one of the two most powerful influential groups at the time, but he was also a Roman citizen and not only that, he was a Roman citizen by birth, signifying that he was truly an individual of an astounding background, a great rising star among the Jewish people.

He was misguided by his intense zeal in following the ideas of the Pharisees, in their misunderstanding and stubborn refusal to believe in the Lord and His truth despite all the signs and the proofs that He had revealed to them in many occasions. The Pharisees and many among the elders and the teachers of the Law viewed the Lord Jesus as a false Messiah and even a blasphemer and traitor to their nation, as a threat to their power and influence. And the young Saul therefore followed in this mindset and took action to strike at those who believed in the Lord.

Hence, Saul was responsible for the many often violent mob actions against the early Christians, including that of St. Stephen, the first martyr of the Church, whose martyrdom was the first mention of his name and presence. It was mentioned how he approved of the stoning and killing of St. Stephen, and then later on, went on to carry out many more acts of violence against Christians, trying to eradicate the Christian faith and the Lord’s followers which then rapidly spread throughout Judea, Galilee and beyond.

That was why it was truly amazing when God chose and called Saul to be His follower and servant, as He came to Saul who was on his way to Damascus to eradicate the Christians there. The Lord came to Saul and revealed Himself and told him all the truth, and Saul, blinded by that vision, was eventually restored in his eyesight and together with it came a new resolution in life as he asked to be baptised in the Name of the Lord, by Ananias, one of the disciples of the Lord whom the Lord called to heal Saul and to open his mind to the truth of God.

St. Paul therefore came to become a most faithful and dedicated servant of the Lord. He changed his name from Saul to Paul to indicate this change in his way of life, as at that time, customarily the change in name indicate a major change or shift in life, just as when Simon was given the name Cephas or Kephas, meaning Rock, which we know as Peter. There were others who had also received or adopted a new name to signify the change in their path in life among other things.

Thus, as we have heard in our Gospel passage today, how the Lord commissioned His disciples to go forth to the world and proclaim the Good News, He has called on many to follow Him and to be His witnesses, so that many more people may come to believe in Him as well. He calls on all of us to embrace His truth and to show that same truth to others by our own life and dedication. St. Paul had committed himself and his life to follow the Lord in this way, in giving his life to serve the Lord and abandoning all the prospects and good life he once had earlier on.

Through what St. Paul had gone through, his conversion experience and his later complete dedication to the Lord, all of us are reminded that each and every one of us have been given many opportunities by the Lord to embrace Him and to find our path to Him, and at the same time, also given the chances to contribute to the works and missions that He has entrusted to each and every one of us as His disciples.

And if any of us are hesitant or think that we are unworthy of doing so, then we should consider how Saul, the great enemy and bane of Christians, a great sinner and a most unlikely candidate had been chosen by God to be His own greatest champion. Throughout the history of Christianity and the Church, there had been many other great saints who were once great sinners. What matters is that, each and every one of them atoned from their sins and turned away from their evil ways, embracing the Lord wholeheartedly and served Him, becoming great beacons and witnesses of His light and truth.

Now, today as we recall the dedication that St. Paul had given throughout his life and as we look upon the good examples set by our many predecessors in faith, let us all therefore see in what way we can commit ourselves better to serve the Lord. We are called to follow Him and to be genuine in how we love Him and embrace His truth in our every moment. Are we willing and able to give our best to live our lives as Christians, in the best way possible? Are we capable of following God not just for appearances and as formality, but truly dedicated to Him in our hearts?

Let us therefore renew our commitment to the Lord and do our best to live our lives as those who call themselves as Christians, and strive to be faithful witnesses of Our Lord in the world today, in our respective communities. Let our actions, words and deeds inspire one another that we may indeed proclaim the glory of God and reveal His truth and love to more and more people. May God be with us always and may He empower each one of us to live ever more virtuously and be ever more courageous to live our lives in faith, always. Amen.

Tuesday, 25 January 2022 : Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 16 : 15-18

At that time, Jesus told His disciples, “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all creation. The one who believes and is baptised will be saved; the one who refuses to believe will be condemned.”

“Signs like these will accompany those who have believed : in My Name they will cast out demons and speak new languages; they will pick up snakes, and if they drink anything poisonous, they will be unharmed; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”

Tuesday, 25 January 2022 : Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 116 : 1, 2

Alleluia! Praise YHVH, all you nations; all you peoples, praise Him.

How great is His love for us! His faithfulness lasts forever.

Tuesday, 25 January 2022 : Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 22 : 3-16

Paul spoke to the Jews in Jerusalem, “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up here, in this city, where I was educated in the school of Gamaliel, according to the strict observance of our law. And I was dedicated to God’s service, as are all of you today. As for this Way, I persecuted it to the point of death and arrested its followers, both men and women, throwing them into prison.”

“The High Priest and the whole Council of elders can bear witness to this. From them, I received letters for the Jewish brothers in Damascus; and I set out to arrest those who were there, and bring them back to Jerusalem for punishment. But, as I was travelling along, nearing Damascus, at about noon, a great light from the sky suddenly flashed about me.”

“I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me : ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?’ I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me : ‘I am Jesus, the Nazorean, Whom you persecute.’ The men who were with me saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of the One Who was speaking to me. I asked : ‘What shall I do, Lord?’”

“And the Lord replied : ‘Get up and go to Damascus; there, you will be told all that you are destined to do.’ Yet, the brightness of that light had blinded me; and so, I was led by the hand into Damascus by my companions. There, a certain Ananias came to me. He was a devout observer of the law, and well spoken of by all the Jews who were living there.”

“As he stood by me, he said : ‘Brother Saul, recover your sight.’ At that moment, I could see; and I looked at him. He, then, said, ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know His will, to see the Just One, and to hear the words from His mouth. From now on, you shall be His witness before all the pagan people, and tell them all that you have seen and heard.’”

“‘And now, why delay? Get up and be baptised, and have your sins washed away, by calling upon His Name.’”

Alternative reading

Acts 9 : 1-22

Meanwhile, Saul considered nothing but violence and death for the disciples of the Lord. He went to the High Priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues of Damascus that would authorise him to arrest and bring to Jerusalem, anyone he might find, man or woman, belonging to the Way.

As he travelled along and was approaching Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul! Why do you persecute Me?” And he asked, “Who are You, Lord?” The voice replied, “I am Jesus, Whom you persecute. Now, get up, and go into the city; there, you will be told what you are to do.”

The men who were travelling with him stood there speechless : they had heard the sound, but could see no one. Saul got up from the ground and, opening his eyes, he could not see. They took him by the hand and brought him to Damascus. He was blind; and he did not eat or drink for three days.

There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias, to whom the Lord called in a vision, “Ananias!” He answered, “Here I am, Lord!” Then the Lord said to him, “Go, at once, to Straight Street and ask, at the house of Judas, for a man of Tarsus named Saul. You will find him praying, for he has just seen in a vision that a man named Ananias has come in and placed his hands upon him, to restore his sight.”

Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man, and all the harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem; and now, he is here, with authority from the High Priest, to arrest all who call upon Your Name.”

But the Lord said to him, “Go! This man is My chosen instrument, to bring My Name to the pagan nations and their kings, and the people of Israel as well. I, Myself, will show him how much he will have to suffer for My Name.”

So Ananias left and went to the house. He laid his hands upon Saul and said, “Saul, my brother, the Lord Jesus, Who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me to you, so that you may receive your sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something like scales fell from his eyes and he could see; he got up and was baptised. Then he took food and was strengthened.

For several days Saul stayed with the disciples at Damascus, and he soon began to proclaim in the synagogues that Jesus was the Son of God. All who heard were astonished and said, “Is this not the one who cast out, in Jerusalem, all those calling upon this Name? Did he not come here, to bring them bound before the chief priests?”

But Saul grew more and more powerful; and he confounded the Jews living in Damascus when he proved that Jesus was the Messiah.