Friday, 4 February 2022 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 6 : 14-29

At that time, king Herod also heard about Jesus, because His Name had become well-known. Some people said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in Him.” Others thought, “He is a prophet like the prophets of times past.” When Herod was told of this, he thought, “I had John beheaded, yet he has risen from the dead!”

For this is what had happened : Herod had ordered John to be arrested, and had had him bound and put in prison because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. Herod had married her, and John had told him, “It is not right for you to live with your brother’s wife.”

So Herodias held a grudge against John; and wanted to kill him, but she could not, because Herod respected John. He knew John to be an upright and holy man, and kept him safe. And he liked listening to him, although he became very disturbed, whenever he heard him.

Herodias had her chance on Herod’s birthday, when he gave a dinner for all the senior government officials, military chiefs, and the leaders of Galilee. On that occasion the daughter of Herodias came in and danced; and she delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want and I will give it to you.”

And he went so far as to say with many oaths, “I will give you anything you ask, even half my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” The mother replied, “The head of John the Baptist.” The girl hurried to the king and made her request, “I want you to give me the head of John the Baptist, here and now, on a dish.”

The king was very displeased, but he would not refuse in front of his guests because of his oaths. So he sent one of his bodyguards with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded John in prison; then he brought the head on a dish and gave it to the girl. And the girl gave it to her mother.

When John’s disciples heard of this, they came and took his body and buried it.

Friday, 4 February 2022 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 17 : 31, 47 and 50, 51

This God – His way is perfect; the word of YHVH can stand fire. He is a shield for those who seek refuge in Him.

YHVH lives! Praised be my Rock! Exalted be my Saviour God. For this I extol You, o YHVH, among the nations; I will sing praise to Your Name.

He has given victories to His king; He has shown His love to His anointed ones, to David, and to his descendants forever.

Friday, 4 February 2022 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Sirach 47 : 2-13

As fat is selected from the peace offering, so David was chosen from among the Israelites. He played with lions and bears as if they were lambs or young goats. He was still young when he slew a giant, to restore the honour of his people; with a sling he aimed a stone that killed the arrogant Goliath.

He invoked the Lord Most High, who gave him strength to slay a mighty warrior, and so exalt the power of his people. So they glorified him for his ten thousands and praised him as a blessing from the Lord when he was chosen king. For he wiped out his enemies on all sides and annihilated his adversaries, the Philistines, crushing their power forever.

In all that he did, he gave thanks to the Most High, and showed his love for his Maker by singing with all his heart. He placed singers accompanied by harps before the Altar to make beautiful music; he gave splendour to feasts and even greater magnificence to the more solemn occasions, exalting the Holy Name of the Lord and having the Sanctuary ring with His praises from early morning.

The Lord forgave David’s sins and established his power forever; He made a Covenant with him for the benefit of the kings and gave him a glorious throne in Israel. A wise son succeeded him and fared well because of him. Solomon reigned during times of peace, and God gave him rest from war to enable him to build a house for His Name, a Sanctuary that would stand forever.

Thursday, 3 February 2022 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Blaise, Bishop and Martyr, and St. Ansgar, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the Word of God being spoken to us through the Sacred Scriptures, we are called to remember the love which God has shown us His beloved people and the mission which he has entrusted to each and every one of us in reaching out to our fellow men and women, and we have to do our part to reach out to others and to proclaim to them the truth of God by our own exemplary actions and life. That is how each and every one of us are expected to do as the Lord’s disciples and faithful followers.

In our first reading today, we heard from the first Book of Kings relating to us the story of the transmission of rule, power and kingship from David, the famous king of Israel to his son, Solomon, whom God had chosen to succeed him in leading the people of Israel. King David reminded Solomon of the obligation and the expectation for him to follow in the path of the Lord and His Law. David reminded Solomon how God has shown His kindness and blessings to the people of Israel and how He has blessed David himself and promised to be with His family and house forever.

The Lord will continue to bless His people and Solomon and his rule and kingdom, just as David has been blessed. But, if they fell into sin and disobeyed God, then they would have to endure the consequences of their sins. God will however forgive them if they are to repent from their sinful ways and desire to return to His loving embrace. He has always loved us and desired for us to be reconciled to Him, sending His servants and messengers to reach out to us and to help us find our way to Him. That is what we have also heard in our Gospel passage today.

For in the Gospel today, we heard the Lord sending out Apostles two by two out to visit the various places that He wanted them to minister in, and often that these were the places where He Himself would come to visit. He sent them to those places just by themselves and told them not to take excessive equipments and preparations with them, and instead asked them to depend on the goodwill of the people they visited because God wanted them to depend not on their own power or might, on their own resources and goods that they could achieve success in their ministry.

Instead, God reminded them all that it is because of Him and His presence guiding them throughout the way, that the Apostles had achieved great accomplishments and successes throughout their work. It was by the power of God that they had healed the sic, cast out the demons and it was by the love and mercy of God that they had touched the hearts and minds of many who had seen the works of God and His servants, answering the Lord’s call that they too have come to believe in Him and became His followers.

Through what we have heard in today’s Scripture readings, we are all reminded that we have been entrusted with the gifts and talents from God, for us to use for the good cause of the Lord and to follow His commandments and Law. We are all called to be righteous like how David reminded Solomon to be obedient to God and righteous in his actions, and just as how the Lord told His Twelve Apostles to do His will and to depend not on their own strength and power, but rather by trusting in God and His love and providence throughout their ministry.

And each one of us have also been entrusted with the same mission by the Lord, to be the witnesses of Our Lord’s truth and resurrection in our communities today. We have been called to follow the Lord and serve Him wholeheartedly, and we have a lot of good examples to follow on, based on the inspirations from the saints. We should therefore do what our holy predecessors, namely St. Blaise and St. Ansgar, whose feast day we are celebrating today. St. Blaise was a martyr and bishop of the Church, while St. Ansgar was remembered as a great bishop and missionary of the Church, the Apostle to the Germans.

St. Blaise was the Bishop of Sebastea in Asia Minor during the late era of Roman Empire, living during the time of the reforms and upheavals among Christians under the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian and his successors. The Christian faithful endured a particularly brutal persecution, the last of the great waves of persecutions against Christians, which culminated in the last round of persecution after the time of the Emperor Diocletian, when the Emperor Licinius in his rivalry with the Emperor Constantine the Great persecuted the Christians in his territory, which led to the martyrdom of many including that of St. Blaise.

St. Blaise was a great bishop, wholly dedicated to his flock, spending a lot of time and effort through his virtues and works, and in the many miracles accorded to him, to whom a lot of people flocked seeking physical and spiritual healing. Later on, he was arrested, tortured and eventually martyred by the local Roman governor, beheaded for his faith. Through this martyrdom and his earlier care for the ailments of the people, St. Blaise has been well known to this day for the special ‘Blessing of St. Blaise’ for the ailment of the throat.

Meanwhile, St. Ansgar was a renowned missionary who was sent to the lands of the Saxons in the northern parts of Germany which was then still mostly following pagan ways. He converted many among the pagans through his works and devoted his life to the flock entrusted under his care. He helped to build a strong and firm foundation of the Church in that region, and did a lot of work to reach out to the people who have yet to believe in Christ. His efforts earned rich dividends although he had to endure a lot of trials and challenges in doing so. But he never gave up and kept on doing his best, and many came to God’s salvation through him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all be inspired by these many good examples and inspiration in faith. Let us do what we can in our daily lives to be role models for each other. May the Lord bless us in our every good efforts and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 3 February 2022 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Blaise, Bishop and Martyr, and St. Ansgar, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Bishops)

Mark 6 : 7-13

At that time, Jesus called the Twelve to Him, and began to send them out two by two, giving them authority over evil spirits, and He ordered them to take nothing for the journey, except a staff : no food, no bag, no money on their belts. They were to wear sandals and were not to take an extra tunic.

And He added, “In whatever house you are welcomed, stay there until you leave the place. If any place does not receive you, and the people refuse to listen to you, leave after shaking the dust off your feet. It will be a testimony against them.”

So they set out to proclaim that this was the time to repent. They drove out many demons and healed many sick people by anointing them.

Thursday, 3 February 2022 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Blaise, Bishop and Martyr, and St. Ansgar, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Bishops)

1 Chronicles 29 : 10bc, 11abc, 11d-12a, 12bcd

May You be praised, YHVH God of Israel our ancestor, forever and ever!

Yours, YHVH, is the greatness, the power, splendour, length of days, glory; for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is Yours.

Yours is the sovereignty forever, o YHVH; You are supreme Ruler over all. Riches and honour go before You.

You are Ruler of all; in Your hand lie strength and power. You are the One Who gives greatness and strength to all.

Thursday, 3 February 2022 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Blaise, Bishop and Martyr, and St. Ansgar, Bishop (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Bishops)

1 Kings 2 : 1-4, 10-12

When David was about to die, he gave his son Solomon this instruction, “I am about to go the way of all creatures. Be strong and show yourself a man. Keep the commandments of YHVH your God and walk in His ways. Keep His statutes, His commands, His ordinances and declarations written in the law of Moses, that you may succeed in whatever you do and wherever you go.”

If you do so, YHVH will fulfil the promise He made to me : If your sons take care to walk before Me faithfully with their whole heart and their whole soul, you shall always have one of your descendants on the throne of Israel.”

Then David rested with his ancestors and was buried in the city of David. David reigned over Israel for forty years : seven years in Hebron and thirty-three years in Jerusalem. So Solomon sat on the throne of David his father and his reign was firmly established.