Tuesday, 8 February 2022 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome Emiliani, and St. Josephine Bakhita, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints and Holy Virgins)

Mark 7 : 1-13

At that time, one day, the Pharisees gathered around Jesus, and with them were some teachers of the Law who had just come from Jerusalem. They noticed that some of His disciples were eating their meal with unclean hands, that is, without washing them.

Now the Pharisees, and in fact all the Jews, never eat without washing their hands, for they follow the tradition received from their ancestors. Nor do they eat anything, when they come from the market, without first washing themselves. And there are many other traditions they observe; for example, the ritual washing of cups, pots and plates.

So the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders, but eat with unclean hands?” Jesus answered, “You shallow people! How well Isaiah prophesied of you when he wrote : ‘This people honours Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. The worship they offer Me is worthless, for what they teach are only human rules.’ You even put aside the commandment of God to hold fast to human tradition.”

And Jesus commented, “You have a fine way of disregarding the commandments of God in order to enforce your own traditions! For example, Moses said : Do your duty to your father and your mother, and : Whoever curses his father or his mother is to be put to death. But according to you, someone could say to his father or mother, ‘I already declared Corban (which means “offered to God”) what you could have expected from me.’”

“In this case, you no longer require him to do anything for his father or mother; and so you nullify the word of God through the tradition you have handed on. And you do many other things like that.”

Tuesday, 8 February 2022 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome Emiliani, and St. Josephine Bakhita, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints and Holy Virgins)

Psalm 83 : 3, 4, 5 and 10, 11

My soul yearns; pines, for the courts of YHVH. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young, at Your altars, o YHVH of Hosts, my King and my God!

Happy are those who live in Your House, continually singing Your praise! Look upon our shield, o God; look upon the face of Your Anointed!

One day in Your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be left at the threshold in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of the wicked.

Tuesday, 8 February 2022 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome Emiliani, and St. Josephine Bakhita, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints and Holy Virgins)

1 Kings 8 : 22-23, 27-30

Then Solomon stood before the Altar of YHVH in the presence of all the assembly of Israel. He raised his hands towards heaven and said, “O YHVH, God of Israel, there is no God like You either in heaven or on earth! You keep Your Covenant and show loving kindness to Your servants who walk before You wholeheartedly.”

“But will God really live among people on earth? If neither heavens nor the highest heavens can contain You, how much less can this House which I have built! Yet, listen to the prayer and supplication of Your servant, o YHVH my God; hearken to the cries and pleas which Your servant directs to You this day. Watch over this House of which You have said, ‘My Name shall rest there.’ Hear the prayer of Your servant in this place.”

“Listen to the supplication of Your servant and Your people Israel when they pray in this direction; listen from Your dwelling place in heaven and, on listening, forgive.”

Monday, 7 February 2022 : 5th 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 Scriptures, we are all called to remember God’s presence in our lives as He has reminded us through his Ark of the Covenant in our first reading today, and later on, more concretely through Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, His own beloved Son, in our Gospel passage today. We heard how the Lord has come to dwell among His people, and how He has reached out to us and extended to us His love and compassionate mercy.

In our first reading today, we heard of the story of what happened at the time when King Solomon of Israel brought the Ark of the Covenant, the Ark containing the two tablets of the Ten Commandments, the manna and the staff of Aaron as the symbol of God’s Presence among His people, to the Temple, the House that Solomon himself had built for the Lord in Jerusalem. The Temple of God had been completed after about seven years of construction, and as the final part of its completion is the transfer of the Ark of the Covenant to the Holy of Holies built at the centre of the Temple.

In that occasion, the Ark of the Covenant which had long rested in the Holy Tent of Meeting from the time of the Exodus from Egypt was finally taken to the House that Solomon made which surpassed any other temples and houses of worship in its majesty and glory. That God Himself came to dwell among His people, His Presence coming down upon the Ark of the Covenant is significant and King Solomon built that great Temple as the physical symbol of God’s House and Presence among His people, to be a reminder of God being with His people.

We heard how the Glory of God came down to the House that Solomon had built for Him, and the Ark of the Covenant became the Seat of His Presence, as He came down enthroned on the Cherubim crafted on the Ark. The Glory of God filled the Temple and the people rejoiced altogether because God Himself had dwelled among His people and He has shown His great love and compassion to them, remembering them and caring for them, bringing them many blessings and graces during the glorious reigns of David and Solomon as the kings of Israel.

Then in our Gospel passage today, we heard of how the Lord Jesus came among the people, and how He and His disciples cared for all those who have come to the Lord seeking for His healing and teachings. The Lord reached out to them and touched them, healing many among them and taught amongst them, bringing the words of His truth and His salvation, showing the love of God manifested to them, that through Him all may come to know of just how beloved and fortunate they are to have been graced by the loving presence of God in Christ, His one and only begotten Son.

Through Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Whom the Lord had sent into this world to be our Saviour, God has revealed His love in the flesh and His Presence dwells among us even far surpassing that of the Old Ark of the Covenant. For while the old Ark of the Covenant was made from gold and other precious metals crafted by the hands of man, the New Ark of the Covenant that is Mary, Mother of God, was crafted by God Himself, and while the old Ark contains the tablets of the Law and the manna, the New Covenant that God established with us through His Son is sealed by the gift of Himself as the Bread of Life, the Law and the Commandments of God in the flesh.

Thus, as the Lord walked among us and showed us His love through His Presence, all of us are called to remember the great grace and kindness that we have received through Christ, His Son, by His dwelling in our midst. God has come down to us so that He may bridge the unbridgeable chasm that existed between us and Him. God has always wanted us to be reconciled to Him but it is always us who delayed and dragged our feet, not being truthful to ourselves and continued to deny His love and kindness. Many of us have preferred to remain in the state of sin rather than to obey the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore ponder carefully what we have discussed and what we have heard from the readings of the Sacred Scriptures. Let us therefore seek to embrace God’s love and kindness, and open ourselves to allow Him to dwell within our hearts. Let us realise just how fortunate we are that God has endeavoured to walk alongside us and to guide us in our journey of faith through life. May the Lord be with us always and may He empower each and every one of us to love Him ever more genuinely from now on. Amen.

Monday, 7 February 2022 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 6 : 53-56

At that time, having crossed the lake, Jesus and His disciples came ashore at Gennesaret, where they tied up the boat. As soon as they landed, people recognised Jesus, and ran to spread the news throughout the countryside.

Wherever He was, they brought to Him the sick lying on their mats; and wherever He went, to villages, towns or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplace, and begged Him to let them touch just the fringe of His cloak. And all who touched Him were cured.