Thursday, 10 February 2022 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Scholastica, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 7 : 24-30

At that time, when Jesus went to the border of the Tyrian country. There, He entered a house, and did not want anyone to know He was there; but He could not remain hidden. A woman, whose small daughter had an evil spirit, heard of Him, and came and fell at His feet.

Now this woman was a pagan, a Syro-Phoenician by birth, and she begged Him to drive the demon out of her daughter. Jesus told her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the puppies.”

But she replied, “Sir, even the puppies under the table eat the crumbs from the children’s bread.” Then Jesus said to her, “You may go your way; because of such a response, the demon has gone out of your daughter.”

And when the woman went home, she found her child lying in bed, and the demon gone.

Thursday, 10 February 2022 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Scholastica, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 105 : 3-4, 35-36, 37 and 40

Blessed are they who always do just and right. Remember me, o YHVH, when You show favour to Your people; rescue me when You deliver them.

They mingled with these nations and learnt to do as they did. In serving the idols of the pagans, they were trapped.

Into sacrificing children to demons. The anger of YHVH grew intense and He abhorred His inheritance.

Thursday, 10 February 2022 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Scholastica, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Kings 11 : 4-13

In Solomon’s old age, his wives led him astray to serve other gods and, unlike his father David, his heart was no longer wholly given to YHVH his God. For he served Astarte the goddess of the Sidonians, and Milcom, the idol of the Ammonites.

He did what displeased YHVH and, unlike his father David, was unfaithful to Him. Solomon even built a high place for Chemosh, the idol of Moab, on the mountain east of Jerusalem and also for Molech, the idol of the Ammonites. He did the same for all his foreign wives who burnt incense and sacrificed to their gods.

YHVH became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from YHVH, the God of Israel. YHVH appeared to him twice and commanded him not to follow other gods. But he did not obey YHVH’s command. Therefore, YHVH said to Solomon, “Since this has been your choice and you have kept neither My Covenant nor the statutes I commanded you, I will take the kingdom from you and give it to your servant.”

“Nevertheless, I will not do this during your lifetime for the sake of your father David; I will take it from your son. But I will not take it all; I will reserve one tribe for your son for the sake of David My servant, and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen.”

Wednesday, 9 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 reflect on what we have just heard and discern how each and every one of us can become more dedicated and faithful followers of Our Lord. We heard of the story of the visit of the Queen of Sheba to the court of King Solomon of Israel, renowned for his great wisdom, and then in the Gospel we heard of the Lord’s words and rebuke to the Pharisees for their insistence and stubbornness in enforcing a very strict interpretation of the Law of Moses.

In our first reading today, as mentioned, we heard from the Book of Kings about the coming of the Queen of Sheba from faraway land visiting King Solomon of Israel and his court, bearing many gifts of gold and other precious items, enthralled and desiring to hear of his words and wisdom. Solomon had been blessed with great wisdom from God, as he prayed for wisdom when the Lord told him to ask of Him everything that he desired. God gave Solomon not just great wisdom, but also great riches, wealth and glory, prosperity, peace and safety for his kingdom and for the people of God.

King Solomon showed the Queen of Sheba all the achievements he had gained, the wealth and power he had amassed, engaging her with all of his wisdom, and amazed her with all that God had blessed him and his people with. All that impressed the Queen of Sheba greatly and left a legacy that lasted till this day as it was told that the nation of Sheba is where the land of Ethiopia in East Africa now is, and the people there began to believe in God and later on, when Christ came and His disciples spread the truth of God, their descendants were the same ones to accept the Christian faith early on.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the moment when the Lord spoke to the people who were listening to His teachings, and as He also spoke out against the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who had always tried to thwart His works and efforts among the people, by saying that in not following the very strict set of rules and commandments as required by the Law, which in fact was their own overly zealous and misunderstanding of the true purpose of the Law, that they actually unjustly accusing the Lord and His disciples of wrongdoing.

And the Lord went on by saying that it was folly to think that anything from outside can make one impure, dirty and unworthy. Instead, it is something that comes from within, from our hearts and minds, from our own conscience that leads to sin and corruption of our body, mind, heart and soul. And that was what the Lord wanted to convey to the people, and He also must have hoped that the same Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, despite their stubbornness and rigid ways, might come to see the truth in His words as well.

The Lord reminded us all as well that wicked desires from our hearts and minds, born out of greed and jealousy, from personal ego and ambition among many other things can lead us all into sin and into doing things that are contrary to the good works that God wants each and every one of us to do in our lives. Hence, through what we have heard today in our Scripture readings, from the tale of Solomon and his wisdom and then the interactions between the Lord and His people, all of us are called to reflect on what it truly means for us to call ourselves as Christians.

As Christians, we are all called to be virtuous and righteous, to be filled with love for God and the wisdom that He has given to us just as He has blessed Solomon with great wisdom. However, we also have to make good use of those gifts and also for the right purpose. King Solomon faltered later in life as in his old age he wavered and let his many wives to distract him and to do things that are not in accordance with the will of God. And the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law have also allowed their own desires and personal ambitions to lead them astray from the path of God and misleading others in the process.

Let us all therefore instead strive and do our best to serve the Lord and to do His will, to follow His commandments and Law with true understanding and sincere love for Him, doing what He has told us to do because we love Him wholeheartedly and not just because we want to look pious and good to others, and not because we want anything in return from doing so. We are all called to be good and to be inspiration to one another. Let our lives be shining beacons of God’s light and truth, inspiring many others to follow in our footsteps as we we continue to live our lives in faith, making use of all the gifts that God has given us.

May God be with us always, and may He bless each and every one of us, that we may always be ever more faithful to Him, and may God empower us all to live ever more worthily in His presence, now and always, forevermore. Amen.