Tuesday, 17 January 2023 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony, Abbot (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 2 : 23-28

At that time, one Sabbath Jesus was walking through grainfields. As His disciples walked along with Him, they began to pick the heads of grain and crush them in their hands. Then the Pharisees said to Jesus, “Look! They are doing what is forbidden on the Sabbath!”

And He said to them, “Have you never read what David did in his time of need, when he and his men were very hungry? He went into the house of God, when Abiathar was High Priest, and ate the bread of offering, which only the priests are allowed to eat, and he also gave some to the men who were with him.”

Then Jesus said to them, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Master even of the Sabbath.”

Tuesday, 17 January 2023 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony, Abbot (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 110 : 1-2, 4-5, 9 and 10c

Alleluia! I thank the Lord with all my heart in the council of the just, in the assembly. The works of the Lord are great and pondered by all who delight in them.

He lets us remember His wondrous deeds; the Lord is merciful and kind. Always mindful of His covenant, He provides food for those who fear Him.

He has sent His people deliverances and made with them a covenant forever. His holy Name is to be revered! To Him belongs everlasting praise.

Tuesday, 17 January 2023 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony, Abbot (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Hebrews 6 : 10-20

God is not unjust and will not forget everything you have done for love of His Name; you have helped and still help the believers. We desire each of you to have, until the end, the same zeal for reaching what you have hoped for. Do not grow careless but imitate those who, by their faith and determination, inherit the promise.

Remember God’s promise to Abraham, God wanted to confirm it with an oath and, as no one is higher than God, He swore by Himself : I shall bless you and give you many descendants. By just patiently waiting, Abraham obtained the promise.

People are used to swearing by someone higher than themselves and their oath affirms everything that could be denied. So God committed Himself with an oath in order to convince those who were to wait for His promise that He would never change His mind.

Thus we have two certainties in which it is impossible that God be proved false : promise and oath. That is enough to encourage us strongly when we leave everything to hold to the hope set before us. This hope is like a steadfast anchor of the soul, secure and firm, thrust beyond the curtain of the Temple into the sanctuary itself, where Jesus has entered ahead of us – Jesus, High Priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.

Monday, 16 January 2023 : 2nd 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, all of us are reminded of the actions of the Lord, Our Saviour and King, our High Priest, in how He has offered Himself out of perfect love and compassion for us, so that each and every one of us may be forgiven from our many sins, and be reconciled fully with our most loving God, our Heavenly Father. And just as we have been redeemed from the darkness of sin, all of us as Christians, as those whom God has called and chosen from this world to be His disciples and followers, we are all expected to live our lives worthily of Him, by following Him and His examples, and by dedicating our lives and works, our efforts and more for His greater glory, in each and every moments available to us.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle to the Hebrews, which was written and addressed firstly to the Christian converts hailing from the Jewish community, also known as the Jewish Christians, but also addressed in fact to the larger Jewish community as a whole. Hence, there was quite a few mention of themes and matters which pertained to the Jewish customs and laws, and which they would have been rather familiar with. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews wrote about the identity of the High Priest and why the Lord Jesus, the One known as the Messiah, or the Saviour, is the one true and Eternal High Priest for all mankind. By linking to this High Priesthood, and how God chose His High Priests back then from among the people, and what they did on behalf of the people, the author sought to explain and make clear what the Lord Jesus’ actions and all the events that happened back then, so that hopefully more among the Jewish people may come to believe in the Lord Jesus and accept Him as their Lord and Saviour.

Back then, High Priests offered the sacrifices on behalf of the whole people, and entered through the Temple of Jerusalem, the House of God, to the Holy of Holies where the Holy Presence of God resides, in one special occasion each year, to intercede on behalf of the people of God. However, as contrasted to the other High Priests, who were sinners and needed to purify themselves and offer offerings and sacrifices for their own sins first before they offered the sacrifice on behalf of the people, the Lord Jesus, Who is without sin and perfect in all things, offered for us all His own Body and Blood, to be broken and shared by us, as our High Priest, for the absolution of our sins. Only Christ’s offering and sacrifice alone is worthy enough for us, that He did this once and for all, from His Cross at Calvary.

He became a Man like us, so that by His sharing in our humanity, He might show us the example of perfect obedience and faith, in entrusting Himself so completely to the Father’s will, and by uniting us all to Himself, He brought and led us to the purification from our many sins, by His offering of Himself, as the Paschal Lamb of sacrifice, the only one worthy to erase all of our sins and all of our mistakes, an offering acceptable to God our most loving Father, made because of His great love for us, that He willingly chose to suffer and die for our sake. As highlighted as well in our Gospel passage today, that the Son of Man must suffer and die, and would be taken away from His beloved people, to die on the Cross, hence, everything happened so that we may be saved.

By His loving actions and care for us, Christ has shown us a new path in life, one that is leading away from the darkness of sin and evil surrounding us, towards the light of God’s grace and salvation, the true joy and happiness that we can only find in God alone. However, this has to be accompanied by our acceptance of the path that He has led us towards, and the acceptance and our embracing of the path of virtue and righteousness, by our faith in Him. God has also given us all the free will to choose the path that we are going to take in life, where we are going towards and what we are going to do with our lives. We can choose to embrace the path that God has shown us, and change our way of life, or to continue living our lives the way this world had taught us instead.

That is why the Lord’s brief parable in our Gospel passage today serves as an important reminder for us as Christians on what we should do in our lives going forward from now. In that parable, the Lord mentioned how no one would put a new wine into old wineskin, or a new cloth piece to patch an old cloth, or vice versa, as that would cause the wineskin or the cloth to tear because the two parts are incompatible with each other. By that parable, the Lord wanted to highlight that the way of the Lord and the way of the world are distinct and incompatible with each other, with the path of God’s virtues and righteousness being incompatible with the sinful ways and attitudes that many of us living in the worldly way of life have often exhibited. As Christians, in order for us to be able to follow the Lord wholeheartedly and completely, we must change our way of life and conform to what He has shown and taught us to do.

Hence, we are reminded that in this time of the Ordinary Time and season of the year, we must never be idle in life and we cannot be ignorant of our calling and mission, in doing the will of God and in living our lives faithfully as best as we are able to. If we continue to ignore our calling and not living our lives the way that the Lord has shown us, then we are no better than hypocrites and unbelievers, as our faith is dead, meaningless and empty, and will not avail us on the Day of Judgment. In fact, those who have not yet believed in God, and yet did what is good and righteous in the eyes of the Lord, may be closer to salvation than we are. That is why we are reminded that as the followers and disciples of the Lord, we must adopt a new way of life, as represented by the parable of the wineskin and the cloth. New wine has to be accompanied with new wineskin, and hence, our faith in the Lord must also be accompanied with a new way of life based on that faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore remind ourselves and one another to live our lives ever more faithfully in each and every possible opportunities. Let us all commit ourselves anew each day and at every moments to make good use of our talents and abilities so that we may truly be good and faithful people of God, who reflect the goodness and the virtues of our Lord, and that by our actions, works, deeds, words and interactions, more and more may come to know God and His truth and love through us, and come to believe in Him as well, because they witness in us and our lives, the great examples of what it means to be a holy people of God, loved and blessed by Him, and what it means for us to be called to holiness and a new life in accordance with God’s will.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He, our Eternal High Priest, continue to guide us all, reminding us of all the things that He had done for us, the love He has shown us from His Cross, and His continued guidance and ever enduring love and patience that He has always shown us. Let us all draw ever closer to Him, and do whatever we can to serve Him faithfully and glorify Him by our lives, at each and every possible opportunities. May God bless us always, and bless our every good works, efforts and endeavours, and inspire us to do more good things in our lives in this world. Amen.

Monday, 16 January 2023 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 2 : 18-22

At that time, one day, when the Pharisees and the disciples of John the Baptist were fasting, some people asked Jesus, “Why is it that both the Pharisees and the disciples of John fast, but Yours do not?”

Jesus answered, “How can the wedding guests fast while the Bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the Bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. But the day will come when the Bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.”

“No one sews a piece of new cloth on an old coat, because the new patch will shrink and tear away from the old cloth, making a worse tear. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins, for the wine would burst the skins, and then both the wine and the skins would be lost. But new wine, new skins!”

Monday, 16 January 2023 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 109 : 1, 2, 3, 4

The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand till I make Your foes Your footstool.”

From Zion the Lord will extend Your mighty sceptre and You will rule in the midst of Your enemies.

Yours is royal dignity from the day You were born in holy majesty. Like dew from the womb of the dawn, I have begotten You.

The Lord has sworn, and He will not take back His word : “You are a Priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”

Monday, 16 January 2023 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Hebrews 5 : 1-10

Every High Priest is taken from among mortals and appointed to be their representative before God to offer gifts and sacrifices for sin. He is able to understand the ignorant and erring for he himself is subject to weakness. This is why he is bound to offer sacrifices for his sins as well as for the sins of the people.

Besides, one does not presume to take this dignity, but takes it only when called by God, as Aaron was. Nor did Christ become High Priest in taking upon Himself this dignity, but it was given to Him by the One Who says : You are My Son, I have begotten You today. And in another place : You are a Priest forever in the priestly order of Melchizedek.

Christ, in the days of His mortal life, offered His sacrifice with tears and cries. He prayed to Him Who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of His humble submission. Although He was Son, He learnt through suffering what obedience was, and once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for those who obey Him. This is how God proclaimed Him Priest in the order of Melchizedek.