Friday, 20 January 2023 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Fabian, Pope and Martyr, and St. Sebastian, Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 84 : 8 and 10, 11-12, 13-14

Show us, o Lord, Your unfailing love and grant us Your saving help. Yet Your salvation is near to those who fear You, and Your Glory will dwell in our land.

Love and faithfulness have met; righteousness and peace have embraced. Faithfulness will reach up from the earth while justice bends down from heaven.

The Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its fruit. Justice will go before Him, and peace will follow along His path.

Friday, 20 January 2023 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Fabian, Pope and Martyr, and St. Sebastian, Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Hebrews 8 : 6-13

Now, however, Jesus enjoys a much higher ministry in being the Mediator of a better covenant, founded on better promises. If all had been perfect in the first covenant, there would have been no need for another one. Yet God sees defects when He says : The days are coming – it is the word of the Lord – when I will draw up a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.

It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors on the day I took them by the hand and led them out of Egypt. They did not keep My covenant, and so I Myself have forsaken them, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the people of Israel in the days to come : I will put My law into their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be My people.

None of them will have to teach one another or say to each other : Know the Lord, for they will know Me from the least to the greatest. I will forgive their sins and no longer remember their wrongs. Here we are being told of a new covenant; which means that the first one had become obsolete, and what is obsolete and ageing is soon to disappear.

Thursday, 19 January 2023 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (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 reminded yet again of the role that Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, has in being the High Priest of all mankind, in being our intermediary and mediator with the Father, our loving Creator and Master. Through Christ all of us have been shown the path of reconciliation and rejuvenation, in recovering our grace-filled existence where once we have been cast out into the darkness because of our disobedience and refusal to listen to God and to obey His will. God has loved us so much ever since the very beginning and He would not abandon us to the darkness and evil, and since the beginning, He has assured us of His faithfulness to the promises and the Covenant that He has established with us, and He sent us His Son to be our Saviour and to be the One to help us to return to His grace.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle to the Hebrews about the actions of the Lord Jesus as the High Priest of all, in His offering of the most worthy sacrifice and offering of all for our sake. The author highlighted how the priests and high priests needed to offer sacrifices and offerings for the atonement of their sins first before they could offer the sacrifices on behalf of the people, and contrasting this with Jesus Christ, the one and true Eternal High Priest, by Whose sacrifice and offering every one of us, past, present and future, have received the sure guarantee of salvation and eternal life, should we embrace His most generous and wonderful love. Jesus our High Priest, the Sinless One, has willingly offered on our behalf, the perfect and most worthy offering that is sufficient to redeem all of us from the precipice of destruction and damnation.

How did He do that, brothers and sisters? He did that by being both our High Priest and also the sacrificial Lamb at the same time. As our High Priest, He offered on our behalf the perfect offering of Himself, of His own Most Precious Body and Blood as the perfect, unblemished and most sacred Lamb of God. While priests and High Priests offered the imperfect although unblemished offerings of lambs and other sacrifices, but the imperfection and limited nature of those offerings prevented them from achieving lasting and complete reconciliation between God and His beloved people. It was only through Christ and His most wonderful, generous and perfect offering that He has redeemed all of us from our fated destruction and annihilation due to our sins and wickedness.

Christ has become the bridge between us and God, as He called upon all of us to follow Him and to enter into His presence, embracing the Love of God that He has shown us in the flesh, tangible and approachable to us. He has given His all for us, embracing our humanity and emptying Himself from all glory and honour, choosing the condition of a criminal and a slave, so that by taking up upon Himself all of our sins, all the consequences and punishments due to those sins, and as the Lamb of God, He might purify us from our sins and faults, through the power of His own mercy and love, and through His most selfless and loving gift to all of us, and for such a great love indeed that He was willing to endure the greatest of pain and sufferings, humiliations and indignations for our sake.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the works which the Lord has done for the sake of His people during His ministry in this world. He has spent a lot of time and effort to reach out to everyone who had come to seek Him, seeking His healing and help, amidst their many troubles and difficulties. The Lord has shown His compassion and mercy, as He saw our sufferings and pains, and He wanted us all to be freed from all those things. It revealed to us the true intentions of our most loving Creator, for He created us out of pure love and the desire to share His ever overflowing love with us. Hence, He could not have allowed us to perish or to be separated forever from Him, and thus, He has given us so many opportunities to return to Him and to find our path back towards Him.

However, many of us tend to be defiant and stubborn in our attitude and way of life, constantly and repeatedly refusing to obey the Lord, shutting our minds and hearts against Him, and refusing to embrace the truth of God which He has brought into our midst through His Son. Although the Lord has shown us His most generous love, but we still often refused to believe in Him, and refused to embrace His mercy and love, although we have seen, witnessed, experienced all the wonderful love that God has lavished on us. The Lord has not stopped loving us even with all of that, and He has patiently reminded us, helped us and encouraged us to embrace His path, His love and His mercy, and He still offered Himself even to those who have hurt and betrayed Him, just as He gave Himself to be crucified even for the sake of all those who condemned Him to die.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us having been reminded of the great love of God shown through Christ, Who has most generously offered Himself for our sake, we are then reminded to offer our own love and devotion to Him. God has loved us most unconditionally and generously, and He has not held even from us His own beloved Son, Who has given Himself so thoroughly for us. Can we therefore love Him in the same way, and devote ourselves, our time and attention in the same manner as well? Can we do more in our lives so that we can truly consider ourselves as genuine and worthy Christians, as those whom God had called and made to be His own? We are all expected and reminded that as Christians, we have to be wholeheartedly faithful to God and entrust ourselves wholly to His providence and salvation.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to help us in our journey in faith and life so that hopefully we may all grow ever stronger in our faith and devotion to Him, and may He guide us and give us the courage and strength to persevere through the many challenges and trials that we may have to face in our journey as Christians, in each and every moments. Amen.

Thursday, 19 January 2023 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 3 : 7-12

At that tine, Jesus and His disciples withdrew to the lakeside, and a large crowd from Galilee followed Him. A great number of people also came from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, Transjordan, and from the region of Tyre and Sidon, for they had heard of all that He was doing.

Because of the crowd, Jesus told His disciples to have a boat ready for Him, to prevent the people from crushing Him. He healed so many, that all who had diseases kept pressing towards Him to touch Him. Even the people who had evil spirits, whenever they saw Him, they would fall down before Him and cry out, “You are the Son of God.” But He warned them sternly not to tell anyone Who He was.

Thursday, 19 January 2023 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 39 : 7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 17

Sacrifice and oblation You did not desire; this You had me understand. Burnt offering and sin offering You do not require. Then I said, “Here I come!”

“As the scroll says of me. To do Your will is my delight, o God, for Your law is within my heart.”

In the great assembly I have proclaimed Your saving help. My lips, o Lord, I did not seal – You know that very well.

But may all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; and may all who love Your saving grace continually say, “The Lord is great.”

Thursday, 19 January 2023 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Hebrews 7 : 25 – Hebrews 8 : 6

Consequently Jesus is able to save for all time those who approach God through Him. He always lives to intercede on their behalf. It was fitting that our High Priest be holy, undefiled, set apart from sinners and exalted above the heavens; a Priest Who does not first need to offer sacrifice for Himself before offering for the sins of the people, as high priests do. He offered Himself in sacrifice once and for all.

And whereas the Law elected weak men as high priests, now, after the Law, the word of God with an oath appointed the Son, made perfect forever. The main point of what we are saying is that we have a High Priest. He is seated at the right hand of the Divine Majesty in heaven, where He serves as minister of the true Temple and Sanctuary, set up not by any mortal but by the Lord.

A high priest is appointed to offer to God gifts and sacrifices, and Jesus also has to offer some sacrifice. Had He remained on earth, He would not be a priest, since others offer the gifts according to the Law. In fact, the ritual celebrated by those priests is only an imitation and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary.

We know the word of God to Moses with regard to the construction of the holy tent. He said : You are to make everything according to the pattern shown to you on the mountain. Now, however, Jesus enjoys a much higher ministry in being the Mediator of a better covenant, founded on better promises.