Wednesday, 8 February 2023 : 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 : 14-23

At that time, Jesus then called the people to Him again and said to them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and try to understand. Nothing that enters a person from the outside can make that person unclean. It is what comes from within that makes a person unclean. Let everyone who has ears listen.”

When Jesus got home and was away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him about this saying, and He replied, “So even you are dull? Do you not see that whatever comes from outside cannot make a person unclean, since it enters not the heart but the stomach, and is finally passed out?” Thus Jesus declared that all foods are clean.

And He went on, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him, for evil designs come out of the heart : theft, murder, adultery, jealousy, greed, maliciousness, deceit, indecency, slander, pride and folly. All these evil things come from within and make a person unclean.”

Wednesday, 8 February 2023 : 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 103 : 1-2a, 27-28, 29bc-30

Bless the Lord my soul! Clothed in majesty and splendour; o Lord, my God, how great You are! You are wrapped in light as with a garment.

They all look to You for their food in due time. You give it to them, and they gather it up; You open Your hand, they are filled with good things.

You take away their breath, they expire and return to dust. When You send forth Your Spirit, they are created, and the face of the earth is renewed.

Wednesday, 8 February 2023 : 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)

Genesis 2 : 4b-9, 15-17

On the day that YHVH God made the earth and the heavens, there was not yet on earth any shrub on the fields, nor had any plant yet sprung up, for YHVH God had not made it rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the earth, but a mist went up from the earth and watered the surface of the earth.

Then YHVH God formed Man, dust drawn from the clay, and breathed into his nostrils a breath of life and Man became alive with breath. God planted a garden in Eden in the east and there He placed Man whom He had created. YHVH God caused to grow from the ground every kind of tree that is pleasing to see and good to eat, also the tree of life on the middle of the garden and the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

YHVH God took Man and placed him in the garden of Eden to till it and to take care of it. Then YHVH God gave an order to Man saying, “You may eat of every tree in the garden, but of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, you will not eat, for on the day you eat of it, you will die.”

Tuesday, 7 February 2023 : 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 reminded of the need for all of us to listen to the Lord and to follow what He has told us to do, and to embrace His calling for us all to be His beloved children, to be the people of His flock. Each and every one of us have been given this great grace and gift from God, Who has willingly embraced all of us, though sinners, to be His children, His beloved ones, as He continued to patiently reach out to us and show us His mercy, compassion and love. God has always ever been patient in loving us and in taking care of us, from the very beginning of Creation and throughout all of time. He has created us all in His own image, out of love for us, so that by our existence in this world, we may enjoy forever the fullness of His grace, blessings and love.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of Genesis, we heard the continuation of the story of Creation as mentioned and detailed by the author of that Book, speaking of everything that God had done in creating the whole Universe, of this world and everything that we have ever known of, of everything that are living as well as all the non-living matter. God has made everything to be into existence by the power of His will alone. God has already loved us all from the very beginning, the pinnacle of His creation, the masterpiece of His work, made in His very own image. Among all of Creation, each one of us, the sons and daughters of man, are the pinnacle of God’s work, the best amongst all of His possessions. We have been created as the last of His works, as in us alone, the image of His face has been reflected.

And just as we have heard in that same passage as well, the Lord has entrusted this world and the guardianship over its vast and glorious extent to all of us mankind, as He told us to grow and multiply, and to spread throughout the whole world, to do the will of God and to be good and faithful stewards and caretakers of all of God’s creations, of everything that He has made and created. Yet, not long after we have been created, everything that had been meant to be perfect and all good were sullied and spoiled by our ancestors’ own inability to resist the temptations and the lies of the devil, Satan, the great snake and liar, who has tempted them with the temptation of knowledge, power and glory, by tempting them to be like God, and by disobeying directly what the Lord has told them, in not eating from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard of the conflict, disagreement and tensions between the Lord Jesus and the Pharisees, many of whom were criticising Him and His disciples for not following the full expression and implementation of the Jewish customs and laws, the observances and rituals that were kept especially by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, back then and even unto this day, in doing various activities, including what happened back then, when the Lord and His disciples, together with the Pharisees, were having a meal. What we all need to take note here is that, first of all, the Lord was in fact not against obedience to the Law of God. Indeed, the Lord has always spoken about true obedience of the Law, which requires us all to understand the purpose, the context and the intention of the Law that God has revealed to us all, and not to be misled, distracted and misguided by the mistaken and faulty perceptions of the true meaning and intention of the Law.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law took great pride in their very strict adherence to the Law, which they obeyed literally to the letter, and not only that, but they also added many layers of details and intricacies, which they ended up becoming very dedicated in keeping and observing, and were very particular in enforcing and ensuring that the people of God observed the Law in the way that they approved. Not only that, but they often paraded their piety and way of observing the Law before everyone, in the public places and others, so that they could bask in the praise and adoration from the people, to indulge in their own pride, ego and greed. This is what had led to the Lord often criticising and rebuking them rightly for having indulged in such negative attitudes, and also in their stubbornness in refusing to believe in His truth and Good News.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through what we have heard in our first reading and Gospel passages today, all of us are reminded to grow ever stronger in our desire to love the Lord, to know Him more and to follow Him faithfully in the right way. We must not allow our pride, ego and greed, our many temptations all around us to distract us from our true way of obeying the Lord, in doing what He Himself has revealed to us, all though His Church, His servants and through the Wisdom of the Holy Spirit. The Lord has called us all to follow Him wholeheartedly, and not being just superficially faithful as how many of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had done, in their outward expression of their faith, and yet, within their hearts, their pride and ego, their desires and greed, their stubbornness and jealousy of the Lord had prevented them from finding their path towards God.

If we allow Satan to tempt us and to mislead us as he has done to Adam and Eve, our ancestors in the past, then we open the doors of our hearts and minds to him to continue to speak his lies and sweet words, which were aimed at leading down the path towards damnation and destruction. Satan and all of his forces will not remain idle before they ensured that as many of us as possible follow them down the path of damnation and destruction, to end up in hellfire and eternal darkness, and sundered from God’s grace and love. That is why we should always be vigilant and remember to keep our hearts and minds free from the temptations of sin, and from the allures of pride, ego, greed, worldly desires and ambitions. We have to remember that God alone is the centre and focus of our lives, and all that we do, all the Law and commandments that we observe, all we do not for our own glory, but for the glory of God and because we love Him just in the same way that He has loved us.

May the Lord continue to guide us in our way and path in life, and may all of us continue to love Him, our Lord, Master and Creator, just as much as He has loved us all from the very beginning of time until now. May He continue to strengthen us all with the courage and the desire to walk ever more faithfully in His presence, and becoming great role models and examples to one another in faith. May each and every one of us grow ever stronger in our Christian faith and dedication, and may all of us be ever shining and glorious beacons of God’s light and truth, proclaiming the truth and love that our Lord Jesus Himself has brought into our midst. May God bless us all in our every good efforts, deeds and endeavours, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 7 February 2023 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 7 : 1-13

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, 7 February 2023 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 8 : 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

When I observe the heavens, the work of Your hands, the moon and the stars You set in their place – what is man that You be mindful of him, the Son of Man that You should care for Him?

Yet You made Him a little lower than the Angels; You crowned Him with glory and honour and gave Him the works of Your hands; You have put all things under His feet.

Sheep and oxen without number and even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, the fish of the sea and all that swim the paths of the ocean.