Tuesday, 14 February 2023 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cyril, Monk and St. Methodius, Bishop, Patron Saints of Europe (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 8 : 14-21

At that time, the disciples had forgotten to bring more bread, and had only one loaf with the in the boat. Then Jesus warned them, “Keep your eyes open, and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.” And they said of one another, “He saw that we have no bread.”

Aware of this, Jesus asked them, “Why are you talking about the loaves you are short of? Do you not see or understand? Are your minds closed? Have your eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear? And do you not remember when I broke the five loaves among five thousand? How many baskets full of letfovers did you collect?”

They answered, “Twelve.” “And having distributed seven loaves to the four thousand, how many wicker baskets of leftovers did you collect?” They answered, “Seven.” Then Jesus said to them, “Do you still not understand?”

Tuesday, 14 February 2023 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cyril, Monk and St. Methodius, Bishop, Patron Saints of Europe (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 28 : 1a and 2, 3ac-4, 3b and 9-10

Give the Lord, o sons of God, give the Lord the glory due His Name; worship the Lord in great liturgy.

The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the Lord thunders over vast waters. How powerful is the voice of the Lord, how splendorous is the voice of the Lord.

The God of glory thunders, the Lord strips the forests bare, and in His Temple all cry, “Glory!” Over the flood the Lord was sitting; the Lord is King and He reigns forever.

Tuesday, 14 February 2023 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cyril, Monk and St. Methodius, Bishop, Patron Saints of Europe (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Genesis 6 : 5-8 and Genesis 7 : 1-5, 10

YHVH saw how great was the wickedness of man on the earth and that evil was always the only thought of his heart. YHVH regretted having created man on the earth and His heart grieved. He said, “I will destroy man whom I created and blot him out from the face of the earth, as well as the beasts, creeping creatures and birds, for I am sorry I made them.” But Noah was pleasing to God.

YHVH said to Noah, “Go into the Ark, you and all your household, for I see that you are just in this generation. Of all the clean animals, you are to take with you seven of each kind, male and female, and a pair of unclean animals, a male and a female. In the same way for the birds of the air, take seven and seven, male and female, to keep their kind alive over all the earth, for in seven days I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights. I will blot out from the face of the earth all the living creatures I have created.”

Noah did all as YHVH had commanded. And after seven days the waters of the flood were over the earth.

Monday, 13 February 2023 : 6th 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 be vigilant against the temptations and allures of sin, all of which can lead us down the path towards ruin and damnation, and if we are not careful it is easy for us to end up on this path, slipping away from the path that God has set before us. If we continue to indulge on the temptations of worldly desire, on our greed and pride, then sooner or later we will end up falling further and further from God’s path towards His salvation and grace. We have to heed the examples used in the Scripture passages today to remind us of what may happen should we open ourselves to sin, allowing sin to corrupt and mislead us down the wrong path in life.

As we heard in our first reading today from the Book of Genesis, the account of what happened following the time of Creation Nd the downfall of man into sin, we heard of the famous story of Cain and Abel, the two sons of Adam and Eve, the first man and first woman created by God. Cain was jealous of Abel because what he has offered the Lord was considered inferior, as compared to the offering of Abel. As a context, Cain offered the produce of his agricultural works, while Abel offered the best of his livestock as offering to God. Back then, the Lord has cursed the earth and the ground itself just as we may have heard earlier on from the Book of Genesis, as one of the consequences of man’s fall into sin. God said that man had to labour hard and the they had to endure pain and suffering, and the earth and soil themselves may resist them and their efforts to toil on them.

As such, contextually, why Cain’s offering was rejected, some may think that it is because the earth itself had been cursed by God, therefore it ended up being the lesser and inferior offering as compared to Abel’s offering. If we just merely looking at the situation on the surface, that will likely be our conclusion. The truth is that, as later on the author of the Epistle of the Hebrews also discussed this matter in his Epistle, the offering of Cain was rejected more because he did not offer it sincerely with faith, and did not entrust himself wholeheartedly to the Lord. This can already be implied indirectly from the Book of Genesis itself, as the Book of Genesis showed how Abel made his offering with great enthusiasm and joy, offering the best of his possessions, the finest one amongst all of his flock, as a sign of his great faith in God.

On the other hand, Cain was rather half-hearted and insincere in making his offering. Yes, his offering had been rejected by God, but his response to God and how his offering was rejected showed the intention behind his offering and what was in his heart and mind. If Cain truly had faith in God and offered his sacrifice to God sincerely and generously, he would not have minded the Lord’s rejection, and would have offered it anyway. The fact that he immediately became angry and jealous of his brother showed us that he made his offering not really because he truly loved and dedicated himself to the Lord, but rather saw it as some form of competition, greed and even a matter of pride and ego, comparing himself with his sibling, something that we may indeed be familiar with, as these things do happen in our world, and even in fact, perhaps quite frequently too.

Therefore, it was likely Cain’s wrong predisposition and his wrong focus and intentions, his lack of faith and trust in God, all of which led to his offering being rejected by God. It was not because his offering was of lesser quality, or even the excuse that some gave in defending Cain that he was disadvantaged against Abel. As I mentioned earlier, had Cain truly had the right intentions and purpose in his mind and heart, he would not have become angry and he would not have even gone to the extent of murdering his own brother, of his own flesh and blood, without mercy and compassion. Cain was blinded by arrogance and pride, by his greed and jealousy, and he opened the doors of his heart wide to these temptations to sin, and naturally, it led to what he had done in committing a truly grave sin against God and against his own brother.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard of the actions of the Pharisees who openly questioned the Lord and doubted His authority by asking Him for a sign before everyone. And we have to understand that the Lord Himself has actually performed many miracles and wonders before all the people and especially the Pharisees should have known better as they often followed the Lord and His disciples all around the various places that He has ministered in, even to the wilderness and places away from towns. They had seen so many examples and proofs of the Lord’s power and works, and yet, they still refused to believe in Him and His truth. They stood fast their mistaken beliefs and convictions, and that led to further conflicts and disagreements between them and the Lord. All of these were indeed just like how Cain had opened himself to the temptations and allures of sin, as those Pharisees allowed themselves to be deluded by their pride and wicked desires too.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we can see very clearly from our Scripture passages today, the allures and temptations of sin are indeed dangerous, and they can easily lead us down the path to our downfall if we are not careful. We are reminded that if we do not remain vigilant and keep ourselves free from the snares of our own pride, ego and all sorts of worldly desires and ambitions, we are likely going to end up falling further and deeper into the temptations of sin, and we will end up being like Cain, consumed by our own anger, desire, jealousy, pride and greed, committing heinous and wicked sins that will lead us to our downfall and destruction. That is why all of us are reminded to remain focused on the Lord and His truth, and resist the many temptations and pressures around us to disobey the Lord and His commandments. We are reminded to keep ourselves firmly grounded in our faith, and to strengthen ever more our relationship with the Lord, our most loving God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all hence strive to live our lives from now on ever more worthily of the Lord and dedicate ourselves, in each and every moment, to walk in His path and to love Him more and more, with each and every moment and opportunities that He has granted us. May the Lord continue to guide and strengthen us all so that we may have the resolve and perseverance to live our lives as good and faithful Christians at all times. May God bless our works and endeavours, and be with us always, through our lives, at all times, helping us to resist the many temptations of sin and worldly glory. Amen.

Monday, 13 February 2023 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 8 : 11-13

At that time, the Pharisees came and started to argue with Jesus. Hoping to embarrass Him, they asked for some heavenly sign. Then His Spirit was moved. He gave a deep sigh and said, “Why do the people of this present time ask for a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this people.”

Then He left them, got into the boat again and went to the other side of the lake.

Monday, 13 February 2023 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 49 : 1 and 8, 16bc-17, 20-21

The God of gods, the Lord has spoken, He summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. Not for your sacrifices do I reprove you, for your burnt offerings are ever before Me.

What right have you to mouth My laws, or to talk about My covenant? You hate My commands and cast My words behind you.

You speak ill of your brother, and slander your own mother’s son. Because I was silent while you did these things, you thought I was like you. But now I rebuke you and make this charge against you.

Monday, 13 February 2023 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Genesis 4 : 1-15, 25

Adam had intercourse with Eve his wife; she became pregnant and gave birth to a child. She named him Cain, for she said, “I have got a man with help from YHVH.” She later gave birth to Abel, his brother. Abel was a shepherd and kept flocks, and Cain tilled the soil.

It happened after a time that Cain brought fruits of the soil as an offering to YHVH. Abel for his part brought the firstborn of his flock, and some fat as well. Now YHVH was well pleased with Abel and his offering, but towards Cain and his offering He showed no pleasure. This made Cain very angry and downcast.

Then YHVH said to Cain, “Why are you angry and downcast? If you do right, why do you not look up? But if you are not doing what is right, sin is lurking at the door. It is striving to get you, but you must control it.”

Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go to the fields.” Once there, Cain turned on his brother Abel and killed him. YHVH said to Cain, “Where is your brother, Abel?” He answered, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?”

YHVH asked, “What have you done? Your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground. Now be cursed and driven from the ground that has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood that your hand had shed. When you till the soil, it will no longer yield you its produce. You will be a fugitive wandering on the earth.”

Cain said to YHVH, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. See! Today You drive me from this land. I must hide from You and be a wanderer and a fugitive on the earth, and it will so happen that whoever meets me will kill me.” YHVH said to him, “Well then, whoever kills Cain, will suffer vengeance seven times.” And YHVH put a mark on Cain to prevent anyone who met him from killing him.

Adam again had intercourse with his wife and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth; for she said, “YHVH has given me another child in place of Abel since Cain killed him.”