Monday, 1 February 2021 : 4th 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 Scripture, we heard of the sufferings of the faithful, the terrible things that happened to those who have kept their faith steady in God, and then God’s reassurance that He would always be with them and He would free them from their predicament. By the power and grace from God, all who believe in Him will be saved and enter into the eternal and true joy and glory in Him.

In our first reading today we heard of the account from the Epistle to the Hebrews linking the great deeds of the past Judges of Israel and the heroes of those bygone days, those who had been nobody, but God raised them up and called them to be the leaders of His people, giving them the guidance and power to free the people of Israel. And the author also mentioned how there were yet many others who were suffering and even dying because of their faith, and they had to endure all of that.

What this passage wanted to tell the audience back then, namely the believers and unbelievers from among the Jewish people, as well as all of us listening to it again today, is that everything that happened, all happened by God’s grace and in God’s good time. Everything had happened and will happen exactly as the Lord willed it. When we see our fellow brethren and ourselves suffering, especially for our faith, and when we see no help coming our way, it does not mean that the Lord did not love us or that He did not care about us.

On the contrary, if He wanted to, He could definitely free us immediately from all sufferings and difficulties. But just as He Himself has suffered and endured the worst of sufferings when He took the heavy burden of the Cross upon Himself, thus all of us actually suffer together with Him and share in His suffering. Ultimately, suffering itself came about from the abuse of mankind’s freedom, the free will to act that God has given to each and every one of us. The reason why we suffer is because we mankind put ourselves, our individual, egoistic selves, our desires and wants, our ambitions above any considerations for others.

That is why, as we then heard in our Gospel passage today, of the Lord healing the two men possessed by powerful evil spirits in the land of the Gerasenes, we are all reminded of the power of God that is able to overcome all these bonds and challenges that have made our life difficult and burdened, and the Lord alone has the power to free us and heal us from this bondage. He sent out those evil spirits from the men as a sign that He would also liberate all of us from the clutches of sin, and He would restore us to a life that is filled with blessings and grace.

This also means that we need to learn to trust in God, to believe in Him and to follow Him in His path, and we need to learn to seek Him for help when we truly are in need of help and assistance. Too often we mankind prefer to settle things on our own, and we cannot betray our own ego and pride, pretending that there is no problem when we are in fact struggling from various issues and challenges. We refuse to turn to God even in our most difficult moments, because we do not want to look weak in front of others.

But unless we seek the Lord and entrust ourselves to Him, we cannot truly gain true liberation and find the path going forward in life, as we can only find the salvation in God alone. We should learn to be faithful and to be trusting in God, in allowing Him to lead us down the right path and in touching our lives so that by our actions, our faith and dedication we may be inspiration for one another.

Let us all not be fearful or worry any longer, but let us all turn towards God with a new and reenergised heart, with a new conviction and strength to devote ourselves, our time and attention to follow Him, to obey His laws and to be exemplary as Christians, as God’s chosen people. May the Lord strengthen us and give us the courage to stand up to our faith, from now on and always. Amen.

Monday, 1 February 2021 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 5 : 1-20

At that time, Jesus and His disciples arrived at the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gerasenes. No sooner did Jesus leave the boat than He was met by a man with evil spirits, who had come from the tombs. He lived among the tombs, and no one could restrain him, even with a chain. He had often been bound with fetters and chains, but he would pull the chains apart and smash the fetters, and no one had the strength to control him.

Night and day he stayed among the tombs on the hillsides, and was continually screaming, and beating himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell at His feet, and cried with a loud voice, “What do You want with Me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? For God’s sake, I beg You, do not torment me!”

He said this, because Jesus had commanded, “Come out of the man, evil spirit!” And when Jesus asked the evil spirit, “What is your name?” It replied, “Legion is my name, for we are many.” And it kept begging Jesus, not to send them out of that region.

Now a great herd of pigs was feeding on the hillside, and the evil spirits begged him, “Send us to the pigs, and let us go into them.” So Jesus let them go. The evil spirits came out of the man and went into the pigs, and immediately the herd rushed down the cliff, and all were drowned in the lake. The herdsmen fled, and reported this in the town and the countryside, so all the people came to see what had happened.

They came to Jesus, and saw the man freed of the evil spirits sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the same man who had been possessed by the legion. They were afraid. And when those who had seen it, told what happened to the man and to the pigs, the people begged Jesus to leave their neighbourhood.

When Jesus was getting into the boat, the man, who had been possessed, begged to stay with Him. Jesus would not let him, and said, “Go home to your people, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you.”

So he went throughout the country of Decapolis, telling everyone how much Jesus had done for him; and all the people were astonished.

Monday, 1 February 2021 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 30 : 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

How great is the goodness which You have stored for those who fear You, which You show, for all to see, in those who take refuge in You!

In the shelter of Your presence You hide them from human wiles; You keep them in Your dwelling, safe from the intrigues of wagging tongues.

Blessed be the Lord for His wonderful love! He has strengthened my heart.

I said in my fright : “I have been cut off from Your sight!” Yet when I was crying, You heard; when I called for mercy, You listened.

Love the Lord, all you His saints! The Lord preserves His faithful, but He fully requites the arrogant.

Monday, 1 February 2021 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Hebrews 11 : 32-40

Do I need to say more? There is not enough time to speak of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, as well as Samuel and the prophets. Through faith they fought and conquered nations, established justice, saw the fulfilment of God’s promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the sword, were healed of their sicknesses; they were weak people who were given strength to be brave in battle and repulse foreign invaders.

Some women recovered their dead by resurrection but there were others – persecuted and tortured believers – who, for the sake of a better resurrection, refused to do what would have saved them. Others suffered chain and prison. They were stoned, sawn in two, killed by the sword. They fled from place to place with no other clothing than the skins of sheep and goats, lacking everything, afflicted, ill-treated.

These people of whom the world was not worthy had to wander through wastelands and mountains, and take refuge in the dens of the land. However, although all of them were praised because of their faith, they did not enjoy the promise because God had is in mind and saw beyond. And He did not want them to reach perfection except with us.