Saturday, 14 January 2023 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, all of us are reminded of the love that God has shown to each and every one of us, by which He has brought us ever closer to Him and His love, touching us all with His compassionate mercy, care and love, so that by His power and grace, He may strengthen us and heal us from our troubles and from our sickness and predicaments due to our sins. Sin has long dominated us and made us all to cower in fear, subjugated by its power and allure, and because of sin we have been sundered from God, from His grace and love, and cast away from His Holy Presence to wander off in this world in atonement for our sins.

But the Lord never forget about us, and He has always loved us still, despite our sins and disobedience against Him. He has always thought about us and wanted us all to be reconciled to Him, that we all may find our way back to Him. He has given us all His most wonderful and perfect gift, the perfect manifestation of His own love and compassion towards us, in the Word of God made flesh, Incarnate and tangible before us. And all these happened through Jesus Christ, the Divine Word Incarnate and Son of God, through Whom the salvation that God has long promised us all His people, has come to fruition at last. The Lord Jesus came forth bearing the fulfilment of God’s promise and the proof of God’s ever enduring love into our very midst.

As the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews in our first reading today highlighted to us, the coming to the Son of God, the Divine Word in the flesh, was intended for our salvation, in Him redeeming us and leading us out of the darkness and into the eternal glory and true joy promised to all of us who are faithful to Him, and who have embraced and accepted Him as our Lord and Saviour. In Jesus Christ lies the only Hope and the only Light path out of the darkness of our sinful and wicked existence, and by His love and grace, His kindness and mercy, all of us have witnessed and experienced God’s love made manifest, and through Him, healing and rejuvenation had come into our midst. All of us have been made sharers of His grace, kindness and love, that by all those, we may be saved.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the story of the Lord Who went to call a tax collector named Levi, who immediately decided to leave everything behind, his work and career, his place and all of his properties to follow the Lord as one of His disciples. The Lord also went to Levi’s house to meet and have dinner with Levi’s fellow tax collectors, and this action was immediately met with quite a harsh disapproval and disgust by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who were there following the Lord and observing His actions. Those people contended that the tax collectors were sinners who were unworthy of the Lord and His love, and probably they also thought that those tax collectors were beyond any hope or redemption.

At the same time, many among the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law held rather elitist view of themselves and their community, as they were the intellectual elites who were most knowledgeable about the Law and the teachings of the prophets. Hence, to them, they were the ones who were most worthy of the Lord’s grace and salvation. They saw many others, especially tax collectors, prostitutes and those afflicted with diseases as those who were less worthy and even undeserving of God’s grace and salvation. As such, in their attitudes and works, they tend to keep people away from the Lord and shun all those for whom in fact salvation and grace of God were needed the most, that is those who have committed great sins before God and mankind alike.

Not only that, but they have also then forgotten that they themselves were also sinners in need of forgiveness and healing, and the more they indulged in their self-righteous attitudes, the further they actually went away from God and His salvation. As long as they kept themselves stubbornly in rejecting God and His truth, then they remained far from God and His salvation, while the tax collectors, the prostitutes and all those whom they looked down upon, were actually drawing much nearer to God and His salvation, through their desire to repent and turn away from their sins, and through their commitment to love the Lord once again with all of their hearts and minds, instead of focusing so much on their pride and ego like those Pharisees and the teachers of the Law.

Levi for example would go on to become a great Apostle of the Lord, and also one of the Four Evangelists as St. Matthew. He would go on to do great things and deeds, and would be instrumental in helping to establish the foundations and the structures of the Church in many places, calling upon many more people to return to the Lord in the manner that he himself had been called. His examples showed us all that no sinner is too great beyond God’s redemption and forgiveness, and our Church is truly a hospital for sinners, where sinners like us are transformed by God’s grace into His great and faithful followers, from being the followers of darkness into the children of the Light. God’s grace and love has been generously shown to us through His Son, and everything that He has done for our salvation.

Now, the question for us is, are we willing and able to follow the examples of St. Matthew, who as Levi the tax collector, chose to follow the Lord and turn his back against sin? Are we willing and able to follow the footsteps of St. Matthew and many other of our holy predecessors in embracing God and all the love that He has shown us through His Son, Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ? Or do we rather live like many of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who often refused to see the truth or to believe because they trusted more in their own flawed judgment and intellect, as well as refusing to listen to the wisdom of God due to their pride? Are we going to follow their examples, brothers and sisters? The choice is ours to make, for us to make the right decision in continuing this journey we have in life.

Let us all therefore turn towards the Lord once again, embracing the light of His hope and His love, and do our best to open ourselves and welcome Him as He comes into our midst, healing us and strengthening us with His blessings and love. And let us also sin no more, and commit ourselves to a new life and existence in God that is truly worthy of our identity as Christians, that is as God’s own beloved people and children. May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us, so that in everything we say and do, we will always be ever faithful to Him, and that we will always strive to glorify Him in each and every moments by our lives, always. Amen.

Saturday, 14 January 2023 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Mark 2 : 13-17

At that time, when Jesus went out again beside the lake, a crowd came to Him, and He taught them. As He walked along, He saw a tax collector sitting in his office. This was Levi, the son of Alpheus. Jesus said to him, “Follow Me!” And Levi got up and followed Him.

And it so happened that when Jesus was eating in Levi’s house, tax collectors and sinners sat with Him and His disciples; there were a lot of them, and they used to follow Jesus. But Pharisees, men educated in the Law, when they saw Jesus eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to His disciples, “Why does your Master eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

Jesus heard them, and answered, “Healthy people do not need a doctor, but sick people do. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Saturday, 14 January 2023 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Psalm 18 : 8, 9, 10, 15

The Law of the Lord is perfect : it gives life to the soul. The word of the Lord is trustworthy : it gives wisdom to the simple.

The precepts of the Lord are right : they give joy to the heart. The commandments of the Lord are clear : they enlighten the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is pure, it endures forever; the judgements of the Lord are true, all of them just and right.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart find favour in Your sight, o Lord – my Redeemer, my Rock!

Saturday, 14 January 2023 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Hebrews 4 : 12-16

For the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword. It pierces to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and judges the intentions and thoughts of the heart. All creation is transparent to Him; everything is uncovered and laid bare to the eyes of Him to Whom we render account.

We have a great High Priest, Jesus, the Son of God, Who has entered heaven. Let us, then, hold fast to the faith we profess. Our High Priest is not indifferent to our weaknesses, for He was tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sinning. Let us, then, with confidence approach the throne of grace; we will obtain mercy and, through His favour, help in due time.

Friday, 13 January 2023 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hilary, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Sacred Scriptures, we are all reminded of the faith that we have in God, the faith that we have in His providence and might, in His truth and love, and then what each one of us should do in proclaiming that same truth and faith amongst all the people we encounter in our various respective communities. All of us have the need to believe in God and His truth, and to listen to Him and His words, and do not harden our hearts and minds against Him unlike what many of our predecessors had done in the past, which were highlighted by our Scripture passages today.

In our first reading today, as we heard from the Epistle of the Hebrews, the author of this Epistle who directed his writings to the Jewish Christian converts and also to the greater Jewish community, wanted to get them all to heed the Lord’s words and call to them to conversion, and to embrace the truth that God Himself had brought into this world, all through the person of Jesus Christ, the Lord and Saviour of all. The author was making references to the past transgressions, disobedience and stubbornness of the people of God in the past, who constantly rebelled against the Lord and refused to believe in Him and His prophets, even after repeated reminders and messages calling on them to turn away from their sins.

The author of the Epistle also likely referred to the attitudes of some among the Jewish community who had consistently and constantly resisted the Lord, His truth and His works, just as one of those examples being highlighted in our Gospel passage today. Essentially, many of the Jewish elders and influential members of the Sanhedrin or the Jewish High Council refused to believe in the Lord Jesus, and frowned or even outrightly opposed His actions and works, all because they saw Him as a Rival and even a threat to their own influence and power, and in their pride and ego, they continued to close their hearts up against God and His truth, even when His Wisdom and His miraculous deeds had been shown before their very own eyes in multiple occasions.

Such as what happened in our Gospel passage today, where we heard the account of the Lord Jesus healing a paralytic man brought unto His midst through the roof because the room where He was teaching in was so packed with people. The Lord willed to heal the paralysed man, and told Him that His sins had also been forgiven. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who happened to be present there in that occasion immediately took offence at the Lord’s proclamation, and said imperiously that only God could forgive sins, and that what the Lord had done was no less than a blasphemy against God. Yet, they failed to realise first of all that Christ Himself is the One Whom God had promised to be the Saviour of all mankind, and to Him would indeed be granted the authority over all things, even over that of sins.

Through Christ, Whose actions, works, miracles and wonders had shown the proof of His glorious coming, the truth about Himself and Who He really was, God wants to reveal to us the depth of His most amazing and wonderful love, which persists despite our most terrible and wicked rebellion against Him. Through Christ, God has willingly gathered all of us from the distant corners and edges of the world, leading us back to the grace of God and healing us all from our sickness that is sin, just as He had healed the paralytic man his condition. It is He alone Who can indeed rescue us from the tyranny of sin and death, lifting us up from the darkness that surrounded us and bringing us into His eternal light and grace. And yet, there are still many indeed who refused to believe in His love and kindness, despite having witnessed and heard about them.

Why is that so, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because of the excess of human pride, ego and greed, all of which had become great obstacles in our journey back towards God. The pride and ego of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, and many of the members of the Sanhedrin had become serious obstacles in the path of their drive towards salvation in God. Those people thought that they were better and superior to others all around them, and would not take the truth of the Lord as the reality that they needed to embrace. Instead, they continued to depend on the flawed and mistaken ideas they upheld, thinking that the messages and words that the Lord Jesus brought into their midst were false and even blasphemous in nature.

Today all of us are reminded not to follow this same path, and instead to follow the Lord wholeheartedly once again, not be swayed by the temptations of worldly power, fame, pride, glory and many other things that had often dragged so many of our predecessors into the path of sin and darkness. We are reminded that we have to be humble in accepting that our ways and thoughts can often be mistaken and flawed, and in God alone we can find the truth and Wisdom which will liberate us from the falsehoods of evil and sin. That is why we are called to reflect upon those passages of the Scriptures and whatever we have just reflected upon earlier so that we may not end up falling into the wrong path of disobedience, stubbornness and rebellion against God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us ought to look upon the good examples and inspirations set by St. Hilary, one of the great Church fathers, also known as St. Hilary of Poitiers, whose love and devotion to God, zeal and faith by which he had lived his life and ministry, can be great source of inspiration for all of us in how we live our own Christian living and faith. St. Hilary of Poitiers was the Bishop of Poitiers who was renowned for his great dedication to his flock and for his opposition to the heretics and all those who had perverted and misused the truth of God for their own selfish purposes. He was particularly energetic and passionate in opposing the then greatly influential Arian beliefs that distorted the truth about Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Saviour of all.

St. Hilary spent a lot of time and effort in reaching out to his flock and opposing those who sought to divide the Church and snatch the faithful from the hands of the Lord’s shepherds, having to endure persecutions and even exile for his courageous struggles for the truth, for the Lord and for the Lord’s beloved flock. He wrote extensively on many aspects of the faith, against the heretical teachings and ideas, which eventually made him proclaimed as one of the great Doctors of the Church for his immense contributions, long after he has passed on from this world. The faith and dedication which St. Hilary has shown us should serve as a good example for us to follow, so that each and every one of us may also follow him in his devotion and efforts in serving and glorifying God, in our own respective lives and actions.

May the Lord continue to guide us through our own journey in life, so that we may draw ever closer to Him, and such that we may ever always be more faithful to Him, and be ever more humble in accepting and receiving Him into our hearts and minds, and being stubborn and hardened in hearts no more. May all of us continue to walk down the path of righteousness and truth, and continue to persevere in faith regardless of the challenges and trials we may have to face for the Lord’s sake. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 13 January 2023 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hilary, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Mark 2 : 1-12

At that time, after some days, Jesus returned to Capernaum. As the news spread that He was in the house, so many people gathered, that there was no longer room even outside the door. While Jesus was preaching the Word to them, some people brought a paralysed man to Him.

The four men who carried him could not get near Jesus because of the crowd, so they opened the roof above the room where Jesus was and, through the hole, lowered the man on his mat. When Jesus saw the faith of these people, He said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.”

Now some teachers of the Law, who were sitting there, wondered within themselves, “How can He speak like this, insulting God? Who can forgive sins except God?”

At once Jesus knew in His Spirit what they were thinking, and asked, “Why do you wonder? Is it easier to say to this paralysed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Rise, take up your mat and walk?’ But now you shall know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.”

And He said to the paralytic, “Stand up, take up your mat and go home.” The man rose and, in the sight of all those people, he took up his mat and went out. All of them were astonished and praised God, saying, “Never have we seen anything like this!”

Friday, 13 January 2023 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hilary, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Psalm 77 : 3 and 4bc, 6c-7, 8

Mysteries which we have heard and known, which our ancestors have told us. We will announce them to the coming generation : the glorious deeds of the Lord, His might and the wonders He has done.

They would teach their own children. They would then put their trust in God, and not forget His deeds and His commands.

And not be like their ancestors, stubborn and rebellious people, a people of inconstant heart whose spirit was fickle.

Friday, 13 January 2023 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hilary, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Hebrews 4 : 1-5, 11

Therefore let us fear while we are invited to enter the rest of God, lest any of you be left behind. We received the Gospel exactly as they did, but hearing the message did them no good, because they did not share the faith of those who did listen. We are now to enter this rest because we believed, as it was said : I was angry and made a solemn vow : they will never enter My rest – that is the rest of God after He created the world.

In another part it was said about the seventh day : And God rested on the seventh day from all His works. But now it is said : They will not enter My rest. Let us strive, then, to enter the rest and not to share the misfortune of those who disobeyed.

Thursday, 12 January 2023 : 1st 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 all reminded that we should obey the Lord and His commandments and Law, and not harden our hearts and minds against Him as many of us and our ancestors and predecessors had done. Many of us and our predecessors had been stubborn in living our lives the way we wanted it, even against the Law and commandments of God, living in the state of sin. And this is where we are reminded and called again to turn towards the Lord full of faith and love for Him, and obedience to His words and will so that each and every one of us may always be firmly attached to His path, and will always grow ever closer to Him as we continue to proceed through life.

In our first reading today, we heard of the words from the Epistle to the Hebrews, in which the author of the Epistle spoke of the actions of the people in the past who were stubborn in their refusal to listen to God, and in challenging and disobeying Him, referring especially to the actions of the Israelites during their journey from the slavery in Egypt at the time of the Exodus. The rebellion and the wickedness that the people had committed against God brought His anger against them, and as a result of those stubborn actions, the people of Israel had to wander off in the desert for a whole period of forty years, as the just and righteous consequence of their many sins and their refusal to listen and obey the Lord despite many reminders and help from the Lord, and despite everything that God had done in delivering them out of their predicament and enslavement in Egypt.

Through all of that, the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews who wrote his Epistle directed to the Jewish people, the descendants of the Israelites and the people to which the Lord Jesus and many of His early disciples belonged to, wanted them all to take heed of the actions of their ancestors and predecessors who have constantly refused to believe in God. And this can be compared to the then contemporary actions of the Pharisees, the teachers of the Law, the elders and those who belonged to the group of the Sadducees, many of the chief priests and members of the Sanhedrin, or the Jewish High Council, many of whom were opposed to the Lord and His teachings and works. The hard-hearted and stubborn attitudes of those people could indeed be compared to the stubbornness of the Israelites of the time of the Exodus.

Hence, that is why all of us are also reminded by the same author of the Epistle to the Hebrews that we must not harden our hearts and minds against the Lord, and not to indulge ourselves in the path of sin and rebellion against Him. All of us should learn to listen to the Lord and not to do things the way we wanted it, just as our Gospel passage today also highlighted to us. In that passage, we heard of the Lord healing a leper who came to Him begging Him to heal him from his leprosy, from his shame and predicament. The Lord healed the leper and made him healthy again, while telling him that he should not speak of anything regarding his healing and all that happened to anyone, but just showing himself to the priests in accordance to the Law of God.

The man did not listen to the Lord and spoke to everyone regarding what had happened to him, and this caused a very great problem for the Lord, Who then had to hide away and stay out of the towns. And why is that the case, brothers and sisters? That is because likely the Lord healed the leper by touching him, and this was something that the Law of God forbade, as lepers were considered as unclean and should not be approached, less still touched and contacted. The Lord has willingly reached out to the man and acceded to his requests to be healed and made whole again, and had his stain of leprosy removed from him. Yet, the man could not do what the Lord had asked of him, and chose to do what he wanted to do instead of what the Lord had asked and told him to do, with a negative consequence as we have heard.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all hence reflect on these words of the Scriptures and all that we have heard and discussed. Let us all reflect upon our own lives and actions, and think of how each and every one of us can be better disciples and followers of the Lord. Unfortunately, many of us have often chosen to obey the words of the devil, the tempting words and lies of the devil instead of listening to the truth, the will and the Law of God, and we often succumb to the temptations of our flesh, of the world, and chose to turn away from the Lord, shutting ourselves from His words and reminders just as those people in the past had done. We all have heard and were reminded of the consequences of their disobedience, and such consequences will be ours as well if we continue down this path of disobedience.

Hence, let us all change our way of life, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we continue carrying on living our lives each day. Let us all return wholeheartedly to the path that the Lord has shown us, and strive to love Him to the best of our abilities. Let us all do whatever we can to glorify the Lord through our every actions and deeds, in our every words and interactions. Let us all turn once again towards God with love and obedience, as well as with the desire to follow Him and to obey His Law and commandments once again. Each and every one of us as Christians are called and expected to do whatever we can to proclaim the Lord and His truth, His love and will in our world today, and the best way to do so is by living our lives in the most Christian and obedient ways, as much as possible.

May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us, and may He empower each and every one of us to live ever more worthily each day, following His Law and commandments. May He strengthen and encourage us in our faith, and help us to grow ever stronger in our love and devotion for Him, and may God bless all of us in our every efforts and endeavours, in our every good works and deeds, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 12 January 2023 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 1 : 40-45

At that time, a leper came to Jesus and begged Him, “If You want to, You can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I do want to; be clean.”

The leprosy left the man at once and he was made clean. As Jesus sent the man away, He sternly warned him, “Do not tell anyone about this, but go and show yourself to the priest, and for the cleansing bring the offering ordered by Moses; in this way you will give to them your testimony.”

However, as soon as the man went out, he began spreading the news everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter any town. But even though He stayed in the rural areas, people came to Him from everywhere.