Saturday, 30 May 2015 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we have heard today of the doubt of the Pharisees, and how they doubted the works and the authority of Jesus, when He taught in the Temple, by challenging Him to provide the origins of His teaching authority, which came to clash with the authority with which the Pharisees themselves had taught.

The Pharisees were jealous with the popularity of Jesus, who from time to time again proved to be able to draw big masses of people who clamoured and wished to hear the truth which Christ had brought into the world. The Pharisees taught as with they were judging the people, by asserting how they were right and that the people whom they taught were wrong. Well, Jesus did the same too, but when He taught them, His teaching was such that it was done with true and clear authority.

It is indeed like what we heard from the first reading from the Book of the prophet Sirach or Ecclesiastes, on the nature of revelation of God’s truth in us. It is like a people who had longed for something good and then saw what they want. Truly, once they saw it, they would do all in what they are able to in order to find it and get hold of it. And thus, the same too happened with the people who longed for the truth, and having been oppressed for a long time under the lies of the world.

The moment they see the truth which Christ brought, it was like a great Light which pierced the darkness of the world, and which pierced the darkness that had once veiled our eyes. What Christ had taught, is done with true authority and rings true in our hearts, because deep within all of us, we have that desire to love the Lord and to follow what is right.

The Pharisees refused to listen and believe, because they have that one weakness which all of us also have and share among us, that is our pride. The human pride is one of the greatest obstacles that prevented us from being truly faithful and devoted to the Lord. It prevented us from being able to introspect into ourselves to look at our shortcomings and weaknesses, which we truly ought to seek the Lord who could have helped us to redress the issue.

Therefore, one of the first thing that we must do is, to throw far, far away our pride and to learn humility, that is the readiness and willingness to listen to others, and not least of all, but in fact the most important is, for us to be able to listen to the Lord, our loving God. We are often too distracted with the variety of things, temptations and other things in the world, and all these noise prevented us from truly hearing the word of God, which He spoke softly inside our hearts.

We often miss this because we are unable to perceive the subtlety of the Lord speaking to us because we are so occupied with the things of this world. We are too busy with ourselves to even pay attention to Him and to spare some thoughts to Him. That is why we have the tendency to always think that firstly, we are always right. We always blame others first in all things.

Can we learn to dispose our ego and cast away our pride? If we are unable to do so, then I fear that the word of truth, that is the word of God will be drowned in the ocean of ego and human desires. If we want to move forward in the path towards salvation and eternal life, then the only way is by growing deeper in our spirituality, and most importantly, by nurturing our prayer life. If we are able to pray regularly and frequently with genuine intention, then we will be able to communicate more efficiently with our Lord and know what is His truth.

Let us learn to take a break from all the distractions and noise in the world, and learn to quieten ourselves down, so that we may find the voice of God in us, and speak with Him in the silence of our hearts. Let us devote ourselves ever more to the Lord our God. God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 30 May 2015 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 11 : 27-33

At that time, Jesus and His disciples were once again in Jerusalem. As Jesus was walking in the Temple, the chief priests, the teachers of the Law and the elders came to Him and asked, “What authority do You have to act like this? Who gave You authority to do the things You do?”

Jesus said to them, “I will ask you a question, only one, and if you give me an answer, then I will tell you what authority I have to act like this. Was John’s preaching and baptism a work of God, or was it merely something human? Answer Me.”

And they kept arguing among themselves, “If we answer that it was a work of God, He will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?'” But neither could they answer before the people that the baptism of John was merely something human, for everyone regarded John as a prophet.

So they answered Jesus, “We do not know,” and Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you what authority I have to act as I do.”

Saturday, 30 May 2015 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 18 : 8, 9, 10, 11

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 judgments of the Lord are true, all of them just and right.

They are more precious than gold – pure gold of a jeweller; they are much sweeter than honey which drops from the honeycomb.

Saturday, 30 May 2015 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Sirach (Ecclesiastes) 51 : 12a-20

That is why I will give You thanks and praise and bless the Name of the Lord. In my youth, before I set out on my travels, I openly sought wisdom in prayer; before the Temple I asked for her and I will pursue her to the end of my days.

While she blossomed like a ripening cluster, my heart was delighted in her; my feet followed the right path, because from my youth I searched for her. As soon as I began listening to her, she was given to me, and with her, much instruction. With her help I made progress and I will glorify Him who gives me wisdom, for I decided to put it into practice and ardently seek what is good. I shall not regret it.

My soul has struggled to possess her. I have been attentive to observe the Law, and after my faults I have stretched out my hands to heaven and lamented my ignorance of her. My love of her increased and I found her in repentance. It was through her from the beginning that I learnt to possess my heart. She will not forsake me.

Friday, 29 May 2015 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard about the glory of the saints, and all of the faithful servants and followers of God, whose lives had been righteous before God and exemplary before men. This is a reminder for all of us that we too can be like them, and we also can walk in their footsteps, doing the things that they have done, that is to love and serve the Lord with all of their heart and strength, and to do the same to their fellow men. In doing so, God will also find us to be just and righteous, and we will have the same share of grace and glory as all the saints in heaven.

And in the Gospel today we heard about how Jesus cleared the Temple and its ground from the filth and corruption of worldliness, by casting out all the money changers, merchants of animal sacrifices, and other forms of vices that had corrupted and tainted the Temple and its premises. The house of prayer and the dwelling of God on earth has become a marketplace, a place of worldliness and sin. That was why Jesus was so angry and His wrath was so great that He cast them out in anger.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this story may be very well known to us, and we knew what Jesus did that day in the Temple. After all this has been replicated many times in the documentaries and films about the life of Jesus. But do we understand its true significance? It is not just about the Temple of God in Jerusalem, but indeed it is about all of us who have been chosen and taken out of the world to be the disciples and children of God.

All of us who have accepted our Lord as our God and Saviour have been marked with the seal of baptism, the seal of confirmation and the seal of the Most Holy Eucharist, and this means that the Lord Himself, by the Eucharist which we have received, have entered into our bodies and hallowed it, made it holy to be the Temple of His Presence. The Holy Spirit has dwelled in us also by the Spirit given to us by the Sacrament of Confirmation, and the life which we have itself, is the proof of the presence of God our Father, our Creator who gave us life.

In all this, it is beyond deniable fact that the Lord dwells in us and we are His holy Temple. If we defile this Holy Temple, that is our body, our soul and our very being, then we know that just as we knew the story of Jesus clearing the Temple from all the filth of corruption, the same anger and wrath that God had shown then will be directed to us as well.

But we do not have to be fearful or afraid, and that is because what matters is for us to change our ways and find a way to repent and turn our hearts back to face the Lord, for He is merciful and willing to forgive us, but only if we ourselves are willing to make a difference in our own lives. Remember, brethren, the fact is that we all ought to be ashamed and indeed angry, when we look at ourselves.

Why is this so? That is because if we are truly concerned about ourselves, then we ought to see the kind of mess and the abundance of filth and corruption that had marred the Temple of God, that is our body, our heart, our mind, our soul and our very being. Are we not ashamed to have such a dirty and wicked dwelling for our Lord? But instead of being ashamed forever, we must indeed jolt ourselves awake and ask ourselves, what we can do from now on.

Let us all be thoroughly reformed. If we have sinned constantly until now and refused to follow the way of the Lord, then let us stop all things that we do and reevaluate our lives and priorities. Remember that the grace and forgiveness of God will be ours only if we make the conscious effort to seek it by humbly asking for His forgiveness and mercy. Let us all seek God’s grace by doing what is right and just before His eyes, beginning from ourselves and then by doing good and loving one another just as He had taught us.

Just as Christ had purged the Temple from all the merchants and the wicked things that dwelled there, let us all also purge our own Temple, our own body, heart, mind and soul from the wickedness that had marred the purity of our very own Temple, where the Lord Himself dwells. God be with us all. Amen.

Friday, 29 May 2015 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 11 : 11-25

At that time, Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the Temple. And after He had looked all around, as it was already late, He went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

The next day, when they were leaving Bethany, He felt hungry. In the distance He noticed a fig tree covered with leaves, so He went to see if He could find anything on it. When He reached it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. Then Jesus said to the fig tree, “May no one ever eat your fruit!” And His disciples heard these words.

When they reached Jerusalem, Jesus went to the Temple, and began to drive away all the people He saw buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the stools of those who sold pigeons. And He would not let anyone carry anything through the Temple area.

Jesus then taught the people, “Does God not say in the Scriptures : My house will be called a House of Prayer for all the nations? But you have turned it into a den of thieves.”

The chief priests and the teachers of the Law heard of this, and they tried to find a way to destroy Him. They were afraid of Him, because all the people were astonished by His teaching.

When evening came, Jesus left the city. Early next morning, as they walked along the road, the disciples saw the fig tree withered to its roots. Peter then said to Him, “Master, look! The fig tree You cursed has withered.”

And Jesus replied, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and have no doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will happen, it will be done for you. Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it shall be done for you. And when you stand to pray, if you have anything against anyone, forgive.”

Friday, 29 May 2015 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 149 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6a and 9b

Alleluia! Sing to the Lord a new song, sing His praise in the assembly of His saints. Let Israel rejoice in his Maker, let the people of Zion glory in their King!

Let them dance in praise of His Name and make music for Him with harp and timbrel. For the Lord delights in His people; He crowns the lowly with victory.

The saints will exult in triumph; even at night on their couches. Let the praise of God be on their lips, this is the glory of all His saints. Alleluia!

Friday, 29 May 2015 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Sirach (Ecclesiastes) 44 : 1, 9-13

Let us now glorify illustrious men, the ancestors of our people. Others are not remembered and have disappeared as if they never existed. It is the same for their children. But now consider the godly men whose good deeds have not been forgotten.

Those who came after them benefitted from the rich legacy they left; their race remained faithful to the Covenant, their children followed their example. Their family will endure forever and never will its glory be tarnished.

Thursday, 28 May 2015 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard the very beautiful and encouraging words from the Holy Scripture, beginning with the dissertation from the book of the prophet Sirach, who spoke about the nature of God and all of His wonders. He spoke of how God has created all things good and perfect, for us all to enjoy together, but it was because of our disobedience and sins that the perfection became marred and destroyed.

The light that once filled up this world has been veiled by darkness, that is the darkness of our sins. Our wickedness has served to be hindrance and obstacle for us to know how good and how great is the blessings and love which God has shown all of us. Therefore, we truly are blind, blind to the love of God, just as the blind man in the Gospel today cried out to Jesus, asking for His help to heal him from his blindness.

And that Gospel passage on the healing of the blind man by Jesus, is a reminder to all of us to reflect on our own actions in life. What are we now doing with regards to our lives filled with sin? What have we done so far in order to overcome the evils that had consumed us and what have we done to bring ourselves to the light? Do we act like the blind man who recognised who Jesus was and begged Him for mercy, to be healed from his blindness? Or are we content to stay on in our ignorance and blindness in the darkness of the world?

The blind man cried out to Jesus asking for Him to heal him, and he recognised Jesus as the Son of David, the One with power and authority to make him whole again. And he did not give up, even when the people tried to shut him up and scorned him. He refused to give up and continued to ask the Lord for His mercy, and eventually, by the faith which he has, he was healed and made whole.

Have we been like the blind man who was so persistent in asking for God’s mercy and forgiveness? Or are we equally stubborn in refusing to accept the fact that we are afflicted and in trouble and therefore need a profound change in our attitudes and actions so that we will not fall into damnation and eternal suffering? The fact is that God always attunes His ears to listen to our cries and pleas for mercy, and He tirelessly continues to remind us to repent and change our ways.

Let us all be inspired by the blind man and his total faith in the Lord, so that we too may also follow suit and do the same, proclaiming our faith and devotion to He who can heal us from our afflictions that is sin, the darkness that had clouded our minds and beings, to the point that we are unable to see beyond the darkness. If we know that we are in danger, then all the more we should put in the effort to change our lives for the better and seek the salvation which only our Lord can give.

Remember, brethren, that the Book of Sirach had also reminded us of the love of God, which He would shower on all those who cling faithfully to Him. He is ever faithful to all those who are also faithful to Him, and all that have done His will shall not be disappointed. The love of God endures, even though our sins have become like a mountain. What matters is that we respond to that love and mercy which our Lord had shown.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us be drawn ever closer to the throne of our Lord’s mercy and open wide the floodgates for the love of God to enter into our hearts. This is the time for change, the time for mercy, for us to seek the forgiveness of God for our sins and sin no more, so that we may be truly free from the blindness that have afflicted us, and welcome the Light into our lives. May Almighty God have mercy on us and forgive us our sins, and may He lead us on this new life filled with grace and blessings. Amen.

Thursday, 28 May 2015 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 10 : 46-52

At that time, Jesus and His disciples came to Jericho. As Jesus was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar, Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth passing by, he began to call out, “Son of David, Jesus, have mercy on me!”

Many people scolded him and told him to keep quiet, but he shouted all the louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called the blind man, saying, “Take heart! Get up, He is calling you!” He immediately threw aside his cloak, jumped up and went to Jesus.

Then Jesus asked him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” The blind man said, “Master, let me see again!” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way, your faith has made you well.” And immediately he could see, and he followed Jesus along the road.