Saturday, 30 January 2021 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us are reminded today that faith is truly important for each and every one of us, and all of us need to have faith in God and trust in Him no matter what. We need to entrust ourselves to Him and do not fear what may come our way, no matter how difficult things may be. Yes, it is natural for us to be fearful and to be afraid, to think about what may happen to us and all other things, but in the end, we must hold on firmly to the belief that God will triumph with us in the end.

In our Scripture readings today we are presented with the story of faith as how it had happened throughout the history of salvation. We heard from the first reading today the story of Abraham and Sarah, who had been expecting a child from God, promised even in their old ages. Earlier on, Abraham had followed the Lord and responded to His call when he left behind his ancestral home and went to the land pointed out by the Lord to be his own land and the land to be possessed by his descendants.

God made a Covenant with Abraham, and promised him that he would be the father of many nations. Initially, Abraham also did doubt for a little as he took a slave named Hagar and had a son with her, named Ishmael. But God again reassured Abraham as well as his wife Sarah, that it was their son who would become the father of many nations just as God had promised. Initially Sarah herself was also skeptical, laughing when the Lord disguised as visitors came to Abraham to tell him of the news.

But eventually the Lord fulfilled all that He has promised and Isaac was born, the promised child that came to be as promised. And when God tested Abraham by asking him to bring his son Isaac to Mount Moria and offer him as a sacrifice, Abraham, as saddened and sorrowful as he might have been, obeyed the Lord and entrusted himself to Him, bringing his son and doing everything just as the Lord had said. The Lord interfered after having seen the faith of Abraham, and reassured Abraham once again that for his enduring faith, he would be blessed above all.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, from that reading therefore we have heard of the great faith of our forefathers, all those who put their complete faith in the Lord. And in our Gospel passage today we heard the account about the disciples and the Lord who were in the middle of the lake and whose boat was beset by a great storm with strong winds and waves. The disciples, many of whom were fishermen themselves, knew the danger and were very afraid of what would happen to them.

They feared that the great storm would destroy and sink their boat, and then all of them would perish. That was why they panicked and begged the Lord frantically to do something for them. They were all frightened and certainly feared death, and they had little faith in the Lord. The Lord, Who was then sleeping, woke up and calmed the storm, the waves and the wind, which immediately ceased and everything became still.

The Lord rebuked and chided His disciples for their lack of faith and trust in Him, in giving in to their fears and uncertainties. Again, although it is natural for us to feel afraid and to be uncertain, but this tells us that we must never allow ourselves to be controlled by those fears. We must not allow those fears from controlling us and our choice of actions.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today therefore we are all called to reflect on what it means for us to have faith in God. Is our faith in the Lord so shallow that we have not entrusted ourselves completely to His care? Have we even begun to trust the Lord more rather than worrying and trusting more in our own power? These are the questions that we should ask ourselves as we reflect on our paths going forward in life.

May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us that we may live ever more faithfully with each and every passing moments. May we draw ever more to Him and be inspired by the examples of our holy predecessors in faith, now and always. Amen.

Saturday, 30 January 2021 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

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

Mark 4 : 35-41

At that time, on that same day, when evening had come, Jesus said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.”

So they left the crowd, and took Him away in the boat He had been sitting in, and other boats set out with Him. Then a storm gathered and it began to blow a gale. The waves spilled over into the boat, so that it was soon filled with water. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion.

They woke Him up, and said, “Master, do You not care if we drown?” And rising up, Jesus rebuked the wind, and ordered the sea, “Quiet now! Be still!” The wind dropped, and there was a great calm. Then Jesus said to them, “Why are you so frightened? Do you still have no faith?”

But they were terrified, and they said to one another, “Who can this be? Even the wind and the sea obey Him!”

Saturday, 30 January 2021 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

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

Luke 1 : 69-70, 71-72, 73-75

In the house of David His servant, He has raised up for us a victorious Saviour; as He promised through His prophets of old.

Salvation from our enemies and from the hand of our foes. He has shown mercy to our fathers; and remembered His holy covenant.

The oath He swore to Abraham, our father, to deliver us from the enemy, that we might serve Him fearlessly, as a holy and righteous people, all the days of our lives.

Saturday, 30 January 2021 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

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

Hebrews 11 : 1-2, 8-19

Faith is the assurance of what we hope for, being certain of what we cannot see. Because of their faith our ancestors were approved. It was by faith that Abraham, called by God, set out for a country that would be given to him as an inheritance; for he parted without knowing where he was going.

By faith he lived as a stranger in that promised land. There he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, beneficiaries of the same promise. Indeed, he looked forward to that city of solid foundation of which God is the Architect and Builder.

By faith Sarah herself received power to become a mother, in spite of her advanced age; since she believed that He Who had made the promise would be faithful. Therefore, from an almost impotent man were born descendants as numerous as the stars of heavens, as many as the grains of sand on the seashore.

Death found all these people strong in their faith. They had not received what was promised, but they had looked ahead and had rejoiced in it from afar, saying that they were foreigners and travellers on earth. Those who speak in this way prove that they are looking for their own country. For if they had longed for the land they had left, it would have been easy for them to return, but no, they aspired to a better city, that is, a supernatural one; so God, Who prepared the city for them is not ashamed of being called their God.

By faith Abraham went to offer Isaac when God tested him. And so he who had received the promise of God offered his only son although God had told him : Isaac’s descendants will bear your name. Abraham reasoned that God is capable even of raising the dead, and he received back his son, which has a figurative meaning.

Friday, 29 January 2021 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this day as we listened to the word of God in the Scriptures all of us are reminded of what we all need to do as Christians in being faithful and in remaining true to this faith we have in God. All of us need to build the kingdom of God on Earth, through our actions and active participation in the good works of the Church. The Lord had called us to this purpose, and we should commit ourselves to it.

Our first reading today, taken from the Epistle to the Hebrews remind us what being a Christian is, in showing love and mercy to others, in showing care and compassion on those who need them, in displaying solidarity and genuine affection for those who have been dispossessed and those who are suffering, because ultimately, the Lord Himself had shown us all of these, by His loving mercy and compassion through Christ.

And He has not left us all alone, as He continued to watch over us and guided us all these while, through inspiring of countless peoples, all those called to follow in His ways and to walk in His path of love. The Lord has always been with us through every steps of the journey, and we may not realise it but through our interactions with one another, the love which is present among us in our community, God is always present there.

This is then what the Lord had meant by the kingdom of God in the parables that He has used to explain it today, in the Gospel passage we heard. It is like a growing seed that flourishes and multiplies, bearing much rich harvest, just as we have heard recently from the parable of the sower, and also like a mustard seed growing into a large tree on which birds of the air can take shelter in.

Each and every one of us are members of this Church, into which God has entrusted us many things. But, unless we make the effort to grow the Church and be active in our contributions, a seed will remain just as a seed and nothing more. On the contrary, if the seed successfully germinates and grow, well taken care of and given the right conditions for its growth, then it will grow immensely and become a great and all encompassing tree.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, the kingdom of God is already here upon us, in the Church, in our Christian community in the world today. The Lord is the King, enthroned in our hearts and as the Head of the living and visible Church. Through us and our actions, we make concrete and real the kingdom of God in this world. All of us have to take part in the good works of God and contribute actively by our actions.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today let us all ask ourselves, what can we do in our lives to be a part of this growing kingdom of God in our midst? There are lots of things and opportunities that we can do, in order to be a contributing and faithful Christian in our communities. We do not have to do great and wonderful things, as even small and seemingly insignificant contributions will eventually be a very great one when combined together.

That is why, let us all work together as one Christian family, as fellow brothers and sisters, all disciples of the Lord, in doing whatever we can to bring about God’s truth and love into this world by our own exemplary life and actions. Let us all glorify the Lord by our actions, our commitment and dedication. May the Lord bless us all and be with us in our journey, at every steps of the way. May God’s love shine through us and be the foundation of a great kingdom of God in this world. Amen.

Friday, 29 January 2021 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 4 : 26-34

At that time, Jesus also said, “In the kingdom of God it is like this : a man scatters seed upon the soil. Whether he is asleep or awake, be it day or night, the seed sprouts and grows, he knows not how. The soil produces of itself : first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when it is ripe for harvesting, they take the sickle for the cutting : the time for the harvest has come.”

Jesus also said, “What is the kingdom of God like? To what shall we compare it? It is like a mustard seed which, when sown, is the smallest of all the seeds scattered upon the soil. But once sown, it grows up and becomes the largest of the plants in the garden, and even grows branches so big, that the birds of the air can take shelter in its shade.”

Jesus used many such stories, in order to proclaim the word to them in a way that they would be able to understand. He would not teach them without parables; but privately to His disciples He explained everything.

Friday, 29 January 2021 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 36 : 3-4, 5-6, 23-24, 39-40

Trust in the Lord and do good, dwell in the land and live on it. Make the Lord your delight, and He will grant your heart’s desire.

Commit your way to the Lord; put your trust in Him and let Him act. Then will Your revenge come, beautiful as the dawn, and the justification of your cause, bright as the noonday sun.

The Lord is the One Who makes people stand, He gives firmness to those He likes. They may stumble, but they will not fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.

The Lord is the Salvation of the righteous; in time of distress, He is their refuge. The Lord helps them, and rescues them from the oppressor; He saves them for they sought shelter in Him.

Friday, 29 January 2021 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Hebrews 10 : 32-39

Remember the first days when you were enlightened. You had to undergo a hard struggle in the face of suffering. Publicly you were exposed to humiliations and trials, and had to share the sufferings of others who were similarly treated.

You showed solidarity with those in prison; you were dispossessed of your goods and accepted it gladly for you knew you were acquiring a much better and more durable possession. Do not now throw away your confidence that will be handsomely rewarded.

Be patient in doing the will of God, and the promise will be yours : A little, a little longer – says Scripture – and He Who is coming will come; He will not delay. My righteous one will live if he believes: but if he distrusts, I will no longer look kindly on him. We are not among those who withdraw and perish, but among those who believe and win personal salvation.

Thursday, 28 January 2021 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scripture we are brought to attention of the fact that all of us as Christians have received the calling to proclaim the Word of God, the truth of God and be faithful witnesses of our Christian faith in the midst of our respective communities and societies. Unless we do this, we cannot truly call ourselves as Christians, and our faith is merely one that is a formality and not genuine.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord speaking to His disciples using a parable, of that of the light placed on a lampstand. By using that parable, the Lord wanted all of us to know that we must never be passive or be ignorant of our calling to be the bearers of God’s light and truth in the midst of our communities. The light that He referred to in the parable represent the truth that He Himself had brought into this world and which we had received, through His Church.

It also represents all the gifts, talents, abilities and opportunities we have received and been blessed with by God. Thus, whatever it is that we have received from God, we should not take for granted and we should make good use of them, in whatever opportunity we have, to be good disciples and followers of Christ. And what does this mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that we should be His genuine witnesses, to bear His love in the midst of our communities, among the members of our own families and relatives and in our circle of friends and to those whom we encounter daily in life.

As our first reading from the Epistle to the Hebrews highlighted to us, we proclaim our faith in Jesus Christ, the One true and Eternal High Priest Who had come into this world, accepting His mission to be the One to offer the perfect and worthy sacrifice for the sake of our salvation. And this sacrifice was none other than His own Most Precious Body and Blood, to be both the High Priest offering for our sake and the Paschal Lamb of sacrifice. By the outpouring of His Blood, His suffering and death on the Cross, Christ has brought us a new hope of eternal life through Him.

This ultimate and most selfless love of Our Lord is what we are proclaiming, brothers and sisters in Christ. All of us should therefore first of all, love the Lord with all of our might and heart, and then, do our best to show the same love towards our fellow men, to our brothers and sisters. It is then by our actions and deeds, together with our words and love that we may inspire many others to believe in God as well, and they may also follow in our footsteps and receive God’s grace as well.

For ourselves, we can also be inspired by the faith and examples showed by St. Thomas Aquinas whose feast we are celebrating this very day. St. Thomas Aquinas was the famous theologian, known as among the best if not the best of those who seek to understand more of the nature of God in theology. He was renowned for his pivotal work, the Summa Theologiae. He was also remembered for his many other contributions, writings and works which still influenced and inspired so many people long after his passing.

St. Thomas Aquinas was however also remembered for his great love for the Lord, in his tireless desire to glorify God and to lead a holy and exemplary life. And for his dedication to love the Lord and his efforts, all of us should also be inspired and be strengthened in our faith. All of us have so much potential in us to be great in our commitment and works, in touching the lives of others positively and in being genuine witnesses of our Lord at all times.

Let us all proclaim the Lord and His truth most wholeheartedly each and every moments of our lives, through even our smallest and least significant of actions. Let us all be genuine in loving God and in dedicating ourselves to Him just as St. Thomas Aquinas had done, and as our many holy predecessors had done and lived through their lives. Let us all glorify the Lord by our lives and be true to our Christian faith, at all times. Amen.

Thursday, 28 January 2021 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 4 : 21-25

At that time, Jesus also said to His disciples, “When the light comes, is it put under a basket or a bed? Surely it is put on a lamp stand. Whatever is hidden will be disclosed, and whatever is kept secret will be brought to light. Listen then, if you have ears!”

And He also said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear. In the measure you give, so shall you receive, and still more will be given to you. For to the one who produces something, more will be given; and from him who does not produce anything, even what he has will be taken away from him.”