Saturday, 29 January 2022 : 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, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are called to reflect on what the Lord wanted us to remember from today’s readings that is for us to put our trust in Him, believing in Him and putting our faith in Him. We ought to entrust ourselves to Him and not to depend on our own power and might alone. If we do that certainly we will be better able to face the challenges of the world, together with God rather than facing them alone on our own.

In our first reading today, we heard of the words from the account of King David and prophet Nathan as recorded in the second Book of the prophet Samuel. King David and prophet Nathan was talking about what happened between him and Bathsheba, although initially David did not realise it. God knew what David had done in having a part in the death of Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, when David coveted Bathsheba and inadvertently having a child with her. He attempted to cover things up and that led to the demise of Uriah, as David was worried that his affair would be exposed otherwise.

But David resorted to settle things with his own decision and considerations, and did not trust in the Lord. He should have owned up his mistakes, as after all, he was a human just like all of us, and just as all of us, he could make errors and mistakes too. As we know, even great saints were once sinners themselves, just like us. David erred and did not initially own up to his mistakes, trying to cover up and hide all that he had done. As a result, that was why he fell deeper and deeper into sin.

The prophet Nathan directly told David of the Lord’s displeasure at his actions especially at his hypocrisy when David was told the story of a poor man who had his property and items seized and taken away by a richer man. That was exactly what David did, when he took Bathsheba away from Uriah and made her to be his own. Through that rebuke from the prophet Nathan, the Lord reminded David that what he has done was truly a great sin before God, and was unbecoming of him as the one chosen and made to be King of Israel.

What David did right after that then was how he immediately humbled himself before the Lord, and wrecked with guilt and the desire to repent from those sins he committed. He humbled himself before everyone and showed great remorse over his sins. God forgave David his mistakes and the faults that he had committed. But he still had to endure the consequences for his infidelity and immoral action, as the son born from David and Bathsheba had to die. Nonetheless, God forgave David and showed the immense and wonderful nature of His mercy.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard of how the Lord Jesus travelled with His disciples on boat in middle of a storm and calmed the storm and the waves that battered their boat. The disciples were very afraid and terrified, and they thought that they were going to die. But the Lord reassured them and told them that they had absolutely nothing to fear at all. They needed to trust Him and have faith in Him. He calmed the waves and the storm and the disciples were all astonished, witnessing all that just happened before their very own eyes.

That boat and the disciples inside them in fact represent us all Christians, all united in the Church of God. All of us are travelling through that stormy seas, representing the turbulent world that we are living in today. But God is with us, journeying with us and leads us to the right path. We have nothing to fear if only we can trust in Him wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, more often that not, we did not trust in Him enough, and we put our trust more in our own power, abilities, strength and manner of dealing with things.

That is when we allow all the temptations, fears and coercions all around us to affect us, that we will end up abandoning the Church and the Lord, like a person jumping off the ship in the middle of the storm. Those people who do so will likely perish. That is thus what happened to King David as mentioned earlier too. His action in trying to justify himself and to cover up his sins led to even more mistakes and faults further on, until he humbled and stripped himself of all of his glory and pride, and admitted his mistakes before God and all the people.

Are we also able to do the same too, brothers and sisters in Christ? Can we reject the temptations of this world, the pressure and coercions to disobey God and sin, and instead seek the Lord with a renewed conviction and dedication? Are we willing to commit ourselves thoroughly to the Lord from now on? These are some of the questions that we will have to ask ourselves as we progress on in life. Let us all discern our path carefully as we decide how we are to carry on our lives as faithful disciples and followers of the Lord. May God be with us always and may He bless our every actions and deeds. Amen.

Saturday, 29 January 2022 : 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 His disciples, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they left the crowd, and took Him along 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, 29 January 2022 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

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

Psalm 50 : 12-13, 14-15, 16-17

Create in me, o God, a pure heart; give me a new and steadfast spirit. Do not cast me out of Your presence nor take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Give me again, the joy of Your salvation; and sustain me, with a willing spirit. Then I will show wrongdoers Your ways and sinners will return to You.

Deliver me, o God, from the guilt of blood; and of Your justice, I shall sing aloud. O YHVH, open my lips, and I will declare Your praise.

Saturday, 29 January 2022 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

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

2 Samuel 12 : 1-7a, 10-17

So YHVH sent the prophet Nathan to David. Nathan went to the king and said to him, “There were two men in a city : one was rich; the other, poor. The rich man had many sheep and cattle, but the poor man had only one little ewe lamb he had bought. He himself fed it and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and slept on his lap. It was like a daughter to him.”

“Now a traveller came to the rich man, but he would not take from his own flock or herd to prepare food for the traveller. Instead, he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared that for his visitor.”

David was furious because of this man and told Nathan, “As YHVH lives, the man who has done this deserves death! He must return the lamb fourfold for acting like this and showing no compassion.” Nathan said to David, “You are this man! Now the sword will never be far from your family because you have despised me and taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite for yourself.”

“Thus says YHVH : Your misfortune will rise from your own house! I will take your wives from you and give them to your neighbour who shall lie with them in broad daylight. What you did was done secretly, but what I do will be done before Israel in broad daylight.”

David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against YHVH.” Nathan answered him, “YHVH has forgiven your sin; you shall not die. However, because you have dared to despise YHVH by doing such a thing, the child that is born of you shall die.” Then Nathan went to his home.

YHVH struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and the child became very ill. David entreated God for the child. He kept a strict fast and lay on the ground the whole night. The elders of his house asked him to rise from the ground but he refused. Nor did he join them to eat.

Friday, 28 January 2022 : 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, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures all of us are called to remember the words that we have heard, so that we may remember to sow the seeds of faith in our hearts and provide them the best condition possible for our faith to grow and blossom. Then, at the same time we also ought to be guarding ourselves against the snares of sin and evil, so we will not end up falling further and deeper into the trap of sin.

In our first reading today, we heard from the second Book of the prophet Samuel of the continuation of the account of the reign and deeds of King David of Israel that we have been hearing for the past two weeks or so. We heard of the time when King David had been secure in his kingdom and had been blessed by God with much prosperity and happiness. However, David was swayed by the beauty of one named Bathsheba, the wife of one of his army captains named Uriah, known as the Hittite. David began to desire for Bathsheba and was infatuated with her when he saw her bathing in one occasion.

That led to an affair between David and Bathsheba, which resulted in her having a child that was David’s. Afraid that his affair would be found out by Uriah and others, David was desperate in trying to trick him into sleeping with his wife so as to hide the fact of the sin that he has committed before God and others. Uriah however was a righteous man and he did not do as David intended, and as such, David with the help of the cunning advisors he had, sent Uriah to the thickest midst of the battle against the Ammonites and ended up leading to Uriah’s death.

But God knew all that each one of us had done including that which David had done, no matter how hard he might have tried to hide it. Even the righteous and faithful David could fall into the traps of sin, and the snares of evil and wickedness indeed reached far and wide as those past examples have shown us thus far. Unless we are vigilant in our defence and preparedness against the forces of sin and evil, we may end up finding ourselves in the wrong side during the Day of Judgment because our sins and wickedness become stumbling block on our path towards salvation in God.

Today, in our Gospel passage, all of us heard the Lord speaking to His disciples using a parable, namely the parable of the sower and the mustard seed. Through those parables, the Lord wanted to explain clearly in the context of what the people understood, how building the kingdom of God requires effort and hard work, and our faith is not one that can just be easily lived in idleness and passive attitude. Instead, all of us as Christians are called to live our lives with vigour and great zeal, spending the time and effort to follow the Lord in all of our actions and deeds, in our words and interactions.

That means each and every one of us have to be active in nurturing our faith, doing whatever we can in every small and little things in life, in following the teachings of the Lord, obeying His will and Law, living in the way that His commandments had shown us, and doing whatever we can to be exemplary in our contributions as Christians, in being role models for one another. It is important that we do so, just as the mustard seeds require the right condition and nurturing to be able to grow to the great size it will attain when mature, and how the sower will earn a lot of returns if he took great care of the fields.

Today we all celebrate the feast of a truly great saint, whose renown throughout all Christendom remained even to this very day. St. Thomas Aquinas was one of the greatest minds of the Church, a most faithful and ardent servant of the Lord dedicated to the glory of God. St. Thomas Aquinas was a Dominican friar and priest who was remembered for his amazing treatises and works in theology and philosophy, Church law and other things, especially in his works in the Summa Theologiae, his most famous work of all.

St. Thomas Aquinas spent a lot of years in immersing himself in his works, gaining much insight over various areas of Christian philosophy and theology, while learning the great experiences from the past philosophers in improving his own understanding of the Divine. He was known later as the Angelic Doctor or Doctor Angelicum and is recognised as a great Doctor of the Church, a very important persona in the history of Christendom in the West, who still inspired many even to this day.

Through the great faith and dedication showed by St. Thomas Aquinas, we are called to remember our own need and obligation to follow the Lord wholeheartedly, and to do whatever we can in order to serve the Lord by our actions and deeds, even in the smallest things. We are all called to remain true to our faith and resist the many temptations to sin present in our world today. We have to remind ourselves how sin can even twist the most righteous of peoples like David, and therefore strive to remain committed to Him at all times.

May the Lord be with us always and may He empower each and every one of us to resist the temptations of sin and to be righteous and just in all our lives. May God bless our every endeavours and good works, and may He bless us always with His truth and love, that we may always walk faithfully in the path of His servants, especially that of St. Thomas Aquinas whose memory we remember today, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 28 January 2022 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

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, 28 January 2022 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 50 : 3-4, 5-6a, 6bc-7, 10-11

Have mercy on me, o God, in Your love. In Your great compassion blot out my sin. Wash me thoroughly of my guilt; cleanse me of evil.

For I acknowledge my wrongdoings and have my sins ever in mind. Against You alone, have I sinned.

What is evil in Your sight, I have done. You are right when You pass sentence; and blameless in Your judgement. For I have been guilt-ridden from birth; a sinner from my mother’s womb.

Fill me with joy and gladness; let the bones You have crushed rejoice. Turn Your face away from my sins and blot out all my offences.

Friday, 28 January 2022 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

2 Samuel 11 : 1-4a, 5-10a, 13-17

In the spring of that year, when kings usually set out to fight, David sent out Joab, his officers and all the Israelite troops. They slaughtered the Ammonites and attacked Rabbah, while David remained in Jerusalem.

One afternoon, David got up from his siesta and took a walk on the roof of the royal house. From the rooftop, he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. David sent to inquire about the woman, and was told, “She is Bathsheba, daughter of Eliam and wife of Uriah, the Hittite.”

So David sent messengers to have her brought to him. As the woman saw she was with child, she sent word to David, “I am with child.” David then sent a message to Joab, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” So Joab sent Uriah to David. When Uriah came, David asked him about Joab, how the people were and how the war was proceeding. Then he told Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.”

Uriah left the palace while the king had a portion from his table sent to him. Uriah, however, did not go down to his house but slept by the door of the king’s palace with all the servants of his lord. David was told that Uriah did not go down to his house.

David invited him to table and he ate and drank until he was drunk. When evening fell, however, he went to lie down on his couch with the guards of his lord instead of going down to his house. The next morning, David wrote Joab a letter to be taken by hand by Uriah, in which he said, “Place Uriah in the front row where the fighting is very fierce and then withdraw from him so that he may be struck down and die.”

When Joab was attacking the city, he assigned Uriah to a place where he knew was being defended by strong warriors. And the defenders attacked the men of Joab. Some of David’s soldiers and officers were killed; Uriah the Hittite also died.

Thursday, 27 January 2022 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Angela Merici, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Holy Virgins)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded of the obligation each and every one of us have in living our lives with faith, in proclaiming the truth of God and becoming the beacons of His light in our world today. These are the responsibilities that we have been entrusted with, to be the examples of faith and inspiration for many others whom we encounter in our own lives.

In our first reading today, we heard from the second Book of the prophet Samuel regarding the prayer that King David of Israel made to the Lord after the Lord had made him secure in his rule and place as the leader over all the people of Israel. David thanked God for all that He had done for His people Israel and also what He had done to David himself and to his family, in honouring him and all his relatives for having chosen him as the King of Israel and through all the promises that God had made in assuring him of the kingship which will remain in his house forever.

David humbled himself and asked the Lord to bless him and his family, and hoping that his family and descendants will remain faithful to the Lord forever. He prayed to the Lord asking for His strength and guidance, and went on to become a great King over all Israel, whose reign was always remembered by the later generations as the golden age and time, and as a paragon and ideal for all the future rulers and kings. He ruled justly and devoted himself to the Lord wholeheartedly, and except for a few occasions when he faltered and made mistakes, he kept true to the faith.

In our Gospel reading today, we heard the Lord Jesus speaking to His disciples using the parable of the lamp and the lampstand in order to deliver His intentions clearly, to remind all of those who listened to His words including all of us that all of us who have been called to follow Him, have to be those beacons of God’s light that our lives brilliantly reflect the light of God. Through all of us, God’s truth and love may be revealed to all men, and all shall come to know God because they have seen us and witnessed all that we have done.

Unfortunately, many of us have not done what we ought to be doing as faithful Christians, called and chosen from the world to be the witnesses of His truth and salvation. We have preferred to remain hidden in the darkness, to hide behind the veil of sin and evil. We have preferred to lay idle and not do what we have been called to do as Christ’s disciples. We have received the light of truth, and yet the light of Christ does not shine brightly in us, hidden by our ignorance, lukewarmness in faith and refusal to commit ourselves wholeheartedly.

Today, as we listened to the words of the Lord, each and every one of us are reminded of this duty and calling for us to be the bearers of Christ’s light, His truth and love in our respective communities and at every possible opportunities given to us. Through the examples set by King David of Israel and the many other virtuous paragons of faith, our holy predecessors, we have been called to be holy ourselves, to be worthy of God and His love. We are all called to be true and genuine disciples not just in name, but also in all actions, words and deeds.

We can follow the good examples of St. Angela Merici, one of the great saints of God, whose feast we are celebrating today. St. Angela Merici was the famous founder of the religious order of the Ursulines, also known as the Company of St. Ursula that led to the later foundation of the Order of the Ursulines. St. Angela Merici was inspired since her early youth to commit herself with some others to work for the cause of the training and education of young Christian girls, which is still the inspiration for the educational institutes established by the Ursulines.

St. Angela Merici dedicated herself and inspired many others together in the ministry that she had committed herself as part of the Company of St. Ursula, establishing schools and orphanages, caring especially for the needs of young Christians, especially that of young, underprivileged Christian girls, who were often exploited and in disadvantageous positions. St. Angela Merici dedicated her life to this ministry, and many more people would come to follow her examples in working for the greater glory of God and for the salvation of His people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all discern our path in life through what we have heard from the lives of our holy and dedicated predecessors, King David, St. Angela Merici and many others. They have lived their lives with virtue, becoming truly shining beacons of truth and love, of God’s light and compassion, and from them, many came to believe in God and be saved as well. Are we able to do the same as well in our lives? Are we able to inspire others to follow the Lord, or have we instead kept the people away from God by our lack of genuine faith?

Let us all therefore seek the Lord our God with a renewed spirit and conviction, and let us commit ourselves to follow the Lord ever more faithfully and do whatever we can with our actions, words and deeds, even the smallest and seemingly least significant of them all, that we may indeed glorify the Lord through our lives and may become His ever worthy disciples, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 27 January 2022 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Angela Merici, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Holy Virgins)

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.”