Saturday, 16 February 2019 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the love which God has for us all, His beloved people, despite of all of our disobedience and sins against Him. He still loved us all regardless, although our sins and wickedness have indeed caused Him great sorrow and anger. He is still willing to give us all chance, one after another, to allow us to be reconciled with Him and to return to His loving embrace.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the first reading today from the Book of Genesis showed us the downfall of man, the moment when men fell into the trap set against them bu Satan, who sought our mutual destruction with him and his fellow fallen angels. Satan tempted our ancestors to sin against God, tapping into our worldly desires and our vulnerabilities to pride, ego and all sorts of worldly thoughts that ended up causing us to disobey God, much as our ancestors had done.

The fruits of disobedience is sin, and sin caused us to be separated from God, as sin is a corruption upon our beings, a disease that is slowly eating upon our souls and our existences. And because sin is by nature wicked and evil, those who have sin in them have no place before God, and God Who is all good and perfect will not allow sin to exist before Him. In fact, unrepentant sinners will suffer grievously because of their own sins, which brought about their damnation before God.

There is therefore a massive chasm separating us from God, and this chasm is sin, as well as its consequence, that is death. And the fate awaiting us all sinners is eternal death, total separation from God for eternity, and this is the same as for us to endure an eternity of suffering, despair, unhappiness and loneliness, as we have been sundered from the source of all life and love, God Himself. Without Him, we are truly nothing, and our existence is totally meaningless.

Is that the fate that God wanted us to endure for eternity? Certainly that is not the case. God loved each and every one of us when He created us. He gave us life and the gift of His love. As a result, it is not in God’s will and intention for us to suffer because of our sins, and that was why, He promised to us all the salvation which He was to send into this world, through none other than Christ, His own beloved Son, by Whose actions we have been saved.

Through our Lord Jesus, the love of God had been made manifest in this world in the flesh, and in the Gospel passage today, He showed the love and mercy by which He desired all of His loved ones to be reunited with Him. He saw all the people who followed Him, desiring to be healed from their many afflictions, and to hear His teachings, many of them from sinful backgrounds, desiring to be forgiven from their mistakes and sins. And the Lord cared for them, spiritually as well as physically.

The Lord did so when He saw all of them being hungry, after following Him for so many days. He miraculously multiplied the seven loaves of bread into food enough to feed four thousand men assembled, together with many thousands more of women and children. After He had fed the people and they were all full, He continued to teach them and to perform His miracles and healings among them.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through all these, we can see how God loves each and every one of us, and how He desires for us all to be reconciled to Him. He has given all of us opportunities, again and again, for us to abandon our ways of sin, and to seek Him and His generous mercy. But are we willing to accept His offer of mercy? If we are willing to do so, then just as those people who went to follow the Lord for many days, suffering from hunger and other things during their journey, we too have to endure sufferings and difficulties at times as well.

Let us all therefore turn towards God, and entrust ourselves to His loving mercy and compassion. May the Lord guide us all, and may He continue to love us as He has always been, and draw us all closer to Himself. Amen.

Saturday, 16 February 2019 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 8 : 1-10

At that time, soon afterwards Jesus was in the midst of another large crowd, that obviously had nothing to eat. So He called His disciples and said to them, “I feel sorry for these people, because they have been with Me for three days and now have nothing to eat. If I send them to their homes hungry, they will faint on the way; some of them have come a long way.”

His disciples replied, “Where, in a deserted place like this, could we get enough bread to feed these people?” He asked them, “How many loaves have you?” And they answered, “Seven.” Then He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. Taking the seven loaves and giving thanks, He broke them, and handed them to His disciples to distribute. And they distributed them among the people. They also had some small fish, so Jesus said a blessing, and asked that these be shared as well.

The people ate and were satisfied. The broken pieces were collected, seven wicker baskets full of leftovers. Now those who had eaten were about four thousand in number. Jesus sent them away, and immediately got into the boat with His disciples, and went to the region of Dalmanutha.

Saturday, 16 February 2019 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 89 : 2, 3-4, 5-6, 12-13

Before the mountains were formed, before You made the earth and the world, from eternity to eternity – You are God.

You turn humans back to dust, saying, “Return, o mortals!” A thousand years in Your sight are like a day that has passed, or like a watch in the night.

You sow them in their time, at dawn they peep out. In the morning they blossom, but the flower fades and withers in the evening.

So make us know the shortness of our life, that we may gain wisdom of heart. How long will you be angry, o Lord? Have mercy on Your servant.

Saturday, 16 February 2019 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Genesis 3 : 9-24

YHVH God called the man saying to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard Your voice in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.” God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree I ordered you not to eat?”

The man answered, “The woman You put with me gave me fruit from the tree and I ate it.” God said to the woman, “What have you done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me and I ate.”

YHVH God said to the serpent, “Since you have done that, be cursed among all the cattle and wild beasts! You will crawl on your belly and eat dust all the days of your life. I will make you enemies, you and the woman, your offspring and her offspring. He will crush your head and you will strike his heel.”

To the woman, God said, “I will increase your suffering in childbearing, and you will give birth to your children in pain. You will be dependent on your husband and he will lord it over you.” To the man, He said, “Because you have listened to your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I forbade you to eat, cursed be the soil because of you! In suffering you will provide food for yourself from it, all the days of your life.”

“It will produce thorn and thistle for you and you will eat the plants of the field. With sweat on your face you will eat your bread, until you return to clay, since it was from clay that you were taken, for you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

The man called his wife by the name of Eve, because she was the mother of all the living. YHVH God made garments of skin for the man and his wife, and with these He clothed them. Then YHVH God said, “Man has now become like one of Us making himself judge of good and evil. Let him not stretch out his hand to take and eat from the tree of life as well, and live forever.”

So God cast him from the garden of Eden to till the soil from which he had been made. And after having driven the man out, God posted Cherubim and a flaming sword that kept turning at the east of the garden of Eden to guard the way to the tree of Life.

Friday, 15 February 2019 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard of the story from both the first and the Gospel reading passages that related to us, the story of both mankind’s downfall into sin, and how then mankind were saved from the pit of sin by God Himself, lifted up from the depth of darkness and hopelessness, into the new hope and the promise of God’s wonderful love and grace.

In the first reading passage today, taken from the Book of Genesis, we heard how Satan, the evil one, the one who rebelled out of pride against God, Lucifer, the false lightbringer, who became proud of his own glorious nature and power, wanted to bring down those whom God loved the most out of all of His creations, that is man. Satan appeared to Adam and Eve in the form of a serpent, tempting them with lies and with sweet, false promised of glory and power in exchange for disobedience against God.

He promised that men would become like God if only they ate from the fruits of the tree specifically forbidden by God for them to eat. The devil was striking at mankind’s ego, pride and desire in their hearts and minds, to subvert them into being selfish, egoistic and be filled with the desires that in the end caused them to fall into sin against God, and was therefore cast out of Eden and God’s presence, to suffer the consequences of our sins in this world of suffering.

By desiring to know more, to want more knowledge by eating of the fruits of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, in fact men were restraining themselves within that knowledge, with the desire to know, the greed to taste and feel the pleasures of the world, many of which led them to sin even more, and fall deeper into the darkness. By that act of disobedience, sin entered into the hearts of men, and corrupted them, leaving them in the darkness.

But God, Who loved each and every single one of us, did not give up on us. In fact, He planned everything since the very beginning of the salvation of all those whom He loved, by nothing less than the giving of His own Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Who became our Lord and Saviour. In the Gospel passage today, as we heard how the Lord opened the ears and loosened the tongues of a man born deaf and mute, we in fact heard the story of our own salvation and liberation from the tyranny of sin.

Sin has become a great obstacle, a great veil of darkness that prevented us from seeing the love and the light of God. Through sin we have been separated from God, and made to suffer in darkness. But God did not want us to suffer forever in that darkness. He brought to us a new light, a new hope that pierced through this dark veil and wall of sin, in the form of Christ, our Lord, Saviour and Redeemer.

We have been sick all these while because of our sins, and would have suffered the fate of eternal damnation, had the Lord not intervened for our sake, because of the great and boundless love that He has for each and every one of us, even to the greatest of sinners among us. He called us all to return to Him, and to be loved once again by Him. And the way towards that, is through Him alone, by our faith in Him, believing that in Him, our Lord and Saviour, is our Hope for eternal life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us are called to reflect on our own lives, and our own earthly existence. Are we aware of the sins we have committed in our respective lives thus far? Are we aware of the dangers of leaving those sinful ways and wickedness uncorrected and unrepented? We must also realise that it is in God alone that we can find healing through forgiveness, and we must realise how even when we are good in all things and are physically healthy, but because of sin, all of us are sick spiritually.

Many of us are afflicted by the allures of worldly pleasures and temptations, the temptation of monetary wealth, the desires and lusts for the flesh, the greed for glory and human praise, the wants for position and prestige, acceptance and approval by our fellow men. And all of these often caused us to fall deeper into sin, as inevitably all these caused our desires to clash, and we cause suffering and pain on others as we seek to satisfy our own desires.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us take some time using this opportunity given by God, for us to turn away from the path of sin, and embrace the loving mercy and forgiveness that God is offering us all so generously. Let us all seek Him to heal us from our afflictions, just as the man born deaf and mute sought the healing of the Lord and was healed from all of his complaints. It is by putting our trust in God, that we will receive pardon from all the obstacles that prevented us from truly enjoying the true happiness and glory, which in God alone we can enjoy.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to guide us all, through our life, now and always. May He bless us all in our endeavours, and bring us ever closer to Him, that we may love Him more and more, our Lord and Saviour. Amen.

Friday, 15 February 2019 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 7 : 31-37

At that time, again Jesus set out : from the country of Tyre He passed through Sidon and, skirting the sea of Galilee, He came to the territory of Decapolis. There, a deaf man, who also had difficulty in speaking, was brought to Him. They asked Jesus to lay His hand upon him.

Jesus took him apart from the crowd, and put His fingers into the man’s ears, and touched his tongue with spittle. Then, looking up to heaven, He said with a deep sigh, “Ephphata!” that is, “Be opened!”

And immediately, his ears were opened, his tongue was loosened, and he began to speak clearly. Jesus ordered them not to tell anyone about it; but the more He insisted, the more they proclaimed it. The people were completely astonished and said, “He has done all things well; He makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.”

Friday, 15 February 2019 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 31 : 1-2, 5, 6, 7

Blessed is the one whose sin is forgiven, whose iniquity is wiped away. Blessed are those in whom YHVH sees no guilt and in whose spirit is found no deceit.

Then I made known to You my sin and uncovered before You my fault, saying to myself, “To YHVH I will now confess my wrong.” And You, You forgave my sin; You removed my guilt.

So let the faithful ones pray to You in time of distress; the overflowing waters will not reach them.

You are my Refuge; You protect me from distress and surround me with songs of deliverance.