Saturday, 18 February 2023 : 6th 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, we are all reminded of our faith in God, which underlines our very existence and life, and which we ought to take seriously if we have not yet done so. Faith is very important for us as without genuine faith, it is very easy for us to fall into the temptations of Satan and all the other persuasions, temptations and pressures for us to abandon God’s path and to disobey Him, leading to us falling ever further away from the salvation and grace of God. Without faith, our existence will become meaningless and sundered from God’s grace and love, and hence, through what we heard in our Scripture passages today, we are yet again reminded to have true, genuine faith in God.

In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle to the Hebrews, we essentially heard the summary of what we have been listening to in the past two weeks if we have been attending weekday liturgies and Masses, in which the history of the salvation of mankind had been put up in detail, showing us all the history of how mankind had fallen and then rose again from the depth of sin and their wickedness. We have heard in those preceding days how mankind was created out of the greatest love from God, and how they fell into sin through their disobedience and refusal to listen to God, preferring instead to follow their own pride, ego, ambitions and worldly desires that eventually led them down the path of sin and to their downfall. This had been highlighted again and again in these past two weeks, as we heard how our ancestors fell into sin against God.

However, amidst all the sins that our ancestors committed, the sins of Adam and Eve in disobeying God, the murder of Abel by his own brother Cain, the wickedness of mankind that led to the Great Flood, and also the hubris and pride of man that led to the events surrounding the Tower of Babel, there were still moments of goodness, reminding us all that we mankind have the capacity to do good if we so desire it and make the effort to do so, as we heard of the faith of Abel who devoted his whole offering to God, giving Him only the best of what he had. Then we have also heard of the story of Enoch, while not highlighted in the readings of the previous days, but Enoch was the only one among all mankind back then not to suffer death, but raised up to Heaven because of his righteousness and obedience to God.

And of course we heard again and are reminded of the faith of Noah, who remained faithful to God when the rest of the world were full of wickedness and refused to listen to God. Noah devoted his life and all his efforts to build the Great Ark, through which God saved him and his family while the rest of the wicked men and women were destroyed by the Great Flood. All those examples highlighted to us all share the same pattern and characteristic, in that all these people, our holy predecessors, had great faith in God and listened to Him, while allowing Him to do His will through them, and they consequently received great grace and help from God, reminding us yet again that we are all beloved by God, despite our many sins and disobedience. God wants to be reconciled with us and to forgive us our sins, and to this extent, He has given us His own beloved Son, to be our Saviour.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard of that same Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Saviour of the whole world, Who revealed Himself to three of His disciples, St. Peter, St. James and St. John on top of Mount Tabor, in the event known as the Transfiguration of the Lord, when Jesus revealed the truth about Himself before His disciples, how He was not merely just the Son of Man and a Prophet of God, but was also the Son of God Most High, the Holy One, Who has come down into this world, the Divine Word of God, incarnate in the Flesh to be the Son of Man. As He revealed Himself, being present with Moses and Elijah atop Mount Tabor, He revealed to the disciples and to all of us, how He has fulfilled everything that He Himself had said through His servants, in promising salvation and liberation to all of them.

Moses represented the Law that God had given to all of us, which Christ would indeed renew and remind to all of the people, reminding everyone of the true purpose, intention and meaning of the Law, which is God’s Love for each and every one of us, and also the love that mankind ought to have for Him, as well as for one another. Without faith in God, we cannot be truly obedient to Him and His Law and commandments, and that is why we are reminded to always be willing to listen to the Lord, in His reminders to us to obey His Law and commandments wholeheartedly and sincerely, and not just paying mere lip service or obeying things just for appearances like many of the people in Lord Jesus’ time liked to do. All of us are reminded to be truly devoted to the Lord, doing our best to follow the ways of the Lord as He has taught us through His Church.

Meanwhile, Elijah represented the Prophets of God, and all that the Lord has spoken and promised to His people throughout time. The Lord came into this world as the proof and fulfilment of all of His past promises, and through this example, all of us are reminded that God is forever faithful to the Covenant which He has made with us, and He will not abandon any of us to darkness and destruction, unless we ourselves have chosen to side with the devil and disobey the Lord willingly, as many of our predecessors had done. Just as Abel, Enoch, Noah, as well as Abraham, David and many others of the worthy and holy people in the Scriptures have shown us, God will reward all those who have been faithful to Him, while He also still patiently called and wanted all those who have not walked in His path to follow Him, right up to the very end. But should we still choose to disobey Him to the end, then there is nothing else that awaits us other than eternal damnation.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we reflect upon the Scripture readings we have heard from today, all of us are called and reminded of the responsibilities that we all have as Christians to be the bearers of God’s light and truth, as the ones to proclaim His love and mercy to the world, and to help one another in our journey of faith that we all may be ever closer to God and His salvation. May the Lord continue to help us and strengthen us all in our faith, so that we do not lose our faith and trust in God even through the darkest and most difficult moments of our lives. May God be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 18 February 2023 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

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

Mark 9 : 2-13

At that time, six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain. There His appearance was changed before their eyes. Even His clothes shone, becoming as white as no bleach of this world could make them. Elijah and Moses appeared to them; the two were talking with Jesus.

Then Peter spoke and said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to say : they were overcome with awe. But a cloud formed, covering them in a shadow, and from the cloud came a voice, “This is My Son, the Beloved; listen to Him.”

And suddenly, as they looked around, they no longer saw anyone except Jesus with them. As they came down the mountain, He ordered them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept this to themselves, although they discussed with one another what ‘to rise from the dead’ could mean.

Finally they asked Him, “Why then do the teachers of the Law say that Elijah must come first?” Jesus answered them, “Of course Elijah will come first, so that everything may be as it should be. But why do the Scriptures say that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be despised? I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they have treated him as they pleased, as the Scriptures say of him.”

Saturday, 18 February 2023 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

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

Psalm 144 : 2-3, 4-5, 10-11

I will praise You day after day and exalt Your Name forever. Great is the Lord, most worthy of praise; and His deeds are beyond measure.

Parents commend Your works to their children and tell them Your feats. They proclaim the splendour of Your majesty and recall Your wondrous works.

All Your works will give You thanks; all Your saints, o Lord, will praise You. They will tell of the glory of Your kingdom and speak of Your power.

Saturday, 18 February 2023 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

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

Hebrews 11 : 1-7

Faith is the assurance of what we hope for, being certain of what we cannot see. Because of their faith our ancestors were approved. By faith we understand that the stages of creation were disposed by God’s word, and what is visible came from what cannot be seen.

Because of Abel’s faith his offering was more acceptable than that of his brother Cain, which meant he was upright, and God Himself approved his offering. Because of this faith he cried to God, as said in Scripture, even after he died.

By faith Enoch was taken to heaven, instead of experiencing death : he could not be found because God had taken him. In fact, it is said that before being taken up he had pleased God. Yet without faith it is impossible to please Him : no one draws near to God without first believing that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him earnestly.

By faith Noah was instructed of events which could not yet be seen and, heeding what he heard, he built a boat in which to save his family. The faith of Noah condemned the world and he reached holiness born of faith.

Friday, 17 February 2023 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Scriptures that highlighted to us the importance of obedience to God and entrusting ourselves to the Lord and His path, and we have to walk in God’s path while obeying His will and commandments as Christians, or else we cannot truly call or consider ourselves as genuine people of God or His followers, as each one of us will be expected to do what is right and just in our every actions and deeds throughout our lives, in even the smallest and least significant things we may do in our lives, in our every moments, we may always put the Lord at the forefront and centre of our lives and existence, and not to fall into the temptations of evil and sin, which had led our predecessors down into the wrong paths.

In our first reading for example, we heard the well-known story and tale of the building of the Tower of Babel, a great tower that man planned on building and which supposedly would rise to reach the Heaven itself. Back then, probably just a few generations since the Great Flood of Noah, which we have heard in the past few days of Scripture readings, mankind had once again flourished and prospered, and rebuilt the civilisation and the communities that had been completely destroyed and eradicated by the Great Flood, which God sent into the world to cleanse it from all the wickedness of all the sons and daughters of man, which was so great that except for Noah and his family, no one else deserved to be saved.

However, as we evidently can notice from what we heard in our first reading passage today, the descendants of man through Noah did not learn much from the lessons of their ancestors, as they began to commit sin once again, disobeying God and growing proud upon their power and achievements, and they began to plan to ascend even to the heights of Heaven itself, which would indeed mirror and is a parallel of what happened when Satan, our great enemy and the Deceiver, fell from grace and power, as he tried to supplant and overthrow God as the Lord and Master of all the Universe. Back then, Lucifer, as Satan was commonly known before his fall, became full of pride and ambition, and rebelled against God, only to be defeated and thrown down from Heaven.

In a similar manner therefore, we heard how those people at that time tried to build the mighty Tower of Babel and attempted to scale the heights of Heaven itself, going proud and haughty from their powers and accomplishments, and thinking that they had no need for God anymore, and that they could therefore do anything as they liked. God therefore reminded them all of their place, and sent upon them a great punishment and something which was meant to disturb and stop their foolish plan, by confusing their language and ability to understand each other. Hence, ever since then, everyone had been speaking their own languages, and no one in this world could perfectly understand everyone else in their tongues and speeches.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard of the Lord Jesus telling His disciples and therefore to all of us, what we all need to do as His disciples and followers, that we all need to carry our crosses in life and follow Him faithfully, and not allowing our pride, ego, ambition, worldly desires and all sorts of temptations present all around us to distract us and to draw us away from the salvation and grace in God. The Lord reminded all of His disciples and all of us that we all need to be faithful and committed to God and His path, and resist the wickedness of the world, so that we may truly be found worthy by Him upon His coming once again into the world, and not to end up in the damnation and destruction reserved to those who are proud and haughty, like the devil himself and all others who followed his path.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, today, as Christians, each and every one of us are reminded as always of the need for each and every one of us to align ourselves to God and His path, resisting the many temptations and efforts from the devil and all of his temptations, persuasions and pressures for us to abandon our faith and obedience to God. All of us have to remember that we need to be truly faithful and committed to God, and we have to do our best to glorify Him by our lives, and live our lives daily with faithful and good intentions, with actions that are centred on God’s path and His commandments, so that we may inspire many others on how they all can follow the Lord faithfully as well in every possible opportunities in life.

Today, all of us should follow the good examples set before us by the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order, who have been called by God to a great and holy existence, and to a great mission in evangelising and inspiring the members of the Body of Christ, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, in everything that they said and did. These Seven Holy Founders, whose feast we celebrate today, dedicated their lives to answer God’s call through a vision that they all shared and received from God, which encouraged them to leave the wickedness of worldly ways and to dedicate themselves wholly to God, as they endeavoured to build and establish a new community of the faithful people of God, eventually known as the Servites or the Servite Order. Their great personal piety and sanctity and devotion to the Lord, as well as their love for their fellow brethren are great inspiration to all of us.

Let us all hence follow the great examples shown by these saints, so that hopefully each and every one of us may also come ever closer to God and may become good role models and sources of inspiration to each other, in our every moments and opportunities throughout life. May the Lord continue to guide us and help us, and strengthen us in our resolve to live our lives faithfully in His path. May God bless us all and bless our every good efforts and endeavours, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 17 February 2023 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Mark 8 : 34 – Mark 9 : 1

At that time, Jesus called the people and His disciples, and said, “If you want to follow Me, deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me. For if you choose to save your life, you will lose it; and if you lose your life for My sake and for the sake of the Gospel, you will save it.”

“What good is it to gain the whole world, while destroying your soul? There is nothing more precious than your soul. I tell you : If anyone is ashamed of Me and of My words among this adulterous and sinful people, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the Glory of His Father with the holy Angels.”

And He went on to say, “Truly I tell you, there are some here who will not die before they see the kingdom of God coming with power.”

Friday, 17 February 2023 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Psalm 32 : 10-11, 12-13, 14-15

The Lord frustrates the plans of the nations and brings to nothing the peoples’ designs. But His plan stands forever, and His heart’s design through all generations.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord – the people He has chosen for His inheritance. The Lord looks down from heaven and sees the whole race of mortals.

From where He sits He watches all those who dwell on the earth – He Who fashions every heart observes all their deeds.

Friday, 17 February 2023 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Genesis 11 : 1-9

The whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved from east, they found a plain in the country of Shinar where they settled. They said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them in fire.” They used brick for stone and bitumen for mortar. They said also, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top reaching heaven; so that we may become a great people and not be scattered over the face of the earth!”

YHVH came down to see the city and the tower that the sons of man were building, and YHVH said, “They are one people and they have one language. If they carry this through, nothing they decide to do from now on will be impossible. Come! Let Us go down and confuse their language so that they will no longer understand each other.”

So YHVH scattered them over all the earth and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel, because there YHVH confused the language of the whole earth and from there YHVH scattered them over the whole face of the earth.

Thursday, 16 February 2023 : 6th 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 Sacred Scriptures, each and every one of us are reminded yet again of God’s love, His kindness and compassion to each one of us which He has repeatedly shown again and again throughout time, and in how He gave us all the perfect gift of His love, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to be our Saviour and Hope. As we heard from our Scripture passages today, we are all truly blessed and beloved by God, Who made and renewed His Covenant with us all, His people, again and again, from time to time. We have been shown mercy and love, just as how God saved Noah and his family from the Great Flood, and also in how Christ, the Son of God, came into our midst to save us all from certain destruction.

In our first reading today, we continue to hear the account from the Book of Genesis, and this time, as mentioned, it is still about the time when the Great Flood occurred and wiped out almost all life on this world, except for all those who were brought into the great Ark that Noah built upon the instructions from God. All those who were inside the Ark were spared and kept alive because of the faith that Noah had in the Lord, in obeying His Law and commandments. All the other children of mankind were crushed and destroyed by the Great Flood because of their wickedness and sins, their refusal to follow God’s ways, and all of those wickedness which had accumulated and disgusted the Lord, to the point that He released the Great Flood to cleanse the whole world, as there was no more virtue and righteousness in the world back then save than what was found in Noah and his family.

God rescued Noah and brought him and his family safely through the Flood and we heard in today’s first reading passage of the moment when the Flood had finally receded from the world, and Noah and his family offered a great thanksgiving to God, to which God responded by reassuring him of His love and faithfulness, establishing a Covenant with him, and renewed His love for all of the people, all of the children of man. At the same time, however, He also highlighted that should Noah and his descendants commit sins against the Lord once again, doing what those who perished during the Great Flood had done, then they too would have to suffer for their sins and wickedness. Essentially, God reminds us all that He loves us all sinners, but He does not approve of the wickedness that we have committed.

The love which God has for each one of us is also reflected in His promise made to all of us, in how He promised not to destroy us anymore through the water or the same Flood, by placing His own bow on the clouds, which we see during and after rains, the rainbow, as a reminder to Him and to all of us of this love and the Covenant which God had made with Noah that day, and which He has constantly renewed and reestablish again and again with us. Then, God made His new and everlasting Covenant through His Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, by Whose coming into the world all of us have seen the light and hope that God wants to bring into our midst, showing us all the path out of the darkness and all the temptations of sin and evils all around us.

In our Gospel passage today, that is exactly what we have heard from the story of the Lord asking His disciples about Who He truly was, as the disciples spoke about Who they thought He was, with St. Peter proclaiming courageously that the Lord Jesus was indeed the Messiah, the Holy One and Saviour that was promised from God, and the One Whom all of them and all of us have to follow. This then led to the Lord revealing that the truth was such that in His role and part in bringing about our salvation and liberation from sin, He would have to be opposed and made to suffer, to endure painful and humiliating trials and persecution at the hands of all those who refused to believe in Him and oppose His works, and finally to die a most painful and humiliating death on the Cross on our behalf, and for the sake of our salvation.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we can clearly see just how much God has loved all of us, that He was willing to endure all of those things for us, to get us all out of the darkness and from the precipice of destruction. He put Himself at the crossfire, enduring the worst punishments for our sins, all on our behalf so that each and every one of us have the sure path out of the darkness and into the light. God has chosen to come into this world and willingly bore our many sins and burdens associated with them, so that we can be free from them, be reconciled and reunited with Him. That is all which God had done for us, all because of His ever amazing love and kindness, His attention and compassion towards us which He has never ceased to show us, despite our frequent stubborn attitude and refusal to obey Him.

That is why today all of us are reminded that we should not harden our hearts and minds, and resist Him and His love anymore. Like what St. Peter did in his moment of weakness in allowing Satan to tempt him and to speak through him, all of us must resist the temptations of worldly desires, ambitions, of our own pride and ego, and all other things that may cause us to become ever more distant from the Lord and His salvation. We have to be resolute in resisting the incessant efforts from the devil in trying to lead us to our downfall and damnation. We must remind ourselves of God’s ever enduring and present love for us, and strive to love Him therefore in the same way, rejecting the excesses of worldly pleasures and sins, and doing whatever we can to live our lives faithfully as Christians, as those who profess our faith in Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us in our journey of faith through life so that we may ever walk faithfully and righteously amidst the many temptations to sin and may we all be good examples and role models, inspiration and strength to one another. May God bless us always and remain with us, guiding us throughout our every good endeavours and efforts, through every good and faithful deeds in life, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 16 February 2023 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 8 : 27-33

At that time, Jesus set out with His disciples for the villages around Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He asked them, “Who do people say I am?” And they told Him, “Some say You are John the Baptist; others say You are Elijah or one of the prophets.”

Then Jesus asked them, “But you, who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.” And He ordered them not to tell anyone about Him. Jesus then began to teach them that the Son of Man had to suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the Law. He would be killed, and after three days rise again.

Jesus said all this quite openly, so that Peter took Him aside and began to protest strongly. But Jesus turning around, and looking at His disciples, rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are thinking not as God does, but as people do.”