Saturday, 19 February 2022 : 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 we listened to words of great wisdom from the Scriptures reminding us to be careful and vigilant in our words, actions and deeds, so that we do not end up falling into the path of sin and evil. That is why we have to listen to the Lord and His teachings, His truth and love. We have to heed the teachings and all that He has given to us and revealed through His Church, so that we do not end up going down the wrong path in life and be separated again from the Lord.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle of St. James the Apostle regarding the importance for all of us as Christians to be careful with our words, with our actions and deeds, for it is all too easy for us to make mistakes through our tongues and our hands, and the things that we have received and been blessed with, our words, wisdom and talents can be easily used for both things that are good or wicked, depending on our intentions.

As St. James wisely said, that we must not underestimate our words and actions, for even with the seemingly least significant and smallest of those words and actions, we can cause truly great and wonderful deeds, as well as very wicked and terrible acts that can bring about a lot of pain and suffering on others, whether directly or indirectly, or whether physically or mentally or even both. Such is the nature of our words and actions, that even in the seemingly smallest and least significant of things, we can end up causing great harm on others as well as causing great good if only we desire it and choose to do what is good instead of what is evil.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard then of the Lord Who was transfigured before the eyes of His three important disciples, Peter, James and John at Mount Tabor. At that occasion, the three of them saw the Lord glorified, revealing His true nature to them, as the Divine Word Incarnate, as One Who was not just the Son of Man, as the Saviour of the world, but also as the Son of God, the Divine Word of God, the Logos, incarnate in the flesh, showing His truly great glory and majesty at that occasion on the mountaintop.

Having seen all that they had witnessed, the three disciples were reminded by the Lord to listen to the words that His Son has spoken, and to follow Him in whichever path that He would be leading them towards. The Lord wanted all of them to trust in His words, in His wisdom, truth and love. And that is exactly how they would be able to find their way through life, and doing what the Lord had taught them to do. It is by putting God as the focus of their lives, and allowing Him to lead them and guide them in their path.

Unfortunately, brothers and sisters in Christ, more often than not, many of us prefer to trust in our own ideas and judgments, ignoring the reminders and the wisdom that God has given to us. We prefer to do things that we think is the best for us, and in doing so, we may end up causing hurt and suffering to others through our words, our actions and deeds just as I mentioned earlier. And that is because many if not most of us will tend to think about ourselves and our needs first, before even thinking about others or considering about them.

Therefore, that is why today all of us as Christians are reminded that each and every one of us need to redirect our attention and focus towards God. We are all reminded that we need to have faith and trust in the Lord, and allow Him to guide us in our actions and in all things, or else, otherwise, we may end up falling in our path towards God and His salvation, and end up in the wrong path in life, as we follow the temptations of our desires and our whims rather than following the true path towards God and His salvation.

All of us are called to be more vigilant against the many temptations all around us, and the allures of sin. We have to deepen our relationship with God, and the best way is for us to always spare some quality time with the Lord, communicating with Him, speaking with Him while at the same time, making the effort to listen to Him speaking in the depths of our hearts and minds. Too often we have been distracted by the many things that happened all around us, our ego, greed and desire among many other distractions that kept us away from finding out the path to God and His love.

Let us therefore do our best to follow the Lord and deepen our faith and relationship with Him from now on. May the Lord continue to watch over us and remain with us, guiding us through in our journey towards His grace and love. May God be with us and bless us in our every good works, efforts and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Saturday, 19 February 2022 : 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, 19 February 2022 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

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

Psalm 12 : 2-3, 4-5, 7-8

Help us, o YHVH, none of the godly are left, the faithful have vanished. Everyone lies; with flattering lips they speak from a double heart.

May YHVH cut off insincere lips, every glib tongue that utters deceit. Many say, “Our strength lies in our tongue, we know how to speak, who will YHVH it over us?”

The promises of YHVH are sure and lasting – silver refined in the furnace seven times and freed from dross. Hold us, o YHVH, in Your keeping; protect us always from this generation.

Saturday, 19 February 2022 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

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

James 3 : 1-10

My brothers and sisters, do not all be teachers! You know that, as teachers, we will be judged most strictly; in fact, we make mistakes, like everybody else. A person who commits no offence in speech is perfect, and capable of ruling the whole self.

We put a bit into the horse’s mouth to master it and, with this, we control its whole body. The same is true of ships : however big they are, driven by strong winds, they are guided by a tiny rudder. In the same way, the tongue is a tiny part of the body, but it is capable of great things.

A small flame is enough to set a huge forest on fire. The tongue is a similar flame; it is, in itself, a whole world of evil. It infects the whole being, and sets fire to our world, with the very fire of hell. Wild animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures of every kind are, and have been ruled, by the human species.

Nobody, however, can control the tongue; it is an untiring whip, full of deadly poison. We use it to bless God, our Father, and also, to curse those made in God’s likeness. From the same mouth come both blessing and curse. Brothers and sisters, this should not be the case.

Friday, 18 February 2022 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard from the Scriptures a reminder for us of the need for us to be active in our faith, in the way we live our lives. All of us have been called to contribute whatever we can to the efforts and works of the Church. That is what is meant for us to walk faithfully in life and following in the path of God, and what being true Christians is all about. We have to be doing our best in our every day moments through life, even in the smallest things that we do and say.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle of St. James the words of the Apostle regarding the matter of faith and good works related to that faith. This is a continuation of what St. James the Apostle had spoken in these past few days of readings this week, regarding the matter of faith and works, which in essence cannot be separated from each other. Without faith, works are meaningless, and at the same time, without works, and indeed, good works rooted in that faith, then our faith is dead and meaningless too.

St. James and his Epistle is well known for this stance, as it is a reminder that Christians and faithful people of God, we cannot be idle and think that once we have received baptism, then we are already fine and have no need for any effort, just needing to wait for God to grant us the salvation and eternal life He has promised us. That is not what the Lord intended for us, brothers and sisters in Christ. Most importantly, we must also realise that the Lord has always told us to do good, to obey His Law and commandments and to be righteous in all things, and all these cannot be done with idleness and ignorance.

In one occasion we heard the words of the prophet Ezekiel that even the righteous who commits sin shall have to answer for those sins that were committed and shall have to suffer the consequences and perish should those sins remain unrepented and unforgiven, and conversely, sinners who sought to be forgiven and were forgiven their sins shall be saved. This goes on to show just how our faith in the Lord does not guarantee us salvation without us living that faith in life with genuine desire to love God and without the effort to seek the Lord at all times.

Having faith in God does not prevent us from sinning, and even after baptism, we can still commit sin against God. Indeed, many of the great sins committed in our world past and present were sins committed by baptised Christians. Temptations and the pressures to commit sin will still be present in our midst, and unless we keep our guard on and remain vigilant in resisting those temptations, we may find ourselves falling again and again into sin. That is why our faith must be active and full of daily contributions and efforts. Baptism is not the end of the journey but rather the beginning of a new life in God.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord spoke of something similar as we listened to Him telling His disciples and followers that unless they pick up and carry their crosses in life, then they were not truly His disciples and followers. If they want to follow Him, then they have to take up their crosses in life and bear them, altogether with Him. The Lord therefore reminds us of the same words that St. James had said, that faith without good works is as good as dead. There can be no genuine faith without dedication and there can be no salvation unless our faith is genuine and true.

That is why today, as we heard today’s Scripture passages, we are all challenged to be better Christians, and to be more faithful to God, more than just in name or formality only. As Christians all of us have the obligation to follow the Lord, to be faithful to Him and to dedicate our every living moments to glorify Him and His Name. Today, let us all discern carefully how we are going to proceed further in life, thinking of how we should act in ways that are worthy of us as God’s own beloved people, as those whom He has considered to be His own children.

Let us all therefore help one another to do our best in living our lives with the fullness of desire to do the will of God, to put Him and His truth above all else, dedicating ourselves and our every living moments to glorify Him and to bring forth the salvation in our Lord to many more people. For it is through us and our own exemplary lives, actions and deeds that we can do what God had told us to do, in making use of our talents and gifts, in order to bring God and His light ever to each one of us, His beloved ones.

May the Lord be with us all as we continue to walk through this journey in life so that we may be found worthy at the end of it all. May the Lord continue to watch over us, strengthening us with the resolve and courage to resist the temptations to sin, and at the same time, granting us the courage and strength to live virtuously from now on, if we have not yet done so. May God bless us all and our every good works and endeavours, full of faith in Him, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 18 February 2022 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

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, 18 February 2022 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 111 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6

Alleluia! Blessed is the one who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commands. His children will be powerful on earth; the upright’s offspring will be blessed.

Wealth and riches are for his family, there his integrity will remain. He is for the righteous a light in darkness, he is kind, merciful and upright.

It will be well with him who lends freely, who leads a life of justice and honesty. For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered and loved forever.

Friday, 18 February 2022 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

James 2 : 14-24, 26

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, to profess faith, without showing works? Such faith has no power to save you. If a brother or sister is in need of clothes or food, and one of you says, “May things go well for you; be warm and satisfied,” without attending to their material needs, what good is that? So, it is, for faith without deeds : it is totally dead.

Say to whoever challenges you, “You have faith and I have good deeds; show me your faith apart from actions and I, for my part, will show you my faith in the way I act.” Do you believe there is one God? Well enough, but do not forget, that the demons, also, believe, and tremble with fear!

You foolish one, do you have to be convinced, that faith without deeds is useless? Think of our father Abraham. Was he not justified by the act of offering his son Isaac on the Altar? So you see, his faith was active, along with his deeds, and became perfect by what he did. The word of Scripture was thus fulfilled, Abraham believed in God so he was considered a righteous person and he was called the friend of God.

So you see, a person is justified by works, and not by faith alone. So, just as the body is dead without its spirit, so faith, without deeds is also dead.

Thursday, 17 February 2022 : 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 as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all called to believe in the Lord wholeheartedly and to entrust ourselves to His cause and works, to follow Him without doubt and hesitation, and to give ourselves in every opportunities and chances to be the dedicated followers of Our Lord. We have to listen to Him and not to allow the devil, Satan, to tempt us with his lies and falsehoods that can lead us down the wrong path in life.

In our first reading today, we heard the continuation of the discourse from the Epistle of St. James, in which the Apostle spoke of the importance for Christians to heed the Lord’s words and commandments, His desire that all of them love one another and treat each other equally without prejudice and discrimination, unlike what had always frequently happened at that time, in a world filled with a lot of inequality and injustice, greed and worldly desires, ambition and ego, all of which had led to plenty of suffering and misery in our communities.

As Christians, all of us have been taught to love one another with sincere and genuine love, without prejudice and without discrimination. All of us have been taught to see each other as fellow brothers and sisters in the same Lord, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, in Whom we have shared in His suffering and death, and have received the sure promise of eternal life and salvation. All of us have to follow the examples of Christ in how He loved all of us without exception, and in how He loved even the most marginalised and the poorest among us, reaching out to us and even to all those who have persecuted Him.

In our Gospel passage today we then heard of the time when the Lord asked His disciples regarding Himself, considering the many speculations that must have arisen back then from all that He had done, all the miracles He had performed and all the great wisdom and truth of God which He had spoken to the people themselves, and which the disciples themselves had witnessed, heard and experienced directly. And they gave various answers, including that of a prophet, a holy man of God, and with St. Peter saying that He is the Messiah, or the Saviour that God had promised to His people.

Then the Lord revealed that yes, while He is truly the Messiah, but He would have to suffer rejection and to be persecuted, by the same people that He has been sent to. This must have been taken with a lot of surprise and consternation by the disciples and followers of Jesus who must not have taken nicely to the idea, as many among them if not most would have expected to have Jesus to be the liberator of the people of Israel, to be their King and Saviour, free from the tyranny of the Romans and any other powers. And thus St. Peter pulled him aside and protested strongly against the Lord for saying such things.

That was when the Lord then rebuked Satan who was likely trying to persuade the Lord to stop His efforts and trying to convince Him not to do as what He was supposed to do, in trying to tempt Him with power and worldly glory. The Lord would have none of it and He told the devil to get away from Him, not allowing Himself to be tempted by the common temptations of this world. He had been tempted and tested by Satan before, and He had prevailed, and that time was not to be any different from the previous occasions in which He was tempted.

Through this, the Lord wants us to know that in following Him we have to discard the old attitudes of our past, sinful lives, and instead, we should embrace the truth and love that God has shown us, dedicating ourselves to follow Him wholeheartedly, doing whatever we can to serve Him in every opportunities available to us so that we may inspire all those who have witnessed us and our actions, knowing that through those, we may become faithful witnesses of Our Lord’s love and all that He had done for us, to suffer the Cross for us and to endure the worst of sufferings just so that we may persevere and gain assurance of an eternity with Him. And Satan tried hard in vain to prevent this from happening.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us should follow the good examples set by our holy predecessors as we celebrate their feast day today, namely the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order. These seven holy men of God, known by their names of Bonfilius, Alexis, Manettus, Amideus, Hugh, Sostene and Buonagiunta of Florence. All of them found each other in a bond of spiritual friendship which then grew on and having received a vision from the Blessed Mother of God, they were resolved to leave behind everything and followed God, marking the foundation of the Servite Order.

The seven holy founders worked hard and dedicatedly through the Order of the Servites, caring for the poor and the needy, those who were abandoned and without any proper attention and care. They all were dedicated with the care for the physical and material needs of those people, of whom the Lord Himself had said to us, that we have to show love and care for the least of our brethren, to the poor and those who had no one to love them and care for them. The seven holy founders of the Servites did their best within their capacity to care for these people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we willing and able to follow the examples of our holy predecessors, the great saints especially the Seven Holy Founders of the Servites Order? Let us all be inspired by them and strive to do whatever we can to glorify God through our lives. May the Lord continue to watch over us and help us to persevere through the many challenges in life so that each and every one of us can always remain faithful to Him and be dedicated to the path that God has shown us, and easily tempted and swayed by the evil one. Seven Holy Founders of the Servites, pray for us. Amen.

Thursday, 17 February 2022 : 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 : 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.”