Saturday, 26 February 2022 : 7th 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 Lord’s words speaking to us through the Sacred Scriptures, all of us are reminded to follow the Lord wholeheartedly and commit ourselves at each and every moments of our lives, doing the best in whatever opportunities we have been given to serve Him and to follow Him in His ways. As Christians, all of us have been called to show faith in all of our actions and to be truly trusting and full of love for the Lord at all times.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle of St. James the Apostle, a reminder for all of us to be faithful to God in all things. St. James spoke of the many past examples of how those who had faith in the Lord were not disappointed, and eventually all things shall turn out to be how the Lord has always intended it to be. The Lord has always provided for His people in need, in His own good time. The prophet Elijah that was mentioned in the example had been taken care of by the Lord during the hardships he encountered, and as he came by the house of the widow of Zarephath, her faith in the Lord allowed her to survive with her son through the great years of famine that happened at that time.

St. James also reminded all of us on the power of prayer, and how prayer is a very important aspect of our Christian faith, for without prayer, we cannot genuinely say that we truly know God or that we have good and genuine relationship with Him. And as we have to remain connected to God, and develop that faith in Him, without a good prayer life that is living and growing, then we cannot live our lives as true Christians. And we cannot be Christians just in name only. We have to live our lives with faith and make that faith apparent in what we say and do.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard how the Lord told His disciples to allow the children to come to Him. The disciples initially refused to let the children to come to the Lord and tried to turn away those who have come to the Lord. However, the Lord rebuked all those who have barred the children from coming to Him and telling them that they must allow them to approach Him, and indeed, He praised those children and saying that unless they modelled themselves after those children and the faith that they had in Him, they would have no part in Him and His Kingdom.

What the Lord meant by this is that all of us have to be truly faithful to Him, to love Him seriously and genuinely, and to trust in Him wholeheartedly much as how children is genuine and true in all the things they do. A child’s faith is pure and when a child believes in something, the child will believe without any reservations. This is the kind of faith that the Lord wants us all to have as well, faith that comes without reservation, and love that we have for Him which is not corrupted and tempered with various selfish desires and other things.

In our lives, all of us are reminded by the Lord to show faith in all things, to be filled with genuine love that we ought to have for Him. We have to dedicate ourselves to the Lord and commit ourselves, our efforts and attention to Him, in whatever we say and do, in all things so that we may always be good role models and inspiration to one another in how we live our lives with faith. Are we able and willing to do this though, brothers and sisters in Christ?

We are often distracted by the many concerns and things present in our lives, in all the temptations surrounding us, all the worldly things that often became obstacles in our journey towards the Lord. We are often spending too much time and effort, putting our attention on these worldly matters rather than to trust in the Lord. We spent a lot of time worrying and being concerned about how our lives will turn out to be, not realising that God is journeying with us and has been there with us all this time.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all called to reorientate ourselves once again towards God and turn towards Him once again with faith. Let us all walk once again in the path that the Lord has shown us. May the Lord be with us all, and may He empower us all to live ever more faithfully and help us in our journey of faith, growing ever more in our trust and love for Him. May God bless us always, in all of our actions, words and deeds, now and always. Amen.

Saturday, 26 February 2022 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

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

Mark 10 : 13-16

At that time, people were bringing their little children to Jesus to have Him touch them, and the disciples rebuked them for this. When Jesus noticed it, He was very angry and said, “Let the children come to Me and do not stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.”

Then He took the children in His arms and, laying His hands on them, blessed them.

Saturday, 26 February 2022 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

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

Psalm 140 : 1-2, 3 and 8

Lord, I call on You, hasten to help me! Listen to my plea when I call to You. Let my prayer rise to You, like incense; as I lift up my hands, as in an evening sacrifice.

O YHVH, set a guard at my mouth; keep watch at the gate of my lips. But my eyes are turned to You, o God, my YHVH; strip me not of life, for You are my refuge.

Saturday, 26 February 2022 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

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

James 5 : 13-20

Are any among you, discouraged? They should pray. Are any of you happy? They should sing songs to God. If anyone is sick, let him call on the elders of the Church. They shall pray for him, anointing him with oil in the Name of the Lord. The prayer said in faith will save the sick person; the Lord will raise him up and if he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.

There will be healing, if you confess your sins to one another, and pray for each other. The prayer of the upright man has great power, provided he perseveres. Elijah was a human being, like ourselves, and when he prayed, earnestly, for it not to rain, no rain fell for three and a half years. Then he prayed again : the sky yielded rain and the earth produced its fruit.

Brothers, if any one of you strays far away from the truth, and another person brings him back to it, be sure of this : he who brings back a sinner from the wrong way, will save his soul from death and win forgiveness for many sins.

Friday, 25 February 2022 : 7th 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 Scriptures, we are all reminded yet again as we have been for the past few days by the Apostle St. James to be righteous and good in our way of life, so that by the path that God has shown us we may always remain true in our path and do not end up falling deeper and deeper into sin. This is important because it is very easy to us to succumb to the temptations of worldly desires and the many other temptations and pressures that can lead us down the wrong path in life.

In our first reading today, we heard from St. James the Apostle again reminding all of us the faithful to be patient and faithful, to be dedicated and to be true to the Lord in our faith and devotion to Him, as how St. James mentioned the patriarch Job, one of the well-known figures of the Old Testament. Job was faithful and obedient to God, and even when later on he was tested by Satan who wanted to see if Job would remain faithful after he took away everything that he loved and held precious, Job remained faithful to the end, and did not forsake the Lord or abandoned Him for the pursuit of worldly satisfaction and pleasures.

Job humbled himself before the Lord and he accepted all of his sufferings and afflictions as his own, not blaming God or others for them. He humbly submitted to the Lord and although he did anguish and agonise over the sufferings, but he remained faithful, and grew to love the Lord all the more, and coming to know what God had truly intended, Job eventually was blessed so much more than what he had lost earlier on, and the Lord blessed him for the remainders of his days, and he became a great inspiration and example of faith for the later generations.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord spoke to us all through His disciples regarding the question that the Pharisees posted to Him regarding the matter of marriage and divorce. In the Law of Moses, according to the interpretation of the Mosaic Law and the Jewish traditions upheld by the Pharisees and the elders, divorcing someone’s spouse was allowed under the Law. This was allowed as long as a certain procedure was followed and a letter of dismissal was made, which in practice made it relatively easy for one to get a divorce and then later on remarry again as they wished.

However, the Lord reminded His people and therefore all of us that this is not what the Lord intended for us. In the matter of marriage, the Lord had decreed from the very beginning that such a union is a union blessed by God and made firm by Him, and hence, they must not be separated. The Church has upheld this sanctity of marriage as it became one of the seven Sacraments, the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. Marriage is not just merely a process or a transaction, but rather a Covenant between a man and a woman, united and blessed by God.

This is again a reminder from the Lord and His Apostles for us that each and every one of us ought to be truly faithful to the Lord. We should not allow our desires and all the temptations of the world to distract us and mislead us down the wrong path. For among the many of the reasons why a person would end up divorcing his or her spouse were the desires they had for worldly pleasures and satisfaction, and the inability of the couple to obtain this within their respective marriages, and hence, adultery and adulterous behaviours became commonplace.

All these were due to the lack of genuine and strong faith in the Lord. This lack of faith, the lukewarmness of many Christians ended up leading many down the path of temptation and eventually destruction. If only many more of them followed the examples of Job, his perseverance and faith in the Lord, there would have been so much lesser wicked deeds by mankind, and many more people would not have committed sins against God. The Lord wants us to be reconciled with Him, and has always patiently sought us out, only for many of us to reject Him or ignore Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore spend our time today and henceforth to reflect on our relationship with God and our actions in life thus far. Are we able and willing to dedicate ourselves more and more to the Lord? Are we willing to lead a more blessed and holy life, one that is deeply attuned to the Lord, obeying His will, His Law and commandments? Are we able to be good role models and inspirations to one another in life? Let us discern all these and think in what way we can be ever better disciples of the Lord from now on. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 25 February 2022 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 10 : 1-12

At that time, Jesus then left that place and went to the province of Judea, beyond the Jordan River. Once more crowds gathered around Him and once more He taught them as He always did. Some (Pharisees came and) put Him to the test with this question, “Is it right for a husband to divorce his wife?”

He replied, “What law did Moses give you?” They answered, “Moses allowed us to write a certificate of dismissal in order to divorce.” Then Jesus said to them, “Moses wrote this law for you, because you are stubborn. But in the beginning of creation God made them male and female, and because of this, man has to leave father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one body. So they are no longer two but one body. Therefore let no one separate what God has joined.”

When they were indoors at home, the disciples again asked Him about this, and He told them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against his wife, and the woman who divorces her husband and marries another also commits adultery.”

Friday, 25 February 2022 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 102 : 1-2, 3-4, 8-9, 11-12

Praise YHVH, my soul; all my being, praise His holy Name! Praise YHVH, my soul, and do not forget all His kindness.

He forgives all your sins and heals all your sickness; He redeems your life from destruction and crowns you with love and compassion.

YHVH is gracious and merciful, abounding in love and slow to anger; He will not always scold nor will He be angry forever.

As the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His love for those fearing Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove from us our sins.

Friday, 25 February 2022 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

James 5 : 9-12

Beloved, do not fight among yourselves and you will not be judged. See, the Judge is already at the door. Take for yourselves, as an example of patience, the suffering of the prophets, who spoke in the Lord’s Name. See how those who were patient are called blessed. You have heard of the patience of Job and know how the Lord dealt with him in the end. For the Lord is merciful and shows compassion.

Above all, my beloved, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth, or make a habit of swearing. Let your yes be yes and your no be no, lest you become liable for judgment.

Thursday, 24 February 2022 : 7th 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 Scriptures, we are all called and reminded by the Lord not to be corrupt in our actions and deeds, in our way of life and how we treat one another in this life. We have to keep in mind that we are all called to seek life that is greater than what we are often desiring and are familiar with. We are called to a life of holiness and virtue, to be filled with the grace and blessings of God in all things, and to dedicate ourselves to the path that God has shown us.

In our first reading today from the Epistle of St. James the Apostle, we heard the words of St. James speaking against the actions of the rich and the mighty, whom at that time often oppressed and manipulated the poor and the weak for their own selfish desires and benefits. Many of the rich and the powerful often sought to advance their own ambitions and to fulfil their own desires and plans, which often led to the sufferings of others through exploitation and many other things that man often did in order to secure their own advantages and privileges, and which often led to confrontations when their desires were not fulfilled.

Do note that St. James did not condemn the rich for the sake of condemning them, and neither did he or the Church condemn the rich as they were. Rather, what St. James was addressing, in truth, was the attitudes and actions carried out by many among the rich because of their wickedness and inability to resist the worldly temptations all around them. Just as I myself often mentioned in earlier occasions, wealth and riches themselves are not inherently evil or wicked. We must remember that riches and goods of the world when used appropriately and for good purposes can even be great boon and source of joy for many people.

Rather, it is our own often unhealthy attachment and obsession over those riches and worldly goods that we have to be wary for. Otherwise, as many of our predecessors have experienced, we may find it difficult for us to resist those many temptations and may end up enriching ourselves or seeking our own personal happiness and pleasures while causing hurt, suffering and pain to others. And it is by these actions and wicked deeds that we shall be judged by the Lord in the end. That is why we must do our best to be righteous and virtuous in all things just as the Lord had told us to do.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord reminding His disciples and followers to be good role models in faith, that they should be exemplary in their actions and be inspiration to one another. Their actions and deeds, their words and interactions should not bring about division and scandal to the Church and the faith. Most importantly, they must not mislead and corrupt the innocent faithful and members of the community to the wrong path by their actions. And this is why, it is important for us to discern carefully our path going forward in life, in obeying God and doing what He has commanded us to do.

The Lord also spoke rather harshly about how one ought to cut off their feet and legs, limbs, or their eyes should those parts led them to sin against God. But just as I mentioned earlier regarding the matter of the rich and the powerful, those body parts and organs of ours are not inherently evil on their own. Rather, it is our own desires, our hearts, our minds and thoughts that can mislead us down the wrong path should we allow the corruption of sin to run free through our hearts and minds, that is if we give the devil free rein to lead us down the path of sin and death.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have to resist the temptations to sin, and resist the allures of worldly temptations of glory, fame, wealth, pleasures among many other things, and trying our best to prevent us from developing unhealthy attachments and obsessions over worldly things. Instead, all of us are called to remember all that the Lord had taught and shown us, in how we ought to be righteous, loving and dedicated in following Him. We are all called to do our best to be the bearers of God’s light and truth in our darkened world today, to be His witnesses among our own communities and in various places we are at.

Now, are we willing and able to contribute to the best of our abilities in doing so? Are we able to give our best to the Lord and focus ourselves on Him? The Lord has given us many opportunities, a lot of blessings and talents for us to make use of and to share with those who have need of them. Let us do whatever we can, and wherever we are able to, to help one another to be ever more faithful to God. May the Lord be with us always, and may He bless us in our every good works, efforts and endeavours. Amen.

Thursday, 24 February 2022 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 9 : 41-50

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone gives you a drink of water because you belong to Christ and bear His Name, truly, I say to you, he will not go without reward. If anyone should cause one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble and sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a great millstone around his neck.”

“If your hand makes you fall into sin, cut it off! It is better for you to enter life without a hand, than with two hands to go to hell, to the fire that never goes out. And if your foot makes you fall into sin, cut it off! It is better for you to enter life without a foot, than with both feet to be thrown into hell.”

“And if your eye makes you fall into sin, tear it out! It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, keeping both eyes, to be thrown into hell, where the worms that eat them never die, and the fire never goes out. The fire itself will preserve them.”

“Salt is a good thing; but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another.”