Saturday, 11 January 2020 : Saturday after the Epiphany (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we heard the words of the Scripture, on which we are reminded first of all on the matter of sin, which we must take seriously as sin is a serious obstacle on our way towards God the Father, and we have to be wary and be vigilant against our vulnerability towards those sins. And we must know how merciful God is towards us, as His love for us truly exceeds even the multitudes of our sins.

And God is calling on us to turn away from those sins and embrace His merciful and compassionate love. And He is also calling on us all today on the need for us to reach out to our brethren around us, to call on them and to remind one another on the need to realign our lives once again with God. The Lord has provided us with His truth through His Son, Our Lord Jesus as St. John mentioned in his Epistle in our first reading passage today.

We need to know that it is our Christian duty and obligation for us to reach out to our brethren who are falling out of their faith and path towards God. If we do not do so while we are perfectly capable of doing so, then we are actually partly to blame if they end up falling further and deeper into sin, because we have committed a sin of omission by our failure to act. We have to help one another in our journey of faith as we are bound to face challenges along this journey.

Now, we should look at the good examples set by St. John the Baptist in our Gospel passage today, as the inspiration and example we should hold up to, as we strive to become a better disciple and follower of the Lord. We all know how St. John the Baptist was vigorous in his works in calling on the people to repent from their sins and baptised many people at the River Jordan, which he still continued to do as we heard in our Gospel passage today.

That was when some of the disciples of St. John the Baptist came to him and complained that the Lord Jesus, Who was baptised by St. John the Baptist himself not long previously, was also baptising and getting more and more people to follow Him. The disciples made such a comment out of fear and jealousy, thinking of Jesus and His disciples as the rivals of their master, St. John the Baptist and themselves.

But St. John the Baptist was instead happy that more and more people were flocking to the Lord, and he reiterated what he has once told the Levites and the priests earlier on, that he was just a mere servant, whose role was to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah. He humbly did his best and continued his works; and was happy that he was able to prepare the way well for his Lord and Master, the One Saviour promised for the salvation of the world.

The attitude and dedication of St. John the Baptist are the things that all of us as Christians must be inspired to adapt and follow well, as first of all, as what we have discussed earlier, the Lord has called on us all to be caring for one another and to help those who are falling away from His salvation and grace. And then, the humility which St. John the Baptist clearly exhibited is a good reminder for all of us that we are all serving the greater purpose and for the greater glory of God and not for ourselves.

Are we able to do the same in our own lives, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we able to do our best in our respective lives that our lives may glorify God, and especially in our contributions as members of God’s Church, that we may inspire others around us whose faith are lukewarm and are in danger of slipping further and further into sin. Do not allow pride, greed and other negative things into us, as the devil is hard at work trying to distract us through the many temptations present all around us. Let us follow the humility and dedication showed by St. John the Baptist.

Hopefully we may become bright beacons of God’s light in this darkened world, to help lead everyone to God, that all of us will be saved together and live forever in God’s presence. May God be with us always. Amen.

Saturday, 11 January 2020 : Saturday after the Epiphany (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 3 : 22-30

At that time, Jesus went into the territory of Judea with His disciples. He stayed there with them and baptised. John was also baptising in Aenon, near Salim, where water was plentiful; people came to him and were baptised. This happened before John was put in prison.

Now John’s disciples had been questioned by a Jew about spiritual cleansing, so they came to John and said, “Rabbi, the One Who was with you across the Jordan, and about Whom you spoke favourably, is now baptising, and all are going to Him.”

John answered, “No one can receive anything, except what has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before Him.’ Only the bridegroom has the bride; but the friend of the bridegroom stands by and listens, and rejoices to hear the bridegroom’s voice. My joy is now full. It is necessary that He increase, but that I decrease.”

Saturday, 11 January 2020 : Saturday after the Epiphany (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 149 : 1-6, 9

Alleluia! Sing to the Lord a new song, sing His praise in the assembly of His saints. Let Israel rejoice in his Maker, let the people of Zion glory in their King!

Let them dance in praise of His Name and make music for Him with harp and timbrel. For the Lord delights in His people; He crowns the lowly with victory.

The saints will exult in triumph; even at night on their couches. Let the praise of God be on their lips, this is the glory of all His saints. Alleluia!

Saturday, 11 January 2020 : Saturday after the Epiphany (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 5 : 14-21

Through the Son of God we are fully confident that whatever we ask, according to His will, He will grant us. If we know that He hears us whenever we ask, we know that we already have what we asked of Him.

If you see your brother committing sin, a sin which does not lead to death, pray for him, and God will give life to your brother. I speak, of course, of the sin which does not lead to death. There is also a sin that leads to death; I do not speak of praying about this. Every kind of wrongdoing is sin, but not all sin leads to death.

We know, that those born of God do not sin, but the One Who was born of God, protects them, and the evil one does not touch them. We know, that we belong to God, while the whole world lies in evil. We know, that the Son of God has come and has given us power to know the truth. We are in Him Who is true, His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God, and eternal life. My dear children, keep yourselves from idols.

Friday, 10 January 2020 : Friday after the Epiphany (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we heard from the words of the Scriptures, we are reminded of the time when the Lord Jesus healed a person who suffered from leprosy, a disease that was truly feared at that time. For those who suffered from leprosy were treated with disdain and were rejected from the greater community, forced to live outside the boundaries of civilisation in the wilderness until they could prove that they had been completely healed from their leprosy.

Through what we have heard from our Gospel passage today, the Lord Jesus made a leper clean from all of his complaints and showed the leper that truly He was the Messiah, or the Saviour promised by God. The Lord Jesus showed the mercy and forgiveness of God to the leper, healing him from the disease and allowing him therefore to return to the society after being ostracised and excluded earlier on.

And this is what we have also heard from our first reading today, from the Epistle of St. John, in which we are reminded of the truth of God’s love, which He has shown us through Our Lord Jesus Christ, by which He has healed us from our sickness as well. Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, just as the leper was healed from his leprosy, all of us are also sick and in need of healing from God. I am referring to the sickness because of our sins.

Because of the sins we have committed, we have been separated from God, cast out from His presence and forced to wander in the ‘wilderness’ of this world. It is our sins that have made us to be like this, to be separated from God because no sin can ever stand in God’s presence, as God is all good and perfect, and sin is a corruption, dark and wicked thing which made us unworthy. But we must realise, brothers and sisters, that despite all these, God loves us all and wants us to be reconciled to Him.

That is why He gave us the best and most perfect gift of all when He gave us His own beloved Son to be our Saviour. And He showed us all these by the three testimonies that we have heard being mentioned by St. John the Apostle. The testimonies of the Spirit, blood and water are all that proved to us what the extent of God’s infinite love for us is like. It is through these manifestation of God’s love for us.

First of all, through the testimony of the Spirit, we have seen how the Lord Himself became tangible and visible to us. Remember that at the moment of the Incarnation, when the Word of God became Man, it was by the will of the Father and by the power of the Holy Spirit, that the Son was conceived in the womb of Mary, His mother. And again, when the moment that Christ was baptised in the Jordan, the Spirit descended like a dove upon Him, proclaiming with the Father’s words, that He is truly the Son of God and Saviour promised to Israel and the world.

And through water and blood, the truth of God’s love was given to us. Let us all look at the moment of the crucifixion of the Lord, when He laid down His life for our sake. As He hang upon the Cross, and died for us, and when He was pierced, blood and water immediately rushed out from His heart. This showed us all Who He truly is, as the Blood represents His divinity while the water represents His humanity, showing how God’s Son endured all the sufferings and die through His sacrifice, the ultimate show and representation of His love for us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are called to reflect on our relationship with God. God has loved us very much and has done so much for our sake, willingly sending His Son to be with us, to suffer for us and to bear our heavy burdens, to die for us that all of us who believe in Him may have life through Him and that we may be reconciled with God. Yet, have we loved God in the same manner? Have we devoted ourselves just as He has devoted Himself to us?

Let us all spend our time in getting closer to God and in establishing a loving and meaningful relationship with Him. Let us seek the grace and love of God, reconciling ourselves with Him and accepting the loving hands of God’s mercy extended to us, asking Him to heal us from our brokenness and sins. May the Lord be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 10 January 2020 : Friday after the Epiphany (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 5 : 12-16

At that time, one day, in another town, a man came to Jesus covered with leprosy. On seeing Jesus, the man bowed down to the ground, and said, “Lord, if You want to, You can make me clean.”

Stretching out His hand, Jesus touched the man and said, “Yes, I want to. Be clean.” In an instant, the leprosy left him. Then Jesus instructed him, “Tell this to no one. But go, and show yourself to the priest. Make an offering for your healing, as Moses prescribed; that will serve as evidence for them.”

But the news about Jesus spread all the more; and large crowds came to Him, to listen and to be healed of their sickness. As for Jesus, He would often withdraw to solitary places and pray.

Friday, 10 January 2020 : Friday after the Epiphany (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 147 : 12-13, 14-15, 19-20

Exalt YHVH, o Jerusalem; praise your God, o Zion! For He strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your children within you.

He grants peace on your borders and feeds you with the finest grain. He sends His command to the earth and swiftly runs His word.

It is He, Who tells Jacob His words; His laws and decrees, to Israel. This, He has not done for other nations, so His laws remain unknown to them. Alleluia!

Friday, 10 January 2020 : Friday after the Epiphany (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 5 : 5-13

Who has overcome the world? The one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus Christ was acknowledged through water, but also through Blood. Not only water but water and Blood. And the Spirit, too, witnesses to Him for the Spirit is truth.

There are then three testimonies : the Spirit, the water and the Blood, and these three witnesses agree. If we accept human testimony, with greater reason must we accept that of God, given in favour of His Son. If you believe in the Son of God, you have God’s testimony in you.

But those who do not believe make God a liar, since they do not believe His words when He witnesses to His Son. What has God said? That He has granted us eternal life and this life is in His Son. The one who has the Son has life, the one who do not have the Son of God do not have life.

I write you, then, all these things that you may know that you have eternal life, all you who believe in the Name of the Son of God.

Thursday, 9 January 2020 : Thursday after the Epiphany (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture in which we are reminded first of all that God has always loved us, and because of that, He fulfilled His promises to us, as we heard of the Lord Himself speaking and declaring the coming of His salvation, as He proclaimed publicly that all the things which have been prophesied about Him had been fulfilled because He has revealed Himself at last.

And what we have heard in God’s proclamation is how He loves us by caring for us, freeing us from the burdens of our sickness and shortcomings, healing the blind and the paralytic, helping those who have been assailed and troubled by other things, and proclaiming the coming of God’s kingdom on earth, as the fulfilment of His long awaited promises to us.

But many of us remained ignorant of this fact and many of us failed to recognise God and His love being present in our midst because we are too preoccupied with ourselves and too busy worrying about our own worldly desires and needs. That is why many among us, even the believers and members of the Church are not true disciples of the Lord as our faith are only a formality, empty and without real, living faith. We caused others to suffer and to endure bitterness because of our own selfishness.

This is what St. John spoke about in his Epistle, which was read as our first reading passage today. St. John spoke of the hypocrisy of many among the people of God who claimed to have faith in God and love Him and yet, they did not have real faith, as they did not truly appreciate and understand what it means to love God and to have faith in Him. If they are truly faithful to God, then they should follow what He has done and do what He has taught us.

Many of us claimed to be faithful to God, and yet in our daily living, the way we act and work, the way we interact with each other, God is not present at all. Instead, what we have certainly often seen and witnessed, is the pervasion of selfishness, ego, human pride, greed and all sorts of things that caused us to fall into sin and into the temptations of the devil. More often than not, we acted in ways that were contrary to our Christian faith.

And this makes us all hypocrites in faith as we live our lives in ways that are contrary to our beliefs and we are those whom St. John called in his Epistle today as ‘liars’. For as long as we do not live our lives according to God’s ways, we do not truly belong to Him and we do not really have faith as how we should have it. The Lord through His Apostle St. John therefore reminds us that if we consider ourselves as Christians then we must love in the manner God has loved us all.

This means that if we want to be true and genuine Christians, we must love one another and show care and concern to all those who are around us. We must be less selfish, less egoistic and less affected by the desires and pride in our hearts and minds. Just as God has loved us all that He sent us His own Son to be Our Saviour, then we too must share that same love we have been given with each other. It is only by doing this that we truly become His disciples and followers, and we will no longer be hypocrites.

It will not be easy for us to walk down this path though, as we probably should already know just how difficult it is for us to resist the many temptations of the devil who is constantly trying to drag us into sin, by persuading us to give in to our selfish inner desires, our preoccupation with worldly things and concerns that distract us from being able to recognise God’s love and our responsibility to share the same love with our brethren. We will encounter much trials and struggles along our journey.

But as long as we put our trust in God and in His love, we should not be afraid of anything. We must trust in God’s love and providence, and because He has done so much for us, we too must love just as He has loved us. Let us all thus heed His words and His calling for us to be loving to our fellow men, and practice this each and every days of lives from now on. May God bless us all, in our every good deeds and endeavours. Amen.

Thursday, 9 January 2020 : Thursday after the Epiphany (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 4 : 14-22a

At that time, Jesus acted with the power of the Spirit; and on His return to Galilee, the news about Him spread throughout all that territory. He began teaching in the synagogue of the Jews and everyone praised Him.

When Jesus came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, as He usually did. He stood up to read, and they handed Him the book of the prophet Isaiah.

Jesus then unrolled the scroll and found the place where it is written : “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me. He has anointed Me, to bring good news to the poor; to proclaim liberty to captives; and new sight to the blind; to free the oppressed; and to announce the Lord’s year of mercy.”

Jesus then rolled up the scroll, gave it to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. Then He said to them, “Today, these prophetic words come true, even as you listen.” All agreed with Him, and were lost in wonder, while He spoke of the grace of God.