Thursday, 28 January 2021 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scripture we are brought to attention of the fact that all of us as Christians have received the calling to proclaim the Word of God, the truth of God and be faithful witnesses of our Christian faith in the midst of our respective communities and societies. Unless we do this, we cannot truly call ourselves as Christians, and our faith is merely one that is a formality and not genuine.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord speaking to His disciples using a parable, of that of the light placed on a lampstand. By using that parable, the Lord wanted all of us to know that we must never be passive or be ignorant of our calling to be the bearers of God’s light and truth in the midst of our communities. The light that He referred to in the parable represent the truth that He Himself had brought into this world and which we had received, through His Church.

It also represents all the gifts, talents, abilities and opportunities we have received and been blessed with by God. Thus, whatever it is that we have received from God, we should not take for granted and we should make good use of them, in whatever opportunity we have, to be good disciples and followers of Christ. And what does this mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that we should be His genuine witnesses, to bear His love in the midst of our communities, among the members of our own families and relatives and in our circle of friends and to those whom we encounter daily in life.

As our first reading from the Epistle to the Hebrews highlighted to us, we proclaim our faith in Jesus Christ, the One true and Eternal High Priest Who had come into this world, accepting His mission to be the One to offer the perfect and worthy sacrifice for the sake of our salvation. And this sacrifice was none other than His own Most Precious Body and Blood, to be both the High Priest offering for our sake and the Paschal Lamb of sacrifice. By the outpouring of His Blood, His suffering and death on the Cross, Christ has brought us a new hope of eternal life through Him.

This ultimate and most selfless love of Our Lord is what we are proclaiming, brothers and sisters in Christ. All of us should therefore first of all, love the Lord with all of our might and heart, and then, do our best to show the same love towards our fellow men, to our brothers and sisters. It is then by our actions and deeds, together with our words and love that we may inspire many others to believe in God as well, and they may also follow in our footsteps and receive God’s grace as well.

For ourselves, we can also be inspired by the faith and examples showed by St. Thomas Aquinas whose feast we are celebrating this very day. St. Thomas Aquinas was the famous theologian, known as among the best if not the best of those who seek to understand more of the nature of God in theology. He was renowned for his pivotal work, the Summa Theologiae. He was also remembered for his many other contributions, writings and works which still influenced and inspired so many people long after his passing.

St. Thomas Aquinas was however also remembered for his great love for the Lord, in his tireless desire to glorify God and to lead a holy and exemplary life. And for his dedication to love the Lord and his efforts, all of us should also be inspired and be strengthened in our faith. All of us have so much potential in us to be great in our commitment and works, in touching the lives of others positively and in being genuine witnesses of our Lord at all times.

Let us all proclaim the Lord and His truth most wholeheartedly each and every moments of our lives, through even our smallest and least significant of actions. Let us all be genuine in loving God and in dedicating ourselves to Him just as St. Thomas Aquinas had done, and as our many holy predecessors had done and lived through their lives. Let us all glorify the Lord by our lives and be true to our Christian faith, at all times. Amen.

Thursday, 28 January 2021 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 4 : 21-25

At that time, Jesus also said to His disciples, “When the light comes, is it put under a basket or a bed? Surely it is put on a lamp stand. Whatever is hidden will be disclosed, and whatever is kept secret will be brought to light. Listen then, if you have ears!”

And He also said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear. In the measure you give, so shall you receive, and still more will be given to you. For to the one who produces something, more will be given; and from him who does not produce anything, even what he has will be taken away from him.”

Thursday, 28 January 2021 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 23 : 1-2, 3-4ab, 5-6

The earth and its fullness belong to the Lord, the world and all that dwell in it. He has founded it upon the ocean and set it firmly upon the waters.

Who will ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who will stand in His holy place? Those with clean hands and pure heart, who desire not what is vain.

They will receive blessings from the Lord, a reward from God, their Saviour. Such are the people who seek Him, who seek the face of Jacob’s God.

Thursday, 28 January 2021 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Hebrews 10 : 19-25

So, my friends, we are assured of entering the Sanctuary, by the Blood of Jesus Who opened, for us, this new and living way, passing through the curtain, that is, His Body. Because we have a High Priest in charge of the House of God, let us approach, with a sincere heart, with full faith, interiorly cleansed from a bad conscience, and our bodies washed, with pure water.

Let us hold fast to our hope, without wavering, because He, Who promised, is faithful. Let us consider, how we may spur one another to love and good works. Do not abandon the assemblies, as some of you do, but encourage one another, and all the more, since the Day is drawing near.

Tuesday, 26 January 2021 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Timothy and St. Titus, Bishops (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

2 Timothy 1 : 1-8

From Paul, Apostle of Christ Jesus, by the will of God, for the sake of His promise of eternal life, in Christ Jesus, to my dear son Timothy. May grace, mercy and peace be with you, from God, the Father, and Christ Jesus our Lord.

I give thanks to God, Whom I serve with a clear conscience, the way my ancestors did, as I remember you constantly, day and night, in my prayers. I recall your tears, and I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, so like the faith of your grandmother Lois and of your mother Eunice, which I am sure you have inherited.

For this reason, I invite you to fan into a flame, the gift of God you received, through the laying on of my hands. For God did not confer on us a spirit of fearfulness, but of strength, love and good judgment. Do not be ashamed of testifying to our Lord, nor of seeing me in chains. On the contrary, do your share in labouring for the Gospel, with the strength of God.

Alternative reading

Titus 1 : 1-5

From Paul, servant of God, Apostle of Christ Jesus, at the service of God’s chosen people, so that they may believe, and reach the knowledge of truth and godliness. The eternal life we are waiting for was promised from the very beginning, by God, Who never lies, and as the appointed time had come, He made it known, through the message entrusted to me by a command of God, our Saviour.

Greetings to you, Titus, my true son in the faith we share. May grace and peace be with you from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I left you in Crete because I wanted you to put right, what was defective, and appoint elders in every town, following my instructions.

Wednesday, 13 January 2021 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hilary, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we heard of the works of the Lord, in ministering to us, His beloved ones, as described in the Epistle to the Hebrews as well as in our Gospel passage today. We heard of all the tangible works that the Lord had done in our midst, as Our Lord and Saviour, showing the genuine love of God to each and every one of us.

The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews in our first reading today clearly and plainly described the works that the Lord had done, in coming down upon us and in taking up our human nature. By His sharing with us in His humanity, in the real and tangible existence in flesh and blood, the Lord has gathered us all in and embraced us with love, and led us into the new path towards His salvation.

He came to heal us from our sins, from all the afflictions that had been affecting us, all these while. In the Gospel today we heard how the Lord had laboured to touch all those who had been afflicted with various diseases and conditions, and possessed by evil spirits. The Lord healed them all and showed His love for them generously, but He did not stay on in just one place.

When His disciples asked Him why He disappeared as many more were waiting on Him, He told the disciples that He was also needed elsewhere, as there were still many others who had not yet heard of the truth and seen the love that He was to bring unto their midst. Thus, the Lord continued to show the love and mercy of God to all of us, the children of God, wherever He could, and sent His disciples before Him to help in His works.

But, His ultimate design came to be revealed in what He had willingly accepted at the end of His ministry in this world, as He accepted the burden of the Cross, as our High Priest and Mediator with God, as described and explained by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews in our first reading today. As our High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ became the Mediator between us and God, His heavenly Father, being the Bridge between us and Him.

While the priests of the Old Testament offered sacrifices of animals and their spilt blood upon the Altar, the Lord offered nothing less than Himself, as He is indeed both the High Priest as well as the perfect and unblemished Lamb of God, though sinless and without fault, willingly shouldered upon Himself the whole burden and weight of our multitudes of sins and faults. He offered for our sake the perfect sacrifice worthy of the forgiveness of our sins.

The Lord accepted this burden and role out of His amazing love for us, in enduring all the sufferings, humiliation and trials for our sake. He has humbled Himself and emptied Himself of all glory and majesty to bring us back to Himself, to embrace us and to love us all once again as He had always intended to. Due to sin, we have been separated from the love of God, and we should have suffered death and destruction. Yet, it was by God’s grace that we have been spared such a fate.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we all know of just how great the Lord has loved us, all these while, then let us all appreciate and love the Lord with all of our strength. And perhaps we should be inspired by the examples set by St. Hilary of Poitiers, whose feast day we celebrate today, and whose contributions and great commitment to the Lord and the Church we ought to remember this day.

St. Hilary of Poitiers was one of the most renowned early Church fathers and leader as the Bishop of Poitiers and defender of the true faith amidst the many challenges, heresies and divisions facing the Church during his time. At that time, there were numerous heresies misleading the faithful with false teachings, particularly that of the Arian heresy, which was widespread and supported even by powerful members of the community.

St. Hilary of Poitiers himself was not born as a Christian, but turned to the faith together with his family after he began delving into the study of the Christian Scriptures, their texts and faith. And the people saw the greatness and piety in St. Hilary of Poitiers, who was so well-respected by the faithful that they all unanimously elected him as their bishop, as the Bishop of Poitiers.

At that time, the Arian heresy was spreading rapidly, and as the heretics attempted to overcome the Church and even persecute the believers of the true faith, St. Hilary of Poitiers dedicated himself to struggle against the efforts of the Arians, and laboured hard in order to regain the faithful from the clutches of the false teachers and leaders. He encountered plenty of challenges and difficulties, having to endure even exile for his steadfastness in opposing the heresies and falsehoods.

But through his tireless efforts, his many writings and contributions, eventually, not only that St. Hilary of Poitiers managed to return to his See, but together with many others who upheld the true, orthodox Christian faith, he also began to stem the tide of heresy and lies that eventually saw the triumph of the true and orthodox Christian faith as upheld by the Ecumenical Councils and passed down authentically from the Apostles.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us have heard of the commitment and the efforts put by St. Hilary of Poitiers, who dedicated himself to the service of God with all of his strength. Having known of God’s love ourselves, can we follow in St. Hilary’s footsteps, brothers and sisters? Let us all seek to serve the Lord and glorify His Name at every possible opportunities, from now on. May God bless us and be our Guide in our journey towards Him. Amen.

Wednesday, 13 January 2021 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hilary, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Mark 1 : 29-39

At that time, on leaving the synagogue, Jesus went to the home of Simon and Andrew with James and John. As Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with fever, they immediately told Him about her. Jesus went to her and, taking her by the hand, raised her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

That evening at sundown, people brought to Jesus all the sick and those who had evil spirits : the whole town was pressing around the door. Jesus healed many who had various diseases, and drove out many demons; but He did not let them speak, for they knew Who He was.

Very early in the morning, before daylight, Jesus went off to a lonely place where He prayed. Simon and the others went out also, searching for Him; and when they found Him, they said, “Everyone is looking for You.” Then Jesus answered, “Let us go to the nearby villages so that I may preach there too; for that is why I came.”

So Jesus set out to preach in all the synagogues throughout Galilee; He also cast out demons.

Wednesday, 13 January 2021 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hilary, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Psalm 104 : 1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9

Give thanks to the Lord, call on His Name; make known His works among the nations. Sing to Him, sing His praise, proclaim all His wondrous deeds.

Glory in His holy Name; let those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and be strong; seek His face always.

You descendants of His servant Abraham, you sons of Jacob, His chosen ones! He is the Lord our God; His judgments reach the whole world.

He remembers His covenant forever, His promise to a thousand generations, the covenant He made with Abraham, the promise He swore to Isaac.

Wednesday, 13 January 2021 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hilary, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Hebrews 2 : 14-18

And because all those children share one same nature of flesh and blood, Jesus, likewise, had to share this nature. This is why His death destroyed the one holding the power of death, that is the devil, and freed those who remained in bondage all their lifetime, because of the fear of death.

Jesus came, to take by the hand, not the Angels but the human race. So, He had to be like His brothers and sisters, in every respect, in order to be the High Priest, faithful to God and merciful to them, a Priest, able to ask pardon, and atone for their sins. Having been tested through suffering, He is able to help those who are tested.

Saturday, 2 January 2021 : Weekday of Christmas Time, Memorial of St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all called to proclaim the truth of God and to hold fast to the same truth that the Lord has passed down onto us through His Church. We should not be easily swayed by the temptations and the lies of Satan, and all that he has used in trying to lead us astray down the wrong path.

In our first reading today we heard from the Epistle of the Apostle St. John on the matter of the presence of antichrists, false prophets and the false leaders and teachers of the faithful who had and would, and indeed, in the future to come, will misguide the people of God into the path of ruin and sin against God. St. John reminded all the faithful to keep and to stay steadfast to what they had received from the very beginning.

He reminded us all of everything that the Lord had done for our sake, all that He had committed to us, by giving us His Son for our salvation and liberation from the bondage and enslavement to sin, as well as the tyranny of death. Through His Incarnation and birth into this world, and then by the truth and the salvation He brought to us by His sacrifice on the Cross, the Lord has saved us all, and this is what we all believe in as Christians.

In our Gospel passage today we heard of the faithful servant of God and the Herald of the Messiah, St. John the Baptist, who was calling the people to repent from their sinful ways, and who was baptising them with water in the River Jordan just before the Lord Himself was to begin His own ministry. He was confronted by many of the chief priests, Pharisees and all those who refused to believe in him and his works.

And we heard how St. John the Baptist courageously answered them all for their doubts and queries, and speaking of God’s works done through him. And when he was asked if he was the Messiah that was promised by God, St. John the Baptist resolutely and humbly spoke that he was not the One, and that he was not even worthy to untie the strip of His sandals. This was truly a great statement of faith and also a profound display of true humility that all of us Christians should be inspired by.

We have to contrast this to the behaviour of the many false teachers and leaders who had appeared and led the people astray throughout the history of the Church and man, those who claimed that they were the Messiah and profess to have the better knowledge of the truth when what they had were in fact falsehoods, utter nonsense and even came from the devil himself. They acted with pride and greed, selfishly focusing on themselves and their desires rather than serving God.

That is why today we should look upon the examples set by St. John the Baptist, as well as the many other devout and holy servants of God, particularly St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen, whose feast day we celebrate today. And quite fittingly, these two saints worked hard against the falsehoods of the heretics and all those who had led the people astray from God.

St. Basil the Great was the Bishop of Caesarea in Asia Minor, while St. Gregory Nazianzen, also known as St. Gregory of Nazianzus was the Archbishop of Constantinople, contemporaries who were the courageous and important leaders of the Church in the struggle against the heresies prevalent at that time, particularly the heresy of Arianism that bitterly divided many of the members of the faithful, clergy and the laity alike, and which was supported by powerful members of the nobles and the government.

St. Basil the Great rallied hard against the Arians and their teachings, resolutely refusing to let their perversion of the true faith to continue, rejecting their false ideas that the Lord Jesus as the Son was not equal to the Father, and that He was created rather than Co-Eternal with Him. He also worked hard against other heresies like Apollinarism that conflicted the understanding of the nature of Christ.

St. Gregory Nazianzen similarly also worked hard in combatting the same heresies in his See of Constantinople and beyond, and helped to strengthen the theological discourse and teachings of the true faith together with St. Basil and other holy fathers of the Church. They laboured hard against those false prophets and leaders, and following in the footsteps of the Apostles, continued to strengthen the foundations of the Church.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us have received the same truth of God through the Church, and we are all therefore called to continue the good works that were started by those holy fathers, St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen in particular. Let us all do our very best, in whatever capacity we have, to devote and dedicate our time and effort, in our daily lives in whatever little ways and things we do, to glorify God and to proclaim the truth of God in our communities, and lead more souls to the truth.

May God bless us all in our good endeavours and efforts, and may Holy Fathers, St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen always intercede for us all. Amen.