Tuesday, 1 March 2022 : 8th 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 Lord in the Scriptures, we are all called to follow the Lord with great devotion and commitment, giving ourselves to the mission which He has entrusted all of us and which He has called us to do in our lives, in our world today. Each and every one of us as Christians have received this same calling from the Lord, to follow Him and to dedicate ourselves and our every beings and contributions to His cause. We are God’s chosen people, His beloved children.

In our first reading today, we heard the words of the Apostle St. Peter who spoke to us through his Epistle regarding the revelation of God’s truth which all Christians have received from the Lord Himself, through Christ Who has come into this world, our Lord and Saviour, and which He has passed down to us through His Church and His disciples. And this truth which we have received, the love that we have been blessed with by God, the kindness and attention that we have received from the Lord, all these should be our motivation to live our lives wholeheartedly, walking in the path that God has shown us.

Unfortunately, the reality is such that, many of us are often not doing what we are supposed to do as God’s followers and disciples. We carry on living our lives while ignoring the calling of the Lord, living our lives in the way that we want it to be, and not following or listening to the words of the Lord speaking to us in our hearts. We often closed our hearts to God, and it is often simply because we are too busy thinking and worrying about our daily worldly agenda and matters. We barely spent any time even for the Lord, preferring to spend a lot of time instead for things that satisfy us, our desires and wishes.

We do not have to look far beyond ourselves and our fellow brothers and sisters in faith. How many of us know of fellow Christians, even those from within our own families and circle of friends, who have lapsed from the faith, or stopped attending and participating in the Holy Mass and other celebrations and events of our faith life? And even among all of us who are still actively participating in the Church and the various activities of faith, how many of us spend good quality time with the Lord, especially through prayer?

In our Gospel passage today we heard the Lord speaking to His disciples, reassuring them all that those who have given themselves and their lives to Him, in great dedication and commitment, shall never be disappointed. This is because God Himself knows everything that they have done, and while the disciples and followers of the Lord may encounter challenges, trials and sufferings because of their faith, but their faith and commitment to God will always be remembered, and because of this, all of us should not be hesitant anymore in following God.

That is yet another reason why people often did not follow the Lord wholeheartedly, as we are often afraid of the persecutions, sufferings, trials and various other obstacles that we may have to endure in following the Lord. And because of these too, we are often afraid of losing our worldly privileges and all the good things we have enjoyed in life, and we are afraid of losing them. Hence, that was why we ended up veering off away from the Lord’s path and turned more and more into the divergent paths of the world.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we are about to begin the season of Lent starting tomorrow with Ash Wednesday, all of us are reminded to put away our many concerns, fears, attachments and all things that have kept us away from God for so long. If we have been distracted from following God all these while, then let us make it our Lenten commitment and pledge for us to follow the Lord with ever greater dedication and to purify ourselves from the many temptations and the many corruptions that have often prevented us from finding our way to the Lord.

Let us all devote ourselves anew to the Lord, and strive to give our very best to Him, making use of this great opportunity we have received in this upcoming season of Lent, to redirect our attention and focus once again on Our Lord, on His truth, love and grace. Let us be deepen our relationships with Him through prayer, and commit ourselves more and more to do greater works for His greater glory. May all of us have a blessed season of Lent starting tomorrow, and may God be with us all. Amen.

Tuesday, 1 March 2022 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 10 : 28-31

At that time, Peter spoke up and said, “We have given up everything to follow You.” Jesus answered, “Truly, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters, or father or mother, or children, or lands, for My sake and for the Gospel, who will not receive his reward.”

“I say to you : even in the midst of persecution, he will receive a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and lands in the present time, and in the world to come eternal life. Do pay attention : many who are now first will be last, and the last, first.”

Tuesday, 1 March 2022 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 97 : 1, 2-3ab, 3c-4

Sing to YHVH a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

YHVH has shown His salvation, revealing His justice to the nations. He has not forgotten His love, nor His faithfulness to Israel.

The farthest ends of the earth all have seen God’s saving power. All you, lands, make a joyful noise to YHVH, break into song and sing praise.

Tuesday, 1 March 2022 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Peter 1 : 10-16

This was the salvation for which the prophets so eagerly looked when, in days past, they foretold the favour of God, with regard to you. But they could only investigate when the Spirit of Christ present within them, pointed out the time and the circumstances, of this – the sufferings of Christ, and the glories which would follow.

It was revealed to them, that they were working, not for themselves, but for you. Thus, in these days, after the Holy Spirit has been sent from heaven, the Gospel’s preachers have taught you these mysteries, which even the Angels long to see.

So, then, let your spirit be ready. Be alert, with confident trust, in the grace you will receive, when Jesus Christ appears. Like obedient children, do not return to your former life, given over to ignorance and passions. Imitate the One Who called you. As He is holy, so you, too, be holy, in all your conduct, since Scripture says : Be holy for I am holy.

Monday, 28 February 2022 : 8th 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 being reminded of the importance for us to be truly faithful to God, to obey His Law and commandments, to be attuned to Him and strive to be genuine in our dedication and efforts to be ever committed to His cause. It means that as Christians we must not be lukewarm in our faith, and we should not be ignorant over what we are all called to do as Christians, in being true and good witnesses of the Lord’s truth in our world today.

In our first reading today, we listened to the words of St. Peter the Apostle speaking to us all through his Epistle regarding the matter of how faith in God is much more important than all the riches and pleasures of the world. In the end, no matter how much gold and wealth we mankind may gather, but unless we have faith in the Lord, we will have nothing left with us. All the riches and worldly things we have and gathered with us will never satisfy us, and it will not last forever. And we can neither bring all of those things with us.

That is exactly why it is folly for us to spend so much time and effort to build for ourselves a great and rich bounty and treasure in this world, and then end up losing our connection and links to the Lord. Unfortunately, that was exactly what many of us had done in the past. We often focused so much on worldly matters, our desires, ambitions and wants among many others, that we end up distancing ourselves more and more from the Lord. Many of us Christians ended up falling away from the path towards God and His salvation.

Today, in our Gospel passage we heard of how the Lord spoke to His disciples and a man who came up to Him and asking Him what he should do to seek the kingdom of God. In that occasion, the man already stated that he had already followed all the precepts and commandments of the Law, obeying everything as the Law of God as revealed through Moses had asked him to do. Yet, when the Lord then asked the man to do one last thing to follow Him, that is by leaving everything behind, selling all of his possessions and goods, and giving them to the poor, the man was immediately saddened, turning away and walked away from the Lord.

It was highlighted how the man was a man of great wealth. Therefore, it was implied that the man agonised a lot over the thought of being separated from all of his great possessions and wealth, and therefore, left in sorrow because he could not do it at all. Yet, lest we misunderstood thinking that God wants us to sell off all of our wealth and possessions, which is not what He intended for us, we must realise that the Lord wanted to prove us a point that our attachments to worldly things often become our greatest obstacle in our path towards the Lord and His salvation.

The man with great wealth loved his wealth and possessions much more than he loved the Lord, and despite his obedience to the precepts and details of the Law and the commandments of God, he had not yet made the Lord the number one priority in his life. And this was exactly what the Lord intended in saying through this encounter and experience. The man did not even try to do what the Lord had asked him to do, and instead, retreating in sorrow, without even trying to do what he can to fulfil the request from the Lord.

That is why, as Christians, all of us are called to detach ourselves from the worldly temptations and all the attachments that we often have towards the many corrupt desires of this world. We do not need to go to the extremes of selling all of our possessions and giving up everything we have, and rather, more importantly, we need to return the Lord to the most important part of our lives, to be the centre and focus of our lives. We have to put Him at the heart of our everyday living and strive to do whatever we can to glorify God by our lives, our every actions, words and deeds.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we are also about to enter into the season of Lent, the forty days of preparation, of fasting and abstinence and of reorientation of our lives, let us all make great use of this opportunity which God has given to us, so that we may draw ever closer to Him, and grow ever more in our faith and dedication to Him. Let us all devote our time, effort and attention to serve the Lord wholeheartedly from now on, and let us do whatever we can to be great role models and inspirations for one another in our faith and in how we live up to this faith in our respective lives.

May God be with us all always, and may He strengthen us in our desire and resolve to lead an ever more faithful life, and a life that is filled with ever greater sincere desire to follow the path which God has shown us, distancing ourselves from the allures of worldly excesses and evils. May God bless us always, in our every good works, deeds and endeavours, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 28 February 2022 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 10 : 17-27

At that time, just as Jesus was setting out on His journey again, a man ran up, knelt before Him and asked, “Good Master, what must I do to have eternal life?”

Jesus answered, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments : Do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not cheat, honour your father and mother.” The man replied, “I have obeyed all these commandments since my childhood.”

Then Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him and He said, “For you, one thing is lacking. Go, sell what you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come and follow Me.” On hearing these words, his face fell and he went away sorrowful, for he was a man of great wealth.

Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God” The disciples were shocked at these words, but Jesus insisted, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

They were more astonished than ever and wondered, “Who, then, can be saved?” Jesus looked steadily at them and said, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God; all things are possible with God.”

Monday, 28 February 2022 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 110 : 1-2, 5-6, 9 and 10c

Alleluia! I thank YHVH with all my heart in the council of the just, in the assembly. The works of YHVH are great and pondered by all who delight in them.

Always mindful of His Covenant, He provides food for those who fear Him. He shows His people the power of His arm by giving them the lands of other nations.

He has sent His people deliverance and made with them a Covenant forever. His holy Name is to be revered! To Him belongs everlasting praise.

Monday, 28 February 2022 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Peter 1 : 3-9

Let us praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for His great mercy. In raising Jesus Christ from the dead He has given us new life and a living hope. The inheritance that does not corrupt nor goes bad nor passes away was reserved to you in heavens, since God’s power shall keep you faithful until salvation is revealed in the last days.

There is cause for joy, then, even though you may, for a time, have to suffer many trials. Thus will your faith be tested, like gold in a furnace. Gold, however, passes away but faith, worth so much more, will bring you in the end praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ appears.

You have not yet seen Him and yet you love Him; even without seeing Him, you believe in Him and experience a heavenly joy beyond all words, for you are reaching the goal of your faith : the salvation of your souls.

Sunday, 27 February 2022 : Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday as we gather together and listen to the words of the Lord in the Sacred Scriptures, we are all reminded how all of us have to be true to our faith in God, to be righteous and good in all things just as He has commanded and taught us to do in our lives. We have to be active in living our faith and not just paying lip service to the Lord only. We cannot be idle and ignorant of what the Lord had told us to do, through all the guidance He has shown us through His Church.

In our first reading today, we heard from the book of the prophet Sirach in which the Lord spoke to His people regarding how a person can be seen and witnessed from his or her actions and deeds, from their words and all their interactions, just as a tree’s qualities can be seen from its fruits among other examples. It was also mentioned how a potter usually tests his wares and products by testing them with fire, and all the hidden flaws will be revealed that way. Nothing can be hidden away and all can and may be revealed.

What does this mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that we cannot fake our faith, or think that we can deceive others by our appearances if deep inside we do not truly have faith in the Lord. That was why, sadly, many people found it difficult to believe in God because many among us Christians do not even practice our faith and behave in the manner appropriate to our identity as those who believe in the Lord. That is exactly why many were scandalised by what they had seen in the attitudes of Christians, who behaved not according to what the Christian truth is all about.

This same sentiment is echoed by the Lord Himself as we heard it in our Gospel passage today, in which we heard the Lord speaking to His disciples regarding the matter how people should be truly faithful to God and be willing to reflect on their own attitudes first before they judge others or condemn others for being less faithful or worthy than they were, which was unfortunately a rather common situation among the people of Israel at the time, particularly among the members of the Pharisees and the elders and the chief priests.

They were the ones who always thought highly of themselves and conversely looked down on others, condemning others they deemed to be unworthy of God and His salvation like that of the tax collectors and prostitutes, or those who were possessed or were suffering from diseases and other afflictions. They thought of themselves as worthy and justified in their actions, in their exclusivity and refusal to engage in genuine dialogue with the Lord and His disciples, and instead preferring to hinder Him and putting obstacles in all the occasions and the places wherever He went to.

That was the example of what the Lord said as the blind leading the blind, and a man with a plank in his eye who chose to point out the speck in another’s eye, while ignoring the plank in his very own eye. Unfortunately, this was a common attitude not only just among the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, but also among us Christians as well. Many of us often think of ourselves as being better than others and are easily prejudiced and biased against those whom we perceived to be less than worthy of the Lord and His saving grace as well as love.

That is exactly how we fell to this same trap of self-righteousness, selfishness, self-aggrandisement and other traps that have often trapped many of us since the beginning of time. Ever since man first fell into sin, we have always struggled against the allures of worldly desires, of personal desires for pleasure and satisfaction, for self-fulfilment and happiness, often even at the cost of others around us. That was how mankind often brought about suffering to others around them, all because they thought first and foremost of themselves first, ignoring others and their needs.

And as long as our internal predisposition and orientation are not set right as we should have, then we will likely fall again and again into this path of sin, wickedness and evil, this path of selfishness and jealousy, of self-preservation and the desire for personal glory, satisfaction and attainment. This is why today, on this Sunday all of us are reminded by the words of the Lord Himself, that we have to begin making the efforts to nurture within us all, a true heart, mind and soul that are all attuned towards the Lord, filled with genuine faith and love for Him.

In our second reading today, we heard St. Paul in his Epistle and letter to the Church and the faithful in the city of Corinth, speaking about the matter of sin and death. He spoke of how sin is the sting of death, for through sin brought about by their disobedience and by succumbing to their desires, man had brought upon themselves the suffering and punishment of death. Sin is the weeds that the devil has sowed in our hearts, as we heard in one of the parables of the Lord, when the enemy came to sow the seeds of weeds among the seeds of good wheat.

Then St. Paul also spoke of how the Lord has triumphed over sin and death, and through Him, He has shown us this path of victory against sin and evil, against death and all the tyranny and bondage that they had over us all these while. Yet, it is us mankind who have often fell back again and again into sin, because we do not have that strong and genuine faith in the Lord, and we still have too many and too strong attachments to sin, to the many temptations and desires found in this world, to all the things that often distracted us in our journey towards the Lord.

First of all, as mentioned earlier, it is important that as Christians we have to realise that we must always be vigilant against our ego and pride, our desires and all the temptations present all around us. We have to be humble and to rid of ourselves all the excesses of our pride and ego, which often were the sources of our downfall. If we allow those things to mislead us and distract us from the path of God, then very easily we will end up following the wrong path in life, and falling ever deeper into the traps of sin, and eventually to eternal death and suffering.

If we do not want this to happen, then first of all we have to reorientate our lives from one that is centred on ourselves, our ego and desires, into new lives that are centred on God, on His truth and love. This is what the Lord wants from us, and this is what this Sunday’s Scripture readings had been intended to, in order to wake us up from our slumber in this world, and so that we may stir and do our best to seek the Lord with a renewed conviction, zeal and passion in our respective lives.

We have to realise that we are weak and imperfect, and we often need help in our journey through life. We cannot just solely depend on ourselves and our power alone, but instead we have to cooperate and work with God, allowing Him to lead us down the right path. And in order to do that, often we have to be in touch with Him and ourselves, knowing how sinful and flawed we have been. Otherwise, if we allow pride and ego to fill our minds and hearts, then in our self-righteousness, we will end up shutting the Lord out, and consequently, we will only end up getting more and more distant from one another.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, instead of us comparing who amongst us are better, more worthy, more righteous, more pious or holy, let us all realise that we are all sinners in need of God’s healing and mercy. And the Lord is the only One Who can provide us our true happiness in life, and in Him we can put our full trust always. He has called us all to follow Him, and all that remains is for us to follow Him and trust Him wholeheartedly from now on. And as Christians, we should help and inspire one another in this journey of faith, supporting and strengthening one another instead of trying to outdo or compete with each other, nurturing in ourselves a heart filled with love for God and faith and trust in Him.

May the Lord, our most loving God, continue to bless us and guide us, and may He continue to watch over us, and help us to remain humble and committed to Him, that we may resist all the temptations of our ego and pride, our desires and the attachments we have to our worldly temptations and concerns. May God bless all of our good endeavours, works and efforts, in all things, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 27 February 2022 : Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 6 : 39-45

At that time, Jesus offered this example, “Can a blind person lead another blind person? Surely both will fall into a ditch. A disciple is not above the master; but when fully trained, he will be like the master. So why do you pay attention to the speck in your brother’s eye, while you have a log in your eye, and are not conscious of it?”

“How can you say to your neighbour, ‘Friend, let me take this speck out of your eye,’ when you cannot remove the log in your own? You hypocrite! First remove the log from your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your neighbour’s eye.”

“No healthy tree bears bad fruit, no poor tree bears good fruit. And each tree is known by the fruit it bears : you do not gather figs from thorns, or grapes from brambles. Similarly, the good person draws good things from the good stored in his heart, and an evil person draws evil things from the evil stored in his heart. For the mouth speaks from the fullness of the heart.”