Saturday, 14 January 2017 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard from the Sacred Scriptures about the calling of Levi, the tax collector, whom Jesus our Lord called to be one of His disciples, later known as St. Matthew the Apostle, also one of the Evangelists, the writers of the Four Holy Gospels. We also heard about the forgiveness of sins and the reconciliation of God and His people, through Himself as our High Priest.

Through these Scripture passages, the Church wants each of us as Christians to know that God is a loving and merciful God, Who is willing to forgive the sins of His people, provided that they themselves are willing to let God forgive them and provided that they are willing to change their ways, that they would sin no more, and from then on, follow the path of the Lord, that is the path of righteousness and justice.

Many of us often acted like the Pharisees, those who charged sinners for their sins and judged them based on what those sinners had done. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were often against Jesus and were vehemently against what He has done, because they often saw Him in the company of sinners, or what is more precisely, the definition of sinners according to them.

Jesus often walked among the least and the abandoned in the society, those with the afflictions of the flesh and the body, as well as the afflictions of the mind and heart. He worked with the destitute, those who were suffering from illnesses such as paralysis, leprosy and blindness, and also with the tax collectors and prostitutes, whom the Pharisees, the teachers of the Law and the populace in general considered as sinners and as those unworthy of God.

This is something that we must avoid, brothers and sisters in Christ. We cannot be exclusive and think of ourselves as the only ones who are worthy of God and His salvation. After all, each of us are sinners, having disobeyed the Lord in small or major ways, and sin has been in our hearts, without exception. The only exception is our Lord Jesus Himself, Who although He was Man, but He was without any taint of sin.

If we are sinners, then surely we cannot and we should not condemn anyone because of their sins. Why is this so? That is because if we condemn others because of their sins, then God will also condemn us because of our own sins. The act of condemnation and being judgmental themselves are sins in their own ways, because instead of trying to help and reach out to our brethren, we close the path and the door to salvation before them.

However, on the other hand, we should also not compromise on the need for a genuine repentance on the part of the sinner. Repentance is required for sinners to receive the grace of God’s mercy. It is a real danger that we become complacent and think that God is ever merciful and forgiving, that we tolerate ourselves and others around us in our sinful attitudes and deeds. God may be forgiving and loving, but at the same time, He also despises all sorts and forms of sin.

A sinner who does not repent remain a sinner, just as many of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law refused to repent from their wickedness and welcome the Lord’s truth. Their sins remained because they did not repent, and instead doubled down on their stubborn resistance to the works of our Lord which He made to all of us through Jesus.

Meanwhile, many sinners who repented and changed their ways became great saints, as Levi the tax collector himself showed. He was reviled and discriminated against as a tax collector, but eventually he turned over a new leaf with the Lord, and now he is revered as one of our Lord’s Twelve Apostles, His principle disciples, as well as with the accolade of becoming one of the four writers of the Holy Gospels. Through St. Matthew, many of God’s good works were done.

There were many other examples of sinners who later became saints and devoted servants of our Lord. But there were also many examples of the righteous who were tempted and seduced by the devil and fall into temptation. This is why it is important for us Christians to hold strongly to our faith and develop our spiritual life well, so that we may grow ever closer to God, and we will be better able to live a faithful, Christian life.

May the Lord help us and bless us in all of our endeavours, and may He keep us in His grace so that we may always stay close to Him and remain in His truth, and not fall into eternal damnation. May He forgive us our sins, and may He love us forevermore, gathering us to Himself. Amen.

Saturday, 14 January 2017 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)
Mark 2 : 13-17

At that time, when Jesus went out again beside the lake, a crowd came to Him, and He taught them. As He walked along, He saw a tax collector sitting in his office. This was Levi, the son of Alpheus. Jesus said to him, “Follow Me!” And Levi got up and followed Him.

And it so happened that when Jesus was eating in Levi’s house, tax collectors and sinners sat with Him and His disciples; there were a lot of them, and they used to follow Jesus. But Pharisees, men educated in the Law, when they saw Jesus eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to His disciples, “Why does your Master eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

Jesus heard them, and answered, “Healthy people do not need a doctor, but sick people do. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Saturday, 14 January 2017 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)
Psalm 18 : 8, 9, 10, 15

The Law of the Lord is perfect : it gives life to the soul. The word of the Lord is trustworthy : it gives wisdom to the simple.

The precepts of the Lord are right : they give joy to the heart. The commandments of the Lord are clear : they enlighten the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is pure, it endures forever; the judgements of the Lord are true, all of them just and right.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart find favour in Your sight, o Lord – my Redeemer, my Rock!

Saturday, 14 January 2017 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)
Hebrews 4 : 12-16

For the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword. It pierces to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and judges the intentions and thoughts of the heart. All creation is transparent to Him; everything is uncovered and laid bare to the eyes of Him to Whom we render account.

We have a great High Priest, Jesus, the Son of God, Who has entered heaven. Let us, then, hold fast to the faith we profess. Our High Priest is not indifferent to our weaknesses, for He was tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sinning. Let us, then, with confidence approach the throne of grace; we will obtain mercy and, through His favour, help in due time.

Friday, 13 January 2017 : 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, on this day we heard about the matter of the forgiveness of sins, as Jesus our Lord healed the paralytic man, telling him that He has forgiven him his sins, but the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law refused to believe that He was capable of forgiveness of sins, as to them, only God could forgive sins, and they did not believe that He is truly God.

This was precisely pointed out in the first reading today from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Hebrews, how two different types of people heard and received the Good News of the Gospel, but they acted differently, and thus different outcomes were recorded. In one group, the people who heard the Gospel believed in the message of the Lord, and they welcomed the truth of God in their hearts, and therefore they were saved.

However, in the other group, they refused to believe, and therefore the Word had no place in their hearts. They closed their hearts against the truth of God, and in their stubbornness, they had brought about their own downfall. God had freely offered His mercy, love and forgiveness, but if those people refused to accept them, then they would not be forgiven their sins and trespasses.

That was why the paralytic man was healed from his afflictions, because of his faith in God, Who made His good works true through Jesus His Son. He had sent His Son into the world in order to save it, and thus through Jesus, He had brought about His healing and forgiveness into the world. The paralytic man had been made whole in body and spirit, healed from his sickness and also forgiven from his sins.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law on the other hand, even though they were perfectly fine in the body, not afflicted by human diseases and weaknesses, but in their hearts, their sins remained. Sin is the disease of the soul, which gnaws away at our very being, and corrupting us from the inside out. This is why Jesus often rebuked them, at their impurities of their interior beings, while they insisted on outward appearances and exterior piety.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us ask ourselves, are we open to receive God’s mercy and forgiveness? Or are we more like the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who in their pride and greed refused to believe in the truth that Jesus our Lord had taught to all of them. They refused to acknowledge their sinfulness and wicked ways, and they adamantly refused to change their ways.

That is the attitude of those who have condemned themselves to an eternity of sufferings. Rather, as Christians, all of us should learn to be more like Christ, our Lord, following Him in His humility and obedience to the will of the Father. We should erase from our hearts all sorts of human pride and all the things that prevent us from finding the grace and forgiveness in God. And most importantly, we should be concerned for each other, helping one another to reject false ways and adhere to the true faith in God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, each and every one of us should also follow the examples of today’s saint, St. Hilary of Poitiers. St. Hilary of Poitiers lived during the waning years of the Roman Empire, with the Christian community troubled by the heresy of Arianism, which had gained much traction amongst the people. The false teachings of Arius had misled many into the wrong paths, and there were many who adamantly refused to see the truth in the orthodox and true faith.

St. Hilary of Poitiers worked hard among the people, through his preaching and outreach to them, telling them the truth about God, and dispelling the falsehoods and the lies of Arianism and the other heresies of the faith. He devoted his time to bring the people who had been lost in the darkness that they may find their way back to the light of God, and to those who were still adamant against repentance, he rebuked them and cast them out from the Church.

He did not have it easy as he worked among the people to bring them back to the Church, as it was often that he faced rejection and ridicule, and he was even persecuted and people plotted against him. He had to endure humiliation and even exile in his life. As Christians, we should follow his good examples, and be inspired by his dedication to the Lord, and be like him in his desire to bring his brethren in faith back to the true way towards the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all be good and faithful Christians like St. Hilary of Poitiers, devoting our life to the Lord, believing in Him and placing our complete trust in Him. Let us not be blinded by our pride and let us not be distracted by our human desires, but instead, let us do our best to help one another to remain true to our Lord and to His truth. May the Lord bless all of our endeavours. Amen.

Friday, 13 January 2017 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hilary, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)
Mark 2 : 1-12

At that time, after some days, Jesus returned to Capernaum. As the news spread that He was in the house, so many people gathered, that there was no longer room even outside the door. While Jesus was preaching the Word to them, some people brought a paralysed man to Him.

The four men who carried him could not get near Jesus because of the crowd, so they opened the roof above the room where Jesus was and, through the hole, lowered the man on his mat. When Jesus saw the faith of these people, He said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.”

Now some teachers of the Law, who were sitting there, wondered within themselves, “How can He speak like this, insulting God? Who can forgive sins except God?”

At once Jesus knew in His Spirit what they were thinking, and asked, “Why do you wonder? Is it easier to say to this paralysed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Rise, take up your mat and walk?’ But now you shall know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.”

And He said to the paralytic, “Stand up, take up your mat and go home.” The man rose and, in the sight of all those people, he took up his mat and went out. All of them were astonished and praised God, saying, “Never have we seen anything like this!”

Friday, 13 January 2017 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hilary, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)
Psalm 77 : 3 and 4bc, 6c-7, 8

Mysteries which we have heard and known, which our ancestors have told us. We will announce them to the coming generation : the glorious deeds of the Lord, His might and the wonders He has done.

They would teach their own children. They would then put their trust in God, and not forget His deeds and His commands.

And not be like their ancestors, stubborn and rebellious people, a people of inconstant heart whose spirit was fickle.