Friday, 18 January 2019 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the Lord speaking to us through the Scripture passages which we have just heard, the invitation to enter into the wondrous and joyful peace of God, which He has given to us all through Christ, His Beloved Son, Our Lord and Saviour. But it was also mentioned that unless we walk in the path of the Lord and disobey no longer, we will not be able to enter fully into that graceful rest in Him.

That is how the Gospel passage today revealed to us what we need to do in order to be able to enter fully into the rest which God has promised and provided for all those who walk in His ways and obey His will. In that passage we heard the healing of a paralytic man by the Lord Jesus, to whom the Lord said, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” And later on, the man was able to walk freely again without any more debilitation.

Why did the Lord say to the paralytic man, that his sins have been forgiven, while his condition was physical in nature? The man suffered from paralysis of the body which prevented him from being able to move easily, and was bedridden. The reason for this is that, the Lord Jesus wanted His disciples and all the people to see sin as a serious sickness of our being, which He alone can heal and amend, and nothing else. And this disease of sin inevitably will also bring about disease to the rest of our being, be it in our mind or in our body or in both.

If we are not cured from the sins that are present within us, then we will end up falling deeper and deeper into the darkness, and into the trap that the devil has set up for us, in order to make us fall into eternal damnation as he had intended. He hardened our hearts and minds with pride and greed, with ego and desires, that prevented us many times from being able to seek out His mercy and forgiveness.

That is what St. Paul wrote in the Epistle to the Jewish Christians, or the Hebrews, as he spoke of the salvation of God that has come into their midst, and yet, there were many who were resistant and stubborn in thinking that they did not need God’s healing grace and salvation. And this applied to the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who had witnessed the great miraculous deeds the Lord had performed, and yet, they who have the greatest knowledge about the coming of the Messiah and the Scriptures did not want to believe in Him.

And this is likely caused by the pride and ego they had in them, thinking that their version of faith and Jewish customs could not have been wrong. And they were dead set in their ways, not being able to see the works of God unfolding before their eyes. They saw the Lord as an upstart and as a great rival for influence in the community of the people, and they increasingly saw Him as a threat to their worldly influence and authority.

They all might be perfectly healthy in the body and mind, unlike the paralytic man who was so weak and ill that he was not even able to move on his own, having the need to be carried by his friends to the presence of God. However, unlike the paralytic man, who received healing from God, both in body and in his soul, cleansed from his sins, because of his great faith, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law present at that occasion remained in sin.

This is how pride, ego, ambition, greed and worldly desires can be so dangerous, as they are great obstacles in our way to attain the salvation in God. Instead, we must be like the paralytic man, who made the effort, despite all of his difficulties and debilitation, in all humility, to present himself before the Lord and asking Him to heal him from all of his sicknesses and afflictions.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we too must realise that deep inside, we are still sick from the corruption of sin, caused by our disobedience against God. Are we able then to humble ourselves and to seek God with all of our hearts and minds from now on? We should turn towards God with all of our strength, and seek Him and His merciful love, for the healing and salvation of our souls. May the Lord, our loving God and Father, continue to love us and bless us, each and every days of our life. Amen.

Friday, 18 January 2019 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

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, 18 January 2019 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

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.

Friday, 18 January 2019 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Hebrews 4 : 1-5, 11

Therefore let us fear while we are invited to enter the rest of God, lest any of you be left behind. We received the Gospel exactly as they did, but hearing the message did them no good, because they did not share the faith of those who did listen. We are now to enter this rest because we believed, as it was said : I was angry and made a solemn vow : they will never enter My rest – that is the rest of God after He created the world.

In another part it was said about the seventh day : And God rested on the seventh day from all His works. But now it is said : They will not enter My rest. Let us strive, then, to enter the rest and not to share the misfortune of those who disobeyed.

Friday, 11 January 2019 : Friday after the Epiphany (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Scripture telling us about the healing which the Lord Jesus performed on a leper, who asked Him to heal him of his condition, and the Lord was moved by his sincerity of faith and his plight, and healed him off from his leprosy. And we heard how many more people came to the Lord Jesus asking to be healed from their own sicknesses and conditions.

Through this we have seen how Christ is the source of our healing and of our salvation. There is no other Name by which we can be saved, and there is no other means by which we can escape our fated destruction. Through Him mankind have received healing from its predicament, just as the leper was healed from his leprosy. Sin is also like that of the sickness of leprosy, ever spreading and ever growing.

However, unlike leprosy, that affects only the physical body and the flesh, but cannot affect the mind, the heart and the soul, sin is far more dangerous, for sin affects the deepest parts of our own beings, corrupting us deep within our souls, and the consequences of sin are eternal, for the soul is eternal. Leprosy cannot affect us beyond this mortal life, but sin can bring about our downfall and eternal suffering.

Leprosy is a disease that can be cured by many means, and there are ways that leprosy can be easily handled, especially in our modern world today where medical technology has advanced to a great extent, that many of the diseases known to us are easily curable. But sin alone has no cure in any human and worldly means, for in God alone, that we can find our cure from sin. He alone has the power and the authority to forgive us from our sins.

St. John mentioned in his Epistle, that there are three testimonies that proclaim before us how God’s salvation and healing have come down upon us through Christ His Son, namely the testimony of the Spirit, water and the Blood. What does this mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? This is a reminder of the proof which has occurred in history, showing us that Jesus is truly the Christ, the Saviour of the world, promised by God to us, His beloved ones.

The Spirit of God present in us all have recognised Christ’s presence in our midst, as Elizabeth, the mother of St. John the Baptist recognised the One Who was in Mary’s womb, as well as her yet unborn son, who rejoiced upon feeling the presence of the Messiah in his proximity. And Mary herself was also filled with the Holy Spirit, praising God in a beautiful song, the Magnificat, proclaiming the great wonders that God has done.

Then, when the Lord Jesus was baptised by St. John the Baptist in the river Jordan, we saw the Holy Spirit descending down upon Him, with the word of God spoken, revealing the Divinity of Christ, Son of the Father. Again, we see in this instance how God has revealed His truth before all, in revealing the salvation that He was about to bring into His people’s midst, through Jesus Christ, His Son.

And lastly, at the moment of the crucifixion, when Christ laid down His life on the cross, He laid down His Body and Blood for the salvation of the world, and we heard how one of the Roman soldiers, who was tasked to check if Jesus had died, pierced His side and immediately water and blood poured forth. The soldier who witnessed that miracle became a believer, St. Longinus, the bearer of the Holy Lance that pierced the side of the Lord.

That occasion again proclaimed the truth about Christ, for the water and the blood represented the two natures of Christ, as a Man and as a Divine, two natures united in the single person of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the One Who laid His life on the cross is not just a mere Man, but God Himself, incarnate in the flesh, and it is by His perfect and worthy offering, that we have been saved from eternal damnation.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we willing then now to allow the Lord to come into our midst and heal us from our afflictions? Do we truly believe in Him, that He is our Lord and Saviour, by Whose authority and power alone we can be healed from our sins? If we truly believe in Him and in His power to heal us, then now, we need to put ourselves in the hands of God, and entrust ourselves to His loving care.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all turn towards God with a renewed faith from now on, loving Him ever more sincerely, with an ever greater commitment, knowing that in Him alone we have the hope of salvation, and liberation from the pain of eternal death. May God, our loving Father and Saviour, continue to love us and to bless us, in each and every days of our lives. Amen.

Friday, 11 January 2019 : 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, 11 January 2019 : Friday after the Epiphany (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 147 : 12-15, 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!