Friday, 22 January 2021 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent, Deacon and Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us heard of the Lord’s assurance of a New Covenant that He had made with us all, His beloved people in our first reading today, as the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews presented the Lord Jesus as the Mediator of the New and Everlasting Covenant replacing the old Covenant between God and His people Israel.

The old Covenant, the old laws and ways, the practices of the past linked to that older pact no longer applied to anyone, after the Lord had revealed and sealed that New Covenant. The New Covenant was sealed by the loving sacrifice of Christ Himself, the Eternal High Priest on the Cross, as He laid His life bare on the Cross, as the Lamb to be sacrificed, the Lamb of God and the Paschal Lamb, by Whose Blood we have been saved.

Through this New Covenant, God had made full His promises to us, His promise to love us all and show His compassion to the very end. Each and every one of us have a share in this love, and the Lord had offered Himself as our High Priest before His heavenly Father, for the atonement and the forgiveness of all of our sins. His suffering and death were meant for us, and all of us have been called to partake in this New Covenant He had made with us.

God had revealed the fullness of His laws, all of His truth to His people as part of this Covenant, as He also sent us all the Holy Spirit to guide us to the truth, which He has revealed and passed down to us through His Church, by the sending of His Apostles to be the ones leading the charge in spreading His Good News and the truth He has revealed to us. In the calling of the Apostles, God has also called us all to follow in their footsteps, that we should also serve Him as those whom God had called had done earlier.

As we heard in our Gospel passage today, the Apostles were sent before the Lord to places to preach and to reveal His truth, and they were also given the power to heal and to cast out demons, doing the many good works of God. Their work did not stop with the death and resurrection of Our Lord, but in fact, guided by the Holy Spirit and the commission that God entrusted to them, they went forth to the many peoples of many nations, spreading the Word of God and calling many people to be a disciple and follower too.

They helped to build the Church and were truly its important foundation, and now, all of us who are members of the Church and belonging among Christ’s faithful ones, we have been entrusted with the same responsibility, as part of the Covenant that God has established with us, and which we have received generously through baptism. And therefore we are all called to live up to the Lord’s call, follow Him and dedicate ourselves to Him.

Today, we should reflect on the life and works of St. Vincent, holy Deacon and Martyr, whose examples can be great inspiration on how we can follow the Lord wholeheartedly in each and every moments of our lives. St. Vincent was also known as St. Vincent of Saragossa, one of the Deacons of Saragossa in Spain, the modern day Zaragoza, serving the bishop and local Christian community, occupying a very important position in the Church.

At that time, the Roman Emperor Diocletian carried out intense persecution against Christians, which caused many martyrs to emerge, and St. Vincent was one of these martyrs. St. Vincent was arrested together with his bishop and was threatened with great torture and suffering, unless he would burn the Sacred Scriptures and publicly repudiate his Christian faith.

St. Vincent spoke fervently and courageously against this and refused any further attempts to turn him and the other Christians away from the Lord in order to save their own lives. And the way St. Vincent spoke, with great courage and wisdom, without fear and anxiety greatly angered his persecutors so much so that he was tortured terribly and martyred by being grilled on a gridiron, which he was to be renowned for. But even in suffering, he remained resolute, firm and calm in adhering to his faith, which touched even his jailer, who became a convert afterwards.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through the martyrdom of St. Vincent, all of us are shown what it means to be a Christian. As Christians, we need to put God above all else, and foremost before anything else. And our lives must be centred and focused on Him. We should love Him more than anything else, and through our words and actions, we should commit ourselves to Him and not to allow our actions or words to scandalise our faith.

Let us all be true disciples of the Lord from now on, and let us all commit more and more time, effort and attention so that we may be ever closer to God and be ever more worthy of Him, that God will bless us and bring us all into the everlasting inheritance He has prepared for each one of us. May the Lord be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 22 January 2021 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent, Deacon and Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Mark 3 : 13-19

At that time, Jesus went up into the hill country, and called those He wanted and they came to Him. He appointed twelve to be with Him, and He called them ‘Apostles’. He wanted to send them out to preach, and He gave them authority to drive out demons.

These are the Twelve : Simon, to whom He gave the name Peter; James, son of Zebedee, and John his brother, to whom He gave the name Boanerges, which means ‘men of thunder’; Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alpheus, Thaddeus, Simon the Canaanean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him.

Friday, 22 January 2021 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent, Deacon and Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 84 : 8 and 10, 11-12, 13-14

Show us, o Lord, Your unfailing love and grant us Your saving help. Yet Your salvation is near to those who fear You, and Your Glory will dwell in our land.

Love and faithfulness have met; righteousness and peace have embraced. Faithfulness will reach up from the earth while justice bends down from heaven.

The Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its fruit. Justice will go before Him, and peace will follow along His path.

Friday, 22 January 2021 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent, Deacon and Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Hebrews 8 : 6-13

Now, however, Jesus enjoys a much higher ministry in being the Mediator of a better covenant, founded on better promises. If all had been perfect in the first covenant, there would have been no need for another one. Yet God sees defects when He says : The days are coming – it is the word of the Lord – when I will draw up a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.

It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors on the day I took them by the hand and led them out of Egypt. They did not keep My covenant, and so I Myself have forsaken them, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the people of Israel in the days to come : I will put My law into their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be My people.

None of them will have to teach one another or say to each other : Know the Lord, for they will know Me from the least to the greatest. I will forgive their sins and no longer remember their wrongs. Here we are being told of a new covenant; which means that the first one had become obsolete, and what is obsolete and ageing is soon to disappear.

Friday, 15 January 2021 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all reminded through the Scriptures about faith, which means that we really should think of how we should live up our lives with faith in God and with trust in Him. But it is often that we have not been willing to listen to Him or to trust in Him. Instead of listening to Him and obeying Him, we prefer to trust in our own judgments and thoughts, our own knowledge and intellect.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord healing a paralytic man who was brought up to Him through the roof over the place where He was teaching the people. The Lord showed pity and compassion for the paralytic man, and healed him from his troubles, and forgave him his sins. Immediately the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law rallied against Him and was angered that someone claimed to forgive sins, when in their thoughts, no one could have forgiven sin but God alone.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were all those who delved deeply into the study of the Scriptures, the Torah and the words of the prophets of God, studying the Law of God as revealed through Moses, as well as all the rules and regulations that had been passed down through the generations. They were the keepers of the faith for the people, the ones entrusted by God to be the shepherds and guides, leaders and role models for the rest of the people of God.

However, due to their knowledge and privileged status within the community, the high esteem and respect they commanded and gained made them to be proud, and some among them became even haughty and arrogant because of that. This is indeed how pride and hubris, human desires and greed can bring about our downfall, as they caused us to close the doors of our hearts and minds from God. And because God has no place in our hearts when we are too full of ourselves, that is when His truth cannot reach us and illuminate us.

In our first reading today taken from the Epistle to the Hebrews, the author also reminded us of this fact, as many of us failed to believe because we were unwilling and unable to listen to the Lord, and as long as our ears and the doors of our hearts and minds are closed shut against the Lord and His words, then we shall have no part in God or in His inheritance. And no, it is not due to the Lord that this happens to us, but rather, by our own conscious choice and action that we will have brought these upon ourselves. Do we want this for ourselves, brothers and sisters in Christ?

Today, as we listened to these words of the Scripture, we are therefore kindly reminded to remove from ourselves the taint of these rebellious and stubborn actions and thoughts from our hearts and minds. And instead, as Christians we are all urged to open our hearts and minds to the Lord, and allow Him to lead us and guide us through life. And just like the paralytic man who humbly and sincerely sought healing from the Lord, we too shall be healed from our afflictions, that is our sins.

If we choose to be like the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, in thinking that everything is fine and alright with us, and that there is nothing we need from the Lord or that we are better than others, then we need to remind ourselves that pride and all these hubris, all these thoughts and other desires we have can easily drag us down the wrong path, and in the end, we shall have no part in the Lord and in all the joy and true happiness, glory and wonders that He has promised those who kept their faith in Him.

Let us therefore be humble and make ourselves small before the Lord and others, recognising that each and every one of us are equally sinners before God. And God’s love, compassion and mercy will heal us if we truly seek Him most sincerely from the depths of our hearts. Let us all reject all the temptations and distractions of pride and our many worldly desires that they will not become serious obstacles preventing us from reaching the Lord and His salvation.

May the Lord be with us all and may He heal us from our afflictions, especially by forgiving us our sins when we seek Him with genuine desire to repent and turn away from our wicked and sinful past. May He bless us all in our every good endeavours, and may He give us the strength to remain always faithful, at all times. Amen.

Friday, 15 January 2021 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (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, 15 January 2021 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (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, 15 January 2021 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (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, 8 January 2021 : Friday after Epiphany (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are reminded that through Christ, all of us have been saved and rescued from our great predicament of sin, that we all have been healed and made whole once again through His loving sacrifice on the Cross. He did all of these by the outpouring of His own Blood, the Most Precious Blood by which He has absolved all of us from our sins.

In our Gospel passage today we heard of the Lord Jesus and His action in healing a leper who sought healing from Him. The man asked the Lord to make him clean from his leprosy, a terrible condition that had sundered and separated him from the community for according to the Law, those who had been afflicted by leprosy had to leave the community and wander off in the wilderness in order to prevent its spread.

Then the Lord reached out to the leper and said that He wanted to heal him. He healed him immediately from his leprosy and he was whole once again. By this He has restored the link that the leper had once had with his community and returned him to a new life free from the terror of the leprosy. And this is in fact symbolic of what the Lord Himself had done to us.

What I mean is that, all of us, while we were still in the state of sin, corrupted and darkened by all the terrible evils in this world, then the Lord has also reached out to us and touched us by His generous love. He has healed us from our sins, which have no other cure besides the forgiveness from God. Through those sins, we have been separated from God just as how the leper had been separated and cast out from the society. But thanks to God, that is not our end fate.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are all called to remember this amazing love that God has shown us, His mercy, compassion and forgiveness. All of us have received healing from the Lord and if we are faithful, we shall receive the fullness of His eternal glory, grace and love. This is what St. John in our first reading today has emphasised, reminding us of the love of God.

The Lord has shown us His love, by the testimonies of water, Spirit and Blood. In two days’ time, we are going to celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, marking the end of the liturgical season of Christmas, and reminding us that through the Lord Jesus and His Baptism at the Jordan, and the Holy Spirit descending on Him, God revealed to all that this was truly His Son, the Beloved One sent into the world in order to save it.

And as I mentioned earlier, by the outpouring of His Blood from the Cross, the love of God has been bared to us in its fullness. By His Precious Blood we have been cleansed and we have received the assurance of grace and salvation. However, many of us are still ignorant and in denial of God’s generous love, compassion and kindness. The Lord has called us and is reaching out to us, but many of us have not yet responded to Him or even shut Him out of our lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us reflect on our lives and consider carefully how we are to proceed in life. Let us all turn towards the Lord and remind ourselves of just how great the love that He has shown us, and how He had suffered grievously, endured the worst punishments and humiliations, and died on the Cross for our sake. Let us all therefore seek Him and entrust ourselves to Him and His love with ever greater devotion from now on.

May the Lord be with us always and may He bless us all in all of our efforts and good endeavours from now on. May God be our Guide and strength in this journey of life. May the Lord’s love be with us and within us always. Amen.

Friday, 8 January 2021 : Friday after 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.