Friday, 21 January 2022 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

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, 21 January 2022 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 56 : 2, 3-4, 6 and 11

Have mercy on me, o God, have mercy; for my soul takes refuge in You; I will find shelter in the shadow of Your wings, till the disaster has passed.

I call on God the Most High; on God, Who has done everything for me : may He send from heaven, a Saviour, and put my oppressors to shame. May God send me His love and faithfulness.

Be exalted, o God, above the heavens! Your glory be over all the earth! For Your love reaches to the heavens, and Your faithfulness, to the clouds.

Friday, 21 January 2022 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

1 Samuel 24 : 3-21

So Saul took three thousand picked men from all Israel and went in search of David and his men to the east of the Wild Goat crags. When he came to the sheepfolds along the way, he entered a cave to relieve himself.

Now David and his men were far back in the cave. David’s men said to him, “This is the day which YHVH spoke of : ‘Look I will deliver your enemy into your hands and you will do with him as you see fit.’” So David moved up and stealthily cut off an end of Saul’s robe. But afterward, David regretted having cut off an end of Saul’s robe, and he said to his men, “Let me not lay my hands on my master, for he is YHVH’s anointed.”

With these words, David restrained his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. Saul then left the cave and went on his way. Then David himself stepped out of the cave and called after Saul, “My master, the king!” When Saul looked back, David knelt and then bowed to the ground in homage and asked him, “Why do you listen to those who say that I want to harm you?”

“Look, today you have seen that YHVH delivered you into my hands in the cave. I was told to kill you but I held myself back and said : ‘I will not lift my hands against my master who is YHVH’s anointed.’ My father, look at this end of your robe which I am holding! I cut off the end of your robe but did not kill you.”

“Now you may know that I mean you no harm or treason. I have done you no wrong and yet you are hunting me down to kill me. May YHVH be judge between you and me; and may He exact justice from you in my case. But I shall do you no harm. As the saying goes, ‘From the wicked comes wickedness’; as for me, my hand shall not harm you.”

“But who is it you are after, o king of Israel? Are you pursuing a dead dog? A flea? May YHVH be Judge between you and me. May He see and uphold my cause and deliver me from your hands.”

After David had spoken these words, Saul asked, “Is that your voice, my son David?” He wept aloud and said to David, “You are right and I am wrong, for you have repaid with kindness the harm I have inflicted on you. This day you have shown your righteousness to me by not taking my life when YHVH put me into your hands. For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go unharmed?”

“May YHVH reward you for what you have done for me today. Now I know for certain that you shall reign and the kingdom of Israel will be firm in your hand.”

Friday, 14 January 2022 : 1st 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 Scripture, we are all called to reflect on Our Lord’s love for us, that He, as our King, has always shown us care and love, His genuine affection and attention all these while, even when we often disobeyed Him and betrayed Him, abandoning Him for various worldly pursuits and desires. The Lord has always shown great patience towards us, and He has always made His intention clear, that He wants us to be reconciled with Him.

In our first reading today taken from the Book of the prophet Samuel, we heard about how the people of Israel demanded to have a king to reign over them just like that of all their other neighbours. At that time, in truth, although the Israelites had no king to rule over them, God sent Judges to be their guide and leader, to be the ones to help enforce the will of God and the Law and commandments that He had entrusted to His people. The Lord had given many Judges to the Israelites and Samuel was the last of all the Judges of Israel.

As we heard, the people demanded to have a King over themselves, to be ruled by kings as like that of their neighbours. At that time, they had no need for kings because simply God was truly their King, and they were God’s people, and God exercised His will and power through His Judges. Samuel was under great pressure by the people who wanted him to give them a king, and the Lord gave the people what they wanted. Of course Samuel also spoke of the Lord’s words to them, speaking of how the kings that the people had wanted would eventually come to oppress and make their lives difficult, especially when those kings became corrupt and no longer walked in the path of the Lord.

All those things did come to happen, beginning with King Saul himself, the first king of the Israelites who became wayward and no longer fully followed the Lord. His actions increasingly became led by fear and by his own personal ambitions and desires, and that resulted in the sufferings in some people, and also in the long run, some divisions and chaos that ensued before King David stabilised everything again under his rule. Future kings would lead to the division of the people of God and the eventual downfall of Israel by their disobedience and sins.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard about the Lord Jesus, Who was teaching the people in a building when a paralytic man was brought up to Him. And because there were so many people in that building, they were not able to come near to the Lord, and because of that, they carried the paralytic man atop the building and opened the roof just so that they could lower him before the Lord. Those people must have cared so much for the paralytic man, that they were willing to do all that for him, and they all must have had such faith in the Lord, that He could make him whole again and heal him.

But the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who were there took offence when the Lord told the paralysed man that He has forgiven his sins, as they considered that God alone could forgive sins and the Lord was therefore acting blasphemously in doing so. They refused to see reason and truth even after they themselves had likely seen many signs and wonderful things that the Messiah and Holy One of God alone could have done, and how they, as the most intellectual and knowledgeable about the words of the prophets and the Lord could have failed to recognise the coming of the Lord’s Promised One.

The Lord has come to us Himself, to help us and lead us, guiding us all to the right path, to find the path to Him. Yet, just like in the past, at the time of the prophet Samuel, the people hardened their hearts and were led by their desires and ambitions. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were likely influenced by their hold on power and their respected position in the society which became a truly major barrier in their acceptance of the Lord and His truth, although some among them like Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea did become the Lord’s disciples.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, we have to be vigilant lest we may end up being misled and misguided by our own personal desires and the many temptations present all around us. We have to guard ourselves against the pressures and temptations to give in to the desires for worldly power and glory, and we can do that by focusing on the Lord and doing whatever we can to follow His path. Let us all commit ourselves to His path and open our hearts and minds to allow God to lead us down the right path.

May the Lord be with us all and may He strengthen us in our courage and faith, so that we may always endeavour and do our very best to follow Him and serve Him faithfully in each and every moments of our lives. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 14 January 2022 : 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 to Him a paralysed man.

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 to say, ‘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, 14 January 2022 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 88 : 16-17, 18-19

Blessed is the people who know Your praise. They walk in the light of Your face. They celebrate all day, Your Name and Your protection lifts them up.

You give us glory and power; and Your favour gives us victory. Our king is in the hands of YHVH; the God of Israel is our shield.

Friday, 14 January 2022 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Samuel 8 : 4-7, 10-22a

Because of this, all the chiefs of Israel gathered together and went to Samuel in Ramah. They said to him, “You are already old and your sons are not following your ways. Give us a king to rule over us as in all the other nations.”

Samuel was very displeased with what they said, “Give us a king to rule us,” and he prayed to YHVH. And YHVH told him, “Give to this people all that they ask for.” So Samuel answered those who were asking him for a king. He told them all that YHVH said to him, “Look, these will be the demands of your king : he will take your sons and assign them to his chariot and his horses and have them run before his chariot.”

“Some he will assign as commanders over a thousand men and commanders over fifty. Others will till his ground and reap his harvest, make his implements of war and the equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters as well to prepare perfumes, to cook and to bake for him. He will take the best of your fields, your vineyards and your olive orchards and give them to his officials.”

“He will take a tenth portion of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. He will take your menservants and maidservants, the best of your cattle and your asses for his own work. He will take the tenth of your flocks and you yourselves will become his slaves. When these things happen, you will cry out because of the king whom you have chosen for yourselves. But by then, YHVH will not answer you.”

The people paid no attention to all that Samuel said. They insisted, “No! We want a king to govern us as in all the other nations. Our king shall govern us, lead us and go ahead of us in our battles.” Upon hearing all that his people said, Samuel repeated it to YHVH. But YHVH said to him, “Listen to them and give them a king.”

Friday, 7 January 2022 : Friday after the Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are called to remember the love of God and all that He has done for our sake, which He has shown us and revealed to us through none other than Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. He has revealed to us just how fortunate we are to have been beloved in such a way by our Lord. God has always been kind and compassionate to us, and His love was what made His action possible, in sending us our salvation through Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. John, we heard of the words of the Apostle concerning all that God had done for our sake, through His Son, Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. In that passage, we heard St. John speaking of how Christ has been acknowledged through water and through Blood and the Spirit of God. This was a reference of everything that we have received from Him, and how He has revealed Himself and God’s salvation, through His baptism at the Jordan, His crucifixion and death, and finally through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

First of all, at the time of His baptism at the River Jordan by St. John the Baptist, the Lord has been proclaimed by the voice coming down from Heaven, as He was immersed in the water, and a Dove came to rest on Him, the Holy Spirit descending from the Father into this world through Jesus, the Son. The Father’s voice spoke the truth about the Man Who was baptised that day, that Jesus is indeed His Son and the One Whom He had promised to send into our midst, so that we may be saved from our fated destruction.

Then, at the moment of His crucifixion, as Christ bore His Cross, and was nailed to that Cross, enduring for us the punishments and the consequences that we ourselves ought to have suffered, He spilled His Most Precious Blood, which came down to us, as the Blood that washes us away from our sins. At that same time, when the soldiers were told to break the legs of those who had been crucified, Jesus was already dead, and one of the soldiers, later known as St. Longinus, took a spear and hit the side of the Lord with it, and immediately blood and water poured forth from it, a proof of God’s Love that endured even through His death on the Cross.

And lastly, the same Holy Spirit that had come down upon the Lord was also sent to the Apostles and the other disciples just as the Lord Himself has promised them, as tongues of fire descending on them at Pentecost, fulfilling what He has promised them and revealing to those who have received the Spirit, the fullness of truth of God’s love for us mankind and His saving grace. Through all these signs therefore we have been made aware of the most wonderful love that God has given us, through His most beloved Son, Whose coming into this world has given us all a new hope.

In our Gospel passage today, we then also heard from the Gospel of St. Luke regarding the healing of a man suffering from leprosy. The Lord wanted to heal him, and immediately, He cured the man from the leprosy. Leprosy was then a very dreaded disease that according to the old Law and customs of the Israelites would have led those who were suffering from it to be forced to live away from the rest of the society, to wander off in the wilderness until they could prove that their disease had been completely cured.

This is yet again another reminder for us of the most generous and wonderful love of God which He has kindly and generously shown us from the very beginning. God has reached out to us and make Himself approachable to us through Christ, and we ought to remember during this the blessed time of Christmas. We celebrate the most generous and amazing love God has bestowed on us, everything that He had done for us through His Son. We all rejoice because the Light of our Hope has come upon us.

Today, we celebrate the Feast of St. Raymond of Penyafort, also known as St. Raymond of Penafort, a renowned Dominican friar and priest who was instrumental in the codification of the laws of the Church that remained in force for many centuries, as well as his many contributions to the Church in the areas of theology and Catholic education, and in a most well-known miracle, he was also instrumental in the conversion of King James I of Aragon, who lived in a state of sin with his mistress and repeatedly refused to dismiss her.

St. Raymond of Penyafort sailed away from the city on his cloak, in a great miracle still remembered to this day, when the king forbade him to leave the capital city of Barcelona. This was seen by many of the sailors who witnessed the saint sailing on his cloak, as well as by many other spectators. The king was stunned by this great miracle, and was humbled, that he mended his path in life and from then on, lived more virtuously in accordance with the Law and the rules of the Church.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through the short exposition of the life and examples showed by St. Raymond of Penyafort, all of us are called to follow his good examples and to show our faith sincerely to the Lord. Are we able and willing to show our love to the Lord, brothers and sisters in Christ? Remember how He has loved us so much through His Son, Our Lord and Saviour, just as discussed it earlier on. Let us then love the Lord in the same way that He has first loved us, and do our best to honour Him with our righteous and worthy lives from now on.

May the Lord be with us all, and may His love continue to be poured onto us, in our every day and every moments. May He bless us all in our every endeavours and good works for the greater glory of His Name. Amen.

Friday, 7 January 2022 : Friday after the Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (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, 7 January 2022 : Friday after the Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 147 : 12-13, 14-15, 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!