Thursday, 26 January 2023 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Timothy and St. Titus, Bishops (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Church celebrates the Feast of two of the earliest bishops and leaders of the Church, as the successors of the Apostles and in this case, as the protege of St. Paul the Apostle. St. Timothy and St. Titus were two of the Lord’s disciples who collaborated closely with St. Paul during his missionary works and journeys, and they were addressed by St. Paul each with an Epistle, as he wrote to both of them exhorting them to remain faithful to God and to do the will and the works of God to the best of their ability. St. Paul reminded them all of the role of the oversees or elders, also later known as bishops in the community of the people of God, as the exemplary role model that become the foundation and pillars of the Church and the Christian community.

According to tradition, St. Timothy was born in Lycaonia in Asia Minor, to a mixed parentage of a Greek father and a Jewish Christian convert mother. He likely had become a Christian believer as well and met St. Paul during his second missionary journey throughout the Mediterranean region. He was a respected member of the local Christian community, and his maternal family was also noted for their faith, with his maternal grandmother and mother were also noted for their piety and faith. St. Timothy dedicated his life henceforth as a great shepherd for the flock entrusted to him, as St. Paul placed him in Ephesus to care for the faithful there, and for many years, he accompanied St. Paul and then, afterwards, served the Church faithfully for many decades. In the end, it was told that when he was already eighty years old, he tried to stop a procession of pagan idols all around the city. He was arrested, harassed and finally stoned to death, dying as a martyr.

Meanwhile, St. Titus was a Greek who became a follower of St. Paul and was likely converted by the latter, as he accompanied St. Paul during his missions as a companion and interpreter. St. Titus went with St. Paul to many places including Jerusalem, Ephesus, Corinth, Macedonia and more places, gaining more experiences and wisdom along the journey. St. Titus was then left at Crete and entrusted by St. Paul to be the bishop and overseer of all the faithful in that island, because St. Paul held St. Titus in high esteem, entrusting him with the important mission of caring for the needs of the faithful in Crete, who back then had no shepherd to look after them. St. Titus henceforth became that leader and guide of many among the faithful people of God, and while the latter details about him are more scant than that of St. Timothy, it was likely that St. Titus also died in martyrdom as well.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we all heard from the Scriptures and the lives of these two glorious saints of God, St. Timothy and St. Titus, each one of us are reminded to be more like them in our own faith and way of life. We should do our best in order to live our lives in a more Christian way, following the examples of the Apostles and the saints, as the dedication showed by St. Timothy and St. Titus in their respective lives should have shown us. Their commitment to God, their zeal in serving the faithful entrusted to them as their bishops, the time and effort that they must have given to glorify the Lord and to help His people are truly what we should be doing in our own lives as well. St. Timothy and St. Titus showed us all as Christians that we cannot be idle in our lives and that our actions and way of life should be exemplary and worthy as far as possible so that we will not end up causing scandal and distancing people away from the salvation through the Church of God.

That was what St. Paul himself exhorted his two protege, St. Timothy and St. Titus, that the role of bishops were truly very important one for the Church. St. Paul highlighted how the bishops must be selected and elected from among those whose lives were truly good and worthy of God, filled with holiness and righteousness, devotion and commitment to God. Those who were to be chosen as bishops ought not to have been living immorally or against the teachings of the Christian faith, but they must be good role models through their lives and actions, and they have to be filled with the love both for God and for their fellow men and women, fulfilling what the Lord has told His disciples to do, to be faithful to His Law and commandments of Love.

How about us? The same parameters and expectations can be expected of us as well. All of us should live our lives worthily of the Lord and dedicate ourselves at every opportunities provided to us in order to obey the Lord and His commandments faithfully. We should not cause our lives to be a source of embarrassment and scandal for the Lord and His Church, and we have also been constantly called and reminded to adhere ever more closely to the path that God has shown us. All of us should spend more time to deepen our relationship with the Lord and also make the conscious effort to be ever more attuned to Him and His path. Each and every one of us should draw ever closer to God and become ever more filled with Christian grace and commitment, with each and every passing moments in our lives each day.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us are called and reminded to be more like St. Timothy and St. Titus in serving the Lord, in loving Him and our fellow brothers and sisters more and more. Let us ask ourselves if we have been faithful and true to our faith in God, or whether we have allowed ourselves to be swayed by the many temptations of worldly desires and pleasures that we end up falling deeper and deeper into the path of sin and evil. We are called to be better examples and role models of our Christian faith, and the best way for this to happen, is for each one of us to strive to be righteous, just and committed at all times, and not be lukewarm and ignorant in our faith. How can we convince others to believe in God if our own actions do not reflect this strong and profound love that we should have in the Lord?

May the Lord continue to guide and strengthen us in each and every moments throughout our lives. May He empower each one of us that we will always be ever more courageous and committed to live our lives with ever greater faith and love for God and for our fellow men. May God bless our every actions, good efforts, works and endeavours, and may St. Timothy and St. Titus, holy servants of God, intercede for us all sinners. Amen.

Thursday, 26 January 2023 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Timothy and St. Titus, Bishops (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 10 : 1-9

At that time, the Lord appointed seventy-two other disciples, and sent them, two by two, ahead of Him, to every town and place, where He Himself was to go. And He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. So you must ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers to His harvest.”

“Courage! I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Set off without purse or bag or sandals; and do not stop at the homes of those you know. Whatever house you enter, first bless them, saying, ‘Peace to this house!’ If a friend of peace lives there, the peace shall rest upon that person. But if not, the blessing will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking at their table, for the worker deserves to be paid. Do not move from house to house.”

“When they welcome you to any town, eat what they offer you. Heal the sick who are there, and say to them : ‘The kingdom of God has drawn near to you.’”

Thursday, 26 January 2023 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Timothy and St. Titus, Bishops (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 95 : 1-2a, 2b-3, 7-8a, 10

Sing to YHVH a new song, sing to YHVH, all the earth! Sing to YHVH, praise His Name.

Proclaim His salvation, day after day. Recall His glory among the nations, tell all the peoples His wonderful deeds.

Give to YHVH, you families of nations, give to YHVH glory and strength. Give to YHVH the glory due His Name.

Say among the nations, “YHVH reigns!” He will judge the peoples with justice.

Thursday, 26 January 2023 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Timothy and St. Titus, Bishops (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

2 Timothy 1 : 1-8

From Paul, Apostle of Christ Jesus, by the will of God, for the sake of His promise of eternal life, in Christ Jesus, to my dear son Timothy. May grace, mercy and peace be with you, from God, the Father, and Christ Jesus our Lord.

I give thanks to God, Whom I serve with a clear conscience, the way my ancestors did, as I remember you constantly, day and night, in my prayers. I recall your tears, and I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, so like the faith of your grandmother Lois and of your mother Eunice, which I am sure you have inherited.

For this reason, I invite you to fan into a flame, the gift of God you received, through the laying on of my hands. For God did not confer on us a spirit of fearfulness, but of strength, love and good judgment. Do not be ashamed of testifying to our Lord, nor of seeing me in chains. On the contrary, do your share in labouring for the Gospel, with the strength of God.

Alternative reading

Titus 1 : 1-5

From Paul, servant of God, Apostle of Christ Jesus, at the service of God’s chosen people, so that they may believe, and reach the knowledge of truth and godliness. The eternal life we are waiting for was promised from the very beginning, by God, Who never lies, and as the appointed time had come, He made it known, through the message entrusted to me by a command of God, our Saviour.

Greetings to you, Titus, my true son in the faith we share. May grace and peace be with you from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I left you in Crete because I wanted you to put right, what was defective, and appoint elders in every town, following my instructions.

Tuesday, 24 January 2023 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, and Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the Scriptures, all of us are called to remember that what is important for us all as Christians, is to obey the Lord, our God, and to do whatever it is that He has revealed and taught to us. The Law and the commandments which He has shown and revealed to us through His Son, and which has been passed down through His Church, are all that we are expected to follow and obey, as the basic and fundamental part of being a follower of Christ and as the servants and the people of God’s Light and Truth. If we claim to be Christians and yet totally contrary in how we live our lives and in how we act, then we are no better than hypocrites and unbelievers, who do not truly believe in what the Lord had taught and revealed to us.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle to the Hebrews, of the author telling his intended audience, that is the Jewish converts to the Christian faith, as well as to the rest of the Jewish community, that the Lord Jesus as the Messiah or the Saviour of the whole world has redeemed all of them, all of mankind, by His suffering and death on the Cross. By the Lord’s offering of His own Most Precious Body and Blood on His Cross, the Altar of the Cross at Calvary, the Lord Jesus Himself has given us all the most perfect gift of love from God, and by acting as our High Priest, He delivered us all from the destruction that we should have suffered and deserved because of our disobedience and sins against God. Through His offering, once and for all He had liberated all of mankind from the tyranny of sin and assured for them the reward of eternal life, should they remain true and faithful to Him.

The author also pointed out that the regular and constant offerings and sacrifices carried out at the Temple in Jerusalem were therefore no longer needed or relevant, as the Lord’s sacrifice has assured and won for everyone the forgiveness and absolutions for all of their innumerable sins, from the most distant past to the present, and to the distant future and to the end of time. His offering of Himself as the Lamb of God, the Paschal Lamb is sufficient and worthy to redeem all of us from our many sins and reconcile us to our most loving God and Father. There was (and is) therefore no further need to have the regular and constant sacrifices offered by the priests and the High Priests as the Lord Himself has redeemed us by His one and only singular sacrifice on His Cross that transcends all time and boundaries, reaching out to all of us.

Then some of those who did not understand our practices and faith might then accuse us, as it had happened and is happening even now, that our Catholic and Christian faith is not following the Law and commandments of God because in the celebration of the Holy Mass is described as a sacrifice, that is the ‘Holy Sacrifice of the Mass’. But that is exactly what the Holy Mass is, it is the very same sacrifice of the Lord, the Bloody sacrifice that He performed at Calvary, transcending time and space, which is then commemorated, marked and remembered again and again at every single celebration of the Holy Mass. However, contrary to the mistaken beliefs of those who misunderstood our faith, each celebration of the Holy Mass does not constitute a new sacrifice that the priest performs again and again.

This is therefore unlike that of the priests and the High Priests performing the sacrifices using the Law of God according to Moses, following the rituals and practices that came before the Lord and His revelations, and especially before His great sacrifice on His Cross. Those priests in the past needed to continue offering sacrifices back then because the offering of the blood of animals and the animals themselves, although physically supposed to be unblemished, but those offerings pale in comparison to the offering that the Lord Himself had made on our behalf, as He offered no less than Himself, His whole Being, His Most Precious Body and Blood, being broken for us and being poured upon us, from His Cross, for the salvation of all mankind, all without exception.

Our priests and bishops all acted ‘in persona Christi’ as they entered into the most solemn moments of the Consecration and the Eucharist during the Holy Mass, turning the bread and wine that were brought to the Altar into the reality, essence, and true nature of the Most Precious Body and the Most Precious Blood of the Lord. This means that while physically in appearance it seems that nothing has changed to the bread and wine consecrated to be the Most Holy Eucharist, but the truth is that in all levels of reality, in physical nature, essence, spiritual nature and more, the bread has been turned into the Lord’s own Most Precious Body, while the wine has been turned into the Lord’s own Most Precious Blood. And this belief exists at the very core and foundation of our Christian faith, without which we truly cannot call ourselves as Christians, or as the believers of Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, just as we are reminded of this core tenet of our faith today, we are also reminded through the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews and from the Lord Himself in our Gospel passage today that, what the Lord truly wants from each and every one of us is obedience, for us to listen to the Lord and to follow His will, to follow where He has been calling and leading us towards, and to be humble in all time and opportunities so that we may truly be able to appreciate just how blessed and fortunate we have been that our Lord and most loving God has continuously reached out to us and patiently endured our often stubborn attitudes and refusal to listen to Him. He still patiently called out to us and reached out to us regardless, giving us time and opportunities, again and again, just so that we may find our way back to Him.

Today, all of us should follow the examples of one great saint whose faith and dedication to the Lord can become a great source of inspiration for us to be more faithful ourselves in living our lives as Christians. St. Francis de Sales was the famous inspiration behind the later foundation of the Salesian order, and he was also a pious and devoted man of God, as a bishop and shepherd to his flock. He was always referring to God as ‘God is Love’ and was convinced that God’s Love for us was so great, which drove him to continue carrying out more missions and works for the sake of the people of God. He became a priest and missionary in opposition to his family’s insistence that he took up secular role, having been born into privileged, rich and powerful family at that time. He chose to serve the Lord rather than indulging in his or his family’s own desires.

St. Francis de Sales dedicated himself to his mission, ministering even to the hard-heartened and stubborn heretics who initially refused to listen to him and even accused him to be a sorcerer. When he was appointed as bishop, he continued to serve the people entrusted to his care with great humility, devotion and love both for the Lord and for the people. He preached with great zeal and sincerity, and with great love and compassion, which touched quite a lot among the people, who were either led closer to conversion and reconciliation with God, or drawn away from heretical teachings or being strengthened and affirmed in their faith thanks to the hard work and dedication of St. Francis de Sales. The commitment and love which St. Francis de Sales had for the Lord is something that should inspire us all to do the same as well in our own lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore seek to be more faithful to God just as St. Francis de Sales and many other saints, holy men and women of God had done before us. Let us all do our best in our daily lives and at every moments to listen to the Lord’s call and His will, and be humble in obeying all that He had told and asked us to do. May all of us be ever more obedient and committed in our faith, and draw ever closer to the Lord and His path. May God bless us all in our every good efforts and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 24 January 2023 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, and Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 3 : 31-35

At that time, the mother and brothers of Jesus came. As they stood outside, they sent someone to call Him. The crowd sitting around Jesus told Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are outside asking for You.”

He replied, “Who are My mother and My brothers?” And looking around at those who sat there, He said, “Here are My mother and My brothers. Whoever does the will of God is brother and sister and mother to Me.”

Tuesday, 24 January 2023 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, and Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 39 : 2 and 4ab, 7-8a, 10, 11

With resolve I waited for the Lord; He listened and heard me beg. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.

Sacrifice and oblation You did not desire; this You had me understand. Burnt offering and sin offering You do not require. Then I said, “Here I come!”

In the great assembly I have proclaimed Your saving help. My lips, o Lord, I did not seal – You know that very well.

I have not locked up in my heart Your saving help, but have spoken about it – Your deliverance and Your faithfulness. I have made no secret of Your truth and of Your kindness in the great assembly.

Tuesday, 24 January 2023 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, and Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Hebrews 10 : 1-10

The religion of the Law is only a shadow of the good things to come; it has the patterns but not the realities. So, year after year, the same sacrifices are offered without bringing the worshippers to what is the end. If they had been cleansed once and for all, they would no longer have felt guilt and would have stopped offering the same sacrifices.

But no, year after year their sacrifices witness to their sins and never will the blood of bulls and goats take away these sins. This is why on entering the world, Christ says : You did not desire sacrifice and offering; You were not pleased with burnt offerings and sin offerings. Then I said : “Here I am. It was written of Me in the scroll. I will do Your will, o God.”

First He says : “Sacrifice, offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings You did not desire nor were You pleased with them – although they were required by the Law. Then He says : Here I am to do Your will. This is enough to nullify the first will and establish the new. Now, by this will of God, we are sanctified once and for all by the sacrifice of the Body of Christ Jesus.

Friday, 13 January 2023 : 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, today as we listened to the words of the Sacred Scriptures, we are all reminded of the faith that we have in God, the faith that we have in His providence and might, in His truth and love, and then what each one of us should do in proclaiming that same truth and faith amongst all the people we encounter in our various respective communities. All of us have the need to believe in God and His truth, and to listen to Him and His words, and do not harden our hearts and minds against Him unlike what many of our predecessors had done in the past, which were highlighted by our Scripture passages today.

In our first reading today, as we heard from the Epistle of the Hebrews, the author of this Epistle who directed his writings to the Jewish Christian converts and also to the greater Jewish community, wanted to get them all to heed the Lord’s words and call to them to conversion, and to embrace the truth that God Himself had brought into this world, all through the person of Jesus Christ, the Lord and Saviour of all. The author was making references to the past transgressions, disobedience and stubbornness of the people of God in the past, who constantly rebelled against the Lord and refused to believe in Him and His prophets, even after repeated reminders and messages calling on them to turn away from their sins.

The author of the Epistle also likely referred to the attitudes of some among the Jewish community who had consistently and constantly resisted the Lord, His truth and His works, just as one of those examples being highlighted in our Gospel passage today. Essentially, many of the Jewish elders and influential members of the Sanhedrin or the Jewish High Council refused to believe in the Lord Jesus, and frowned or even outrightly opposed His actions and works, all because they saw Him as a Rival and even a threat to their own influence and power, and in their pride and ego, they continued to close their hearts up against God and His truth, even when His Wisdom and His miraculous deeds had been shown before their very own eyes in multiple occasions.

Such as what happened in our Gospel passage today, where we heard the account of the Lord Jesus healing a paralytic man brought unto His midst through the roof because the room where He was teaching in was so packed with people. The Lord willed to heal the paralysed man, and told Him that His sins had also been forgiven. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who happened to be present there in that occasion immediately took offence at the Lord’s proclamation, and said imperiously that only God could forgive sins, and that what the Lord had done was no less than a blasphemy against God. Yet, they failed to realise first of all that Christ Himself is the One Whom God had promised to be the Saviour of all mankind, and to Him would indeed be granted the authority over all things, even over that of sins.

Through Christ, Whose actions, works, miracles and wonders had shown the proof of His glorious coming, the truth about Himself and Who He really was, God wants to reveal to us the depth of His most amazing and wonderful love, which persists despite our most terrible and wicked rebellion against Him. Through Christ, God has willingly gathered all of us from the distant corners and edges of the world, leading us back to the grace of God and healing us all from our sickness that is sin, just as He had healed the paralytic man his condition. It is He alone Who can indeed rescue us from the tyranny of sin and death, lifting us up from the darkness that surrounded us and bringing us into His eternal light and grace. And yet, there are still many indeed who refused to believe in His love and kindness, despite having witnessed and heard about them.

Why is that so, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because of the excess of human pride, ego and greed, all of which had become great obstacles in our journey back towards God. The pride and ego of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, and many of the members of the Sanhedrin had become serious obstacles in the path of their drive towards salvation in God. Those people thought that they were better and superior to others all around them, and would not take the truth of the Lord as the reality that they needed to embrace. Instead, they continued to depend on the flawed and mistaken ideas they upheld, thinking that the messages and words that the Lord Jesus brought into their midst were false and even blasphemous in nature.

Today all of us are reminded not to follow this same path, and instead to follow the Lord wholeheartedly once again, not be swayed by the temptations of worldly power, fame, pride, glory and many other things that had often dragged so many of our predecessors into the path of sin and darkness. We are reminded that we have to be humble in accepting that our ways and thoughts can often be mistaken and flawed, and in God alone we can find the truth and Wisdom which will liberate us from the falsehoods of evil and sin. That is why we are called to reflect upon those passages of the Scriptures and whatever we have just reflected upon earlier so that we may not end up falling into the wrong path of disobedience, stubbornness and rebellion against God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us ought to look upon the good examples and inspirations set by St. Hilary, one of the great Church fathers, also known as St. Hilary of Poitiers, whose love and devotion to God, zeal and faith by which he had lived his life and ministry, can be great source of inspiration for all of us in how we live our own Christian living and faith. St. Hilary of Poitiers was the Bishop of Poitiers who was renowned for his great dedication to his flock and for his opposition to the heretics and all those who had perverted and misused the truth of God for their own selfish purposes. He was particularly energetic and passionate in opposing the then greatly influential Arian beliefs that distorted the truth about Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Saviour of all.

St. Hilary spent a lot of time and effort in reaching out to his flock and opposing those who sought to divide the Church and snatch the faithful from the hands of the Lord’s shepherds, having to endure persecutions and even exile for his courageous struggles for the truth, for the Lord and for the Lord’s beloved flock. He wrote extensively on many aspects of the faith, against the heretical teachings and ideas, which eventually made him proclaimed as one of the great Doctors of the Church for his immense contributions, long after he has passed on from this world. The faith and dedication which St. Hilary has shown us should serve as a good example for us to follow, so that each and every one of us may also follow him in his devotion and efforts in serving and glorifying God, in our own respective lives and actions.

May the Lord continue to guide us through our own journey in life, so that we may draw ever closer to Him, and such that we may ever always be more faithful to Him, and be ever more humble in accepting and receiving Him into our hearts and minds, and being stubborn and hardened in hearts no more. May all of us continue to walk down the path of righteousness and truth, and continue to persevere in faith regardless of the challenges and trials we may have to face for the Lord’s sake. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 13 January 2023 : 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!”