Tuesday, 28 January 2020 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture in which we are told of the matter of faith and obedience to God. We are presented with two stories, one from our first reading, the second Book of the prophet Samuel, on the account of the moment when king David brought the Ark of God, also known as the Ark of the Covenant into the city of Jerusalem, the new capital of the kingdom of Israel.

Previously, the Ark has always been in the field, originally carried and brought with the Israelites as they journeyed in the desert during their Exodus from Egypt and a Holy Tent was built to house this Ark of the Covenant, which was a very sacred and important part of the community of the Israelites at that time. The people made their dwellings around the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Tent, and when they have reached the Promised Land, the Ark and the Holy Tent were prominently placed in the heart of the land of the Israelites.

For the Ark of the Covenant is not just the symbolic representation of the Covenant between God and His people, but is also the real focus and emphasis of the bond between God and the Israelites, for the stones on which the Ten Commandments were written were placed in the Ark, and more importantly, God’s very presence and holiness descended upon the Ark when the Holy Tent was dedicated and consecrated to God. The Ark of God was the place where God Himself dwelled, inside the Holy Tent built over it.

David wanted to bring the Ark into Jerusalem, that it may then visibly dwell in the heart of the land, in Jerusalem, the capital of the kingdom of Israel. And when he did so, he honoured the Lord and humbled himself before Him as we heard in our first reading passage today, dancing and rejoicing before the Lord with great joy. David obeyed the Lord and did everything he could to follow His commandments, and gave his all to Him. What we have heard in our first reading today was how he put God first before all else, even his pride and honour.

And not just in this matter, but king David has also been a good and faithful king and steward of God’s people, leading the people on the right path and guiding them with right conduct and devotion. Of course David was not perfect, as he did sin and make mistakes sometimes, but in the end, his love and commitment to God prevailed, and he remained mostly true to his calling and ministry as king. He did what was right in the sight of God and brought God’s people closer to Him, and for this, God blessed David and made an assurance to him that his house would reign as king forever.

This is then linked to our Gospel passage today, when the family of Jesus came to Him to meet Him while He was teaching to the people gathered before Him. In that occasion, the Lord told the people that His brothers, sisters, mother and family are those who do the will of God and obey Him. When we heard what the Lord Jesus said, without understanding the context and purpose of what He said, we may think that the Lord was being rude to His family and to His mother Mary. But the truth is actually different.

The Lord had no intention to be rude or condescending to His family and His mother. Rather, He wanted to make a good example and also to make it clear to the people, and all of us, that if we obey God and do His will, are faithful and devoted to Him, God will surely be with us and will bless us bountifully as He had done with David, His faithful servant. And of course, Mary, the mother of God is herself the most faithful one of all, and she is indeed one called the most blessed of all women and of all people.

Today, we also remember the memory of a great saint, whose life, works and dedication to God can be a great source of inspiration to all of us as Christians, just as king David and Mary had done. St. Thomas Aquinas is a great Doctor of the Church and a master theologian known well by his nickname Doctor Angelicus or the Angelic Doctor. St. Thomas Aquinas was well-known for his many contributions to theology and philosophy, sparking a great renewal in the intellectual dimension of the Church and the faithful.

Summa Theologica, the great masterful work of St. Thomas Aquinas still continues to influence the Church, the priests and the leaders of the Church for many centuries right up to this day, and is acknowledged as one of the most brilliant works that man has ever made. The impact of St. Thomas Aquinas, his works and contributions cannot be underrated, and we should be inspired by his commitment and love for God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what is it that we should do then? We should be more faithful and committed to God ourselves from now on, imitating the examples of king David, of Mary, God’s own mother, St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor and many other saints and holy predecessors we have, that we can look up to for inspiration. Let us all be inspired by them and strive to do our best to love God with ever more effort and commitment, putting Him ever at the centre of our lives and existence.

May God be with us always, and may He bless us all in everything we do, that we may ever be courageous and strong to live up to our faith and be good servants of His truth, in proclaiming His truth and His salvation to all the peoples by our faith and obedience. Amen.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church (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, 28 January 2020 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 23 : 7, 8, 9, 10

Lift up, o gateways, your lintels, open up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may enter!

Who is the King of glory? YHVH, the Strong, the Mighty, YHVH, valiant in battle.

Lift up Your lintels, o gateways, open up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may enter!

Who is the King of glory? YHVH of Hosts, He is the King of glory!

Tuesday, 28 January 2020 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

2 Samuel 6 : 12b-15, 17-19

King David went to bring up the Ark of God from the house of Obededom to the city of David, rejoicing. After those who carried the Ark of YHVH had walked six paces, they sacrificed an ox and a fattened calf. David whirled round dancing with all his heart before YHVH, wearing a linen ephod, for he and all the Israelites brought up the Ark of YHVH, shouting joyfully and sounding the horn.

They brought in the Ark of YHVH and laid it in its place, in the tent which David had pitched for it. Then David offered burnt and peace offerings before YHVH. Once the offerings had been made, David blessed the people in the Name of YHVH of hosts, and distributed to each man and woman of the entire assembly of Israel, a loaf of bread, a portion of meat and a raisin cake. With this, all the people left for their homes.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020 : Tuesday after the Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture starting from the Gospel passage that told us about the wonderful work that the Lord had performed among His people as highlighted in His miraculous feeding of the five thousand men and more people, as the women and children accompanying the men were not included in the count. He provided for them and gave them all food to eat.

And then, we also heard from the Epistle of St. John in our first reading today that spoke about God’s love for us mankind and how that love has manifested perfectly in the person of Jesus, the beloved Son of God, Who was sent into the world to redeem us, to help us, to show us just how much God loves each and every one of us, that each and every one of us may not perish because of our sins but have eternal life. The Lord Jesus Himself said this, and St. John reaffirmed it in his Epistle.

We are reminded therefore how each and every one of us as Christians are God’s own beloved sons and daughters, and we are made into such a privileged position because of none other than the Lord Jesus Whose birth we celebrate during this Christmas season. His birth and arrival into this world marked the beginning of the reconciliation between God and mankind, once separated by the wickedness of our sins and disobedience.

Christ has entered into this world as a unique Being, both a Divine being, because He is the Word of God and the Son of the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and also a Human being, because He was conceived in the womb of a woman, Mary, His mother, taking the fullness of our human existence and qualities. He has two natures, Divine and Human, both united in His one single person though the two natures remained distinct, but inseparable. This is why through Christ, we have been adopted as God’s children.

Because if Christ is the Son of God, then all of us mankind who share in His humanity is also the sons and daughters of God, by this adoption through Christ. All of us who believe in Him and become members of the Church are adopted as children of God. And we are all truly privileged to have been granted this honour and opportunity, that we really should not waste it. We should appreciate just how God still loves us so dearly even when we have erred against Him and should have been exterminated instead of being forgiven.

Today, all of us are called to reflect on our lives and how we have lived them with faith. We are called to think of whether we have reciprocated God’s generous offer of love and mercy, and how we can draw close to Him, entrusting ourselves to this love, which He has shown us through His Son, Who fed the multitudes of five thousand men and more, and even more so, gave us all spiritual sustenance through His truth.

Have we been faithful and loving towards Him, brothers and sisters in Christ? Or have we been too preoccupied and busy with ourselves that we end up distancing ourselves from Him and getting trapped deeper and deeper into the path of sin? This is where perhaps we should look upon the good examples set by our holy predecessor, St. Raymond of Penyafort, whose feast day we celebrate today, who was a Spanish Dominican friar living in the twelfth and thirteenth century.

St. Raymond of Penyafort was renowned for his lifelong dedication to God, and although he was remembered more for his important contributions in the compilation of the canon laws of the Church, which eventually became the version of the Canon Law used for many centuries, but actually St. Raymond of Penyafort was also known for his steadfastness in faith and dedication, in how he persistently opposed the King of Aragon in today’s Spain because of his immoral behaviour with a supposed mistress.

St. Raymond of Penyafort was punished and put under arrest and watch by the king for his criticism and opposition to his immoral and wicked attitude, but the saint remained steadfast in faith and in his opposition. In a well remembered miracle, it was told that St. Raymond sailed away from his island exile on a cloak and this miracle, witnessed by many caused the king to renounce his wicked behaviours and turn back towards God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have heard how St. Raymond of Penyafort loved God and had great faith in Him to the point that he was willing to oppose a king in doing so, and to do what he has done in his many contributions to the Church for so many years. Are we able to follow in his footsteps? It is something that we should perhaps think about as we continue living our lives with faith from now on. May the Lord be with us always, and may He bless us all in everything we do, and help us that we may grow ever stronger in our faith, love and devotion towards Him. Amen.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020 : Tuesday after the Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 6 : 34-44

At that time, as Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He had compassion on them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd. And He began to teach them many things. It was now getting late, so His disciples came to Him and said, “This is a lonely place and it is now late. You should send the people away and let them go to the farms and villages around here, to buy themselves something to eat.”

Jesus replied, “You, yourselves, give them something to eat.” They answered, “If we are to feed them, we need two hundred silver coins to go and buy enough bread.” But Jesus said, “You have some loaves; how many? Go and see.” The disciples found out and said, “There are five loaves and two fish.”

Then He told them to have the people sit down, together in groups, on the green grass. This they did, in groups of hundreds and fifties. And Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish and, raising His eyes to heaven, He pronounced a blessing, broke the loaves, and handed them to His disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them.

They all ate and everyone had enough. The disciples gathered up what was left, and filled twelve baskets with broken pieces of bread and fish. Five thousand men had eaten there.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020 : Tuesday after the Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 71 : 2, 3-4ab, 7-8

O God, endow the King with Your justice, the Royal Son with Your righteousness. May He rule Your people justly and defend the rights of the lowly.

Let the mountains bring peace to the people, and the hills justice. He will defend the cause of the poor, deliver the children of the needy.

Justice will flower in His days, and peace abound till the moon be no more. For He reigns from sea to sea, from the River to the ends of the earth.