Monday, 14 January 2019 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we begin the time of the Ordinary Time, which will take place between now and the beginning of the season of Lent on Ash Wednesday. And although this period of time is called the Ordinary Time, but we must not think of it as a time when things are ordinary and nothing special is commemorated or observed. On the other hand, we should reflect on the flow of the liturgical year in order for us to understand what we need to do as Christ’s followers.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this period of time between Christmas and the season of Lent was marked at the beginning yesterday by the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which commemorated the baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ in the River Jordan, at the age of approximately thirty years, marking the beginning of His earthly ministry, when He began to teach the people and proclaim the truth of God to them.

And this is significant because, all of us as Christians have shared in the same baptism that He has received, marked by the Holy Name of the Trinity, as God’s own children. At the baptism of Our Lord, the Holy Trinity was also present, the Father’s voice that proclaimed the Sonhood of Christ, Christ Himself as the Son, and the dove descending upon Him as the Holy Spirit, three Divine Persons, One God all present then, just as at the baptism of each and every one of us.

As such, we can see that we share in the same ministry and work the Lord Himself has taken up at His baptism, to obey the will of God and to do the good works of God. He began His works, as we heard in the Gospel passage today, calling upon those whom He had chosen, to become His disciples and followers, to be the fishers of men. And from then on, the works of God begun and His Church grew.

We are also therefore called to follow in the footsteps of the Apostles and the disciples, to continue the many good works they have begun. The Lord has commanded them all to go forth to the nations, and to baptise them in the Name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, as the Church had done for the past two millennia and more, and also to proclaim the truth of the Lord as written in the Scriptures and as preserved in the Apostolic Tradition of the Church.

But the works are far from being done and completed. In fact, there are still many avenues and opportunities available for us to provide our talents and abilities, our time and effort in bringing the truth of God, His love and His promise of salvation to more people among all the nations and races. And it is through us, those who belong in the Church in the modern day, those who have received the Sacrament of Baptism, to continue the mission that God had entrusted to us, His disciples.

Now, are we able and willing to commit our effort and time to serve the Lord and to do what we are supposed to do as Christians, as those who believe in God and walk in His ways? Are we able to practice our faith daily, in each and every actions we do, and in everything we say, so that those who see us may truly know that we belong to God, and that hopefully they too may come to believe in God and be saved?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let these time of grace, although named the Ordinary Time of the year, give us a new direction in life, to make a new ‘ordinary’ moments of our life, that doing the will of God become something that is ordinary for us, meaning that it becomes a habit and something we really look forward to at all times. Let us therefore commit ourselves in this manner, and dedicate ourselves to serve Him from now on, as what each and every one of us need to do. May God bless us all and our every endeavours. Amen.

Monday, 14 January 2019 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 1 : 14-20

At that time, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee and began preaching the Good News of God. He said, “The time has come; the kingdom of God is at hand. Change your ways and believe the Good News.”

As Jesus was walking along the shore of Lake Galilee, He saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fish for people.” At once, they abandoned their nets and followed Him.

Jesus went a little farther on, and saw James and John, the sons of Zebedee; they were in their boat mending their nets. Immediately, Jesus called them and they followed Him, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men.

Monday, 14 January 2019 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 96 : 1 and 2b, 6 and 7c, 9

YHVH reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the distant islands be glad. Justice and right, are His throne.

The heavens proclaim His justice, all peoples see His glory. Let all spirits bow before Him.

For You are the Master of the universe, exalted far above all gods.

Monday, 14 January 2019 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Hebrews 1 : 1-6

God has spoken in the past to our ancestors through the prophets, in many different ways, although never completely; but in our times He has spoken definitively to us through His Son. He is the one God appointed Heir of all things, since through Him He unfolded the stages of the world.

He is the Radiance of God’s Glory and bears the stamp of God’s hidden being, so that His powerful Word upholds the universe. And after taking away sin, He took His place at the right hand of the Divine Majesty in heaven. So He is now far superior to Angels just as the Name He received sets Him apart from them.

To what Angel did God say : You are My Son, I have begotten You today? And to what Angel did He promise : I shall be a Father to Him and He will be a Son to Me? On sending His Firstborn to the world, God says : “Let all the Angels adore Him.”

Monday, 7 January 2019 : Monday 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 Scriptures, telling us about the need for us to discern carefully the path of our life, and listen to the right words of advice, that is the truth of God and not instead the lies and falsehoods of the devil. Otherwise, we may end up walking in the wrong path and fall to the trap of sin, which the devil has prepared laboriously to bring us into our doom.

In the passage taken from the Epistle of St. John, our first reading today, we heard of the distinction between the path of God and the path of the world, those who side with the antichrist. Those who reject the way of the Lord are those who side with the devil, the enemies of God, because they do not agree with the Lord’s way, and do things in manner that is against the commandments and the Law of God, as mentioned by St. John.

How should we then discern so that we will not end up going down the wrong path? Then we need to realise that we have to deepen our understanding and knowledge of God’s ways, by delving deeper into the teachings of the Church, and rediscover the richness of the bounties of God’s truth, which have been preserved well by His Church, and taught to us by His bishops and priests, all those who have been tasked with the preservation and the propagation of truth.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the way of the Lord is one of love and compassion, of obedience to God and adherence to His ways. And the Lord Himself has summarised the Law into two main, essential laws. First of all, we ought to love God with all of our hearts, with all of our minds, and with every ounce of our strength. And then, we ought to show the same love towards our fellow brothers and sisters, our neighbours, those in our families, and even the strangers whom we encounter in our respective lives.

But as we can easily see and witness all around ourselves and our livelihood, it is not easy to walk in the path that God has set before us, as there will inevitably be conflict and misalignments with the ways and the expectations that come from the world, from the society around us. By our human nature and tendencies, we are often selfish and egoistic, prideful and harbouring hatred in our hearts. We are often jealous of each other and desire what others have but we ourselves do not have.

That is why, it is not easy for us to be faithful to God and to follow His ways. There will be many temptations and even pressures for us to walk away from His path. But if we remain strong in our conviction to love God and persevere in walking down the path He has shown us, then we are assured of the salvation and liberation which God has brought down upon us. We will be deemed worthy of the glorious kingdom and eternal life and joy which will be ours by faith.

Today, we commemorate the feast of St. Raymond of Penyafort, a renowned Dominican friar and preacher, who lived during the High Middle Ages. He was remembered for his important role in the codification and formalisation of the Canon Law in the Church. But more importantly, he also stood up for his faith and the teachings of the Church, even when his king was against him, who though faithful but ensnared with the temptation of lust with a concubinage relationship.

St. Raymond of Penyafort insisted repeatedly that the king must dismiss his concubine, and the king persistently refused to do so. Eventually, it was told that a miracle happened, when St. Raymond of Penyafort wanted to leave the king behind, having no longer been able to tolerate his wicked behaviour, and when the king insisted that he remain, St. Raymond warned the king of the fate awaiting those who refused to listen to God’s will and repent from their sins, and casting his cloak to the water, he sailed on the cloak as if it was a ship. Having heard of this, the king repented from his sins and became a good Christian from then on.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having heard the faith and virtues of St. Raymond of Penyafort, let us all be inspired by him and the courage he had in resisting wickedness of the world, and in how he had stood up for his faith in God. Let us all also be courageous in how we live up to our faith, by our actions, and be willing to commit ourselves, from now on, to love God with all of our strength, and be courageous in living a life in accordance with God’s will and grace. May God be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 7 January 2019 : Monday after the Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 4 : 12-17, 23-25

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, He withdrew into Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum, a town by the lake of Galilee, at the border of Zebulun and Naphtali.

In this way the word of the prophet Isaiah was fulfilled : Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, crossed by the Road of the Sea, and you who live beyond the Jordan, Galilee, land of pagans : The people who lived in darkness have seen a great Light; on those who live in the land of the shadow of death, a Light has shone.

From that time on, Jesus began to proclaim His message, “Change your ways : the kingdom of heaven is near.” Jesus went around all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom, and curing all kinds of sickness and disease among the people.

The news about Him spread through the whole of Syria, and the people brought all their sick to Him, and all those who suffered : the possessed, the deranged, the paralysed, and He healed them all. Large crowds followed Him from Galilee and the Ten Cities, from Jerusalem, Judea and from across the Jordan.

Monday, 7 January 2019 : Monday after the Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 2 : 7-8, 10-11

I will proclaim the decree of the Lord. He said to Me : “You are My Son. This day I have begotten You. Ask of Me and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, the ends of the earth for Your possession.”

Now therefore, learn wisdom, o kings; be warned, o rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and fall at His feet; lest He be angry and you perish when His anger suddenly flares. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him!