Friday, 31 January 2020 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Bosco, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

2 Samuel 11 : 1-4a, 5-10a, 13-17

In the spring of that year, when kings usually set out to fight, David sent out Joab, his officers and all the Israelite troops. They slaughtered the Ammonites and attacked Rabbah, while David remained in Jerusalem.

One afternoon, David got up from his siesta and took a walk on the roof of the royal house. From the rooftop, he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. David sent to inquire about the woman, and was told, “She is Bathsheba, daughter of Eliam and wife of Uriah, the Hittite.”

So David sent messengers to have her brought to him. As the woman saw she was with child, she sent word to David, “I am with child.” David then sent a message to Joab, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” So Joab sent Uriah to David. When Uriah came, David asked him about Joab, how the people were and how the war was proceeding. Then he told Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.”

Uriah left the palace while the king had a portion from his table sent to him. Uriah, however, did not go down to his house but slept by the door of the king’s palace with all the servants of his lord. David was told that Uriah did not go down to his house.

David invited him to table and he ate and drank until he was drunk. When evening fell, however, he went to lie down on his couch with the guards of his lord instead of going down to his house. The next morning, David wrote Joab a letter to be taken by hand by Uriah, in which he said, “Place Uriah in the front row where the fighting is very fierce and then withdraw from him so that he may be struck down and die.”

When Joab was attacking the city, he assigned Uriah to a place where he knew was being defended by strong warriors. And the defenders attacked the men of Joab. Some of David’s soldiers and officers were killed; Uriah the Hittite also died.

Thursday, 30 January 2020 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day the Lord reminds us all that our faith in Him will truly bear wonderful and good fruits, and we will not be disappointed with all that we have given or sacrificed to God, for God will indeed bless us wonderfully many-fold more than what we have given to Him. And we heard first of all in our first reading, a great prayer of thanksgiving that David prayed to God, giving thanks for all that He had done for him.

The context of this is such that David at that time had been secure in his reign as king over all of Israel, after having to endure years in exile and difficulty when he was once a fugitive even from his own land because Saul, the king before David, wanted him dead for being a rival king chosen by God. When Saul was killed by the Philistines, his supporters placed Ishbaal, Saul’s son as king in opposition to David. And during the early years of David’s reign over Israel, claimants and rebels rose up against him.

But despite all of these troubles, David remained firm in his faith to the Lord, doing His will and obeying Him to the best of his capabilities. Indeed, he was not perfect and he fell into sin and disobedience once in a while, for example when he was tempted by his own officer’s wife that ended up with David plotting the death of that officer and therefore sinned before God. And another occasion would be when David, in a momentary occasion of pride, conducted a census of all of Israel because he wanted to know how many people and how great his kingdom was.

But David repented wholeheartedly from all those moments of weakness and sin. He asked God for forgiveness and turned himself humbly before the Lord, and the Lord forgave David because He knew just how much David, His servant, loved him from his heart. And that was why God secured David’s reign and kingdom, and when David wanted to build a great Temple to be the House of God, God told David that it would be his son instead who would build the Temple for Him, and God would make the reign of David’s son secure.

God was with David and His reassurance that David’s house and reign would be forever secure made David to be overjoyed and filled with such happiness that he made such a jubilant praise in his prayer to God as we heard it in our first reading passage this day. David extolled God for His great faithfulness and love, His wonders and amazing deeds for His faithful ones, and how He has raised David from just a mere youth and simple shepherd to be a great king over all of Israel.

This is what the Lord spoke of when we heard in our Gospel passage in which Jesus spoke of the need for the light to be placed on a lamp-stand and not to be hidden, and how we shall receive in whatever measure that we have given, and we will receive even many more than what we have given. King David has shown us all how he gave his life and service to God, and God in return blessed David and protected him many more times that he has given to God.

What does this mean for us, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that all of us as Christians should not hesitate to make good use of whatever gifts and talents that God has given to us, the unique abilities that He has blessed us with and for which He has called us to a variety of vocations and ministries in life. God has called us all to follow Him and to make use of those talents and abilities He has given us to serve Him for His greater glory.

But many of us prefer to hide these talents and wonderful capabilities, just as the Lord mentioned using the parable of the lamp, the light that is hidden rather than placed on the lamp-stand for all to see. Our faith requires us all to be active in living our lives with faith, and we should embody our faith in our every words, actions and deeds, or else, our faith is empty, meaningless and dead. And such a faith is not good at all for us. We have seen how king David was truly faithful to God, living to the best of his ability to be faithful in all things.

Are we able to follow in his footsteps, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we able to walk courageously in the path that God has set before us, becoming the beacons of light bearing the light of God’s truth to the many people we encounter and interact with each and every days of our lives? Let us all seek the Lord and commit ourselves anew from now on, and be ever more faithful to Him, each and every days of our lives. May God bless us all as how He has blessed David, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 30 January 2020 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 4 : 21-25

At that time, Jesus also said to His disciples, “When the light comes, is it put under a basket or a bed? Surely it is put on a lamp stand. Whatever is hidden will be disclosed, and whatever is kept secret will be brought to light. Listen then, if you have ears!”

And He also said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear. In the measure you give, so shall you receive, and still more will be given to you. For to the one who produces something, more will be given; and from him who does not produce anything, even what he has will be taken away from him.”

Thursday, 30 January 2020 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 131 : 1-2, 3-5, 11, 12, 13-14

Remember David, o YHVH, and all his readiness; how he swore an oath to YHVH, to the Mighty One of Jacob.

“I will not enter my house nor get into my bed; I will give no sleep to my eyes, no slumber to my eyelids; until I find a place for YHVH, a dwelling, for the Mighty One of Jacob.”

YHVH swore to David a promise, and He will remain true to it : “I will keep your descendants on your throne.”

“If your sons keep My Covenant and the decrees I have taught them; their sons, too, will sit forever upon your throne.”

For YHVH has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling : “This is My resting place forever; this I prefer; here, will I dwell.”

Thursday, 30 January 2020 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

2 Samuel 7 : 18-19, 24-29

Then king David went in, sat before YHVH and said, “Who am I, o YHVH God, and who is my family that You have brought me so far? Yet this was not enough for You, o YHVH God, for You have also spoken of Your servant’s house for a long time to come. Is this the way men act, o YHVH God?”

“You have set apart Your people Israel to become Your people forever; and You, YHVH, have become their God. Now, o YHVH God, keep forever the promise You made and have now revealed to me regarding myself and my family, that Your Name may be honoured forever and people may say, ‘YHVH of Hosts is God over Israel.’”

“The house of Your servant David will be secure before You because You, o YHVH of Hosts, God of Israel, have made it known to Your servant and have said to him : ‘Your family will last forever.’ This is why I have dared to address this prayer to You. So now, o YHVH God, since You are the faithful God, and have promised me this good thing, please bless my descendants, that they may continue forever before You. For You, o YHVH God, have spoken and, with Your blessing, my family shall be blessed forever.”

Wednesday, 29 January 2020 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard from the Scripture passages beginning from the exchanges between king David and the prophet Nathan in our first reading regarding the plan that David had in wanting to build a great House for God, what would eventually be built by David’s son, Solomon and known as the Temple of Solomon or the Temple of Jerusalem. And then in our Gospel passage today, we heard of the famous parable of Jesus, our Lord, namely the parable of the sower.

In our first reading today, as we heard of the desire of king David in building the house of God in Jerusalem because he thought that it was not fitting that he resided in a newly built and comfortable palace while the Ark of God or the Ark of the Covenant remained outside in the Holy Tent. Thus, he wanted to build a proper and worthy Temple for the Lord as a powerful sign of His presence among His people and as the epicentre of the divine worship for the people of Israel.

Thus he asked the prophet Nathan for his advice and what the Lord thought of his plans for the building of a great Temple to be the House of the Ark of the Covenant and thus to be the House of God among His people. But God had a different plan, and He revealed His plan to David, as He said that rather it was Solomon, David’s son and successor as king of Israel who would build the great Temple for God, and at the same time God also renewed His promise to David to make the reign of his house secure.

David obeyed God and did whatever He has led him to do. He reign righteously and justly, ushering a great era of prosperity and happiness among the Israelites. The reign of king David and his son, king Solomon is featured prominently in the Scriptures and have always been looked upon many centuries and even millennia later as the golden age of the Israelites. Many people continued to be nostalgic of the greatness and the prosperity that Israel enjoyed during those years.

And while David was not the one who built the Temple of Jerusalem, but if we read from the Book of Chronicles supplementing the information we have, we will know of how David did a great preparation for the building of the Temple, investing and setting aside massive amounts of gold, silver, other precious metals and materials. He also made preparations with his friends like Hiram, the king of Lebanon who would later on supply Solomon with plenty of Lebanon cedars and timber for the building of the Temple.

We can see from all these how David sowed the seeds for the building of the great House of God. And David has been faithful for all the years that he reigned as king, allowing all of his efforts and good works to pay dividends and bear much fruits when the Temple of God later on was built by his son, his reign secure and Israel prosperous under God’s grace and blessings. And this is related to how in our Gospel passage today we heard of the famous parable of the sower.

David is like the seeds that the sower spread on the rich and fertile soil, which bore much fruits, thirty-fold, sixty-fold, and even hundred-fold of what had been sowed. That is because David loved God and he allowed God to work wonders through him, through his reign and through his life by which he inspired his people to be faithful and to obey God. And as a result, many people were saved and remained faithful, and God’s people had great peace and prosperity then.

On the contrary, those seeds that fell on the rocky grounds or those that fell on the roadside and were picked up by the birds, and those that were choked by the thorns and brambles are those who received God’s love and had faith in Him, and yet they succumbed to the many temptations of this world, the temptations by which the devil tried to keep us away from God and to trick us into taking the wrong path in life.

That was what happened to king Solomon, David’s son, towards the end of his reign. As Solomon got older and became influenced by his many wives and concubines who began to sway and tempt him away from the true faith in God, the faith of Solomon had become weak and the wickedness and evil of pagan worship and disobedience against God returned. Sin has returned to Israel, and because the king has sinned, the rest of the people naturally followed as well.

As a result, the prosperity and glory that Israel enjoyed during much of the reigns of Solomon and his father came to an end after his reign, and the kingdom of Israel were divided into two, and eventually many centuries later, both were to be destroyed because the people failed to be faithful to God and continued on their path of disobedience and wickedness. This is a reminder for us all that faith in God leads to true joy and happiness in Him, while disobedience only leads to eventual destruction and harm.

Let us all discern, brothers and sisters in Christ, our path going forward in our respective lives. Do we want to follow the examples of David, in being open to allowing God to lead and guide us in our lives and to do what is good and righteous in God’s sight that we may reap eventually the good fruits of our faith and actions? Or do we rather follow what Solomon and many others had done in allowing the devil instead to take away our faith from us by means of many temptations that he has placed in our path? Are we able to resist those temptations and seek instead God’s truth?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all reflect on all these and strive to become ever better Christians in our life, in our work and actions. Let us all be exemplary and good in our life that we may inspire each other to live our lives ever more faithfully from now. May the Lord also continue to be with us all and bless us in everything we do. Amen.

Wednesday, 29 January 2020 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 4 : 1-20

At that time, Jesus began to teach by the lake; but such a large crowd gathered about Him, that He got into a boat and sat in it on the lake, while the crowd stood on the shore. He taught them many things through parables. In His teaching, He said, “Listen! The sower went out to sow. As he sowed, some of the seed fell along a path; and the birds came and ate it up.”

“Some of the seed fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil; it sprang up immediately, because it had no depth; but when the sun rose and burnt it, it withered, because it had no roots. Other seed fell among thorn bushes; and the thorns grew and choked it; so it did not produce any grain.”

“But some seed fell on good soil, grew and increased and yielded grain; some seed produced thirty times as much, some sixty, and some one hundred times as much.” And Jesus added, “Listen then, if you have ears.”

When the crowd went away, some who were around Him with the Twelve asked about the parables. He answered them, “The mystery of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But for those outside, everything comes in parables, so, that, the more they see, they do not perceive; the more they hear, they do not understand; otherwise they would be converted and pardoned.”

Jesus said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How, then, will you understand any of the parables? What the sower is sowing is the word. Those along the path, where the seed fell, are people who hear the word, but as soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.”

“Other people receive the word like rocky ground. As soon as they hear the word, they accept it with joy. But they have no roots, so it lasts only a little while. No sooner does trouble or persecution come because of the word, than they fall. Others receive the seed, as seed among thorns. After they hear the word, they are caught up in the worries of this life, false hope of riches and other desires. All these come in and choke the word, so that finally it produces nothing.”

“And there are others who receive the word as good soil. They hear the word, take it to heart and produce : some thirty, some sixty, and some one hundred times as much.”