Sunday, 27 February 2022 : Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday as we gather together and listen to the words of the Lord in the Sacred Scriptures, we are all reminded how all of us have to be true to our faith in God, to be righteous and good in all things just as He has commanded and taught us to do in our lives. We have to be active in living our faith and not just paying lip service to the Lord only. We cannot be idle and ignorant of what the Lord had told us to do, through all the guidance He has shown us through His Church.

In our first reading today, we heard from the book of the prophet Sirach in which the Lord spoke to His people regarding how a person can be seen and witnessed from his or her actions and deeds, from their words and all their interactions, just as a tree’s qualities can be seen from its fruits among other examples. It was also mentioned how a potter usually tests his wares and products by testing them with fire, and all the hidden flaws will be revealed that way. Nothing can be hidden away and all can and may be revealed.

What does this mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that we cannot fake our faith, or think that we can deceive others by our appearances if deep inside we do not truly have faith in the Lord. That was why, sadly, many people found it difficult to believe in God because many among us Christians do not even practice our faith and behave in the manner appropriate to our identity as those who believe in the Lord. That is exactly why many were scandalised by what they had seen in the attitudes of Christians, who behaved not according to what the Christian truth is all about.

This same sentiment is echoed by the Lord Himself as we heard it in our Gospel passage today, in which we heard the Lord speaking to His disciples regarding the matter how people should be truly faithful to God and be willing to reflect on their own attitudes first before they judge others or condemn others for being less faithful or worthy than they were, which was unfortunately a rather common situation among the people of Israel at the time, particularly among the members of the Pharisees and the elders and the chief priests.

They were the ones who always thought highly of themselves and conversely looked down on others, condemning others they deemed to be unworthy of God and His salvation like that of the tax collectors and prostitutes, or those who were possessed or were suffering from diseases and other afflictions. They thought of themselves as worthy and justified in their actions, in their exclusivity and refusal to engage in genuine dialogue with the Lord and His disciples, and instead preferring to hinder Him and putting obstacles in all the occasions and the places wherever He went to.

That was the example of what the Lord said as the blind leading the blind, and a man with a plank in his eye who chose to point out the speck in another’s eye, while ignoring the plank in his very own eye. Unfortunately, this was a common attitude not only just among the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, but also among us Christians as well. Many of us often think of ourselves as being better than others and are easily prejudiced and biased against those whom we perceived to be less than worthy of the Lord and His saving grace as well as love.

That is exactly how we fell to this same trap of self-righteousness, selfishness, self-aggrandisement and other traps that have often trapped many of us since the beginning of time. Ever since man first fell into sin, we have always struggled against the allures of worldly desires, of personal desires for pleasure and satisfaction, for self-fulfilment and happiness, often even at the cost of others around us. That was how mankind often brought about suffering to others around them, all because they thought first and foremost of themselves first, ignoring others and their needs.

And as long as our internal predisposition and orientation are not set right as we should have, then we will likely fall again and again into this path of sin, wickedness and evil, this path of selfishness and jealousy, of self-preservation and the desire for personal glory, satisfaction and attainment. This is why today, on this Sunday all of us are reminded by the words of the Lord Himself, that we have to begin making the efforts to nurture within us all, a true heart, mind and soul that are all attuned towards the Lord, filled with genuine faith and love for Him.

In our second reading today, we heard St. Paul in his Epistle and letter to the Church and the faithful in the city of Corinth, speaking about the matter of sin and death. He spoke of how sin is the sting of death, for through sin brought about by their disobedience and by succumbing to their desires, man had brought upon themselves the suffering and punishment of death. Sin is the weeds that the devil has sowed in our hearts, as we heard in one of the parables of the Lord, when the enemy came to sow the seeds of weeds among the seeds of good wheat.

Then St. Paul also spoke of how the Lord has triumphed over sin and death, and through Him, He has shown us this path of victory against sin and evil, against death and all the tyranny and bondage that they had over us all these while. Yet, it is us mankind who have often fell back again and again into sin, because we do not have that strong and genuine faith in the Lord, and we still have too many and too strong attachments to sin, to the many temptations and desires found in this world, to all the things that often distracted us in our journey towards the Lord.

First of all, as mentioned earlier, it is important that as Christians we have to realise that we must always be vigilant against our ego and pride, our desires and all the temptations present all around us. We have to be humble and to rid of ourselves all the excesses of our pride and ego, which often were the sources of our downfall. If we allow those things to mislead us and distract us from the path of God, then very easily we will end up following the wrong path in life, and falling ever deeper into the traps of sin, and eventually to eternal death and suffering.

If we do not want this to happen, then first of all we have to reorientate our lives from one that is centred on ourselves, our ego and desires, into new lives that are centred on God, on His truth and love. This is what the Lord wants from us, and this is what this Sunday’s Scripture readings had been intended to, in order to wake us up from our slumber in this world, and so that we may stir and do our best to seek the Lord with a renewed conviction, zeal and passion in our respective lives.

We have to realise that we are weak and imperfect, and we often need help in our journey through life. We cannot just solely depend on ourselves and our power alone, but instead we have to cooperate and work with God, allowing Him to lead us down the right path. And in order to do that, often we have to be in touch with Him and ourselves, knowing how sinful and flawed we have been. Otherwise, if we allow pride and ego to fill our minds and hearts, then in our self-righteousness, we will end up shutting the Lord out, and consequently, we will only end up getting more and more distant from one another.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, instead of us comparing who amongst us are better, more worthy, more righteous, more pious or holy, let us all realise that we are all sinners in need of God’s healing and mercy. And the Lord is the only One Who can provide us our true happiness in life, and in Him we can put our full trust always. He has called us all to follow Him, and all that remains is for us to follow Him and trust Him wholeheartedly from now on. And as Christians, we should help and inspire one another in this journey of faith, supporting and strengthening one another instead of trying to outdo or compete with each other, nurturing in ourselves a heart filled with love for God and faith and trust in Him.

May the Lord, our most loving God, continue to bless us and guide us, and may He continue to watch over us, and help us to remain humble and committed to Him, that we may resist all the temptations of our ego and pride, our desires and the attachments we have to our worldly temptations and concerns. May God bless all of our good endeavours, works and efforts, in all things, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 27 February 2022 : Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 6 : 39-45

At that time, Jesus offered this example, “Can a blind person lead another blind person? Surely both will fall into a ditch. A disciple is not above the master; but when fully trained, he will be like the master. So why do you pay attention to the speck in your brother’s eye, while you have a log in your eye, and are not conscious of it?”

“How can you say to your neighbour, ‘Friend, let me take this speck out of your eye,’ when you cannot remove the log in your own? You hypocrite! First remove the log from your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your neighbour’s eye.”

“No healthy tree bears bad fruit, no poor tree bears good fruit. And each tree is known by the fruit it bears : you do not gather figs from thorns, or grapes from brambles. Similarly, the good person draws good things from the good stored in his heart, and an evil person draws evil things from the evil stored in his heart. For the mouth speaks from the fullness of the heart.”

Sunday, 27 February 2022 : Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Corinthians 15 : 54-58

When our perishable being puts on imperishable life, when our mortal being puts on immortality, the word of Scripture will be fulfilled : Death has been swallowed up by victory. Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?

Sin is the sting of death, to kill, and the Law is what gives force to sin. But give thanks to God, Who gives us the victory, through Christ Jesus, our Lord. So then, my dear brothers and sisters, be steadfast, and do not be moved. Improve constantly, in the work of the Lord, knowing that, with Him, your labour is not without fruit.

Sunday, 27 February 2022 : Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 91 : 2-3, 13-14, 15-16

It is good to give thanks to YHVH, to sing praise to Your Name, o Most High, to proclaim Your grace in the morning, to declare Your faithfulness at night.

The virtuous will flourish, like palm trees, they will thrive, like the cedars of Lebanon. Planted in the house of YHVH, they will prosper, in the courts of our God.

In old age, they will still bear fruit; they will stay fresh and green, to proclaim that YHVH is upright, “He is my Rock,” they say, “He never fails.”

Sunday, 27 February 2022 : Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Sirach 27 : 4-7

When a sieve is shaken the dirt falls through; so, too, the defects of a man are seen when he begins to speak. The kiln tests the potter’s handiwork; a man is tested by his conversation.

A well-tended tree is shown by its fruits, so a man’s feelings can be detected in what he says. Praise no one before he has spoken, since this is the acid test.

Sunday, 15 February 2015 : Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Quinquagesima Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we approach ever closer to the beginning of the Lenten season which will begin on this coming, the Ash Wednesday, today we celebrate the Quinquagesima Sunday, or the Seventh Sunday before Easter, as a reminder of the saving power and works of our Lord Jesus Christ, who had come unto this world and became incarnate as Man, that through His mission and works, He might bring healing to a sickened people.

Truly, the readings today, both that of the sixth Ordinary Sunday and the Quinquagesima Sunday are talking about the sickness of the flesh, and thus lead us all to understand that we are all, by our nature, sickened with sin, that is the sickness of the soul, or to link to the readings today even more closely, sin is the leprosy of the soul.

In the first reading, God stipulated the law regarding leprosy and what ought to be done to a person who has leprosy, to His people through Moses. Lepers ought to declare themselves as unclean and walk in shame, while at the same time they also must isolate themselves and exile themselves from the community of the people of God. They ought to remain outside the encampment where the people of Israel stayed in the presence of God.

At the first glance, this may seem to be very harsh and it may seem that God was punishing those with leprosy very severely. But in fact, the truth is that God desires their healing and salvation. If we read the entirety of the Book of Leviticus, and discern the meaning of what God had commanded to His people, we will find that for the case of leprosy, when those afflicted were cured of their condition, they have to present themselves to the priests who would then gave worthy sacrifice for the Lord and welcomed them back into the community of the people of God.

Thus, the same has happened to all of us mankind. We are all sick from the sickness of sin that affects our soul and tainted it. Sin is an abomination and filth that separates us from the loving embrace of our Lord and God, and sin has no place in His presence. Therefore, it would not indeed be too different from the lepers in the past, when Israel walked through the desert from Egypt to the Promised Land, that they were temporarily cast out of the society and had to wander in the wilderness beyond the confines of the camp of the faithful.

We have been separated from God and from being worthy of His salvation by the taint of sin, and as the Gospel of Quinquagesima Sunday also shows us, that blindness is another form of illness that we are suffering from. The blind man begged for Jesus to heal him, and in his faith, he was cured completely from his blindness. Here, there is again yet a clear link between what we heard and another story, when Jesus healed yet another blind man.

The blind man from his birth, who used to beg at the entrance of the Temple was healed by Jesus, and he gave thanks to God and testified to the glory of God, and yet, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law accused him of sinning and of committing the sin by having been healed on the Sabbath day. They cursed him and were angry against him, but indeed, that other story from the Gospel also yet show us how, all of us men are sick, sickened by sin.

For sin blinded our hearts and minds against the love and mercy of God, and also prevented us from recognising the good works of the Lord present around us. It was precisely just as what the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had done to Jesus and His works. They refused to recognise God’s love made evident and real through Jesus Christ, who was willing to endure the worst of sufferings and scourges, and bear the consequences of all of our sins with Him to the cross.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, Christ brought about healing and justification to all those who believe in Him, in all those who have abandoned their old ways of sin and evil, and decided to follow Him and walk in His ways for the rest of their lives. This healing and cleansing is the healing of our soul and heart, as well as our mind and body from the corruption of sin and the desires of the world. He is the High Priest, who had offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice to reconcile us with God.

The sad fact is that, like the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, too many of us are still too proud to accept our sinfulness as a fact and reality, and too many of us are too haughty and prideful to seek for God’s forgiveness and to humble ourselves before His presence. It is also in our nature to boast of our abilities and greatness, as well as achievements, but not our shortcomings and failures, especially that of sin.

As we approach the season of Lent, and as later we are to celebrate the Most Holy Week of our Lord’s Passion, suffering, death and resurrection from the dead, all of which are part of His works to bring about our salvation and the deliverance of all those who put their trust and faith in Him, let us therefore reflect on our own lives and attitudes. Have we been truly faithful to the Lord, and have we been reflecting and be aware of our own sinfulness and wickedness in life that prevented us from being truly be with our loving God?

As St. Paul mentioned in his epistle we heard for this Quinquagesima Sunday, that our faith must be complemented with hope and love, the three cardinal and most important gifts of the Lord to all of us. If the three are not present together, then they are incomplete. And the greatest gift of all is indeed love, for it is love itself that drove our Lord to come down and to do His works to save us all. Sinners as we are, and unworthy as we are, He still loves us all very much.

Thus, we cannot say that we are truly faithful to the Lord, unless we imitate the love which Christ had shown to us all, who in His gentle and tender love had brought about our healing, the healing we receive so that our entire being are purged from the sickness of sin and evil. But we have to open our hearts to His love and mercy, and the best way to do this is to practice them in our own lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us be truly faithful to our Lord from now on, and show our thanks and gratitude for the love and mercy which He had shown us. Although we are sinners, unworthy and wicked, He was still willing to give Himself for our sake, and even to suffer and die for our sake. Let us all from now on be thoroughly transformed in faith, hope and love, that through these gifts which we exercise in our daily actions and deeds in life, we may grow stronger and more just in the eyes of our Lord, and be worthy for His eternal life. God bless us all. Amen.

Sunday, 15 February 2015 : Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Quinquagesima Sunday (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 1 : 40-45

At that time, a leper came to Jesus and begged Him, “If You want to, You can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I do want to, be clean.” The leprosy left the man at once and he was made clean.

As Jesus sent the man away, He sternly warned him, “Do not tell anyone about this, but go and show yourself to the priest, and for the cleansing bring the offering ordered by Moses; in this way you will give to them your testimony.”

However, as soon as the man went out, he began spreading the news everywhere,so that Jesus could no longer openly enter any town. But even though He stayed in the rural areas, people came to Him from everywhere.

Homily and Reflection :

Sunday, 15 February 2015 : Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Quinquagesima Sunday (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Corinthians 10 : 31 – 1 Corinthians 11 : 1

Then, whatever you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do it for the glory of God. Give no offense to the Jews, or to the Greeks, or to the Church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything. I do not seek my own interest, but that of many, this is, that they be saved.

Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.

Sunday, 15 February 2015 : Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Quinquagesima Sunday (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 31 : 1-2, 5, 11

Blessed is the one whose sin is forgiven, whose iniquity is wiped away. Blessed are those in whom the Lord sees no guilt and in whose spirit is found no deceit.

Then I made known to You my sin and uncovered before You my fault, saying to myself, “To the Lord I will now confess my wrong.” And You, You forgave my sin, You removed my guilt.

Rejoice in the Lord, and be glad, you who are upright; sing and shout for joy, you who are clean of heart.

Sunday, 15 February 2015 : Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Quinquagesima Sunday (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Leviticus 13 : 1-2, 44-46

YHVH said to Moses and Aaron, “If someone has a boil, an inflammation or a sore on his skin which could develop into leprosy, he must be brought to Aaron the priest, or to one of the priests, his descendants.”

“This means that the man is leprous : he is unclean. The priest shall declare him unclean; he is suffering from leprosy of the head. A person infected with leprosy must wear torn clothing and leave his hair uncombed; he must cover his upper lip and cry, ‘Unclean, unclean.'”

“As long as the disease lasts he must be unclean; and therefore he must live away from others : he must live outside the camp.”