Saturday, 14 January 2017 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard from the Sacred Scriptures about the calling of Levi, the tax collector, whom Jesus our Lord called to be one of His disciples, later known as St. Matthew the Apostle, also one of the Evangelists, the writers of the Four Holy Gospels. We also heard about the forgiveness of sins and the reconciliation of God and His people, through Himself as our High Priest.

Through these Scripture passages, the Church wants each of us as Christians to know that God is a loving and merciful God, Who is willing to forgive the sins of His people, provided that they themselves are willing to let God forgive them and provided that they are willing to change their ways, that they would sin no more, and from then on, follow the path of the Lord, that is the path of righteousness and justice.

Many of us often acted like the Pharisees, those who charged sinners for their sins and judged them based on what those sinners had done. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were often against Jesus and were vehemently against what He has done, because they often saw Him in the company of sinners, or what is more precisely, the definition of sinners according to them.

Jesus often walked among the least and the abandoned in the society, those with the afflictions of the flesh and the body, as well as the afflictions of the mind and heart. He worked with the destitute, those who were suffering from illnesses such as paralysis, leprosy and blindness, and also with the tax collectors and prostitutes, whom the Pharisees, the teachers of the Law and the populace in general considered as sinners and as those unworthy of God.

This is something that we must avoid, brothers and sisters in Christ. We cannot be exclusive and think of ourselves as the only ones who are worthy of God and His salvation. After all, each of us are sinners, having disobeyed the Lord in small or major ways, and sin has been in our hearts, without exception. The only exception is our Lord Jesus Himself, Who although He was Man, but He was without any taint of sin.

If we are sinners, then surely we cannot and we should not condemn anyone because of their sins. Why is this so? That is because if we condemn others because of their sins, then God will also condemn us because of our own sins. The act of condemnation and being judgmental themselves are sins in their own ways, because instead of trying to help and reach out to our brethren, we close the path and the door to salvation before them.

However, on the other hand, we should also not compromise on the need for a genuine repentance on the part of the sinner. Repentance is required for sinners to receive the grace of God’s mercy. It is a real danger that we become complacent and think that God is ever merciful and forgiving, that we tolerate ourselves and others around us in our sinful attitudes and deeds. God may be forgiving and loving, but at the same time, He also despises all sorts and forms of sin.

A sinner who does not repent remain a sinner, just as many of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law refused to repent from their wickedness and welcome the Lord’s truth. Their sins remained because they did not repent, and instead doubled down on their stubborn resistance to the works of our Lord which He made to all of us through Jesus.

Meanwhile, many sinners who repented and changed their ways became great saints, as Levi the tax collector himself showed. He was reviled and discriminated against as a tax collector, but eventually he turned over a new leaf with the Lord, and now he is revered as one of our Lord’s Twelve Apostles, His principle disciples, as well as with the accolade of becoming one of the four writers of the Holy Gospels. Through St. Matthew, many of God’s good works were done.

There were many other examples of sinners who later became saints and devoted servants of our Lord. But there were also many examples of the righteous who were tempted and seduced by the devil and fall into temptation. This is why it is important for us Christians to hold strongly to our faith and develop our spiritual life well, so that we may grow ever closer to God, and we will be better able to live a faithful, Christian life.

May the Lord help us and bless us in all of our endeavours, and may He keep us in His grace so that we may always stay close to Him and remain in His truth, and not fall into eternal damnation. May He forgive us our sins, and may He love us forevermore, gathering us to Himself. Amen.

Saturday, 14 January 2017 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)
Mark 2 : 13-17

At that time, when Jesus went out again beside the lake, a crowd came to Him, and He taught them. As He walked along, He saw a tax collector sitting in his office. This was Levi, the son of Alpheus. Jesus said to him, “Follow Me!” And Levi got up and followed Him.

And it so happened that when Jesus was eating in Levi’s house, tax collectors and sinners sat with Him and His disciples; there were a lot of them, and they used to follow Jesus. But Pharisees, men educated in the Law, when they saw Jesus eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to His disciples, “Why does your Master eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

Jesus heard them, and answered, “Healthy people do not need a doctor, but sick people do. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Saturday, 14 January 2017 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)
Psalm 18 : 8, 9, 10, 15

The Law of the Lord is perfect : it gives life to the soul. The word of the Lord is trustworthy : it gives wisdom to the simple.

The precepts of the Lord are right : they give joy to the heart. The commandments of the Lord are clear : they enlighten the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is pure, it endures forever; the judgements of the Lord are true, all of them just and right.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart find favour in Your sight, o Lord – my Redeemer, my Rock!

Saturday, 14 January 2017 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)
Hebrews 4 : 12-16

For the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword. It pierces to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and judges the intentions and thoughts of the heart. All creation is transparent to Him; everything is uncovered and laid bare to the eyes of Him to Whom we render account.

We have a great High Priest, Jesus, the Son of God, Who has entered heaven. Let us, then, hold fast to the faith we profess. Our High Priest is not indifferent to our weaknesses, for He was tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sinning. Let us, then, with confidence approach the throne of grace; we will obtain mercy and, through His favour, help in due time.

Saturday, 7 January 2017 : Weekday of Christmas Time, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s Scripture readings spoke to us about believing in God and following His ways. And a warning has also been given to us, in order to warn us against those who would corrupt us and mislead us into sin, namely the wicked spirits and the false prophets, the agents of the evil one. And the key to differentiate the truth from the false ideas, as mentioned, lay in knowing the good works of God, through which God by His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, had redeemed us.

Those who believe in the Lord and in His ways will be able to know if someone is genuine or fake in their devotion to the Lord. They will know this through witnessing and seeing the actions of those who claim to have come from the Lord. No matter how good they are in trying to subvert the messages of the Lord and in trying to trick us into doing evil, those who serve the evil one will not be able to proclaim and recognise that Jesus is their Lord and Master, and it will also show through their actions.

Indeed, there are many obstacles and challenges for us Christians. There are many difficulties that we have to overcome in order to be able to reach out to the Lord and to His salvation. There will be those who try to bar us from reaching Him, and there will also be many people who will criticise us and oppose us in our works and in our attempt to be faithful servants of our Lord. But that is because the ways of the Lord we are following, are against the ways of the world.

The world preaches a life of sin and wickedness, a life filled with the pleasures and desires of the flesh, with all sorts of corruption and unworthiness before God. It is a world which has been filled with all sorts of sin and wickedness, ever since mankind first disobeyed God and preferring to listen to the devil and his lies. It is a world of darkness, where we are blinded by the darkness of our own sins and human weaknesses, where we did not know the path and the way forward.

But we have to know that God loves each and every one of us, and through that same love, He had endeavoured to send unto us the true Light, the Light which has penetrated the darkness of this world, and became the light that guided us through the journey of this life, and filling us with a new hope, that is a hope for the salvation of our souls.

He came into the world, as mentioned in the Gospel today, with the mission to heal the sick and the afflicted from their sickness and afflictions. He touched the lepers, the blind and the deaf and mute people, and these were healed from all of their physical afflictions. But ultimately, Jesus also healed us all from the greatest affliction of all, that is the scourge of sin. By healing us from our sins, He had made us whole again and once again were made worthy of the kingdom of God.

It is therefore the same calling and mission which our Lord had entrusted to us, that we may show the love of God, the mercy of God, and the healing with which He had made many people whole once again, to all of our fellow brethren, especially to those who are still living in the darkness of this world. When there are those who seek to mislead and to bring the people of God to ruin and damnation, we should be those who help to guide one another on the path towards God.

Let us therefore on this day remember the life of the holy saint whose feast we celebrate on this day, so that we may imitate the examples of this holy servant of God, and find our way to God’s salvation. St. Raymond of Penyafort was a holy and devoted man, a holy priest of God who belonged to the Order of Preachers or the Dominican Order.

St. Raymond of Penyafort was renowned for his many good works for the sake of the Church, helping many people on their path towards redemption. He helped the Church and the Pope to reform the Church and the lives of the faithful. Through him, many people turned back towards the Lord and reformed their sinful lives into a life worthy and righteous to God.

It was also told in one very well-known tale, that he even rebuked the king of Aragon in Spain, to whom he was a confessor, for his sinful ways. The king was a good and faithful person, but at the same time, he allowed his lust and the temptations of the world to take over him. The holy saint repeatedly asked the king to dismiss his concubine, but the king refused to do so.

And when the king also refused to let the holy man go, because St. Raymond could no longer tolerate the king’s sinful ways, he said to the king that the Lord, Who is the one true King over all, will show him His power and rebuke the wicked king’s deeds. It was told that St. Raymond took off his Dominican preacher’s cloak and spread it on the water, on which he sailed through the sea, a great miracle witnessed by many, which also made the king to believe and to repent his ways.

Each and every one of us as Christians also have the same obligation to keep one another in the faith, so that each and every one of us will continue to walk in the way of faith, and not falter and fall into temptation. St. Raymond of Penyafort had shown us one such example, and also many other examples not mentioned today. We do not have to perform miraculous deeds as he had done, but at least from ourselves, we should devote our time to care for our brethren, and to help each other to watch our path that we will not be lost to sin and eternal damnation.

May the Lord help us on our path, that we may remain ever faithful amidst this world filled with all sorts of temptations. May we remain in the Lord’s grace and be filled with faith, that all of us may be worthy of Him when He comes again, and He will bring us all into the everlasting inheritance and bless us with eternal life filled with true joy. God be with us all. Amen.

Saturday, 7 January 2017 : Weekday of Christmas Time, 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.

Saturday, 7 January 2017 : Weekday of Christmas Time, 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!