Saturday, 4 February 2023 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Mark 6 : 30-34

At that time, the Apostles returned and reported to Jesus all they had done and taught. Then He said to them, “Go off by yourselves to a remote place and have some rest.” For there were so many people coming and going that the Apostles had no time even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a secluded area by themselves.

But people saw them leaving and many could guess where they were going. So, from all the towns, they hurried there on foot, arriving ahead of them. 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 a long teaching session with them.

Saturday, 4 February 2023 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Psalm 22 : 1, 3a, 3b-4, 5, 6

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He restores my soul.

He guides me through the right paths for His Name’s sake. Although I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are beside me : Your rod and Your staff comfort me.

You spread a table before me in the presence of my foes. You anoint my head with oil; my cup is overflowing.

Goodness and kindness will follow me all the days of my life. I shall dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.

Saturday, 4 February 2023 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Hebrews 13 : 15-17, 20-21

Let us, then, continually offer through Jesus a sacrifice of praise to God, that is the fruit of lips celebrating His Name. Do not neglect good works and common life, for these are sacrifices pleasing to God. Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are concerned for your souls and are accountable for them. Let this be a joy for them rather than a burden, which would be of no advantage for you.

May God give you peace, He Who brought back from among the dead Jesus our Lord, the Great Shepherd of the sheep, Whose Blood seals the eternal covenant. He will train you in every good work, that you may do His will, for it is He Who works in us what pleases Him, through Jesus Christ, to Whom all glory be forever and ever. Amen!

Saturday, 28 January 2023 : 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, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded of the need for us to have faith, a genuine and strong faith in the Lord, to trust in Him wholeheartedly and not to be easily swayed by fear and indecision in our trust in the Lord. Just as the examples from the Scripture passages today should have highlighted to us, all of us should remember the past examples of how God has provided for His people and how many among them have received liberation and rescue from their trials and troubles. And even when the people of God apparently did not receive any help from the Lord, that is actually more because the Lord operates in His own time and in His will. But no matter what, the Lord will always love us and show His care for us.

In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle to the Hebrews, the author of that Epistle spoke of the past examples of how people in the past have had faith in God even through their darkest moments, and even when they did falter, the Lord had always helped them out of their predicament. The Lord never abandoned them or left them all alone. Even when they were suffering, the reality is that God has always been with them all the way, and sent to them His deliverance, help and assistance through various means, either directly or indirectly. The Lord has always reached our to His faithful ones, granting them His help and strength, as He had done to Abraham and Sarah in the past, Isaac, Jacob and all the other members of His beloved people and flock.

When Abraham and Sarah were already desperate for a child after having many years of failed attempts to have one, the Lord reassured them and reminded all of them that His promises and Covenant will always hold true no matter what. God made a solemn Covenant between Himself and Abraham. He promised Abraham that he would become the father of many nations and peoples, and that his descendants will be more numerous than the stars in the heavens. All these indeed came true, as Abraham trusted in the Lord and followed Him wherever He had led him to. The Lord guided Abraham and protected him, and gave him a son, Isaac, whom He had promised to him from the beginning. Even when the Lord tested Abraham for his faith by asking him to offer Isaac as a sacrifice, while Abraham might have had moments of pain and doubt, he remained faithful nonetheless.

While Sarah also doubted the Lord and even laughed at the suggestion that she would have a child within the year from the Lord Himself Who came to visit Abraham, eventually she remained firm in her faith and trust in the Lord, believing that the Lord will always be faithful and will never abandon His faithful ones. The Lord gave Abraham who was willing to give even his own beloved son as a sign of his faith and trust in the Lord, the assurance of His blessings and faithfulness in the Covenant that He has established with him, sparing Isaac and reminded him and all of us yet again of just how loving, gracious and committed the Lord is to love all of us. Throughout history, this has been repeated and renewed again and again, as the Lord continued to reveal His faithfulness and love to us. The author of this Epistle was also trying to reveal more about the Lord Jesus, the Son of God and Saviour of all, to the Jewish people as this author had intended.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the the disciples of the Lord Jesus travelling through the lake, during which time a great storm and huge waves came to batter the boat that they were in. In that occasion, the Lord was sleeping while the disciples were panicking and worried that those waves would crush and destroy their boat, which would have likely caused them to drown to their deaths in the middle of the stormy seas. They desperately begged the Lord for help and asked Him to help them, and the Lord rebuked them for their lack of faith and trust in Him. The Lord Jesus then showed His power and authority by commanding the wind and the waves to be still, and immediately the entire storm vanished miraculously to the total astonishment of all the disciples who witnessed it.

Through what we have heard in that Gospel passage we can see how the boat represented the Church of God, while the disciples all represented all the faithful people of God, all of us who are part of God’s Church. The Lord Himself is at the Head of the Church, guiding the boat to its safe destination, just as He has always led us through the many difficulties and challenges facing us in our journey throughout life. Those storms and waves represented the many challenges, trials and obstacles that we will have to face as members and parts of God’s Church, which may indeed tempt us to abandon everything and the Church, seeking for other sources of help rather than to trust in the Lord. That is exactly what happened if someone in that boat were to try to abandon the boat and jump into the water instead of trusting in the Lord.

This is a reminder for each one of us that no matter how tough or difficult our battles and challenges may be, we must not be easily swayed, dissuaded or forced to abandon our path walking with faith in God. We must entrust ourselves in God’s love and guidance, which He has always faithfully given to us all these while, from the examples that we have heard from our Scripture passages today. The Lord has done so much for us that He has not held back from even giving us His only beloved Son, much as Abraham had done earlier in offering Isaac to God. But unlike that offering of Isaac which was just a test by God for Abraham’s faith, God truly sent us His only Son, to suffer and die for us, as the Lamb of God, as the Paschal Lamb of sacrifice offered for the salvation of all mankind, of all creation.

Can we still not trust in God after He has done so much for our sake, brothers and sisters in Christ? The Lord has done so much for us to the point of giving His best and the most perfect gift that He can give us, to have His own Son to carry the huge burdens of our many sins, so that by His coming into this world, He may save us all from our certain impending destruction, death and damnation. His love for us is so great that this Love even overcame the entire combined might of all the sins and the forces of evil arrayed against us. The Lord has shown us His most generous and powerful Love through His Cross, and we are hence reminded again and again to put our trust and faith in Him, and doubt Him no longer. We should not doubt what He has done for our sake, and we should continue to have full faith in Him, at all times.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all also follow the good examples of one saint whose life and works can inspire us to deepen our faith and trust in God ever further. I am quite sure that many of us have heard the name St. Thomas Aquinas, a great and holy Priest and servant of God, and also an esteemed Doctor of the Church after his passing from this world. The Universal Church celebrates his feast on this day. He was known for his great devotion to God and great theological masterpieces, particularly his magnum opus, the ‘Summa Theologiae’. As a great theologian and servant of God, St. Thomas Aquinas spent a lot of time and effort to help the people of God to know better about Him and the truth about His love and compassionate mercy towards us. St. Thomas Aquinas did a lot of great works together with his other contemporaries like St. Dominic and St. Francis of Assisi, who in their own ways help to bring God’s people to be ever closer to Him.

Let us all hence strive to do our best to get to know more about the Lord God, our Saviour and loving Father. Let us all return to Him once again with love and devotion, by following the zeal and the examples showed by the holy lives of the saints, particularly that of St. Thomas Aquinas in today’s Feast celebration, and let us be good role models and examples so that in all the things we say and do, we will always glorify the Lord and commit ourselves wholeheartedly, to walk in the path of His grace. May the Lord continue to help and guide us through the many trials and tribulations, the challenges that we may have to face and overcome, in each and every moments of our Christian living. May God bless us in our every good efforts and endeavours, all for His greater glory, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 28 January 2023 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 4 : 35-41

At that time, on that same day, when evening had come, Jesus said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.”

So they left the crowd, and took Him away in the boat He had been sitting in, and other boats set out with Him. Then a storm gathered and it began to blow a gale. The waves spilled over into the boat, so that it was soon filled with water. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion.

They woke Him up, and said, “Master, do You not care if we drown?” And rising up, Jesus rebuked the wind, and ordered the sea, “Quiet now! Be still!” The wind dropped, and there was a great calm. Then Jesus said to them, “Why are you so frightened? Do you still have no faith?”

But they were terrified, and they said to one another, “Who can this be? Even the wind and the sea obey Him!”

Saturday, 28 January 2023 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 1 : 69–70, 71-72, 73-75

In the house of David His servant, He has raised up for us a victorious Saviour; as He promised through His prophets of old.

Salvation from our enemies and from the hand of our foes. He has shown mercy to our fathers; and remembered His holy covenant.

The oath He swore to Abraham, our father, to deliver us from the enemy, that we might serve Him fearlessly, as a holy and righteous people, all the days of our lives.

Saturday, 28 January 2023 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Hebrews 11 : 1-2, 8-19

Faith is the assurance of what we hope for, being certain of what we cannot see. Because of their faith our ancestors were approved. It was by faith that Abraham, called by God, set out for a country that would be given to him as an inheritance; for he parted without knowing where he was going.

By faith he lived as a stranger in that promised land. There he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, beneficiaries of the same promise. Indeed, he looked forward to that city of solid foundation of which God is the Architect and Builder.

By faith Sarah herself received power to become a mother, in spite of her advanced age; since she believed that He Who had made the promise would be faithful. Therefore, from an almost impotent man were born descendants as numerous as the stars of heavens, as many as the grains of sand on the seashore.

Death found all these people strong in their faith. They had not received what was promised, but they had looked ahead and had rejoiced in it from afar, saying that they were foreigners and travellers on earth. Those who speak in this way prove that they are looking for their own country. For if they had longed for the land they had left, it would have been easy for them to return, but no, they aspired to a better city, that is, a supernatural one; so God, Who prepared the city for them is not ashamed of being called their God.

By faith Abraham went to offer Isaac when God tested him. And so he who had received the promise of God offered his only son although God had told him : Isaac’s descendants will bear your name. Abraham reasoned that God is capable even of raising the dead, and he received back his son, which has a figurative meaning.

Saturday, 21 January 2023 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all called to continue to persevere in faith and to follow the Lord despite the challenges and trials that we may face in life. We must not be swayed easily by the temptations and pressures to do otherwise, and we should never let our trust and faith in God to go away. For the Lord Himself is our only Hope, the Light of our salvation, and the one and true Eternal High Priest Who has given Himself so wholly and completely for the sake of each and every one of us, without exception. We must also be inspired by the examples of the saints and martyrs who have dedicated themselves to the Lord and resisting all sorts of pressures and coercions to betray and abandon their Lord and God.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle to the Hebrews in which the author of this Epistle highlighted as he had done in our past few days’ worth of readings, about the role that Jesus Christ had taken in being our High Priest, offering on our behalf a most worthy offering before the Lord, for the atonement of our innumerable sins. The author highlighted how the priests and high priests in the past would come to the presence of God, also touching on the layout of the Temple of Jerusalem, the House of God, where the Holy Presence of God resides, behind the Holy Place and separated by a veil, which was also known as the Holy of Holies. That place indicated the holiest place in the world, where God Himself dwelled in, in the midst of His people, being present among them and being with them.

The place was so holy and sacred that no one except the High Priest could enter, and even for his case, he could only enter it at a particular very solemn occasion each year, representing the people of God, seeking God’s mercy and forgiveness for their many sins. The High Priest was therefore the link between God and His people, and Christ is the One and true Eternal High Priest that far surpasses all the mortal High Priests appointed to lead the people of God in the past. For Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, and Our High Priest has offered not the limited and imperfect offering of the blood of lambs and bulls, animals and other worldly sacrifices as the High Priests and other priests of the past had done. He has offered nothing less than His own life, His own Most Precious Body and Blood.

Yes, brothers and sisters, Christ our Lord has offered Himself to be the perfect and most worthy sacrifice, baring Himself on the Altar of the Cross, at Calvary, that as He was lifted up for everyone to see and witness, between the Heaven and the Earth, He was raised up on the Altar like a lamb being slaughtered and placed above the Altar of sacrifice, an offering for the sins of mankind. He broke His Body and poured out His Blood on the Altar of His Cross, much like the blood of the sacrificial lamb being poured down the Altar and sprinkled on the people of God as a sign of their atonement and reconciliation with God. However, what is truly different is that, unlike the offering of animals and their blood, which could only provide a temporary respite from our sins, the Lord’s sacrifice on the Cross is a complete, permanent and eternal in nature, giving us absolution from our sins forever.

It means that once and for all, by His most loving sacrifice on His Cross, Jesus Christ our Lord has saved us all through that supreme act of selflessness and love. He has given us all the sure path out of the darkness that had surrounded and reigned over us because of our sins. Hence, by all of these and most importantly because God loved us all, we have received grace and salvation, and as His people, we have to realise this love and understand, appreciate and be thankful for everything that God had done from us. As we heard in our Gospel passage today, for doing everything that He had done for us out of love, He had to face a lot of challenges, trials and difficulties, rejections and even, His own family and relatives were fed up with Him, and thought that He was out of His mind. He made Himself like an outcast, despised and hated for our sake.

All of us as Christians should devote our time and effort to serve the Lord wholeheartedly, and commit ourselves thoroughly to His cause. We should dedicate ourselves to work for the glory of God and for the proclamation of His truth in our world, just as what the saints and martyrs had done. And today we can refer to the good examples set by St. Agnes, a great and renowned martyr of the Church, whose dedication to God and commitment to purity and righteousness can inspire us that we may live a better and more Christian lives in our existence in this world. St. Agnes, also known as St. Agnes of Rome was a young Roman noblewoman who lived and suffered, died during the terrible years of the Diocletianic Persecution, also known as the Great Persecution for its particularly intense episode of persecutions against Christians.

St. Agnes was a faithful young woman who had dedicated herself thoroughly to God, committing herself to a holy virginity and dedication to God. However, her great beauty attracted many suitors, who were enraged by her refusal to engage them. Hence, St. Agnes was arrested upon the reports from those men who sought after her, accusing her because of her Christian faith. The Roman prefect, named Sempronius, attempted to get her to be defiled in a brothel, but miraculously St. Agnes was protected by God, and everyone who attempted to defile and rape her were struck blind or were prevented from doing so. And when she was put on the stake to be burnt to death, again even the fires and the heat refused to harm her, and they parted from her. In the end, she was martyred by being stabbed and beheaded. Yet, her inspiration and faith in God lived on, and many were touched by her faith, courage and examples.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore follow in the footsteps of St. Agnes, in her dedication to God and in her love for Him, which we should apply in our own lives. Let us all be thankful and appreciative of all that the Lord had done for us, in offering Himself as the perfect and worthy sacrifice for our salvation. May the Lord continue to guide and strengthen each one of us so that we may draw ever closer to Him and His Presence, and may we all be found worthy to receive the fullness of His grace and love, in time to come. Amen.

Saturday, 21 January 2023 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Mark 3 : 20-21

At that time, Jesus and His disciples went home. The crowd began to gather again and they could not even have a meal. Knowing what was happening, His relatives came to take charge of Him, “He is out of His mind,” they said.

Saturday, 21 January 2023 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 46 : 2-3, 6-7, 8-9

Clap your hands, all you peoples; acclaim God with shouts of joy. For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared; He is a great King all over the earth.

God ascends amid joyful shouts, the Lord amid trumpet blasts. Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!

God is King of all the earth; sing to Him a hymn of praise. For God now rules over the nations. God reigns from His holy throne.