Thursday, 22 February 2018 : Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, the Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 16 : 13-19

At that time, Jesus came to Caesarea Philippi. He asked His disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They said, “For some of them You are John the Baptist, for others Elijah, or Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”

Jesus asked them, “But you, who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “It is well for you, Simon Bar-Jona, for it is not flesh or blood that has revealed this to you, but My Father in heaven.”

“And now I say to you : You are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church; and never will the powers of death overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven : whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you unbind on earth shall be unbound in heaven.”

Wednesday, 21 February 2018 : 1st Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Peter Damian, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 11 : 29-32

At that time, as the crowd increased, Jesus spoke the following words : “People of the present time are troubled people. They ask for a sign, but no sign will be given to them except the sign of Jonah. As Jonah became a sign for the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be a sign for this generation.”

“The Queen of the South will rise up on Judgment Day with the people of these times and accuse them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and here, there is greater than Solomon. The people of Nineveh will rise up on Judgment Day with the people of these times and accuse them, for Jonah’s preaching made them turn from their sins, and here, there is greater than Jonah.”

Tuesday, 20 February 2018 : 1st Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 55 : 10-11

As the rain and snow come down from the heavens and do not return till they have watered the earth, making it yield seed for the sower and food for others to eat, so is My Word that goes forth out of My mouth : it will not return to Me idle, but it shall accomplish My will, the purpose for which It has been sent.

Friday, 2 February 2018 : Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we marked a great occasion with celebration the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord Jesus Christ at the Temple of God in Jerusalem. This day marks the fortieth day since the Solemnity of Christmas Day and traditionally marked the end of the Christmas season. This brings us another reminder that as the liturgical year moves on from the celebration of Christ’s birth towards His Passion and suffering and death during the Holy Week, we should reflect more deeply on His life and His actions.

On this day we remember the moment when the Lord was brought to the Temple in Jerusalem, to be presented and consecrated to God, in accordance to the laws of Moses, as St. Joseph and Mary were law-abiding and devout believer in God. All the firstborn sons of Israel must be offered to God and consecrated to Him, as a sign of the continuing covenant between Him and His people.

Jesus is the firstborn Son of Mary and St. Joseph, and although St. Joseph might have had another child from a previous marriage, or that St. Joseph was not the biological father of the Lord Jesus but merely His foster-father, yet legally he is the father of the Lord Jesus, and for that, Jesus was, in accordance of the law, to be consecrated to God in the Temple.

Jesus was presented to the Lord as the perfect and worthy sacrificial victim, presaging His sacrifice on the cross, by which He was to save the whole world and bring all those who believed in Him into eternal life and salvation. The prophet Simeon and the seer Anna, the prophetess were there at the Temple, and they welcomed the Lord Who came to His people, fulfilling His promises to them.

They told Mary and St. Joseph all that the Baby Jesus would come to do in due time, to save the people by His wondrous deeds, ultimately His loving sacrifice on the cross. It must have been hard for them to believe in all these at first, but they, particularly Mary, treasured all these things in her heart and kept their faith in what God had planned for all of them.

In the second reading today, St. Paul in his Epistle to the Hebrews, or the Jewish Christians spoke about Jesus as the High Priest of all the people. This is a common recurring theme he used throughout that Epistle to the Hebrews, referring to the Lord Jesus as the one and true High Priest, through Whom God willed to bring His people to salvation and liberation from all of their sins and to rescue them from their downfall.

In the past, the priests of Israel offered regular sacrifices of animal offerings, the offerings of blood, fats and others for the purpose of the reconciliation between God and His people, as the blood of the animals outpoured would symbolise the cleansing of the sins of the people, supposedly paid for by the blood of the offerings and also marked the renewal of the Covenant between God and His people.

However, those priests needed to offer the gifts and sacrificial offerings again and again because those offerings of bulls, rams and goats cannot have brought about the liberation of us mankind from all of our sins. The only One with the authority, power and ability to liberate us from the multitudes of our sins is none other than the Lord Jesus Himself, Son of God and Saviour of the whole world.

That is because He offered not the blood of animals and creatures, but rather His own Precious and Divine Blood, offered on the altar of sacrifice at Calvary. He willingly and voluntarily surrendered Himself to suffering and death, so that by His death, and later on, glorious resurrection, He could save all the people, and redeem all of them from their sins and wickedness.

That is His loving gift to all of us, which we commemorate every time we celebrate the Holy Mass. The Lord Himself has become our eternal High Priest, offering for our sake the oblations for the purification of our souls, bodies, hearts and minds. There is nothing more worthy or precious than the selfless offering of love, made by none other than Jesus, the Saviour of all mankind.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day it is good for us to pray for all those who have dedicated their lives to serve the Lord and to serve His people in the same way as those who live a consecrated life, the religious priests, brothers and sisters and all those who have devoted their whole lives to serve the Lord as a member of the religious orders and also institutes of consecrated life.

They have answered the Lord’s call to a life dedicated to Him, following the examples set by none other than the Lord Jesus Himself. Just as Jesus has been consecrated and presented to God, dedicating His whole earthly life and existence to follow and obey His Father’s will, all the way to the cross and to Calvary, where He obeyed His Father’s will and died for all of us, our courageous religious brothers and sisters and all who lived a consecrated life have sacrificed a lot for the sake of us all and for the Church.

Let us all pray for them and give them our support and encouragement, our fullest backing and prayers, that they may continue to persevere in doing what the Lord had called them to do, be it in the ministry to God’s people in various capacities, in the Catholic education and evangelisation, in prayerful life in cloisters and monasteries, and many more. Let us all give our support to them, and from among us, those who among us whom the Lord has called, let us all discern carefully and thoughtfully what God wants us to do with our lives.

Let us all, each and every one of us renew our commitment to the Lord, each and every days of our life. May the Lord empower each one of us to live faithfully in whichever vocations and directions which He has led us to. May the Lord, Whose presentation and consecration at the Temple we remember today, will always bless us and strengthen us in our resolve to live ever more committed and devoutly in God. Amen.

Friday, 2 February 2018 : Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 2 : 22-40

When the day came for the purification according to the law of Moses, they brought the Baby up to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord, as it is written in the law of the Lord : Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to God. And they offered a sacrifice, as ordered in the law of the Lord : a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

There lived in Jerusalem at this time a very upright and devout man named Simeon; the Holy Spirit was in him. He looked forward to the time when the Lord would comfort Israel, and he had been assured, by the Holy Spirit, that he would not die before seeing the Messiah of the Lord. So he was led into the Temple by the Holy Spirit at the time the parents brought the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the Law.

Simeon took the Child in his arms, and blessed God, saying, “Now, o Lord, You can dismiss Your servant in peace, for You have fulfilled Your word and my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You display for all the people to see. Here is the Light You will reveal to the nations, and the glory of Your people Israel.”

His father and mother wondered at what was said about the Child. Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary, His mother, “Know this : your Son is a Sign, a Sign established for the falling and rising of many in Israel, a Sign of contradiction; and a sword will pierce your own soul, so that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.”

There was also a prophetess named Anna, daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. After leaving her father’s home, she had been seven years with her husband, and since then she had been continually about the Temple, serving God as a widow night and day in fasting and prayer. She was now eighty-four. Coming up at that time, she gave praise to God, and spoke of the Child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.

When the parents had fulfilled all that was required by the law of the Lord, they returned to their town, Nazareth in Galilee. There the Child grew in stature and strength, and was filled with wisdom: the grace of God was upon Him.

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Luke 2 : 22-32

When the day came for the purification according to the law of Moses, they brought the Baby up to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord, as it is written in the law of the Lord : Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to God. And they offered a sacrifice, as ordered in the law of the Lord : a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

There lived in Jerusalem at this time a very upright and devout man named Simeon; the Holy Spirit was in him. He looked forward to the time when the Lord would comfort Israel, and he had been assured, by the Holy Spirit, that he would not die before seeing the Messiah of the Lord. So he was led into the Temple by the Holy Spirit at the time the parents brought the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the Law.

Simeon took the Child in his arms, and blessed God, saying, “Now, o Lord, You can dismiss Your servant in peace, for You have fulfilled Your word and my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You display for all the people to see. Here is the Light You will reveal to the nations, and the glory of Your people Israel.”

Friday, 2 February 2018 : Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Hebrews 2 : 14-18

And because all those children share one same nature of flesh and blood, Jesus, likewise, had to share this nature. This is why His death destroyed the one holding the power of death, that is the devil, and freed those who remained in bondage all their lifetime, because of the fear of death.

Jesus came, to take by the hand, not the Angels but the human race. So, He had to be like His brothers and sisters, in every respect, in order to be the High Priest, faithful to God and merciful to them, a Priest, able to ask pardon, and atone for their sins. Having been tested through suffering, He is able to help those who are tested.

Friday, 2 February 2018 : Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 23 : 7, 8, 9, 10

Lift up, o gateways, your lintels, open up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may enter!

Who is the King of glory? YHVH, the Strong, the Mighty, YHVH, valiant in battle.

Lift up your lintels, o gateways, open up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may enter!

Who is the King of glory? YHVH of Hosts, He is the King of glory!