Tuesday, 28 January 2020 : 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, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture in which we are told of the matter of faith and obedience to God. We are presented with two stories, one from our first reading, the second Book of the prophet Samuel, on the account of the moment when king David brought the Ark of God, also known as the Ark of the Covenant into the city of Jerusalem, the new capital of the kingdom of Israel.

Previously, the Ark has always been in the field, originally carried and brought with the Israelites as they journeyed in the desert during their Exodus from Egypt and a Holy Tent was built to house this Ark of the Covenant, which was a very sacred and important part of the community of the Israelites at that time. The people made their dwellings around the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Tent, and when they have reached the Promised Land, the Ark and the Holy Tent were prominently placed in the heart of the land of the Israelites.

For the Ark of the Covenant is not just the symbolic representation of the Covenant between God and His people, but is also the real focus and emphasis of the bond between God and the Israelites, for the stones on which the Ten Commandments were written were placed in the Ark, and more importantly, God’s very presence and holiness descended upon the Ark when the Holy Tent was dedicated and consecrated to God. The Ark of God was the place where God Himself dwelled, inside the Holy Tent built over it.

David wanted to bring the Ark into Jerusalem, that it may then visibly dwell in the heart of the land, in Jerusalem, the capital of the kingdom of Israel. And when he did so, he honoured the Lord and humbled himself before Him as we heard in our first reading passage today, dancing and rejoicing before the Lord with great joy. David obeyed the Lord and did everything he could to follow His commandments, and gave his all to Him. What we have heard in our first reading today was how he put God first before all else, even his pride and honour.

And not just in this matter, but king David has also been a good and faithful king and steward of God’s people, leading the people on the right path and guiding them with right conduct and devotion. Of course David was not perfect, as he did sin and make mistakes sometimes, but in the end, his love and commitment to God prevailed, and he remained mostly true to his calling and ministry as king. He did what was right in the sight of God and brought God’s people closer to Him, and for this, God blessed David and made an assurance to him that his house would reign as king forever.

This is then linked to our Gospel passage today, when the family of Jesus came to Him to meet Him while He was teaching to the people gathered before Him. In that occasion, the Lord told the people that His brothers, sisters, mother and family are those who do the will of God and obey Him. When we heard what the Lord Jesus said, without understanding the context and purpose of what He said, we may think that the Lord was being rude to His family and to His mother Mary. But the truth is actually different.

The Lord had no intention to be rude or condescending to His family and His mother. Rather, He wanted to make a good example and also to make it clear to the people, and all of us, that if we obey God and do His will, are faithful and devoted to Him, God will surely be with us and will bless us bountifully as He had done with David, His faithful servant. And of course, Mary, the mother of God is herself the most faithful one of all, and she is indeed one called the most blessed of all women and of all people.

Today, we also remember the memory of a great saint, whose life, works and dedication to God can be a great source of inspiration to all of us as Christians, just as king David and Mary had done. St. Thomas Aquinas is a great Doctor of the Church and a master theologian known well by his nickname Doctor Angelicus or the Angelic Doctor. St. Thomas Aquinas was well-known for his many contributions to theology and philosophy, sparking a great renewal in the intellectual dimension of the Church and the faithful.

Summa Theologica, the great masterful work of St. Thomas Aquinas still continues to influence the Church, the priests and the leaders of the Church for many centuries right up to this day, and is acknowledged as one of the most brilliant works that man has ever made. The impact of St. Thomas Aquinas, his works and contributions cannot be underrated, and we should be inspired by his commitment and love for God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what is it that we should do then? We should be more faithful and committed to God ourselves from now on, imitating the examples of king David, of Mary, God’s own mother, St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor and many other saints and holy predecessors we have, that we can look up to for inspiration. Let us all be inspired by them and strive to do our best to love God with ever more effort and commitment, putting Him ever at the centre of our lives and existence.

May God be with us always, and may He bless us all in everything we do, that we may ever be courageous and strong to live up to our faith and be good servants of His truth, in proclaiming His truth and His salvation to all the peoples by our faith and obedience. Amen.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 3 : 31-35

At that time, the mother and brothers of Jesus came. As they stood outside, they sent someone to call Him. The crowd sitting around Jesus told Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are outside asking for You.” He replied, “Who are My mother and My brothers?”

And looking around at those who sat there, He said, “Here are My mother and My brothers. Whoever does the will of God is brother and sister and mother to Me.”

Tuesday, 28 January 2020 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church (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!

Tuesday, 28 January 2020 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

2 Samuel 6 : 12b-15, 17-19

King David went to bring up the Ark of God from the house of Obededom to the city of David, rejoicing. After those who carried the Ark of YHVH had walked six paces, they sacrificed an ox and a fattened calf. David whirled round dancing with all his heart before YHVH, wearing a linen ephod, for he and all the Israelites brought up the Ark of YHVH, shouting joyfully and sounding the horn.

They brought in the Ark of YHVH and laid it in its place, in the tent which David had pitched for it. Then David offered burnt and peace offerings before YHVH. Once the offerings had been made, David blessed the people in the Name of YHVH of hosts, and distributed to each man and woman of the entire assembly of Israel, a loaf of bread, a portion of meat and a raisin cake. With this, all the people left for their homes.

Monday, 28 January 2019 : 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, on this day we listened to the Scripture passages reminding us about the wonderful things that the Lord has done for our sake, in how He has brought us out from the predicament and our fated destruction because of our sins. He has come into this world to be the Mediator of the New Covenant between God and mankind as mentioned in the Epistle to the Hebrews. He is the High Priest Who is also the Mediator of the New Covenant.

In order to understand this better, we must understand the context and historical importance of the role of the priest, and especially the High Priest in the community of Israel, the people of God. The priest is the one who has been chosen by God from among the tribe of Levi, to be the servant at His Temple, and earlier on also at the Tent of Meeting built by Moses, whose role is to offer sacrifices presented by the people to God.

Therefore, the priest had a very important role as the mediator of the Covenant between God and man, for the relationship between God and man had been damaged and man has been sundered away from God’s grace because of their sins. Sin is born out of disobedience, our refusal to follow and obey the way of the Lord, all of the wicked words we have uttered and the wicked deeds and actions we have taken in life. All these have separated us from God.

But God still loves each and every one of us despite of our rebelliousness and waywardness. He created us because of His love for us, and He will not abandon that love just because of our sins and our disobedience. That is why God established His Covenant with us, and renewed it again and again, as we mankind continuously failed to uphold our end of the Covenant, breaking them through our sinful disobedience. God still tried to save us, and through His priests, He brought a temporary solution, by their sacrificial offerings.

God promised that the time would come for His Saviour to come into the world and resolve this matter once and for all, a promise that is fulfilled in the Lord Jesus, Who came into this world, performed His works obeying the will of His Father, and by becoming Man and assuming our human existence like us, became for us our Eternal and True High Priest, offering for us, just for one time, once and for all, the perfect offering through which all of us have been saved.

Christ has become the source of our salvation because He obediently and willingly followed the will of God His Father, in laying down His life on the cross, which became His Altar, the Altar on which He laid down the offering of His own Most Precious Body and Blood, the Lamb of God, the Divine Lamb of sacrifice that far and infinitely surpassed the offering of lambs and other animals as prescribed by the Law.

Unfortunately as shown in the Gospel passage today, there were still those who refused to believe in the Lord and in fact, even made nasty and wicked accusations against Him. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law accused the Lord of using the power of the prince of demons, Beelzebul to cast out other demons when they saw Him exorcising evil spirits from people, and they thought that as He often did it on the Sabbath day in violation of the strict Sabbath law, then He could not have done it with God’s grace.

But this is where the pride and the stubbornness of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law worked against them, as these prevented them to see reason, which the Lord wisely and justly presented before them, showing them the foolishness of their argument. Had the evil spirits and demons were divided against each other as they stipulated, there would have been endless conflicts between the fallen angels, and Satan would have been too busy to be able to strike at us mankind.

Instead, they did not realise that Satan himself was planting these seeds of discord and stubbornness in their hearts and minds to prevent them from being able to understand and appreciate the works of God unfolding and happening before their own eyes. Satan did not want the success of the works of God, and that was why, all the more his entire forces were united in the effort to divide the people of God, and to block them from attaining salvation through the Lord Jesus’ efforts.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now let us all reflect on our own lives. Have we allowed ourselves to be seduced by the temptations of Satan, that we hardened our hearts and minds against the love of God? We have to realise just how great God’s love for us is, to the point that He was willing to endure all the sufferings and pains in order for us to be saved. He willingly took up the cross and bore it up to Calvary for us.

If God has not loved us, we would have perished long ago, and our existence would have been meaningless. But God did not let all these happen, and He brought us out of the depth of our sins and from the darkness into the light, through His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Our God and Our Saviour. And for the love that He has shown us all, it is only then right that we also love Him in the same manner, as what is only right and just after all that He has done for us.

If we are not sure how we ought to do so, then perhaps it is good for us to take note of the examples shown by St. Thomas Aquinas, the saint whose feast we celebrate on this day. St. Thomas Aquinas is a truly famous saint and also Doctor of the Church, renowned for his extensive theological and philosophical writings, his brilliant mind and wisdom, and his love and commitment for God. St. Thomas Aquinas inspired many generations of people who also dedicated their lives to God.

But St. Thomas Aquinas did not have it easy, as oppositions and challenges were aplenty, even from his youth. His family opposed his desire to join religious life and priesthood, using whatever means to try to dissuade him from his conviction, but St. Thomas Aquinas persevered through prayer and steadfast dedication, and he managed to overcome those challenges eventually. He became a devout and committed Dominican, and went about many places teaching and completing his now famous writings and works including the Summa Theologiae, Summa Contra Gentiles among many others.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, St. Thomas Aquinas has shown us that it is possible for us to love God and to dedicate ourselves wholeheartedly to Him, directing ourselves to Him so completely that we become attuned to Him much as St. Thomas Aquinas had been, growing deeper in faith and in our dedication to Him each and every single days of our life. Let us all dedicate ourselves anew and renew the faith we have in our God from now on, turning ourselves to Him and loving Him with all of our hearts and strength. Amen.

Monday, 28 January 2019 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 3 : 22-30

At that time, the teachers of the Law, who had come from Jerusalem, said, “He is in the power of Beelzebul : the chief of the demons helps Him to drive out demons.”

Jesus called them to Him, and began teaching them by means of histories, or parables. “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a nation is divided by civil war, that nation cannot stand. If a family divides itself into groups, that family will not survive.”

“In the same way, if Satan has risen against himself and is divided, he will not stand, he is finished. No one can break into the house of a strong man in order to plunder his goods, unless he first ties up the strong man. Then indeed, he can plunder his house.”

“Truly, I say to you, every sin will be forgiven humankind, even insults to God, however numerous. But whoever slanders the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven : he carries the guilt of his sin forever.” This was their sin when they said, “He has an unclean spirit in Him.”

Monday, 28 January 2019 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 97 : 1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4, 5, 6

Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

The Lord has shown His salvation, revealing His justice to the nations. He has not forgotten His love nor His faithfulness to Israel.

The farthest ends of the earth all have seen God’s saving power. All you lands, make a joyful noise to the Lord, break into song and sing praise.

With melody of the lyre and with music of the harp. With trumpet blast and sound of the horn, rejoice before the King, the Lord!