Saturday, 22 January 2022 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent, Deacon and Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we heard the words of the Lord in the Scriptures, we are reminded of the need for all of us to love the Lord and entrust ourselves to Him, and often times we will find that giving ourselves to the service of God would require making a sacrifice on our side, and believe in His loving kindness despite the trials, challenges and obstacles we may face in our respective journey through life.

In our first reading today, as we listened to the words of the Lord, we heard the tragic story of the defeat of King Saul and the forces of Israel at the battle of Mount Gilboa against the Philistines. The Philistines were a powerful neighbouring people of the Israelites who at that time were on the rise and were making attacks and raids deep into the lands of the Israelites causing untold sufferings and harm to the people of God.

The forces of the Israelites was defeated, King Saul and his sons, including Jonathan, David’s close friend, were killed. The sins committed by Saul and his disobedience against God eventually contributed to this loss, as his lack of faith in God meant that they lost the guidance and providence from God. The news of that bitter defeat was relayed to David, who as the one chosen by God and anointed as the new King of Israel, had been waiting anxiously for the news of what happened.

Certainly, David was devastated at the news of the loss of not just the king and the forces of Israel, but also his close friend, Jonathan, Saul’s son. He sang a song of lamentation for them, even for Saul, who had previously tried to harm him and plotted against his life because of his place as the chosen one to replace the former as King. David entrusted his fate to the Lord, and if we recall yesterday’s reading, of David sparing Saul and his men, and did not kill them despite having the perfect chance to do so, showed us just how much David trusted in the Lord, unlike Saul who disobeyed Him.

Then, in our Gospel passage today, we heard the curious passage from the Gospel, in which we heard about the Lord and His disciples performing their work, and they were so busy in doing their work that they had no time to rest at all and even eat, and they all became hungry. We heard how the relatives of the Lord took charge of Him and told the people, that He was out of His mind. That was because He spent so much time at work and His ministry, that He did not spend much time with His family.

The Lord and His disciples, whom He had called from diverse origins, all committed themselves to the calling and ministry that God had entrusted to them. In the Lord’s own words, we heard in another occasion in the Gospels how He had no place to lay His head, and He and His disciples often had to spend time in the wilderness, travelling from places to places in ministering to the people of God, and at times also evading the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who often shadowed and followed them.

This is a reminder for us that following the Lord isn’t always an easy and comfortable journey, and more often than not, we may be required to make plenty of sacrifices along the way. Those sacrifices were not without merit though, as everyone who had given themselves to the Lord and committed themselves to Him shall receive from Him the affirmation and assurance of eternal life and glory. They shall never be disappointed and they shall attain the grace of heavenly glory reserved for those who have kept their faith in God.

Today we celebrate the feast of a great saint whose faith and dedication to the Lord can inspire us to follow Him more wholeheartedly, namely that of St. Vincent the Deacon, a holy martyr of the faith. St. Vincent, also known as St. Vincent of Zaragoza, was a deacon in the Roman town of Caesar Augusta, the precursor of modern Zaragoza. He was serving the Bishop of Zaragoza and the flock of the faithful there during the difficult years of intense persecutions of the faithful under the Roman Emperor Diocletian.

St. Vincent and the bishop among many other Christians were arrested as part of that great persecution, and he refused to burn the Sacred Scriptures as ordered by the Roman governor, and chose to stay faithful despite the certainty of death in doing so. He also rebuked the actions of the governor and affirmed that no amount of coercions or threats could change their minds, as they would rather choose to suffer and die rather than to disobey and abandon God. That was how St. Vincent was martyred, according to tradition, by burning on a hot gridiron.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today let us all follow the inspiring examples set by St. Vincent the Deacon and many other of our holy and dedicated predecessors, and let us no longer be lukewarm in our faith but instead doing all that we can to follow the Lord wholeheartedly from now on, without fear and having full trust of the Lord, Who is always with us and journeying with us, even in the darkest moments of our lives. May God be with us all and may He bless all of our good endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Saturday, 22 January 2022 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent, Deacon and Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Gospel Reading)

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

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, 22 January 2022 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent, Deacon and Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Psalm)

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

Psalm 79 : 2-3, 5-7

Listen, o Shepherd of Israel, You, Who lead Joseph like a flock; You, Who sit enthroned between the Cherubim. Shine forth before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh. Stir up Your might and come to save us.

O YHVH of hosts, how long will Your anger burn against the prayers of Your people? You have fed them with the bread of woe, and have given them tears to drink in their sorrow. You have made us the scorn of our neighbours and the laughingstock of our oppressors.

Saturday, 22 January 2022 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent, Deacon and Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (First Reading)

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

2 Samuel 1 : 1-4, 11-12, 19, 23-27

After the death of Saul, when David had returned from defeating the Amalekites, he stayed at Ziklag for two days. On the third day a man arrived from the camp of Saul with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. When he approached David, the man threw himself to the ground in homage.

David asked him, “Where are you from?” And he answered, “I have escaped from the Israelite camp.” David then said, “Tell me what happened.” And the man told him, “The soldiers fled from the battle but many of them fell and died. Saul and his son Jonathan – they too are dead.”

At this, David took hold of his clothes and tore them and his men did the same. And they mourned, weeping and fasting until evening, for the death of Saul and his son Jonathan, for all the people of Judah and for the nation of Israel.

David sang this song of lamentation for Saul and his son Jonathan, “Your glory, o Israel, is slain upon your mountains! How the mighty ones have fallen! Saul and Jonathan, beloved and cherished, neither in life nor in death were they parted; swifter than eagles they were and stronger than lions.”

“Women of Israel, weep over Saul who clothed you in precious scarlet. How the valiant have fallen! In the midst of the battle Jonathan lies slain on your mountains. I grieve for you, my brother Jonathan; how dear have you been to me! Your love for me was wonderful, ever more than the love of women. How the valiant have fallen! The weapons of war have perished!”

Friday, 22 January 2021 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent, Deacon and Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us heard of the Lord’s assurance of a New Covenant that He had made with us all, His beloved people in our first reading today, as the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews presented the Lord Jesus as the Mediator of the New and Everlasting Covenant replacing the old Covenant between God and His people Israel.

The old Covenant, the old laws and ways, the practices of the past linked to that older pact no longer applied to anyone, after the Lord had revealed and sealed that New Covenant. The New Covenant was sealed by the loving sacrifice of Christ Himself, the Eternal High Priest on the Cross, as He laid His life bare on the Cross, as the Lamb to be sacrificed, the Lamb of God and the Paschal Lamb, by Whose Blood we have been saved.

Through this New Covenant, God had made full His promises to us, His promise to love us all and show His compassion to the very end. Each and every one of us have a share in this love, and the Lord had offered Himself as our High Priest before His heavenly Father, for the atonement and the forgiveness of all of our sins. His suffering and death were meant for us, and all of us have been called to partake in this New Covenant He had made with us.

God had revealed the fullness of His laws, all of His truth to His people as part of this Covenant, as He also sent us all the Holy Spirit to guide us to the truth, which He has revealed and passed down to us through His Church, by the sending of His Apostles to be the ones leading the charge in spreading His Good News and the truth He has revealed to us. In the calling of the Apostles, God has also called us all to follow in their footsteps, that we should also serve Him as those whom God had called had done earlier.

As we heard in our Gospel passage today, the Apostles were sent before the Lord to places to preach and to reveal His truth, and they were also given the power to heal and to cast out demons, doing the many good works of God. Their work did not stop with the death and resurrection of Our Lord, but in fact, guided by the Holy Spirit and the commission that God entrusted to them, they went forth to the many peoples of many nations, spreading the Word of God and calling many people to be a disciple and follower too.

They helped to build the Church and were truly its important foundation, and now, all of us who are members of the Church and belonging among Christ’s faithful ones, we have been entrusted with the same responsibility, as part of the Covenant that God has established with us, and which we have received generously through baptism. And therefore we are all called to live up to the Lord’s call, follow Him and dedicate ourselves to Him.

Today, we should reflect on the life and works of St. Vincent, holy Deacon and Martyr, whose examples can be great inspiration on how we can follow the Lord wholeheartedly in each and every moments of our lives. St. Vincent was also known as St. Vincent of Saragossa, one of the Deacons of Saragossa in Spain, the modern day Zaragoza, serving the bishop and local Christian community, occupying a very important position in the Church.

At that time, the Roman Emperor Diocletian carried out intense persecution against Christians, which caused many martyrs to emerge, and St. Vincent was one of these martyrs. St. Vincent was arrested together with his bishop and was threatened with great torture and suffering, unless he would burn the Sacred Scriptures and publicly repudiate his Christian faith.

St. Vincent spoke fervently and courageously against this and refused any further attempts to turn him and the other Christians away from the Lord in order to save their own lives. And the way St. Vincent spoke, with great courage and wisdom, without fear and anxiety greatly angered his persecutors so much so that he was tortured terribly and martyred by being grilled on a gridiron, which he was to be renowned for. But even in suffering, he remained resolute, firm and calm in adhering to his faith, which touched even his jailer, who became a convert afterwards.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through the martyrdom of St. Vincent, all of us are shown what it means to be a Christian. As Christians, we need to put God above all else, and foremost before anything else. And our lives must be centred and focused on Him. We should love Him more than anything else, and through our words and actions, we should commit ourselves to Him and not to allow our actions or words to scandalise our faith.

Let us all be true disciples of the Lord from now on, and let us all commit more and more time, effort and attention so that we may be ever closer to God and be ever more worthy of Him, that God will bless us and bring us all into the everlasting inheritance He has prepared for each one of us. May the Lord be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 22 January 2021 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent, Deacon and Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Mark 3 : 13-19

At that time, Jesus went up into the hill country, and called those He wanted and they came to Him. He appointed twelve to be with Him, and He called them ‘Apostles’. He wanted to send them out to preach, and He gave them authority to drive out demons.

These are the Twelve : Simon, to whom He gave the name Peter; James, son of Zebedee, and John his brother, to whom He gave the name Boanerges, which means ‘men of thunder’; Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alpheus, Thaddeus, Simon the Canaanean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him.

Friday, 22 January 2021 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent, Deacon and Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 84 : 8 and 10, 11-12, 13-14

Show us, o Lord, Your unfailing love and grant us Your saving help. Yet Your salvation is near to those who fear You, and Your Glory will dwell in our land.

Love and faithfulness have met; righteousness and peace have embraced. Faithfulness will reach up from the earth while justice bends down from heaven.

The Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its fruit. Justice will go before Him, and peace will follow along His path.

Friday, 22 January 2021 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent, Deacon and Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Hebrews 8 : 6-13

Now, however, Jesus enjoys a much higher ministry in being the Mediator of a better covenant, founded on better promises. If all had been perfect in the first covenant, there would have been no need for another one. Yet God sees defects when He says : The days are coming – it is the word of the Lord – when I will draw up a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.

It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors on the day I took them by the hand and led them out of Egypt. They did not keep My covenant, and so I Myself have forsaken them, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the people of Israel in the days to come : I will put My law into their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be My people.

None of them will have to teach one another or say to each other : Know the Lord, for they will know Me from the least to the greatest. I will forgive their sins and no longer remember their wrongs. Here we are being told of a new covenant; which means that the first one had become obsolete, and what is obsolete and ageing is soon to disappear.

Wednesday, 22 January 2020 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent, Deacon and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the Scripture passages we are all reminded of the need for us to put our trust in God and allow Him to lead and guide us through to the right path. We have to do what is right according to God’s will even when at times we will face great opposition and challenges which will make us feel very discouraged at times because we are likely going to face daunting pressures and trials.

This is where we should look at what we have just heard today, from our first reading taken from the Book of the prophet Samuel as we continued from the discourse on the works of the prophet Samuel who had anointed David to be the new king of Israel. David was then still in his youth and not physically imposing in stature, and today he went face to face against his great enemy, the renowned Philistine giant and champion, Goliath.

The story of David and Goliath is one of the most well-known stories from the Scriptures as we all know how David beat Goliath despite him being so much smaller and weaker physically compared to the giant champion of the Philistines. David was not even wearing an armour unlike his heavily armoured opponent, and was armed with nothing more than a sling and some stones. David was even laughed at by the king and his advisors when he stood up and said that he wanted to fight Goliath when no one else dared to do so.

David trusted God completely and allowed him to be the instrument through which God worked among His people. When Goliath spouted much blasphemy against God, David allowed God to make use of his sling to strike at the giant, and God guided David in all that he do, such that David was able to defeat Goliath even though no one would have expected him to do so at all. David allowed God to guide him through later as well, when he became the king of Israel.

In our Gospel reading then, we heard of another Man Who had to face tremendous pressure and opposition, none other than the Lord Jesus Himself, Who had to go up against the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, very influential and powerful group of people at that time, as they were highly educated and were considered among the elites of the people. And the Lord Jesus was hated and often harassed by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law throughout His ministry.

A particular thorny issue that came up between them was on the matter of the law of the Sabbath, as the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law applied a very strict interpretation of the Sabbath law saying that on the day God had made holy, no one could do anything at all as written in the Law. But the Lord Jesus rebuked the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, chiding them for failing to understand the true intent and purpose of the Sabbath laws.

The Sabbath was meant for God’s people to refocus their attention to God and to remind them in their daily, busy schedules that God was still central and should be the focus in their lives, and that was why one day was set aside out of the seven days of the week for the purpose of rest and for the time to be spent with God. Instead, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law zoomed in on the technicalities and legalities of the regulations rather than the meaning and purpose of the Sabbath.

And this was done even to the point of condemning good acts and deeds done for the greater glory of God on the Sabbath day when Scriptural and historical evidences clearly had shown the Law has not always been interpreted in the manner the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law interpreted it. And the Lord Jesus went against them nonetheless, healing the man who had been paralysed on the hand, showing God’s love and mercy to him.

All of these are reminders for us that as Christians, that means as all those who believe in Christ as Our Lord and Saviour, and as those who trust in God and love Him, we will likely encounter challenges and trials along the way. Our lives will not be easy and smooth if we want to continue living faithfully according to God’s will. But we must not give up or abandon our faith because of that. Let us instead take note and be inspired by the courage and faith showed by David as he went up against Goliath, and what the Lord Jesus had done in obedience to the will of His heavenly Father.

Today we also celebrate the feast of St. Vincent the Deacon, a renowned martyr of the faith. St. Vincent, like many other saints and martyrs, had to endure much suffering and trials for the sake of his faith in God and for his ministry in God’s Church. He was also known as St. Vincent of Saragossa, for his dwelling and ministry in his native area now known as Zaragoza in northeastern part of Spain.

At that time, Christians went through a particularly difficult time of persecution by the infamous Roman Emperor Diocletian who ordered all Christians to abandon their faith or else suffer and lose their lives. St. Vincent, as a devoted servant of God and deacon of the Church was also arrested and forced to abandon his faith, and it was told that he would be allowed to go free if only he would burn the Scriptures he had with him and reject the faith publicly.

Like David who stood up against Goliath and trusted completely in the Lord, St. Vincent courageously refused to abandon his faith and chose instead to suffer and die a martyr’s death. His defence of his faith was so vigorous and passionate that it made those who persecuted him and the other Christians to torture him even more, but the holy servant of God welcomed death in his unyielding faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now that we have heard all of these inspiring stories from the Scriptures and from the history of our predecessors in faith, we are then challenged to live our lives faithfully in the same manner as what we have heard just now. Are we able to love God and to be faithful at all times, in every moments and in every parts of our lives? Are we able to give ourselves to God and to trust Him completely as we should?

Let us all contemplate on these and think how we can be better disciples of the Lord from now on. May the Lord continue to guide us and show the path going forward. May God bless us all in everything we do and protect us and deliver us from our trials, as how He once guided David and St. Vincent the Deacon, His holy servants. Amen.

Wednesday, 22 January 2020 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent, Deacon and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Mark 3 : 1-6

At that time, again, Jesus entered the synagogue. A man, who had a paralysed hand, was there; and some people watched Jesus : would He heal the man on the Sabbath? If He did, they could accuse Him.”

Jesus said to the man with the paralysed hand, “Stand here, in the centre.” Then He asked them, “What does the Law allow us to do on the Sabbath? To do good or to do harm? To save life or to kill?” But they were silent. Then Jesus looked around at them with anger and deep sadness at their hardness of heart. And He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”

He stretched it out, and his hand was healed. As soon as the Pharisees left, they met with Herod’s supporters, looking for a way to destroy Jesus.