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.

Friday, 22 January 2016 : 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, on this day we heard about the rivalry between Saul, the first king of Israel, and David, the one whom God had chosen to become king after Saul, after Saul had disobeyed the Lord’s commandments and refused to follow His ways. And this rivalry had quickly become bad and the relationship between the two of them quickly soured.

And Saul tried his best to kill David to remove that great threat to his legitimacy and his reign, and in many occasions, he attempted to harm him and brought him to death, but by the grace and the will of God, David managed to escape from all those attempts. And the more that David escaped and survived those attempts, the more desperate that Saul became.

But today, we saw how David reacted to all these in the first reading we have from the Book of the prophet Samuel. In it we can see the good qualities that David had, which truly marked him as one who was really worthy to become the leader and king over all of Israel. It was not his might or greater charisma or other factors that made him great, but it was his devotion to God and the goodness in his heart that made him such a great choice to be a king over all Israel.

In the Gospel we saw how our Lord Jesus Christ picked the choice for His principal disciples, those whom He called the Apostles, which numbered twelve in all. The Apostles were not chosen from among great men or great figures and personages in the world at that time. Instead, they were just ordinary people leading simple lives, having diverse backgrounds, from tax collectors, to fishermen and criminals, those who were not famous or great in the eyes of the world.

But God did not choose His servants based on how great they were in the eyes of the world, but instead, He saw deep inside the heart, looking at what are their potentials in bringing about the good works of the Lord to their completion on earth. And indeed, except for Judas Iscariot, all of the other Twelve Apostles did their best to bring the Good News of God’s salvation to all the peoples in the four corners of the world.

And out of their great love and dedication for the Lord, they gave everything for Him, leaving everything els behind them, and they went forth to proclaim the truth of God, bringing salvation to many people, but at the same time, they also suffered persecution and suffering from those who refused to believe in God and those who adamantly rejected their message.

Today, we commemorate also the feast of St. Vincent, a renowned saint of the past, whose life and dedication to the Lord was truly exemplary, and indeed should have inspired all of us to be more like him in our faith. He was a deacon and a faithful servant of the Church, who lived during turbulent times in the history of the Church, when many of the faithful lived under fear from the persecution by the Roman Empire, particularly under the rule of the Emperor Diocletian.

He served the faithful with great zeal and devotion in his role as a deacon, who was particularly involved in serving the poor and the destitute and in ensuring that the loving hands of the Church’s good works reached out to those who need help the most. He was therefore among those who were first to be captured and tortured by those who sought the destruction of the Church and the Faith during the great persecution of the Emperor Diocletian against the Christians.

He was outspoken in his defence of the faith and of the Church, and not only that he showed no fear of death or any hesitation, but he also refused any offer for release and good conduct if he would just abandon his faith and burn the Holy Scriptures. He was thus tortured and made to suffer grievously, but to the very end, he never gave up and continued to persevere, inspiring so many other people with his dedication and exemplary faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we have all heard the amazing stories of God’s good works through His servants and therefore, all of us should also be inspired to do the same as well. All of us should seek to follow our Lord ever more diligently and faithfully, and in all of our words, deeds and actions, we should conform to the Lord more and more, and dedicate ourselves ever more to His teachings.

May Almighty God, our Lord, bless us and keep us in His love. And may His grace continue to shine upon us that we who are sinners may draw closer to the fountain of His mercy. May God be with us all, now and forever. Amen.

Friday, 22 January 2016 : 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 2016 : 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 56 : 2, 3-4, 6 and 11

Have mercy on me, o God, have mercy, for my soul takes refuge in You; I will find shelter in the shadow of Your wings till the disaster has passed.

I call on God the Most High, on God Who has done everything for me : may He send from Heaven a Saviour and put my oppressors to shame. May God send me His love and faithfulness.

Be exalted, o God, above the heavens! Your glory be over all the earth! For Your love reaches to the heavens, and Your faithfulness, to the clouds.

Friday, 22 January 2016 : 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)

1 Samuel 24 : 3-21

So Saul took three thousand picked men from all Israel and went in search of David and his men to the east of the Wild Goat crags. When he came to the sheepfolds along the way, he entered a cave to relieve himself.

Now David and his men were far back in the cave. David’s men said to him, “This is the day which YHVH spoke of : Look I will deliver your enemy into your hands and you will do with him as you see fit.” So David moved up and stealthily cut off an end of Saul’s robe.

But afterward, David regretted having cut off an end of Saul’s robe, and he said to his men, “Let me not lay my hands on my master, for he is YHVH’s anointed.” With these words, David restrained his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. Saul then left the cave and went on his way.

Then David himself stepped out of the cave and called after Saul, “My master, the king!” When Saul looked back, David knelt and then bowed to the ground in homage and asked him, “Why do you listen to those who say that I want to harm you?”

“Look, today you have seen that YHVH delivered you into my hands in the cave, and I was told to kill you but I held myself back and I said : ‘I will not lift my hands against my master who is YHVH’s anointed. My father, look at this end of your robe which I am holding! I cut off the end of your robe, but did not kill you. Now you may know that I mean you no harm or treason. I have done you no wrong, and yet you are hunting me down to kill me.”

May YHVH be judge between you and me and may He exact justice from you in my case, but I shall do you no harm. As the saying goes, ‘From the wicked comes wickedness’; as for me, My hand shall not harm you. But who is it you are after, o king of Israel? Are you pursuing a dead dog? A flea? May YHVH be Judge between you and me. May He see and uphold my cause and deliver me from your hands.”

After David had spoken these words, Saul asked, “Is that your voice, my son David?” He wept aloud and said to David, “You are right and I am wrong, for you have repaid with kindness the harm I have inflicted on you. This day you have shown your righteousness to me by not taking my life when YHVH put me into your hands.”

“For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go unharmed? May YHVH reward you for what you have done for me today. Now I know for certain that you shall reign and the kingdom of Israel will be firm in your hand.”