Tuesday, 5 March 2019 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we listened to the words of God reminding us that to be faithful to God, we must give everything to the Lord, not in terms of offering money or certain forms of offerings or gifts, as what some of us would think wrongly, but instead, the total gift of ourselves, our whole hearts and minds, our whole beings, loving God with everything we have, with all of our strength and might.

That is what the prophet Sirach told us in his Book, as we listened to him speaking about the matter of offering and giving of oneself before God. We are told to come before the Lord with offerings and gifts to Him, and not to come before Him empty-handed. But to God, the offering He desires from us is not the fattiest and the best animal offerings, as how it was understood at the time of the prophet Sirach, but rather, the offering of ourselves, God’s beloved children.

And this is in conjunction with what we have heard in today’s Gospel passage, when we heard the disciples of the Lord, led by St. Peter, who told Him how they had given up everything in order to follow Jesus. The context of this statement is that, just prior to the disciples speaking up about their commitments, the Lord encountered a young and rich man who said that he wanted to follow Jesus, but only to leave in sorrow when the Lord asked him to leave everything behind to follow Him.

Given this context, the disciples wanted to contrast the rich and young man’s inability to separate himself from his great wealth and his greater love for his worldly possessions than his love for the Lord, with their own commitment, and how many of them have left behind families, wealth, status and every worldly goodness in order to follow Jesus. And the Lord affirmed them in their dedication, by saying that no one who has devoted himself or herself to the Lord will be disappointed, for God Himself will take care of them.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all reminded that we have been called by God to serve Him with all of our hearts, and to give of ourselves, from the depths of our whole being. The disciples of the Lord have left behind everything to serve the Lord, because God has called them to be missionaries to preach the truth and the Good News, to call more people to accept the faith. They have dedicated themselves to the service of God, offering the best they could offer to the Lord.

But each and every one of us have also been given unique gifts in all of their varieties. As St. Paul said in his Epistle to the Corinthians, not everyone is called to be an Apostle, and neither is everyone called to be a miracle worker or a healer, or a preacher or a missionary. Instead, each and every one of us have been given unique gifts, that we may offer them and commit ourselves to the Lord in our own unique calling in life.

The problem is such that many of us are unwilling to dedicate ourselves, that we do not make use of our talents and gifts for the sake of the Lord’s glory. And the main reasons for this is that, we are either too focused on our own desires and our own self-gratification, that we end up not using our talents and gifts for the right purpose. And then, many of us are also like the young and rich man, whose attachments to worldliness prevented him from devoting himself to God.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able and are we willing to dedicate ourselves to the Lord, offering the best that we can give from ourselves, be it our time, our effort, our support and our devotion? Are we able to respond to God’s call in our lives with a resounding commitment from now on? Let us all respond to God’s call with a positive attitude, and with a desire to love Him and to serve Him and His people, our fellow men, with sincerity and genuine faith, from now on and always.

May God bless each and every one of us in our efforts, and may He continue to strengthen us that we may always be faithful to Him in all the things we do in our daily lives. Amen.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 10 : 28-31

At that time, Peter spoke up and said, “We have given up everything to follow You.” Jesus answered, “Truly, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters, or father or mother, or children, or lands, for My sake and for the Gospel, who will not receive his reward.”

“I say to you : even in the midst of persecution, he will receive a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and lands in the present time, and in the world to come eternal life. Do pay attention : many who are now first will be last, and the last, first.”

Tuesday, 5 March 2019 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 49 : 5-6, 7-8, 14 and 23

Gather before Me My faithful ones, who made a covenant with Me by sacrifice. The heavens will proclaim His sentence, for God Himself is the Judge.

Hear, o My people, for I am speaking. I will accuse You, o Israel, I am God, your God! Not for your sacrifices do I reprove you, for your burnt offerings are ever before Me.

Yet offer to God a sacrifice of thanks, and fulfil your vows to the Most High. Those who give with thanks offerings honour Me, but the one who walks blamelessly, I will show him the salvation of God.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Sirach 35 : 1-15

Keeping the Law is worthy many offerings. Being faithful to the commandments is like a peace offering. Returning kindness is an offering of fine flour; giving alms is a sacrifice of praise. Renouncing sin pleases the Lord, and shunning injustice is a sacrifice of atonement.

Do not appear before the Lord with empty hands. The commandment requires that you bring an offering. When the offering of the righteous is burnt on the altar, the fat drips down and a fragrant aroma rises to the Most High. The sacrifice of the just man pleases God and will not be forgotten. Honour the Lord with a generous heart and do not be stingy with the first fruits of your harvest.

Offer your gifts with a smiling face and when you pay your tithes do it gladly. Give to the Most High as He has given to you; give generously to the Lord according to what you have; the Lord will repay, He will reward you sevenfold. If you attempt to bribe Him with gifts He will not accept them; do not rely on offerings from dishonest gain.

The Lord is Judge and shows no partiality. He will not disadvantage the poor, He Who hears the prayer of the oppressed. He does not disdain the plea of the orphan, nor the complaint of the widow. When tears flow down her cheeks, is she not crying out against the one who caused her to weep?

Monday, 4 March 2019 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Casimir (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the fact of how difficult it is for us to enter into the kingdom of God, and how we cannot be idle in our lives as Christians as we have plenty of expectations for us in living as true and devout Christians. At the heart of it all is the love that we must have for the Lord, our commitment and dedication towards Him.

In the Gospel passage today, we heard about the encounter between the Lord Jesus and a young, rich man who professed his intention of wanting to follow the Lord Jesus. When the Lord asked the rich young man whether he had done everything that the laws of Moses had specified for him to do, the young man responded that he had been faithful in everything that the law prescribed. Yet, when the Lord asked him to leave everything behind and follow Him completely, the young man left in sorrow.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what actually happened in that encounter between the Lord and the rich, young man? The Lord did not intend to condemn or treat the rich with contempt, but instead, He wanted to make a point before His disciples and the people who followed Him, that in order for us to be true disciples of the Lord, we must have that love and commitment in us, to be ready and to be able to do everything for the Lord.

We must be careful here not to understand the Lord’s words and actions literally at the surface level, or else, we will misunderstand His intentions, thinking that He is asking all of us Christians must sell everything that we have and give everything we have to the poor. This is not what He intends for us to do, for then, if everyone is accounted under the same rule, then who should we give all the proceeds to in the end? For those who are poor and receive the possessions will become richer in turn, and then they too have to sell theirs and it will end up in endless cycles of passing on of possessions and wealth from one to another person.

And neither did Jesus condemn the rich or those with possessions and power. Instead, what He warned us all is the dangerous attachments we can develop to these worldly things, that can prevent us from being true disciples of His, for our hearts and minds are not centred and focused on Him, but rather on those wealth, power, fame, glory and other forms of worldly temptations and attachments we have.

As in the case of the young and rich man, who left in sorrow after the Lord has asked him to sell everything that he had possessed and follow Him, we can see that his love, his concern and attachment to his possessions is much greater than his love and commitment to the Lord. That was why he immediately left in sorrow, and not even giving a reply to the Lord’s request for him. He could not bear to part with all the riches and glory he had.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, God has blessed us all with these riches, blessings and all the goodness of the world. Some of us have more while some others have less. God has given all these to us, for us to make good use of them, to share them with those who are less fortunate and suffering, that we do not ignore their pleas for help. We should not be selfish or be overly attached to those possessions, for it is not that God does not want us to possess anything, but instead, He does not want us to idolise and be overly attached to them.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to overcome our often unhealthy attachments to worldly materials and goods? Are we able to look beyond worldly matters, and refocus our attentions in life to the Lord, that we can overcome our greed and pride, ego and desires within us, and therefore, be able to redirect our efforts to serve the Lord in various ways, and be generous in giving and in sharing our love and blessings with each other?

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Casimir, a royal prince of Poland and Lithuania, who despite of his wealthy and noble upbringing and birth, did not hesitate to show his love and compassion for the needy, the sick and the poor, being known for his generous dedication of money as well as effort and time to care for the poor in the kingdom. St. Casimir was also renowned for his great piety and love for God. When he died at a young age of twenty-five, everyone remembered him for his love both for God and for his fellow men.

Let us all dedicate ourselves anew to the Lord just as St. Casimir has shown us, that from now on we will no longer live our lives for the purpose of self-gratification and self-glorification, but instead, strive for the greater good of all, and for the greater glory of God, through our every words, actions and deeds in life. May God be with us always, and may He bless all of our good works. Amen.

Monday, 4 March 2019 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Casimir (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Mark 10 : 17-27

At that time, just as Jesus was setting out on His journey again, a man ran up, knelt before Him and asked, “Good Master, what must I do to have eternal life?”

Jesus answered, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments : Do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not cheat, honour your father and mother.” The man replied, “I have obeyed all these commandments since my childhood.”

Then Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him and He said, “For you, one thing is lacking. Go, sell what you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come and follow Me.” On hearing these words, his face fell and he went away sorrowful, for he was a man of great wealth.

Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God” The disciples were shocked at these words, but Jesus insisted, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

They were more astonished than ever and wondered, “Who, then, can be saved?” Jesus looked steadily at them and said, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God; all things are possible with God.”

Monday, 4 March 2019 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Casimir (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Psalm 31 : 1-2, 5, 6, 7

Blessed is the one whose sin is forgiven, whose iniquity is wiped away. Blessed are those in whom the Lord sees no guilt and in whose spirit is found no deceit.

Then I made known to You my sin and uncovered before You my fault, saying to myself, “To the Lord I will now confess my wrong.” And You, You forgave my sin, You removed my guilt.

So let the faithful ones pray to You in time of distress; the overflowing waters will not reach them.

You are my refuge; You protect me from distress and surround me with songs of deliverance.