Monday, 6 January 2014 : Monday after the Epiphany (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 4 : 12-17, 23-25

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, He withdrew into Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum, a town by the lake of Galilee, at the border of Zebulun and Naphtali.

In this way the word of the prophet Isaiah was fulfilled : “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, crossed by the Road of the Sea, and you who live beyond the Jordan, Galilee, land of pagans : ‘The people who lived in darkness have seen a great light; on those who live in the land of the shadow of death, a light has shone.'”

From that time on, Jesus began to proclaim His message, “Change your ways : the kingdom of heaven is near.”

Jesus went around all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom, and curing all kinds of sickness and disease among the people. The news about Him spread through the whole of Syria, and the people brought all their sick to Him, and all those who suffered : the possessed, the deranged, the paralysed, and He healed them all.

Large crowds followed Him from Galilee and the Ten Cities, from Jerusalem, Judea, and from across the Jordan.

Thursday, 19 December 2013 : 3rd Week of Advent (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard the two related stories of how two great men were born, both of them the faithful and great servants of God the Most High, and each entrusted with great missions, to prepare the way for what was to come. They were prepared especially for that, and they were consecrated to God for that purpose.

They were prepared and destined for a life totally dedicated to God and His purposes, and that was why they were what is called the Nazirites, who did not give themselves to the corrupting influences of the world, and fully gave themselves to God and to His will. They were indeed Samson, one of the later judges of Israel, renowned for his strength and his exploits against the Philistines, and John the Baptist, the one who prepared the way for the coming of the Lord.

Although they lived in different era and time, and had different backgrounds and missions in general, but their missions are truly about the same things, that is about bringing the people of God back towards the Lord and to bring help and succour to the people of God living in the darkness and in the suffering of the world.

Samson used his strength and power given from God to fight against the Philistines who were oppressing the people of God at that time. And just as he wrestled lions and bears, he also wrestled against these pagans who oppressed God’s people. And even though he would later fall into temptation in the woman Delilah, eventually he repented, and with the last of his power, he made a building to crash down on the Philistines just as they were making fun of him, killing even more of them in death than when he still lived.

St. John the Baptist, who baptised many people in the Jordan was both the messenger of God’s Good News, proclaiming to the people of the imminent and impending arrival of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and who brought many people to repentance through his repeated and ceaseless calls to the people to seek God’s forgiveness for their sins. He persevered even despite rejection and ridicule by the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

The examples given in the birth, life, and experiences of these two men of God highlighted to us of the nature of our faith itself. God is with us, and He loves us. He continued to repeat this over and over again to us, sending prophets after prophets and messengers after messengers to show His love for us. In Samson, He made His power manifest and liberate His people from persecution, oppression, and suffering.

In John the Baptist, God made clear His care and love for us, seeking our redemption, through our repentance, that we abandon our sinfulness and our sin-tainted past, and leading a new life dedicated solely to the Lord, just as these two men of God had been dedicated to the Lord. He did not want us to perish because of our sinfulness and our tainted selves, and that was why He sent John to us, to lead the way for Christ.

We all know of this love our Lord has for all of us and we should not spurn it as many of our ancestors had done in the past. They rejected the people He had sent to them, ridiculed them, persecuted them, and even spilled their blood. Should we do the same then, brethren in Christ?

No, we should indeed change our ways, repent and promise that we will turn our back on sin, and from now on follow a way of life acceptable and worthy of the Lord our God. We ought to heed what St. John the Baptist had called the people of his time to do, to repent and prepare for the coming of the Lord. Be liberated and be free from the power of sin, just as Samson broke free the bonds of Israel from their Philistine masters.

And ultimately, we too, brothers and sisters in Christ, who belong to the Church of God, have the same responsibility as these saints and holy men of God, to be the extension of God’s will, hands, and power in this world. We ought to go out and proclaim the Good News to others, and help bring God’s people back towards Him. It is through our mouths and through our hands, that we will bring great glory to God and to His people.

Therefore, today, let us renew our faith and our commitment towards the Lord. May the Lord who empowered John the Baptist and Samson, also empower us to do the same as what they had done, and bring the Lord and the Good News of His salvation closer and closer to many, especially to those who are lost. Amen.

Monday, 16 December 2013 : 3rd Week of Advent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 24 : 4bc-5ab, 6-7bc, 8-9

O Lord, make known to me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and instruct me, for You are my God, my Saviour.

Remember Your compassion, o Lord, Your unfailing love from of old. In Your love remember me.

Good and upright, the Lord teaches sinners His way. He teaches the humble of heart and guides them in what is right.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013 : 1st Week of Advent, Feast of St. Francis Xavier, Patron of Missions, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White (Priests)

1 Corinthians 9 : 16-19, 22-23

Because I cannot boast of announcing the Gospel : I am bound to do it. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel! If I preached voluntarily, I could expect my reward, but I have been trusted this office against my will. How can I, then, deserve a reward? In announcing the Gospel, I will do it freely without making use of the rights given to me by the Gospel.

So, feeling free with everybody, I have become everybody’s slave in order to gain a greater number. To the weak I made myself weak, to win the weak. So I made myself all things to all people in order to save, by all possible means, some of them. This I do for the Gospel, so that I too have a share of it.

Saturday, 30 November 2013 : Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Romans 10 : 9-18

You are saved if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart you believe that God raised Him from the dead. By believing from the heart, you obtain true righteousness; by confessing the faith with your lips you are saved.

For Scripture says : ‘No one who believes in Him will be ashamed.’ Here there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; all have the same Lord, who is very generous with whoever calls on Him. Truly, all who call upon the Name of the Lord will be saved.

But how can they call upon the Name of the Lord without having believed in Him?  And how can they believe in Him without having first heard about Him? And how will they hear about Him if no one preaches about Him? And how will they preach about Him if no one sends them?

As Scripture says : ‘How beautiful are the feet of the messengers of Good News.’ Although not everyone obeyed the Good News, as Isaiah said : ‘Lord, who has believed in our preaching?’

So, faith comes from preaching, and preaching is rooted in the word of Christ. I ask : Have the Jews not heard? But of course they have. Because the voice of those preaching resounded all over the earth and their voice was heard to the ends of the world.

Monday, 25 November 2013 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Virgins) or Red (Martyrs)

Luke 21 : 1-4

Jesus looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury of the Temple. He also saw a poor widow, who dropped in two small coins.

And He said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow put in more than all of them. For all of them gave an offering from their plenty; but she, out of her poverty, gave all she had to live on.”

Saturday, 23 November 2013 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Clement I, Pope and Martyr, and St. Columban, Abbot (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Abbot and Mass of our Lady)

Luke 20 : 27-40

Then some Sadducees arrived. These people claim that there is no resurrection, and they asked Jesus this question, “Master, in the Law Moses told us, ‘If anyone dies leaving a wife but no children, his brother must take the wife, and any child born to them will be regarded as the child of the deceased.'”

“Now, there were seven brothers; the first married a wife, but he died without children; and the second and the third took the wife; in fact, all seven died leaving no children. Last of all the woman died. On the day of the resurrection, to which of them will the woman be a wife? For all seven had her as a wife.”

And Jesus replied, “Taking a husband or a wife is proper to people of this world, but for those who are considered worthy of the world to come, and of resurrection from the dead, there is no more marriage. Besides, they cannot die, for they are like the angels. They are sons and daughters of God, because they are born of the resurrection.”

“Yes, the dead will be raised, as Moses revealed at the burning bush, when he called the Lord, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For God is God of the living, and not of the dead, for to Him everyone is alive.”

Some teachers of the Law then agreed with Jesus, “Master, You have spoken well.” They did not dare to ask Him anything else.

Friday, 22 November 2013 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 19 : 45-48

Then Jesus entered the Temple area and began to drive out the merchants. And He said to them, “God says in the Scriptures, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have turned it into a den of robbers!'”

Jesus was teaching every day in the Temple. The chief priests and teachers of the Law wanted to kill Him, and the elders of the Jews as well, but they were unable to do anything, for all the people were listening to Him and hanging on His words.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 19 : 11-28

Jesus was now near Jerusalem, and the people with Him thought that God’s reign was about to appear. So as they were listening to Him, Jesus went on to tell them a parable. He said, “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to assume regal authority, after which he planned to return home. Before he left, he summoned ten of his servants and gave them ten pounds of silver.”

“He said, ‘Put this money to work until I get back.’ But his compatriots, who disliked him, sent a delegation after him with this message, ‘We do not want this man to be our king.’ He returned, however, appointed as king. At once he sent for the servants, to whom he had given the money, to find out what profit each had made.”

“The first came in, and reported, ‘Sir, your pound of silver has earned ten more pounds of silver.'”

“The master replied, ‘Well done, my good servant! Since you have proven yourself faithful in a small matter, I can trust you to take charge of ten cities.'”

“The second reported, ‘Sir, your pound of silver earned five more pounds of silver.’ The master replied, ‘And you, take charge of five cities!'”

“The third came in, and said, ‘Sir, here is your money, which I hid for safekeeping. I was afraid of you, for you are an exacting person : you take up what you did not lay down, and you reap what you did not sow,'”

“The master replied, ‘You worthless servant, I will judge you by your own words! So you knew I was an exacting person, taking up what I did not lay down, and reaping what I did not sow? Why, then, did you not put my money on loan, so that, when I got back, I could have collected it with interest?'”

“Then the master said to those standing by, ‘Take from him that pound, and give it to the one with ten pounds.’ But they objected, ‘Sir, he already has ten pounds!'”

“The master replied, ‘I tell you, everyone who has will be given more; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for my enemies who did not want me to be their king, bring them in, and execute them right here in front me!'”

So Jesus spoke, and then He passed on ahead of them, on His way to Jerusalem.

Monday, 18 November 2013 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Peter and the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Dedication of Basilica)

1 Maccabees 1 : 10-15, 41-43, 54-57, 62-64

From the kings who followed Alexander (the Great), from their descendants there came a godless offshoot, Antiochus Epiphanes, son of King Antiochus, who had been held as hostage in Rome. He became king in the one hundred and thirty-seventh year of the Greek era (175 B.C.).

It was then that some rebels emerged from Israel, who succeeded in winning over many people. They said, “Let us renew contact with the peoples around us for we had endured many misfortunes since we separated from them.”

This proposal was well-received and some eagerly went to the king. The king authorised them to adopt the customs of the pagan nations. With his permission, they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem in the pagan style. And as they wanted to be like the pagans in everything, they made artificial foreskins for themselves and abandoned the Holy Covenant, sinning as they pleased.

Antiochus issued a decree to his whole kingdom. All the peoples of his empire had to renounce their particular customs and become one people. All the pagan nations obeyed and respected the king’s decree, and even in Israel many accepted the imposed cult. They offered sacrifices to idols and no longer respected the Sabbath.

On the fifteenth day of the month of Chislev, in the year one hundred and forty-five, Antiochus erected the “abominable idol of the invaders” on the altar of the Temple. Pagan altars were built throughout the whole land of Judea; incense was offered at the doors of their houses and in the squares. There wicked men tore up the books of the Law they found and burned them. They killed anyone they caught in possession of the book of the Covenant and who fulfilled the precepts of the Law, as the royal decree had ordered.

But in spite of all this, many Israelites still remained firm and determined not to eat unclean food. They preferred to die rather than to make themselves unclean with those foods prohibited by the Law, that violated the Holy Covenant. And Israel suffered a very great trial.

Alternate Reading (Mass for Dedication of the Basilicas)

 

Acts 28 : 11-16, 30-31

After three months, we boarded a ship that had spent the winter at the island. It belonged to an Alexandrian company and carried the figurehead of Castor and Pollux as insignia. We sailed for Syracuse, staying there for three days and, after circling the coast, we arrived at Rhegium.

On the following day, a south wind began to blow, and at the end of two days we arrived at Puteoli, where we found some of our brothers who invited us to stay with them for a week. And that was how we came to Rome.

There the brothers and sisters had been informed of our arrival and came out to meet us as far as the Appian Forum and the Three Taverns. When Paul saw them, he gave thanks to God and took courage.

Upon our arrival in Rome, the captain turned the prisoners over to the military governor, but permitted Paul to lodge in a private house with the soldier who guarded him.

Paul stayed for two whole years in a house he himself rented, where he received without any hindrance all those who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught the truth about Jesus Christ, the Lord, quite openly and without any hindrance.