Thursday, 6 January 2022 : Thursday after the Epiphany (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord, we heard of the reminder of the love of God that has been revealed to us in Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, Whose coming into this world brought forth upon us the fulfilment of the long promised salvation that God had promised to each and every one of us, to all mankind through His many prophets and messengers that He had sent to us in the past.

In our Gospel reading today, we heard how the Lord Jesus came to the synagogue in His hometown Nazareth, and reading the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, uttering the very words that the prophet had spoken regarding His own coming into this world. By proclaiming the words of God’s salvation, and reminding all of us of His promises, Christ has reassured all those assembled, and all of us here who have heard those words from the Scriptures, that He will always uphold and fulfil His promises, and we can truly trust in Him.

For it was by His Incarnation and coming into this world that He has shown us the gifts of His love, and the hope of redemption, for us to be reconciled to Him and to be able to find our way to Him. The Lord has sent His own Son into our midst that He may dwell with us and remain with us, and that we are not alone regardless of what we are facing in this world. He has come to heal us from our wounds, forgiving us our trespasses and transgressions, and calling us to repent from our many sins and be reconciled with us.

In our first reading today, the Apostle St. John in his Epistle spoke of the calling for all of us Christians to love one another and to show love in our daily lives and actions, just as God has loved us first, through all that He had done for us and ultimately through Christ, by His loving sacrifice on the Cross, as He selflessly took upon Himself all the scourges, the punishments and the sufferings due to our sins. He gave Himself for us, so that by His love and actions, all of us may receive the guarantee of everlasting life, and by His wounds and His death, we have been made sharers in the true joy and everlasting glory.

If we all profess to believe in God, then it is natural that each and every one of us should love Him to the best of our abilities, and to reach out to Him, loving Him first and foremost before all else. And with this same love, all of us should also love our fellow brothers and sisters, in our respective communities. For if the Lord has loved each and every one of us without any exceptions, even to the worst of sinners, then how can we not love our brothers and sisters, even strangers whom we encounter in our daily lives?

And not only that, but as the Lord Himself has also taught His disciples, we have to learn to love even our enemies and all those who hate us. It is easy for us to love those who love us back, but it is much harder to love those who have made our lives difficult and hurt us. But that was exactly what the Lord Himself had done to us. Remember how He has forgiven even those who have made Him to suffer, rejected and humiliated Him, all those who have condemned Him to die a most painful death on the Cross. He forgave those who hated Him from

His Cross and prayed for them all.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all learn to love generously and fulfil our calling as Christians to show love to one another in the same way that the Lord has first shown us. Let us not harden our hearts and open ourselves ever more to God’s most generous love and wonders. Through His love, God has rescued us and endeavoured to make us whole again. Yet, it was by our stubbornness that many of us remained attached to sin and placed ourselves under the bondage and the sway of sin, of evil and wickedness.

Today, as we continue to celebrate this Christmas season, let us all be witnesses of God’s love in the midst of our communities, and let us devote ourselves ever more courageously in order to love the Lord and to share that love with each other. Let us follow the Lord and His ways, of loving generously and tenderly from now on, always and evermore. May God bless us always and remain with us, at all times. Amen.

Thursday, 6 January 2022 : Thursday after the Epiphany (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 4 : 14-22a

At that time, Jesus acted with the power of the Spirit; and on His return to Galilee, the news about Him spread throughout all that territory. He began teaching in the synagogue of the Jews and everyone praised Him.

When Jesus came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, as He usually did. He stood up to read, and they handed Him the book of the prophet Isaiah.

Jesus then unrolled the scroll and found the place where it is written : “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me. He has anointed Me, to bring good news to the poor; to proclaim liberty to captives; and new sight to the blind; to free the oppressed; and to announce the Lord’s year of mercy.”

Jesus then rolled up the scroll, gave it to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. Then He said to them, “Today, these prophetic words come true, even as you listen.” All agreed with Him, and were lost in wonder, while He spoke of the grace of God.

Thursday, 6 January 2022 : Thursday after the Epiphany (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 4 : 19 – 1 John 5 : 4

So let us love one another, since God loved us first. If you say, “I love God,” while you hate your brother or sister, you are a liar. How can you love God, Whom you do not see, if you do not love your brother, whom you see? We received from Him, this commandment : let those who love God also love their brothers.

All those, who believe that Jesus is the Anointed, are born of God; whoever loves the Father, loves the Son. How may we know, that we love the children of God? If we love God and fulfil His commands, for God’s love requires us to keep His commands. In fact, His commandments are not a burden because all those born of God overcome the world. And the victory, which overcomes the world, is our faith.

Thursday, 7 January 2021 : Thursday after Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures, we are reminded yet again that the Lord has fulfilled His promises to us, the promise of deliverance and salvation that He has made and renewed throughout the history of mankind and the world. The Lord sent His deliverance to us all through His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. And as Christians, all of us believe in this truth, the same truth that has been preserved through the Church all these time.

In our Gospel reading today, we heard of the moment when the Lord proclaimed the truth of God and the fulfilment of all the wonderful promises of God’s salvation in the synagogue of His own hometown, Nazareth. At that time, the Lord read the prophecy from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah and his words, which specifically mentioned what the Messiah or the Saviour would do in order to save the people.

And the Lord Jesus essentially proclaimed the coming of God’s time of grace, His salvation and liberation to all the people. He did not mince His words or hold back anything as He proclaimed God’s truth. He was the Anointed One and the Holy One of God sent into the world to be its Saviour. Through Him all would once again see the light of hope, and a way out of the darkness of sin in this world.

All of these are what we believe in as Christians, that we hold true and strongly to this same truth that the Lord had proclaimed, and which He had then proven through His loving sacrifice on the Cross. The love of God has been made manifest into this world through Christ, and this love was shown to us by the selfless sacrifice and the life-giving action that the Lord had done, in offering up Himself for our sake, for our liberation from sin and for our salvation.

St. John then spoke of this in our first reading today as he elaborated on Christ as the manifestation of God’s love made flesh just as we celebrate it this Christmas season. He also exhorted all Christians to turn towards the Lord with love, that just as He has loved us so generously at first, then we should also love Him to the best of our abilities with our most sincere love, and then show the same love to our fellow brothers and sisters as well.

The Lord has taught us His love and revealed to us what it means for us to love, through His own actions and examples. He has reached out to all of us, especially even to the worst and the most wicked amongst sinners. He has touched us with His love and He has called us to follow Him and His path, but are we willing and able to commit ourselves to this path, brothers and sisters in Christ?

Let us all today therefore look upon the examples of our holy predecessors in how they lived their lives in accordance with God’s ways, such as what was done by St. Raymond of Penyafort, whose feast day we are celebrating today. St. Raymond of Penyafort was a Dominican friar and priest who was the Master of the Order of Preachers or the Dominicans.

St. Raymond of Penyafort dedicated himself, his life and his actions to serve the Lord, compiling the teachings of the faith in the many books and writings that he has written for the many years of his dedicated service. St. Raymond of Penyafort was also committed to the reform of the Church, in his efforts in helping the Church and the leaders like the Pope in leading the faithful to the right path.

Through his efforts and most notably through his renowned miracle, St. Raymond of Penyafort turned many souls towards the Lord. When he worked as the confessor of the king of Aragon, James I, who was infamous for his immoral behaviour, he courageously criticised the king and his actions, which was against the Law of God. He sought to call the king back to his senses and return to the true faith.

When the king still insisted to continue his actions and forbade St. Raymond from leaving the island he was ministering in, he miraculously sailed on his long Dominican robe, and witnessed by many, he made the king to realise the depth and severity of his errors, and the king repented from all his sinful ways. Many others became believers through him and many were inspired by his examples long after his passing.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all devote ourselves to the Lord therefore, filling ourselves with love, the love of God, just as shown by St. Raymond of Penyafort and the many other holy men and women of God. Let us all therefore seek the Lord and do our best as Christians, from now on, that we may lead all souls to Him, Our Lord and most loving Saviour. May God be with us always, and may He bless us in all our good endeavours. Amen.

Thursday, 7 January 2021 : Thursday after Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 4 : 14-22a

At that time, Jesus acted with the power of the Spirit; and on His return to Galilee, the news about Him spread throughout all that territory. He began teaching in the synagogue of the Jews and everyone praised Him.

When Jesus came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, as He usually did. He stood up to read, and they handed Him the book of the prophet Isaiah.

Jesus then unrolled the scroll and found the place where it is written : “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me. He has anointed Me, to bring good news to the poor; to proclaim liberty to captives; and new sight to the blind; to free the oppressed; and to announce the Lord’s year of mercy.”

Jesus then rolled up the scroll, gave it to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. Then He said to them, “Today, these prophetic words come true, even as you listen.” All agreed with Him, and were lost in wonder, while He spoke of the grace of God.

Thursday, 7 January 2021 : Thursday after Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 71 : 1-2, 14 and 15bc, 17

God, endow the King with Your justice, the Royal Son with Your righteousness. May He rule Your people justly and defend the rights of the lowly.

He rescues them from oppression and strife, for their life is precious to Him. May people always pray for Him, and blessings be invoked for Him all day.

May His Name endure forever; may His Name be as lasting as the sun. All the races will boast about Him; and He will be praised by all nations.

Thursday, 7 January 2021 : Thursday after Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 4 : 19 – 1 John 5 : 4

So let us love one another, since God loved us first. If you say, “I love God,” while you hate your brother or sister, you are a liar. How can you love God, Whom you do not see, if you do not love your brother, whom you see? We received from Him, this commandment : let those who love God also love their brothers.

All those, who believe that Jesus is the Anointed, are born of God; whoever loves the Father, loves the Son. How may we know, that we love the children of God? If we love God and fulfil His commands, for God’s love requires us to keep His commands. In fact, His commandments are not a burden because all those born of God overcome the world. And the victory, which overcomes the world, is our faith.

Thursday, 9 January 2020 : Thursday after the Epiphany (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 reminded first of all that God has always loved us, and because of that, He fulfilled His promises to us, as we heard of the Lord Himself speaking and declaring the coming of His salvation, as He proclaimed publicly that all the things which have been prophesied about Him had been fulfilled because He has revealed Himself at last.

And what we have heard in God’s proclamation is how He loves us by caring for us, freeing us from the burdens of our sickness and shortcomings, healing the blind and the paralytic, helping those who have been assailed and troubled by other things, and proclaiming the coming of God’s kingdom on earth, as the fulfilment of His long awaited promises to us.

But many of us remained ignorant of this fact and many of us failed to recognise God and His love being present in our midst because we are too preoccupied with ourselves and too busy worrying about our own worldly desires and needs. That is why many among us, even the believers and members of the Church are not true disciples of the Lord as our faith are only a formality, empty and without real, living faith. We caused others to suffer and to endure bitterness because of our own selfishness.

This is what St. John spoke about in his Epistle, which was read as our first reading passage today. St. John spoke of the hypocrisy of many among the people of God who claimed to have faith in God and love Him and yet, they did not have real faith, as they did not truly appreciate and understand what it means to love God and to have faith in Him. If they are truly faithful to God, then they should follow what He has done and do what He has taught us.

Many of us claimed to be faithful to God, and yet in our daily living, the way we act and work, the way we interact with each other, God is not present at all. Instead, what we have certainly often seen and witnessed, is the pervasion of selfishness, ego, human pride, greed and all sorts of things that caused us to fall into sin and into the temptations of the devil. More often than not, we acted in ways that were contrary to our Christian faith.

And this makes us all hypocrites in faith as we live our lives in ways that are contrary to our beliefs and we are those whom St. John called in his Epistle today as ‘liars’. For as long as we do not live our lives according to God’s ways, we do not truly belong to Him and we do not really have faith as how we should have it. The Lord through His Apostle St. John therefore reminds us that if we consider ourselves as Christians then we must love in the manner God has loved us all.

This means that if we want to be true and genuine Christians, we must love one another and show care and concern to all those who are around us. We must be less selfish, less egoistic and less affected by the desires and pride in our hearts and minds. Just as God has loved us all that He sent us His own Son to be Our Saviour, then we too must share that same love we have been given with each other. It is only by doing this that we truly become His disciples and followers, and we will no longer be hypocrites.

It will not be easy for us to walk down this path though, as we probably should already know just how difficult it is for us to resist the many temptations of the devil who is constantly trying to drag us into sin, by persuading us to give in to our selfish inner desires, our preoccupation with worldly things and concerns that distract us from being able to recognise God’s love and our responsibility to share the same love with our brethren. We will encounter much trials and struggles along our journey.

But as long as we put our trust in God and in His love, we should not be afraid of anything. We must trust in God’s love and providence, and because He has done so much for us, we too must love just as He has loved us. Let us all thus heed His words and His calling for us to be loving to our fellow men, and practice this each and every days of lives from now on. May God bless us all, in our every good deeds and endeavours. Amen.

Thursday, 9 January 2020 : Thursday after the Epiphany (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 4 : 14-22a

At that time, Jesus acted with the power of the Spirit; and on His return to Galilee, the news about Him spread throughout all that territory. He began teaching in the synagogue of the Jews and everyone praised Him.

When Jesus came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, as He usually did. He stood up to read, and they handed Him the book of the prophet Isaiah.

Jesus then unrolled the scroll and found the place where it is written : “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me. He has anointed Me, to bring good news to the poor; to proclaim liberty to captives; and new sight to the blind; to free the oppressed; and to announce the Lord’s year of mercy.”

Jesus then rolled up the scroll, gave it to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. Then He said to them, “Today, these prophetic words come true, even as you listen.” All agreed with Him, and were lost in wonder, while He spoke of the grace of God.

Thursday, 9 January 2020 : Thursday after the Epiphany (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 71 : 2, 14 and 15bc, 17

God, endow the King with Your justice, the Royal Son with Your righteousness. May He rule Your people justly and defend the rights of the lowly.

He rescues them from oppression and strife, for their life is precious to Him. May people always pray for Him, and blessings be invoked for Him all day.

May His Name endure forever; may His Name be as lasting as the sun. All the races will boast about Him; and He will be praised by all nations.