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.

Thursday, 9 January 2020 : 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, 9 January 2014 : Thursday after the Epiphany (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in Jesus lies the salvation of this world, just as it had been foretold by the prophets of ages past. Jesus fulfilled perfectly the prophecy of the prophet Isaiah, who foretold the coming of the Messiah, at which time, the world which had been long in darkness would see a new light, accompanied by signs of great joy and healing, which Christ fulfilled perfectly as mentioned by Isaiah.

And yet, even though the signs had been very clear that Christ was truly the Messiah, many of the people adamantly and continuously resisted the Christ and refused to acknowledge the divinity and the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Some, like the Pharisees and the Sadducees opposed Him and even hounded Him throughout His ministry because they saw Him as a rival to their own worldly authority in teaching the faith.

Some others, like His own countrymen and neighbours, the villagers of Nazareth refused to believe in Him, just because it was incomprehensible and impossible for them to believe that a mere carpenter’s son, the son of Joseph, could be the Messiah, less so to be the Lord of all creations Himself. They were formed by this prejudice, and therefore, they were not receptive to His teachings or His message.

Jesus spoke with clear authority and with the full grasp of the truth behind the Lord’s plan of salvation. Jesus made clear the true meaning behind the Lord’s ordained laws for mankind, that is the Ten Commandments He had revealed to His people through Moses. The Ten Commandments had been followed by many, but had also been forgotten at times, and their true purpose was truly not understood by the people, at the time of Jesus, when the Pharisees and the teachers of the law taught them the twisted version of the commandments of God.

The Lord had revealed to Moses many regulations and rites in addition to the commandments He gave, but these were meant to make sure that the people obey the Law of the Lord and do not instead walk astray to worship pagan gods, as these stubborn people had shown in the desert, how easily they were swayed to worship the gods and idols of the people around them.

By the time of Jesus, these rules and regulations had been codified by the Pharisees and the teachers, experts of the law, ending up becoming a great burden for the people, for there were many additions to the original rule, following the customs handed down the generations by the Jewish people. These rules numbered about six hundred and thirteen in total, and the Pharisees as well as the teachers of the law enforced them very strictly on the people.

That was why, the Lord Jesus came to us also to make clear the true meaning of the laws He had given to mankind, that they would not perversely use them for their own purposes, or corrupt them with human greed or desire. Jesus taught the people that God’s law is love, just as He is Love. The Law of God was never meant to be the burden for mankind or to punish them, but instead, it was there because the Lord loves us and He wants us to be saved.

Yes, just like the love of a father for his children. And remember how St. John the Evangelist in today’s first reading also mentioned that the law is not a burden? And because if we love God with the sincerity of our hearts, we will surely do anything in our power to devote ourselves to Him and obey Him? That is why, brethren, we must not misunderstood the Lord or misused His commandments just as the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had done.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us praise and honour our Lord and God for His great love to us. Let us not reject or cast Him away as His own countrymen and the Pharisees, the leaders of God’s people had done. Instead, let us welcome Him and His love for us, by pledging back to Him our own love dedicated to Him.

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all, strengthen us, and empower us to live with love, every single day of our lives. Amen.

Thursday, 9 January 2014 : Thursday after the Epiphany (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 4 : 14-22a

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 synagogues 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.