Monday, 6 February 2023 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Paul Miki and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Mark 6 : 53-56

At that time, having crossed the lake, Jesus and His disciples came ashore at Gennesaret, where they tied up the boat. As soon as they landed, people recognised Jesus, and ran to spread the news throughout the countryside.

Wherever He was, they brought to Him the sick lying on their mats; and wherever He went, to villages, towns or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplace, and begged Him to let them touch just the fringe of His cloak. And all who touched Him were cured.

Monday, 6 February 2023 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Paul Miki and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 103 : 1-2a, 5-6, 10 and 12, 24 and 35c

Bless the Lord my soul! Clothed in majesty and splendour; o Lord, my God, how great You are! You are wrapped in light as with a garment.

You set the earth on its foundations, and never will it be shaken. You covered it with the ocean like a garment, and waters spread over the mountains.

You make springs gush forth in valleys winding among mountains and hills. Birds build their nests close by and sing among the branches of trees.

How varied o Lord, are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all – the earth full of Your creatures. Bless the Lord, my soul!

Monday, 6 February 2023 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Paul Miki and Companions, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Genesis 1 : 1-19

In the beginning, when God began to create the heavens and the earth, the earth had no form and was void; darkness was over the deep and the Spirit of God hovered over the waters.

God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good and He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light ‘Day’ and the darkness ‘Night’. There was evening and there was morning : the first day.

God said, “Let there be a firm ceiling between the waters and let it separate waters from waters.” So God made the ceiling and separated the waters below it from the waters above it. And so it was. God called the firm ceiling ‘Sky’. There was evening and there was morning : the second day.

God said, “Let the waters below the sky be gathered in one place and let dry land appear. And so it was. God called the dry land ‘Earth’, and the waters gathered together he called ‘Seas’. God saw that it was good.

God said, “Let the earth produce vegetation, seed-bearing plants, fruit trees bearing fruit with seed, each according to its kind, upon the earth.” And so it was. The earth produced vegetation : plants bearing seed according to their kind and trees producing fruit which has seed, according to their kind. God saw that it was good. There was evening and there was morning : the third day.

God said, “Let there be lights in the ceiling of the sky to separate day from night and to serve as signs for the seasons, days and years; and let these lights in the sky shine above the earth.” And so it was. God therefore made two great lights, the greater light to govern the day and the smaller light to govern the night; and God made the stars as well. God placed them in the ceiling of the sky to give light on the earth and to separate the light from the darkness. God saw that it was good. There was evening and there was morning : the fourth day.

Sunday, 5 February 2023 : Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday all of us are reminded of the responsibilities and the calling which all of us as Christians are called to do in our lives. Each and every one of us as the disciples and followers of the Lord are expected to be good, committed, faithful and active servants and followers of God, in that each one of us are always active in living our lives with faith, practicing whatever we believe in with sincerity and devotion at all times. We cannot be true Christians unless our actions and dealings, works and interactions, words and all that we do are in alignment with the path and the way that the Lord has shown us. Otherwise, if we do not do or say or act as how we profess to believe in God, we are no better than hypocrites, and we may even cause scandal for our faith and besmirch the Holy Name of God.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, we heard of the Lord speaking to His people and calling upon them all through Isaiah to do what is right and just, as He has taught and shown them through His many messengers and prophets. The Lord wanted all of them to live worthily of Him, by showing love to one another and to show compassion on the poor and the weak, to be merciful and just in their way of life and actions, as examples to one another so that more and more hopefully may come to believe in the Lord as well, through our exemplary lives and role models. This can only be achieved if we learn to resist the temptations of our desires for selfish pleasures and wants in life, and if we can learn to put God at the forefront and centre of our whole lives and existence, and if we can truly dedicate ourselves to the service of God and to do what He has told us to do, then surely we will have lived our lives worthily of the Lord.

In our second reading today, we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful people of God in the city of Corinth, in which St. Paul told the people about his perseverance in proclaiming the message of God’s truth and Good News in their midst, resisting the temptations of worldly power and glory, and instead, proclaiming fearlessly about the Crucified Messiah, Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Saviour of the world, to an audience that were sometimes lukewarm and at times even hostile against his efforts. Nonetheless, the Apostle continued to labour hard and spent a lot of effort and time to glorify God and to proclaim Him, which eventually bore much fruits as more and more people came to believe in the Lord through the efforts that St. Paul had put into place in proclaiming the Gospels of Christ.

He was doing what the Lord Jesus Himself had spoken about in our Gospel passage today, as we recall in that passage the words of the parable of the salt of the earth and the light of the world. The Lord Jesus spoke of this parable to His disciples comparing them all to the all-important salt and light, two commodities that are still important and crucial today, but which were even more indispensable and important back then. For without salt and light, the world at the time of the Lord Jesus cannot operate much, as salt and light both played very important roles in the communities of the people, in everyone’s homes and in many activities involving daily living and actions, in work and more things, more than what we may need of those two things today, that is salt and light in our lives.

First of all, salt is used as an important flavouring agent, which is necessary to impart taste and flavour to food which could usually be rather bland tasteless. Salt is also important for the body in order to replenish certain ions and substances that our bodies require in order to function properly. While salt may be easily available these days and many even have problems of excessive consumption of salt, back then, many people did not even have steady supply of salt, as salt production was rather difficult, labour intensive and tightly controlled by the state back then, and without modern technologies that allowed mass production of salt, salt became a rather expensive commodity that was widely sought and desired, and was truly a precious item back then. Salt was also used in the preservation of food, which was important in the era before the advent of effective refrigeration as is present in our world today.

Meanwhile, light was also something very important as although light is abundant from the Sun during the daytime, but at night time, light was often lacking, as even the full brightness of the Full Moon and the stars of the sky paled in comparison with the brightness of the Sun. Night time was therefore often dark, particularly during the time when the Moon was not visible. The roads and the areas outside towns and villages were often very dark and treacherous, filled with all sorts of wild animals and predators, and nobody dared to travel alone or in the dark without the guidance of any light, in the form of lanterns and torches, which could provide assurance and protection for anyone who wished to travel in the dark times. Otherwise, people would rather wait until the morning before they continued to travel. And this was the reality of a world before the advent of electricity and easily available lighting from electricity, a world that we may not be truly familiar with.

Hence, imagine just how useless it is for salt to lose its taste and flavour, its saltiness and hence the ability to give flavour and to prevent food from spoiling and becoming bad. How useless and pointless it is also therefore for light to be hidden without been used to dispel the darkness wherever they are needed, for this light to be hidden and not used as a source of inspiration, hope and assurance, in the times of darkness. What the Lord wanted to say to us in providing this parable to us all through His disciples is that, our lives have to be meaningful, virtuous, righteous, good and just, filled with the virtues and righteousness of God, with Christian values and goodness, with all the things that the Lord Himself has shown and taught us to do. However, many of us as Christians are still ignorant of this calling and this mission which each and every one of us have in this life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday we are therefore called and reminded yet again by the Lord to be active in living our Christian lives, full of commitment and devotion to God, and full of the sincerity and the desire to serve the Lord, and to do what He Himself has taught us to do, and to make it such that our every words and actions in our respective lives truly become great sources of inspiration and good examples for others to follow, just like the salt of the earth and light of the world. God has provided each and every one of us with so many distinct and unique sets of gifts, talents, abilities, blessings and opportunities, giving us many chances to make good use of them for everyone’s benefits and for the greater glory of God. Now the question is, are we willing to embrace God’s call and are we willing to follow Him and walk in His path, faithfully and with conviction?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all hence help one another to remain firm in faith and to be ever more active in reaching out to our fellow men and women, in our respective communities and in whatever areas that we are able to contribute in. Let us no longer be ignorant of the many opportunities and chances that God had provided us in being able to live up to our Christian mission and calling. Like the Apostles, St. Paul and many other holy men and women of God, let us all truly be the flavourful salt of the earth and the ever wonderful light of the world, proclaiming the love and truth of God, in our daily living, in our every words, actions and deeds, at all times. May God be with us all and may He bless us all in our every good works and endeavours, as salt of the earth and light of the world. Amen.

Sunday, 5 February 2023 : Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 5 : 13-16

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples and to the people, “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt has lost its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It has become useless. It can only be thrown away and people will trample on it.”

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a mountain cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and covers it; instead it is put on a lampstand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine before others, so that they may see the good you do and praise your Father in heaven.”

Sunday, 5 February 2023 : Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Corinthians 2 : 1-5

When I came to reveal to you the mystery of God’s plan I did not count on eloquence or on a show of learning. I was determined not to know anything among you but Jesus, the Messiah, and a crucified Messiah. I myself came weak, fearful and trembling; my words and preaching were not brilliant or clever to win listeners.

It was, rather, a demonstration of spirit and power, so that your faith might be a matter not of human wisdom, but of God’s power.

Sunday, 5 February 2023 : Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 111 : 4-5, 6-7, 8a and 9

The Lord is for the righteous a Light in the darkness, He is kind, merciful and upright. It will be well with him who lends freely, who leads a life of justice and honesty.

For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered and loved forever. He has no fear of evil news, for his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.

His heart is confident, he needs not fear. He gives generously to the poor, his merits will last forever and his head will be raised in honour.

Sunday, 5 February 2023 : Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Isaiah 58 : 7-10

Fast by sharing your food with the hungry, bring to your house the homeless, clothe the one you see naked and do not turn away from your own kin. Then will your light break forth as the dawn and your healing come in a flash. Your righteousness will be your vanguard, the Glory of YHVH your rearguard.

Then you will call and YHVH will answer, you will cry and He will say, I am here. If you remove from your midst the yoke, the clenched fist and the wicked word, if you share your food with the hungry and give relief to the oppressed, then your light will rise in the dark, your night will be like noon.

Saturday, 4 February 2023 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord contained within the Scriptures, we are all reminded of the great love of God shown to us through His Son, Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, Who is our Good Shepherd and Guide, our Hope, our Light and strength, the source of our inspiration and refuge amidst the darkness and the many hardships we face in this world. In Christ lies our salvation, and the Lord has shown us His most amazing love by reaching out to all of us, giving us His own beloved Son to us, in order to bring us out of the darkness of this world and to free us from the tyranny of evil and sin which have kept us enslaved all these while under their dominion.

In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle to the Hebrews, we heard the author of this Epistle speaking to the Jewish community, especially to the Jewish Christians, regarding the great things that the Lord has done through His Son, Jesus Christ, Who has been sent into the world to be the Great Shepherd for all the flock of the Lord, the people of God. Through that passage we are all reminded that the Lord has always provided for us, through everything He has done by the sacrifice and offering of His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, on His Cross. By His most loving sacrifice, He has offered us His own Life, and broken His own Body and shed His own Blood for us, as the Good Shepherd Who lays down His life for His sheep, truly as One Who loves us very much.

We are truly fortunate to have One Who loves us so very much, that He would give everything for our sake, even His own Son Who suffered all sorts of the most grievous insults and pains, all for the sake of our salvation and liberation from the dominion of sin, death and evil. Like what we have heard in our Gospel passage today should also affirm us, the Lord Jesus spent much of His time and effort in caring for all the people who had come looking for Him, reaching out to them and showing them His mercy and kindness. He took them all and patiently taught them even though He must have been very tired, as He saw all of them like sheep who were without a shepherd and guide. Thus, He Himself took up their role, as the Shepherd of all the people of God. He came to us, showing us the most tender and generous love of God, made real and evident to us.

As we heard all of these certainly each and every one of us must be aware of just how beloved we have been by the Lord, and how fortunate we truly must have been, and indeed, how thankful we should be, for having been given such great grace and gifts of love by the Lord. God has provided for us every means for us to return to Him and to be reconciled with Him, and it is really up to us now whether we want to be reunited with Him and to be forgiven our many sins and faults. God has called upon us like a Shepherd calling for all of His lost sheep, and He has reached out to us, venturing forth into this world, looking for even the most distant and hidden of His lost sheep, reaching to those who were most ostracised, hated and despised among His people.

That was why the Lord spent a lot of time reaching out to the poor and the destitute, all those who were deemed to be hopeless and unworthy of God, those who had been looked down upon and rejected by the rest of the community, shunned and despised, hated and persecuted, like the tax collectors and the prostitutes, those who were afflicted with diseases and terminally ill, those who were disabled and were possessed by evil spirits, all those whom the people and especially the Pharisees elites and the chief priests dismissed and treated as being wicked, sinful and most unworthy of God. All these were rejected by the community, treated less than equal and even less than what they deserved as human beings. Yet, the Lord courageously and fearlessly reached out to them with love, showing them the love and compassionate nature of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we remembered the love that God has shown us all, let us remember our many sins and disobedience against Him. Let us recall just how much we ourselves might have hurt Him by our own stubborn refusal to listen to Him, betraying Him for worldly desires and matters, and for listening more to Satan rather than to Him. Then let us all keep in mind why we are then so fortunate that God still loves us regardless of all that, and why we should not judge our fellow brethren and not be discriminatory or to despise our brothers and sisters whom we might have considered as less worthy of God than ourselves, like what many of the Pharisees and the chief priests liked to do to those whom they deemed to be inferior to themselves. God loved all of His people, His flock all the same.

Now, what we all need to do is to show the same love that God has shown us, in our way of life, in our love to Him and in our obedience to His ways, the way of His righteousness and truth. Let us all commit ourselves anew to the Christian way of life, to the Christian way and truth, and to live our lives most virtuously and with the greatest commitment to glorify the Lord by our exemplary lives. Let us all hence be good examples and role models to each other, being the faithful shepherds to one another, be it as fathers, mothers, friends, husbands, wives, relatives, or any other roles that we have been called to, in our own positions of responsibility and in even the smallest things we are able to do in each and every moments of our lives. All of us are supposed to be the shining beacons and bearers of the light and truth of God in our communities and in the world today.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, may all of us continue to be inspired to follow the Lord most worthily in our lives, and to continue to walk in the path of His light and grace. May all of us draw ever closer to the Lord and His salvation, and may He, our most loving God and Father, our most beloved Good Shepherd, continue to love and guide us all, and help us all through life, so that we may continue to persevere through the many trials and challenges that we may face as faithful and dedicated Christians, as committed children of God. May God bless us always, in our every good efforts, works and endeavours. Amen.

Saturday, 4 February 2023 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Mark 6 : 30-34

At that time, the Apostles returned and reported to Jesus all they had done and taught. Then He said to them, “Go off by yourselves to a remote place and have some rest.” For there were so many people coming and going that the Apostles had no time even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a secluded area by themselves.

But people saw them leaving and many could guess where they were going. So, from all the towns, they hurried there on foot, arriving ahead of them. As Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He had compassion on them for they were like sheep without a shepherd. And He began a long teaching session with them.