Wednesday, 19 January 2022 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are reminded to trust in the Lord and to believe in His love. We should not depend solely only on our own power and abilities. For with God everything is possible, and He will always be with us, guiding us and strengthening us, as He has repeatedly shown again and again throughout our history. As we listened and remembered again the words of the Scripture, we should reflect on how fortunate we are to have been beloved by God in this way.

In our first reading today, we heard the famous account of the battle and struggle between David and Goliath, the former being the champion of the Israelites and the one who have been chosen and anointed by God to be the one to succeed King Saul as the King of Israel, while the latter was the great champion of the Philistines, the people who oppressed the Israelites at that time and attacked the people of God. When the Israelites made a stand against the Philistines, they put the battle to be decided by the single combat between the champions.

Given the stature and physique of David and Goliath, it was apparent to any observers that David should have lost the struggle, as he was a lot smaller and looked less experienced than the mighty Goliath, who was not just an experienced soldier but was also a giant in body. Yet, behind that relatively smaller body of his, David hid a heart burning full of love for God, as when Goliath uttered profanities and curses against God, and when the king himself and all others were afraid, David stood up and answered the giant’s challenge.

When David was chosen as the new King of Israel as we heard in the earlier part of the Book of the prophet Samuel preceding today’s readings, he was neither the mightiest and greatest in stature amongst his brothers. Yet, with his youth and his heart full of faith and zeal, he has wrested lions and bears before to protect his flock of sheep. He killed them with his bare hands and risked his life to protect those that were precious to him. These were the qualities that made God to choose him as his chosen one, through whom the Kingship of Israel would dwell on, and eventually from which the Saviour, God’s own Son would be born.

In our Gospel reading today, the Lord confronted the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who tried to use a sick and paralytic man to trap the Lord and find an excuse or reason to accuse Him of wrongdoing. The Lord stood up for the sick man and rebuked those who tried to use that man to harm Him. He told them the truth and the folly of their constant stubborn arguments, as those people still refused to believe in the Lord even after He had repeatedly explained to them and showed them the truth. They still insisted on their rigid interpretation and understanding of the Law, which was elitist and lacking in compassion towards the marginalised.

Similar to David and Goliath case, the Lord also went up against a powerful opponent as the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law represented a powerful force in the Jewish community at that time. Yet, the Lord spoke up the truth and was not deterred at all, just like how David was not afraid to stand up against Goliath, all because of his faith in God and because in the end, God and His way will be triumphant against all others. We do not have to be afraid despite challenges that we may have to face in our respective journeys in life.

That is why we should inspire one another to remain faithful to God, by reminding each other of the presence of God in our lives. Sometimes many of us are often too busy and distracted to realise the presence of God in our midst and therefore, we fall into the temptation of sin, and we give in to despair because we thought that we have no more hope in life, and we are alone in whatever journey and struggles we are going through. We have to believe that the Lord is always by our side, so that no matter what tough challenges and trials we may have to endure in our journey, everything is possible because God is with us.

Let us therefore be inspired today by the words of the Scriptures that we have heard, reminding ourselves constantly how the Lord has guided us and journeyed with us, just as when He helped and guided David in his courageous stand against Goliath, and when He Himself stood up for those who were sick and ostracised, as He reached out to all of them without worry or fear of repercussions from those with the authorities and power to make His works difficult. Let us not easily give in to despair but do whatever we can to do God’s will and do our best in life to be exemplary in life as good and devoted Christians.

May the Lord be with us all and may He empower each and every one of us to follow Him in each and every actions we take. May He also strengthen us and the Church with true unity this week as we celebrate this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity this week. Amen.

Wednesday, 19 January 2022 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 3 : 1-6

At that time, again, Jesus entered the synagogue. A man, who had a paralysed hand, was there; and some people watched Jesus : would He heal the man on the Sabbath? If He did, they could accuse Him.”

Jesus said to the man with the paralysed hand, “Stand here, in the centre.” Then He asked them, “What does the Law allow us to do on the Sabbath? To do good or to do harm? To save life or to kill?” But they were silent. Then Jesus looked around at them with anger and deep sadness at their hardness of heart. And He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”

He stretched it out, and his hand was healed. As soon as the Pharisees left, they met with Herod’s supporters, looking for a way to destroy Jesus.

Wednesday, 19 January 2022 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 143 : 1, 2, 9-10

Blessed be YHVH, my Rock, Who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle.

My loving God, my Fortress; my Protector and Deliverer, my Shield; Where I take refuge; Who conquers nations and subjects them to my rule.

I will sing a new song to You, o God; I will make music on the ten-stringed harp, for You, Who give victory to kings and deliver David, Your servant.

Wednesday, 19 January 2022 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Samuel 17 : 32-33, 37, 40-51

David said to Saul, “Let no one be discouraged on account of this Philistine, for your servant will engage him in battle.” Saul told David, “You cannot fight with this Philistine for you are still young, whereas this man has been a warrior from his youth.”

David continued, “YHVH, Who delivered me from the paws of lions and bears, will deliver me from the hands of the Philistine.” Saul then told David, “Go, and may YHVH be with you!”

David took his staff, picked up five smooth stones from the brook and dropped them inside his shepherd’s bag. And with his sling in hand, he drew near to the Philistine. The Philistine moved forward, closing in on David, his shield-bearer in front of him. When he saw that David was only a lad, (he was of fresh complexion and handsome) he despised him and said, “Am I a dog that you should approach me with a stick?”

Cursing David by his gods, he continued, “Come, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the field!” David answered the Philistine, “You have come against me with sword, spear and javelin, but I come against you with YHVH, the God of the armies of Israel whom you have defied. YHVH will deliver you this day into my hands and I will strike you down and cut off your head.”

“I will give the corpses of the Philistine army today to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, and all the earth shall know that there is a God of Israel. All the people gathered here shall know that YHVH saves not by sword or spear; the battle belongs to YHVH, and He will deliver you into our hands.”

No sooner had the Philistine moved to attack him, than David rushed to the battleground. Putting his hand into his bag, he took out a stone, slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead; it penetrated his forehead and he fell on his face to the ground. David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, felling him without using a sword.

He rushed forward, stood over him, took the Philistine’s sword and slew him by cutting off his head. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they scattered in all directions.

Wednesday, 12 January 2022 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all reminded of God’s call in our lives to be His followers and to serve Him in our lives, in our daily living and at every place we are in, as genuine Christians. In this world we are living in, in our communities, all of us are expected to follow in the examples of our holy predecessors, and that of the Lord Himself, in obeying the will of God and doing whatever we can to contribute to the greater glory of His Name.

In our first reading today we heard the continuation of the story of the prophet Samuel from the Book of Samuel, as the young Samuel had been offered to the Lord’s service by his grateful parents. Samuel was still very young back then and he was under the care and tutelage of Eli, the High Priest and Judge of the people of Israel. Eli was then the leader and the guide of the people of God, but as he was growing old, his two sons had been misusing their influence and authority, becoming corrupt and wicked.

Samuel was called by God to follow Him even from those early days, when he did not fully know about the Lord yet. Nonetheless, he listened and obeyed, and when Eli told him to respond to the Lord, he did just as he was told to do. God would guide him and protect him, and eventually he would grow on to become a great prophet and leader of the Israelites during the difficult years of the Philistine invasions and raids over all of Israel.

Samuel would come to be the one who anointed both King Saul and King David as king over the people of Israel, handing over the leadership of the people to them, while retaining his spiritual leadership and guidance over the people of God. He was a truly faithful servant of God, and a bastion of fidelity and truth, when King Saul began to veer off from the path of the Lord. Samuel remained truly faithful to God even amidst all the challenges he faced during his ministry.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard about the Lord Jesus and His works among the people of God. The Gospel passage detailed how the Lord healed the mother-in-law of Simon, later known as St. Peter the Apostle, and how that quickly became known among the people who began to bring their sick and those who were suffering from ailments for Him to heal. He performed many miracles and many people were healed by His hands. He worked with the help of the disciples throughout the night, but then slipped away and disappeared even though there were still many who were looking for Him.

The Lord told His disciples away from the crowd that He ought to go to many other places, and He still had a lot of other work to do. He would not stay in one place and revel in the glory and all the fame that He would have gained from staying there and letting all the people come to Him. It would have been much more convenient for Him to stay in one place, but in doing His Father’s work and will, the Lord Jesus did all as He has been sent to do, and not to do things for His convenience. After all, He came into this world not to be served but to serve.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we listened to these words of the Scripture and heed its message, let us all reflect on our own lives. Are we all able to do the will of God and obey Him in our lives in the same way as the prophet Samuel, the other prophets, and the Lord Himself had done? As Christians, all of us are called to be the true and dedicated disciples of Our Lord, or else, we are no better than hypocrites who believe one thing and yet act in a different manner, or even act in ways contrary to our faith.

This time, as we progress through this Ordinary season of the year, in between Christmas and Lent, let us make good use of the time and opportunities that have been given to us, for us to embark on a journey of faith, to be faithful in all things, in our every words and actions. Let our exemplary actions be the source of inspiration for all of those whom we encounter in life, that through us, more may come to know the Lord and be inspired to follow in our footsteps, in believing in Him and His salvation. May God be with us all and may He bless us all in our every endeavours, always and evermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 12 January 2022 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 1 : 29-39

At that time, on leaving the synagogue, Jesus went to the home of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. As Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with fever, they immediately told him about her. Jesus went to her and, taking her by the hand, raised her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

That evening, at sundown, people brought to Jesus all the sick and those who had evil spirits : the whole town was pressing around the door. Jesus healed many who had various diseases, and drove out many demons; but He did not let them speak, for they knew Who He was.

Very early in the morning, before daylight, Jesus went off to a lonely place where He prayed. Simon and the others went out also, searching for Him; and when they found Him, they said, “Everyone is looking for You.” Then Jesus answered, “Let us go to the nearby villages so that I may preach there too; for that is why I came.”

So Jesus set out to preach in all the synagogues throughout Galilee; He also cast out demons.

Wednesday, 12 January 2022 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 39 : 2 and 5, 7-8a, 8b-9, 10

With resolve I waited for YHVH; He listened and heard me beg. Blessed is the one who relies on YHVH and does not look to the proud, nor go astray after false gods.

Sacrifice and oblation You did not desire; this, You had me understand. Burnt offering and sin offering You do not require. Then I said, “Here I come!”

As the scroll says of me. To do Your will is my delight, o God, for Your Law is within my heart.

In the great assembly I have proclaimed Your saving help. My lips, o YHVH, I did not seal – You know that very well.

Wednesday, 12 January 2022 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Samuel 3 : 1-10, 19-20

The boy Samuel ministered to YHVH under Eli’s care in a time in which the word of YHVH was rarely heard. Visions were not seen. One night Eli was lying down in his room, half blind as he was. The lamp of God was still lighted and Samuel also lay in the house of YHVH near the Ark of God.

Then YHVH called, “Samuel! Samuel!” Samuel answered, “I am here!” and ran to Eli saying, “I am here, did you not call me?” But Eli said, “I did not call. Go back to sleep.” So he went and lay down. Then YHVH called again, “Samuel!” and Samuel stood up and went to Eli saying, “You called me; I am here.” But Eli answered, “I did not call you, my son. Go back to sleep.”

Samuel did not yet know YHVH; and the word of YHVH had not yet been revealed to him. But YHVH called Samuel for the third time; and he went again to Eli saying, “I am here for you have called me.” Eli realised that it was YHVH calling the boy. So he said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if He calls you again, answer : ‘Speak, YHVH, Your servant listens.’”

Then YHVH came and stood there calling “Samuel! Samuel!” as He did before. And Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant listens.” Samuel grew. YHVH was with him and made all his words become true. All Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, knew that Samuel was really YHVH’s prophet.

Wednesday, 5 January 2022 : Wednesday 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 Scripture, we are all called to reflect on them and remember how each and every one of us have been beloved by God, and just how fortunate we are that we have God always by our side, always within our reach. If only that we have more faith in Him and learn to trust Him more then certainly we could have lived more in peace and harmony, and we could have a better time living in this world, with God as our assurance and strength.

In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. John, we heard how the Apostle spoke of God’s love and how each and every one of us as Christians are all called to reflect the love that God has taught us, revealed to us and shown us through His Son, Jesus Christ Our Lord. He is the perfect manifestation of God’s eternal and enduring love for each and every one of us, and we now have hope again because of Him, His love and all that He had done for us, the Love of God in the flesh, reaching out to us to help us be reconciled with our loving Father.

St. John also said that if we love God and show that same love to one another, the He is in us, dwelling with us, for He is our Lord and God, our Father and we are His children and His people. If we love the Lord and our fellow men, then God’s love itself is expressed through us and our actions. He mentioned how we have received the Holy Spirit, Whom He has sent to be with us, and through the same Holy Spirit therefore, we have known the love of God and we have been taught how to love our fellow men, in the same way that God Himself has loved us.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard from the Gospel of St. Mark in which the account of the Lord’s apparition before His disciples, walking miraculously on the water was told, in which we are again reminded of the love that God has for all of us, just as He has expressed it through His disciples and how each and every moments of our lives He has been with us, and He will never abandon us or leave us alone. Through that moment at the Lake of Galilee, the Lord wanted to reassure all of us that He is always with us and we have no need to fear anything at all.

The disciples were in the boat crossing the Lake ahead of the Lord when a great storm and huge waves struck against them, and they were all terrified, until the moment when the Lord came to them suddenly, walking on the water. Initially as we heard, the disciples were all terrified, thinking that they had seen a ghost. Yet, the Lord reassured and came to them, saying to them that they should not be afraid at all, for it is indeed Him Who had come to them, their Lord and Master.

Through that very symbolic moment at the Lake, as the Lord appeared to His disciples in their darkest and most terrifying moments, it is a great reminder to all of us that God is always by our side, even through the worst of storms and troubles in life. The storms and waves represent the challenges, trials and difficulties facing us in our journey of life. Yet, we should not be afraid or fear anything, because truly God is always there for us, and He will always do everything in His own way to help us.

Let us all not be afraid any longer and instead, we should trust in the Lord and put our faith in Him. Let us not be hesitant anymore to follow the Lord, but remind ourselves always of His great faithfulness to the Covenant that He had made with us, and believe in the love that He has so generously given us all, all these while. Let us devote ourselves to Our Lord with ever greater sincerity and commit ourselves thoroughly to His greater glory.

May the Lord, our most loving God and Father continue to watch over us and guide us in our journey towards Him. May He empower each and every one of us to live courageously and not to be afraid in doing what He has called us to do, entrusting everything to His providence and ever-present love, now and always. Amen.

Wednesday, 5 January 2022 : Wednesday after the Epiphany (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 6 : 45-52

At that time, immediately, Jesus obliged His disciples to get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, toward Bethsaida, while He Himself sent the crowd away. And having sent the people off, He went by Himself to the hillside to pray.

When evening came, the boat was far out on the lake, while He was alone on the land. Jesus saw His disciples straining at the oars, for the wind was against them; and before daybreak He came to them, walking on the lake, and He was going to pass them by. When they saw Him walking on the lake, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they all saw Him and were terrified.

But, at once, He called to them, “Courage! It is I; do not be afraid!” Then Jesus got into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely astonished, for they had not really grasped the fact of the loaves; their minds were dull.