Saturday, 19 January 2019 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Scripture passages reminded us of this great Lord, Master and High Priest that we have in our midst, that is Our Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God Most High, Who has come into our world, born of His mother Mary, to be our Saviour, bringing God’s truth and salvation to all of us, His beloved people. And it is His desire that all of us mankind, sinners who have been separated from Him, should be liberated from those sins and be saved.

Today, in the Gospel passage we heard of the moment when Levi, the tax collector, was called by the Lord to follow Him. Levi listened to the Lord, and left everything behind, following Him to be His disciple. The conversion of Levi was a significant event, as it revealed even more of God’s intentions for us, His mercy and loving compassion for each and every one of us. God wants us to be forgiven from our sins, and to turn away from our own sinfulness and embrace His love.

At that time, among the Jewish people, the tax collectors were considered and regarded as the worst of the worst among them, as they were viewed with contempt for their actions and relationships with the Romans, who were the overlords of the Jewish community of the time. The tax collectors were viewed as racial and national traitors, for having collaborated with the Romans and helping in the oppression of the people of God.

The taxes imposed by the Romans on the Jewish populace were highly unpopular, and they caused the tax collectors like Levi to be hated even more. But the Lord came to this supposedly most unworthy and most unlikely of those whom the Lord had called to be His disciples and followers. That was why the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law balked at Him when He called Levi to be His follower, and not only that, He even went to his house to have a meal with him and his fellow tax collectors.

And then the Lord revealed the very truth about His mission on earth, and that is to call on sinners and those who have fallen away from the grace of God, to reconcile all those who are still living in the darkness of sin, and who are still enslaved by the power of the devil and by the many temptations of this world. He does not want anyone to fall into damnation, as long as He is able to prevent it by calling on His people to repent from their sins.

And He does this, by completing the mission which His heavenly Father has given Him, that is to bear the combined burden and weight of humanity’s many sins, to be the High Priest of all of us mankind, the One and true High Priest, Who by the offering of His Most Precious Body and Blood on the altar of the cross, become for us the source of our everlasting life and glory, of our salvation and liberation from the tyranny and power of sin.

The Lord has willingly done all of these, because of His great and enduring love for each and every one of us, of His care and compassion for us, despite our rebelliousness and stubbornness. All of these are caused by His commitment to the Covenant which He had established with each and every one of us, and He saw the potential and the hope that is present within each and every one of us, even in the greatest sinners.

And we saw the result of that in none other than the calling of Levi, a tax collector who turned into a faithful disciple of the Lord, making use of his many talents to serve the Lord with all of his strength. He became a great Apostle, one of the four people who wrote the Holy Gospels, and travelled to many places in the service of God, spreading the truth that He had brought into the world, and most importantly, calling even many more sinners to the forgiveness of God.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we convinced yet of the great love and compassion of God? God has been so gracious in His love and mercy wants us to be reconciled with Him, and to receive the fullness of His grace. And then, we are also called to serve the Lord and follow Him as Levi had done. Let us all continue the good works of the Apostles and disciples of the Lord, calling even more people to the Lord, by our own righteous, virtuous and faithful life.

May God bless us all, His beloved children, and may He grant each and every one of us, the courage and the strength to love Him and to seek His mercy, from now on. Amen.

Saturday, 19 January 2019 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Gospel Reading)

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

Mark 2 : 13-17

At that time, when Jesus went out again beside the lake, a crowd came to Him, and He taught them. As He walked along, He saw a tax collector sitting in his office. This was Levi, the son of Alpheus. Jesus said to him, “Follow Me!” And Levi got up and followed Him.

And it so happened that when Jesus was eating in Levi’s house, tax collectors and sinners sat with Him and His disciples; there were a lot of them, and they used to follow Jesus. But Pharisees, men educated in the Law, when they saw Jesus eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to His disciples, “Why does your Master eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

Jesus heard them, and answered, “Healthy people do not need a doctor, but sick people do. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Saturday, 19 January 2019 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Psalm)

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

Psalm 18 : 8, 9, 10, 15

The Law of the Lord is perfect : it gives life to the soul. The word of the Lord is trustworthy : it gives wisdom to the simple.

The precepts of the Lord are right : they give joy to the heart. The commandments of the Lord are clear : they enlighten the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is pure, it endures forever; the judgements of the Lord are true, all of them just and right.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart find favour in Your sight, o Lord – my Redeemer, my Rock!

Saturday, 19 January 2019 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (First Reading)

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

Hebrews 4 : 12-16

For the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword. It pierces to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and judges the intentions and thoughts of the heart. All creation is transparent to Him; everything is uncovered and laid bare to the eyes of Him to Whom we render account.

We have a great High Priest, Jesus, the Son of God, Who has entered heaven. Let us, then, hold fast to the faith we profess. Our High Priest is not indifferent to our weaknesses, for He was tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sinning. Let us, then, with confidence approach the throne of grace; we will obtain mercy and, through His favour, help in due time.

Friday, 18 January 2019 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the Lord speaking to us through the Scripture passages which we have just heard, the invitation to enter into the wondrous and joyful peace of God, which He has given to us all through Christ, His Beloved Son, Our Lord and Saviour. But it was also mentioned that unless we walk in the path of the Lord and disobey no longer, we will not be able to enter fully into that graceful rest in Him.

That is how the Gospel passage today revealed to us what we need to do in order to be able to enter fully into the rest which God has promised and provided for all those who walk in His ways and obey His will. In that passage we heard the healing of a paralytic man by the Lord Jesus, to whom the Lord said, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” And later on, the man was able to walk freely again without any more debilitation.

Why did the Lord say to the paralytic man, that his sins have been forgiven, while his condition was physical in nature? The man suffered from paralysis of the body which prevented him from being able to move easily, and was bedridden. The reason for this is that, the Lord Jesus wanted His disciples and all the people to see sin as a serious sickness of our being, which He alone can heal and amend, and nothing else. And this disease of sin inevitably will also bring about disease to the rest of our being, be it in our mind or in our body or in both.

If we are not cured from the sins that are present within us, then we will end up falling deeper and deeper into the darkness, and into the trap that the devil has set up for us, in order to make us fall into eternal damnation as he had intended. He hardened our hearts and minds with pride and greed, with ego and desires, that prevented us many times from being able to seek out His mercy and forgiveness.

That is what St. Paul wrote in the Epistle to the Jewish Christians, or the Hebrews, as he spoke of the salvation of God that has come into their midst, and yet, there were many who were resistant and stubborn in thinking that they did not need God’s healing grace and salvation. And this applied to the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who had witnessed the great miraculous deeds the Lord had performed, and yet, they who have the greatest knowledge about the coming of the Messiah and the Scriptures did not want to believe in Him.

And this is likely caused by the pride and ego they had in them, thinking that their version of faith and Jewish customs could not have been wrong. And they were dead set in their ways, not being able to see the works of God unfolding before their eyes. They saw the Lord as an upstart and as a great rival for influence in the community of the people, and they increasingly saw Him as a threat to their worldly influence and authority.

They all might be perfectly healthy in the body and mind, unlike the paralytic man who was so weak and ill that he was not even able to move on his own, having the need to be carried by his friends to the presence of God. However, unlike the paralytic man, who received healing from God, both in body and in his soul, cleansed from his sins, because of his great faith, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law present at that occasion remained in sin.

This is how pride, ego, ambition, greed and worldly desires can be so dangerous, as they are great obstacles in our way to attain the salvation in God. Instead, we must be like the paralytic man, who made the effort, despite all of his difficulties and debilitation, in all humility, to present himself before the Lord and asking Him to heal him from all of his sicknesses and afflictions.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we too must realise that deep inside, we are still sick from the corruption of sin, caused by our disobedience against God. Are we able then to humble ourselves and to seek God with all of our hearts and minds from now on? We should turn towards God with all of our strength, and seek Him and His merciful love, for the healing and salvation of our souls. May the Lord, our loving God and Father, continue to love us and bless us, each and every days of our life. Amen.

Friday, 18 January 2019 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 2 : 1-12

At that time, after some days, Jesus returned to Capernaum. As the news spread that He was in the house, so many people gathered, that there was no longer room even outside the door. While Jesus was preaching the Word to them, some people brought a paralysed man to Him.

The four men who carried him could not get near Jesus because of the crowd, so they opened the roof above the room where Jesus was and, through the hole, lowered the man on his mat. When Jesus saw the faith of these people, He said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.”

Now some teachers of the Law, who were sitting there, wondered within themselves, “How can He speak like this, insulting God? Who can forgive sins except God?”

At once Jesus knew in His Spirit what they were thinking, and asked, “Why do you wonder? Is it easier to say to this paralysed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Rise, take up your mat and walk?’ But now you shall know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.”

And He said to the paralytic, “Stand up, take up your mat and go home.” The man rose and, in the sight of all those people, he took up his mat and went out. All of them were astonished and praised God, saying, “Never have we seen anything like this!”

Friday, 18 January 2019 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 77 : 3 and 4bc, 6c-7, 8

Mysteries which we have heard and known, which our ancestors have told us. We will announce them to the coming generation : the glorious deeds of the Lord, His might and the wonders He has done.

They would teach their own children. They would then put their trust in God, and not forget His deeds and His commands.

And not be like their ancestors, stubborn and rebellious people, a people of inconstant heart whose spirit was fickle.