Wednesday, 24 January 2018 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 4 : 1-20

At that time, Jesus began to teach by the lake; but such a large crowd gathered about Him, that He got into a boat and sat in it on the lake, while the crowd stood on the shore. He taught them many things through parables. In His teaching, He said, “Listen! The sower went out to sow. As he sowed, some of the seed fell along a path; and the birds came and ate it up.”

“Some of the seed fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil; it sprang up immediately, because it had no depth; but when the sun rose and burnt it, it withered, because it had no roots. Other seed fell among thorn bushes; and the thorns grew and choked it; so it did not produce any grain.”

“But some seed fell on good soil, grew and increased and yielded grain; some seed produced thirty times as much, some sixty, and some one hundred times as much.” And Jesus added, “Listen then, if you have ears.”

When the crowd went away, some who were around Him with the Twelve asked about the parables. He answered them, “The mystery of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But for those outside, everything comes in parables, so, that, the more they see, they do not perceive; the more they hear, they do not understand; otherwise they would be converted and pardoned.”

Jesus said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How, then, will you understand any of the parables? What the sower is sowing is the word. Those along the path, where the seed fell, are people who hear the word, but as soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.”

“Other people receive the word like rocky ground. As soon as they hear the word, they accept it with joy. But they have no roots, so it lasts only a little while. No sooner does trouble or persecution come because of the word, than they fall. Others receive the seed, as seed among thorns. After they hear the word, they are caught up in the worries of this life, false hope of riches and other desires. All these come in and choke the word, so that finally it produces nothing.”

“And there are others who receive the word as good soil. They hear the word, take it to heart and produce : some thirty, some sixty, and some one hundred times as much.”

Wednesday, 24 January 2018 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 88 : 4-5, 27-28, 29-30

I have made a Covenant with David, My chosen one; I have made a pledge to My servant. I establish his descendants forever; I build his throne for all generations.

He will call on Me, “You are my Father, my God, my Rock, my Saviour.” I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.

I will keep My Covenant firm forever, and My love for him will endure. His dynasty will last forever; and his throne, as long as the heavens.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

2 Samuel 7 : 4-17

That very night, YHVH’s word came to Nathan, “Go and tell My servant David, this is what YHVH says : Are you able to build a house for Me to live in? I have not dwelt in any house since I brought the Israelites up from Egypt to the present day. But I went about with a tent for shelter. As long as I walked with the Israelites, did I say anything to the chiefs of Israel whom I commanded to shepherd My people Israel? Did I say : Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?”

“Now you will tell My servant David, this is what YHVH of Hosts says : I took you from the pasture, from tending the sheep, to make you commander of My people Israel. I have been with you wherever you went, cutting down all your enemies before you. Now I will make your name great, as the name of the great ones on earth.”

“I will provide a place for My people Israel and plant them that they may live there in peace. They shall no longer be harassed, nor shall wicked man oppress them as before. From the time when I appointed judges over My people Israel it is only to you that I have given rest from all your enemies. YHVH also tells you that He will build you a house.”

“When the time comes for you to rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your son after you, the one born of you; and I will make his reign secure. He shall build a house for My Name and I will firmly establish his kingship forever. I will be a Father to him and he shall be My son. If he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod, as men do.”

“But I will not withdraw My kindness from him as I did from Saul when I removed him out of your way. Your house and your reign shall last forever before Me, and your throne shall be forever firm.”

Nathan repeated these words and related this vision to David.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018 : 3rd 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 words of the Scripture, relating to us firstly about the moment when king David brought the Ark of the Covenant, the symbol of God’s covenant and promise with His people, into the city of Jerusalem, after the Ark had resided for many months outside of the city, due to an accident that happened during the earlier attempt to bring it into Jerusalem.

King David himself accompanied the Ark with many other people, with priests bearing up the Ark which symbolised God’s presence and dwelling among His people Israel. It was told in that same reading how king David danced with all of his might and passion before the Lord in the Ark. The people celebrated and rejoiced because the Lord has come to dwell among His people, as symbolised by His entry into Jerusalem, the capital of the whole nation of Israel.

King David was truly blessed because he obeyed God, and he devoted himself wholeheartedly and entirely to serve his Lord and Master. He did not even hesitate to dance before the Lord, to show Him his jubilation and adoration, before the entire people of Israel. This is something that had not been seen yet in all of the history of the people of God, as it was extremely uncommon and indeed, in the eyes of many, unbecoming for a king to lower himself such as to dance before his people.

That was exactly what Michal, Saul’s daughter, whom David took to be one of his wives, told him in mockery, after having seen David wearing the ephod cloth and danced before the Lord in the procession. Yet, this roused the anger of God against Michal, who have slandered her own husband and mocked him, that she was made barren and without child from then on, as the clear sign of God’s anger upon her.

In the Gospel today, we heard about the exchange between the Lord Jesus and the people who were listening to His teachings, as it was conveyed to Him that His family was waiting for Him outside the place where He was teaching the people. But He told the people that all those who listened to the word of God and obeyed Him, they would become the children of God, as the Lord Jesus Himself would consider them to be His brothers and sisters, as His own family.

This should be understood in the context of how Jesus and His actions would be seen by many, including from those among His own family as being controversial and weird, and in another occasion, they even pulled Jesus out from the crowd, because He was spending so much time with the people, teaching them about the Word of God, that they took Him away, saying to the others that He was out of His mind.

What does these two occasions that happened to the king David of Israel and to Our Lord Jesus Christ tell us, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is the revelation to us that if we are to become true disciples of the Lord and devote ourselves wholeheartedly in His ways, then we must be prepared that there will be those who slander us, attack us and doubt us. There will even be those who ridicule us and reject us, based on what we believe in the Lord.

After all, if such criticisms and difficulties were experienced by Our Lord Himself, then we can expect that the same will also happen to us if we are to obey Him and to follow Him wholeheartedly. But we must not lose faith or try to conform to whatever ways that the world expects us to do. We have to stand by our faith in the Lord and persevere through those challenging times, that we may be able to find our foundation in the Lord.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to strengthen our faith, so that even when the world and even those who are close to us ridicule our faith and commitment to God, we will always be ready to do our best, to give our very best and commit ourselves completely, to the One Who has loved us so much since the beginning of time following in the examples of David and Our Lord Jesus, as we heard in the Scriptures today. May God bless us all. Amen.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 3 : 31-35

At that time, the mother and brothers of Jesus came. As they stood outside, they sent someone to call Him. The crowd sitting around Jesus told Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are outside asking for You.” He replied, “Who are My mother and My brothers?”

And looking around at those who sat there, He said, “Here are My mother and My brothers. Whoever does the will of God is brother and sister and mother to Me.”

Tuesday, 23 January 2018 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 23 : 7, 8, 9, 10

Lift up, o gateways, your lintels, open up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may enter!

Who is the King of glory? YHVH, the Strong, the Mighty, YHVH, valiant in battle.

Lift up Your lintels, o gateways, open up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may enter!

Who is the King of glory? YHVH of Hosts, He is the King of glory!

Tuesday, 23 January 2018 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

2 Samuel 6 : 12b-15, 17-19

King David went to bring up the Ark of God from the house of Obededom to the city of David, rejoicing. After those who carried the Ark of YHVH had walked six paces, they sacrificed an ox and a fattened calf. David whirled round dancing with all his heart before YHVH, wearing a linen ephod, for he and all the Israelites brought up the Ark of YHVH, shouting joyfully and sounding the horn.

They brought in the Ark of YHVH and laid it in its place, in the tent which David had pitched for it. Then David offered burnt and peace offerings before YHVH. Once the offerings had been made, David blessed the people in the Name of YHVH of hosts, and distributed to each man and woman of the entire assembly of Israel, a loaf of bread, a portion of meat and a raisin cake. With this, all the people left for their homes.