Tuesday, 28 February 2017 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we are reminded through the Scriptures that God will never abandon us, His people, and all of us who have given ourselves to His service, and dedicating ourselves to Him, will not be disappointed, for God will bless us and reward us with His grace and blessings. He is ever loving and ever faithful, and He will keep us all in good care.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what we need to focus on and realise today, is the fact how many Christians, many among God’s people have not been willing to make sacrifices and commitment in becoming the followers of Christ. Many of us are lukewarm and indifferent to our faith, treating it as a mere side note to our life, and not taking our faith and our beliefs in the Lord seriously.

There are many reasons for this, first of all is the doubt that we have for the love of God. We doubted because we were not able to understand just how God truly exists in our daily lives, guiding us and being with us every single moment of our lives. We did not realise that even in little things and in minute details of our lives, God is truly present in all things, and He is with us.

Instead, we worry, we become concerned, and we withdrew our commitment to our faith. We began to think about what would happen should what we have done for the sake of the Lord and His Church was to come to nothingness, and what if difficulties and challenges are to come in our way. We worry if we are able to give ourselves and commit ourselves wholeheartedly, because while we may believe in God, but inside us, in our hearts and minds, we are truly divided and disunited.

What do I mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? I mean that because we mankind are so easily distracted by the many comforts of this world, the comfort of money, of material possessions, of worldly convenience, prestige and fame, and many other forms of distractions, we have often fallen into the trap of sin. We become disconnected from the Lord, and we become ignorant of our faith, and we become cold and indifferent to the effort to help the Church and the faithful.

Instead of turning outwards and doing what we can to help one another, we turn inwards instead, and focusing on ourselves in selfishness. We end up thinking more and more about ourselves, and less and less about others. This is what have caused many of us to falter and fall. We become reluctant to offer ourselves and our help to those who need it, and as a result, the Church as a whole became inactive and paralysed, being unable to function properly.

If each and every Christians, members of the Church turn inwards and do nothing to contribute to the good works of the Church, making sacrifices and efforts to keep up those good works, then there will be no progress made by the Church on the salvation of the whole race of mankind, that God had initiated by His coming into the world. He has commanded us all through His disciples to continue His good works, calling all the people to Him, to be reconciled and to receive the fullness of God’s grace.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us are challenged and asked to think carefully about our role in the Church of God, and what each and every one of us can do in order to take part in the greater works of the Church. Each of us has unique abilities and talents, which God had given to each and every one of us. Therefore, it is not right for us to demand every one to do the same thing and make the same contribution.

Rather, all of us need to have that commitment to contribute to the Church in whatever way we can, in whatever we can spare in order to help. Each and every one of us must do our part in order to ensure that the whole Church can work together and move together in its efforts for the salvation of the whole world. In this, sacrifices and efforts are needed, and we alone can choose whether we want to devote our effort and time or not.

The Scripture passages and the Gospel today in particular assure us that those who have given to the Lord and to His Church will not be disappointed, for God will not forget those who have followed Him, obeyed Him and done what He had asked them to do. He will bless them, protect them and lead them all to His grace and glory. All that we have done in His Name, for His sake, and for the success of the great works committed by His Church will be rewarded.

But we do not do the good deeds because we want to be rewarded, for such is a wrong purpose for us to follow. Instead, we commit ourselves unconditionally and lovingly, so that in all the good works that we do, we may glorify God and make His good works more evident in our world today, bringing countless more souls that had once been lost in the darkness into the light of God’s salvation.

May the Lord bless us all and strengthen our resolve, that we as Christians and members of His Church may devote ourselves, commit ourselves, in our time and efforts in order to help the works of His mercy and love, calling all mankind to grace and salvation, so that through us He may bring about the salvation of our fellow brethren who need our help. God bless us all and be with us always. Amen.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Mark 10 : 28-31

At that time, Peter spoke up and said, “We have given up everything to follow You.” Jesus answered, “Truly, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters, or father or mother, or children, or lands, for My sake and for the Gospel, who will not receive his reward.”

“I say to you : even in the midst of persecution, he will receive a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and lands in the present time, and in the world to come eternal life. Do pay attention : many who are now first will be last, and the last, first.”

Tuesday, 28 February 2017 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Psalm 49 : 5-6, 7-8, 14 and 23

Gather before Me My faithful ones, who made a covenant with Me by sacrifice. The heavens will proclaim His sentence, for God Himself is the Judge.

Hear, o My people, for I am speaking. I will accuse You, o Israel, I am God, your God! Not for your sacrifices do I reprove you, for your burnt offerings are ever before Me.

Yet offer to God a sacrifice of thanks, and fulfil your vows to the Most High. Those who give with thanks offerings honour Me, but the one who walks blamelessly, I will show him the salvation of God.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Sirach 35 : 1-15

Keeping the Law is worthy many offerings. Being faithful to the commandments is like a peace offering. Returning kindness is an offering of fine flour; giving alms is a sacrifice of praise. Renouncing sin pleases the Lord, and shunning injustice is a sacrifice of atonement.

Do not appear before the Lord with empty hands. The commandment requires that you bring an offering. When the offering of the righteous is burnt on the altar, the fat drips down and a fragrant aroma rises to the Most High. The sacrifice of the just man pleases God and will not be forgotten. Honour the Lord with a generous heart and do not be stingy with the first fruits of your harvest.

Offer your gifts with a smiling face and when you pay your tithes do it gladly. Give to the Most High as He has given to you; give generously to the Lord according to what you have; the Lord will repay, He will reward you sevenfold. If you attempt to bribe Him with gifts He will not accept them; do not rely on offerings from dishonest gain.

The Lord is Judge and shows no partiality. He will not disadvantage the poor, He Who hears the prayer of the oppressed. He does not disdain the plea of the orphan, nor the complaint of the widow. When tears flow down her cheeks, is she not crying out against the one who caused her to weep?

Monday, 27 February 2017 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we quickly approach the season of Lent, and its advent this Ash Wednesday, we remember in the Scripture passages today about God’s mercy. God is ever loving and merciful to all of His children, who have been separated from Him and became lost in the turbulence of this world and swallowed by the darkness of sin.

Yet, God never gave up on us, and on every opportunity He always tried to help each and every one of us to find our way back towards Him. He has always kept the door of His mercy open to welcome us back. However, it is we ourselves who often reject God’s very generous offer of mercy. We thought that God is a God without mercy and love, where in fact it was we ourselves who have closed the doors of our hearts to Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it is often our attachments to the things and temptations of this world which have caused us to be distracted and kept away from God. That was why Jesus mentioned in the Gospel today about the difficulties that the rich people were facing, as exemplified by the young man who was rich and was willing to follow Jesus until He asked him to leave behind all of his worldly belongings.

Jesus was not attacking or criticising the rich because of their possessions. This is a misconception which many people often have, thinking that Jesus always condemns the rich and their possessions. Instead, in reality, He was actually condemning the inability to detach and let go, which means that we mankind are often too engrossed and grow too attached to our worldly possessions that we are unable to move on in our faith.

We cannot become too dependant on them, and be hesitant to let go of what we have, when the time comes for us to let them go. After all, all these possessions are indeed blessings and graces which God had granted to each and every one of us. To some of us have been given more, while others have received less, but all of these ultimately came from the Lord, and they do not belong to us.

Rather, whatever we have received, we should be generous in sharing them and using them for good purposes, for God had given us much gifts, and to those to whom He had given more, then more will be expected from them. We cannot bring whatever we have to the world that is to come, that is beyond death. We all know that upon death, all of us will leave behind our earthly treasures, and instead, look forward towards the true treasures found in God alone.

That said, it does not mean that each and every person should sell everything that they have and give all of them to the poor. It means rather that we should do our best in our abilities in order to make good use of whatever blessings and goodness we have received, so that by doing what the Lord had asked us to do, while we may decrease in our earthly riches, but we gain far more bountiful riches in God.

As Christians, all of us should spend some time thinking through what the Lord Jesus had told His disciples today, and also heed what He had asked the young man to do. All of us have to let go of our pride, our human greed and desires, and all the other things which had prevented us from reaching out to God, and from finding our way to Him.

All of us need to spend more time with the Lord, to deepen our relationship with Him, and learning to be humble and to be obedient to God. Let us all also understand that we need to build for ourselves the true treasures of heaven, and not be distracted by the illusory and the temporary wealth of this earth. May all of us grow ever stronger in our faith, and grow ever closer to the Lord our God. Amen.

Monday, 27 February 2017 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Mark 10 : 17-27

At that time, just as Jesus was setting out on His journey again, a man ran up, knelt before Him and asked, “Good Master, what must I do to have eternal life?”

Jesus answered, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments : Do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not cheat, honour your father and mother.” The man replied, “I have obeyed all these commandments since my childhood.”

Then Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him and He said, “For you, one thing is lacking. Go, sell what you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come and follow Me.” On hearing these words, his face fell and he went away sorrowful, for he was a man of great wealth.

Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God” The disciples were shocked at these words, but Jesus insisted, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

They were more astonished than ever and wondered, “Who, then, can be saved?” Jesus looked steadily at them and said, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God; all things are possible with God.”

Monday, 27 February 2017 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Psalm 31 : 1-2, 5, 6, 7

Blessed is the one whose sin is forgiven, whose iniquity is wiped away. Blessed are those in whom the Lord sees no guilt and in whose spirit is found no deceit.

Then I made known to You my sin and uncovered before You my fault, saying to myself, “To the Lord I will now confess my wrong.” And You, You forgave my sin, You removed my guilt.

So let the faithful ones pray to You in time of distress; the overflowing waters will not reach them.

You are my refuge; You protect me from distress and surround me with songs of deliverance.