Thursday, 30 January 2020 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 131 : 1-2, 3-5, 11, 12, 13-14

Remember David, o YHVH, and all his readiness; how he swore an oath to YHVH, to the Mighty One of Jacob.

“I will not enter my house nor get into my bed; I will give no sleep to my eyes, no slumber to my eyelids; until I find a place for YHVH, a dwelling, for the Mighty One of Jacob.”

YHVH swore to David a promise, and He will remain true to it : “I will keep your descendants on your throne.”

“If your sons keep My Covenant and the decrees I have taught them; their sons, too, will sit forever upon your throne.”

For YHVH has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling : “This is My resting place forever; this I prefer; here, will I dwell.”

Thursday, 30 January 2020 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

2 Samuel 7 : 18-19, 24-29

Then king David went in, sat before YHVH and said, “Who am I, o YHVH God, and who is my family that You have brought me so far? Yet this was not enough for You, o YHVH God, for You have also spoken of Your servant’s house for a long time to come. Is this the way men act, o YHVH God?”

“You have set apart Your people Israel to become Your people forever; and You, YHVH, have become their God. Now, o YHVH God, keep forever the promise You made and have now revealed to me regarding myself and my family, that Your Name may be honoured forever and people may say, ‘YHVH of Hosts is God over Israel.’”

“The house of Your servant David will be secure before You because You, o YHVH of Hosts, God of Israel, have made it known to Your servant and have said to him : ‘Your family will last forever.’ This is why I have dared to address this prayer to You. So now, o YHVH God, since You are the faithful God, and have promised me this good thing, please bless my descendants, that they may continue forever before You. For You, o YHVH God, have spoken and, with Your blessing, my family shall be blessed forever.”

Wednesday, 29 January 2020 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard from the Scripture passages beginning from the exchanges between king David and the prophet Nathan in our first reading regarding the plan that David had in wanting to build a great House for God, what would eventually be built by David’s son, Solomon and known as the Temple of Solomon or the Temple of Jerusalem. And then in our Gospel passage today, we heard of the famous parable of Jesus, our Lord, namely the parable of the sower.

In our first reading today, as we heard of the desire of king David in building the house of God in Jerusalem because he thought that it was not fitting that he resided in a newly built and comfortable palace while the Ark of God or the Ark of the Covenant remained outside in the Holy Tent. Thus, he wanted to build a proper and worthy Temple for the Lord as a powerful sign of His presence among His people and as the epicentre of the divine worship for the people of Israel.

Thus he asked the prophet Nathan for his advice and what the Lord thought of his plans for the building of a great Temple to be the House of the Ark of the Covenant and thus to be the House of God among His people. But God had a different plan, and He revealed His plan to David, as He said that rather it was Solomon, David’s son and successor as king of Israel who would build the great Temple for God, and at the same time God also renewed His promise to David to make the reign of his house secure.

David obeyed God and did whatever He has led him to do. He reign righteously and justly, ushering a great era of prosperity and happiness among the Israelites. The reign of king David and his son, king Solomon is featured prominently in the Scriptures and have always been looked upon many centuries and even millennia later as the golden age of the Israelites. Many people continued to be nostalgic of the greatness and the prosperity that Israel enjoyed during those years.

And while David was not the one who built the Temple of Jerusalem, but if we read from the Book of Chronicles supplementing the information we have, we will know of how David did a great preparation for the building of the Temple, investing and setting aside massive amounts of gold, silver, other precious metals and materials. He also made preparations with his friends like Hiram, the king of Lebanon who would later on supply Solomon with plenty of Lebanon cedars and timber for the building of the Temple.

We can see from all these how David sowed the seeds for the building of the great House of God. And David has been faithful for all the years that he reigned as king, allowing all of his efforts and good works to pay dividends and bear much fruits when the Temple of God later on was built by his son, his reign secure and Israel prosperous under God’s grace and blessings. And this is related to how in our Gospel passage today we heard of the famous parable of the sower.

David is like the seeds that the sower spread on the rich and fertile soil, which bore much fruits, thirty-fold, sixty-fold, and even hundred-fold of what had been sowed. That is because David loved God and he allowed God to work wonders through him, through his reign and through his life by which he inspired his people to be faithful and to obey God. And as a result, many people were saved and remained faithful, and God’s people had great peace and prosperity then.

On the contrary, those seeds that fell on the rocky grounds or those that fell on the roadside and were picked up by the birds, and those that were choked by the thorns and brambles are those who received God’s love and had faith in Him, and yet they succumbed to the many temptations of this world, the temptations by which the devil tried to keep us away from God and to trick us into taking the wrong path in life.

That was what happened to king Solomon, David’s son, towards the end of his reign. As Solomon got older and became influenced by his many wives and concubines who began to sway and tempt him away from the true faith in God, the faith of Solomon had become weak and the wickedness and evil of pagan worship and disobedience against God returned. Sin has returned to Israel, and because the king has sinned, the rest of the people naturally followed as well.

As a result, the prosperity and glory that Israel enjoyed during much of the reigns of Solomon and his father came to an end after his reign, and the kingdom of Israel were divided into two, and eventually many centuries later, both were to be destroyed because the people failed to be faithful to God and continued on their path of disobedience and wickedness. This is a reminder for us all that faith in God leads to true joy and happiness in Him, while disobedience only leads to eventual destruction and harm.

Let us all discern, brothers and sisters in Christ, our path going forward in our respective lives. Do we want to follow the examples of David, in being open to allowing God to lead and guide us in our lives and to do what is good and righteous in God’s sight that we may reap eventually the good fruits of our faith and actions? Or do we rather follow what Solomon and many others had done in allowing the devil instead to take away our faith from us by means of many temptations that he has placed in our path? Are we able to resist those temptations and seek instead God’s truth?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all reflect on all these and strive to become ever better Christians in our life, in our work and actions. Let us all be exemplary and good in our life that we may inspire each other to live our lives ever more faithfully from now. May the Lord also continue to be with us all and bless us in everything we do. Amen.

Wednesday, 29 January 2020 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

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, 29 January 2020 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

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, 29 January 2020 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

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, 28 January 2020 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture in which we are told of the matter of faith and obedience to God. We are presented with two stories, one from our first reading, the second Book of the prophet Samuel, on the account of the moment when king David brought the Ark of God, also known as the Ark of the Covenant into the city of Jerusalem, the new capital of the kingdom of Israel.

Previously, the Ark has always been in the field, originally carried and brought with the Israelites as they journeyed in the desert during their Exodus from Egypt and a Holy Tent was built to house this Ark of the Covenant, which was a very sacred and important part of the community of the Israelites at that time. The people made their dwellings around the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Tent, and when they have reached the Promised Land, the Ark and the Holy Tent were prominently placed in the heart of the land of the Israelites.

For the Ark of the Covenant is not just the symbolic representation of the Covenant between God and His people, but is also the real focus and emphasis of the bond between God and the Israelites, for the stones on which the Ten Commandments were written were placed in the Ark, and more importantly, God’s very presence and holiness descended upon the Ark when the Holy Tent was dedicated and consecrated to God. The Ark of God was the place where God Himself dwelled, inside the Holy Tent built over it.

David wanted to bring the Ark into Jerusalem, that it may then visibly dwell in the heart of the land, in Jerusalem, the capital of the kingdom of Israel. And when he did so, he honoured the Lord and humbled himself before Him as we heard in our first reading passage today, dancing and rejoicing before the Lord with great joy. David obeyed the Lord and did everything he could to follow His commandments, and gave his all to Him. What we have heard in our first reading today was how he put God first before all else, even his pride and honour.

And not just in this matter, but king David has also been a good and faithful king and steward of God’s people, leading the people on the right path and guiding them with right conduct and devotion. Of course David was not perfect, as he did sin and make mistakes sometimes, but in the end, his love and commitment to God prevailed, and he remained mostly true to his calling and ministry as king. He did what was right in the sight of God and brought God’s people closer to Him, and for this, God blessed David and made an assurance to him that his house would reign as king forever.

This is then linked to our Gospel passage today, when the family of Jesus came to Him to meet Him while He was teaching to the people gathered before Him. In that occasion, the Lord told the people that His brothers, sisters, mother and family are those who do the will of God and obey Him. When we heard what the Lord Jesus said, without understanding the context and purpose of what He said, we may think that the Lord was being rude to His family and to His mother Mary. But the truth is actually different.

The Lord had no intention to be rude or condescending to His family and His mother. Rather, He wanted to make a good example and also to make it clear to the people, and all of us, that if we obey God and do His will, are faithful and devoted to Him, God will surely be with us and will bless us bountifully as He had done with David, His faithful servant. And of course, Mary, the mother of God is herself the most faithful one of all, and she is indeed one called the most blessed of all women and of all people.

Today, we also remember the memory of a great saint, whose life, works and dedication to God can be a great source of inspiration to all of us as Christians, just as king David and Mary had done. St. Thomas Aquinas is a great Doctor of the Church and a master theologian known well by his nickname Doctor Angelicus or the Angelic Doctor. St. Thomas Aquinas was well-known for his many contributions to theology and philosophy, sparking a great renewal in the intellectual dimension of the Church and the faithful.

Summa Theologica, the great masterful work of St. Thomas Aquinas still continues to influence the Church, the priests and the leaders of the Church for many centuries right up to this day, and is acknowledged as one of the most brilliant works that man has ever made. The impact of St. Thomas Aquinas, his works and contributions cannot be underrated, and we should be inspired by his commitment and love for God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what is it that we should do then? We should be more faithful and committed to God ourselves from now on, imitating the examples of king David, of Mary, God’s own mother, St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor and many other saints and holy predecessors we have, that we can look up to for inspiration. Let us all be inspired by them and strive to do our best to love God with ever more effort and commitment, putting Him ever at the centre of our lives and existence.

May God be with us always, and may He bless us all in everything we do, that we may ever be courageous and strong to live up to our faith and be good servants of His truth, in proclaiming His truth and His salvation to all the peoples by our faith and obedience. Amen.