DAILY MASS READINGS (January 17, 2019)

MEMORIAL OF ST. ANTHONY, ABBOT (YEAR I, White)

Reading 1 (HEBREWS 3:7-14)

A reading from the Letter to the Hebrews

The Holy Spirit says:
Oh, that today you would hear his voice,
“Harden not your hearts as at the rebellion
in the day of testing in the desert,
where your ancestors tested and tried me
and saw my works for forty years.
Because of this I was provoked with that generation
and I said, ‘They have always been of erring heart,
and they do not know my ways.’
As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter into my rest.'”

Take care, brothers and sisters,
that none of you may have an evil and unfaithful heart,
so as to forsake the living God.
Encourage yourselves daily while it is still “today,”
so that none of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin.
We have become partners of Christ
if only we hold the beginning of the reality firm until the end.

– The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm (PSALM 95:6-7C, 8-9, 10-11)

R. (8)  If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
“Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as in the day of Massah in the desert,
Where your fathers tempted me;
they tested me though they had seen my works.” 
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Forty years I was wearied of that generation;
I said: “This people’s heart goes astray,
they do not know my ways.”
Therefore I swore in my anger:
“They shall never enter my rest.” 
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.


Alleluia (SEE MATTHEW 4:23)

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom
and cured every disease among the people.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.


Gospel (MARK 1:40-45)

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Mark

A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said,
“If you wish, you can make me clean.”
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
touched the leper, and said to him, 
“I do will it. Be made clean.”
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once.
Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything,
but go, show yourself to the priest
and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;
that will be proof for them.”
The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.
He spread the report abroad
so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.
He remained outside in deserted places,
and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

– The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection: During the early times, lepers in Israel are considered by society as outcasts because of the contagious disease. Whenever someone is about to go near, the leper would warn that person to stay away in order that he/she may not be affected. In the Gospel (Mark 1:40-45), Jesus encounters a leper, but this leper didn’t follow what the culture of Israel has practiced. When he saw Jesus, he somehow recognized him and felt that he is the Messiah, then he knelt down and begged him to be cleansed. So at that point, Jesus spoke his willingness and the command of cleansing, and so the leprosy left the man. Then he tells him not to spread it, but rather to go to the priest for the cleansing rituals according to the Mosaic Law. Saint Mark’s account pictures Jesus as the Merciful Savior, wherein every time the Lord would speak words of miracles, the Evangelist narrates those exact words with what is happening to those encountering the miracles. Even Christ would warn the crowds and his Apostles not to make any word about his miracles, and the Apostles heeded his command, but the ones who received miracles were too amazed that they would tell their loved ones and the people in the village. As a result, various crowds would always approach him in order that he may touch and heal them.
Our Lord Jesus Christ teaches us to show humble mercy. We are called to help others who are in need, especially those who are suffering from poverty, injustice, indifference, and all other kinds of pain, trials, and anxieties. Yet we are to do these things without thinking that we should win praise from the public. No wonder Christ denounced the Pharisees and scribes for being a showoff of self-righteousness in order that they may appeal to their fellow citizens that they are more deserving of God’s graces. These Jewish leaders also criticized people suffering as punishment from God. But because of Jesus’ fame with humility and sincerity in preaching and performing miracles, the crowds regarded him as the Rabbi having more authority than those leaders. Even our seraphic father Saint Francis of Assisi embraced a leper and helped him, which originally he would ran away from such when he hears the ringing of a bell around any leper’s neck. The San Damiano Experience is a call to rebuild the lives of people destroyed by different disasters, tragedies, and sufferings that affect our livelihood, and even sins, vices, and immoral acts that affect our faith in God. It is a call to practice mercy and compassion with humility and sincerity towards others who are in physical and spiritual need. Let us follow the very examples of our Lord Jesus Christ and Saint Francis of Assisi.

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