DAILY MASS READINGS (January 21, 2019)


Reading 1 (HEBREWS 5:1-10)

A reading from the Letter to the Hebrews

Brothers and sisters:
Every high priest is taken from among men
and made their representative before God,
to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.
He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant and erring,
for he himself is beset by weakness
and so, for this reason, must make sin offerings for himself
as well as for the people.
No one takes this honor upon himself
but only when called by God,
just as Aaron was.
In the same way,
it was not Christ who glorified himself in becoming high priest,
but rather the one who said to him:
You are my Son:
this day I have begotten you;

just as he says in another place,
You are a priest forever
according to the order of Melchizedek.

In the days when he was in the Flesh,
he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears
to the one who was able to save him from death,
and he was heard because of his reverence.
Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered;
and when he was made perfect,
he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

– The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm (PSALM 110:1, 2, 3, 4)

R. (4b) You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The LORD said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand
till I make your enemies your footstool.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The scepter of your power the LORD will stretch forth from Zion:
“Rule in the midst of your enemies.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
“Yours is princely power in the day of your birth, in holy splendor;
before the daystar, like the dew, I have begotten you.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The LORD has sworn, and he will not repent:
“You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.

Alleluia (HEBREWS 4:12)

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The word of God is living and effective,
able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel (MARK 2:18-22)

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Mark

The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast.
People came to Jesus and objected,
“Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, 
but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered them,
“Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?
As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.
But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast on that day.
No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak.
If he does, its fullness pulls away,
the new from the old, and the tear gets worse.
Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins.
Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins,
and both the wine and the skins are ruined.
Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.”

– The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection: For the Jews, fasting is one of the most sacred observations as part of the pillars of their piety. In the Gospel (Mark 2:18-22), the disciples of the Pharisees and of Saint John the Baptist questioned Jesus on why his disciples are not. Jesus replies by stating what God the Father had done when he sent Gomer to live with the Prophet Hosea. Hosea loved Gomer so much that she would eventually cheat on him, yet he calls to her to return to him (chapters 6:1 and 14:1). It symbolizes how God represented by Hosea called Israel represented by Gomer to return to him. Jesus tells two parables about the bridegroom and the new wineskins. He is the Bridegroom who is taken away from the people, the Lamb of God who took away our sins by his sacrifice on the Cross. He gives us the New Covenant which was ratified from the Old Covenant that contained those old wineskins by the shedding of his own Blood. The Letter to the Hebrews in our First Reading describes Christ as the eternal high priest who is capable of understanding human weakness and manifested obedience through his suffering. Therefore, his life was the perfect offering for the redemption of souls from sin. Just like Melchizedek of Salem who offered bread and wine to Abraham (Cf. Genesis 14:18-20), Jesus gives us in the Eucharist bread and wine not only as mere symbols, but more importantly his Body and Blood signified by his real presence at every celebration of the Mass. So the Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist is already the spiritual commemoration of the saving sacrifice done at Calvary. And Jesus Christ is described in the First Reading as the Eternal High Priest, and our priests and bishops are “in persona Christi” every time they celebrate the Mass. Therefore, they are all consecrated according to the order of Melchizedek.
What the Lord Jesus Christ points out is his presence among us, which do not require fasting. But how come we fast during the Lenten Season? While Lent is characterized to be a sorrowful and penitential time, it is a joyful penance because we honor the Lord who gave up his life for us on the Cross, raised up from the dead after three days, and now is with us in our midst not physically, but spiritually. And in all times and seasons, his spiritual presence is always seen visibly in the daily signs of the times including the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Even God is watching over us all throughout our lives on earth. Whenever we commit a sin against him, he does not want us to be punished, but rather he is always open for us to return to him, repent, and live for the better. This is why we have the Sacrament of Confession. And as we undergo every sacrifice and challenge this world has to offer, let us remember Pope Francis’s words 2 years ago when he spoke at Tacloban Airport: “I have nothing else to say, but Jesus on the Cross has something to say, and he never lets you down.”

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