Thursday, 5 March 2015 : 2nd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 16 : 19-31

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Once there was a rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen and feasted every day. At his gate lay Lazarus, a poor man covered with sores, who longed to eat just the scraps falling from the rich man’s table. Even dogs used to come and lick his sores.”

“It happened that the poor man died, and angels carried him to take his place with Abraham. The rich man also died, and was buried. From hell, where he was in torment, the rich man looked up and saw Abraham afar off, and with him Lazarus at rest.”

“He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me, and send Lazarus, with the tip of his finger dipped in water, to cool my tongue, for I suffer so much in this fire.’ Abraham replied, ‘My son, remember that in your lifetime you were well-off, while the lot of Lazarus was misfortune. Now he is in comfort, and you are in agony. But that is not all. Between your place and ours a great chasm has been fixed, so that no one can cross over from here to you, or from your side to us.'”

“The rich man implored once more, ‘Then I beg you, Father Abraham, to send Lazarus to my father’s house, where my five brothers live. Let him warn them, so that they may not end up in this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’ But the rich man said, ‘No, Father Abraham; but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'”

“Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced, even if someone rises from the dead.'”

Thursday, 5 March 2015 : 2nd Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 1 : 1-2, 3, 4 and 6

Blessed is the one who does not go where the wicked gather, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit where the scoffers sit! Instead, he finds delight in the Law of the Lord and meditates day and night on His commandments.

He is like a tree beside a brook producing its fruit in due season, its leaves never withering. Everything he does is a success.

But it is different with the wicked. They are like chaff driven away by the wind. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous but cuts off the way of the wicked.

Thursday, 5 March 2015 : 2nd Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Jeremiah 17 : 5-10

This is what YHVH says, “Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings and depends on a mortal for his life, while his heart is drawn away from YHVH! He is like a bunch of thistles in dry land, in parched desert places, in a salt land where no one lives and who never finds happiness.”

“Blessed is the man who puts his trust in YHVH and whose confidence is in Him! He is like a tree planted by the water, sending out its roots towards the stream. He has no fear when the heat comes, his leaves are always green; the year of drought is no problem and he can always bear fruit.”

“Most deceitful is the heart. What is there within man, who can understand him? I, YHVH, search the heart and penetrate the mind. I reward each one according to his ways and the fruit of his deeds.”

Wednesday, 4 March 2015 : 2nd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Casimir (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard the words of the Scripture urging us all to stay strong and steady even amidst the torrents of difficulties, challenges, oppositions and all that will come our way when we devote ourselves to the Lord our God. The Scriptures had pointed out, that when the world hates our Lord and had rejected Him, then they will also reject us out and hates us.

But did Jesus shy away from all those challenges? Did He become afraid or reluctant to face those challenges? No, in fact He went on to meet all those challenges head on. He did not fear suffering or dying for our sake. We who are sinners have been marked for death and destruction, and yet, He came between us and death, and through the shedding of His Body and Blood, He purified us and made us worthy of life once again.

The world hated Jesus and His disciples, and all who followed Him, because they did not understand the Lord and His ways. The world is the dominion of the evil one, the fallen Satan, who ruled the world by his corruptions and sinfulness. Naturally, the devil and all of his allies, all the wickedness in the world will plot together as one, in order to stop the salvation and good works of Christ, that they may bring more and more people to fall into corruption.

This is the great challenge that Jesus was facing at that time, all the rebelliousness of mankind, their wickedness and all the unworthy things which they had committed and which they also plan to commit even more. This is the cup of suffering and bitterness that God had to drink through Jesus, who was greatly tormented and troubled by such a prospect of having to endure the great weight of the sins of the world.

It is this cup of suffering which Jesus mentioned to James and John, His Apostles and to their mother. They indeed would also drink from the same cup of suffering that Christ had drunk, because as they followed Him and did His works, the world also would persecute them and caused them great suffering. Yet at that time, when the mother of James and John pleaded for Jesus to grant her sons the incomparable favour of sitting at the side of God, they did not understand what all those mean.

It is very common for us mankind to think in terms of the world, and in terms of worldly benefits and powers. Power, wealth, possessions, privileges, all of these are high in the minds of those who live in the world and therefore are bound to it. Many people work and labour for the sole purpose of self-aggrandisment, self-satisfaction, that is to satisfy one’s own desires, either for power, for wealth, for recognition, or for all of them.

But Jesus showed His disciples, that all these mean nothing, and to be true disciples of the Lord, we have to forgo all of our desires and wants. Yes, precisely what the mother of James and John had asked. By asking for such a special privilege, in her heart, she was trying to edge out all the other Apostles and gained special position and power for her children. But she failed to see that, such position are not granted by power but rather through faithful deeds and through humility.

Jesus did not boast in His power and majesty, even though He is the Almighty God, all powerful and mighty. He is a Leader not by showcasing or abusing His power and authority, but through genuine and real application of His leadership, and acting as what a Leader should be, that is by example and by leading others will genuine concern and love.

Jesus was troubled and His humanity greatly feared the huge burden of sin which God had made Him to bear, so that we may be saved. He led by example, and He drank that cup of suffering and bore all of our sins, out of love for us all. He was not a Leader who cowered in fear while His people were suffering from the effects of sin. Instead, He was in front of them, leading and guiding them, protecting them from harm’s way.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Casimir, also known as St. Casimir Jagiellon, who was the Crown Prince of the kingdoms of Poland and Lithuania. St. Casimir’s youth days were filled frequently with jostling for power and worldly matters, as is common with the nobles and those with power on those days. His father had great ambition for him and for his brothers, aiming to gather more power and glory for his family and dynasty, by claiming the thrones of the kingdoms around them.

Yet, gradually, St. Casimir came to understand that true power does not lie in the aggrandisement of wealth and power, and neither does it involve the use of fear and authority to abuse all those under his rule. He found that it is by listening to God and by doing His will that he can best use the power and authority which God had granted unto him, and his position gave him the privilege to do more for the sake of God’s people.

St. Casimir refused his father’s approaches with worldly power as well as the plans that he had crafted for him. He pursued great charitable acts with the poor and the less fortunate, helping them and serving them wherever possible. His health however, was failing and he was dying even as his piety grew to be more well-known and widespread. Nevertheless, what he lost in the world, he gained even much greater in heaven.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all called to be courageous in our faith. Do not let fear besiege us any longer or cause us to hesitate in our actions. Whenever we are in the position to help others who are in need, we must be ready to render our help and our love. True disciples of Christ and true leaders show by example, that is by loving one another and passing on the love of God to those who need it most.

We can no longer be ignorant or passive in how we live our faith. May God our Lord guide us always, and give us strength and courage so that in all the actions we do, we may do them for the glory of God, and for the benefit of all mankind. God bless us all. Amen.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015 : 2nd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Casimir (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 20 : 17-28

At that time, when Jesus was going to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, “See, we are going to Jerusalem. There the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the Law, who will condemn Him to death. They will hand Him over to the foreigners, who will mock Him, scourge Him and crucify Him. But He will be raised to life on the third day.”

Then the mother of James and John came to Jesus with her sons, and she knelt down, to ask a favour. Jesus said to her, “What do you want?” And she answered, “Here You have my two sons. Grant that they may sit, one at Your right hand and one at Your left, when You are in Your kingdom.”

Jesus said to the brothers, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They answered, “We can.” Jesus replied, “You will indeed drink My cup, but to sit at My right or at My left is not for Me to grant. That will be for those, for whom My Father has prepared it.”

The other ten heard all this, and were angry with the two brothers. Then Jesus called them to Him and said, “You know that the rulers of the nations act as tyrants over them, and the powerful oppress them. It shall not be so among you : whoever wants to be more important in your community shall make himself your servant. And if you want to be the first of all, make yourself the servant of all. Be like the Son of Man who has come, not to be served but to serve, and to give His life to redeem many.”

Wednesday, 4 March 2015 : 2nd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Casimir (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 30 : 5-6, 14, 15-16

Free Me from the snare that they have set for Me. Indeed You are My Protector. Into Your hands I commend My spirit; You have redeemed Me, o Lord, faithful God.

I hear whispering among the crowd, rumours that frighten Me from every side – their conspiracies, their schemes, their plot to take My life.

But I put My trust in You, o Lord, I said : “You are My God;” My days are in Your hand. Deliver Me from the hand of My enemies, from those after My skin.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015 : 2nd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Casimir (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Jeremiah 18 : 18-20

Then, they said, “Come, let us plot against Jeremiah, for even without him, there will be priests to interpret the Teachings of the Law; there will always be wisemen to impart counsel and prophets to proclaim the word. Come, let us accuse him and strike him down instead of listening to what he says.”

“Hear me, o YHVH! Listen to what my accusers say. Is evil the reward for good? Why do they dig a grave for me? Remember how I stood before You to speak well on their behalf so that Your anger might subside.”