Thursday, 28 March 2019 : 3rd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 11 : 14-23

At that time, one day Jesus was driving out a demon, which was mute. When the demon had been driven out, the mute person could speak, and the people were amazed. Yet some of them said, “He drives out demons by the power of Beelzebul, the chief of the demons.” Others wanted to put Him to the test, by asking Him for a heavenly sign.

But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them, “Every nation divided by civil war is on the road to ruin, and will fall. If Satan also is divided, his empire is coming to an end. How can you say that I drive out demons by calling upon Beelzebul? If I drive them out by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons drive out demons? They will be your judges, then.”

“But if I drive out demons by the finger of God; would not this mean that the kingdom of God, has come upon you? As long as a man, strong and well armed, guards his house, his goods are safe. But when a stronger man attacks and overcomes him, the challenger takes away all the weapons he relied on, and disposes of his spoils.”

“Whoever is not with Me is against Me, and whoever does not gather with Me, scatters.”

Thursday, 28 March 2019 : 3rd Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 94 : 1-2, 6-7, 8-9

Come, let us sing to the Lord, let us make a joyful sound to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before Him giving thanks, with music and songs of praise.

Come and worship; let us bow down, kneel before the Lord, our Maker. He is our God, and we His people; the flock He leads and pastures. Would that today you heard His voice!

Do not be stubborn, as at Meribah, in the desert, on that day at Massah, when your ancestors challenged Me, and they put Me to the test.

Thursday, 28 March 2019 : 3rd Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Jeremiah 7 : 23-28

YHVH says, “One thing I did command them : Listen to My voice and I will be your God and you will be My people. Walk in the way I command you and all will be well with you. But they did not listen and paid no attention; they followed the bad habits of their stubborn heart and turned away from Me.”

“From the time I brought their forebearers out of Egypt until this day I have continually sent them My servants, the prophets, but this stiff-necked people did not listen. They paid no attention and were worse than their forebearers. You may say all these things to them but they will not listen; you will call them but they will not answer.”

“This is a nation that did not obey YHVH and refused to be disciplined; truth has perished and is no longer heard from their lips.”

Wednesday, 27 March 2019 : 3rd Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scriptures reminding us of the Law which God has given to us, as the precepts and guides for us all to follow, in how we ought to live our lives, with faith and obedience to God. And through Our Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God and Our Saviour, God has revealed to us all what His Law is truly about, and how the Law can guide each and every one of us to righteousness.

In the first reading today, taken from the Book of Deuteronomy, we heard about the moment when Moses gathered the people of Israel before him as they journeyed through the desert after their Exodus from Egypt, and just before they entered the Promised Land. Moses reminded the people of the special privilege that they have received, for being God’s chosen ones, those to whom God has revealed His Law and commandments.

Moses had brought the Law of God to the people, in the Ten Commandments and in the many other precepts and commandments of the Law as passed on from God to the Israelites through Moses. And Moses also reminded the Israelites of the special relationship that they all had with God, as God was with them and guided them, such that they were able to persevere through the hardships of the forty years of journey through the desert.

God provided His people with everything that they needed, feeding them with manna daily, the bread of heaven itself, as well as clear and sweet water flowing from the rocks. It was even told that a rock was following the Israelites, as a sign of God’s providence, that He would always provide for the needs of His loved ones. He even drove away and destroyed all those who sought to bring ruin to the Israelites, their enemies and all those who did not welcome God’s chosen people.

God was so close to His chosen people, and this was in fact a foretaste of what each and every one of us, who are called and chosen, will enjoy through God’s love and providence. God is leading us all to Himself, and it is His will that each and every one of us be closer to Him, but unfortunately, God’s people did not fully understand what His Law truly meant. That was why they constantly disobeyed and rebelled, as they thought of God as an angry and exacting God, Who oppressed them with the Law.

That is why it was up to Christ to come and reveal the fullness of the truth of God’s Law before all of His people, to reveal fully why God gave the Law to His people, to the generations of people who have failed to understand the true purpose and intention why God gave the Law to His people. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law at the time of Jesus accused Him of disobeying and trying to discredit the Law by His actions, and hounded and persecuted Him and His disciples endlessly because of this.

That is why the Lord made it clear to the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, as well as all those who have heard of His message, that He came into this world bearing the fullness of God’s truth and wisdom, and not to override what God has given to mankind. He was in fact going to purify the Law and the practices of the Law rather than to override or abandon it. For many ages and centuries, the Law had been corrupted in its understanding and purpose by human desires and corruption.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, God Himself revealed to us that His Law is the Law of love, not of oppression and fear. His Law was intended to teach us the way of love, and the Lord did not just impose those ways on us. On the contrary, He Himself showed by example through His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. For Jesus Himself summarised the Law into two main categories, that is first of all, loving God with all of our hearts and with all of our strength, and then secondly, to love our fellow brothers and sisters with the same love.

The Lord Jesus loved His Father dearly, spending a lot of time to pray in secluded area to talk to Him in prayer. He obeyed the Father’s will to the very end, when He willingly accepted death, death on the cross for His love of His heavenly Father, as well as for all of us. He also loved each and every one of us because of His compassion for those among us who are the last, the lost and the least. He reached out to those who are sick in body and in spirit.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now we are all challenged to follow what the Lord Himself has done, in fulfilling the Law so perfectly and in the examples that He has shown us all. Are we able to commit ourselves from now on to live faithfully according to the Law of God? And this means for us to abandon pride and ego, human greed and desire in all of our actions. But this is not something that can easily be done.

Temptations and challenges will be in our midst at all times, and unless we restrain ourselves and try our best to do what pleases the Lord, by loving Him and our fellow brethren, we will fall again and again into sin. But, remember, brothers and sisters, that the Lord is ever patient, ever forgiving and ever loving. God will guide us and lead us to the right path if only we allow Him to do so. Too often we are too distracted and busy to seek Him or to understand just how much He loves each and every one of us.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all make a new commitment to the Lord from now on, beginning this Lent, that we will be ever more generous in love, first of all for God, spending our time and prioritising Him above everything else, and then, loving our fellow men, reaching out to those who are around us. Let us all grow ever more in faith and love for God, and obey the Lord in His laws and commandments, in its true purpose and intention, for us to love God and to be closer to Him always. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Wednesday, 27 March 2019 : 3rd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 5 : 17-19

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Do not think that I have come to annul the Law and the Prophets. I have not come to annul them but to fulfil them. I tell you this : as long as heaven and earth last, not the smallest letter or dot in the Law will change until all is fulfilled.”

Wednesday, 27 March 2019 : 3rd Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 147 : 12-13, 15-16, 19-20

Exalt the Lord, o Jerusalem; praise your God, o Zion! For He strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your children within you.

He sends His command to the earth and swiftly runs His word. He spreads snow like wool; He scatters frost like ashes.

It is He Who tells Jacob His words, His laws and decrees to Israel. This He has not done for other nations, so His laws remain unknown to them. Alleluia!

Wednesday, 27 March 2019 : 3rd Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Deuteronomy 4 : 1, 5-9

And now, Israel, listen to the norms and laws which I teach that you may put them into practice. And you will live and enter and take possession of the land which YHVH, the God of your fathers, gives you.

See, as YHVH, my God, ordered me, I am teaching you the norms and the laws that you may put them into practice in the land you are going to enter and have as your own. If you observe and practice them, other peoples will regard you as wise and intelligent. When they come to know of all these laws, they will say, ‘There is no people as wise and as intelligent as this great nation.’

For in truth, is there a nation as great as ours, whose gods are as near to it as YHVH, our God, is to us whenever we call upon Him? And is there a nation as great as ours whose norms and laws are as just as this Law which I give you today?

But be careful and be on your guard. Do not forget these things which your own eyes have seen or let them depart from your heart as long as you live. But on the contrary, teach them to your children and to your children’s children.