Saturday, 25 March 2017 : Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Luke 1 : 26-38

In the sixth month, the Angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth. He was sent to a young virgin, who was betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the family of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

The Angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” Mary was troubled at these words, wondering what this greeting could mean. But the Angel said, “Do not fear, Mary, for God has looked kindly on you. You shall conceive and bear a Son, and you shall call Him Jesus. He will be great, and shall rightly be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the kingdom of David, His ancestor; He will rule over the people of Jacob forever, and His reign shall have no end.”

Then Mary said to the Angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” And the Angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the Holy Child to be born of you shall be called Son of God. Even your relative Elizabeth is expecting a son in her old age, although she was unable to have a child; and she is now in her sixth month. With God nothing is impossible.”

Then Mary said, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said.” And the Angel left her.

Saturday, 25 March 2017 : Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Hebrews 10 : 4-10

And never will the blood of bulls and goats take away these sins. This is why on entering the world, Christ says : You did not desire sacrifice and offering; You were not pleased with burnt offerings and sin offerings. Then I said : “Here I am. It was written of Me in the scroll. I will do Your will, o God.”

First He says : “Sacrifice, offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings You did not desire nor were You pleased with them – although they were required by the Law. Then He says : Here I am to do Your will. This is enough to nullify the first will and establish the new. Now, by this will of God, we are sanctified once and for all by the sacrifice of the Body of Christ Jesus.

Saturday, 25 March 2017 : Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White
Psalm 39 : 7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 11

Sacrifice and oblation You did not desire; this You had me understand. Burnt offering and sin offering You do not require. Then I said, “Here I come!”

“As the scroll says of me. To do Your will is my delight, o God, for Your law is within my heart.”

In the great assembly I have proclaimed Your saving help. My lips, o Lord, I did not seal – You know that very well.

I have not locked up in my heart Your saving help, but have spoken about it – Your deliverance and Your faithfulness; I have made no secret of Your truth and of Your kindness in the great assembly.

Saturday, 25 March 2017 : Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Isaiah 7 : 10-14 and Isaiah 8 : 10

Once again YHVH addressed Ahaz, “Ask for a sign from YHVH your God, let it come either from the deepest depths or from the heights of heaven.”

But Ahaz answered, “I will not ask, I will not put YHVH to the test.” Then Isaiah said, “Now listen, descendants of David. Have you not been satisfied trying the patience of people, that you also try the patience of my God? Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign : The Virgin is with Child and bears a Son and calls His Name Immanuel.”

“Devise a plan and it will be thwarted, make a resolve and it will not stand, for God-is-with-us.”

Friday, 24 March 2017 : 3rd Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard from the Scripture passages, the call to repentance and reconciliation between us and our God. In the first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Hosea, we heard the call to repentance and forgiveness from God, Who wants each and every one of us to find our way back to Him, and wants us to be healed from our afflictions, from all of our sins.

That pronunciation made by the prophet Hosea must be understood in the context of the history of the people of Israel, so that we may appreciate just how much is the mercy of God given to the people, who have disobeyed the Lord and therefore lost for a while, the inheritance that God had given to them and to their ancestors. The prophet Hosea lived after the exile of the northern kingdom of Israel to Assyria.

The people of the northern kingdom have disobeyed God, led by their wayward kings who worshipped the pagan idols and gods, who established new rules in defiance of the laws and precepts that God had given to His people, because of their pride and because of their fear, that the people would turn back towards the southern kingdom of Judah, the kingdom of the house of David.

In their sinful ways, in their idolatry and in their lack of faith, the people of the northern kingdom had fallen into the state of sin, and unrepentant, God had withdrawn His blessings and grace from them, allowing their enemies to rise over them, and eventually for the Assyrians to conquer them and deport them from the lands of their ancestors. The people of God had to live far away in the lands of their exile, with no land to call as their own home.

It is this destitute situation that existed at the time of the prophet Hosea, who then preached God’s mercy and forgiveness that He would extend to all of His people, provided that they all turn their backs to their sinful past, and renew their commitment to their loving God. And this means for each and every one of them to abandon their waywardness, and embrace once again in sincerity, God’s laws and precepts.

How does all of these relate to us, brothers and sisters in Christ? In truth, all of us are just like the people of the northern kingdom of Israel, who have been tempted, persuaded and convinced by the devil and all of his tempting forces, into sin and all sorts of disobedience against God. All of us who have sinned had been sundered and separated from God’s love, much as the Israelites had fallen from grace then.

We should have ended up in annihilation, humiliation and despair just as how the Israelites had once suffered. But God in His rich and bountiful mercy, in His loving and forgiving heart is willing to forgive us all our sins, as after all, He Who created all of us, and He Who knows all of us by name and Who knows the depths of our hearts, will not hate us but love us with all of His heart and strength.

Yet, it is often we ourselves who refused to be forgiven. God wanted to forgive us our sins, but it is us who placed obstacles and made it difficult for Him to do so, because of our stubbornness, and because of our inability to resist the temptation to sin, to do what is wicked and immoral and wrong in the sight of our God Who loves each and every one of us. That is why many of us are often far from God’s mercy, not because He did not want to forgive us, but rather because we ourselves hesitate or even refuse to be forgiven.

In this time of Lent, all of us have been called by the Lord through His Church to reflect on our own lives and to reevaluate all our actions, words and deeds. When we remember all that we have done thus far, can we consider ourselves to be among those who have listened to the Lord and obeyed His will, laws and commandments? Or have we instead lived persistently in the state of sin and refusing to allow God to forgive us by His mercy?

Let us all renew our commitment to God, one way or another, brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us deepen our relationship with Him, and learn to understand what is it that He truly wants from us. He wants us to love Him back just as much as He had loved us first with unconditional love. And then He wants us to show the same love to our fellow brethren, to be genuine and sincere in our compassion and love for those around us who are in need of our love and care.

May the Lord help us all to persevere in faith and to grow stronger in love, both for our brethren and for our loving God. May He empower each and every one of us that we may truly be worthy of being called the children of God, God’s beloved people. Amen.

Friday, 24 March 2017 : 3rd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Mark 12 : 28b-34

At that time, a teacher of the Law came up and asked Jesus, “Which commandment is the first of all?”

Jesus answered, “The first is : Hear, Israel! The Lord, our God is One Lord; and you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. And after this comes a second commandment : You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these two.”

The teacher of the Law said to Him, “Well spoken, Master; You are right when You say that He is one, and there is no other besides Him. To love Him with all our heart, with all our understanding and with all our strength, and to love our neighbour as ourselves is more important than any burnt offering or sacrifice.”

Jesus approved of this answer and said, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that, no one dared to ask Him any more questions.

Friday, 24 March 2017 : 3rd Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Psalm 80 : 6c-8a, 8bc-9, 10-11ab, 14 and 17

Open wide your mouth and I will fill it, I relieved your shoulder from burden; I freed your hands. You called in distress, and I saved you.

Unseen, I answered you in thunder; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. Hear, My people, as I admonish you. If only you would listen, o Israel!

There shall be no strange god among you, you shall not worship any alien god, for I the Lord am your God, who led you forth from the land of Egypt.

If only My people would listen, if only Israel would walk in My ways. I would feed you with the finest wheat and satisfy you with honey from the rock.