Thursday, 14 February 2013 : Thursday after Ash Wednesday (Gospel Reading)

Luke 9 : 22-25

And He added, “The Son of Man must suffer many things. He will be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and teachers of the Law, and be put to death. Then after three days, He will be raised to life.”

Jesus also said to all the people, “If you wish to be a follower of Mine, deny yourself and take up your cross each day, and follow me! For if you choose to save your life, you will lose it; but if you lose your life for my sake, you will save it. What does it profit you to gain the whole world, if you destroy or damage yourself?”

Thursday, 14 February 2013 : Thursday after Ash Wednesday (Psalm)

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 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, 14 February 2013 : Thursday after Ash Wednesday (First Reading)

(Note : Today is the Solemnity of the Anniversary of Dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, Archdiocese of Singapore, 14 February 1897 – present) – readings remain the same throughout the world

Deuteronomy 30 : 15-20

See, I set before you on this day, life and good, evil and death. I command you to love YHVH, your God and follow His ways. Observe His commandments, His norms, and His laws, and you will live and increase, and YHVH will give you His blessing in the land you are going to possess.

But if your heart turns away and does not listen, if you are drawn away and bow before other gods to serve them, I declare on this day that you shall perish. You shall not last in the land you are going to occupy on the other side of the Jordan.

Let the heavens and the earth listen, that they may be witnesses against you. I have set before you, life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore, choose life that you and your descendants may live, loving YHVH, listening to His voice, and being one with Him. In this is  life  for you and length of days in the land which YHVH swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013 : Ash Wednesday (Scripture Reflection)

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, today we enter into the season of Lent, the season for repentance, and season for the blossoming of new hope and faith in God. For in this 40 days season of Lent, we have a great chance to bring ourselves ever closer to God, and to make ourselves ready to welcome God into our hearts, as we approach the most important liturgical season of the year, that is the Holy Week.

Today we receive the ashes, that is none other than the ashes produced by the burning of the palms from the previous year’s blessed palms of the Palm Sunday. These ashes which the priest will place on our foreheads are the reminder of our mortality and our fragility. It serves as a reminder for us, that we are human, and that we are limited, and ultimately, we are nothing before God, and our lives are just but a fleeting moment.

We have to prepare ourselves this Lent, and nothing better than to begin with humility, to humbly ask God for forgiveness. By the imposition of ashes, we show that we are ready to lower ourselves before God, most merciful and most loving.

These ashes may symbolise that we are nothing and that all we have are temporary, but even from the ashes, we can rise again to be great. Our sinful way of life and this world is just temporary, and therefore, let us do our best, not to be trapped, not to be ensnared by the false temptations and evils, and rather, let us make best use of our short and temporary existence in this world.

Let us turn our hearts to God, and sincerely ask for His forgiveness for our constant rebellion against Him. For in our human weakness, the evil one had had many tools to subvert us and lured us into sin to serve his own purposes, that is most importantly to separate us for eternity from the loving embrace of God. Let us use this Lenten season to rebuke Satan as Christ did when He was tempted during His 40 days retreat in the desert. Let us say no to Satan and his malicious ways, and reject him in all that we do. Make this Lenten season a holy and meaningful season, dedicated in prayer to God.

Let us approach the Lord with great humility and a loving heart reserved for Him alone. This is why Christ rebuked those whose hypocrisy made them pray in a very visible way, that is to be seen by all the people around them, with example being the Pharisees at that time. It is actually fine to show one’s great holiness, and indeed, one’s great faith and holiness, when shown, may deliver many to redemption too.

However, there is no prayer best than when we are alone with Him. To me, the best prayers are made, whenever I am in an empty shower in an empty bathroom, in my own room without anyone else, where, I can truly listen to the Lord speaking to me, and also to be able then to also speak to the Lord without restraint. Since, when we are alone with Him, we are truly open to Him, just as He is open to us. When someone is around us, less so a crowd, vanity, pride, and other sins will unavoidably arise in our hearts, and our focus will eventually be not entirely at the Lord anymore. No, indeed, if we allow our vanity and pride to grow great, we may end up focusing on ourselves, our own achievements by being ‘holy’ and ‘looked up to’ by the people.

Thus, today, let us, brothers and sisters in Christ, prepare ourselves for the Lord, make the best use out of this Lenten season. Do penance and repent sincerely, and the Lord will see our hearts and found them to be worthy. Let us step up our efforts in prayer and in our mission, in our work for the good of all around us, especially in this holy, Lenten season. Happy Lent everyone! Amen.