Saturday, 5 March 2016 : 3rd Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 50 : 3-4, 18-19, 20-21

Have mercy on me, o God, in Your love. In Your great compassion blot out my sin. Wash me thoroughly of my guilt; cleanse me of evil.

You take no pleasure in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt offering, You would not delight in it. O God, my sacrifice is a broken spirit; a contrite heart You will not despise.

Shower Zion with Your favour : rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Then You will delight in fitting sacrifices, in burnt offerings and bulls offered on Your altar.

Saturday, 5 March 2016 : 3rd Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Hosea 5 : 15 – Hosea 6 : 6

YHVH said, “Then I will go away and return to My place until they admit their guilt and come back to Me, for in their anguish they will earnestly seek Me.”

Come, let us return to YHVH. He Who shattered us to pieces, will heal us as well; He has struck us down, but He will bind up our wounds. Two days later He will bring us back to life; on the third day, He will raise us up, and we shall live in His presence.

Let us strive to know YHVH. His coming is as certain as the dawn; His judgment will burst forth like the light; He will come to us as showers come, like spring rain that waters the earth.

YHVH said, “O Ephraim, what shall I do with you? O Judah, how shall I deal with you? This love of yours is like morning mist, like morning dew that quickly disappears. This is why I smote you through the prophets, and have slain you by the words of My mouth. For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice; it is knowledge of God, not burnt offerings.”

Friday, 4 March 2016 : 3rd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Casimir (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard from the Holy Scriptures about the Law of God which we all mankind should listen to and obey to, as it has been given by God to us as the means through which our salvation would come from. God had given us these laws as the guides by which we may find our way to return to the Lord our God, especially after we have been wayward on our path to Him.

For while we may think that it is easy and convenient to speak about love, but it is in reality not as easy as it seems. Love is not as what we all often think about, as in our minds and in our understanding, we often look at love as the love and even the lust existing between two peoples, between a man and a woman, who desire each other, and then developing into a relationship.

No, it is not just this kind of love, as the problem is that, in our limited human understanding, we see love as the twisted love that it is in our world today. Let us just see how it was a few weeks ago when the secular world is celebrating in its own way the Valentine’s Day, as a day of romancing and as a day of materialistic craze as one tries to outdo the other in trying to impress their respective lovers.

And we see the amount of advertising, commercialisation and the monetisation of love, where it becomes a commodity for trading and selling, instead of what love is in accordance to what God had told us and shown us. This is the kind of love that we know, not true love but a selfish love, love that cares only about ourselves and those to whom we share that love, but often at the expense of the others whom we do not care about.

You all may be asking, why did I spend so much time going through love and its concept, and how it is realised in our world today, while the Gospel today speaks of God’s Law? That is because, just as in the first reading from the Book of the prophet Hosea spoke about the love that God is pouring down on us all mankind, and how He wants to release us from the suffering of this world due to our sins, and how He wants to make us pure and clean once again, then it was His Law that was an instrument through which He was trying to help us to accomplish this.

And that Law of God is about love, and is indeed Love itself, for God is Love. If God is true and real Love, then surely all that He brings into this world will be filled with love. And in the Gospel, Jesus summarised aptly that God’s Law is truly about two fundamental things that we have to do, that is to first of all, love God before all other things, and do so with all of our hearts’ strength, with all of our focus and effort, and then do the same for the others around us, our fellow men.

In order to understand this fully, we have to realise the context in which the Gospel passage happened in the past. During the time of Jesus, and particularly throughout His ministry, the Pharisees, the elders and the teachers of the Law were often against Jesus and His works, and they always tried to find fault in Him and to condemn Him, because in their eyes and in their minds, He had violated and disobeyed the Law of God as they knew it.

That is because to them, the Law has become empty and devoid of its true meaning, and instead become an instrument of oppression and punishment, and through their way of observing the Law, they did these without true understanding of the purpose of the Law that is the love of God, made through the Law for His desire to bring mankind filled with sin to repentance and thus to receive from Him the eternal redemption.

Therefore, on this day, all of us are called to find out more about God’s commandments of love, and then after understanding them, their purpose and attention, let us all not stop there but continue to commit ourselves to do what the Lord had asked us to do in our own lives. And this season of Lent is the perfect time and opportunity for us to do what is good, filled with charity, care and concern for our brethren around us, and thus devoting ourselves to love God all the more.

Today we mark the feast of St. Casimir of Poland, a faithful and devoted servant of God who devoted his whole life to the Lord. St. Casimir was a royal prince and indeed the crown prince of both the kingdoms of Poland and Lithuania, a mighty Christian kingdom at that time. He was destined to succeed as king, but he never let that fact to hold him back and to distract him, as he continued to devote himself fully to God and to the people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, St. Casimir showed by his actions, by his ministry and service to the weak and the poor, the rejected ones and the ostracised, he helped them and showed the love of God to them. He was a humble and pious man, who obeyed the Lord and His commandments at every opportunity. He showed true understanding of the Law, by his loving actions and by his dedication. And through this, he showed us how to be a real disciple of the Lord.

May God help us all to draw ever nearer to Him, and may all of us be strengthened in our hearts to love God and our fellow men ever more, without condition and without selfishness and desire attached, but instead with great sincerity. Let us all follow the examples of St. Casimir of Poland and also the examples of the other saints and holy people of God, and be made worthy and holy ourselves, and be worthy of the kingdom of God. Amen.

Friday, 4 March 2016 : 3rd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Casimir (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Mark 12 : 28b-34

At that time, a teacher of the Law came up to Jesus and asked Him, “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.”

“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 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, 4 March 2016 : 3rd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Casimir (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 80 : 6c-8a, 8bc-9, 10-11ab, 14 and 17

They heard a voice they did not know : “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.

Friday, 4 March 2016 : 3rd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Casimir (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Hosea 14 : 2-10

Return to your God YHVH, o Israel! Your sins have caused your downfall. Return to YHVH with humble words. Say to Him, “Oh You Who show compassion to the fatherless, forgive our debt, be appeased. Instead of bulls and sacrifices, accept the praise from our lips. Assyria will not save us : no longer shall we look for horses, nor ever again shall we say ‘our gods’ to the work of our hands.”

YHVH said, “I will heal their wavering and love them with all My heart for My anger has turned from them. I shall be like dew to Israel, like lily will he blossom. Like a cedar he will send down his roots; his young shoots will grow and spread. His splendour will be like an olive tree, his fragrance, like a Lebanon cedar.”

“They will dwell in My shade again, they will flourish like the grain, they will blossom like a vine, and their fame will be like Lebanon wine. What would Ephraim do with idols, when it is I Who hear and make him prosper? I am like an ever-green cypress tree; all your fruitfulness comes from Me.”

“Who is wise enough to grasp all this? Who is discerning and will understand? Straight are the ways of YHVH : the just walk in them, but the sinners stumble.”