Tuesday, 8 March 2016 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. John of God, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 5 : 1-16

At that time, after Jesus healed the sick son of an official, there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now, by the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem, there is a pool (called Bethzatha in Hebrew) surrounded by five galleries. In these galleries lay a multitude of sick people : blind, lame and paralysed.

(All were waiting for the water to move, for at times an Angel of the Lord would descend into the pool and stir up the water; and the first person to enter the pool, after this movement of the water, would be healed of whatever disease that he had.)

There was a man who had been sick for thirty-eight years. Jesus saw him, and because He knew how long this man had been lying there, He said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” And the sick man answered, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is disturbed; so while I am still on my way, another steps down before me.”

Jesus then said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk!” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his mat and walked. Now that day happened to be the Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had just been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and the Law does not allow you to carry your mat.”

He answered them, “The One Who healed me said to me, ‘Take up your mat and walk!'” They asked him, “Who is the One Who said to you : Take up your mat and walk?” But the sick man had no idea Who it was Who had cured him, for Jesus had slipped away among the crowd that filled the place.

Afterwards Jesus met him in the Temple court and told him, “Now, you are well; do not sin again, lest something worse happen to you.” And the man went back and told the Jews that it was Jesus Who had healed him. So the Jews persecuted Jesus because He performed healings like that on the Sabbath.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. John of God, Religious (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 45 : 2-3, 5-6, 8-9ab

God is our strength and protection, an ever-present help in affliction. We will not fear, therefore, though the earth be shaken and the mountains plunge into the seas.

There is a river whose streams bring joy to the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within, the city cannot quake, for God’s help is upon it at the break of day.

For with us is the Lord of hosts, the God of Jacob, our refuge. Come, see the works of the Lord – the marvellous things He has done in the world.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. John of God, Religious (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Ezekiel 47 : 1-9, 12

The man brought me back to the entrance of the Temple and I saw water coming out from the threshold of the Temple and flowing eastwards. The Temple faced the east and the water flowed from the south side of the Temple, from the south side of the altar.

He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing the east and there I saw the stream coming from the south side. The man had a measuring cord in his hand. As he went towards the east he measured off a thousand cubits and led me across the water which was up to my ankles.

He measured off another thousand cubits and made me cross the water which came to my knees. He measured off another thousand cubits and we crossed the water which was up to my waist. When he had again measured a thousand cubits, I could not cross the torrent for it had swollen to a depth which was impossible to cross without swimming.

The man then said to me, “Son of man, did you see?” He led me on further and brought me back to the bank of the river. There I saw a number of trees on both sides of the river. He said to me, “This water goes to the east, down to the Arabah, and when it flows into the sea of foul smelling water, the water will become wholesome.”

“Wherever the river flows, swarms of creatures will live in it; fish will be plentiful and the sea water will become fresh. Wherever it flows, life will abound. Near the river on both banks there will be all kinds of fruit trees with foliage that will not wither and fruit that will never fail; each month they will bear a fresh crop because the water comes from the Temple. The fruit will be good to eat and the leaves will be used for healing.”

Monday, 7 March 2016 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Perpetua and St. Felicity, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard about the Lord Who chastised His people for their lack of faith, and for their refusal to believe, unless they see the signs and wonders, the miracles and all the supernatural things that they asked of the Lord Jesus to do and perform for them. They had no love for the Lord in their hearts, but instead, they only wanted to be awed and be satisfied of their curiosity.

They did not understand how God loves them so much and desires for them to be saved, from all of their shortcomings, their unworthiness, the wickedness of their sins and all of the evil and wicked things that had separated them from the fullness of God’s love and grace. But fortunately for us, our Lord loves us very greatly, and despite of our sins, He still wants to bring us out of our misery and suffering in sin, and lead us into eternal life.

However, what He needs from us is our commitment, our obedience and devotion to Him, the desire we need to have, the choice we need to make, in consciously walking on His paths towards salvation in God. This we can see in our Gospel today, where we heard about an official who came begging for Jesus our Lord to come and heal his son who was very sick and who was on the verge of death.

Jesus did not come with him, but instead, He just said simply that his son would live, and the official believed in him. He had faith in Jesus, and indeed, his son was healed and made whole again. Because of the faith which he had, and because of the commitment and devotion that he was willing to make to God, he has been granted his wishes, and God showed His favour upon him and his family.

This is contrasted to the attitude of the other people, which Jesus Himself showed in the very same Gospel passage, as they demanded Jesus to perform miracles and wonders, and even when He has done so many, many times, healing the sick and the dying, and even when He had raised the dead back to life, they still would not believe and doubted Him and refused to listen to Him.

This is an attitude which we cannot have, brothers and sisters in Christ, but rather, we should be more like the faithful official, having faith in God, even if we do not see His wonders and miracles right before our eyes. Our faith should not be founded upon awe and satisfaction of the flesh, but instead it should be based upon a genuine desire to love the Lord our God.

Today we commemorate the feast of St. Perpetua and St. Felicity, two great saints and martyrs, two great and holy women, whose life and examples can indeed be great inspiration for us, on how we ought to live our lives as the children and follower of our God. They were faithful and committed to the end, and they did not even fear death in the effort to keep themselves faithful to God.

They had different origins, St. Perpetua as a mother bearing a child, while St. Felicity was a slave, but both believed in God, and they met their end together having complete faith in God’s salvation. It was told that St. Perpetua converted to the faith and then when the Roman Emperor persecuted the faithful, despite the wishes of her father and others for her to reject her faith, but she remained committed and was imprisoned as a result.

The same devotion was shown by St. Felicity who was just a mere slave, and yet truly, through her faith in God, she had been made free from her true slavery, the slavery to sin and to the chains of the flesh. Through her dedication, commitment and courage, she had made herself worthy of God’s eternal life, salvation and redemption.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, shall we also seek to be like them, and do the same as what they have done? This means, shall we be truly faithful to the Lord in all things, and commit ourselves totally to Him? Let us no longer be separated from the love of God because of our disobedience, our reluctance and fear to follow Him, but instead, like the official, let us put our trust in Jesus, and commit ourselves to walk in His path and follow Him with all of our strength. God bless us all. Amen.