Wednesday, 23 March 2016 : Wednesday of the Holy Week, Memorial of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, Bishop (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 50 : 4-9a

The Lord YHVH has taught Me, so I speak as His disciple and I know how to sustain the weary. Morning after morning He wakes Me up to hear, to listen like a disciple.

The Lord YHVH has opened My ear. I have not rebelled, nor have I withdrawn. I offered My back to those who strike Me, My cheeks to those who pulled My beard; neither did I shield My face from blows, spittle and disgrace.

I have not despaired, for the Lord YHVH comes to My help. So, like a flint I set My face, knowing that I will not be disgraced. He Who avenges Me is near. Who then will accuse Me? Let us confront each other. Who is now My accuser? Let Him approach. If the Lord is My help, who will condemn Me?

Tuesday, 22 March 2016 : Tuesday of the Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, it is very clear from the Scripture readings today that we are really getting ever closer to the pinnacle of our liturgical year celebrations, that is the Easter Triduum, celebrating the Last Supper of our Lord where He instituted the Eucharist, giving us His Body and Blood to share as a new covenant between us and God, and which was made complete and perfect through His ultimate sacrifice on the cross, and which culminates in the celebration of His glorious resurrection.

In today’s Gospel, we saw first how Judas Iscariot was about to betray Jesus, his Lord and Master. Judas betrayed his Master to the Pharisees and the elders at the Temple, for a sum of thirty silver coins. Such was the price of a slave at that time, and which means, Judas sold out his own Master, the Lord God and King of Kings, at a price no more than the price of a mere slave.

And thus our Lord lowered Himself to be like a slave, and even lesser than a slave, for He had brought Himself to the lowest of the lowest darkness, in order to bring us all who have fallen into the same darkness, and lift us back up into the light. It was because God loves us all that He had endeavoured to do so, and willingly He went forth carrying out the mission which His Father had entrusted Him with, the salvation of all mankind.

The world itself did not appreciate Him, and they ridiculed Him, treated Him badly and rejected Him, and they refused to listen to His message, His teachings and His truth. But God had mercy on us because of His love, and because of that love which would not allow Him to abandon us all in the darkness on our own, unless it is by our own desire and conscious choice that we had chosen to abandon Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, indeed, the time of Lent is ending, and the season of fasting and abstinence to prepare ourselves for the joyous celebration of Easter is coming to an end soon. However, it does not mean that we return back to our sinful ways again. God wanted to save us, because He does not want us to fall into eternal damnation, and through the Church, He had shown us the path to reach out to His salvation, freely offered to all.

If God had loved us all so much, have we ourselves love Him as well? Or have we instead rejected His love and spurned His mercy? Do we want to be like Judas His traitorous disciple who loved money and worldliness more than he loved the Lord? It is a choice that we need to make, that in our lives, all of us should be conscious and be aware that all of our actions have implications to our salvation or to our damnation.

Let us not end our preparation for Easter just with the coming of Easter. If we have sincerely tried to abandon our sinfulness, casting aside the darkness and the wickedness that had coloured our lives all these while, then let us continue to do so, for the devil is always round about us, manipulating the world and all its forces to oppose the Lord and all of His good works. This means that temptations are always around us, and if we are not careful, we may fall into temptation and sin once again.

May God help us in our journey of this life, and may He strengthen the faith in each one of us, and the love which we should have for God, for His laws and for our fellow brethren. May He make us all realise how much He has loved us, and how much He has blessed us, and therefore awaken in us the desire for repentance, to turn our backs to sin, and to return to Him with all our heart. May He be with us now and forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016 : Tuesday of the Holy Week (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 13 : 21-33, 36-38

At that time, after speaking to His disciples at the Last Supper, Jesus was distressed in Spirit, and said plainly, “Truly, one of you will betray Me.” The disciples then looked at one another, wondering whom He meant. One of the disciples, the one Jesus loved, was reclining near Jesus; so Simon Peter signalled him to ask Jesus whom He meant.

And the disciple, who was reclining near Jesus, asked Him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “I shall dip a piece of bread in the dish, and he to whom I give it, is the one.” So Jesus dipped the bread and gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And as Judas took the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus then said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.”

None of the others, reclining at the table, understood why Jesus said this to Judas. As Judas had the common purse, they may have thought that Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or, “Give something to the poor.” Judas left as soon as he had eaten the bread. It was night.

When Judas had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him. God will glorify Him, and He will glorify Him very soon. My children, I am with you for only a little while; you will look for Me, but as I already told the Jews, so now I tell you : where I am going you cannot come.”

Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but afterwards you will.” Peter said, “Lord, why can I not follow You now? I am ready to give my life for You.”

“To give your life for Me?” Jesus asked Peter. “Truly, I tell you, the cock will not crow, before you have denied Me three times.”

Tuesday, 22 March 2016 : Tuesday of the Holy Week (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 70 : 1-2, 3-4a, 5-6ab, 15ab and 17

In You, o Lord, I seek refuge; let me not be disgraced. In Your justice help me and deliver me, turn Your ear to me and save me!

Be my Rock of refuge, a Stronghold to give me safety, for You are my Rock and my Fortress. Rescue me, o my God, from the hand of the wicked.

For You, o Lord, have been my Hope, my Trust, o God, from my youth. I have relied on You from birth : from my mother’s womb You brought me forth.

My lips will proclaim Your intervention and tell of Your salvation all day. You have taught me from my youth and until now I proclaim Your marvels.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016 : Tuesday of the Holy Week (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 49 : 1-6

Listen to Me, o islands, pay attention, peoples from distant lands. YHVH called Me from My mother’s womb; He pronounced My Name before I was born. He made My mouth like a sharpened sword. He hid Me in the shadow of His hand. He made Me into a polished arrow set apart in His quiver.

He said to Me, “You are Israel, My Servant. Through You I will be known.” “I have laboured in vain,” I thought and spent My strength for nothing.” Yet what is due Me was in the hand of YHVH, and My reward was with My God. I am important in the sight of YHVH, and My God is My strength.

And now YHVH has spoken, He Who formed Me in the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, to gather Israel to Him. He said : “It is not enough that You be My Servant, to restore the tribes of Jacob, to bring back the remnant of Israel. I will make You the Light of the nations, that My salvation will reach to the ends of the earth.”

Monday, 21 March 2016 : Monday of the Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about how Mary, the sister of Lazarus anointed the feet of Jesus her Lord as He was sitting down for a meal with her and her family, as well as with His disciples. And we heard how Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus, accused her of wasting such precious and expensive perfume on Him, when the perfume could have been sold for the proceeds to be given to the poor.

And of course, the Gospel also explained that Judas had been helping himself to the funds of Jesus and His group, and therefore, he had been a dishonest steward to the money which Jesus and His disciples had gathered. It was explained that he was a thief, and thus, naturally, we would find it easy to dismiss him and his comments as the comment of a thief and a slanderer.

But, remember, Judas was a sinner, and so do we too. Mary was a sinner as well, and unworthy as she was, thus, she wiped the feet of her Lord with her own hair. This has a parallel in another Gospel, where the woman who did the same deed to Jesus, was a sinner, who tearfully anointed the feet of Jesus with perfume, and wiped it dry with her hair.

And Judas also made a similar comment in that case, a condescending remark, rebuking and chiding the woman for doing what she had done, and saying that the proceeds could have been given to the poor should she had sold it instead of using it all on Jesus’ feet. But then, let us all ask ourselves, and let us all observe ourselves in this world, in all the events that we observe, is it not all just about the same?

Yes, many people in the world today attacked the Church and criticised the Church, the priests and the faithful, and they criticised the way that we ran things in the Church, criticising our supposed hypocrisy and indifference, especially those who misunderstood and thought that what we are doing are not in the way of the Lord, and instead reflecting an elitist attitude.

What am I talking about, brothers and sisters in Christ? I am talking about those who criticised the Church and our faith for having not done enough for the poor and the suffering in the world, and for having churches and buildings made from wonderful and precious materials, gold, silver and all the other riches of the world. They accuse us of being hypocritical and indifferent, but the reality, is actually really, very different. For the ways of this world, is not like the ways of our Lord.

The fact is that, the Church had done massively to help the poor and the destitute around the world, providing care for countless millions, education for those who once had chance for none, housing and care for those who were homeless, love and care for those who were ostracised and cast out from the society, and ultimately, care for countless people who had once no hope, and now they had a better future.

It was not perfect indeed, and there are still ever more things that we can do, in order to help countless other millions who are still out of the reach of the loving hands of God through His Church. But this is where we all need to come in. Remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, the Church is not just the institution of priests, bishops, the Pope and all the hierarchy of the Church. The Church is truly the body of the unity of all those who are faithful in the Lord, which means including all of us as well.

It is the combined efforts of the whole Church that can make a great difference in our world today, and thus, we have to realise that many of us have yet to contribute to the efforts of the Universal Church in helping our fellow brethren. And in this time when we are preparing to welcome the joy of Easter, let us reflect on this, as there are still so many things we can do to share that joy with those who have none. And if we have not done so, what are we waiting for?

And lastly, remember, about the rich decorations and the gold and silver vessels in the Church? Just as Mary had anointed the feet of Jesus with the very expensive perfume, it is also the same for what the Church had done. Why are all the vessels used in the Mass made from precious metals? That is because it is how we honour the Lord, Who is truly present in the Eucharist, the bread and wine made into the very substance of His own Body and Blood, that we cannot spare anything less than our most precious earthly things to be the vessels to contain such precious and great a gift for our salvation.

We glorify God through such means, and help one another to approach God with such means. Through what decent methods the Church had done, we have tried our best to bring Heaven itself to earth. A true and pure worship is when all of us the faithful are gathered together, and are so immersed in the environment and all the earthly glories placed together, that we indeed are present not just on earth, but in the sanctuary of the Temple of God in Heaven itself.

Therefore, as we all prepare for the joys of Easter, the celebrations that we are going to revel in as we share the joy and hope of our Lord’s resurrection, we too should look forward to our own resurrection and rise into glory, which all begin from ourselves, from how we live our lives. Let us all do what we can to make ourselves worthy of the Lord, and let us begin by putting more effort to help one another particularly in helping out the efforts of the Church in its charitable activities around the world.

May God help us to make this Holy Week a very meaningful time for us, and if we have not begun, let us all initiate a very important change in our lives, by seeking to turn away from all things that kept us away from truly being able to reach out to the Lord, and finding our way to Him through repentance, through commitment and love for Him. Let us all be saved in His grace. Amen.

Monday, 21 March 2016 : Monday of the Holy Week (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 12 : 1-11

At that time, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where He had raised Lazarus, the dead man, to life. Now they gave a dinner to Him, and while Martha waited on them, Lazarus sat at the table with Jesus.

Then Mary took a pound of costly perfume, made from genuine spikenard and anointed the feet of Jesus, wiping them with her hair. And the whole house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

Judas Iscariot – the disciple who was to betray Jesus – remarked, “This perfume could have been sold for three hundred silver coins, and the money given to the poor.” Judas, indeed, had no concern for the poor; he was a thief, and as he held the common purse, he used to help himself to the funds.

But Jesus spoke up, “Leave her alone. Was she not keeping it for the day of My burial? (The poor you always have with you, but you will not always have Me.)”

Many Jews heard that Jesus was there and they came, not only because of Jesus, but also to see Lazarus whom He had raised from the dead. So the chief priests thought about killing Lazarus as well, for many of the Jews were drifting away because of Him, and believing in Jesus.