Friday, 2 March 2018 : 2nd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 21 : 33-43, 45-46

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Listen to another example : There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a fence around it, dug a hole for the winepress, built a watchtower, leased the vineyard to tenants, and then went to a distant country.”

“When harvest time came, the landowner sent his servants to the tenants to collect his share of the harvest. But the tenants seized his servants, beat one, killed another and stoned a third. Again the owner sent more servants, but they were treated in the same way.”

“Finally, he sent his son, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they thought, ‘This is the one who is to inherit the vineyard. Let us kill him, and his inheritance will be ours.’ So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.”

“Now, what will the owner of the vineyard do with the tenants when he comes?” They said to him, “He will bring those evil men to an evil end, and lease the vineyard to others, who will pay him in due time.” And Jesus replied, “Have you never read what the Scriptures say? The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, and we marvel at it.”

“Therefore I say to you : the kingdom of heaven will be taken from you, and given to a people who will yield a harvest.”

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard these parables, they realised that Jesus was referring to them. They would have arrested Him, but they were afraid of the crowd, who regarded Him as a Prophet.

Friday, 2 March 2018 : 2nd Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 104 : 16-17, 18-19, 20-21

Then the Lord sent a famine and ruined the crop that sustained the land; He sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave.

His feet in shackles, his neck in irons till what he foretold came to pass, and the Lord’s word proved him true.

The king sent for him, set him free, the ruler of the peoples released him. He put him in charge of his household and made him ruler of all his possessions.

Friday, 2 March 2018 : 2nd Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Genesis 37 : 3-4, 12-13a, 17b-28

Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other children, for he was the son of his old age and he had a coat with long sleeves made for him. His brothers who saw that their father loved him more than he loved them, hated him and could no longer speak to him in a friendly way.

His brothers had gone to pasture their father’s flock at Shechem, and Israel said to Joseph, “Your brothers are pasturing the flock at Shechem.” So Joseph went off after his brothers and found them at Dothan. They saw him in the distance and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.

They said to one another, “Here comes the specialist in dreams! Now is the time! Let us kill him and throw him into a well. We will say a wild animal devoured him. Then we will see what his dreams were all about!” But Reuben heard this and tried to save him from their hands saying, “Let us not kill him; shed no blood! Throw him in this well in the wilderness, but do him no violence.” This he said to save him from them and take him back to his father.

So as soon as Joseph arrived, they stripped him of his long-sleeved coat that he wore and then took him and threw him in the well, now the well was empty, without water. They were sitting for a meal when they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, their camels laden with spices, balm and myrrh, which they were taking down to Egypt.

Judah then said to his brothers, “What do we gain by killing our brother and hiding his blood? Come! We will sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother and our own flesh!” His brothers agreed to this. So when the Midianite merchants came along they pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the well. For twenty pieces of silver they sold Joseph to the Midianites, who took him with them to Egypt.

Thursday, 1 March 2018 : 2nd Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the stories and reminders from the Scriptures, which is an apt reminder to each and every one of us to be careful and indeed be mindful on how we ought to live our lives and on what we depend on in our respective lives. Let us begin first by looking into what we have heard from our Gospel passage today, the story of Lazarus and the rich man.

In that story, we saw the contrast between Lazarus, a poor man who often sat just outside the large mansion belonging to a rich man, hoping that he could eat from whatever scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. It was likely that Lazarus was so poor that he could not even afford anything to eat and satisfy his daily needs, to the point that he had to beg for the food.

Meanwhile, the rich man had everything that he needed, from food, drinks, friends, company of loved ones, possessions, shelter over his head and all other forms of earthly needs. He was good in everything save for the fact that he was unable to see the plight of the poor man who was sitting just outside of his residence. He had everything that he needed, but he kept them all to himself and did not lift a finger to help Lazarus, who was in great need.

In the end, we heard how both eventually met the end of their earthly lives and existence. We all know that everyone will meet and experience death at the end of their lives, and thus the same thing happened to both Lazarus and the rich man. Yet, the fates awaiting the two of them each could not be much more different, one from the other one.

Lazarus went up to heaven and sit beside Abraham, the ancestor of the people of Israel and many other nations, a righteous servant of God, deemed worthy of the glory of heaven promised to those who have been just and faithful to God. Meanwhile the rich man fell into damnation and the sufferings in hell, which is reserved for Satan and all those who have disobeyed God, and had willingly refused to follow the Lord.

In the first reading today, taken from the book of the prophet Jeremiah, we gained some deeper insight of what had happened to the two of them. It is about how and what we put our trust in, be it in God or be it human beings and worldly matters. The prophet Jeremiah made it very clear that if we trust in worldly things and in our own strength, we will likely end up drawn away from God, and fall into the temptations to sin.

But if we put our trust in God, we will grow ever more in faith, and we will draw closer to Him. It may be a life filled with challenges and difficulties, but we can be sure that God is always on our side. While the wealth and all the goods we have in this world may bring us happiness to a certain extent, but they will not last forever, and eventually they may perish and be destroyed.

Similarly, regardless of all the bountiful riches and goods that the rich man possessed, none of those came to his rescue or were available to him when he fell into the eternal suffering in hell. He was suffering all by himself, and without any hope of rescue and salvation, as he has lost all the opportunities given to him by God, to touch the lives of others, especially the poor Lazarus sitting by his doorstep.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what we need to know is that we sin by both doing what is wicked and sinful in the eyes of God, but also by not doing what we can do in order to truly be followers of the Lord. God was not against the rich and those who have more possessions and wealth, as some would try to argue it that way. Instead, God wants us to make good use of what He has blessed us with.

To those of us who have been more blessed than others, we should learn to share our joy and blessings, especially to those among us who have little or none to be joyful. This is why in this season of Lent, we are called to be more generous in giving, be more charitable in our love towards our brothers and sisters. Let us make good use of our time during this Lent to be ever more devoted and committed Christians, loving our fellow brethren more.

Let us not abandon or ignore all the ‘Lazaruses’ we see around us. Let us show mercy, love and compassion to these brethren, who may need our care, attention and other forms of help. May the Lord move our hearts to be ever more loving and dedicated in all the things we do, for the good of our brethren. May God bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 1 March 2018 : 2nd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 16 : 19-31

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Once there was a rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen and feasted every day. At his gate lay Lazarus, a poor man covered with sores, who longed to eat just the scraps falling from the rich man’s table. Even dogs used to come and lick his sores.”

“It happened that the poor man died, and Angels carried him to take his place with Abraham. The rich man also died, and was buried. From hell where he was in torment, the rich man looked up and saw Abraham afar off, and with him Lazarus at rest. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me, and send Lazarus, with the tip of his finger dipped in water, to cool my tongue, for I suffer so much in this fire.'”

“Abraham replied, ‘My son, remember that in your lifetime you were well-off, while the lot of Lazarus was misfortune. Now he is in comfort, and you are in agony. But that is not all. Between your place and ours a great chasm has been fixed, so that no one can cross over from here to you, or from your side to us.'”

“The rich man implored once more, ‘Then I beg you, Father Abraham, to send Lazarus to my father’s house, where my five brothers live, let him warn them, so that they may not end up in this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.'”

“But the rich man said, ‘No, Father Abraham; but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced, even if someone rises from the dead.'”

Thursday, 1 March 2018 : 2nd Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

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 the 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, 1 March 2018 : 2nd Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Jeremiah 17 : 5-10

This is what YHVH says, “Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings and depends on a mortal for his life, while his heart is drawn away from YHVH! He is like a bunch of thistles in dry land, in parched desert places, in a salt land where no one lives and who never finds happiness.”

“Blessed is the man who puts his trust in YHVH and whose confidence is in Him! He is like a tree planted by the water, sending out its roots towards the stream. He has no fear when the heat comes, his leaves are always green; the year of drought is no problem and he can always bear fruit.”

“Most deceitful is the heart. What is there within man, who can understand him? I, YHVH, search the heart and penetrate the mind. I reward each one according to his ways and the fruit of his deeds.”