Tuesday, 20 February 2018 : 1st Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard from the Scriptures the unique relationship that Our Lord Jesus Christ has with His Father in heaven, as we listened to the reading from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, speaking to us about the Word which came from God, and which would not return to Him until that Word has accomplished all that God had willed to do through the Word.

We know that Jesus, Our Lord and Saviour is the Divine Word Incarnate, Son of God, through Whom the Father willed all creation into being, including all of us mankind at the beginning of time. And when the Father sent Him into the world, as we remember from the Gospel of St. John, ‘For He so loved the world, that He gave us His only beloved Son, that all who believe in Him may not perish, but have eternal life’, we gain for ourselves a loving Saviour and Lord.

And Jesus showed us all the example of a faithful and obedient Son, obeying the Father’s will in everything, which is summarised in His short but exceedingly beautiful prayer, which we pray as the Lord’s Prayer, Pater Noster, a prayer which we heard as part of our Gospel reading today, which summarises everything that a prayer should be and ought to be.

First of all, a prayer is a way for us to communicate with God, and that was what Our Lord did, speaking directly to the Father, calling upon Him and praising Him, for we have been given this great privilege, having shared in Christ’s humanity, to be able to call God as our Father. And as a child addressing and talking to his or her father, we too ought to speak to God through prayer, directly to Him, and He will listen to us.

However, many of us forget that the essence of prayer is not for us to demand from God anything, or to have our wishes and wants fulfilled. This is what many of us have misunderstood from prayer and from our devotions, as many of us think of God as a wonder worker Who can satisfy all of our needs and fulfil all of those things which we want and desire. No, this is not true prayer, as a true prayer is in essence, opening a two-way communication between us and God.

Many of us are able to speak with God, through our prayers and petitions. However, how many of us are actually able to listen to Him? It is too often that we are preoccupied in our concerns, our desires and thoughts, that we failed to listen to the Lord speaking in the depths of our hearts. The noise of this world, all of its temptations and concerns deafened us to the Lord’s words in our hearts.

And a prayer is not just about ourselves, as if we often notice that what truly distracted us from being able to listen to God was because we are so self-centred, thinking only about ourselves, about what we want in life, and we sometimes even demanded that God take action for our sake. This ego and desire, the focus on the ‘I’ and ‘Me’ are all that caused us to drift away from God and into sin.

Prayer is also about thanksgiving, for Jesus Himself thanked His Father for all the goodness He has blessed all of us with, but in our own prayers, how many of us remembered to thank God first for all the blessings which He had given us? We always remember God only when we are in need of His providence and help, and when He has given us all that we wanted and desired, we are very quick in forgetting Him and never thanked Him as we all should have.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, as we proceed through the season of Lent, let us all strengthen our relationship with God, through prayerful life and committing ourselves to acts of charity and love for others. It is important that we learn how to pray in the right way, as we have just discussed, not prayer focused on ourselves and our selfish interests and desires, but prayer that is truly allowing us to speak to God and to have a proper conversation, that we also put forth a listening ear, open mind and open heart to listen to God speaking in our deepest selves.

Let us all follow the examples of Our Lord Jesus Himself, Who obeyed the will of His Father perfectly, doing what He had commanded Him to do and even to the cross at Calvary, by which we were saved. Let us learn to get ourselves rid off our pride, arrogance, stubbornness, and all the things which have become obstacles in our journey of faith towards the Lord. Let us instead grow to be humbler and more dedicated in our faith, doing whatever we can to live ever more in accordance with what the Lord had taught us.

May the Lord bless us all and may He continue to watch over us and protect us, every day of our lives. May our Lenten observance and efforts be good and meaningful to our spiritual growth, that we may grow ever closer to God, day after day. Amen.