Thursday, 15 March 2018 : 4th Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 5 : 31-47

At that time, Jesus said to the Jews, “If I bore witness to Myself, My testimony would be worthless. But Another One is bearing witness to Me, and I know that His testimony is true when He bears witness to Me. John also bore witness to the truth when you sent messengers to him, but I do not seek such human testimony; I recall this for you, so that you may be saved.”

“John was a burning and shining lamp, and for a while you were willing to enjoy his light. But I have greater evidence than that of John – the works which the Father entrusted to Me to carry out. The very works I do bear witness : The Father has sent Me. Thus He Who bears witness to Me is the Father Who sent Me. You have never heard His voice and have never seen His likeness; therefore, as long as you do not believe His messenger, His word is not in you.”

“You search in the Scriptures, thinking that in them you will find life; yet Scripture bears witness to Me. But you refuse to come to Me, that you may live. I am not seeking human praise; but I have known that love of God is not within you, for I have come in My Father’s Name and you do not accept Me. If another comes in his own name, you will accept him. As long as you seek praise from one another, instead of seeking the glory which comes from the only God, how can you believe?”

“Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father. Moses himself, in whom you placed your hope, accuses you. If you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote of Me. But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?”

Thursday, 15 March 2018 : 4th Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 105 : 19-20, 21-22, 23

They made a calf at Horeb and worshipped the molten image. They exchanged the glory of God for the image of a bull that eats grass.

They forgot their Saviour God, Who had done great things in Egypt, wonderful works in the land of Ham, and awesome deeds by the Sea of Reeds.

So He spoke of destroying them, but Moses, His chosen one, stood in the breach before Him to shield them from destruction.

Thursday, 15 March 2018 : 4th Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Exodus 32 : 7-14

Then YHVH said to Moses, “Go down at once, for your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have quickly turned from the way I commanded them and have made for themselves a molten calf; they have bowed down before it and sacrificed to it and said : ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you out of Egypt.'”

And YHVH said to Moses, “I see that these people are a stiff-necked people. Now just leave Me that My anger may blaze against them. I will destroy them, but of you I will make a great nation.” But Moses calmed the anger of YHVH, his God, and said, “Why, o YHVH, should Your anger burst against Your people whom You brought out of the land of Egypt with such great power and with a mighty hand?”

“Let not the Egyptians say : ‘YHVH brought them out with evil intent, for He wanted to kill them in the mountains and wipe them from the face of the earth.’ Turn away from the heat of Your anger and do not bring disaster on Your people. Remember Your servants, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the promise You Yourself swore : I will multiply Your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land I spoke about I will give to them as an everlasting inheritance.”

YHVH then changed His mind and would not yet harm His people.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018 : 4th Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture telling us about our obedience to the will of God, as we heard how Jesus Our Lord obeyed the will of His Father, and delivered to us the words of truth, and the revelation of God’s love and desire for us all, that each one of us may be reconciled with Him in perfect love.

In the first reading, God promised His people that He would send them His salvation, because He would have pity and show mercy to His people, and He would not abandon them to their fated destruction because of their sins. He may hate and despise their sins and wickedness, but ultimately all of them, each and every one of His people, are His beloved ones. God loves us all His children, for if He had not loved us, He would not have created us.

Unfortunately, it was our sins caused by our refusal to obey His laws and commandments that have caused our separation from Him. We were meant and destined to be with God forever, and yet our sins sundered us from Him, and our ancestors were cast out of God’s presence at Eden because of their sins and their surrender to the temptations of the devil in eating the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Sin is caused by the disobedience of our ancestors, and also our own refusal to listen to God’s will, as He had made it clear to us through His laws, His prophets and messengers, and which He had delivered to us Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord, and then passed on to us through His Apostles and disciples in the Church He established, which we are part of. We sin because we think that it is better to follow our own path, to follow our own thoughts and ways, our preferences and desires rather than to walk in the path that God had set before us.

That is why, in assuming the flesh and form of Man, by being Incarnate and born of His mother, Mary, to be the Son of Man just as He is the Son of God, to be the perfect Man and the role model of obedience for all of us, who have sinned because of our disobedience. As we have disobeyed God and subsequently fell into sin, Jesus showed us how we can be obedient to God, and therefore receive forgiveness for our sins, and be reconciled with God.

All power, authority, glory and honour has been given to Christ, as the Saviour and Liberator of all man, to free them from all bonds of sin and from our fated punishment because of those sins. He alone has the power and authority to deliver us from our sins and from all those punishment, and that is the essence of what we have heard from our Gospel passage today. And yet, God chose to show all these not through mighty deeds and wonders, but through the perfect obedience of Jesus Christ.

He wanted to show all of us that while disobedience has caused us to sin and therefore, to be sundered from God and deserving eternal damnation, but obedience to God following the examples of Christ will bring about a new life, filled with a new grace, grace from God and forgiveness for all the trespasses and faults that we have committed thus far. He chose to show us true obedience, and also His love for each one of us, by willingly taking up all of our intended punishments, our sins and everything we should have suffered from, on His cross and bearing it up to Calvary, where He died for us, so that we who believe in Him may be forgiven and live.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in this season of Lent, all of us are supposed to prepare ourselves for the coming celebration of Holy Week and Easter, all of which are centred on the saving mission of Christ which He performed through His suffering, death on the cross, and ultimately His resurrection from the dead. Through this act of perfect and selfless love, God showed us that out of all the darkness of sin and all the wickedness, by obeying His laws and commandments, we can be redeemed and enter into the eternal glory of heaven.

And what is it that we must do in order to obey the Law? First of all, we must put God first and foremost in our minds, in all the things we do, and we must love Him with all of our hearts. Then secondly, we must show love, care and concern for our brethren, for our neighbours and all of our fellow men, by our actions and deeds. In fact, when we sin, we put our own ego, our own desires, and our very selves ahead of God, and ahead of others.

There have been many occasions in the history of man, when we have acted selfishly and wickedly, putting our own interests ahead of our obligation to God and to our fellow men. Wars and conflicts have been fought and much destruction wrought just so that some individuals can get whatever it is that they desired and wanted. And when man gained something, as we should be aware of, we cannot be easily satisfied by what we already have, and we end up desiring for more.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, during this season and time of Lent, we are all called to reevaluate and reorientate our lives so that when we were once slaves to sin, and to our desires and greed, we may be able to turn our disobedience and refusal to believe in God and walk in His ways, into obedience like that shown by Christ Our Lord Himself. As Christians, all of us are called so because we believe in Christ. But can we call ourselves Christians if we do not follow the examples Christ had set before us, and do not do what He Himself had done?

The Lord showed compassion and love for the weak and the downtrodden. He cared for the well-being of His people, feeding five thousand men and more women and children in one occasion, and four thousand in another, when He saw them hungry and without sustenance after following Him for days. And when He saw them lost without a guidance, He spent many hours teaching them about God’s truth.

We can see from these examples how Christ put His people ahead of Himself. He ministered to them, obeying the will of His Father with all of His heart and commitment, even if His human existence might be tired, exhausted or hungry. Are we able to do the same as well in our own lives and in our interactions with others? Are we able to act selflessly for the benefit of others and obey God’s commandments like Christ had done?

These are the questions that we need to keep in mind as we continue to journey through the time of Lent. Let us all devote ourselves anew to God, and change our way of life, that from disobedience we turn towards a new obedience and faith to God. Let us be ever more devoted and good servants of God. May the Lord be with us all, now and always. Amen.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018 : 4th Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 5 : 17-30

At that time, Jesus replied to the Jews, “My Father goes on working and so do I.” And the Jews tried all the harder to kill Him, for Jesus not only broke the Sabbath observance, but also made Himself equal with God, calling God His own Father.

Jesus said to them, “Truly, I assure you, the Son cannot do anything by Himself, but only what He sees the Father do. And whatever He does, the Son also does. The Father loves the Son and shows Him everything He does; and He will show Him even greater things than these, so that you will be amazed.”

“As the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son gives life to whom He wills. In the same way the Father judges no one, for He has entrusted all judgment to the Son, and He wants all to honour the Son as they honour the Father. Whoever ignores the Son, ignores as well the Father Who sent Him.”

“Truly, I say to you, anyone who hears My word and believes Him Who sent Me, has eternal life; and there is no judgment for him, because he has passed from death to life. Truly, the hour is coming and has indeed come, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and, on hearing it, will live. For the Father has life in Himself, and He has given to the Son also to have life in Himself. And He has empowered Him as well to carry out Judgment, for He is Son of Man.”

“Do not be surprised at this : the hour is coming when all those lying in tombs will hear My voice and come out; those who have done good shall rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. I can do nothing of Myself, and I need to hear Another One to judge; and My judgment is just, because I seek not My own will, but the will of Him Who sent Me.”

Wednesday, 14 March 2018 : 4th Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 144 : 8-9, 13cd-14, 17-18

Compassionate and gracious is the Lord, slow to anger and abounding in love. The Lord is good to everyone; His mercy embraces all His creation.

The Lord is true to His promises and lets His mercy show in all He does. The Lord lifts up those who are falling and raises those who are beaten down.

Righteous is the Lord in all His ways, His mercy shows in all His deeds. He is near those who call on Him, who call trustfully upon His Name.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018 : 4th Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 49 : 8-15

This is what YHVH says : “At a favourable time I have answered you, on the day of salvation I have been your help; I have formed you and made you to be My covenant with the people. You will restore the land, and allot its abandoned farms. You will say to the captives : Come out; and to those in darkness : Show yourselves.”

“They will feed along the road; they will find pasture on barren hills. They will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the scorching wind or the sun beat upon them; for He Who has mercy on them will guide them and lead them to springs of water. I will turn all My mountains into roads and raise up My highways. See, they come from afar, some from the north and west, others from the land of Sinim.”

Sing, o heavens and rejoice, o earth; break forth into song, o mountains : for YHVH has comforted His people and taken pity on those who are afflicted. But Zion said : “YHVH has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.” Can a woman forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child of her womb? Yet though she forget, I will never forget you.