Friday, 16 March 2018 : 4th Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we approach the coming of the Holy Week, we see more and more signs in the Scripture readings chosen for these days, on the opposition and challenges facing the Lord Jesus, as He was about to embark on the final stage of His earthly ministry, as prophesied by the prophets and written throughout the Old Testament.

In the first reading today, the passage taken from the Book of Wisdom placed exactly the sentiments and thoughts of those who were opposed to Jesus and attempted to bring about His downfall and end. The Pharisees, the teachers of the Law, the elders and the chief priests thought exactly in the manner foreshown by the Book of Wisdom, in their reasoning why they wanted to bring down the Lord.

They were jealous of the Lord and His immense popularity among the people, which He seemed to be able to do because of His very popular and authoritative sermons, and His numerous miracles and healings, which the Pharisees, the teachers of the Law and all others opposed to Jesus had not been able to perform. As such they were afraid that all the privileges and power they have enjoyed then would be taken from them should the Lord triumphed in His efforts.

That was why they hardened their hearts and minds, and refused to listen to Him, even if He had brought unto them the words of truth, and even if they have witnessed and should have understood that whatever the Lord Jesus had done, could only be possible if He was indeed the Messiah, the One promised by God to be the salvation for all of the people. And there He was, God Himself made Man, choosing to dwell in the midst of His people and calling them to His saving grace.

The opponents of the Lord doubted Him because they were unable to resist the temptations of this world, the temptation of power, of influence, of prestige, of wealth, of worldly possessions and concerns, and all other things that made them to refuse to believe in God, even though what He was telling them was the truth. They surrounded themselves with self-made lies and illusions, and in the end believing in them, which were ideas planted in their minds by Satan.

Yes, whenever there are those whose works are against the good works of God, ultimately all of them came from Satan and all of his efforts and hard works against us and against God. He is always ever active in his works, trying at every moment to subvert us, to strike at us, and to turn us away from God’s salvation and grace. He does not want us to be redeemed and to be forgiven from our sins.

That is why he is always against God and His good works, and as such, that is why difficulties and challenges were often aplenty for all those who walked in God’s ways and served Him faithfully. For ages, as mentioned in the Scriptures, we witnessed how the many prophets and servants of God had to struggle against the devil and his agents which are ever present around us.

The devil exercised his works around the Lord and His disciples, and he stirred the hearts and minds of those who have been tempted by power and worldly glory, to oppose God and His works as He made it in the person of Jesus Christ. That is why He tempted Jesus to stop doing His good works, by tempting Him in the desert, and when it failed, opposing Him at every opportunity through his various works, and in the end, caused Him to be condemned to death on the cross.

Yet, Satan did not foresee that his moment of supposedly greatest triumph, at being able to condemn the Son of God and the Messiah Himself to a humiliating death, was in fact the moment of his greatest and ultimate defeat. By the power of the cross and His death on it, God has saved us all, those who were destined to perish because of our sins, as His salvation has been given to us by the outpouring of His Blood in an act of perfect love.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, do we realise just how much God loved us all that He was willing to go through all of that in order that we may be saved? It is important that we spend this time of Lent meaningfully so that we may reflect on the loving passion of Our Lord, Who died for us on the cross. Let us all renew our faith and commitment in Him, resolve to sin no more and devote our whole lives to Him. Do not harden our hearts and minds like that of the Pharisees and the chief priests.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He strengthen us, that each and every one of us may draw ever closer to Him and receive from Him the reward of eternal life. Let us allow God to enter into our lives and transform us from creatures of darkness that we were, into creatures of light, worthy to be called His children. May God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 16 March 2018 : 4th Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 7 : 1-2, 10, 25-30

At that time, Jesus went around Galilee; He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews wanted to kill Him. Now the Jewish feast of the Tents was at hand.

But after His brothers had gone to the festival, He also went up, not publicly but in secret. Some of the people of Jerusalem said, “Is this not the Man they want to kill? And here He is speaking freely, and they do not say a word to Him? Can it be that the rulers know that this is really the Christ? Yet we know where this Man comes from; but when the Christ appears, no one will know where He comes from.”

So Jesus announced in a loud voice in the Temple court where He was teaching, “You say that you know Me and know where I come from! I have not come of Myself; I was sent by the One Who is true, and you do not know Him. I know Him for I come from Him and He sent Me.”

They would have arrested Him, but no one laid hands on Him because His time had not yet come.

Friday, 16 March 2018 : 4th Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 33 : 17-18, 19-20, 21 and 23

But the Lord’s face is set against the wicked to destroy their memory from the earth. The Lord hears the cry of the righteous and rescues them from all their troubles.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves the distraught. Many are the troubles of the just, but the Lord delivers them from all.

He keeps all their bones intact, and none of them will be broken. But the Lord will redeem the life of His servants; none of those who trust in Him will be doomed.

Friday, 16 March 2018 : 4th Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Wisdom 2 : 1a, 12-22

Led by mistaken reasons they think, “Let us set a trap for the Righteous, for He annoys us and opposes our way of life; He reproaches us for our breaches of the Law and accuses us of being false to our upbringing. He claims knowledge of God and calls Himself Son of the Lord. He has become a reproach to our way of thinking; even to meet Him is burdensome to us. He does not live like others and behaves strangely.”

“According to Him we have low standards, so He keeps aloof from us as if we were unclean. He emphasises the happy end of the righteous and boasts of having God as Father. Let us see the truth of what He says and find out what His end will be. If the Righteous is a Son of God, God will defend Him and deliver Him from His adversaries.”

“Let us humble and torture Him to prove His self-control and test His patience. When we have condemned Him to a shameful death, we may test His words.” This is the way they reason, but they are mistaken, blinded by their malice. They do not know the mysteries of God nor do they hope for the reward of a holy life; they do not believe that the blameless will be recompensed.

Thursday, 15 March 2018 : 4th Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we witnessed through the Scripture passages, the righteous anger of God at the sins of His people Israel, as we heard in our first reading today from the Book of Exodus. The people of Israel had not obeyed the Lord and committed a grave sin when they betrayed God and built for themselves an idol made from gold, a golden calf, even as God gave them His laws and commandments through Moses.

In His anger, He wanted to destroy them all just as He had done before with the wicked and sinful sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, who sinned before God greatly, and the Great Flood came over them all, with only Noah and his descendants surviving the great catastrophe. But God had made a Covenant with Noah and his descendants, that He would no longer destroy man with a flood as He had done. And then, He made a renewed Covenant with Abraham and his descendants.

The Covenant God made with Abraham spoke of the blessings He would give to Abraham and his descendants. They would be innumerable and great beyond everything else. And in His anger at their sins, God wanted to destroy them as it was just for them, but God stayed His anger, because His servant Moses reminded Him and prevented Him from doing such a deed.

Ultimately, even though God was furious at the sins and wickedness of His people, but in truth, He loved each and every one of them, those of whom He had created out of love. God has no need for our love, as He Himself had been perfect in love, but He wanted to share that love, and that was why He created us all, to be the recipients of His wonderful love.

Yet, unfortunately, it was our stubbornness, our refusal to obey the Lord and our preference for our own sinful and mistaken ways that had led to the waywardness we have committed in life, just as the Israelites had done in their own, from the establishment of the golden calf, to their many other disobediences and refusal to follow the commands of the Lord through Moses and the other servants of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord has given us so many good things, numerous blessings and love, as He had shown us through many generations, and through many opportunities He had granted us. However, it is we mankind who often refused His offer of love and mercy. We stubbornly clung to our ways of sin and our attachment to worldly matters and goods, which prevented us from truly being able to obey Him.

That is why Jesus Our Lord was also furious and angry at the indignation shown by many of His people, when He came into this world, shown by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, those who stubbornly rejected His truth just because of their arrogance, ego and all the things that were afraid to lose out to Jesus, Whom they saw as a rival to their power and authority.

Let us all not walk in their path, but instead, chart a new path in our life, if we have fallen into sin and disobedience as our predecessors had done. Let us look upon the examples of our holy saints and martyrs, those who dared and were courageous to change their way of life, changing their sinful past into a renewed life filled with faith in God. Many of them endured sufferings and difficulties for those, but they gained a greater reward in God.

May all of us be reunited and reconciled with God, as we draw ever closer to Him. May all of us seek to be righteous and faithful in all things. May all of us be blessed and may we draw closer to Him, day after day, all the days of our life. May God be with us all, now and always. Amen.