Monday, 26 March 2018 : Monday of Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day the Scripture readings bring us ever closer to the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who would suffer and die on the cross, as we commemorate it in Good Friday in just a few days away from today. In today’s Gospel we heard of Mary, one of the constant followers of Jesus, who came up to Him during the dinner meal and anointed His feet with the most costly perfume and dried it with her own hair.

In this seemingly simple action and what happened afterwards all of us Christians are reminded in this time of the Holy Week of Who it is that ought to be the centre of our lives, that is the Lord, Our God. The Lord Jesus Who came into the world and dwelled among us, is God, and through Him God was willing to save us all mankind from our fate of destruction because of our sins.

And because He is God, that is why, as Mary showed us all, that He alone is worthy of all worship, glory and honour, and thus she used the most precious perfume to anoint His feet. At the same time, this is also a practice which is also done on the bodies of the dead, to prevent the bodies from having bad odour due to decomposition, which also therefore is a premonition of what the Lord was to go through, His suffering and death on the cross.

Mary humbled herself before the Lord, by bowing before Him and using her own hair to dry the Lord’s feet from the perfume she anointed Him with. For a woman, the hair is the most precious and the most important part of her body, her most valuable and prized possession. For Mary to make use of her hair to honour the Lord is for her to give her very best to the Lord, to do what she could, in the best way she could commit, to serve the Lord.

Let us compare this faith to what the disciple of Jesus, Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, said at the same occasion. Judas sneered at Mary and ridiculed her for what she had done, and he mentioned how the expensive perfume she had used on the Lord’s feet could have been sold for a rich sum of money, and the money given to the poor instead. And the Lord rebuked Judas for his comment against Mary, because he was mistaken in his remarks.

First of all, as mentioned in the Gospels, Judas did not make the comment because he was truly caring towards the poor and the needy. Instead, as he was in charge of the Lord and His disciples’ funds and money, he could have stolen the funds and the money obtained by the selling of the expensive perfume, and put the money into his own pockets. He was thus in fact very corrupt in his action and in his thoughts, committing sin against God by slandering his fellow men, and by putting money ahead of God, and by telling lies and having a hypocrite’s faith.

That is also why Judas later on betrayed the Lord Jesus, because he was tempted by the allure of money, as he found the opportunity to sell Him over to the chief priests and the enemies of the Lord, who priced Him at a mere thirty silver coins, the price of a slave. Later on, Judas would regret this betrayal, but it was too late for him, as what has been done, cannot be undone. This is the proof of just how dangerous it is, when we put our selfish desires foremost in our minds and in our hearts.

Instead of following Judas’ example, we should imitate Mary, who gave her all to the Lord. She did not hesitate to humble herself before the Lord, and loved Him and followed Him wherever He went. This is the kind of faith which we all should have in our own lives, not the faith of a hypocrite, not the empty faith of someone like Judas Iscariot, and all those who refused to believe in the Lord with all of their heart, but only paying lip service to Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, as we continue to progress through the Holy Week celebrations, let us all reflect on all these, and strive to live more worthily of the Lord, and by turning our hearts and minds towards God. Let us all become ever more humble like Mary, and love God with all of our hearts. Let us all realise just how sinful we have been, and in need of God’s mercy and forgiveness.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to guide us on our way, that we will always walk in His path, and eventually find our way towards His loving embrace, and be fully reconciled with Him, Our loving God and Father. May the Lord bless us all and our endeavours of faith. Amen.

Monday, 26 March 2018 : Monday of 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 for 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.

Monday, 26 March 2018 : Monday of Holy Week (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 26 : 1, 2, 3, 13-14

The Lord is my Light and my Salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the Rampart of my life; I will not be afraid.

When the wicked rush at me to devour my flesh, it is my foes who stumble, my enemies fall.

Though an army encamp against me, my heart will not fail; though war break out against me, I will still be confident.

I hope, I am sure, that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Trust in the Lord, be strong and courageous. Yes, put your hope in the Lord!

Monday, 26 March 2018 : Monday of Holy Week (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 42 : 1-7

Here is My Servant Whom I uphold, My Chosen One in Whom I delight. I have put My Spirit upon Him, and He will bring justice to the nations. He does not shout or raise His voice. Proclamations are not heard in the streets.

A broken reed He will not crush, nor will He snuff out the light of the wavering wick. He will make justice appear in truth. He will not waver or be broken until He has established justice on earth; the islands are waiting for His law.

Thus says God, YHVH, Who created the heavens and stretched them out, Who spread the earth and all that comes from it, Who gives life and breath to those who walk on it. I, YHVH, have called you for the sake of justice; I will hold your hand to make you firm; I will make you as a covenant to the people, and as a light to the nations, to open eyes that do not see, to free captives from prison, to bring out to light those who sit in darkness.

Sunday, 25 March 2018 : Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we begin the celebration of the most important events in our faith, that is the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, His final earthly mission, to complete everything that the Lord has planned for mankind, the salvation of us all, by the suffering and the death of the Messiah, Our Lord Jesus, on the cross at Calvary.

This Holy Week of important events of our faith begins today with the Palm Sunday, celebrating the moment when the Lord Jesus entered in glory into the Holy City of Jerusalem on a donkey, as we heard just earlier in our Gospel passage at the start of today’s celebration of the Holy Mass. The people welcomed the Lord Jesus and hailed Him as the Messiah and King Who was to come to His city in glory, saying loudly, “Hosanna in the highest! Hosanna to the Son of David!”

They waved palm branches and placed their cloaks and clothes in front of Jesus, welcoming Him as if He is the King of Israel. Indeed, He is King and Lord of all, and among the people at that time, as mentioned later by the disciples who walked to Emmaus just after Jesus’ death that they had hoped that He was the One Who would have restored the Kingdom of Israel.

Yet, it was the very same people who would shout loudly in just a matter of a few days, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” The same people who cheered and welcomed the Lord with much energy and spirit, were the same ones who would reject Him and call for His death, death at the hands of the Romans and a most painful death on the cross. How could this have happened, brothers and sisters in Christ?

The Scripture readings today show the nature of Our Lord’s plan of salvation, that He must suffer at the hands of His enemies and bear the cross on His own accord towards death and punishment for the crimes and sins that He Himself did not commit. But all of these are ultimately meant for our own good, for our salvation and liberation from the bondage to all of our sins.

The cross of Christ is the cross of our sins and faults, all of our shortcomings and rebellious attitudes against God. When the Lord Jesus bore that cross, He did not just bear the physical weight of the wooden cross, which according to historical data and research was already quite formidable in itself, but even more so, it was the massive and unimaginable burden of the combined weight of our sins, our shortcomings, our trespasses, our faults and all other things that should have been ours to bear.

All of us, each one of us are sinners, brothers and sisters in Christ. All of us have disobeyed God in one way or another, in small sin or in major sin. And each and everyone of us should have endured the consequences for all these sins and faults we have with us. What is the punishment of sin? Death, and also separation from God and eternal damnation in hell. That is what we should have suffered.

But God, Who loves each and every one of us, His beloved children so greatly, did not want this fate to befall us, as ultimately, as mentioned, He loved us all greatly, though not our sins and disobedience that creates those sins. Thus, He promised us all since the beginning, that He will save us, by the sending of a Saviour, or Messiah, He Who would reconcile all mankind, God’s beloved people with Him.

All of these were fulfilled in Jesus Christ, Whom the prophet Isaiah prophesied in the first reading we heard today, about the Servant of God Who would suffer, be rejected and be persecuted for doing God’s work. The prophet Isaiah prophesied about the Suffering Messiah Who would suffer, and it was this suffering that the prophet was speaking about. Christ was obedient that He took up His cross for our sake, for the salvation of His own beloved people, that because He died, we may live.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we enter into this most important moment in our liturgical year, the Holy Week, how are we preparing ourselves that we may worthily commemorate the events that will come in a few days’ time? This is where we need to spend time to reflect on our own lives, on our actions and how we have lived our lives thus far. Have we been living our lives in disobedience and sin, and have we refused God’s rich offer of mercy and forgiveness?

We should use this time and the opportunity given to us, to reflect on our lives and on our actions. Have we had a good relationship with God? And indeed, how much time in a day that we actually spend with Him? Or have we instead forgotten about Him in the midst of our busy schedules, in the midst of our pursuit for power, prestige, honour, worldly comfort, money, and many other worldly desires we have?

Instead of spending so much of our time in these ultimately meaningless pursuit, shall we then turn ourselves towards God and learn to put our trust in Him? Shall we spend more time with the Lord Who loves us so much that He gave us His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, to be our Saviour? Remember, brothers and sisters, that if not for the cross of Christ, all of us would have lived our lives with no meaning, as everything would have ended in the eternity in hell.

But because of Christ, and His loving sacrifice on the cross, by His willingness to endure the effects and the consequences of our sins, all of our punishments, all of us who believe in Him and who are willing to put our trust in Him will receive pardon from our sins and justification before God, that we who were once unworthy because of our sins, will be worthy of God’s grace, and be able to receive the eternal life He has promised to us all.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let this day be a reminder for us all, that whenever we sin, we inflict the wounds and the pain on Our Lord Jesus, Who willingly bore those sins with Him on the cross. Let us all remember that we should turn away from sin, repent from all of our past wickedness, and ultimately, return to the Lord with an open mind and heart, that all of us will be reconciled completely with Him, and receive eternal life from Him.

May God be with us all throughout this Holy Week, and may He continue to guide us and bless us all the days of our life. Amen.