Wednesday, 13 March 2019 : 1st Week of Lent, Sixth Anniversary of the Election of Pope Francis, Vicar of Christ, Supreme Pontiff and Bishop of Rome (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 11 : 29-32

At that time, as the crowd increased, Jesus spoke the following words : “People of the present time are troubled people. They ask for a sign, but no sign will be given to them except the sign of Jonah. As Jonah became a sign for the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be a sign for this generation.”

“The Queen of the South will rise up on Judgment Day with the people of these times and accuse them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and here, there is greater than Solomon. The people of Nineveh will rise up on Judgment Day with the people of these times and accuse them, for Jonah’s preaching made them turn from their sins, and here, there is greater than Jonah.”

Wednesday, 13 March 2019 : 1st Week of Lent, Sixth Anniversary of the Election of Pope Francis, Vicar of Christ, Supreme Pontiff and Bishop of Rome (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 50 : 3-4, 12-13, 18-19

Have mercy on me, o God, in Your love. In Your great compassion blot out my sin. Wash me thoroughly of my guilt; cleanse me of evil.

Create in me, o God, a pure heart; give me a new and steadfast spirit. Do not cast me out of Your presence nor take Your Holy Spirit from me.

You take no pleasure in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt offering, You would not delight in it. O God, my sacrifice is a broken spirit; a contrite heart, You will not despise.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019 : 1st Week of Lent, Sixth Anniversary of the Election of Pope Francis, Vicar of Christ, Supreme Pontiff and Bishop of Rome (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Jonah 3 : 1-10

The word of YHVH came to Jonah a second time : “Go to Nineveh, the great city, and announce to them the message I give you.”

In obedience to the word of YHVH, Jonah went to Nineveh. It was a very large city, and it took three days just to cross it. So Jonah walked a single day’s journey and began proclaiming, “Forty days more and Nineveh will be destroyed.”

The people of the city believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. Upon hearing the news, the king of Nineveh got up from his throne, took off his royal robe, put on sackcloth and sat down in ashes. He issued a proclamation throughout Nineveh :

“By the decree of the king and his nobles, no people or beasts, herd or flock, will taste anything; neither will they eat nor drink. But let people and beasts be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call aloud to God, turn from his evil ways and violence. Who knows? God may yet relent, turn from His fierce anger and spare us.”

When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He had compassion and did not carry out the destruction He had threatened upon them.

Tuesday, 12 March 2019 : 1st Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all reminded of the importance of prayer in our life, because as Christians, it is essential that we have a good prayer life. Unfortunately, the reality is that even many among us may not have known how we should pray, and quite a few of us prayed in the wrong way, with some of us praying in a way that we are just going through the motion of prayer without knowing why we pray.

What is prayer, brothers and sisters in Christ? Prayer is a form of communication between us and God, and it can either be a personal prayer or a communal prayer. During the celebration of the Holy Mass, the priest celebrating the Mass acting in the person of Christ as the High Priest, as how it was in the ancient days in Israel, gathers the prayers of the whole congregation of the faithful and lift the prayer up to God as offering.

This is the form of communal prayer, but prayer can also be done in smaller groups, between our families and God for example, and between each and every one of us and God, an individual prayer. Ultimately, all of our prayers are ways for each one of us to speak to God, be it personally, or between our families and Him, or between our larger communities and Him, and even between the whole Universal Church and Him.

Prayer is a communication between us and God, and it is important that we take note of what prayer is about, because many of us think that prayers are like magic in that we think if we have problem then when we pray to God asking Him to remove from us that problem, then everything will immediately be settled. But this is where we are wrong, because we do not and cannot impose our will on God.

If our prayers are like list of requests, or at times even demands, then are we not imposing our will on God and demanding Him to do things to be according to our way? And when things do not go in accordance with what we want, that is why we become angry with God, thinking that He does not listen to us or that He ignored us. But in reality, everything will go according to how God desires it to be, His will be done and not ours.

That is why, instead of being so busy trying to demand our way out to God through prayer, which is a wrong way to do our prayer, just as it is wrong for us to speak all the time when we communicate with someone, then it is perhaps time for us to know how to pray in the right way. A prayer is a two-way communication between us and God, and just as we speak to Him, He is also speaking to us directly into our hearts.

But why is it that we are often unable to hear Him? Why is it that we are not able to recognise Him trying to communicate with us? That is because we are often too preoccupied in our minds and in our hearts, with our various concerns and thoughts, our desires and wishes. For example, when someone is trying to talk to us, and yet, we quickly interject with our own words, that are said more loudly, surely we cannot hear what the other person is trying to tell us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why, when we pray, instead of rushing with our wishes and desires, or our complaints and things to say to God, we should quieten ourselves and clear our minds, allowing God first to speak to us within our hearts, that we may know truly what His will is for each and every one of us. We must not think that if we do not say what we want then God will not know what we want. He is God! And God knows everything in our hearts, even our most, deepest secrets.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we progress through this season of Lent, we should improve our prayer life, and we can do so by following the example of Christ, in the prayer He said to His heavenly Father, the Lord’s Prayer or Pater Noster. Instead of demanding God to do what we want, first we glorify God and thank Him for all the goodness He has bestowed us, and humbly accepting that His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

We should be humble in everything, and as the Lord said, ‘Give us this day our daily bread’, He is showing us that assurance that God has given us, that He will provide us what we need, and He will take care of us. If we put our trust in God, we will not be disappointed. And through a stronger prayer life, we will have better connection and will be better attuned to the will of God, that in our lives, we will draw closer to Him and do what His will is for us, following the example of Christ, Who obeyed the Father’s will completely for our sake.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all have a profound transformation of our prayer life, so that each and every one of us will grow ever closer to God, each and every days of our life. May the Lord be with us always, and may He strengthen our faith in us, that we may be truly worthy to celebrate together with Him, our loving Father when we are fully reunited with Him in heavenly glory. Amen.

Tuesday, 12 March 2019 : 1st Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 6 : 7-15

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “When you pray, do not use a lot of words, as the pagans do; for they believe that, the more they say, the more chance they have of being heard. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need, even before you ask Him.”

“This, then, is how you should pray : Our Father in heaven, holy be Your Name, Your kingdom, come, Your will, be done on earth, as in heaven. Give us today, our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we forgive those who are in debt to us.”

“Do not bring us to the test, but deliver us from the evil one. If you forgive others their wrongdoings, your Father in heaven will also forgive yours. If you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive you.”

Tuesday, 12 March 2019 : 1st Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 33 : 4-5, 6-7, 16-17, 18-19

Oh, let us magnify YHVH; together, let us glorify His Name! I sought YHVH, and He answered me; from all my fears He delivered me.

They who look to Him are radiant with joy, their faces never clouded with shame. When the poor cry out, YHVH hears and saves them from distress.

The eyes of YHVH are fixed on the righteous; His ears are inclined to their cries. But His face is set against the wicked, to destroy their memory from the earth.

YHVH hears the cry of the righteous and rescues them from all their troubles. YHVH is close to the brokenhearted and saves the distraught.

Tuesday, 12 March 2019 : 1st Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 55 : 10-11

As the rain and snow come down from the heavens and do not return till they have watered the earth, making it yield seed for the sower and food for others to eat, so is My Word that goes forth out of My mouth : it will not return to Me idle, but it shall accomplish My will, the purpose for which It has been sent.

Monday, 11 March 2019 : 1st Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we continue to progress through this penitential period of Lent, we are reminded through the Scripture passages of the need for each one of us to be righteous in all of our actions and deeds, as we are all to be judged by our own actions and all of our deeds or misdeeds at the end of time. This was the core message of the Scriptures, a clear reminder to us to turn away from sin and be righteous.

In today’s Gospel passage we heard of the Last Judgment as detailed by the Lord Himself to His disciples, in which at the appointed time, God will gather all of His creatures, all mankind from the first man to the last, and assemble them all before Him, dividing them between the righteous and the wicked based on their actions and all the things that they have committed in life, as well as whatever they have not done in the opportunities which have been given to them.

Those who have not listened to the word of God, or acted in ways that He has shown us, as He made it clear before His people in our first reading today, taken from the Book of Deuteronomy, these will be placed among those who will be condemned because of their own sins. It is ultimately not God Who wants to condemn those who have been sinful and wicked, but rather, they themselves who voluntarily rejected God’s love.

In the passage from the Book of Deuteronomy, God spoke clearly before His people of what He expected from each and every one of them in their actions and deeds in life. They were expected to act justly towards one another, not to oppress others or cause sufferings to those who they encounter in life, not to slander others or gossip, or to cause pain and difficulties just for the sake of our own selfish desires.

Failing to do this means that the people have not been obedient to the ways of the Lord, and they sinned because they disobeyed God, His will and what He had taught them to do, as instead of putting their trust in God, they rather placed their trust in their own flawed, biased and unfair judgments. That is why we see so much suffering in our world today, because many of us have acted in ways that are selfish and desiring our own advantage, pleasure and joy, at the expense of others.

But, brothers and sisters in Christ, besides this, we must also keep in mind what we have heard in today’s Gospel passage, about the matter of sin caused by conscious omission of action, when we see something or an opportunity for us to act in a righteous and good way, and yet, refusing to act or to do something that is right and just. This is called the sin of omission, which all of us need to take note of.

That is what we need to be aware and be mindful of, as sin of omission is something that we ourselves may not realise, as we carry on our actions in life. We surely do not want to end up as those whom the Lord cast out from His sight just because they refused to do what is right and just, and chose willingly to ignore the plight of the suffering and the poor, the abandoned and the ostracised in their midst.

In this season of Lent, we are called to be righteous and to abandon our old ways of sin, and not to forget that we should also avoid the sin of omission. We may think that it is enough just for us to settle our own affairs and not needing to worry about others, or that as long as we are pious in life, then everything will be good and well for us. No, brothers and sisters in Christ, in this season of Lent, we are reminded yet again, that we need to extend and share our blessings with others, and care for the needs of others, especially when we are in the position of being able to do so.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, let us all grow more in our love for God and be more generous with our love and sharing towards our brethren, especially for those who are in need, so that our Lenten experience may be more wholesome, and our spiritual growth will be complete. Let us no longer be ignorant of the needs of others, but be sensitive to the sufferings of the world around us, and do what we can to love each other, just as God has shown us by His love for us. May God bless us all and our endeavours, and may He judge us to be worthy in the end, to receive the eternal glory with Him. Amen.

Monday, 11 March 2019 : 1st Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 25 : 31-46

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory with all His Angels, He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be brought before Him; and, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, so will He do with them, placing the sheep on His right hand and the goats on His left.”

“The King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, blessed of My Father! Take possession of the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed Me. I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you welcomed Me into your home. I was naked, and you clothed Me. I was sick, and you visited Me. I was in prison, and you came to see Me.’”

“Then the righteous will ask Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and give You food; thirsty, and give You something to drink; or a stranger, and welcome You; or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and go to see You?’ The King will answer, ‘Truly I say to you : just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of Mine, you did it to Me.’”

“Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Go, cursed people, out of My sight, into the eternal fire, which has been prepared for the devil and his angels! For I was hungry, and you did not give Me anything to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not welcome Me into your house; I was naked, and you did not clothe Me; I was sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’”

“They, too, will ask, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, thirsty, naked or a stranger, sick or in prison, and did not help You?’ The King will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you : just as you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it for Me.’ And these will go into eternal punishments; but the just, to eternal life.”

Monday, 11 March 2019 : 1st Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 18 : 8, 9, 10, 15

The Law of YHVH is perfect : it gives life to the soul. The word of YHVH is trustworthy : it gives wisdom to the simple.

The precepts of YHVH are right : they give joy to the heart. The commandments of YHVH are clear : they enlighten the eyes.

The fear of YHVH is pure, it endures forever; the judgments of YHVH are true, all of them just and right.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart find favour in Your sight, o YHVH – my Redeemer, my Rock!