Friday, 22 March 2019 : 2nd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 21 : 33-43, 45-46

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Listen to another example : There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a fence around it, dug a hole for the winepress, built a watchtower, leased the vineyard to tenants, and then went to a distant country.”

“When harvest time came, the landowner sent his servants to the tenants to collect his share of the harvest. But the tenants seized his servants, beat one, killed another and stoned a third. Again the owner sent more servants, but they were treated in the same way.”

“Finally, he sent his son, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they thought, ‘This is the one who is to inherit the vineyard. Let us kill him, and his inheritance will be ours.’ So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.”

“Now, what will the owner of the vineyard do with the tenants when he comes?” They said to him, “He will bring those evil men to an evil end, and lease the vineyard to others, who will pay him in due time.” And Jesus replied, “Have you never read what the Scriptures say? The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, and we marvel at it.”

“Therefore I say to you : the kingdom of heaven will be taken from you, and given to a people who will yield a harvest.”

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard these parables, they realised that Jesus was referring to them. They would have arrested Him, but they were afraid of the crowd, who regarded Him as a Prophet.

Friday, 22 March 2019 : 2nd Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 104 : 16-17, 18-19, 20-21

Then the Lord sent a famine and ruined the crop that sustained the land; He sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave.

His feet in shackles, his neck in irons till what he foretold came to pass, and the Lord’s word proved him true.

The king sent for him, set him free, the ruler of the peoples released him. He put him in charge of his household and made him ruler of all his possessions.

Friday, 22 March 2019 : 2nd Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Genesis 37 : 3-4, 12-13a, 17b-28

Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other children, for he was the son of his old age and he had a coat with long sleeves made for him. His brothers who saw that their father loved him more than he loved them, hated him and could no longer speak to him in a friendly way.

His brothers had gone to pasture their father’s flock at Shechem, and Israel said to Joseph, “Your brothers are pasturing the flock at Shechem.” So Joseph went off after his brothers and found them at Dothan. They saw him in the distance and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.

They said to one another, “Here comes the specialist in dreams! Now is the time! Let us kill him and throw him into a well. We will say a wild animal devoured him. Then we will see what his dreams were all about!” But Reuben heard this and tried to save him from their hands saying, “Let us not kill him; shed no blood! Throw him in this well in the wilderness, but do him no violence.” This he said to save him from them and take him back to his father.

So as soon as Joseph arrived, they stripped him of his long-sleeved coat that he wore and then took him and threw him in the well, now the well was empty, without water. They were sitting for a meal when they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, their camels laden with spices, balm and myrrh, which they were taking down to Egypt.

Judah then said to his brothers, “What do we gain by killing our brother and hiding his blood? Come! We will sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother and our own flesh!” His brothers agreed to this. So when the Midianite merchants came along they pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the well. For twenty pieces of silver they sold Joseph to the Midianites, who took him with them to Egypt.

Thursday, 21 March 2019 : 2nd 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 of the importance for us to be good and to do good in our respective lives, while we are still able to do so. God has given us a lot of opportunities for us, in order to make good use of the talents and graces given to us, in following what He has commanded us all to do, that is to love Him and one another wholeheartedly.

Yet, many of us have not done what we have been called to do, as we preferred to act in ways that enrich ourselves, benefitting our own lives and even causing others to suffer and ending up in pain, just because we want to preserve our own selfish gains and needs. As long as we put our trust in all these worldly riches, power, glory and all sorts of things that often tempted us, as the prophet Jeremiah had warned, we will find it difficult to be truly faithful to God.

In the Gospel passage today we then heard about the story that the Lord Jesus told to His disciples, on the experience of a rich man as contrasted with a poor man, Lazarus. Both of them lived a very contrasting and different kind of life, with the rich man enjoying all the kinds of pleasures and joys that the world could give, while Lazarus, the poor man, had to suffer from hunger and poverty.

Lazarus hoped that the rich man would share some of the food he had with him, even if that would be the scraps of bread that fell off from the rich man’s table. But even that was not available to him. In the end, both Lazarus and the rich man died, passing away from this world. But their fates could not have been more different, just as in life, they experienced very different kinds of life and treatment.

The rich man went down to hell, suffering for all the sins he had committed in life. The poor man, Lazarus, instead went up to heaven, to be with Abraham and enjoying all the good things that he had not been able to experience in life. And Abraham mentioned to the rich man when he called for help, that there was a chasm between them, between hell and the blessed heavens, that none of them could cross, and no help could be given to the rich man.

This is a reminder to each and every one of us, that unless we live our lives in a righteous and God-fearing manner, we will end up into the trap of sin, and sin will lead us to the eternal separation from the love and grace of God, that is hell. And from that state, there is no escape or any more hope of salvation and liberation. God wants to remind us that the consequence of sin is truly severe, and all those who put their trust in things other than God, is likely to regret like the rich man had done.

In all of these, we must understand and we must be mindful that God is not condemning the rich people or their riches. He does not condemn the powerful or their influence and power. Rather, what He condemns is the attitude that we mankind take with power, glory, and all those worldly things. We are too easily tempted by all these wicked desires, and that is why we end up making use of our wealth, power, fame and abilities for the wrong reasons.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are reminded that as Christians, all of us are called to live our lives with faith and genuine dedication to follow the path that the Lord has set before us. In this blessed time of Lent, in particular, we are called to be more generous with our giving and with the sharing of our blessings. Therefore, instead of doing what we have always done in trying to bring glory and good things for ourselves, we should turn away from selfish and proud ways, and be loving and generous in our interactions with others.

We must remember that sin can be caused not just by wicked actions in life, but even by the sin of omission, which is the sin of not doing what we could have done while we are perfectly capable of doing something to bring good to others. When we ignore the plight of the poor and the weak, the oppressed and the ostracised around us, just like how the rich man ignored Lazarus, then we will end up sinning against God just as the rich man has done.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we willing to make this Lenten season into a meaningful time for us to seek reconciliation with God? Are we willing and able to commit our time and effort to love the Lord our God, with all of our hearts, with all of our strength, and with a new commitment, that while once we may have been sinful and disobedient, now, with the spirit of reconciliation and sincere repentance, we may become new in faith, and grow in our love towards God, from now onwards.

May God continue to guide us on our journey, and may He empower us all to live faithfully in accordance with His ways and be obedient to all that He had taught us to do. May God bless us all and all of our endeavours. Amen.

Thursday, 21 March 2019 : 2nd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 16 : 19-31

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Once there was a rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen and feasted every day. At his gate lay Lazarus, a poor man covered with sores, who longed to eat just the scraps falling from the rich man’s table. Even dogs used to come and lick his sores.”

“It happened that the poor man died, and Angels carried him to take his place with Abraham. The rich man also died, and was buried. From hell where he was in torment, the rich man looked up and saw Abraham afar off, and with him Lazarus at rest. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me, and send Lazarus, with the tip of his finger dipped in water, to cool my tongue, for I suffer so much in this fire.'”

“Abraham replied, ‘My son, remember that in your lifetime you were well-off, while the lot of Lazarus was misfortune. Now he is in comfort, and you are in agony. But that is not all. Between your place and ours a great chasm has been fixed, so that no one can cross over from here to you, or from your side to us.'”

“The rich man implored once more, ‘Then I beg you, Father Abraham, to send Lazarus to my father’s house, where my five brothers live, let him warn them, so that they may not end up in this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.'”

“But the rich man said, ‘No, Father Abraham; but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced, even if someone rises from the dead.'”

Thursday, 21 March 2019 : 2nd Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 1 : 1-2, 3, 4 and 6

Blessed is the one who does not go where the wicked gather, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit where the scoffers sit! Instead, he finds delight in the law of the Lord and meditates day and night on His commandments.

He is like a tree beside a brook producing its fruit in due season, its leaves never withering. Everything he does is a success.

But it is different with the wicked. They are like chaff driven away by the wind. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous but cuts off the way of the wicked.

Thursday, 21 March 2019 : 2nd Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Jeremiah 17 : 5-10

This is what YHVH says, “Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings and depends on a mortal for his life, while his heart is drawn away from YHVH! He is like a bunch of thistles in dry land, in parched desert places, in a salt land where no one lives and who never finds happiness.”

“Blessed is the man who puts his trust in YHVH and whose confidence is in Him! He is like a tree planted by the water, sending out its roots towards the stream. He has no fear when the heat comes, his leaves are always green; the year of drought is no problem and he can always bear fruit.”

“Most deceitful is the heart. What is there within man, who can understand him? I, YHVH, search the heart and penetrate the mind. I reward each one according to his ways and the fruit of his deeds.”