Sunday, 24 March 2019 : Third Sunday of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 13 : 1-9

At that time, one day, some people told Jesus what had occurred in the Temple : Pilate had had Galileans killed, and their blood mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. Jesus asked them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered this? No, I tell you. But unless you change your ways, you will all perish, as they did.”

“And those eighteen persons in Siloah, who were crushed when the tower fell, do you think they were more guilty than all the others in Jerusalem? I tell you : no. But unless you change your ways, you will perish as they did.” And Jesus continued, “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it, but found none. Then he said to the gardener, ‘Look here, for three years now I have been looking for figs on this tree, and I have found none. Cut it down, why should it continue to deplete the soil?’”

“The gardener replied, ‘Leave it one more year, so that I may dig around it and add some fertiliser; perhaps it will bear fruit from now on. But if it does not, you can cut it down.’”

Alternative reading (Readings from Year A)

John 4 : 5-42

At that time, Jesus came to a Samaritan town called Sychar, near the land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well is there. Tired from His journey, Jesus sat down by the well; it was about noon. Now a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” His disciples had just gone into town to buy some food.

The Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan and a woman, for a drink?” (For Jews, in fact, have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift of God! If you knew Who it is, Who is asking you for a drink, you yourself would have asked Me, and I would have given you living water.”

The woman answered, “Sir, You have no bucket, and this well is deep; where is Your living water? Are You greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well, and drank from it himself, together with his sons and his cattle?” Jesus said to her, “Those who drink of this water will be thirsty again; but those, who drink of the water that I shall give, will never be thirsty; for the water, that I shall give, will become in them a spring of water, welling up to eternal life.”

The woman said to Him, “Give me this water, that I may never be thirsty, and never have to come here to draw water.” Jesus said, “Go, call your husband, and come back here.” The woman answered, “I have no husband.” And Jesus replied, “You are right to say, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you said is true.”

The woman then said to Him, “I see You are a Prophet; tell me this : Our ancestors came to this mountain to worship God; but you Jews, do you not claim that Jerusalem is the only place to worship God?” Jesus said to her, “Believe Me, woman, the hour is coming when you shall worship the Father, but that will not be on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.”

“You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, because salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is even now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for that is the kind of worshippers the Father wants. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit, and truth.”

The woman said to Him, “I know that the Messiah (that is the Christ) is coming. When He comes, He will tell us everything.” And Jesus said, “I Who am talking to you, I am He.”

At this point the disciples returned, and were surprised that Jesus was speaking with a woman, however, no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are You talking with her?” So the woman left her water jar and ran to the town. There she said to the people, “Come and see a Man Who told me everything I did! Could He not be the Christ?” So they left the town and went to meet Him.

In the meantime the disciples urged Jesus, “Master, eat.” But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” And the disciples wondered, “Has anyone brought Him food?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of the One Who sent Me, and to carry out His work.”

“You say that in four months there will be the harvest; now, I say to you, look up and see the fields white and ready for harvesting. People who reap the harvest are paid for their work, and the fruit is gathered for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. Indeed the saying holds true : One sows and another reaps. I sent you to reap where you did not work or suffer; others have worked, and you are now sharing in their labours.”

In that town many Samaritans believed in Him when they heard the woman who declared, “He told me everything I did.” So, when they came to Him, they asked Him to stay with them, and Jesus stayed there two days. After that, many more believed because of His own words, and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of what you told us: we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is the Saviour of the world.”

Alternative reading (shorter version of the Reading from Year A)

John 4 : 5-15, 19b-26, 39a, 40-42

At that time, Jesus came to a Samaritan town called Sychar, near the land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well is there. Tired from His journey, Jesus sat down by the well; it was about noon. Now a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” His disciples had just gone into town to buy some food.

The Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan and a woman, for a drink?” (For Jews, in fact, have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift of God! If you knew Who it is, Who is asking you for a drink, you yourself would have asked Me, and I would have given you living water.”

The woman answered, “Sir, You have no bucket, and this well is deep; where is Your living water? Are You greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well, and drank from it himself, together with his sons and his cattle?” Jesus said to her, “Those who drink of this water will be thirsty again; but those, who drink of the water that I shall give, will never be thirsty; for the water, that I shall give, will become in them a spring of water, welling up to eternal life.”

The woman said to Him, “Give me this water, that I may never be thirsty, and never have to come here to draw water. I see You are a Prophet; tell me this : Our ancestors came to this mountain to worship God; but you Jews, do you not claim that Jerusalem is the only place to worship God?” Jesus said to her, “Believe Me, woman, the hour is coming when you shall worship the Father, but that will not be on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.”

“You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, because salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is even now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for that is the kind of worshippers the Father wants. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit, and truth.”

The woman said to Him, “I know that the Messiah (that is the Christ) is coming. When He comes, He will tell us everything.” And Jesus said, “I Who am talking to you, I am He.”

In that town many Samaritans believed in Him, so, when they came to Him, they asked Him to stay with them, and Jesus stayed there two days. After that, many more believed because of His own words, and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of what you told us: we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is the Saviour of the world.”

Sunday, 24 March 2019 : Third Sunday of Lent (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

1 Corinthians 10 : 1-6, 10-12

Let me remind you, brothers and sisters, about our ancestors. All of them were under the cloud and all crossed the sea. All underwent the baptism of the land and of the sea to join Moses; and all of them ate from the same spiritual manna; and all of them drank from the same spiritual drink. For you know, that they drank from a spiritual rock following them, and the rock was Christ. However, most of them did not please God, and the desert was strewn with their bodies.

All of this happened as an example for us, so that we might not become people of evil desires, as they did, nor grumble, as some of them did, and were cut down by the destroying Angel. These things happened to them, as an example, and they were written as a warning, for us, as the last times come upon us.

Therefore, if you think you stand, beware, lest you fall.

Alternative reading (Readings from Year A)

Romans 5 : 1-2, 5-8

By faith we have received true righteousness, and we are at peace with God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Through Him we obtain this favour in which we remain and we even boast to expect the Glory of God.

And hope does not disappoint us because the Holy Spirit has been given to us, pouring into our hearts the love of God. Consider, moreover, the time that Christ died for us : when we were still helpless and unable to do anything.

Few would accept to die for an upright person; although, for a very good person, perhaps someone would dare to die. But see how God manifested His love for us : while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Sunday, 24 March 2019 : Third Sunday of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 102 : 1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8 and 11

Praise YHVH, my soul; all my being, praise His holy Name! Praise YHVH, my soul, and do not forget all His kindness.

He forgives all your sins and heals all your sickness; He redeems your life from destruction and crowns you with love and compassion.

YHVH restores justice and secures the rights of the oppressed. He has made known His ways to Moses; and His deeds, to the people of Israel.

YHVH is gracious and merciful, abounding in love and slow to anger. As the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His love for those fearing Him.

Alternative reading (Readings from Year A)

Psalm 94 : 1-2, 6-7, 8-9

Come, let us sing to the Lord, let us make a joyful sound to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before Him giving thanks, with music and songs of praise.

Come and worship; let us bow down, kneel before the Lord, our Maker. He is our God, and we His people; the flock He leads and pastures. Would that today you heard His voice!

Do not be stubborn, as at Meribah, in the desert, on that day at Massah, when your ancestors challenged Me, and they put Me to the test.

Sunday, 24 March 2019 : Third Sunday of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Exodus 3 : 1-8a, 13-15

Moses pastured the sheep of Jethro, his father-in-law, priest of Midian. One day he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the Mountain of God. The Angel of YHVH appeared to him by means of a flame of fire in the middle of a bush. Moses saw that although the bush was on fire it did not burn up.

Moses thought, “I will go and see this amazing sight, why is the bush not burning up?” YHVH saw that Moses was drawing near to look, and God called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses! Moses!” He replied, “Here I am.” YHVH said to him, “Do not come near; take off your sandals because the place where you are standing is holy ground.” And God continued, “I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.”

Moses hid his face lest his eyes look on God. YHVH said, “I have seen the humiliation of My people in Egypt and I hear their cry when they are cruelly treated by their taskmasters. I know their suffering. I have come down to free them from the power of the Egyptians and to bring them up from that land to a beautiful spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.”

Moses answered God, “If I go to the Israelites and say to them : ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ they will ask me : ‘What is His Name?’ What shall I answer them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO AM. This is what you will say to the sons of Israel : ‘I AM sent me to you.’”

God then said to Moses, “You will say to the Israelites : ‘YHVH, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, has sent me.’ That will be My Name forever, and by this Name they shall call upon Me for all generations to come.”

Alternative reading (Readings from Year A)

Exodus 17 : 3-7

But the people thirsted for water at Rephidim and grumbled against Moses, “Why did you make us leave Egypt to have us die of thirst with our children and our cattle?”

So Moses cried to YHVH, “What shall I do with the people? They are almost ready to stone me!” YHVH said to Moses, “Go ahead of the people and take with you the elders of Israel. Take with you the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will stand there before you on the rock at Horeb. You will strike the rock and water will flow from it and the people will drink.”

Moses did this in the presence of the elders of Israel. The place was called Massah and Meribah because of the complaints of the Israelites, who tested YHVH saying, “Is YHVH with us or not?”

(Usus Antiquior) Third Sunday of Lent (I Classis) – Sunday, 24 March 2019 : Offertory, Secret Prayer of the Priest, Preface, Communion and Post-Communion Prayer

Liturgical Colour : Violet

Offertory

Psalm 18 : 9, 10, 11, 12

Justitiae Domini rectae, laetificantes corda, et judicia Ejus dulciora super mel et favum : nam et servus Tuus custodit ea.

English translation

The justices of the Lord are right, rejoicing hearts, and His judgments are sweeter than honey and the honeycomb; for Your servant kept them.

Secret Prayer of the Priest

Haec hostia, Domine, quaesumus, emundet nostra delicta : et, ad sacrificium celebrandum, subditorum Tibi corpora mentesque sanctificet. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

English translation

May this offering, o Lord, we beseech You, wipe out our sins, and sanctify the bodies and minds of Your servants for the celebration of the sacrifice. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who with You lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

Preface of Lent

Vere dignum et justum est, aequum et salutare, nos Tibi semper et ubique gratias agere : Domine, Sancte Pater omnipotens, aeterne Deus : Qui corporali jejunio vitia comprimis, mentem elevas, virtutem largiris et praemia : per Christum, Dominum nostrum.

Per quem majestatem Tuam laudant Angeli, adorant Dominationes, tremunt Potestates. Caeli caelorumque Virtutes ac beata Seraphim socia exsultatione concelebrant. Cum quibus et nostras voces ut admitti jubeas, deprecamur, supplici confessione dicentes :

English translation

It is truly meet and just, right and profitable, for us, at all times, and in all places, to give thanks to You, o Lord, the Holy One, the Father Almighty, the Everlasting God, Who on those who chastise their bodies by fasting had bestowed the restraining of evil passions, uplifting of heart, and the enjoying of virtue with its reward. Through Christ our Lord.

Through Whom the Angels praise, the Dominations adore, the Powers, trembling with awe, worship Your majesty, which the heavens, and the forces of heaven, together with the blessed Seraphim, joyfully magnify. And may You command that it be permitted to our lowliness to join with them in confessing You and unceasingly to repeat :

Communion

Psalm 83 : 4-5

Passer invenit sibi domum, et turtur nidum, ubi reponat pullos suos : altaria Tua, Domine virtutum. Rex meus, et Deus meus : beati, qui habitant in domo Tua, in saeculum saeculi laudabunt Te.

English translation

The sparrow had found herself a house, and the turtle a nest, where she may lay her young ones. Your altars, o Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in Your house, they shall praise You forever and ever.

Post-Communion Prayer

Acunctis nos, quaesumus, Domine, reatibus et periculis propitiatus absolve : quos tanti mysterii tribuis esse participes. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.
English translation

Be merciful, o Lord, we beseech You, and free us from all sins and dangers, as You had granted us to be sharers in this great mystery. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who with You lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

(Usus Antiquior) Third Sunday of Lent (I Classis) – Sunday, 24 March 2019 : Holy Gospel

Liturgical Colour : Violet

Sequentia Sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam – Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke

Luke 11 : 14-28

In illo tempore : Erat Jesus ejiciens daemonium, et illud erat mutum. Et cum ejecisset daemonium, locutus est mutus, et admiratae sunt turbae. Quidam autem ex eis dixerunt : In Beelzebub, principe daemoniorum, ejicit daemonia. Et alii tentantes, signum de caelo quaerebant ab Eo.

Ipse autem ut vidit cogitationes eorum, dixit eis : Omne regnum in seipsum divisum desolabitur, et domus supra domum cadet. Si autem et satanas in seipsum divisus est, quomodo stabit regnum ejus? Quia dicitis, in Beelzebub Me ejicere daemonia. Si autem ego in Beelzebub ejicio daemonia : filii vestri in quo ejiciunt? Ideo ipsi judices vestri erunt.

Porro si in digito Dei ejicio daemonia : profecto pervenit in vos regnum Dei. Cum fortis armatus custodit atrium suum, in pace sunt ea, quae possidet. Si autem fortior eo superveniens vicerit eum, universa arma ejus auferet, in quibus confidebat, et spolia ejus distribuet.

Qui non est mecum, contra me est : et qui non colligit mecum, dispergit. Cum immundus spiritus exierit de homine, ambulat per loca inaquosa, quaerens requiem : et non inveniens, dicit : Revertar in domum meam, unde exivi. Et cum venerit, invenit eam scopis mundatam, et ornatam.

Tunc vadit, et assumit septem alios spiritus secum nequiores se, et ingressi habitant ibi. Et fiunt novissima hominis illius pejora prioribus. Factum est autem, cum haec diceret : extollens vocem quaedam mulier de turba, dixit illi : Beatus venter, qui te portavit, et ubera, quae suxisti.

At ille dixit : Quinimmo beati, qui audiunt verbum Dei, et custodiunt illud.

English translation

At that time, Jesus was casting out a devil, and the same was dumb, and when He had cast out the devil, the dumb spoke, and the multitude were in admiration at it, but some of them said, “He cast out devils by Beelzebub the prince of devils.” And others tempting, asked of Him a sign from heaven.

But He seeing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself shall be brought to desolation, and house upon house shall fall; and if Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? Because you say, that through Beelzebub I cast out devils by Beelzebub, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges.”

“But if I by the finger of God cast out devils, doubtless the kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man armed kept his court, those things which he possessed are in peace, but if a stronger one that he comes upon him, and overcome him, he will take away all his armour wherein he trusted, and will distribute his spoils.”

“He who is not with Me, is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me, scatters. When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he walked through places without water, seeking rest, and not finding it, he said, I will return into my house from whence I came out. And when he comes, he found it swept and garnished.”

“Then he went, and took with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and entering in they dwell there, and the last state of that man became worse than the first.” And it came to pass, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd, lifting up her voice, said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and breasts upon which You have suckled.”

But He said, “Yea, rather blessed are they who hear the word of God, and keep it.”

(Usus Antiquior) Third Sunday of Lent (I Classis) – Sunday, 24 March 2019 : Gradual and Tract

Liturgical Colour : Violet

Gradual

Psalm 9 : 20, 4

Exsurge, Domine, non praevaleat homo : judicentur gentes in conspectu Tuo.

Response : In convertendo inimicum meum retrorsum, infirmabuntur, et peribunt a facie Tua.

English translation

Arise, o Lord, let not man be strengthened, let the Gentiles be judged in Your sight.

Response : When my enemy shall be turned back, they shall be weakened and perish before Your face.

Tract

Psalm 122 : 1-3

Ad Te levavi oculos meos, qui habitas in caelis.

Response : Ecce, sicut oculi servorum in manibus dominorum suorum.

Response : Et sicut oculi ancillae in manibus dominae suae ita oculi nostri ad Dominum, Deum nostrum, donec misereatur nostri.

Response : Miserere nobis, Domine, miserere nobis.

English translation

To You have I lifted up my eyes, You Who dwells in heaven.

Response : Behold as the eyes of servants are on the hands of their masters.

Response : And as the eyes of the handmaid are on the hands of her mistress, so are our eyes unto the Lord our God, until He has mercy on us.

Response : Have mercy on us, o Lord, have mercy on us.

(Usus Antiquior) Third Sunday of Lent (I Classis) – Sunday, 24 March 2019 : Epistle

Liturgical Colour : Violet

Lectio Epistolae Beati Pauli Apostoli ad Ephesios – Lesson from the Epistle of Blessed Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians

Ephesians 5 : 1-9

Fratres : Estote imitatores Dei, sicut filii carissimi : et ambulate in dilectione, sicut et Christus dilexit nos, et tradidit semetipsum pro nobis oblationem, et hostiam Deo in odorem suavitatis. Fornicatio autem et omnis immunditia aut avaritia nec nominetur in vobis, sicut decet sanctos : aut turpitudo aut stultiloquium aut scurrilitas, quae ad rem non pertinet : sed magis gratiarum actio.

Hoc enim scitote intelligentes, quod omnis fornicator aut immundus aut avarus, quod est idolorum servitus, non habet hereditatem in regno Christi et Dei. Nemo vos seducat inanibus verbis : propter haec enim venit ira Dei in filios diffidentiae. Nolite ergo effici participes eorum.

Eratis enim aliquando tenebrae : nunc autem lux in Domino. Ut filii lucis ambulate : fructus enim lucis est in omni bonitate et justitia et veritate.

English translation

Brethren, may all of you become followers of God, as most dear children, and walk in love, as Christ also had loved us, and had delivered Himself for us, and oblation and a sacrifice to God, for an odour of sweetness. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not so much as be named among you, as became the saints, nor obscenity, nor foolish talking, nor scurrility, which is to no purpose, but rather giving of thanks.

For all of you should know this, and understand, that no fornicator, nor unclean, nor covetous person, which is a serving of idols, had any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words, for because of these things came the anger of God upon the children of unbelievers. Be you not partakers with them.

For you were heretofore darkness, but now light in the Lord. Walk all of you as children of the light, for the fruit of the light is in all goodness, and justice and truth.

(Usus Antiquior) Third Sunday of Lent (I Classis) – Sunday, 24 March 2019 : Introit and Collect

Liturgical Colour : Violet

Introit

Psalm 24 : 15-16 and 1-2

Oculi mei semper ad Dominum, quia ipse evellet de laqueo pedes meos : respice in me, et miserere mei, quoniam unicus et pauper sum ego.

Ad Te, Domine, levavi animam meam : Deus meus, in Te confido, non erubescam.

Response : Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto, sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper : et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

English translation

My eyes are ever towards the Lord, for He shall pluck my feet out of the snare. May You look upon me, and have mercy on me, for I am alone and poor.

To You, o Lord, have I lifted up my soul. In You, o my God, I put my trust, let me not be ashamed.

Response : Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Collect

Quaesumus, omnipotens Deus, vota humilium respice : atque, ad defensionem nostram, dexteram Tuae majestatis extende. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

English translation

Have regard to the desires of the lowly, o Almighty God, we beseech You, and stretch forth the right hand of Your majesty in our defence. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who with You lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

Saturday, 23 March 2019 : 2nd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scriptures reminding us of the love which God has for each and every one of us, and so great is His love that He is willing to forgive even the greatest of sinners, no matter how great the sin that the sinner has committed, provided that the sinner is willing to be forgiven and willing to commit himself or herself to the path of redemption and reconciliation.

Today, as we continue to journey through the season of Lent, we are called to reflect through the passages taken from the Scriptures as our readings today, to think about our own lives and experiences, in how each and every one of us can make good use of this opportunity that God has given us, that we may be forgiven from our sins and be saved from the certainty of our impending doom and destruction due to those sins.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in our first reading today taken from the Book of the prophet Micah, we heard the prophet speaking to the people of God about the wondrous deeds that God has done for His people in the past, when He delivered them from the hands of their enemies, provided for their needs and blessed them with so many good blessings and graces. This was a reminder of God’s love for His people to those who have not been obedient to Him, rebelled against Him and were wicked in His sight.

This must be understood in the context of what the prophet Micah experienced, at the time of the northern kingdom of Israel, when God was no longer respected and worshipped in those places, and where the pagan idols and wicked deities have taken over the worship of God among the people. The prophets of God like Micah were rejected and oppressed, and they had to fear for their lives.

And yet, Micah told the people how the Lord was known for His mercy and forgiveness, His love and compassion for His people, that He will forgive them if only that the people were willing to be forgiven. And this often requires a change in their way of life, and in the commitment to reject the wicked practices and ways of the world, and instead embracing the righteousness and justice of God’s ways.

In today’s Gospel reading we heard the famous parable of the prodigal son, which correlates just perfectly with what we have heard from the prophet Micah. In that parable, we heard of a prodigal, younger son of a father who had two sons, who took his part of the rich inheritance from his father, and went to a distant land, squandering off all the wealth on wicked and immoral way of life, described as loose living in the Gospel.

And when the prodigal son had wasted all of his money and properties, he was left destitute and alone. All of those whom he might have regarded as friends abandoned him because they only wanted to enjoy the money and wealth he had, and once he ran out of them, they left him all alone. The prodigal son had to endure all sorts of humiliation, and endured the suffering of having nothing, not even his human dignity, when he decided to return in shame to his father.

He would have expected that his father would be very angry at him, and did not want to treat him as a son anymore, not after everything he had done in squandering off the wealth and portion of inheritance entitled to him. That is why he wanted to be treated like a slave in his plea for the father’s forgiveness. But little did he realise that his father loved him so much that he was welcomed back with such a great festivities and joy, as the lost son was found and returned to his father.

In this parable, we heard the story of the prodigal son, which in fact represents all of us mankind, all of us who are sinners, who have disobeyed the Father’s will, God, our heavenly Father, Who has blessed us with so many wonderful things and blessings, just as He had done to the Israelites in the past. Instead of appreciating all that He has done for us, like the Israelites and the prodigal son, we acted in defiance and disobedience, and did all that were abhorrent to God.

And yet, God loves us all so much, just as the father loved the prodigal and lost son, that He gave us chances after chances to return to Him and be forgiven from our sins. And the ultimate proof of this love, is how He gave us Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, who gave us the hope and sure pathway to the eternal glory and life with God, our loving Father. By His loving sacrifice on the cross, we mankind have been gathered like a shepherd gathering his lost sheep from among the darkness and wilderness of this world, and into His eternal light.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, during this season of Lent, we are called to do two main, important actions. First of all, we must be like the prodigal son, who has willingly, despite all the risks he took and in swallowing his pride, sought to return to his father. That is why we must turn away from our sinful way of life, and humbly seek God’s love and forgiveness. It is often that our ego and pride stand in the way of our forgiveness, because we do not want to admit that we have been wrong.

This is where we really need to be humble, to admit our mistakes and shortcomings before God. God Who loves us and Who knows our faults will have mercy on us, and He will grant us pardon and forgiveness, if only we seek Him with all of our heart. But then, we must also heed the other calling of today’s Gospel, and that is, for us not to be like the elder son, who has always been with the father, and became angry when the younger, prodigal son returned and treated with such fanfare that he became jealous.

This is why, secondly, this Lent, we must also reach out to our brethren, who may be in deeper and greater darkness than we are, those who have not embraced the Lord’s forgiveness and mercy. We should not act with pride and haughtiness, looking down on those who are still sinful and filled with wickedness. Ultimately, they too are our brothers and sisters, and they have no less right than us, to enjoy God’s forgiveness and mercy.

Today, we should imitate the good examples of our holy predecessors, especially that of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, who as bishop in the New World, the Americas, devoted himself so much to his ministry and works, that he often braved through difficult conditions to minister to the people, caring for them physically as well as spiritually. He spent a lot of effort improving the people’s livelihood, and preached the truth of God in their midst. Countless people came to the Lord through his works, and he was still remembered for all of his dedication.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to make this our Lenten commitment? In fact, we should commit to this new way of life, to serve God and His people, from now on, giving all of our efforts and strength to love God with all of our hearts and be forgiven our sins, just as we assist one another in seeking God’s mercy and forgiveness. May the Lord continue to bless our works, and may He guide us to His eternal glory. Amen.