Friday, 29 March 2019 : 3rd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Mark 12 : 28b-34

At that time, a teacher of the Law came up and asked Jesus, “Which commandment is the first of all?”

Jesus answered, “The first is : Hear, Israel! The Lord, our God is One Lord; and you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. And after this comes a second commandment : You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these two.”

The teacher of the Law said to Him, “Well spoken, Master; You are right when You say that He is one, and there is no other besides Him. To love Him with all our heart, with all our understanding and with all our strength, and to love our neighbour as ourselves is more important than any burnt offering or sacrifice.”

Jesus approved of this answer and said, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that, no one dared to ask Him any more questions.

Friday, 29 March 2019 : 3rd Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 80 : 6c-8a, 8bc-9, 10-11ab, 14 and 17

Open wide your mouth and I will fill it, I relieved your shoulder from burden; I freed your hands. You called in distress, and I saved you.

Unseen, I answered you in thunder; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. Hear, My people, as I admonish you. If only you would listen, o Israel!

There shall be no strange god among you, you shall not worship any alien god, for I the Lord am your God, who led you forth from the land of Egypt.

If only My people would listen, if only Israel would walk in My ways. I would feed you with the finest wheat and satisfy you with honey from the rock.

Friday, 29 March 2019 : 3rd Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Hosea 14 : 2-10

Return to your God YHVH, o Israel! Your sins have caused your downfall. Return to YHVH with humble words. Say to Him, “Oh You Who show compassion to the fatherless forgive our debt, be appeased. Instead of bulls and sacrifices, accept the praise from our lips. Assyria will not save us : no longer shall we look for horses nor ever again shall we say ‘Our gods’ to the work of our hands.”

I will heal their wavering and love them with all My heart for My anger has turned from them. I shall be like dew to Israel like the lily will he blossom. Like a cedar he will send down his roots; his young shoots will grow and spread. His splendour will be like an olive tree. His fragrance, like a Lebanon cedar.

They will dwell in My shade again, they will flourish like the grain, they will blossom like a vine, and their fame will be like Lebanon wine. What would Ephraim do with idols, when it is I Who hear and make him prosper? I am like an ever-green cypress tree; all your fruitfulness comes from Me.

Who is wise enough to grasp all this? Who is discerning and will understand? Straight are the ways of YHVH : the just walk in them, but the sinners stumble.

Thursday, 28 March 2019 : 3rd 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 God in the Scriptures speaking to us about the matter of being united to God and not to dissent by our disobedience and refusal to believe in Him. We are reminded that if we are all united in God, we will stand firm despite the challenges and pressures from the world, and we will not be shaken and lost from God, for God loves us all, and as long as we keep our faith in Him, God will provide for us and protect us.

In today’s Gospel passage, the Lord Jesus rebuked some of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who have slandered Him publicly by saying that He performed His miracles and exorcism of demons and evil spirits, by collusion and collaboration with Beelzebul, the prince of demons. The Lord said this with disbelief and probably even anger at the irony presented by those who criticised the works of the Lord.

They criticised the Lord that He was using demons to cast out other demons, but the Lord pointed out that it was not the devil and his forces that were divided among themselves, rather, the people of God, who were divided among themselves and unable to unite themselves in thought and belief in God. The devil, that is Satan and all of his allies are all united in the same purpose, that is to bring about our downfall and damnation, while we mankind are often prone to being divided among ourselves.

The moment that men do not put their trust and faith in God, that is the moment when the devil and all of his wicked allies strike, manipulating us and dividing us through pride, through ambition and human greed, through the temptations of desire and other worldly pleasures. The devil is waiting for us when we are at our weakest, to strike at us, knowing that when we are united, he cannot assail us. He tries his best to divide us, one against another, so that it is easier for him to strike us down, one by one.

The devil is using our pride and ego, ambition and desire, greed and jealousy against us. That was how he led the Israelites astray, by hardening their hearts and minds with pride and worldly desires, when the lust and desire for gold, wealth and power brought them to sin against God, in making an idol for themselves, and in disobeying the laws and commandments of God. They bickered and quarrelled among themselves, for God was not at the centre of their lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we must be mindful that this is how the devil is also constantly striking at us, by luring us with the temptation of power, of pleasures of the flesh, of money and wealth of this world, with fame, influence and glory, all the things that caused us to bicker among one another, and quarrel among ourselves. Even friendships and relationships have been torn apart by the pressure of worldly desires and ambitions.

This is how even within our Church, we often see divisions and conflicts, where the members of the Church ministries quarrel and bicker among each other, gossiping and backstabbing, complaining and being mean and hurtful to one another through our words and actions. The devil is truly busy at work, with all of his allies and agents, in trying to tempt us to sin, by planting in us the seeds of disagreements and dissensions.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, during this time of Lent, we are called and indeed challenged to overcome all of these negative thoughts, emotions and desires within us. But the path forward will not be an easy one, as there will be plenty of opposition, as the devil and his kingdom are hard at work, trying to subvert us and to prevent us from gaining salvation in God. There will be plenty of challenges in our path, and unless we make the conscious effort to restrain ourselves, we will end up being more and more divided among ourselves, and the devil will swoop in for the kill easily.

Let us all strive to be true disciples of Christ in this blessed season of Lent onwards, by turning ourselves and our lives back to be in accordance with God’s will and centre our focus and attention back towards Him. Let us also strive to overcome division and conflict, by putting love in all of our actions, words and deeds. Before we act and say something, let us always put ourselves into considerations of love.

Let us love one another sincerely and graciously, remembering of the love that God Himself has shown us, that each and every one of us may also love one another in the way that He has loved us all, so generously and so sincerely, that even though we have disobeyed Him and walked away from Him, time to time, again and again, He still continues to love us all despite all these. Let us all be generous with our love, and continue to live our lives well, as good and faithful disciples of the Lord from now on. Amen.