Saturday, 30 March 2019 : 3rd Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Hosea 6 : 1-6

Come, let us return to YHVH. He Who shattered us to pieces, will heal us as well; He has struck us down, but He will bind up our wounds. Two days later He will bring us back to life; on the third day, He will raise us up, and we shall live in His presence.

Let us strive to know YHVH. His coming is as certain as the dawn; His judgment will burst forth like the light; He will come to us as showers come, like spring rain that waters the earth. O Ephraim, what shall I do with you? O Judah, how shall I deal with you?

This love of yours is like morning mist, like morning dew that quickly disappears. This is why I smote you through the prophets, and have slain you by the words of My mouth. For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice; it is knowledge of God, not burnt offerings.

Friday, 29 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 the Lord through the Scriptures reminding us of the importance of love in our lives, for love is the foundation of our whole lives. In the first reading today, we heard of the love which the Lord our God lavished on us, His beloved people, despite of the sins that we have committed all these while, just as how He showed mercy to His people who have disobeyed Him.

The prophet Hosea lived and ministered at a time when the people of God had been scattered and humiliated because of their disobedience against God and for the wickedness they did before the Lord. But the prophet revealed God’s ever merciful and loving compassion for each and every one of us, because of the tender love and mercy that He has for us. God does not ever desire our destruction, but instead our redemption and reconciliation with Him.

God blessed His people again and again despite them having wrought much pain and sorrow for Him, in their refusal to obey the Law and in their persistence to continue to sin and do what was wicked before God and His people alike. And even when they obeyed the Law, it was not because of the love which they had for God, but rather for their own vanity and selfish desires and intentions, as what the people of the time of Jesus had shown.

In both cases, there was no love between those people and God, and God was sidelined from their hearts, minds and attention. That is why they were not able to appreciate and make good use of the Law and the commandments that God had given to them. Instead of learning to love God and to draw closer to Him by obeying the Law in its full meaning and understanding its purpose, they feared God as One Who was distant and to be feared.

As a result, they did not draw closer to God, and in the way they practiced the Law, they did so out of obligation, or fear, or just for formalities and to fulfil what has been required by the traditions of their ancestors. And some, like the Pharisees, instead made use of the Law to make themselves look righteous, pious and good before the people. But in their hearts, there was no true love and devotion for God.

This is what we all need to overcome, the temptation of worldly desires, the idols of wealth, of human glory and praise, the pressure to conform to the standards and expectations of the world, which have caused us to be unable to realise God’s love being present in our midst. Sometimes, we are just too busy with our daily preoccupations, our concerns for many worldly matters, to be able to realise just how blessed we are, to have a God Who loves us all so dearly.

And this is where Satan is working very hard in trying to prevent us from gaining God’s grace and salvation. He is trying to make us to be too distracted from realising God’s love and wish to forgive us. And if he is not successful, he will then leverage through our fear and doubts, to prevent us from seeking God’s merciful love. This is most evident when we mankind feared of reaching out to God, thinking that He is angry with us and wants to punish us for our sins. But this is in truth, not what the Lord feels about us.

In this time of Lent, we are invited to embrace God’s ever present and ever readily available mercy. He has extended so generously His mercy and forgiveness, that He is willing to overlook all of the trespasses and wickedness that we have committed thus far in life. However, this offer of mercy and forgiveness must also be matched with the genuine and strong desire in our hearts and in our minds to be forgiven.

Are we able to accept God’s loving mercy? In order to be able to receive God’s forgiveness, we need to reorientate ourselves and relook into how we have lived our lives thus far. And this is truly a good time for us to begin making a change in our direction in life. Let us all make good use of this opportunity that God has granted us, so that we may grow ever more faithful towards God and be ever more loving towards Him, each and every days of our life. May God bless us all and our efforts. Amen.