Wednesday, 3 April 2019 : 4th Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 5 : 17-30

At that time, Jesus replied to the Jews, “My Father goes on working and so do I.” And the Jews tried all the harder to kill Him, for Jesus not only broke the Sabbath observance, but also made Himself equal with God, calling God His own Father.

Jesus said to them, “Truly, I assure you, the Son cannot do anything by Himself, but only what He sees the Father do. And whatever He does, the Son also does. The Father loves the Son and shows Him everything He does; and He will show Him even greater things than these, so that you will be amazed.”

“As the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son gives life to whom He wills. In the same way the Father judges no one, for He has entrusted all judgment to the Son, and He wants all to honour the Son as they honour the Father. Whoever ignores the Son, ignores as well the Father Who sent Him.”

“Truly, I say to you, anyone who hears My word and believes Him Who sent Me, has eternal life; and there is no judgment for him, because he has passed from death to life. Truly, the hour is coming and has indeed come, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and, on hearing it, will live. For the Father has life in Himself, and He has given to the Son also to have life in Himself. And He has empowered Him as well to carry out Judgment, for He is Son of Man.”

“Do not be surprised at this : the hour is coming when all those lying in tombs will hear My voice and come out; those who have done good shall rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. I can do nothing of Myself, and I need to hear Another One to judge; and My judgment is just, because I seek not My own will, but the will of Him Who sent Me.”

Wednesday, 3 April 2019 : 4th Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 144 : 8-9, 13cd-14, 17-18

Compassionate and gracious is the Lord, slow to anger and abounding in love. The Lord is good to everyone; His mercy embraces all His creation.

The Lord is true to His promises and lets His mercy show in all He does. The Lord lifts up those who are falling and raises those who are beaten down.

Righteous is the Lord in all His ways, His mercy shows in all His deeds. He is near those who call on Him, who call trustfully upon His Name.

Wednesday, 3 April 2019 : 4th Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 49 : 8-15

This is what YHVH says : “At a favourable time I have answered you, on the day of salvation I have been your help; I have formed you and made you to be My covenant with the people. You will restore the land, and allot its abandoned farms. You will say to the captives : Come out; and to those in darkness : Show yourselves.”

“They will feed along the road; they will find pasture on barren hills. They will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the scorching wind or the sun beat upon them; for He Who has mercy on them will guide them and lead them to springs of water. I will turn all My mountains into roads and raise up My highways. See, they come from afar, some from the north and west, others from the land of Sinim.”

Sing, o heavens and rejoice, o earth; break forth into song, o mountains : for YHVH has comforted His people and taken pity on those who are afflicted. But Zion said : “YHVH has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.” Can a woman forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child of her womb? Yet though she forget, I will never forget you.

Tuesday, 2 April 2019 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Francis of Paola, Hermit (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in today’s Scripture passages we listened again about the healing and liberation that come from God, as we heard in our first reading passage today from the Book of the prophet Ezekiel about the vision he received of the glorious heavenly sanctuary, of the wonderful place and how everything exists in God’s grace and bliss. And then in the Gospel passage we heard another healing miracle of the Lord, as He healed a paralytic man and made him whole once again.

Through all of these passages we have heard today, God wants to remind us all that this Lent, we are called to reflect on our own lives, on how we have lived these lives of ours so far, in our attitudes, actions and life. We are called to remember that our ultimate destination in life is heaven, as God showed to the prophet Ezekiel in the vision. And in truth, heaven is more than just a place, for it is a state of pure bliss and joy of being fully reconciled and reunited with God, where there will be no more sorrow but only pure joy of being with God, enjoying the fullness of His love for eternity.

Unfortunately, all of us mankind have been prevented from enjoying all these things and wonders in this present life, because of our disobedience against God and His will. And the fruits of disobedience are our sins, which have corrupted us and made us to be sick. We are just like the paralytic man who was lying down, unable to move and afflicted at the Pool of Siloam. And no one helped him for the entirety of the thirty-eight years he was there.

And we see how there were many people afflicted by various diseases coming to the Pool of Siloam because of the miraculous healing that happened to all the first person who went into the water when the water was stirred by God’s Angel. But no one bothered to help the paralytic man to go to the water to be healed, and everyone just bothered about their own selves, in wanting to be healed. That was how the paralytic man suffered there for thirty-eight years long.

Jesus knew how long the man had suffered and waited for the day of his healing which did not seem to come at all. But Jesus knew his faith and willingness to be healed, and thus, He approached the man and asked about his willingness to be healed. The man showed that he clearly wanted to be healed, but no one bothered to help him at all in order to be healed. And so, Jesus showed us all an example by reaching out to the man, and healed him even on the day of the Sabbath.

Jesus showed us all what each and every one of us need to do, especially during this penitential season of Lent, a time of renewal and reconciliation with God. First of all, He is calling on us to seek Him for Him to heal us all from our sins. For it is God alone Who is capable of freeing us from the bondage and sufferings of our sins. We cannot heal ourselves from the plight of sin, just like the paralytic man who could not heal himself.

And we know how loving and forgiving God is, that He was so willing to reach out to us, embracing us with His love, and healing us from our pains and sufferings because of sin. That is what each and every one of us can expect, if we are able and willing to turn towards God and seek His forgiveness and mercy. We shall be made whole and good once again, freed from our sins and wickedness, from our pains and trials.

Secondly, which is not less important, is the fact that all of us are not suffering alone in this world. Each and every one of us are equally sinners before God. All of us are afflicted and are corrupted by the taints of sin. And unless we come to seek God’s help and providence, we shall perish and suffer eternal death due to sin. But sadly, many of us are so blinded by pride as well as by selfishness and greed, that we often acted as how the people in the Pool of Siloam acted.

What does that mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that we should not turn a blind eye to the sins and sufferings of our fellow brethren. We must instead show the same love and compassion that the Lord has shown to the paralytic man. It is through our actions and our obedience to God that we can inspire others around us to also follow in our examples and good actions, that together we may be saved.

Today, we should also be inspired by the good examples shown by the holy and devout, loving and compassionate St. Francis of Paola, an ascetic friar and hermit who devoted his whole life to God, serving the people through prayer, through humility and plenty of self-sacrifice, by being exemplary in faith and in all of his words and actions. St. Francis of Paola, as well as many other saints whose life we know about, show us how each one of us can become like them in holiness, for they themselves were once sinners, but they sought God’s healing and were healed and transformed.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He empower each and every one of us that we may live faithfully from now on, and be able and willing to commit ourselves to a life of holiness, virtue and faith. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 2 April 2019 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Francis of Paola, Hermit (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 5 : 1-16

At that time, there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now, by the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem, there is a pool (called Bethzatha in Hebrew) surrounded by five galleries. In these galleries lay a multitude of sick people : blind, lame and paralysed.

(All were waiting for the water to move, for at times an Angel of the Lord would descend into the pool and stir up the water; and the first person to enter the pool, after this movement of the water, would be healed of whatever disease that he had.)

There was a man who had been sick for thirty-eight years. Jesus saw him, and because He knew how long this man had been lying there, He said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” And the sick man answered, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is disturbed; so while I am still on my way, another steps down before me.”

Jesus then said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk!” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his mat and walked. Now that day happened to be the Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had just been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and the Law does not allow you to carry your mat.” He answered them, “The One Who healed me said to me, “Take up your mat and walk!”

They asked him, “Who is the One Who said to you : Take up your mat and walk?” But the sick man had no idea who it was Who had cured him, for Jesus had slipped away among the crowd that filled the place. Afterwards Jesus met him in the Temple court and told him, “Now you are well; do not sin again, lest something worse happen to you.”

And the man went back and told the Jews that it was Jesus Who had healed him. So the Jews persecuted Jesus because He performs healings like that on the Sabbath.

Tuesday, 2 April 2019 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Francis of Paola, Hermit (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 45 : 2-3, 5-6, 8-9ab

God is our strength and protection, an ever-present help in affliction. We will not fear, therefore, though the earth be shaken and the mountains plunge into the seas.

There is a river whose streams bring joy to the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within, the city cannot quake, for God’s help is upon it at the break of day.

For with us is the Lord of hosts, the God of Jacob, our refuge. Come, see the works of the Lord – the marvellous things He has done in the world.

Tuesday, 2 April 2019 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Francis of Paola, Hermit (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Ezekiel 47 : 1-9, 12

The man brought me back to the entrance of the Temple and I saw water coming out from the threshold of the Temple and flowing eastwards. The Temple faced the east and the water flowed from the south side of the Temple, from the south side of the altar. He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing the east and there I saw the stream coming from the south side.

The man had a measuring cord in his hand. As he went towards the east he measured off a thousand cubits and led me across the water which was up to my ankles. He measured off another thousand cubits and made me cross the water which came to my knees. He measured off another thousand cubits and we crossed the water which was up to my waist. When he had again measured a thousand cubits, I could not cross the torrent for it had swollen to a depth which was impossible to cross without swimming.

The man then said to me, “Son of man, did you see?” He led me on further and then brought me back to the bank of the river. There I saw a number of trees on both sides of the river. He said to me, “This water goes to the east, down to the Arabah, and when it flows into the sea of foul-smelling water, the water will become wholesome.”

“Wherever the river flows, swarms of creatures will live in it; fish will be plentiful and the sea water will become fresh. Wherever it flows, life will abound. Near the river on both banks there will be all kinds of fruit trees with foliage that will not wither and fruit that will never fail; each month they will bear a fresh crop because the water comes from the Temple. The fruit will be good to eat and the leaves will be used for healing.”

Monday, 1 April 2019 : 4th 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 giving us encouragement and strength, with the message of hope in the power of God’s salvation and healing, as all of us come to the loving embrace of God, in the healing that He brought into this world as mentioned in the Gospel passage today, and also in the wonderful vision of the prophet Isaiah, who received from God the assurance of a new Jerusalem, a new place for all the faithful, where no sorrow will exist anymore.

In today’s Gospel passage, we heard the healing of the son of an official, who had been very sick and in a really terrible condition. The official travelled to meet Jesus, Whom has been renowned for His many miracles and healing of the sick people, of all various kinds of diseases and troubles. The official pleaded with the Lord to heal his son, and the Lord saw the faith that the official had in Him and in the power of God.

But take note that Jesus did not go personally to heal the son of the official. He merely said, ‘Go, you son has been healed!’ and the official believed in the words of Jesus and went back home. On his journey home, one of his servants declared that the official’s son has recovered, right at the very moment when the Lord said that his son would be healed. Imagine the joy that the official must have experienced, all because of his faith in God.

In order to appreciate the importance of this event, we must understand and appreciate it in conjunction with what occurred throughout the Gospels, especially when we see the faith that this official had shown, in tandem with the faith of the woman who had haemorrhage, as well as the faith of Jairus, the synagogue official, and the faith of the army centurion, who similarly as the official, believed that even the mere words of Jesus could heal their beloved ones.

And this ought to be contrasted with the attitudes of many of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who have witnessed many times, the many miracles and wonders that the Lord Jesus had performed before them and the people, and yet refused and failed to believe in the truth that God had made clear and evident before all of them. They have seen all the great wonders that God had performed, but the reality is that, God had no place in their hearts.

That was why they did not believe in God and His works, doubting Him and even challenging, opposing and persecuting all those who believed in His truth and works. They wanted proof again and again from the Lord Jesus, while they have actually seen all the wonders with their own eyes, because the doors of their hearts have been closed to God. No matter what God had done for them, the ego and pride, the ambition and desire that are in them have prevented them from having that important faith in God.

Now, in this time of Lent, all of us are reminded of the healing and salvation that God has brought into our midst, through His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. But in order to be healed, we will need to have faith, like the faith of the official and all the others I have mentioned, those who seek the Lord for healing, mercy and forgiveness for their sins. Healing and forgiveness only comes when we empty ourselves of ego, of pride, of our human ambition and desire, of our stubbornness and attachments to sin.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, each and every one of us must realise that we are suffering now because of our sins, due to our disobedience against God and His will. And no one can free us from the bondage to sin save that of God alone. Now, the question is, are we willing to commit ourselves to the path of God’s mercy and forgiveness? If we are willing to do so, then we need to reconsider how we have lived our lives thus far, and see in what way we can live our lives more meaningfully and more faithfully in accordance to God’s will.

Are we able to put God at the centre of our lives? Are we able to make Him the very reason of our every words, actions and deeds? This will require effort from us to change our way of life, and how we focus our efforts and attentions. If we have once been proud, ambitious, selfish and greedy, let us all now learn humility, selflessness, generosity and charity in all the things we do in life from now on.

May the Lord be with us always, as we continue this journey of life with faith. May He continue to bless us and guide us, that in everything we encounter in life, we will always have the courage to remain true and devoted to Him, in each and every days of our life. May God, our loving Father and our Saviour, be our source of healing and may He forgive us all our sins and wickedness. Amen.