Saturday, 13 April 2019 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of Pope St. Martin I, Pope and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 11 : 45-56

At that time, many of the Jews who had come with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw what He did; but some went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees called together the Council.

They said, “What are we to do? For this Man keeps on giving miraculous signs. If we let Him go on like this, all the people will believe in Him and, as a result of this, the Romans will come and destroy our Holy Place and our nation.”

Then one of them, Caiaphas, who was High Priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all, nor do you see clearly what you need. It is better to have one Man die for the people than to let the whole nation be destroyed.” In saying this Caiaphas did not speak for himself, but being High Priest that year, he foretold like a prophet that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also would die to gather into one the scattered children of God. So, from that day on, they were determined to kill Him.

Because of this, Jesus no longer moved about freely among the Jews. He withdrew instead to the country near the wilderness, and stayed with His disciples in a town called Ephraim. The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and people from everywhere were coming to Jerusalem to purify themselves before the Passover. They looked for Jesus and, as they stood in the Temple, they talked with one another, “What do you think? Will He come to the festival?”

Saturday, 13 April 2019 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of Pope St. Martin I, Pope and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Jeremiah 31 : 10, 11-12ab, 13

Hear the word of YHVH, o nations, proclaim it on distant coastlands : He Who scattered Israel will gather them and guard them as a shepherd guard his flock.

For YHVH has ransomed Jacob and redeemed him from the hand of his conqueror. They shall come shouting for joy, while ascending Zion; they will come streaming to YHVH’s blessings.

Maidens will make merry and dance, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness, I will give them comfort and joy for sorrow.

Saturday, 13 April 2019 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of Pope St. Martin I, Pope and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Ezekiel 37 : 21-28

You will then say to them : Thus says YHVH : I am about to withdraw the Israelites from where they were among the nations. I shall gather them from all around and bring them back to their land. I shall make them into one people on the mountains of Israel and one king is to be the king of them all.

They will no longer form two nations or be two separate kingdoms, nor will they defile themselves again with their idols, their detestable practices and their sins. I shall free them from the guilt of their treachery; I shall cleanse them and they will be for Me a people and I shall be God for them.

My servant David will reign over them, one shepherd for all. They will live according to My laws and follow and practice My decrees. They will settle in the land I gave to My servant Jacob where their ancestors lived. There they will live forever, their children and their children’s children. David My servant will be their prince forever.

I shall establish a covenant of peace with them, an everlasting covenant. I shall settle them and they will increase and I shall put My sanctuary in their midst forever. I shall make My home at their side; I shall be their God and they will be My people. Then the nations will know that I am YHVH Who makes Israel holy, having My sanctuary among them forever.

Friday, 12 April 2019 : 5th Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we rapidly approach the beginning of the Holy Week of Our Lord’s Passion, commemorating the suffering, death and eventually resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the nature of the Scripture readings chosen for the occasion increasingly reflect the deeper understanding and ties to the mysteries of the Lord’s Passion, and how He fulfilled the mission that He has been sent into this world for, through the laying down of His life on the cross.

In the first reading today, we heard the story from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah, where the persecution and plotting against the prophet by his enemies and all who opposed him were laid bare before us. They all opposed him and the forces that were combined against him were immense. He was treated as a doomsayer, a traitor and someone who ought to be killed for having spoken the truth of God before them, that is for exposing and pointing out their wickedness.

The prophet Jeremiah however trusted in God and placed himself completely in His mercy and loving care, knowing that despite all the opposition He had to endure and the challenges and difficulties He had to face, the Lord was always faithful, and would always be, and to trust in Him would lead to a true joy in the end, joy that surpasses all sufferings, pains and challenges that one had to encounter and endure.

In the same way therefore, in the Gospel passage today, we heard how the Lord Jesus was also treated in a similar manner by those who opposed Him, those who contended that He was spreading lies and blasphemies, and refused to believe in all that He had told them to do. The Lord Jesus experienced the same rejection, ridicule and persecution as Jeremiah had once experienced, but He also trusted completely in the plan that His heavenly Father had placed on Him.

It was indeed tough, difficult and painful, and that was why, Jesus before He faced His Passion and suffering on the cross, agonised so much in His humanity over all that He had to endure, the pain and the whole weight and burden of the cross, that is not just the physical weight of the wooden cross, but even more so, the entirety of the unimaginably heavy burden of mankind’s sins. And yet, He obeyed the Father’s will perfectly, and by that obedience, brought unto us the promised eternal salvation and life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, during this time and season of Lent, we have been urged to remember our own sinfulness, our own unworthiness before God because of our sins, and how we have been called to renew our faith and our lives through dedication and commitment of our lives from now on, so that while once we may have done what was wicked and evil in the sight of God, but now we become a new people with a new heart, mind and purpose.

Yes, indeed, the path forward if we choose to walk down this path will be difficult and arduous, as the prophet Jeremiah’s life and our Lord Jesus Himself have evidently shown us. But this is where we need to learn to overcome our attachments to the world and all the temptations that often surround us and overwhelm us with desire, ego, pride and all sorts of things that led us into disobedience and sin against God.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we approach and enter into this holiest week and period of time in our liturgical year, let us all prepare ourselves in body, heart, mind and soul, in our entire and whole being, to be able to celebrate the sacred mysteries of the Passion, suffering, death and resurrection of Our Lord meaningfully and faithfully, that by deepening our understanding of our faith and by committing ourselves further to God, we may be ever more worthy to receive the eternal glory that He has promised to all of us mankind.

May the Lord be our guide, and may He help us in our journey of faith, that each and every one of us may draw ever closer to Him and be worthy to receive the everlasting inheritance He has promised to all those who are faithful in Him. May He bless us always in our daily lives and in all of our actions and works in life. Amen.