Wednesday, 17 April 2019 : Wednesday of Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, the Wednesday of the blessed Holy Week, we focus on the betrayal of our Lord Jesus by one of His own disciples, the infamous Judas Iscariot. As such, traditionally today is also known as ‘Spy Wednesday’ for it was told that Judas Iscariot went to the chief priests and the elders to sell out his own Lord and Master on this day, which was done in utter secrecy that none of the other disciples knew about his betrayal until the very end.

We heard of how Judas Iscariot went to the chief priests and the elders asking them for an offer of money in exchange for the betrayal that he himself put on the discussion table. And they agreed on a sum of thirty pieces of silver. This may seem to be a lot, but in fact, as compared to the value of other things, this is a merely very small amount, and in fact, historical research and records showed that the price was the rough average price of a slave in the market.

And this is a very significant and meaningful thing to think about, that the Lord, God and King, Master of the entire Universe, was betrayed and sold to His enemies at the price of a mere slave, a most worthless and indeed, a mere commodity to be traded at the time, when slaves were not even treated as a human being should have been treated. And that was exactly what the Lord willingly accepted, the role of a faithful Servant and a suffering slave to all of us mankind.

As written in the first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, God sent His Saviour into this world, a Servant Who would obediently fulfilled the mission which has been entrusted to Him, even though it would require Him to go through enormous suffering, persecution, rejection, ridicule and humiliation, to endure all that the worst of the world could raise up against Him. And that was exactly what the Lord Jesus had to suffer from.

He was willing to endure all of that sufferings, because of nothing less than His pure, selfless and enduring desire to love each and every one of us sinners, all those whom He loved from the beginning of time, but because of our sins, we have been sundered and separated from His love. Without the love of God, there would have been no hope for us all. And that is precisely because of the love that He has for us, that He was willing to forgive us our sins and be reconciled with us.

God could have destroyed us outright with His will alone. Our sins are despicable to Him, and our refusal to obey Him and our continued sinful actions are truly hurtful to Him. And yet, He was ever patient and forgiving, knowing that there are still good in us, as He created us all good and perfect before sin came and corrupted us. He wants to be reconciled with us, and that desire and compassion in Him allowed Him to do what He has willingly undertook for our sake.

And that is to humble Himself and empty Himself, humbling Himself before God and man alike, to obey the will of the Father so perfectly and be filled with so much love for Him and for His fellow men, that He bore that cross upon His shoulders, as the perfect Man, the New Adam, by which God made a new Covenant with the whole race of man. The first Adam had sinned because he chose to side with the devil and believe in the devil’s lies, and submitted to his greed and pride, and Christ as the New Adam showed us all how each and every one of us ought to be like in our own lives.

Judas fell into sin because he was selfish, and so did the chief priests and all those who plotted with Judas against the Lord. The former cared about his own desire for money, which he had done earlier as he helped himself corruptly to the group’s own treasure money, a wicked act to serve his own greed, while the latter wanted to preserve their own status, prestige and standing in the society, and could not bear to have the opposition from the Lord Jesus, His authority and His teachings.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, how should we choose to proceed with our lives from now on? Do we follow the example of Judas Iscariot, the chief priests and the elders in their prideful and haughty attitudes, in their greed and desires for power, glory and worldly satisfactions? Or should we instead follow the example of Our Lord Jesus Christ, His humility before all, and His love for His heavenly Father and for us all, as the perfect example for all of us to follow?

Let us all reflect on all these things as we prepare ourselves to enter the most sacred Paschal Triduum beginning tomorrow on Holy Thursday, that we may truly reflect and ponder on our own lives, our every words and actions, so that in everything we say and do, we will grow ever more devoted to the Lord, and shunning behind all of our past wicked ways, that we do not follow the path of sin any longer, and be true disciples of the Lord from now on.

Let us all have a wonderful time celebrating together the sacred Paschal Triduum, and allow the Lord to enter into our lives, that He may transform each and every one of us to be true children of light and to be worthy recipients of God’s everlasting inheritance and wonders. Amen.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019 : Wednesday of Holy Week (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 26 : 14-25

Then one of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “How much will you give me if I hand Him over to you?” They promised to give him thirty pieces of silver, and from then on, he kept looking for the best way to hand Jesus over to them.

On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and said to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare the Passover meal for you?” Jesus answered, “Go into the city, to the house of a certain man, and tell him, ‘The Master says : My hour is near, and I will celebrate the Passover with My disciples in your house.'”

The disciples did as Jesus had ordered, and prepared the Passover meal. When it was evening, Jesus sat at table with the Twelve. While they were eating, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you : one of you will betray Me.” They were deeply distressed, and they asked Him, one after the other, “You do not mean me, do You, Lord?”

He answered, “The one who dips his bread with Me will betray Me. The Son of Man is going as the Scripture says He will. But alas for that one who betrays the Son of Man : better for him not to have been born.” Judas, who was betraying Him, also asked, “You do not mean me, Master, do You?” Jesus replied, “You have said it.”

Wednesday, 17 April 2019 : Wednesday of Holy Week (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 68 : 8-10, 21-22, 31 and 33-34

Since I am held in contempt for Your sake, and shame has covered My face. I have become a stranger to My kindred, an alien to My mother’s sons. Zeal for Your house consumes Me as fire and those who insult You insult Me as well.

I looked for sympathy and there was none, for comforters and there was no one. They gave me poison for food and vinegar to drink.

I will praise the Name of God in song; I will glorify Him with thanksgiving. Let the lowly witness this and be glad. You who seek God, may your hearts be revived. For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise those in captivity.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019 : Wednesday of Holy Week (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 50 : 4-9a

The Lord YHVH has taught Me so I speak as His disciple and I know how to sustain the weary. Morning after morning He wakes Me up to hear, to listen like a disciple. The Lord YHVH has opened My ear. I have not rebelled, nor have I withdrawn.

I offered My back to those who strike Me, My cheeks to those who pulled My beard; neither did I shield My face from blows, spittle and disgrace. I have not despaired, for the Lord YHVH comes to My help. So, like a flint I set My face, knowing that I will not be disgraced.

He Who avenges Me is near. Who then will accuse Me? Let us confront each other. Who is now My accuser? Let him approach. If the Lord YHVH is my Help, who will condemn Me?

Tuesday, 16 April 2019 : Tuesday of Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this blessed Tuesday of the Holy Week, we listened to the coming of God’s salvation as promised to His people, in our first reading which was taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah. The Lord sent His deliverance to all of us through the Lord Jesus Christ, His own Son, as prophesied by the prophets, the One Who would deliver us from our troubles and liberate us from our sins.

He was the One promised to be the salvation to all the people of God, to reconcile all of the people to God Himself. And yet, many of the people did not even believe in Him and refused to follow Him, and in today’s Gospel passage, we heard the moment when the Lord was having the meal with His disciples at the Last Supper, just before He was to be betrayed by one of His own and handed over to His enemies.

In that occasion, we heard how even many among the disciples of the Lord did not have a strong faith in Him. First, the Lord Himself mentioned openly how one among the disciples themselves would betray Him to His enemies, and they all wondered who among them would be the one to do such a thing. And Judas Iscariot was the one revealed to be the betrayer, as the Lord Himself already knew what he was about to do. Yet, the other disciples at that time still did not know that Judas was about to betray their Lord.

And then the Lord mentioned to St. Peter and the other disciples, when he said that he would readily give his life for Him, that before the cock crowed the next morning, St. Peter would have denied Him three times, a reference to the moment when St. Peter was asked by the bystanders at the time of the Lord’s trial, and he denied ever knowing Him three times, most likely out of fear of being arrested and suffer the same fate as the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of these passages from the Scripture ought to remind each and every one of us that we are all sinners before God, and all of us, like the disciples, are weak creatures who are often afflicted and tempted by sin, with the various temptations and pressures present in our lives, which made it difficult for us to live a life that is truly faithful to the Lord. But this is where we need to seek God’s help, for we are not able to free ourselves from our sins. Only God is capable of forgiving us our sins.

Just as St. Peter was afflicted with fear and doubt, and how Judas Iscariot was swayed with greed for money and perhaps other desires, we too have often experienced the many temptations often present in our daily lives that brought us into disobedience and therefore sin against God. The Lord indeed did not call perfect people to become His disciples, and all of them had shortcomings and weaknesses, just as we are.

Neither was it that saints had no weakness or exposure to the temptations to sim. But the most important difference between them and those sinners who have been condemned is that they willingly turned their back to sin and abandon their wicked ways behind them. They were sinners who sought the Lord for forgiveness, and they allowed the Lord to guide them in their path of life, their words, actions and deeds.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, as we continue to progress through this blessed Holy Week, let us all rediscover our faith for God, and commit ourselves anew, to make ourselves once again to be righteous, just and good in all of our actions and deeds in life. Let us all turn to God from now on, with all of our hearts and with all of our might, that He, the Perfect One, may enter into our lives and transform our imperfections and weaknesses into strength and courage through His love and mercy. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019 : Tuesday of Holy Week (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 13 : 21-33, 36-38

At that time, after He said a discourse to His disciples after He washed their feet, Jesus was distressed in Spirit, and said plainly, “Truly, one of you will betray Me.” The disciples then looked at one another, wondering whom He meant. One of the disciples, the one Jesus loved, was reclining near Jesus; so Simon Peter signalled him to ask Jesus whom He meant.

And the disciple, who was reclining near Jesus, asked Him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “I shall dip a piece of bread in the dish, and he to whom I give it, is the one.” So Jesus dipped the bread and gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And as Judas took the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus then said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.”

None of the others, reclining at the table, understood why Jesus said this to Judas. As Judas had the common purse, they may have thought that Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or “Give something to the poor.” Judas left as soon as he had eaten the bread. It was night.

When Judas had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him. God will glorify Him, and He will glorify Him very soon. My children, I am with you for only a little while; you will look for Me, but as I already told the Jews, so now I tell you : where I am going you cannot come.”

Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but afterwards you will.” Peter said, “Lord, why can I not follow You now? I am ready to give my life for You.”

“To give your life for Me?” Jesus asked Peter, “Truly I tell you, the cock will not crow, before you have denied Me three times.”

Tuesday, 16 April 2019 : Tuesday of Holy Week (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 70 : 1-2, 3-4a, 5-6ab, 15ab and 17

In You, o Lord, I seek refuge; let me not be disgraced. In Your justice help me and deliver me, turn Your ear to me and save me!

Be my Rock of refuge, a Stronghold to give me safety, for You are my Rock and my Fortress. Rescue me, o my God, from the hand of the wicked.

For You, o Lord, have been my Hope, my Trust, o God, from my youth. I have relied on You from birth : from my mother’s womb You brought me forth.

My lips will proclaim Your intervention and tell of Your salvation all day, little though it is what I can understand. You have taught me from my youth and until now I proclaim Your marvels.