Wednesday, 4 March 2020 : 1st Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Casimir (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 11 : 29-32

At that time, as the crowd increased, Jesus spoke the following words : “People of the present time are troubled people. They ask for a sign, but no sign will be given to them except the sign of Jonah. As Jonah became a sign for the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be a sign for this generation.”

“The Queen of the South will rise up on Judgment Day with the people of these times and accuse them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and here, there is greater than Solomon. The people of Nineveh will rise up on Judgment Day with the people of these times and accuse them, for Jonah’s preaching made them turn from their sins, and here, there is greater than Jonah.”

Wednesday, 4 March 2020 : 1st Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Casimir (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 50 : 3-4, 12-13, 18-19

Have mercy on me, o God, in Your love. In Your great compassion blot out my sin. Wash me thoroughly of my guilt; cleanse me of evil.

Create in me, o God, a pure heart; give me a new and steadfast spirit. Do not cast me out of Your presence nor take Your Holy Spirit from me.

You take no pleasure in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt offering, You would not delight in it. O God, my sacrifice is a broken spirit; a contrite heart, You will not despise.

Wednesday, 4 March 2020 : 1st Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Casimir (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Jonah 3 : 1-10

The word of YHVH came to Jonah a second time : “Go to Nineveh, the great city, and announce to them the message I give you.”

In obedience to the word of YHVH, Jonah went to Nineveh. It was a very large city, and it took three days just to cross it. So Jonah walked a single day’s journey and began proclaiming, “Forty days more and Nineveh will be destroyed.”

The people of the city believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. Upon hearing the news, the king of Nineveh got up from his throne, took off his royal robe, put on sackcloth and sat down in ashes. He issued a proclamation throughout Nineveh :

“By the decree of the king and his nobles, no people or beasts, herd or flock, will taste anything; neither will they eat nor drink. But let people and beasts be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call aloud to God, turn from his evil ways and violence. Who knows? God may yet relent, turn from His fierce anger and spare us.”

When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He had compassion and did not carry out the destruction He had threatened upon them.

Tuesday, 3 March 2020 : 1st 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 speaking to us about the Word of God, sent by the Father into this world, fulfilling His will and doing all that He has tasked the Word to do, as described in our first reading from the Book of the prophet Isaiah. And all these were part of the prophecies surrounding the coming of God’s Saviour, the Chosen One, Whom God promised His people that the Saviour would deliver them from their troubles and bring them into God’s eternal glory.

All these were then fulfilled completely in the person of Jesus Christ, the Messiah or Saviour of us all. For although He appeared to us in the manner and appearance of a Man, and indeed fully Man He is, but the truth of His nature has been prophesied to us as we heard from the prophet Isaiah, the Word of God Himself, sent into the world, the Divine Word Who is with the Father and Who is One with God the Father, sent into the world to execute God’s divine will amongst us all. He is the Son of God, the Divine Word Incarnate.

The Son of God has come into this world in order to heal us from our afflictions and to redeem us from our sins, and He also taught us more about God, our heavenly Father and Creator, and revealed the truth about Him to us all. And that is why, He taught us all to pray in our Gospel passage today, the prayer now known as the Lord’s Prayer as it was made and taught to us by Jesus Himself, or as the Pater Noster that is the Latin for Our Father, for it is a prayer address to God, our heavenly Father.

And therefore, we are called today to reflect on this matter of prayer as we progress through this season of Lent. Prayer is an essential part of our faith as we all should know, and it is important that especially during this period of Lent, prayer is something that we should do with greater devotion and sincerity, if we especially have not prayed often and regularly before. For it is through prayer that we grow in our relationship with God, and we may be more connected to Him and know more of His will and ways.

If we have not been able to discern God’s will and we have not had that close relationship with God, then perhaps we should consider whether our prayer life has been good and proper, and whether we have been praying in the right way or if we have been mistaken in our understanding of prayer thus far. As I said, prayer is very important for us and especially during this time of Lent to help us to reconnect with God and to strengthen our relationship with Him.

Many of us Christians treat prayer wrongly in the way that we see prayer as a means to achieve what we desired and wanted, and we wanted God to help us to get them. That is why some of us prayed and prayed with this kind of intention, while not entirely wrong, but we ended up being obsessed with our desire and in the end, we forgot what prayer is truly all about. Some of us prayed following the formulas and set prayers of the Church, which is again while a good practice, but we ended up spending lots of time reciting the prayers and yet we did not mean what we say.

What is a prayer, brothers and sisters in Christ? Prayer is a means of communication between us and God. And a prayer can indeed either be communal or private in nature, just as we address God and communicate with Him either as a community together or personally. And what is communication, brothers and sisters? Is communication about us speaking all the time while the other party is just listening to all of our words and speeches?

Certainly not, as we all know that in communication, both parties involved must be engaged actively in the conversation, or else it cannot be called communication but rather as ‘information’ or ‘instruction’. How can we then instruct God to do something? And yet that is what many of us often did with our prayers, as we ended up demanding God to do something for us, and we even often become angry when we do not get what we wanted.

This season of Lent, are we able to change our perspective and way of doing our prayers? Are we able to spend even just a little bit more time in prayer and connecting with God through the time we spent with Him? Let our prayers also be meaningful and be genuine from our hearts. If we pray just to achieve our goals of saying or reciting certain number of prayers or that we want to gain something with God’s help, then I am afraid that we still have a long way to go in improving the quality of our prayer life.

Let us look at Christ Himself, Who always prayed to His heavenly Father at every possible opportunities He had. And He always sought quiet and secluded places to pray. This is what we can also do with our own prayer life and practices, as if we find a good and conducive place, then the chance that we are distracted during our prayer time will be lesser, and we will have a better quality time spent with God. This is one way how we can improve our prayer and spiritual life, especially in this season of Lent.

And as I said earlier, let our prayers not be one of selfish desires for ourselves, but as Jesus did, let us begin by glorifying and thanking God for everything He had done for us, and open our hearts and minds that we may be attuned to Him and that we may be better able to listen to Him speaking in the depth of our hearts and minds. Brothers and sisters in Christ, ultimately we also have to know that God already knew all that are inside our hearts and minds, and we do not have to say it all out to Him. Instead of demanding Him to do what we desired and wanted, let us instead pray for the grace of wisdom, that we may proceed in life in the manner as faithful and true to our faith, and make our lives a shining example of our dedication and faith in God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all make our Lenten season fruitful and meaningful especially through prayer. And as far as possible, let us all share our good practices in praying to one another so that as many people as possible may draw closer to God in this special time of grace, that in this season of Lent, many more will repent from their sins and come to find God and make Him as the centre and focus of their lives once again. May God be with us always, and may He bless us in all of our good works and endeavours. Amen.