Friday, 6 March 2020 : 1st Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 129 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-7a, 7bc-8

Out of the depths I cry to You, o Lord, o Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears pay attention to the voice of my supplication.

If You should mark our evil, o Lord, who could stand? But with You is forgiveness.

For that You are revered. I waited for the Lord, my soul waits, and I put my hope in His word. My soul expects the Lord more than watchmen the dawn.

O Israel, hope in the Lord, for with Him is unfailing love and with Him full deliverance. He will deliver Israel from all its sins.

Friday, 6 March 2020 : 1st Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Ezekiel 18 : 21-28

If the sinner turns from his sin, observes My decrees and practices what is right and just, he will live, he will not die. None of the sins he committed will be charged against him, he will live as a consequence of his righteous deeds. Do I want the death of the sinner? – word of YHVH. Do I not rather want him to turn from his ways and live?

But if the righteous man turns away from what is good and commits sins as the wicked do, will he live? His righteous deeds will no longer be credited to him, but he will die because of his infidelity and his sins. But you say : YHVH’s way is not just! Why, Israel! Is My position wrong? Is it not rather that yours is wrong?”

“If the righteous man dies after turning from his righteous deeds and sinning, he dies because of his sins. And if the wicked man does what is good and right, after turning from the sins he committed, he will save his life. He will live and not die, because he has opened his eyes and turned from the sins he had committed.”

Thursday, 5 March 2020 : 1st Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of God in the Scriptures, our attentions are brought upon the wonderful love of God and His powerful deliverance and providence for us all from our troubles, as the many historical precedents and examples of the past can testify for us. And today our attention is brought to the time of the Queen Esther of the Persian Empire, who was born a Jewish exile in the land of Babylon, and eventually rose by the grace of God to be the great Queen of the Empire.

And on the same occasion, another person, named Haman, a descendant of the Amalekites also rose to great position of power. Haman despised the descendants of Israel as his ancestors had a great enmity against the people of God, and he tried with many plots trying to destroy the entire race of the people of Israel, by manipulating the King into ordering the extermination of the Israelites. As the then law of the Persian Empire was absolute and binding, and Haman had managed to put the extermination order into the law, it seemed to be the end for all the Israelites then living throughout the Persian Empire.

The Israelites needed help, and one of the prominent members of the community, Mordechai, who was also Queen Esther’s relative, came to her saying that it might indeed be because of God’s plan and will that Esther had become the Queen so that through her, God might yet intervene to save His people from certain destruction. And indeed, Esther promised Mordechai and her people that she would do her best in the situation to protect her people.

And this is how we come to the portion in our first reading today as we heard Esther’s prayer to God, asking Him for deliverance for His people Israel, who were about to be annihilated as a nation by their enemies. And Esther prayed this just before she was about to present herself before the King at her own accord, something that was expressly forbidden in the Persian customs, as that was tantamount to disobedience to the King, something which had cost Esther’s predecessor, the former Queen Vashti, her position as Queen and also getting exiled.

But Esther was ready to do anything for the sake of the Lord and for her people, and she asked God for strength, guidance and courage as she was about to face the greatest challenge of her life, risking her very life and position for what she was about to do, to plead for the safety of her people before the King. She asked for the Lord to guide her and to give her the courage to face her enemies and to soften the heart of the King, and through her prayers, the Lord guided her to triumph against Haman and all those plots he had made against Israel.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the story of Queen Esther is linked to what the Lord Jesus spoke to the people with regards to the matter of asking God and to put our trust in Him. How is this so? The Lord made a comparison of God with a loving father, and said that we need only to ask God, and God will, in accordance to His will and love, provide us with what we need. That was exactly what He has blessed Esther with, the courage, guidance and strength to intercede for the Israelites before the ruler of Persia against their enemies.

However, the sad reality is such that many of us do not ask the Lord or put our trust in Him. We did not seek Him for help, and instead we sought refuge and help through many other sources of the world. We trust our own human strength, ability, intellect and resources more than God, and we believe that we can do everything on our own. And this is why many of us fall deeper and deeper into sin, and got further and further away from God, because we have no firm anchor in our lives which God alone can provide us.

And many of us who do believe in God and place our hope on Him think wrongly that we then can impose our will on God, as we demand Him or plead to Him to give us what we wanted to have, or which we desired in our hearts and minds. But this is not right, brothers and sisters in Christ, as God ultimately is supreme and everything in this world will happen according to His will and not our will. Nonetheless, because God loves each and every one of us, He will provide for us and take good care of us, but in His way, and not in the way that we desired it.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now as we progress through this season of Lent, let us all strive to be more faithful to God and to put our trust in Him like Queen Esther has shown us. Let us ask the Lord for His guidance and companionship as we journey along through this life, that we may persevere through the challenges and trials that may come our way. Let us also help one another to remain true to our faith, and devote our time and attention to purify our lives and make ourselves truly worthy of God once again.

May the Lord be with us all and may He strengthen us in our resolution to live our lives from now on with ever greater faith and devotion. May God, our loving and compassionate Father in heaven bless us all and all of our good works and endeavours, for His greater glory. Amen.

Thursday, 5 March 2020 : 1st Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 7 : 7-12

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives; whoever seeks, finds; and the door will be opened to him who knocks.”

“Would any of you give a stone to your son, when he asks for bread? Or give him a snake, when he asks for a fish? As bad as you are, you know how to give good things to your children. How much more, then, will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him?”

“So, do to others whatever you would that others do to you : there you have the Law and the Prophets.”

Thursday, 5 March 2020 : 1st Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 137 : 1-2a, 2bcd-3, 7c-8

I thank You, o Lord, with all my heart, for You have heard the word of my lips. I sing Your praise in the presence of the gods. I bow down towards Your holy Temple and give thanks to Your Name.

For Your love and faithfulness, for Your word which exceeds everything. You answered me when I called; You restored my soul and made me strong.

With Your right hand You deliver me. How the Lord cares for me! Your kindness, o Lord, endures forever. Forsake not the work of Your hands.

Thursday, 5 March 2020 : 1st Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Esther 4 : 17n, p-r, aa-bb, gg-hh (Latin Vulgate version – Esther 14 : 1, 3-5, 12-14)

Seized with anguish in her fear of death, Queen Esther likewise had recourse to the Lord. Then she prayed to the Lord God of Israel : “My Lord, You Who stand alone, came to my help; I am alone and have no help but You. Through my own choice I am endangering my life.”

“As a child I was wont to hear from the people of the land of my forebears that You, o Lord, chose Israel from among all peoples, and our fathers from among their ancestors to be Your lasting heritage; that You did for them, all that You have promised.”

“Remember us, Lord; reveal Yourself in the time of our calamity. Give me courage, King of gods and Master of all power. Make my words persuasive when I face the lion; turn his heart against our enemy, that the latter and his like may be brought to their end.”

“Save us by Your hand; help me who am alone and have none but You, o Lord.”