Tuesday, 10 March 2020 : 2nd 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 the Scriptures we heard the need for us all to be humble before God and before men alike so that we may find forgiveness for our many sins, and we need to be humble so that we may know indeed what it truly means to be Christians, in serving others and in loving one another, following the examples of Christ the Lord.

In our first reading today from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, we heard right from the opening of the Book of Isaiah, the reminder of what had happened to the two cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, which were destroyed by God for their terrible sins and wickedness, their refusal to repent from their sinful ways despite opportunities for them to do so. At that occasion, the whole two cities perished because of their refusal to repent from their sins and their continued indulgence in sin for which they were infamous for.

The Lord then revealed to us all, just how though sinners perished because of their sins, but it was not His intention at all to bring about our destruction. Those who were destroyed and condemned suffered all that because of their own sins and their refusal to let go of their sinful ways. It was their sins that condemned them to such a state. But God wanted us all to be freed from our sins and to be released from our troubles, and He wanted to be reconciled with us, but such reconciliation can only happen if we are cleansed from our sins.

And it is important for us to take note that God wants us to be clean, and He can cleanse us from our sins, which He has already done and offered us freely through the loving sacrifice of His Son, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Through His suffering and death on the Cross, the Lord Jesus brought upon all of us the assurances of salvation and freedom from our sins if we put our faith in Him and believe in Him with all of our heart. And again, there is a need for us to be renewed in our lives, to change our way of life and to reject our past sinful way of life.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord Jesus Who made a reference to the way of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who always looked highly upon themselves and were proud of their status and supposedly greater piety and honour among God’s faithful ones. But they have forgotten that amidst their pride, ambition and preoccupations with their desire to be praised and honoured for their piousness and actions, they have forgotten about God and why they ought to be faithful in the first place.

To many of them, their actions became the means to gain for themselves more satisfaction from the recognition, the glory and fame which they gained from others’ praise and acknowledgements. But did they truly love God? It was doubtful that they did so, as their attentions were focused mostly on themselves. That was why the Lord criticised them, saying that His followers, that is all of us Christians, must not follow their examples and instead, be humble and be ready to serve others rather than to serve ourselves.

As Christians all of us are called today, and especially throughout this season of Lent to reflect on what we have just heard through the Scriptures, an important reminder to get rid from ourselves the excesses of pride and ego, of greed and worldly desires, of lust and gluttony, of other forms of desires and distractions that prevented us from being reconciled with God and which tempted us to continue walking down the path of sin and wickedness. It is all those things which had led sinners to their doom as these prevented them from accepting and acknowledging God’s generous offer of mercy and love.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in this season of Lent, all of us are called to open ourselves, our hearts, minds, bodies and souls, our whole beings to receive the Lord and to be welcoming of His grace of love and mercy. We have been called by God to embrace His forgiveness and His compassionate love, through which He wanted to release us from the bondage of our sins. However, we cannot be released from this enslavement to our sins unless we allow God to heal us and to forgive us our sins, which is something that God alone can do.

In order for us to be welcoming to God’s forgiveness and mercy, we must therefore ourselves be merciful and be humble, to recognise our shortcomings, our faults and sins. We have to heed what the Lord had said in our Gospel passage today, that the greater we are, the more humble we must become so that we will not allow pride to corrupt us and turn us away from God as it had done on the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. This is what we are called to do as good Christians from now on.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all make good use of this season of Lent to grow ever deeper in our faith and commit ourselves to a new life of holiness, filled with humility and with the genuine desire and love for God in our hearts and in our minds. Are we able to challenge ourselves to be more faithful, to be more charitable in our actions, to be more generous in giving ourselves and our attention to the needy and the poor all around us.

May the Lord help us and guide us in our Lenten journey that we may find it fruitful and beneficial, drawing ever closer to God and walking ever more devoutly in His path from now on. May God bless us all and may He strengthen us in faith, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 10 March 2020 : 2nd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 23 : 1-12

At that time, then Jesus said to the crowds and to His disciples, “The teachers of the Law and the Pharisees have sat down on the chair of Moses. So you shall do and observe all they say, but do not do as they do, for they do not do what they say. They tie up heavy burdens and load them on the shoulders of the people, but they do not even raise a finger to move them.”

“They do everything in order to be seen by people : they wear very wide bands of the Law around their foreheads, and robes with large tassels. They enjoy the first places at feasts and reserved seats in the synagogues, and they like being greeted in the marketplace, and being called ‘Master’ by the people.”

“But you, do not let yourselves be called Master, because you have only one Master, and all of you are brothers and sisters. Neither should you call anyone on earth Father because you have only one Father, He Who is in heaven. Nor should you be called Leader, because Christ is the only Leader for you.”

“Let the greatest among you be the servant of all. For whoever makes himself great shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be made great.”

Tuesday, 10 March 2020 : 2nd Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 49 : 8-9, 16bc-17, 21 and 23

Not for your sacrifices do I reprove you, for your burnt offerings are ever before Me. I need no bull from your stalls, nor he-goat from your pens.

What right have you to mouth My laws, or to talk about My covenant? You hate My commands and cast My words behind you.

Because I was silent while you did these things, you thought I was like you. But now I rebuke you and make this charge against you. Those who give with thanks offerings honour Me, but the one who walks blamelessly, I will show him the salvation of God.

Tuesday, 10 March 2020 : 2nd Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 1 : 10, 16-20

Hear the warning of YHVH, rulers of Sodom. Listen to the word of God, people of Gomorrah. Wash and make yourselves clean. Remove from My sight the evil of your deeds. Put an end to your wickedness and learn to do good.

Seek justice and keep in line the abusers; give the fatherless their rights and defend the widow. “Come,” says the Lord, “let us reason together. Though your sins be like scarlet, they will be white as snow; though they be as crimson red, they will be white as wool.”

“If you will obey Me, you will eat the goods of the earth; but if you resist and rebel, the sword will eat you instead.” Truly the Lord has spoken.