Thursday, 12 March 2020 : 2nd Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are presented with a choice to be followed in life. We are presented with the choice between serving and following the Lord, putting our trust and faith in Him, or whether we prefer to serve and follow our own ways and paths, trusting in our own strength, indulging in all the temptations of this world. This is a choice given to all of us, which we may freely choose, and this is why we should reflect closely on what we have heard in the Scriptures today.

In our first reading, taken from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah, the prophet spoke of the curse against those who followed the path of disobedience against God, namely those who trusted in themselves and in worldly matters more than they trusted in God. While those who trust in God will have the assurance of God’s providence and blessings, His promise of eternal life and glory everlasting, which we cannot gain unless we have faith in God.

This then leads us to our Gospel passage today which recounts to us the famous parable of the Lord Jesus, which is about Lazarus, the poor man and a rich man at whose house’s doorstep Lazarus always dwelled, hoping for the rich man to give him even the scraps of bread and food that fell from the table. But no one would give anything to Lazarus, and the poor man died in suffering and agony, abandoned and unloved by anyone. The rich man as mentioned in the Gospel, also then died.

We heard how Lazarus the poor man ended up in Paradise, in the presence of God in heaven with Abraham, enjoying the fullness of God’s inheritance and grace, no longer suffering the pains and torments that he had once endured while he was still alive in the world. Meanwhile, we heard of the rich man who descended into the depths of hell, suffering in agony for eternity, without any hope of respite or escape, and even when he begged Abraham to send Lazarus for help, it was impossible for that to happen.

The Lord used this parable to show us that it is very easy for us to be swayed and tempted by riches and by the other pleasures of the world. When He used the example of Lazarus and the rich man, we must be careful not to think that the Lord condemns the rich or despises them, for fundamentally we must understand that God loves all of us, His beloved children and people, regardless of our background, our material well-being, our race or any of our worldly distinctiveness. He loves all, regardless whether they are poor or rich, weak or powerful.

But what He wanted to point out through this parable is that we as sons and daughters of men are weak and easily tempted by the many worldly riches, pleasures, all the pull of desire of the flesh, the temptation of money, of fame and glory, of gluttony and greed. And the more we have with us, the more susceptible we are to those temptations, like that of the rich man who was swallowed up by his desires that he ignored and forgot all about Lazarus, who was suffering by his doorstep.

What the rich man sinned from was from the sin of omission, that sin of neglecting his fellow brother when he was obviously in the position to help Lazarus and provide for him through the excess in material goods and the provisions that God has blessed him with. And this is an important reminder for all of us Christians in this season of Lent, that we ourselves must also not be ignorant of the needs of those around us, who have been neglected and less fortunate than us.

We are all called to love one another more generously and to share the many wonderful blessings that God has given us with each other. If we truly have faith in God and trust in Him, then we should not be worried in sharing what we have with one another, as ultimately, as we show our love for our fellow brethren, we truly are blessed by God and He will remember us for our love and for our faithfulness at the day of judgment. Lazarus’ fate will be ours and we will enjoy the fullness of God’s providence and love.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, starting from this season of Lent and beyond, let us all be more charitable in giving, be less selfish and be less consumed by our desires for worldly sustenance and temptations. Let us make use of the observances this Lent of fasting and abstinence, to control our urges and desires so that we may open our eyes and see the plight of our less fortunate and suffering brethren all around us, and share our love and blessings with them.

Let us all be true Christians and disciples of the Lord from now on, being more faithful to God with each passing days. And let us all seek to be ever more faithful and deepen our relationship with God in this season fo Lent. May God bless us all and our good efforts in faith. Amen.

Thursday, 12 March 2020 : 2nd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 16 : 19-31

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Once there was a rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen and feasted every day. At his gate lay Lazarus, a poor man covered with sores, who longed to eat just the scraps falling from the rich man’s table. Even dogs used to come and lick his sores.”

“It happened that the poor man died, and Angels carried him to take his place with Abraham. The rich man also died, and was buried. From hell where he was in torment, the rich man looked up and saw Abraham afar off, and with him Lazarus at rest. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me, and send Lazarus, with the tip of his finger dipped in water, to cool my tongue, for I suffer so much in this fire.'”

“Abraham replied, ‘My son, remember that in your lifetime you were well-off, while the lot of Lazarus was misfortune. Now he is in comfort, and you are in agony. But that is not all. Between your place and ours a great chasm has been fixed, so that no one can cross over from here to you, or from your side to us.'”

“The rich man implored once more, ‘Then I beg you, Father Abraham, to send Lazarus to my father’s house, where my five brothers live, let him warn them, so that they may not end up in this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.'”

“But the rich man said, ‘No, Father Abraham; but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced, even if someone rises from the dead.'”

Thursday, 12 March 2020 : 2nd Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 1 : 1-2, 3, 4 and 6

Blessed is the one who does not go where the wicked gather, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit where the scoffers sit! Instead, he finds delight in the law of the Lord and meditates day and night on His commandments.

He is like a tree beside a brook producing its fruit in due season, its leaves never withering. Everything he does is a success.

But it is different with the wicked. They are like chaff driven away by the wind. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous but cuts off the way of the wicked.

Thursday, 12 March 2020 : 2nd Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Jeremiah 17 : 5-10

This is what YHVH says, “Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings and depends on a mortal for his life, while his heart is drawn away from YHVH! He is like a bunch of thistles in dry land, in parched desert places, in a salt land where no one lives and who never finds happiness.”

“Blessed is the man who puts his trust in YHVH and whose confidence is in Him! He is like a tree planted by the water, sending out its roots towards the stream. He has no fear when the heat comes, his leaves are always green; the year of drought is no problem and he can always bear fruit.”

“Most deceitful is the heart. What is there within man, who can understand him? I, YHVH, search the heart and penetrate the mind. I reward each one according to his ways and the fruit of his deeds.”