Wednesday, 24 February 2021 : 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 the Scripture, we are presented with the great story of forgiveness from God as represented in the conversion of the city Nineveh, its humility and meekness before God, that they sought God’s mercy and they were spared the destruction that should have happened to them.

In our first reading today, we heard of the story of the time when the prophet Jonah was sent to the great city of Nineveh to proclaim God’s judgment and punishment over it, for their transgressions and many sins they have committed. The city of Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian Empire and was a great and powerful city, rich and populous. However, their wickedness had also been a notorious one, and God sent Jonah to them to put them in their place.

Initially Jonah himself was also reluctant and did not want to follow the Lord’s orders, and he tried to flee far away from the Lord on a ship, only for the ship to be swept by a great storm, which only subsided and calmed when Jonah had himself thrown overboard by the shipmen. The Lord sent a great whale that took Jonah and brought him ashore, after which he dutifully carried out what the Lord had told him to do.

As we heard, when Jonah proclaimed God’s words before the people of Nineveh, the whole city, from the great king down to the lowest of the people all took notice and humbled themselves before God, declaring a period of mourning and sorrowful repentance hoping that God would spare them the destruction that He has revealed to them. God saw how the city of Nineveh and its people behaved, and how they were indeed sincere in seeking to be forgiven and to be spared from destruction.

And God withheld His anger and wrath, and forgave the people of Nineveh, sparing the city from the destruction that He had intended upon them earlier on. When Jonah became angry that God did not carry out what He had intended to do with the city of Nineveh, God told Jonah that ultimately, He loved all those people in Nineveh, all the multitudes of the one hundred and twenty thousands of all of them, without exception. Through this, God wants us to know that though we may be sinners, but He still loves us and wants us to be reconciled to Him.

In our Gospel passage today we heard of the same mention of what happened in Nineveh, and we heard of the mention of the Queen of the South, referring to the Queen of Sheba who came to Jerusalem to find king Solomon of Israel and listen to his wisdom and to see his greatness. Through this, we have seen how people from faraway, like from Sheba and from Nineveh, who have not yet listened to the Lord, and yet, chose to humble themselves and come to seek the Lord, to listen to Him and to follow His path.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through what we have heard in today’s Scripture passage therefore, of the conversion of the city and people of Nineveh, and also as we heard in the Gospel passage today, of the Queen of the South, we are reminded of the great power and reach of God’s forgiveness and mercy. God has loved us so much that He has called us to be reconciled to Him and to be worthy once again to live in His presence. But are we willing to commit ourselves to Him, brothers and sisters? Are we willing to dedicate ourselves, our time and efforts to follow the Lord and to serve Him?

Let us all then make good use of this time and opportunity given to us in this season of Lent, that we may come to a better and holier life, to a more faithful existence in God. Let us all make the conscious effort to seek the Lord and to ask Him for His forgiveness and mercy just as the people of Nineveh had once done, and to seek His wisdom as the Queen of the South once sought the wisdom of Solomon. Let us all sin no more, and delay no further, doing whatever we can to make good use of the chances given to us that we may find the fullness of grace in God.

May God be with us always and may He guide all of us that in all and everything we do, say and act, we may always bring glory to His Name and that we will always strive to be His true disciple. May all of us be good examples to one another so that by our faith we may receive the gift of everlasting and true joy, and eternal life together with the Lord, our living God. Amen.

Wednesday, 24 February 2021 : 1st Week of Lent (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, 24 February 2021 : 1st Week of Lent (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, 24 February 2021 : 1st Week of Lent (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.