Saturday, 6 March 2021 : 2nd Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are called to seek the Lord and His forgiveness and mercy. We are called to embrace the Lord and His compassionate love, keeping in mind how He cares for each and every one of us, and how blessed we truly are for having Him as our loving Father and Creator. It was because of this love that all of us once again have hope and not be in despair because of our sins.

By right, our sins born of the rebellion and disobedience against God would have led us down the path of eternal damnation and destruction, and we would have suffered the consequences of those sins. However, God Who is ever merciful, patient in love and caring towards us have always tried His best to find us and be reconciled with us once again. God has shown us His compassion, care and mercy, and as a loving Father He wants us all to be reconciled to Him. To this extent, He continued to give us guidance and direction as we progress through life.

In our first reading today we heard from the Book of the prophet Micah, we heard the Lord speaking through Micah reminding all of us His people, that is no one else but God Who is truly loving as a Shepherd, Who guides and guards His beloved flock, while also chastising and disciplining those who have fallen away from the right path. Ultimately, He cares for us and does not want us to fall to the wrong path, for if we do fall, then in the end, we shall be judged by those sins and the evils that we have committed.

We heard also then of the famous story of the prodigal son in our Gospel passage today, in which we heard about how a young man who had been estranged from his father and went to a far-off foreign land, came back to his father and humbled himself before the father, begging him to forgive his sins and his faults, all the mistakes and unworthy things that he had done that made him to be unworthy to be called his father’s child anymore.

Yet, in that story, as we know it, the father did not become angry with the prodigal son. Instead, he called all of his servants and told them all to prepare for a great feast and celebration in honour of the return of his son. When the elder son was jealous at the treatment by the father for the younger, prodigal son, the father patiently explained how the prodigal son had been lost and thought to have perished, and by returning to the father with great regret and sincere desire to be forgiven, it is indeed an occasion worth celebrating.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, remembering our own treatment by the Lord, our most loving God and Father, we surely cannot be not touched by the examples shown by the parable of the prodigal son, the love that the father in the parable showed to his son, even after all the vices and wickedness the latter had committed, in squandering his money and in all of the other unworthy actions and attitudes. Just as the father’s love in the parable was genuine, unconditional and enduring, that is just how the Lord loves each and every one of us.

That is why during this season of Lent all of us are called to turn our gaze and attention towards the Lord anew, and to repent from our sinful ways and from our rebelliousness and disobedience. We have been given many avenues and opportunities to be reconciled with the Lord, through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, through the loving hands of the Church and through the many tireless spiritual workers in our bishops and priests who spend much of their time and effort in guiding us to the right path.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, can we humble ourselves before the Lord and repent from our faults and sins? Let us all be like the prodigal son and seek the Lord for His forgiveness, that He alone can forgive us from our sins and heal us from our brokenness. Let us all find the Lord and dedicate ourselves to Him anew, entrusting ourselves in His care, in His loving providence and compassionate grace. May the Lord be with us all, His beloved ones, and may He welcome us all back to Him with His ever generous mercy and love. Amen.

Saturday, 6 March 2021 : 2nd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 15 : 1-3, 11-32

At that time, tax collectors and sinners were seeking the company of Jesus, all of them eager to hear what He had to say. But the Pharisees and the scribes frowned at this, muttering, ‘This Man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

So Jesus told them this parable : “There was a man with two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Give me my share of the estate.’ So the father divided his property between them. Some days later, the younger son gathered all his belongings and started off for a distant land, where he squandered his wealth in loose living.”

“Having spent everything, he was hard pressed when a severe famine broke out in that land. So he hired himself out to a well-to-do citizen of that place, and was sent to work on a pig farm. So famished was he, that he longed to fill his stomach even with the food given to the pigs, but no one offered him anything.”

“Finally coming to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will get up and go back to my father, and say to him, Father, I have sinned against God, and before you. I no longer deserve to be called your son. Treat me then as one of your hired servants.’ With that thought in mind, he set off for his father’s house.”

“He was still a long way off, when his father caught sight of him. His father was so deeply moved with compassion that he ran out to meet him, threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. The son said, ‘Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.'”

“But the father turned to his servants : ‘Quick!’ he said. ‘Bring out the finest robe and put it on him! Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet! Take the fattened calf and kill it! We shall celebrate and have a feast, for this son of mine was dead, and has come back to life; he was lost, and is found!’ And the celebration began.”

“Meanwhile, the elder son had been working in the fields. As he returned and approached the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what it was all about. The servant answered, ‘Your brother has come home safe and sound, and your father is so happy about it that he has ordered this celebration, and killed the fattened calf.'”

“The elder son became angry, and refused to go in. His father came out and pleaded with him. The son, very indignant, said, ‘Look, I have slaved for you all these years. Never have I disobeyed your orders. Yet you have never given me even a young goat to celebrate with my friends. Then when this son of yours returns, after squandering your property with loose women, you kill the fattened calf for him.'”

“The father said, ‘My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But this brother of yours was dead, and has come back to life; he was lost, and is found. And for that we had to rejoice and be glad.'”

Saturday, 6 March 2021 : 2nd Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 102 : 1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12

Bless the Lord, my soul; all my being, bless His holy Name! Bless the Lord, my soul, and do not forget all His kindness.

He forgives all your sins and heals all your sickness; He redeems your life from destruction and crowns you with love and compassion.

He will not always scold nor will He be angry forever. He does not treat us according to our sins, nor does He punish us as we deserve.

As the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His love for those fearing Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove from us our sins.

Saturday, 6 March 2021 : 2nd Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Micah 7 : 14-15, 18-20

Shepherd Your people with Your staff, shepherd the flock of Your inheritance that dwells alone in the scrub, in the midst of a fertile land. Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead as in the days of old, in the days when You went out of Egypt. Show us Your wonders.

Who is a God like You, Who takes away guilt and pardons crime for the remnant of His inheritance? Who is like You Whose anger does not last? For You delight in merciful forgiveness. Once again You will show us Your loving kindness and trample on our wrongs, casting all our sins into the depths of the sea.

Show faithfulness to Jacob, mercy to Abraham, as You have sworn to our ancestors from the days of old.

Friday, 5 March 2021 : 2nd Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Scripture we are brought to the two story presented in those readings, beginning with the story of Joseph and his brothers in our first reading from the Book of Genesis, as well as the story of the parable of the evil tenants as told by the Lord to His disciples in our Gospel passage today. Both stories are parallel in meaning and significance, and we ought to heed these well.

With regards to the occasion of Joseph and his brothers, they, as the sons of Jacob, then also known as Israel, were disagreeing over the preferential treatment that Joseph enjoyed over that of his brothers. For the context, Joseph was the first and one of the only two sons born from Jacob’s beloved wife, Rachel. The other sons were born from his first wife, Leah, as well as the maidservants whom Leah and Rachel appointed to bear children in their name.

As Joseph was born from his beloved and favoured wife, and as a child of his old age, Joseph was favoured over that of his brothers, who then became very jealous and angry over such preferential treatment, that Joseph got twice of whatever it is that they received from their father. And Joseph, who began to receive from God signs and revelations through dreams, shared with his brothers how his brothers and even his father would bow down to him, the brothers had enough and most of them wanted to get rid of him immediately.

It was only thanks to the intervention of Reuben, the eldest child of Jacob, that those brothers did not end up killing Joseph, and rather placed him in a well where he remained until the brothers then decided to sell him off to a slaver caravan from Midian heading off to Egypt. Everything would then go on just as how God intended it to be, as Joseph would then on be freed and even made to be the Regent of Egypt by the Pharaoh after his merits and wonderful deeds by God’s grace. All that God had revealed through Joseph’s dreams would indeed come true.

More importantly, brothers and sisters in Christ, we see in that case what jealousy, anger and human desire can lead us into. Even brothers can turn against brothers just over those disagreements, the jealousy and the anger present among them. And this relates well to our second story, the one from the parable of the Lord regarding the evil tenants who refused to pay their dues to the landowner and master of the vineyard.

In that parable, the evil tenants whom the master of the vineyard entrusted with the care of their respective plots became greedy and did not want to relinquish control over, and neither did they want to pay their rental dues, as should have been agreed between them and the vineyard owner. When those servants were sent by the master to remind them to fulfil their obligation, these servants were oppressed, ridiculed and even killed.

When the son of the owner was sent in the end, those evil tenants as mentioned went even further and desired those lands to be their own possessions by striking down the son and heir of the vineyard. Once again, we heard just like in the first reading today, of how human desires, the temptations of glory, wealth, power and influence can lead us into so heinous and evil a deed, when brothers plotted and wanted even the death of their own brother, and when the evil tenants brought so much suffering and death to those servants and the son of the vineyard owner sent to remind them of their dues.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what is then the significance of these to us? It is that we have the need to oppose and resist the temptations present all around us, that we do not end up falling into the trap of sin and doing what the brothers of Joseph and the evil tenants had been doing. We are all called to be more humble, be more charitable and move away from the selfishness of our hearts, that instead of focusing only on our own desires and wants, we become more aware of the needs of others, and how we can help and contribute.

This season of Lent, let us all answer God’s call for us to be more genuine in how we live up to our Christian faith. Let us make use of the opportunities given to us to turn back towards the Lord and to repent from our sins. Let us all be good role model and examples for one another in faith, so that in everything we say and do, we may be exemplary and become good inspiration for one another so that we may help more and more people to reach the Lord’s salvation and grace.

May God be with us always and may He guide us through these journeys of life we have, so that we may grow ever deeper in our faith and dedication to Him, that we may be closer to the Lord and be worthy of His eternal glory, forevermore through our dedication and love, in humility and in our selfless love for Him and our fellow brothers and sisters. Amen.

Friday, 5 March 2021 : 2nd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 21 : 33-43, 45-46

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Listen to another example : There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a fence around it, dug a hole for the winepress, built a watchtower, leased the vineyard to tenants, and then went to a distant country.”

“When harvest time came, the landowner sent his servants to the tenants to collect his share of the harvest. But the tenants seized his servants, beat one, killed another and stoned a third. Again the owner sent more servants, but they were treated in the same way.”

“Finally, he sent his son, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they thought, ‘This is the one who is to inherit the vineyard. Let us kill him, and his inheritance will be ours.’ So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.”

“Now, what will the owner of the vineyard do with the tenants when he comes?” They said to him, “He will bring those evil men to an evil end, and lease the vineyard to others, who will pay him in due time.” And Jesus replied, “Have you never read what the Scriptures say? The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, and we marvel at it.”

“Therefore I say to you : the kingdom of heaven will be taken from you, and given to a people who will yield a harvest.”

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard these parables, they realised that Jesus was referring to them. They would have arrested Him, but they were afraid of the crowd, who regarded Him as a Prophet.

Friday, 5 March 2021 : 2nd Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 104 : 16-17, 18-19, 20-21

Then the Lord sent a famine and ruined the crop that sustained the land; He sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave.

His feet in shackles, his neck in irons till what he foretold came to pass, and the Lord’s word proved him true.

The king sent for him, set him free, the ruler of the peoples released him. He put him in charge of his household and made him ruler of all his possessions.

Friday, 5 March 2021 : 2nd Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Genesis 37 : 3-4, 12-13a, 17b-28

Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other children, for he was the son of his old age and he had a coat with long sleeves made for him. His brothers who saw that their father loved him more than he loved them, hated him and could no longer speak to him in a friendly way.

His brothers had gone to pasture their father’s flock at Shechem, and Israel said to Joseph, “Your brothers are pasturing the flock at Shechem.” So Joseph went off after his brothers and found them at Dothan. They saw him in the distance and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.

They said to one another, “Here comes the specialist in dreams! Now is the time! Let us kill him and throw him into a well. We will say a wild animal devoured him. Then we will see what his dreams were all about!” But Reuben heard this and tried to save him from their hands saying, “Let us not kill him; shed no blood! Throw him in this well in the wilderness, but do him no violence.” This he said to save him from them and take him back to his father.

So as soon as Joseph arrived, they stripped him of his long-sleeved coat that he wore and then took him and threw him in the well, now the well was empty, without water. They were sitting for a meal when they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, their camels laden with spices, balm and myrrh, which they were taking down to Egypt.

Judah then said to his brothers, “What do we gain by killing our brother and hiding his blood? Come! We will sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother and our own flesh!” His brothers agreed to this. So when the Midianite merchants came along they pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the well. For twenty pieces of silver they sold Joseph to the Midianites, who took him with them to Egypt.