Thursday, 11 March 2021 : 3rd 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 Scripture we are called to turn back to God and to abandon our sinful ways, that we do not continue in our stubborn disregard of His laws and commandments and that we should not fall further and further into the temptations of our desires, on those wicked thoughts and the allures of worldly possessions.

In our first reading today we heard from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah, of the Lord reminding His people through Jeremiah, speaking to them regarding the need for repentance and to change their ways, highlighting how they had disobeyed Him and rejected His prophets and messengers for so many times. They had wandered off away from the path that God had set before them, preferring to follow the pagan idols and beliefs rather than to listen to the Lord.

In our Gospel passage then we heard of the Lord Jesus speaking to the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law regarding the matter of how Jesus healed the man who had been beset by evil spirits. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law accused the Lord of having colluded with the demon lord Beelzebub, which was truly a serious accusation. The Lord then rebuked those who accused Him by pointing out the folly of their accusation and argument.

If the devil and his fellow evil spirits and demons were divided among themselves, among each other, then that would have led to civil war and destruction. If one thing was certain, it is that the devil and his fellow rebel spirits, the evil forces were all united in their desire to destroy us and to bring about our downfall. Instead of the false accusation the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law brought against Him, and the unfounded accusation that He had been colluding with Beelzebub, the Lord revealed that it was by the power of God that He had done everything He did.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law refused to see reason and many of them continued to resist Him and tried their best to make His ministry and work difficult, questioning and doubting Him throughout the way, all were because of their own worldly desires and ambitions. They saw the Lord and His teachings as threat to their own influence, prestige and power within the community. That is why they did not want Him to be successful and tried all they could to undermine Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all called not to be swayed by worldly temptations, by our desires or by any other things that can become great obstacles in the way of us reaching the Lord. We are reminded by what we have heard in today’s readings that we must stay united with God, open our hearts and minds to listen to Him and His truth. Let us not be blinded by our desires and pride like what happened to the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law at that time.

As the Lord mentioned, those who were not with Him, were against Him, and if we allow this division to exist among us Christians, then we will cause ruin to happen to us and the Church. We must stand united together against the assaults of the devil and all those who sought our downfall and destruction. As I mentioned earlier, completely contrary to what the Pharisees said, and according to what the Lord said, the devil and all the demon lords and princes are no less united in their efforts to crush us, and to snatch us away from God and His salvation.

That is why during this season of Lent all of us are called to reject all sorts of wickedness and evils, and embrace once again God’s ways and obey His laws and love Him with a renewed spirit and joy. Are we willing and able to commit to this path shown to us by the Lord, brothers and sisters in Christ? Let us all turn towards the Lord and dedicate ourselves to Him, obeying Him and His laws from now on. Let us all sin no more and be exemplary in our way of life so that we can be inspiration for one another in how we ought to live up to our faith.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He strengthen each and every one of us so that we may remain firm in our conviction to serve Him and follow Him despite all the trials and challenges, all the temptations and obstacles we may encounter in our path. May God bless us all and our every good endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 11 March 2021 : 3rd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 11 : 14-23

At that time, one day Jesus was driving out a demon, which was mute. When the demon had been driven out, the mute person could speak, and the people were amazed. Yet some of them said, “He drives out demons by the power of Beelzebul, the chief of the demons.” Others wanted to put Him to the test, by asking Him for a heavenly sign.

But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them, “Every nation divided by civil war is on the road to ruin, and will fall. If Satan also is divided, his empire is coming to an end. How can you say that I drive out demons by calling upon Beelzebul? If I drive them out by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons drive out demons? They will be your judges, then.”

“But if I drive out demons by the finger of God; would not this mean that the kingdom of God, has come upon you? As long as a man, strong and well armed, guards his house, his goods are safe. But when a stronger man attacks and overcomes him, the challenger takes away all the weapons he relied on, and disposes of his spoils.”

“Whoever is not with Me is against Me, and whoever does not gather with Me, scatters.”

Thursday, 11 March 2021 : 3rd Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 94 : 1-2, 6-7, 8-9

Come, let us sing to the Lord, let us make a joyful sound to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before Him giving thanks, with music and songs of praise.

Come and worship; let us bow down, kneel before the Lord, our Maker. He is our God, and we His people; the flock He leads and pastures. Would that today you heard His voice!

Do not be stubborn, as at Meribah, in the desert, on that day at Massah, when your ancestors challenged Me, and they put Me to the test.

Thursday, 11 March 2021 : 3rd Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Jeremiah 7 : 23-28

YHVH says, “One thing I did command them : Listen to My voice and I will be your God and you will be My people. Walk in the way I command you and all will be well with you. But they did not listen and paid no attention; they followed the bad habits of their stubborn heart and turned away from Me.”

“From the time I brought their forebearers out of Egypt until this day I have continually sent them My servants, the prophets, but this stiff-necked people did not listen. They paid no attention and were worse than their forebearers. You may say all these things to them but they will not listen; you will call them but they will not answer.”

“This is a nation that did not obey YHVH and refused to be disciplined; truth has perished and is no longer heard from their lips.”

Wednesday, 10 March 2021 : 3rd 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 Scripture, we are reminded through them yet again to be faithful to the Law and the commandments that God has revealed to us and passed down to us through our faithful predecessors, through the Lord Himself and the teachings of the Church that He has established in this world.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of Deuteronomy, we heard the words of Moses to the people of Israel during the time of their Exodus from Egypt and journey towards the Promised Land that they all ought to be obedient to the Law and keep the precepts of the Law through the generations, not forgetting them and abandoning them, but teaching them to their own descendants and that the Law of God be preserved always, at all times.

For Moses said that those who kept the Lord’s commandments and Law would be blessed and honoured, and they would be glorified by God, as God’s own chosen nation and people. The Lord has set His Law before them to govern and guide and to help the people to keep their faith amidst the many challenges found in the world. However, over time, as the meaning and purpose, the intention and the truth about the Law became forgotten, the people began to wander off further from the Law.

That is why the Lord when He came into this world as highlighted in our Gospel passage today spoke firmly that He did not come into this world to erase or cancel out the old Law of Moses, but rather to fulfil and make that Law more perfect, by revealing the fullness of its truth, purpose and intention. The Lord revealed to all of His people how they ought to come to Him through the Law, and by their better understanding and appreciation of the Law, they can be better disciples of His.

The Lord spoke of this in the face of the opposition that He encountered from the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, many of whom opposed Him because He did not endorse or support their way of interpreting the Law. They also saw the Lord’s teachings and His ways as being threats to their own influence and power, their prestige and status within the community of the Israelites. As a result, they tried to oppose the Lord at every possible opportunities and questioned Him whenever they had the chance to do so.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law favoured the very strict and ritualistic understanding and interpretation of the Law, focusing a lot on the minute details of the Law and the customs and traditions of the Jewish people. They were deeply engrossed in enforcing the strict and detailed observance of the Jewish traditions to a fault, even to the point of condemning all those who did not observe the Law in the way they did.

As a result, they lost their path and their way, and as the guides and the shepherds of the faithful, they ended up misleading the faithful people of God to the wrong path while closing the path to redemption and liberation to many people who could have been touched by God through their condemnation and their opposition against those whom they deemed as unredeemable sinners like the tax collectors and prostitutes among others.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all seek the Lord with a renewed faith and remind ourselves not to fall into temptations of our pride, ego and desire like those that caused the Pharisees, the teachers of the Law and many of our predecessors to fall into sinful and wayward ways. This is why we are all reminded that we should seek to appreciate what the Law of God truly is for us, understanding its meaning and significance, by deepening our faith and relationship with God in our daily living.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we willing to commit to the Lord anew with faith and dedication, with true and sincere love for Him? Let us all appreciate everything that He has done for our sake, in giving us His Law and commandments to guide us and help us on the way, that we may find salvation in Him and through Him alone. Let us all seek the Lord with repentant hearts, turning our whole being back towards God, and endeavour to do whatever we can to be good Christians from now on. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.