Friday, 12 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 Lord, we are all reminded that the Lord loved us all very dearly and similarly He also wants us to love Him in the same way and to show the same love to our fellow brothers and sisters, our neighbours and fellow men whom we encounter in this life. This is our calling as Christians, to be those who are beloved by God, and who also show the same love of God to one another.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Hosea, detailing about God and the love that He had for all of His people, at the time when the northern kingdom of Israel where Hosea was ministering in was in its final days. At that time, the people of Israel had long been wayward and disobedient, refusing to obey the Lord and His ways, rejecting the many messengers and prophets that had been sent to them in order to remind them to follow the Lord.

As such, they suffered the consequences of their waywardness, their rebellion and refusal to listen to God. They were crushed and humbled, and as the prophet Hosea was famous for, their doom was pronounced. This would come true with the final defeat of the northern kingdom by the forces of the Assyrians who destroyed Samaria, its capital and occupied the whole land, depopulating the region and replacing the whole people to the far-off Assyria.

But with the message of doom also came the message of hope, as the Lord reaffirmed through Hosea, His love and commitment for His people. He called on all of them to repent from their sinful ways and to reject their past wickedness. If only that they would abandon those sins, He would gladly forgive them and embrace them once again when they came to Him with contrite heart. The Lord still loved His people even though they had betrayed Him, abandoned Him and refused to listen to Him, and that is just how much God’s love for us is.

In our Gospel passage today, then we heard the Lord conversing with one of the teachers of the Law regarding the most important commandment in the Law. This conversation came about partly because of the great number and variety present in the Law, the many rules and regulations that govern the Jewish society at the time. The teachers of the Law and the Pharisees were those who often zealously guarded the strict observance and following of the laws of Moses, and as such, when the question was asked, that teacher of the Law might have the intention of testing the Lord to find out what His opinion was regarding the Law.

However, based on the answer given by the teacher of the Law, it might seem that he was just curious of what the Lord thought about the Law. And the Lord indeed summarised the whole Law very well and revealing to all that the Law is indeed all about showing the love of God to man, and how mankind can love God better in their actions and life, and then show the same love to their fellow brothers and sisters.

We cannot be true disciples and followers of the Lord unless we truly believe in this and fully immerse ourselves in God’s love. That is why, during this season of Lent, first of all, we are all called to repent from our sins and to seek the Lord’s forgiveness and mercy, which He has shown us and reminded us through His prophet Hosea, in calling us all to turn back to Him and to be fully reconciled in Him once again.

And in order to do this, we need to do what the Lord has commanded us to do, through His Law and commandments. All these while, we have erred and fallen into sin, like those Israelites of the past and so many others who have rejected God and His generous offer of mercy and compassion, all because of our ego and pride, and these things became great obstacles in our path towards God.

That is why during this season and time of Lent, we need to become smaller in ourselves, in our ego and pride, in our selfish desires and in the desire to be greater and in our wishes to achieve our own personal needs, and instead, we seek to put God above all else, and make Him the centre and the reason for our very existence. And in doing that, we shall also love our fellow brothers and sisters, our fellow mankind.

May the Lord help us in our journey to rediscover ourselves and to realign ourselves to Him. Let us all make the conscious effort to turn wholeheartedly towards God, from now on, and may God bless us all in our every good efforts and endeavours, and may we never again lose sight on our focus and hope in God. Amen.

Friday, 12 March 2021 : 3rd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Mark 12 : 28b-34

At that time, a teacher of the Law came up and asked Jesus, “Which commandment is the first of all?”

Jesus answered, “The first is : Hear, Israel! The Lord, our God is One Lord; and you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. And after this comes a second commandment : You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these two.”

The teacher of the Law said to Him, “Well spoken, Master; You are right when You say that He is one, and there is no other besides Him. To love Him with all our heart, with all our understanding and with all our strength, and to love our neighbour as ourselves is more important than any burnt offering or sacrifice.”

Jesus approved of this answer and said, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that, no one dared to ask Him any more questions.

Friday, 12 March 2021 : 3rd Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 80 : 6c-8a, 8bc-9, 10-11ab, 14 and 17

Open wide your mouth and I will fill it, I relieved your shoulder from burden; I freed your hands. You called in distress, and I saved you.

Unseen, I answered you in thunder; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. Hear, My people, as I admonish you. If only you would listen, o Israel!

There shall be no strange god among you, you shall not worship any alien god, for I the Lord am your God, who led you forth from the land of Egypt.

If only My people would listen, if only Israel would walk in My ways. I would feed you with the finest wheat and satisfy you with honey from the rock.

Friday, 12 March 2021 : 3rd Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Hosea 14 : 2-10

Return to your God YHVH, o Israel! Your sins have caused your downfall. Return to YHVH with humble words. Say to Him, “Oh You Who show compassion to the fatherless forgive our debt, be appeased. Instead of bulls and sacrifices, accept the praise from our lips. Assyria will not save us : no longer shall we look for horses nor ever again shall we say ‘Our gods’ to the work of our hands.”

I will heal their wavering and love them with all My heart for My anger has turned from them. I shall be like dew to Israel like the lily will he blossom. Like a cedar he will send down his roots; his young shoots will grow and spread. His splendour will be like an olive tree. His fragrance, like a Lebanon cedar.

They will dwell in My shade again, they will flourish like the grain, they will blossom like a vine, and their fame will be like Lebanon wine. What would Ephraim do with idols, when it is I Who hear and make him prosper? I am like an ever-green cypress tree; all your fruitfulness comes from Me.

Who is wise enough to grasp all this? Who is discerning and will understand? Straight are the ways of YHVH : the just walk in them, but the sinners stumble.