Tuesday, 16 March 2021 : 4th Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 5 : 1-16

At that time, there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now, by the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem, there is a pool (called Bethzatha in Hebrew) surrounded by five galleries. In these galleries lay a multitude of sick people : blind, lame and paralysed.

(All were waiting for the water to move, for at times an Angel of the Lord would descend into the pool and stir up the water; and the first person to enter the pool, after this movement of the water, would be healed of whatever disease that he had.)

There was a man who had been sick for thirty-eight years. Jesus saw him, and because He knew how long this man had been lying there, He said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” And the sick man answered, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is disturbed; so while I am still on my way, another steps down before me.”

Jesus then said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk!” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his mat and walked. Now that day happened to be the Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had just been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and the Law does not allow you to carry your mat.” He answered them, “The One Who healed me said to me, “Take up your mat and walk!”

They asked him, “Who is the One Who said to you : Take up your mat and walk?” But the sick man had no idea who it was Who had cured him, for Jesus had slipped away among the crowd that filled the place. Afterwards Jesus met him in the Temple court and told him, “Now you are well; do not sin again, lest something worse happen to you.”

And the man went back and told the Jews that it was Jesus Who had healed him. So the Jews persecuted Jesus because He performs healings like that on the Sabbath.

Tuesday, 16 March 2021 : 4th Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 45 : 2-3, 5-6, 8-9ab

God is our strength and protection, an ever-present help in affliction. We will not fear, therefore, though the earth be shaken and the mountains plunge into the seas.

There is a river whose streams bring joy to the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within, the city cannot quake, for God’s help is upon it at the break of day.

For with us is the Lord of hosts, the God of Jacob, our refuge. Come, see the works of the Lord – the marvellous things He has done in the world.

Tuesday, 16 March 2021 : 4th Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Ezekiel 47 : 1-9, 12

The man brought me back to the entrance of the Temple and I saw water coming out from the threshold of the Temple and flowing eastwards. The Temple faced the east and the water flowed from the south side of the Temple, from the south side of the altar. He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing the east and there I saw the stream coming from the south side.

The man had a measuring cord in his hand. As he went towards the east he measured off a thousand cubits and led me across the water which was up to my ankles. He measured off another thousand cubits and made me cross the water which came to my knees. He measured off another thousand cubits and we crossed the water which was up to my waist. When he had again measured a thousand cubits, I could not cross the torrent for it had swollen to a depth which was impossible to cross without swimming.

The man then said to me, “Son of man, did you see?” He led me on further and then brought me back to the bank of the river. There I saw a number of trees on both sides of the river. He said to me, “This water goes to the east, down to the Arabah, and when it flows into the sea of foul-smelling water, the water will become wholesome.”

“Wherever the river flows, swarms of creatures will live in it; fish will be plentiful and the sea water will become fresh. Wherever it flows, life will abound. Near the river on both banks there will be all kinds of fruit trees with foliage that will not wither and fruit that will never fail; each month they will bear a fresh crop because the water comes from the Temple. The fruit will be good to eat and the leaves will be used for healing.”

Monday, 15 March 2021 : 4th 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 presented with the hope that the Lord had brought into this world with Him, the hope of eternal life and the resurrection into life. Through what we have heard in our Scripture readings today, we are reminded that if we are faithful to the Lord, we shall never be disappointed, and we shall receive the assurance of eternal life and grace from the Lord Himself.

In our first reading today we heard from the prophet Isaiah the words of the Lord speaking of the coming of a new world that will be free from all sorrow and suffering, where tears will be no more and where all will be joyful and glad again, in the presence of the Lord as contrasted with the sufferings and difficulties found in this world which have made our lives and existence to suffer. Through Isaiah the Lord wants to remind us that in Him there is hope and light beyond all those sufferings and pains.

It is that same hope and light which is reiterated once again through what we heard in our Gospel passage today. We heard the Lord healing and miraculously make whole the son of an official. In that occasion, as we heard, that the people of Nazareth and Jesus’ own hometown had just rejected Him and refused to believe in Him, but the people of Galilee welcomed Him, many of whom were pagans and those who were on the fringe of the Jewish community at the time. The Lord performed many of His miracles there in Galilee, but there were still those who refused to believe in Him, including those from His own hometown.

Then we heard of the official who came to the Lord begging Him to heal his very sick son on the verge of death. He wanted to have his son healed by the Lord having heard of His miracles and reputation. And what was remarkable is that, in this case, without the Lord Himself going and entering into the house of the man, and by simply saying the words, ‘Your son is healed’, the official’s son was healed completely the very moment that word was spoken. Yet, as he was away from his house back then, he could not have witnessed this directly.

Nonetheless, the official had faith in the Lord and believed in Him, and as he went home he heard that his son has completely recovered the moment the Lord told him that the son would be well, and he became a good believer from then on. This is a reminder for each and every one of us to have faith in God and to hold firmly in our trust and belief in Him. We must not lose faith or not believing in God just because we do not see or feel His works and wonders happening around us.

Like those people who refused to listen to and believe in the Lord, those who doubted Him and made it difficult to perform His ministry, all those people had shallow and superficial faith. And even when they had witnessed the Lord’s miracles, His works and wonders, heard His great and unsurpassed wisdom and the authority and authenticity in what He spoke and preached, their minds and hearts were still closed to God.

That is why no matter how many miracles they witnessed, how many wonders and wisdom they received, they could not come to believe the Lord and His truth. Their pride and arrogance, their stubbornness became great stumbling blocks preventing them from truly being able to attain true grace in God. As long as they did not have true and genuine faith and love for God in their hearts, this cannot happen.

This is therefore a reminder for all of us that we must trust in the Lord and put ourselves in His protection and care, and believe that He can do everything that is needed for us. Just like the official, we must learn to trust the Lord and believe in Him even if we cannot tangibly feel, see or perceive His presence and help, and even if we do not witness directly the impacts and effects of His works.

Are we willing and able to commit ourselves to the Lord and allow Him to lead the way for us forward through life? Are we capable of making this commitment, to walk with God and to journey with Him through life together despite the challenges and trials that we may face? Let us all not harden our hearts anymore and let us all open the doors of our hearts to welcome the Lord and to make Him truly the King of our hearts, allowing Him to lead us in the way and path to salvation.

May the Lord help us and be our guide through this journey, and during the remaining time of this season of Lent, let us all turn towards Him with greater love, devotion and faith in Him, and let us purge from ourselves the corruption of pride and greed, the taints of sin in our hearts and minds. Let us all seek the Lord with ever greater humility and commit ourselves to the Lord with renewed zeal and vigour. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.