Wednesday, 31 March 2021 : Wednesday of Holy Week (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 50 : 4-9a

The Lord YHVH has taught Me so I speak as His disciple and I know how to sustain the weary. Morning after morning He wakes Me up to hear, to listen like a disciple. The Lord YHVH has opened My ear. I have not rebelled, nor have I withdrawn.

I offered My back to those who strike Me, My cheeks to those who pulled My beard; neither did I shield My face from blows, spittle and disgrace. I have not despaired, for the Lord YHVH comes to My help. So, like a flint I set My face, knowing that I will not be disgraced.

He Who avenges Me is near. Who then will accuse Me? Let us confront each other. Who is now My accuser? Let him approach. If the Lord YHVH is my Help, who will condemn Me?

Tuesday, 30 March 2021 : Tuesday of Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures and as we move even closer to the beginning of the sacred Easter Triduum, we are reminded of the important events that had happened when the Lord went through His Passion, betrayed by one of His own, persecuted and rejected by His own people, and condemned to suffer and die like a terrible criminal, nailed to the Cross, all for our sake and for our salvation.

In our first reading today, we continue to hear the discourse of the Servant of God in which we are brought to focus our attention on the Servant Whom God had sent into this world, to be the One through Whom God would deliver all of His people, all of mankind and reconcile with them, gathering them all back in from being scattered throughout the world. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, Son of God Most High, therefore God endeavoured to bring His salvation to us, fulfilling all the promises He had made to us through the prophets.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard then of the moments of the Last Supper when the Lord had the Passover meal with His disciples, and a mention was made of the moment earlier on when Judas Iscariot, the disciple who were to betray the Lord, plotted with the chief priests to hand Him over to them, on the price of thirty pieces of silver. This happened before the Last Supper as on the day of the Last Supper itself, the deed had been done, and that very night of the Last Supper, the Lord was arrested at the Gardens of Gethsemane.

In this occasion, as we heard of the account of the Last Supper, where the Lord again revealed how He would very soon suffer and endure bitter persecution and torture at the hands of His enemies, and how His own disciples and followers would abandon Him and all be scattered, we heard the disciples then saying that they all would never abandon Him and some like St. Peter even said to the extent that they would give their lives for Him.

But the reality was that all those same disciples were shaken deeply when the Lord was betrayed by none other than one of their own, all the more because Judas the betrayer was counted among the Lord’s inner circle. They were all overcome with fear and their courage left them, and even St. Peter wavered, denying the Lord publicly not just once, but a total of three times before the dawn broke, and St. Peter was overcome with regret, sorrow and anguish.

The Lord has shown us that when we try to depend on our own human strength, or depend on the many worldly things we possess, from money to material possessions, to our connections and various other resources in life, we will not be able to sustain ourselves, and eventually will break and fall apart, just as what had happened to Judas Iscariot, who allowed himself to be tempted by money and Satan’s false promises and lies.

Or like that of St. Peter, who thought that his strength was enough for him to persevere on his own, just as he militantly tried to show strength by saying that he would even give his life for the Lord, and even later on, cutting the ears of the High Priest’s servant Malchus. But when everything fell apart all around him, and seeing his Lord and Master being arrested, humiliated and condemned, he lost his courage and wavered in faith, leading to his thrice denial of the Lord.

That is why we are all called today to turn our attention towards the Lord, to entrust ourselves to the Lord and to have faith in Him, just as the Lord Jesus Himself prayed to His heavenly Father, while He was in full agony in the Gardens of Gethsemane. He did not give in to despair and temptations to abandon His Passion, and instead, went on full ahead, willingly bearing the Cross for our sake, and even after being scourged, humiliated and fell three times, He kept on going up again and again, all for the love of us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we should look upon the Lord’s own example, and be inspired to hold faith firmly in Him, entrusting ourselves to Him because we all know that while everything else, material and any other worldly things, and even people and relationship, power and worldly glory may fail, but the Lord and His love for us will never fail. This is the love that stood the test of time, and which allowed Him to suffer even unto His death on the Cross.

Let us all therefore strive to be ever more dedicated and faithful in this Holy Week, the time of reconciliation and rediscovery of our faith and love for God. Let us all turn towards God with a new heart, no longer filled by greed and worldly desires, by pride and ego, but by real and genuine desire to love the Lord with all of our strength, and by our desire to be reconciled with Him through repentance from our sinful ways.

May God bless us all, now and always, and may He guide us through life, and help us to grow ever more in faith, and be ever closer to Him, that one day we may be truly worthy to walk with Him together in His heavenly grace. Amen.

Tuesday, 30 March 2021 : Tuesday of Holy Week (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 13 : 21-33, 36-38

At that time, after He said a discourse to His disciples after He washed their feet, Jesus was distressed in Spirit, and said plainly, “Truly, one of you will betray Me.” The disciples then looked at one another, wondering whom He meant. One of the disciples, the one Jesus loved, was reclining near Jesus; so Simon Peter signalled him to ask Jesus whom He meant.

And the disciple, who was reclining near Jesus, asked Him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “I shall dip a piece of bread in the dish, and he to whom I give it, is the one.” So Jesus dipped the bread and gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And as Judas took the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus then said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.”

None of the others, reclining at the table, understood why Jesus said this to Judas. As Judas had the common purse, they may have thought that Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or “Give something to the poor.” Judas left as soon as he had eaten the bread. It was night.

When Judas had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him. God will glorify Him, and He will glorify Him very soon. My children, I am with you for only a little while; you will look for Me, but as I already told the Jews, so now I tell you : where I am going you cannot come.”

Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but afterwards you will.” Peter said, “Lord, why can I not follow You now? I am ready to give my life for You.”

“To give your life for Me?” Jesus asked Peter, “Truly I tell you, the cock will not crow, before you have denied Me three times.”

Tuesday, 30 March 2021 : Tuesday of Holy Week (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 70 : 1-2, 3-4a, 5-6ab, 15ab and 17

In You, o Lord, I seek refuge; let me not be disgraced. In Your justice help me and deliver me, turn Your ear to me and save me!

Be my Rock of refuge, a Stronghold to give me safety, for You are my Rock and my Fortress. Rescue me, o my God, from the hand of the wicked.

For You, o Lord, have been my Hope, my Trust, o God, from my youth. I have relied on You from birth : from my mother’s womb You brought me forth.

My lips will proclaim Your intervention and tell of Your salvation all day, little though it is what I can understand. You have taught me from my youth and until now I proclaim Your marvels.

Tuesday, 30 March 2021 : Tuesday of Holy Week (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 49 : 1-6

Listen to me, o islands, pay attention, peoples from distant lands. YHVH called me from my mother’s womb; He pronounced my name before I was born. He made my mouth like a sharpened sword. He hid me in the shadow of His hand. He made me into a polished arrow set apart in His quiver.

He said to me, “You are Israel, my servant, through you I will be known.” “I have laboured in vain,” I thought, “and spent my strength for nothing.” Yet what is due me was in the hand of YHVH, and my reward was with my God. I am important in the sight of YHVH, and my God is my Strength.

And now YHVH has spoken, He Who formed me in the womb to be His servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, to gather Israel to Him. He said : “It is not enough that you be My servant, to restore the tribes of Jacob, to bring back the remnant of Israel. I will make you the light of the nations, that My salvation will reach to the ends of the earth.”

Monday, 29 March 2021 : Monday of Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures we are called to focus our attention to the Lord and to turn our hearts and minds to Him. As we enter into this most solemn time of the Holy Week, we attune ourselves to the Lord and His truth, and seek Him with renewed faith and conviction. This Holy Week we are called to prepare ourselves to enter into the deepest mysteries of our faith, that of Our Lord’s Passion, His suffering, death and Resurrection.

In our first reading today, the Lord spoke to His people through the prophet Isaiah, speaking about the coming of His Servant Whom He would send into this world in order to do His will, and this Servant would be the One to do His will, to proclaim the glory of God and His salvation to the people, and all these would be fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the Saviour of all and the Son of God, born through Mary as the Son of Man. Through Christ, all that the Lord had promised His people would come to fruition.

That is why we all have hope, because Christ has entered into this world and brought with Him the assurance of eternal life for us. He has shown us the genuine love of God for us all His beloved ones, and by what He was about to do then, He gave us all the concrete evidence of His love, as He emptied Himself of all glory and power, and humbled Himself to take the condition of a slave, to be the One to bear the punishment and the sufferings due for us, bearing all of these upon Himself and dying on the Cross.

And in our Gospel passage today we heard of an interesting conversation that happened just as the Lord was about to embark into this final part of His earthly mission, when Mary, the sister of Lazarus, poured an expensive perfume of spikenard on the feet of the Lord, and then dried the Lord’s feet with her hair. This was truly an unusual circumstance, that must have surprised all who witnessed it, the disciples who were gathered at the house.

Judas Iscariot, the disciple, one of Twelve who would betray the Lord then criticised Mary for having wasted the good perfume in that way, and said that the perfume could have been sold for a good sum of money to be given to the poor. Of course it was mentioned that Judas had been helping himself to the money as one entrusted with the common fund of the Lord and His disciples.

As we can probably deduce, Judas Iscariot was not an uneducated person. On the contrary, he might be one of the most qualified among the disciples, being one who knew his way with money and other things, and the fact that he could later go on to the chief priests and plotted with them to hand over the Lord, and how he arranged with them in showing the One that had to be arrested, by kissing the Lord, were proofs of Judas Iscariot’s intelligence and capabilities.

However, Judas Iscariot ended up being tempted by all those desires of the world and sought more worldly pleasures and pursuits. One might have thought that the Lord’s revelation that He would suffer at the hands of His enemies and be crucified as the reason why Judas Iscariot chose to betray Him, and thinking that he would be better of to profit from the occasion, he ended up doing the unthinkable, selling off his own Lord and Master for a mere thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave at that time.

We can see here how Judas Iscariot threw everything for worldly possession, as limited, futile and terrible as those things can be. Meanwhile, on the other hand, Mary threw away everything for the Lord, and by using her hair to wipe the feet of the Lord clean, she humbled herself before all others, as the hair is the crown of a woman’s glory and by using that to wipe the feet, the dirtiest part of a person, she threw aside all worldly glory and honour, for the Lord.

And by rebuking Judas and praising what Mary had done, the Lord Himself showed how eventually, in a short while, He Himself would do the same, stripping Himself of all glory and taking up the position of a slave and a criminal, punished for all the multitudes of our sins, nailed to the Cross, and raised up high, scourged, bruised and wounded, in full obedience to the will of His Father.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we heard all of these, we are all called to distance ourselves from the distractions of the world, the temptations of worldly desires, so that we may be like Mary, and like Our Lord Himself, focusing our attention on the Lord alone and not on all sorts of temptations that will distract us and lead to our downfall just as Judas Iscariot had fallen. We must not allow our desires and those temptations from leading us down the wrong path.

Let us make the best use of this Holy Week as a time to reconnect ourselves with God, to refocus ourselves on Him, and to turn towards Him with renewed faith and zeal, and to rediscover that love and devotion that we should have for Him. Remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, that He still loves us all even after all of our disobedience and sins, and gave us His only begotten Son, to be our Saviour and Hope. He endured all the worst sufferings and rejections, so that we may live.

May the Lord be with us all and guide us in our journey, so that may come ever closer to Him and be ready to immerse ourselves deeply in the mysteries of His Passion, His suffering, death and Resurrection, and be filled with true grace and faith. May God bless us all and our good efforts, and help us to remain firm in faith. Amen.