Friday, 11 March 2022 : 1st Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 5 : 20-26

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “I tell you then, if you are not righteous in a much broader way than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to our people in the past : Do not commit murder; anyone who does kill will have to face trial. But now I tell you : whoever gets angry with a brother or sister will have to face trial.”

“Whoever insults a brother or sister deserves to be brought before the council. Whoever calls a brother or a sister, ‘Fool!’ deserves to be thrown into the fire of hell. So, if you are about to offer your gift at the altar, and you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, go at once and make peace with him, and then come back and offer your gift to God.”

“Do not forget this : be reconciled with your opponent quickly when you are together on the way to court. Otherwise he will turn you over to the judge, who will hand you over to the police, who will put you in jail. There you will stay, until you have paid the last penny.”

Friday, 11 March 2022 : 1st Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 129 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-7a, 7bc-8

Out of the depths I cry to You, o Lord, o Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears pay attention to the voice of my supplication.

If You should mark our evil, o Lord, who could stand? But with You is forgiveness.

For that You are revered. I waited for the Lord, my soul waits, and I put my hope in His word. My soul expects the Lord more than watchmen the dawn.

O Israel, hope in the Lord, for with Him is unfailing love and with Him full deliverance. He will deliver Israel from all its sins.

Friday, 11 March 2022 : 1st Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Ezekiel 18 : 21-28

If the sinner turns from his sin, observes My decrees and practices what is right and just, he will live, he will not die. None of the sins he committed will be charged against him, he will live as a consequence of his righteous deeds. Do I want the death of the sinner? – word of YHVH. Do I not rather want him to turn from his ways and live?

But if the righteous man turns away from what is good and commits sins as the wicked do, will he live? His righteous deeds will no longer be credited to him, but he will die because of his infidelity and his sins. But you say : YHVH’s way is not just! Why, Israel! Is My position wrong? Is it not rather that yours is wrong?”

“If the righteous man dies after turning from his righteous deeds and sinning, he dies because of his sins. And if the wicked man does what is good and right, after turning from the sins he committed, he will save his life. He will live and not die, because he has opened his eyes and turned from the sins he had committed.”

Thursday, 10 March 2022 : 1st 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 all called to seek the Lord, His loving kindness, help and providence, knowing that He is always paying attention to us, caring about us and He is constantly putting His mind on our well-being, just as we are all His beloved children, His beloved people, the ones whom He cherished and loved from the very beginning of time.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of Esther in which we saw how Queen Esther of Persia, an Israelite who became the Queen of Persia, came before the Lord in prayer and supplication on behalf of her people, which at that time was under threat of annihilation and utter destruction. Contextually, at that time, Haman, an Amalekite, Israel’s old enemy, plotted for the destruction of all the descendants of the Israelites especially because of the favour that the King of Persia showed Mordechai, Haman’s rival and Esther’s relative.

Mordechai sought help from Queen Esther, who therefore contemplated the course of action that she would take in order to help her people. In order to do so, it was likely that she had to come towards the king and begged him to save and spare her people, the people of Israel. However, in doing so, she risked losing everything she had, as she would be disobeying the king by coming to the king uninvited, and as her predecessor as queen, Vashti, had experienced, she could have been banished and exiled.

But Esther turned towards the Lord for strength and courage, for His help and aid on behalf of His people. Esther prayed, asking God to remember the love which He had for His people, the kindness that He has always shown them despite their constant rebelliousness and disobedience. She asked Him for the strength and courage when she was going up to see the King of Persia, the ‘lion’ and king of kings in the known world at that time, that she might persuade and convince the king to help her people.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the words of the Lord Jesus speaking to His disciples and to the people, as He told all of them that they should ask of the Lord, their God and Father for whatever they needed. They should come and seek the Lord, and listen to Him, instead of listening and depending on worldly pursuits and means as we have often done. If we do not ask the Lord and knock on His door, then how can we know that what we ask will be possible or not? There is nothing impossible for God, but at the same time we also have to realise that everything happens through God’s will and not ours.

That is why it is very important that we do not think that we have no need for God in our lives. It is crucial that we remember how God is always by our side and He will always provide for whatever we need. We have to trust in the Lord and put our faith in Him, much as Queen Esther had done, and in how our predecessors had entrusted themselves to the Lord with faith. The Lord has provided for them in their hour of need, their time whenever they have the need of God’s help and guide.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all called and reminded to grow in our faith in the Lord, and trust Him more. Let us all be worried less and be less preoccupied and concerned regarding our fears and many desires in life, and instead let us grow ever more in our hope and relationship with God. And how are we going to do that? That is why we are called to spend more time with God, and not just any time, but more importantly, good quality time with Him, through prayer and other means.

All of us should make good use of this season of Lent as a time of good spiritual preparation and rediscovery, to be more attuned and connected to God in all things. All of us should do our best to deepen our connection and relationship to God, hold back for a while from our usual busy schedules in life, and instead, learning to spend this precious, quality time with God. It is important that we do this so that we will not end up falling further and further away from God.

May the Lord continue to be with us, and may He strengthen each and every one of us in living courageously in His presence, as He had done for Queen Esther, that all of us may draw ever closer to God and find our way to God and His salvation. May God bless us all, now and always, forevermore. Amen.