Sunday, 27 March 2022 : Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Rose (Laetare Sunday) or Purple/Violet

Luke 15 : 1-3, 11-32

At that time, tax collectors and sinners were seeking the company of Jesus, all of them eager to hear what He had to say. But the Pharisees and the scribes frowned at this, muttering, ‘This Man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

So Jesus told them this parable : “There was a man with two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Give me my share of the estate.’ So the father divided his property between them. Some days later, the younger son gathered all his belongings and started off for a distant land, where he squandered his wealth in loose living.”

“Having spent everything, he was hard pressed when a severe famine broke out in that land. So he hired himself out to a well-to-do citizen of that place, and was sent to work on a pig farm. So famished was he, that he longed to fill his stomach even with the food given to the pigs, but no one offered him anything.”

“Finally coming to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will get up and go back to my father, and say to him, Father, I have sinned against God, and before you. I no longer deserve to be called your son. Treat me then as one of your hired servants.’ With that thought in mind, he set off for his father’s house.”

“He was still a long way off, when his father caught sight of him. His father was so deeply moved with compassion that he ran out to meet him, threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. The son said, ‘Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.'”

“But the father turned to his servants : ‘Quick!’ he said. ‘Bring out the finest robe and put it on him! Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet! Take the fattened calf and kill it! We shall celebrate and have a feast, for this son of mine was dead, and has come back to life; he was lost, and is found!’ And the celebration began.”

“Meanwhile, the elder son had been working in the fields. As he returned and approached the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what it was all about. The servant answered, ‘Your brother has come home safe and sound, and your father is so happy about it that he has ordered this celebration, and killed the fattened calf.'”

“The elder son became angry, and refused to go in. His father came out and pleaded with him. The son, very indignant, said, ‘Look, I have slaved for you all these years. Never have I disobeyed your orders. Yet you have never given me even a young goat to celebrate with my friends. Then when this son of yours returns, after squandering your property with loose women, you kill the fattened calf for him.'”

“The father said, ‘My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But this brother of yours was dead, and has come back to life; he was lost, and is found. And for that we had to rejoice and be glad.'”

Alternative reading (Reading from Year A)

John 9 : 1-41

At that time, as Jesus walked along, He saw a man who had been blind from birth. His disciples asked Him, “Master, was he born blind because of a sin of his, or of his parents?”

Jesus answered, “Neither was it for his own sin nor for his parents’ sin. He was born blind so that God’s power might be shown in him. While it is day we must do the work of the One Who sent Me; for the night will come when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.”

As Jesus said this, He made paste with spittle and clay, and rubbed it on the eyes of the blind man. Then He said, “Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam.” (This word means sent.) So the blind man went and washed and came back able to see. His neighbours, and all the people who used to see him begging, wondered. They said, “Is this not the beggar who used to sit here?” Some said, “He is the one.” Others said, “No, but he looks like him.” But the man himself said, “I am he.”

Then they asked him, “How is it that your eyes were opened?” And he answered, “The Man called Jesus made a mud paste, put it on my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went, and washed, and I could see.” They asked, “Where is He?” And the man answered, “I do not know.”

The people brought the man who had been born blind to the Pharisees. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made mud paste and opened his eyes. The Pharisees asked him again, “How did you recover your sight?” And he said, “He put paste on my eyes, and I washed, and now I see.”

Some of the Pharisees said, “This Man is not from God, for He works on the Sabbath”; but others wondered, “How can a sinner perform such miraculous signs?” They were divided, and they questioned the blind man again, “What do you think of this Man who opened your eyes?” And he answered, “He is a Prophet!”

After all this, the Jews refused to believe that the man had been blind and had recovered his sight; so they called his parents and asked them, “Is this your son? You say that he was born blind, but how is it that he now sees?” The parents answered, “He really is our son and he was born blind; but how it is that he now sees, we do not know, neither do we know Who opened his eyes. Ask him, he is old enough. Let him speak for himself.”

The parents said this because they feared the Jews, who had already agreed that whoever confessed Jesus to be the Christ was to be expelled from the synagogue. Because of that his parents said, “He is old enough, ask him.” So a second time the Pharisees called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Tell us the truth; we know that this Man is a sinner.”

He replied, “I do not know whether He is a sinner or not; I only know that I was blind and now I see.” They said to him, “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?” He replied, “I have told you already and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?”

Then they started to insult him. “Become His disciple yourself! We are disciples of Moses. We know that God spoke to Moses; but as for this Man, we do not know where He comes from.” The man replied, “It is amazing that you do not know where the Man comes from, and yet He opened my eyes! We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone honours God and does His will, Hod listens to him. Never, since the world began, has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person who was born blind. If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.”

They answered him, “You were born a sinner and now you teach us!” And they expelled him. Jesus heard that they had expelled him. He found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “Who is He, that I may believe in Him?” Jesus said, “You have seen Him and He is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe”; and worshipped Him.

Jesus said, “I came into this world to carry out a judgment : Those who do not see shall see, and those who see shall become blind.” Some Pharisees stood by and asked Him, “So we are blind?” And Jesus answered, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty. But you say, ‘We see’; this is the proof of your sin.”

Alternative reading (shorter version of Reading from Year A)

John 9 : 1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38

At that time, as Jesus walked along, He saw a man who had been blind from birth.

As Jesus said this, He made paste with spittle and clay, and rubbed it on the eyes of the blind man. Then He said, “Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam.” (This word means sent.) So the blind man went and washed and came back able to see. His neighbours, and all the people who used to see him begging, wondered. They said, “Is this not the beggar who used to sit here?” Some said, “He is the one.” Others said, “No, but he looks like him.” But the man himself said, “I am he.”

The people brought the man who had been born blind to the Pharisees. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made mud paste and opened his eyes. The Pharisees asked him again, “How did you recover your sight?” And he said, “He put paste on my eyes, and I washed, and now I see.”

Some of the Pharisees said, “This Man is not from God, for He works on the Sabbath”; but others wondered, “How can a sinner perform such miraculous signs?” They were divided, and they questioned the blind man again, “What do you think of this Man who opened your eyes?” And he answered, “He is a Prophet!”

They answered him, “You were born a sinner and now you teach us!” And they expelled him. Jesus heard that they had expelled him. He found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “Who is He, that I may believe in Him?” Jesus said, “You have seen Him and He is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe”; and worshipped Him.

Sunday, 27 March 2022 : Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Rose (Laetare Sunday) or Purple/Violet

2 Corinthians 5 : 17-21

For that same reason, the one who is in Christ is a new creature. For him, the old things have passed away; a new world has come. All this is the work of God, Who, in Christ, reconciled us to Himself, and Who entrusted to us the ministry of reconciliation.

Because, in Christ, God reconciled the world with Himself, no longer taking into account their trespasses, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we present ourselves as ambassadors, in the Name of Christ, as if God, Himself, makes an appeal to you, through us. Let God reconcile you; this, we ask you, in the Name of Christ. He had no sin, but God made Him bear our sin, that, in Him, we might share in the holiness of God.

Alternative reading (Reading from Year A)

Ephesians 5 : 8-14

You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Behave as children of light; the fruits of light are kindness, justice and truth in every form. You yourselves search out what pleases the Lord, and take no part in works of darkness that are of no benefit; expose them instead.

Indeed it is a shame even to speak of what those people do in secret, but as soon as it is exposed to the light, everything becomes clear; and what is unmasked, becomes clear through light.

Therefore it is said, “Awake, you who sleep; arise from the dead that the light of Christ may shine on you.”

Sunday, 27 March 2022 : Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Rose (Laetare Sunday) or Purple/Violet

Psalm 33 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7

I will bless the Lord all my days; His praise will be ever on my lips. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the lowly hear and rejoice.

Oh, let us magnify the Lord, together let us glorify His Name! I sought the Lord, and He answered me; from all my fears He delivered me.

They who look to Him are radiant with joy, their faces never clouded with shame. When the poor cry out, the Lord hears and saves them from distress.

Alternative Psalm (Psalm from Year A)

Psalm 22 : 1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.

He guides me through the right paths for His Name’s sake. Although I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are beside me : Your rod and Your staff comfort me.

You spread a table before me in the presence of my foes. You anoint my head with oil; my cup is overflowing.

Goodness and kindness will follow me all the days of my life. I shall dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.

Sunday, 27 March 2022 : Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Rose (Laetare Sunday) or Purple/Violet

Joshua 5 : 9a, 10-12

Then YHVH said to Joshua : “Today I have removed from you the shame of Egypt.”

The Israelites encamped in Gilgal where they celebrated the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month in the plains of Jericho. On the following day, they ate of the produce of the land : unleavened bread and roasted grain on that very day. And from that day on when they ate of the produce of the land, the manna ceased.

There was no more manna for the Israelites, and that year they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan.

Alternative reading (Reading from Year A)

1 Samuel 16 : 1b, 6-7, 10-13a

YHVH asked Samuel, “Fill your horn with oil and be on your way to Jesse the Bethlehemite for I have chosen My king from among his sons.”

As Jesse and his sons came, Samuel looked at Eliab the older and thought, “This must be YHVH’s anointed.” But YHVH told Samuel, “Do not judge by his looks or his stature for I have rejected him. YHVH does not judge as man judges; humans see with the eyes; YHVH sees the heart.”

Jesse presented seven of his sons to Samuel who said, “YHVH has chosen none of them. But are all your sons here?” Jesse replied, “There is still the youngest, tending the flock just now.” Samuel said to him, “Send for him and bring him to me; we shall not sit down to eat until he arrives.”

So Jesse sent for his youngest son and brought him to Samuel. He was a handsome lad with ruddy complexion and beautiful eyes. And YHVH spoke, “Go, anoint him for he is the one.” Samuel then took the horn of oil and anointed him in his brothers’ presence.

(Usus Antiquior) Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday (I Classis) – Sunday, 27 March 2022 : Offertory, Secret Prayer of the Priest, Preface, Communion and Post-Communion Prayer

Liturgical Colour : Violet or Rose (Laetare Sunday)

Offertory

Psalm 134 : 3, 6

Laudate Dominum, quia benignus est : psallite Nomini Ejus, quoniam suavis est : omnia, quaecumque voluit, fecit in caelo et in terra.

English translation

Praise all of you the Lord, for He is good. Sing all of you to His Name, for He is sweet. Whatsoever He pleased, He had done in heaven and in earth.

Secret Prayer of the Priest

Sacrificiis praesentibus, Domine, quaesumus, intende placatus : ut et devotioni nostrae proficiant et saluti. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

English translation

We beseech You, o Lord, look favourably upon the sacrifices here before You, that they may profit us both for devotion and for salvation. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who with You lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

Preface of Lent

Vere dignum et justum est, aequum et salutare, nos Tibi semper et ubique gratias agere : Domine, Sancte Pater omnipotens, aeterne Deus : Qui corporali jejunio vitia comprimis, mentem elevas, virtutem largiris et praemia : per Christum, Dominum nostrum.

Per quem majestatem Tuam laudant Angeli, adorant Dominationes, tremunt Potestates. Caeli caelorumque Virtutes ac beata Seraphim socia exsultatione concelebrant. Cum quibus et nostras voces ut admitti jubeas, deprecamur, supplici confessione dicentes :

English translation

It is truly meet and just, right and profitable, for us, at all times, and in all places, to give thanks to You, o Lord, the Holy One, the Father Almighty, the Everlasting God, Who on those who chastise their bodies by fasting had bestowed the restraining of evil passions, uplifting of heart, and the enjoying of virtue with its reward. Through Christ our Lord.

Through Whom the Angels praise, the Dominations adore, the Powers, trembling with awe, worship Your majesty, which the heavens, and the forces of heaven, together with the blessed Seraphim, joyfully magnify. And may You command that it be permitted to our lowliness to join with them in confessing You and unceasingly to repeat :

Communion

Psalm 121 : 3-4

Jerusalem, quae aedificatur ut civitas, cujus participatio ejus in idipsum : illuc enim ascenderunt tribus, tribus Domini, ad confitendum Nomini Tuo, Domine.

English translation

Jerusalem, which is built as a city, which is compact together, for thither did the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, to praise Your Name, o Lord.

Post-Communion Prayer

Da nobis, quaesumus, misericors Deus : ut sancta Tua, quibus incessanter explemur, sinceris tractemus obsequiis, et fideli semper mente sumamus. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

English translation

Grant us, we beseech You, o merciful God, that we may treat with unfeigned veneration and ever receive with heartfelt faith Your holy rites which we constantly celebrate. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who with You lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

(Usus Antiquior) Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday (I Classis) – Sunday, 27 March 2022 : Holy Gospel

Liturgical Colour : Violet or Rose (Laetare Sunday)

Sequentia Sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem – Continuation from the Holy Gospel according to St. John

John 6 : 1-15

In illo tempore : Abiit Jesus trans mare Galilaeae, quod est Tiberiadis : et sequebatur eum multitudo magna, quia videbant signa, quae faciebat super his, qui infirmabantur. Subiit ergo in montem Jesus : et ibi sedebat cum discipulis Suis.

Erat autem proximum Pascha, dies festus Judaeorum. Cum sublevasset ergo oculos Jesus et vidisset, quia multitudo maxima venit ad eum, dixit ad Philippum : Unde ememus panes, et manducat hi? Hoc autem dicebat tentans eum : ipse enim sciebat, quid esset facturus.

Respondit ei Philippus : Ducentorum denariorum panes non sufficiunt eis, et unusquisque modicum quid accipiat. Dicit ei unus ex discipulis Ejus, Andreas, frater Simonis Petri : Est puer unus hic, qui habet quinque panes hordeaceos et duos pisces : sed haec quid sunt inter tantos?

Dixit ergo Jesus : Facite homines discumbere. Erat autem foenum multum in loco. Discubuerunt ergo viri, numero quasi quinque milia. Accepit ergo Jesus panes, et cum gratias egisset distribuit discumbentibus : similiter et ex piscibus, quantum volebant.

Ut autem impleti sunt, dixit discipulis Suis : Colligite quae superaverunt fragmenta, ne pereant. Collegerunt ergo, et impleverunt duodecim cophinos fragmentorum ex quinque panibus hordeaceis, quae superfuerunt his, qui manducaverant.

Illi ergo homines cum vidissent, quod Jesus fecerat signum, dicebant : Quia hic est vere Propheta, qui venturus est in mundum. Jesus ergo cum cognovisset, quia venturi essent, ut raperent eum et facerent eum regem, fugit iterum in montem ipse solus.

English translation

At that time, Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is that of Tiberias, and a great multitude followed Him, because they saw the miracles which He did on those who were diseased. Jesus therefore went up into a mountain, and there He sat with His disciples.

Now the Pasch, the festival day of the Jews, was near at hand. When Jesus therefore had lifted up His eyes, and saw that a very great multitude came to Him, He said to Philip, “Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat?” And this He said to try him, for He Himself knew what He would do.

Philip answered, “Two hundred denarius worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one may take a little.” One of His disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to Him, “There is a boy here who had five barley loaves and two fishes, but what are these among so many?”

Then Jesus said, “Make the men sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. The men therefore sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks, He distributed to those who sat down. In the same manner also of the fishes, as much as they would.

And when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, lest they be lost.” They gathered up therefore, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the twelve barley loaves, which remained over and above to those who had eaten.

Now those men, when they had seen what a miracle Jesus had done, said, “This is of a truth the Prophet Who is to come into the world.” Jesus therefore, when He knew that they would come to take Him by force and make Him King, fled again into the mountain by Himself alone.

(Usus Antiquior) Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday (I Classis) – Sunday, 27 March 2022 : Gradual and Tract

Liturgical Colour : Violet or Rose (Laetare Sunday)

Gradual

Psalm 121 : 1, 7

Laetatus sum in his, quae dicta sunt mihi : in domum Domini ibimus.

Response : Fiat pax in virtute Tua : et abundantia in turribus Tuis.

English translation

I rejoiced at the things that were said to me, we shall go into the house of the Lord.

Response : Let peace be in your strength, and abundance in your towers.

Tract

Psalm 124 : 1-2

Qui confidunt in Domino, sicut mons Sion : non commovebitur in aeternum, qui habitat in Jerusalem.

Response : Montes in circuitu ejus : et Dominus in circuitu populi Sui, ex hoc nunc et usque in saeculum.

English translation

They who trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, he shall not be moved forever, those who dwell in Jerusalem.

Response : Mountains are round about it, so the Lord is round about His people, from henceforth now and forever.

(Usus Antiquior) Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday (I Classis) – Sunday, 27 March 2022 : Epistle

Liturgical Colour : Violet or Rose (Laetare Sunday)

Lectio Epistolae Beati Pauli Apostoli ad Galatas – Lesson from the Epistle of Blessed Paul the Apostle to the Galatians

Galatians 4 : 22-31

Fratres : Scriptum est : Quoniam Abraham duos filios habuit : unum de ancilla, et unum de libera. Sed qui de ancilla, secundum carnem natus est : qui autem de libera, per repromissionem : quae sunt per allegoriam dicta.

Haec enim sunt duo testamenta. Unum quidem in monte Sina, in servitutem generans : quae est Agar : Sina enim mons est in Arabia, qui conjunctus est ei, quae nunc est Jerusalem, et servit cum filiis suis.

Illa autem, quae sursum est Jerusalem, libera est, quae est mater nostra. Scriptum est enim : Laetare, sterilis, quae non paris : erumpe, et clama, quae non parturis : quia multi filii desertae, magis quam ejus, quae habet virum.

Nos autem, fratres, secundum Isaac promissionis filii sumus. Sed quomodo tunc is, qui secundum carnem natus fuerat, persequebantur eum, qui secundum spiritum : ita et nunc. Sed quid dicit Scriptura? Ejice ancillam et filium ejus : non enim heres erit filius ancillae cum filio liberae. Itaque, fratres, non sumus ancillae filii, sed liberae : qua libertate Christus nos liberavit.

English translation

Brethren, it is written that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bond-woman, and the other by a free woman. But he who was of the bond-woman was born according to the flesh, but he of the free woman was by promise. Which things are said by an allegory.

For these are the two testaments, the one from Mount Sinai, engendering unto bondage, which is Hagar, for Sinai is a mountain in Arabia, which had affinity to that Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.

But that Jerusalem which is above is free, which is our mother. For it is written, “Rejoice, you barren ones who do not bear, break forth and cry, you who do not travail, for many are the children of the desolate, more than of her who had a husband.”

Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he who was born according to the flesh persecuted he who was after the spirit, so it is also now. But what does the Scripture say? Cast out the bond-woman and her son, for the son of the bond-woman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman. So then, brethren, we are not the children of the bond-woman, but of the free, by the freedom wherewith Christ had made us free.

(Usus Antiquior) Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday (I Classis) – Sunday, 27 March 2022 : Introit and Collect

Liturgical Colour : Violet or Rose (Laetare Sunday)

Introit

Isaiah 66 : 10, 11 and Psalm 121 : 1

Laetare, Jerusalem : et conventum facite, omnes qui diligitis eam : gaudete cum laetitia, qui in tristitia fuistis : ut exsultetis, et satiemini ab uberibus consolationis vestrae.

Laetatus sum in his, quae dicta sunt mihi : in domum Domini ibimus.

Response : Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto, sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper : et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

English translation

Rejoice, o Jerusalem, and come together all you who love her, rejoice with joy, you who have been in sorrow, that you may exult and be filled from your breasts of your consolation.

I rejoiced at the things that were said to me, we shall go into the house of the Lord.

Response : Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Collect

Concede, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus : ut, qui ex merito nostrae actionis affligimur, Tuae gratiae consolatione respiremus. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

English translation

Grant, we beseech You, o Almighty God, that we who justly suffer for our deeds, may be relieved by the consolation of Your grace. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who with You lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

Saturday, 26 March 2022 : 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, each and every one of us are reminded to be meek and humble, and seek the Lord’s mercy and forgiveness for our many sins, for all the faults and mistakes we have committed in life against God and against our fellow brothers and sisters. All of us have deserved punishment and even annihilation because of those sins that we have committed, and yet God still wants to forgive us our sins and be reconciled with us because He truly loves us very, very much.

In our first reading today, we listened to the words of the prophet Hosea reminding the people of God to turn away from their sins and to embrace once again God’s love and grace, to change their ways for the better and reject their old ways of sin and disobedience. The Lord has always been kind and patient with us, and He has always provided us in our time of need. He calls us all to return to Him so that we may find our way and be saved through Him. Yet it was often our pride, ego and hubris, our inability to resist the temptations to sin which became great obstacles in our journey back towards the Lord.

In our Gospel passage today, this was clearly highlighted by the Lord Himself in the parable which He used to bring across this fact to the people who were listening to Him. The Lord used the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector to highlight how our attitudes can be a very significant factor in either leading us towards or away from God’s grace and salvation. In that occasion, the Pharisee and the tax collector both were in the Temple praying before the Lord, but how they prayed reflect the differences in attitudes that were generally correct for that time.

The Pharisee prayed looking up to Heaven and praising himself and all his deeds before God and anyone who could hear him, saying all that he had done in accordance with the Law and everything that he was superior in as compared to the tax collector who was a great sinner in the eyes of the people and especially for the Pharisee himself. Meanwhile, the tax collector did not even dare to look up and abashing himself, he humbly sought forgiveness from God for his many sins, all the faults he had committed and perhaps all the unlawful and selfish profiteering and other misdeeds he had committed.

Contextually, we must understand that the Pharisees at that time were the group of educated and intellectual elite in the community who make up one major portion of the Council of the Sanhedrin or the Jewish High Council. The Pharisees together with the scribes or the teachers of the Law were very particular and strict in their interpretation of the Law of God as revealed through Moses. They were unbending in their very rigid and literal understanding of the Law, and they would not allow anyone to challenge them in this manner.

Over the many centuries, through the long period of time, the Law went through many additions, modifications, changes, reinterpretations and many other things that made it excessive and even punitive and difficult for the people to follow and observe. And worst of it all was the way the Pharisees used the Law as means for them to gain more power and favour for themselves. They prayed aloud and made great show of their piety in public places like marketplaces.

That is why the Lord used this example to highlight how it was difficult for many of us to be forgiven and to seek God’s path and righteousness, as our pride and ego often makes us feeling self-righteous and self-justified, and failing to recognise our own sins and faults, as what happened to the Pharisee clearly showed us. The Pharisee was so focused on his self-righteousness, pride and hubris that he failed to realise that he himself was also a sinner. And in condemning the tax collector instead of reaching out to him, in his part in making it difficult and tough for many to follow the Law, he and the other Pharisees had committed sins before God and man alike.

And unlike the tax collector, because of his pride in not recognising such sins, the sin of the Pharisee remained, and as long as those sins remained unforgiven, then he shall be judged by those same sins, and if found wanting, may end up in eternal damnation, while the tax collector, the supposedly greater sinner, having been forgiven from his sins because of his honesty, humility and the desire to be reconciled with God, may end up in Heaven.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are therefore reminded that during this Lent, all of us are called to deepen our relationship with God and be more attuned with ourselves and we are all called to live our lives with greater fidelity to God, and to humble ourselves more before Him, as sinners all coming to seek His mercy and forgiveness, depending on His ever generous love and compassion. May the Lord be with us in our Lenten journey, and may He help us that we may draw ever closer to Him and find righteousness through following His path, and be fully reconciled with Him. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.