Friday, 1 April 2022 : 4th Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 7 : 1-2, 10, 25-30

At that time, Jesus went around Galilee; He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews wanted to kill Him. Now the Jewish feast of the Tents was at hand.

But after His brothers had gone to the festival, He also went up, not publicly but in secret. Some of the people of Jerusalem said, “Is this not the Man they want to kill? And here He is speaking freely, and they do not say a word to Him? Can it be that the rulers know that this is really the Christ? Yet we know where this Man comes from; but when the Christ appears, no one will know where He comes from.”

So Jesus announced in a loud voice in the Temple court where He was teaching, “You say that you know Me and know where I come from! I have not come of Myself; I was sent by the One Who is true, and you do not know Him. I know Him for I come from Him and He sent Me.”

They would have arrested Him, but no one laid hands on Him because His time had not yet come.

Friday, 1 April 2022 : 4th Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 33 : 17-18, 19-20, 21 and 23

But the Lord’s face is set against the wicked to destroy their memory from the earth. The Lord hears the cry of the righteous and rescues them from all their troubles.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves the distraught. Many are the troubles of the just, but the Lord delivers them from all.

He keeps all their bones intact, and none of them will be broken. But the Lord will redeem the life of His servants; none of those who trust in Him will be doomed.

Friday, 1 April 2022 : 4th Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Wisdom 2 : 1a, 12-22

Led by mistaken reasons they think, “Let us set a trap for the Righteous, for He annoys us and opposes our way of life; He reproaches us for our breaches of the Law and accuses us of being false to our upbringing. He claims knowledge of God and calls Himself Son of the Lord. He has become a reproach to our way of thinking; even to meet Him is burdensome to us. He does not live like others and behaves strangely.”

“According to Him we have low standards, so He keeps aloof from us as if we were unclean. He emphasises the happy end of the righteous and boasts of having God as Father. Let us see the truth of what He says and find out what His end will be. If the Righteous is a Son of God, God will defend Him and deliver Him from His adversaries.”

“Let us humble and torture Him to prove His self-control and test His patience. When we have condemned Him to a shameful death, we may test His words.” This is the way they reason, but they are mistaken, blinded by their malice. They do not know the mysteries of God nor do they hope for the reward of a holy life; they do not believe that the blameless will be recompensed.

Thursday, 31 March 2022 : 4th Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all called to listen to the Lord and to follow Him, cease our rebellion and disobedience against Him. He has given us many opportunities to return to Him and to be reconciled to Him, but it is our stubborn attitude and persistence in our way of sin which often led us back to the path towards downfall and destruction. We have not heeded the Lord’s call and desire to be reunited with us, as we allow sin to rule over us and to keep us separated from Him.

In our first reading today, we heard the Lord speaking to Moses in the Book of Exodus, at the time after He has revealed His Law and the Ten Commandments to Moses at Mount Sinai. At that time, Moses spent forty days with the Lord atop the mountain, listening to Him and receiving from Him the extensive set of laws and guidance meant to be passed to the people of Israel, as a guide and help for all of them to remain true to the path of righteousness. But the people thinking that Moses had perished on the mountain quickly lost their trust and faith in the Lord, and forced Aaron to craft for them a great golden calf idol to worship as god over them.

This happened even though the Israelites had witnessed themselves the great wonders and power of God in freeing them from the hands of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh, as God sent the Ten Great Plagues to crush the Egyptians and force them to let the Israelites go free. And all these happened despite the people of God having themselves witnessed how God opened the Red Sea before them, allowing them to cross free and safely through the seabed, and then destroying the chariots and armies of the Pharaoh of Egypt that were chasing after them.

The people of God still disobeyed Him and refused to have faith in Him even though they had seen all the wonders and good things that God had done for their sake, all of which showed and proved to them how beloved and dear they were to God. Yet, they established a golden calf idol over them, offered it sacrifices and committed other grievous sins against the Lord, when God had been so patient in loving them and caring for them. But Moses stepped in and pleaded with the Lord when He wanted to destroy all the people save for Moses as was just and right for Him to do, and Moses asked the Lord to withhold His anger and judgment, reasoning with Him and reminding Him of the constant love that He has shown to the people.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the same attitude being shown by the people of the time of the Lord Jesus, as they showed lack of faith, refusing to believe in the Lord and even in the messenger and herald that He had sent before Him, namely that of St. John the Baptist. St. John the Baptist had called the people of God to repent from their sins and to return to the Lord with faith, and baptised many people who had come to him seeking to walk the path of conversion and redemption, opening their hearts to the Lord and His truth and love.

Yet, the Pharisees and the chief priests in particular were skeptical of St. John the Baptist, doubted his authenticity and authority, and even openly questioned him on the legality and validity of his actions, doubting that he was sent by the Lord, an action which led to St. John the Baptist to rebuke those self-serving and self-righteous leaders as brood of vipers, those who sought their own glory and personal benefits over others’ sufferings and for their efforts that went against God’s good works. The same thing happened to the Lord Himself as well, and this was what the Lord referred to as He spoke to the people in our passage today.

The Lord rebuked the people for their continued lack of faith and trust in Him, despite everything that He had done and shown to them, despite all the miracles and signs that He had made before all of them. They still would not believe and even demanded for more signs and wonders. Their hearts and minds were closed against God in their pride, in thinking that they knew the Law and commandments of God better than any others, and that was why, no matter how much wonders and miracles they had witnessed, they failed to believe much as their ancestors had betrayed and abandoned the Lord, their Saviour and Liberator, for a golden calf idol made by human hands.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we reflect on these passages from the Scriptures, let us all look back in our lives and remind ourselves whether we have been faithful to the Lord wholeheartedly as we should have, or whether we have behaved much like the people of Israel in the past, in their lack of faith and trust in the Lord, preferring to trust in idols and other worldly means, in their own strength and power rather than to trust in the Lord and journey together with Him. We are called to reflect if our way of life have been in accordance to the path that God has shown us, or whether we have walked down the wrong path all these while.

Sin is very dangerous and we should not take it lightly, for the temptations to sin and the allures of worldly desires can tempt even the most resistant to falter and fall away from God and His way. We must not let our weakness and vulnerabilities to sin to affect us, and we have to do our best to resist those temptations, or else we may end up like the Israelites, who succumbed to their fears and to their desires for worldly pleasures, and like the Pharisees and the chief priests, who fell into sin because of the temptations of worldly power and glory, and pride and ego.

Let us all make good use of the remaining time of Lent to prepare ourselves, not just physically but also spiritually and mentally, so that we may be more attuned to the Lord, be more ready and prepared to live in accordance with God’s path. Let us seek the Lord with ever greater faith and commitment, and let us do our very best to glorify Him by our lives and actions, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 31 March 2022 : 4th Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 5 : 31-47

At that time, Jesus said to the Jews, “If I bore witness to Myself, My testimony would be worthless. But Another One is bearing witness to Me, and I know that His testimony is true when He bears witness to Me. John also bore witness to the truth when you sent messengers to him, but I do not seek such human testimony; I recall this for you, so that you may be saved.”

“John was a burning and shining lamp, and for a while you were willing to enjoy his light. But I have greater evidence than that of John – the works which the Father entrusted to Me to carry out. The very works I do bear witness : The Father has sent Me. Thus He Who bears witness to Me is the Father Who sent Me. You have never heard His voice and have never seen His likeness; therefore, as long as you do not believe His messenger, His word is not in you.”

“You search in the Scriptures, thinking that in them you will find life; yet Scripture bears witness to Me. But you refuse to come to Me, that you may live. I am not seeking human praise; but I have known that love of God is not within you, for I have come in My Father’s Name and you do not accept Me. If another comes in his own name, you will accept him. As long as you seek praise from one another, instead of seeking the glory which comes from the only God, how can you believe?”

“Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father. Moses himself, in whom you placed your hope, accuses you. If you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote of Me. But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?”

Thursday, 31 March 2022 : 4th Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 105 : 19-20, 21-22, 23

They made a calf at Horeb and worshipped the molten image. They exchanged the glory of God for the image of a bull that eats grass.

They forgot their Saviour God, Who had done great things in Egypt, wonderful works in the land of Ham, and awesome deeds by the Sea of Reeds.

So He spoke of destroying them, but Moses, His chosen one, stood in the breach before Him to shield them from destruction.

Thursday, 31 March 2022 : 4th Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Exodus 32 : 7-14

Then YHVH said to Moses, “Go down at once, for your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have quickly turned from the way I commanded them and have made for themselves a molten calf; they have bowed down before it and sacrificed to it and said : ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you out of Egypt.'”

And YHVH said to Moses, “I see that these people are a stiff-necked people. Now just leave Me that My anger may blaze against them. I will destroy them, but of you I will make a great nation.” But Moses calmed the anger of YHVH, his God, and said, “Why, o YHVH, should Your anger burst against Your people whom You brought out of the land of Egypt with such great power and with a mighty hand?”

“Let not the Egyptians say : ‘YHVH brought them out with evil intent, for He wanted to kill them in the mountains and wipe them from the face of the earth.’ Turn away from the heat of Your anger and do not bring disaster on Your people. Remember Your servants, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the promise You Yourself swore : I will multiply Your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land I spoke about I will give to them as an everlasting inheritance.”

YHVH then changed His mind and would not yet harm His people.

Wednesday, 30 March 2022 : 4th Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all reminded yet again through the Sacred Scriptures of the great love of God, the many wonderful things that God had done for our sake. He has showed His love to us repeatedly, again and again, even when we have often betrayed and ignored Him, abandoned and left Him for other idols and distractions in life. He patiently extended to all of us the offer of His love and compassionate mercy, wanting to be reconciled with us sinners, and calling on all of us to return to Him.

In our first reading today, we heard of the words from the Book of the prophet Isaiah in which the Lord spoke to His people of His promised salvation to all of them. He would rescue them from their troubles and deliver them from the hands of the evil one, and all of the plots against them. This is significant given the context of what happened at that time, as the people of Israel, the descendant of the people of God had been going through a lot of challenges and trials, having been torn apart and lost their unity, and not only that, the northern half of the Israelites, the northern kingdom had been crushed by the Assyrians.

Hence, at that time, the people of God clearly knew what happened to those who have not obeyed the Law and the commandments of God, as the northern kingdom had almost always done, and as a result, many of the people were brought off from their ancestral lands, and sent into exile in far-off lands, while foreigners were brought to settle in the lands once settled by the people of God. The same fate would eventually befall the southern kingdom of Judah as well, because the people also continued to sin and disobey against God. But God did not abandon His people, and instead He reassured them through His prophets that He would be with them.

He sent His prophets like Isaiah and many others to remind the people of His constant love and the Covenant that He had made with them. He has shown them the path to salvation and righteousness as He had always done again and again, which culminated with the sending of Christ, His only begotten Son, into this world. By this action, He has given us the means to enter into the joy and glory of eternal life together with Him, that is through His Son, Our Lord and Saviour.

What we have heard today in our Gospel passage today is the affirmation of this truth, as spoken by the Lord Himself, as He revealed what He would do for our sake. Through Him, the Son of God and the Divine Word Incarnate, the Lord willed and wanted to be reconciled with us, and He came bearing the salvation of God and also the reminder that unless we are reconciled with Him, or if we reject His generous offer of mercy and love, then we will be judged and condemned by our own sins and wickedness.

Those who side with the Lord and accept His love and mercy shall have eternal life. But those who walked away from the Lord and refused to be reconciled with Him will have nothing but eternity of suffering and damnation in hell. We have always been given many opportunities to return to the Lord and to be reconciled with Him, but more often than not we have squandered off these opportunities because we still remained firmly attached to the path of sin. We were often unable to resist the many temptations of sin and therefore we still continue to walk down this ruinous path.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, having been constantly reminded of our predicament and what awaits us in the end should we choose to remain in this path. Do we want this to happen to us? Surely not right? That is why this Lenten season we are given yet more opportunities and reminders to return to the Lord with contrite heart desiring His forgiveness and to turn our way of life and outlook that we no longer walk in the path of evil and instead do whatever God has called and commanded us to do, to be righteous and just as His disciples and followers, to be exemplary in our way of life, in all things we say and do.

May the Lord continue to help and guide us in our respective journey of faith, and may He empower us all to live ever more worthily of His presence from now on, if we have not yet done so. Let us consciously reject the temptations to sin, and strive to live a good and worthy life at all times. May God bless us all and our every actions, so that we may always strive to glorify Him by those same actions and deeds. Amen.