Saturday, 2 April 2022 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Francis of Paola, Hermit (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 7 : 40-53

At that time, many who had been listening to these words began to say, “This is the Prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some wondered, “Would the Christ come from Galilee? Does Scripture not say that the Christ is a descendant of David and from Bethlehem, the city of David? The crowd was divided over Him. Some wanted to arrest Him, but no one laid hands on Him.

The officers of the Temple went back to the chief priests, who asked them, “Why did you not bring Him?” The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this Man.” The Pharisees then said, “So you, too, have been led astray! Have any of the rulers or any of the Pharisees believed in Him? Only those cursed people, who have no knowledge of the Law!”

Yet one of them, Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier, spoke out, “Does our law condemn people without first hearing them and knowing the facts?” They replied, “Do you, too, come from Galilee? Look it up and see for yourself that no prophet is to come from Galilee.” And they all went home.

Saturday, 2 April 2022 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Francis of Paola, Hermit (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 7 : 2-3, 9bc-10, 11-12

O Lord, my God, in You I take shelter; deliver me and save me from all my pursuers, lest lions tear me to pieces with no one to rescue me.

O Lord, my righteousness; You see that I am blameless. Bring to an end the power of the wicked, but affirm the just, o righteous God, searcher of mind and heart.

You cover me as a shield. Oh God, for You protect the upright. A righteous judge is God, His anger ever awaiting those who refuse to repent.

Saturday, 2 April 2022 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Francis of Paola, Hermit (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Jeremiah 11 : 18-20

YHVH made it known to me and so I know! And You let me see their scheming. But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter. I did not know it was against me that they were plotting, “Let us feed him with trials and remove him from the land of the living and let his name never be mentioned again.”

YHVH, God of hosts, You Who judge with justice and know everyone’s heart and intentions, let me see Your vengeance on them, for to You I have entrusted my cause.

Friday, 1 April 2022 : 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 Lord in the Scriptures, we heard of the opposition that the servants and messengers of the Lord, including that of His own Son encountered in this world as the forces of those who opposed them rose up against them. There were many who stubbornly refused to follow the Lord and kept in their wicked ways, and all these led to the persecution of the servants of God, culminating in the condemnation of the Messiah and Son of God Himself, by the same people to whom He had been sent to.

In our first reading today, we heard the passage from the Book of Wisdom regarding the plots that the wicked assembled and planned against the faithful servant of God. It was essentially a highlight summarising what God’s servants and prophets had to endure during the time of their ministry among the people of God. They were often hated, rejected and ridiculed against, oppressed and persecuted. They were cast out and treated as how foreigners were treated, and even worse than that. No one would hear them even though they spoke God’s words and truth.

Those people had closed themselves against God’s words and truth, and then, as the Book of Wisdom itself also spoke of what would happen in time to come, it was also a prophecy of the Messiah and how the people would treat Him just as they had treated the prophets and messengers of God. That was what we heard in our Gospel passage today, regarding the Lord Jesus and what He experienced as He ministered among the people of God. The chief priests, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, as well as members of the Sadducees, all plotted against Him and sought His downfall.

Nonetheless, that did not make the Lord to cease His actions and work, as He still even went to the festival in Jerusalem, and spoke loudly in the Temple proclaiming the truth about Himself. The people doubted Him because they all assumed to know where He had come from, a backwater village in Galilee where no prophet or great man was prophesied to come, and therefore thought that He was a fraud and even a blasphemer, or that He was colluding with demons and evil spirits. All of those false accusations were untrue and were maliciously made against the Lord to discredit Him and to undermine His works.

The reason for those lies and falsehoods? It was likely the jealousy and insecurity experienced by those same people, the chief priests and the Pharisees who feared that their position and influence, their privileges and power in the community would be destroyed and lost to them. They feared that the Lord would snatch the people away from them, seeing how popular He had become, and this intense preoccupation with their worldly desires and concerns likely prevented them from allowing God to make genuine communication with them, as they closed their hearts and minds against Him.

That would explain well why those same people, the ones who should have recognised the Lord first when He came upon their midst, the same ones who should have the best knowledge of the Law and the commandments of God, the words of the prophets and the prophecies they spoke, why they refused to believe even though all the signs and things have pointed clearly to the Lord Jesus being the One Whom the prophets were speaking about. They refused to accept the truth as they gave in to the temptations of their worldly desires, the desire for power, satisfaction and glory among other things.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all ponder these events and consider carefully our own choices and paths in life. Are we going to be like the Pharisees, the elders and all the people who had persecuted the prophets and messengers of God? Are we going to follow them into their rebellion against the Lord? This is why it is important that we must resist the temptations of worldly things which often lead us down the path of ruin because of our disobedience against God, which often times we may even commit without having realised it at all, just as what the Pharisees had done.

In this season of Lent, all of us are called to seek the Lord with contrite and open hearts, with minds that are welcoming towards the Lord, and the willingness to listen to Him speaking to us and calling on us to return to Him. In this time of reconciliation and call to repentance, we are all reminded that we are sinners in need of healing and reconciliation with God. Are we willing then to make the effort and to do what is needed for us to draw ever closer to God and to receive the fullness of His mercy and compassionate love? The decision and choice is ours to make, brothers and sisters in Christ.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He empower each and every one of us to live ever more worthily in His presence, listening to Him and obeying His will in each and every available opportunities. May all of us be good examples and role models for one another from now on, in how we live our lives as dedicated Christians, now and always. Amen.