Tuesday, 28 February 2023 : 1st Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 6 : 7-15

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “When you pray, do not use a lot of words, as the pagans do; for they believe that, the more they say, the more chance they have of being heard. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need, even before you ask Him.”

“This, then, is how you should pray : Our Father in heaven, holy be Your Name, Your kingdom, come, Your will, be done on earth, as in heaven. Give us today, our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we forgive those who are in debt to us.”

“Do not bring us to the test, but deliver us from the evil one. If you forgive others their wrongdoings, your Father in heaven will also forgive yours. If you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive you.”

Tuesday, 28 February 2023 : 1st Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 33 : 4-5, 6-7, 16-17, 18-19

Oh, let us magnify YHVH; together, let us glorify His Name! I sought YHVH, 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, YHVH hears and saves them from distress.

The eyes of YHVH are fixed on the righteous; His ears are inclined to their cries. But His face is set against the wicked, to destroy their memory from the earth.

YHVH hears the cry of the righteous and rescues them from all their troubles. YHVH is close to the brokenhearted and saves the distraught.

Tuesday, 28 February 2023 : 1st Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 55 : 10-11

As the rain and snow come down from the heavens and do not return till they have watered the earth, making it yield seed for the sower and food for others to eat, so is My Word that goes forth out of My mouth : it will not return to Me idle, but it shall accomplish My will, the purpose for which It has been sent.

Monday, 27 February 2023 : 1st Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Gregory of Narek, Abbot and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, each one of us are reminded of our calling as Christians to be truly obedient of the Law, the commandments and thoroughly the ways of the Lord, in all the things we say and do, in our every actions and deeds so that we may truly be worthy of the Lord, and not just Christians in name and outward appearance only. We must be true disciples of the Lord in all things, and do whatever we can to proclaim Him, His truth and Good News through every moments that had been granted to us in this life on Earth. The Lord has called on us all to follow Him wholeheartedly, dedicating our time and efforts to glorify God in our every opportunities, and this season and time of Lent is the perfect opportunity for us to begin if we have not begun or embarked on a path towards true holiness in God.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of Leviticus, we heard of the Lord speaking to His people, the people of Israel during the time of their sojourn and time in the desert, as they made their way from the land of Egypt, the land where they were enslaved for many decades by the Egyptians to the land promised to them and their ancestors by God. In that period of the Exodus, the Lord guided His people lovingly and patiently, even as they rebelled and refused to believe in Him, and they truly hardened their hearts and minds against the Lord, continuing to make complaints after complaints, one after another, refusing to listen to Him and the patient words of His guidance, showing just how shallow their faith and trust in Him was, and which therefore led them down the path towards their downfall, and many perished during that journey, when the Israelites spent an entire period of forty years in atonement of their rebellion and sins.

That is why, we heard the Lord speaking to His people, that if they continued to live in the way they had been living, they would end up in the path towards destruction, and hence, He reminded them of the Law, commandments and precepts that He had delivered to them, placed among them and taught them so that they might indeed live their lives full of faith in the Lord, with no more things and actions that kept them in their selfish and wicked ways which prevented them from truly being His followers and beloved people. He essentially called on all of them to be filled with love for Him and for their fellow men and women, and not to be selfish in their actions and interactions with one another. The actions of the people in rebelling against God and in being stubborn and obstinate were all due to their selfish love for themselves, and in rejecting God’s love for their own unbridled desires and attachments to worldly matters and temptations.

In the same way therefore, each and every one of us must not allow ourselves to be swayed by the temptations of this world, and of selfish love that will lead us nowhere but to the downfall that had been faced by those people who had hardened their hearts and minds against God, and allowed worldly vices, evils and temptations to sway them and to lead them down the path towards destruction. In this season of Lent, each and every one of us are reminded that as long as we ignore the plight of all those who are around us, and continue to focus only on ourselves, and our own benefits and happiness, while others suffer either by our ignorance or even worse still, by our own actions, then, just as we heard it in our Gospel passage today, we have to know that, our every actions and deeds, as well as our inactions and lack of effort, all do matter in the eyes of the Lord.

In the Gospel, we heard the well-known passage in which the Lord Jesus told His disciples about the end of times, the time of the Final and Last Judgment of all the people, past, present and future. We heard from the Lord how He Himself will come at the end of time, to be the Judge of all, to judge everyone for their deeds and actions, for everything that we had done, and also even those things that we failed to do in our lives. We shall be judged by the great and just Judge, Who will reward and punish each one by their deeds, and all of us will have to face this at the end. Unless we have done things that truly make us worthy of the Lord, all of us will likely be cast out into the eternal darkness and damnation, reserved for all those who have rebelled against God, against Satan and all the other forces of evil, and all those who have rejected God’s love and compassionate mercy.

The Lord made it clear to us what all of us as the faithful people of God had to do in order to gain the justification and entry into the eternal glory and happiness with Him. Essentially, it is to love God and others more than we love ourselves, especially to those who are lacking in love, those who are the last, the lost and the least in our communities. It is also not just what good things we can do for them, but also what things that we have done for them even without us realising that those had benefitted them. Whenever we can do it, we should do what we can to care for those who have been placed in our path and even in our care, so that all of us may show them the most generous and wonderful love of God. This is our calling as Christians, and one that we should take heed of, as we continue to progress through our lives, distancing ourselves from sinful ways and from worldly temptations that had led to the downfall of so many people before us.

This Lent, all of us are called to deepen our relationship with God and come closer to Him. All of us should spend more time in prayer and in contemplation, discerning carefully what we should and what we can do for our less fortunate brethren all around us. And we can also look upon the good examples set by our holy predecessor, the great saint, St. Gregory of Narek, a holy Abbot and Doctor of the Church. St. Gregory of Narek was a great monk, theologian and servant of God, whose life truly embodied great Christian faith and charity. He dedicated much of his life in service to God, following Him wholeheartedly and spending a lot of time writing many great works that inspired many throughout the Armenian Church that he was a part of. He lived a holy and devout life, giving his time and efforts solely for the greater glory of God and for the good of other people, and not indulging in his own desires and wants, unlike many others of his time.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the examples set by St. Gregory of Narek and also many of the other great saints of God should inspire each and every one of us as we enter into this holy and blessed season of Lent, so that we may come ever closer to the Lord, seeking Him and His path, and doing whatever we can to make our lives truly worthy of the Lord, as good and devout Christians. Let us all no longer be ignorant of our Christian calling and mission, and let us all do whatever we can to reach out to our fellow brothers and sisters around us, especially those who are in need of our help and our love. May God bless us all, now and always, in our every good works and efforts, and help us to become ever closer to Him, especially during this time of Lent. Amen.