Saturday, 11 March 2023 : 2nd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : 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.'”

Saturday, 11 March 2023 : 2nd Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 102 : 1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12

Bless the Lord, my soul; all my being, bless His holy Name! Bless the Lord, my soul, and do not forget all His kindness.

He forgives all your sins and heals all your sickness; He redeems your life from destruction and crowns you with love and compassion.

He will not always scold nor will He be angry forever. He does not treat us according to our sins, nor does He punish us as we deserve.

As the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His love for those fearing Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove from us our sins.

Saturday, 11 March 2023 : 2nd Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Micah 7 : 14-15, 18-20

Shepherd Your people with Your staff, shepherd the flock of Your inheritance that dwells alone in the scrub, in the midst of a fertile land. Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead as in the days of old, in the days when You went out of Egypt. Show us Your wonders.

Who is a God like You, Who takes away guilt and pardons crime for the remnant of His inheritance? Who is like You Whose anger does not last? For You delight in merciful forgiveness. Once again You will show us Your loving kindness and trample on our wrongs, casting all our sins into the depths of the sea.

Show faithfulness to Jacob, mercy to Abraham, as You have sworn to our ancestors from the days of old.

Friday, 10 March 2023 : 2nd 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, the Lord reminds us all in this season and time of Lent to remain vigilant against the many temptations all around us, especially all those things that could lead us down the path of sin and evil. All of us are reminded to resist those temptations and to root out from ourselves the corruptions of pride, ego, jealousy, worldly desires and attachments, all of which could lead us down the path of sin. That is why we are reminded again and again during this period of time, to be more aware of our sinful state and how we often need help and healing from God, the only One Who can heal us from our afflictions of sin. We should spend our time and effort to come closer to the Lord and to embrace His love and mercy.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of Genesis the account of the moment when the sons of Jacob or Israel were involved in the heinous act against one of their own, Joseph, the second youngest son of Jacob. Joseph was beloved by Jacob especially because he was born from Jacob’s beloved wife, Rachel, and together with Benjamin, his youngest, they were the only two born from Rachel from among all of his twelve sons. Jacob therefore treated Joseph much better than the others, which led to the ire of the elder brothers. As we heard that story, we also heard how Joseph’s gift of dreams, that he received from God, were resented even more by the brothers, as they heard how he spoke of them all bowing down before him. This was in fact a premonition of would happen much later, when Joseph had been made the Regent of all Egypt.

Based on historical and Biblical conjecture, Joseph was likely still very young then, and when he shared his dream with his brothers, he did not really do it with malicious intent or pride, but just willing to share what he had seen in his dream to his brothers, his closest ones. Unfortunately, to Joseph’s brothers, the other sons of Jacob, what they had heard, together with Jacob’s preferential treatment of Joseph made them all to be blinded by jealousy and fear in their hearts. Why is that so? That is because they likely feared that Joseph would take away all of their inheritance or would lord it all over them despite him being a younger child. Their resentment, jealousy and fear eventually led them to commit what they truly should not have done. Some of them wanted to kill their own brother at first, but one of them, Reuben, the eldest son, tried to save Joseph by suggesting that they should not kill him, their own brother.

Eventually, they decided to sell him off to the Midianite merchants on their way to Egypt, and in that way, that was how Joseph ended up in Egypt, which in the greater scheme of things, God turned that misfortune into His providence, as He not only protected and saved Joseph in Egypt, but made him powerful and great in Egypt, as the Regent of the whole kingdom and the trusted right hand man of the Pharaoh of Egypt. Eventually he also laid the foundation of the nation of the Israelites in Egypt, by providing for his brothers and his family, when they were eventually united during the great famine of seven years, which would have wiped out his family had Joseph not been sent earlier to Egypt with the foresight granted by the Lord to safeguard against the famine. Many more people would have perished from the famine as well.

In the end, we see how the jealousy and evils in our hearts can lead us to do unimaginable and evil things like the brothers of Joseph selling off their own brother, and even wanting to kill him at first. This same attitude was highlighted in the case of the Gospel passage today as well, in which the Lord told His disciples about the parable of the evil tenants. The evil tenants have greedily refused to pay their due for the land that had been rented out to them, and when the landowner sent his servants to get them to pay their dues, those wicked tenants resisted, persecuted and even murdered those servants. They even plotted against and murdered the son of the landowner who was sent to them, with the desire in their hearts that they could gain everything they wanted if they were to murder the son and heir of the ownership of the vineyard.

What drove those wicked tenants to such vile attitudes and actions? It was greed and fear of losing, jealousy of what others had, just like what happened to the brothers of Joseph. This is why each one of us are reminded today that we have to guard ourselves against those wicked desires and everything that can cause us to sin and to disobey God’s Law and commandments. We have been reminded of how we can be easily dragged by our temptations and emotions, and all those things that can prevent us from truly attaining righteousness and grace in God. That is why this Lent we are reminded to resist those temptations and discipline ourselves so that we may not fall into the traps that those things may lead us into. During this Lent we are also reminded to come closer to God and spend more time with Him, communicating with Him through prayer and other means.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all commit ourselves with renewed vigour to turn away from sin, to face the Lord with renewed faith and commitment, and do whatever we can to glorify Him by our lives. We are all capable of doing many great things that are in accordance with God and His path. The question is whether we are willing to make the commitment to walk in the right path, or whether we continue to allow ourselves to be misled and dragged down the path of sin and wickedness as we have often allowed ourselves to. Let us all make our Lenten observance and time meaningful and fruitful, doing whatever we can, to live our lives in a more Christian manner, as is fitting for all of us who profess to believe in the Lord. Each one of us should not be hypocrites who profess to believe in something, and yet, live our lives and act in ways that contradict our faith.

May the Lord continue to help and guide us in our journey especially during this time of Lent, that we may continue to lead a more holy and worthy life, truly worthy of the Lord and His grace. May God bless us all and be with us always, and may He empower us to be more courageous and committed in our lives, to be ever more faithful and able to resist the many worldly desires, attachments and all the things that often led us down the path towards damnation. May all of us have a blessed season of Lent. Amen.

Friday, 10 March 2023 : 2nd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 21 : 33-43, 45-46

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Listen to another example : There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a fence around it, dug a hole for the winepress, built a watchtower, leased the vineyard to tenants, and then went to a distant country.”

“When harvest time came, the landowner sent his servants to the tenants to collect his share of the harvest. But the tenants seized his servants, beat one, killed another and stoned a third. Again the owner sent more servants, but they were treated in the same way.”

“Finally, he sent his son, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they thought, ‘This is the one who is to inherit the vineyard. Let us kill him, and his inheritance will be ours.’ So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.”

“Now, what will the owner of the vineyard do with the tenants when he comes?” They said to him, “He will bring those evil men to an evil end, and lease the vineyard to others, who will pay him in due time.” And Jesus replied, “Have you never read what the Scriptures say? The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, and we marvel at it.”

“Therefore I say to you : the kingdom of heaven will be taken from you, and given to a people who will yield a harvest.”

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard these parables, they realised that Jesus was referring to them. They would have arrested Him, but they were afraid of the crowd, who regarded Him as a Prophet.

Friday, 10 March 2023 : 2nd Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 104 : 16-17, 18-19, 20-21

Then the Lord sent a famine and ruined the crop that sustained the land; He sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave.

His feet in shackles, his neck in irons till what he foretold came to pass, and the Lord’s word proved him true.

The king sent for him, set him free, the ruler of the peoples released him. He put him in charge of his household and made him ruler of all his possessions.