Wednesday, 15 March 2023 : 3rd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 5 : 17-19

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Do not think that I have come to annul the Law and the Prophets. I have not come to annul them but to fulfil them. I tell you this : as long as heaven and earth last, not the smallest letter or dot in the Law will change until all is fulfilled.”

Wednesday, 15 March 2023 : 3rd Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 147 : 12-13, 15-16, 19-20

Exalt the Lord, o Jerusalem; praise your God, o Zion! For He strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your children within you.

He sends His command to the earth and swiftly runs His word. He spreads snow like wool; He scatters frost like ashes.

It is He Who tells Jacob His words, His laws and decrees to Israel. This He has not done for other nations, so His laws remain unknown to them. Alleluia!

Wednesday, 15 March 2023 : 3rd Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Deuteronomy 4 : 1, 5-9

And now, Israel, listen to the norms and laws which I teach that you may put them into practice. And you will live and enter and take possession of the land which YHVH, the God of your fathers, gives you.

See, as YHVH, my God, ordered me, I am teaching you the norms and the laws that you may put them into practice in the land you are going to enter and have as your own. If you observe and practice them, other peoples will regard you as wise and intelligent. When they come to know of all these laws, they will say, ‘There is no people as wise and as intelligent as this great nation.’

For in truth, is there a nation as great as ours, whose gods are as near to it as YHVH, our God, is to us whenever we call upon Him? And is there a nation as great as ours whose norms and laws are as just as this Law which I give you today?

But be careful and be on your guard. Do not forget these things which your own eyes have seen or let them depart from your heart as long as you live. But on the contrary, teach them to your children and to your children’s children.

Tuesday, 14 March 2023 : 3rd Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us heard from the passages of the Scriptures, the clear reminder and call for all of us to be merciful, kind and forgiving just as the Lord, our God has been merciful, kind and forgiving towards us all. Each one of us should remember the great love and mercy that God has generously shown us, even when we have erred so badly and when we have disobeyed Him time and again. Whenever we come to Him, seeking for His forgiveness and mercy, with a contrite and regretful heart, God is always ready to welcome us back and forgive us, and while He chastised and punished us for our sins, but He did so out of love for us and the desire to see us changed and converted, that we do not allow sin to corrupt and attach itself to us any longer. These are the things that we have been reminded to do this Lenten season, and we should very well heed this call.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Daniel, we heard of the prayer made by Azariah, one of the friends of Daniel who was at that time persecuted upon the orders of the King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, who sentenced him and two others, Hananiah and Mishael into a great furnace of fire because of their refusal to bend their knee and worship the great golden idol and statue built by Nebuchadnezzar in his own image. They would have perished if not for God’s intervention, and God sent His Angel to be with them, protecting them from the flames. It was there inside the blazing furnace that Azariah made this heartfelt prayer to God, asking Him to remember His love for His people, to reconcile them to Himself and to forgive them their many sins and mistakes, and to remember the love that He always had for Him.

Azariah highlighted the Covenant that God had made with His beloved people, with their ancestors, and how they had been humbled and truly brought low by their own actions and disobedience, how they had lost everything, and they had been scattered and crushed for their persistent wickedness and evils. Azariah presented before the Lord the face of a people who have regretted their sins and mistakes, and were committed to a path of repentance and atonement. It was henceforth that God rescued His people, beginning with Azariah and his companions, and eventually the rest of the people of God when He moved the heart of the Great King of Persia, Cyrus the Great, after he conquered the Babylonians and freed the Israelites and their descendants, allowing them to return to their homeland after many decades in exile, and to reestablish their cities and towns, as well as the Temple of God in Jerusalem.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard of the parable of the ungrateful servant, who has been forgiven a great deal of debt towards his master, when he did not do the same with his own fellow servant, who owed him a much smaller sum as compared to what the ungrateful servant owed to the master in the first place. That wicked and ungrateful servant did not show any gratitude or understanding of just how fortunate he has been in being forgiven from his massive debt to his master. He chose to persecute his own fellow servant for a much smaller debt that the latter owed him. This was what angered the master when he found out about what kind of ingratitude and wicked behaviour his servant had done to his fellow man, and as such, that servant had to pay his dues and the prior forgiveness that he received was rescinded from him.

That parable is a reminder for us to remember God’s love and compassionate mercy first of all, as He has forgiven us all our many sins and as He has reached out constantly to us despite us having often disobeyed and abandoned Him for other things in life, for the many distractions and temptations all around us. Each and every one of us have received such great grace and good things from God, just like how the master had shown pity on his servant, forgiving him a massive sum of debt, one that far surpassed the debt which that ungrateful servant refused to forgive his fellow servant. Similarly therefore, we need to ask ourselves and reflect, whether we ourselves are to be blamed for something similar as well. Have we ourselves held grudge or hatred against one another, and refused to forgive others whatever faults and sins that they had done to us?

It is here then that we need to remember that part of the Lord’s prayer in which we say, ‘Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sinned against us’. This means that we have to forgive others first and be kind, compassionate, merciful and forgiving first before we expect to be forgiven our sins by God. That is because, even if we are forgiven our sins, but if we still continue to hate each other, then it is likely that we will still continue to sin, as if we allow hatred, anger, jealousy, greed, pride and all those things to enter into our hearts, they will likely cause us to hurt others, to make the people around us to experience suffering and pain, just as what the ungrateful servant had done to his own fellow servant. If we have not learnt to forgive like how God had forgiven us and loved us, then how can we gain true forgiveness and reconciliation with Him?

Not only that, but how can we claim that we truly belong to God, as His people and children if our actions and way of life are contrary to what the Lord Himself had done for us? Let us recall how God gave us all His own beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, as our Saviour and Redeemer, when we have given Him so much hurt and problems, rejecting and abandoning Him, disobeying Him and more. God has done so much for us and yet we still hardened our hearts and minds against Him. That is what happens when we still allow ourselves to be swayed and deluded by the worldly glory, temptations, pleasures and all the things that often lead us down the wrong path in life. Each and every one of us are reminded that we should not be easily pulled by these into the false path of the evil one, and that we should do whatever we can to seek the Lord and His truth, love and mercy.

Let us all therefore strive from now on, especially during this holy and blessed season of Lent, brothers and sisters in Christ, to be exemplary in our faith and way of life that we may inspire many others to follow the Lord as well, and to be the source of hope and strength for all those who are still under the sway of sin and darkness of this world. Let us all do our best as Christian to be faithful to God and to be loving and forgiving in our lives, in our every actions, words and interactions from now on. May God bless us all, in all of our good efforts and endeavours, and may He be with us always in our journey throughout this Lenten season and beyond, and be ever generous with His mercy. Amen.

Tuesday, 14 March 2023 : 3rd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 18 : 21-35

At that time, Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how many times must I forgive the offences of my brother or sister? Seven times?” Jesus answered, “No, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. This story throws light on the kingdom of Heaven : A king decided to settle the accounts of his servants.”

“Among the first was one who owed him ten thousand pieces of gold. As the man could not repay the debt, the king commanded that he be sold as a slave with his wife, his children and all his goods, as repayment. The servant threw himself at the feet of the king and said, ‘Give me time, and I will pay you back everything.'”

“The king took pity on him, and not only set him free, but even cancelled his debt. When the servant left the king’s presence, he met one of his companions, who owed him a hundred pieces of silver. He grabbed him by the neck and almost choked him, shouting, ‘Pay me what you owe!'”

“His companion threw himself at his feet and begged him, ‘Give me time, and I will pay everything.’ The other did not agree, but sent him to prison until he had paid all his debt. Now his fellow servants saw what had happened. They were extremely upset, and so they went and reported everything to their lord.”

“Then the lord summoned his servant and said, ‘Wicked servant, I forgave you all that you owed when you begged me to do so. Were you not bound to have pity on your companion, as I had pity on you?’ The lord was now angry, so he handed his servant over to be punished, until he had paid his whole debt.”

Jesus added, “So will My heavenly Father do with you, unless you sincerely forgive your brothers and sisters.”