Thursday, 23 March 2023 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, Bishop (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, 23 March 2023 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, Bishop (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, 23 March 2023 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, Bishop (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, 22 March 2023 : 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, all of us are called to remember God’s ever generous love, compassion, kindness and mercy towards all of us, that He is willing to forgive us our many sins and wickedness, if we are to seek Him and confide in His love and mercy. God is our loving Father Who truly cares for each and every one of us, and He does not want us to be lost from Him. He chastised and punished us with the intention to help us to be more disciplined in our way of life, distancing ourselves from the path of sin and evil. He called on us all to turn away from the temptations of worldly glory, pleasures, and all sorts of attachments that we may often have, which are indeed great obstacles and barriers in our path towards Him. He provided us help along our journey so that hopefully we may end up in the path of righteousness.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Isaiah the words of comfort and assurances from God to His people in the kingdom of Judah, as He told them that He will always remember them and that He will always provide for them, and be reconciled with them, despite their past wickedness and sins. Back then, during the time of the prophet Isaiah’s life and ministry, the people of God, the Israelites had been wrecked by a lot of hardships and tragedies, especially when the northern half of the land of Israel and most of the ten tribes of the twelve of the Israelites were crushed and conquered by the Assyrians. Those in the northern kingdom of Israel had long defied the Lord and refused to obey Him, and most of their kings were wicked and sinful, leading the people further and deeper into the path of sin. Thus, the terrible end eventually came upon them, as the Assyrians destroyed and laid waste their cities, and brought many of them into exile in far-off lands away from their homeland.

Those living in the southern kingdom of Judah, where Isaiah ministered in, did not fare much better either, as they had also often been rebellious against God. They had also faced a lot of hardships and struggles, and by the time of Isaiah’s ministry, according to the events of that time, the forces of the Assyrians even came to conquer Judah and Jerusalem as well. If not for God’s timely intervention, as He smote the whole Assyrian army in rebuke of their proud and haughty king Sennacherib, the same fate that faced the northern Israelites would have faced those who lived in Judah as well. They would have endured the same fate that befell their northern brethren sooner, although they would later indeed face that fate with the Babylonians, due to their lack of repentance and continued sinful way of life. Yet, despite all of these, as God Himself has proclaimed, He still remembered His people and would not abandon them.

That was what God had patiently done for His people in a very long time, that despite their lack of faith in Him and despite their stubbornness in not listening to Him and in hardening their hearts and minds, but God still cared for them anyway like that of a loving father who still loves his children who may be naughty and difficult at times. He chastised and disciplined them, with the intention so that they may all turn up to be well. Thus, that is what He also does with us all as well, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we are all His beloved ones, those whom He favours and cares for. However, this is also a reminder that unless we behave ourselves and change our sinful ways, we may end up facing the same fate as those who have continued to rebel and disobey God’s commandments to the very end. We are reminded of this during this time of Lent so that hopefully we may change our ways and turn once again towards the Lord and His mercy.

In the Gospel passage today, we then heard of the words that the Lord spoke to the assembled people, many of whom were angry with Him because He performed His miracles and works on the Sabbath day which was a day considered sacred, and which to the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law was a day free from any kind of action and work, and in which it was a taboo for anyone to do anything. And as mentioned, the Lord also referred to God as His Father, which was indeed the truth, but the people were angry as they thought of Him of blaspheming against God by claiming Him to be His Father. Hence, this led to the people rising up against the Lord. They hardened their hearts and minds against Him, and the Lord responded with the discourse in which He highlighted to them the relationship that He has with the Father, and what He has been sent into this world for.

As highlighted by the Lord Himself, He elaborated on how He has been sent into this world to be its Saviour, because God our Father has deemed it right for Him to send us the ultimate gift of His love by sending His own beloved Son into our midst. He has given us Jesus to be our Lord and Redeemer, and by Whose hands, had brought us closer to His Father, and through His adoption of our human nature and existence, has indeed united all of us to Himself and His Father so that we are also the adopted children of God, by sharing in the humanity of Christ. Hence, we are reminded yet again of the need for us to humble ourselves before the Lord and embrace His mercy and love, and not to be like those people who continued to resist Him and His truth simply because they were too proud and stubborn to admit that they could have been wrong or mistaken in their ways. The Lord came to them bearing His truth and love, only for many of them to reject Him.

In this season and time of Lent, let us all therefore remind ourselves of God’s ever present and ever patient love for each and every one of us, keeping in mind how He has generously offered us all His mercy and compassion all these while. Let us all no longer be stubborn or difficult in our attitudes, allowing ourselves to be immersed in God’s love and grace. We should spend more time in this season and time of Lent to become ever closer to the Lord, our most loving Father, and heed His call and reminders for us to repent and change our wicked and sinful ways. Let us all no longer be hesitant to follow the Lord wholeheartedly or be easily swayed by the many temptations and pressures all around us, to conform to worldly ways and abandon God’s path of truth and righteousness. This is what all of us should be doing during this time of Lent, a time of reconciliation with God.

May the Lord, our most loving God and Father continue to love us and provide us each day, and may He empower us all with the strength and the desire to reach out to Him and His most generous love and mercy. May He instil in each one of us the strong desire to commit ourselves to Him and His path, and inspire us that we may be good role models and source of inspiration to all those whom we encounter in our lives, so that more people may come to believe in God through us. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.