Wednesday, 29 March 2023 : 5th Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 8 : 31-42

At that time, Jesus went on to say to the Jews who believed in Him, “You will be My true disciples, if you keep My word. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered Him, “We are the descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves of anyone. What do you mean by saying : You will be free?”

Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave. But the slave does not stay in the house forever; the son stays forever. So, if the Son makes you free, you will be really free. I know that you are the descendants of Abraham; yet you want to kill Me because My word finds no place in you. For My part, I speak of what I have seen in My Father’s presence, but you do what you have learnt from your father.”

They answered Him, “Our father is Abraham.” Then Jesus said, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do as Abraham did. But now you want to kill Me, the One Who tells you the truth – the truth that I have learnt from God. That is not what Abraham did; what you are doing are the works of your father.”

The Jews said to Him, “We are not illegitimate children; we have one Father, God.” Jesus replied, “If God were your Father you would love Me, for I came forth from God, and I am here. And I did not come by My own decision, but it was He Himself Who sent Me.”

Wednesday, 29 March 2023 : 5th Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Daniel 3 : 52, 53, 54, 55, 56

Blessed are You, Lord, God of our fathers, be praised and exalted forever. Blessed is Your holy and glorious Name, celebrated and exalted forever.

Blessed are You in the Temple of Your sacred glory, Your praises are sung forever.

Blessed are You on the throne of Your kingdom, honoured and glorified forever.

Blessed are You Who fathom the depths, who are enthroned on the Cherubim, praised and exalted forever.

Blessed are You in the firmament of heaven, praised and glorified forever.

Wednesday, 29 March 2023 : 5th Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Daniel 3 : 14-20, 24-25, 28

King Nebuchadnezzar questioned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden statue I have set up? If you hear now the sound of horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and other instruments, will you fall down and worship the statue I made? If you will not, you know the punishment : you will immediately be thrown into a burning furnace. And then what god can deliver you out of my hands?”

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego answered, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we need not defend ourselves before you on this matter. If you order us to be thrown into the furnace, the God we serve will rescue us. But even if He will not, we would like you to know, o king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden statue you have set up.”

Nebuchadnezzar’s face reddened with fury as he looked at Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. He ordered the furnace to heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of his strongest soldiers to bind Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the burning furnace.

They walked in the midst of the flames, singing to God and praising the Lord. Azariah stood up in the midst of the fire and prayed aloud : “You have indeed given a just sentence in bringing evil upon us and upon Jerusalem, the Holy City of our fathers. You have acted in accordance with truth and justice, as punishment for our sins.”

Tuesday, 28 March 2023 : 5th 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, all of us are reminded of the love that God has always patiently shown upon us that even though we have often sinned against Him, but that did not prevent Him from continuing to reach out towards us with love, as He continued to care for us and shower us with His kindness and love. He still looked upon us with forgiveness and the willingness to be reconciled with all of us. No one can be excluded from His love, and unless we ourselves have rejected God’s love and grace right to the very end, there is always a path for us towards redemption and reconciliation with Him. We shall gain justification and strength through Him, and will be forgiven our sins if only that we repent from them and sincerely desire to turn away from the wickedness of our evils. But if we sin against God and continue to do so, we have to face the consequences for those sins, as the Scriptures had shown us today.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of Numbers how the people of Israel, those whom God had rescued and led out from the land of their misery and enslavement by the Egyptians, rebelled against the Lord and complained against Him, despite having been shown such great care and love from God. They committed vile deeds and hardened their hearts against God, and thus they have sinned against God. Then, for their stubborn attitude and behaviour, the Lord sent fiery serpents to strike at those who have persistently disobeyed against Him and refused to listen to Him. This is representative of what sin entails, that is because sin leads to separation from God and hence death, since without God, we can have no life. Those who disobeyed God and sinned against Him essentially had to suffer the consequences of their own sins and wickedness.

But it did not mean that God despised His people, as in truth, God still loved His people very much, and still cared for them regardless. That was why He showed them His mercy and compassion as He gave them the path out of their predicament when they showed repentance and regret over their sins, as He told Moses to make a great bronze serpent standard, lifted up high on a pole before the people, so that all those who were bitten and then saw the bronze serpent would not perish but live. This was a prefigurement of what the Lord Himself would do through His own Son, Whom He would send into the world so that He might save us all, that by looking upon Him Who has been crucified for us, we may all find forgiveness and true reconciliation with God. Yes, what we have heard in our first reading today, is a prefigurement for our Lord’s Passion, His suffering and death on the Cross for the salvation of the whole world.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the words of the Lord Jesus as He spoke to the Jewish people who assembled and gathered in order to listen to Him. He told them all more of the truth about Himself, proclaiming about what He Himself would do for the salvation of all and the whole world. He told them all how He would have to suffer and be raised up for everyone to see, the Son of Man, raised up like the way the bronze serpent of Moses was lifted up for everyone to witness. Thus, again, what we have heard today from the Gospel is one important moment when the Lord revealed that He was about to suffer for everyone’s sake, to gather all of the Lord’s scatted people and all those who loved Him to Himself. He went through all the humiliation and sufferings so that all of us may have the assurance of new life and existence with Him.

He has revealed God’s love in the flesh, that everyone may see the Love of God personified and made clear in this world. The Lord has given us His own Son to us as the clear sign of His love, just as He has given the bronze serpent to Moses as the means for the Israelites to escape from their predicament of being bitten by those terrible serpents. The Lord gave His Son to us so that by Him bearing upon Himself all the sins and faults that we have made, which bore down heavily on His shoulders as He lifted up His Cross, we may all be redeemed and freed from the bondage to sin, to the tyranny of evil and death. This is what we are all reminded of today, as we listened to these Scripture passages. We are reminded both of the dangers and threats posed to us by our sins, and how God has most generously provided us with the means to get away from all those threats.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we continue to come ever closer to the beginning of Holy Week, and we progress ever deeper into the mysteries of Lent and of God’s love for us, let us all therefore spend some time to reflect on our own lives and actions, particularly in everything that we have said and done in the past year. Have we been truly good and faithful disciples of the Lord in all those things, in being good and exemplary, faithful and inspirational in showing our faith through our way of life? Or have we instead lapsed and fallen away from the path of righteousness, as we allowed ourselves to be swayed and tempted by the many temptations and allures of worldly glory and pleasures around us? Have we been stubborn and obstinate just like the Israelites who frequently and repeatedly rejected God’s most generous love and compassionate mercy? Can we spend more time to focus our attention on and turn towards the Lord, Our Hope and salvation?

This season and time of Lent, let us all make good use of the opportunities and time provided to us so that we may remind ourselves of our calling as Christians, that is to be holy and worthy of God, and to distance ourselves from the wickedness of worldly attachments and sins. Let us all be good role models, examples and inspiration for one another in how we live our lives, in everything we say and do, even in the smallest and the seemingly least significant matters, so that all of us may be the true and faithful beacons of God’s light and love, and be the faithful witnesses of Our Lord’s truth in the midst of our respective communities in our today’s world. This Lent should be a time for us to reexamine our focus in life so that we may turn away from the wickedness of the world and from the falsehoods of the devil, and instead, embrace wholeheartedly the loving and righteous ways of the Lord, our God and Saviour.

May the Lord therefore be with us always and may He empower each and every one of us with the strength and the courage to be able to stand up for our faith, and to do what is right and just according to what He has shown and taught us to do. May God bless us all in our every endeavours and good efforts, in everything we do for His greater glory. May God bless our Lenten journey and perseverance through life. Amen.