Saturday, 11 March 2023 : 2nd Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Scriptures reminding us that God’s love and mercy, His kindness and compassion for us are truly boundless and wonderful. God has never abandoned us and has always remembered us despite our frequent rebellion and disobedience against Him. He is still always ever patient despite the many troubles and wickedness that we have committed before Him. He has always been generous with His love and mercy, although at the same time, He still despises our sins and wickedness. He chastised His people, His children with love, and when He punished them, He did so with the intention to be reconciled with us, by helping us to be more disciplined and to be steady in our lives, in resisting the pull of temptations and worldly attachments.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Micah, we heard of the prophet Micah speaking of God’s great love and mercy, reminding the people of God of everything that He had done for them, all the kindness and mercy that He has shown them, in leading them out of their slavery in Egypt, in the care and love He has shown them in each step of the way, even when they had rebelled and disobeyed against Him time and again. God never ceased to love His people. In that passage, the prophet Micah also uttered the prayer on behalf of the people of God, those who sought to be reconciled with God, asking Him to be merciful upon them and to give them His forgiveness and kindness. They had sinned a lot against Him and they had wandered off far away from His path, but that should not have prevented them from coming back to God if they so decided for it.

The prophet Micah himself lived during the reigns of the last kings of the northern kings of Israel and the time of the kings Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah of the southern kingdom of Judah according to Biblical and historical evidence. Hence, based on the era and time of his work, we surely can see the dire straits in which the people of God had found themselves in, as Micah lived through the tumultuous years of the final years of the larger, northern part of the Israelites, surrounded and destroyed by the warlike and rampaging Assyrians, who crushed their kingdom and cities, destroyed Samaria and brought of many of the people into exile in far-off lands. The land of Judah in the south did not fare that well either, facing a lot of hardships and struggles, and all these came about because of the repeated stubborn attitude of the people, in persisting upon their rebellious actions and refusal to obey the Lord and His Law.

But that does not mean that God desired or wanted the destruction of His people. On the contrary, just as He has sent the prophet Micah to help remind the people to find their way back to the Lord, and many other prophets to both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah, and also afterwards during the years of the Babylonian exile and beyond, God has always patiently cared for them all, for their descendants and everyone that He had loved. He truly desired for all of them to return to Him, penitent and repentant, regretting their sinful ways and wickedness and with the desire to be reconciled with Him and to live once again in His grace and fullness of love. God has given us many avenues and means to reach out to Him and to find His mercy and forgiveness, and He has done so again and again, over all the time, until this very day.

In our Gospel passage today, we are then reminded yet again of this great love and mercy of God with the famous and well-known parable of the prodigal son, in which we heard the story of the prodigal and rebellious younger son of a rich father, who had two sons. That younger son chose to take the portion of his inheritance and leave his family behind, to enjoy a hedonistic and wicked lifestyle in distant, foreign lands, and eventually as we all know, that prodigal son ran out of money and possessions, and ended up as a penniless man in that distant and foreign country, with no one to care for him, and with all of his former friends and associates caring only about the wealth and possessions that he had, and not truly loving him, unlike his father back at home, whom the prodigal son had chosen to leave behind.

We heard how the prodigal son returned to the father with shame and humility, humbling himself and begging himself to be taken back to his house, even if he were to be like one of the servants, as he told his own father that he no longer deserved to call him as his father for everything that he had done. Yet, the father welcomed back the prodigal, rebellious and wicked younger son with great pomp, as he has found him once again, and he saw how this son had repented and regretted his past sins and faults, and hence, by coming back all the way to him, instead of staying on in that distant lands, that son had once again gained the favour of the father, and there was indeed a great joy as the prodigal son was once again part of the father’s family, and this represents just the way that all of us should act in reaching out to God, our most loving Father, Creator and Master.

First of all, just as the prodigal son had a choice of staying on in the distant lands instead of humbling himself and swallowing his pride to return to his home, thus, we also have the option to remain stubborn in our path and way of sin, instead of humbling ourselves to seek God’s forgiveness and compassionate mercy. Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why pride is such a dangerous thing for us, as pride often becomes a great obstacle in our path of seeking God’s forgiveness and grace. Pride has led so many people to their downfall, including Satan himself, and many other of our predecessors, as pride led us to separate ourselves from the love of God, and often prevented us to admit that we have been wrong and are in need of healing and forgiveness from God. Many people steadfastly continued to walk in their wrong paths because they rejected the fact that they were in need of help from God.

Then, if we heard and recalled the action of the elder son, who was angry at the father for welcoming the younger son back, it is also a reminder to all of us not to be judgmental on others just because we think that we are better than them. Like the actions of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law back then during the time of the Lord Jesus, who often thought of themselves as holier and better than everyone else, condemning and being judgmental on those whom they deemed as sinners, unworthy and hopeless in their path towards God, they had closed the door of God’s mercy and kindness to so many of these people whom they could have helped if not for their own pride and arrogance. Again, here we can see how pride can even be the downfall of the righteous, if we allow pride to take over our actions and judgments in life.

Hence, brothers and sisters in Christ, having been reminded of all these and of God’s ever enduring and persistent love for us in this season of Lent, let us all keep in mind what we have been given all these times, the many opportunities and chances for us to turn away from sinful paths and from all the things that had separated us from the fullness of God’s love and grace. During this time of Lent, let us all turn away from our sins and our disobedience from God, and once again discover the love that we all should have for our loving Father and Creator. Let us all humble ourselves before Him, realising just how sinful we have been, and how we are in need of God’s forgiveness and mercy, and resist the temptations of our pride and ego, our greed and ambition, and the many other things that separate us from God and His love. May God help us all in our journey especially during this Lent, that we may come ever closer to Him, now and always. Amen.

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.