Saturday, 16 March 2019 : 1st Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of God through the Scriptures, reminding us all to love one another, just as the Lord our God has loved each and every one of us without any exception. God has generously loved all of us, despite of how we have rejected His love and how we have refused to obey Him all these while. And we are reminded that we too should love in the same way that God has shown His love for us.

In today’s Gospel passage, we are reminded that we should love everyone regardless of whether we are going to benefit from those whom we intend to love. We should show love and compassion even to those who cannot return our love, or worse still, refuse to return us our love, or those who repay our love with contempt and hatred, with anger and enmity. This is just what the Lord our God had done, in His generous love towards us even when we have not loved Him as we should have.

And in all of these, we are reminded of the core principle and reality of what love is truly for each and every one of us. Love in its true form is something that embodies the selfless offering and giving of oneself, and not selfish in nature. For true love embodies the relationship between two parties in which each of the party is willing to commit to the relationship and to give part of himself or herself, to the new union formed between the two of them.

Unfortunately, many of us did not know what true love is all about, and many of us ended up loving one another in the wrong way. To many of us, the form of love that are often familiar and which we frequently used is the kind of love that has been tainted with greed, pride and human desires. We expect those who want the love from us to give us something back in return, and while those who did not give us what we want, receive no love from us.

In the end, love became transactional, empty and meaningless, overshadowed by greed and human desire. We love because we desire a return for the effort of the love we have shown, and when we do not get fairly of what we have given, then we end up becoming dissatisfied and angry. We then end up hating the person or refusing to love the person back just because we did not receive the love from that person yet.

In the end, we are not loving with sincerity, and the love that we have in us is superficial in nature. Love that is not based on the genuine desire to be sharing and giving of ourselves is not true love, but is instead lust and corruption of the flesh and the mind. In this kind of love, we love for the sake of benefits, for the sake of advantage for ourselves, the convenience of the body and the pleasures of the flesh.

That is why we see increasingly more and more divorces happening in our marriages today, as more and more people are losing sight and focus on the true meaning of their married life. They see marriage as a burden instead of a blessing, because they have not understood what the meaning of true love is. To more and more couples, love has become a growing desire and temptation of the flesh, that it becomes a mere playground of lust and greed, of human selfishness and pleasure.

When each of the married couples or those in relationships see those relationships as something that bring benefit upon themselves, then the relationships will hardly last long, especially when difficulties and challenges come upon those relationships. That is why if we build our relationships based on impure and selfish love, that is based on our selfish desires to benefit ourselves, we will end up ruining those relationships due to our selfish actions to benefit only ourselves.

The Lord showed us all how to love, by His own actions and examples. When the world was up against Him and hated Him, He still loved all those who have challenged Him and persecuted Him, so much so that even as He was suffering so much and dying on the cross, He forgave His accusers and enemies, and prayed to His Father that He would not condemn those people to damnation because of the sins they have committed.

And He loved each and every one of us so much, despite of our own lack of love against Him and our refusal to acknowledge His love as evidenced by our sins. He bore His cross to Calvary, to suffer and to die for us, that even though we have been selfish in our greed and pride in refusing His love, He loved us all nonetheless, a perfect selfless giving of Himself, the example of a perfect love shown to us by the cross.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are called to love each other in a Christian way, that is following how the Lord Himself has loved us. Are we able to love genuinely and selflessly as He has shown us? It is of course not easy for us to love as He has loved, as we are bound to be tempted by our desires and by the weakness of our human flesh and existence. Yet, the Lord shows us that it is indeed possible to be selfless and to show true love in our actions. What we need is just our dedication and willingness to commit to this path, to face the challenges that may come our way.

Therefore, in this season of Lent, all of us are called to become less selfish, less prideful, less greedy in our relationships with one another. Instead of being so calculative and being so filled up with pride and desire in our lives, in our expectations for others, let us instead be more generous in giving and in sharing the blessings we have received. Let us all learn the value and importance of sacrifice, following the inspiration of the loving sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

May we grow stronger in love, not love that is selfish and greedy, or love that is seeking for self-benefits and pleasure, but instead love that is selfless, genuine, and nurturing, where we can share our blessings and happiness with one another, and cause us to grow together in faith, hope and love in God. May the Lord be with us all and may He continue to guide us through life. Amen.

Saturday, 16 March 2019 : 1st Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 5 : 43-48

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples and to the people, “You have heard that it was said : Love your neighbour and do not do good to your enemy. But this I tell you : love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in Heaven. For He makes His sun rise on both the wicked and the good, and He gives rain to both the just and the unjust.”

“If you love those who love you, what is special about that? Do not even tax collectors do as much? And if you are friendly only to your friends, what is so exceptional about that? Do not even the pagans do as much? As for you, be righteous and perfect in the way your heavenly Father is righteous and perfect.”

Saturday, 16 March 2019 : 1st Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 118 : 1-2, 4-5, 7-8

Blessed are they whose ways are upright, who follow the Law of the Lord. Blessed are they who treasure His word and seek Him with all their heart.

You have laid down precepts to be obeyed. O, that my ways were steadfast in observing Your statutes!

I will praise You with an upright spirit when I learn Your just precepts by heart. I mean to observe Your commandments. O, never abandon me.

Saturday, 16 March 2019 : 1st Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Deuteronomy 26 : 16-19

On this day, YHVH, your God, commands you to fulfil these norms and these commandments. Obey them now and put them into practice with all your heart and with all your soul.

Today YHVH has declared to you that He will be your God, and so you shall follow His ways, observing His norms, His commandments and His laws, and listening to His voice. Today YHVH has declared that you will be His very own people even as He had promised you, and you must obey all His commandments.

He, for His part, will give you honour, renown and glory, and set you high above all the nations He has made, and you will become a nation consecrated to YHVH, your God, as He has declared.