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.

Wednesday, 22 March 2023 : 4th Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 5 : 17-30

At that time, Jesus replied to the Jews, “My Father goes on working and so do I.” And the Jews tried all the harder to kill Him, for Jesus not only broke the Sabbath observance, but also made Himself equal with God, calling God His own Father.

Jesus said to them, “Truly, I assure you, the Son cannot do anything by Himself, but only what He sees the Father do. And whatever He does, the Son also does. The Father loves the Son and shows Him everything He does; and He will show Him even greater things than these, so that you will be amazed.”

“As the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son gives life to whom He wills. In the same way the Father judges no one, for He has entrusted all judgment to the Son, and He wants all to honour the Son as they honour the Father. Whoever ignores the Son, ignores as well the Father Who sent Him.”

“Truly, I say to you, anyone who hears My word and believes Him Who sent Me, has eternal life; and there is no judgment for him, because he has passed from death to life. Truly, the hour is coming and has indeed come, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and, on hearing it, will live. For the Father has life in Himself, and He has given to the Son also to have life in Himself. And He has empowered Him as well to carry out Judgment, for He is Son of Man.”

“Do not be surprised at this : the hour is coming when all those lying in tombs will hear My voice and come out; those who have done good shall rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. I can do nothing of Myself, and I need to hear Another One to judge; and My judgment is just, because I seek not My own will, but the will of Him Who sent Me.”

Wednesday, 22 March 2023 : 4th Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 144 : 8-9, 13cd-14, 17-18

Compassionate and gracious is the Lord, slow to anger and abounding in love. The Lord is good to everyone; His mercy embraces all His creation.

The Lord is true to His promises and lets His mercy show in all He does. The Lord lifts up those who are falling and raises those who are beaten down.

Righteous is the Lord in all His ways, His mercy shows in all His deeds. He is near those who call on Him, who call trustfully upon His Name.

Wednesday, 22 March 2023 : 4th Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 49 : 8-15

This is what YHVH says : “At a favourable time I have answered you, on the day of salvation I have been your help; I have formed you and made you to be My covenant with the people. You will restore the land, and allot its abandoned farms. You will say to the captives : Come out; and to those in darkness : Show yourselves.”

“They will feed along the road; they will find pasture on barren hills. They will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the scorching wind or the sun beat upon them; for He Who has mercy on them will guide them and lead them to springs of water. I will turn all My mountains into roads and raise up My highways. See, they come from afar, some from the north and west, others from the land of Sinim.”

Sing, o heavens and rejoice, o earth; break forth into song, o mountains : for YHVH has comforted His people and taken pity on those who are afflicted. But Zion said : “YHVH has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.” Can a woman forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child of her womb? Yet though she forget, I will never forget you.