Wednesday, 3 March 2021 : 2nd 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 Scripture we are presented with the importance for us to realise that as Christians, we are called to follow the Lord with sincerity and commitment, and that we will likely encounter challenges and difficulties, trials and opposition along our way and journey towards the Lord.

In our first reading today, we heard the account from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah detailing how there were many of those who sought to bring Jeremiah down, plotting against him and seeking to kill him. This was a reflection of the true state of things during that time, when the kingdom of Judah was at its ending and the prophet Jeremiah ministered there, calling on the people to turn away from their sins and return to God.

But the people were stubborn and refused to listen to the Lord and His prophet Jeremiah. They preferred to listen to the lies and the falsehoods spread by those false prophets and leaders who claimed to know the will of God and pretended to speak on His behalf, further leading the people to their downfall. Jeremiah was resented and shunned for daring to speak the truth of God.

That was why Jeremiah was persecuted and opposed, what he earned and suffered from remaining true to his faith and calling. This is what the reality of being a follower of the Lord is, not to expect good and pleasant life in this world just as what some Christians ended up believing, but instead, to expect struggle and challenges that may be part of our life and journey as we move forward in life.

In our Gospel passage today, that was highlighted yet again by the Lord as He spoke to the two of His disciples, St. James and St. John, the sons of Zebedee, whose mother came to Him asking for special favours for her children, that they be granted special positions of power by the Lord’s side, to be favoured over all the other disciples and followers. This highlighted the fact that many of those who followed the Lord, ultimately still considered worldly desires and ambitions.

At that time, the Lord Jesus was seen as the Messiah and Saviour of the people of Israel, and in the minds of the people, as well as in the popular belief, the Messiah was seen as someone who would liberate the people of Israel from their enemies and overlords, who would free them from the bondage and rule by the Romans, and ultimately would restore the kingdom of Israel and rebuild the Temple of God in Jerusalem.

Therefore, when St. James and St. John together with their mother came to the Lord seeking and asking for such special favour, it was made with this in mind, that they expected the Lord would reign as King, and when He reigns, they would want to have a position of trust and honour by His side, especially considering that both of them, together with St. Peter, were often brought by the Lord on many important occasions.

But the Lord revealed to them that to be His followers did not mean that they would earn worldly glory, power, honour and any sorts of influence or prestige. Rather, to be His followers would mean that they may have to suffer just as He would suffer, to be rejected and oppressed just as He Himself would be rejected and oppressed. The Lord reminded the two disciples of this stark reality, of the ‘cup of suffering’ that they would share with Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to these readings from the Scripture we are therefore reminded that first of all as Christians we have been called to follow the Lord and to dedicate our lives to Him. But we also must realise that if we are to remain true to Him and keep our faith in Him, sometimes we may find ourselves troubled, in dilemma and being challenged by the society among all the other difficulties that we may face. Of course this does not mean that there is no joy in life to be gained from following the Lord, but if we are expecting a blissful and free of trouble life then we must realise the reality of what it means to be Christians.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore this Lent make a difference in our lives and in the way we live our lives from now on. Let us no longer be driven by worldly desire and by the temptations of worldly glory and power, of wealth and fame, but instead, anchoring ourselves on the Lord and renew our faith and devotion to Him, now and always, forevermore. May God bless us all in our good endeavours. Amen.

Wednesday, 3 March 2021 : 2nd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 20 : 17-28

At that time, when Jesus was going to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples and said to them, “See, we are going to Jerusalem. There the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the Law, who will condemn Him to death. They will hand Him over to the foreigners, who will mock Him, scourge Him and crucify Him. But He will be raised to life on the third day.”

Then the mother of James and John came to Jesus with her sons, and she knelt down, to ask a favour. Jesus said to her, “What do you want?” And she answered, “Here You have my two sons. Grant that they may sit, one at Your right hand and one at Your left, when You are in Your kingdom.”

Jesus said to the brothers, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They answered, “We can.” Jesus replied, “You will indeed drink My cup, but to sit at My right or at My left is not for Me to grant. That will be for those, for whom My Father has prepared it.”

The other ten heard all this, and were angry with the two brothers. Then Jesus called them to Him and said, “You know that the rulers of the nations act as tyrants over them, and the powerful oppress them. It shall not be so among you : whoever wants to be more important in your community shall make himself your servant.”

“And if you want to be the first of all, make yourself the servant of all. Be like the Son of Man Who has come, not to be served but to serve, and to give His life to redeem many.”

Wednesday, 3 March 2021 : 2nd Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 30 : 5-6, 14, 15-16

Free me from the snare that they have set for me. Indeed You are my Protector. Into Your hands I commend my spirit; You have redeemed Me, o Lord, faithful God.

I hear whispering among the crowd, rumours that frighten me from every side – their conspiracies, their schemes, their plot to take my life.

But I put my trust in You, o Lord, I said : “You are my God;” my days are in Your hand. Deliver me from the hand of my enemies, from those after my skin.

Wednesday, 3 March 2021 : 2nd Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Jeremiah 18 : 18-20

Then, they said, “Come, let us plot against Jeremiah, for even without him, there will be priests to interpret the Teachings of the Law; there will always be wisemen to impart counsel and prophets to proclaim the word. Come, let us accuse him and strike him down instead of listening to what he says.”

Hear me, o YHVH! Listen to what my accusers say. Is evil the reward for good? Why do they dig a grave for me? Remember how I stood before You to speak well on their behalf so that Your anger might subside.