Thursday, 31 March 2022 : 4th Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all called to listen to the Lord and to follow Him, cease our rebellion and disobedience against Him. He has given us many opportunities to return to Him and to be reconciled to Him, but it is our stubborn attitude and persistence in our way of sin which often led us back to the path towards downfall and destruction. We have not heeded the Lord’s call and desire to be reunited with us, as we allow sin to rule over us and to keep us separated from Him.

In our first reading today, we heard the Lord speaking to Moses in the Book of Exodus, at the time after He has revealed His Law and the Ten Commandments to Moses at Mount Sinai. At that time, Moses spent forty days with the Lord atop the mountain, listening to Him and receiving from Him the extensive set of laws and guidance meant to be passed to the people of Israel, as a guide and help for all of them to remain true to the path of righteousness. But the people thinking that Moses had perished on the mountain quickly lost their trust and faith in the Lord, and forced Aaron to craft for them a great golden calf idol to worship as god over them.

This happened even though the Israelites had witnessed themselves the great wonders and power of God in freeing them from the hands of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh, as God sent the Ten Great Plagues to crush the Egyptians and force them to let the Israelites go free. And all these happened despite the people of God having themselves witnessed how God opened the Red Sea before them, allowing them to cross free and safely through the seabed, and then destroying the chariots and armies of the Pharaoh of Egypt that were chasing after them.

The people of God still disobeyed Him and refused to have faith in Him even though they had seen all the wonders and good things that God had done for their sake, all of which showed and proved to them how beloved and dear they were to God. Yet, they established a golden calf idol over them, offered it sacrifices and committed other grievous sins against the Lord, when God had been so patient in loving them and caring for them. But Moses stepped in and pleaded with the Lord when He wanted to destroy all the people save for Moses as was just and right for Him to do, and Moses asked the Lord to withhold His anger and judgment, reasoning with Him and reminding Him of the constant love that He has shown to the people.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the same attitude being shown by the people of the time of the Lord Jesus, as they showed lack of faith, refusing to believe in the Lord and even in the messenger and herald that He had sent before Him, namely that of St. John the Baptist. St. John the Baptist had called the people of God to repent from their sins and to return to the Lord with faith, and baptised many people who had come to him seeking to walk the path of conversion and redemption, opening their hearts to the Lord and His truth and love.

Yet, the Pharisees and the chief priests in particular were skeptical of St. John the Baptist, doubted his authenticity and authority, and even openly questioned him on the legality and validity of his actions, doubting that he was sent by the Lord, an action which led to St. John the Baptist to rebuke those self-serving and self-righteous leaders as brood of vipers, those who sought their own glory and personal benefits over others’ sufferings and for their efforts that went against God’s good works. The same thing happened to the Lord Himself as well, and this was what the Lord referred to as He spoke to the people in our passage today.

The Lord rebuked the people for their continued lack of faith and trust in Him, despite everything that He had done and shown to them, despite all the miracles and signs that He had made before all of them. They still would not believe and even demanded for more signs and wonders. Their hearts and minds were closed against God in their pride, in thinking that they knew the Law and commandments of God better than any others, and that was why, no matter how much wonders and miracles they had witnessed, they failed to believe much as their ancestors had betrayed and abandoned the Lord, their Saviour and Liberator, for a golden calf idol made by human hands.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we reflect on these passages from the Scriptures, let us all look back in our lives and remind ourselves whether we have been faithful to the Lord wholeheartedly as we should have, or whether we have behaved much like the people of Israel in the past, in their lack of faith and trust in the Lord, preferring to trust in idols and other worldly means, in their own strength and power rather than to trust in the Lord and journey together with Him. We are called to reflect if our way of life have been in accordance to the path that God has shown us, or whether we have walked down the wrong path all these while.

Sin is very dangerous and we should not take it lightly, for the temptations to sin and the allures of worldly desires can tempt even the most resistant to falter and fall away from God and His way. We must not let our weakness and vulnerabilities to sin to affect us, and we have to do our best to resist those temptations, or else we may end up like the Israelites, who succumbed to their fears and to their desires for worldly pleasures, and like the Pharisees and the chief priests, who fell into sin because of the temptations of worldly power and glory, and pride and ego.

Let us all make good use of the remaining time of Lent to prepare ourselves, not just physically but also spiritually and mentally, so that we may be more attuned to the Lord, be more ready and prepared to live in accordance with God’s path. Let us seek the Lord with ever greater faith and commitment, and let us do our very best to glorify Him by our lives and actions, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 31 March 2022 : 4th Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 5 : 31-47

At that time, Jesus said to the Jews, “If I bore witness to Myself, My testimony would be worthless. But Another One is bearing witness to Me, and I know that His testimony is true when He bears witness to Me. John also bore witness to the truth when you sent messengers to him, but I do not seek such human testimony; I recall this for you, so that you may be saved.”

“John was a burning and shining lamp, and for a while you were willing to enjoy his light. But I have greater evidence than that of John – the works which the Father entrusted to Me to carry out. The very works I do bear witness : The Father has sent Me. Thus He Who bears witness to Me is the Father Who sent Me. You have never heard His voice and have never seen His likeness; therefore, as long as you do not believe His messenger, His word is not in you.”

“You search in the Scriptures, thinking that in them you will find life; yet Scripture bears witness to Me. But you refuse to come to Me, that you may live. I am not seeking human praise; but I have known that love of God is not within you, for I have come in My Father’s Name and you do not accept Me. If another comes in his own name, you will accept him. As long as you seek praise from one another, instead of seeking the glory which comes from the only God, how can you believe?”

“Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father. Moses himself, in whom you placed your hope, accuses you. If you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote of Me. But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?”

Thursday, 31 March 2022 : 4th Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 105 : 19-20, 21-22, 23

They made a calf at Horeb and worshipped the molten image. They exchanged the glory of God for the image of a bull that eats grass.

They forgot their Saviour God, Who had done great things in Egypt, wonderful works in the land of Ham, and awesome deeds by the Sea of Reeds.

So He spoke of destroying them, but Moses, His chosen one, stood in the breach before Him to shield them from destruction.

Thursday, 31 March 2022 : 4th Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Exodus 32 : 7-14

Then YHVH said to Moses, “Go down at once, for your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have quickly turned from the way I commanded them and have made for themselves a molten calf; they have bowed down before it and sacrificed to it and said : ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you out of Egypt.'”

And YHVH said to Moses, “I see that these people are a stiff-necked people. Now just leave Me that My anger may blaze against them. I will destroy them, but of you I will make a great nation.” But Moses calmed the anger of YHVH, his God, and said, “Why, o YHVH, should Your anger burst against Your people whom You brought out of the land of Egypt with such great power and with a mighty hand?”

“Let not the Egyptians say : ‘YHVH brought them out with evil intent, for He wanted to kill them in the mountains and wipe them from the face of the earth.’ Turn away from the heat of Your anger and do not bring disaster on Your people. Remember Your servants, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the promise You Yourself swore : I will multiply Your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land I spoke about I will give to them as an everlasting inheritance.”

YHVH then changed His mind and would not yet harm His people.