Saturday, 29 March 2014 : 3rd Week of Lent (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

The love and mercy of God know no bounds, and there is no limit to His grace for us. He determined that He wants to see us saved and blessed, freed from the chains of sin that had bound us since the time of Adam and Eve, our ancestors. That was why He sent so much help towards our way, that we may find a way to return to His blessing, love and mercy.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it is important to remember that God loves us, and despite our transgressions, He is willing to overlook them and welcome us back to His embrace, so that we will not perish in the destruction destined for us because of our sins. But, there is a limit to God’s patience and mercy, and we should not test Him by continuously defying Him.

Yet, sadly many of us are blinded by our own sense of pride and human arrogance that we refuse to listen to God and to His call for us to repent from our sins. We assume that we are able to take charge of our own lives and our destiny, that we disregard His love and reject His care. We immerse ourselves in our stubbornness and carry on with our life, no matter how debauched it is.

Even among us the faithful, we often forget that we ought to be humble before God, for we have sinned. Instead we boasted about our achievements and what we did in the favour of the Lord. We even become judgmental and condemning those whom we deem as less worthy than us for grace and salvation. That was exactly what the Pharisees had done.

Jesus reminded us that the prayer of the proud and haughty worth less than the prayer made by the humble in genuine humility. The humble seeks the Lord with all of their heart and strength, because they know of their fragility and weaknesses, seeking God to help them rectify that issue and reunite them with Him. Brethren, again it is important for us not to judge others and be haughty over others just because of our achievements.

Instead we should assist one another, giving a helping hand to those in need. Particularly those who are lost in sin and darkness are of the greatest priority for us to help with. We cannot ignore or pretend to not see or hear their plight, for this kind of ignorance show the lack of true love and faith within us.

Do not be judgmental and do not think of anyone less than ourselves, just because we think that we are better or more righteous than they are. Let us not praise our own achievements, less still use them to put down others like what the Pharisee had done. We have to be more like the tax collector, understanding the sins we have and committing ourselves to change our own ways.

Never think that we are always worthy of salvation, but we have to continue to work hard and not be complacent. We have to continue to be vigilant and avoid being consumed by our own human insecurities and emotions. Seek the Lord who will definitely help us, and ask Him for His help and protection, that we will always be strong as we walk in His ways.

Let us never be separated from Him, and let us be able to see our own sinfulness, understanding the limitations and fragilities of our own selves, and humbly asking God for forgiveness for all our trespasses, and that we may always remain in God’s grace. God bless us all. Amen.

 

Saturday, 29 March 2014 : 3rd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 18 : 9-14

Jesus told another parable to some people, fully convinced of their own righteousness, who looked down on others : “Two men went up to the Temple to pray; one was a Pharisee, and the other a tax collector.”

“The Pharisee stood by himself, and said, ‘I thank You, God, that I am not like other people, grasping, crooked, adulterous, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and give the tenth of all my income to the Temple.”

“In the meantime the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.'”

“I tell you, when this man went back to his house, he had been reconciled with God, but not the other. For whoever makes himself out to be great will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be raised up.”

 

Saturday, 29 March 2014 : 3rd Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 50 : 3-4, 18-19, 20-21ab

Have mercy on me, o God, in Your love. In Your great compassion blot out my sin. Wash me thoroughly of my guilt; cleanse me of evil.

You take no pleasure in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt offering, You would not delight in it. O God, my sacrifice is a broken spirit; a contrite heart You will not despise.

Shower Zion with Your favour : rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Then You will delight in fitting sacrifices, in burnt offerings and bulls offered on Your altar.

 

Saturday, 29 March 2014 : 3rd Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Hosea 5 : 15 – Hosea 6 : 6

Then I will go away and return to My place until they admit their guilt and come back to Me, for in their anguish they will earnestly seek Me.

Come, let us return to YHVH. He who shattered us to pieces, will heal us as well; He has struck us down, but He will bind up our wounds. Two days later He will bring us back to life; on the third day, He will raise us up, and we shall live in His presence.

Let us strive to know YHVH. His coming is as certain as the dawn; His judgment will burst forth like the light; He will come to us as showers come, like spring rain that waters the earth.

O Ephraim, what shall I do with you? O Judah, how shall I deal with you? This love of yours is like morning mist, like morning dew that quickly disappears. This is why I smote you through the prophets, and have slain you by the words of My mouth.

For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice; it is knowledge of God, not burnt offerings.

 

Friday, 28 March 2014 : 3rd Week of Lent (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

The essence of God is love, and everything about God is love. Love is the driving force of all His actions, and the meaning of His Law is love. This is what we have to remember when we obey the Lord and His commandments. God did not wish to burden us with His laws, or to punish us, but instead they were meant to bring us all closer to Him, and that we may learn to love Him more and more.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, God gave His people Israel, the gift of the Ten Commandments, His own laws in which He gave them guidelines in life of what to do in order to live in God’s favour. But even though there are indeed ten laws in the Ten Commandments, as Jesus had revealed to His people, that they can be grouped together into two main laws, to love God and to love one another.

Indeed, this is the essence of love, as taught by Jesus to His disciples, that first of all we have to give it all in complete dedication to God, our Lord, our Creator, and our loving Father. Then, we also need to give our hearts, filled with love, to each other, for we are all equal, servants of the same One God, and the children of that same God who created us. We are all brothers and sisters to one another.

Obeying the law must not mean that we blindly obey to the letter, the words of the Law, or make empty proclamations and professions, to fulfill the Law superficially. Our observation of the Law must be genuine and true, filled with total love and dedication to all, to God and our fellow mankind. Thus, we have to have love in ourselves, and fill our words, actions and deeds with genuine love.

These days, it is difficult to love genuinely, as love itself in our understanding had been twisted such that we no longer understand what love truly means. Our understanding of love had been corrupted with the pleasures of the flesh and the lust and greed of this world, with material goods and possessions in train. That is how our families and marriages today are under threat, because they were often no longer based on love.

In our faith and in our life, we have to give our attention and focus on the Lord, devoting ourselves wholly to Him, that we will not serve or worship any other gods, and keep holy His Name and His presence, that we will not sully It by any form of blasphemy or misconduct. We have to put our complete faith and trust in Him.

But we cannot just love God alone, for to love God completely also means that we must also give our love to our brethren, especially those in need of that love. God Himself said through Jesus that all that we do for the least, the lost, and the rejected ones of our society, we do it for the Lord Himself, and therefore, in the same argument, to love our brethren means to love God Himself.

And because God is love Himself, it is impossible for us to not love Him and just love one another. Our love cannot be not based on Christ. Yes, the love of God must and is always at the centre of our love, the love that we show to one another. Outside of that, the love we have is not true and genuine love, but one that is tainted by the evils of the world.

We have to be able to distinguish true love from lust and desires of the world. We have often confused between love and lust, and between love and desire for pleasure and for material goods of the world. That is why we end up not doing the will of God, because we mistook His true desire for us with the desire and things of this world.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we therefore should renew our commitment in faith to our Lord, by loving Him all the greater, through our obedience and following His will, doing our acts all in accordance with God’s love and care for us. Let us not forget our brothers and sisters out there who need our love and attention.

May we grow stronger in love, that day by day we may be ever more solid in our dedication and faith to the Lord. Let us not be hesitant to love God who is our Father, who loves us all with all of His might and care for each one of us. Let us never be separated from God’s love and remain ever in His grace. Amen.

 

Friday, 28 March 2014 : 3rd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Mark 12 : 28b-34

So a teacher of the Law came up to Jesus and asked Him, “Which commandment is the first of all?”

Jesus answered, “The first is : ‘Hear, Israel! The Lord, our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.'”

“And after this comes a second commandment : ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandments greater than these two.'”

The teacher of the Law said to Him, “Well spoken, Master, You are right when You say that He is one, and there is no other besides Him. To love Him with all our heart, with all our understanding and with all our strength, and to love our neighbour as ourselves is more important than any burnt offering or sacrifice.”

Jesus approved this answer and said, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that, no one dared to ask Him any more questions.

 

Friday, 28 March 2014 : 3rd Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 80 : 6c-8a, 8bc-9, 10-11ab, 14 and 17

Open wide your mouth and I will fill it. I relieved your shoulder from burden; I freed your hands. You called in distress, and I saved you.

Unseen, I answered you in thunder; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. Hear, My people, as I admonish you. If only you would listen, o Israel!

There shall be no strange god among you, you shall not worship any alien god, for I the Lord am your God.

If only My people would listen, if only Israel would walk in My ways, I would feed you with the finest wheat and satisfy you with honey from the rock.