Saturday, 6 April 2019 : 4th 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 the Scripture reminding us that the time of the Holy Week is truly coming closer and closer, as the nature of the Scripture passages speak to us about the upcoming moments of Christ’s betrayal and handover to His enemies, His suffering and Passion. We are hearing more and more about the persecution of God’s faithful ones, which is a reminder of the suffering of Christ.

We are reminded of this fact in order for us all to reflect and do some self-introspection on our own stubbornness and refusal to listen to the word of God in our way of life. We heard how the prophet Jeremiah suffered in the first reading today, as he mentioned the opposition that he had to encounter during his ministry, the sufferings he had to endure, as his enemies gathered up against him, accusing him of many wrongdoings and even threatened his life and safety.

The prophet Jeremiah went up against tough opposition, particularly many of the nobles and the advisors to the king of Judah. Jeremiah proclaimed the imminent coming of the end of the kingdom of Judah and the destruction of Jerusalem, but those who opposed Jeremiah accused him of being a traitor to the nation and as a doomsayer, bearer of bad news. They wanted him to be killed and executed, but there were still some allies who helped to keep Jeremiah safe.

Nonetheless, Jeremiah still had to suffer imprisonment, incarceration, and for several months if not years, he was suffering in a dry sewer where he was hidden from his enemies who wanted him dead. At least, Jeremiah did not suffer the fate of the other prophets who were slaughtered and murderer by those who refused to believe in them. And that was the fate that the Lord Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, suffered from.

The chief priests were plotting with the members of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, as well as with the other prominent members of the community, who were opposed to Jesus, and they wanted to arrest Him and to punish Him and even kill Him, that He would no longer become a threat to their own influence and position of honour in the community. They saw Him as a threat and rival to their own teaching authority and power.

And as they indulged in worldly power and desires, they closed their hearts and minds from wisdom and reason, and they sinned because of the jealousy, pride and desire in their hearts, which led them to arrest the Lord, made Him suffer and handed Him over to the Roman administration and demanding for His death by crucifixion, a most humiliating and painful death preserved only for the worst of criminals.

Through all of these we have witnessed and heard, we are in fact called to look deep into our own lives, and on how we have lived them all these while. And we need to ask ourselves if we have allowed all these wicked desires, the ego and pride in our hearts to affect us and our judgment of actions? Should we not try to overcome and remove from ourselves these obstacles, by which we have been separated from God’s grace and love?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all pray that as we continue to prepare ourselves physically, spiritually and mentally during this season of Lent, we may draw ever closer to God and attune ourselves to His ways. Let us no longer be separated from Him and let us all shed from ourselves the taint of human pride, of greed and ambition, that we may receive from Him the fullness of pardon and forgiveness from our sins.

May God be with us always, and may He continue to lead us to the right path, that we will not be easily led astray by the devil and all those seeking our destruction and damnation. May this blessed season and time of Lent be a time of renewal and reconciliation for all of us. Amen.

Saturday, 6 April 2019 : 4th Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 7 : 40-53

At that time, many who had been listening to these words began to say, “This is the Prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some wondered, “Would the Christ come from Galilee? Does Scripture not say that the Christ is a descendant of David and from Bethlehem, the city of David? The crowd was divided over Him. Some wanted to arrest Him, but no one laid hands on Him.

The officers of the Temple went back to the chief priests, who asked them, “Why did you not bring Him?” The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this Man.” The Pharisees then said, “So you, too, have been led astray! Have any of the rulers or any of the Pharisees believed in Him? Only those cursed people, who have no knowledge of the Law!”

Yet one of them, Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier, spoke out, “Does our law condemn people without first hearing them and knowing the facts?” They replied, “Do you, too, come from Galilee? Look it up and see for yourself that no prophet is to come from Galilee.” And they all went home.

Saturday, 6 April 2019 : 4th Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 7 : 2-3, 9bc-10, 11-12

O Lord, my God, in You I take shelter; deliver me and save me from all my pursuers, lest lions tear me to pieces with no one to rescue me.

O Lord, my righteousness; You see that I am blameless. Bring to an end the power of the wicked, but affirm the just, o righteous God, searcher of mind and heart.

You cover me as a shield. Oh God, for You protect the upright. A righteous judge is God, His anger ever awaiting those who refuse to repent.

Saturday, 6 April 2019 : 4th Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Jeremiah 11 : 18-20

YHVH made it known to me and so I know! And You let me see their scheming. But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter. I did not know it was against me that they were plotting, “Let us feed him with trials and remove him from the land of the living and let his name never be mentioned again.”

YHVH, God of hosts, You Who judge with justice and know everyone’s heart and intentions, let me see Your vengeance on them, for to You I have entrusted my cause.

Friday, 5 April 2019 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Vincent Ferrer, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Lord through the Scriptures reminding us all about the opposition that those who are faithful to God has to experience through life, and we are going to focus more and more on this theme as we approach the beginning of the Holy Week of the Passion, suffering and death of Our Lord, which will be in just about more than a week’s time.

In the first reading today, we heard the passage from the Book of Wisdom relating to us how there were a lot of opposition against the faithful and against all the servants of God. The Book of Wisdom is a book that focuses on much of the internal thoughts and deliberations of the people, and in today’s segment, we focus on the thoughts that went in the minds of those who persecuted the prophets and the messengers of the Lord.

And we see the kinds of wickedness and stubbornness present in the minds of those people who refused to believe in the prophets and in the messages of truth they brought with them. They plotted against the faithful ones of God simply because they refused to let go of the pride, ego and the greed within their hearts and minds. They took it personally that those prophets and messengers had criticised them and the way they lived their lives.

This is parallel to what the Lord Jesus mentioned and spoke before the people in our Gospel passage today. At that time, as the time was coming close to the moment when Jesus was about to be betrayed and handed over to His enemies, the oppositions against Him among the priests, the scribes, the Pharisees and all others who saw Him as their rival and as a dangerous influence were increasing rapidly.

And this is where unfortunately, the pride of men came in between them and the ability to welcome the truth of God. They were doubting the truth that the prophets and eventually, Christ Himself revealed because they thought of themselves as being holders and owners of the real truth, as they perceived themselves as being better, more educated and even more worthy than the ones who have come speaking the truth of God before them.

That was why they refused to listen, as they hardened themselves and their mindset on what they thought were the right ways and attitudes to do. They viewed the words of the prophets and the Lord Jesus as dangerous threats and perhaps even falsehoods from their point of view. That was why they even refused to allow the truth of God to enter into their minds, and continued to do what they thought was right, even when they were actually wrong and committing sins.

Today as we heard all of these, we are reminded that each and every one of us may have been like the Pharisees, the priests, the teachers of the Law and all those who have oppressed the prophets and the Lord Himself. We may have refused to listen to the words of the Lord that He spoke deep within our hearts and minds, and closing the doors of our hearts and minds to Him. We are often so preoccupied with the many worldly matters and concerns that we do not allow God and His truth to get through to us.

Unless we open our hearts and minds, by putting aside ego and pride, desire and greed from all things, by humbling ourselves before the Lord and by realising that each and every one of us are not perfect in our ways and in our thoughts, we will likely not be able to change our ways and as such, continuing to sin, and getting more and more distant from God as time passes by. There is a need for us to reorientate and change our direction in life, so that we may find a new way and path in life, one that leads to the Lord.

Today, all of us are also called to follow the good examples set by St. Vincent Ferrer, in how he devoted his life to the good service of God, travelling to many places and preaching the truth about God to the people in various places. St. Vincent Ferrer helped many people to turn themselves to the Lord, and was very generous with his work among the poor and orphans, caring for the need of the people of God.

Through all these, we are all reminded that we need to have a profound change in attitude and approach in life. And during this season of Lent, we are called to turn away from sin, and to die to our human pride, greed, desire and all the things that have been preventing us from being able to come closer to God. We are reminded through the call to repentance, that each and every one of us are sinful and are in need of healing from God.

Let us all turn away from sin, and let us all refocus our attention to God from now on. May the Lord be our guide, and may He continue to bless us and by His encouragement, may He help us always to overcome the many temptations and challenges in this life. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 5 April 2019 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Vincent Ferrer, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 7 : 1-2, 10, 25-30

At that time, Jesus went around Galilee; He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews wanted to kill Him. Now the Jewish feast of the Tents was at hand.

But after His brothers had gone to the festival, He also went up, not publicly but in secret. Some of the people of Jerusalem said, “Is this not the Man they want to kill? And here He is speaking freely, and they do not say a word to Him? Can it be that the rulers know that this is really the Christ? Yet we know where this Man comes from; but when the Christ appears, no one will know where He comes from.”

So Jesus announced in a loud voice in the Temple court where He was teaching, “You say that you know Me and know where I come from! I have not come of Myself; I was sent by the One Who is true, and you do not know Him. I know Him for I come from Him and He sent Me.”

They would have arrested Him, but no one laid hands on Him because His time had not yet come.

Friday, 5 April 2019 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Vincent Ferrer, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 33 : 17-18, 19-20, 21 and 23

But the Lord’s face is set against the wicked to destroy their memory from the earth. The Lord hears the cry of the righteous and rescues them from all their troubles.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves the distraught. Many are the troubles of the just, but the Lord delivers them from all.

He keeps all their bones intact, and none of them will be broken. But the Lord will redeem the life of His servants; none of those who trust in Him will be doomed.