Saturday, 5 April 2014 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Vincent Ferrer, Priest (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Brothers and sisters in Christ, from today’s Scripture readings we are told that we should not doubt the Lord our God who came in Jesus to be our Messiah and the source of our salvation. We should not follow the path of the Pharisees who were adamant and stubborn in their ways and pride. They refused to listen because they remained in their rebelliousness and fallen ways.

They plotted against God and His Saviour because they were set in their ways and their thoughts, and they would not want to give way to, nor recognise the mistakes they had committed and the jealousy they felt as they saw this contender to their power and glory, grew high and great before the Lord. They were not able to loosen their heart because they were deeply trapped within their own pridefulness and arrogance.

It is in our nature, brethren, that we think first about ourselves and care only about our own well-being, and for us to have a powerful ego and desire, is only natural for us all mankind. And in this holy season of Lent we are always reminded of the need for us to first die to our ego, pride and selfishness before we are able to fully appreciate the love of God.

That is why I keep on emphasizing, along the line of the Scripture readings, of the need to listen and to be humble. Yes, that is to be open for suggestion by others and to accept willingly any comments and suggestion by others. We are by our sinful nature, proud and unbending. And we are also prone of selfishness, of thinking for our own good and benefits before the good of others, and even it is often that we trample on others as we march on to secure our own benefits.

That is why, in this season of Lent, we are called to take a step back and reflect on our own lives, whether we have been humble and listening to God’s will or whether we have been indignant and hardened our hearts against the love of God, opposing the Lord at every turn just as the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had done in their pride and jealousy against Jesus.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this season of Lent is the perfect time, yes, the time indeed, for us to take charge of our lives and our salvation, that our lives may be changed and renewed, no longer one that is based on our own inner desires, our emotions and our wants. Instead let this be the opportunity for us to make our lives to conform and adhere to the will of God and to His principles, that we no longer follow our own will and desire, but instead the will of God.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Vincent Ferrer, a saint of the early Renaissance era Spain. He was a Dominican priest and preacher, who were well known for his piety and powerful charisma and ability in preaching. St. Vincent Ferrer worked hard for the sake of the Lord and His people, converting thousands for God. He brought many people and lost sheep of the Lord back to their Master.

His works included many forays into the areas and the rural countryside, preaching about the Lord to them and opening their minds and hearts to God’s love and bringing them to the gates of salvation. It was in his great commitment and works for the least of God’s people that he was remembered for. Brothers and sisters in Christ, the life of St. Vincent Ferrer is the example for all of us to follow. He is the role model of our faith, the model for all Christians.

Yes, this Lenten season is the perfect opportunity for us to change our ways and turn towards God, and help others to do the same. And we should not be fearful nor be ashamed of our faults and our sinfulness, because it is in fact when we have fully acknowledged our own frailty and weaknesses that we may be able to turn for the better.

Let us therefore commit ourselves for the sake of God and His people, much as St. Vincent Ferrer had done. May we be better servants of our Lord in this holy and wondrous season of Lent, that we may all together be saved, helping one another as we approach and reach out to the Lord our God. May God bless us all and remain with us always. Amen.

 

Saturday, 5 April 2014 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Vincent Ferrer, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 7 : 40-52

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 the 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 these 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.”

 

Saturday, 5 April 2014 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Vincent Ferrer, Priest (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.

 

Saturday, 5 April 2014 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Vincent Ferrer, Priest (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, 4 April 2014 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Isidore, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the people of God did not accept the Lord Himself who came down from on high to be with us. They thought of themselves as being better and greater than God, doubting Him and did not believe in Him when He came and rejecting His teachings, preferring to trust in their own beliefs.

They closed their hearts and themselves from the Lord because they allowed their fear and human emotions and desires to manipulate them, change them, and sequester them from the love of God. As a result, they see the coming of the Christ, that is Jesus, as a rival, challenge, and danger that must be removed at any cost, rather than as an opportunity to herald the coming of God’s kingdom into the world.

And this concerns in fact not just the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law of Jesus’s time, but also all of us, brothers and sisters in Christ. We ourselves have often placed ourselves as obstacles in the way of the Lord and His salvation, not just for ourselves but also for those around us. We have often followed our own desires, our own ego and will rather than listening to God and obeying His will.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us use this opportunity to reflect on our own life and on our own course of action. Have we been like those who plotted against the Lord just because He came to them and spoke the truth? Or have we accepted Him and listened to Him because of that truth? The truth is often not beautiful or appealing to us, simply because and plainly because we are sinners, and we have committed things that are wicked in the eyes of God and men.

We usually do not like it when things do not go our way or follow what we desired. We complain, we grumble, and we throw tantrum when this happens because we think only about ourselves, and we are only concerned about ourselves. That is why, we in our pride and our arrogance think that we are the masters of the things that we do, and we will never give in, to achieve what we want.

Today we commemorate the feast of St. Isidore, a bishop of late Roman era Hispania, modern day Spain, in Seville. As the bishop and influential leader of the people, both secular and religious, he emphasized on the spiritual renewal of the people and the casting away of the ways of the old, that is the way of wickedness. He worked hard to preach the Gospel and the Good News of the Lord with truth.

St. Isidore helped to convert the people and the kings of his land, the Visigothic kings of Spain, to the true way of the Lord, leaving their heathen and mistaken path of the Arians, who rejected the Lord and His fullness for human ideas and human glories. St. Isidore guided them towards the way of the Lord and guided them to be true followers of God’s will.

The example of St. Isidore showed us how mankind are still often trapped in their own sense of self-righteousness and glory, that they refuse to listen to and look up towards the truth, especially the truth that is in the Lord. Mankind prefer to stay on their pride and refuse to budge even against the Lord and His urging. He sent us Jesus to remind us of the truth, and to take off the veil of pride that covers our eyes.

We have to learn to listen and trust in the Lord, for He knows better than us, and He knows the way to salvation, which we cannot reach on our own, less still by our own power alone. That is why we really should cast away our pride and sharpen the edge of our humility, that we may truly become loving children and followers of the Lord in our actions and our deeds.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we all have a choice to make. We can choose to follow the path of pride, that is to give in to our emotions and fears, to be like the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, or to cast away that pride and arrogance, and follow the Lord with all of our hearts, just as St. Isidore and many other great saints had done in the past.

The choice is ours, brethren, and let us therefore today pray, that the Lord may guide us all, and help us to walk together in His light, that we may dwell no longer in the darkness of our pride and stubbornness, but in the light of God’s presence. God be with us all. Amen.

 

Friday, 4 April 2014 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Isidore, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

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

After this 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 you 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, 4 April 2014 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Isidore, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

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

But God’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.