Monday, 7 March 2022 : 1st Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Perpetua and St. Felicity, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are called to remember that as Christians, we are all bound by God’s Law and Covenant, through which we are all expected to live in accordance with the path that He has shown to us all, through His Church, His Law and commandments. And everything that we have done, or fail to do, will be judged upon us at the moment of the Last Judgment as we have been reminded of today.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of Leviticus, we heard of the words that God spoke to His people through Moses, as He instructed them all to be faithful and obedient to Him, to follow His Law and commandments, to be truly devoted to His path and be genuinely faithful in all things and not merely paying lip service to Him. They are all called to be righteous and full of virtues in life, not to be selfish and instead be loving and selfless in all of their ways, caring for others who are in need and be committed to be good brothers and sisters in the same Lord.

The Lord reminded His people not to be oppressive, manipulative and exploitative to others, to enrich and make oneself feel good on the sufferings of others. That was what we mankind have often done, and many of us have acted in ways that strive to preserve our own selfish needs and wants, ignoring the needs of others, and actually abusing the freedom given to us to cause others to suffer for our own benefits. God was saying that if we are all to be His people and His followers, then this cannot be the path that we are walking on, as His disciples, followers and people are those who are just and loving, lacking in hatred, anger and vengeance.

In our Gospel passage today, this sentiment is echoed and emphasised again to us as we heard of the Lord speaking to His disciples and the people gathered to listen to Him, regarding the time of the final or the Last Judgment, when the Lord Himself, as the great Judge of all the living and the dead, from all time and existence, will judge all of them, all by their deeds and merits, by their actions and virtues, as well as by their wickedness and evils, and by their failures to do what is good and virtuous whenever they could have done so.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us are called to do what our Lord Himself had taught us to do, to be good Christians in all things, and to do whatever we can to help our fellow brothers and sisters, to be kind and loving to them, showing them compassion and care, attention and the genuine affection that we should show our fellow brethren. The Lord has called on all of us to reach out to others and to show them our love and concern. For it is not only by our wickedness and evil acts that we will be judged against, but also by our failures to do what is right and just, good and worthy for us as Christians.

We are reminded today that just as there are sins of action, there are also sins of omission. These sins are caused by our deliberate and conscious refusal to do what is right, in showing love, compassion and care, or help to others when one is perfectly able to do so. And all these shall be judged against us on the Day of Judgment. To be Christians means that we have to be active in living our lives with faith, and to be dedicated in loving God and in loving our fellow men and women, our brethren, and to do what we can to help one another whenever we can. We cannot be idle in living our lives and faith.

Today, we should also be inspired by St. Perpetua and St. Felicity, whose feasts we are celebrating. Both St. Perpetua and St. Felicity were great and faithful servants of God who according to the Church traditions were catechumens who held onto their faith in God despite the threats and the sufferings that they had to endure for being faithful to God. St. Perpetua was a noblewoman while St. Felicity was a pregnant slave at that time, and both were imprisoned at the order of the Roman Emperor, who endured great physical sufferings before they were eventually martyred for their faith. Through their actions, both saints had shown their great faith in God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through what we have heard today from the Scriptures and from inspiring lives of St. Perpetua and St. Felicity, all of us are called to be more faithful to God and to dedicate ourselves to Him and to our fellow men. This season of Lent is the perfect time and opportunity for us to do so, as this is the time and moment for us to deepen our relationship with God, to rid ourselves off the excesses of worldly corruptions and the sins that have weighed us down all these while. We are all called to remember the Lord and our faith in Him, to turn back to Him with contrite hearts and sincere desire to be reconciled with Him.

Let us all therefore, through our Lenten observances, continue to draw ever closer to God and His presence. Let us all through our Lenten practices, through our fast and abstinence, resist the temptations of sin and evil, and through our charity and almsgiving, be ever more generous in giving and sharing not only material goods and help to others in need, but even our love, care, time and attention to those who lack them. Let us walk ever more faithfully in the Lord’s presence, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 7 March 2022 : 1st Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Perpetua and St. Felicity, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 25 : 31-46

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory with all His Angels, He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be brought before Him; and, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, so will He do with them, placing the sheep on His right hand and the goats on His left.”

“The King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, blessed of My Father! Take possession of the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed Me. I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you welcomed Me into your home. I was naked, and you clothed Me. I was sick, and you visited Me. I was in prison, and you came to see Me.’”

“Then the righteous will ask Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and give You food; thirsty, and give You something to drink; or a stranger, and welcome You; or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and go to see You?’ The King will answer, ‘Truly I say to you : just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of Mine, you did it to Me.’”

“Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Go, cursed people, out of My sight, into the eternal fire, which has been prepared for the devil and his angels! For I was hungry, and you did not give Me anything to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not welcome Me into your house; I was naked, and you did not clothe Me; I was sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’”

“They, too, will ask, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, thirsty, naked or a stranger, sick or in prison, and did not help You?’ The King will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you : just as you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it for Me.’ And these will go into eternal punishments; but the just, to eternal life.”

Monday, 7 March 2022 : 1st Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Perpetua and St. Felicity, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 18 : 8, 9, 10, 15

The Law of YHVH is perfect : it gives life to the soul. The word of YHVH is trustworthy : it gives wisdom to the simple.

The precepts of YHVH are right : they give joy to the heart. The commandments of YHVH are clear : they enlighten the eyes.

The fear of YHVH is pure, it endures forever; the judgments of YHVH are true, all of them just and right.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart find favour in Your sight, o YHVH – my Redeemer, my Rock!

Monday, 7 March 2022 : 1st Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Perpetua and St. Felicity, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Leviticus 19 : 1-2, 11-18

YHVH spoke to Moses and said, “Speak to the entire assembly of the people of Israel and say to them : Be holy for I, YHVH, your God, am holy. Do not steal or lie or deceive one another. Do not swear falsely by My Name so as to profane the Name of your God; I am YHVH.”

“Do not oppress your neighbour or rob him. The wages of a hired man are not to remain with you all night until morning. You shall not curse a deaf man nor put a stumbling block in the way of the blind; but you shall fear your God; I am YHVH.”

“Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor nor bow to the great; you are to judge your neighbour fairly so as not to share in his guilt. Do not go about as a slanderer of your people and do not seek the death of your neighbour; I am YHVH.”

“Do not hate your brother in your heart; rebuke your neighbour frankly so as not to share in his guilt. Do not seek revenge or nurture a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbour as yourself; I am YHVH.”