Wednesday, 18 March 2020 : 3rd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the Lord’s words in the Scriptures, we are reminded that as Christians all of us ought to obey the Lord, listen to Him and follow His ways, and not to be disobedient and sinful, as what we have often done in our lives. The Lord reminds us all that He has given us His laws and precepts, His guidances and directions for us to follow, that we may find our way to Him.

On this day all of us are reminded that all of us are still bound by whatever the Lord has taught and revealed to us, the laws and ways which He has entrusted to the care and stewardship of His Church, in the laws of the Church which have been presented to us, and which we ought to obey as part of our obedience to the divine laws and to the will of God. These laws and commandments are meant to guide our way to walk in the path of God faithfully.

But some people had misunderstood and misused the Law for their own purposes. Some like the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law used the Law to advance their own agenda and aims, to be more famous and respected, praised and honoured because of their obedience to the numerous customs and traditions, rules and regulations that while were derived from the Law, but were not part of the original Law itself as revealed by God, or that they misunderstood God’s intentions.

Many also thought wrongly, thinking that the Law was a way for God to restrain us and punish us for our sins, as some thought that the Law was punitive in purpose and use. This is because they looked upon God and saw Him as a fearsome and menacing entity, as One to be feared and to be submitted to, as One Who we cannot disobey or we would end up enduring His wrath and anger. This is why many took the Law and the rules of the Lord wrongly, and obeyed for the wrong reasons in their hearts.

The Lord Jesus came into this world to reveal to us all the true meaning and intention of the Law by which God wants to lead us all to Himself. He revealed how the Law was not meant to make us and our lives difficult or to oppress us with harsh and tough regulations. Rather, what the Lord wants is for us to control ourselves and obey His laws so that we will not be easily overcome and tempted by our desires, ego, and all sorts of worldly concerns we have all around us and within us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why we should reconsider how we have lived our lives thus far, whether we have obeyed God’s laws and if we did obey His laws, whether we have obeyed those laws because we feared God and His anger and retribution, doing it out of fear rather than because we genuinely love God and desired to follow Him and His laws because we really love God and as a result we want to be righteous and good like Him? If we truly love God then surely we will want to make sure that our actions and all of our whole beings are thoroughly attuned to Him.

And that is exactly what we have all been called to do, that we turn ourselves wholeheartedly towards God, Who is in truth very loving and filled with lots of compassion and mercy towards us. But for us to be forgiven, then we need to be open to His mercy and be sincerely repentant of our sins and faults. And today, we should also be inspired to follow the good examples set by one of our holy predecessors, namely that of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, holy servant of God and great defender of the faith.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem was the Bishop of Jerusalem who was remembered for his great faith and dedication to God, giving his life to the service of God despite all the challenges and trials he had to endure from his opponents and rivals, especially from those who professed the heretical Arian beliefs, in opposition to the true and orthodox faith as promulgated in the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea. To this extent, he was falsely accused by his enemies of misconduct and impropriety in several occasions. He was accused of selling Church property for his own personal benefits when in truth, he was helping people who were suffering from famine in Jerusalem at that time.

St. Cyril had to endure exile and persecution by those who supported the position of his enemies, particularly those who adhered to the Arian heresy. Nonetheless, St. Cyril remained faithful and committed to the mission entrusted to him, and he did his best to care for the faithful, and became a beacon of steady and unfailing faith for those who remained true to the faith even amidst the challenges from those who upheld erroneous teachings and ways, allowing God to work through him and his actions.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to dedicate ourselves to the Lord in the manner that St. Cyril of Jerusalem had with his life? Are we willing to commit ourselves to the Lord anew, especially beginning in this season of Lent, a time of renewal and rejuvenation of our faith. Let us all from now on be obedient to God and follow His laws with renewed purpose and intention, obeying Him not out of fear but out of love, and out of sincere desire to be righteous and worthy of Him, that we distance ourselves from sin and strive to be good in every moments of our lives from now on.

May God be with us all in this journey, and may He strengthen us in the resolve to serve Him and to love Him through obedience, that we may be good examples in faith to our fellow brothers and sisters at all times. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 18 March 2020 : 3rd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 5 : 17-19

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Do not think that I have come to annul the Law and the Prophets. I have not come to annul them but to fulfil them. I tell you this : as long as heaven and earth last, not the smallest letter or dot in the Law will change until all is fulfilled.”

Wednesday, 18 March 2020 : 3rd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 147 : 12-13, 15-16, 19-20

Exalt the Lord, o Jerusalem; praise your God, o Zion! For He strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your children within you.

He sends His command to the earth and swiftly runs His word. He spreads snow like wool; He scatters frost like ashes.

It is He Who tells Jacob His words, His laws and decrees to Israel. This He has not done for other nations, so His laws remain unknown to them. Alleluia!

Wednesday, 18 March 2020 : 3rd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Deuteronomy 4 : 1, 5-9

And now, Israel, listen to the norms and laws which I teach that you may put them into practice. And you will live and enter and take possession of the land which YHVH, the God of your fathers, gives you.

See, as YHVH, my God, ordered me, I am teaching you the norms and the laws that you may put them into practice in the land you are going to enter and have as your own. If you observe and practice them, other peoples will regard you as wise and intelligent. When they come to know of all these laws, they will say, ‘There is no people as wise and as intelligent as this great nation.’

For in truth, is there a nation as great as ours, whose gods are as near to it as YHVH, our God, is to us whenever we call upon Him? And is there a nation as great as ours whose norms and laws are as just as this Law which I give you today?

But be careful and be on your guard. Do not forget these things which your own eyes have seen or let them depart from your heart as long as you live. But on the contrary, teach them to your children and to your children’s children.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

James 4 : 1-10

What causes these fights and quarrels among you? Is it not your cravings that make war within your own selves? When you long for something you cannot have, you kill for it and when you do not get what you desire, you squabble and fight.

The fact is, you do not have what you want because you do not pray for it. You pray for something and you do not get it because you pray with the wrong motive of indulging your pleasures. You adulterers! Do you not know that making friends with the world makes you enemies of God? Therefore, whoever chooses to be the world’s friend becomes God’s enemy.

Can you not see the point of the saying in Scripture : “The longing of the Spirit He sent to dwell in us is a jealous longing?” But God has something better to give, and Scripture also says, God opposes the proud but He gives His favour to the humble. Give in, then, to God; resist the devil and he will flee from you.

Draw close to God and He will come close to you. Clean your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you doubters. Recognise your distress, be miserable and weep. Turn your laughter into tears and your joy into sadness. Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will raise you up.

Friday, 18 March 2016 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, n this day we heard about the people who contested against Jesus, who doubted Him, persecuted Him and rejected Him, trying to stone Him for allegedly trying to portray Himself as God. But the truth is just that, that He is God, and He was the One Whom the prophets and the other servants of God had been proclaiming about, and Whose coming the people should have expected and welcomed with joy.

But they did not do so, and instead, they resisted Him at every turn possible, attacking Him for His revelations of truth about Himself. Indeed, what Jesus was doing was merely to dispel centuries and millennia of misinformation, twisted truths and teachings, and prejudice as well as other things that have kept the people from seeing the truth that is in our Lord Jesus Christ.

And the people of God who were living in sin did not like to be told by someone else, that they have sinned and that they need to follow the path shown by the Lord Jesus if they were to seek salvation in God. This was because of the great ego in their hearts, the reluctance and unwillingness to change themselves because others said that what they have done so far and thought was right, was actually wrong.

Thus, they persecuted the prophets and the messengers of God, whose messages they did not like and which they did not want to hear. And similarly, when the Lord Himself came into the world, save for a few who are willing to listen and to accept the word of God, the rest of them continued in their constant rebellion against God, shutting themselves, their ears and their hearts from God trying to speak to them and make them understand the truth.

And in their stubbornness, they have not just damned themselves by refusing God’s offer of salvation, but similarly, they have even caused others to be shut out from salvation, misleading one another, and ultimately, committing sin, as they had done with their ancestors, by persecuting the prophets, the messengers of God, holy men and women carrying the good works and the good news of the Lord’s salvation, and they even persecuted the Lord Himself Who loved them regardless of how they had treated Him.

In this season of Lent, as we are approaching its ending and the beginning of the Holy Week this coming Palm Sunday, let us all use the remaining time as we prepare to celebrate the upcoming greatest feast and mysteries of our faith and welcome the season of Easter, to become people who are more willing to open up ourselves to the love of God, to listen more with our ears and our hearts, the reminders from the Lord, seeking for our repentance.

Today we celebrate also the feast of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, a holy bishop and servant of God, who devoted his whole life to the service of God and His Church. From him, there are many examples that we can learn about, if we are to become ever more faithful to God and be more righteous in His sight. There are many things that we can learn from his life and from his devotion.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem was a devoted bishop who oversees the faithful in Jerusalem and beyond, caring for his flock and serving them with love and commitment. And he helped them to resist the pressure of heresy and all those who sought to undermine the Church by promoting false teachings. Those heretics tried to persecute him, and St. Cyril was even exiled a few times for his persistence in resisting such heresies, but he continued to press on hard regardless.

In the end, the faithful people of God triumphed, and all the heresies were defeated. The forces of the wicked were not able to destroy the Church and the truth found in it. And the faithful were saved from being harmed by such lies, and those who have fallen, many of them returned to the faith and to the salvation God had offered through His Church alone.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, looking at this example, let us all also seek to find the truth in God through the Church and cast aside all of our stubbornness, ego and all the things that kept us away from being truly devoted to God. Let us find ourselves the path that leads us to God, and that path is likely through penitence, self-limiting, and all the charitable acts and works that we should do, in order to limit our selfishness and grow in our loving care for others.

May God see us and all that we are doing to bring glory to His Name. May He forgive us all our sins and past trespasses, and we hope that one day God will bless us and welcome us into His eternal kingdom, granting us the inheritance and the promise He has given to all of His faithful ones. May God be with us all, now and forever. Amen.

Friday, 18 March 2016 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 10 : 31-42

At that time, the Jews then picked up stones to throw at Him; so Jesus said, “I have openly done many good works among you, which the Father gave Me to do. For which of these do you stone Me?”

The Jews answered, “We are not stoning You for doing a good work, but for insulting God; You are only a Man, and You make Yourself God.” Then Jesus replied, “Is this not written in your law : I said, you are gods? So those who received this word of God were called gods, and the Scripture is always true. What then should be said of the One anointed, and sent into the world, by the Father? Am I insulting God when I say, ‘I am the Son of God?'”

“If I am not doing the works of My Father, do not believe Me. But if I do them, even if you have no faith in Me, believe because of the works I do; and know that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.”

Again they tried to arrest Him, but Jesus escaped from their hands. He went away again to the other side of the Jordan, to the place where John had baptised, and there He stayed. Many people came to Jesus, and said, “John worked no miracles, but he spoke about You, and everything he said was true.” And many became believers in that place.