Friday, 3 March 2017 : Friday after Ash Wednesday (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Matthew 9 : 14-15

At that time, the disciples of John came to Jesus with the question, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast on many occasions, but not Your disciples?”

Jesus answered them, “How can you expect wedding guests to mourn as long as the Bridegroom is with them? The time will come, when the Bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.”

Friday, 3 March 2017 : Friday after Ash Wednesday (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Psalm 50 : 3-4, 5-6a, 18-19

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.

For I acknowledge my wrongdoings and have my sins ever in mind. Against You alone have I sinned; what is evil in Your sight I have done.

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.

Friday, 3 March 2017 : Friday after Ash Wednesday (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Isaiah 58 : 1-9a

Cry out aloud for all you are worth; raise your voice like a trumpet blast; tell My people of their offences, Jacob’s family of their sins. Is it true that they seek Me day after day, longing to know My ways, as a people that does what is right and has not forsaken the word of its God?

They want to know the just laws and not to drift away from their God. “Why are we fasting,” they complain, “and You do not even see it? We are doing penance and You never notice it.” Look, on your fast days you push your trade and you oppress your labourers. Yes, you fast but end up quarrelling, striking each other with wicked blows.

Fasting as you do will not make your voice heard on high. Is that the kind of fast that pleases Me, just a day to humble oneself? Is fasting merely bowing down one’s head, and making use of sackcloth and ashes? Would you call that fasting, a day acceptable to YHVH? See the fast that pleases Me : breaking the fetters of injustice and unfastening the thongs of the yoke, setting the oppressed free and breaking every yoke.

Fast by sharing your food with the hungry, bring to your house the homeless, clothe the one you see naked and do not turn away from your own kin. Then will your light break forth as the dawn and your healing come in a flash. Your righteousness will be your vanguard, the Glory of YHVH your rearguard. Then you will call and YHVH will answer, you will cry and He will say, I am here.

Thursday, 2 March 2017 : Thursday after Ash Wednesday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard from the Scriptures, firstly from the Book of Deuteronomy, about how Moses laid two choices before the people, either to obey the Lord and be righteous, or to disobey the Lord and turn away from the Lord. The choice was made very clearly, between following the Lord and its accompanying actions, with following the ways of the world and wickedness.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we continue through the second day of the season of Lent, we are reminded that in order to follow the Lord, we have to be committed throughout, and we have to dedicate ourselves to His ways. We cannot and we should not be indecisive in this manner, as sooner or later, we will be forced to make a decision and choose between following the ways of God and with following the paths of the world.

We are reminded that Jesus Himself, our Lord, had been rejected by this world, and made to suffer rejection, ridicule, humiliation and eventually death on the cross, by all those who refused to believe in Him and refused to follow Him. Jesus Himself had to endure all the pains and sorrows, and He had to bear the heavy weight of that cross as He made His way from Jerusalem to the hill of Calvary, bearing all the multitudes of our sins and their consequences upon Himself.

This is where all of us Christians are told to share what He had endured and experienced, for just as the Lord had suffered rejection from the world, so we all will also be rejected by the world as well, because of our faith in Him. That is because what is acceptable to God and righteous in the sight of the Lord, is unacceptable for the world. And of course, what is acceptable to the world, is often against the ways of our Lord.

Why is that so? That is because the world had been marred and corrupted by sin, ever since sin entered the world through the sins of mankind. Man had disobeyed the Lord and went away from His ways, and became more and more separated from Him, and Satan became their master instead of their one and true Lord and Master, Who is God. Satan ruled over the world, because he had power over the hearts and minds of many people through sin.

And we know just how busy Satan was in his attempts to undermine the salvation of mankind, as he came to tempt Jesus in the desert in three occasions but without any success, and later on, he would persuade the hearts and minds of the Pharisees and the scribes and elders to rally against Jesus and oppose His works at almost all possible opportunities, before entering into the heart of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus to His enemies.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in all of these, we have to understand that the reality of our faith is one that is always come into conflict and opposition with the forces of those who do not want to see us saved from the darkness, those who would rather keep us in our state of sin, chained and kept to the slavery under our sinfulness. But God Who loves us do not want to see us in this way, as He came to rescue us and redeem us from all that had brought us down, and through His own suffering and death, He wants to show us that by following Him, no matter how difficult it will be, that there is a way out of the darkness and into the light.

In this season of Lent, it is important for us to remember what the Lord Jesus had told His disciples, that all those who follow Him must take up their own crosses and follow Him. What does this mean, brothers and sisters? It does not mean that we literally and physically carry up wooden crosses just as Jesus had done. Instead, it rather means that we have to stand up for our faith and commit ourselves to what we believe at all times, even when opposition and challenges come upon us.

Are we able to do that, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we able to remain true to the Lord even amidst challenges and even persecutions? Let us keep in mind our suffering brethren in faith in many different parts of the world, all those who have to even worry about the safety of their very lives just to remain faithful to the Lord, and where to practice the faith may mean costing someone their freedom, their status in the society, as well as their rights.

Let us all spend some time during this season of Lent, to prepare ourselves wholly that we may grow ever closer to the Lord, so that we will not just treat this moment just as any other moments, but spend it well, by the means of abstinence that we practice during this season, abstaining from sin and from all acts that are against the Lord, and also by helping one another to persevere in our faith.

Let us pray for one another, and support each other, so that even though we have to bear the heavy crosses of our faith, and even when difficulties, challenges and even persecutions come our way, we will not give up and will be able to remain true to our faith, and therefore, be found righteous and worthy of the salvation found in our God alone. May God bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 2 March 2017 : Thursday after Ash Wednesday (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Luke 9 : 22-25

At that time, Jesus added, “The Son of Man must suffer many things. He will be rejected by the elders and chief priests and teachers of the Law, and be put to death. Then after three days He will be raised to life.”

Jesus also said to all the people, “If you wish to be a follower of Mine, deny yourself and take up your cross each day, and follow Me! For if you choose to save your life, you will lose it; but if you lose your life for My sake, you will save it. What does it profit you to gain the whole world, if you destroy or damage yourself?”

Thursday, 2 March 2017 : Thursday after Ash Wednesday (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Psalm 1 : 1-2, 3, 4 and 6

Blessed is the one who does not go where the wicked gather, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit where the scoffers sit! Instead, he finds delight in the law of the Lord and meditates day and night on His commandments.

He is like a tree beside a brook producing its fruit in due season, its leaves never withering. Everything he does is a success.

But it is different with the wicked. They are like chaff driven away by the wind. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous but cuts off the way of the wicked.

Thursday, 2 March 2017 : Thursday after Ash Wednesday (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Deuteronomy 30 : 15-20

See, I set before you on this day life and good, evil and death. I command you to love YHVH, your God and follow His ways. Observe His commandments, His norms and His laws, and you will live and increase, and YHVH will give you His blessing in the land you are going to possess.

But if your heart turns away and does not listen, if you are drawn away and bow before other gods to serve them, I declare on this day that you shall perish. You shall not last in the land you are going to occupy on the other side of the Jordan.

Let the heavens and the earth listen, that they may be witnesses against you. I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore, choose life that you and your descendants may live, loving YHVH, listening to His voice, and being one with Him. In this is life for you and length of days in the land which YHVH swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.