Thursday, 4 March 2021 : 2nd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Casimir (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 16 : 19-31

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Once there was a rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen and feasted every day. At his gate lay Lazarus, a poor man covered with sores, who longed to eat just the scraps falling from the rich man’s table. Even dogs used to come and lick his sores.”

“It happened that the poor man died, and Angels carried him to take his place with Abraham. The rich man also died, and was buried. From hell where he was in torment, the rich man looked up and saw Abraham afar off, and with him Lazarus at rest. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me, and send Lazarus, with the tip of his finger dipped in water, to cool my tongue, for I suffer so much in this fire.'”

“Abraham replied, ‘My son, remember that in your lifetime you were well-off, while the lot of Lazarus was misfortune. Now he is in comfort, and you are in agony. But that is not all. Between your place and ours a great chasm has been fixed, so that no one can cross over from here to you, or from your side to us.'”

“The rich man implored once more, ‘Then I beg you, Father Abraham, to send Lazarus to my father’s house, where my five brothers live, let him warn them, so that they may not end up in this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.'”

“But the rich man said, ‘No, Father Abraham; but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced, even if someone rises from the dead.'”

Thursday, 4 March 2021 : 2nd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Casimir (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, 4 March 2021 : 2nd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Casimir (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Jeremiah 17 : 5-10

This is what YHVH says, “Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings and depends on a mortal for his life, while his heart is drawn away from YHVH! He is like a bunch of thistles in dry land, in parched desert places, in a salt land where no one lives and who never finds happiness.”

“Blessed is the man who puts his trust in YHVH and whose confidence is in Him! He is like a tree planted by the water, sending out its roots towards the stream. He has no fear when the heat comes, his leaves are always green; the year of drought is no problem and he can always bear fruit.”

“Most deceitful is the heart. What is there within man, who can understand him? I, YHVH, search the heart and penetrate the mind. I reward each one according to his ways and the fruit of his deeds.”

Wednesday, 3 March 2021 : 2nd Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture we are presented with the importance for us to realise that as Christians, we are called to follow the Lord with sincerity and commitment, and that we will likely encounter challenges and difficulties, trials and opposition along our way and journey towards the Lord.

In our first reading today, we heard the account from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah detailing how there were many of those who sought to bring Jeremiah down, plotting against him and seeking to kill him. This was a reflection of the true state of things during that time, when the kingdom of Judah was at its ending and the prophet Jeremiah ministered there, calling on the people to turn away from their sins and return to God.

But the people were stubborn and refused to listen to the Lord and His prophet Jeremiah. They preferred to listen to the lies and the falsehoods spread by those false prophets and leaders who claimed to know the will of God and pretended to speak on His behalf, further leading the people to their downfall. Jeremiah was resented and shunned for daring to speak the truth of God.

That was why Jeremiah was persecuted and opposed, what he earned and suffered from remaining true to his faith and calling. This is what the reality of being a follower of the Lord is, not to expect good and pleasant life in this world just as what some Christians ended up believing, but instead, to expect struggle and challenges that may be part of our life and journey as we move forward in life.

In our Gospel passage today, that was highlighted yet again by the Lord as He spoke to the two of His disciples, St. James and St. John, the sons of Zebedee, whose mother came to Him asking for special favours for her children, that they be granted special positions of power by the Lord’s side, to be favoured over all the other disciples and followers. This highlighted the fact that many of those who followed the Lord, ultimately still considered worldly desires and ambitions.

At that time, the Lord Jesus was seen as the Messiah and Saviour of the people of Israel, and in the minds of the people, as well as in the popular belief, the Messiah was seen as someone who would liberate the people of Israel from their enemies and overlords, who would free them from the bondage and rule by the Romans, and ultimately would restore the kingdom of Israel and rebuild the Temple of God in Jerusalem.

Therefore, when St. James and St. John together with their mother came to the Lord seeking and asking for such special favour, it was made with this in mind, that they expected the Lord would reign as King, and when He reigns, they would want to have a position of trust and honour by His side, especially considering that both of them, together with St. Peter, were often brought by the Lord on many important occasions.

But the Lord revealed to them that to be His followers did not mean that they would earn worldly glory, power, honour and any sorts of influence or prestige. Rather, to be His followers would mean that they may have to suffer just as He would suffer, to be rejected and oppressed just as He Himself would be rejected and oppressed. The Lord reminded the two disciples of this stark reality, of the ‘cup of suffering’ that they would share with Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to these readings from the Scripture we are therefore reminded that first of all as Christians we have been called to follow the Lord and to dedicate our lives to Him. But we also must realise that if we are to remain true to Him and keep our faith in Him, sometimes we may find ourselves troubled, in dilemma and being challenged by the society among all the other difficulties that we may face. Of course this does not mean that there is no joy in life to be gained from following the Lord, but if we are expecting a blissful and free of trouble life then we must realise the reality of what it means to be Christians.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore this Lent make a difference in our lives and in the way we live our lives from now on. Let us no longer be driven by worldly desire and by the temptations of worldly glory and power, of wealth and fame, but instead, anchoring ourselves on the Lord and renew our faith and devotion to Him, now and always, forevermore. May God bless us all in our good endeavours. Amen.

Wednesday, 3 March 2021 : 2nd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 20 : 17-28

At that time, when Jesus was going to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples and said to them, “See, we are going to Jerusalem. There the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the Law, who will condemn Him to death. They will hand Him over to the foreigners, who will mock Him, scourge Him and crucify Him. But He will be raised to life on the third day.”

Then the mother of James and John came to Jesus with her sons, and she knelt down, to ask a favour. Jesus said to her, “What do you want?” And she answered, “Here You have my two sons. Grant that they may sit, one at Your right hand and one at Your left, when You are in Your kingdom.”

Jesus said to the brothers, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They answered, “We can.” Jesus replied, “You will indeed drink My cup, but to sit at My right or at My left is not for Me to grant. That will be for those, for whom My Father has prepared it.”

The other ten heard all this, and were angry with the two brothers. Then Jesus called them to Him and said, “You know that the rulers of the nations act as tyrants over them, and the powerful oppress them. It shall not be so among you : whoever wants to be more important in your community shall make himself your servant.”

“And if you want to be the first of all, make yourself the servant of all. Be like the Son of Man Who has come, not to be served but to serve, and to give His life to redeem many.”

Wednesday, 3 March 2021 : 2nd Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 30 : 5-6, 14, 15-16

Free me from the snare that they have set for me. Indeed You are my Protector. Into Your hands I commend my spirit; You have redeemed Me, o Lord, faithful God.

I hear whispering among the crowd, rumours that frighten me from every side – their conspiracies, their schemes, their plot to take my life.

But I put my trust in You, o Lord, I said : “You are my God;” my days are in Your hand. Deliver me from the hand of my enemies, from those after my skin.

Wednesday, 3 March 2021 : 2nd Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Jeremiah 18 : 18-20

Then, they said, “Come, let us plot against Jeremiah, for even without him, there will be priests to interpret the Teachings of the Law; there will always be wisemen to impart counsel and prophets to proclaim the word. Come, let us accuse him and strike him down instead of listening to what he says.”

Hear me, o YHVH! Listen to what my accusers say. Is evil the reward for good? Why do they dig a grave for me? Remember how I stood before You to speak well on their behalf so that Your anger might subside.

Tuesday, 2 March 2021 : 2nd Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture we are called to seek the Lord with contrite heart and to seek forgiveness for our many sins before it is too late for us to do so. This season of Lent is the perfect time for us to reorganise our lives and to reflect on our lives thus far, on whether we have lived our lives in accordance to the Lord’s way or not, or whether we have strayed away from His path and fell into the sway of worldly temptations.

In our first reading today we heard from the Book of the prophet Isaiah at the very beginning of that Book in which the prophet Isaiah spoke of the very grim words of reality, of the Lord speaking to the rulers and the people of Sodom and Gomorrah that if they persist in their sinful and wicked ways that they would be crushed and judged to damnation by those sins. But there was also words of hope and consolation that if they were to change their ways and turn towards the Lord, they would be forgiven and be blessed by the Lord.

Contextually, when the prophet Isaiah was speaking about the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, both cities as per how they were referred to were no longer existent by the time of Isaiah’s life and ministry. In truth, when the Lord spoke of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, it was a figurative reference to those cities that had been destroyed a long time before because of their wickedness, which was so infamous that Sodom and Gomorrah until today were almost synonymous to vice and evil in reference.

The Lord therefore made a mention of those two cities as a reminder to the people of Israel back then how they would end up if they continued on persisting in refusing to follow His ways and in rebelling against Him. He wanted them to repent and change their ways, and seek to be reconciled to Him or else they might face condemnation and destruction for their faults and mistakes. He did not want them to be stubborn and be lost from Him as a result.

By the time of the prophet Isaiah, the northern kingdom of Israel had been destroyed by the Assyrians, their cities destroyed and their home region depopulated, with most of the people brought off into exile in faraway lands of Mesopotamia and Assyria, while the foreigners were sent in to stay at where the people of God used to live in. This was therefore a stark reminder of what the Lord had just said, that should the people continue to live in sin, they would be destroyed and be condemned for those sins, much like that of Sodom and Gomorrah, and which the northern tribes of Israel had suffered.

The Lord is indeed most loving and merciful, but we must not take His love and mercy for granted. As long as we are still drawing breath, then there is still hope for each and every one of us in this world. But if we delay and tarry, wait and are indecisive, then we may come to regret not having acted earlier on and for delaying when we could have done something to bring ourselves closer to God. It is not too late for us to heed the Lord’s call, repent and change our sinful ways, before it is too late for us.

What we heard then from our Gospel passage today is a reminder for us that the great obstacle for us in the path we traverse on the way to the Lord’s salvation and grace is that of our pride and worldly desires, as the Lord told His disciples how the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who were entrusted with the guardianship of the Law and also the responsibility over the people had not been truly faithful in how they have lived their lives, as they were focused and concerned more over their own desires and their own prestige and status over that of others’ well-being.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in our Gospel passage today the Lord is reminding us not to give in to the temptations of pride and vanity, the desire and temptation to be important and be recognised by others, to indulge in the many pursuits of this world, the pursuit of money and happiness, of pleasure and worldly joy. Let us instead be humble and be filled with the meekness and charity in our hearts. Let us love the Lord with ever greater devotion and show that same love to our fellow brothers and sisters as well.

May the Lord continue to guide us throughout this journey of life and may He strengthen and bless us all in life, that we may truly be able to follow Him and dedicate ourselves anew to Him especially through this time of renewal and reconciliation in Lent. Let us all not be afraid and hesitant anymore to follow the Lord and His path, and be good and virtuous Christians from now on. May the Lord forgive us our sins and may He continue to love us all, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 2 March 2021 : 2nd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 23 : 1-12

At that time, then Jesus said to the crowds and to His disciples, “The teachers of the Law and the Pharisees have sat down on the chair of Moses. So you shall do and observe all they say, but do not do as they do, for they do not do what they say. They tie up heavy burdens and load them on the shoulders of the people, but they do not even raise a finger to move them.”

“They do everything in order to be seen by people : they wear very wide bands of the Law around their foreheads, and robes with large tassels. They enjoy the first places at feasts and reserved seats in the synagogues, and they like being greeted in the marketplace, and being called ‘Master’ by the people.”

“But you, do not let yourselves be called Master, because you have only one Master, and all of you are brothers and sisters. Neither should you call anyone on earth Father because you have only one Father, He Who is in heaven. Nor should you be called Leader, because Christ is the only Leader for you.”

“Let the greatest among you be the servant of all. For whoever makes himself great shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be made great.”

Tuesday, 2 March 2021 : 2nd Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 49 : 8-9, 16bc-17, 21 and 23

Not for your sacrifices do I reprove you, for your burnt offerings are ever before Me. I need no bull from your stalls, nor he-goat from your pens.

What right have you to mouth My laws, or to talk about My covenant? You hate My commands and cast My words behind you.

Because I was silent while you did these things, you thought I was like you. But now I rebuke you and make this charge against you. Those who give with thanks offerings honour Me, but the one who walks blamelessly, I will show him the salvation of God.