Wednesday, 17 March 2021 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Patrick, Bishop (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 reminded that the Lord’s salvation has come into our midst in the person of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Man, the Divine Word Incarnate and born through His mother Mary to be the Saviour of the whole world. We are reminded today of the salvation that Christ has brought us through His suffering, His Passion, death and Resurrection.

In our first reading, taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, we heard of the Lord speaking to His people of the coming of the time and day of salvation, the moment when the Lord would bring all of them to freedom and happiness, and deliver them from their sufferings and troubles. At that time, the people of God had suffered from repeated invasions and also humiliations from their neighbours, and they were nowhere as great as they were as it was during the time of king David and king Solomon.

And just as the northern kingdom of Israel had been destroyed by the Assyrians recently by the time of the prophet Isaiah, exiling its people to the far-off lands of Assyria and beyond, and the same Assyrians had also been coming up to the southern kingdom of Judah and besieging even Jerusalem itself. The people of Judah and their king Hezekiah were only saved because the Lord intervened on their behalf sent His Angel to destroy the whole Assyrian army.

Through Isaiah therefore, the Lord wanted to remind His people that He has not forgotten or forsaken them, and on the contrary, He remembered them well, and wanted them to be saved. But everything happens in God’s time and according to His will. This means that if the people think that the Lord had not been with them, then they were not patient enough and mistook the Lord as One Whom they could control and have at the back of their whims and desires.

The Lord sent His Saviour into this world through Christ, His own beloved and only begotten Son, born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, His mother, that He may gather all of us into the embrace of the Lord, His heavenly Father, and by His sacrifice on the Cross, the Passion, suffering, death and the glorious Resurrection that we shall celebrate very soon during the Holy Week and Easter, He has saved us from the certainty of eternal destruction and death.

Yet, as we heard in our Gospel and as occurred throughout the Gospels, the people to whom the Lord had sent His Son refused to believe in Him and in His words, doubted and rejected Him even when they had seen all the wonders and miraculous deeds He had done, and even after hearing all the great and unsurpassed wisdom with which He had been teaching and preaching to them.

Thus, in our Gospel today, the Lord again reiterated that He, as the Son of God, is indeed the One sent by the Father to be the Saviour of all. And just as the prophet Isaiah spoke of the coming of the Lord’s salvation and wonders, the Lord Jesus spoke of the same, and in fact, spoke everything all as how it has been accomplished in Him and through Him, for He is indeed the fulfilment of what the Lord had been promising us mankind through the prophets.

We are hence reminded once again that our salvation has come to us through Christ, and through His most loving sacrifice on the Cross, by which He has redeemed us from our sins, He has offered us freely the forgiveness of God for our many sins. Yet, it is we ourselves who have been so stubborn and hardened our hearts against Him, refusing to embrace His forgiveness and accept His mercy and compassion.

That is why, we are all called to seek the Lord and to open our hearts and minds to welcome Him into our hearts this Lent. During this time and season of Lent, we are constantly being reminded that we are in need of help from God, to trust in Him and to put our faith and commitment to Him. And today, we happen to be celebrating the feast day of a great saint who can be our role model and inspiration as well.

St. Patrick, the renowned saint of Ireland, the one who evangelised the people of Ireland over a thousand years ago, was remembered for his missionary zeal, faith in the Lord, and especially his dedication to those who had been entrusted to him, those people to whom he had been sent to as a missionary. St. Patrick was captured at an early age by Irish pirates and was taken as a slave, until he managed to escape and return to his family. But this not stop him or discourage him when sent as a missionary and priest later in his life, to the very place where he endured slavery.

On the contrary, St. Patrick dedicated his efforts and his whole life to teach the people in Ireland about Christ, the Lord and Saviour, when most of the people there had not yet known about Him, and were still pagans believing in the pagan gods and idols. St. Patrick patiently explained to them about the nature of God, the Holy Trinity and the main aspects of the Christian faith, and was also involved in the many interactions between the rulers and petty kings in Ireland at the time.

Through his tireless efforts, St. Patrick helped to build the foundation of the Church and the Christian faith in Ireland, and many became converts to the faith and were touched by the courage and commitment, the love that St. Patrick had for the Lord and for his fellow men, for the people of Ireland in particular, who were like the lost sheep gathered by the shepherd, who was St. Patrick himself.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all called to follow in the footsteps of St. Patrick, and be inspired by his faith and dedication to the Lord, his exemplary Christian faith and actions in life, his sincerity in reaching out to others and to his fellow men. This Lent, we are all called to purify our faith and to redirect our attention and focus back towards the Lord, so that we may remember that our lives are centred on Him and not on other worldly matters and desires.

Let us all turn towards the Lord, our most loving God and Father. Let us all seek Him with renewed love and dedication, opening our hearts and minds to welcome Him into our beings, allowing Him to transform us into the children of Light, the Light of Christ, the Light of our salvation. May God bless us all and strengthen us, and may He empower us all to live ever more faithfully in His presence. Amen.

Wednesday, 17 March 2021 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Patrick, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 5 : 17-30

At that time, Jesus replied to the Jews, “My Father goes on working and so do I.” And the Jews tried all the harder to kill Him, for Jesus not only broke the Sabbath observance, but also made Himself equal with God, calling God His own Father.

Jesus said to them, “Truly, I assure you, the Son cannot do anything by Himself, but only what He sees the Father do. And whatever He does, the Son also does. The Father loves the Son and shows Him everything He does; and He will show Him even greater things than these, so that you will be amazed.”

“As the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son gives life to whom He wills. In the same way the Father judges no one, for He has entrusted all judgment to the Son, and He wants all to honour the Son as they honour the Father. Whoever ignores the Son, ignores as well the Father Who sent Him.”

“Truly, I say to you, anyone who hears My word and believes Him Who sent Me, has eternal life; and there is no judgment for him, because he has passed from death to life. Truly, the hour is coming and has indeed come, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and, on hearing it, will live. For the Father has life in Himself, and He has given to the Son also to have life in Himself. And He has empowered Him as well to carry out Judgment, for He is Son of Man.”

“Do not be surprised at this : the hour is coming when all those lying in tombs will hear My voice and come out; those who have done good shall rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. I can do nothing of Myself, and I need to hear Another One to judge; and My judgment is just, because I seek not My own will, but the will of Him Who sent Me.”

Wednesday, 17 March 2021 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Patrick, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 144 : 8-9, 13cd-14, 17-18

Compassionate and gracious is the Lord, slow to anger and abounding in love. The Lord is good to everyone; His mercy embraces all His creation.

The Lord is true to His promises and lets His mercy show in all He does. The Lord lifts up those who are falling and raises those who are beaten down.

Righteous is the Lord in all His ways, His mercy shows in all His deeds. He is near those who call on Him, who call trustfully upon His Name.

Wednesday, 17 March 2021 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Patrick, Bishop (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 49 : 8-15

This is what YHVH says : “At a favourable time I have answered you, on the day of salvation I have been your help; I have formed you and made you to be My covenant with the people. You will restore the land, and allot its abandoned farms. You will say to the captives : Come out; and to those in darkness : Show yourselves.”

“They will feed along the road; they will find pasture on barren hills. They will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the scorching wind or the sun beat upon them; for He Who has mercy on them will guide them and lead them to springs of water. I will turn all My mountains into roads and raise up My highways. See, they come from afar, some from the north and west, others from the land of Sinim.”

Sing, o heavens and rejoice, o earth; break forth into song, o mountains : for YHVH has comforted His people and taken pity on those who are afflicted. But Zion said : “YHVH has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.” Can a woman forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child of her womb? Yet though she forget, I will never forget you.

Tuesday, 17 March 2020 : 3rd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Patrick, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us as we go deeper through the season of Lent, we are called to reflect on God’s forgiveness and mercy, His compassionate love and the wonderful providence and care that He has shown us all, His people, all throughout history. We heard from our first reading today, the prayer of Azariah, one of the three friends of Daniel, the prophet of God at the time of the Babylonian exile, and from the Gospel we heard the Lord’s parable of the unforgiving servant. Through these, God wants us to learn about forgiveness ourselves, that we may forgive our brothers and sisters, despite of the pain and troubles they may have done to us.

In our first reading today, Azariah and his companions prayed to God asking for His help and protection, at the time when the exiles of Israel in Babylon were suffering as they had lost their homeland and their Temple, shamed and suffering the consequences of their disobedience and refusal to obey the Lord. Their ancestors had rejected the many prophets and messengers that were sent in order to remind them to turn away from their sins and embrace once again God’s righteousness and justice.

When the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar ordered all of his subjects to worship a great, golden statue made in the image of himself or to be executed, almost everyone obeyed out of fear for their lives except for the three young men of the exiled Israelites, the three friends, Azariah, Hananiah and Mishael. The three of them remained firm in their faith in God and refused to worship the golden idol which was a direct violation of their faith. They did not fear death and remained faithful as they knew that God would be with them no matter what might happen to them.

Azariah made his prayer to God, showing exactly that faith which he held firmly even when he and his two companions were thrown into a blazing furnace that was made much, much hotter on the orders of the king, who was very angry at the firm faith of the three young men. Azariah trusted in God and asked Him to remember His Covenant with His people, the descendants of His servants, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the love which He has shown to all of them. And by showing the remorse that all of the people had for their past sinfulness, Azariah hoped that God would spare His people and help them in their hour of need.

God saved the three men from harm, protected them and showed them that He has forgiven His people, as He later would help them and let them all go home to their ancestral lands. And that is what He expect of them all to do as well, to be merciful and forgiving just as He has been merciful and forgiving towards us. And this is reiterated very well in our Gospel passage today, as we heard the Lord speaking to us on the parabloe of the unforgiving servant. In that parable, using the example of a servant who did not follow his master’s good example, God wants to teach us to be merciful and good towards others.

In that parable, the master represents the Lord, our God, Who is the Lord and Master over all of us. Those servants of the master represent all of us mankind, who indeed have been indebted to the master, as those debts represent our sins, with some of us having more and some of us having less, but all of us are sinners nonetheless. And everyone ought to suffer punishments because of those debts, but the master generously forgave the servant who begged to be given more time to pay off his debts. This actually showed just how loving and merciful our God has been to us, that even when we have sinned so greatly against Him, He will still forgive us and love us if we truly mean to repent from our sins.

God has always been kind to us, but it is usually we ourselves who have not appreciated this kindness, and we have often been mean towards our felllow brethren. That was shown in the Gospel parable, as the servant who had been forgiven his relatively immense debt, refused to forgive his fellow servant who had owed him a much smaller sum of debt. This represent how we mankind often ask to be forgiven our sins, but we forget to forgive our fellow brothers and sisters the debts we have made to one another.

We are therefore called to reflect and discern how we can be more loving and forgiving to one another, as we progress through this season of Lent, this time of renewal and rejuvenation of our faith. We are called to be more Christ-like in all of our actions, interactions with each other and deeds. That means, we should learn to forgive each others’ faults, remembering that all of us after all have been forgiven our sins and debts by God, even though they were much more serious than what we have owed one another.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we should focus our attention on one of our holy predecessors, namely St. Patrick of Ireland, the famous patron saint of that island country and many people of Irish descent all around the world. St. Patrick, his faith, dedication and love for God can be a great source of inspiration for all of us in how we live our lives as Christians. For his courage and dedication as a great missionary in Ireland still inspire many of our modern day missionaries and also many among us Christians.

St. Patrick was abducted by Irish pirates at a young age, but he managed to escape slavery and returned to his family. After becoming a priest, his past bitter experiences in Ireland did not prevent him from returning to that same island to spread the Word of God and the message of the Gospels to the islanders who were then still mostly pagan. St. Patrick performed many wonderful miracles and also remembered for his precious teachings to the pagans, many of whom turned to the Christian faith because of him, and he was also appointed the first Bishop in Ireland.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to love the Lord and our fellow men like St. Patrick? He has definitely suffered at the hands of those Irish pirates who brought him to slavery for a good six years or so, and yet, his return to Ireland and his dedication to serve the people of that island showed that he must have forgiven all those who have wronged him earlier on in his life, and instead worked hard to convert them all to the faith in Christ, teaching them about the love, mercy and compassion of God.

Let us all therefore follow in the footsteps of St. Patrick, in how we live our lives with faith from now on. Let us dedicate ourselves to serve God with all of our hearts and our might, and love Him and all of our fellow brothers and sisters with sincere love and compassion, showing mercy and forgiveness to those who wronged us, asking for forgiveness for our own shortcomings and faults, and showing care and love for those who need them. May God bless us all, and may St. Patrick, holy servant of God, intercede for us sinners. Amen.

Tuesday, 17 March 2020 : 3rd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Patrick, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 18 : 21-35

At that time, Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how many times must I forgive the offences of my brother or sister? Seven times?” Jesus answered, “No, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. This story throws light on the kingdom of Heaven : A king decided to settle the accounts of his servants.”

“Among the first was one who owed him ten thousand pieces of gold. As the man could not repay the debt, the king commanded that he be sold as a slave with his wife, his children and all his goods, as repayment. The servant threw himself at the feet of the king and said, ‘Give me time, and I will pay you back everything.'”

“The king took pity on him, and not only set him free, but even cancelled his debt. When the servant left the king’s presence, he met one of his companions, who owed him a hundred pieces of silver. He grabbed him by the neck and almost choked him, shouting, ‘Pay me what you owe!'”

“His companion threw himself at his feet and begged him, ‘Give me time, and I will pay everything.’ The other did not agree, but sent him to prison until he had paid all his debt. Now his fellow servants saw what had happened. They were extremely upset, and so they went and reported everything to their lord.”

“Then the lord summoned his servant and said, ‘Wicked servant, I forgave you all that you owed when you begged me to do so. Were you not bound to have pity on your companion, as I had pity on you?’ The lord was now angry, so he handed his servant over to be punished, until he had paid his whole debt.”

Jesus added, “So will My heavenly Father do with you, unless you sincerely forgive your brothers and sisters.”

Tuesday, 17 March 2020 : 3rd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Patrick, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 24 : 4-5ab, 6 and 7bc, 8-9

Teach me Your ways, o Lord; make known to me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and instruct me, for You are my God, my Saviour.

Remember Your compassion, o Lord, Your unfailing love from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth, but in Your love remember me.

Good and upright, the Lord teaches sinners His way. He teaches the humble of heart and guides them in what is right.

Tuesday, 17 March 2020 : 3rd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Patrick, Bishop (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Daniel 3 : 25, 34-43

Azariah stood up in the midst of the fire and prayed aloud : Do not abandon us forever, do not reject Your covenant for Your Name’s sake. Do not withdraw Your mercy from us, for the sake of Abraham, Your friend, of Isaac, Your servant, of Israel, Your holy one, to whom You promised to multiply their race as the stars of heaven and the sand on the shore of the sea.

Lord, see, we have become the least among the nations in all the world, and we are humiliated because of our sins. At this time, we no longer have a king, or prophet, or leader. We cannot offer You holocausts, sacrifices, offerings, or incense. We have no place to present to You the first-fruits of our crops, and so obtain Your favour.

But at least when we present ourselves with a contrite soul and humbled spirit may we then be acceptable to You, more than by offerings of rams and calves as holocausts, and of thousands of fat lambs. May this sacrifice of ours today obtain for us Your favour for we know that those who trust in You shall never be disappointed.

And now, we serve You with our whole heart, we fear You and we seek Your face. Do not leave us in our humiliation, but treat us according to Your kindness and Your great mercy. Free us in keeping with Your wonders, and give us the glory of Your Name, Lord.

Saturday, 17 March 2018 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Patrick, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, again on this day we heard the opposition that arose against the faithful servants of God from the Scriptures, as committed by all those who refused to listen to the words that those servants had brought unto their attention. Instead of listening to the truth and to the call towards repentance, they plotted against God’s servants to destroy them.

That is the essence of what we have just heard from the Scripture passages today as we come closer to the end of the season of Lent and the beginning of the Passion of Christ at the Holy Week in a week’s time. And the reason of such stubborn refusal to believe and to embrace the truth is because of our own inability to restrain ourselves and our desires.

The Lord Jesus spoke plainly and with authority, as the prophets of the earlier days had done so as well. But yet the people of God refused to listen to them, and they refused to listen to the Lord Jesus, because they would not allow the word of God to enter into their hearts and minds, that they may believe in Him. Instead, the words just entered through their ears and nothing more happened after that.

That is why we have to distinguish between hearing and listening in this case. We may wonder what is the difference between these two actions, but in reality, they make quite a difference. One can hear without listening, but the one who listens, also hears. Hearing refers to the process of sound entering into our ears, being captured by our ears’ sensing ability, and then we can hear the sound.

But hearing something does not necessarily mean that we appreciate or understand what we have heard. In our world today there are many noises around us, surrounding us all day long. When things become too noisy and the sounds become too loud, we shut ourselves from those noises, and we consciously try to not listen to those noises.

Similarly, if our hearts and minds are closed to God’s words and truth, then we will end up like the Pharisees and all those who were opposed to the good works of the prophets and Our Lord Himself, those who heard the word of God but failed to listen to Him speaking to them through those words. Have we been like this, brothers and sisters in Christ?

It is not easy for us to truly listen to God, as there are, as mentioned a lot of noise being ever present around us, all the time. And these are also the ways how the devil is trying actively to prevent us from listening to God speaking to us in the depths of our hearts and minds. Otherwise, had we all listened to Him and repented, hell would have been empty!

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in order to be able to listen to God, we have to learn to temper ourselves, our desires and resist the many temptations present in our lives. And sometimes, it is important for us to know that being a disciple and follower of the Lord is not something that is so difficult and complicated after all. St. Patrick, the famous saint and bishop whose feast we celebrate today, preached about God and His nature of the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit using a three-leaf clover to make the people understand the complex mystery with a simple symbol and approximation.

St. Patrick himself did not have it easy during his ministry to the pagan peoples of Ireland and in all of his missionary works. He often faced rejection and ridicule, much as the Lord Jesus Himself had faced from the Pharisees and from His enemies. Yet, St. Patrick patiently persevered on in his efforts, and many more people believed in God and were saved because of him.

Let us all, brothers and sisters in Christ, renew our efforts to live our lives faithfully, imitating the examples of Our Lord Himself, and all of His holy saints, particularly that of St. Patrick. May we all be able to loosen the stuck doors of our hearts and minds, too long encrusted with pride, greed, desire, ambition, prejudice, hatred, and all other obstacles that had prevented us from being able to listen to God and understand what it is that He wants from each one of us.

May all of us learn to be better and more dedicated servants of Our Lord, by lessening the importance of our selves, and by growing greater in our humility before God, embracing His forgiveness and mercy for our sins, and love Him with all of our efforts. May we listen to His words and be thoroughly converted in heart, mind, body and soul to become His beloved and worthy children. May God bless us all, and may St. Patrick intercede for us sinners. Amen.

Saturday, 17 March 2018 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Patrick, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 7 : 40-53

At that time, 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 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 those 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.” And they all went home.