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.

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

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 7 : 2-3, 9bc-10, 11-12

O Lord, my God, in You I take shelter; deliver me and save me from all my pursuers, lest lions tear me to pieces with no one to rescue me.

O Lord, my righteousness; You see that I am blameless. Bring to an end the power of the wicked, but affirm the just, o righteous God, searcher of mind and heart.

You cover me as a shield. Oh God, for You protect the upright. A righteous judge is God, His anger ever awaiting those who refuse to repent.

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

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Jeremiah 11 : 18-20

YHVH made it known to me and so I know! And You let me see their scheming. But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter. I did not know it was against me that they were plotting, “Let us feed him with trials and remove him from the land of the living and let his name never be mentioned again.”

YHVH, God of hosts, You Who judge with justice and know everyone’s heart and intentions, let me see Your vengeance on them, for to You I have entrusted my cause.

Friday, 17 March 2017 : 2nd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Patrick, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we all heard the Scriptures telling us about the story of when Joseph, the beloved and favourite son of Jacob, who was betrayed by his brothers, who sold him off to slavery to the Midianites, who then sold him off to the Egyptians, as many of us certainly remembered in this well known story from our catechism classes or from reading through the Book of Genesis.

Through this story, we saw how jealousy, greed as well as pride has led to us mankind committing sins of various kinds and nature before God and before men alike, as the brothers of Joseph had shown in their actions as described in the Book of Genesis. They were jealous of the attention and the love which Jacob their father had shown to Joseph, being born of his beloved wife, Rachel, and also a child of his old age.

As we heard what happened between them and Joseph, and what the brothers plotted against Joseph, we see first of all, that jealousy and desire easily lead to anger and resentment, and then these lead further into even more jealousy and more anger against those with whom we are angry and jealous with. The brothers were angry against Joseph when he told them that in his dream, all of them would bow down to him.

This is a normal human reaction, for many of us mankind easily succumb to the temptation of our human pride, unwilling to humble ourselves before any other, especially to those who we deem to be inferior to ourselves. Our ego, our pride will not allow us to bend down and humble ourselves. Instead, we try our best to preserve our dignity and our standing, and this is when we mankind begin causing harm, pain and suffering upon each other, whenever we bicker, whenever we are divided against each other.

But God wants to show each one of us that this is not the way forward for us. All of us have been called by God to love one another, and to return to righteousness in Him. He Who created us all out of love wants to love us back and have us all reconciled to Himself. However, more often than not, it is we mankind who have resisted God and did not allow Him to come to us and we refuse to allow His love to enter our lives.

We are so preoccupied in our worldly concerns and desires, that like the sons of Israel, we have been blinded by those desires and concerns, and we are unable to listen to His will in the midst of our preoccupation with ourselves and our needs. We are acting like the evil tenants in the Gospel passage today, a rebuke which Jesus our Lord made to all those who have given in to their worldly concerns, so as to refuse the love and mercy of God.

God has loved us so much that He has given us all hope through Christ His Son, Whom He sent into the world in order to become our salvation. Through Jesus, He shows us how to live like a true Christian, as those whom He had called from the world to be righteous and just, loving and compassionate just like Himself. He wants us to abandon our ways of sin, and abandon all the selflessness, all the jealousy, hatred and evil intent in our hearts, which all of us had done throughout our lives.

In this season of Lent, all of us are called to conversion and change, to abandon our selfish deeds and actions of our past, and embrace the loving ways of our God. We are all called to a change of heart, that while once we are like the sons of Israel, like the evil tenants described in the Gospel passage today, we may now be transformed from beings of darkness and sin, into beings of light and righteousness.

Today we commemorate the feast of the well known saint, St. Patrick of Ireland, the Patron Saint of Ireland, who was sometimes called the Apostle of Ireland, being the one who was contributed with the conversion and the transformation of the whole country Ireland, from a pagan country where druidism and pagan idols thrived before his time, into a faithful Christian nation, whose foundation is in the Lord alone.

St. Patrick was known to be a Romano-British missionary credited with the foundation of the faith and the Church in Ireland, becoming the very first bishop in the island, establishing the Christian community that quickly became the faith of all Irish people just not long after St. Patrick’s time. Before St. Patrick came to Ireland, the island was divided among many different tribes and counties, each ruled by their own kings and rulers, who warred and bickered against each other.

But St. Patrick came and showed all of them the way to the truth of God. He preached the Good News of God to them, and called them to repent their past sins and wickedness. St. Patrick taught them the truth about God, including what is now famous as his symbol of the Holy Trinity, the three-leaf clover. He taught them how God is a perfect and loving union of three Divine Persons, of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as inseparable as the three-leaf clover’s parts from each other.

And God Who is perfect in Love, and Who is indeed Love, wants to share that love with all of us His people. That is exactly why He has given us His commandments, His laws and ways, and Jesus His Son to be our salvation from the darkness, by bringing us into the light of His new world and life filled with love and grace, no longer with greed, evil, wickedness, ego and all other human ambitions and vileness.

St. Patrick converted many people in Ireland during his lifetime and mission, and many gave up their sinful ways and warlike behaviour. Instead, they began to live in peace, harmony and love, just as St. Patrick had taught them to do, following in the examples and the laws of the Lord. This is in fact, what each and every one of us Christians must do in our own lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, during this time of Lent, let us all commit ourselves anew to the Lord, and bring ourselves to righteousness and justice through our actions. Let us all do more good works in our lives, as a penance for our sins, and as a sign that we are all sincere in our desire to be forgiven from our sins. Let us all practice love in all of our actions and dealings, and let us all learn to overcome our human desires, our ego, our greed, and all the things that have thus far become our obstacles on our journey towards the Lord and His salvation.

May all of us be able to draw ourselves closer to God by doing more what the Lord wants us to do, and by committing ourselves wholeheartedly to His precepts and laws. May He bless us all and strengthen our faith inside of us, that we may grow ever more in faith, and be ever more righteous and just in life, so that not only this Lent, but from now onwards, we may be true disciples of our Lord, true Christians in name and also in spirit. Amen.

Friday, 17 March 2017 : 2nd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Patrick, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Matthew 21 : 33-43, 45-46

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Listen to another example : There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a fence around it, dug a hole for the winepress, built a watchtower, leased the vineyard to tenants, and then went to a distant country.”

“When harvest time came, the landowner sent his servants to the tenants to collect his share of the harvest. But the tenants seized his servants, beat one, killed another and stoned a third. Again the owner sent more servants, but they were treated in the same way.”

“Finally, he sent his son, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they thought, ‘This is the one who is to inherit the vineyard. Let us kill him, and his inheritance will be ours.’ So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.”

“Now, what will the owner of the vineyard do with the tenants when he comes?” They said to him, “He will bring those evil men to an evil end, and lease the vineyard to others, who will pay him in due time.” And Jesus replied, “Have you never read what the Scriptures say? The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, and we marvel at it.”

“Therefore I say to you : the kingdom of heaven will be taken from you, and given to a people who will yield a harvest.”

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard these parables, they realised that Jesus was referring to them. They would have arrested Him, but they were afraid of the crowd, who regarded Him as a Prophet.

Friday, 17 March 2017 : 2nd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Patrick, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Psalm 104 : 16-17, 18-19, 20-21

Then the Lord sent a famine and ruined the crop that sustained the land; He sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave.

His feet in shackles, his neck in irons till what he foretold came to pass, and the Lord’s word proved him true.

The king sent for him, set him free, the ruler of the peoples released him. He put him in charge of his household and made him ruler of all his possessions.