Wednesday, 23 March 2022 : 3rd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded of the obligation and duty we have in fulfilling God’s Law and commandments, as Christians who profess to believe in Him and who proclaim ourselves as His beloved children and people, as those whom He had called to be His own, walking down the path that He has shown each and every one of us. This is what He wants to remind us today, and to help us to be faithful always to Him.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of Deuteronomy of the words that Moses, the leader of the Israelites had spoken before all the whole assembly of the Israelites, at the time when he was already old and advanced in age, and it was then towards the end of the long sojourn of the Israelites in the desert, a period that lasted a total of forty years. We have to understand how it happened in the first place, that due to the disobedience of the people and their refusal to obey the Law and their stubbornness in not putting their faith in God led to them having to endure that forty years of journey.

Moses thus reminded those who have endured the sufferings and the long journey, those who have not perished because of their disobedience and sins, that based on what they themselves had endured and experienced, they should know better than to disobey the Lord again. They should not wander off again to the wrong paths and to the wicked ways of their predecessors, who have chosen to follow the idols and foreign gods and ways instead of listening to God and His servant, Moses. Those who have done so had already received their just punishments, while those who have kept their faith in God would be rewarded for their patience.

Yes, those who have persevered in faith would be led into the promised land, the land that God Himself had promised to them and their ancestors, the land overflowing with milk and honey, with great bounty and produce, which their predecessors foolishly refused to enter out of fear and lacking in faith in God. Despite God’s guidance and assurance, those people had preferred to walk their own path and as a result, they ended up with nothing but destruction and annihilation. This was what Moses reminded the people of as he exhorted them to remain true to God and His Law.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard of the Lord Jesus speaking to His disciples as He spoke to them with regards to the matter of the Law and what He came to do in this world. And likely as a response to the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who must have criticised Him again and again with regards to the Law, accusing Him without end of trying to destroy and replace the Law of God, the Lord Jesus simply said that He came to fulfil the Law and everything that God had revealed to His people through the Law would be fulfilled through Him. He did not come to destroy or replace the Law but instead to reveal it in its truth and entirety.

For until that time, God’s Law had been re-read, reinterpreted and reorganised many times across the different generations, and as in the past there was no organised writing of the Law into a proper codex or statutes of the Law, but instead depending a lot on oral tradition and word of mouth, the Law of God as revealed and passed down through Moses, which earlier on we just discussed how he exhorted the Israelites to keep faithfully through them and their descendants, all these had been corrupted and misinterpreted by the descendants of the people of God.

And worse still, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had made their interpretation of the Law rather excessive and oppressive. Many of them also used the Law as means to advance their own position, power and interests, while outwardly appearing zealous and obedient to God. Yet, in their hearts and minds, they were divided with serving their own self-interests. Hence, the Lord was reminding not only the people but also those same Pharisees and the teachers of the Law that He came into this world to restore the Law to its true form and to call everyone to return to the truth of God, and not the misguided ways as promoted by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through all these readings from the Scriptures all of us are therefore also reminded that we have to keep the Law of God as well. The Lord has come into our midst and revealed the truth about Himself and perfected the understanding of the Law He has given us, and which He has entrusted to us through His Church. And this is why we need to obey the Lord through His Church, through all the rules, ordinances and all the things that He has laid down and passed to us, through His Apostles and their successors, our bishops and all the priests assisting them.

Today all of us are called to look upon the good examples of our predecessors, especially one St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, a faithful and committed servant of God who has dedicated his life to the mission of evangelisation and in caring for the needs of his flock, the reform of the Church administration and the purification of its members, especially that of the clergy from the worldly corruptions and wickedness. He was appointed as the Archbishop of Lima in Peru in the New World despite his initial refusal to do so. Very soon he dedicated his life to minister to all the people entrusted in his care.

St. Turibius worked very hard and it was told that during all his years of mission, he baptised and confirmed no less than a million and a half if not more people and touched the hearts and minds of many. He was also instrumental in the great reforms of his diocese, in its administration and clergy as mentioned. His efforts encountered opposition from those priests and others who themselves were sources of these corruptions, but all those did not stop or discourage St. Turibius from continuing to do his best for the greater glory of God and for the good and benefits of His people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we should be inspired by the faithful and good examples of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo to show the same faith and commitment in our lives as well. We should dedicate more of our time, effort and works to the Lord and do whatever we can to be righteous, good and faithful in all things, following and obeying God’s Law and commandments at all possible opportunities. Let us be ever more dedicated to the Lord and commit ourselves to His cause with ever greater zeal and faith from now on. May this Lent be a great season and time of renewal for us, for us to renew our faith and be ever stronger in our love for our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, 23 March 2022 : 3rd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, Bishop (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, 23 March 2022 : 3rd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, Bishop (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, 23 March 2022 : 3rd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, Bishop (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, 23 March 2021 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture, hearing how the people of Israel rebelled against God and disobeyed Him when they grumbled and complained against Him as they journeyed through the desert from Egypt. They complained that they had a better life in Egypt even though over there they were slaves and were treated badly.

They did all these even though the Lord had in fact treated them very kindly, patiently answering their pleas and requests, giving them daily the bread from heaven itself, and also other food and plenty of water to drink in their journey through the desert. The Lord took good care of His people and patiently cared for them only to gain contempt, betrayal and disobedience, rebellion and wickedness in return.

The Lord then sent fiery serpents that were disastrous in their effects on the people, as many were bitten by those serpents and died. Those serpents killed many and the people begged the Lord for mercy, asking Moses to intercede for their sake. The Lord had pity on His people and showed them His clemency through instructing Moses to build a great bronze serpent standard, and lifting it up before the whole people that all those who had been bitten and saw the bronze serpent would be saved.

This is related to our Gospel passage today in which we heard of the Lord Jesus speaking plainly to the people and all gathered about what would happen to Him. Those Jews were the ones living in Judea and many of them supported the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law in opposition against Jesus. They doubted Him and refused to believe in Him, demanding to see miracles and signs from Him even when He had done all those wonders before them all.

And the Lord then revealed to all of them how He would be lifted up high above the Earth, a prelude to what He would endure during His Passion namely when He would be scourged, stripped and nailed to the Cross, and lifted up on the hill of Calvary, for all the same people to whom the Lord had spoken, to see the ultimate and greatest of all the signs of God’s wonders and love.

What is the significance of this, brothers and sisters? It is just like the lifting of the bronze serpent of Moses in the past through which the people were saved from the deadly sting of the serpents, thus, the Lord also had Himself lifted up so that all those who see Him, believe in Him and have faith in Him will be saved from certain death and destruction from the sting of sin.

This is therefore an important reminder for each and every one of us that we are all called to shun the temptations to sin, the allure and pull of its corruption, and all the things that have led us to our downfall, and the downfall of so many who came and went before us. As we approach the beginning of the Holy Week in less than a week’s time, we are all called to reflect deeply of the Lord’s Passion, all that He had done, out of His great love for us.

It is thanks to Him, His enduring love and great patience that each and every one of us still have hope, the hope of entering into a new and blessed existence free from sin, and one that is no longer corrupted by those wicked and evil taints of the world. The Lord has willingly taken up His Cross, bearing our many sins and their consequences and punishments, all because of His love for us. If not for Him, we should have been lost to despair and the darkness.

That is why we should appreciate the love of God and everything that He had done for us, and we must not take the opportunities that He has given us for granted, or else, we may find it that we are too late to realise how fortunate we are to have been beloved by God and to have received so many good opportunities from Him. We need turn towards the Lord, look at Him crucified and remember the love by which He selflessly took up that sacrifice in order to save all of us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we can also be inspired by the good examples set by St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, one of our holy predecessors. St. Turibius de Mogrovejo was a great and renowned Archbishop, who was once also the confessor and trusted advisor of the King of Spain. He was credited with the conversion of numerous people, many of whom he personally preached to and worked with. He dedicated himself wholeheartedly to the improvement of the life of his flock, and committed himself to care for them.

St. Turibius de Mogrovejo travelled extensively throughout his diocese and beyond, often on foot and baptising many, taking care of the spiritual needs of those whom he had encountered throughout his ministry. He established many chapels, convents, hospitals and schools for the benefit of many people, and many indeed were helped and touched by the actions of this saintly bishop that they became converts and believers.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all turn towards the Lord with a new heart and desire to follow Him, inspired by the good examples of the saints, particularly that of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo. May the Lord be our guide that we may journey successfully through life with faith, and focusing our attention from now on, to the Lord and His saving grace. Let us always remember all the sufferings and humiliations that Our Lord had to face in order to save us all, out of His enduring and ever-present love for us. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 23 March 2021 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 8 : 21-30

At that time, Jesus said to the Jews, “I am going away, and though you look for Me, you will die in your sin. Where I am going you cannot come.” The Jews wondered, “Why does He say that we cannot come where He is going? Will He kill Himself?”

But Jesus said, “You are from below and I am from above; you are of this world and I am not of this world. That is why I told you that you will die in your sins. And you shall die in your sins, unless you believe that I am He.” They asked Him, “Who are You?”; and Jesus said, “Just what I have told you from the beginning. I have much to say about you and much to condemn; but the One Who sent Me is truthful and everything I learnt from Him; I proclaim to the world.”

They did not understand that Jesus was speaking to them about the Father. So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He and that I do nothing of Myself, but I say just what the Father taught Me. He Who sent Me is with Me and has not left Me alone; because I always do what pleases Him.”

As Jesus spoke like this, many believed in Him.

Tuesday, 23 March 2021 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 101 : 2-3, 16-18, 19-21

O Lord, hear my prayer; let my cry for help come to You. Do not hide Your face from me when I am in trouble. Turn Your ear to me; make haste to answer me when I call.

O Lord, the nations will revere Your Name, and the kings of the earth Your glory, when the Lord will rebuild Zion and appear in all His splendour. For He will answer the prayer of the needy and will not despise their plea.

Let this be written for future ages, “The Lord will be praised by a people He will form.” From His holy height in heaven, the Lord has looked on the earth to hear the groaning of the prisoners, and free those condemned to death.

Tuesday, 23 March 2021 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, Bishop (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Numbers 21 : 4-9

From Mount Hor they set out by the Red Sea road to go around the land of Edom. The people were discouraged by the journey and began to complain against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is neither bread nor water here and we are disgusted with this tasteless manna.”

YHVH then sent fiery serpents against them. They bit the people and many of the Israelites died. Then the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, speaking against YHVH and against you. Plead with YHVH to take the serpents away.”

Moses pleaded for the people and YHVH said to him, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a standard; whoever has been bitten and then looks at it shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a standard. Whenever a man was bitten, he looked towards the bronze serpent and he lived.

Monday, 23 March 2020 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us are kindly reminded of God’s love and providence, which He has always given to us, His faithful and beloved ones as we are called to put our trust and faith in Him, to love Him and to be devoted to Him. God has given us all assurance of a new life and existence in Him if we are faithful to Him and are willing to obey Him. Ours will be the eternal glory and true joy if we choose to follow God and trust Him.

In our first reading today, taken from the last chapters of the Book of the prophet Isaiah, we heard of the Lord speaking of the coming of a new world that He will bring to all of us, His people. In that same passage is the promise of a new and wonderful life, where our present sufferings and troubles will be no more, something which in the New Testament is also reflected in the Book of Revelations of St. John. St. John speaks of a new Jerusalem and a new earth where God will dwell with His people in fullness of grace and love.

And God kindly showed us all the foreshadowing of what is to come, through His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, as we heard in our Gospel passage today of His healing ministry and works among the people. The Lord Jesus healed all the sick who came to Him seeking to be healed and to be made whole. He healed the son of an official, who believed in the Lord and took His word when He told him that his son would be healed at that very moment.

As mentioned in that same Gospel passage, many among the people did not believe or have faith in the Lord Jesus, beginning from the people of His own hometown in Nazareth who rejected Him and cast Him out, and then even among the people of Galilee who welcomed Him, the Lord rebuked many among them because they would not believe or have faith unless they witness the miracles and wonders He was to perform before them.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day therefore what we are all called to reflect on is our faith in the Lord and our belief in what He will give us and whether we have firmly grasped this assurance that God has given us all. Many of us instead put our trust and faith in various worldly alternatives, in our own strength and plans, in all sorts of pursuits for pleasures, happiness, joy, fame and worldly glory among other things.

What we have to realise is that none of these will matter in the end, and that none of these will be able to save us or provide for us when it truly matters. Only the Lord has that assurance of eternal happiness and joy, and He alone has the power to grant us true satisfaction and joy. But many of us did not realise this and we are too distracted by the many things and concerns we have, all the temptations and all the various decadence in the world.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why in this season of Lent we are called to purify ourselves through repentance and by seeking God’s forgiveness, especially through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, as well as through spiritual and corporeal works and acts of mercy. We are called to be more faithful and to be more dedicated in faith, spending more time to serve the Lord and to glorify Him through our words, actions and deeds.

Today, we should also follow in the examples set by our holy predecessor, St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, whose feast day we are celebrating. St. Turibius was renowned for his great faith and dedication to the Lord, appointed as the Archbishop of Lima in Peru in the then New World, baptising around one million people among the natives through his extensive works in their midst. St. Turibius often went all around his Archdiocese even on foot, in bad weather and tough conditions ministering to the people.

St. Turibius also did many things in making the lives of the flock entrusted under his care to be better, such as in the building of roads and hospitals among many others. He worked hard to reform his Archdiocese and return the sanctity to the priesthood, which had by then lapsed in standard and morality. He encountered significant opposition and resentment because of this, but nonetheless he pressed on with his efforts and reforms, and was admired by equally many people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have seen what a great servant of God St. Turibius de Mogrovejo had been, and we can also follow his examples in our own lives. Can we be inspired to follow in his footsteps and strive to serve the Lord ever more faithfully as he has done? Let us all reflect carefully on this matter, and discern how we can carry on living our lives faithfully as Christians in serving God from now on. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 23 March 2020 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 4 : 43-54

At that time, when the two days Jesus spent with the Samaritans were over, He left for Galilee. Jesus Himself said that no prophet is recognised in his own country. Yet the Galileans welcomed Him when He arrived, because of all the things which He had done in Jerusalem during the Festival, and which they had seen. For they, too, had gone to the feast.

Jesus went back to Cana of Galilee, where He had changed the water into wine. At Capernaum there was an official, whose son was ill, and when he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and asked Him to come and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Jesus said, “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe!” The official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” And Jesus replied, “Go, your son lives!”

The man had faith in the word that Jesus spoke to him, and went his way. As he was approaching his house, his servants met Him, and gave him the good news, “Your son has recovered!” So he asked them at what hour the child began to recover, and they said to him, “The fever left him yesterday, at about one o’clock in the afternoon.”

And the father realised that was the time when Jesus had told him, “Your son lives!” And he became a believer, he and all his family. Jesus performed this second miraculous sign when He returned from Judea to Galilee.”