Monday, 2 May 2022 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are presented with the nature of our faith, this faith that we have in the Lord Jesus Christ, Our Saviour. Each and every one of us as Christians are called to proclaim the Lord and His truth through our lives and actions, in everything we say and do. We ought to do what the Apostles and all the holy men and women of God had done before us, in proclaiming the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the One from Whom the salvation of the world had come from.

In our first reading today, we heard of the story of the time when St. Stephen, one of the seven first deacons of the Church, was confronted by the opponents of the Church, those who refused to believe in God and His truth as revealed through the Lord Jesus and His Apostles. The Sanhedrin and all those who have arrested and oppressed the Apostles tried a lot of effort to suppress the rapidly spreading Christian teachings and faith. And in order to do that, they even chose to employ false witnesses and other methods to try to persecute the disciples of the Lord like St. Stephen.

Hence, St. Stephen encountered great difficulty in going against the plots of those who sought to destroy him, against the authorities with the power to persecute him and who turned the people against him. Yet, he remained firm in his faith and convictions, not fearing the repercussions and threats against himself, but instead, inflamed by the Holy Spirit, encouraged and strengthened, he preached about the Lord and Saviour, openly proclaiming Him before the people, revealing all that God had done to them through His Son, Whom they had recently persecuted and gave to the Romans to be crucified, died and then risen in glory for the salvation of all the people.

Those false witnesses employed against him tried to bring St. Stephen down, and they used increasingly desperate means to discredit him, and yet, the great wisdom and courage that St. Stephen had shown would overpower whatever wicked means and plots arrayed against him. The Lord was working through His servant, and now, many years after his martyrdom, we are still inspired by the great courage and dedication that St. Stephen had shown, in facing even persecution, suffering and death squarely in the face, never once flinching or giving in to his fears and doubts, because he trusted fully in the Lord and His providence.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the interactions between the Lord Jesus and the multitudes of people who had followed Him and tried to follow Him wherever He went. They followed the Lord and He pointed out that they followed Him because of their desires to be satisfied and fulfilled, by the amazing miracles that He performed, particularly that of the miraculous feeding of the five thousand men and many more. The Lord knew that in the hearts and minds of those people, there were still yet doubts and lacking in genuine faith, and hence, He wanted to convince and persuade them to truly believe in Him and His truth, and not just superficially showing their faith.

This reminds all of us of the very important mission that God has entrusted to us as Christians, that each and every one of us ought to proclaim the Lord, our God and Saviour, His love and compassionate mercy, His kindness and His truth to all the people, to everyone we encounter throughout life. We are all called to be the ministers of God, following in the footsteps of St. Stephen, the Apostles and the many other saints and martyrs, all those who have devoted their time and life, who have often suffered for the sake of the Lord, His Church and His people. We are all called to continue their efforts and works in our own ways.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Athanasius, the great and renowned Church father and Doctor of the Church, who was especially remembered for his dedication in defending the orthodox and true Christian faith and teachings against the dangerous influence and the falsehoods of the many heresies and false teachings that were running rampant during his time and ministry, threatening to destroy the unity and harmony within the Church, and also threatening to mislead countless souls down the path towards damnation. Against this, St. Athanasius persevered faithfully, committing his time and effort to go against those who proclaim those falsehoods, much like how St. Stephen himself had courageously proclaimed the Lord before those who persecuted him.

St. Athanasius was the Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria whose tenure of work and ministry happened after the important Ecumenical Council of Nicaea. He led the Church in Alexandria and beyond against the heresy of Arius, the popular preacher who initiated the Arian heresy and controversy, who amassed a large following and support even amongst the bishops and the powerful rulers of the Roman Empire. However, that did not deter St. Athanasius from persevering in his efforts to bring the people of God and the Church out from the erroneous teachings of heretics like Arius among others, and even though he had to endure about seventeen years in various exiles from his See due to the opposition against him, he endured in his faith and struggle to the very end.

In what he would later be well known for, St. Athanasius was credited with the authorship or as the inspiration for the later codified Athanasian Creed, the expanded version of the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed that emphasised heavily on the true nature of God, the relationship of the Members of the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, against the erroneous heretical teachings, particularly that of Arius and his Arian heresy and which is recited especially on this day, his feast day. St. Athanasius showed all of us, just as St. Stephen had done, what being true Christians is all about, to stand up for our faith and proclaim the truth of God, faithfully and courageously even amidst opposition and oppression.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to commit ourselves in the same way as St. Athanasius, St. Stephen and the many other holy servants of God had done? Are we able and willing to follow the Lord faithfully and wholeheartedly, and making use of the various talents, gifts and opportunities that He had provided for us, so that we may glorify the Lord by our lives, by our words, actions and deeds? Let us all reflect carefully on how we can be ever better and more committed disciples of His, from now on. May God be with us always, and may He strengthen us that we will remain faithful and true to our calling, and be courageous in proclaiming our faith in our respective lives, now and always. Amen.

Monday, 2 May 2022 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 6 : 22-29

At that time, the next day after Jesus fed the five thousand men, the people, who had stayed on the other side, realised that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with His disciples; but rather, the disciples had gone away alone.

Bigger boats from Tiberias came near the place where all these people had eaten the bread. When they saw that neither Jesus nor His disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. When they found Him on the other side of the lake, they asked Him, “Master, when did You come here?”

Jesus answered, “Truly, I say to you, you look for Me, not because of the signs which you have seen, but because you ate bread and were satisfied. Work then, not for perishable food, but for the lasting food which gives eternal life. The Son of Man will give it to you, for He is the One on Whom the Father has put His mark.”

Then the Jews asked Him, “What shall we do? What are the works that God wants us to do?” And Jesus answered them, “The work God wants is this : that you believe in the One Whom God has sent.”

Monday, 2 May 2022 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 118 : 23-24, 26-27, 29-30

Although princes conspire against me, Your servant will observe Your decrees. Your laws are my delight, my counsellors who uphold me.

When I explained my ways, You responded; instruct me then in Your precepts. Explain to me all Your ordinances, and I will meditate on Your wondrous deeds.

Keep me away from deceitful paths; be gracious and teach me Your law. I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart upon Your laws.

Monday, 2 May 2022 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 6 : 8-15

Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. Some persons then came forward, who belonged to the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia and Asia. They argued with Stephen but they could not match the wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke.

As they were unable to face the truth, they bribed some men to say, ‘We heard him speak against Moses and against God.’ So they stirred up the people, the elders and the teachers of the Law; they took him by surprise, seized him and brought him before the Council.

Then they produced false witnesses who said, “This man never stops speaking against our Holy Place and the Law. We even heard him say that Jesus the Nazarean will destroy our Holy Place and change the customs which Moses handed down to us.” And all who sat in the Council fixed their eyes on him, and his face appeared to them like the face of an Angel.

Monday, 4 April 2022 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Isidore, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are reminded of God’s kindness and love, His mercy and compassion, and at the same time we are also being reminded of the dangers of sin, and how those sins can lead us down the path of ruin as proven by our predecessors, and from what we have heard earlier today in our first reading taken from the Book of Daniel. Now that we are almost at the end of the season of Lent and the beginning of Holy Week, we are all invited to come ever closer to the Lord and to His throne of mercy and love.

In our first reading today, as mentioned, we heard from the Book of Daniel of the story that happened with Susanna, the daughter of a renowned Israelite exile in Babylon, who was beautiful in appearance and tempted two of the elders of the people who saw her and were mesmerised by her beauty. They were tempted with desire and lust, and gave in to their temptations, plotting to impose their will on her and lay on her. Despite being the elders and therefore supposedly as the role models for the entire community, they allowed themselves to be easily swayed by those temptations and fell into sin.

And not only that, after having attempted to do the wicked deed and failed, as Susanna refused to be forced or coaxed into the sinful act against God, they tried to destroy her and have her sentenced to death in order to silence her and remove her as a living testament to their own failures and wickedness. They acted in self-preservation, selfishly trying to protect themselves and for their own personal gains over their duties and responsibilities as the custodians and elders of the people of God, as those who should have shown good examples for the rest of the people.

They almost managed to get the entire assembly to condemn Susanna to death by making use of their position, respect that they had within the community and other leverages that prevented Susanna from even defending herself, as no one would have believed her over the two elders, given the vile plots that those elders had against Susanna in making false accusations against her. But God protected her and provided for her in the time of her greatest need, by sending His Spirit into Daniel, who was still a young man then, and through the Wisdom that God imparted to him through His Spirit, Daniel managed to overturn the judgment of the two elders.

Indeed, he did not only cause Susanna to be spared from the false accusations and death, but he also revealed the wickedness of the two elders’ actions, showing the inconsistencies of their false accusations and words, eventually revealing by their own words, their vile intentions and their sins. And thus, God helped those who have been faithful to Him, while those who have failed to resist the temptations to sin and even indulge in it, would be punished accordingly. They would be judged according to the sins and faults they had made, and through the vile intentions they had against the righteous.

We heard something similar in our Gospel passage today as well, in what we have also heard in our Sunday Gospel passage just yesterday, on the well-known story of the Lord Jesus and how He forgave the woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had made use of her to be an example and also as a trap for the Lord, asking Him on what to be done with her. We have to understand that the Lord often worked among the marginalised, sinners and all those who have been considered as unworthy and corrupted by others.

Therefore, if the Lord had directly said to the woman that He forgave her, then the Pharisees could have persecuted or even arrested the Lord there and then under the charge of disobeying the Law of God or even in blaspheming by claiming to be able to forgive sin, or at least they could severely undermine and discredit the Lord by saying that He was a sinner Himself for siding with sinners against God’s Law and commandments. On the other hand, if the Lord were to say that she ought to be stoned to death, then the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law could have also discredited the Lord by saying that He was merely a copycat, following the examples of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law.

Thus, what was truly wicked is the intention that the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had in bringing the adulterous woman before the Lord, in not only wanting to persecute her, but even in making use of her for their own self-advantage and benefits, in trying to destroy the Lord, which was not much different from what happened between Susanna and the two elders from the time of Daniel. But the Lord through His great Wisdom told them firmly that should anyone in the assembly then had no sin, then he or she was the one who had the right to cast the first stone at the woman.

And since everyone knew that they were sinners, without being able to admit or pretend that they did not have any sin, hence, they left the Lord and the woman alone. We have to take note that as the Son of Man, the Lord Himself was without sin, and He as the Lord also at the same time have the power and authority to judge the woman for her actions, to condemn her according to the Law. Yet, He gave her the opportunity to change herself, allowing her to turn away from the path of sin, and giving her a new lease of life. He told her to sin no longer and embrace His righteousness and truth from then on.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what we have heard from these readings of the Sacred Scriptures, we are all reminded of the dangers of sin and our own desires and all the things that often mislead us into the path of sin, as the example of the elders, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law have shown us. We must not let those things from undermining our progress towards God and His saving path. But it will not be an easy path for us to follow, as challenges, temptations and obstacles will be in our path going forward in life.

That is why we should follow the good examples of St. Isidore, the saint whose feast day we are celebrating today. St. Isidore, also known as St. Isidore of Seville, was a renowned scholar, philosopher and theologian who was also the longtime Archbishop of Seville. His many works in defending the faith and in spreading the Gospels had been very inspirational to the many people both in his lifetime and afterwards. His dedication to the reform of the Church practices and eradication of heresies and false teachings are also crucial not only to his local Church but also to the wider Christendom.

His dedication and commitment to the Lord should be source of inspiration for all of us to follow, that we may also strive to purify ourselves from the temptations to sin, and reject the false ways of the devil and all the forces of evil, which are all arrayed against us, in trying to prevent us from finding our way to God and His salvation. Let us all follow in the footsteps of St. Isidore and the many other holy predecessors, our brothers and sisters who had devoted their lives to God and lead exemplary and good Christian lives so that we may ourselves be good inspiration for one another in faith.

May God bless us all in our every efforts and good deeds, and do our best to walk in the path that He has shown us. Let us commit ourselves anew to Him, and be faithful as we should, to the Lord, at all times, sinning no more and striving to lead a better and holier way of life, from now on and always. Amen.

Monday, 4 April 2022 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Isidore, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 8 : 12-20

At that time, Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At daybreak He appeared in the Temple again. All the people came to Jesus, and He sat down and began to teach them. Then the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees brought in a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They made her stand in front of everyone.

“Master,” they said, “this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now the Law of Moses orders that such women be stoned to death; but You, what do You say?” They said this to test Jesus, in order to have some charge against Him. Jesus bent down and started writing on the ground with His finger. And as they continued to ask Him, He straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who has no sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And He bent down again, writing on the ground.

As a result of these words, they went away, one by one, starting with the elders, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before Him. Then Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go away and do not sin again.”

Monday, 4 April 2022 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Isidore, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 22 : 1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.

He guides me through the right paths for His Name’s sake. Although I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are beside me : Your rod and Your staff comfort me.

You spread a table before me in the presence of my foes. You anoint my head with oil; my cup is overflowing.

Goodness and kindness will follow me all the days of my life. I shall dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.

Monday, 4 April 2022 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Isidore, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Daniel 13 : 1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62

There lived in Babylon a man named Joakim, who was married to a very beautiful God-fearing woman, Susanna, Hilkiah’s daughter, whose pious parents had trained her in the law of Moses. A very rich man and greatly respected by all the Jews, Joakim was frequently visited by the Jews in his house adjoining a garden.

That year, two elders of the people were appointed judges, in whom this word of the Lord became true, “Wickedness has come forth from Babylon, through the elders appointed judges, who were supposed to govern the people.” These men frequented Joakim’s house, and all who had legal disputes used to come to them.

After the people had left at noon, Susanna would go into her husband’s garden for a walk. The two old men began to lust for her as they watched her enter the garden every day. Forgetting the demands of justice and virtue, their lust grew all the more as they made no effort to turn their eyes to heaven.

One day, as they were waiting for an opportune time, Susanna entered the garden as usual with only two maids. She decided to bathe, for it was a hot day. Nobody else was there except the two elders watching her from where they had hidden themselves. She said to the maids, “Bring me oil and ointments, and shut the garden doors while I bathe.”

When the maids had left, the two elders hurried to her and said, “Look, the garden doors are shut and no one sees us. We desire to posses you. If you refuse to give in, we will testify that you sent your maids away for there was a young man here with you.” Susanna moaned, “Whatever I do, I am trapped. If I give in to your desire, it will be death for me; if I refuse, I will not escape your persecution. I would rather be persecuted than sin in the eyes of the Lord.”

Susanna shrieked, but the old men shouted, putting the blame on her. One of them ran and opened the garden doors. Hearing the noise in the garden, the household servants rushed in by the side entrance to see what was happening. They were taken aback when they heard the elders’ accusation, for never had anything like this been said of Susanna.

The next day a meeting was held at Joakim’s house. The two elders arrived, vindictively determined to have Susanna sentenced to death. They ordered before all the people, “Send for Susanna, Hilkiah’s daughter and Joakim’s wife.” They sent for her, and she came with her parents, children and all her relatives. Her family and all who saw her wept.

The two elders stood up and laid their hands upon her head. Completely trusting in the Lord, she raised her tearful eyes to heaven. The elders started making their accusation, “We were taking a walk in the garden when this woman came in with two maids. She ordered them to shut the garden doors and dismissed them. Then a young man came out of hiding and lay with her. We were in a corner in the garden, and we saw this crime from there.”

“We ran to them, and caught them in the act of embracing. We were unable to take hold of the man. He was too strong for us. He made a dash for the door, opened it and ran off. But we were able to seize this woman. We asked her who the young man was, but she refused to tell us. This is our statement, and we testify to its truth.”

The assembly took their word, since they were elders and judges of the people. Susanna was condemned to death. She cried aloud, “Eternal God, nothing is hidden from You; You know all things before they come to be. You know that these men have testified falsely against me. Would You let me die, though I am not guilty of all their malicious charges?”

The Lord heard her, and as she was being led to her execution, God aroused the Holy Spirit residing in a young lad named Daniel. He shouted, “I will have no part in the death of this woman!” Those present turned to him, “What did you say?” they all asked.

Standing in their midst, he said to them, “Have you become fools, you Israelites, to condemn a daughter of Israel without due process and in the absence of clear evidence? Return to court, for those men have falsely testified against her.” Hurriedly they returned, and the elders said to Daniel, “Come and sit with us, for you also possess the gifts bestowed by God upon the elders.”

Daniel said to the people, “Separate these two men from one another and I will examine each of them.” When the two elders were separated from each other, Daniel called one of them and said, “How wicked you have grown with age. Your sins of earlier days have piled up against you, and now is the time of reckoning.”

“Remember how you have passed unjust sentences, condemning the innocent and freeing the guilty, although the Lord has said, ‘The innocent and the just should not be put to death.’ Now, if you really witnessed the crime, under what tree did you see them do it?”

The elder answered, “Under a mastic tree.” Daniel said, “Your lie will cost you your head. You will be cut in two, as soon as the Lord’s Angel receives your sentence from God.” Putting the first one aside, Daniel called the other elder and said to him, “You offspring of Canaan and not of Judah, you have long allowed yourself to be perverted by lust.”

“This is how you have dealt with the daughters of Israel, who out of fear have yielded to you. But here is a daughter of Judah who would not tolerate your wickedness. Tell me then, under what tree did you catch them committing the crime?”

The answer came, “Under an oak.” “Your lie has also cost you your head,” Daniel said. “God’s Angel waits to cut you both in two.” The whole assembly shouted and blessed God for helping those who hope in Him. They turned against the two elders who, through Daniel’s efforts, had been convicted by their own mouths. In accordance with Moses’ law, the penalty the two elders had intended to impose upon their neighbour was inflicted upon them. They were sentenced to death. Thus was the life of an innocent woman spared that day.

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Daniel 13 : 41c-62

Susanna was condemned to death. She cried aloud, “Eternal God, nothing is hidden from You; You know all things before they come to be. You know that these men have testified falsely against me. Would You let me die, though I am not guilty of all their malicious charges?”

The Lord heard her, and as she was being led to her execution, God aroused the Holy Spirit residing in a young lad named Daniel. He shouted, “I will have no part in the death of this woman!” Those present turned to him, “What did you say?” they all asked.

Standing in their midst, he said to them, “Have you become fools, you Israelites, to condemn a daughter of Israel without due process and in the absence of clear evidence? Return to court, for those men have falsely testified against her.” Hurriedly they returned, and the elders said to Daniel, “Come and sit with us, for you also possess the gifts bestowed by God upon the elders.”

Daniel said to the people, “Separate these two men from one another and I will examine each of them.” When the two elders were separated from each other, Daniel called one of them and said, “How wicked you have grown with age. Your sins of earlier days have piled up against you, and now is the time of reckoning.”

“Remember how you have passed unjust sentences, condemning the innocent and freeing the guilty, although the Lord has said, ‘The innocent and the just should not be put to death.’ Now, if you really witnessed the crime, under what tree did you see them do it?”

The elder answered, “Under a mastic tree.” Daniel said, “Your lie will cost you your head. You will be cut in two, as soon as the Lord’s Angel receives your sentence from God.” Putting the first one aside, Daniel called the other elder and said to him, “You offspring of Canaan and not of Judah, you have long allowed yourself to be perverted by lust.”

“This is how you have dealt with the daughters of Israel, who out of fear have yielded to you. But here is a daughter of Judah who would not tolerate your wickedness. Tell me then, under what tree did you catch them committing the crime?”

The answer came, “Under an oak.” “Your lie has also cost you your head,” Daniel said. “God’s Angel waits to cut you both in two.” The whole assembly shouted and blessed God for helping those who hope in Him. They turned against the two elders who, through Daniel’s efforts, had been convicted by their own mouths. In accordance with Moses’ law, the penalty the two elders had intended to impose upon their neighbour was inflicted upon them. They were sentenced to death. Thus was the life of an innocent woman spared that day.

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.”