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.”

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

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 29 : 2 and 4, 5-6, 11-12a and 13b

I extol You, o Lord, for You have rescued me; my enemies will not gloat over me. O Lord, You have brought me up from the grave, You gave me life when I was going to the pit.

Sing to the Lord, o you His saints, give thanks and praise to His holy Name. For His anger lasts but a little while, and His kindness all through life. Weeping may tarry for the night, but rejoicing comes with the dawn.

Hear, o Lord, and have mercy on me; o Lord, be my Protector. But now, You have turned my mourning into rejoicing; O Lord, my God, forever will I give You thanks.

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

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 65 : 17-21

I now create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind again. Be glad forever and rejoice in what I create; for I create Jerusalem to be a joy and its people to be a delight. I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in My people.

The sound of distress and the voice of weeping will not be heard in it any more. You will no longer know of dead children or of adults who do not live out a lifetime. One who reaches a hundred years will have died a mere youth, but the one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed.

They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant crops and eat their fruit.

Wednesday, 18 March 2020 : 3rd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the Lord’s words in the Scriptures, we are reminded that as Christians all of us ought to obey the Lord, listen to Him and follow His ways, and not to be disobedient and sinful, as what we have often done in our lives. The Lord reminds us all that He has given us His laws and precepts, His guidances and directions for us to follow, that we may find our way to Him.

On this day all of us are reminded that all of us are still bound by whatever the Lord has taught and revealed to us, the laws and ways which He has entrusted to the care and stewardship of His Church, in the laws of the Church which have been presented to us, and which we ought to obey as part of our obedience to the divine laws and to the will of God. These laws and commandments are meant to guide our way to walk in the path of God faithfully.

But some people had misunderstood and misused the Law for their own purposes. Some like the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law used the Law to advance their own agenda and aims, to be more famous and respected, praised and honoured because of their obedience to the numerous customs and traditions, rules and regulations that while were derived from the Law, but were not part of the original Law itself as revealed by God, or that they misunderstood God’s intentions.

Many also thought wrongly, thinking that the Law was a way for God to restrain us and punish us for our sins, as some thought that the Law was punitive in purpose and use. This is because they looked upon God and saw Him as a fearsome and menacing entity, as One to be feared and to be submitted to, as One Who we cannot disobey or we would end up enduring His wrath and anger. This is why many took the Law and the rules of the Lord wrongly, and obeyed for the wrong reasons in their hearts.

The Lord Jesus came into this world to reveal to us all the true meaning and intention of the Law by which God wants to lead us all to Himself. He revealed how the Law was not meant to make us and our lives difficult or to oppress us with harsh and tough regulations. Rather, what the Lord wants is for us to control ourselves and obey His laws so that we will not be easily overcome and tempted by our desires, ego, and all sorts of worldly concerns we have all around us and within us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why we should reconsider how we have lived our lives thus far, whether we have obeyed God’s laws and if we did obey His laws, whether we have obeyed those laws because we feared God and His anger and retribution, doing it out of fear rather than because we genuinely love God and desired to follow Him and His laws because we really love God and as a result we want to be righteous and good like Him? If we truly love God then surely we will want to make sure that our actions and all of our whole beings are thoroughly attuned to Him.

And that is exactly what we have all been called to do, that we turn ourselves wholeheartedly towards God, Who is in truth very loving and filled with lots of compassion and mercy towards us. But for us to be forgiven, then we need to be open to His mercy and be sincerely repentant of our sins and faults. And today, we should also be inspired to follow the good examples set by one of our holy predecessors, namely that of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, holy servant of God and great defender of the faith.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem was the Bishop of Jerusalem who was remembered for his great faith and dedication to God, giving his life to the service of God despite all the challenges and trials he had to endure from his opponents and rivals, especially from those who professed the heretical Arian beliefs, in opposition to the true and orthodox faith as promulgated in the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea. To this extent, he was falsely accused by his enemies of misconduct and impropriety in several occasions. He was accused of selling Church property for his own personal benefits when in truth, he was helping people who were suffering from famine in Jerusalem at that time.

St. Cyril had to endure exile and persecution by those who supported the position of his enemies, particularly those who adhered to the Arian heresy. Nonetheless, St. Cyril remained faithful and committed to the mission entrusted to him, and he did his best to care for the faithful, and became a beacon of steady and unfailing faith for those who remained true to the faith even amidst the challenges from those who upheld erroneous teachings and ways, allowing God to work through him and his actions.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to dedicate ourselves to the Lord in the manner that St. Cyril of Jerusalem had with his life? Are we willing to commit ourselves to the Lord anew, especially beginning in this season of Lent, a time of renewal and rejuvenation of our faith. Let us all from now on be obedient to God and follow His laws with renewed purpose and intention, obeying Him not out of fear but out of love, and out of sincere desire to be righteous and worthy of Him, that we distance ourselves from sin and strive to be good in every moments of our lives from now on.

May God be with us all in this journey, and may He strengthen us in the resolve to serve Him and to love Him through obedience, that we may be good examples in faith to our fellow brothers and sisters at all times. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 18 March 2020 : 3rd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (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, 18 March 2020 : 3rd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (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!