Sunday, 14 March 2021 : Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Rose or Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday marks the Fourth Sunday in the season of Lent, which means that we are already more than halfway through this blessed time of preparation for the coming of the most important celebrations of our faith during the Holy Week and the season of Easter. And this Sunday particularly, as we may have seen from the distinctive rose vestments, used only twice in the entire liturgical year, we mark the occasion of Laetare Sunday.

Together with Gaudete Sunday in the Advent season, Laetare Sunday and the rose vestments used today mark the more joyful focus of our Lenten commemoration, a slight departure from the usually more sombre and penitential nature of the rest of the Lenten season. Just as Gaudete Sunday marks the joyful aspect of our Advent preparation for the coming of our joy in Christmas, in the coming of the Lord and Saviour of the world, thus this Laetare Sunday marks the joyful aspect of our preparation for the true joy of Easter.

This word Laetare comes from the Introit of today’s celebration of the Holy Mass, ‘Laetare Jerusalem, et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam, gaudete cum laetitia, qui in tristitia fuistis’ which means ‘Rejoice, o Jerusalem, and gather round all you who love her, rejoice in gladness after having been in sorrow’. Therefore today’s celebration, together with the readings from the Scripture that we have heard just earlier on, we are reminded that while during this season of Lent we lament, regret and are sorrowful over our sins, and desiring to repent from those sins, we also have the joyful hope of the Lord’s salvation and assurance of His love, for through His mercy and compassion, He has willingly forgiven us all.

In our first reading today, we heard of the account from the Second Book of Chronicles, detailing what had happened at the end of the southern kingdom of Judah, the last remnant of the old kingdom of Israel, of David and Solomon. That kingdom was destroyed by the Babylonians who came and overpowered the people of Judah, whose sins and disobedience against God made them to suffer and endure humiliation, as they witnessed the destruction of their city, of Jerusalem and its Temple, the House of God and the loss of the Ark of the Covenant and not only that, but also their exile to Babylon.

They had been cast out from their own homeland and forced to wander as exiles in foreign lands, forced to endure shame and humiliation as those who had ignored the Lord’s constant reminders and love, and ended up being humbled and torn apart from their own lands and livelihood. They had to endure the exile and shame for many decades under the reign of the Babylonians, and some like Daniel and his friends had to contend with those who did not worship God and they had to worship in secret, but all was not lost for them, as God, Who had called and chosen them to be His first chosen ones, still loved them and wanted to be reconciled with them.

Thus, we heard in the same reading of the return of the exiles of Israel to their homeland under the emancipation of king Cyrus of Persia, the great king who was often hailed as liberator and God’s servant in allowing the people of Israel to return to their homeland and to worship the Lord as they had once previously done. Eventually the city of Jerusalem and the Temple itself would be rebuilt by the guidance of the prophet Ezra and Nehemiah, God’s servants who renewed His Covenant with the people of Israel and their descendants.

Truly, this is a most joyful event, and we can just imagine the joy of those people who came to see their homeland again after many decades in exile, and those who saw the Temple of Jerusalem being rebuilt once again after it had been left as piles of rubble for quite some time. God has reached out to His people and showed them His love and compassionate mercy, and as long as they were willing to turn away from their sinful ways and repent, He would bless them and gather them in once again, to enjoy the blessed fruits of His grace.

But God did not just stop there, for He has also promised all of us, the sons and daughters of mankind, the salvation and liberation from all of our sins, from the tyranny of death and evil. He has promised us all from the beginning that He shall not abandon us and will always be with us to the end. And in our Gospel passage today we heard the Lord, Our Saviour Himself proclaiming this truth and the fulfilment of God’s promises through Him. When the Lord Jesus spoke of the coming of the Saviour of the world, the Son of God sent into this world for ‘God so loved the world’ He was referring to Himself.

Let us recall what has happened, brothers and sisters in Christ, that just how the people of Israel had disobeyed and refused to listen to the words of the Lord and those of His prophets and messengers, thus we have also been disobedient and defiant, refusing to follow the way of the Lord ever since sin entered into our hearts and minds, into our midst by the disobedience of Adam and Eve, our ancestors. And thus, just like the Babylonians conquering the kingdom and the people of Judah, sending the survivors into exile, thus sin has conquered us, and the devil and all of his agents had gained dominion over us.

That was why we have been struck out and cast out of Eden, where we ought to have dwelled and where we should have enjoyed the most wonderful fruits of God’s grace. Yet, we fell and were cast out of Eden to wander this world in exile, to suffer the consequences of our sins, just as the people of Judah and the rest of Israel having to endure shame, humiliation and persecution from others. By our sins we have been made outcasts and derided by those who see us.

Yet, God did not give up on us. He could have crushed, annihilated and destroyed us from the very beginning if He had wanted it to be that way. He could have just erased us all from existence, as we are after all unworthy, having been corrupted and defiled by the taints of our sins. God’s love for us however is greater even than all these, and He Who created us all out of love as the pinnacle of His creation certainly does not want to see us destroyed.

To that extent, He listened to our cries for mercy and desire to seek forgiveness, just as once Moses and the people pleaded before Him to spare them the destruction. At that time, during the Exodus, the Israelites disobeyed the Lord and sinned against Him, which resulted in fiery serpents sent into their midst, and killed many among them. The people begged Moses to intercede for them before the Lord, and thus, they sought forgiveness for their sins.

God told Moses to craft a great standard of a bronze serpent on a pole, and to put it in a prominent place for everyone to see it. All those who were bitten by the serpents and then saw the bronze serpent of Moses would not perish and die, but live. Through this comparison, the Lord told Nicodemus the Pharisee in our Gospel passage today, highlighting how He Himself would show all the people, all of mankind, the same salvation in God, by being lifted up Himself on the Cross for all to see.

Those fiery serpents and their deadly stings represent the sting of sin which is death, and a reminder that the consequence of our disobedience against God is nothing less than death, and because of sin, we have consciously rejected God’s love and favour, and therefore should have deserved eternal damnation and suffering. Yet, the Lord Who loved us His people wanted to show us the way out, and to save us just as He has saved the Israelites in the past.

That is why, out of His great and enduring love for each and every one of us, God sent us all His ultimate gift and the perfect manifestation and proof of His love, by giving us all His only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ Our Lord, to be our Lord and Saviour. He came into this world to heal us and to save us from the tyranny of sin, and He did so by taking upon Himself all the burdens of our sins, all the multitudes of those sins, and bore them on His own shoulders. He did not want death to reign over us, and He wants us to live with Him, to be reconciled to God.

And it is for this reason that while we prepare ourselves in this season of Lent, repentant and sorrowful over our sins, we are also joyful because thanks to the Lord, we now have hope once again, the hope of the everlasting life and eternal joy that He has promised us through His Cross, His suffering and death, and finally through His Resurrection. We rejoice because we have seen the light of God’s salvation and are happy because of the love that He has for us.

Through Christ, all of us have been guaranteed a freedom from the tyranny of sin and death. But, what we need to realise is that, unless we commit ourselves to the Lord and follow Him, we cannot fully embrace all of these. We have to put our faith in the Lord and believe that it is through Him that we can be freed from the bondage of sin, and seek Him for forgiveness, to ask for forgiveness from our many sins, which He shall gladly grant to us, if we are willing to repent and turn away from those sinful ways.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we are about to enter into the most holy and wonderful mysteries of the Holy Week and Our Lord’s Passion very soon. Are we able and willing to make good use of the remaining time in Lent to prepare ourselves well so that we can remind ourselves of the need for us to be faithful to God and to remain focused on Him? We are called to turn away from our rebelliousness and our wayward path, to be genuine and faithful Christians once again, as God’s worthy children and as His beloved people.

Let us make good use of this time and opportunity given to us by the Lord so that we may come to realise the folly of our ways and our stubbornness, and be humble and willing to seek God’s ever loving presence, asking to be forgiven from our many sins, and that we may sin no more and turn away from all the corruptions of those sins. May all of us be courageous in resisting the allures and the temptations of sin, and help one another in our daily struggles, by being good role models in our Christian faith and living.

Therefore, let this joy we celebrate today in this Laetare Sunday be the prelude to the true joy that we are to have in the Lord, through the full and genuine reconciliation between us and Him, as we commit ourselves wholeheartedly to Him, to be freed from the tyranny of sin and death, be freed from evil and wicked deeds and thoughts, and be ever more faithful as Christians in our daily lives. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 14 March 2021 : Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Rose or Purple/Violet

John 3 : 14-21

At that time, Jesus said to Nicodemus, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life. Yes, God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him may not be lost, but may have eternal life.”

“God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world; instead, through Him the world is to be saved. Whoever believes in Him will not be condemned. He who does not believe is already condemned, because He has not believed in the Name of the only Son of God.”

“This is how Judgment is made : Light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For whoever does wrong hates the light, and does not come to the light, for fear that his deeds will be seen as evil. But whoever lives according to the truth comes into the light, so that it can be clearly seen that his works have been done in God.”

Alternative reading (Reading from Year A)

John 9 : 1-41

At that time, as Jesus walked along, He saw a man who had been blind from birth. His disciples asked Him, “Master, was he born blind because of a sin of his, or of his parents?”

Jesus answered, “Neither was it for his own sin nor for his parents’ sin. He was born blind so that God’s power might be shown in him. While it is day we must do the work of the One Who sent Me; for the night will come when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.”

As Jesus said this, He made paste with spittle and clay, and rubbed it on the eyes of the blind man. Then He said, “Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam.” (This word means sent.) So the blind man went and washed and came back able to see. His neighbours, and all the people who used to see him begging, wondered. They said, “Is this not the beggar who used to sit here?” Some said, “He is the one.” Others said, “No, but he looks like him.” But the man himself said, “I am he.”

Then they asked him, “How is it that your eyes were opened?” And he answered, “The Man called Jesus made a mud paste, put it on my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went, and washed, and I could see.” They asked, “Where is He?” And the man answered, “I do not know.”

The people brought the man who had been born blind to the Pharisees. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made mud paste and opened his eyes. The Pharisees asked him again, “How did you recover your sight?” And he said, “He put paste on my eyes, and I washed, and now I see.”

Some of the Pharisees said, “This Man is not from God, for He works on the Sabbath”; but others wondered, “How can a sinner perform such miraculous signs?” They were divided, and they questioned the blind man again, “What do you think of this Man who opened your eyes?” And he answered, “He is a Prophet!”

After all this, the Jews refused to believe that the man had been blind and had recovered his sight; so they called his parents and asked them, “Is this your son? You say that he was born blind, but how is it that he now sees?” The parents answered, “He really is our son and he was born blind; but how it is that he now sees, we do not know, neither do we know Who opened his eyes. Ask him, he is old enough. Let him speak for himself.”

The parents said this because they feared the Jews, who had already agreed that whoever confessed Jesus to be the Christ was to be expelled from the synagogue. Because of that his parents said, “He is old enough, ask him.” So a second time the Pharisees called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Tell us the truth; we know that this Man is a sinner.”

He replied, “I do not know whether He is a sinner or not; I only know that I was blind and now I see.” They said to him, “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?” He replied, “I have told you already and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?”

Then they started to insult him. “Become His disciple yourself! We are disciples of Moses. We know that God spoke to Moses; but as for this Man, we do not know where He comes from.” The man replied, “It is amazing that you do not know where the Man comes from, and yet He opened my eyes! We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone honours God and does His will, Hod listens to him. Never, since the world began, has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person who was born blind. If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.”

They answered him, “You were born a sinner and now you teach us!” And they expelled him. Jesus heard that they had expelled him. He found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “Who is He, that I may believe in Him?” Jesus said, “You have seen Him and He is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe”; and worshipped Him.

Jesus said, “I came into this world to carry out a judgment : Those who do not see shall see, and those who see shall become blind.” Some Pharisees stood by and asked Him, “So we are blind?” And Jesus answered, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty. But you say, ‘We see’; this is the proof of your sin.”

Alternative reading (Shorter version of Reading from Year A)

John 9 : 1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38

At that time, as Jesus walked along, He saw a man who had been blind from birth.

As Jesus said this, He made paste with spittle and clay, and rubbed it on the eyes of the blind man. Then He said, “Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam.” (This word means sent.) So the blind man went and washed and came back able to see. His neighbours, and all the people who used to see him begging, wondered. They said, “Is this not the beggar who used to sit here?” Some said, “He is the one.” Others said, “No, but he looks like him.” But the man himself said, “I am he.”

The people brought the man who had been born blind to the Pharisees. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made mud paste and opened his eyes. The Pharisees asked him again, “How did you recover your sight?” And he said, “He put paste on my eyes, and I washed, and now I see.”

Some of the Pharisees said, “This Man is not from God, for He works on the Sabbath”; but others wondered, “How can a sinner perform such miraculous signs?” They were divided, and they questioned the blind man again, “What do you think of this Man who opened your eyes?” And he answered, “He is a Prophet!”

They answered him, “You were born a sinner and now you teach us!” And they expelled him. Jesus heard that they had expelled him. He found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “Who is He, that I may believe in Him?” Jesus said, “You have seen Him and He is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe”; and worshipped Him.

Sunday, 14 March 2021 : Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Rose or Purple/Violet

Ephesians 2 : 4-10

But God, Who is rich in mercy, revealed His immense love. As we were dead through our sins, He gave us life, with Christ. By grace, you have been saved! And He raised us to life, with Christ, giving us a place with Him in heaven.

In showing us such kindness, in Christ Jesus, God willed to reveal, and unfold in the coming ages, the extraordinary riches of His grace. By the grace of God, you have been saved, through faith.

This has not come from you : it is God’s gift. This was not the result of your works, so you are not to feel proud. What we are, is God’s work. He has created us, in Christ Jesus, for the good works He has prepared, that we should devote ourselves to them.

Alternative reading (Reading from Year A)

Ephesians 5 : 8-14

You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Behave as children of light; the fruits of light are kindness, justice and truth in every form. You yourselves search out what pleases the Lord, and take no part in works of darkness that are of no benefit; expose them instead.

Indeed it is a shame even to speak of what those people do in secret, but as soon as it is exposed to the light, everything becomes clear; and what is unmasked, becomes clear through light.

Therefore it is said, “Awake, you who sleep; arise from the dead that the light of Christ may shine on you.”

Sunday, 14 March 2021 : Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Rose or Purple/Violet

Psalm 136 : 1-2, 3, 4-5, 6

By the streams of Babylon, we sat; and then wept, as we remembered Zion. When, on the poplars, we hung our harps.

Our captors asked for song. Our tormentors wanted songs of joy : “Sing to us one of the songs of Zion!”

How could we sing YHVH’s song in a strange and alien land? If I forget you, o Jerusalem, may my right hand fall useless!

May my tongue cleave to my palate if I remember you not, if Jerusalem is not the first of my joys.

Alternative reading (Psalm from Year A)

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.

Sunday, 14 March 2021 : Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Rose or Purple/Violet

2 Chronicles 36 : 14-16, 19-23

Furthermore, all the heads of the priesthood, and the people, too, were exceedingly unfaithful, following the disgusting example of the nations around them, and so they defiled the House which YHVH Himself had made holy. YHVH, the God of their ancestors, continued to send prophets to warn His people, since He had compassion on them and on His dwelling place.

But they mocked the messengers of Gos, ignored His words, and laughed at His prophets, until at last the anger of YHVH rose so high against His people that there was no further remedy. The Chaldeans burnt down the House of God, broke down the walls of Jerusalem, set fire to all its palaces, and destroyed everything of value in it.

The survivors were deported by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon; they were to serve him and his descendants as slaves until the kingdom of Persia came to power. This is how the work of YHVH was fulfilled that He spoke through Jeremiah, “The land will lie desolate for seventy years, to make up for its Sabbath rests that have not been observed.”

And in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, to fulfil what He had said through the prophet Jeremiah, YHVH stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia to issue the following command and send it out in writing to be read aloud everywhere in his kingdom : “Thus speaks Cyrus king of Persia : YHVH, the God of Heaven, Who has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, has ordered me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, in Judah. Now, all of you who belong to His people, go there; and may YHVH your God be with you.”

Alternative reading (Reading from Year A)

1 Samuel 16 : 1b, 6-7, 10-13a

YHVH asked Samuel, “Fill your horn with oil and be on your way to Jesse the Bethlehemite for I have chosen My king from among his sons.”

As Jesse and his sons came, Samuel looked at Eliab the older and thought, “This must be YHVH’s anointed.” But YHVH told Samuel, “Do not judge by his looks or his stature for I have rejected him. YHVH does not judge as man judges; humans see with the eyes; YHVH sees the heart.”

Jesse presented seven of his sons to Samuel who said, “YHVH has chosen none of them. But are all your sons here?” Jesse replied, “There is still the youngest, tending the flock just now.” Samuel said to him, “Send for him and bring him to me; we shall not sit down to eat until he arrives.”

So Jesse sent for his youngest son and brought him to Samuel. He was a handsome lad with ruddy complexion and beautiful eyes. And YHVH spoke, “Go, anoint him for he is the one.” Samuel then took the horn of oil and anointed him in his brothers’ presence.

Sunday, 22 March 2020 : Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Rose or Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday we celebrate the fourth Sunday in the season of Lent, also known as the Laetare Sunday, which came from the Introit of this Sunday which goes like this, ‘Laetare Jerusalem, et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam…’ or ‘Rejoice o Jerusalem, and come together all you who love her…’. And here we gather together this Sunday looking forward to the wonderful joy that is to come, the reason why we have the rose coloured vestments this Sunday.

Just like Gaudete Sunday during the season of Advent before Christmas, on this Sunday we have a brief pause of the penitential nature of this Lenten season to focus on the more joyful aspect of our expectation for the coming of the glorious season of Easter, just as Gaudete Sunday expects the coming joy of Christmas. That is why on this day we ought to focus our attention on the Lord, to keep our gaze affixed on Him, knowing that everything we do in this Lent, all of our penitential rites and customs, practices and works are to purify us before we rejoice together with Him, having been reconciled with Him in love.

In today’s readings therefore, there is this emphasis on us all having received healing from God, and for those who are in need of healing and God’s grace, it is reassured and promised to us as a certainty as long as we are open and willing to receive this wonderful grace of God. That is why today we focus our attention on the joy that is to come in Easter to help in keeping us focused in the right direction, knowing that we are in God’s good hands despite whatever challenges we may be facing now.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Samuel, we heard of the story of the anointing of the new king of Israel, in which God had chosen one of the sons of Jesse of Bethlehem. Samuel was presented with six of his sons in the beginning, and while initially he saw that the eldest son was good in stature and appearance, but God told Samuel that He had chosen through what He has seen in the heart and not in the appearances. And that was how David, the youngest of Jesse’s sons, a simple and young shepherd, was chosen and anointed as king of Israel.

David was a steadfast and firm believer in God, who loved God with all of his heart. Since his youth, David had been devout and committed to God, and after he had been chosen and anointed as king of Israel as the successor to king Saul, David had shown his faith and his upright attitude and actions in most of the circumstances. Yes, as a mortal man, David did make mistakes and he did commit some serious sins, such as his adultery with Bathsheba and his hubris in the census of Israel, but ultimately, his faith and love for God never changed.

The significance of this reading is to show that God sees in us the light present within all of us, including what He had seen in David. There is inherent good in all of us since after all, every single one of us are God’s good creations although tainted by sin. By God’s grace and help, all of us can follow in the example of king David, whom God had called and chosen, and king David allowed God to work through him, committing many wonderful deeds as king over the Israelites, in faith and obedience to God.

In our second reading, again we are reminded through St. Paul’s letter to the Church and the faithful in Ephesus that we ought to become children of the light in all things. St. Paul mentioned that while once we belonged to the darkness, now through God, we have belonged to the light, and we ought to act in the manner of the follower of God’s light. God is our guide and Shepherd, just as our Psalm today on the famous Good Shepherd Psalm reminds us that God is leading us as our Shepherd to the good and righteous path.

Through sin and darkness, all of us have been corrupted, tainted and afflicted, but God wants us all to be healed and liberated from our sins, and He alone has the power and ability to do so. In our Gospel passage we heard of the story of how the Lord Jesus healed a man who had been born blind, and suffered from that blindness for so many decades. Yet, through his faith in the power of the Lord Jesus, he was healed completely, his eyes opened and his sight restored, a great miracle of God, but one which was protested and contested by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law.

The blind man was healed by Jesus and he could see again, and yet, the Pharisees and some of the teachers of the Law could not believe that the blind man had been healed, and not by the Lord Jesus Whom the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law then treated as a pariah and One that is not welcome in the Temple, because of the friction and difficulties that arose as the Lord ministered to the people and healed many of them, even on the Sabbath day which the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law vigorously defended as a day on which nothing including good deeds could be done.

Thus, these people gathered the people and conducted a trial over the blind man, as they doubted that he had been healed by Jesus, and then they even doubted that he had been born blind or blind at all. And they kept on asking the blind man for the details of his healing, repeatedly, showing that they still stubbornly refused to believe that Jesus could have healed the blind man. To them, Jesus was a sinner for His disobedience against their way of observing the Law, and a sinner could not have healed another person.

They even then became nasty against the blind man and angered against him, condemning and judging him as a sinner, as they were offended and their pride was hurt by the formerly blind man’s suggestion that they kept on asking him because they were interested to become the disciples of Jesus. This is exactly the problem that we need to take heed of, the matter of pride and ego that prevented so many of us from finding forgiveness for our many sins and our salvation in God.

In this season of Lent, as we focus our attention today on the Lord and on this joyful hope of His salvation and also on our own inner light and goodness, all of us are called to purge from ourselves all sorts of pride and ego, all hubris and hard-heartedness that the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had, which made them to be ‘spiritually blind’, as they were ignorant of the truth of God even when they had seen and witnessed for themselves for more than a few occasions, what the Lord had done for His people through Christ.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to open our hearts and minds to welcome the Lord with humility like that of the blind man? Pride kept us away from being able to seek God’s forgiveness, and we ought to be humble, realising that we need God’s healing and forgiveness for our sins. And then, are we able and willing to seek God for healing, that He may bless us and forgive us from our many sins, purifying ourselves from our corrupted state due to our sins? Let us seek to be God’s children, worthy and as bright children of the light, rejecting the darkness of sin, for the righteousness and faith in God. Our true joy and happiness is in the Lord, Our God and Saviour, and it is Him that we ought to look towards and focus our attentions on.

As we look forward towards the glorious joy of Easter, let us all renew our efforts to be ever closer to God, to be more devoted in each and every moments of our lives from now on. Let us deepen our relationship with God and be righteous and good in all of our actions and deeds. Let us be more loving and charitable towards our fellow brothers and sisters, and let us all be generous in caring for the needs of those who are needy, poor, unloved and rejected by others. Let us share the joy of Christ with one another, and hope that one day we may glorify God together and be worthy of God and His eternal kingdom as we enter into the new and heavenly Jerusalem.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to strengthen us with faith and the resolve to live our lives daily, that we may walk ever faithfully in His path, and draw ever closer to His grace. May God bless us all and all of our good works and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Sunday, 22 March 2020 : Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Rose or Purple/Violet

John 9 : 1-41

At that time, as Jesus walked along, He saw a man who had been blind from birth. His disciples asked Him, “Master, was he born blind because of a sin of his, or of his parents?”

Jesus answered, “Neither was it for his own sin nor for his parents’ sin. He was born blind so that God’s power might be shown in him. While it is day we must do the work of the One Who sent Me; for the night will come when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.”

As Jesus said this, He made paste with spittle and clay, and rubbed it on the eyes of the blind man. Then He said, “Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam.” (This word means sent.) So the blind man went and washed and came back able to see. His neighbours, and all the people who used to see him begging, wondered. They said, “Is this not the beggar who used to sit here?” Some said, “He is the one.” Others said, “No, but he looks like him.” But the man himself said, “I am he.”

Then they asked him, “How is it that your eyes were opened?” And he answered, “The Man called Jesus made a mud paste, put it on my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went, and washed, and I could see.” They asked, “Where is He?” And the man answered, “I do not know.”

The people brought the man who had been born blind to the Pharisees. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made mud paste and opened his eyes. The Pharisees asked him again, “How did you recover your sight?” And he said, “He put paste on my eyes, and I washed, and now I see.”

Some of the Pharisees said, “This Man is not from God, for He works on the Sabbath”; but others wondered, “How can a sinner perform such miraculous signs?” They were divided, and they questioned the blind man again, “What do you think of this Man who opened your eyes?” And he answered, “He is a Prophet!”

After all this, the Jews refused to believe that the man had been blind and had recovered his sight; so they called his parents and asked them, “Is this your son? You say that he was born blind, but how is it that he now sees?” The parents answered, “He really is our son and he was born blind; but how it is that he now sees, we do not know, neither do we know Who opened his eyes. Ask him, he is old enough. Let him speak for himself.”

The parents said this because they feared the Jews, who had already agreed that whoever confessed Jesus to be the Christ was to be expelled from the synagogue. Because of that his parents said, “He is old enough, ask him.” So a second time the Pharisees called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Tell us the truth; we know that this Man is a sinner.”

He replied, “I do not know whether He is a sinner or not; I only know that I was blind and now I see.” They said to him, “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?” He replied, “I have told you already and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?”

Then they started to insult him. “Become His disciple yourself! We are disciples of Moses. We know that God spoke to Moses; but as for this Man, we do not know where He comes from.” The man replied, “It is amazing that you do not know where the Man comes from, and yet He opened my eyes! We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone honours God and does His will, Hod listens to him. Never, since the world began, has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person who was born blind. If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.”

They answered him, “You were born a sinner and now you teach us!” And they expelled him. Jesus heard that they had expelled him. He found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “Who is He, that I may believe in Him?” Jesus said, “You have seen Him and He is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe”; and worshipped Him.

Jesus said, “I came into this world to carry out a judgment : Those who do not see shall see, and those who see shall become blind.” Some Pharisees stood by and asked Him, “So we are blind?” And Jesus answered, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty. But you say, ‘We see’; this is the proof of your sin.”

Alternative reading (shorter version)

John 9 : 1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38

At that time, as Jesus walked along, He saw a man who had been blind from birth.

As Jesus said this, He made paste with spittle and clay, and rubbed it on the eyes of the blind man. Then He said, “Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam.” (This word means sent.) So the blind man went and washed and came back able to see. His neighbours, and all the people who used to see him begging, wondered. They said, “Is this not the beggar who used to sit here?” Some said, “He is the one.” Others said, “No, but he looks like him.” But the man himself said, “I am he.”

The people brought the man who had been born blind to the Pharisees. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made mud paste and opened his eyes. The Pharisees asked him again, “How did you recover your sight?” And he said, “He put paste on my eyes, and I washed, and now I see.”

Some of the Pharisees said, “This Man is not from God, for He works on the Sabbath”; but others wondered, “How can a sinner perform such miraculous signs?” They were divided, and they questioned the blind man again, “What do you think of this Man who opened your eyes?” And he answered, “He is a Prophet!”

They answered him, “You were born a sinner and now you teach us!” And they expelled him. Jesus heard that they had expelled him. He found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “Who is He, that I may believe in Him?” Jesus said, “You have seen Him and He is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe”; and worshipped Him.

Sunday, 22 March 2020 : Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Rose or Purple/Violet

Ephesians 5 : 8-14

You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Behave as children of light; the fruits of light are kindness, justice and truth in every form. You yourselves search out what pleases the Lord, and take no part in works of darkness that are of no benefit; expose them instead.

Indeed it is a shame even to speak of what those people do in secret, but as soon as it is exposed to the light, everything becomes clear; and what is unmasked, becomes clear through light.

Therefore it is said, “Awake, you who sleep; arise from the dead that the light of Christ may shine on you.”

Sunday, 22 March 2020 : Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Rose or 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.

Sunday, 22 March 2020 : Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Rose or Purple/Violet

1 Samuel 16 : 1b, 6-7, 10-13a

YHVH asked Samuel, “Fill your horn with oil and be on your way to Jesse the Bethlehemite for I have chosen My king from among his sons.”

As Jesse and his sons came, Samuel looked at Eliab the older and thought, “This must be YHVH’s anointed.” But YHVH told Samuel, “Do not judge by his looks or his stature for I have rejected him. YHVH does not judge as man judges; humans see with the eyes; YHVH sees the heart.”

Jesse presented seven of his sons to Samuel who said, “YHVH has chosen none of them. But are all your sons here?” Jesse replied, “There is still the youngest, tending the flock just now.” Samuel said to him, “Send for him and bring him to me; we shall not sit down to eat until he arrives.”

So Jesse sent for his youngest son and brought him to Samuel. He was a handsome lad with ruddy complexion and beautiful eyes. And YHVH spoke, “Go, anoint him for he is the one.” Samuel then took the horn of oil and anointed him in his brothers’ presence.