Wednesday, 23 March 2016 : Wednesday of the Holy Week, 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 heard again how Judas Iscariot went on to betray the Lord Jesus, bargaining with the chief priests and the Pharisees to hand Him over for the thirty pieces of silver coins they offered to him. Today is the traditional day in the tradition of our Church when it was told that Judas went to deal with the Pharisees about the price he would receive for betraying his Lord and Messiah.

And how is this relevant to all of us, brothers and sisters in Christ? As tomorrow is the beginning of the Easter Triduum, we should enter it with good understanding of what we are celebrating, so that when we go through it, we may find ourselves t benefit far more rather than if we do not understand or are aware of what all the important celebrations of our liturgical year are about, especially that of the upcoming few days.

Judas chose the world and its wealth instead of Jesus, His teachings and truth. He was a thief whom Jesus called to be one of His disciples. God called His disciples from various origins. Some were fishermen, some were zealots and tax collectors, and some were criminals like Judas. But what distinguished him from the others of the Twelve was that, even though the others abandoned their past lives, leaving behind everything to follow the Lord, but Judas did not.

We know how St. Peter, the chief of all the Apostles and the most devoted disciple of Jesus once also betrayed Jesus when out of fear as the Jews arrested his Lord and Master, and under suspicion because he was counted among His disciples, then he denied knowing Him, denying his own Lord, to Whom he had promised that he would even lay down his life for Him.

But what is the difference here? The difference is that, while St. Peter realised the gravity of his sins, and in the same manner, Judas also did, when he regretted having sold out his Master for thirty pieces of silver, but while Judas gave up on himself, and out of despair, hanged himself on a tree, seeking the easy way out of the trouble, but St. Peter began a long path to redemption and greatness.

Judas did not repent from his sins even though he did feel regret for his actions. He had given himself up to the temptations of the world, the temptation of money, which he was not able to resist throughout the time when he was following Jesus. He helped himself to the funds of the group, stealing from the money that should have been used to help the poor and for the common good for his own selfish benefits. And therefore, he was condemned because of his failure to turn himself away from sin, resisting those sins and seeking forgiveness from God.

St. Peter professed one more time his faith to the Lord when He asked of him three times, whether he loved Him. And as St. Peter professed his sincere and genuine love for his Lord, the Lord was happy and pleased with His faith, and entrusted to him the flock which He had established in this world, that he would become the anchor and the core through which the Church of God would grow and encompass all the people who have been saved in Him.

In all these, we have to realise one simple fact, that even all saints were themselves once sinners, and some of them were even great sinners. St. Augustine of Hippo is one of the most prominent and well-cited example, of how even a great sinner can become a great saint, only if he or she would come to realise the gravity of their sins, and know that they need to do something about it, and indeed, take the necessary action.

Today, we commemorate the feast of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, one of the first saints hailing from the New World, or which is now known as the American continent. St. Turibius de Mogrovejo lived a few hundred years ago during the time when the people living in those places lived under slavery and harsh treatment by the Spanish who ruled over them and pressed hard on their lives, exploiting them at every possible opportunity.

St. Turibius de Mogrovejo led the people to live faithfully, and in his actions, he showed his examples to them, and worked among them even though heat, through difficult and challenging times. He helped to build facilities and infrastructures that benefited the indigenous peoples, and therefore helping them to live more comfortably and as a champion of their rights, St. Turibius de Mogrovejo helped the people to rediscover their rights.

In all these, we all should see how even the act of a single man could have such a great impact on many others. It does not need extraordinary works and events in order for us to do something that is good and something that can benefit our brethren around us. What we need to do is that we need to begin doing something and committing ourselves to do things that will bring happiness to others, and begin from small things and taking small steps to help us to become ever more righteous and committed to our Lord.

May God bless us all strengthen us, and may He keep us close to His side, and awaken in us the strong desire to love Him, so that in all the things we do, we will always strive to reach out to Him and to the salvation He offers us all with love and great kindness. God be with us all, now and forever. Amen.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016 : Wednesday of the Holy Week, Memorial of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 26 : 14-25

At that time, one of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “How much will you give me if I hand Him over to you?” They promised to give him thirty pieces of silver, and from then on, he kept looking for the best way to hand Jesus over to them.

On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and said to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare the Passover meal for You?” Jesus answered, “Go into the city, to the house of a certain man, and tell him, ‘The Master says : My hour is near and I will celebrate the Passover with My disciples in your house.'”

The disciples did as Jesus had ordered, and prepared the Passover meal. When it was evening, Jesus sat at table with the Twelve. While they were eating, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you : one of you will betray Me.” They were deeply distressed and they asked Him, one after the other, “You do not mean me, do You, Lord?”

He answered, “The one who dips his bread with Me will betray Me. The Son of Man is going as the Scriptures say He will. But alas for that one who betrays the Son of Man : better for him not to have been born.” Judas, who was betraying Him, also asked, “You do not mean me, Master, do You?” Jesus replied, “You have said it.”

Wednesday, 23 March 2016 : Wednesday of the Holy Week, Memorial of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 68 : 8-10, 21-22, 31 and 33-34

Since I am held in contempt for Your sake, and shame has covered My face. I have become a stranger to My kindred, an alien to My mother’s sons. Zeal for Your house consumes Me as fire and those who insult You insult me as well.

Dishonour has driven Me to despair; I looked for sympathy and there was none, for comforters and there was no one. They gave Me poison for food and vinegar to drink.

I will praise the Name of God in song; I will glorify Him with thanksgiving. Let the lowly witness this and be glad. You who seek God, may your hearts be revived. For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise those in captivity.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016 : Wednesday of the Holy Week, Memorial of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, Bishop (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 50 : 4-9a

The Lord YHVH has taught Me, so I speak as His disciple and I know how to sustain the weary. Morning after morning He wakes Me up to hear, to listen like a disciple.

The Lord YHVH has opened My ear. I have not rebelled, nor have I withdrawn. I offered My back to those who strike Me, My cheeks to those who pulled My beard; neither did I shield My face from blows, spittle and disgrace.

I have not despaired, for the Lord YHVH comes to My help. So, like a flint I set My face, knowing that I will not be disgraced. He Who avenges Me is near. Who then will accuse Me? Let us confront each other. Who is now My accuser? Let Him approach. If the Lord is My help, who will condemn Me?

Tuesday, 22 March 2016 : Tuesday of the Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, it is very clear from the Scripture readings today that we are really getting ever closer to the pinnacle of our liturgical year celebrations, that is the Easter Triduum, celebrating the Last Supper of our Lord where He instituted the Eucharist, giving us His Body and Blood to share as a new covenant between us and God, and which was made complete and perfect through His ultimate sacrifice on the cross, and which culminates in the celebration of His glorious resurrection.

In today’s Gospel, we saw first how Judas Iscariot was about to betray Jesus, his Lord and Master. Judas betrayed his Master to the Pharisees and the elders at the Temple, for a sum of thirty silver coins. Such was the price of a slave at that time, and which means, Judas sold out his own Master, the Lord God and King of Kings, at a price no more than the price of a mere slave.

And thus our Lord lowered Himself to be like a slave, and even lesser than a slave, for He had brought Himself to the lowest of the lowest darkness, in order to bring us all who have fallen into the same darkness, and lift us back up into the light. It was because God loves us all that He had endeavoured to do so, and willingly He went forth carrying out the mission which His Father had entrusted Him with, the salvation of all mankind.

The world itself did not appreciate Him, and they ridiculed Him, treated Him badly and rejected Him, and they refused to listen to His message, His teachings and His truth. But God had mercy on us because of His love, and because of that love which would not allow Him to abandon us all in the darkness on our own, unless it is by our own desire and conscious choice that we had chosen to abandon Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, indeed, the time of Lent is ending, and the season of fasting and abstinence to prepare ourselves for the joyous celebration of Easter is coming to an end soon. However, it does not mean that we return back to our sinful ways again. God wanted to save us, because He does not want us to fall into eternal damnation, and through the Church, He had shown us the path to reach out to His salvation, freely offered to all.

If God had loved us all so much, have we ourselves love Him as well? Or have we instead rejected His love and spurned His mercy? Do we want to be like Judas His traitorous disciple who loved money and worldliness more than he loved the Lord? It is a choice that we need to make, that in our lives, all of us should be conscious and be aware that all of our actions have implications to our salvation or to our damnation.

Let us not end our preparation for Easter just with the coming of Easter. If we have sincerely tried to abandon our sinfulness, casting aside the darkness and the wickedness that had coloured our lives all these while, then let us continue to do so, for the devil is always round about us, manipulating the world and all its forces to oppose the Lord and all of His good works. This means that temptations are always around us, and if we are not careful, we may fall into temptation and sin once again.

May God help us in our journey of this life, and may He strengthen the faith in each one of us, and the love which we should have for God, for His laws and for our fellow brethren. May He make us all realise how much He has loved us, and how much He has blessed us, and therefore awaken in us the desire for repentance, to turn our backs to sin, and to return to Him with all our heart. May He be with us now and forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016 : Tuesday of the Holy Week (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 13 : 21-33, 36-38

At that time, after speaking to His disciples at the Last Supper, Jesus was distressed in Spirit, and said plainly, “Truly, one of you will betray Me.” The disciples then looked at one another, wondering whom He meant. One of the disciples, the one Jesus loved, was reclining near Jesus; so Simon Peter signalled him to ask Jesus whom He meant.

And the disciple, who was reclining near Jesus, asked Him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “I shall dip a piece of bread in the dish, and he to whom I give it, is the one.” So Jesus dipped the bread and gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And as Judas took the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus then said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.”

None of the others, reclining at the table, understood why Jesus said this to Judas. As Judas had the common purse, they may have thought that Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or, “Give something to the poor.” Judas left as soon as he had eaten the bread. It was night.

When Judas had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him. God will glorify Him, and He will glorify Him very soon. My children, I am with you for only a little while; you will look for Me, but as I already told the Jews, so now I tell you : where I am going you cannot come.”

Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but afterwards you will.” Peter said, “Lord, why can I not follow You now? I am ready to give my life for You.”

“To give your life for Me?” Jesus asked Peter. “Truly, I tell you, the cock will not crow, before you have denied Me three times.”

Tuesday, 22 March 2016 : Tuesday of the Holy Week (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 70 : 1-2, 3-4a, 5-6ab, 15ab and 17

In You, o Lord, I seek refuge; let me not be disgraced. In Your justice help me and deliver me, turn Your ear to me and save me!

Be my Rock of refuge, a Stronghold to give me safety, for You are my Rock and my Fortress. Rescue me, o my God, from the hand of the wicked.

For You, o Lord, have been my Hope, my Trust, o God, from my youth. I have relied on You from birth : from my mother’s womb You brought me forth.

My lips will proclaim Your intervention and tell of Your salvation all day. You have taught me from my youth and until now I proclaim Your marvels.