Monday, 29 March 2021 : Monday of Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures we are called to focus our attention to the Lord and to turn our hearts and minds to Him. As we enter into this most solemn time of the Holy Week, we attune ourselves to the Lord and His truth, and seek Him with renewed faith and conviction. This Holy Week we are called to prepare ourselves to enter into the deepest mysteries of our faith, that of Our Lord’s Passion, His suffering, death and Resurrection.

In our first reading today, the Lord spoke to His people through the prophet Isaiah, speaking about the coming of His Servant Whom He would send into this world in order to do His will, and this Servant would be the One to do His will, to proclaim the glory of God and His salvation to the people, and all these would be fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the Saviour of all and the Son of God, born through Mary as the Son of Man. Through Christ, all that the Lord had promised His people would come to fruition.

That is why we all have hope, because Christ has entered into this world and brought with Him the assurance of eternal life for us. He has shown us the genuine love of God for us all His beloved ones, and by what He was about to do then, He gave us all the concrete evidence of His love, as He emptied Himself of all glory and power, and humbled Himself to take the condition of a slave, to be the One to bear the punishment and the sufferings due for us, bearing all of these upon Himself and dying on the Cross.

And in our Gospel passage today we heard of an interesting conversation that happened just as the Lord was about to embark into this final part of His earthly mission, when Mary, the sister of Lazarus, poured an expensive perfume of spikenard on the feet of the Lord, and then dried the Lord’s feet with her hair. This was truly an unusual circumstance, that must have surprised all who witnessed it, the disciples who were gathered at the house.

Judas Iscariot, the disciple, one of Twelve who would betray the Lord then criticised Mary for having wasted the good perfume in that way, and said that the perfume could have been sold for a good sum of money to be given to the poor. Of course it was mentioned that Judas had been helping himself to the money as one entrusted with the common fund of the Lord and His disciples.

As we can probably deduce, Judas Iscariot was not an uneducated person. On the contrary, he might be one of the most qualified among the disciples, being one who knew his way with money and other things, and the fact that he could later go on to the chief priests and plotted with them to hand over the Lord, and how he arranged with them in showing the One that had to be arrested, by kissing the Lord, were proofs of Judas Iscariot’s intelligence and capabilities.

However, Judas Iscariot ended up being tempted by all those desires of the world and sought more worldly pleasures and pursuits. One might have thought that the Lord’s revelation that He would suffer at the hands of His enemies and be crucified as the reason why Judas Iscariot chose to betray Him, and thinking that he would be better of to profit from the occasion, he ended up doing the unthinkable, selling off his own Lord and Master for a mere thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave at that time.

We can see here how Judas Iscariot threw everything for worldly possession, as limited, futile and terrible as those things can be. Meanwhile, on the other hand, Mary threw away everything for the Lord, and by using her hair to wipe the feet of the Lord clean, she humbled herself before all others, as the hair is the crown of a woman’s glory and by using that to wipe the feet, the dirtiest part of a person, she threw aside all worldly glory and honour, for the Lord.

And by rebuking Judas and praising what Mary had done, the Lord Himself showed how eventually, in a short while, He Himself would do the same, stripping Himself of all glory and taking up the position of a slave and a criminal, punished for all the multitudes of our sins, nailed to the Cross, and raised up high, scourged, bruised and wounded, in full obedience to the will of His Father.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we heard all of these, we are all called to distance ourselves from the distractions of the world, the temptations of worldly desires, so that we may be like Mary, and like Our Lord Himself, focusing our attention on the Lord alone and not on all sorts of temptations that will distract us and lead to our downfall just as Judas Iscariot had fallen. We must not allow our desires and those temptations from leading us down the wrong path.

Let us make the best use of this Holy Week as a time to reconnect ourselves with God, to refocus ourselves on Him, and to turn towards Him with renewed faith and zeal, and to rediscover that love and devotion that we should have for Him. Remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, that He still loves us all even after all of our disobedience and sins, and gave us His only begotten Son, to be our Saviour and Hope. He endured all the worst sufferings and rejections, so that we may live.

May the Lord be with us all and guide us in our journey, so that may come ever closer to Him and be ready to immerse ourselves deeply in the mysteries of His Passion, His suffering, death and Resurrection, and be filled with true grace and faith. May God bless us all and our good efforts, and help us to remain firm in faith. Amen.

Monday, 29 March 2021 : Monday of Holy Week (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 12 : 1-11

At that time, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where He had raised Lazarus, the dead man, to life. Now they gave a dinner for Him, and while Martha waited on them, Lazarus sat at the table with Jesus.

Then Mary took a pound of costly perfume, made from genuine spikenard and anointed the feet of Jesus, wiping them with her hair. And the whole house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

Judas Iscariot – the disciple who was to betray Jesus – remarked, “This perfume could have been sold for three hundred silver coins, and the money given to the poor.” Judas, indeed, had no concern for the poor; he was a thief, and as he held the common purse, he used to help himself to the funds.

But Jesus spoke up, “Leave her alone. Was she not keeping it for the day of My burial? (The poor you always have with you, but you will not always have Me.)” Many Jews heard that Jesus was there and they came, not only because of Jesus, but also to see Lazarus whom He had raised from the dead.

So the chief priests thought about killing Lazarus as well, for many of the Jews were drifting away because of him, and believing in Jesus.

Monday, 29 March 2021 : Monday of Holy Week (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 26 : 1, 2, 3, 13-14

The Lord is my Light and my Salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the Rampart of my life; I will not be afraid.

When the wicked rush at me to devour my flesh, it is my foes who stumble, my enemies fall.

Though an army encamp against me, my heart will not fail; though war break out against me, I will still be confident.

I hope, I am sure, that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Trust in the Lord, be strong and courageous. Yes, put your hope in the Lord!

Monday, 29 March 2021 : Monday of Holy Week (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 42 : 1-7

Here is My Servant Whom I uphold, My Chosen One in Whom I delight. I have put My Spirit upon Him, and He will bring justice to the nations. He does not shout or raise His voice. Proclamations are not heard in the streets.

A broken reed He will not crush, nor will He snuff out the light of the wavering wick. He will make justice appear in truth. He will not waver or be broken until He has established justice on earth; the islands are waiting for His law.

Thus says God, YHVH, Who created the heavens and stretched them out, Who spread the earth and all that comes from it, Who gives life and breath to those who walk on it. I, YHVH, have called you for the sake of justice; I will hold your hand to make you firm; I will make you as a covenant to the people, and as a light to the nations, to open eyes that do not see, to free captives from prison, to bring out to light those who sit in darkness.

Monday, 6 April 2020 : Monday of Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of God and as we enter into the Holy Week proper, we are called to focus our attention on our Lord and Saviour, the Servant of God Whom has been prophesied about and promised to us all through the prophet Isaiah. In our first reading, taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, we heard of the One Whom God sent into the world to bring forth justice and peace, and to reconcile the world with Himself.

This prophecy reminds us yet again that God has so kindly sent us His Redeemer in Christ His Son, Who has revealed the truth of His salvation and desire to save His people, by His coming into this world and by His readiness to take up the Cross and suffer for our sake, which is highlighted again through today’s Gospel passage, from which we heard about the story of how Mary anointed the feet of the Lord just before He was about to commence into His Passion, suffering and death.

It is this same Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, of whom her own sister Martha complained against the Lord because she chose to listen to the Lord attentively rather than to help her sister, not because she purposely wanted to make her work difficult, but because Martha was being too preoccupied with all the hassle of her preparations and plans, all the concerns she had, that she had forgotten what is truly the most important thing for her at that time, and that is to welcome the Lord wholeheartedly into our hearts and into our beings.

In the same way, in our Gospel passage today we heard then of the moment when the Lord was anointed on His feet by the same Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, and how one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot immediately criticised Mary for doing such an action, saying that the perfume used for the anointing should have been used by selling the proceeds to be given to the poor. Yet, as mentioned in the same passage, Judas said this not because he was righteous or faithful in any way, but rather out of the greed and desire for the benefit he could have gained from his habit of stealing the money from the common treasury for himself.

The Lord rebuked Judas because of this hypocrisy he had, his lack of sincere faith and commitment, unlike that which Mary had, in humbling herself before everyone who were present. Judas gave in to the temptations to sin, by continuing to remain in his wicked practices, that he eventually fell deeper into sin, betraying the Lord for the price of a mere thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave. His lack of faith and focus on the Lord should indeed be contrasted with Mary’s great faith and attention she gave to Him.

Through all these which we have heard in today’s Scripture passages, we can see how our greatest enemy is indeed our pride, ego and our greed and desire. It was Martha’s pride that prevented her from spending time with God and preoccupied her with all the things she was busy preparing for the Lord. It was Judas’ pride that made him to disdain the actions of Mary and his greed made him to crave for that ‘dirty money’ he had gained from his sinful actions, which eventually led to his downfall.

Meanwhile, Mary humbled herself such that she stooped down to do something that only a slave would do, to wash the feet of a person, and worse still, she used even the crown of her beauty, the hairs of her head to do that. This is the symbolism of a great and enduring love that one has for another person, that one is willing to do such a feat and humble oneself to love the other person, which is true sign of Christian love and virtue. And this is exactly what the Lord Himself had done, in humbling Himself and in emptying Himself, taking up the position of a slave, to show His love for each and every one of us.

We are called today to reflect on the great significance of this Holy Week for us. Holy Week is truly a time for us to redirect our attention to God and all that He had done for us, in caring for us and providing us with all that we need, and ultimately, in how He has saved us from certain death and destruction through His Passion, suffering and death. Are we able to appreciate this great love of God better, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we able to turn wholeheartedly towards God, and draw closer to Him in this blessed Holy Week, from now and beyond?

May God be with us always, and may He strengthen us in our resolve to live our lives faithfully, that we may be more humble and be more open and willing to listen to God, and get rid from ourselves all the pride, ego, ambition and hubris in our hearts, all the desires and greed that can lead us to fall into temptation to sin. May He empower us all to live ever more faithfully in His presence from now on. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 6 April 2020 : Monday of Holy Week (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 12 : 1-11

At that time, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where He had raised Lazarus, the dead man, to life. Now they gave a dinner for Him, and while Martha waited on them, Lazarus sat at the table with Jesus.

Then Mary took a pound of costly perfume, made from genuine spikenard and anointed the feet of Jesus, wiping them with her hair. And the whole house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

Judas Iscariot – the disciple who was to betray Jesus – remarked, “This perfume could have been sold for three hundred silver coins, and the money given to the poor.” Judas, indeed, had no concern for the poor; he was a thief, and as he held the common purse, he used to help himself to the funds.

But Jesus spoke up, “Leave her alone. Was she not keeping it for the day of My burial? (The poor you always have with you, but you will not always have Me.)” Many Jews heard that Jesus was there and they came, not only because of Jesus, but also to see Lazarus whom He had raised from the dead.

So the chief priests thought about killing Lazarus as well, for many of the Jews were drifting away because of him, and believing in Jesus.

Monday, 6 April 2020 : Monday of Holy Week (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 26 : 1, 2, 3, 13-14

The Lord is my Light and my Salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the Rampart of my life; I will not be afraid.

When the wicked rush at me to devour my flesh, it is my foes who stumble, my enemies fall.

Though an army encamp against me, my heart will not fail; though war break out against me, I will still be confident.

I hope, I am sure, that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Trust in the Lord, be strong and courageous. Yes, put your hope in the Lord!

Monday, 6 April 2020 : Monday of Holy Week (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 42 : 1-7

Here is My Servant Whom I uphold, My Chosen One in Whom I delight. I have put My Spirit upon Him, and He will bring justice to the nations. He does not shout or raise His voice. Proclamations are not heard in the streets.

A broken reed He will not crush, nor will He snuff out the light of the wavering wick. He will make justice appear in truth. He will not waver or be broken until He has established justice on earth; the islands are waiting for His law.

Thus says God, YHVH, Who created the heavens and stretched them out, Who spread the earth and all that comes from it, Who gives life and breath to those who walk on it. I, YHVH, have called you for the sake of justice; I will hold your hand to make you firm; I will make you as a covenant to the people, and as a light to the nations, to open eyes that do not see, to free captives from prison, to bring out to light those who sit in darkness.

Monday, 26 March 2018 : Monday of Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day the Scripture readings bring us ever closer to the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who would suffer and die on the cross, as we commemorate it in Good Friday in just a few days away from today. In today’s Gospel we heard of Mary, one of the constant followers of Jesus, who came up to Him during the dinner meal and anointed His feet with the most costly perfume and dried it with her own hair.

In this seemingly simple action and what happened afterwards all of us Christians are reminded in this time of the Holy Week of Who it is that ought to be the centre of our lives, that is the Lord, Our God. The Lord Jesus Who came into the world and dwelled among us, is God, and through Him God was willing to save us all mankind from our fate of destruction because of our sins.

And because He is God, that is why, as Mary showed us all, that He alone is worthy of all worship, glory and honour, and thus she used the most precious perfume to anoint His feet. At the same time, this is also a practice which is also done on the bodies of the dead, to prevent the bodies from having bad odour due to decomposition, which also therefore is a premonition of what the Lord was to go through, His suffering and death on the cross.

Mary humbled herself before the Lord, by bowing before Him and using her own hair to dry the Lord’s feet from the perfume she anointed Him with. For a woman, the hair is the most precious and the most important part of her body, her most valuable and prized possession. For Mary to make use of her hair to honour the Lord is for her to give her very best to the Lord, to do what she could, in the best way she could commit, to serve the Lord.

Let us compare this faith to what the disciple of Jesus, Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, said at the same occasion. Judas sneered at Mary and ridiculed her for what she had done, and he mentioned how the expensive perfume she had used on the Lord’s feet could have been sold for a rich sum of money, and the money given to the poor instead. And the Lord rebuked Judas for his comment against Mary, because he was mistaken in his remarks.

First of all, as mentioned in the Gospels, Judas did not make the comment because he was truly caring towards the poor and the needy. Instead, as he was in charge of the Lord and His disciples’ funds and money, he could have stolen the funds and the money obtained by the selling of the expensive perfume, and put the money into his own pockets. He was thus in fact very corrupt in his action and in his thoughts, committing sin against God by slandering his fellow men, and by putting money ahead of God, and by telling lies and having a hypocrite’s faith.

That is also why Judas later on betrayed the Lord Jesus, because he was tempted by the allure of money, as he found the opportunity to sell Him over to the chief priests and the enemies of the Lord, who priced Him at a mere thirty silver coins, the price of a slave. Later on, Judas would regret this betrayal, but it was too late for him, as what has been done, cannot be undone. This is the proof of just how dangerous it is, when we put our selfish desires foremost in our minds and in our hearts.

Instead of following Judas’ example, we should imitate Mary, who gave her all to the Lord. She did not hesitate to humble herself before the Lord, and loved Him and followed Him wherever He went. This is the kind of faith which we all should have in our own lives, not the faith of a hypocrite, not the empty faith of someone like Judas Iscariot, and all those who refused to believe in the Lord with all of their heart, but only paying lip service to Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, as we continue to progress through the Holy Week celebrations, let us all reflect on all these, and strive to live more worthily of the Lord, and by turning our hearts and minds towards God. Let us all become ever more humble like Mary, and love God with all of our hearts. Let us all realise just how sinful we have been, and in need of God’s mercy and forgiveness.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to guide us on our way, that we will always walk in His path, and eventually find our way towards His loving embrace, and be fully reconciled with Him, Our loving God and Father. May the Lord bless us all and our endeavours of faith. Amen.

Monday, 26 March 2018 : Monday of Holy Week (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 12 : 1-11

At that time, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where He had raised Lazarus, the dead man, to life. Now they gave a dinner for Him, and while Martha waited on them, Lazarus sat at the table with Jesus.

Then Mary took a pound of costly perfume, made from genuine spikenard and anointed the feet of Jesus, wiping them with her hair. And the whole house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

Judas Iscariot – the disciple who was to betray Jesus – remarked, “This perfume could have been sold for three hundred silver coins, and the money given to the poor.” Judas, indeed, had no concern for the poor; he was a thief, and as he held the common purse, he used to help himself to the funds.

But Jesus spoke up, “Leave her alone. Was she not keeping it for the day of My burial? (The poor you always have with you, but you will not always have Me.)” Many Jews heard that Jesus was there and they came, not only because of Jesus, but also to see Lazarus whom He had raised from the dead.

So the chief priests thought about killing Lazarus as well, for many of the Jews were drifting away because of him, and believing in Jesus.