Monday, 21 March 2016 : Monday of the Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about how Mary, the sister of Lazarus anointed the feet of Jesus her Lord as He was sitting down for a meal with her and her family, as well as with His disciples. And we heard how Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus, accused her of wasting such precious and expensive perfume on Him, when the perfume could have been sold for the proceeds to be given to the poor.

And of course, the Gospel also explained that Judas had been helping himself to the funds of Jesus and His group, and therefore, he had been a dishonest steward to the money which Jesus and His disciples had gathered. It was explained that he was a thief, and thus, naturally, we would find it easy to dismiss him and his comments as the comment of a thief and a slanderer.

But, remember, Judas was a sinner, and so do we too. Mary was a sinner as well, and unworthy as she was, thus, she wiped the feet of her Lord with her own hair. This has a parallel in another Gospel, where the woman who did the same deed to Jesus, was a sinner, who tearfully anointed the feet of Jesus with perfume, and wiped it dry with her hair.

And Judas also made a similar comment in that case, a condescending remark, rebuking and chiding the woman for doing what she had done, and saying that the proceeds could have been given to the poor should she had sold it instead of using it all on Jesus’ feet. But then, let us all ask ourselves, and let us all observe ourselves in this world, in all the events that we observe, is it not all just about the same?

Yes, many people in the world today attacked the Church and criticised the Church, the priests and the faithful, and they criticised the way that we ran things in the Church, criticising our supposed hypocrisy and indifference, especially those who misunderstood and thought that what we are doing are not in the way of the Lord, and instead reflecting an elitist attitude.

What am I talking about, brothers and sisters in Christ? I am talking about those who criticised the Church and our faith for having not done enough for the poor and the suffering in the world, and for having churches and buildings made from wonderful and precious materials, gold, silver and all the other riches of the world. They accuse us of being hypocritical and indifferent, but the reality, is actually really, very different. For the ways of this world, is not like the ways of our Lord.

The fact is that, the Church had done massively to help the poor and the destitute around the world, providing care for countless millions, education for those who once had chance for none, housing and care for those who were homeless, love and care for those who were ostracised and cast out from the society, and ultimately, care for countless people who had once no hope, and now they had a better future.

It was not perfect indeed, and there are still ever more things that we can do, in order to help countless other millions who are still out of the reach of the loving hands of God through His Church. But this is where we all need to come in. Remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, the Church is not just the institution of priests, bishops, the Pope and all the hierarchy of the Church. The Church is truly the body of the unity of all those who are faithful in the Lord, which means including all of us as well.

It is the combined efforts of the whole Church that can make a great difference in our world today, and thus, we have to realise that many of us have yet to contribute to the efforts of the Universal Church in helping our fellow brethren. And in this time when we are preparing to welcome the joy of Easter, let us reflect on this, as there are still so many things we can do to share that joy with those who have none. And if we have not done so, what are we waiting for?

And lastly, remember, about the rich decorations and the gold and silver vessels in the Church? Just as Mary had anointed the feet of Jesus with the very expensive perfume, it is also the same for what the Church had done. Why are all the vessels used in the Mass made from precious metals? That is because it is how we honour the Lord, Who is truly present in the Eucharist, the bread and wine made into the very substance of His own Body and Blood, that we cannot spare anything less than our most precious earthly things to be the vessels to contain such precious and great a gift for our salvation.

We glorify God through such means, and help one another to approach God with such means. Through what decent methods the Church had done, we have tried our best to bring Heaven itself to earth. A true and pure worship is when all of us the faithful are gathered together, and are so immersed in the environment and all the earthly glories placed together, that we indeed are present not just on earth, but in the sanctuary of the Temple of God in Heaven itself.

Therefore, as we all prepare for the joys of Easter, the celebrations that we are going to revel in as we share the joy and hope of our Lord’s resurrection, we too should look forward to our own resurrection and rise into glory, which all begin from ourselves, from how we live our lives. Let us all do what we can to make ourselves worthy of the Lord, and let us begin by putting more effort to help one another particularly in helping out the efforts of the Church in its charitable activities around the world.

May God help us to make this Holy Week a very meaningful time for us, and if we have not begun, let us all initiate a very important change in our lives, by seeking to turn away from all things that kept us away from truly being able to reach out to the Lord, and finding our way to Him through repentance, through commitment and love for Him. Let us all be saved in His grace. Amen.

Monday, 21 March 2016 : Monday of the 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 to 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, 21 March 2016 : Monday of the 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 se 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, 21 March 2016 : Monday of the 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 spreads 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.