Monday, 18 March 2019 : 2nd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are all reminded of God’s mercy and love for each one of us, and we are reminded also of the need for us to be merciful and loving in the same way towards each other, towards our fellow brethren and all those whom we encounter in life. This is what each and every one of us need to realise, as we live our lives in this world, as fellow sinners in the presence of God.

It does not matter how great or how small our sins are, but the fact remains that we have been tainted by sin, and we have therefore become unworthy of God and His love due to the sins we committed, out of disobedience and refusal to listen to Him and the stubbornness in tracing our own path in life in defiance of His will. It does not matter how small our disobedience is, how insignificant our sins have been, as sin is still sin.

And yet, despite all of our stubbornness, wicked attitudes and refusal to listen to the Lord, the Lord remained full of patience and mercy, and willing to forgive us our sins and be reconciled with us, should we make the effort to turn away from those sinful ways and embrace the mercy and forgiveness that He has provided us all so generously. Why not? He even gave us His own beloved Son, to be our Lord, Saviour and Redeemer, by His suffering and death on the cross.

Now, if God, our Lord and loving Father has been merciful towards us, patient and loving despite all of our childish and stubborn attitudes all these while, then why should it not be that we, as God’s children, follow His examples and learn to love and to be merciful as He had done to us. But unfortunately, the reality is such that many of us mankind are still so stubborn in our hatred and jealousy for one another, that we prefer to cause pain and suffering, to be angry and unhappy instead of to forgive and to love.

That is why, God reminds us all again and again, with the love and mercy He Himself has shown us, so that all of us may also learn to be loving and to be merciful ourselves. It is through true and genuine love that we will be able to break free from the bondage to sin. If we continue to act with heart filled with hatred, jealousy, ego, pride and greed, we will continue to expose ourselves to the temptations to sin, and we will end up falling ever deeper into the chasm of sin.

That is why we need to make the conscious and sustained effort to resist those temptations, by restraining ourselves in the flesh, and being conscious of how sinful we have been, regardless of how serious our sins may have seemed as compared to the sins that others have committed. As mentioned earlier, sin is still sin, regardless of how small or how insignificant it may seem to be. Sin is a corruption and taint on our souls and our beings, and unless we are free from those sins, small or big, then we have no place in God’s kingdom.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us make use of the opportunities given to us during this season of Lent to turn our back on sin, on all the stubborn oppositions we have committed against God in our past actions and deeds, in our words and utterings. Let us all sharpen instead the edge of our humility and let go of the pride and greed in our hearts and minds, that we may come to be righteous in our actions, words and deeds, leaving behind all those attitudes that cause us to be full of pride and disobedience.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, a holy man and servant of God, one of the early Church fathers who was remembered for his loving and forgiving nature, which he presented in his writings, in which he wrote extensively about God’s love and mercy to His people. St. Cyril himself had endured many challenges and oppositions throughout his life and he was falsely accused many times by his rivals. Yet, he remained composed, and continued to serve the Lord and the people regardless of those challenges.

Therefore, are we able to follow in the footsteps of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, by growing more generous in love and forgiveness, keeping in mind that our most loving and patient God has loved us all so dearly, each and every moments that we live in this world. Are we able to change ourselves through embracing the way of mercy and the way of love? Then we must be loving and merciful at every living moments of our life. May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to bless us all in everything we do. Amen.

Monday, 18 March 2019 : 2nd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Bishops)

Luke 6 : 36-38

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not be a judge of others and you will not be judged; do not condemn and you will not be condemned; forgive and you will be forgiven; give and it will be given to you, and you will receive in your sack good measure, pressed down, full and running over. For the measure you give will be the measure you receive back.”

Monday, 18 March 2019 : 2nd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Bishops)

Psalm 78 : 8, 9, 11, 13

Do not remember against us the sins of our fathers. Let Your compassion hurry to us, for we have been brought very low.

Help us, God, our Saviour, for the glory of Your Name; forgive us for the sake of Your Name.

Listen to the groans of the prisoners; by the strength of Your arm, deliver those doomed to die.

Then we, Your people, the flock of Your pasture, will thank You forever. We will recount Your praise from generation to generation.

Monday, 18 March 2019 : 2nd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Bishops)

Daniel 9 : 4b-10

Lord God, great and to be feared, You keep Your covenant and love for those who love You and observe Your commandments. We have sinned, we have not been just, we have been rebels, and have turned away from Your commandments and laws. We have not listened to Your servants, the prophets, who spoke in Your Name to our kings, leaders, fathers and to all the people of the land.

Lord, justice is Yours, but ours is a face full of shame, as it is to this day – we, the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the whole of Israel, near and far away, in all the lands where You have dispersed us because of the infidelity we have committed against You. Ours is the shame, o Lord for we, our kings, princes, fathers, have sinned against You.

We hope for pardon and mercy from the Lord, because we have rebelled against Him. We have not listened to the voice of YHVH, our God, or followed the laws which He has given us through His servants, the prophets.

Monday, 11 March 2019 : 1st Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we continue to progress through this penitential period of Lent, we are reminded through the Scripture passages of the need for each one of us to be righteous in all of our actions and deeds, as we are all to be judged by our own actions and all of our deeds or misdeeds at the end of time. This was the core message of the Scriptures, a clear reminder to us to turn away from sin and be righteous.

In today’s Gospel passage we heard of the Last Judgment as detailed by the Lord Himself to His disciples, in which at the appointed time, God will gather all of His creatures, all mankind from the first man to the last, and assemble them all before Him, dividing them between the righteous and the wicked based on their actions and all the things that they have committed in life, as well as whatever they have not done in the opportunities which have been given to them.

Those who have not listened to the word of God, or acted in ways that He has shown us, as He made it clear before His people in our first reading today, taken from the Book of Deuteronomy, these will be placed among those who will be condemned because of their own sins. It is ultimately not God Who wants to condemn those who have been sinful and wicked, but rather, they themselves who voluntarily rejected God’s love.

In the passage from the Book of Deuteronomy, God spoke clearly before His people of what He expected from each and every one of them in their actions and deeds in life. They were expected to act justly towards one another, not to oppress others or cause sufferings to those who they encounter in life, not to slander others or gossip, or to cause pain and difficulties just for the sake of our own selfish desires.

Failing to do this means that the people have not been obedient to the ways of the Lord, and they sinned because they disobeyed God, His will and what He had taught them to do, as instead of putting their trust in God, they rather placed their trust in their own flawed, biased and unfair judgments. That is why we see so much suffering in our world today, because many of us have acted in ways that are selfish and desiring our own advantage, pleasure and joy, at the expense of others.

But, brothers and sisters in Christ, besides this, we must also keep in mind what we have heard in today’s Gospel passage, about the matter of sin caused by conscious omission of action, when we see something or an opportunity for us to act in a righteous and good way, and yet, refusing to act or to do something that is right and just. This is called the sin of omission, which all of us need to take note of.

That is what we need to be aware and be mindful of, as sin of omission is something that we ourselves may not realise, as we carry on our actions in life. We surely do not want to end up as those whom the Lord cast out from His sight just because they refused to do what is right and just, and chose willingly to ignore the plight of the suffering and the poor, the abandoned and the ostracised in their midst.

In this season of Lent, we are called to be righteous and to abandon our old ways of sin, and not to forget that we should also avoid the sin of omission. We may think that it is enough just for us to settle our own affairs and not needing to worry about others, or that as long as we are pious in life, then everything will be good and well for us. No, brothers and sisters in Christ, in this season of Lent, we are reminded yet again, that we need to extend and share our blessings with others, and care for the needs of others, especially when we are in the position of being able to do so.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, let us all grow more in our love for God and be more generous with our love and sharing towards our brethren, especially for those who are in need, so that our Lenten experience may be more wholesome, and our spiritual growth will be complete. Let us no longer be ignorant of the needs of others, but be sensitive to the sufferings of the world around us, and do what we can to love each other, just as God has shown us by His love for us. May God bless us all and our endeavours, and may He judge us to be worthy in the end, to receive the eternal glory with Him. Amen.

Monday, 11 March 2019 : 1st Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 25 : 31-46

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory with all His Angels, He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be brought before Him; and, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, so will He do with them, placing the sheep on His right hand and the goats on His left.”

“The King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, blessed of My Father! Take possession of the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed Me. I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you welcomed Me into your home. I was naked, and you clothed Me. I was sick, and you visited Me. I was in prison, and you came to see Me.’”

“Then the righteous will ask Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and give You food; thirsty, and give You something to drink; or a stranger, and welcome You; or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and go to see You?’ The King will answer, ‘Truly I say to you : just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of Mine, you did it to Me.’”

“Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Go, cursed people, out of My sight, into the eternal fire, which has been prepared for the devil and his angels! For I was hungry, and you did not give Me anything to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not welcome Me into your house; I was naked, and you did not clothe Me; I was sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’”

“They, too, will ask, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, thirsty, naked or a stranger, sick or in prison, and did not help You?’ The King will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you : just as you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it for Me.’ And these will go into eternal punishments; but the just, to eternal life.”

Monday, 11 March 2019 : 1st Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 18 : 8, 9, 10, 15

The Law of YHVH is perfect : it gives life to the soul. The word of YHVH is trustworthy : it gives wisdom to the simple.

The precepts of YHVH are right : they give joy to the heart. The commandments of YHVH are clear : they enlighten the eyes.

The fear of YHVH is pure, it endures forever; the judgments of YHVH are true, all of them just and right.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart find favour in Your sight, o YHVH – my Redeemer, my Rock!