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, 30 March 2020 : 5th Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture which spoke to us about the fate of two women, who had encountered troubles under two different circumstances. Yet, both of the occurrences had the similarity of them being examples of how God mercifully and lovingly cared for His people, protected those who put their faith in Him and sought Him for help. The Lord saved Susanna, a righteous woman from false accusation in our first reading today, while in the Gospel He saved the woman caught in the act of adultery.

In our first reading today, we heard how the innocent and faithful woman, Susanna, who was framed by her two prosecutors, two respected elders who lusted over her and wanted to commit sin with her. Susanna stood her ground and refused to submit to those men’s desires, and she almost lost her life to false accusation as the two elders abused their authority to falsely accuse Susanna of adultery and promiscuity while it was their own sins that led them to the attempted rape of Susanna.

Then in our Gospel passage today, we heard of how the Pharisees led a woman caught in the act of adultery to the Lord Jesus, condemning her to death by stoning in accordance to the Jewish customs and laws, and they attempted to use her as a test for Jesus, seeing His reaction and response hoping that He would be trapped by what He said or told them. If Jesus had condemned the woman, then the Pharisees could then say that Jesus was following the example of the Pharisee and therefore discredit His teaching authority. If Jesus said that the woman should be set free, the Pharisees then could condemn Jesus for siding with a sinner.

But the Lord has Wisdom none of those people had, which in the first reading today we heard how God’s Spirit and Wisdom descended upon Daniel, who rose up and defended Susanna, forcing the two elders to reopen the investigation when they had almost succeeded in silencing her by condemning her to death. Daniel trapped the two elders in their own words and false testimonies, and they were convicted by their own words.

In a similar manner, we heard how the Lord Jesus deftly manoeuvred around the Pharisees’ attempt to trap and corner Him using the adulterous woman, by asking those who had no sin to cast the first stone on the woman. This was a perfectly wise set of words to say in that occasion as it is a reality that every one has sinned before, and the longer that one has lived, the more sins naturally he or she had committed.

That is why the people gathered left, one by one, beginning with those who were the eldest, up to the youngest ones, and in the end, no one was left to condemn the woman. And here we have to take note that, the only one who is without sin at that place and time, was none other than Jesus Himself. And yet, did Jesus cast the first stone to the woman? He did not. He forgave the woman her sins, but told her not to sin again, and live righteously from then on.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, from today’s Scripture passages, clearly there are two important learning points that all of us should spend some time to reflect on. First of all, is the fact that God loves us all, and His love for us is even greater than the hatred He has on our sins. And for all those who have faith in Him and put their trust in Him, God will provide for them and protect them, just as what He had done to Susanna.

And then secondly, God wants us all to be reformed and to be cleansed from our sins, our wickedness, from all those things that brought about our downfall. As He told the adulterous woman, that she had been forgiven and yet, she must not sin again, it shows us that in the end, sin is something that we must distance ourselves from, and which we have to be vigilant against, as God is ever loving and forgiving towards us, but we must not take this for granted and continue to live in the state of sin.

Are we willing to turn once again towards God and seek His forgiveness and mercy for our sins? Are we able to make the commitment to change our ways of life and embrace once again the righteousness of God, rejecting all sorts of wickedness in life? This is what we have all been called to do in our lives, and especially in this season of Lent we are encouraged to spend our time with greater devotion to God, focusing our attention on Him and doing what we can to restrain our desires to sin.

May the Lord be our guide, and may He strengthen us in our resolve to follow Him and to put our trust in Him from now on. May God bless us always and may He be with us all, throughout this journey of faith in life. Amen.

Monday, 30 March 2020 : 5th Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 8 : 1-11

At that time, Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At daybreak He appeared in the Temple again. All the people came to Jesus, and He sat down and began to teach them. Then the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees brought in a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They made her stand in front of everyone.

“Master,” they said, “this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now the Law of Moses orders that such women be stoned to death; but You, what do You say?” They said this to test Jesus, in order to have some charge against Him. Jesus bent down and started writing on the ground with His finger. And as they continued to ask Him, He straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who has no sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And He bent down again, writing on the ground.

As a result of these words, they went away, one by one, starting with the elders, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before Him. Then Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go away and do not sin again.”

Monday, 30 March 2020 : 5th Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : 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.