Wednesday, 13 March 2019 : 1st Week of Lent, Sixth Anniversary of the Election of Pope Francis, Vicar of Christ, Supreme Pontiff and Bishop of Rome (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scriptures reminding us about the need for us to listen to the words of the Lord and repent from our sinful ways. He has called us through His many messengers and prophets, and finally, through His own Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord, He has revealed to us what it means for us to be Christians, to abandon our past way of sin and embracing the new wisdom and truth in God.

Today’s readings are centred on repentance of sins and the forgiveness that God will give to all those who have willingly abandoned their past waywardness and sincerely desiring to be forgiven. God did not desire our destruction but our salvation, not our suffering and pain, but rather our reconciliation with Him. That is why, in our first reading today we heard of the story of the redemption of Nineveh.

At that time, the prophet Jonah was sent to the city of Nineveh, the capital city of the Assyrian Empire. The prophet Jonah initially refused to obey the Lord’s commands and tried to flee away from Him. But the Lord made it such that Jonah encountered a great storm on his way in a boat, and he had to ask to be thrown into the sea, and swallowed by a large whale. The whale brought him safely back to land, and the prophet obeyed the Lord’s commands to bring His message to the people of Nineveh.

Nineveh was a great city, as the capital city of the great Empire of the Assyrians, which covered most of the known world at that time. It is also the embodiment of what is evil and wicked, as the Assyrians were known to be a warlike nation, and how the Assyrians had destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel and brought its people into exile. One of its kings, Sennacherib even attempted to conquer and destroy Jerusalem, and boasted that he has destroyed many idols of the people conquered by Assyria’s armies, and how God’s people would be no different.

Therefore, Assyria and especially Nineveh, where its kings and nobles lived, was the embodiment of evil and wickedness, in the sight and thoughts of the people of God. That was what the prophet Jonah must also have had in mind, when he came to Nineveh bearing God’s warning of destruction and annihilation. Then, unexpectedly, the king, the nobles and the entire people of Nineveh repented from their sins and humbled themselves before God.

They mourned before the Lord, humbled themselves, wearing sackcloth and showing sincere regret for the wicked deeds that they have committed. And God saw their sincere desire to be forgiven, and they were forgiven from their sins. God held back the destruction that He had planned to bring upon them, as ultimately, God loves every single one of His children, without exception, even the greatest of sinners.

The prophet Jonah became angry, and was fuming over the Lord’s decision to spare the people of Nineveh. But God explained to Jonah, how His mercy and love is extended freely to all, even to the worst among sinners, as long as they desire to be forgiven and has the sincere desire to turn away from their sins. God despises not the sinners, but the sins they have committed, and their stubbornness in pursuing that path of sin.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us are reminded of this generous mercy and love that God has given to each and every one of us. In this season of Lent in particular, we are called to reflect on our own sinfulness, our own wickedness, all the things we have done in disobedience against God. God wants us to turn away from those sins, and to be reconciled to Himself. And we should not be wasting this opportunity that God has provided to us.

Are we willing to make that commitment to embrace a new life, not of sin but of righteousness and justice? Are we willing to put the effort to renew our lives, that while once we may have acted out of selfishness and wicked desires in our hearts and minds, now we are able to turn away from those sins and enter into a new existence of faith with God? This requires a lot of effort and commitment from us, but if we are able to put our effort into it, and with God’s guidance nothing is impossible.

Today, we also commemorate the sixth anniversary of the election of our Holy Father, the Vicar of Christ, Pope Francis as the leader of the entire Universal Church. Let us all spend some time to pray for our Pope, that God will always guide and protect His Vicar, in all the work and the leadership he has shown in the management of the entire universal Church of God. Let us all pray together, and work together, with the intention of our Holy Father the Pope, for the salvation of all of God’s people. Amen.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019 : 1st Week of Lent, Sixth Anniversary of the Election of Pope Francis, Vicar of Christ, Supreme Pontiff and Bishop of Rome (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 11 : 29-32

At that time, as the crowd increased, Jesus spoke the following words : “People of the present time are troubled people. They ask for a sign, but no sign will be given to them except the sign of Jonah. As Jonah became a sign for the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be a sign for this generation.”

“The Queen of the South will rise up on Judgment Day with the people of these times and accuse them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and here, there is greater than Solomon. The people of Nineveh will rise up on Judgment Day with the people of these times and accuse them, for Jonah’s preaching made them turn from their sins, and here, there is greater than Jonah.”

Wednesday, 13 March 2019 : 1st Week of Lent, Sixth Anniversary of the Election of Pope Francis, Vicar of Christ, Supreme Pontiff and Bishop of Rome (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 50 : 3-4, 12-13, 18-19

Have mercy on me, o God, in Your love. In Your great compassion blot out my sin. Wash me thoroughly of my guilt; cleanse me of evil.

Create in me, o God, a pure heart; give me a new and steadfast spirit. Do not cast me out of Your presence nor take Your Holy Spirit from me.

You take no pleasure in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt offering, You would not delight in it. O God, my sacrifice is a broken spirit; a contrite heart, You will not despise.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019 : 1st Week of Lent, Sixth Anniversary of the Election of Pope Francis, Vicar of Christ, Supreme Pontiff and Bishop of Rome (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Jonah 3 : 1-10

The word of YHVH came to Jonah a second time : “Go to Nineveh, the great city, and announce to them the message I give you.”

In obedience to the word of YHVH, Jonah went to Nineveh. It was a very large city, and it took three days just to cross it. So Jonah walked a single day’s journey and began proclaiming, “Forty days more and Nineveh will be destroyed.”

The people of the city believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. Upon hearing the news, the king of Nineveh got up from his throne, took off his royal robe, put on sackcloth and sat down in ashes. He issued a proclamation throughout Nineveh :

“By the decree of the king and his nobles, no people or beasts, herd or flock, will taste anything; neither will they eat nor drink. But let people and beasts be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call aloud to God, turn from his evil ways and violence. Who knows? God may yet relent, turn from His fierce anger and spare us.”

When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He had compassion and did not carry out the destruction He had threatened upon them.

Thursday, 19 April 2018 : 3rd Week of Easter, Thirteenth Anniversary of the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, Vicar of Christ, Bishop of Rome, Supreme Pontiff and Leader of the Universal Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard from the Acts of the Apostles the story of the conversion of an Ethiopian official or envoy by St. Philip as he was on his way back to his Ethiopian homeland. St. Philip explained the meaning of the Scripture passage which the official was reading, from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, that foretold the suffering of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus crucified.

St. Philip revealed the truth to the official, and his explanation awakened the faith in the heart of the Ethiopian official, who came to believe in the Lord Jesus and in the salvation that He brought into the world. Thus, he opened his heart and mind, and bared his soul before the Lord, requesting the Apostle to baptise him right there and then at a spring along the way. Later on, he would bring the faith to his homeland, and probably, made more converts there.

Thus, that was how God did His marvellous works, calling on people from various nations and from different backgrounds, to become His disciples and followers. The Apostles themselves were called from different origins and backgrounds, as some were sinners, some were fishermen, and still there were tax collector and delinquents counted among them. God called them from their past lives and occupations and made them His servants.

In the Gospel passage today, all of us heard about the Lord Jesus revealing Himself as the Living Bread Who has come down from heaven, sent from God Our Lord, to reveal unto us the truth about Himself. God Himself had sent His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Saviour and as the source of all our hope. Once we have been dejected and without hope, but now because of Christ and all that He had done for us, He has given us a new hope and light to follow.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, all of us are called to reflect on these words which we have heard and received from the Scriptures. How have we, as Christians, been faithful to God? Have we been like the Apostles and the disciples, who braved suffering, prison, torture, rejection, ridicule, and even death for the sake of the Lord. They remained strong in their conviction and faith despite all that they had to face for His sake.

It was their exemplary faith which had inspired many more people to turn towards the Christian faith, to believe in God Who has guided His disciples and Apostles to preach in His Name and deliver the truth to all mankind. The Holy Spirit guided their actions and helped in their words, that many were turned to the Lord and repented from their sins. They have received the truth from God Himself, and received the Body and Blood which the Lord had given them willingly from the altar of His cross.

Therefore, they were filled with courage and strength, to carry out the mission entrusted to them, to bring the salvation of God to all the peoples, of all the races and all of the nations. Now, all of us Christians are entrusted with the same mission, to continue the good works of the Apostles and the holy saints and martyrs who had gone before us. But, are we able to commit the same commitment as the Apostles had done before?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, all of us are called to a renewed faith and a new life, that if once we have been unfaithful and lacking in our faith, then now, we can renew our commitment to live in accordance to the Lord’s will. Let us all seek to be ever more faithful and be closer to the Lord, day after day. May the Lord bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 19 April 2018 : 3rd Week of Easter, Thirteenth Anniversary of the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, Vicar of Christ, Bishop of Rome, Supreme Pontiff and Leader of the Universal Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 6 : 44-51

At that time, Jesus said to the Jews, “No one can come to Me unless he is drawn by the Father Who sent Me; and I will raise Him up on the last day. It has been written in the Prophets : They shall all be taught by God. So whoever listens and learns from the Father comes to Me.”

“For no one has seen the Father except the One Who comes from God; He has seen the Father. Truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the Bread of Life. Though your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, they died. But here you have the Bread which comes from heaven, so that you may eat of it, and not die.”

“I am the Living Bread which as come from heaven; whoever eats of this Bread will live forever. The Bread I shall give is My flesh, and I will give it for the life of the world.”

Thursday, 19 April 2018 : 3rd Week of Easter, Thirteenth Anniversary of the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, Vicar of Christ, Bishop of Rome, Supreme Pontiff and Leader of the Universal Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 65 : 8-9, 16-17, 20

Praise our God, o nations, let the sound of His praise be heard, for He has preserved us among the living and kept our feet from stumbling.

All you who fear God, come and listen; let me tell you what He has done. I cried aloud to Him, extolling Him with my tongue.

May God be blessed! He has not rejected my prayer; nor withheld His love from me.