Sunday, 7 March 2021 : Third Sunday of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday, the third Sunday in the season of Lent we are all called to prepare ourselves for the celebration of Easter, that now as we are already halfway through this season of Lent, we should make good use of the time and opportunities given to us so that we can be ready not just to celebrate the occasion of Holy Week and Easter, but even more importantly, we may become better and more faithful disciples of the Lord.

In our first reading today from the Book of Exodus, we heard of the Lord revealing His Law and commandments to His people through Moses, His servant and the leader of the Israelites during their time journeying out of the land of Egypt in the Exodus. The Lord revealed His Ten Commandments, which I am sure we are all familiar with, as well as many other laws and rules that were recorded in the Books of Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, especially in the Book of Leviticus.

All of this happened as the Lord renewed and established the Covenant between Himself and the people of Israel, those whom He had called and chosen to be His own people, at Mount Sinai. The Lord specified each one of the most important Ten Commandments, beginning with the first and most important Law and Commandment of all, that is to love the Lord and honour Him with all of our heart, our might and strength, and with all of our whole being.

The first three of the Ten Commandments specified the Law that is focused on our reverence and love for God, stipulating that as those whom God had called to be His people, we are all bound to love the Lord and worship Him alone, glorifying and honouring His Name, and honouring the day and time that He had set aside for us to spend with Him, the Holy Day of the Lord, which used to be called as Sabbath and which we now keep on Sundays as our Holy Day for the celebration of the Sunday Mass.

Then, the other seven Commandments beginning with the commandment to honour our father and mother, are focused on our relationship with one another, and how we are supposed to love our fellow men, just as much as we love God. And as a whole, the entire Ten Commandments had to be honoured and obeyed as a whole, which means that we cannot truly love God unless we also show the same love to our fellow brothers and sisters, and neither can we truly love one another unless we have that genuine love for God.

Then we heard in our Gospel passage today of the account of the moment when the Lord Jesus came to the Temple of Jerusalem and cleared it from all the corrupt merchants and money changers who were doing their business in the courtyard of the Temple. The Lord was furious that all of those merchants and money changers were openly doing their business and cheating the people of their hard-earned money right at the very place where God Himself placed His dwelling in this world.

While business itself by its nature is a profit-seeking action, but it was likely given the context of the time, that the merchants and the money changers had been charging the people unfairly for their services, meaning that they gained extra profits from what they sold and through what they did in the selling and money changing efforts. It is this unfairness in the actions those people took which led to the Lord striking them out of the Temple for their vices and injustice.

The merchants were the ones who sold the animals and the goods for the ritual sacrifices in the Temple, while the money changers were essential because at that time the Jewish diaspora was truly large and extensive, with many Jewish people living in far-off foreign lands and therefore had currencies of various origins that needed to be changed first into the ones recognised by the Temple. Otherwise, those foreign coins and money could not have been used for getting a proper sacrificial offering, and the offering would be unclean and unworthy.

With this context, we can see how not only that they unfairly did their work and business on the disadvantage or loss to the customers who came to them, many of whom had come from distant lands, but since many of them required the services of both money changers and the merchants, then they were unjustly treated not just once but twice of their hard-earned money. And this is in fact in direct violation of the Ten Commandments as mentioned earlier in our first reading today.

When those merchants and the money changers cheated their customers, it was a violation of the Commandment of the Lord, ‘Do not steal’ and ‘Do not covet what belongs to your neighbours’ among others. And not only that it showed contempt on one’s fellow brothers and sisters, a disregard of the commandments regarding our relationship with our fellow men, but even more so, by what had happened, they had disobeyed the Lord, tarnished His Name and the holiness of His Name and sanctuary.

Why is that so? By committing all these heinous deeds in the courtyard of the House of the Lord, they disrespected the sanctity of God and His holy Presence. They had also put their love of money and worldly pleasures above their love of God and they had idolised money and material wealth, and turned away from the Lord and His Law. And the chief priests and the teachers of the Law, by their approval of such actions blatantly taking place for so long, likely driven by business and greed, by worldly considerations, also had a share in the blame.

As the Lord cast out all the merchants and the money changers from the Temple courtyard, He also told the chief priests and the elders who challenged Him and questioned His authority of doing all those things that He would destroy the Temple and then raise it up again in three days. While those who listened to Him really thought that Jesus was referring to the physical Temple of Jerusalem, He was in fact referring to Himself as the Temple of God, as He is the Son of God and Son of Man, where the Divine Word has been incarnate in the flesh, and born as Man.

And it is a prefigurement of the crucifixion, when the Lord would lay down His life and therefore destroyed in that physical self through death, the destruction of the Temple as mentioned, and which was also symbolically represented by the tearing of the veil of the Holy of Holies when the Lord died on Good Friday. All of these served to show that the Temple is no longer just the physical Temple in Jerusalem, but in fact is referring to the Lord Himself, present in the Church and in all of us.

How is that so, brothers and sisters in Christ? The Lord reminds all of us that as we are all part of the Church, the same Body of Christ, partaking in the Eucharist which is Our Lord’s own Most Precious Body and Blood, we have ourselves become the Holy Temple of God’s Presence. St. Paul spoke of our bodies being the Temple of the Holy Spirit and how we should keep it immaculate and clean, pure and free from the corruption of sin through our genuine faith and dedication to God.

There we have the Temples far better from the Temples of Solomon and Herod, for while the latter were built by the hands of man from stone, wood, silver and gold, our bodies as the Temple of the Lord were crafted and made by God Himself. Yet, unfortunately, through sin we have allowed its corruption to make these Temple of our bodies to be corrupted and filthy, unworthy and unbecoming of the dwelling place of Our Lord and God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why during this season of Lent, and through the reminders of our Scripture passages today, we are all called to return to the Lord and obey His Law once again. Just as the Lord cleared the corruption of the Temple, the wicked merchants and money changers, we are also called to clear our own Temple, our body, mind, heart and soul from the corruption of sin. We have been given this reminder and the opportunities to seek God’s forgiveness and mercy because the Lord truly loves each and every one of us.

What shall we do then, brothers and sisters in Christ? Shall we be like those chief priests and the teachers of the Law who only obeyed the Law superficially and not with genuine intention and commitment? Shall we be like those who were only concerned about the external and superficial faith? Or shall we be genuine in our faith and commitment to God, in our love for Him and our desire to serve Him, brothers and sisters in Christ?

Let us all discern carefully our path forward in life that we will not lose our way easily amidst all the temptations present in this world. Let us all make good use of this season of Lent to rediscover our faith in God and our love for Him, purifying ourselves from all the corruptions of our sins, from the temptations and the allures of worldly desires and ambitions among other things.

May the Lord help us and strengthen us in this journey, that we may indeed be faithful to Him and be genuinely committed to the Commandments and Law that He has bestowed on us. The Lord has given us the guidance and the path for us to follow through the Law, and therefore, let us all endeavour ourselves to be good and even better Christians from now on. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 7 March 2021 : Third Sunday of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 2 : 13-25

At that time, as the Passover of the Jews was at hand, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the Temple court He found merchants selling oxen, sheep and doves, and money-changers seated at their tables.

Making a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the Temple court, together with the oxen and sheep. He knocked over the tables of the money-changers, scattering the coins, and ordered the people selling doves, “Take all this away, and stop making a marketplace of My Father’s house!” His disciples recalled the words of Scripture : Zeal for Your house devours me like fire.

The Jews then questioned Jesus, “Where are the miraculous signs which give You the right to do this?” And Jesus said, “Destroy this Temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then replied, “The building of this Temple has already taken forty-six years, and will You raise it up in three days?”

Actually, Jesus was referring to the Temple of His Body. Only when He had risen from the dead did His disciples remember these words; then they believed both the Scripture and the words Jesus had spoken.

Jesus stayed in Jerusalem during the Passover Festival, and many believed in His Name, when they saw the miraculous signs He performed. But Jesus did not trust Himself to them, because He knew all of them. He had no need of evidence about anyone, for He Himself knew what there was in each one.

Alternative reading (Reading from Year A)

John 4 : 5-42

At that time, Jesus came to a Samaritan town called Sychar, near the land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well is there. Tired from His journey, Jesus sat down by the well; it was about noon. Now a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” His disciples had just gone into town to buy some food.

The Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan and a woman, for a drink?” (For Jews, in fact, have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift of God! If you knew Who it is, Who is asking you for a drink, you yourself would have asked Me, and I would have given you living water.”

The woman answered, “Sir, You have no bucket, and this well is deep; where is Your living water? Are You greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well, and drank from it himself, together with his sons and his cattle?” Jesus said to her, “Those who drink of this water will be thirsty again; but those, who drink of the water that I shall give, will never be thirsty; for the water, that I shall give, will become in them a spring of water, welling up to eternal life.”

The woman said to Him, “Give me this water, that I may never be thirsty, and never have to come here to draw water.” Jesus said, “Go, call your husband, and come back here.” The woman answered, “I have no husband.” And Jesus replied, “You are right to say, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you said is true.”

The woman then said to Him, “I see You are a Prophet; tell me this : Our ancestors came to this mountain to worship God; but you Jews, do you not claim that Jerusalem is the only place to worship God?” Jesus said to her, “Believe Me, woman, the hour is coming when you shall worship the Father, but that will not be on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.”

“You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, because salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is even now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for that is the kind of worshippers the Father wants. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit, and truth.”

The woman said to Him, “I know that the Messiah (that is the Christ) is coming. When He comes, He will tell us everything.” And Jesus said, “I Who am talking to you, I am He.”

At this point the disciples returned, and were surprised that Jesus was speaking with a woman, however, no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are You talking with her?” So the woman left her water jar and ran to the town. There she said to the people, “Come and see a Man Who told me everything I did! Could He not be the Christ?” So they left the town and went to meet Him.

In the meantime the disciples urged Jesus, “Master, eat.” But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” And the disciples wondered, “Has anyone brought Him food?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of the One Who sent Me, and to carry out His work.”

“You say that in four months there will be the harvest; now, I say to you, look up and see the fields white and ready for harvesting. People who reap the harvest are paid for their work, and the fruit is gathered for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. Indeed the saying holds true : One sows and another reaps. I sent you to reap where you did not work or suffer; others have worked, and you are now sharing in their labours.”

In that town many Samaritans believed in Him when they heard the woman who declared, “He told me everything I did.” So, when they came to Him, they asked Him to stay with them, and Jesus stayed there two days. After that, many more believed because of His own words, and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of what you told us: we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is the Saviour of the world.”

Alternative reading (shorter version of Reading from Year A)

John 4 : 5-15, 19b-26, 39a, 40-42

At that time, Jesus came to a Samaritan town called Sychar, near the land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well is there. Tired from His journey, Jesus sat down by the well; it was about noon. Now a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” His disciples had just gone into town to buy some food.

The Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan and a woman, for a drink?” (For Jews, in fact, have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift of God! If you knew Who it is, Who is asking you for a drink, you yourself would have asked Me, and I would have given you living water.”

The woman answered, “Sir, You have no bucket, and this well is deep; where is Your living water? Are You greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well, and drank from it himself, together with his sons and his cattle?” Jesus said to her, “Those who drink of this water will be thirsty again; but those, who drink of the water that I shall give, will never be thirsty; for the water, that I shall give, will become in them a spring of water, welling up to eternal life.”

The woman said to Him, “Give me this water, that I may never be thirsty, and never have to come here to draw water. I see You are a Prophet; tell me this : Our ancestors came to this mountain to worship God; but you Jews, do you not claim that Jerusalem is the only place to worship God?” Jesus said to her, “Believe Me, woman, the hour is coming when you shall worship the Father, but that will not be on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.”

“You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, because salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is even now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for that is the kind of worshippers the Father wants. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit, and truth.”

The woman said to Him, “I know that the Messiah (that is the Christ) is coming. When He comes, He will tell us everything.” And Jesus said, “I Who am talking to you, I am He.”

In that town many Samaritans believed in Him, so, when they came to Him, they asked Him to stay with them, and Jesus stayed there two days. After that, many more believed because of His own words, and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of what you told us: we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is the Saviour of the world.”

Sunday, 7 March 2021 : Third Sunday of Lent (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

1 Corinthians 1 : 22-25

The Jews ask for miracles and the Greeks for a higher knowledge, while we proclaim a crucified Messiah. For the Jews, what a great scandal! And for the Greeks, what nonsense! But He is Christ, the Power of God, and the Wisdom of God, for those called by God among both Jews and Greeks.

In reality, the “foolishness” of God is wiser than humans, and the “weakness” of God is stronger than humans.

Alternative reading (Reading from Year A)

Romans 5 : 1-2, 5-8

By faith we have received true righteousness, and we are at peace with God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Through Him we obtain this favour in which we remain and we even boast to expect the Glory of God.

And hope does not disappoint us because the Holy Spirit has been given to us, pouring into our hearts the love of God. Consider, moreover, the time that Christ died for us : when we were still helpless and unable to do anything.

Few would accept to die for an upright person; although, for a very good person, perhaps someone would dare to die. But see how God manifested His love for us : while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Sunday, 7 March 2021 : Third Sunday of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 18 : 8, 9, 10, 11

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.

They are more precious than gold – pure gold of a jeweller; they are much sweeter than honey which drops from the honeycomb.

Alternative Psalm (Psalm from Year A)

Psalm 94 : 1-2, 6-7, 8-9

Come, let us sing to the Lord, let us make a joyful sound to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before Him giving thanks, with music and songs of praise.

Come and worship; let us bow down, kneel before the Lord, our Maker. He is our God, and we His people; the flock He leads and pastures. Would that today you heard His voice!

Do not be stubborn, as at Meribah, in the desert, on that day at Massah, when your ancestors challenged Me, and they put Me to the test.

Sunday, 7 March 2021 : Third Sunday of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Exodus 20 : 1-17

God spoke all these words. He said, “I am YHVH your God Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. Do not have other gods before Me. Do not make yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything in heaven, or on the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them.”

“For I, YHVH your God, am a jealous God; for the sin of the fathers, when they rebel against Me, I punish the sons, the grandsons and the great-grandsons; but I show steadfast love until the thousandth generation for those who love Me and keep My commandments.”

“Do not take the Name of YHVH your God in vain for YHVH will not leave unpunished anyone who takes His Name in vain. Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. For six days you will labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath for YHVH your God.”

“Do not work that day, neither you, nor your son, nor your daughter nor your servants, men or women, nor your animals, nor the stranger who is staying with you. For in six days YHVH made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that is in them, but on the seventh day He rested; that is why YHVH has blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

“Honour your father and your mother that you may have a long life in the land that YHVH has given you. Do not kill. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not give false witness against your neighbour. Do not covet your neighbour’s house. Do not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his servant, man or woman, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is his.”

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Exodus 20 : 1-3, 7-8, 12-17

God spoke all these words. He said, “I am YHVH your God Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. Do not have other gods before Me. Do not take the Name of YHVH your God in vain for YHVH will not leave unpunished anyone who takes His Name in vain. Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.”

“Honour your father and your mother that you may have a long life in the land that YHVH has given you. Do not kill. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not give false witness against your neighbour. Do not covet your neighbour’s house. Do not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his servant, man or woman, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is his.”

Alternative reading (Reading from Year A)

Exodus 17 : 3-7

But the people thirsted for water at Rephidim and grumbled against Moses, “Why did you make us leave Egypt to have us die of thirst with our children and our cattle?”

So Moses cried to YHVH, “What shall I do with the people? They are almost ready to stone me!” YHVH said to Moses, “Go ahead of the people and take with you the elders of Israel. Take with you the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will stand there before you on the rock at Horeb. You will strike the rock and water will flow from it and the people will drink.”

Moses did this in the presence of the elders of Israel. The place was called Massah and Meribah because of the complaints of the Israelites, who tested YHVH saying, “Is YHVH with us or not?”

Saturday, 6 March 2021 : 2nd Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are called to seek the Lord and His forgiveness and mercy. We are called to embrace the Lord and His compassionate love, keeping in mind how He cares for each and every one of us, and how blessed we truly are for having Him as our loving Father and Creator. It was because of this love that all of us once again have hope and not be in despair because of our sins.

By right, our sins born of the rebellion and disobedience against God would have led us down the path of eternal damnation and destruction, and we would have suffered the consequences of those sins. However, God Who is ever merciful, patient in love and caring towards us have always tried His best to find us and be reconciled with us once again. God has shown us His compassion, care and mercy, and as a loving Father He wants us all to be reconciled to Him. To this extent, He continued to give us guidance and direction as we progress through life.

In our first reading today we heard from the Book of the prophet Micah, we heard the Lord speaking through Micah reminding all of us His people, that is no one else but God Who is truly loving as a Shepherd, Who guides and guards His beloved flock, while also chastising and disciplining those who have fallen away from the right path. Ultimately, He cares for us and does not want us to fall to the wrong path, for if we do fall, then in the end, we shall be judged by those sins and the evils that we have committed.

We heard also then of the famous story of the prodigal son in our Gospel passage today, in which we heard about how a young man who had been estranged from his father and went to a far-off foreign land, came back to his father and humbled himself before the father, begging him to forgive his sins and his faults, all the mistakes and unworthy things that he had done that made him to be unworthy to be called his father’s child anymore.

Yet, in that story, as we know it, the father did not become angry with the prodigal son. Instead, he called all of his servants and told them all to prepare for a great feast and celebration in honour of the return of his son. When the elder son was jealous at the treatment by the father for the younger, prodigal son, the father patiently explained how the prodigal son had been lost and thought to have perished, and by returning to the father with great regret and sincere desire to be forgiven, it is indeed an occasion worth celebrating.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, remembering our own treatment by the Lord, our most loving God and Father, we surely cannot be not touched by the examples shown by the parable of the prodigal son, the love that the father in the parable showed to his son, even after all the vices and wickedness the latter had committed, in squandering his money and in all of the other unworthy actions and attitudes. Just as the father’s love in the parable was genuine, unconditional and enduring, that is just how the Lord loves each and every one of us.

That is why during this season of Lent all of us are called to turn our gaze and attention towards the Lord anew, and to repent from our sinful ways and from our rebelliousness and disobedience. We have been given many avenues and opportunities to be reconciled with the Lord, through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, through the loving hands of the Church and through the many tireless spiritual workers in our bishops and priests who spend much of their time and effort in guiding us to the right path.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, can we humble ourselves before the Lord and repent from our faults and sins? Let us all be like the prodigal son and seek the Lord for His forgiveness, that He alone can forgive us from our sins and heal us from our brokenness. Let us all find the Lord and dedicate ourselves to Him anew, entrusting ourselves in His care, in His loving providence and compassionate grace. May the Lord be with us all, His beloved ones, and may He welcome us all back to Him with His ever generous mercy and love. Amen.

Saturday, 6 March 2021 : 2nd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 15 : 1-3, 11-32

At that time, tax collectors and sinners were seeking the company of Jesus, all of them eager to hear what He had to say. But the Pharisees and the scribes frowned at this, muttering, ‘This Man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

So Jesus told them this parable : “There was a man with two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Give me my share of the estate.’ So the father divided his property between them. Some days later, the younger son gathered all his belongings and started off for a distant land, where he squandered his wealth in loose living.”

“Having spent everything, he was hard pressed when a severe famine broke out in that land. So he hired himself out to a well-to-do citizen of that place, and was sent to work on a pig farm. So famished was he, that he longed to fill his stomach even with the food given to the pigs, but no one offered him anything.”

“Finally coming to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will get up and go back to my father, and say to him, Father, I have sinned against God, and before you. I no longer deserve to be called your son. Treat me then as one of your hired servants.’ With that thought in mind, he set off for his father’s house.”

“He was still a long way off, when his father caught sight of him. His father was so deeply moved with compassion that he ran out to meet him, threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. The son said, ‘Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.'”

“But the father turned to his servants : ‘Quick!’ he said. ‘Bring out the finest robe and put it on him! Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet! Take the fattened calf and kill it! We shall celebrate and have a feast, for this son of mine was dead, and has come back to life; he was lost, and is found!’ And the celebration began.”

“Meanwhile, the elder son had been working in the fields. As he returned and approached the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what it was all about. The servant answered, ‘Your brother has come home safe and sound, and your father is so happy about it that he has ordered this celebration, and killed the fattened calf.'”

“The elder son became angry, and refused to go in. His father came out and pleaded with him. The son, very indignant, said, ‘Look, I have slaved for you all these years. Never have I disobeyed your orders. Yet you have never given me even a young goat to celebrate with my friends. Then when this son of yours returns, after squandering your property with loose women, you kill the fattened calf for him.'”

“The father said, ‘My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But this brother of yours was dead, and has come back to life; he was lost, and is found. And for that we had to rejoice and be glad.'”

Saturday, 6 March 2021 : 2nd Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 102 : 1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12

Bless the Lord, my soul; all my being, bless His holy Name! Bless the Lord, my soul, and do not forget all His kindness.

He forgives all your sins and heals all your sickness; He redeems your life from destruction and crowns you with love and compassion.

He will not always scold nor will He be angry forever. He does not treat us according to our sins, nor does He punish us as we deserve.

As the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His love for those fearing Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove from us our sins.

Saturday, 6 March 2021 : 2nd Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Micah 7 : 14-15, 18-20

Shepherd Your people with Your staff, shepherd the flock of Your inheritance that dwells alone in the scrub, in the midst of a fertile land. Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead as in the days of old, in the days when You went out of Egypt. Show us Your wonders.

Who is a God like You, Who takes away guilt and pardons crime for the remnant of His inheritance? Who is like You Whose anger does not last? For You delight in merciful forgiveness. Once again You will show us Your loving kindness and trample on our wrongs, casting all our sins into the depths of the sea.

Show faithfulness to Jacob, mercy to Abraham, as You have sworn to our ancestors from the days of old.

Friday, 5 March 2021 : 2nd Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Scripture we are brought to the two story presented in those readings, beginning with the story of Joseph and his brothers in our first reading from the Book of Genesis, as well as the story of the parable of the evil tenants as told by the Lord to His disciples in our Gospel passage today. Both stories are parallel in meaning and significance, and we ought to heed these well.

With regards to the occasion of Joseph and his brothers, they, as the sons of Jacob, then also known as Israel, were disagreeing over the preferential treatment that Joseph enjoyed over that of his brothers. For the context, Joseph was the first and one of the only two sons born from Jacob’s beloved wife, Rachel. The other sons were born from his first wife, Leah, as well as the maidservants whom Leah and Rachel appointed to bear children in their name.

As Joseph was born from his beloved and favoured wife, and as a child of his old age, Joseph was favoured over that of his brothers, who then became very jealous and angry over such preferential treatment, that Joseph got twice of whatever it is that they received from their father. And Joseph, who began to receive from God signs and revelations through dreams, shared with his brothers how his brothers and even his father would bow down to him, the brothers had enough and most of them wanted to get rid of him immediately.

It was only thanks to the intervention of Reuben, the eldest child of Jacob, that those brothers did not end up killing Joseph, and rather placed him in a well where he remained until the brothers then decided to sell him off to a slaver caravan from Midian heading off to Egypt. Everything would then go on just as how God intended it to be, as Joseph would then on be freed and even made to be the Regent of Egypt by the Pharaoh after his merits and wonderful deeds by God’s grace. All that God had revealed through Joseph’s dreams would indeed come true.

More importantly, brothers and sisters in Christ, we see in that case what jealousy, anger and human desire can lead us into. Even brothers can turn against brothers just over those disagreements, the jealousy and the anger present among them. And this relates well to our second story, the one from the parable of the Lord regarding the evil tenants who refused to pay their dues to the landowner and master of the vineyard.

In that parable, the evil tenants whom the master of the vineyard entrusted with the care of their respective plots became greedy and did not want to relinquish control over, and neither did they want to pay their rental dues, as should have been agreed between them and the vineyard owner. When those servants were sent by the master to remind them to fulfil their obligation, these servants were oppressed, ridiculed and even killed.

When the son of the owner was sent in the end, those evil tenants as mentioned went even further and desired those lands to be their own possessions by striking down the son and heir of the vineyard. Once again, we heard just like in the first reading today, of how human desires, the temptations of glory, wealth, power and influence can lead us into so heinous and evil a deed, when brothers plotted and wanted even the death of their own brother, and when the evil tenants brought so much suffering and death to those servants and the son of the vineyard owner sent to remind them of their dues.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what is then the significance of these to us? It is that we have the need to oppose and resist the temptations present all around us, that we do not end up falling into the trap of sin and doing what the brothers of Joseph and the evil tenants had been doing. We are all called to be more humble, be more charitable and move away from the selfishness of our hearts, that instead of focusing only on our own desires and wants, we become more aware of the needs of others, and how we can help and contribute.

This season of Lent, let us all answer God’s call for us to be more genuine in how we live up to our Christian faith. Let us make use of the opportunities given to us to turn back towards the Lord and to repent from our sins. Let us all be good role model and examples for one another in faith, so that in everything we say and do, we may be exemplary and become good inspiration for one another so that we may help more and more people to reach the Lord’s salvation and grace.

May God be with us always and may He guide us through these journeys of life we have, so that we may grow ever deeper in our faith and dedication to Him, that we may be closer to the Lord and be worthy of His eternal glory, forevermore through our dedication and love, in humility and in our selfless love for Him and our fellow brothers and sisters. Amen.