Thursday, 2 April 2020 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Francis of Paola, Hermit (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 8 : 51-59

At that time, Jesus said to the Jews, “Truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word, he will never experience death.” The Jews replied, “Now we know that You have a demon. Abraham died and the prophets as well, but You say, ‘Whoever keeps My word will never experience death.’ Who do You claim to be? Do You claim to be greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets also died.”

Then Jesus said, “If I were to praise Myself, it would count for nothing. But He Who gives glory to Me is the Father, the very One you claim as your God, although you do not know Him. I know Him, and if I were to say that I do not know Him, I would be a liar like you. But I know Him and I keep His word. As for Abraham, your ancestor, he looked forward to the day when I would come; and he rejoiced when he saw it.”

The Jews then said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old and You have seen Abraham?” And Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” They then picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and left the Temple.

Thursday, 2 April 2020 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Francis of Paola, Hermit (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 104 : 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

Look to the Lord and be strong; seek His face always. Remember His wonderful works, His miracles and His judgments.

You descendants of His servant Abraham, you sons of Jacob, His chosen ones! He is the Lord our God; His judgments reach the whole world.

He remembers His covenant forever, His promise to a thousand generations, the covenant He made with Abraham, the promise He swore to Isaac.

Thursday, 2 April 2020 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Francis of Paola, Hermit (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Genesis 17 : 3-9

Abram fell face down and God said to him, “This is My covenant with you : you will be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer will you be called Abram, but Abraham, because I will make you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you more and more famous; I will multiply your descendants; nations shall spring from you, kings shall be among your descendants.”

“And I will establish a covenant, an everlasting covenant between Myself and you and your descendants after you; from now on I will be your God and the God of your descendants after you, for generations to come. I will give to you and your descendants after you the land you are living in, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession and I will be the God of your race.”

God said to Abraham, “For your part, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you, generation after generation.”

Thursday, 26 March 2020 : 4th Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us are reminded of just how merciful God has been to us, how patient He had been with our stubbornness and constant disobedience, our sinful ways and our rebelliousness all these while, as He has continually forgiven us when we seek His forgiveness and mercy. God has always loved us so much even when we have disobeyed Him and did so much evil before Him.

But at the same time, we must also not forget that God still despises our sins and wickedness, and His anger remains against all of our sins and disobedience. He loves us all the sinners but despises our sins, as sin is corruption on us, and no corruption and wickedness may remain in His presence. If we remain in our sinful ways and stubbornly hold on to our wickedness, then we will be judged according to those standards, and we will not be spared on the day of judgment.

Moses pleaded with God as described in our first reading today from the Book of Exodus, as at that time the Israelites rebelled against God in a very terrible manner, because they made for themselves a golden idol, shaped like a calf, as a god and idol for them to worship, while God had just earlier on delivered them from the hands of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh. It was just very recently then that God opened the sea before the people of Israel that they might pass safely on the dry seabed, while destroying all the chariots and armies sent after them.

God made a Covenant with His people and renewed the Covenant and promise which He had made much earlier on with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the ancestors of the Israelites. He gave them His laws and commandments, centred on the Ten Commandments that He Himself wrote on two slabs of stone, which He gave to Moses on Mount Sinai, the Mountain of God. On that mountain, Moses spent forty days and forty nights with God, receiving the many commandments God had set before His people to help and guide them in their lives.

But the people, probably being impatient and restless, and weak in their faith, chose to take the drastic action of forcing Aaron, the brother of Moses to make for themselves a golden calf idol as god over them, as they thought that Moses had died on the mountain after spending forty days up there away from the people. They committed all sorts of debauchery and terrible sinful deeds with the golden idol, and God was very angry against them as we can clearly heard in our first reading passage today.

God could have destroyed the people, but He listened to Moses who pleaded on their behalf, for Him to show mercy and to forgive them for their lapses and mistakes. God spared the people but some of those worst offenders and the leaders of the rebellion were indeed not spared by the wrath of God, for it was by their instigation that the whole people of Israel ended up disobeying God and sinned against Him. From then on nonetheless, God continued to love His people and was still patient with them despite their infidelity and wickedness from time to time.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard of the Lord Jesus in the midst of His rebuke of the people of His time, particularly those who opposed Him stubbornly such as the many among the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. Jesus spoke of St. John the Baptist in that same occasion, pointing out how that messenger of God himself was also rejected and ignored by the people, the same ones who was rejecting and ignoring the message that Christ was bringing to them.

Those people disobeyed the Lord much like their predecessors disobeyed and hardened their hearts by making idol for themselves to be worshipped as their god. While the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law proudly claimed themselves as the sole and crucial guardians of the faith, they ended up idolising their way of observing the laws of Moses to the point that they forgot why they have the Law in the first place and why they need to listen to the Lord and His truth.

The Lord rebuked and reminded the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law in particular that they need to get rid of their pride and the desire to be praised and honoured by others. The Lord said that all these were preventing them from being able to be truly faithful as they were fixated on their pride and ego, their desire to maintain their prestige and honour, which they ended up idolising and caused them to fall into sin. This is why today, all of us are also then reminded through all these past examples that we should be more humble and be careful with the many temptations around us that are keeping us from being faithful to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all make good use of the opportunities we have received in this season of Lent, that we approach the throne of God’s mercy and love, with the desire to be forgiven from our many sins and faults. Let us all be humble before God and strive to repent from our mistakes and sins, knowing that God is always ready to forgive us if we ourselves are willing to accept His mercy, and accepting God’s mercy require us to make that profound change in our way of life, devoting ourselves to God with a renewed faith and commitment.

May God be with us in our journey of faith, and may He continue to guide us in the midst of this current challenging moments, as the world is still struggling with the coronavirus pandemic. May God bless all those who have given their lives and their efforts to care for the sick and the dying. Let us pray for all of them, and let us also put our faith in God, knowing that He will provide for us all, no matter what. Amen.

Thursday, 26 March 2020 : 4th Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 5 : 31-47

At that time, Jesus said to the Jews, “If I bore witness to Myself, My testimony would be worthless. But Another One is bearing witness to Me, and I know that His testimony is true when He bears witness to Me. John also bore witness to the truth when you sent messengers to him, but I do not seek such human testimony; I recall this for you, so that you may be saved.”

“John was a burning and shining lamp, and for a while you were willing to enjoy his light. But I have greater evidence than that of John – the works which the Father entrusted to Me to carry out. The very works I do bear witness : The Father has sent Me. Thus He Who bears witness to Me is the Father Who sent Me. You have never heard His voice and have never seen His likeness; therefore, as long as you do not believe His messenger, His word is not in you.”

“You search in the Scriptures, thinking that in them you will find life; yet Scripture bears witness to Me. But you refuse to come to Me, that you may live. I am not seeking human praise; but I have known that love of God is not within you, for I have come in My Father’s Name and you do not accept Me. If another comes in his own name, you will accept him. As long as you seek praise from one another, instead of seeking the glory which comes from the only God, how can you believe?”

“Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father. Moses himself, in whom you placed your hope, accuses you. If you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote of Me. But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?”

Thursday, 26 March 2020 : 4th Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 105 : 19-20, 21-22, 23

They made a calf at Horeb and worshipped the molten image. They exchanged the glory of God for the image of a bull that eats grass.

They forgot their Saviour God, Who had done great things in Egypt, wonderful works in the land of Ham, and awesome deeds by the Sea of Reeds.

So He spoke of destroying them, but Moses, His chosen one, stood in the breach before Him to shield them from destruction.

Thursday, 26 March 2020 : 4th Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Exodus 32 : 7-14

Then YHVH said to Moses, “Go down at once, for your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have quickly turned from the way I commanded them and have made for themselves a molten calf; they have bowed down before it and sacrificed to it and said : ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you out of Egypt.'”

And YHVH said to Moses, “I see that these people are a stiff-necked people. Now just leave Me that My anger may blaze against them. I will destroy them, but of you I will make a great nation.” But Moses calmed the anger of YHVH, his God, and said, “Why, o YHVH, should Your anger burst against Your people whom You brought out of the land of Egypt with such great power and with a mighty hand?”

“Let not the Egyptians say : ‘YHVH brought them out with evil intent, for He wanted to kill them in the mountains and wipe them from the face of the earth.’ Turn away from the heat of Your anger and do not bring disaster on Your people. Remember Your servants, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the promise You Yourself swore : I will multiply Your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land I spoke about I will give to them as an everlasting inheritance.”

YHVH then changed His mind and would not yet harm His people.