Wednesday, 31 March 2021 : Wednesday of Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today is traditionally called Spy Wednesday, in the belief that since it is the day before the celebration of the Last Supper of the Lord with His disciples, it was the day that Judas Iscariot went secretly to the chief priests and the Sanhedrin to seek to betray the Lord, colluding with them for a sum of thirty pieces of silver, and therefore set the sequence of events that would led to the Lord’s arrest in the Gardens of Gethsemane, His trial and condemnation to death, and finally crucifixion.

In our first reading today from the Book of the prophet Isaiah we heard of the suffering Servant of God, which in fact was the prophecy made by Isaiah regarding the Saviour, Who would be bruised, mocked and beaten, humiliated and crushed for our sins and punishments, and all of these would happen for the Lord, just as He has predicted and revealed to His disciples, how He would be betrayed by one of His own, condemned by the chief priests and the Sanhedrin.

It is worth noting today that the Lord was ‘sold’ out by Judas Iscariot for a sum of thirty pieces of silver. This sum is significant as that was the usual sum required at that time to purchase a slave, and therefore it was very symbolic of how the Lord allowed Himself to be like a slave for us, humiliated and crushed, treated like the worst of criminals and destroyed, so that through all of His sufferings, we may be spared from those punishments that should have been due for us, and gain eternal life through Him.

The Lord loved us all so much that He was willing to go through all these for our sake. If not for the great and amazing love He had for us, all of us would have perished and be crushed for our sins. That is why we ought to be thankful that He willingly took up all the burdens of our sins and punishments upon Himself, that by His sufferings and trials, He has led us out of the darkness and into the light, freeing us from the bondage to sin and death.

As we listened to all of these, do we all realise just how fortunate we are to have been beloved in such a way? And yet, we continue to sin, disobeying God and refusing to follow Him wholeheartedly. If we think what Judas Iscariot had done was terrible and evil, and we also often laid the blame on him for having betrayed the Lord, we must not forget that in our actions and behaviour we have also often acted like Judas, choosing to prioritise other things beside God, to put others before Him.

In fact, we often forget about the Lord and we only remembered Him when we had a need and wanted the Lord to give us help for what we wanted. And it is often that we forget about the Lord again when we have already gotten what we needed, and often not even being grateful for all that we have received and what we have been blessed with. We continue to live in a state of sin and refusing to repent or change our ways. And this is why, we are no better than Judas Iscariot.

What is different however, is that Judas despaired and committed suicide in grief and regret for all of his actions, while we are still living and still having the opportunities and chances to make amends for our faults and mistakes. We are all called to embrace God’s forgiveness and mercy, and we should appreciate this time and opportunity that God has given us. This Holy Week we are given this strong reminder of God’s love for us, His compassionate love and mercy, with which He wants us to be reconciled with Him.

Are we willing to make the commitment to follow the Lord, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we willing and capable of dedicating ourselves to respond to God’s call? Let us all turn towards Him with a renewed faith, and rediscover that love and zeal we ought to have for Him, as we approach the great Easter Triduum beginning tomorrow, that we may grow ever stronger in faith and be ever closer to God. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 31 March 2021 : Wednesday of Holy Week (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 26 : 14-25

Then one of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “How much will you give me if I hand Him over to you?” They promised to give him thirty pieces of silver, and from then on, he kept looking for the best way to hand Jesus over to them.

On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and said to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare the Passover meal for you?” Jesus answered, “Go into the city, to the house of a certain man, and tell him, ‘The Master says : My hour is near, and I will celebrate the Passover with My disciples in your house.'”

The disciples did as Jesus had ordered, and prepared the Passover meal. When it was evening, Jesus sat at table with the Twelve. While they were eating, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you : one of you will betray Me.” They were deeply distressed, and they asked Him, one after the other, “You do not mean me, do You, Lord?”

He answered, “The one who dips his bread with Me will betray Me. The Son of Man is going as the Scripture says He will. But alas for that one who betrays the Son of Man : better for him not to have been born.” Judas, who was betraying Him, also asked, “You do not mean me, Master, do You?” Jesus replied, “You have said it.”

Wednesday, 31 March 2021 : Wednesday of Holy Week (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 68 : 8-10, 21-22, 31 and 33-34

Since I am held in contempt for Your sake, and shame has covered My face. I have become a stranger to My kindred, an alien to My mother’s sons. Zeal for Your house consumes Me as fire and those who insult You insult Me as well.

I looked for sympathy and there was none, for comforters and there was no one. They gave me poison for food and vinegar to drink.

I will praise the Name of God in song; I will glorify Him with thanksgiving. Let the lowly witness this and be glad. You who seek God, may your hearts be revived. For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise those in captivity.

Wednesday, 31 March 2021 : Wednesday of Holy Week (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 50 : 4-9a

The Lord YHVH has taught Me so I speak as His disciple and I know how to sustain the weary. Morning after morning He wakes Me up to hear, to listen like a disciple. The Lord YHVH has opened My ear. I have not rebelled, nor have I withdrawn.

I offered My back to those who strike Me, My cheeks to those who pulled My beard; neither did I shield My face from blows, spittle and disgrace. I have not despaired, for the Lord YHVH comes to My help. So, like a flint I set My face, knowing that I will not be disgraced.

He Who avenges Me is near. Who then will accuse Me? Let us confront each other. Who is now My accuser? Let him approach. If the Lord YHVH is my Help, who will condemn Me?

Wednesday, 8 April 2020 : Wednesday of Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, traditionally as indicated in the Gospel passage of the day, the Church remembers the moment when Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, went to the Temple to collude with the elders and the chief priests that he might betray and hand Him over to them. It was at this moment which Judas Iscariot received the thirty pieces of silver in exchange for his betrayal of the Lord, as we are preparing ourselves heart and mind for the coming of the Easter Triduum.

As prophesied in the Book of the prophet Isaiah, part of which is our first reading today, the Lord had to suffer, that He as the Saviour of the world had to go through much pain and great difficulties because of His commitment to bring to us His salvation and grace. The prophet Isaiah spoke of this suffering Servant of God, to Whom the Lord would give all the punishments and sufferings due for us, that He might suffer them all instead of us. And yet, He would neither protest or grumble against this, as it was by His own desire and will that He had taken up His Cross and suffer for our sake.

But through these events which we commemorate during this Holy Week and the upcoming Easter Triduum, we are called to reflect on the wonderful love by which God had redeemed us and liberated us from the certainty of death and sin. God has willingly endured the worst of indignities and humiliations, to be treated like a servant and slave, and even less than a human being, as He was arrested, treated with such terrible and harsh treatment from all those who persecuted Him, sent to the Romans to be sentenced to death on the Cross.

The Lord has endured all of these for us because He genuinely loves us all. As St. Paul said, that no one would be willing to suffer and die for another person, unless that person is indeed very virtuous and good, and perhaps if that person is truly beloved and dear to us. And even in that case, many of us are likely to think twice, thrice if not more, before we commit ourselves in such a total manner, in giving of ourselves to the other person. Yet, this is what the Lord had done for each and every one of us, even when we are still sinners and still disobedient and wicked in His sight.

And that is just how wonderful God’s love for us is, how magnanimous He has been to us, and how generous and compassionate He is in His merciful ways, that He is willing to forgive us our sins and in fact He wants to be reconciled with us through that forgiveness. But forgiveness and reconciliation cannot truly happen without that commitment and desire from us to seek reconciliation and forgiveness for our sins and shortcomings.

We also have to realise that for every sins we have committed, we are no better than Judas Iscariot who had betrayed the Lord for the gain of money and for his own selfish purposes. The devil tempted him just as he had tempted us with various temptations, and we have fallen just as Judas had fallen into sin. When we sin, no matter whether that sin be great or small, we are still betraying the Lord for our own various selfish desires and wants in life. We should therefore spend some time thinking about all these as we are about to enter into the great mystery of the Easter Triduum beginning tomorrow.

Now, as we are also currently still struggling from the terrible worldwide pandemic that is still causing many deaths and many more people to suffer everywhere in the world, perhaps it is indeed the best time for us to focus our attention away from all the fears, uncertainties and darkness present all around us now, and focus our attention instead on God and His light. There is hope for us in God, and if we put our trust and hope in Him rather than in any human and worldly solace, we will surely gain consolation and strength amidst this difficult time.

And as Christians, we are all called to be more Christ-like in our lives, in how we live our lives from now on and especially during these difficult moments. Rather than being selfish as how Judas Iscariot had been selfish, causing hurt and sufferings to others by our own attitudes and behaviours, let us instead show love, care and compassion to our fellow brethren. If we see someone around us who is in need of love and hope, let us bring these to him or her.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all enter into the glorious Easter Triduum with a new heart of love, and with a renewed faith in Our Lord and Saviour. Let us all devote more of our time and focus on Him our attention, placing our hope in Him in the midst of these dark and uncertain times. Let us be the bearers of His light in our world, that we may brighten the lives of others who are struggling, sorrowful and are in difficulties. Let us empathise with them and share with them God’s generous love, which He has so generously poured onto us, by His sacrifice on the Cross. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 8 April 2020 : Wednesday of Holy Week (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 26 : 14-25

Then one of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “How much will you give me if I hand Him over to you?” They promised to give him thirty pieces of silver, and from then on, he kept looking for the best way to hand Jesus over to them.

On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and said to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare the Passover meal for you?” Jesus answered, “Go into the city, to the house of a certain man, and tell him, ‘The Master says : My hour is near, and I will celebrate the Passover with My disciples in your house.'”

The disciples did as Jesus had ordered, and prepared the Passover meal. When it was evening, Jesus sat at table with the Twelve. While they were eating, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you : one of you will betray Me.” They were deeply distressed, and they asked Him, one after the other, “You do not mean me, do You, Lord?”

He answered, “The one who dips his bread with Me will betray Me. The Son of Man is going as the Scripture says He will. But alas for that one who betrays the Son of Man : better for him not to have been born.” Judas, who was betraying Him, also asked, “You do not mean me, Master, do You?” Jesus replied, “You have said it.”

Wednesday, 8 April 2020 : Wednesday of Holy Week (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 68 : 8-10, 21-22, 31 and 33-34

Since I am held in contempt for Your sake, and shame has covered My face. I have become a stranger to My kindred, an alien to My mother’s sons. Zeal for Your house consumes Me as fire and those who insult You insult Me as well.

I looked for sympathy and there was none, for comforters and there was no one. They gave me poison for food and vinegar to drink.

I will praise the Name of God in song; I will glorify Him with thanksgiving. Let the lowly witness this and be glad. You who seek God, may your hearts be revived. For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise those in captivity.

Wednesday, 8 April 2020 : Wednesday of Holy Week (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 50 : 4-9a

The Lord YHVH has taught Me so I speak as His disciple and I know how to sustain the weary. Morning after morning He wakes Me up to hear, to listen like a disciple. The Lord YHVH has opened My ear. I have not rebelled, nor have I withdrawn.

I offered My back to those who strike Me, My cheeks to those who pulled My beard; neither did I shield My face from blows, spittle and disgrace. I have not despaired, for the Lord YHVH comes to My help. So, like a flint I set My face, knowing that I will not be disgraced.

He Who avenges Me is near. Who then will accuse Me? Let us confront each other. Who is now My accuser? Let him approach. If the Lord YHVH is my Help, who will condemn Me?

Wednesday, 28 March 2018 : Wednesday of Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, the Wednesday of the Holy Week is traditionally known in the Church as the Spy Wednesday, as on this day the Scripture reading from the Gospel of St. Matthew highlights the betrayal of the Lord Jesus by Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples. On this day, according to the tradition of the Apostles, Judas went to the chief priests and the elders to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.

Judas betrayed the Lord Jesus because he did not have genuine faith in Him. He followed Him for ulterior motives, that is to profit and enrich himself through his frequent ‘helpings’ to the common fund of the disciples which was placed under his care, and thus he was corrupt in his ways and dealings. All these despite him having followed the Lord Jesus for over three years as one of His closest disciples.

Despite all the miracles the Lord had performed before him and the other disciples, and also all the teachings and parables He had used and mentioned throughout His ministry, Judas ultimately chose to betray the Lord and instead settled for what he has always been tempted to, that is money. He could not resist the temptation of wealth and worldly goods, and Satan made use of it to bring him to commit a great sin against God.

And thus Judas Iscariot was forever placed in the hall of infamy, for having committed the betrayal against Jesus, for his repeated and unrepented sinful acts, cheating his fellow disciples for the sake of his own greed and selfish desires. He had been given the free will to choose whether he should follow the Lord and repent, or whether he ought to continue walking down his path of sin.

Is that the path we want to take, brothers and sisters in Christ? He alone out of the Twelve chosen by the Lord at the start of His ministry fell out of grace and he alone did not die in the state of grace, having failed his Lord and Master, and instead of being obedient, he fell into sin and betrayed Him for worldly wealth, for thirty pieces of silver. To him, the Lord and His ministry was just means to an end, to achieve more wealth and power for himself.

Instead, brothers and sisters in Christ, we should follow the examples of the Apostles, especially that of St. Peter. Why is that so? Just like Judas Iscariot, they have also abandoned the Lord when He was arrested after the Last Supper, and they were scattered in fear after that moment. Yet, they repented and had great regret in their hearts after what they had done, and that was how they were reconciled and eventually became the courageous Apostles.

Those Apostles henceforth had to endure the same pain and suffering that the Lord Jesus had endured, being subjected to ridicule, rejection, anger, persecution, punishment and even prison and exile by those people to whom they had gone to, in preaching the Gospel and the Good News. They had embraced the roles which the Lord had entrusted them with, and did their best to follow the Lord in His ways.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now as we have heard all these readings from the Scriptures and reflected on it, let us all think of how we can apply it in our own lives. We have been called to be true and devout Christians, to walk in the Lord’s path with faith and devotion, and with genuine and zealous love for God. Are we able to devote ourselves in this manner? Or are we still like Judas Iscariot, who placed his greed and worldly desires ahead of his commitment to God?

As we journey through this time of the Holy Week, let us all turn away from our sinful past, from all of our wickedness, and turn towards the Lord with all of our hearts. Let us all grow ever more faithful day after day, that despite the challenges and temptations we may face along our way, we will continue to persevere regardless and grow deeper in our commitment towards Him.

May the Lord bless us all and may He grant us the strength to persevere in faith, that all of us will grow to understand and appreciate better the love that He has for each and every one of us, that we will no longer be swayed by the temptation of money as Judas had done, but instead, place the Lord as the priority and the centre focus of our lives. May God be with us always, now and forever. Amen.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018 : Wednesday of Holy Week (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 26 : 14-25

Then one of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “How much will you give me if I hand Him over to you?” They promised to give him thirty pieces of silver, and from then on, he kept looking for the best way to hand Jesus over to them.

On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and said to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare the Passover meal for you?” Jesus answered, “Go into the city, to the house of a certain man, and tell him, ‘The Master says : My hour is near, and I will celebrate the Passover with My disciples in your house.'”

The disciples did as Jesus had ordered, and prepared the Passover meal. When it was evening, Jesus sat at table with the Twelve. While they were eating, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you : one of you will betray Me.” They were deeply distressed, and they asked Him, one after the other, “You do not mean me, do You, Lord?”

He answered, “The one who dips his bread with Me will betray Me. The Son of Man is going as the Scripture says He will. But alas for that one who betrays the Son of Man : better for him not to have been born.” Judas, who was betraying Him, also asked, “You do not mean me, Master, do You?” Jesus replied, “You have said it.”