Christ’s Triumphal Entry
Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
Mark 14:1 – 15:47
On Sunday evening, March 18th, Holy Infant Catholic Church hosted the Elkton community Lenten meal and program. The meal and the hospitality were wonderful, as they have been at each of the four churches (including Bethel) that hosted these events this year.
In the program that followed the meal, we shared in some very nice songs, accompanied by guitars. Lay people of Holy Infant led us in prayers and read Scriptures, including Isaiah 58:1-9 and Matthew 9:14-15. Then their pastor, Father Michael Mugomba, preached the following homily. Afterwards, he kindly gave the printed text of his message to anyone who wanted a copy. I hope you will find it helpful, as I did, and realize that we share so much with our brothers and sisters in Christ all around us. Here is his message:
Dear People of God,
Welcome to Holy Infant Catholic Church tonight as we host the Area Church Lenten Reflection for the year 2018. These Reflections are part of our preparation for Easter. Thanks so much everyone for your presence.
The Theme we chose this year to focus our Lenten Reflection is Fasting- one of the three Traditional Pillars of Lent besides Prayer and Almsgiving. Lent is a penitential season that tasks us to bridge our relationship with God and neighbor.
In the Gospel reading taken from Matthew 9:14-15, we heard Jesus teaching on fast when the disciples of John and the Pharisees questioned as to why his disciples skipped this important practice. “After my ascension my disciples will fast.” In saying this Jesus was not doing away with Fasting but was more concerned with the spirit and practice. For many, fasting was simply a means to appear pious externally.
Jesus had spent 40 days and nights in Prayer and fasting before he started his public ministry. “He fasted for forty days and forty nights and afterward was hungry.” (Matthew 4:2) Jesus taught the spirit of prayer, alms giving and fasting.
When you fast “do not look glum like the hypocrites do, pretending that it is such a great burden to do penance.” (Matthew 6:16) In the gospel, we hear many times Jesus criticizing any form of hypocrisy that tends to draw the attention of the people. That fasting like almsgiving and prayer should be directed to God we heard in the reading from Isaiah.
What about us Christians in the present age ? What is our attitude toward Fasting ? Do I do it to attract people’s attention ?
In the first reading we heard the Prophet Isaiah pointing out the type of Fasting God wishes:
“This is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke.
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and homeless,
clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own.”
How am I faring in the recommendations of Jesus’ teaching on fasting as he took them from the Old Testament ?
Fasting requires self-discipline and sacrifice in order to meet the standards set up by Jesus. In this kind of self-sacrifice one unites himself or herself with the suffering and redemptive nature of Christ.
Remember “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.... And whatever you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.” (Matthew 25:40, 45) Let us get involved and support the Social Outreach activities at our churches; in particular, EAUS. We would be able to care for many of the faces of Jesus in our community.
Let us take fasting as a form of Prayer. It is effective in overcoming the temptations of the devil- like Jesus who spent 40 days in Prayer and fasting was able to overcome the devil and his temptations. He focused on doing the will of His Father. God can still help us to overcome the temptations and spare us as He did for the people of Nineveh. Let us endeavor to get away from any form of sinful inclinations or situations that can lead us to sin.
Let us continue to work on this task of fasting, thus bringing us to the Easter joy and new life with Jesus.
WISHING YOU ALL THE EASTER JOY.