Reading 1 (ISAIAH 49:8-15)

A reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah

Thus says the LORD:
In a time of favor I answer you,
on the day of salvation I help you;
and I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people,
To restore the land
and allot the desolate heritages,
Saying to the prisoners: Come out!
To those in darkness: Show yourselves!
Along the ways they shall find pasture,
on every bare height shall their pastures be.
They shall not hunger or thirst,
nor shall the scorching wind or the sun strike them;
For he who pities them leads them
and guides them beside springs of water.
I will cut a road through all my mountains,
and make my highways level.
See, some shall come from afar,
others from the north and the west,
and some from the land of Syene.
Sing out, O heavens, and rejoice, O earth,
break forth into song, you mountains.
For the LORD comforts his people
and shows mercy to his afflicted.

But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me;
my Lord has forgotten me.”
Can a mother forget her infant,
be without tenderness for the child of her womb?
Even should she forget,
I will never forget you.

– The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm (PSALM 145:8-9, 13CD-14, 17-18)

R. (8a)  The Lord is gracious and merciful.
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful.
The LORD is faithful in all his words
and holy in all his works.
The LORD lifts up all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful.
The LORD is just in all his ways
and holy in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call upon him,
to all who call upon him in truth.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful.

Verse Before The Gospel (JOHN 11:25A, 26)

(Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.)

I am the resurrection and the life, says the Lord;
whoever believes in me will never die.

(Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.)

Gospel (JOHN 5:17-30)

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John

Jesus answered the Jews: 
“My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.”
For this reason they tried all the more to kill him,
because he not only broke the sabbath
but he also called God his own father, making himself equal to God.

Jesus answered and said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you, the Son cannot do anything on his own,
but only what he sees the Father doing;
for what he does, the Son will do also.
For the Father loves the Son
and shows him everything that he himself does,
and he will show him greater works than these,
so that you may be amazed.
For just as the Father raises the dead and gives life,
so also does the Son give life to whomever he wishes.
Nor does the Father judge anyone,
but he has given all judgment to the Son,
so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father.
Whoever does not honor the Son
does not honor the Father who sent him.
Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word
and believes in the one who sent me
has eternal life and will not come to condemnation,
but has passed from death to life.
Amen, amen, I say to you, the hour is coming and is now here
when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God,
and those who hear will live.
For just as the Father has life in himself,
so also he gave to the Son the possession of life in himself.
And he gave him power to exercise judgment,
because he is the Son of Man.
Do not be amazed at this,
because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs
will hear his voice and will come out,
those who have done good deeds
to the resurrection of life,
but those who have done wicked deeds
to the resurrection of condemnation.

“I cannot do anything on my own;
I judge as I hear, and my judgment is just,
because I do not seek my own will
but the will of the one who sent me.”

– The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection: The First Reading speaks about God’s faithfulness to his people. At that time, Judah has been held captive by the Babylonians under King Nebuchadnezzar. Despite so many sufferings and anguish, God proclaims justice and mercy. He is like a mother who will never forget her child, for he is more than that: a loving Father who will always look on us and grant us our needs and petitions in his time and by his will. This passage has inspired a very famous religious song being sung and played in different contexts such as Masses, prayer services, retreats, performances, recitals, etc. The title is “Hindi Kita Malilimutan,” and it is composed by Onofre R. Pagsanghan (Mr. Pagsi), Rev. Fr. Manoling Francisco, SJ, and the Ateneo High School Class 1A 1980. The song speaks of our very just and faithful God will will never forget us nor forsake us despite all we are going through.
The Gospel is the sequel after the healing of a crippled man for 38 years at the Pool of Bethesda during the Sabbath. For the Jews, Jesus has broken the rule, so they began to persecute him. But for Jesus, his good works are not from him, but from God the Father who sent him. That is why he acknowledges the greatness of Yahweh who wills everything. At that time, God willed for our salvation from the time of the Creation then came Original Sin, to Moses and the patriarchs, to David and the kings, to the prophets, and in the fullness of time, to the Son, Jesus Christ. That is why at the beginning of Saint John’s Gospel, it states there that the Word of God became flesh, and dwelt among us. Yet Christ didn’t deny his divine nature, for he once said that he and the Father are one, and that whoever has seen him has seen the Father. That is why to honour the Son of God is honouring God the Father as well. For Jesus came into this world not for himself, but from the Father who sent him to be our Saviour. That is why during the Baptism at the Jordan and the Transfiguration, God commanded us to listen to his beloved Son.
We are already halfway towards the commemoration of our salvation on Holy Week and Easter. And Lent is giving us a wonderful opportunity to renew ourselves in the Lord through repentance, penance, conversion, and devotion to kind acts (in short prayer, sacrifice, and charity). Despite all we’re going through, the season invites us to be more intimate with our Lord God who will never forsake us. And we ourselves are called to believe and manifest his plan of salvation, especially by being faithful witnesses of the Gospel of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

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