Liturgical Colour : Green
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are reminded of our choices in life, with every actions that we take and with every deeds that we do. We have been given the free will to commit to things that are good and to things that are wicked. We are free to choose to do what we deem is right. However, in the end, our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Judge of all, will judge our actions at the end of time and pass His judgments according to what we have done in life.
Since we are all created by God good and pure, only to be tainted by the sins of our disobedience, that is sin, therefore we are all initially and intended to be good in all things. God who created us regards us as His own children, and we are all intended for goodness. That is why we who are the children of God, who is good in all things, perfect in purity and holiness, and the Light who brightens the world, should also be good and exemplary in the things we do in this world.
We have a choice, brothers and sisters in Christ, that is to follow the examples of Christ, who showed us how to live like children of the Light, or to follow the examples of the Pharisees and the other wicked ones, who did not follow the Light, but followed darkness instead. They served their own purposes and they served their own hearts’ desires rather than doing what they ought to do as children of God. Thus they were cast away from the presence of God and were rejected by the Lord who judged them amongst the unworthy.
Let us look deeper into the readings which we have today. The Law and the commandments of God taught us how to love, and love tenderly we should indeed, giving our love to God first and then in the same way, to show the same love to our brothers and sisters around us. And this love is such that we must show the same love both to God and to our fellow men, the love which we have accorded to ourselves.
But the Pharisees and the wicked loved themselves first, and loved themselves to such a great extent that they failed to love others as they have loved themselves, and they instead despised others, even those whom the Lord had entrusted to their care, such as the woman troubled with the evil spirit for eighteen years waiting for delivery. They cared for themselves so much that they also failed to give the love they have due for the Lord.
Do you remember, brethren, when Jesus once said that whatever we do to the least and the smallest of our brethren, we do it for the Lord Himself? This is precisely the case, and the woman, troubled by the evil spirit, physically and spiritually, was in great need of help. Yet the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law did not lift up even a finger to help the woman. It is in fact even likely that they have set her up there in order to trap Jesus and find a reason to blame Jesus for what they knew He was going to do, that is to heal the woman on a Sabbath day.
We know that the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were infamous for their unbending and ultraconservative attitude at preaching and observing the Law of God revealed through Moses. However, as the Law was intertwined with the laws and rules and ways of the world, they lost focus of the true meaning and purpose of the Law, ending up becoming unmerciful and unjust in their actions.
Thus the Lord Jesus rebuked them for their unbending and rigid attitude in following the ways and the laws of the Lord. They followed the Law for the sake of following it, and for what? To satisfy their own pride and human desires, the desire for fame and human praise, as Jesus also rebuked them on another occasion, pointing out how they liked to pray in public places with loud voices so as to be praised by others.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is an important lesson for all of us. That means all of us should not follow in their examples, the examples of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. We must not follow the wicked path of pride, of injustice, of greed and human desires. We must not let our arrogance and our jealousy, such as the jealousy of the Pharisees against the works of Jesus, to blind us from our true goal, that is to love God and our brethren.
We have to take heed of what the Lord had shown us in the Scriptures we heard today, that we will not head in the direction of destruction and damnation. These are the share of fate of those who do not walk in the way of the Lord, who live in fornication and sin, and who listen more to the demands of their desire and the temptations of their flesh rather than to listen to God. Shall we follow this path to ruin? Of course none of us would want this fate for us.
What can we do then? It is therefore necessary that we listen to Jesus, and what Jesus said to the Pharisees in rebuking them, is the words of love, that is the profession of the love which He has for all of us. The love and mercy, and the desire to see us repentant and being forgiven from all of our sins and distress, and the desire to bring us back into the path of grace, by granting us rich mercy and blessings, as far as we deserve the salvation which He offers us freely.
And how can we be deserving of such great mercy from our Lord? It is by listening to the words of St. Paul in the letter he had written to the faithful in Ephesus, by keeping all of our actions holy and proper, by having true and genuine love in all the things that we do, by showing love to one another, showing mercy and tenderness to those who are in need, just like Jesus having pity and mercy on the afflicted woman.
It was also mentioned that if we are bound to ‘Money’ which in fact refers to the pleasures and the temptations of the flesh and of this world, then it will be difficult if not impossible for us to be saved. This is because, these are obstacles on our path, and they veiled our hearts and the eyes of our heart from the goodness of God, and just like the Pharisees, they tempted them and corrupted them to do acts that are contrary to the teachings of the Lord. They brought mankind to hate and to hurt one another instead of having love for each other.
Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, today let us all look into ourselves, and see if our actions have been based on the love which we ought to show our God and our fellow men. Let us all forsake all the temptations and fornications of the flesh and of the world, resisting the temptations of the world and instead learn to love ever more tenderly and graciously, showing mercy to all who need them, and help one another to seek and reach out to the salvation in our Lord Jesus Christ, our loving God. Let us sin no more, and receive the fullness of His mercy. Amen.